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Everything You Thought You Wanted to Know About Us, But Weren’t Really Sure; On to The Corrections


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Jonah Goldberg

EVERYTHING YOU THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT US, BUT WEREN’T REALLY SURE
Judging from the e-mail and the web stats lately, I’ve gotten a bunch of new readers. Alas, some of them are Nazi-sympathizing morons and mouth-breathing freaks (why, just this morning I got a lovely cyber-greeting card from “[email protected]”) But a lot more of them just want to join in on the fun. Also, I’m getting a lot of e-mails from people confused about how things work around here. So I thought I should do some explaining about what the G-File’s about and its relationship to National Review Online. So, if you’re a new-comer, or if you just want a refresher course, click here and you can learn the ropes from our new Frequently Asked Questions page.

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ON TO THE CORRECTIONS
Okay, (assuming the Newbies are back) we should all now know that this day is different from all other days (of the week), because it begins with F (a nod to the Norse God Frigga who was Thor’s mother and Odin’s wife). And since this non-sequitur brought us here, Thursday is named after Thor’s Day and Wednesday is the modern form of “Wodin’s Day” — Wodin of course being the way Barbara Walters would say Odin. Presumably that interview would begin, “So Wodin, King of the Gods, Lord of Asgard, witness to Ragnarok, if you could be a tree what kind of tree would you be?” Quiz for mythology freaks: Why wouldn’t it be Mistletoe?).

But it’s also different in my solipsistic world because on Fridays we run corrections and clarifications for all the things I got wrong or that you read wrong.

The first and most egregious was addressed yesterday. For some reason I attributed “Hominah, hominah, hominah” to Lou Costello instead of Jackie Gleason; that is unforgiveable. And, I held my hand over an open flame for one minute while watching Barbara Streisand’s love scene in Nuts as punishment. Now that’s eternity.

I also mislabeled the name of Howard Phillips’ party. Actually I mislabeled the party’s old label. The party is currently called the Constitution Party. Its old name matters little. In fact its new name doesn’t matter very much either.

We keep getting e-mail about the 100 Most Overrated list. Many of you want us to do a list of the most underrated. We are thinking about it. If you’ve got a suggestion for such a list send it to [email protected]. And please, no offense, but no essays. Thanks.

Yesterday, I argued that Law and Order has gotten laughably liberal. A hundred of you agreed. Three didn’t. The three are wrong (and shall be for all time). I also said that I think gun rights can be regulated. Some people took this exactly as I feared they would. Let me make this clear. All rights can be regulated. You need a permit to freely assemble. ABC can’t show necrophilia in prime time viewing hours (but wait, I bet it’s coming). You can’t worship Baal by sacrificing a live goat in the middle of Fifth Avenue during rush hour. And, you can’t have a gun if you’re in prison or if you listen too closely to the broadcasts coming through your fillings. The question is: When are regulations reasonable? I don’t want to get into that now, but most people understood what I meant.

Also, in that column I referred to “the woman.” I received several inquiries about her (she was formerly known as the “The Lamar lady”). But she lives here now and I am undecided on how I should refer to her. Calling her “girlfriend” is so dorky, I’d be constantly looking over my shoulder expecting some dudes to give me a wedgie. She doesn’t like “the woman” very much. And things like muse, squeeze, dame, and the rest would get me either killed by the fellas or by her. She suggests simply “Jessica,” but I think that’s awfully dull.

On Monday, I didn’t write a column. I would love to attribute this to the fact that I was observing the Jewish holiday to the utmost. I wasn’t. I was just very busy (“probably computing compounded interest,” muttered my friend Adolf).

Which brings us to the biggest issue of the week — which has brought all of these lovely people into my e-mail in-box — the apostasy of Pat Buchanan. Despite the hard feelings on all sides, I don’t retract anything and I have already clarified much. But I would like to clear up one or two more things. Yes, it is true I have not read Pat’s book and my desire to help his sales figures is tepid at best. And I have disparaged some of the things he’s said without seeing them in context. But I’ve read extended bits and I’ve talked to friends who’ve read it and are quite bright. That said, there are parts of his revisionism that I am very open to.

For example, he makes a strong case that the end of World War Two was not as it should have been. He is absolutely correct and conservatives — and especially National Review — have made this point for decades. There were countless “victims of Yalta” who were sent back to the Soviet Union by the trainload and who were subsequently murdered by Stalin. We never should have sent them back. FDR and Churchill — in retrospect — should never have agreed to the wholesale enslavement of Eastern Europe. Churchill’s so-called “naughty document” which divided up Yugoslavia, Hungary, Romania and the rest is a black mark on the record of one of my heroes. In my opinion we should have rolled the Reds back to the Urals. But hey, hindsight’s 20-20.

Still, arguing about the failures of the war’s conclusion do not, in my opinion, justify his arguments about the war’s supposedly wrong-headed beginning.

Also, I find it hard not to agree in large measure about World War One. WWI was not a clear-cut case of good versus evil. It was a monstrously stupid war that ruined this century for everybody. World War One not only created the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, it contributed to the great depression, legitimized socialism, launched the temperance movement (shiver), incubated feminism, mid-wifed post-modernism, allowed existentialism to escape from the German lab in which it had been stored, and unleashed the plagues of nationalism and ideology across the globe. If that ain’t enough — if you just look at the hundreds of thousands of people killed senselessly — it defies the imagination. Never in human history has their been a worse ratio of glory to death in war. Quick: Name 5 heroes from World War One.

The peace was the product of Wilsonian arrogance, and as such compounded the horrors and made us fight it all over again in World War Two. So when Buchanan makes the case that World War One was not handled in the best of all possible ways, who’s smug enough to argue otherwise? Whether his proposed alternatives are the correct ones, who knows?

But WWII is a different matter, it was an issue of good versus evil. And on that topic we’ve all heard enough.

Last Friday, I mentioned chaos theory. This is the growing school of thought which says the future is unpredictable, not so much because there aren’t rules to life but because the number of minute, unmeasurable interactions in any process make it impossible to ever fully understand a phenomenon. The example I gave was of the often-quoted “butterfly effect” which says that a butterfly’s wing-flapping in, say, Sri Lanka could have caused hurricane Floyd. (This is unlikely, however, because Sri Lankans eat butterflies (yes, I made that up).) I received a number of very thoughtful e-mails from several readers including a few engineers. To be honest I’m too dumb to understand the non-dumb ones. But one of these days I’ll share my theory about how chaos theory is the central insight of conservatism and that the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox suggests the existence of God (no, I’m not making that up, and I’m sure some physics geeks just spat diet Coke all over their monitors).

Have a good weekend, and remember: The sign over the urinal which says “”Don’t eat the big white mint” is there for a reason (what’s that from?).



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