Regarding the letter, “Care to protest in North Korea?”: Norman Colbert starts off reasonably enough with only a minor error. He expresses his disagreement with a guest column opposing development of new Trident submarine capabilities by Richard C. Hall, M.D. According to the commentary, however, its author is David C. Hall.
Colbert offers some faint praise to the current administration, since it has not reduced the nation’s current nuclear capabilities.
These are the kinds of discussions we need on an issue critical to the whole world. If Colbert had stopped there or stayed on the topic, I would judge this a positive exchange of ideas. Unfortunately, his letter turns personal.
He suggests that if Dr. Hall protested in other countries with nuclear capabilities, he might be deported for his opinion, while in America he has freedom of speech. This strikes me as another version of “America — Love it or Leave it” where we are counseled that, since we have the First Amendment and dictatorships don’t, we should be so grateful that we don’t use the First Amendment to criticize what we oppose in America. Huh?
The final paragraph is simply an attack on Dr. Hall. Without citing a shred of evidence, Colbert “suspects” that Dr. Hall is the modern equivalent of a draft dodger (translation: He’s unpatriotic) who considers himself “superior” to our veterans, and is a member of the “intelligentsia” that serves as a fifth column undermining America — all the while enjoying a level of personal success that is protected by our nuclear umbrella (translation: His social class and education prevent Dr. Hall from being considered a regular American.)
The emphasis on class and education is clear. It sounds like a classic talk radio screed where opponents are dismissed not on the merits or failings of their positions, but as disloyal eggheads who succeed on the backs of regular Americans.
By the end, whatever reasonable arguments Colbert proffered are lost in the thicket of personal attack. It’s just becoming harder and harder to have civil policy disagreements these days.
Francis J. Lynch