"We regard men as infinitely precious and possessed of unfulfilled capacities for reason, freedom, and love.
In affirming these principles we are aware of countering perhaps the dominant conceptions of man in the twentieth century: that he is a thing to be manipulated, and that he is inherently incapable of directing his own affairs. We oppose the depersonalization that reduces human beings to the status of things -- if anything, the brutalities of the twentieth century teach that means and ends are intimately related, that vague appeals to 'posterity' cannot justify the mutilations of the present. We oppose, too, the doctrine of human incompetence because it rests essentially on the modern fact that men have been 'competently' manipulated into incompetence -- we see little reason why men cannot meet with increasing skill the complexities and responsibilities of their situation, if society is organized not for minority, but for majority, participation in decision-making."
Don't laugh, but when I first read that passage of The Port Huron Statement, I immediately began dreaming of stitching at least some of it into a sampler.
And when I first learned that the primary author of the document had long been thought to be one Tom Hayden, I'll admit I was a little bit smitten. At least intellectually. He may not have been a gay, dead, French structuralist philosopher like Roland Barthes, but he sure could write.
I remember wanting so badly to join the Students for a Democratic Society and protest the war in loafers and pearls. Some of my classmates in grad school even thought about starting a chapter of the revived organization, but two things stopped us: we had to graduate. And then we had to do what we could to help make John Kerry President of the United States.
Two years have gone by since I got my MA, and in that time, I am sorry to say, the Port Huron Statement has become even more relevant. I still haven't joined SDS, but I do blog in loafers and pearls... for whatever that's worth.
Tom Hayden blogs, too, and all this is really to say that I CAN'T say how much kinship and gratitude I felt tonight when I saw that Tom Hayden had posted a rebuttal to George Packer's mischaracterization of John Kerry's Iraq withdrawal plan - the same plan for which I am encouraging endorsements.
Hayden writes at the HuffPo: "[Packer] cleverly alters Kerry's proposal by leaving out the international summit Kerry has proposed to address peacekeeping, reconstruction and other issues concerning the transition to a post-war period. Kerry thus is categorized as an uncaring advocate of 'out now', unlike Packer who at least cares about the killing he seems to support forever."
You may have to read the whole post to get the quote above. If not, I hope you'll read the whole post, because it's a heck of a lot better than anything I've got here.
So I'll leave you to that, except for this: We don't JUST love John Kerry - although, to tell the truth, just that takes up more than a little of my day. We also regard men as infinitely precious and possessed of unfulfilled capacities for reason, freedom, and love.