SDI à la russe, &c.


You’ve read about how the Russians want in on the missile-defense action? A story in the Daily Telegraph began, “A top Kremlin official has told the United States Russia wants ‘red button’ rights to a new US-backed missile defence system for Europe, a move that would allow it to influence the shield’s day-to-day operational use.”

I thought back to Reagan, and his quest for SDI — for a missile defense. He always said that, once the U.S. got the technology, we would share it with the Soviets. That way, one and all could be assured that the American goal was entirely peaceful and defensive. No one would have an advantage. Conservatives went along with the Gipper, on this as on nearly everything else.

I remember a TV show, moderated by Marvin Kalb, with Caspar Weinberger and Robert McNamara as guests. McNamara and Kalb were laughing it up, incredulous at the notion that we would share important technology with the Soviets.

Anyway . . .

I can hear some of you saying, “Red-button rights? I wouldn’t give them Red Buttons rights!”

Israel has made and deployed a missile-defense system. It’s called Iron Dome. Israelis can’t really afford to mock and deride missile defense, as so many Americans have. Why? Because Israel has come under rocket attack. Necessity is the mother of invention. Those attacks from Gaza have concentrated the Israeli mind — scientifically and otherwise.

Shouldn’t the American mind be concentrated too? Why must a crisis be upon us before we will act?

I said a million times, while George W. Bush was campaigning for his Social Security reform: No one wants to repair the roof while the sun is shining. It has to be raining and storming. But then, of course, the house may take on a lot of water.

There will come a time, probably, when America has missile defense: a big, excellent missile-defense system. Then everyone will say he was for it all along. Just as everyone was for doing what it took to defeat the Soviets in the Cold War.

Riiiiight . . .

In the 1992 presidential campaign, Gov. Bill Clinton went around saying, “We won the Cold War.” Reagan, at the convention — one of his last public appearances — said, “Whaddya mean, ‘we’?” The Democrats had checked out of the Cold War in, oh, 1972, would you say? (No fair counting Scoop Jackson.)

One of the most vexing stories I have read of late is this one, out of Jamaica: Jamaicans are bleaching their skin, in an effort to better their life chances. Skin color is an old, old story, played out in the Caribbean, in India, in the United States, all over. Let me quote a bit from the linked-to article:

[A] 23-year-old resident of a Kingston ghetto hopes to transform her dark complexion to a café-au-lait color common among Jamaica’s elite and favored by many men in her neighborhood. She believes a fairer skin could be her ticket to a better life. So she spends her meager savings on cheap black-market concoctions that promise to lighten her pigment.

Damn it. What’s wrong with people? I remember the old slogan “Black is beautiful.” Why not? I remember Alberta Hunter singing, “The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice.” Boy, did she sing it bawdily. I used to work with a young woman who described someone she fancied as “black as sin.” I wish you could have heard the way she said it — lasciviously. Sssin.

Around the same time, I heard two black men tell “Yo’ mama so black . . .” jokes. One would tell one, the other would come back with another one. It was almost like the dozens. A sample: “Yo’ mama so black, she went to night school and they marked her absent.”

I also heard one of them say, of Africans who sold goods in a particular New York square, “Man, they so black, they purple!”

Skin color — what a crock, cluttering up the human mind, hindering our achievement. As though the Jamaican slum-dwellers didn’t have enough to worry about . . .