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'The New Illiterates'

May 19, 1991

Gitlin charges D'Souza with "overkill," says he "overdoes his case," "is likely to inflame a controversy that dearly requires the calm and civil reason that D'Souza rages he believes in," and that "his hysteria will only exacerbate the illiberal moods."

When I was a child, I spent the summer on an uncle's farm. One day, while trying to milk a fractious cow, he finally gave up attempting to gentle the animal to settle down and give its milk, knowing well that if it didn't get properly milked it would subsequently create other problems for itself and for him.

In exasperation, he reached for a nearby 2-by-4 and gave the cow a solid whack. The cow settled down to perform. I was shocked. When I protested, he said, "That was to get the cow's attention, not to hurt it."

Prof. Gitlin is absolutely correct: Calm and civil discourse is necessary to find a reasonable balance. But, a bully is a bully is a bully, no matter if it takes the form of Saddam Hussein or an agenda, the representatives of which shout down those like the good professor attempting to find balance through reason.

Reasoned discourse cannot flower in a noisy arena for axe-grinding intimidation . . . Twenty years of screeching axe-grinding for a universe of "causes," with the concomitant rolling-over of those empowered and responsible to wield a 2-by-4, has created a necessity for someone, anyone, even Dinesh D'Souza, to bring more directly and effectively to our attention the growing disabilities we all will face as America becomes ever more victimized by the radical and marginalized axe-grinders on both left and right.

For then the "achievements of liberty, equality, reason and empathy" will be tossed out like the baby with the bathwater in an orgy of Balkanization.

PC is anathema, for intolerance is intolerance is intolerance. I applaud Todd Gitlin for his desire to find balance. I appreciate Dinesh D'Souza for raising a big enough stink to cause all of us to think again about the necessity for reason to find balance.


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