January 15, 2011 in Letters, Opinion

Twain wouldn’t be surprised


Sunday’s column by Kathleen Parker about political correctness affecting a new edition of “Huckleberry Finn” would not have surprised Mark Twain. In fact, in 1906 he instructed his heirs and editors not to publish material containing his personal opinion on touchy topics until he had been dead 100 years. Last year, on the 100th anniversary of his 1910 death, the University of California Press released the first of three volumes of Twain’s expanded biography.

Many of his opinions were politically incorrect. He opposed the Spanish American War, was vice president of the Anti-Imperialist League and referred to American soldiers in the Philippines as “our uniformed assassins.” He had particular contempt for “the water cure” known today as waterboarding.

President Theodore Roosevelt labeled him a “prized idiot” because he did not “support the troops” when we invaded China in 1900. No one would publish his politically incorrect “War Prayer” written in 1905 until 1923. Reading these new expanded biographies will certainly contain truths that are politically incorrect and stranger than fiction.

After all, Twain once said “None but the dead are permitted to tell the truth.”

Steve Dunham


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