Mailbag (Imagined)

by Jay Nordlinger

Every once in a while, it pays to stop and think about why you’re doing what you’re doing. We shouldn’t stop and think all the time — let’s not go crazy. But every now and then, sure.

In Impromptus today, I have two lists. (Hey, doesn’t Santa have two too? Or is that just one, with naughty and nice?) The first says why I’m voting for Romney; the second says why I’m voting against Obama. Because I’m doing both: casting a most positive vote for Romney; and casting a most negative vote against Obama.

I think Romney would be very good in the Oval Office. And I think Obama has been sorely lacking (to put it as politely as possible).

Surprisingly, there has been very little mail about this column. No, wait: That’s because we NR-niks are without e-mail (at least our NR e-mail). So let me guess what the mail might say, if there were mail: “You left out this, that, and the other thing!” Yes, many things, I suppose. But my lists are long enough. They cover the basics, I think, at least as I conceive the basics.

I have another column on the homepage today too: here. I’m not trying to drown you. (There’s been enough of that lately.) This column, the second one, was scheduled to appear earlier in the week. But then, Sandy. The column is still good, however, like milk whose expiration date is ages from now.

What would the mail say about this one? I’m not sure. It would say many things, that I’m pretty sure about.

One of my items concerns a hot controversy in northern Wisconsin — where a teacher handed out a math assignment. The assignment asked the question, “What happened after Chief Short Cake died?” Then you solved some problems. And, in so doing, you were shown the answer: “Squaw bury Short Cake.”

The teacher was flayed for a hate crime, basically: that word “squaw.” He was even condemned in the London Daily Mail, the world’s most popular newspaper, as I understand it!

Some of my mail might say, “Whatever ‘squaw’ was in the past, it’s now an epithet on par with the N-word.” I don’t really buy it. But I realize that words are subject to fashion as hemlines are — probably even more so. And if the custodians of the culture declare a word radioactive: well, I guess it is.

In the column, I say, “Society can be very puritanical, about certain things. The puritanicalness doesn’t change; only the ‘things’ do, if you know what I mean.” If the Salem witch-burners were alive today, and beheld our reaction to the Wisconsin teacher, they might say, “Whoa, chill, dudes. Ease off. Life’s too short, you know?”