It was no less than Albert Einstein who observed that, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
With all due respect to the late, great scientific genius, I would riff on his comments to note that illusion is more important than reality. Perhaps this has always been true, once what we consider civilization took hold, but, certainly, it is absolutely true in this age of mass media.
Any number of examples could be considered, but why not start off with the cover story of the July 3, 2006 issue of Time magazine, entitled “Teddy: How Roosevelt Invented Modern America.” Ironically, the bit about inventing modern America is true, but I’m not sure that many of TR’s precepts were so great.
We can all love the National Parks, but I would draw the line at antitrust—nearly dead by the time that he accidentally (he was the assassinated McKinley’s vice president) became president and went on tirades against so-called trusts. As most thinking people realize, not a single antitrust case has EVER benefited the consumer. Rather, they have temporarily benefited weak competitors. Sadly, the practice goes on to this day. To be sure, the notion of antitrust is most beloved by Left-leaning newspaper writers and academics, but was never popular with the consumer.
Although these fools will harp about competition, they can never seem to stand the results of competition, whereby a winner emerges. I think it’s because they really prefer a centrally-planned economy. After all, that does seem so much kinder—in theory. Of course, the entire subject of antitrust has been taught in the far-from-factual Leftist manner since at least the 1950’s.
In the liberal view of Time, it was just swell that TR believed that “government had the right to moderate the excesses of free enterprise.” Funny how most of the real “excesses,” such as what went down with Enron, for example, were flushed out by the good old market. Balanced against the very few actual successes of regulatory agencies would have to be the dreadful cases of banning DDT, farm subsidies, low-flow faucets and toilets, consumer credit practices that do nothing save multiplying paperwork, Title IX, and CAFE standards, to name only a very few.
Now, to the extent that TR inspired all of these programs, I suppose that is reality. The illusion is that it is good. Another illusion would be believing that which is simply not true.
In lionizing TR, Time seemed to miss the part when he kept building up the military, well beyond the wishes of Congress, and all the business about conducting foreign policy by speaking softly and carrying a big stick. One would think that current effete Lefties would be horrified at how he helped Panama to secede from Colombia, to set up our Canal Zone. Heck, TR regarded the Panama Canal as his greatest accomplishment as president, and was outspoken about aggressively spreading democracy around the globe. Yet, this is hardly a Leftist concept at the moment.
Then, there is the little matter of how he prattled on about “race suicide,” as he called it, referring to the falling birth rates among White Americans. But, if that was all talk, there is no soft-pedaling how he punished an entire regiment of 160 Black soldiers, some of whom had supposedly engaged in a riot in Brownsville, Texas in 1906, that did result in the death of one man. Many were longtime enlistees, a few were close to retirement, and six were Medal of Honor recipients. Even though there was never a trial, TR issued dishonorable discharges to every one of them, depriving them of all benefits.
Ever the politician, TR did not issue this order until after the congressional elections, hoping to capture the Black vote.
Although many in Congress spoke out against this truly bizarre unilateral action, it was only Senator Joseph Foraker (R-OH) who actually attempted to introduce legislation that would have allowed the reenlistment of the soldiers. For this, he would earn the undying enmity of Roosevelt. Subsequent investigation would show that the Black soldiers had been framed by the townspeople.
Given the increasingly power-mad actions at this point in his second term, which included the indiscriminate use of Executive Orders, and the unprecedented establishment of independent agencies within the executive branch, many historians think that TR paved the way for the several imperial presidencies to follow.
As to the Black soldiers, their records were corrected to read “honorable discharge” by none other than President Richard Nixon, with a payment of $25,000 made to the sole survivor. You can count up several Leftie heroes between 1906 and 1972, but, somehow they couldn’t find the time to right this injustice.
By all means, though, keep living the illusion.