NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE F or the last several weeks, millions of Americans have been riveted to The Last Dance, the ten-part documentary on the 1990s Chicago Bulls. Those were the teams, of course, led by Michael Jordan. The title refers to the 1997–98 season. But the documentary is really about the whole “dynasty.”
Countless people have been commenting on this documentary, including the crème de la crème — LeBron James, for example. In an interview, he recalled meeting Jordan for the first time, when he was a sophomore in high school. (It was LeBron who was the sophomore, as I probably don’t need to say.)
The young man had a funny reaction: Michael is real. He’s not just a character on television. Here he is, flesh and blood, right in front of me.
LeBron took me back to the mid-2000s, when a reader told me about a trip to a golf tournament. Tiger Woods was on a practice green, about to begin a round. And a child gasped to his father, “He’s real.” The child could be forgiven for having thought that Tiger was just a TV character, a kind of superhero.
Two more comments relating to Michael Jordan, if you don’t mind. For years, there was a slogan: “Be Like Mike.” There were two people in the country who could take it pretty much literally: Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. (They, of course, idolized Jordan.)
Consider this, too: The word “humility” is seldom associated with Jordan — the brashest of athletes. But what else did it take to retire from basketball (temporarily, it turned out) to try baseball? To go from being the best in a sport to being a minor-leaguer, aspiring to make it to the bigs? To go from being world-beating and unerring to striking out, bobbling balls, and learning the ropes?
I do believe there is humility in MJ. There is much to admire. And the rest? Well, we all have dross to get rid of, leaving only gold (although maybe not Olympic, and Michael has two of those — medals, I mean).
• In my Impromptus on Wednesday, I wrote of something awful: QAnon. This is the movement that holds to an astonishing theory. The theory goes something like this: Embedded in the “deep state” is a pedophile cult. The cult is led by prominent Democrats. President Trump and the U.S. military are engaged in a glorious shadow war against it. They can’t talk about it now, but will later.
How do we know anything at all about this shadowy struggle? Because a high-level source, codenamed “Q,” tells us a little about it, on the Internet.
In recent days, President Trump’s adult sons have been suggesting that Joe Biden is a pedophile. That development is what prompted my item on Wednesday.
I bring up the subject again because of the Republican party in Oregon. Let me quote the Washington Post:
Oregon Republicans on Tuesday elected a Senate nominee who believes in QAnon . . .
Jo Rae Perkins bested three other candidates to win the GOP nomination to face Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) in November.
In a now-deleted video posted to her Twitter account Tuesday night, Perkins said she supports the conspiracy theory . . .
“Where we go one, we go all,” Perkins said in the video, reciting a QAnon slogan. “I stand with President Trump. I stand with Q and the team. Thank you Anons, and thank you patriots. And together, we can save our republic.”
In a statement Wednesday night, Perkins backtracked slightly from her comments, saying that she does not fully embrace QAnon.
Well, that’s good. (For the complete article, go here.)
Look, we would all prefer to avert our eyes from this — I certainly would — but that would be nothing like responsible.
• We probably want to avert our eyes from this, too: The president suggests, over and over, that Joe Scarborough, the morning-show host, killed a young woman named Lori Klausutis. She was a staffer in Scarborough’s district office, when Scarborough was a Florida congressman. She had an undiagnosed heart condition and hit her head while passing out. She was in Florida; Scarborough was in Washington.
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “Roger Stone has been treated very unfairly. . . . And guys like Low Ratings Psycho Joe Scarborough are allowed to walk the streets? Open Cold Case!”
In his newsletter, Charlie Sykes recounted a personal story. I found it very moving. For about 25 years, Charlie was a talk-show host and journalist in Wisconsin, and today he is editor-in-chief of The Bulwark.
On May 1, 2007, my mother was killed in a fire. I was planning to visit and she was cooking dinner for me, when her sleeve caught on fire. She was 87. . . .
Family, friends, and much of the community rallied around with words of support.
But a radio host named Michael McGee, a former Milwaukee alderman, went on the air and said, “Mother Sykes, she dead. To me it’s the vengeance of God. I ain’t got no tears. . . . My instincts say Charlie Sykes killed his momma, cuz she live out in this big palace in Mequon all isolated. He got tired of waiting for her money.”
In his newsletter, Charlie says, “I can’t remember who told me about it” — meaning, McGee’s performance — “but frankly I was just too numb to care.”
No one believed McGee and the condemnation was universal. There were lines that could not be crossed, even in moments of intense political warfare.
