Politics & Policy

Edwards’s patriotism, &c.

The Left seems to have come up with a new tack on global warming, and it’s a depressing one. Here is John Edwards after laying out his greenhouse-gas plan: “We need you, we need America to be willing to be patriotic about something other than war.”

Ugh. Can you think of phrasing more disgusting? And why did he have to drag the war into it, in that manner? (Incidentally, I have taken Edwards’s words from this news story.) So, lemme see: Unless we sign on to the Left’s environmental schemes, we are unpatriotic?

You know, I liked it better when the Left damned patriotism as the vice of McCarthyites, jingoes, and boobs. This they did, all through my youth. As I say, I sort of prefer that to the new tack.

And couldn’t John Edwards stick to fussing with his hair? He may be “kinda cute,” as Barack Obama says, but his political rhetoric is nauseating.

‐Sometimes people say to me, “Jay, why are you so down on America? Why do you think we’re such a defective country?” And today I will answer with this article. Its opening paragraph:

“Hispanic groups unhappy with an upcoming Ken Burns documentary on World War II are stepping up pressure on PBS because they say the series omits mention of the role Latinos played in the war.”

The only appropriate answer to these people is: Eff you. Our Balkanization is nearly complete, but a few of us should still cry out before we lose E pluribus unum altogether. That used to be our national motto, you know. It seems a long, long time ago, in a different country.

Our effort in World War II was an American one. But now, like everything else, it has been reduced to races and ethnicities. Great — just great.

It used to be that immigrants and minorities longed to be accepted as American, plain and simple. Just American. Now, a lot of people demand to be seen in racial and ethnic terms. What a lousy shift of the tides.

Many conservatives object to the assertion that America is the “first universal nation.” They’re welcome to that objection. What I object to is the assertion that we’re just a bunch of biological pods — everyone in his own grievance group.

Endless TV specials on the Tuskegee airmen, I could understand. Also the Navaho code talkers and the Nisei units. I had all that with my mother’s milk. But doesn’t there come a time when we say “Enough”? Can’t there come a time when we’re just Americans, especially when it comes to facing down the Nazis and their allies?

Can’t there?

‐There is certain news you just don’t believe. I remember when I first heard about the “Metric Martyr” in England. This was the greengrocer who was prosecuted for dealing in ounces, pounds, and so on. Actually, he gave his customers a choice: whether to conduct business in English measures or metric ones.

But he was prosecuted in the New Britain.

Slowly, I have learned to believe news that is initially unbelievable — perhaps especially when it comes out of Britain! So, when I heard that British schools were refraining from teaching the Holocaust, I had few doubts.

And why are the schools acting this way? Because they don’t want to give offense to Muslim students. And why should Muslim students take offense? Well, wouldn’t you — at so patent a Zionist lie?

We see once again the Steynian/Pryce-Jonesian/Lewisian point: They are not assimilating to us; we — the West — are assimilating to them.

‐Here is another news item: “EU aims to criminalise Holocaust denial.” (I am quoting the headline of this Financial Times article.) I don’t know about you, but I think the EU should spend more time worrying about the second holocaust: facing up to the Iranian threat and what it means. It’s all well and good to construct memorials, lament the past, and so on. But how about putting some teeth into “Never again”?

To repeat: I say, quit chasing after David Irving and other loons and deal with the psychoses of the Islamic world (which very much includes Europe).

‐Speaking of Europe, I happened to be on that continent recently, and saw a perfect European cartoon. It was in the International Herald-Tribune, and it was drawn by Patrick Chappatte. Now, M. Chappatte is a neat, affable guy, which I know because I once moderated a panel on which he sat. And he is perfect for the IHT — because he embodies the general European ideology.

And what is at the core of that ideology? You guessed it: Antipathy toward a certain country settled about 400 years ago. If there is a wrong on this earth, it is the fault of America, the hyperpuissance.

Now, to the cartoon in question: The British hostages are cooped up in Tehran (or wherever they were held). (This was during that episode.) And one of them is saying, “We should never have ventured into U.S. waters.”

