That woman up there is Masih Alinejad, an Iranian-American journalist and activist. She came to worldwide attention last summer for an unwelcome reason, to put it mildly: The FBI foiled a kidnapping plot against her — a plot by the Iranian government. Apparently, this was the first attempt by that government to kidnap a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil. This is beyond brazen. And Masih Alinejad, obviously, has gotten deeply under the skin of the rulers back in her native country.
Not long ago, I sat down with Masih for an interview, and you can read the resulting piece on the homepage today: here. I would like to tell you something in addition, here on the Corner.
Before writing, I got Masih’s book, her autobiography: The Wind in My Hair (2018). I didn’t intend to read it. She and I had already talked. I wanted the book for reasons of reference, mainly — to look up spellings, dates, etc. I thought I might read the book later on, when I had the time. This particular week, I had no time.
I made the mistake of starting on page 1. Ladies and gentlemen, I couldn’t put the book down. Could. Not. Put. It. Down. I didn’t have time to read the book — but I couldn’t help it, so I did.
As usual, I’m going to publish some reader mail here, but, before I do, I’d like to link to a podcast — my latest Q&A, which is with Bernard-Henri Lévy, the French philosopher and writer. We discuss his new book, The Will to See. And various problems around the world. And “life its ownself,” as Dan Jenkins taught us (many of us) to say. BHL is ever interesting.
Okay, some mail. Recently, I interviewed and wrote about Leopoldo López, the Venezuelan democracy leader and former political prisoner. Here is a paragraph toward the end of that piece:
Venezuela, [López] points out, is not only under dictatorship, it is also wracked with hunger. Outright starving. Venezuela is the poorest nation in the Americas — even poorer than Haiti, which has suffered cruelly for generations.
A reader writes,
I had a project in Valencia — about a hundred miles west of Caracas — that had me traveling to Venezuela between 1997 and 2000. I can confirm that Venezuela was a happy and thriving place, certainly by South American standards. To hear that Venezuela is the poorest nation in the Americas, even poorer than Haiti — I can hardly get that to compute.
Talking to me, López said, “The United States continues to be, whether you like it or not, the beacon of light and hope for freedom and democracy in all the world.” Our reader writes,
Whether you like it or not?! I can’t even fathom not liking it — though I recognize that there are many Americans who, in fact, don’t like it. This is another thing I have trouble computing.
I have a lot more mail, on a range of subjects, but you need to get on with your day. Maybe I can publish one note relating to language. In an Impromptus last week, I spoke of the modern habit of saying “they” instead of “he” or “she.” A reader writes,
I work for a technology company which, like most tech companies, is absolutely steeped in wokeness. One of the more irritating manifestations of that attitude is that, in their reports on job-applicant interviews, many of my colleagues will insist on using the pronoun “they” throughout. Oftentimes I will have interviewed the same applicant — an obvious man or woman — yet the reports say “they.” All of these “they”s look ridiculous, referring as they do to a single person. Nails on a chalkboard, to me!