Na­tion never in greater peril

The Beaufort Gazette (Sunday) - - Opinion -

I regis­tered as a Demo­crat in 1974 in Durham, N.C. While I rarely voted for one in those 44 years, I do not con­sider my­self a Repub­li­can ei­ther.

I am an Amer­i­can, with a deep and broad un­der­stand­ing of Amer­i­can his­tory nour­ished by a half cen­tury of deep read­ing and 25 years of lec­tur­ing as an av­o­ca­tional his­to­rian. I am ap­palled by the cir­cus cur­rently be­ing played out by the U.S. Sen­ate and a trans­par­ently par­ti­san me­dia. We have en­tered an era just as dan­ger­ous as the 1850s, which led to a bloody, con­vul­sive and un­nec­es­sary civil war in the 1860s.

While there are many books that might shed light through the his­tor­i­cal lens on our present cir­cum­stances, there is one that stands out: a re­cent pub­li­ca­tion by the late New Eng­land his­to­rian Thomas Flem­ing en­ti­tled “A Dis­ease in the Pub­lic Mind.”

Best known for his writ­ings on the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary-era, this fresh, in­sight­ful and orig­i­nal study tack­les the Civil War era by go­ing back to our be­gin­nings to ex­plain how in­tol­er­ance, self-right­eous­ness, and an un­will­ing­ness to com­pro­mise wed to jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for vi­o­lence lead in­evitably to tragic con­se­quences.

In sum­mary, from the Salem witch tri­als, to tar­iffs and nul­li­fi­ca­tion right through Pro­hi­bi­tion and the McCarthy era, Flem­ing uses his­tory as a lantern to il­lu­mi­nate our clear and present dan­ger.

If the ma­lig­nant par­ti­san­ship of our present times are not chal­lenged, blunted and re­versed, we have cho­sen to in­au­gu­rate an­other civil war. We have

never placed our­selves in greater dan­ger. This mad­ness must stop.

– Steve Quick Hil­ton Head Is­land

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