Ben Stein's Diary

Defense Is the Ultimate Good

Oh, for Nixon!

By From the January-February 2014 issue

2010 Alfonso E. Perez-Gonzalez (Flickr Creative Commons)
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Sunday

Uh-oh. this is not good. Alex and I are in our car on the way back from Rancho Mirage to Beverly Hills. We left at about 8 p.m. so I thought traffic would not be a problem. How wrong I was. Instead, the 10 Freeway was a nightmare of jammed cars and horrible congestion. Traffic just crawled along. It took almost two hours to go 30 miles.

It got a lot worse. For an early dinner, Alex and I had eaten Korean beef, Bulgogi beef, I think. It is heavily marinated and tastes good. Tastes great. But I remembered as I ate the last forkful of it that I had gotten sick to my stomach from a much smaller portion served to me about two years ago at the same restaurant. Tonight, I had about 10 times as much.

My stomach was churning like an angry shark (I imagine) and there was no place to pull off. Finally, I came to my favorite gas station on this earth, the Calimesa Shell, and had a peaceful rest stop. It was peaceful in that there was no noise, but my stomach was furious at me over the Bulgogi beef. Wow. Being sick to your stomach on the road is not fun.

But a great mercy, my stomach stayed calm the rest of the way. I also saw the traffic vanish, and I was home in about 90 minutes from Calimesa, which is really fast for me.

I could not sleep at all through the night, though. Something about stomach distress on the freeway horrified me and frightened me and kept me up. Fear is a cruel mistress.

Finally, I fell asleep and Alex appeared next to me, desperately ill with flu. She has been sick now for months and it’s really terrifying. I would basically have no life without her. She walks on water, as far as I can see. So just the sight of her endlessly ill puts me into a hush of dread.

Well, time to pray.

Monday

I guess the world has gone completely crazy. I guess we are all in George Orwell land now. Political correctness has taken center stage and pushed common sense and sense of humor into the orchestra pit.

I hear on the BBC news that my hero, Bob Dylan, greatest of the songwriters and poets of my era, is being sued by some Croatian group in some wacky European court for noting that there was blood antipathy between Serbs and Croats. Everyone knows it’s true and now when Bob says the obvious, he’s getting sued. He was actually served with some kind of insane claim papers when he was in France receiving an award. This is pure nuttiness.

Then I keep reading about how a white professor at UCLA is being harassed by black students because he had the nerve to correct their grammar and usage. The protesting blacks say this kind of correction, such as insisting that the word “indigenous” is not spelled with a capital I, is racism. Their own legitimate and different ways of spelling should be recognized, say the black students.

I am bound to say the whole thing looks like a bad joke to me. Maybe it’s an Internet hoax. I hope so.

Then, once again, we have the story out of San Jose State here in my own beloved California that tells us that the staff of that fine university now considers it a hate crime or a hate offense deserving of punishment to have a Confederate flag in one’s dorm room.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I was demonstrating and marching for civil rights in the 1950s. I am a former fundraiser for the Black Panther Party of New Haven, Yale Law School Chapter. I am as much for equal rights under law as anyone can be. And I think that display of the stars and bars to a large, racially mixed group in a place like San Jose could offend some people. 

But to call the display of this symbol of redneck pride, this symbol that was on The Dukes of Hazzard forever, this innocuous symbol of good old boys drinking warm beer and watching stock car races, a hate CRIME is just plan strange.

Curious, yes. Questionable in public places? Yes. But a CRIME?

That is just plain nutso.

But this is America and the world today, and it’s just plain sad. Slavery was unspeakable. Racism, revolting. But calling the display of the Rebel flag a CRIME? Heaven help us. I feel for the people who are offended by the flag, but lots of things offend us and are not crimes. Where did our good nature go? To the Ministry of Truth of Orwell’s 1984

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.