You will recall the Jordanian doctor who killed seven CIA employees in that suicide attack in Afghanistan. This was at the end of December. The suicider’s wife (widow?), a Turk, is all over the press, proclaiming her pride, etc. And she has written a book called “Osama bin Laden, the Che Guevara of the East.” Most interesting title. I wonder what the wearers of the T-shirt think of it.
(For a news article, go here.)
‐An interesting theme in the jihad is doctors as terrorist-murderers. Remember those doctor-terrorists in Britain? How interesting, in our time, to see a genuine, non-made-up doctors’ plot unfold.
‐You know the Somalian who tried to ax-murder the Danish cartoonist? As this story tells us, he was first charged with attempted murder. Now he is being charged with terrorism — which carries a more severe punishment, apparently. That got me to thinking: In America, could the ax-wielding Somalian have been charged with a “hate crime”? Or would the ax-wielder have had to be the Dane?
Let’s run through this: A Somalian goes after a Somalian with an ax — hate crime? A Dane goes after a Dane — hate crime? Somalian on Dane? Dane on Somalian? The last one seems a sure thing: hate crime.
America is a funny place, more than most. You would think that trying to kill someone with an ax would be enough . . .
‐Remember what Gov. George W. Bush said, when those lynchers were not charged with a hate crime? Bush was attacked mercilessly, because a hate-crime charge was not filed. He said, We’re puttin’ ’em to death. How can you punish ’em worse? He got in trouble for that, too.
‐I know I’ve told you this story before — and I thought of it yesterday when reading about the agonies and perversities of Lebanon: An Arab leader once said to us, off the record, that the Middle East is menaced by an octopus. Its tentacles are Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Syrian government, etc. The head is in Tehran — is Tehran. Don’t go after the tentacles. Go after the head — kill it. And then the tentacles will merely wither up.
I’m not sure this is true. But I suspect it is. And wouldn’t it be wonderful to have the opportunity to find out? The downfall of the mullahs’ regime in Iran would be an immense world blessing — an immense, many-faceted world blessing.
‐Blago, the former governor of Illinois, was talking about what a hardscrabble upbringing he had. (Article here.) Among the things he said was, “I grew up in a five-room apartment.” To a number of urban-dwellers, that sounds pretty good! (Of course, the size of the family comes into play.) And I thought of Ronald Reagan — of Dick Gephardt and Reagan. Gephardt was running for president, and he was going around saying, “Son of a milkman,” “Son of a milkman.” He had been the son of a milkman. And Reagan’s reaction was priceless: Son of a milkman? That sounds pretty good! The milkman was a respected, solid citizen — very steady work — in the towns Reagan grew up in. Reagan’s own father was an alcoholic itinerant shoe salesman.
‐As you understand it, I can almost bet, “Allah” is the Arabic word for God — we say “Dieu” in French, “Gott” in German, “Allah” in Arabic, etc. No fuss, no muss. But that is not some other people’s understanding. This story, I think, is disquieting:
Three churches in Malaysia were attacked with firebombs, causing extensive damage to one, as Muslims pledged Friday to prevent Christians from using the word “Allah,” escalating religious tensions in the multiracial country.
Many Malay Muslims, who make up 60 percent of the population, are incensed by a recent High Court decision to overturn a ban on Roman Catholics using “Allah” as a translation for God in the Malay-language edition of their main newspaper, the Herald.
‐So, Spain will probably accept two prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. (Story here.) I’m thinking, “How long before they’re enjoying paella in some nice restaurant? And how long before they’re back in the field, against us?” But then, that is cynical. Also: Who are Americans to talk?
‐At first glance, the headline over this story is kind of comical: “Obama envoys head to Afghanistan to tout ag reform.” Afghanistan is roiled in war, and we’re “touting ag reform”? But, of course, a transition away from poppy-growing would be most helpful.
‐This story began, “A famous Zen master has accused Vietnam’s communist government of hiring mobs of people to violently evict his Buddhist followers from two monasteries.” Interesting — because, traditionally, Communist governments do not hire mobs of people. They have security forces.
