Thomas Paine

On this date in 1776 Thomas Paine published Common Sense, which arguably turned the American Rebellion into the American Revolution.

Here’s Frye in a letter to Helen in July 1932:

Now the United States is a big thing to criticize, but it has the advantage of having so many aspects that it is hardly possible to make a criticism of it which is not more or less true.  But a statement which is more or less true, like “Germans are more intelligent than Frenchmen,” or “women are more moral than men,” is meaningless and a waste of wind, and of what is of considerably more value, time.  That is the objection I have to Dreiser, and, on principle, to Lewis.  No man has adequate cultural equipment to satirize the U.S. according to it, so that all he can do is imitate, or simply set the standardization of the Babbitts beside his own cultural standardization.  There is too much eighteenth-century sentimentality and sloppy thinking in American culture anyway, and the path from Thomas Paine to Elmer Gantry runs straight and smooth. (CW 1, 41)

And from Elmer Gantry to creatures like Sharron Angle and Sarah Palin who believe that the second amendment supercedes the first — especially when advocates for the first amendment aren’t particularly eager enthusiasts of the second.

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