Politics & Policy

The tune they call, &c.

A couple of months ago, I said something like this: “The Left controls the agenda. They control what we talk about, and even, to a degree, how we talk about it. For instance, they say ‘the 1 percent.’ And two seconds later, good conservatives are saying ‘the 1 percent.’ Even when disagreeing with them, we bow to their language. They call the tune. They may not pay the piper — but they’re always calling the tune.”

At least one colleague of mine didn’t like that very much. But life as I have seen it bears my claim out, I think.

Consider the name Floyd Lee Corkins II. Know it? Of course you don’t — because the agenda-setters aren’t interested in having this name on the agenda. If I had more time, I’d speak more subtly — but you get my point.

Let me quote from the Washington Examiner:

Family Research Council (FRC) officials released video of federal investigators questioning convicted domestic terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins II, who explained that he attacked the group’s headquarters because the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) identified them as a “hate group” due to their traditional marriage views. . . .

The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard reported that Corkins, who pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, said in court that he hoped to “kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in victims’ faces, and kill the guard.” As Bedard explained, “the shooting occurred after an executive with Chick-Fil-A announced his support for traditional marriage, angering same-sex marriage proponents.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center still lists FRC as an “anti-gay” hate group on the “hate map” Corkins used.

For the complete story, go here.

I believe that if a right-wing militant had attacked a prominent left-wing group, rather than the other way around, this story would be a major one in our national media. Question: Is that right-wing paranoia? Or a realistic appreciation of how things go?

‐Let’s pause for some language. Above, I said “life as I have seen it bears my claim out.” Some will tell you that “bears” and “out” must remain together: “Life as I have seen it bears out my claim.” But the former rolls at least as naturally off my tongue, and it is right — certainly justifiable.


‐Wonder if you saw this story: “The California Assembly passed a bill on Thursday that would make the state the first in the nation to allow non-citizens who are in the country legally to serve on jury duty.”

You know, maybe we should dispense with the concept of citizenship altogether. Isn’t it kind of, like, racist?

‐Once in a while — not often, but once in a while — we should pay attention to what the United Nations does. I can think of two reasons: 1) The U.N. may not mean very much to Americans, but it means a great deal to much of the world. People take it very, very seriously. And 2) We pay for over 20 percent of it.

The U.N. Human Rights Council has seen fit to examine and pronounce on Canada’s human-rights record. Iran expressed its grave concern about Canada. So did China: “widespread racial discrimination.” So did Cuba: “racism and xenophobia.” So did North Korea — to wit,

“We have serious concerns about continued violation of the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, torture and other ill-treatment, racism and xenophobia.”

(For a UN Watch report, go here.)

If the American Left, and the Euros, and others want us to take the U.N. seriously, they’ve got to cut this stuff out. Really.

Canada may be a little shaky on freedom of speech, as Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant can tell you. Canada is politically correct to a fault — emphasis on fault. But the country does not deserve to be lectured to, or even talked to, by monster regimes such as Iran’s, China’s, Cuba’s, and North Korea’s.

‐Back to language: Above, I said “they’ve got to cut this stuff out.” You wouldn’t have liked “cut out this stuff,” would you?

The flexibility of English is one of the best things about it (but it is not infinitely flexible).

‐I was quite moved by a blogpost last week: “Is the Left Launching an Attack on Evangelical Adoption?” David French wrote it for this website. I won’t repeat what he said, but will simply invite you to read it, if you haven’t already — go here. I wish to make one point.

The post reminded me of Sudan. For a long time, just about the only people who cared about slavery there were American evangelicals. That may still be the case — I’m a little out of touch. One of the things the evangelicals did was “redeem” slaves. In other words, they bought them, for the purpose of manumitting them. The Left came down on them for this.

But what was the Left doing to help these wretched individuals in Sudan? Not a damn thing, as far as I could tell.

‐All my life, I’ve heard Europeans talk about America as a racist place where a black man can never get ahead. Their teachers teach them to think like this, of course. So do the Americans they meet, I suspect. But how often do you see a black person in a European government? Like never?

I was interested to learn that Italy now has its first black minister — government minister. She is Cécile Kyenge, born in the Congo. She will be minister of integration. Glad to hear!

‐Every once in a while, I’ll say that a certain news story is the most interesting I’ve read all year. Here is the latest. It’s about a nonagenarian, Margot Woelk, who worked as a food-taster for Hitler. The things that people experience, or endure. The lives they lead. You will want to take time for this story, although some of it is hard to bear.

‐You will want to read this too: Matthew Kaminski’s profile of Donald Kagan in the Wall Street Journal. Kagan is the great classicist at Yale who is retiring after an exemplary career. My ears pricked up at this — well, at the whole article, but at this in particular:

With the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the U.S. is slashing defense again. “We do it every time,” Mr. Kagan says. “Failing to understand the most elementary childish fact, which is: If you don’t want trouble with somebody else, be sure he has something to be afraid of.”

I have been hitting this theme hard this year — harder than ever, I think, although it’s a lifelong theme. In January, I wrote for National Review a piece called “Defense Is Different: A lesson learned, unlearned, relearned, painfully.” Try it here.

‐I know what you’re begging for — just begging for: Detroit Tiger trivia. Okay, I’ll give it to you.

On Friday night, the pitcher Anibal Sanchez struck out 17 — 17 Atlanta Braves. That’s a Tiger record, breaking the previous one of 16, held by my boyhood hero, Mickey Lolich.

I don’t care that “Anibal” sounds ever so slightly like a girl’s name. I don’t care that he’s breaking my man’s records. All I care about is that the Tigers win. Go get ’em, Anibal.

(By the way, if we’re doing proper accents, it’s Aníbal Sánchez.)

‐Speaking of Detroit legends: I saw a statue of Doak Walker, down at Southern Methodist University. The late Walker is an SMU hero, a football hero: winner of the Heisman Trophy and all. He is also a Detroit hero, a Detroit Lion.

In fact, I don’t think we’ve won anything since Doak and the boys left the scene. (That would be in the 1950s.) As I believe I remarked in a recent Impromptus, the Lions are probably the worst franchise in the history of the NFL.


‐So there I was, looking at the SMU football stadium. Why is it named after President Ford? I didn’t know Ford had anything to do with SMU (he was a Michigander, like me).

I took a closer look: The stadium is named after Gerald J. Ford, not Gerald R. Ford. They’re important, those middle initials.

‐Why was I in Dallas, at SMU? I was attending the dedication ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. As you know, five U.S. presidents were there: the incumbent plus the four living former ones. I’ll have a piece on this in the next NR.

Thanks so much for joining me for this quirky column, and I’ll talk to you soon.

To order Jay Nordlinger’s 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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