Free Speech Is Good; Just Don't Say Anything We Dislike.Then, David French complains that Prof. Gerald Horne has dared to write the following intolerable words:
While I do see some analytical differences between, say, Thomas Jefferson and Stalin, these are not completely outrageous questions. I probably would've mentioned the oppression and massacre of America's native population, but even without invoking that
Jonathan Brent expresses surprise — if not shock and disgust — at what he sees as the rehabilitation of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in contemporary Russia ("Postmodern Stalinism," The Chronicle Review, September 25).
Pray tell: Is there an analytical difference between the phenomenon he perceives and the glorification and hagiography that bedeck the slaveholding "founding fathers" of his own United States (not to mention those that founded the settler colonies upon which this slaveholding republic was based)? Or is the difference that in this latter case, after all, we are discussing the brutalization of only Africans, and in the former case, non-Africans — and we all know that the lives of one are worth more than the lives of the other? Or is the difference that Stalin's rule lasted 30-odd years while North American enslavement was a process that stretched over centuries?
Maybe that's why French's post is titled "Words Fail": rather than trying to devise a logical argument for the brand of smug relativism favored by his ideological goon squad, French prefers to act as though the correctness of his views, like God's love, is too boundless and pure to be communicated in mere words. If you have to ask for an explanation, you've already damned yourself, and can be consigned to the same mental dustbin as the brutes who got in the way of our forefathers' bullets while trying to thwart what James Madison called "the benevolent plans which have been so meritoriously applied to the conversion of our aboriginal neighbors from the degradation and wretchedness of savage life."
The really nice thing is that French ends by saying, in regards to Prof. Horne, "Citizens of Texas, I present . . . your tax dollars at work." It almost sounds as though he's unhappy with free speech, just because someone happened to write a letter he disliked. Perhaps his colleague George Leef will explain that this is not how the Founding Fathers intended things to work (except for the ones who supported the Sedition Act of 1798, of course).
(Illustration: "Newes from America. The figure of the Indians' fort or palizado in New England and the manor of the destroying it by Captayne Underhill and Captayne Mason," 1638. Via Mashantucket Pequot Museum Libraries & Archives.)