Impromptus

Shock headline, &c.

by Jay Nordlinger

The headline read, “Hamas Gaza chief calls for new violent uprising.” (Article here.) This may be the ultimate in dog-bites-man headlines. Can’t we just assume that? That the Palestinians’ leaders are constantly egging them into violent “uprisings”?

I have an idea for a headline: “Hamas Gaza chief calls for peaceful coexistence.” (With Fatah, maybe.)

One more thing: When are the Palestinians going to stage an uprising against their leaders, who have helped keep them aggrieved and miserable for generations?

I know better than to expect fairness in the media about the Progress party in Norway, but I’m still ticked at the blatant unfairness I see. (Maybe I should stage an uprising.) I could cite you chapter and verse — instead, I’ll simply mention this article.

Oh, I should say first — for those who don’t know — that Progress is the Reaganite, or Thatcherite, party in Norway. I know this bunch pretty well, and consider myself an honorary “Prog.” They are sterling, admirable classical liberals. And now they are in government: They are the junior partner in a coalition government led by the Conservative party.

At any rate, the article I’ve linked to, an Associated Press report, describes Progress as “right-wing”: The Conservatives and “the right-wing Progress Party ousted a center-left government in last month’s election.” Okay. But if you call a classical-liberal party “right-wing,” what language are you going to have left over for a right-wing party, of the kind we see in, for example, Greece?

One of the most satisfying feelings in life is when someone says something you believe — but that is maybe not said very often. I had this feeling when reading this article last week about “sexting.” The author’s point is that parents ought to exercise control over their children’s cellphones and so on. He quotes a Florida sheriff as saying, “Watch what your children do online. Pay attention. Quit being their best friend and be their best parent.”

Yes, yes, yes. One of the most disgusting, and harmful, developments of recent years is that parents want to be friends of their children. Far, far more important — certainly far different — to be a parent. Let their friends be their friends; you be the parent, and if the kid doesn’t like you, temporarily, tough.

Last week, I had a column on jury duty (here) — and this sparked a fair amount of mail. Let me give some generalities, from the mail: People enjoy jury duty. They’re reluctant at first, and it can be a pain in the neck, but they recognize the importance of it, and they wind up enjoying it. They feel a sense of satisfaction about it. Those who are impaneled take their responsibilities very seriously. It can be a daunting thing to convict someone — to send him away, for years or life, even if you believe he is guilty.

I received a letter from a professor at the University of the District of Columbia, Andrew G. Ferguson. He is a law professor. He writes,

Why is it that conservatives have not embraced jury duty as a patriotic part of American citizenship?

I cannot think of a more fitting institution for conservative passion — a local, public, powerful, small-“d” democratic, constitutional counterweight to federal power that requires civic virtue and education for its success. Yet I have heard no conservative pundits argue that the localized power of the jury is something to be valued.

Professor Ferguson is the author of Why Jury Duty Matters.

Here’s something I forgot to mention in that column I wrote last week: They gave us a form to fill out. One of the questions was, “Are you of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?” Wow, “Hispanic,” “Latino,” or “Spanish” — that’s cutting it pretty fine, don’t you think?

There were five possible answers: 1) “No, not of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin”; 2) “Yes, Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano”; 3) “Yes, Puerto Rican”; 4) “Yes, Cuban”; and 5) “Yes, another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.” For those answering 5), the instruction was, “Print origin, for example, Argentinean, Colombian, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Spaniard, and so on.”

All for jury duty? Isn’t it enough that we are American citizens? (You have to be a citizen, don’t you? I can’t remember.) Is justice in our country contingent on race and ethnicity?

Sometimes I think that old South Africa has nothing on us when it comes to the pursuit of racial and ethnic distinctions. On that form, I was tempted to put “octoroon.” (Needless to say, I did not fill out this disgusting document.)

Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature. I said a little something about this victory in a blogpost, here. There is also a little editorial in the new National Review. I’d like to add one morsel here.

Munro is in her early 80s, and she has apparently stopped writing — has apparently retired. This article quotes her as saying, “. . . perhaps, when you’re my age, you don’t wish to be alone as much as a writer has to be. It’s like, at the wrong end of life, sort of becoming very sociable.”

I remember something I once heard Paul Johnson say. All his life, people have said to him, “I want to be a writer.” And he says to them, “You have to have a great toleration for being alone. Writing is solitary work. Books and articles don’t write themselves, you know. You write them. And a lot of people aren’t willing, or are unable, to put in the time alone.”

True dat.

Care for a little language? One of the most misspelled words in the entire English language is “minuscule.” People miswrite it “miniscule,” because they know that “mini” goes with small, as in “mini-skirt.”

I thought of this when reading a report about Iran, Israel, and the U.S. The article ends with a quotation from a foreign-policy analyst: “The chance [Israel] will act alone after the Americans make a deal is miniscule.”

The sentiment may be true — but not the spelling. If people start spelling “minuscule” right, maybe we can move on to “desiccate,” “accommodate,” and “millennium.”

Care for a little music? For a review of the New York Philharmonic on the New Criterion website, go here. The conductor of the concert in question was Joshua Weilerstein, and the soloist was Arabella Steinbacher, a violinist.

I was surprised to be somewhat moved by an article about Herman Cain (here). He gave a sermon called “Don’t Give Up, Get Up!” He said there were three ways to combat “give-up-itis”: “You get down on your knees and pray, you write down your blessings, and you turn down the noise in your life.”

It reminded me a little of Eubie Blake’s recipe for life: “Be grateful for luck. Pay the thunder no mind — listen to the birds. And don’t hate nobody.”

Bum Phillips, the old football coach, has died, and I want to say a quick word about him. He was always a favorite of mine. And there’s a quotation from him I’ve always loved. You know the expression “in a class by himself”? That means in a category by himself — in a league of his own. But I think Bum took “class” to mean classroom — a class at school.

Anyway, he said of his great running back, Earl Campbell, “I don’t know if he’s in a class by himself, but I do know that when that class gets together, it sure don’t take long to call the roll.”

(By the way, Ted Cruz and I used to talk politics late into the night at Earl Campbell’s barbecue place in Austin. Some of the happiest hours of my political life, so to speak.) (Earl was there once. Looked gentle, but he also looked like he could run through a cement wall.)

Here is another Bum-ism: Someone once asked him why he took his wife to away games. He said, “She’s too ugly to kiss goodbye.”

I’m sure he meant that in the most loving way. I’ll see you later.