The meaning of ‘they,’ &c.

Pro-democracy, anti-militia Libyans march through Benghazi, September 21, 2012.


Couple of weeks ago, I had a post entitled “And Then They Came for the Meter Maids . . .” In Spain, some Muslim immigrants have demanded that female parking-enforcement personnel be removed from their neighborhood. The sight of women working is offensive, I guess. Or women in authority? Anyway, these immigrants have succeeded in having the women removed.

In my post, I noted a longstanding tension — a tension on the left: We are ultra-sensitive to every Muslim feeling, of course; but we’re for women’s rights too, aren’t we?

This tension will continue, and, sooner or later, something’s gotta give . . .

I was talking about this issue with some colleagues on Monday. I had a memory, from way back: I was working for The Weekly Standard, and the O.J. Simpson trial was on. Talk about tension on the left! That tension went something like this: A black man is in the dock, and we all know that black men are railroaded. Blacks are victims. And yet, this guy killed his ex-wife — and we’re supposed to be against killing ex-wives, right? Women are victims too, right? What’re we gonna do?

And here was further stickiness — awful stickiness: While the defendant was black, the ex-wife was white. (O.J. killed another person too — also white — but this victim was just a sideshow, poor guy.)

Anyway, Gertrude Himmelfarb wrote an article for the magazine. As I recall, she said there used to be a holy trinity: race, class, gender. But then the Left dropped class. And that left race and gender. Which will win out? And the answer was: race. Race trumped gender, big-time.

In the struggle between the imperative to honor Muslim sensitivities and the imperative to honor women’s rights, which will win out? What will trump what? Personally, I wouldn’t bet the ranch on women’s rights . . .

Last week, George Will had a column on Mia Love, the mayor in Utah who’s running for Congress. About her and her husband, Will wrote, “Fourteen years ago, they moved to this state, where blacks were then about 1 percent of the population . . .” And that gave me a memory. (What doesn’t, right?) I included this tidbit in an appreciation of George W. Bush on the day he left office.

Bush was talking to a New Orleans man who had escaped Hurricane Katrina. He had fled all the way up and over to Utah. Bush narrowed his eyes, leaned in, and asked, “Were you the only black man in Salt Lake City?” Bush was at ease with everyone — he had a certain sympathy and spark with everyone. That was a major part of his overall strength. (Even Nancy Pelosi recently admitted that Bush is “really a lovely man.”)

A few days ago, I had a visit from a man from Macedonia, a young intellectual. He was lamenting the direction in which our country had gone. “We know what a socialist economy is, and particularly what a socialist health-care system is. Why would you want it? You have no idea what’s coming.”

“I know,” I said. “You know what was possibly my favorite line from the Republican convention? It came in Marco Rubio’s speech. And . . .”

Before I could get the words out of my mouth, my Macedonian friend knew exactly what I was talking about. Criticizing Democratic policies, Rubio said, “These are tired and old big-government ideas that have failed every time and everywhere they have been tried. These are ideas that people come to America to get away from.”

Hear frickin’ hear. And if America goes socialist like everyone else — where will those who want a different kind of life go?

I thought you might like this: A reader of ours, in a letter to me, called himself “a libertarian man of the Right.” He then explained, “I want people to freely choose things that would make Russell Kirk happy.”

Another reader sent me an e-mail from Central Park, with a picture attached. The picture showed a sign saying, “Passive Recreation Only.” The reader asked, “What does this mean?”

No idea. Picnicking instead of skateboarding or ball-throwing?

Another reader sent me a picture of a restaurant in Surrey, British Columbia, which is part of Greater Vancouver. The sign says, “Indian Style Chinese Food.” I love that. Only in America! (Or North America, I should say . . .)

I’ve got loads more, y’all, but you have other things to do, and I’ll catch you later.

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.


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

NRO Polls on LockerDome

Subscribe to National Review