The Corner

Re ‘You’ve Got to Be Kidding . . .’

Thought you might appreciate a sampling of mail. A lot of it goes like this mordant missive:

Hi Jay,

I would like to ask the Chinese if they would send a copy of their policy for dealing with North Korean immigrants to the unenlightened people of Arizona. I am sure our bigoted citizens would benefit from seeing the compassion dealt a people whose only crime was eating the bark off their trees.

We should also note that we are making great efforts to bring our own immigration policies into conformity with Mexico’s. Having given up the false notion of American exceptionalism, we intend to act in the future like just one of the guys.

A fair amount of bitterness packed into those sentences — I understand entirely. Also, there has been extensive comment on my question, “Do you ever get the idea that our government is a bunch of left-wing undergraduates come to power?” (I think I had in mind Elspeth Rostow’s statement during the Kennedy administration: “You’re just a bunch of junior officers come to power.”) One man wrote, “I think we need a new term to describe the Obama team’s approach to international affairs: Bong Hit Diplomacy. Just a suggestion . . .”

And how ’bout this one, from, or about, my dear old lefty hometown of Ann Arbor, Mich.? “Jay, I personally think of them as the graduate students I used to live with in the North Campus Co-Op in Ann Arbor back when I was an engineering undergrad. If you’re not familiar with the NCC I’m sure you can imagine what it was like. I find the experience to have been invaluable for understanding the current scene, not that it makes me sleep any better at night.”


Oh, hang on — there is also mail like this:

Dear Mr. Nordlinger,

Regarding the issue of “a government that maintains a gulag, that denies people their basic rights . . .”: Maybe they have classified these people as “enemy combatants.” In that case, according to you guys at NRO, it is perfectly reasonable, right? Or is it just Republican American presidents that can do whatever they want to people?

About this type — for whom Guantanamo Bay means human-rights crimes, who cannot hear of China or a similar dictatorship without thinking of Guantanamo Bay, who will not stand for America’s talking to anybody about human rights — there is nothing you can do. At least I find. Is that a lousy thing for an opinion journalist to admit? Yes, probably. But I find there is nothing you can do to reach such people, that they are hardened to moral reason. Either they grow up or they don’t. Sometimes, mercifully, they do.


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