Letter: Need to return to united, not divided states


In response to Al Williams’ letter to the editor regarding the natural, human state of tribalism, I would like to offer a quote or two from one or two men who might be regarded as patriots:

Ulysses S. Grant, speaking to Civil War vets in 1875, speculated that if ever the nation were torn apart again, it would not be split North versus South along the infamous Mason-Dixon Line, the geographic boundary that separated free and slave states. He surmised that in the future the dividing line would be reason itself, with intelligence on one side and ignorance on the other.”

“Austrian philosopher Karl Popper wrote, “The more we try to return to the heroic age of tribalism, the more surely do we arrive at the Inquisition, at the Secret Police, and at a romanticized gangsterism,” a horrible degeneration that begins with the push of a domino — “the suppression of reason and truth.

I quote these entries from “A Warning,” by Anonymous.

Another one is: “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

That was James Madison, April 20, 1795 in “Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, vol. 4, p. 491 (1865)”

Instead of focusing on how we are different, perhaps it is time for us to think about what we have in common as Americans and how we got to this state.

George Washington, in his 1796 “Farewell Address” said, “The unity of government … is a main pillar in the edifice or your real independence.

“From different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth, as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively directed.

“The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.”

In earlier times our rallying cry was, “United we stand; divided we fall.”

In my view, it needs to be again.

Marcia Nelson

Oak Harbor

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