- The Washington Times - Monday, April 26, 2010

Know Orwell

“It is thinkable that the story [of ‘Animal Farm’] might have ended in this damp-squib way, but two later developments were to give the novel its place in history.

“A group of Ukrainian and Polish socialists, living in refugee camps in postwar Europe, discovered a copy of the book in English and found it to be a near-perfect allegory of their own recent experience. Their self-taught English-speaking leader and translator, Ihor Sevcenko, found an address for Orwell and wrote to him asking permission to translate ‘Animal Farm’ into Ukrainian. …

“Orwell agreed to grant publication rights for free (he did this for subsequent editions in several other Eastern European languages). It is affecting to imagine battle-hardened ex-soldiers and prisoners of war, having survived all the privations of the eastern front, becoming stirred by the image of British farm animals singing their own version of the discarded ‘Internationale’ … The emotions of the American military authorities in Europe were not so easily touched: They rounded up all the copies of ‘Animal Farm’ that they could find and turned them over to the Red Army to be burnt. The alliance between the farmers and the pigs, so hauntingly described in the final pages of the novel, was still in force.”

From “Christopher Hitchens re-reads Animal Farm” on April 17 at the Guardian

Know humor

“In the first place, making at least a little fun of the New Atheism was irresistible. After all, this movement has grown fat and happy by painting religious people as grim and humorless and self-righteous — all while writing tracts that exhibit plenty of those features themselves …

“Satire also felt right for another reason. From a critical point of view, it’s disarming. The worst you can say is that its not funny — but if other people are out there saying that it is, then you run the risk of looking like what A. F. Christian would call a ‘honking dork.’ …

“The Right doesnt get nearly enough credit for the fact that the funniest writers are on the libertarian-to-conservative side of the spectrum — P. J. O’Rourke, Dave Barry, Jonah Goldberg, Rob Long, Andrew Ferguson, Mark Steyn … the list goes on, and, of course, at its top is the master, Tom Wolfe. The ideological imbalance, I think, is due mainly to the fact that the Left hands the Right so very much material worth satirizing.”

Mary Eberstadt, interview in National Review on her book “The Loser Letters” on April 23 at National Review

Know Jack

“I first met Jack [Kevorkian] via telephone in 1989 when we debated on a Cincinnati radio program. At that time he was searching for someone on whom he could test what he then called his ‘self-execution machine.’ The ideal candidate, he explained, could be someone with multiple sclerosis, severe arthritis, or a terminal illness. …

“The media portrayed him as a retired pathologist. But Jack wasnt retired; he was unemployed. With the exception of his residency and his military service in the 1950s, he had no clinical experience with live patients. He was even turned down for a job as a paramedic in 1989. …

“As for compassion, decide for yourself. In 1986, he described experimentation in which ‘subjects,’ including infants, children and the mentally incompetent, would be used for experiments ‘of any kind or complexity.’ Then, if the subjects body was still alive after experimentation, ‘death may be induced’ by such means as ‘removal of organs for transplantation’ or ‘a lethal dose of a new or untested drug to be administered by an official executioner.’”

Rita Marker, writing on “You Definitely Don’t Know Jack” on April 23 at the First Things blog First Thoughts

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