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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Looking Back: Opinions from past add perspective

Looking Back reviews opinions published in The Spokesman-Review during this week in history.

Berlin Olympics, Aug. 6, 1936

With Germany hosting the Olympics, an S-R editorial discussed the preening of Adolf Hitler.

“In spite of the generally accepted fact that athletic prowess knows no national or racial boundaries, Hitler has generated an intense spirit of nationalism among the German people by inculcating their minds with an almost fanatical belief in the doctrine of Nordic supremacy. Sports followers, on the contrary, have long recognized the international appeal of athletics. The nearest approach to an international language is in the realm of sports. The essence of competition in the Olympic Games is the spirit of tolerance generated by international contacts.”

It concluded: “Perhaps the result of holding the Olympiad in Berlin will accomplish what diplomacy has been unable to do. When the German people see the enthusiasm with which the world acclaims a champion, no matter what his racial pedigree, they may pause to consider where the fatuous doctrine exemplified in ‘Deutschland uber Alles’ may again lead them.”

Ghost writers, Aug. 8, 1956

An S-R editorial ponders the practice of politicians employing speech writers.

“The practice of ghost writing speeches has become widely accepted. In fact, one sometimes hears the remark, ‘The senator certainly made a fine speech. I wonder who wrote it?’ Such a remark carries certain implications as to the senator’s knowledge of grammar, his vocabulary and perhaps his general education.

“Actually, there are some fairly good reasons for the employment of ghost writers. A man may have a head full of ideas, but may lack the ability to express them with a punch. A forceful presentation may be necessary to impress his listeners.

“The danger is that a man who is short of ideas will employ a ghost writer to furnish them, along with the words to express them. The listener then does not know how much of the material was originated by the man who offers it as his own.”

Air bags, Aug. 4, 1976

As the federal government weighed the possibility of compulsory air bags for cars, the editorial board chimed in.

“The issue of requiring air bags involves a basic philosophical issue. In view of past attitudes regarding air bags, as well as seat-belt interlocks and buzzers, the public likely would vote overwhelmingly against being forced to pay $300 for the air bag.

“Just how far can government go towards providing safety that the individual himself would not do? In the cigarette field, various warnings have been required, but smoking cigarettes has not actually been banned. So far no state has passed legislation requiring use of seat belts. No doubt it would be highly unpopular. But it might be less unpopular than the annual billion or so dollars that going full speed ahead with the air bag would cost.”