Curtis Dahlgren
Polemicism in a free nation ("consensus"? -- what consensus?)
By Curtis Dahlgren
October 19, 2010

"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." — Hamilton Fish (American statesman)

"It is unfortunate, considering that enthusiasm moves the world, that so few enthusiasts can be trusted to speak the truth." — Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930)

THE LBJ ADMINISTRATION WAS A SELF-DESCRIBED "CONSENSUS" GOVERNMENT — and we know how badly that turned out, don't we? Whether we like it or not, there's an "us versus them" tug-of-war goring on over the fate of the Western World, and especially, Americanism.

SO, boys and girls,
the word-for-the-day is "consensus." This word is related to "consent." Ayto's Dictionary of Word Origins says that the premise underlying consent (giving one's consent) is 'feeling together.'

In other words, the underlying notion is emotion, not hard facts, and other words related to "consent" are sentiment and "consensus." A consensus is not the same thing as "concord" — which is "to be of one mind."

[If you look in a dictionary, polemicism lies between polecat and "police-state." In other words, the only thing between dead skunks in the "middle of the road" and a Police State today are our polemicists (i.e., dissenters).]

"Matters of fact are stubborn things." — Matthew Tindal (1657-1733)

"It is not my part as an historian to play the part of a prophet. Nevertheless, I am convinced that if we are not willing and ready to live up to the facts, we shall perish in our incurable ignorance and stupidity." — Dr. Arthur Voobus

Speaking of ignorance and stupidity, our publicly educated young people — of the constantly "texting" generation (texting with virtually zero literacy) — have been conditioned by public education to "blend in" rather than to stand OUT. Don't make waves. Don't rock the boat. Don't ask too many questions. Don't be a "DIVIDER"! Don't be a polemicist. Don't even aspire to out-perform other people (as a recent article from Britain details):

When President Oboma said last year in France that Americans ought to appreciate Europe's "leading role in the world," what did he really mean? I don't know — I think he meant that Europe's democratic socialism (an oxymoron if I ever saw one) is superior to traditional Americanism, and thus an unstoppable inevitability! But perhaps the death of Americanism has been exaggerated.

"Education is the motor-force of revolution," said William Ayres.

The Left is counting on us geezers dying off and leaving behind a generation of "new Soviet-Americans" totally conditioned to, like, blend in — in the new 'Utopian Paradise.'

While making an attempt to clean up my kitchen table, I've also been catching up on some old reading. I came across the March 24, 2008 issue of National Review. That's the Bill Buckley, Jr. memorial edition, and it contains enough meaty material for several weeks' worth of columns. One excerpt I want to highlight is from Buckley's speech at NR's 30th anniversary celebration in 1990 — this one to be exact:

"A year before NATIONAL REVIEW was founded, I spent an evening with Whittaker Chambers, and he asked me . . half seriously, what exactly it was that my prospective journal would seek to save. I trotted out a few platitudes . . [and] he wrestled with me by obtruding the dark historicism for which he had become renowned.

Don't you see? he said. The West is doomed, so that any effort to save it is correspondingly doomed to failure.

"I drop this ink stain on the bridal whiteness of this fleeted evening only to acknowledge soberly that we are still a long way from establishing for sure that Whittaker Chambers was wrong. But that night, challenged by his pessimism, I said to him that if it were so that providence had rung up our license on liberty, stamping it as expired, the Republic deserved a journal that would argue the historical and moral case that we ought to have survived: that, weighing the alternative, the culture of liberty deserves to survive.

"So that even if the worst were to happen, the journal which I hoped he would collaborate might serve, so to speak, as the diaries of Anne Frank had served, as absolute dispositive proof that
she should have survived, in place of her tormentors — who ultimately perished . . . "

That's the basic idea underlying this columnist's columns. Some of my best friends are probably wondering why I would waste my time writing more than 360 columns on a "hopeless cause" — AMERICA. Nevertheless, I see it as time well invested, if for no other reasons but to chronicle how things got to this point and to make the allegation that America should have — and could have — SURVIVED!

This week's column is an adaptation of one I posted in mid-January last year, just before the inauguration Here's an except from that one:

It's ten below zero this morning and most of the schools are closed. What a bunch of Nannies we have become! I can remember the blizzards of the late-1940s and the nasty wind-chills of the 70s and 80s — the last great "global cooling" scare. The temperatures this January shouldn't surprise us since Milwaukee, Wisconsin never even reached 90 last summer. The earth has been cooling since about 2001, you know (or didn't they tell you that in school?).

