The Corner

Words, Women, Pins . . .

Is it obnoxious to re-read your own pieces? In any case, I have re-read “War of Words,” an essay I wrote in 2011. I wrote it at the suggestion of Rich Lowry after Kate Swift died. Ms. Swift is not to be confused with Kate Smith, the singer of “God Bless America.” Kate Swift was a woman who campaigned to take sexism, as she saw it, out of English.

The essay is printed on our homepage today — here — as a sample from a new collection, here.

I have thought of a story. This story was related to me by David Pryce-Jones, who knows everything (or everything I want to know, at any rate). Margaret Thatcher was visiting Tito. I don’t believe she was prime minister at the time. Tito was very grumpy that day. He had just “fired” his fourth wife, as DP-J put it. “Women shouldn’t meddle in politics,” Tito muttered.

Mrs. Thatcher, on hearing this, said, “Mr. Tito, I do not ‘meddle’ in politics. I am politics.”

And this brings to mind a brand-new story. I learned it from Robert Costa, that invaluable reporter, on Twitter. It concerns John Kelly, the retired Marine Corps general who is Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of homeland security.

Kelly has had a long career. He enlisted in 1970. He has seen a lot — including a lot of bad. He had a son killed in Afghanistan.

Before his confirmation hearing, it was suggested to Kelly that he wear an American-flag lapel pin. He said, “I am an American flag.”

Yes. And may this fad, or requirement, of pin-wearing soon pass. It can be purely motivated. Nobly motivated. It can be symbolically useful. But, as Mona Charen pointed out in our most recent podcast, it can also be a form of virtue-signaling. Blech.

Patriotism will out, pin or not. Don’t you agree?