Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - January 11, 2015

Brian Gongol

Podcast: Updated weekly in the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning. Subscribe on Stitcher, Spreaker, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or iHeartRadio

Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.

The trouble with labeling the enemies of individual liberty

I understand that it's a convenient shorthand to refer to our enemies as having an "XX" century worldview. (Some people say 12th, some say 8th, some say others.) But that shorthand does a disservice to our understanding of what they are and what existed in the past.

There have been brilliant, open-minded, innovative thinkers in every age. We had the Great Enlightenment, of course, but before that, we had Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). There were great ages of innovation in places like China that are virtually invisible to modern American students of history (but they were no less innovative for it), and before them there were the great Greek and Roman philosophers and orators.

Open-mindedness didn't start in 1964 with the Civil Rights Act, nor in 1865 with the Constitutional abolishment of slavery, nor in 1776. It's always been around, but it always requires advocacy and robust defense. And it has to get better all the time.

It's not really fair to our own ancestors -- whomever they were or whereever they were from -- to dismiss any previous century as being a time of brutality or stupidity. Maybe they were; maybe they weren't. But we do know that *not everybody* was, which means that at some point, people had a *choice* whether or not to be that way.

We always have that choice. We have it now. We just have other tools today that make it much more consequential if someone chooses brutishness rather than enlightenment. They can crash planes into buildings, record beheadings and show them to an entire planet, and carry out all other kinds of hideous and unimaginable deeds. But it's lazy and dangerous to call that "XX"-century thinking.

Because it's the kind of behavior that's been around for the entirety of human history, and it's a choice that people make in every age -- whether to be open, civilized, and enlightened...or not.

That choice has to be justified with every successive generation. It has to be taught deliberately from every parent to every child. And it has to be something of which we remind ourselves all the time. We sometimes get fat and lazy. We get sclerotic. And it's important to shape up and get fit again before the heart attack catches up with us.

It's always a choice. Nobody in the past was shackled to brutishness because of the age in which they lived. Neither is anyone today. Our enemies are armed for the 21st Century. They have the knowledge of the 21st Century. They have the choices of the 21st Century. They just choose against enlightenment, civilization, and liberty. We shouldn't lull ourselves into a false confidence about inevitable victory just because we have the same tools, too. We must be clever, tough, and willing to pass on the reason for our dignities and liberties. It's not inevitable that they will triumph. We have to make it so.

This week

News The freedom to satirize is as meaningful a human right as the freedom to worship in peace

News Free community college? How much will it cost?
$60 billion over ten years, says one estimate. We'll have to see whether they payoff exceeds the expense when the details are finally revealed.

News President Obama wants "free" community college
Here's the biggest problem: It's not "free", it's just "free" to the student, whose part in the process is to "attend community college at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and make steady progress toward completing their program." While it's true and valid to note that some kind of technical training or associate's degree is probably today's functional equivalent of yesterday's high-school diploma, this proposal needs a lot more thought before it will look like a solution to the needs of the economy and the people and not like another indulgence with other people's money.

The United States of America The First Amendment in action
A local politician objects to having his name in the paper, so the paper strikes back. They overstep in making a broad judgment about "conservatives" in general, but overall their editorial is great fun.

Computers and the Internet Are we more anxious because our periodicals aren't very periodical anymore?
A New York Times contributor says the "ICYMI" ("in case you missed it") phenomenon makes us anxious that we're missing out on things all the time -- when it's not possible to catch up on it all

Listen on-demand