...run deep, and are inter-joined in our stump with others. Whenever a leader sets about directing our energies away from hunting down menacing Injuns outside to building up public commons within, hysteria recurs. I wonder when or if we can ever recognize we're no longer a frontier nation putting the last touches on its Manifest Destiny. The tendency is reflexive.
Contrast the myriad recent freak-outs with a Vanity Fair article by Sam Kashner on how William Manchester’s book on John F. Kennedy’s assassination came to be describes the morning of Nov. 22, 1963:
“In that third year of the Kennedy presidency,” Manchester wrote, “a kind of fever lay over Dallas country. Mad things happened. Huge billboards screamed, ‘Impeach Earl Warren.’ Jewish stores were smeared with crude swastikas.…Radical Right polemics were distributed in public schools; Kennedy’s name was booed in classrooms; corporate junior executives were required to attend radical seminars.” A retired major general ran the American flag upside down, deriding it as “the Democrat flag.” A wanted poster with J.F.K.’s face on it was circulated, announcing “this man is Wanted” for—among other things—“turning the sovereignty of the US over to the Communist controlled United Nations” and appointing “anti-Christians … aliens and known Communists” to federal offices. And a full-page advertisement had appeared the day of the assassination in The Dallas Morning News accusing Kennedy of making a secret deal with the Communist Party; when it was shown to the president, he was appalled. He turned to Jacqueline, who was visibly upset, and said, “Oh, you know, we’re heading into nut country today.”
Fortunately, in the ensuing 46 years our political discourse has improved greatly. (h/t to Blog on the Run)