Kareem stands tall, &c.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar takes the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pa., July 28, 2016. (Lucy Nicholson / Reuters)
On anti-Semitism, the cancel culture, Russia, the GOP, Fox News, the Redskins, and more

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T he world is full of rotten news, and people disappoint you: including celebrities. I was so pleased by an op-ed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: here. “Where Is the Outrage Over Anti-Semitism in Sports and Hollywood?” Yes. Abdul-Jabbar names names: names of anti-Semites — athletes, pop stars — and their allies. He calls out absurd, age-old conspiracy theories about the Rothschilds, etc.

And he quotes Martin Luther King: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”

It is all the more heartening, I think, because Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of the most prominent Muslims in the United States — and a black Muslim, at that.

A great athlete has struck a firm blow against a great evil, and I am grateful.

• The “cancel culture” is not just a rhetorical flourish — how the ear loves alliteration! — or the figment of some people’s imaginations. It is real as hell. Did you see Robby Soave’s piece, at Reason? Madness: “Museum Curator Resigns After He Is Accused of Racism for Saying He Would Still Collect Art From White Men.”

That was in San Francisco. One of the most beautiful places in the world, afflicted by insanity.

• Incidentally, I have long observed that “Robby Soave” is one of the best names in journalism. “Soave” means “suave” in Italian, which brings to mind Mozart’s beloved trio from Così fan tutte: “Soave sia il vento” (“May the wind be gentle,” roughly speaking).

• Well, isn’t what right-wing hysterics like me call the “cancel culture” simply free speech versus free speech? One person’s, or one group’s, free speech versus another’s? No way — as Kevin Williamson clarified, brilliantly, in a recent piece.

• Important, I think, is what Douglas London has to say in this piece: subheaded “Neglecting aggression by Vladimir Putin inevitably invites more of it.” Yes. Everyone once knew this, right? At least everyone on the right?

This, too, is very important:

Russia routinely exploited a US policy of increased information sharing to target Chechen dissidents, according to three law-enforcement and intelligence officials in Europe.

The practice emerged after the Trump administration backed a policy of sharing more secret information with Russia, in hope of strengthening relations.

Stinks to high heaven.

• In recent days, there has been a little debate: Was Peter Navarro’s hit piece against Anthony Fauci authorized? Authorized by the president? I can only imagine it was. I remember what Navarro said on Fox after the G-7 summit in 2018:

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door. And that’s what bad-faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference. That’s what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did, and that comes right from Air Force One.”

I doubt that Navarro would take a whiz without Trump’s blessing.

• After Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence, two Republican senators criticized Trump: Romney (roundly) and Toomey (mildly). Then Trump called them both “RINOs,” meaning “Republicans in name only.” (To read a story about this, go here.)

Trump has been a Republican for a comparatively short time. Romney and Toomey have been Republicans for much, much longer. But the GOP is thoroughly Trumpian now.

I recommend this column by Jonah Goldberg — on the nose: “Roger Stone’s Real Victory: The Republican party is his now.”

• Earlier this week, President Trump made an astonishing claim: “The Radical Left has scared Fox into submission, just like they have so many others.” Do you watch Fox News? Do you believe the president’s claim is true? He is the chief Fox-watcher, right? Again, an amazing, unbelievable claim.

• Back to Kevin Williamson — who blogged,

I recently ran across this while doing some research for another column, and I suppose I must have mentioned this before, but I am very entertained by the fact that Slate has an article headlined “Never Trumpers for Trump: How Trump’s conservative critics became wingmen for the president’s supporters,” and it is about . . . me.

“Never Trumpers for Trump” is precisely correct, except for the “Never Trumper” part and the “for Trump” part.

I thought of Robert Ehrlich, who was governor of Maryland in the 2000s. He banned his administration from talking with two writers for the Baltimore Sun. There was a pattern of unfairness, he said, but he boiled it down to one headline: “Ehrlich Okays Secret Land Deal.” Accurate, he said, “except that there was no deal, it wasn’t secret, and I didn’t okay it.”

“Was there land involved?” I asked. “Yes!” answered the governor.

• In Poland, the leader of the ruling party accused the leader of the opposition of lacking a “Polish heart” and a “Polish soul.” (For a Reuters report, go here.) This is Nationalism 101. But I thought of Susana Martinez, who was governor of New Mexico in the 2010s. One of her opponents — an “Anglo” — said, “Susana Martinez does not have a Latino heart.” I asked her what she thought he meant by that. She said — in fact, she mouthed, memorably (no sound came out) — “I have no idea.”

• A recent George Will column on fascism was superb, and clarifying. I zeroed in on this: “Communism had a revolutionary doctrine; fascism was more a mood than a doctrine. It was a stance of undifferentiated truculence toward the institutions and manners of liberal democracy.”

More a mood than a doctrine. Yes. Some months back, I referred to a certain activist as “Brownshirty.” A colleague of mine got mad at me: “You calling him a Nazi?” No. I did not mean world war or genocide. I was referring to a style, a mindset, a modus operandi.

Will also wrote, “Fascism based national unity on shared domestic dreads — of the media as enemies of the people, of elites, or others who prevented national homogeneity and social purification. Jews were reviled as ‘cosmopolitans,’ a precursor of today’s epithet: ‘globalists.’”

I know people who use the word “cosmopolitans” right today. Interestingly, “cosmopolitan” was one of the words used against William F. Buckley Jr., his whole career long (as well as “elitist” and the rest).

He was just about the most worldly person ever — and a true American patriot.

• In my presence, WFB greeted George Will as “my leader.” I heard him do the same with one other: Charles Krauthammer. On Twitter the other day, Joe Kristol circulated a column by Dr. K. written in 2013: “Redskins and reason.” Charles was asking, “Should the name be changed?” The name of the Washington Redskins? He thought it should.

“Words don’t stand still,” he wrote. Rather, they evolve. “Fifty years ago the preferred, most respectful term for African Americans was Negro. The word appears 15 times in Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech.”

Near the end of his column, Charles said, “If you shot a remake of 1934’s ‘The Gay Divorcee,’ you’d have to change that title too.”

In 2014, I wrote a piece called “Adventures in Lexical Fashion: Today’s progressive term may become tomorrow’s slur.” It was illustrated with a picture of Gay Brewer, the golf champion.

• On Twitter, David Frum cited a headline that read, “Great Lakes water temperatures are blowing away records and could climb higher.” (Article here.) David said this was catastrophic. “On the other hand,” he continued, “I’m enjoying swimming in Lake Ontario more than I used to do.”

I remember being up north on Lake Michigan when I was a teen. It was beastly hot outside. You were dying to cool off. Yet the water was too darn cold to go in . . .

• A dose of music? Just a quick post, concerning opera: here. Thanks for joining me, my friends, and I’ll talk to you soon.

If you’d like to receive Impromptus by e-mail — links to new columns — write to jnordlinger@nationalreview.com.

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