Politics & Policy


But what about the tuna? "Black Expressions." Meet Sparkle! Etc.

I was interested to read the story lately about the definition of “dolphin-safe tuna” — that is, tuna caught without menace to nearby dolphins. I’ve always been somewhat amused by the idea of “dolphin-safe tuna.” This is an example of: What do certain of our finest academic minds call it? Species-ism?

We’re keen to spare the dolphins, but we’re going after the tuna, hard — catching them, selling them, killing them, devouring them (yummy, too). Who will speak up for the scorned tuna?

But then, no tuna ever had its very own TV show.

I was slightly depressed to receive an ad from Black Expressions, which peddles “books by and for African Americans.” This is the sort of separatism that makes me mourn for my country. Think about that phrase: “books by and for African Americans.” I wonder whether Invisible Man is for any white American. I wonder whether Sister Carrie is “for” African Americans.

Maya Angelou is not one of my favorite people, especially when she’s on her high horse (which seems to be most of the time). But I’ll always love her for this: She once said that, until she reached a certain age, she was convinced that Shakespeare had been a black girl, because, otherwise, how could he have understood her so well?

You’ll be happy to know that women in Iran can now attend soccer games. Yes. One 17-year-old girl was quoted as saying, “My dream came true today. I still can’t believe I’m in a soccer stadium in the Islamic Republic.”

Ain’t liberalization grand? May it continue — apace.

Was a fine New York Times story on the various hardships (really) of the 35-hour workweek in France. But this is my favorite part of it: “‘If you cut the hours without increasing the work force, everybody has to work harder,’ said Jean-Paul Rouillac, a postal worker and union official, sipping a coffee beneath a poster of Che Guevara at a local union office . . .”

Sipping a coffee beneath a poster of Che Guevara: That is the perfect image from my hometown, Ann Arbor — exactly what I grew up with. You know: Paris, Ann Arbor . . .

In Venezuela, they have named an especially loud firecracker — used for New Year’s parties and such — “the Osama bin Laden.” As Nancy Reagan was once overheard saying, “Not very funny, sonny.”

While we’re on the subject of South America, Lula da Silva, the new president of Brazil, is very, very bad news: a would-be Castro, a Portuguese-speaking clone, it would seem, of Hugo Chavez in the home of the bin Laden firecracker.

I was spooked by a Constantine Menges column in the Washington Times.

Here are some excerpts:

“An important indicator of the radical dimensions of the future plans of ‘Lula’ is that since 1990, he has convened an annual meeting called the ‘Forum of Sao Paulo’ that has included all the communist and radical political parties and armed communist terrorist organizations of Latin America together with terrorist groups from Europe (IRA, ETA) and the Middle East, as well as participants from Iraq, Libya, Cuba and other state sponsors of terrorism.”

“When harassment by Chinese aircraft caused a U.S. surveillance plane to make an emergency landing in April 2001, [Lula] said his party ‘supports the just position of the Chinese government’ against the U.S.

“In June 2002, Aloizio Merchant, a leading member of the Worker’s Party who may become Brazil’s foreign minister, said publicly that ‘alliances with China and Russia are important to give force to a possible anti-American coalition.’”

Swell. Just swell.

Hey, isn’t Merchant kind of a funny name for a leader of the Worker’s Party?

Remember, if you can, the names Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang. They are leaders of the massive labor protests that took place in the northeast of China last year. They have now been indicted for subversion, which may lead to their executions. Could they be the Lech Walesas of China — that is, if they manage to live?

Didn’t quite know what to make of the recent Lotto/Salvation Army story. A guy who hit the jackpot tried to donate 100 grand to his local Salvation Army chapter, in Florida. The chapter’s head said, “No, thanks” — on grounds that these were gambling winnings, and that the Army was having to deal with families on the verge of becoming homeless, because of the breadwinner’s gambling problem. Acceptance of the check would’ve felt hypocritical.

I suppose my first reaction was, “Good grief, man, take the money where you can get it, and use it for good.” My second reaction was: Not so fast, Jay. Where do we draw the line (thinking about drug profits, prostitution profits, etc.)? I thought that the Salvation Army chief had been rather spunky.

Anyway, something for you to think about, perhaps, when you’re drifting off to sleep.

When Joe Lieberman returned from his recent trip to the Middle East, he said he felt confident that the Arabs would accept a Jewish U.S. president. What have you been smokin’, bubbeleh?

First of all, the Arabs barely accept non-Jewish U.S. presidents, for heaven’s sake. President George H. W. Bush wasn’t allowed to preside over a Thanksgiving service in Saudi Arabia, when American troops were there risking their behinds for, among others, Saudis.

Second, I happened to be in Egypt in November 2000, after the election, as the Florida mess was playing out. The name on everyone’s lip was: Lieberman. Not Gore or Bush, but Lieberman. He had more name recognition in Cairo and Alexandria, I swear, than he did in parts of the United States.

At every turn, people wanted to discuss him, or denounce him. They were all for Bush, of course. But one man, trying to show a little sympathy for Gore, said, “I think Lieberman’s a bad influence on him.”

