Another ‘heartless conservative,’ &c.


It was interesting to read Kate Trinko’s piece on Michele Bachmann and learn that the congresswoman had been a foster mother to 23 kids — 23 teenage girls. I thought, “Yeah, those heartless conservatives: never giving a fig about humanity.”

I was reminded of Jesse Helms — who, with his wife, adopted a severely handicapped boy (as I understand it). One of those kids who are supposed to be unadoptable. I interviewed Helms toward the end of his life. (Go here, if you like.) Of all the questions I asked, he declined to answer only one: my question about this son. I think a modesty or humility would not allow it.

Conservatives are called heartless because they oppose big-government schemes. Usually, they oppose them on the grounds that they are useless at best, harmful at worst. Anyone with a modicum of sense or experience knows that there’s more to life than big government. Even than smaller government.

Do you know this old line? “A Marxist is someone who loves humanity in groups of one million or more.”

I came of age during the Reagan presidency, and watched a lot of television. I heard Sam Donaldson say a hundred times, “Reagan would give you the shirt off his back, but, that same afternoon, he would cut a government program. He does not understand the disconnection between the two.”

Over time — and not very much time — I came to think that it was Reagan who had the better understanding. That Reagan understood the world a little better than Donaldson.

I know, I know: Reagan cut nothing. To have slowed the rate of increase: That was the great achievement in those years!

As you perhaps have, I’ve read many an article about Richard Goldstone and his repentance, or semi-repentance. I’ve read some of my favorite writers: David Horovitz (the English-born Israeli journalist, not to be confused with our David Horowitz), Melanie Phillips, Mona Charen, Martin Peretz. That is just a partial list. And I agree with them, needless to say: Goldstone, in his infamous report on Gaza, did a terrible, terribly damaging thing. He did it to Israel and the world. This was little short of blood libel.

But I’m glad he wrote the article he did — the article confessing his errors. It is very important. If it is not noble, it’s at least not ignoble. The radical Arabs are branding Goldstone a betrayer. He was a hero to them — and to the U.N. crowd, to use a shorthand. Chances are, it wasn’t easy for him to write his article. It cost him something.

Again, I’m glad he did it. Would it have been better if he had stayed quiet? No. His article — a mea culpa, really — abets the truth, is a victory for the truth.

I remember when Martin Amis published his book Koba the Dread, about Stalin. This was in 2002. A lot of people said, “Gee, Stalin was bad? A mass murderer? A monster? Martin Amis recognizes that now? A little late, don’t you think? What will he next say, that the bubonic plague was unfortunate?” My view was a little different. I thought it was good that such a “cool,” stylish, and acclaimed novelist had made a statement about Stalin and Communism. There are lots of people willing to listen to Amis who are not willing to listen to — well, me, or you.

I thought the book was welcome.

Consider that Britain’s favorite historian, E. J. Hobsbawm, who is perhaps the English-speaking world’s favorite, or most honored, historian, too, is an outright apologist for Stalin and his crimes.

The Goldstone article is late, as everyone says. But it could have been later. It could also have been never-appearing. This article is now part of the record. In a way, it corrects the record, a prior record. That is welcome. Goldstone is maddening, and damnable. His article is maddening in some respects too — and not damnable.

On to getting the Goldstone Report, that disservice to truth and the world, rescinded and effaced. Let it go the way of U.N. Resolution 3379 — which said that Zionism was racism.

Do you know about Ai Weiwei? You can get to know him a little through this article, which begins,

China blocked one of its most famous contemporary artists from taking a flight to Hong Kong on Sunday and police later raided his Beijing studio . . .

The artist, Ai Weiwei, is an outspoken government critic and has been barred from going abroad before.

China has launched a massive crackdown on lawyers, writers and activists . . .

Have just a little more:

Known for his distinctive scraggly beard and stocky frame, Ai was a consultant for the futuristic Bird’s Nest stadium at the Beijing Olympics before souring on the event. He was later beaten and detained while attempting to attend the trial of an advocate for victims of the devastating 2008 earthquake in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

Yes, that’s what they do: beat and detain, and worse. Countless anonymous people are bludgeoned by the regime in Beijing — for example, Falun Gong practitioners, whom no one cares about, or whom people consider a nuisance. Sometimes it takes the victimization of an artist or writer to interest the world.

But, hell, the Chinese government holds in prison the current Nobel peace laureate, Liu Xiaobo, and who cares about this? Not long ago, the 2009 Nobel peace laureate — Barack Obama — fêted in the White House the jailers and persecutors of the 2010 peace laureate. Great, just great.