‘Buckle Up’

by Jay Nordlinger

I never expected to be thinking about Susan Rosenberg this weekend. But Andy McCarthy writes of her in his excellent piece about Charlottesville, Trump, etc.

As you may recall, President Clinton was very busy during his last few hours in office. He did a lot of pardoning and commuting. (I don’t mean that he drove from Rockville to D.C. I mean that he commuted sentences of prisoners.) Two recipients of his clemency were Rosenberg and Linda Sue Evans, both of them terrorists in the Weather Underground. I wrote about Rosenberg, though Linda Sue is a story unto herself. That piece was called “Clinton’s Rosenberg Case.”

(For the benefit of the young and others: “The Rosenberg case,” traditionally, refers to the story of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, convicted and executed as spies for the Soviet Union.)

Susan Rosenberg is a fairly honest type, I find. While she was in prison, she would not accept the designation “prisoner of conscience.” Hell, she said, she was trying to overthrow the government. She never apologized for her crimes. She was — frankly, forthrightly — on the other side: the other side of America and its constitutional republic. She wanted us to live the kind of life that Cubans, for example, have been forced to live, since 1959.

Upon her release, however, she made a statement that was a little bland, as I put it in my piece: bland, passive, and self-absolving. “It was an extreme time,” she said. She was talking about her heyday with the Weathermen.

Several weeks ago, I gave a talk about today’s politics — across the nation and on campus — titled “An Age of Extremes.” I borrowed my title, of course, from Eric Hobsbawm (whose view of the world was little different from Susan Rosenberg’s). These extremes are on left and right. They have more in common than either would like to admit.

On Friday, Senator Ben Sasse wrote a highly interesting article headed “The Next Charlottesville.” The last paragraph begins, “It feels like violence is coming.” Sasse says that it is up to all of us to “reaffirm” our “exceptional American Creed.”

I agree. Many on the right have accused Sasse of “virtue signaling.” This is not a phrase I ever heard until recently. I know that, whenever someone tries to appeal to right and wrong, someone accuses him of “virtue signaling.”

Sanctimoniousness is an obnoxious quality. But virtue is a necessity of life (any life worth living). We should not give up on it or be disdainful of it. If you take the morality out of politics, you’re left with ugliness.

“Buckle your seatbelt — it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.” (This old saying is derived from All About Eve, the 1950 movie.) Yesterday, Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to President Trump, tweeted the following, with reference to Steve Bannon’s return to Breitbart:

#FAKENEWSindustrialComplex – & all others who don’t believe in #MAGA – have no idea what’s about 2 happen.

Buckle up Establishment!

Whether we believe in #MAGA or not; whether we’re part of the Fake News Industrial Complex or not; whether we’re part of the Establishment or not — I think we’re all buckled up …

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