Impromptus

Horror, &c.

by Jay Nordlinger

In my column yesterday, I mentioned that the Cuban dictatorship had been elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council. After my column was published, I received a bulletin from a human-rights group. I am going to print the bulletin below, without editing. Bear in mind, human-rights activists often work quickly, and they do not bother polishing prose when they are trying to sound an alarm or spare a life. Moreover, English may not be the first language of these particular activists:

The independent Cuban journalist in prison, Yoeni Jesus Guerra Garcia remains in a critical mental and physical state. According to three notes written by the victim to the Council of Human Rights Rapporteurs in Cuba as well as several denunciations provided by inmates via telephone to the Council the life of Yoeni Jesus Guerra Garcia is presently in jeopardy after being sexually tortured and beaten repeatedly with violence by agents of the political police and military personnel at the Nieves Morejon Prison. The inmates’ testimonies concur that the head of the independent journalist is swollen and full of bumps and that he’s suffered several nervous breakdowns as the result of the torments he has been subjected to by prison officials and the drugs mixed in his food without his consent.

Let me say again: The Cuban dictatorship has just been elected to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. As Solzhenitsyn observed, the U.N. should not be thought of as a union or collection of nations or peoples; it is a union or collection of governments or regimes — and many of them are undemocratic, vicious, monstrous.

Why North Korea should not be on the Human Rights Council, I have no idea. They would not be particularly out of place.

Did you see this video? It is one of the best of all time. The U.N. General Assembly is adopting resolution after resolution against Israel. This is what they always do. There are no resolutions against any other country. And a U.N. interpreter makes some remarks about this, not knowing that her microphone is live. Her words go into the ears of all the U.N. delegates, and those of a webcast audience around the world.

“C’est un peu trop, non?” she says. In other words, the singling out of Israel “is a bit much, isn’t it?” The interpreter further says, “There’s other really bad sh** happening, but no one says anything about the other stuff.”

My favorite part of the video is that one of the delegates, who has been denouncing Israel in the usual fashion, can’t stop grinning, once he hears the interpreter’s remarks.

In Israel, the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said, “Sometimes the veil of hypocrisy over the incessant attacks against us is ripped off, and this interpreter did that.” Here in America, National Review’s John Hillen said, “Make that woman secretary-general!”

Unfortunately, the Israelis have a lot of experience in disaster relief. They have it because their enemies have been inflicting disaster on them since the rebirth of the state in 1948. The Israelis know how to send dogs sniffing through rubble, etc.

They were quick to respond when an earthquake hit Haiti in 2010. They did an immense amount of good there. They were quick to respond when an earthquake hit Iran in 2003 — but the Iranian government refused their help. The mullahs were willing to let people die in the rubble, rather than have them suffer the ignominy of being rescued by Jews.

The sad thing is: Many of the victims would have made the same choice, I think. I would never have believed it when I was younger. But experience has taught me otherwise.

Anyway, the Israelis responded very quickly when that killer typhoon hit the Philippines earlier this month. A mother and father named their baby “Israel,” when that baby was born in an Israeli army field hospital. An NBC correspondent declared she was “in awe” of what the Israelis are doing.

When a news report praises Israel, you know something remarkable is happening.

But the BBC omitted Israel from a list of countries helping out in the Philippines. I learned all this from Tom Gross, who has a Middle East media site, here.

Always, the United States leads the way in disaster relief, and so it was in the Philippines. Other countries did what they could. Mankind seldom looks better than when engaged in this kind of response.

Did you hear about Bloomberg News and China? Apparently, a reporter had his piece spiked because Bloomberg was worried about the reaction of the Chinese government. Bloomberg was worried about being able to retain a presence in China. The reporter has been suspended. For a New York Times article on this matter, go here.

I couldn’t help thinking of CNN and Iraq — Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. After the allied invasion in March 2003, Eason Jordan, who was then the top news executive at CNN, wrote an op-ed piece for the Times. It was called “The News We Kept to Ourselves.” The piece began,

Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN’s Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard — awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.

Etc. And the piece ended,

I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein’s regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely.

Part of me thinks, If Bloomberg can’t report the news honestly from China, they should say so and get out. Or stay and find a way of saying, “We can’t report everything we know. Or we choose not to, because we want to stay here and do as much as we can.”

The Xinhua News Agency, which is a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, ran a headline that echoed around the world: “China to Ease One-Child Policy.” Holy-moly, that was really big news, and there was global excitement.

But Xinhua was forced to run a second headline: “Birth-Policy Changes Are No Big Deal.” An official explained that “the number of couples covered by the new policy is not very large across the country” and that, in any case, there were various contingencies. He concluded, “The basic state policy of family planning will be adhered to over a long period of time.”

Sure. I thought of what our secretary of state, John Kerry, said about a potential U.S. strike on Assad’s forces in Syria: It would be “unbelievably small.”

Care for some music? I don’t believe I have any reviews to link to. But let me mention this: I got a notice from the Oratorio Society of New York, promoting a performance of Handel’s Messiah. I saw that the bass in the lineup was Dashon Burton. I imagine the first name is pronounced “Duh-SHON.” But you could think of it as “DASH-in,” which sounds Christmassy.

“On, Dashon!”

Okay, this item is a little strange — though maybe not stranger than the previous one — so bear with me, please. Before the snow flew, or the temperature plummeted, I played golf with my cousin in Maryland. Beautiful, cold day on the Eastern Shore.

He was telling me about an unusual, and somewhat gimmicky, set of clubs: The 9-iron went the normal 7-iron distance; the 8-iron went the normal 6-iron distance; and so on. Evidently, the manufacturer is trying to make a golfer feel like a big hitter.

I told my cousin, “My mom once told me that something similar happened with dresses: A size 8 became a 6, a 10 became an 8, etc., in order to make the fat ladies feel better.”

On airplanes lately, I’ve noticed something: You are almost never “late” to your destination, but they always say you’re going to get there an hour after you should. Say it’s a two-hour flight. You should get there about 4. But they say you’re going to get there at 5 — you’re not late, see?

Which I don’t think is kosher.

Do you agree that these phenomena are related? I hope so. And even if not, have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Among the things I’m grateful for are National Review, National Review Online, and their readers.

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