Our national god, &c.


I have been getting mail — spam — from the US-China Business Council. You know the type: Walk on eggshells around the Chinese Communist Party. Don’t do anything to upset them. We’re all gonna make our money, nice ’n’ quiet, and no one had better utter a word about the gulag, Tibet, or anything like that.

(How about the fact that China imprisons the 2010 Nobel peace laureate?)

One of the council’s e-mails was headed “State leaders ignoring anti-China rhetoric, pursuing Chinese investments.” When someone says “anti-China,” you have to consider what he means. In the Cold War, people who spoke up for human rights were sometimes called “anti-Russian.” It was said that they “hated Russia.” Actually, they were pro-Russian, and pro-Russia — to the extent of wanting people in that country to have rights.

Foes of the Kremlin were also accused of “poisoning the atmosphere of détente.” Remember that one? If you mentioned Sakharov, Solzhenitsyn, or Shcharansky (as his name was then spelled) — if you mentioned the boot stomping on the human face — you were told, “Are you trying to poison the atmosphere of détente? Do you really want to start a war?”

Similarly, people who favor democracy and human rights in Cuba — i.e., are pro-Cuban — are sometimes called “anti-Cuban” or “anti-Cuba.” To be anti-Castro, in my book, is to be pro-Cuba.

The “People’s Republic of China” — which is not a republic and whose people have no say whatsoever — is a one-party dictatorship with a gulag (laogai). When a business council says “anti-China,” remember that those accused of being “anti-China” may well be pro-China, pro-Chinese — pro-human.

Another way to put this is: The CCP does not equal China, though, of course, it pretends it does. Why should people in free countries pretend along with them?

Routinely, Falun Gong practitioners are abducted, tortured, and killed. I get a report every few days. I think it’s worthwhile, once in a blue moon, to mention one of the victims. Actually to name her name.

Consider Xu Chensheng. Beautiful woman, just by the way. Forty-seven years old, lived in Hunan Province, killed within hours of her abduction. Can’t have been a pretty death, either.

To read a report — strong stomachs only, when it comes to the CCP’s murders of Falun Gong people — go here.

For about ten years now, readers have been sending me PR materials for alumni trips to Cuba. I’m talking about trips organized by the alumni associations of American universities. The PR materials usually make for sickening reading: about the wonders of the Castros’ socialist paradise. You know how it goes.

In recent days, several readers have sent me materials for a Harvard trip to Cuba. I’m afraid I’m about talked out — talked out on the subject, after years of talking, and explaining, and investigating, and reasoning, and correcting . . .

Lately, I’ve resorted to sarcasm: Enjoy the underage prostitution! Take advantage of the “tourism apartheid” — separate hotels, separate restaurants, separate shops, separate clinics, separate beaches! Don’t think about the political prisoners as you sip your mojitos!

A few weeks ago, one of the island’s leading dissidents died in one of those “mysterious” car crashes that dissidents sometimes meet with. Actually, two dissidents died in that crash. How efficient, the Castros’ state security!

(The dissidents I refer to — I must not let them go unnamed — are Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero.)

Though I may be talked out, Ron Radosh, fortunately, is not: Read him here, about a classmate of his who raved about his journey — or pilgrimage — to the Castros’ realm.

Really, I’m not talked out. Defeatism is a sin, right? I may be just resting, for a day or two . . .

A little music — for a column in CityArts, on some pianists in some interesting repertoire, go here.

In a forthcoming piece for The New Criterion, I mention Atom Egoyan, an Armenian-Canadian director born in Cairo. I was fascinated to read something about the origin of his name — his first name: “. . . he was named Atom to mark the completion of Egypt’s first nuclear reactor.”

Alas, people with names like Egoyan found it expedient to leave Egypt, when Nasser hit his awful stride.

A few years ago, I interviewed Ferruccio Furlanetto, the great Italian bass. I said, “Are you the most famous Ferruccio since Busoni?” After a pause, he said, wryly, “Yes.”

Well, the other day, my friend Troy Feddersen said to me, “Do you know Busoni’s full name?” I did not. The answer: Ferruccio Dante Michelangelo Benvenuto Busoni.

Beat that, as Bill Buckley would say. That has to be the most beautiful name — Italian division — ever.

To order Jay Nordlinger’s new book, Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World, go here. To order his collection Here, There & Everywhere, go here.