A.J. DiCintio
A deaf ear for the old verities
By A.J. DiCintio
June 23, 2013

Accepting the Nobel Prize in December, 1950, William Faulkner urged aspiring authors of serious fiction to reject a fearful obsession with the question "when will I be blown up?" in favor of choosing the "anguish and travail" they are certain to suffer when, with unmitigated honesty, they engage "problems of the spirit," the only thing "worth writing about."

With respect to how writers can turn away from fear (to which, we should add, the urge to produce mere agitation/propaganda) and toward literature's highest purpose, the great novelist from Oxford, Mississippi, offered only one thought:

They must, he argued, leave "no room in [their] workshop for anything but the old verities lacking which [an author writes] not of love but lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope, and, worst of all, without pity and compassion."

However, the human mind's fundamental propensity to favor immediate gratification despite dire long-term consequences and expediency over principle no matter the resulting horror means that the failure to heed the old verities plagues not just writers but every person, with the most egregious offenders by far being the incorrigible hypocrites who populate the class of humanity called politicians.

With the Republic being corrupted and corroded today by a number of the most pernicious scandals it has ever suffered, Faulkner's advice comes to mind as far too many of the federal government's oxymoronically titled leaders, especially Establishment Republicans who talk a good show about the primacy of principle, choose to remain deaf to an ancient verity Washington mentioned in his Farewell Address.

Specifically, the one he addressed when he warned citizens ever to be on guard against the dangers posed by "that love of power and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart."

Elsewhere in the Address, Washington further established the crucial importance of that verity as well as its everlasting relevance when he advised the American people to be eternally on guard against this deadly effect caused by the love of power (emphasis added).

"All obstructions to the execution of the law [by government officials], under whatever plausible character. . .are destructive of [democracy] and of fatal tendency. They serve. . .to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the WILL OF A PARTY. . . [through which] cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men. . . subvert the will of the people. . . to usurp for themselves the reins of government. . ."

Everlasting relevance, indeed, for what except the abuse of power aimed at promoting the "will of a party" is the root cause of the multi-pronged war the current government is waging against citizens it deems political enemies.

Of course, warnings bequeathed to us about the truths of human nature cannot be heard by politicians who are deaf to the old verities.

To exemplify, we can choose from any number of names, including that of Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), who argues that the NSA needs the extraordinary power to record and store every phone call, email, and internet search made by the American people even as he proposes no real, pragmatic, equally extraordinary measures to protect the USA from being transformed into the KGB by a program that, to borrow from Justice Kennedy in the "Obamacare" case, "changes the relationship of the Federal Government to the individual in a very fundamental way."

Apparently, Congressman Rogers so trusts the steely integrity of politicians, bureaucrats, their groveling minions, and even the judges of the FISA court that he doesn't think it necessary, for example, to enact special whistleblower protections and incentives with respect to NSA workers and all other federal employees, as well as make the illegal use of information the agency collects a felony punishable with draconian jail time to be served in a supermax prison by every last person involved in the scheme.

But the congressman's insult to the public doesn't end with his shocking appeal we ought to "trust Washington," for joining others (including the president) who have made insulting the citizenry all the rage these days, Rogers supplemented his deafness to ancient truths with the claim the NSA program is a "lockbox."

You read that right. In true federal "leader" fashion, he defended the NSA status quo by invoking the image of the mythical Social Security Trust Fund "lockbox," the abomination into which the federal government deposited more than two trillion tax dollars paid through the agonizing sweat of millions upon millions of workers and from which a long, dirty list of Congresses and presidents have stolen every last penny.

In another mighty insult to morality and intellectuality, Rogers' comments amazingly come at a time when the nation is mired in a filthy, unprecedented mess of scandals whereby for purely political and ideological purposes, government officials and, likely, their stooges in the private sector are using the full force of the federal government to suppress the constitutional rights of ordinary citizens and journalists.

To stand for all who have had their constitutional rights trampled upon, we need mention only the numerous Tea Party groups who have been harassed and unfairly treated by the IRS and Sharyl Attkisson, the CBS reporter whose computer mysteriously began turning on in the middle of the night apparently because she was committing the terroristic act of investigating the plethora of reeking administration behaviors with respect to Benghazi.

In one further, astonishingly ironic insult, this deafness to the old verities comes at a time when the public has, time and again, witnessed the rotten, repulsive arrogance displayed by every slimy, sycophantic, contemptuous administration bigwig who has been called to testify before Congress regarding the multiple scandals.

When we are asked, then, to accept the motto, "In the federal government we trust," our response must be a resounding No! as we rededicate ourselves to the Jeffersonian principle that an all powerful central government is inherently poisonous to the life, freedom, and prosperity of the people, recall the old verity that "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," and relentlessly demand that the squalid, poisonous stable that the nation's capital has become be flushed clean and the power loving, power abusing criminals responsible for creating it punished commensurately for their high crimes.

Finally, a truly important novel could be wrought from the fearful stink that has engulfed the nation. . . but only by a genuine descendant of William Faulkner who, by definition, would religiously and exclusively heed the old verities no matter the cost.

© A.J. DiCintio


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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A.J. DiCintio

A.J. DiCintio posts regularly at RenewAmerica and YourNews.com. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up. Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and polished by experience, to social/political affairs.


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