Principle - and peace - before public opinion

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2003

I have two very unoriginal thoughts after listening to that incredible piece of demagoguery that was our president's State of the Union address. The first is a remark attributed to 18th century Englishman Samuel Johnson by his biographer, Boswell:

"Patriotism having become one of our topics, Johnson suddenly uttered, in a strong, determined tone, an apothegm at which many will start: 'Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.' But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak for self interest."

The second is a quote from this country's second president, John Adams, who was defeated for a second term in office because he refused to exploit the war fever then being directed at France by the popular press and many politicians: "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war."

John Adams put principle before public opinion polls and went to his grave with a clear conscience. I wonder how our president, his advisors and the congressional representatives of both parties, who gave him carte blanche to wage this unnecessary war, will feel after they have indulged themselves in the president's emotional rhetoric.

David Crosby


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