Where have you gone, Henry L. Mencken … ?

Baltimore Examiner and Washington Examiner

A dear friend of ours celebrates his birthday today, and in his card I told him how grand it is that we have lived to see H.L. Mencken’s prophecy fulfilled — the first quote below. Then I thought I would mark the occasion here by sharing some of Mencken’s timeless observations. I had 10 within minutes, and I could go on and on.

One thing we need in our time is an H.L. Mencken. Happy birthday, Stewart:

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by an absolute moron.”

“The plain fact is that education is itself a form of propaganda — a deliberate scheme to outfit the pupil, not with the capacity to weigh ideas, but with a simple appetite for gulping ideas ready-made. The aim is to make ‘good’ citizens, which is to say, docile and inquisitive citizens.”

“I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.”

“A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”

“Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.”

“Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.”

“You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.”

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”

“People do not expect to find chastity in a whorehouse. Why, then, do they expect to find honesty and humanity in government, a congeries of institutions whose modus operandi consists of lying, cheating, stealing, and if need be, murdering those who resist?”

“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out … without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitable he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.”

Published by WarrenBluhm

Wordsmith and podcaster, Warren is a reporter, editor and storyteller who lives near the shores of Green Bay with his wife, two golden retrievers, Dejah and Summer, and Blackberry, an insistent cat. Author of Full, Refuse to be Afraid, Gladness is Infectious, 24 flashes, How to Play a Blue Guitar, Myke Phoenix: The Complete Novelettes, A Bridge at Crossroads, The Imaginary Bomb, A Scream of Consciousness, and The Imaginary Revolution.

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