are dancing in the streets of Taipei (or at least theyre very
pleased): Monday, June 11, was a historic day for Taiwan. For the
first time (or so it is thought), the New York Times referred
to the island as a country. The mighty word appeared
smack in the first line of a story by Mark Landler headed Taipei
Weighs TV Network Tied to China. Forget the TV network, say
Taiwanese; how about that country! For the sake of posterity,
we will record the historic sentence: With more than a dozen
all-news channels on the television dial, the last thing this compact
country would seem to need is another one.
Not long ago, Rudy Giuliani referred to Taiwan as a country, which
was thought to be big. Not nearly as big as the New York Times,
baby! For Taiwan, this is almost as good as full-scale U.N. membership.
Now if only the International Olympic Committee would permit the
country to compete under its own name until, that is, the
island is reunited with the mainland, democratically.
other news of the East, the Washington Timess Bill
Gertz has a typically outstanding story about new cooperation between
the regime in Beijing and the regime in Havana. (That story is found
Its only right that the remaining Communists should look out
for each other. A company called Cosco, an arm of the Chinese military,
is shipping matÚriel to Cuba. Gertzs story is full of fascinating
and important information, but the nugget I like has to do with
a Cosco officials visit to the Clinton White House in 1995.
This visit occurred days after Democratic Party fund-raiser
Johnny Chung made a large payment to the White House for the presidents
re-election campaign. The visit, continues Gertz, was cleared
by White House National Security Council aide Robert Suettinger,
who wrote in a memorandum that giving White House photographs to
the group of Chinese officials and Chung, who in 1998 pleaded guilty
to making illegal campaign contributions, would not cause any
lasting damage to U.S. foreign policy.
Okay, here comes the beauty part: Mr. Suettinger, who described
Chung as a hustler, also stated in a White House memo:
And to the degree it motivates him to continue contributing
to the [Democratic National Committee], who am I to complain?
Yes, indeed! The Clinton administration in a nutshell.
has been a lot of commotion lately about the Europeans and the American
death penalty: They dont like it; and a lot of our guys
prominently Felix Rohatyn, Clintons ambassador to France
are embarrassed, ashamed before our European betters about the New
Worlds primitive ways. Well, perhaps the Rohatyns among us
should get over it. I remember that, many years ago, West Germany
refused to extradite to the United States two beastly Jordanian
terrorists. (I may have the details slightly wrong, but the outline
is solid.) Why this refusal? Because the U.S. had the death penalty,
and German law forbade the extradition of anyone to a country that
allowed for capital punishment. And I thought: How rich. [My
internal language wasnt so delicate, but there you have it.]
The Germans, only forty years later [about], have such a highly
refined moral sensibility that they dont trust the United
States to deal justly with a couple of terrorists. We have become
too barbaric for the Germans. Isnt that just great?
One could write, and rant, for hours on this subject, but the essentials
are in place. Suffice it to say that the United States has no need
to apologize to Europe for its system, and notions, of justice.
you noticed the new feature in the Sunday New York Times
called Q and A? Its a nifty feature, not unlike
our Ask an Editor, really. (The Times and NR:
two peas in a pod.) In last Sundays installment, the question
was asked, Does being Asian-American help or hurt your chances
of getting into a selective college? The Timess
answer was, basically, help and that, as any
person who has been awake in America over the last couple of decades
knows, is bunk. When it comes to applying to many selective
colleges, it is a real disadvantage to be an Asian-American.
There are too many qualified candidates in this class;
in that wing of the inn, there is no room. I am told, by people
who ought to know, that if admissions were done strictly on the
merits, many elite campuses would look like Shanghai. (This is a
crude way to put it, but, hey: Its also direct and true.)
As The Indispensable Thernstroms, Stephan and Abigail, have pointed
out, attempts to reduce objective criteria in college admissions
are blows to Asian-Americans. These students tend to work hard and
get good grades forgive the stereotype, but (again) its
true. And then those students are penalized by the like success
of those who happen to look like them. Its hard to believe
that liberals, at some level, dont feel a bit
guilty about this. They should.
