Today, I begin my Impromptus with words — epithets, particularly. Take “white.” A Pennsylvania legislator slammed a pro-life protester as, among other things, “an old white lady.” What does “white” have to do with it? (And “old,” for that matter?) I also talk about “elitist” and that perennial, “fascist.” (When there are real fascists afoot, it’s especially important not to use that word loosely.)
Further items include Bernie Sanders and the Soviet Union; Trump and Biden; the European Right and Putin; a heroic coach in Oregon; and longsuffering baseball fans.
I would like to publish some mail concerning my previous Impromptus. That column had an item on the abortion debate and the word “baby.” I said, for example,
In 2009, a jihadist murdered a lot of people at Fort Hood in Texas. There were 13 dead. Or were there 14? One of the dead was a woman who was pregnant: Francheska Velez. Her dying words were “My baby, my baby.”
A reader writes,
I had a friend who was a flight attendant on AA77 and was pregnant. I had the chance to visit the 9/11 Memorial and was pleasantly surprised to learn it acknowledged she was with child. I thought at the time it was good to know agendas could be set aside when honoring all the victims.
He sent me a picture of the relevant portion of the memorial, which reads, “Renée A. May and her unborn child.”
A different reader wrote me concerning my interview with Vladimir Bukovsky. In my final installment (of four), I quoted Bukovsky’s quotation of a Russian saying: “One cannot prove one is not a camel.”
Our reader writes,
… The “camel” remark reminds me of the opening sentences of the conclusion to Everyday Stalinism. The passage reads:
“A popular joke of the 1920s and 1930s concerns a group of rabbits that appear at the Soviet-Polish frontier, applying for admission to Poland. When asked why they wish to leave, they reply: ‘The GPU has given orders to arrest every camel in the Soviet Union.’ ‘But you are not camels!’ ‘Just try telling that to the GPU.’”
Finally, I received one of the most conservative letters I have ever received. It came via the U.S. Mail. (As a rule, only people of a certain age write via the U.S. Mail.) It is from Palatine, Ill., and here goes (verbatim):
I look in vain at the National Review for opposition to Social Security. So far as I can tell, the company is for fixing the program. And so I ask you: On what principles does this position rest upon?
Redistribute the wealth? Close gaps?
To each according to his need?
Create a safety net? Get on the wagon?
Make war on poverty? A chicken in every pot?
Create wealth with a government program?
Buy some votes?
I suspect the reason for the National Review’s support is basic:
Hang onto readers (certainly a conservative sentiment).
But at what cost?
I must say, I know where the gentleman is coming from, as we said back in the Seventies.