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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

They don't make liberals like this anymore

I'm reading a great biography of Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt - No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin. In it, she describes a speech FDR gave to the Pan American Scientific Congress on May 10 1940 - the day Germany invaded Holland and Belgium:

"We come here tonight with heavy hearts," he began, looking out at the packed auditorium. "This very day, the tenth of May, three more independent nations have been cruelly invaded by forces of arms .... I am glad that we are shocked and angered by the tragic news." Declaring that it was no accident that this scientific meeting was taking place in the New World, since elsewhere war and politics had compelled teachers and scholars to leave their callings and become agents of destruction, Roosevelt warned against an undue sense of security based on the false teachings of geography: in terms of the moving of men and guns and planes and bombs, he argued, every acre of American territory was closer to Europe than was ever the case before. "In modern times it is a shorter distance from Europe to San Francisco, California, than it was for the ships and legions of Julius Caesar to move from Rome to Spain ..."

"I am a pacifist, " he concluded, winding up with a pledge that was greeted by a great burst of cheers and applause, "but I believe that by overwhelming majorities ... you and I, in the long run if it need be necessary, will act together to protect and defend by every means at our command our science, our culture, our American freedom and our civilization."

Compare and contrast with Howard Dean's 2004 "take back the White House" outburst, or John Kerry's "reporting for duty" address at the Democratic National Convention. Yikes.

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