Get it? Britain should never have joined the United States in the Iraq War. The kidnapping, like the fall of all sparrows, was America’s fault.

Bravo, Patrick!


‐A word, now, on the presidential scene: Some weeks ago, I was reading about Rudolph Giuliani, and he was complaining about media treatment of his current wife. (An article is here.) That’s always a good tack for a politician to take — although I guess it didn’t work so well for Ed Muskie.

Anyway, Giuliani said, “Attack me all you want. There’s plenty to attack me about. Please do it. But maybe, you know, show a little decency.”

I was watching television, some years ago, when Giuliani gave a press conference and announced to his incumbent wife that he was divorcing her. I am happy to listen to Giuliani about crime control and maybe even the War on Terror. But maybe he could stifle a little about “decency”?

‐If you have not seen The Lives of Others, I urge you to do so at the first opportunity. This is the movie about the Stasi, the East German secret police. Since the dawn of film, there have been about two anti-Communist movies. And that’s because the people who make movies are — um, let’s just say not anti-Communist. At any rate, if you’re going to make one of the precious few anti-Communist movies, it had better be good. And this one is great.

I couldn’t help being amused at the information given at the beginning of the movie. We are told that the year is 1984, long before Gorbachev, when life in the Soviet bloc is dark, hopeless, and grim.

Well, I myself came of political age about this time, and East Germany was always portrayed to me as a quite benign state. Even an admirable one! You see, we in the West had “political rights,” such as those to speech and assembly; and those in the East had “economic rights,” such as those to food and shelter. And East Germany was something of a model: socialist but not Stalinist. Why, in Erich Honecker Land, a form of justice had been realized!

Do you remember, you old television-watchers, how Bob Novak used to tease Al Hunt about loving East Germany?

In any case, we’re all anti-Communists now, which is to be welcomed. Although some of us are lagging behind on Cuba, aren’t we?

You read (honest) materials about East Germany, you read (honest) materials about Cuba — very, very similar. The Germans shot would-be escapees on a wall; the Cubans shoot would-be escapees in the water. Once the Cuban people are allowed to see The Lives of Others, they will effortlessly recognize everything.

‐A few weeks ago, I wrote to a friend who works at UCLA, and got the following auto-reply back: “Our office will be closed on Friday, March 30th, for the Cesar Chavez holiday . . .” Of course!

‐Care for a speck of music? For a recordings roundup published in yesterday’s New York Sun, please go here. Under discussion are David Zinman and the Tonhalle Orchestra (Zurich); Maurizio Pollini; and, historically, Leopold Stokowski, Dimitri Mitropoulos, and Helmut Walcha.

‐Speaking of music, I was flipping through the New York Philharmonic’s program the other night, and they had a brief interview with a new member: a violinist from China. She has been with the orchestra since last summer, and she was asked what her “most memorable moments” have been. She named two: playing Mahler’s Fourth under Lorin Maazel (the music director); and the opening night of the current season. “Standing and playing the National Anthem was a special moment for me — my first job in America!”

I thought: I wonder how long it will be before she’s talked out of such thinking? Before the forces of political correctness seize her and transform her? I hope never (of course).

‐Another musical note (but not really): Natalie Portman was in Carnegie Hall the other night. This may shock you, but she’s not too ugly. Also, she has hair now. But she wasn’t bad bald either, was she?

‐Finally, a letter, related to Tuesday’s Impromptus. I said that our accountants admonish us not to send in our returns via U.S. mail; better to use some other, surer means. I further noted that we pay taxes in order to have public services — so wasn’t this comical, or something?

Well, I received this letter, from Oregon:


I’m sorry to do this, but as a professional CPA for more than 35 years, I have to say the following: I and my firm have mailed something like 25,000 tax returns to the U.S. government (mostly in Ogden, Utah, for us, although now we send them to Fresno) without a single return ever being lost! As much as I don’t care for our intrusive and inefficient government, the post office is not where I direct my complaints.

Well, shut me up (which is hard to do)! Have a good one — I’ll see you.


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