Have an Opinion: Your Bra Bomb Better Work, Nerdlinger!

Over at the National Review, they’ve given idiot-at-large Jay Nordlinger a column called “Impromptus”, in which he jots down his half-formed mental emissions.  As with most such random-thoughts columns, you get what you pay for.  Let’s watch!

It was interesting to read Kate Trinko’s piece on Michele Bachmann and learn that the congresswoman had been a foster mother to 23 kids — 23 teenage girls. I thought, “Yeah, those heartless conservatives: never giving a fig about humanity.”

This is a traditional defense of the social Darwinism of the right:  look at how kind they are!  They have retarded kids; they adopt Vietnamese orphans; they help little old ladies across the street.  This is supposed to exculpate them for enacting policies which brutalize the working class and opposing any attempt to provide a safety net for the poor.  Lewis Hastings observed that “the possession of a highly social conscience about large-scale issues is no guarantee whatever of reasonable conduct in private relations”, and the reverse is also true, as Jay predicts, and he counters with this bizarre homily:

Do you know this old line? “A Marxist is someone who loves humanity in groups of one million or more.”

Only among the market evangelists of the right could caring about lots of people instead of just a select few be looked at as a vice.  Jay now moves on to the Goldstone retraction, over which the pro-Israel lobby has been having a field day.  No, he does not hesitate to bust out the right’s favorite trope when discussing their best buddies in the Middle East:

Goldstone, in his infamous report on Gaza, did a terrible, terribly damaging thing. He did it to Israel and the world. This was little short of blood libel.

The key element of Goldstone’s retraction is that the Israeli Army, during “Operation Cast Lead”, did not, as he initially reported, deliberately target civilians.  Not retracted:  that the Israeli Army has targeted civilians in the past; that Palestinian civilians have died in vastly higher numbers than Israelis over the decades; that during the most recent Gaza hostilities, Palestinian casualties outweighed Israeli ones by more than 100:1.  So, well done, Jay!   A real moral triumph for your side.  His mind then wanders, goodness knows why, to a book published nine years ago:

I remember when Martin Amis published his book Koba the Dread, about Stalin. This was in 2002. A lot of people said, “Gee, Stalin was bad? A mass murderer? A monster? Martin Amis recognizes that now? A little late, don’t you think? What will he next say, that the bubonic plague was unfortunate?” My view was a little different. I thought it was good that such a “cool,” stylish, and acclaimed novelist had made a statement about Stalin and Communism. There are lots of people willing to listen to Amis who are not willing to listen to — well, me, or you.  I thought the book was welcome.  Consider that Britain’s favorite historian, E. J. Hobsbawm, who is perhaps the English-speaking world’s favorite, or most honored, historian, too, is an outright apologist for Stalin and his crimes.

Since it is an article of faith on the right that anyone expressing an opinion to the left of Dwight Eisenhower is an “apologist for Stalin and his crimes”, it’s understandable that someone like Nordlinger would express joy that even a relatively conservative artist like Martin Amis would stand bravely against Uncle Joe, even though many on what would now be considered the radical left were denouncing Stalin as far back as the 1930s, when it was a tad more risky.  As for Hobsbawm, he has called Stalin’s crimes “shameful and beyond palliation, let alone justification”, but he has insisted on remaining a Marxist, which means he might as well have personally dispatched all those poor kulaks to Siberia.  Now, it’s on to a favorite hypocrisy of the right; discussing the recent harassment of Ai Weiwei, Nordlinger bloviates thusly:

Yes, that’s what they do: beat and detain, and worse. Countless anonymous people are bludgeoned by the regime in Beijing…But, hell, the Chinese government holds in prison the current Nobel peace laureate, Liu Xiaobo, and who cares about this? Not long ago, the 2009 Nobel peace laureate — Barack Obama — fêted in the White House the jailers and persecutors of the 2010 peace laureate. Great, just great.

Never mind that the man who opened up relations with China (during a period when its government was infinitely more brutal than it is today) was Richard Nixon.  Never mind that every president from that point on has engaged in marshmallow-soft diplomacy with the crypto-fascist government in Beijing.  Never mind that the huge multinationals, at whose feet the right wing worships and on whose behalf their politicians shower endless tax breaks, all do vast amounts of big-money business with China, the proceeds of which help support the government that beats and detains Ai Weiwei and Liu Xiaobo.  The sole person responsible for the evils of the yellow peril is whatever Democrat happens to be occupying the White House.

You have read that Media Matters, the Soros-funded group, has announced a campaign of “guerrilla warfare and sabotage” against Fox News…Imagine what the reaction would be if a conservative group announced “guerrilla warfare and sabotage” against a left-leaning network (which is to say, pretty much all the others). Wouldn’t the media at large condemn this as an attack on the free press?

Gosh, Jay!  Imagine if that happened!  Finally, let’s engage in a fun little fantasy about immigration with ol’ Nerdlinger:

Went to a newsstand, here in New York. Young fellow manning it — looked about 18. Bright-eyed, smiling, handsome. Slight accent. Obviously an immigrant. Dad or uncle must own the newsstand. The kid had before him a science textbook, which he was studying between sales.  I thought, “This is something wonderful about America, something that recurs generation after generation.” I think it’s possible to be so appalled by illegal immigration, and the failure of the political class to do anything about it, that one forgets the glory of legal and sensible immigration.

Let’s leave aside for a moment that Jay assumes that anyone with even a slight accent must be an immigrant, because all native-born Americans talk like Don Draper.  Is there anything in this narrative that suggests that the kid is a legal immigrant (and therefore worthy of praise, unlike those appalling illegals)?  Well, he is bright-eyed, smiling, handsome, and studious, after all.  Unless he believes that all illegal immigrants are dark-eyed, frowning, grotesque and lazy, of course, his assumption that the kid is the product of the glorious tradition of legal immigration is just based on the fact that he likes the kid.  But he might be thrown into a panic by the thought there might be plenty of illegals, bright of eye and fond of chemistry, manning taco trucks and cab stands, takes away a favorite element of the moral panic that forms half the Republican platform.  So he invents this back-story.  I imagine it’s exhausting, having to constantly carry around these fictions in your head, but such is the burden of punditry.

4 SHOTS LICKED so far.

  1. Matt
    04/10/2011 at 1:38 AM

    Fantastic piece Leonard. I love your political pieces. Kudos again. Did you ever read much Lewis Lapham? You remind me of him in a good way.

    • LP
      04/11/2011 at 1:42 AM

      Yeah, Lapham’s writing was a huge influence on me.

  2. Eddie C.
    04/10/2011 at 9:03 AM

    Good article, Leonard, but it does seem like shooting fish in a barrel, as they say, to take down someone as ridiculous as this. Still, someone has to do it, I guess, and you do it very well!

    • LP
      04/11/2011 at 1:46 AM

      Nordlinger is the senior editor of a high-circulation national magazine, a former speechwriter for the President of the United States, and an award-winning journalist. It’s not my fault he’s so stupid.

REPLY





%d bloggers like this: