August 10, 1953 — The Chicago Daily Tribune (Letter)
Right now it’s an election year in the USA, which means Presidential hopefuls and their supporters are immersed in blazing verbal battle, even amongst their own parties. And while it may often seem as though what passes for discourse these days keeps plummeting to new lows (best personified by the reliably uncouth Donald J. Trump), politics has always been an incredibly acrimonious pursuit, instantly reducing grown men and women to the relative maturity level of grade-school children.
Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump rip each other apart at the Republican debate on Feb. 25, 2016
It’s tempting to assume that things were more civilized somehow in the old days. The following letter, published in the Chicago Tribune’s “Voice of the People” section in 1953, suggests otherwise. More importantly, it contends that such reductive rhetoric undermines the very essence of a proper democracy. Which of you nattering nabobs would disagree?
Voice of the People — August 10, 1953
Chicago, July 30—After reading your editorials for several days and coming across such terms as “synthetic liberals”, “fuzzy idealists”, “pinkos”, “left-wingers”, and “addle brained New Dealers”, I would like to state my objections to using such terms. My objections not only apply to your editorials but a large segment of American thinking. I will grant that many of the men you attack are just as horrible in using such phrases as “neo-fascists”, “reactionaries”, “McCarthyites” and “tools of Wall Street”.
The creation of such terms as these, with strong connotations on undesirability, and the subsequent indiscriminate application of them to persons of country political philosophy only increases the confusion and misunderstanding in the world today. A democratic government is dependent upon an enlightened, informed public. When people have ready-made labels to toss around instead of reasoning from objective facts, they can hardly be enlightened or informed.
It is your prerogative as a newspaper to adopt any political position you care to, but I believe you have a responsibility to the public in stating your case fairly without resorting to name-calling and fake labels.
The Tyranny of Words — Bruce Barton on Aggression (October 1951)
Mossadegh’s Command of English — Letter to The Chicago Tribune, Nov. 3, 1951
American Way Good, Let’s Keep It Forever — Letter to The Elmira Star-Gazette, Oct. 5, 1951
MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”