J.C. Klotz

J.C. Klotz
New York, New York, USA
December 27
Attorney, Op-Ed writer; political activist; environmentalist


FEBRUARY 9, 2013 8:44AM

Red State, Blue State and Le Miz

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There was an Op-Ed piece in the NY Times today (Saturday, 2/9/2013) on the fact that soldiers on both sides of the Civil War read Victor Hugo's Les Miserables in the trenches.  What follows is my comment.

 The fact that Le Miz was popular in the camps and trenches of the Civil War is an ironic comment on the status of popular literacy today. The same comment ran through the "The Civil War" presentation by Ken Burns.

Today Congress is full of babbling idiots who dispute the elemental facts of science and deny both global warming and evolution which for all his tragic administrative failures is accepted by even Pope Benedict. There are repetitive stories of books being banned and textbooks being censored by Red state education authorities. In one state, there is a proposal to mandate the reading of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged which is the bible of a philosophy which is totally dismissive of the great ideals of equality which have governed this country since the Declaration of Independence and for which we fought the bloodiest war in our history – the Civil War.

This country is facing as great a divide as that of the Civil War. Not between free state and slave state, not even among classes of wealth, but among those who accept and understand that ideas progress as well as people and those who cling to an idealized vision the past, but do not learn from it.

The knowledge gap between Red states and Blue is the most invidious gap we face to day. The fact that soldiers on the line could read and relate to Le Miz during the Civil War is a witness to the fact that progress is not guaranteed.

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Excellent thoughts.

Every once in a while, when I'm brave enough to try reading Skakespeare, I am always dumbfounded in more ways than one:

First, I'm dumbfounded at how each line seems to contain inside it, an eternal truth.

Second, I am dumbfounded how the Language of Shakespeare seems to sit on pedestal so far above me, and always seems to make me feel, as I read, that I am looking up, at something great, something akin to looking up at Michelangelo's fourteen foot high David.

But most of all, I am humbled and astounded because I realize that Shakespeare was written for the common man as well as the aristocracy; probably more so. And the thought that the good and poor subjects of Queen Elizabeth I and of James I, in Elizabethan England, mostly dressed in rags and poor, and illiterate, could sit there, in their wooden seats, in the rain sometimes, and completely, completely undersatnd and appreciate every line, every nuanced word, every possible meaning of these masterpieces, fills me with a certain, strange jealousy, and wish that I could trade in all my modern book learning just for the chance to hear Shakespeare as those of his day heard him.

Thank you for your comment. I found that your discussion of Shakespeare's writing as affecting an audience of the common men and women and transcending class to be both insightful and instructive.

As for piece I have a translation era on Facebook. Typos are my bete noir and I did a beaut. Many years ago, I was a supporter of Herman Badillo in a campaign for Mayor. At one of his rallies his supporters broke into a chant that sounded like "es e es." I asked some what what it meant and he said as I recall, it's hard to define but it means more or less "It is what it is."

I posted my piece on my Face book page and in my introduction, knowing that one faction of my family is essentially Red state that the piece it what it is. But I went to Google translate and it came back as "es waht es." I thought that "waht" was a strange Spanish word but I used on the Facebook posting. I finally figured out that "waht" was my typo when I entered the phrase in Google translate. The proper translation is not "es e es" as I reacalled and it is not "es waht es" that I wrote, it's "que es lo que es" at least that what Google tells me now.

Thanks for comment. I recommend both it and your page which can be viewed at http://open.salon.com/user_blog.php?uid=465263
It is amazing how many conservatives preach this anti-science and anti-knowledge nonsense. Most comes from the Republican leaders who are pandering to the religious fundamentalists that help form their base. Many also want to deny global warming to placate their business base. The Republican party used to be a sensible conservative party that stressed education and research to advance our economic possibilities. I sincerely hope they change soon and not too many of our citizens are duped. Our future depends on it. Excellent article, J.C.