I would encourage us all, African Americans, Asians, Latinos, Whites, Native Americans to study history. I long for the time when all the human history is taught as one history. I am stronger because you are stronger. I am weaker if you are weak. So we are more alike than we are unlike.
We live in a country where we’re supposed to have freedom of the press and religious freedom, but I think to some degree, there’s a sense of fear in America today, that if you say the wrong thing, what some people will consider what is wrong, if you step out of line, if you dissent, whether you be an entertainer, that somehow and some way this government or the forces to be will come down on you.
What do I believe? As an American I believe in generosity, in liberty, in the rights of man. These are social and political faiths that are part of me, as they are, I suppose, part of all of us. Such beliefs are easy to express. But part of me too is my relation to all life, my religion. And this is not so easy to talk about. Religious experience is highly intimate and, for me, ready words are not at hand.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.
Every two years the American politics industry fills the airwaves with the most virulent, scurrilous, wall-to-wall character assassination of nearly every political practitioner in the country — and then declares itself puzzled that America has lost trust in its politicians.
American liberals and conservatives share much of the same political heritage. Originally the term Liberal referred to the political and economic ideal of liberating individuals from unrepresentative and arbitrary governments. Early liberalism set in motion patterns for the rule of law that would guarantee individual rights, representation in law making, access to the courts, and protection of private property. Both conservatives and liberals are Liberal in this sense. But whereas American conservatives of various stripes have continued to place primary emphasis on individual freedom, the autonomy of private institutions, and limits to government in the economic area, American liberals have more frequently appealed to government to advance the liberation of individuals from economic, racial, and political disadvantages in society as a whole.
I believe the results of focusing our attention and energy on teaching children to read and having an education system that’s responsive to the child and to the parents, as opposed to mired in a system that refuses to change, will make America what we want it to be — a more literate country and a hopefuller country. (January 2001)
Success is somebody else’s failure. Success is the American Dream we can keep dreaming because most people in most places including thirty million of ourselves live wide awake in the terrible reality of poverty.
I know nothing grander better exercise better digestion more positive proof of the past the triumphant result of faith in human kind than a well-contested American national election.
America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered.
As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.
We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.
There are a whole lot of religious people in America, including the majority of Democrats. When we abandon the field of religious discourse — when we ignore the debate about what it means to be a good Christian or Muslim or Jew; when we discuss religion only in the negative sense of where or how it should not be practiced, rather than in the positive sense of what it tells us about our obligations toward one another; when we shy away from religious venues and religious broadcasts because we assume that we will be unwelcome — others will fill the vacuum. And those who do are likely to be those with the most insular views of faith, or who cynically use religion to justify partisan ends.
People like Eugene Debs, Helen Keller, Emma Goldman, Jack London and Upton Sinclair were wonderful writers who joined the movement against war and injustice, against capitalism and corporate power. That was a very exciting period in American history.
The pretense in disputed elections is that the great conflict is between the two major parties. The reality is that there is a much bigger conflict that the two parties jointly wage against large numbers of Americans who are represented by neither party and against powerless millions around the world.
Politics is the best show in America. I love animals and I love politicians and I love to watch both of ’em play either back home in their native state or after they have been captured and sent to the zoo or to Washington.
To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
Ultimately, America’s answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired.