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Did Lincoln foretell today's dishonesty in politics with his 1838 Lyceum speech?

Did Lincoln foretell today's dishonesty in politics with his 1838 Lyceum speech?
An audience member holds a "fake news" sign during a Trump rally in Michigan on April 28. (Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

To the editor: Abraham Lincoln would agree with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg that any serious danger to the existence of the U.S. must arise internally, and not by an external threat such as communism or terrorism. ("Bloomberg warns that an 'epidemic of dishonesty' threatens U.S. democracy," May 12)

Speaking of dangers to the country in 1838 at the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Ill., Lincoln said: "If it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time or die by suicide."

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The current trajectory of the U.S. is reminiscent of the decline of the Roman Empire, when political expediency, intimidation, deceit, a desire to win at all costs and power concentrated in an individual trumped the historical norms of societal behavior — making acceptable what had been unthinkable.

Darrel Miller, Santa Monica

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To the editor: Bloomberg's commencement speech on the value of truth-telling reminds me of an incident involving Gustav Holst, composer of "The Planets," which was premiered publicly in 1920, two years after World War I ended.

The suite opens with an ominous depiction of Mars, "The Bringer of War." The British audience at the premiere, with the devastation of the war still fresh in their minds, was wondering if the piece was in response to the war.

Holst could easily have caved in to the public wish and claimed that it indeed reflected the horrors of the war to further market his composition. However, he insisted that "Mars" was composed before the war started in 1914.

An honest man can often be a publicist's headache.

Dienyih Chen, Redondo Beach

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