Victor Hanson’s “We’re in a new inquisition” describes the unwillingness of people — citizens, academics, government — to grant others a right to voice differing views, and their willingness to impose reprisals on those who do.
We’ve seen this movie before, and we know how it ends. The great horrors of the 20th century came of the attempts by tyrants, on the far left and far right alike, to control the lives and beliefs of others. Communism, National Socialism, fascism, the Khmer Rouge: almost a billion people subjugated under totalitarian rule; over a hundred million killed. This is the legacy of the enlightened “-isms” of the 20th century.
How did such noble ideals end at that? Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose” describes it succinctly: “The step between ecstatic vision and sinful frenzy is all too brief.”
At the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., carved in marble, are these words: “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
Listen — respectfully listen — to differing views. However noble you may think your ideals, remember the 20th century, when visions became sinful frenzy.