Enemy Central has been left speechless. At Tuesday’s memorial service for the victims of Monday’s massacre, the concluding remarks were delivered by Virginia Tech’s Poet Emeritus, who managed to do the unimaginable: She turned the event into a Paul Wellstone memorial, observing that “we [who] are embracing our mourning” (in all this she somehow neglected to honor the dead) were as undeserving of “this tragedy” as a baby dying of AIDS in Africa or as an Appalachian infant crushed in its crib by a boulder set off “because the land was destabilized” or as “a baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory” — whereupon she led her audience in raucous cheers because “We are Virginia Tech” (which served as both the title and refrain of her poetic presentation).
Her remarks and the reaction to them were immediately hailed by the university’s vice-president for student affairs, who bellowed from the podium, “Boy, did we need that.” But don’t they get plenty of that during football and basketball season? We would have thought that what they really needed, if prayer couldn’t cut it, was a performance of Beethoven’s funeral march, say, or Chopin’s. But they appeared to take their cue from the Daily Kos. In praising the Poet Emeritus — Nikki Giovanni is her name — one Kos scribbler noted: “I took a class with Nikki in 1988 and she was the only reason I watched the convocation — no surprise that they put her on at the end. Worth the stomach turning pronouncements of others…she is an amazing lady.” Another Kossie concurred: “I was very moved and impressed by the memorial today (with exception of W). All four major religions represented which showed rich understanding and appreciation of our diverse community. And the poet emeritus at the end was a powerful end which had me in tears.”
Not that religion was of any use to a third Kossie, who titled her entry, “What I Learned About Religion Today.” It read: “religion did not help me make sense of insane violence today… did not help me find answers…but the words of a poet emeritus helped me to find what is invincible in the human spirit. Religion is meant to inspire and bring people together, but for me it fails today.” She/he ended up giving “Religion” a “0” — but “Art” earned a “10.” Grade inflation, even on a day like this.
Speaking out, however inappropriately, has become the law of the land. Just yesterday, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling upholding a ban on partial-birth abortion. Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote the dissent in the case, “took the unusual step,” as the Legal Times put it, to read a summary of her dissenting opinion from the bench. It wasn’t enough that she could have her say on paper. No, she needed to score immediate, political points, including a few at the expense of the court’s new chief justice and newest justice, not to mention the disruptive impact her unbecoming outburst could have on the public order. Such a class act we haven’t seen since the last time Nancy Pelosi journeyed to the Middle East.
Judge Ruth reminds us of that old margarine commercial, in which someone tried to pass a tasty new oleo off as butter. Before that someone knew it, there’d be a vicious crack of lightning and clap of thunder and we’d hear a witch-like voice menacingly declaim, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”
Anyway, Judge, you’re not fooling anyone except yourself. In our humble albeit unanimous opinion, you’ll be better off arguing against the constitutionality of the Enemy of the Week prize you’ve just inherited. What new spectacle can we expect from you next? Marching with Naral and NOW in front of the U.S. Supreme Court?
Send your Enemy of the Week nominations to Enemy Central c/o email@example.com.
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