In his correspondence, George Turner takes THE SUN to task for political naivete. I’ve heard this before. It deserves comment.
Seeing All The President’s Men the other night, I was reminded of how a President was toppled by the dedication of two reporters who broke the Watergate story. If Woodward and Bernstein were sometimes willing to lie to get the scoop, we’re consoled by John Simon in New York magazine that “the trickster’s art is an admirable one as long as it is directed against Them, who are far worse than tricksters.”
I’ve heard this before, too. It’s an example of the politics we endure from the Left and the Right, the politics of Us and Them, of moral arrogance, intellectual bigotry, and cancerous spite. Does anyone doubt that, in Nixon’s view, his enemies were not “far worse than tricksters” too? It was Nixon’s fate to suffer his worst suspicions; he didn’t trust us because he feared we didn’t trust him. It was our fate to suffer Nixon; in a political atmosphere so clouded with mutual disrespect this is what dropped from the sky. Nixon is no more an aberration of American politics than Charles Manson; it is at the peripheries of our collective vision that we glimpse the violence in our spirit. Carelessly, sensationally, while Manson’s trial was in progress, the President called him guilty. That Nixon himself was soon to be so treated brought the matter full circle. If it was Sharon Tate who had, nonetheless, suffered the rudest of character assassinations, we will need her ghost to tell us what was on the missing tapes, and what heavy air so blinds and chokes us, and sucks up into its murderous psychic funnel all civility, all innocence, all love.
Perhaps it is nothing but our own breathing, just so personal and sour as that. Between the in-breath and the out, we create our island universes. But the air is common to us all, and maybe politics can begin with that.
That, at least, is where ours begins. THE SUN is its own political statement — a community magazine, in the truest sense, supported by the creative efforts of unpaid and often-as-not nonprofessional writers and artists whose contributions shape each issue. I don’t know one of them who doesn’t “stand up” for his or her rights, defining and redefining their politics daily by how they live and rediscovering the oldest political lesson: that if we are ever to fly, into that rarified air of justice and equality that is the goal of all social dreamers, we must first learn to walk, and trust the Earth, and the evidence of our senses. What is politics, anyway, but a statement of who we are? Like religion, or art, or sex, it is an exquisite and illusory and finally unfathomable metaphor for discovering, and learning to govern, ourselves. Learning well, and so making of democracy a living flesh, is the least naive statement I can imagine.