The Corner


WFB Does Football, Etc.

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14) makes a catch against Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (44) in the second half of the Monday Night Football game at Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nev., September 13, 2021. (Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports)

Bernard-Henri Lévy is a leading “public intellectual” of our time. He is a French philosopher, writer, adventurer, and activist. He has written a new book: The Will to See: Dispatches from a World of Misery and Hope. I have talked with BHL and have written about him on the homepage today: here. A most interesting and unusual fellow, whether you’re for or against.

Why don’t we have some mail? In a column last week, I wrote about jury duty (because I had it). “Jury duty,” I said, “is a pain, a privilege, and a must — our system depends on it.” I received a letter from a lawyer, on various aspects of our jury system. Here’s a slice:

Best word of advice to avoid ending up on a jury (if that’s your goal) — talk. Talk your head off. Have an answer, an opinion, a thought about every single topic the lawyers cover during voir dire. That gives us, the lawyers, more reasons to use a strike or a challenge for cause against you to keep you out of the jury box. Inevitably, when I look up at the men and women who are seated in the box at the end of voir dire, I think to myself, “I don’t know a damn thing about any of them except for what’s on their questionnaires.”

In another column, I had a word about “moral equivalence,” as we said in Cold War days: The United States and the Soviet Union are equally bad. They are superpowers, throwing their weight around. The Russians interfere in other countries, we interfere in other countries. What’s the difference? Who are we to lecture them? And so on and so forth. Today, you hear similar things, regarding the Ukrainian situation and others.

A reader writes, “Your discussion made me recall WFB’s statement, which I have written down and used over and over again.” For the uninitiated, “WFB” is William F. Buckley Jr., who wrote,

To say that the CIA and the KGB engage in similar practices is the equivalent of saying that the man who pushes an old lady into the path of a hurtling bus is not to be distinguished from the man who pushes an old lady out of the path of a hurtling bus: on the grounds that, after all, in both cases someone is pushing old ladies around.

In a Corner post, I had a word about fan behavior — specifically, bad behavior. A reader shares with me a passage about Tom Harmon, found on Harmon’s Heisman page. Tom Harmon, of the University of Michigan, won the Heisman Trophy in 1940.

In his final football game, against Ohio State, Harmon led the Wolverines to a 40–0 victory, scoring three rushing touchdowns, two passing touchdowns, four extra points, intercepting three passes, and punting three times for an average of 50 yards. In an unprecedented display of sportsmanship and appreciation, the Buckeye fans in Columbus gave Harmon a standing ovation at game’s end. No other Wolverine player has been so honored, before or since.

End with WFB? And football? Is that possible? Only in this way: Johnny Carson once did a skit, with the sports broadcaster Stu Nahan. In the skit, Nahan was announcing Monday Night Football, and WFB, played by Johnny, was doing the color commentary.

A reader writes,

Antenna TV had the episode on the other night. Originally, the show was aired on November 17, 1983. I can’t find a clip, unfortunately. But I found some quotes online.

Here is a sample:

Stu Nahan: “Jack Youngblood of the Rams is down on the field. Can you see what that injury might be, Bill?”

William F. Buckley Jr. (after looking through binoculars): “Well, it appears to me that Mr. Youngblood might find it . . . difficult to exercise his conjugal prerogatives.”

Nahan: “Uh, I don’t quite follow you.”

WFB: “He got kneed in the macadamias.”

As Bill himself might say or write: “Fun and games!”


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