a register or record of events, transactions or observations kept
daily or at frequent intervals..." Merriam-Webster's
By one of those
caprices that writers are entitled to in compensation for the very
small financial rewardsof their work, I have decided that I
do not like the word "blog" nor any of its participles,
substantives, gerunds, conjugations, declensions, or derivatives.
I am therefore going to drop it, irrevocably, now and forever. Instead
of referring to these monthly round-ups as "bloggings,"
I have decided to call them "diaries." This seems to me
much more elegant and high-toned, in keeping with the intellectual
level of NRO, where matters of the utmost gravity are discussed
in an atmosphere of earnest scholarly inquiry, and movie starlets'
breasts are never mentioned at all.
of diaries is traditionally supposed to be the hobby of virgins
and generals. I am neither of those things, and have not the patience
nor the self-discipline to be a conscientious diarist; but once
a month I shall indulge myself in some notes on the passing scene,
and "diary" is as good a word for these observations as
any other. Everybody on board with that? Herewith, my March diary.
Judge Pickering fiasco revealed once again the fundamental asymmetry
in U.S. politics. A person of conservative views any
conservative views is assumed to be a hate-twisted, narrow-minded,
wife-beating cross-burner, unless he can produce watertight evidence
to the contrary. A person of leftist views is assumed to be... normal,
unless there is photographic proof that he eats babies for breakfast.
(And even that, come to think of it, would probably be laughed off
as just another "lifestyle choice".... With support groups
for infantivores springing up soon after, followed by laws to prevent
discrimination against them, quotas in college admissions, and a
Senate speech by Hillary Clinton accusing the Republican party of
being "mean-spirited" towards infantivores of being,
in fact, infantivorophobic.) To establish a person as unacceptable
in the minds of congresspeople and, I think, of the not-very-attentive
American public Leftists have only to uncover some connection,
however tenuous and disputable, between that person and some out-of-bounds
group or opinion, "out-of-bounds" being defined, of course,
by the Left itself.
And what would
conservatives have to do, if they wanted to tar some left-wing judicial
nominee in a similar way? To make him unacceptable to enlightened
opinion to the New York Times and the panjandrums
of news TV? The question has no answer. There is nothing
comparable they could do. Establish a link with Louis "gutter
religion" Farrakhan? Dig up some fawning comments about Fidel
Castro, Nicolae Ceausescu or Pol Pot? Uncover some pro bono
legal work done for the Yahweh
Cult or La Raza? Who would care?
time a year and a half ago, one of this country's most
brilliant and perceptive political commentators noted this fundamental
We all had
a lot of fun watching the Republican convention pandering to all
the many constituencies they hope to woo from allegiance to the
enemy: blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals, and so on. But where was
the equivalent phenomenon in Los Angeles? Did the Democrats do
any pandering to, say, the 59 percent of Americans who think that
homosexuality is immoral? To the whatever-large-per-cent-it-is
of Americans who think that immigration is out of control? Did
they heck. They don't need to pander. They are the party of Right
of "tolerance", of "inclusiveness",
of "fairness", of "working families". Republicans
hope to win these laurels for themselves: the Democrats hold them.
We are postulants, seeking admission to the Order of Virtue; the
Dems run it. We are defensive; they are confident. We pander to
our enemies; they laugh at theirs.
did I think of the Oscars? Sorry, you're asking the wrong guy. The
sight of showbiz types slobbering over each other induces actual
physical nausea in me; and I find Whoopi Goldberg about as funny
as an ingrown toenail. I don't see a lot of movies, but I see enough
to know that at least 95 per cent of what the studios put out is
worthless crap. The last movie I really liked? Toy Story 2.
No, I'm not kidding. Next item.
I read articles like this,
telling us how fissiparous the Afghans are, and how impossible it
is to govern them, I always feel it's a job I might be able to handle,
based on early life experiences. My mother, may she rest in peace,
was the 11th of 13 children of an English coal miner. She married
late, so that my childhood was punctuated by the weddings of cousins.
At each wedding, the mighty clan would gather. However, these events
always ended with a fight and a family split, half the family swearing
undying enmity to the other half. I seem to have spent a good part
of my childhood riding the bus home from family functions, listening
to my mother mutter: "I'll never speak to that damn Laura again
as long as I live! Did you hear what she said about our Harold?
..." A few months later, the clan would assemble for another
wedding. There would be forgivings and tearful reconciliations...
until, at some point in the festivities, Nell would take offense
at something Jack told her Muriel thought she heard Doug say to
Gladys, the family would split along some new fault line, and everyone
would go to the mattresses again. I tell you, I knew all about cliques
and factions before I could tie my sneakers. Govern Afghanistan?
Piece of cake. How do I apply for the job?
noted in my piece last week titled "Kill
a Jew for Allah" that: "Institutional Islam is riddled
with Jew-hatred." I don't think that is a very controversial
Arab Americans are not Muslims, but Christians of various small
Middle Eastern denominations. A thing I have never seen discussed
in print is: How much anti-Semitism is there among Arab Christians?
Being a professing Christian is, after all, as history all too abundantly
shows, no obstacle to being anti-Semitic, and Arab Christians tend
to belong to tiny out-of-the-mainstream sects that have been stewing
in isolation for centuries.
A learned friend
(Jewish) who knows a great deal about such things summarized it
for me as follows.
