By STEPHEN M. SALISBURY
Welcome back, readers!It is always exciting to start a new academic year. By the end of this semester, I will have completed my sixth full year as a full time member of the IU South Bend community. This is my third year writing this column for The Preface. I want to make sure my readers know up front the views expressed in this column are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent those of The Preface staff and/or management.
It’s always good to put that disclaimer at the front of an opinion column, but regardless of said disclaimer, the great thing about working for a news outlet such as this is the opportunity to participate in one of the most sacred rights we possess in this country which is a free and unfettered press.
The current political climate and the current occupant of the White House has made it increasingly dangerous to be a member of the press. Widespread footage has been posted on the internet showing participants at “Make America Great Again” rallies shouting insults at the press corps and sporting t-shirts that read, “F*** the Media.”
Our founding fathers would turn over in their graves if they knew this kind of sentiment was being encouraged by the President of the United States.
Our first president, George Washington, stated, “If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.”
Our second president, John Adams, said, “The liberty of the press is essential to the security of the state.”
Thomas Jefferson, the third occupier of the highest office in the land, urged citizens to do everything in their power to ensure that the press is able to do its job because, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”
Benjamin Franklin, one of the most famous and beloved framers of the form of government on which we rely proclaimed, “Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.”
There’s a legendary quote from Italian philosopher George Santayana that goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Consider these statements: “In political matters feeling often decides more correctly than reason;” “All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. Consequently, the greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be;” “[Propaganda] must be aimed at the emotions and only to a very limited degree at the so-called intellect… The art of propaganda lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding, through a psychologically correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the broad masses.” While these may seem like a strategic approach to current political discourse, these are all quotes from “Mein Kampf.”
Consider these statements from the New York Times: “He is a man of the ‘common people’ and hence, has the makings of a ‘popular hero’ appealing to all classes;” “His program consists chiefly of half a dozen negative ideas clothed in generalities… He probably does not know himself just what he wants to accomplish;” “He talks rough, shaggy, sound horse sense, and according to… public opinion, a strong, active leader equipped with horse sense is the need of the hour.” One might think this is criticism coming from the liberal media about our current Commander-in-Chief, but they were actually written in November 1922 about an up and coming young leader known as Adolph Hitler.
Now, I’m not saying our current president is another Adolph Hitler, but if I were, freedom of speech guarantees me the right do so. One of the great responsibilities of the press is to speak the truth to power. My goal with this column each week will be to attempt to do so. I’ve done it as a guest columnist and will continue to do so as a featured one. As we begin a new year together, please feel free to jump into the fray!