By lex, on February 14th, 2011
Oprah Winfrey recently joined the chorus of voices calling for a new level of respect and civility in our public discourse. Victor Davis Hanson, being a classical historian, reaches all the way back into the dark ages of 2004-2007, when those calling most loudly for courtesy accepted a very different standard of behavior for themselves:
Yes, yes, I remember those eerie times well. There was Jonathan Chait’s New Republic essay about why “I hate President George W. Bush.” (Oprah, where were you?) Garrison Keillor was more clever in his hate of Bush’s Republicans: “brown shirts in pinstripes.” Howard Dean, likewise now angry over the incivility of today’s politics, in that era declaimed, “I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for.” Do we recall the NAACP chairman of the time, civil rights movement veteran Julian Bond, saying of Bush & Co.: “Their idea of equal rights is the American flag and the Confederate swastika flying side by side”? (Oprah, where were you?)
Of course, those were utterly different circumstances. American soldiers were fighting in two foreign wars, for example. There were prisoners being held without trial in Guantanamo Bay. Federal spending was exploding the national debt. We had privacy concerns.
All changed, changed utterly.