Politics & Policy

Obama and Gitmo, &c.

A wire-service report yesterday was datelined “GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba.” The report began, “Five Guantanamo prisoners charged in the Sept. 11 attacks returned before a military tribunal Monday . . .”

I was thinking about what Barack Obama and the rest of the Left said about Gitmo, before Obama was sworn in: what a hellhole it was, a betrayal of all America holds dear. Seconds later, it seemed, Eric Holder was praising Gitmo as an excellent facility. And Obama, of course, had the sense to keep it open.

My question: Do you think Obama & Co. might possibly apologize to George W. Bush & Co. for all the smack they talked about Gitmo?

For that matter, remember the Patriot Act? Remember what the Left said about it, before they extended it? Think we could get an apology on that as well?

Let’s not wait up nights . . .

‐A short while ago, I saw Dinesh D’Souza’s movie, 2016: Obama’s America. I have a piece on the subject in the current National Review. I’d like to make some additional comments here.

In the film, we see Jeremiah Wright screaming about how America and al-Qaeda are the same: “We cannot see how what we are doing is the same thing al-Qaeda is doing under a different color flag, calling on the name of a different God to sanction and approve our murder and our mayhem!”

That is the full quote, as I found it via the Internet. How much of it is used in the film, I can’t remember. Anyway . . .

Days before I saw the film, al-Qaeda had raised its flag over at least one U.S. embassy — the one in Tunisia. I believe there were others.

As I listened to Reverend Wright scream, I had a conviction — a quietly burning one: No, the United States and al-Qaeda are not the same. Obama’s “spiritual mentor” may preach it. Professors from Bennington in the East to Reed in the West may teach it. But it’s a lie.

‐In the movie, Dinesh remembers what it was like to be an immigrant student at Dartmouth. Ignorant, hippie-dippie classmates were very pleased to meet him — because of his name, his background, his “otherness.”

“Oh, dude, India is so fascinating,” they would say. “Really?” Dinesh would reply. “What do you find fascinating about it? The dowry? Arranged marriage? The caste system? Poverty? Hopelessness?”

In the movie, Dinesh says that, if he had remained in India, he probably would never have gotten beyond a mile of where he was born.

Anyway, listening to him, I thought of something Tom Sowell said, in an interview with me. I wrote up that interview here. Let me lay the relevant passage on you:

Sowell is a veteran India-watcher. He classifies India as one of our “fictitious countries.” What does he mean by that? Well, “people in the West who discuss India, discuss an India that bears no resemblance to the country actually located in Asia.” We think of Indians as spiritual, peaceful, and gentle, unlike us crass and violent Americans. This is nonsense. “To think that India had the chutzpah to join the worldwide protest against apartheid in South Africa. If an untouchable in India had the choice to be a black under apartheid, he would take it in a New York minute.”

Sowell’s clarity of mind is a wonder to behold.

(All the same, with apologies to Dinesh: India is fascinating. Beset with problems, of course — deep, nasty problems. But fascinating all the same, to me.) (Like most places, actually.)

‐In his movie, Dinesh interviews George Obama, brother, or half-brother, of the president. George Obama lives in poverty, in a slum. Not long ago, he called Dinesh, asking for help: asking for $1,000 to cover medical treatment for his son. Dinesh asked why he had reached out to him. George said, “I have no one else to ask.” And then, “Dinesh, you are like a brother to me.”

(To read Dinesh’s account of this, go here.)

This got very little attention in the media. And family relations can be very weird and personal, that’s true. But imagine if a Republican president had a brother living in poverty, and that brother asked a left-wing journalist for help. Think it’d be a story?

I remember how the media knocked Reagan, for not seeing his grandchildren. That was a standard attack, for the eight years of the Reagan presidency. “Mr. Family Values won’t even see his own grandchildren!”

‐Steven Spielberg has made a movie about Lincoln, and Reuters had a report about it last week. Let me quote a couple of paragraphs:

“Don’t let this political football play back and forth,” the Oscar-winning director said he urged distributors, noting the “confusing” aspect in the film that shows how U.S. political parties back in Lincoln’s time “traded political places over the last 150 years.”

In contrast to today, the Republican party to which Lincoln belonged was founded by anti-slavery activists and Republicans were often tagged “radicals.”

Funny, but I still think of the Republicans as a party of freedom, if not the party of freedom. I don’t think the parties have traded places. You?

‐Sowell wrote a column about Ann Coulter and her new book, Mugged. He mentioned Charles Pickering, the Mississippi judge whose elevation was blocked by Senate Democrats. They did so in their usual vile way: They called him a racist. In reality, he had been brave in the cause of civil rights, standing up to the Klan — at a time when that group was powerful and violent. Pickering and his family required FBI protection.

Sowell’s column reminded me of one of my favorite comments of all time. It was made by Charles Evers, brother of the slain civil-rights leader Medgar. He was talking about sentiment in Mississippi where Pickering was concerned. And he said, “The NAACP and the Klan are the only two organizations that are against him down here.”

Given what the NAACP has become, and the Klan always was, I say that is pretty good.

‐A story begins, “The Justice Department said Friday it is going to allow members of federally recognized Indian tribes to possess eagle feathers, although that’s a federal crime.”

This may present a dilemma for those who pride themselves on political correctness (whether they call it that or not). Yes, eagle protection. But Indians, sacred Indians. Oh, the dilemma! One’s head could start aching . . .

‐A headline reads, “Chinese scientist says prehistoric man ate pandas.” (Story here.) Good gravy! Can we prosecute prehistoric man? (Can we prosecute anyone who uses “man” that way?)

‐I now have my favorite burning of the year: “Afghan counternarcotics police poured gasoline on more than 24 tons of narcotics and other illegal substances, then set the pile ablaze on the outskirts of Kabul on Sunday . . .” (Story here.)

‐Was this a weird headline or what? “Centrist Sen. Specter died fighting for moderation.” (Story here.)

‐I liked this headline — sports-like: “At 0-32, gay-marriage forces seek 1st win at polls.” (Story here.)

‐Two Americans shared the Nobel “memorial prize” for economics. (The econ prize is not a real Nobel prize. I could get into it, but I don’t want to detain you, and I’m rushing.) One of those laureates is Lloyd Shapley, a professor emeritus at UCLA. I loved something he said:

“I consider myself a mathematician, and the award is for economics. I never, never in my life took a course in economics.”

You’ll find that quote in the Associated Press report. You’ll also find this:

Shapley is the son of renowned astronomer Harlow Shapley, whose work early in the 20th century included helping estimate the true size of the Milky Way galaxy.

“Now, I’m ahead of my father,” Shapley said. “He got other prizes . . . But he did not get a Nobel prize.”

Hmmm. A feeling of competitiveness, even now? Shapley père died in 1972. He was born in ’85. Fathers and sons can be interesting.

‐Speaking of things Nobel: I will be giving a talk in Darien, Conn., on Thursday night. The subject is the Nobel Peace Prize, about which I’ve written a history. The event is at the Darien Community Association (lovely place). The time is 7:30. For further details, please consult the Darien News, here.

‐A final Nobel thought. Shinya Yamanaka is a winner of this year’s prize in “physiology or medicine” (as Alfred Nobel designated this prize). He won for advances in stem-cell research. He wanted to exploit stem cells, but he did not want to destroy embryos. He figured out a way. His impetus was moral, and his achievement is both scientific and moral.

Our Rick Brookhiser sent me an e-mail: “Humbling. We all write and do this and that, and this guy solves a problem.”

Thank you, dear readers, and see you.


To order Jay Nordlinger’s new book, Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World, go here. To order his collection Here, There & Everywhere, go here.


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