The Week

(Roman Genn)


Of all the Cuban dissidents, in prison and out, Oswaldo Payá was one of the most valuable. He was the head of the Christian Liberation Movement, and of the Varela Project — the effort to gather signatures in support of a referendum on basic civil rights. In 2002, Payá won the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, given by the European Parliament. He was indeed in the tradition of Sakharov. Václav Havel, the late Czech dissident and president, nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, without success. (No Cuban has ever won the prize.) Payá has now died in one of those “mysterious car crashes.” His family and many others say the regime finally killed him. Andrei Amalrik was a Russian dissident who died in one of those mysterious crashes (1980). A totalitarian society, he said, is like a soldier pointing his gun at a prisoner 24 hours a day. Eventually, his arm will get tired, the gun will sag, and the prisoner will escape. The Castros’ arms are infuriatingly strong.

China’s Catholics, estimated at 12 million, are split. Their spiritual compass points to Rome — unless it points to Beijing. The government requires bishops and priests to register with the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA), which forbids members to criticize China’s one-child policy and harasses and detains Catholics who recognize the authority of the pope. In July, another Chinese bishop was consecrated without the Holy See’s consent. Within days, Thaddeus Ma Daqin, who had just been consecrated auxiliary bishop of Shanghai with support from both Beijing and the Vatican, avoided the imposition of hands by an illicitly consecrated bishop and announced his resignation from the CPA — to long applause, according to one news report. The government’s Administration for Religious Affairs has confined him to house arrest at a local seminary, but it should worry what the answer might be to Stalin’s question.

Ranking high in the category of ideas that are less interesting than they sound (and don’t sound very interesting to begin with) is the plan by an outfit called Clandestine Classics to publish new editions of classic novels with sex scenes added. A press release promises that they will reveal “what Mr. Darcy really wanted to do to Miss Elizabeth Bennet, and unveil the sexy escapades of Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre,” all while “keeping the original prose and the author’s voice.” Even if this can be accomplished (and the sample that Clandestine offers is not encouraging), we’d rather Mr. Darcy didn’t tell us. As for Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, we doubt that one reader in a hundred was panting for the details there.

The British Open is played on links courses, those beguiling courses by the sea. When the wind is down, they can be lambs. When the wind is up, they can be nasty lions. According to legend, a Scotsman threw his clubs into the sea after a dispiriting round. He then drowned trying to retrieve them. That captures something of the allure of golf. The latest Open was played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, in Lancashire. On Sunday, the final round, Tiger Woods was flat. Adam Scott folded. And the veteran Ernie Els, whose career was thought by some to be over, charged from behind to win. A heartbreaking and thrilling game, golf.

August 13, 2012    |     Volume LXIV, NO. 15

Books, Arts & Manners
  • Steven Hayward reviews How to Think Seriously about the Planet: The Case for an Environmental Conservatism, by Roger Scruton.
  • Samuel R. Staley reviews Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future, by Grover G. Norquist and John R. Lott Jr.
  • Scott Winship reviews The Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It, by Timothy Noah.
  • Florence King reviews Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England, by Thomas Penn.
  • Ross Douthat reviews The Dark Knight Rises.
  • Richard Brookhiser offers Kerouacian haikus.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .