There is a saying I often borrow from the Bible (KJV) — a phrase that includes the word “saying,” in fact: “an hard saying.” “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” Now, I’m not comparing, trust me — but my column today is full of “hard sayings,” whether they are right or wrong (and I hope they are right). The column is titled “The Afghan Disaster: Notes on a war, a withdrawal, and a murky, anxious future.”
Let’s have some mail. In an Impromptus last week, I spoke of college mascots, and in particular the Notre Dame leprechaun. Some people think he’s pretty offensive.
A reader writes,
I find it fascinating that the Spartan and the Trojan have been ignored in the purge of college mascots. As an American of Greek descent, and a Fighting Illini alumnus, this surprises me.
Anecdotally, all of my fellow citizens of Greek descent are very proud that both the Spartan and the Trojan mascots, and the Hellenic culture they represent, are present in college and high-school athletics. I have heard zero complaints from this community. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Michigan State and USC athletics! (That being said, I remain neutral when the Spartans play the Wolverines in any sport — always a good contest.)
It would be great to view your comments on why this is the case in a future column.
To be continued . . .
In the above-linked column, I spoke of a French intellectual who used some recondite words — words unknown to me: inadequation (now considered obsolete) and decortication. A reader writes,
I am glad for Google because even in reading Edith Wharton (born 1862) I find that a word is sometimes not in my dictionary. Do you know the word “reboant”? It is in the dictionary, but I had never heard that word before.
Me neither. Means “marked by reverberation.”
In that same column, I quoted a paragraph from Tony Blair’s autobiography — the introduction to it. It was forwarded to me by Jeff Jacoby, the Boston Globe columnist, who thought it would be up my alley. It certainly was. A reader now writes to say that it actually moved him to tears. I thought I would re-paste it, here in the Corner, before bowing out.
A friend of mine whose parents were immigrants, Jews from Europe who came to America in search of safety, told me this story. His parents lived and worked in New York. They were not well off. His father died when he was young. His mother lived on, and in time my friend succeeded and became wealthy. He often used to offer his mother the chance to travel outside America. She never did. When eventually she died, they went back to recover the safety box where she kept her jewelry. They found there was another box. There was no key. So they had to drill it open. They wondered what precious jewel must be in it. They lifted the lid. There was wrapping and more wrapping and finally an envelope. Intrigued, they opened it. In the envelope were her U.S. citizenship papers. Nothing more. That was the jewel, more precious to her than any other possession. That was what she treasured most. So should America today.