A guest blog by
Recently, one of my classes centered on a discussion of the media and its historic relationship to an authoritarian government. I could not help but reflect on Trump and his views on the media, i.e. fake news, failing New York Times, etc.
I pointed out that Trump and his erratic relationship with the media was nothing new. Authoritarian rulers have always punished the media throughout history. This is nothing new.
At the height of the English Civil War in 1644, Oliver Cromwell and his Calvinistic minions shut down theaters, censored publications, and jailed or executed those who spoke out for freedom of thought and expression.
When Cromwell was not executing one-third of the Irish population, he was busy back at home in England persecuting those who spoke out against his Calvinistic behavior. One such courageous man was John Milton. Milton was a poet, an essayist and a prominent writer in this dark period. His most famous work was Areopagitica. This essay was an elegant argument for the freedom of expression and a defense of the “marketplace of ideas.”
In fact, the Areopagitica is considered to be one source of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. There are several famous quotes from Milton such as the one which is published on the wall on the New York Public Library. “A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.”
Another: who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God’s image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were in the eye.
Again: though I may go to hell for it, Such a God will never command my respect.
For one who lived in such repressive times, Milton showed tremendous insight, courage and conviction. Milton did end up in prison, blind and pennilessness.
Throughout history there have been many tyrants. Louis XIV supposedly claiming, L’État, c’est moi”—I am the state. Hitler burning books in the thirties. (Heinrich Heine said, “Those who start out by burning books, soon end by burning people.” Franco of Spain. The list is too long.
The point is that Trump and his fight against the media is not new in human history. This has always gone on and Trump probably won’t be the last.
What history also tells us is that these tyrannical people usually don’t last long in the greater scheme of things. There will always be those vermin who crawl out of the woodwork and try to impose their will on the rest of us. But history says that one way or another, in the long run history will correct itself either through revolution, evolution or the pitchforks. Let us hope it is through evolution.
JFK said that “those who make evolution impossible, make revolution inevitable.”
Melvin Hathorn, BA, MA, is a nationally recognized facilitator who has presented workshops around the country. He is a former educator, behavioral therapist, and college instructor and has over 20 years experience in the training field. Hathorn was born in Wilmington, Delaware. He is currently an instructor at Albertus Magnus College.