Mailbag

by Jay Nordlinger

My Impromptus today touches on sports, politics, business, higher ed, music — the usual mixture. I thought I’d publish a little mail responding to previous columns.

In one, I talked about “people” — the use and abuse of that word. A reader writes,

I soured on the word when my cousin, circa 1972, instructed her children to answer phone calls, “All power to the people.”

I should say. In another column, I mentioned the grief that Julian Fellowes was getting for using an all-white cast. His excuse: He is trying to depict Folkestone (England) circa 1900. He is going for authenticity (to employ a modish word). Anyway, he is getting clobbered.

In that column, I wrote,

It is too much to ask people that they relax on race. Sooner ask that they quit likker ’n’ porn. Race is almost an addiction, or a devotion. But people like art as well, and I hope enough of them will want to save it from politics — identity politics in particular. …

The people who can really break this spell are “people of color” — saying, “Oh, for heaven’s sake. Lighten up. No pun intended.” And, “Not in our name.”

A reader writes,

I could not agree more! [Heh.] I am a person of color (Indian — dot, not feather) and make it a point to say something similar (after thanking them for considering my feelings, and for their genuine desire not to offend) whenever this issue comes up (uncharitable portrayal of Indians in old English literature, for example) and get the feeling that other people don’t quite know what to say. They listen politely, but you can tell that they don’t quite know what to make of me.

I believe that a novelist or a poet or a screenwriter or a playwright, as an artist, has complete freedom about his/her work of art. If he/she wants to write a screenplay about Finland circa 1850, and does not include any Indians/Chinese/blacks/Hispanics in the plot, so be it!

That is a rare maturity. Completely un-modern.

Finally, this note struck me funny, and gratifying:

Thanks again for your Impromptus. I like to get back from the gym, lock my office door while I ice my knees, and read your column while I eat my lunch. 

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