Friendship, &c.


President Obama has described the U.S. as Israel’s “greatest friend.” True. But can we say there isn’t very much competition?

I hadn’t heard the phrase since the Clinton years, I believe. Clinton said, on at least one occasion, “I believe in a God of second chances.” And here comes South Carolina’s Mark Sanford: “I believe in a God of second chances.”

Fine. I believe in second chances, and third chances, and fifth chances, and hundredth chances. But I would rather Sanford not be elected again.

I’ve been reading a little about this Arizona case. One news report began, “Supreme Court justices disagreed Monday over whether states can require would-be voters to prove they are U.S. citizens before using a federal registration system designed to make signing up easier.”

I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t have a settled opinion. But I wonder this: The people on the “lenient” side (for lack of a better description): Would they do anything to keep an illegal alien from voting? Anything at all? Would they countenance any requirement whatsoever that you and I prove we are citizens before voting?

I don’t think they would — which bothers me. (You can hardly get through an hour of life without showing ID.)

The headline read, “Is ‘Latino’ a race, or an ethnicity?” You know, I don’t give a rip. Do you? I didn’t even glance at the article. Someday, maybe, we can just be Americans, or people. But that day seems a long way off, and perhaps never-arriving.

I recall a piece that the great Ward Connerly once wrote for us — and by “us” I mean National Review. It was titled “Don’t Box Me In.” It called for an end to “racial checkoffs.”

Hear frickin’ hear.

There is a group of prisoners on the island of Cuba that the world is very concerned about. They are the terrorist detainees held by the U.S. government. The world is much, much less concerned about the political prisoners held by Cuba’s Communist dictatorship.

You may have read that some Guantanamo detainees are on hunger strike. No? Yes — you can read a news report here. And listen to the poor babies’ complaint: “Lawyers say the protest began Feb. 6, when a relatively new officer in charge of camp operations, Army Col. John Bogdan, ordered an intensive search of the communal pod-like area where a majority of detainees are held. Guards confiscated personal items such as family letters, photos and mail from attorneys.”

Oh, but there’s more: “The prisoners also said government-issued Qurans were searched in a way they considered religious desecration.” No!

A Guantanamo spokesman “said there had been no changes in the way searches are conducted. He said Qurans are searched for contraband by Muslim translators, not guards, and are treated in a respectful way. The protest is simply a way to attract attention, he said.” Yeah, no kidding.

Okay, how about hunger strikes no one cares about? (All too few care about them, I should say.) When Orlando Zapata Tamayo died, two years ago, I did a piece for NR called “Death by Hunger Strike.” Here are some things I said about Zapata:

He was 42 years old when he died. Zapata was fearless in his demands for basic human rights, one of those dissidents who will risk everything. He was arrested, for the final time, in the notorious crackdown of March 2003, known as the “Black Spring.” In prison, the guards beat him constantly. They also tortured him in the usual, shocking ways. He began his hunger strike on December 3. . . .

. . . the authorities denied him water for 18 days — they typically do this to hunger strikers. Zapata suffered kidney failure. Then they held him naked over a powerful air conditioner, which gave him pneumonia.

And so on and so forth. Zapata held out for an amazing 83 days. When he was dying, his mother, Reina Luisa, called on their fellow Cubans to express solidarity. To express it even if it meant being attacked by the state’s goons. “Do not be afraid of blows,” she said. “It is worthier to die upright than to die kneeling.”