Come on, Joe: Get real.

I was struck by something Mark Steyn wrote in his column (I could write this most any day). He was discussing Princess Haifa, the wife of the Saudi ambassador to the United States, the woman who — unwittingly, she says — passed all that dough to the 9/11 terrorists. When the likes of NR jumped all over her, she received sympathy calls from, among others, Alma Powell and Barbara Bush.

Wrote Steyn: “The wife of the secretary of state and the mother of the president have no business comforting a stooge of their country’s enemies.”

I was glad to read that our aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln was lurking about Iraq. Some of you may recall that the Abraham Lincoln is the ship in Madama Butterfly — the Abramo Lincoln, it’s called. It’s the ship of the villainous Pinkerton.

Speaking of Lincoln — the real Lincoln, I mean. Here are some words from his Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862. They were written into the Christmas card of the Ashbrook Center, that fine conservative outfit in Ohio. I agree that Lincoln’s words apply particularly to us at this hour.

Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here — hold the power and bear the responsibility.

And so on.

Let’s have some mail. Since about Thanksgiving, we’ve been discussing this business of “Happy Holidays” and the phasing out of “Merry Christmas.” You will enjoy the missives and mots that follow.

“Dear JN: Count my lovely wife and me among the many who despair at the substitution of ‘Happy Holidays’ for ‘Merry Christmas’ (and don’t get me started on ‘Turkey Day’). This year, m.l.w. decided that she would be a stereotypical Texan and put her money where her mouth was on the issue: Anyone in a business who said ‘Merry Christmas’ instead of ‘Happy Holidays’ was given an immediate $5 tip. The result was gratifying and galvanizing. M.l.w. plans to do this every Christmas from now on. She spent $25 in 2002, and said it was the most fun she had all year, for the money.”

“Hey, Jay: Why don’t we try, ‘Merry Christmas and all’? I invented this expression this year, having so tired of H.H. I include the ‘all’ after ‘Merry Christmas’ to catch every possible group, and if they don’t like it, tough.”

“Dear Jay: Now that the officially-named ‘Winter Holidays’ are over for our daughter’s elementary school, I have time to write and tell you about an even more absurdly named holiday (because at least Christmas is in the winter). At my baby’s school, Halloween is officially known as ‘Black and Orange Day.’ So of course, in my house, we now sarcastically refer to each holiday by some color combination.

“Incidentally, my son, a high-school junior, is contemplating starting a Conservative Student Union at his high school. He asked one teacher if she would be moderator for the group and was told, ‘There are not enough four-letter words to put in front of ‘no’ to tell you how I feel about that.’ The new ‘Gay/Straight Alliance’ at school had no trouble finding a faculty moderator. Did I mention we live in Massachusetts?”

“Jay, you’ll like this, from your hometown. I’ll have to pull the actual quotes from the Ann Arbor News, but a mild controversy sprung up at Christmas time. In the beginning of December, an article in the News encouraged the recycling of ‘holiday trees’ — not Christmas trees. About a week later, a resident wrote a letter to the editor explaining that it’s okay for them to write ‘Christmas trees’ since nearly anyone buying a tree needing recycling this time of year was in fact celebrating Christmas, not some unnamed holiday. Others wrote in to counter that letter (‘Drop the us vs. them,’ etc.).”

“Jay, here’s a true story from a couple of years ago. It happened here at my work.

“The Diversity Council wanted to do something for Christmas. So they solicited from an online internal bulletin board how to say ‘Happy Holidays’ in as many languages as they could collect. Now, we’re a large corporation and so have folks from all tribes and tongues. (By the way, we all worked great together and managed to sell products all over the world even before our HR Director of Multiculturalism and Diversity latched on to the corporate teat. But that’s for another Impromptus.)

“So, one of the responses posted on the online bulletin board was from a Russian guy. Well, you did not have to be Russian to figure out that it was literally ‘Christ Is Born.’ The Diversity Council responds: Well, we really wanted to say ‘Happy Holidays.’ The Russian guy replies: There is no such thing in Russian.

“As Christmas approaches we see all over the work site posters that purport to say ‘Happy Holidays’ in all sorts of languages — even Russian. So what they must have done is look up ‘happy’ and ‘holiday’ in a Russian dictionary and then put the two words together on the poster.

“To me, this story has always been a good way to let people know what diversity/multiculturalism is all about. Take what is real and replace it with a made-up and bland shadow of reality.”

“Dear Jay: The best substitute for ‘Christmas’ I’ve ever encountered was Pittsburgh’s eight-year use of ‘Sparkle Season’ — complete with a religiously neutral cartoon mascot named ‘Sparkle’ — when referring to official city holiday events. Sparkle Season met its long-overdue demise this past fall. But you can see an image of Sparkle himself [itself? herself?] right here.”

Friends, all I can do is sigh a little.

And I also want to tell you, as I do periodically: Please forgive my inability to read, much less respond to, all mail. Reality — the 24-hours-a-day thing — clashes hideously with manners.

And happy continuing Sparkle Season to you.


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