You Must Remember This
Am I the only one who still remembers Manuel Noriega? Hes one of the reasons we have a Department of Defense. When he was running Panama, the first President George Bush (am I the only one who still remembers him too?) decided he was such a threat, like Hitler (of course you remember him!), that we had to invade Panama. Remember? The Panamanians do.
Well, we faced a stark choice. We could fight them down there, or we could fight them up here. President Bush didnt hesitate. It runs in the family.
As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (whose name, at least, you surely remember) once observed, Three generations of imbeciles are enough. Only one more generation to go! All the Bushes, if you ask me, are as eloquent as whoopie cushions.
The senior President Bush was suspected, if not exactly accused, of anti-Semitism by the distinguished anti-Semite hunter Norman Podhoretz. The Podhoretzian definition of anti-Semitism is admittedly pretty comprehensive, roughly coterminous with mankind (he tends to say anti- Semite where most of us would say homo sapiens or featherless biped), except for a tiny sliver, who are mostly, one gathers, self-hating Jews. (If Podhoretz ran a charm school, most of the young ladies would graduate with cauliflower ears.)
Of course there are gradations of anti-Semitism, running all the way from the bellowing Hitler at one extreme to the sly Ivy League critics of Israel at the other, with Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, the pope (any pope), and Britney Spears falling somewhere in the middle. Not that theyre really all that different, and neither, at least to the Podhoretzian mind, are you.
Anti-Semitism is worse than misanthropy, of course. Bombing a city is merely misanthropic, whereas telling crude Jew jokes is anti-Semitic. Don Imus can explain the difference.
And then there is homophobia, the benighted belief that anal intercourse with strangers is in any way immoral, unnatural, or unsanitary. It is to be carefully distinguished from violence against homeless people, or hobophobia. By now there must also be a special word for the hatred of gay homeless people, a national problem, but Ive been out of academia so long I dont know what it is.
Have we mentioned pedophobia? This is the bigoted view that its wrong for adults to have sexual relations with children. Except when the adult is a Catholic priest. Then it is a praiseworthy view. But even priests should be allowed to be women, or marry women, or both. That didnt come out quite right, but I think you know what I meant to say.
As Christopher Hitchens points out, the Catholic Church has a long record of promoting war and also opposing it, and likewise promoting pedophilia and also condemning it. You can see why hes upset that a church with such a sanguinary past is now against the Iraq war, which he favors.
Listening to Hitchens (if he does), the Pope must feel like King Lears Fool: I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are. Theyll have me whipped for speaking true; thoult have me whipped for lying; and sometimes I am whipped for holding my peace.
Atheists can be hard to satisfy. Does anyone remember Stalin? He and Trotsky just could never seem to satisfy each other, and Hitchens, when I knew him years ago, was a Trotskyist, though I guess he has lately become disillusioned with Trotsky too. Well, who wouldnt? How about a little credit for those of us ahem! who never had any illusions about him in the first place?
I also remember when Hitchens was humbly beseeching the Sandinista thugs to pretty please permit a little free speech in their little kingdom. Why didnt Noriega command that kind of deference from our bold, bad-boy dissenter? Well, neither did Mother Teresa. If every word he spoke were true, his demeanor would still be a lie.
Anyway, reading the economist Henry Hazlitt in college, I realized that war is, morality aside, a huge waste of money. Im no pacifist, mind you. When the jihadist camels are massed on our borders, Ill grab my musket as fast as the next man.
The people who begin wars always lose them, and rightly so. Always, without exception. We know this because thats what the winners tell us when a war (alias defense effort) ends. Has any victor ever said, mopping his laurel-bound brow in relief, Golly, we were lucky to get away with starting that one? Is that what Lincoln said? I think Id remember if he had.
When I started this column, thats what I meant to say. As you probably sensed.
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