On the Road Again

Thomas J. FlemingActually, I can very easily wait to get back on the road again. I have been back from Serbia for a bit more than week and am now on the way to our conference on the Scottish Enlightenment. At least I am flying direct to Glasgow and taking a short train ride from there to Edinburgh—anything is better than changing planes in Paris or Frankfurt.

There are so many things I wanted to post a column on this week but instead I had to write a Chronicles perspective and finish my lectures on Adam Smith and on Walter Scott before going on to write two letters asking our readers and friends for the support that we need to keep us going for another six months. If you are one of the lucky recipients, I hope you will answer the plea by writing out a fat check. These conferences help to raise money from our principal supporters, but we ultimately depend on small donations of $24-$500 for our daily bread. When I return, please be warned, I am going to ask our web-readers to shoulder some of the burden.

If I had the time, I would be sounding off on the filibuster, for example. As little as I like Mr. Frist or support the GOP’s bid to control the Senate, I applaud any sign that Republican Senators can act–or pretend to act–like men. The Democratic theory, apparently, is that anyone who does not support the unrestricted right to abortion or might have some nostalgic sentiments about the Constitution or the rule of law has no business on the federal bench. If either party is going to impose a litmus test, I would like the Republicans to begin by impeaching Ruth Bader Ginzburg, Orrin Hatch’s favorite justice. In my recent letter to Institute supporters I described her as the Irma Bunt of the federal bench. I hope this reference to Bond movies will not be too antiquated.

Or, I might have said something about NPR’s problems with the PBS board, which thinks NPR is too pro-Palestinian. As much as I would like to see both PBS and NPR defunded and out of business, this recent charge is a neoconservative fabrication. NPR policy is dominated by two factions: Jewish Zionist and Jewish leftist, and their struggle for power on the morning and evening news has insured fairly balanced reporting on the Middle East. Please note that the Bush appointees have no problem with the incessant anti-Christian, anti-Western, anti-American bias at both NPR and PBS. There is only one issue they care about, and it has nothing to do with the American interest.

Then there is the strange story of Newsweek’s story on the flushable Koran. I do not know if that particular detail was true, but after Abu Ghraib, I think we know that our interrogators will not let decency or moral scruples stand in the way of getting information. But even Rush Limbaugh got one little part of this story right. We let the Saudis tell us that our soldiers could not wear crosses or display the Scriptures during the First Gulf War; we let American movie and TV producers–advertisers on television–commit blasphemy night after night, but we are worried about an insult to a set of Scriptures that H.P. Lovecraft might have scribbled on a bad day.

No, I am not in fact in favor of travestying anyone’s rituals or insulting their holy books. Even as a means of interrogation in a life or death situation, such an action (while possibly necessary) would be disgusting. But even if the story is true, Newsweek’s story is completely out of bounds during a period of war and emergency. Any sensible person should have better sense than to stir up Islamic believers into further acts of rioting and terrorism. It is worse than shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, and while I am completely out of sympathy with the Bush administration’s bully little war, I should think that no normal or decent person would wish to stir up violent riots simply for the sake of selling more nasty little magazines.

Freedom of the press, indeed. I’d like some day to see all these smarmy lying reporters have to face the consequences of their actions. But that is what Hell is for, I suppose, and Hell will have its own section for those who report on humanitarian emergencies without lifting a finger to help because it could contaminate their objectivity. What a world, where a film maker is celebrated for documenting the miserable lives of brothel children to stir the prurient interests of western degenerates.

On that note, see you soon after May 1.

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