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Letters: Persuasion vs. demonization

Re "Myths to ditch in 2014," Opinion, Dec. 31

In a departure from speaking like one of the insular Republicans who criticize the Democrats in tones guaranteed to meet with closed-mindedness, Jonah Goldberg did both sides a service with this column.

He got my attention by confessing that polarization by the right is as deleterious to the legislative process as that of the left. He closed with a plea in 2014 for more tolerance and effort at mutual understanding on both sides.

My wish for 2014 is that he become an exemplar of his own advice. If so, we on the left whom he is trying to influence will be more receptive to his ideas. In turn, his readers in the chorus on the right might also be motivated — or shamed, in the case of the tea party — into moderation .

Our nation will be twice blessed if he succeeds.

Roger Schwarz

Los Angeles

Judging by his denunciation of political polarization, Goldberg misses, as do I, the far more civilized debate of many years ago epitomized by William F. Buckley on his TV show, "Firing Line."

The music of Bach set the tone as it opened and closed each show. Ideas were expounded passionately by articulate speakers, almost always without rancor or name-calling.

John Kenneth Galbraith, a frequent guest on Buckley's show, could be counted on to take positions contrary to the host's. While my own views are closer to those of Galbraith, Buckley succeeded in changing my mind from time to time inasmuch as his talent was the art of persuasion and not that of demonization.

The difference in style and tone between a Buckley or a Galbraith and, say, a Rush Limbaugh, a Glenn Beck or a Lawrence O'Donnell is the difference between a master of articulate argument and a nasty scold. The latter can often be counted upon to be factually challenged.

Les Zador

Encino

Dear Jonah: OK, you first.

Kerry Drake

Anaheim Hills

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