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an earlier south carolina rep's indecorum

When I learned that a South Carolina representative had been the man who heckled the president tonight, I thought of another South Carolina representative who breached decorum when our Union was even more divided between North and South: Congressman Preston Brooks’s caning of Sen. Charles Sumner in 1856.  I wonder if Rep. Joe Wilson’s shout of “You lie!” will be defended as vigorously in some quarters as Rep. Brooks’s caning was in the Southern press.

Here’s a comment I left on an unrelated post last month:

I don't think there's been a time in U.S. history (I can't pretend to speak of other countries' histories, hubris or no hubris) when so many people's sources of news were so biased. I've read about the campaign of 1800, the newspapers leading up to the Civil War, and yellow journalism, but I don't think they rival today's media for misinformation and vituperation. One national poll this month found that only 42 percent of respondents who identify themselves as Republicans believe that Obama was born in America. (He'd be constitutionally ineligible for the presidency if he were not, of course.) That statistic amazes me. What does it take to come to that conclusion concerning Obama's birth despite all evidence to the contrary? One talks in terms of facts, but one puts more credence on what the party (or racial or media) line is than on the facts. Facts can be twisted, you know? But I know who I am and what team I'm on.

The ramifications of such thinking are frightening.

 

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