Above, I mentioned the Khmer Rouge. I happen to have a piece on them in the current National Review. Or rather, I have a piece on the international tribunal meant to try them. Only one of them has been tried — and remember, the Khmer Rouge fell from power in 1979. The tribunal opened its doors in 2006. Its first trial began in 2009. Anyway, this is an interesting subject, if a painful and frustrating one.
The Khmer Rouge, recall, killed somewhere around 2 million people, or, in other terms, between a fifth and a quarter of the Cambodian population. This was all in the name of a bright Red tomorrow, you know. Plenty of Western intellectuals supported them: One was Jan Myrdal, Gunnar and Alva’s boy.
Where do you think Kathy Boudin stood? You don’t have to think for long.
In preparing my piece for NR, I talked to a survivor named Thida Mam. She is a software engineer in California. She said, “It may sound strange to say, but my family was lucky, because only my father was killed.” In other families, more were killed.
If you feel like something lighter, I don’t blame you — let’s talk about Barack Obama and Harry Reid. The president has apologized to California’s attorney general, Kamala Harris, for calling her “by far the best-looking attorney general” in the country.
I prefer the Senate majority leader’s randier language: Of the junior senator from New York, he said, “We in the Senate refer to Senator Gillibrand as the ‘hottest member.’”
That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.
On to basketball: In the NCAA Tournament, Michigan played Kansas. A Kansas player, Elijah Johnson, punched a Michigan player, Mitch McGary, in the groin. It was the most blatant thing you ever saw. Some observers were shocked that the refs didn’t throw Johnson out of the game. He played on, till the end.
Later, I had a thought: What if the Kansas coach, Bill Self, had thrown Johnson out of the game? Had said, “No, that’s not the way we in our program play basketball”? To me, the coach would have been a hero: to have expelled his own player, in a critical game, on a matter of principle.
But there is a great, great difference between the American society of my dreams and the American society we have. You can say the same thing, surely — so can most.
My team, Michigan, is constantly referred to as a “young team” — because of the prominence of freshmen and sophomores on it. This cracks me up a little: As though college juniors and seniors — between 20 and 22 years old — aren’t young too!
But I know what the commentators mean . . .
Before the 1992 tournament, Bill Walton picked the Fab Five to win it all. (The “Fab Five” were the starters for Michigan.) Someone, it may have been Brent Musburger, said to him, “But Bill, they’re all freshmen!” Walton said, “I know, but I’ll take talent over experience any day.”
The team made it to the final game and lost (to Duke).
Let’s end with another sports note — in which I will reveal that I am a lefty PC squish. (Some of my e-mailers have long thought so. It always amazes me that there’s someone to the right of me. Kind of a relief, actually.) A school district in New Hampshire has banned dodgeball. This has some conservatives ruffled, and I understand them. But . . .
Even when I was a child, I thought dodgeball was a stupid game, barely above simple barbarism. It may be the dumbest game in the history of games — and I’m even including soccer. (Uh-oh, I shouldn’t have said that. Some of my best friends are soccer devotees.) Let the young’uns play real games, maybe even a sport. Ever put a baseball bat in their hands? I mean, not to beat others with, but to hit a ball with?
If dodgeball disappeared from the earth, we wouldn’t be any worse off. Then again, we wouldn’t be any worse off if certain school boards disappeared.
Have you ever read a crotchetier Impromptus? Anyway, I wish you a good and relatively uncrotchety day!
To order Jay Nordlinger’s 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.