A magazine installment from the world’s leading Diarist.
This has been a good day.
Yesterday was terrible. Alex and I awakened yesterday in the Capital Hotel in Little Rock. I had been up late because all around me young women were running, yelling, and screaming, because they were coming from a wedding rehearsal dinner in the hotel dining room. They were drunk. They were loud. I didn’t like them.
However, exhausted as we were, Alex and I got ourselves over to the Little Rock airport. It is now named the Bill and Hillary Clinton Airport. I am not kidding. Where is the Richard Nixon airport? Clinton had his points, but his accomplishments were minor compared with Nixon’s. Oh, well. This will be an endless struggle.
We flew to Dallas, where we had a three-hour wait for our connection to Fort Lauderdale. I slept, then read a pleading in a lawsuit in which I am involved as plaintiff. The defendants have described me in ways so unrealistic they are almost funny. But they are not funny. They are dismaying.
The legal process is difficult. I had probably better not say any more than that right now. Let’s just say it is expensive but offers major opportunity for interesting research and thought.
In Fort Lauderdale, we had a pleasant driver from Mongolia. Yes, Mongolia. Now he lives in Fort Lauderdale. He was a superb driver.
The hotel here in Fort Lauderdale welcomed me and treated me like a prince about a year ago. Last night, the front desk people could not have been much worse. Unhelpful. Slow. Surly. One man, a young man named Brandon, tried to help but his boss, a woman whom I will not name, was completely uninterested in any kind of help. It took an hour and a half to find halfway decent rooms. I was furious. This is no way to run a hotel. The Westin Diplomat. Really, the contempt the front desk showed us was breathtaking. Then, a 90-minute wait for toast. Amazing.
Then, a jolt. As I was watching Fox News, I saw that my old marching companion and colleague, Chuck Colson, had passed away. That is a loss.
However, today was a lot better. I spoke to a great group of men and women who distribute janitorial and food-service products. They could not have been better people. Smart, friendly, good energy. These are almost all family-owned businesses with third and fourth generation owners and executives. The backbone of the nation.
After the speech, I joined the men and women at a buffet. I sat with men and women from Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. We talked about George Wallace, about the Franklin Battlefield outside Nashville, about Shiloh, about folk art. All very jolly and encouraging.
Then back to my room to read a condescending obit in the New York Times about Chuck Colson. They have such contempt that they dared to say that Colson “said” he had a spiritual conversion about the time of Watergate. Now, look, NY Times, the man spent 35 tough years to bring help to the least of the earth’s people—its prisoners. He went into hundreds, maybe thousands, of prisons, prayed with millions of prisoners. He did this for 35 years. He spent his whole life bringing Christ to people in steel cages. Does that sound like a fake conversion?
His Prison Fellowship students, pupils, members, have less than half the recidivism rate of prisoners who do not join the Prison Fellowship. Does that sound like someone who just “says” he had a spiritual conversion?
May I ask where or when any journalist of any kind has done more for his or her fellow man than Chuck Colson? Where any former political figure has ever done more for his fellow man than Colson? I agree that Jimmy Carter is in the competition, but he’s far, far behind.
I scoured the Internet and did not see one story that pointed out the fantastic success record of the Prison Fellowship. Naturally, it’s not there. Chuck would have prayed for the mocking, contemptuous humans who could not hold a candle to him.