If only Twain had instead indulged in post-modern, funny-sign-making, we’re-too-cool-to-actually-protest wankery.
Commenter MikeBoyScout writes:
I’m pretty sure all the Very Serious People in 1860 knew we’d always need and have slaves, and that racism was based upon fact.
I just went to an exhibition about Mark Twain yesterday and was struck by how much he sounded like a shrill modern leftie. He accepted evolution as established science, made fun of the idea of the Noah’s ark, wrote with bitter irony about the treatment of indigenous peoples in Australia (a lot of the exhibition was about his writing about his travels to Australia). The tone he took and some of the things he said would be eerily familiar to residents of the contemporary left blogosphere. (I’m sure he wrote all kinds of crazy, racist backwards stuff too, I’m not saying he was a saint.)
I realize this is an unabashedly wankerish, unanswerable question, but is public discourse now at all different from what it was back then? Or are things, at root, pretty much exactly the same?
Things are exactly the same. Passionate, principled people speak up for what they believe is right. That’s a good thing. Those encouraging apathy or a detached ennui (See: Rally 4 Sanity) in response to enormous social injustice are doing more harm than good.
Update: All I can say is, ‘Oy.’