Sean Penn gave me a college memory earlier this week: He was down in Argentina, pronouncing on “the Malvinas.” That’s what the Argentines call the Falkland Islands. And that’s what the people around me in college called them too.
Why would the Left have sided with a junta (Argentina) over a liberal democracy (Britain)? Well, mainly because they viewed the conflict as a brown-white thing. (Of course, many Argentines would die to think of themselves as brown.)
Sean Penn said, “The world today is not going to tolerate any ludicrous and archaic commitment to colonialist ideology.” Would that include self-determination for people?
(For an article on Penn and the Falklands, go here.)
I was not surprised at the news
that Oliver Stone’s son had converted to Islam, while in Iran. Similarly, I would not have been surprised at news that Oliver Stone’s son had become a conservative evangelical Christian. Maybe you know what I mean.
Incidentally, Sean Stone converted in the city of Isfahan. Do you know the song by Fauré, “Les Roses d’Ispahan”? Beautiful thing, found here, for example.
Into my inbox yesterday landed an e-mail from National Review. It said, “Please find a special message from one of our advertisers, Santorum for President. Please note that the following message reflects the opinions and representations of our advertiser alone . . .”
Okay. The ad was a letter from Santorum himself. It began, “Dear Patriot.” “Dear Patriot”! And how do his rivals address their letters? “Dear Traitor”?
The letter continued, “This past Tuesday night, we did it again! We shocked the moderate establishment and pulled off what the media elites said was impossible . . .”
Yeah, that moderate establishment. Who would they be? People who endorsed Arlen Specter for president?
Regular readers know that I write a lot about laogai, the Chinese gulag, and the crimes therein. I also write about the extreme delicacy with which Free World governments treat the Communists in Beijing. Extreme delicacy is something different from diplomacy.
A PRC big named Xi Jinping is coming to tour America. Apparently, he will be the next No. 1. All I ask is that our governing officials do what Vladimir Bukovsky, the Soviet dissident, said we should do. He said (and I paraphrase), “When going about your engagement, pause every once in a while to ask yourselves, ‘How will it look to the boys in the camps?’”
This is an old story: When an important guest or guests are coming to town, a dictatorship clears out the rabble, making things look as nice, normal, prosperous, and harmless as possible. As I wrote about at length, the Chinese Communists did this before the 2008 Olympics. The dissenting, the sick, the poor, the unsightly — all banished.
There is a word for this, kind of a clunky one: Potemkinization.
The Cuban Communists are going about this now, in preparation for a visit by the pope. Read about it here. I don’t know about the visitors to the Beijing Olympics, but this pope strikes me as someone not easily fooled.
For years, I said, “When will the ‘international community’ get serious about genocide in Darfur? When there are too few Darfurians left, really, to matter.” I’m afraid I have the same bitter feeling about Syria.
A thousand here, a thousand there — ho-hum.
Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, made a statement in response to recent events: “The Iranians and Hezbollah are determined to disrupt Israeli life and to act against Israelis all over the world. They want to strike at Israelis, and we must act against this terror front and continue to brace for other challenges we face.”
We must act against this terror front and continue to brace for other challenges we face. Israelis have been able to say this — have had to say it — ever since 1948.
Bear with me while I walk down Memory Lane, because the walk will be relevant to today. Some years ago, I witnessed Vladimir Putin and Michael Dell (the computer magnate) on a stage at Davos. Dell asked Putin what the world at large could do to help Russians, especially students, get online.
Putin responded (I paraphrase), “We don’t need any help. We are a strong country. Invalids need help, children need help, developing countries need help. Our computer experts are as good as anybody . . .”
I happened to be sitting near some Russian journalists. They whooped with delight.
National pride is a very, very powerful thing. Now, as you may know, Americans have been adopting Russian children by the tens of thousands — just as we adopt from China and from Third World countries.
Did you see this news item? “Russia’s Foreign Ministry is asking the government to suspend adoptions of Russian children by U.S. nationals following an ‘incessant string of crimes’ allegedly committed by American adoptive parents.”
Uh-huh. This smells to me like wounded pride, rather than genuine concern at American pervs. Pride plays an outsize role in human affairs.