Wednesday, May 17, 2023

The enemy within

Alan Jacobs, who reads a lot and seems to remember it all, quotes from an 1897 speech by William James. I was unfamiliar with the speech but not its subject, Robert Gould Shaw. A portion Jacobs quotes may seem especially applicable today:
The deadliest enemies of nations are not their foreign foes; they always dwell within their borders. And from these internal enemies civilization is always in need of being saved. The nation blest above all nations is she in whom the civic genius of the people does the saving day by day, by acts without external picturesqueness; by speaking, writing, voting reasonably; by smiting corruption swiftly; by good temper between parties; by the people knowing true men when they see them, and preferring them as leaders to rabid partisans or empty quacks. ....
Alan Jacobs, "From William James’s speech at the dedication of a memorial in Boston to a soldier named Robert Gould Shaw (1887)," May 16, 2023.

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