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01/20/2005 Entry: "Emerson's Hobgoblins"

"'A foolish consistency,' wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, 'is the hobgoblin of little minds.' An otherwise unreadable 19th century essayist who has driven more students out of American lit courses than James Fenimore Cooper and Alice Walker combined, Emerson became the patron saint of opinion columnists everywhere with that happy thought. (A hobgoblin is a malicious ghost; like Ann Coulter with a sense of humor, I suppose.) Emerson didnít mean that consistency itself was suspect, only the foolish kind, 'adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.' Little statesmen like Fearless Leader, I suppose, incapable of admitting even other peopleís errors if somebody might think he changed his mind.
Getting the best of the hobgoblins, by Gene Lyons, January 19, 2005

Too many people have died or been maimed by bushco's hobgoblins. Enough already.


Getting the best of the hobgoblins
Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2005

URL: http://www.nwanews.com/story/adg/105351

"A foolish consistency," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is the
hobgoblin of
little minds." An otherwise unreadable 19th century
essayist who has
driven more students out of American lit courses than James
Fenimore
Cooper and Alice Walker combined, Emerson became the patron
saint of
opinion columnists everywhere with that happy thought. (A
hobgoblin is a
malicious ghost; like Ann Coulter with a sense of humor, I
suppose.)
Emerson didnít mean that consistency itself was suspect,
only the
foolish kind, "adored by little statesmen and philosophers
and divines."
Little statesmen like Fearless Leader, I suppose, incapable
of admitting
even other peopleís errors if somebody might think he
changed his mind.

Washington Post reporters recently asked George W. Bush why
nobody had
been held accountable for screw-ups in Iraq such as
nonexistent weapons
of mass destruction or the citizenryís failure to strew
flowers in the
path of American invaders, as administration ideologues
predicted.

The president responded with a non sequitur. "We had an
accountability
moment," he said, "and thatís called the 2004 elections.
The American
people listened to different assessments made about what
was taking
place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and
chose me."

Louis XIV, 17 th century king of France, put it more
succinctly:
"Líetat, cíest moi." (I am the state.) But I digress, and
somewhat
predictably.

My inability to apprehend Bushís famous charm, much less
his alleged
humility, guarantees a slew of even more predictable
e-mails from
furious supporters informing me that Iím twisted with
unreasoning hatred
for this fine, Christian leader.

Some urge me to seek spiritual or professional help. Others
content
themselves with animadversions about my imagined personal
life, normally
very wide of the mark. They can be unintentionally funny.
Suddenly every
Rush Limbaugh fan thinks heís an FBI profiler. Somebody
should remind
them that accusing dissenters of being crazy ainít
conservative; itís
the hallmark of authoritarian governments everywhere.
Anyway, in the
interest of more stimulating correspondence, a few
unsolicited,
hopefully inconsistent opinions on topics in the news:

An awful lot of what people call "Christian" on TV is sheer
tribalism.
Iím thinking of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson first
blaming 9/11 on
homos and unwed mothers, then backpedaling when that didnít
play. Also,
the following charming observations on MSNBCís "Scarborough
Country"
from William Donohue, Ph. D., of the Catholic League, a
right-wing
organization purporting to represent the church: "Who
really cares what
Hollywood thinks?... Hollywood is controlled by secular
Jews who hate
Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. Itís
not a
secret, OK? And Iím not afraid to say it. Hollywood likes
anal sex. They
like to see the public square without Nativity scenes. I
like families.
I like children. They like abortions."

Youíd think a church hierarchy negotiating hush money with
altar boys
would distance itself from this loon. Youíd think TV talk
shows would
hesitate to put him on the air. Youíd be wrong on both
counts. On an
anatomically related topic, Armstrong Williams likely
wasnít the only
Beltway pundit on the take from the Bush administration.
Iíll bet the
Tight Sphincter Club has plenty of members about now. See,
FCC
regulations make it a jailable offense to be a paid
spokesman without
disclosure. According to a recent survey in the Los Angeles
Times, only
one American in three knows who delivered the Sermon on the
Mount. No
point asking, "What Would Jesus Do?" They havenít got a
clue.

Astonishing public ignorance is the great unmentionable of
American
journalism. Remember that when the Iraq war started, only
17 percent of
U.S. students could find it on a map. That explains a lot.

That Red Sox first-baseman hoarding the ball he caught for
the last
World Series out is being a jerk. I watch maybe 200 games a
season, and
I wouldnít walk across the street to see it. A baseballís
pretty much a
baseball. But to some fans, itís like a holy relic. A guy
paid $1.75
million a year "for defensive purposes" ought to show some
respect and
hand it over. Pundits who used the Indianapolis
Pacers-Detroit Pistons
brawl to trash the NBA for playing "street ball" and other
euphemisms
for "irresponsible Negroes" canít have seen many games
recently.
Featuring players from 34 countries, the NBAís gone
world-class, and the
level of play is higher than ever. Any knowledgeable fan
could put
together an international All-Star team that a U. S.-only
team would
struggle against. Campus reformers struggling against
certain kinds of
"sexism" are doomed to fail. Jocks and babes have always
gotten more
attention than they deserve, always will. Read "The Iliad."
The Trojan
War started over a babe (Helen), and a jock (Achilles) got
all the
attention. Homer knew. Speaking of Trojans, I enjoyed
watching effete
blue-state Southern Cal humiliate red-state Oklahoma in the
Orange Bowl.
Arkansas visits Southern Cal next October. Houston Nutt
could get fired
at half-time.

ē Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author
and recipient
of the National Magazine Award.

http://www.nwanews.com/story.php?paper=adg

 

 

 

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