As readers of thissite may be aware, I was the guest on C-SPAN’s “In Depth” program on Sunday, April 5. Afterward, the volume of my e-mail messages rose substantially as people wrote to me to express their opinion of my performance or to ask mequestions. Although many of these messages sent approbation, for which I am grateful, others, like most of the people who called in during the program,were less than complimentary.
I had aforeboding that one of these messagesmight contain, shall we say, a bit of denunciation when I saw that its subject line read “You’re a f__king STUPID and VAPID.” In the body of the message, the sentence continues:
Please shoot yourself now and by chance, you haven’t bred have you?
Scum sucking maggot, get the f__k off my CSPAN channel and get out of my society.
Although this foul-mouthed lingois not the kind of language that my mothertaught me to use, I understood it well enough to file it under therubric of”strong disapproval.”
Over the past decade or so, my populararticles on the Webhave frequently elicited similar expressions of personalcontempt and hatred. Had I not been a student of ideology, I might have been somewhat perplexed by such malevolent missives. After all, what do my writings endorse? As a rule, they uphold peace, voluntary cooperation, tolerance, and friendshiptoward all who do not proclaim themselves to be my sworn enemies. How can suchinoffensive views touch a reader’s nerves so painfully that he responds by assaulting my character and demanding that I evacuate the country in which my ancestors and Iwere born? (Indeed, some ofmy forebears lived hereeven before the Europeans came to North America. If my information is correct, one-eighth of my ancestors were Cherokees, who, historians inform us, did not formallyinvite thewhitepeopleto invade theirlong-inhabited, well-developedterritory and, later, to expel them from it at bayonet point and march them, amid great suffering, to live in a wilderness known as Indian Territory.) So, I always wonder, who the hell does my correspondent think heis thatHE should command ME, of all people, to leave this country? Can’t we at least flip a coin to decide which of us must go?
During the painful years of the Bush regime, we had to endure the slings and arrows of the brown shirtswho composethe so-called Republican base. Now that Obama has ascended the throne, the brown shirts of theleft are emerging as the more conspicuous barbarians. Thank God it is not the case, as far too many people suppose,that we must be on one of these sides or the other. We can transcend this disgusting political spectrum, placing ourselves neither on the left nor on the right — nor even in the so-called “independent” zone somewhere between them — but rather rising abovethe entire lineandinsisting that red-state savagery and blue-state savagery are equallydespicable and intolerable. I daresay that the future of our civilization hinges on whether a sufficient number of us willchoose this transcendence.
This first appeared in The Beacon.
Robert Higgs [send him mail] is senior fellow in political economy at the Independent Institute and editor of The Independent Review. He is also a columnist for LewRockwell.com. His most recent book is Neither Liberty Nor Safety: Fear, Ideology, and the Growth of Government. He is also the author of Depression, War, and Cold War: Studies in Political Economy, Resurgence of the Warfare State: The Crisis Since 9/11 and Against Leviathan: Government Power and a Free Society.