Henry L. Mencken

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Henry L. Mencken

Innlegg Panther 11 Sep 2010, 15:55


H.L. Mencken, Au Contraire
10 September 2010 Edward Cline

One of the most astute, devastating, and frequently amusing observers of American politics and culture was Henry L. Mencken (1880-1956).

“So far as I can make out, I believe in only one thing: liberty.“

Henry L. Mencken to Ernest Boyd, 1925

It is rare any more that I do not feel compelled to address the rise of statism in this country, abetted as it is by the Millionaire Mendicants of Capitol Hill, the Mooners of Mecca, or the Mariachi Marauders of the Southwest. Not to mention the Ground Zero Gang. One of the most astute, devastating, and frequently amusing observers of American politics and culture was Henry L. Mencken (1880-1956). His “talent to amuse” is never pointless or irrelevant to the subjects of his scrutiny. It is always employed to make a point. The “Sage of Baltimore” once quipped, “The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it." How true. Look to Washington, or any state capital.

I enjoy his journalistic style, which is consistently infused with acerbic wit and benign contempt. It is rarely vitriolic or bitter. And I concur with most of his observations, most of which still ricochet today with embarrassing veracity. I have not been able to find an exception to that rule. As a keen auditor of human behavior, he dealt in timeless universals and verities. One wonders what he would have to say about the likes of President Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel, and that whole, altruistically ambitious gang. They are, after all, moved by the urge to save America, even if it means ruling it. And they have demonstrated that they do want to rule. Regimes rule. Republics govern.

Mencken also noted (and this is Mencken, not me):

It is the invariable habit of bureaucracies, at all times and everywhere, to assume...that every citizen is a criminal. Their one apparent purpose, pursued with a relentless and furious diligence, is to convert the assumption into a fact. They hunt endlessly for proofs, and, when proofs are lacking, for mere suspicions. The moment they become aware of a definite citizen, John Doe, seeking what is his right under the law, they begin searching feverishly for an excuse for withholding it from him.
Ken-G. Johansen.
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