Politics & Policy

Tribes on the Hill, &c.

It’s just a little news item, hardly worth noticing, but it encapsulates something I intensely dislike about America. Check it out:

Rep. Laura Richardson charged Friday the House Ethics Committee has singled her out for scrutiny because she’s African-American. . . .

The committee is composed of five members from each party. The ranking Democrat is a Hispanic, Rep. Linda Sanchez of California. . . . The five Republicans are all white men.

Who cares? America, that’s who. With all of this racial and ethnic toting up, we might as well be old South Africa. Congresswoman Richardson has cried race, lunging for the first refuge of a scoundrel.

The fact that the five Republicans are “all white men” tells you next to nothing. John Bolton is a white man, so is Noam Chomsky. JFK was a white man, so was Oswald (and so were Lincoln and Booth). Who cares?

I’m not a naïf, I promise you. You don’t have to preach to me about the wickedness of man, nor his tribalism. But stories such as the one I quoted above — and here it is in full — are nonetheless nauseating. To me, at least.

This little item suggests that new management at the Voice of America and related agencies wants to purge those places of “old white guys.” After reading it, I said something to John O’Sullivan, who is just leaving Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty: Is there anything stupider than age? Is there anything stupider than race? Is there anything stupider than the combination of age and race?

But the whole world is in love with both age and race. It is perhaps their two favorite criteria. Have you noticed?

‐Have a little item from my hometown of Ann Arbor, Mich. It begins, “The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a lawsuit against the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority Monday morning for its refusal to run an anti-Israel ad on AATA buses.”

The ad says, “Boycott ‘Israel,’ Boycott Apartheid.” Notice the quotation marks around “Israel.” (Because there is no such thing as Israel, say these haters.) Also, the ad has a Satanic image of skulls and whatnot.

As I have said many times, it is a goal of the Left — a large segment of the Left — to make Israel equal with old South Africa. To equate Israel with apartheid South Africa in the public mind. Israel as apartheid state is a cherished belief of the Left (or this particular Left). Remember, Jimmy Carter titled a book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”

One of the few to push back against this notion — this lie — is, of all people, Richard Goldstone (of the infamous and libelous Goldstone Report). I wrote about this remarkable development in a column, here, last month.

I’m surprised that Ann Arbor has so far kept that ad — those awful words, that awful image — off its buses. We’ll see how long it lasts.

‐Leka, the crown prince or king of Albania, has died. Crown prince or king? Take your choice. Anyway, he was a man, and he died at the end of last month in Tirana. Specifically, he died in Mother Teresa Hospital. You may recall that Mother Teresa was born to an Albanian family, living in Macedonia.

I met Leka, six years ago. He was one of the most extraordinary — I would even say haunting — people I have ever encountered. This was during a trip to Albania in the company of several others. I wrote a journal for this website: The relevant entry can be found here.

“Leka has had a very rough time of it,” I said. “His mother died not long ago, and so did his wife. He himself is ill: gaunt, super-thin, ghostly. He wears what appear to be hospital clothes. He also chain-smokes and drinks frequently from a dark cup; I’m later told that it contained whisky — it might act as a painkiller. About him is a striking sorrow: sorrow for himself, and sorrow for his nation. He also has great dignity. . . .”

We happened to see him just as Albanians were going to the polls, to decide on a new national government. “As it is Election Day, I ask whether he himself has voted. He answers, ‘I don’t vote. I am above all political parties, even my own.’ It is the most kingly thing I have ever heard. . . .”

Near the end of my journal entry, I wrote, “Look, it’s easy to snicker at King Leka, or perhaps you’d like quotation marks around that: ‘King Leka.’ Many people scoff at the idea that he is king, a self-proclaimed one. Apparently, the U.S. embassy will have nothing to do with him. But he is as legitimate as anyone in Albania, and he comports himself with a dignity, an understanding, and a disinterestedness that any nation should value.”

‐In my “Cruise Log” last month, I said something about appreciating other people’s patriotism. These remarks were occasioned by my attendance at our ship’s Filipino Crew Show. They busted out their flag, national anthem, etc.

I wish to renew my remarks, and the occasion is this: Nina Ananiashvili, who is probably my favorite dancer, brought the State Ballet of Georgia, which she serves as artistic director, to New York. At the end of the evening, she ran excitedly backstage. I had a feeling — just an inkling — that she was going to fetch a Georgian flag. She did. When she returned to the stage, she bore it aloft, as the crowd roared. Then she draped it around her shoulders (i.e., literally wrapped herself in the flag).

There was nothing sinister or weird in this. It was sincere, pure, and moving, at least in my eyes.

La Nina is now 48, which is about 105 in ballerina years. But she can still dance, and she remains every inch a prima ballerina. I imagine she is savoring what must be her final performances, her final performing years. Here in New York, she danced The Dying Swan and of course encored it. From her, this piece was no cliché: It was high art.

I watched her closely as she took in the applause — the adulation — of the crowd. Undoubtedly, she has performed The Dying Swan a trillion times. Undoubtedly, she has received a trillion adulatory ovations. But, on this night, she gave the impression of never having heard applause before. She was almost overcome. It seemed to me she could hardly bear to leave the stage.

Those in the audience, particularly in the front rows, had a glimpse into the life of an artist, a great artist — the sheer rawness of that life.

‐End with a little language? Reading NRO the other week, Rick Brookhiser spotted the word mic, instead of mike. He wrote me,

No no no no no. A thousand times no. Mic, as a word in English, must have a short i. It is an unpleasant little monosyllable, perhaps an obscure metric unit, or a small coin in some Balkan country.

The abbreviated form of microphone is mike. The change of spelling honors the spirit of the language.

I couldn’t agree more. And I shared with Rick a story. Several years ago, I wrote miked in some review. “The singer was miked,” or something. When the review came out, the word was miced. I asked the editor if he insisted on this. Yes, he said: mic, not mike, and miced, not miked.

Needless to say, I stayed away from those words!

Rick wrote back,

Miced can only mean infested with mice, which, unless you were writing about The Nutcracker, you didn’t mean.

Just so. Thanks, everyone, and see you.

 

#JAYBOOK# 

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