- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 11, 2003

A good line on Arianna

A British friend reminds me on the phone of what they used to say about Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington at Cambridge University: “She’s the most upwardly mobile Greek since Icarus.” Keep an eye on the Pacific Ocean.

Poseur alert

Howard Dean is sometimes his own worst enemy. When asked in the most recent Democratic debate what his favorite song was, he replied, with classic Dean superciliousness:”One you’ve never heard of: ‘Jaspora,’ by Wyclef Jean.” There are a couple of obvious rejoinders to this: is he serious or just trying to sound hip? The song is actually written in Haitian creole, and its message is one of ethnic and racial pride and separatism. It’s a screed against an assimilating Haitian diaspora:

“Diaspora do not respect Diaspora

If you are a Diaspora I am going to give you to sharks

Diaspora do not respect Diaspora

If you are a Diaspora tonight we’re going to disarm you

Diaspora ha ha o, put your hands up!

I am going to take them and throw them in prison

I will make them know who is Toussaint

I will make them know who is Dessalines

After, we will let them go and send them back to Brooklyn”

Maybe Mr. Dean likes the rhythm or sound of the song. Maybe he doesn’t understand the lyrics. But it’s still worth asking: Is that the kind of message we need in a multiracial society of immigrants? And why, of all the conceivable songs available to Howard Dean, did he pick that one? Is he trying to expand his base among African Americans? Or just white kids in the suburbs with dreadlocks? I thought he had that constituency locked up already.

E-mail of the week

“Why bother with Iraq? Why fight terrorism? Try this from Richard Hillary’s classic World War II autobiography written after months of surgery following being shot down:

‘In a train compartment on the way to Scotland Hillary asked Peter Pease, another young pilot, his reasons for fighting. ‘Well, Richard,’ he said, ‘you’ve got me at last, haven’t you?’

‘I don’t know if I can answer you to your satisfaction, but I’ll try. I would say that I was fighting the war to rid the world of fear — of the fear of fear is perhaps what I mean. If the Germans win this war, nobody except little Hitlers will dare do anything… All courage will die out of the world — the courage to love, to create, to take risks, whether physical or intellectual or moral. Men will hesitate to carry out the promptings of their heart or brain because, having acted, they will live in fear that their action may be discovered and themselves cruelly punished. Thus all love, all spontaneity, will die out of the world. Emotion will have atrophied. Thought will have petrified. The oxygen breathed by the soul, so to speak, will vanish, and mankind will wither.”

Peter Pease was killed in action.

Richard Hillary returned to the RAF and was killed in a plane crash during night training. He was 23.”

Sontag award nominee

“Biden says we must win the war. This is precisely wrong. The United States must learn to lose this war — a harder task, in many ways, than winning, for it requires admitting mistakes and relinquishing attractive fantasies. This is the true moral mission of our time (well, of the next few years, anyway).” — Jonathan Schell, saying out loud what many on the Left believe, and have long believed.

What’s doubly remarkable about Schell’s diatribe is that he obviously thinks that if we did exactly as he wants — withdraw from Iraq, from Israel, from Afghanistan, for starters — he would simply go on with his life, submitting long pieces to Harper’s, collecting royalty checks, going to environmental rallies, and the like. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that appeasing theocratic fascists might actually come to affect him.

It always amazes me when writers of all people defend regimes that torture, kill and jail people who think freely and when they aim all their criticism and invective at the one country on the planet with a First Amendment. Go figure. Is the self-hatred that deep?

Ba’athist broadcasting

You might remember the name of one of Tony Blair’s fiercest critics of the war against Saddam, Clare Short. She was a minister in the Blair cabinet who eventually resigned her post in protest at the war against Saddam and has issued searing broadsides against the war on terror ever since. But she’s not unemployed. Who gave her a job? The BBC, of course, where she is now their correspondent covering the Cancun WTO meeting.

I found this out via Beebwatch, the new feature in the London Daily Telegraph, monitoring blatant left-wing bias in the publicly financed corporation. This column seems to have helped kick-start scrutiny of the BBC. As thy would say in Britain, about bloody time.

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