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Your view: Letters

Sunday, January 1, 2006

To: Michael Jensen, Don Culbertson, Jill Bock

Re: Letters to the Editor

Date: December 28, 2005

First off, in the interest of total disclosure, let me state for the record that I am a proud liberal Democrat and proud to call myself a friend of Buck Smith's. Furthermore, I have never served in the military. With that out of the way, I would like to respond to the comments made by the "understandably) "Anonymous" individual attacking Mr. Smith's "Don't divide town" letter to the editor of December 19 in the "Tiff with Smith" SpeakOut column of December 27.

To begin with, I would like to address two points of fact referenced in the SpeakOut column:

The (understandably) "Anonymous" individual made mention of the quotation, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". This is commonly mis-attributed to Voltaire, but in actuality comes from Voltaire biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall in her 1906 biography The Friends of Voltaire written under the pseudonym "S.G. Tallentyre" as being a statement consistent with Voltaire's philosophy.

Secondly, (understandably) "Anonymous" referred to the "'perverse' imitators and interpreters who came up with 'Separation of Church and State'". That "perverse" individual was Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and 3rd President of the United States. In an 1802 letter to the Danbury (Connecticut) Baptist Association, Jefferson wrote:

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."

Any rational individual, regardless of political stripe, can see that it was Mr. Smith's sincere goal in his letter of December 19 to dial down the increasingly shrill tone of what now passes for political discourse today in this country; to ask, "Why can't we disagree without being disagreeable?" In my opinion, it is a worthy and noble goal.

(Understandably) "Anonymous" clearly strives for yet an even higher pitch of shrill; foaming of the mouth, spoiling for a fight. (Understandably) "Anonymous" apparently sees the chasm dividing us altogether too narrow. Why not increase it beyond the point of breaking? If the country comes apart at the seams, then so be it. Let's just keep "pushing the envelope", so to speak.

Exactly how close can this country get to a totalitarian dictatorship and still call itself a democratic Republic with a straight face? . . .what with preemptive war, an all too compliant Congress leaving Presidential powers all but totally unchecked, warrant-less detainment of American citizens and eavesdropping of their communications, (non) torture of "enemy" detainees, Constitutional liberties conveniently tossed aside in the name of "security", and all the rest.

(Understandably) "Anonymous", don't you realize that with Americans at each other's throats, our country is disrepute nearly everywhere abroad, our treasury depleted by half a trillion dollars, our military nearing the breaking point and our once-cherished Constitution laying in tatters, not to mention the lives lost, bodies broken and families devastated. . .the "Islamic Jihadist Murderers", as you call them, are achieving their goal of seeing the destruction of America without firing a single shot, hijacking a single plane or setting off a single bomb on American soil since this misguided President's wildly over-reactive response to the dreadful attacks of September, 11, 2001?

In times like these I am mindful of another quotation from one of our wise founding fathers. At the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was leaving Independence Hall when he was asked by a woman:

"Well Doctor, what have we got? A Republic or a Monarchy?"

Franklin replied, "A Republic. . .if you can keep it."

Well, (Understandably) "Anonymous", do you think we can keep it? Or do you think we should even try?

Gregory Sanders

Springfield, IL (former Sikestonian)