Letters to the Editor
Readers write about American progressivism, tension in Pakistan, and The Beatles' music in space.
Are modern progressives comparable to Wilson?Skip to next paragraph
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Regarding Jonah Goldberg's Feb. 5 Opinion piece, "You want a more 'progressive' America? Careful what you wish for": Mr. Goldberg has been promoting his book extensively in the media with shallow and unidimensional essays glibly explaining the history of "liberal fascism."
Woodrow Wilson was, indeed, a president who did many terrible things and held many terrible opinions about race, liberty, and democracy. However, arguing that Barack Obama is of the same ilk as Wilson because Mr. Obama "champions unity," or that Hillary Rodham Clinton is so because she believes United States politics should go "beyond ideology," is a specious and hollow argument.
Those who consider themselves in the best tradition of American progressives are far more likely to see themselves in the tradition of Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt and the La Follettes than that of Wilson, whose racist Southern heritage, authoritarian militarism, and rabid antisocialism make him a poor role model for any US politician.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
In response to Mr. Goldberg's recent Opinion piece on progressives: It occurred to me that the leading progressive in the United States must be, by Goldberg's definition, George W. Bush.
President Bush certainly subscribes to John Dewey's theory on the "social possibilities of war," possibilities that include Frederick Lewis Allen's dream of Americans marching in step. And we may not have a George Creel or a Committee on Public Information, but who needs a committee when the president and the vice president themselves are so willing to spout inflammatory – and false – rhetoric?
And let's not forget Goldberg's concern about subverting the intents of the Founders in regard to constitutional guarantees. If progressives want to live in a world with an organic Constitution, it seems to me they must once again look to Bush as a model. (Let's bend the right of privacy just a bit. Let's apply habeas corpus to some, but not to others. Speedy trial? Not if your current residence is Guantánamo Bay.)
I suppose Goldberg is correct in fearing what America would become under a progressive administration. But he needn't worry. Such an administration has proved to be the least popular in modern memory and will shortly be replaced.
Regarding Mr. Goldberg's recent Opinion piece on progressivism: Goldberg's work is always in good humor and impeccably researched, and he makes people uncomfortable with unfounded premises that the "mainstream media" have slipped into public thought.