Saturday, February 5, 2011

Those Who Can, Do; Those Who Can't, Write for NRO

Speaking of RWA1, he just linked to a collection of "impromptus" by Jay Nordlinger, one of the National Review's roster of online bloviators. "Nordlinger's is a mind worth spending some time with," RWA1 allowed, "especially on music, but also on other matters." An opening snippet was included:
I’ve noticed something the last few days — something that gives us a human lesson, I think: Those who know the most about the Middle East are saying the least, when it comes to the turmoil in Egypt.
So I clicked through. Here's one of Nordlinger's humble, modest impromptus:
The cynical position is the easiest one: “Oh, nothing good will come of the unrest in Egypt. It all leads straight down the tubes” — which it may. But maybe not. And can’t any pleasure be taken in the fact that millions of people have at last lost their fear? Are publicly expressing, for the first time in their lives, that they wish a better, freer, more decent life? Are saying that they want the kind of life that you and I may take for granted? A life in which one can work and worship and marry and raise children? A life in which one can voice concerns about government and society without having to worry about a midnight knock on the door?

Very, very few people wish to live in a police state. I think that can be said.

So far I've only seen what Nordlinger calls a "cynical position" expressed by commentators on the right, in the US. On the left we are taking quite a bit of pleasure in the fact that millions of people have at last lost their fear. It's the conservatives who've been warning us that the Muslim Brotherhood will take over if Mubarak blinks even once, and then there'll be Sharia Law and Jeeehaaaaadddd!

Another one:

Beware those who seek the “fundamental transformation” of the United States and are absolutely sure they know what they’re talking about. Are absolutely sure of what will follow the fundamental transformation they effect.

Again, this describes the Tea Party right better than it describes the Democratic Party. (Yes, it does describe some of the left.) But it's "liberal Democrats" Nordlinger is referring to.

The State Department, you may have heard, has upgraded the PLO mission in Washington from a “bureau” to a “general delegation.” This affords the PLO boys diplomatic immunity. It also allows them to fly the PLO flag — which they have. Rep. Allen West, the freshman Republican from Florida, pointed out that Taiwan does not have this privilege. “By allowing this flag to be flown, the United States is extending a diplomatic right that we refrain from offering to even our own allies, like Taiwan.”

Maybe if the Taiwanese tried terrorism?

Cute. But the PLO, now known as the Palestinian Authority, won this privilege not through "terrorism" but by knuckling under to US and Israeli demands. Perhaps Nordlinger has trouble distinguishing between the PA and Hamas ... And come to think of it, there seems to be an inconsistency here. If having a "general delegation" allows the delegates diplomatic immunity and the right to fly their flag, then there must be quite a few allies with that status in Washington. Britain, for example, or Germany. Even Egypt. (I presume flying the flag means "in Washington DC"; even Nordlinger and Representative Freshman would allow our allies to fly their own flags in their own countries -- wouldn't they?) The status of Taiwan is vexed, of course, but Nordlinger and West are being disingenuous.

Extra bonus round:
In the months following 9/11, some conservatives said, “The Left is joining hands with radical Islam. They will work against Western civilization together.” I thought this seemed a little extreme. But some of the conservatives made a good case. And, over the decade, the evidence has burgeoned. ...

Now, you can understand how the Left gets peeved when you say that many of their number are allied with radical Islam. Yet — ... What do you do with Cynthia McKinney when she appears on al-Jazeera wearing an Islamic headdress? I think we can say that, where the anti-Western energy goes, there goes the Left. So it was with Communism. So it is now.
First: "Islam" does not equal "radical Islam." I don't know what McKinney intends to signify by wearing an "Islamic headress" on al-Jazeera, but it certainly doesn't automatically mean jihad. Al-Jazeera doesn't equal "radical Islam" either. Second: Nordlinger provides no actual examples of the 'burgeoning' evidence for the Left's joining hands with "radical Islam" since September 11. The evidence for the Right's interest in radical Islam is rather better, from the Bush crime family's connections to the House of Saud to the Reagan administration's support for Islamists in Afghanistan to Dinesh D'Souza and others who have sympathized, and indeed joined, with supposed Islamist critiques of American decadence. To say nothing of Bush II's use of the Islamist Northern Alliance in his Holy War against the Taliban.

Yes, "disingenuous" is the kindest word I can use for Nordlinger. His is a mind worth spending some time with, but only long enough to ascertain that he's a fatuous, complacent hack.