Love Your Enemies | Civil Discourse
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last updated 10 Jan 2021

On the politics page we discussed the political polarization common in 21st century politics.

The passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September 2020 prompted me to think about the subject of Civil Debate.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia:
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) was a liberal Jewish Supreme Court Justice and
Antonin Scalia (Nino) a conservative Italian Catholic Justice were best of friends although they had vastly different views on the constitution and the role of the court. .
Their commonalities overrode their differences on the court.
They both came from outer-borough New York City. They both liked Opera and appeared together in a comic "Scalia/Ginsburg," Opera together. They both liked cooking and their families socialized frequently.

On a trip to India, they famously rode an elephant, with Scalia sitting up front. What about feminism? "It had to do with the distribution of weight," Ginsburg deadpanned slyly.
See: What made the friendship between Scalia and Ginsburg work - The Washington Post

John Kenneth Galbraith and William F. Buckley
In a 2010 web post about the juvenile name-calling by some of todays national politicians, Deborah Boykin of Prattville commented:

"Maybe the debates between John Kenneth Galbraith and William F. Buckley from the 1970s should be made available on TV again. These men disagreed on policy just as vehemently as people do now, but they were able to debate their positions eloquently and civilly, using facts, statistics and educated opinions. The level of public discourse in this country today is stunningly low and it doesn't bode well for the future."
Galbraith was a frequent guest on Buckley's conservative public affairs TV show Firing Line.
Buckley and Galbraith were ski buddies. After they both retired, Buckley a conservative (of Irish Catholic ancestry) used to take the train from New York up to Boston once a month to have lunch with Galbraith a liberal (of Scotch Protestant ancestry).

See YouTube examples:
Cambridge Union: William F. Buckley Jr. vs. John Kenneth Galbraith
William Buckley vs Keynesian Economist

Michael Gerson and Ruth Marcus, both columnists for the Washingto Post.
Marcus a liberal and Gerson an evangelical and conservative speech writer for George W. Bush and later a Washington Post columnist.,

Ruth Marcus on Michael in a PBS remembrance of Michael
Amna Nawaz asked Ruth, "You and Michael are on different ends of the political spectrum, but have this wonderful, which is rare these days. What was it that sustained that friendship?

Ruth: "Well, I hope it's not rare. And I'm not sure these days that we're at the ends of the political spectrum, and maybe that explains some of it.
But we disagreed profoundly and fundamentally about all sorts of questions about how government should act, when government should act. We could disagree about tax policy. We could disagree about foreign policy.

But there were two really important ways in which we agreed. The first was about the ends. We agree that the role of government and that the — more important, that the ends we're striving for as a society, was to lift up the downtrodden, to help those least fortunate, to provide for equality, to ensure the dignity of all human beings.

Gerson On evangelicals
There are many people who claim to be Christians in their political engagement. And one of the most basic principles of religious ethics is welcoming the stranger. I mean, how could this possibly be consistent with what we're seeing in Republican ideology right now?

I think evangelicalism have a particular problem right now. I mean, they're the people who argued, many of whom leaders argued, that character counts during the Bill Clinton years, and now character apparently doesn't count at all.

So, I think there's a deep tension here.

Politics is undermining and invading the credibility of religion itself.

Mark Shields a liberal comentator, who worked for Robert Kennedy and a regulat on the PBS News Hour. He frequently appeared with conservative commentators, Davis Brooks, David Gergon, Robert Novak, ... all of which called him friend.
They always said he was humble, always civil and they could trust him not to stab them in the back.

On the war in Iraq he said "Are we going to be the first Western, Christian, pro-Israel occupying force, military occuping force of an Arab nation in that region?"

Mark Shields was a political columinst and commentator who took the liberal point of view on PBS and other programs with a series of conservative counterparts including William Safire, Paul Gigot, David Gergen and David Brooks. When he retired in 2021 those of them who were still around gave testimonies. They all said how they enjoyed their debates with him and described him as knowledgeable, trustworthy, civil and humble among other traits.
In his final PBS show he defended politics as an honorable profession.

I for one never missed the PBS Newshour on Friday nights just to watch Shields and Brooks.

Links: Honoring Mark Shields and his decades of political analysis
Mark Shields and the Best of American Liberalism | NY Times, Davis Brooks
Politics and Science

Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt: Brooks, Arthur C.: Books, 2019