For Trump, however, there are no lines. And, apparently no consequences for suggesting that a political critic might have been a murderer.
I suggest reading the whole thing. Again, I found what Charlie Sykes had to say very moving, and important.
• Did you read about the song in Poland? I’m not talking Chopin. (“But Chopin wrote only piano music!” you might say. No, he wrote chiefly piano music. He wrote about 20 songs, and some cello music.) (But, in my opinion, he should have stuck to his knitting, i.e., the piano.)
What was I talking about? Oh, yes — this:
Poland’s state radio broadcaster censored a song ridiculing the country’s political leader, prompting artists to call for boycotts of the station and stoking comparisons with communist-era crackdowns on free speech.
A sorry affair — kind of amusing, but not really. I have quoted from a Bloomberg report, and to read the rest of it, go here.
• What to do about the Post Office? Republicans have railed against the Post Office for a long time. But it does have its defenders, not all of whom are on the left. “It’s in the Constitution!” Charles Krauthammer used to say. Other conservatives point out the same.
The historian Ted Widmer published a piece headed “The Postal Service Is the Most American Thing We’ve Got” (here). His words are worth considering, I think, no matter what we ultimately conclude about the Post Office (stay or go).
• I would like to quote from an obit, which begins,
Motoko Fujishiro Huthwaite, part of a team of 345 people from 14 countries — collectively known as the Monuments Men and Monuments Women — who preserved cultural treasures and artworks during and after World War II, died on Monday in Taylor, Mich., outside Detroit. She was 92.
Robert M. Edsel, founder and chairman of the Monuments Men Foundation, said the cause was complications of the coronavirus. She died in a rehabilitation center.
Let’s go back to the beginning — not of the obit, but of the life:
Motoko Fujishiro was born on Aug. 24, 1927, in Boston to Japanese immigrant parents. Her father, Shinji Fujishiro, was a professor of dentistry at Harvard; her mother, Yasuko (Matsudaira) Fujishiro, was a homemaker.
After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, Motoko, who was 14 at the time, and her mother and brother, Katakazu, were relocated to Japan as part of an exchange of nationals while their father stayed behind to continue to teach and practice dentistry.
The F.B.I. later arrested him as an enemy alien and sent him to an alien detention center in Montana. After a year, he, too, was sent back to Japan.
The family, settled in Tokyo, survived the American firebombing of that city. But by then Mr. Fujishiro was a broken man, Mr. Edsel said. Ms. Huthwaite told him that when air raid sirens would go off, her father would sit and stare out the window while the rest of the family ran to a shelter.
He died shortly after the war.
There came a time in his daughter’s life when she had to choose between citizenships:
As she pondered her choice, she looked at her family tree, and what she saw persuaded her to remain an American.
“All the girls had no names,” she said. “‘Child girl, child girl.’ Girls would not keep their name. We girls just didn’t count. Nameless. In Japan, it was only the men that counted.”
Lives can be so dramatic, all too.
• I have done a podcast with Nadine Strossen, the former president of the American Civil Liberties Union. She was a friend and sparring partner of William F. Buckley Jr. The ACLU has filed suit against the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, for her department’s new Title IX regulations. Strossen opposes the suit and backs DeVos, strongly. To listen, go here.
• One of my favorite people on Twitter, and elsewhere, is Patrick Chovanec. He is an economic adviser who knows a lot about China and about manifold other subjects, too. The other day, he tweeted, “Josh Hawley makes me want to move to Missouri just to primary him.” I suggested a slogan: “Cho’ for Mo., ’24.”
Another tweeter chimed in, “Cho’ for Mo. in Twenty-fo’.” Much better.
You do meet some delightful people on Twitter. There is a cost, though. My friend Jonathan Last said to me, “Why would you want sheer malice burning into your retinas for hours a day?”
I think of what my late friend and colleague Mike Potemra said. He came up with a definition of depression: “like a thousand commenters in your head.” The same can be true of tweeters.
But, of course, there are wonderful tweeters and wonderful commenters, and the thing to do, I suppose, is to guard your mental house, vigilantly. The social media are such a minefield. Many people step on mines, and I gather this is especially true of the very young.
• End on some music? Yes, let’s. A reader said to me, “Jay, do you know the Aeolians?” No, I didn’t. They are a singing group from Oakwood University, in Huntsville, Ala. Our reader said, “You will appreciate this video.” Oh, he was right. “We Shall Overcome,” rendered with style and heart. “We are not afraid today.”
Later, y’all, and have a great weekend.
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