It’s February 8, 2006, one o’clock in the afternoon and I am lying on a beach in Miami. Afflatus had been bypassing my desk for a while, so I decided that perhaps Mother Nature was beckoning. Here I am beside God’s glorious ocean, nary a man or woman within eyeshot of my secluded spot. Turquoise water flows toward me from a seam in the sapphire sky. A pair of gulls eye me warily as I wiggle my toes in the toasty sand. A sweet breeze — it is winter, you know — wafts tingling across my chest. And a gallery of seashell art glistens in wavy mounds of sand to mark the place where Paradise merges into Main Street. My scanty accoutrements of civilization: a pen, a sheet of foolscap and a copy of The American Spectator.
Today I will devote to forgetting. Forgetting that a funeral for a woman of dignity and valor, Coretta Scott King, was transmogrified into a race-baiting rally and a symposium about, of all things, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Every nominal Democrat pseudo-elegist made an ass of himself with the exception of Jimmy Carter who, in that department, has long been a made man. This marks the second time that a guy named James Earl has stomped on Dr. King’s legacy; they should rather have asked James Earl Jones.
Forgetting, too, the crescive crassness of crossness that is turning Muslim society into a replica of my stomach: cheesy Danish meets hydrochloric acid. A few mildly critical cartoons from Denmark have agitated the Arab world; yes, that very same Arab culture that is regularly replete with horrific caricatures of Jews. As recently as 1993, the Syrian Secretary of Defense published a book offering “details” of how Jews bake the blood of Arab children into Passover matzo. Supportive cartoons ran in the Arab press at the time; one of them showed Mrs. Shamir (the wife of the Prime Minister at the time) warning an Israeli soldier not to discard the body of a martyred Palestinian child before she could harvest the blood. Jews responded in their usual low-key way by fashioning one of the most powerful armies in the modern… hey, look at that shell, ridged and whorled, spreading like a Japanese fan, the fingerprint of the ancients.
Where was I? Oh, forgetting. Forgetting that a thousand people drowned when an Egyptian ferry sank and the government of Egypt refused Israeli help while their citizens were succumbing. How insane do you have to be to refuse to let the Jews out of the thralldom of your stigma, to “harden your heart” even as your own people are being buffeted by the raging waters? Well, I’m sure it would be impolitic for any Jew to chuckle this weekend in the synagogue when they read that the stubborn Egyptians were plunged into the sea. Better to let stupid remarks pass without countering with smart remarks.
Even forgetting, sadly enough, that our soldiers are in harm’s way on the battlefronts of freedom in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. No army could possibly stand up to them as a unit but each individual soldier remains a target for untold numbers of disaffected cranks: Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Iraqi insurgency and who knows what-all. How weirdly tragic that so many fine young people should be fighting for something important and being killed for utmost idiocy. In the past we fought wars against civilizations, however pretentious or even malevolent; now we are in conflict with bloody fools who offer nothing, no ideas, no culture, no art, no music, no sense of beauty or purpose.
Whee! Two speedboats go racing by, cutting a foamy swath through the rippling surface. The birds are skittering skyward, off for bluer pastures. The sun is behind me now, a warm glow on my neck. From over behind yonder hillock the tinkly sounds of a mother and child echo south to north: Watson, I deduce the presence of a stroller and the vibrance of a brisk walk. There is peace here and joy, freedom and light, a twinkle in the eye, a notch in the belt, a bounce in the step. Life is good here. And we insist on believing that it can be good everywhere.
Time to go. Back to work: the work, we hope, of making this world a better place. It’s been fun hanging out with you today and I am grateful for the company. So sorry, this was the best I could do while forgetting the harsh realities of life. I offer you, in appreciation, my epos of peace, complete with an aposiopesis (yep, slipped it in at the end of the third paragraph). Back to the grind, to the grim reality of the cartoon (!): th-th-that’s all, folks!
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