Today’s Impromptus has a range of issues, as usual, all of them controversial — which is also pretty typical. Has the pandemic proven Americans soft and spoiled? That’s for openers. Then I address fraternity hazing and the urge to belong; the pride flag and the American flag; politics in Hungary; colorblindness in America; and so on. Not a peaceful issue in the bunch.
For reasons I could get into, I recently looked at the appreciation I wrote of Richard Pipes, the great Russia scholar, on his death in 2018. Let me paste an excerpt:
At every stage of his career, Pipes attracted controversy. Why? In explanation, he once quoted Samuel Butler, who wrote in a letter, “I never write on any subject unless I believe the opinion of those who have the ear of the public to be mistaken, and this involves, as a necessary consequence, that every book I write runs counter to the men who are in possession of the field; hence I am always in hot water.”
Let’s have a little mail — just one quick note. In an Impromptus last week, I quoted a news article about the British prime minister, which said, “Mr. Johnson has never publicly confirmed how many children he has.” This made me think of Fidel Castro (not that I’m comparing). Once he was asked, “How many children do you have?” He answered, “Almost a tribe.” (The number seems around 15.) (I took this up in a book, Children of Monsters.)
A reader writes me about Tito Fuentes, who played second base for the San Francisco Giants. Apparently, pitchers liked to brush him back. After one game — when he was almost beaned — Fuentes made a statement that gained some fame: “They shouldn’t throw at me. I’m the father of five or six kids.”
What is that picture of a farm doing up there, above this post? Well, my column today ends with a picture of Gaffney, S.C. (where I spent a few days last week). That is a picture from town. I thought I’d offer one from out in the country here on the Corner. Again, today’s column is here.