To the editor:
Unaccustomed as I am to reading the headline of a column as an actual part of the column itself, especially since the entire Twain quote was not there, and not in quotation marks, it took me a moment to figure out how Mark Twain related to the agitated screed that Ken Frederic treated us to in his “Another View” column, LCN of May 11. So, I guess the point of his emotionally charged article is denial. But denial by whom, and of what?
I think that Mr. Frederic falls victim to the very behavior he decries in others: becoming so frustrated and angry over something that he leaves the arena of rational debate and employs tactics that are emotional and inflammatory, and that may induce those in agreement to more overt action in defense of those ideas.
It isn’t denial of anything that’s happened that has driven people to demonstrate, it is the frustration of not being listened to, the shock of seeing programs and laws ripped away from us with no discussion of the ramifications of those deeds.
Now, I am as much a fan of adjectives as the next guy, but if you remove the incendiary adjectives from Frederic’s column, it comes closer to presenting a reasonable concept.
It took me about four read-throughs before I could pick out the main point of the article: the rhetoric and actions of the far left were really bothering Mr. Frederic. Well, they bother me, too. I was disappointed that the students at Berkeley weren’t even willing to allow a forum for people with whom they disagreed. If you don’t want to hear the speech, don’t listen.
I attended Berkeley, and have a master’s degree from there, and I can assure Mr. Frederic that there is a marketplace for ideas there, and there is a wide range of opinions and beliefs. By tarring everyone from Berkeley as effete, elite, and “suborn(ing) violent enforcement of conformity,” he diminishes the cogency of his own argument, and, I feel, loses the opportunity to register his ideas amidst his name-calling.
I do not believe in violence or rioting. But the actions of the fringe left do not mean that those of us who worry that our country has taken off in a seriously wrong direction should not be allowed to register our concern – and since people feel that they weren’t being listened to, they have taken to marching, and calling the elected officials, and writing. There should be no threats, no physicality. But again, please do not tar all of us with the same brush – that the violent actions of a minority should be understood to be the actions of all. That is not the case.
America has been ill-served by the radical left, and the radical right.
One sentence in the article employing the word “denial” remains incomprehensible to me. “It is, however, the fringe left that is now in denial that it was their ideas that disenfranchised them and engaging the anger and violence characteristic of addicts and failing authoritarian regimes.” That’s the whole quote. I still do not understand it.
If Mr. Frederic would feel better if the rhetoric of the far left were toned down or eliminated, I can respect that. And I would feel better if the rhetoric of the far right were toned down or eliminated. This would leave a space for calm, well-thought-out thinking and discourse. In the end, we have to do something to accomplish the goals of American democracy. We can’t just sit in opposite corners of the ring lobbing adjectives at each other and name-calling.