"Men in authority will always think that
criticism of their policies is dangerous.
They will always equate their policies with
patriotism, and find criticism subversive."
by:
Henry Steele Commager
(1902-1998) Historian and author
Source:
Freedom and Order, 1966
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Reader comments about this quote:
If this is true (and to a large degree,I believe it is) such men of authority are more dangerous than a fully loaded hand gun in the hands of a 5yr. old in a Kindergarden class.
 -- me again     
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    To which I pray to God that we, as Americans, stop letting the government take what is not theirs to take. Who cares about usurpation? Why would the government go about trying to usurpe liberty and freedom when America, in exchange for perceived security and saftey, are more than willing to freely give them away? The Republican/Conservative fascists are just as free to give up their freedoms and liberties as the Democratic/Liberal socialists are-- In this, they are blood twins, not enemies.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Somebody help me with an exception to this quote.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Rarely do we see our own collusion with this.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    One patriotic policy which should be abolished is The Patriot Act. It should never have been enacted.
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
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    It is hard to believe that Commager, my favorite historian since the late 40s in my college days, was not even aware of the biggest example of his premise in history. I always knew he was a brilliant observer of American history but didn't realize just how prophetic he was.
     -- Jack, Green, OH     
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    An exception: James Earl Carter, Jr. (there are more)
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
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    You are correct about Carter, Joe. He was a man of authority who never thought criticism of him was dangerous, as Commager claims they always do. If ever there was a man of humility it was Jimmy Carter, but I still say George W. Bush was the best example of Commager's claim. I think I'll lower my rating of the quote to four stars because he said they ALL are like that.
     -- Jack, Green, OH     
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    The 'A' from Reston and Jack, thanks for trying to help me out but you've confused stupor for finding criticism subversive. Jimmy found natural law, true justice, substantive intelligence (more than just parroting an otherwise empty concept or illusionary leftist wannabe), cause and effect, and reality all subversive.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    This is certainly true for most ploticians but not for all of them.
     -- Anne, Hamburg     
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    True always from my point-of-view.
     -- Justin, Elkland     
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    Obama can't stand any criticism of any kind and is working to stifle it. Naturally, if you oppose Obama it's only because you are a racist and oh how liberals love to play the race card.
     -- jim k, Austin,Tx     
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    Too True. They will oppress in order to maintain their tenuous grasp on power. But they rule only with the permission of the people...who are waking up.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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     -- Anonymous      
    All too true.
     -- Laura, NY, NY     
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    The quote is more representative of George Bush who signed numerous Executive Orders which would allow the government to seize your property if you expressed an attitude that was not in line with his war plans. It could be called terrorist activity. Not sure which of his Executive Orders have been abolished. You can write your opinion to Obama through the White House email, which I do often, and start it with, "My Dear Most Respected President", thinking that should make my proposed suggestions more acceptable. So far I have not been arrested. The Patriot Act will never be voided if it has not been now. Obama misled the voters. Change, my ass.
     -- Judith, New Mexico     
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    (-: Judith, now don't sugar coat it, say it like you mean it. ;-) I like it and understand, having had my attorney, one of my children, and certain others known to me held under the Patriot Act (no charges ever being levied, let go after a certain amount of hoorah).
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Mike, That makes for a time of lip biting. They can say anything they want and fix any evidence necessary. Not sure we dare oppose support for Israel, since it isn't clear who really runs our politics. About time we found out. The financial aid, $30B/yr should have stopped w/Obama. Oh, and the weapons we finance like the new $205M for their short range defense. Oops, hope no one here is offended, but if so then we have nothing in common.
     -- Judith, New Mexico     
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    What ever happened to never say never or always. Some men listen to advise and make the best decisions they know how and change it if they feel necesary. Education, experience and background help individuals to do this.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    I think it was while obtaining his "Masters" at Bates ( c. 75 years ago ! ) my superior man-and-teacher-dad mentioned the name Commager, but " what did I know" ?? Now at 85, I probably should do a bit of Library-door-opening, examine a shelf or two to find out more about Mr. Henry Steele Commager, one of those whose name always includes all three parts.
     -- Bobble, No. Ferrisburgh, VT     
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