I had a memory: A long time ago now — 2001 — I interviewed a Cuban dissident named René Montes de Oca. He was on the lam, actually; he had escaped from prison. We spoke on the phone. He was desperate to get his messages out. In short order, he was recaptured and reimprisoned.
Two years after that, he was released, and I talked to him again. I reported on this conversation here. “While I had him on the line,” I wrote,
I thought I’d ask René what he thought of the Bush administration, and of U.S. policy in general. He is not only in favor of the U.S. embargo, but also believes that there should be a “total [worldwide] blockade.” Tourism, he says, only lines the pockets and serves the interests of the regime, keeping them in power long past their time. I asked whether dissidents on the island were unanimous in the pro-blockade view. He answered, “That’s certainly the position of my party. I respect whatever other opinion anyone else may have.” I reminded him that people often claim that the longstanding U.S. embargo hasn’t “worked.” He replied, “It has worked in the sense that the government of the United States has not cooperated with the Castro regime in oppressing the Cuban people.”
Everyone else has cooperated — Euros, Canadians, Latin Americans. Everyone.
I smiled on reading the opening of this report from the Associated Press. Its headline: “In Ala., GOP dictates new landscape for education.” Its opening: “Self-declared education reformers have had considerable success across the country over the past few decades, from charter school expansion and private school tuition vouchers to new limits on teachers’ job protections.”
I thought, “Sounds to me like they’re more than ‘self-declared,’ as reformers!”
Got a note from my friend and colleague John Hillen, the defense intellectual (and other things). He said, “The New York Times published an essay by Salman Rushdie on moral courage. And how did they choose to illustrate it? With a picture of someone at the Solzhenitsyn level? No, with a picture of Occupy protesters.”
Yup. Sadly, Rushdie hails these bullies and buffoons in his essay. While he’s at it, he hails Noam Chomsky and Edward Said. He calls them “out-of-step intellectuals” — which I found funny: At least among those who educated me, they were very much in step.
You know who was out of step? Sidney Hook, the socialist anti-Communist. Indeed, his memoirs are entitled Out of Step.
Read it and weep: “‘Penmanship’ is now ‘handwriting’ as Washington state removes gender bias in statutes.” Seriously — this is not a joke. Is America too moronic to survive? (Don’t answer that, just now.)
Read it and weep: “Is ‘master bedroom’ sexist or racist? Is ‘owner’s suite’ more modern?”
“Aníbal” is the Spanish Hannibal. And his younger brother Hasdrubal is rendered “Asdrúbal” — which, as a reader reminds us, is the name of the Cleveland Indian shortstop Asdrúbal Cabrera (no relation to the Tigers’ great Miguel).
That blogpost was headed “A Boy Named Jo.” The Jo in question was Jo Johnson, Boris’s brother, who has just been named to a key position by Prime Minister Cameron. I said, “Here in America, ‘Jo’ is only feminine, as far as I know. Indeed, Jo is one of Louisa May Alcott’s ‘little women.’ Maybe in Britain, they do things differently.”
Mark Steyn wrote a typically erudite, stylish reply.
All this made me think, “What was ‘A Boy Named Sue’ about again?” I had forgotten the song. So I went to Wikipedia. And I would like to paste a little excerpt:
With public decorum being more conservative in America when the song was released in the 1960s, the term “son of a bitch” in the line “I’m the son of a bitch that named you Sue!” was censored in the radio version and the final line was edited to remove the word “damn”.
Everyone laughs at that era, and says what a dark age it was. I’m glad that we don’t routinely censor those words anymore. I think it’s probably better that we don’t. But if I had to choose between the old way and the modern pornographic culture, I’d choose the old way in a heartbeat. If I can’t have something judiciously in between — give me the old way, please.
You know what I mean? And do you agree? Anyway, thanks for joining me, and catch you soon.
To order Jay Nordlinger’s book Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World, go here. To order his collection Here, There & Everywhere, go here.