Monday, May 19, 2003

French argot has a nice word for people like Norman Mailer — croulant, which comes from the infinitive, crouler, to crumble. And Mailer has been crumbling for most of his adult life ever since he endorsed way back in 1949 Josef Stalin’s notorious “Stockholm Peace Appeal.”

For an octogenarian like Mailer, there isn’t a better way to describe him than as a croulant, a victim of a seemingly incurable disease raging among Western intellectuals. I call it SAHS, Severe Acute Hate America Syndrome.

In the same way that Adolf Hitler created a fictional enemy, The Jew, Mailer has created his fictional enemy, the American white male, who is responsible for all the world’s evil. No, not Stalin, not Pol Pot, not Ho Chi Minh, not Mao Tse-tung and his heirs, not Kim Il-sung and son, not Hafez Assad and son, not Iran’s ayatollahs, and most assuredly, not Norman’s pal, Fidel Castro.

Mailer’s April 29 column in the London Times was titled: “We went to war just to boost the white male ego.” As he explained it: “With their dominance in sport at work and at home eroded, Bush thought white American men needed to know they were still good at something. That’s where Iraq came in.” In this endeavor to create the American white male into a super-villain, he has a notable ally, another croulante, Susan Sontag, a SAHS carrier who once wrote in the pages of the deceased Partisan Review:

“The white race is the cancer of human history; it is the white race and it alone — its ideologies and inventions — which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads.”

SAHS carriers are also to be found in Europe and most recently in England where the noted British novelist, Dame Margaret Drabble, published an Op-Ed May 8 in the Daily Telegraph under the title, “I loathe America, and what it has done to the rest of the world.” Meanwhile, what America has done for Iraq is to free the country from the terrorist Saddam dictatorship and make possible a daily chore for the bereaved and now liberated Iraqi people — uncovering mass graves of Saddam’s victims.

Dame Margaret’s symptoms indicate clearly she is suffering from an advanced case of SAHS: “I knew that the wave of anti-Americanism that would swell up after the Iraq war would make me feel ill. And it has. It has made me much more ill than I had expected. My anti-Americanism has become almost uncontrollable. It has possessed me, like a disease. It rises up in my throat like acid reflux, that fashionable American sickness. I now loathe the United States and what it has done to Iraq and the rest of the helpless world.”

Obviously, TUMS couldn’t help Dame Margaret’s illness. In fact, there is no known cure for SAHS.

Now what Mr. Mailer, Dame Margaret and Ms. Sontag and all the other SAHS sufferers are saying is that they would have preferred an Iraq with its genocidal dictator to an Iraq freed by American and British soldiers. They prefer a dictator who:

c Sacked and razed its neighbor, Kuwait in 1990.

• Fired Kuwait’s oil wells and poisoned the Persian Gulf with a cataract of oil.

• Invaded and began an eight-year war with Iran that he lost despite sending up clouds of poison gas.

• Fired ballistic missiles against civilian areas in Israel and Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf war.

• Killed tens of thousands of Iraqis, Kurds and Shi’ite Muslims over the past decade.

c Violated in 1990 Article 5 of the Arab League Pact which says that no signatory should resort to force against any other members to resolve a dispute. Iraq was a signatory to this pact.

• Became a secret ally of Osama bin Laden and his terror machine.

Among institutional sufferers from SAHS is the British Broadcasting Co., the BBC, whose news broadcasters can’t make up their minds which of the two democracies is a greater menace to world peace — Israel or the United States.

Here’s a sample of SAHS at work. The BBC news reader Deborah Mackenzie was interviewing Dr. Mark Falcoff of the American Enterprise Institute a few days ago about American “unilateralism,” which didn’t seem to trouble him. Like a Madame Defarge knitting away at the guillotine, she spat out in a Margaret Drabble frenzy: “So, are you happy for the U.S. to play judge, jury, prosecutor and executioner?”

Nothing much you can do with the FAHS-stricken Deborah, Margaret, Susan, the two Normans, Mailer and Chomsky, and these other croulantes except to quarantine them to Op-Ed pages and BBC broadcasts.

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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