Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.

 

Civil Discourse

Kenyon is a small liberal arts college, founded in 1824, from which my son Daniel graduated and where I am attending a seminar on the “Essays” of Montaigne, which he described as his “attempts” to put his thoughts into words. Kenyon is physically and culturally an idyllic place, where civil discourse is still prized as the foundation of both learning and community. The college’s politics are predominantly liberal, and yet a longtime political science professor with neo-conservative views praised it for its openness. “No speaker has ever been disinvited here,” he said.

That is my hope for this blog: a forum where I can "attempt" to write what I think – or what I think I think – and invite you to do the same. I want to open the discussion to other views. I welcome your thoughts on how to do so.

I do not believe that vitriolic partisanship started only in the last few years. The Jeffersonians brutally attacked John Adams and the Federalists returned the broadsides in spades. They were ugly and sometimes violent. But Jefferson and Adams renewed their friendship before they both died on July 4, 1826, America’s 50th Independence Day. What is different now, I worry, is that even the ideal of civic discourse is under attack, the notion that political rivals can be personal friends seems a fading memory, and forums for the true exchange of ideas grow fewer. Yet that ideal is the foundation of our political system. We cannot have a republic without it.

Keep Your Eye on Mississippi

Irony in Black and White