I was reminded of the words of Edward R. Murrow while watching Countdown with Keith Olbermann tonight. They are worth revisiting yet again..
I first posted this October 30, 2007.
These words, and the wisdom behind them, are as relevant now as they were in the ’50s when they were uttered – in another time, with another boogeyman meant to instill fear in American citizens.. Now instead of the Communists, we have ‘Islamofascists’ and al Qaeda.
Will we as a nation ever learn?
Quotes from Edward R. Murrow
See It Now (1954)
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men— not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.
This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. “
Speech to his staff (1954)
“No one man can terrorize a whole nation unless we are all his accomplices.”
“If none of us ever read a book that was “dangerous,” had a friend who was “different,” or joined an organization that advocated “change,” we would all be just the kind of people Joe McCarthy wants.”
“The only thing that counts is the right to know, to speak, to think— that, and the sanctity of the courts. Otherwise it’s not America.”
RTNDA Convention Speech (1958)
“We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.”
The closest we come to Edward R. Murrow, in this place in history, is with Keith Olbermann. He is not Murrow, but the next best thing. Actually, it isn’t fair to compare them. The times and circumstances are different. Keith Olbermann seems to be one of the only people on the MSM news networks willing to speak truth to power; to be the voice of the American people who are all yelling at their TV sets (and at their Congressional representatives) in rage and frustration. I know he has reduced me to tears on a number of occasions with his ‘Special Comments’, because he has said exactly what I was thinking and feeling. I think this country is STARVING and READY for someone in the press (and Congress) to stand up, ask the hard questions, call the administration on their crap, and put it all on the line to fight for what is right and true – for the Constitution, for our democracy, for the laws of this land and for justice, regardless of the cost. Our nation is on the precipice, and it is time, really, for courage and the strength to put it all the line for what is right for our entire country.
All of Keith Olbermann’s ‘Special Comments‘ are available on the MSNBC website.
If you have any Murrow quotes you would like to add, please feel free to do so in your comments.