[Egypt's largest Christian sect] are so brutally repressed by
the Egyptian state that it is hard to say whether they have the
energy to hate the Jews; they are too busy surviving. The Maronites
were Israel's primary allies in the Lebanon War; before their
betrayal at the hands of Ehud Barak, you could have argued that
they were Israel's best friends in the Arab world. The small Armenian
population in Israel proper has always had good relations with
the Jewish state. And non-Arab Christian minorities in the Arab
world such as the Assyrians have been at least occasional
allies; at any rate, the exile communities in the West have been.
Where there is anti-Semitism among Middle East Christians, it
comes from the mainstream churches; that is to say, the eastern
Orthodox and Uniate churches of Syria and among the Palestinians.
22nd arrived, heralded as "the first day of spring." This
may be astronomically correct, but it is climatological nonsense.
Spring, so far as I am concerned, is the months of March, April,
and May. Summer is June, July, and August; fall is September, October,
and November; winter is December, January, and February. Who cares
about solstices and equinoxes? That stuff all went out with the
Druids. Let's keep things simple, and do it by months. And can anyone
complete the ditty I remember only the first half of, tagging the
months with their (North Atlantic) characteristics: "Freezy,
sneezy, breezy, showery, flowery, bowery..."?
[school administrators in Montgomery County, Maryland] want to demonstrate
[to high school kids] how to use condoms. Such demonstrations, supporters
say, could help stem a rise in sexually transmitted diseases, as
well as teen pregnancy."-Washington Post, 3/19/02.
that condoms prevent disease we even use "prophylactic"
as a synonym for "condom." I suppose there must be something
in it. However, I recall a conversation with a doctor in the Royal
Army Medical Corps many years ago, who claimed that condoms help
diseases to spread. His argument is not for the squeamish, so please
skip the rest of this section if you don't want the details. When
donning a condom, this medical man pointed out, you have to roll
it on; and this is very difficult to do without trapping, and thereby
plucking out, some pubic hairs. Now, the site where a hair has been
freshly plucked out is (he claimed) a tiny lesion, and a perfect
entry point for disease.
I've been carrying
this theory round in my head for years, without really having any
idea whether or not it is sound. Can any reader with a solid medical
background please give me an opinion?
follow-ups on my
"historians" piece earlier this month.
(1) After my
description of Sima Qian's letter to his friend Ren An, which I
described as one of the great documents of antiquity, some readers
emailed in to ask where a translation of that letter could be found.
It is printed as an appendix (Appendix Two) to Records of the
Grand Historian: The Qin Dynasty, the first of the three volumes
Watson's translation of Sima Qian's great work.
(2) I mentioned
the poet Eric Ormsby, and that fine magazine The
New Criterion , to which Eric and I are both occasional
contributors. Unforgivably, however, I failed to mention another
Poetry in Review, with which Eric is even more closely associated,
and in which I too once
published a piece. I hereby apologize, correct the omission,
and recommend Parnassus to you without reservation, if you
care at all about poetry.
Ireland piece, several readers asked why I write about IRA terror
(which they agreed is bad) but not about the "loyalist"
gangs, who do things just as wicked. That's an easy one. I only
have a few hundred words to say what I want to say; so on a subject
like Ireland, about which there is a very great deal to say, I have
to select. What are my criteria for selection? The main one is:
I want to tell you things you won't read elsewhere. Since the U.S.
media is fiercely and aggressively pro-IRA and anti-Ulster Unionist,
I try to state the case for the Unionists when I can. They do, after
all, have a very good case, though you would never know it from
watching TV or reading The New York Times.
terrorists beastly? Yes, they are. But who in America doesn't know
this? Who in America doesn't know that Unionists are beastly tout
ensemble that they are arrogant, sneering, bigoted monsters,
whose chief pleasure is to grind the faces of poor suffering Catholics?
That's what the IRA shills in the U.S. media tell you. At the time
of Gerry Adams's 1994 visit to this country, I was astounded to
hear U.S. newscasters retailing the "fact" that Northern
Ireland Catholics could not vote, were disenfranchised. That was
a naked lie, but it was put about very widely in the U.S. media,
and millions of Americans probably believe it. I was even more astounded,
now I come to think of it, to hear Larry King address Adams as "Mister
Ireland." Since Adams's party was at that time polling around
2 per cent in elections in the Republic of Ireland, this is equivalent
to calling Ralph Nader "Mister America."
U.S. media, that's what they're like liars, hypocrites, and
fools, for the most part. I aim to tell you something you won't
hear from them. If your pleasure is to hear about the cruelty, bigotry
and intolerance of the Ulster Unionists, switch on your TV, go to
the movies, or buy a newspaper. I aim to give you the other
of the things that columnists are plagued by, in fact, is a sort
of Hegelian faction out there in reader-land. The philosopher Hegel,
if I have not misunderstood him, argued that no statement you can
make about anything in the universe is completely true, because
the manifold connections that exist between everything and everything
else mean that the only completely true statement would be one that
encompassed all of creation. Just so, if I say an approving word
about (for example) the Turks, I get angry letters from Armenians
demanding to know why I didn't mention the 1915 massacres, and from
Greeks demanding to know why I didn't mention the 1974 invasion
of Cyprus. The answer is: because that's not what I was writing
about. Go write your own damn articles, you Hegelians. Then
I can have some fun reading them and telling you what you
to the last: Anyone who can say anything coherent about Hegel thereby
acquires a license to quote W. H. Auden's brilliant clerihew on
the old bore, as follows:
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Into offering an apology
For his Phenomenology.
I guarantee, I shall now get e-mails chiding me for calling
Hegel a bore and assuring me that the Wissenschaft der Logik
is, when approached in the right spirit, more fun than the all-night