Monday, May 09, 2005

Classic work from a class man

One of the trite concepts of the day is the polarized electorate and political debate. Why can't we all just get along . . . with Hillary.

Many people, too many people, perceive this as an admonition to read things with which you disagree. Somehow, though, I think most of them mean, if you disagree with them, then you should read things with which you disagree. Cass Sunstein makes such an argument.

Personally, I follow Reagan's view: A Communist is someone who has read Marx. An anti-Communist is someone who understands Marx.

Even so, you can never be sure of your own views, and so it is nice to find someone with whom you disagree whom you can nonetheless respect. And, in addition to this personal validation of your own reasonableness, it is important politically, too: If we have nothing in common, not even procedure and truth, then we're on a path to trouble.

Nat Hentoff is the too-rare example of someone whose views are always worth examining, regardless of whether you agree with him. One, he's an interesting man. Two, he's an interesting writer. Three, he's scrupulously principled and fair. For me, he is an especial delight, because he sails left while I sail right. In any case, this week's missive on Janice Rogers Brown is typical Hentoff work. I can only hope to live up to his example.

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