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Letter: Let the Tea Party crowd have a say

Clay Jenkinson recently wrote, "The progressives are earnestly attempting to ease us into the 21st century. The forces of reaction are clinging to the less problematic world of the 20th century."

His remarks beautifully illustrate a worldview that led to the fall of western civilization during the 20th century.

The German university led the way in technological achievement during the 19th century. The United States copied its example in the 20th. Unfortunately, the German university exported some nasty cultural side effects to America, particularly the ideal of progress.

Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, great progressives of their era, were also ideological racists. President Kane, a devoted progressive and foe of the Nonpartisan League, attempted to start a Eugenics Department at the University of North Dakota in 1919. Nazis and Communists trumpeted their intolerance and tyranny as progressive and futuristic while claiming that dissenters were clinging to the past. Federal dams along the Missouri River, which caused the dispossession of Missouri River indians among other people, were also proclaimed as progress. Even commercials for Enron claimed that Enron's critics stood in the way of progress. All too often, the ideal of progress has become a cover for tyranny, arbitrariness and superstition.

Clay Jenkinson is a local hero in Dickinson, and deservedly so. Yet, even the best minds can lead us astray. The ideal of progress is indeed seductive. My worldview was once progressive until my study of history led me to realize what horrors were committed in its name. As a liberal Democrat who grew up in Grand Forks, I represent much of the elitism so often detested by his so-called "forces of reaction." Yet, I think it is better to encourage my fellow citizens to express their views openly. I don't want my fellow citizens to feel beaten down and helpless.

Far from being about "haves" or "have nots," the Tea Party movement is fueled by a right wing counterculture of "have a littles" that is every bit as worried about federal abuse of power now as the left wing counterculture was 40 years ago. The Tea Party crowd thinks the federal government is now under the control of people determined to take away their money, their culture and their freedom. Although I disagree with the Tea Party crowd, they are my fellow citizens. I want to hear what they have to say. It is better to listen than to sneer.

Andrew Varvel, Bismarck