He Said That? 4/19/17

From Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924), American politician and academic who served as the 28th President of the United States from 1913 to 1921, address to a joint session of Congress recommending that Germany’s course be declared war against the United States (April 2, 1917), Albert Shaw, ed., The Messages and Papers of Woodrow Wilson (1924):

It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts, for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free. To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.

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2 responses to “He Said That? 4/19/17

  1. At first blush, it’s hard to know what is worse; that he was a lying opportunist, or sincere. Upon further reflection, it is apparent that the latter is far more dangerous. All but the most deranged – and essentially dysfunctional – sociopaths have some limit imposed by conscience, but the True Believer* is under no such constraint. As Mencken put it:
    The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.
    And on a closely related subject:
    The believing mind is externally impervious to evidence. The most that can be accomplished with it is to induce it to substitute one delusion for another. It rejects all overt evidence as wicked . . .

    * Which reminds me: Eric Hoffer, The True Believer richly merits a prominent role in the “SLL Literary Circle” mentioned in comments a few posts back.

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    • I’ve never read the whole book, just excerpts, so I didn’t include it. However, from the excerpts I believe you are correct, and I intend to read it forthwith.

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