We owe Chicken Little an apology. Maybe the sky really is falling. Evidence is everywhere. Cries and whimpers suddenly grow deafening as the landscape is dusted with snowflakes, who imagine they’re unique and have in common with other snowflakes only an extremely low melting point.
Mr. Little seems to have many relatives, most of them Americans. Millions of them went gaga Monday over the eclipse of the sun, a wondrous sight to behold, a reminder once more of God’s dazzling handiwork. But when the eclipse was done many felt greatly let down.
“You mean that’s all there is?” asked one stalled motorist in a traffic jam on U.S. Highway 26 outside Madras, Oregon, where the path of the eclipse first touched the United States. “I thought it would be better than this.”
This recalls the man in landlocked Missouri who took his aged mother, approaching 100, to see the Pacific Ocean before she died. She took a long, solemn look, and said, “I thought it would be bigger than this.”
Some of the animals, sometimes smarter than either man or his mate, were more impressed by the sun retreating to a place behind the moon. Birds hushed their singing in Pennsylvania. Contented cows lay down in the potato fields in Idaho. Giraffes and rhinos ran about crazily in a zoo in Tennessee.
But in all fairness to the hard to impress (including the giraffes and rhinos), we’ve all had an exhausting fortnight in America. Pulling down monuments, plastering marble men who had been American heroes only yesterday with paint and contempt, is exhausting work. In Baltimore, vandals got to a statue of Christopher Columbus and tried to punish it, too. Chris was not a Confederate general, so far as any historian knows, but you wouldn’t expect a faithful soldier of the righteous mob to know that. Besides, who knows? If he had come along a little later he would probably have rooted for the Rebs.
Whether anti-Confederate fever or just the dog days of August, things are getting odd all over the world. A judge in India granted a woman a divorce because her husband, who spends freely on tobacco and a mobile phone, declined to build an outhouse and she had to answer nature’s urgent call right out in the open. “In villages women have to wait until sunset to answer nature’s call,” the judge, a man, said. “This is not only physical cruelty, but also outraging the modesty of a woman.”
In Germany, a minister in the government’s finance department who is regarded as a likely successor to Angela Merkel, had a fit when he couldn’t get an English-speaking waiter to answer his summons to table, and proposed a crackdown on anyone speaking English in such places. “Coexistence can only work in Germany if we all speak German,” said Jen Spahn, who like every good German deplores the racism of Donald Trump and the grim bigotry of the millions of American deplorables. “We can and should expect [speaking German] from every immigrant.”
Being holier than thou (and almost everyone else) is hard work, too. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, the heartthrob of the politically correct everywhere, was so put off months ago by President Trump’s Twitter disdain for illegal immigration that he invited everyone everywhere to come on in. “To those fleeing persecution, terror and war,” he tweeted, “Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength.”
But that was then. He didn’t imagine that any of the tired, the poor and the huddled masses in the Middle East could understand English. So he had to warn them this week that asylum seekers shouldn’t imagine they could just rush in to Canada as if they were huddled Mexicans rushing illegally into Texas and Arizona. “If I could directly speak to people speaking asylum,” he told a press conference this week in Montreal, “I’d like to remind them there’s no advantage. Our rules, our principles and our laws apply to everyone.” Imagine that.
With the sky falling across the world, Donald Trump is blamed now even for famine in Africa and the indifference of many people who should be viewing with alarm. “News stories about the famine remain few and far between,” complains Jackson Diehl, deputy editor of the editorial page of The Washington Post. “The reason is fairly obvious. The continuing Trump circus sucks up so much media attention that issues that otherwise would be urgent, such as millions of people starving, are asphyxiated.”
Mr. Diehl is sorry about the indifference of his own newspaper and his well-meaning colleagues, and all that, but the devil makes them do bad things no matter how hard they try. It’s one of the greater ironies of our time.
• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.