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  • Writer's pictureMarc Johnson

Now…For Something Completely Different


Civility in Public Life – Now There’s an Idea Jim Leach, the former Republican Congressman from Iowa and now chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, will be in Boise a week from today as part of his national civility tour.

I’m happy, through the Andrus Center for Public Policy, to be involved in hosting a lunch and speech from the chairman on June 11th. A small number of tickets remain for Leach’s speech entitled “Civility in a Fractured Society.” If you’re interested visit the Andrus Center’s website.

During a recent speech on the civility subject in Salt Lake City, as the Tribune reported, Leach “recalled an episode from Thucydides’ The History of the Peloponnesian War , in which even the cultured state of Athens murdered, enslaved and colonized the people of the island Melos for refusing to help fight Sparta.”

The former 30-year congressman said: “The lesson is that even great nations sometimes lose their way,” he said. “We’re going to have to think about whether or not we remain one country that moves together, but can also accommodate a wide variety of views.”

The lesson – U.S. challenges at home and around the world require real understanding, civility and a sense of history; not to mention tolerance.

Jim Leach is an interesting, thoughtful guy who has spent a good part of his life in politics and knows the value of engaging our adversaries armed not only with strength, but with understanding, debating our political opponents with decency and practicing the arts of democracy with civility.

By the way, Boise State University President Bob Kustra will be interviewing Jim Leach on his Boise State Public Radio show – 91.5 FM – today at 5:30 pm and Sunday at 11:00 am. The Idaho Statesman’s Dan Popkey has also interviewed the chairman, so look for his piece soon.

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