For an interesting discussion of the Timess Q
and A, check out smartertimes.com.
I look forward to the day when Asian-Americans stand up vigorously
for their rights their rights not to be punished for their
ancestry. For years, selective colleges maintained quotas
on Jews those colleges didnt want their groves overrun
by smarty-pants Hebrews. The same thing is now happening to Asians.
It was wrong then, and its wrong now. If theres one
word that describes this discrimination, its illiberal.
That is why todays liberals are not true liberals.
And, on the subject of language, may I ask something? When, exactly,
did it become incorrect, and impermissible, to say Oriental
why did Asian have to be substituted? When I,
in all innocence, used the word Oriental a few years
ago, a friend attuned to the dictates of p.c. got
all over me like ugly on ape, as the first President
Bush used to say. But why should Asian be preferred
to Oriental? What about it is more accurate, more descriptive,
more benign? Why should Oriental be judged not just
passÚ but evil? This is another absurdity of our time.
now that were started: Youve noticed, surely, that when
a journalist wants to denote a congressman as black, he says, a
member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Cute, huh? And a
dodge, too. If the journalist wants to, needs to, say a congressman
is black, he should say so, without the shield of a member
of the Congressional Black Caucus. You will typically read,
Jesse Jackson Jr., Maxine Waters, and John Conyers, all members
of the Congressional Black Caucus
Its sort of
comical. I, for one, have pledged never to employ this dodge. But
the temptation, I have to admit, is strong. For some reason, we
cringe to write, Congressman X is black. We do not cringe
to write, Congressman X is a member of the Congressional Black
Caucus. If we cringe on doing the former, perhaps we should
leave race out of it altogether.
you have time for some enriching reading, and you should, check
out a stunning piece by Peter Hitchens published in The (London)
Spectator a few weeks ago. (The piece may be found here.)
It is an analysis of the British electorate, explaining the course
of politics in that country. The piece is stunning for its own sake,
but it is also of interest for its applicability to the American
situation. I read (and write) about politics incessantly, and can
hardly stand another word: but I felt enlightened by this piece,
and, again, commend it to all. Hitchens, by the way, is brother-of
or should we now say that it is Christopher who is brother-of?
While Im in the piece-recommending business, do not miss Fouad
Ajamis essay in The New Republic, a brilliant short
piece about George W. Bushs foreign policy, and foreign policy
generally. (Go here.)
I myself paid this piece the ultimate accolade, or one of them:
I read it twice, just to let it seep in.
writing the other day about Dan Gables possible run for Iowa
governor, I mentioned that he would be joining, in the political
arena, other stars of sports, including Jim Ryun and Tom Osborne
(the latter gets to be a star in the coaching division). A reader
wrote to say (essentially), What is it about athletes and the Republican
party? What is it about athletes and conservatism? There is Bill
Bradley, of course. But then you have, on the other side, Jack Kemp,
Steve Largent, J. C. Watts, Jim Bunning. My correspondent would
like to see Mary Lou Retton, of West Virginia, make a run for something.
She is currently a Christian motivational speaker. She
was a spark plug as a gymnast, and she would be a spark plug in
office. And is it too incorrect to say that Mary Lou is cute as
a button? So was Olga, so was Nadia. So was Kerri. Cuteness is them.
conclude by mentioning one of the bravest people I know (and I exaggerate
only slightly). There is a woman, an NR reader, in Seattle who organized
an anti-Castro rally there when it was thought that the Cuban dictator
would make an appearance at the famed WTO meeting. (This woman is
not a Cuban she is merely decent.) She also works at a
funky coffee house and get this wears her National
Review T-shirt for fun.
I thought I was pretty brave to buy a National Review in
my hometown of Ann Arbor; you should have seen, and heard, the clerks
(when they knew about the magazine). But I wasnt half as brave
as this Seattle-coffee-house T-shirt wearer. Not half.