The Corner


Issue upon Issue

A Taiwanese sailor holds his country’s flag on a frigate in 2008. (Nicky Loh / Reuters)

In my Impromptus today, there are three issues. The first is Taiwan — if China attacks, what should the United States do? The democratic world should attempt to deter, yes — but if that fails: anything?

My next issue is the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize — a wonderful thing. It was given to two individuals, two journalists, who have shown great bravery in the face of horrible regimes: Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia. (Six of Muratov’s colleagues at Novaya Gazeta have been murdered, including the great Anna Politkovskaya.) Beyond the individuals, however, the award was given to honor press freedom, which is under attack from multiple sides.

The final issue is political correctness, or “wokeness.” I had an interesting experience. I’m afraid I’m too old, or too stubborn, to be “reeducated.”

Let me throw some more links at you, before I get to some mail. Here is a Q&A podcast with Leopoldo López, the Venezuelan democracy leader. I met him at the Oslo Freedom Forum last week. He was arrested and imprisoned in February 2014. In October 2020, he made a daring escape to Colombia (and from there to the United States, and from there to Spain, where he is in exile). An extraordinary leader, speaker, and man.

Here is a review of Opening Night at Carnegie Hall (a night that had a political edge). Here is a post on the late American composer Carlisle Floyd. And here is my music chronicle in the current New Criterion.

Last week, I had an appreciation of George F. Will. My friend Matt writes,

In my freshman year of college, my honors U.S.-history professor — an old-line liberal specializing in American intellectual history — told us, “If you want to be a great writer, read great writing. Read George Will.” That day or shortly thereafter, I went to Borders and picked up a paperback copy of Will’s early-’90s collection, The Leveling Wind. Since then, through used bookstores and careful poaching from my dad’s collection, I have amassed a complete set of George Will collections in hardback. All the way back to The Pursuit of Happiness and Other Sobering Thoughts. But The Leveling Wind holds a special place for me, as Right Reason does for you. (I have that one also!)

Right Reason is a WFB collection. I said in my GFW piece that Right Reason came out in 1985, when I was in college, and therefore at just the right time for me.

Matt continues,

Regarding essay collections in general: They are the best. Always have been and always will be my favorite kind of book. Nothing like settling in with a great essay. And I love that you can read the book straight through (as I am with George Will‘s current collection) or skip around.

In my GFW piece, I said,

We once talked about Walter Berns, the late political scientist, or political philosopher. “One of the epochal moments in my life,” said Will, “was reading one of his many wonderful books, Freedom, Virtue, and the First Amendment” (1957).

A reader writes,

Thank you for mentioning Walter Berns. I had the privilege of taking his course “The Political Science of Abraham Lincoln,” a totally exhilarating experience that changed my life. What an intellectual giant and a great American.

I’m not sure whether the reader is referring to Berns or Lincoln in that last sentence. But I wish I had been in that course. My goodness.

In an Impromptus, I griped about the behavior of fans at the Ryder Cup — cheering when the other player misses a putt and so on. Disgraceful stuff — and totally un-golf-like.

A reader says,

Bobby Jones’s words regarding how patrons should behave would make golf better everywhere, not just at Augusta. If people want to behave badly and ridiculously, go to an Alabama–Auburn game, an Ohio State–Michigan game (sorry, Jay, but I’ve been to a few), or Washington, D.C.

Thank you to one and all. Again, today’s Impromptus is here.


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