YOU KNOW WHAT FRIDAY MEANS…
Well, as always seems to be the case, I’m pressed for time when it comes time to admit what I got wrong. So let’s get going.
I misspelled the eminent journal for mammary aficionados. Juggs has two G’s — one for each, well you know what they’re for. Since we’re starting with the highbrow stuff, some thought I mispelled caca or kah kah. I’m not sure that there is a definitive spelling — and a rose by another name and all that so let’s just move on. Of course the Pabst Blue Ribbon line was from Blue Velvet. Nobody guessed why I referenced Back to School and On the Beach in Monday’s column, but that may be because Monday’s column was so turgid that none of you got through it (though I was disappointed considering how well some of you have been doing with our new feature What’s That From [Link defunct]. By the way, we have a bonus question for the weekend). But since we’re on the subject, my apology for Monday’s column got a strong counter-reaction from people saying they loved it. Truth to be told, I liked it more than I let on, but I just didn’t write it as well as I could have — sort of like today’s column and my anonymous articles in Jugs, I mean Juggs.
Quite a few Buchanan followers had a problem with my comments about Pat Buchanan. I don’t want to waste a lot of space here on this. I like Pat Buchanan. He’s a smart guy and very entertaining. He and Bay Buchanan have been very nice to me. But Pat’s wrong about a lot of things. He’s as wrong as any Left-Winger on trade. I don’t care if he comes at things from another direction, his conclusions are still wrong. Two plus two is not five — from any angle. And on things like immigration and race, I don’t agree with some things he says, and I sometimes really don’t like the way he says them. On immigration, for example, I agree that illegal immigration is a huge problem. But I am in favor of legal immigration, and he thinks that’s just the same rotten apple by a different name.
He seems incapable of resisting issues that will enrage people. And he seems equally incapable of writing about them in a non-enraging way. I am certainly sympathetic with that temptation, but what he does with it sometimes goes beyond the pale. And he gets no free passes for casual mistakes or rhetorical excess; Buchanan is one of the best wordsmiths in America. He knows precisely what he is saying and how. For example, his current view that we shouldn’t have gotten into World War II is in my mind obscene, wrong-headed, and deliberately so. Take the Holocaust entirely out of it — which is something Pat seems very willing to do. The notion that fighting the Nazis wasn’t in our interest is, on its face, silly. Would a European Union under Hitler be in our best interests? A Nazi Britain? Was that war avoidable, considering we were already at war with Japan?
The interesting moral question that conservatives with a bent for revisiting history have always asked is, “Wouldn’t the world have been better off if we had gone to war with the Soviets in 1946, before they got the bomb?” My answer happens to be yes. The world would be in far superior shape today if we had rolled back the Soviets, at least to the Russian border. That’s certainly debatable. But there’s an assumption buried in that question. Conservatives tried to convince the American people and the world that Nazism and Communism were just about morally indistinguishable, and that Communism was therefore worth fighting around the globe. Pat turns that on its head, to a position not even the most absurd Leftist peacenik would agree with: Even Nazism wasn’t worth fighting. So why bother making the comparisons?
Now let’s put the Holocaust back in for a second. I really don’t think Buchanan is an anti-Semite. But I do think Pat doesn’t care that anti-Semites rejoice in the things he says. When he writes about “Holocaust Survivors Syndrome” and how it involves “group fantasies of martyrdom and heroics,” he seems utterly unconcerned that this is what the Holocaust deniers have been dying to hear. When he writes in his new book (which I have not yet read) that, “after World War II, Jewish influence over foreign policy became almost an obsession with American leaders,” he knows where the loudest cheers from his Amen Choir come from.
Anyway, that’s not cheery stuff, and today is not only clarifications and corrections Friday, it’s a beautiful day outside.
So back we go. My assertions about the conservatism of Star Trek elicited a lot of thoughtful commentary from readers. (NOTE: If you are not a Trekker, Trekkie, or some other variety of sci-fi geek, press here and you will be magically transported via the HOV lane to the next topic in this column). A minor correction pointed out only by my friend Tevi Troy: the episode I referred to as boosting the Declaration of Independence was actually an episode that cheered the Constitution — episode # 54, “The Omega Glory,” the one with the Yangs and the Kohms, and the Yangs had misread the Constitution in their own language. To them it began, Yee plabnista, instead of “we the people.” (But there was at least one episode that did invoke the Declaration: Can anyone think what it was?).
A lot of time can be saved by reasserting a point I made in the column. The show was conservative in the sense that it was opposed to modern multicultural Leftism. Some of you cited specific episodes which denounced nuclear war and fretted about population problems or the barbarity of the death penalty as examples of liberalism. Well, I don’t buy that. First of all, this may be shocking news to some people, but even conservatives are against nuclear war — just not to the point of total unilateral disarmament like our friends on the Left. As for over-population, well, the bad guys had the over-population, and that was a really dumb episode through and through. On the death penalty, the record is ambiguous. In “The Menagerie” — episode #16 when Spock tries to return Christopher Pike to the planet where he got messed-up by the Tushy-Heads — the penalty for going to that planet (Talos 6) was death. Yet, in other episodes it is implied that the death penalty is verboten. But on the merits, is it really so hard to imagine that conservatives would give up the death penalty (many already have) in a society where a) rehabilitation was possible, b) there was no chance of escaping prison, and c) prison over-crowding was not really an issue?
But I will concede the point that some of you made, that the corporate values of NBC probably helped rein in some of Roddenberry’s liberal excesses.
A great number of people quibbled that eventually the Ferengi stopped being the villains of the show. Sure, that’s true, but that only happened because viewers thought the Ferengi were monstrously stupid as villains and wanted the Romulans and Klingons back at center stage. Not to revisit the issue of anti-Semitism, but a reader did send me this exposition on the subject: http://www.crank.com/crank6/crank-14.html [Link defunct. Here’s something similar: http://scifi.about.com/library/weekly/aa031099.htm.].
Because of the high geek factor inherent to talking about Star Trek I must stop now. Also, I am trying to convince the guys at NR to let me write a piece about the uses and abuses of Star Trek by intellectuals, so I gotta save something (but any suggestions on what I should read would be welcome, the higher-brow the better).
Then there was the 100 Most Overrated List. Well, I wasn’t alone on that bad boy. There were lots of chefs meddling — or improving the soup. Somehow, Margaret Mead fell off the final list even though we say she’s on it in the introductory essay; that’s been fixed. Donald Trump was on it twice for a while — but we fixed that too. Anyway, a few of you said that it might as well be the list of the most despicable people. That’s clearly not true. Where is the coprophagous Sidney Blumenthal? Where is Pol Pot? Anyway, we like the list and we’re not changing it for nobody, except when we do. Next to last is my announcement that I am a writer for Brill’s Content these days. I knew some people would be shocked or upset about that. But I am delighted for all sorts of professional reasons. Besides, dude, I’m changin’ the system from the inside! By the way, no, that isn’t an artist’s rendition of a Bizarro World Clark Kent – Rock’em Sock’em Robot, that’s simply their drawing of me. Finally, some of you feel that I am being too hard on our rarely named but often referenced Webguy. Well, tough, until he pays me back the bail from that Mexican jail he’s getting what he deserves.