Of course, they can stoke up goons, too, as they do in Cuba.
‐“Thousands of people held a rally in east Berlin to pay tribute to the founders of the German Communist Party” — so it was reported, here. The dream will never die, in the Free West and elsewhere: the dream of Communism, of holding people in chains, lashing them to ideological will. But isn’t it nice that we can now write “east Berlin” instead of “East Berlin”?
‐This was a heartening headline to read: “Hamas squeezed between Iron Dome and steel wall.” What’s the Iron Dome? That is an anti-rocket system that Israel is putting in place. And the steel wall? That is what Egypt is putting underground, to block smuggling tunnels. As this report says, “The looming double squeeze is poised to limit Hamas’ options and change the rules of engagement” in Gaza.
I wonder if those who were opposed to America’s SDI — and who may oppose it still — will object to what Israel is doing: attempting to block rockets coming in from Gaza, aimed at Israeli citizens. A former official of Israel’s defense ministry said, “Until now, we were totally exposed to anyone in Gaza who had a rocket to shoot at Israel.”
Just for the record, the former official means that as something bad. Anti-SDI-ers used to say that vulnerability was good: balance of terror and all that. (Yes, I realize they were talking about the U.S.-Soviet standoff. But still . . .)
‐This is kind of a tough one: Conservative-libertarian types like me like local control, democratic expressions, etc. But what if people in town want to name a new neighborhood after their hero, Saddam Hussein? That was the case in Jordan — and the central government, the one run by King Abdullah, stepped in and said, Nope.
‐Over the years, I have done a lot of kidding of my hometown, Ann Arbor, Mich. — a “small citadel of the Left,” as I have long called it. Some of my kidding has been not so — kidding-like. I am happy to share with you a story sent to me by an Ann Arborite yesterday: Go here. It reports that the principal of one of Ann Arbor’s high schools, Pioneer, has been called to active duty in the Army Reserves. The principal, Michael White, said, “I love the military. One of the most patriotic things you can do in this country is to be in the military.”
When I was growing up, a typical Ann Arborite was a white New Leftist. Principal White is a black drill sergeant. So glad to see diversity bloom — really.
‐Shall we have a little language? In Friday’s Impromptus, I published a letter relating something an old Texas cowboy said: “Are you gonna have supper, or did you done did it?” A reader now writes to say, “That reminded me of something quite short: ‘Jeet?’” — or, “Did you eat?” “Gotta love Texas,” says this reader. Yes. And “Jeet?” has a cousin, which I learned in Michigan, actually: “Twirly tweet.” In other words, it is now 6; and you’d rather eat at more like 7.
‐More language: That Italian toast, with tomatoes on top, is called bruschetta, which in Italian is pronounced broosketta. The ch is k, as in orchestra. But Americans tend to say brushetta, in my observation — sh as in shingle. The other day, I saw an ad for a frozen pizza called Freschetta. I’m pretty sure they want you to pronounce it Freshetta. (I should say that I saw a print ad, not a television one.) And I think this kind of seals it: In America, bruschetta will be brushetta.
(And you order a panini, not a panino. I could go on . . .)
‐Thought you would enjoy this:
Your soprano joke about why jokes about sopranos are always one-liners brought this to mind: My daughter (a brunette) was always telling blonde jokes to her best friend (a blonde). Finally, her friend asked her, “Why are there so many blonde jokes? So brunettes have something to do on Saturday nights.”
Marvelous. The Revenge of the Blondes! By the way, the soprano business the letter-writer is talking about is found here.
‐Reader writes, “Jay, I’ve got a name for you: Nefeterius Akeli McPherson. She is the spokesman for the U.S. trade representative. Good name, huh?” A very good one — wonder if her friends call her “Nef.” I have a friend named Yolanda, and she goes by “Yo.” So you might begin an e-mail, “Yo, Yo!” Which sounds like a cellist.
‐Finally, a reader, tickled by “Dr. Will Tickel,” a chiropractor cited in Friday’s column, informed us of a mortuary in Appomattox, Va.: Bruce & Stiff.