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‘I come here to yell’

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    This public domain photograph from the Library of Congress was taken by Thomas J. O’Halloran for U.S. News & World Report of attendees at the 1952 Republican National Convention in Chicago. Who at that convention Wheeler McMillen thought were demagogues we cannot say, but among the candidates that year was Gen. Douglas McArthur, who at that time had not yet faded away.


One of our loyal readers, and we do have them, called our attention today to the following article from the magazine “Pathfinder” that ran in THE VINDICATOR on Aug. 7, 1952:


My able and distinguished friend Mr. James C. Derieux, who is now chief of the Washington bureau of Collier’s, was once a reporter on a South Carolina newspaper. His assignment one year was to cover the joint debates in which the Palmetto State’s candidates for Governor regularly engaged. One candidate that year was Coleman Blease, the fire-eater, who defied and loudly decried all the enemies of mankind, including the man-eating shark, Wall Street, the Northern Republicans, and whomever he found daring to run against him.

At one such meeting, after Blease had duly rent the skies, Mr. Derieux decided to collect a few quotations from members of the audience. He found an unshaven American citizen leaning against a tree who seemed to be doing little else except to chew tobacco and to grow a luxuriant mustache.

“Well,” Jim asked, “what did you think about Cole’s speech?”

The citizen took time to expectorate before making his reply but his answer was quotable.

“Think? Thunder, Mister, I didn’t come here to think. I come here to yell.”

The several million Americans who listened last month to the two national political conventions may have wondered to what extent the citizens entrusted with responsibility for selecting candidates for the “most exalted political office in the world” had assembled not to think but to yell.

The voices of demagogues were heard in both conventions. And now, as the campaign opens, one wonders how much demagogism will fill the air, and whether any of it is necessary.

We pride ourselves upon being well-enough educated to govern ourselves. And there is no reason why, when we feel the impulse, we should not yell.

Successful government, however, depends upon understanding. We cannot expect to govern ourselves wisely unless we can know the facts and understand the truth. The demagogue does not permit himself to be handicapped by the fats nor strangled by truth.

—Wheeler McMillen in Pathfinder.


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