Or take the knee-jerk reactions to the momentary display of the American flag atop the Saddam statue that was about to be toppled. When you come right down to it, has there ever been a more meaningful symbol of freedom than the Stars & Stripes? The Statue of Liberty, maybe, but it’s a little difficult to carry it into battle or to plant it atop Iwo Jima. Triumph or no, our dominant culture remains skittish about who were are. Think it’s make any difference to the bullies on Arab Street whether it’s an American flag they see atop Saddam or an American tank yanking him down? Besides, they’ve been shocked and awed enough. For all we know, they’re more likely at this point to see our flag as a comforter.
Could it be the nervous nellies are still at the stage so memorably captured in Whit Stillman’s film Barcelona in which an American naval officer is not allowed to wear his uniform in public for fear of upsetting local sensibilities (in a NATO country, at that!)? How pathetic.
Moving on to what might be termed the “Now They Tell Us” category, we can already measure the Arab Street reaction by Thursday’s lead op-ed in the New York Times. The American flag is the last thing on its author’s mind. His name is Mamoun Fandy, an Egyptian who writes from the safety of London. Why no anti-American outbursts in the Arab world during the recent war? Because, Mr. Fandy explains, “most Arabs’ hearts were not in this fight.” Anyway, it was old news. “No one was shedding tears as Mr. Hussein’s statues came down,” he continues. “They knew about the nightmare suffered by Iraqis during his 32 long years of oppressive rule. The orgies of violence of Uday and Qusay, Saddam Hussein’s two sons, have been widely reported.” For a moment you suspect Mr. Fandy might really, really likes us.
Certainly more than most members of the Western left. The one thing they won’t talk about is that U.S. troops liberated the mass of Iraqis from barbaric, dictatorial rule. The experience of freedom is not worth the death of a single civilian, in their calculation. Maybe it would be easier to respect what’s left of the left if it argued that it would have been better for the Iraqis had they overthrown Saddam & Co. on their own. But when’s the last time the left called for the overthrow of any anti-Western strongman?
The German novelist Günter Grass was recently profiled in the N.Y. Times. As the Cold War ended, he showed his true colors by opposing German reunification on the grounds that West Germany was too corrupt. Evidently he would have been happy to keep the miserable East Germans walled in. Now he dislikes the U.S. maybe even more than he did during the Reagan years (at least he never compared Reagan to Osama bin Laden, as he now does Bush), and he is part of the new wave that considers the bombing of German cities late in WWII a war crime. But listen to his argument:
He said he also believed the bombing was counterproductive. “The Allies tried to break the resistance of the German people by killing hundreds of thousands of people, but the resistance grew,” he said. “Like today with the Iraqi people. Perhaps many of them hate Saddam Hussein, but they will defend their country because of this bombing. It’s so stupid.”
He’s wrong on all scores. By most accounts, once the U.S. crossed into Germany local resistance crumbled. What resistance remained was directed, for good reason, against the vengeful Red Army. But more ridiculous is the analogy to Iraq, where because of “this bombing” locals are now happy to hate Saddam openly. Most appalling, though, is the refusal of Grass types even to attempt to make a distinction between the indiscriminate bombing of cities during WWII and the precision bombing of today. Smug, willfully ignorant piety is all they seem to bring to the table.
But just to be on the safe side, if Günter Grass ever comes calling, make sure you’ve put your American flag away.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online