Politics & Policy

Burn ’em if you got ’em, &c.

We’ve been making this point for years, but I’ll make it again: When radical Muslims are feeling aggrieved by a particular nation, where do they get that nation’s flag to burn, at such short notice? I thought of this — again — when looking at pictures of mobs burning the British flag, because Britain has honored Salman Rushdie with a knighthood. And you remember how all those Danish flags appeared on the streets of Gaza City, for example, when those cartoons were circulated?

There are a lot of nations whose governments I don’t care for. Many of those governments sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council (Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia). If I were inclined to burn their flags — frankly, I’m not sure where I’d go to get them.

She strongly supported this year’s Kosovo war, but warned against permitting “strategic air power and especially the cruise missile” to become “national drugs.” Though she is not particularly worried that the Republican party is tilting isolationist, she was dismayed at the behavior of certain Republicans in Congress, those who did “what no party should ever do: confuse the clear message that you’re trying to send to an enemy when you have forces at war.” Once American troops had arrived, she says, “the only thing to say to Milosevic was, ‘We’re going to beat you — all of us.’”

Britain . . . has required practically no allegiance to anything other than residence, not even the language, as a condition of citizenship (it is apparently necessary to translate the signs at British airports for ‘British passports this way’ into Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi, and Bengali).

Don’t you love it (“love,” in that sense)?

‐With the rest of conservativedom, I have been following the NRO debate between Linda Chavez and her many critics. (The subject, needless to say, is immigration. And you will find this debate here, for example, and here.) Linda went over the line in a soon-notorious column, as she herself acknowledged. And I am with her critics, and against her, where the president’s immigration bill is concerned.

But I wanted to say this about Linda: She is one of the best things to happen to conservatives in the last 25 years. In a 2002 book review, I referred to her as “one of the Most Valuable Players of the American Right.” I regard that as indisputable.

Weirdly enough, she is now thought of, by some, as a big squish on the Mexicanization of America (to use a shorthand). But, for as long as I can remember, she has been Enemy Number One for the likes of La Raza — the Hispanic most hated by left-wing Hispanics (and others). The title of that book I reviewed is An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal (Or How I Became the Most Hated Hispanic in America).

The Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party denounced (and immortalized) Robert Conquest as “anti-Sovietchik Number One.” Linda Chavez is the anti-La Raza Chick Number One.

An Unlikely Conservative is a fantastic book, ladies and gentlemen. It is wise, engrossing, and moving. (I was surprised to be so moved.) My review was entitled “Our Chavez — Not Cesar.” (I was not then thinking so much of the Venezuelan strongman.)

(By the way, may I say that the “ch” in “Chavez” is not the “ch” in “chic”? It is the “ch” in “charity.” Same goes for “Che,” the moniker of the Argentinian monster who did so much to enslave and terrorize Cuba.)

I thought I would present just a few excerpts from that book review:

Linda never thought of herself as “ethnic,” and her father would “bristle” upon hearing the word “Chicano.” “Hispanic” was similarly ludicrous. One day, a teacher asked Linda, “What nationality are you?” When she told her mother about this, she said, “I hope you said ‘American.’” She had.

Of course.

Standing against left-wing, racialist, and separatist trends, she had to brave a lot:

This book, rather shockingly, is filled with violence, as the author makes her way through academia and politics: a dead cat on her doorstep; a knife flicked in her face; excrement dumped in her car; death threats over her phone; objects — including coconuts (brown on the outside, white on the inside) — thrown at her; hate-twisted mobs baying for her blood. It is useful to be reminded, now and then, that the Left was not only wrong, but dangerous.

Yes, Linda Chavez has paid a price for her beliefs — her conservative and Reaganite beliefs. She is not unlike Thomas Sowell and others who sacrifice comforts and bring hell on themselves, in order to follow conscience.

Incidentally, Linda was once a “Yipsel” — a maiden of the Young People’s Socialist League. But she in time found the man she describes as her “soul mate”: Adam Smith.

Last, I wanted to share with you something from the end of my review — for it says something about the former secretary of defense (and I doubt you’ll be surprised). You remember that, at the beginning of the W. administration, Linda was nominated for secretary of labor, but was forced to withdraw, following an absurd furor:

Her regard for President Bush is high, but this truth remains: He never called her, when she was at her lowest. He apparently thought himself victimized by her. At exactly this time, however — Chavez does not mention this — he placed a call to his implacable and odious enemy, Jesse Jackson, who was receiving some rare bad press for a “love child.” It was not W.’s finest hour: the non-call in contrast with the call that was made. But who, among the Bushies, was particularly stand-up when it came to Chavez and her straits? No surprise: Donald Rumsfeld.

Anyway, if you’re new to Linda Chavez, and would like to know the whole woman, so to speak — read her book. Read it in any case, for you will be richly rewarded.

‐Um, is “richly rewarded” too much of a cliché to use? I would like to go my whole life without saying — at least without writing — “voracious reader,” “grievous error,” “fatal flaw,” and so on. But I’m afraid I find avoidance difficult.

‐I mentioned Tom Sowell above, and you know how I’m always saying that he says things no one else will? “Only Sowell,” I’m forever exclaiming, or sighing.

Anyway, I loved this bit, from a column last week (on the subject of immigration):

Then there is the “family reunification” fraud which claims that we cannot in good conscience keep out the families of illegal immigrants who are living in the United States but must let those families reunite.

With all the nations on the face of the earth, why is the United States of America the only country in which someone can be united with his family? Illegal immigrants can reunite with their families back where they came from.

Thomas Sowell just doesn’t care — and I mean that in the good sense.

‐I wanted to tell you about Dr. José Luis García Paneque, the physician-journalist who is one of Castro’s many political prisoners. The news about him is very grim, as we learn from the Coalition of Cuban-American Women, here. And if you can possibly take one more: Read the report on Guido Sigler Amaya, below the one on Dr. García. The Cuban Communists are torturers and murderers, yet they get essentially a free ride in the media, and in the universities, of the Free World.

For many years, I’ve quoted Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who said, “For the life of me, I just don’t know how Castro can seem cute after 40 years of torturing people.” Of course, Diaz-Balart said that almost ten years ago.

‐Relatedly: My friend Michael Walsh pointed out this, from a Reuters article: “The two men, both among the world’s longest-serving leaders . . .”

And who are the two men? Qaddafi and Mugabe. “Long-serving,” that’s what they are — and Castro is the “longest-serving” of all.

A Florence Nightingale who stays her entire career at St. Jude’s is “long-serving.” The others are long-ruling, long-oppressing, long-immiserating.

‐May I give you a speck of music? For a review of the New York Philharmonic, under Riccardo Muti — published in the New York Sun — please go here.

‐You know how, when the weather is a little hotter than usual, or than we’d like it, certain people always cry “Global warming”? They make big, sweeping, climatological statements based on a day’s feelings.

Well, with friends on June 13 — June 13, in New Jersey — I enjoyed a roaring fire. It was that cold.

But one lousy day is not enough to make me say Al Gore is full of . . . beans.

Environmental maturity! It is an outstanding need of our age.

‐Finally, a little language — I was astounded the other day. All my life, I have called the small bag in which one puts toiletries a Dobb kit. Come to find out it is more accurately a Dopp kit — named after a leather craftsman, Charles Doppelt. But a Dopp kit is also called a “DOB kit,” occasionally written “Dob kit,” or “dob kit.” My long-held “Dobb kit,” however, is apparently wrong.

I’m afraid I’m confused on the subject, but if I can get to the bottom of it, I will let you know. What else could be more important, with so little going on in the world?


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