I used to say that the powers-that-be would tax the air we breathe in, if they could. I WAS WRONG. They are now proposing to tax the air we breathe OUT (and they could, if we let them get their way with us). We breathe out (horror of horrors!) carbon dioxide. The more people breathing, the more breathing out of CO2 (the gas used during photosynthesis by plants). Maybe that's one of many reasons we have more trees now in the U.S. than when the white man arrived here (a scientific study in Europe years ago said that air pollution made trees grow faster by acting as a foliar fertilizer).

As for consensus, the January 09 issue of Townhall magazine says, "Reducing your carbon footprint in the wake of Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth' was the hottest thing for liberal elites and celebrities alike, but their sell to the American people seems to have gotten stale."

Dr. Roy Spencer writes that the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change "is supported by climate thugs who run the website where they demonize any scientists who dare to disagree with the 'scientific consensus' on global warming. These folks still don't realize something that even the public knows: 'Consensus' is a political term, not a scientific one." [Spencer is the author of a New York Times best-seller, "Climate Confusion."

Spencer mentions that Roy Ennis, chairman of the Congress On Racial Equality, has a book out titled "Energy Keepers, Energy Killers: The New Civil Rights Battle." Ennis says that the fad of feeling guilty about the use of fossil fuels ends up killing people, mainly the poor [by driving up the price of food through ethanol "mandates" for example].

By the way, another book I've been meaning to mention is "The Intellectual Moron" by Daniel Flynn. Academia is terminally ill with the disease of over-specialization (plus politicization). The problem with Big Education is the curriculum, not the amount of money being spent. Someone once said:

"People have a way of sinking to your expectations of them."

The Milwaukee public schools spend a Billion Dollars a year — and half of the kids drop out (but don't you dare "criticize" the education Establishment)! . . .


Not unlike the late William F. Buckley, Jr. I still have some hopes for America at least, if not America and the British Isles. One reason to hope is this: I remember the last time the elites tried to ram a European idea down our throats- the metric system! The establishment was sure that it could "sell" us the idea, but we Americans just weren't "buying" it. Many city time and temperature signs still offer us the temp in celsius (a poignant reminder that Americans are a special breed that's not very establishment-oriented).

Now that the "sixties" hippies are the Establishment, our survival may hinge upon how many people can still "question authority." One of the best columns I ever wrote was entitled "Why did the English-speaking people capitalize the word 'I'?" [ ]

Life is a paradox, and in the Utopian world of "collectivism," the Individual doesn't really matter much. The English-speaking peoples have never had much use for "consensus" by any other name. That's why Americans wanted to get as far away from Europe as they could. In the great Sifting Out of the early American period, it was decisions made one-by-one by Individuals that brought a special breed to the New World. These people and their offspring became the most creative people on earth because, under our Constitution, the Individual was not "stifled"! As Balfour's complete quote put it:

"For [thousands of] years society has depended upon individuals for those creative achievements of mind and spirit that have guided us along the path of civilization. The spark form heaven falls. Who picks it up? The Crowd? Never. The individual? Always.

"It is he and he alone, as artist, inventor, explorer, scholar, scientist, spiritual leader or statesman, who stand nearest the source of life [and its] essence. Wisdom and virtue cannot be forced from a Crowd as eggs from chickens under electric lights. There is no such thing as general intelligence. There is only individual intelligence communicating itself to other individual intelligences . . . "

[However] — "It is unfortunate, considering that enthusiasm moves the world, that so few enthusiasts can be trusted to speak the truth."

In news headlines-of-the-week, the world watched the rescue of the Chilean miners. Shockingly, some lefty American pundits tried to make the case that they would have died if they had had the "Tea party mentality" (more focus on individuality than "community"). The facts left conveniently out of those arguments are that American technology is the only thing that made their rescue remotely possible (a tiny Wisconsin camera and a Pennsylvania company's drill bit that made a 21 inch hole through solid rock, for example). That and a conservative President down there who accepted helpful suggestions and focused like a laser-beam on the "problem"!

And in concluding his 30th anniversary speech, Bill Buckley said:

"I pray that my son, when he is 60, and your son, when he is 60, and the sons and daughters of our guests here tonight [including Pres. Reagan} will live in a world from which the great ugliness that has scarred our century has passed.

"Enjoying their freedoms, they will be grateful that, at the threatened nightfall, the blood of their fathers ran strong."

© Curtis Dahlgren


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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