Friday, July 30, 2004

ASIDE: An Historical (?) Note ... in the neighborhood of "CIVILITY" and PUBLIC DISCOURSE

From a 4th of July oration, 1852, in Rochester, NY, in James M. Gregory, ed., Frederick Douglass, the Orator (New York, 1893), pp. 103-06.

Frederick Douglass:


At a time like this, scorching irony, not

convincing argument, is needed. O! had I

the ability, and could reach the nation's ear,

I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of

biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering

sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light

that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle

shower, but thunder. We need the storm,

the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling

of the nation must be quickened; the

conscience of the nation must be roused;

the propriety of the nation must be startled;

the hypocrisy of the nation must be

exposed; and its crimes against God and

man must be proclaimed and denounced.