Monday, March 27, 2006

The artery is cut but the bathwater is warm...

One of the indelible scenes from one of my favorite childhood novels, Quo Vadis, is the death of the cynical Roman Petronius. He commits suicide by bathing in warm water and cutting open his arteries. He sips wine and tastes his last meal while his life blood drains away. It is both a horrible and very heartbreaking scene, because Petronius has such nobility and possibility. You want to save him! (Or, at least, I did.)

I am reminded of this scene when I read tales from Mexico such as this one from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

But the export of human labor has been devastating here. It has left the land dotted with near-ghost towns inhabited by the very old and the very young, their lives dependent on whatever money their relatives send home.

In fact the artery has been opened in Mexico and the lifeblood of this country is steadily running out to our own. The beautiful Mexican countryside is being emptied and the corrupt politicians of this land sip their wine and toast each other, uncaring of the increasingly red bathwater that soaks them.

The demonstrations in Los Angeles and elsewhere this weekend don't concern me as much as what happens in the great dying beast that is Mexico. Anyone and everyone who comes to this country sooner or later absorbs into our culture. Mexicans and their Christian, hard-working, family oriented ethos will benefit our country.

Yes, we are drinking from a firehose right now, but the water is clean and pure. These are good people (with the exception of the criminal microbes that inhabit any large number of people.) The influx of illegal immigrants should be slowed for our health and theirs, but our country seems to lack the political will to stop them. At least, I comfort myself, we are being overwhelmed by working folks who will work hard for a better life. But what is left behind...

In Mexico, the gates bang back and forth on the deserted corrals. The old men sit in the sun and the old women sweep the dust from the floors and the sound of children is no where heard. There is only silence. And silence. And silence.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Give War a Chance

That's the title of a very good P.J. O'Rourke book. It should also be the headline of the day, since American troops today freed some lefist, terrorist-loving, America-hating victims from the clutches of their captors.

This happened in Iraq; the "peacemakers" were over there to prove how horrible America is and found out, one of them fatally, that the terrorists didn't like them just because they hate America. Tom Fox's body was recently found dumped in Baghdad. He'd been tortured before he was murdered.

The website of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (which I won't link to) declares that their workers were "released." They weren't released. They were rescued by American soldiers who put their lives on the line to rescue these sad sacks from the clutches of evil.

I suppose we have to keep taking care of these people, the same way that doctors have to patch up gangsters who keep coming back to the emergency room with gunshot wounds. Our soldiers did a brave and heroic thing today, and won't be thanked by the people they saved. But I thank them with all my heart.

Monday, March 20, 2006

A Horse and His Boy

We're reading the Chronicles of Narnia as a family and we're on "The Horse and His Boy." (We sit down for an hour before bed and read out loud instead of watching tv.)

The Horse and His Boy is all about Islam, and what a great education this is for my kids. The "Calormene" people are deceitful, cruel, and corrupt. (What a glorious movie this would make, and so politically incorrect!)

Yet Aravis is a Muslim girl (er, a Calormene girl) and she is brave, resourceful and smart.

My kids are learning a valuable lesson with this novel, and without becoming bigots in the process. I despise the Islamic religion, but I do not despise the Islamic people. I have great hopes for them.

When I read the story about the brave Afghan man who is a Christian and might suffer death for his beliefs, (hat tip to Michelle Malkin) I know there is reason to hope. I hope that he can be saved by our government and can come to our country to live peacefully, but in the most important way he is already saved, isn't he?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Just like Hook: Old. Used Up. Done For.

William F. Buckley, the scion of the Conservative movement and founder of National Review, recently wrote an article titled: It Didn't Work. He contends in this short essay that we have failed in Iraq.

The conservative movement, thankfully, is based on principles and logic and is not a cult of personality.

Buckley, old boy east coast elitist to the bone, subscribes to the theory that the little brown people should be left alone to slaughter each other at will as long as we get our oil. This was the “benign neglect” aspect of foreign policy that held through every administration up to 9-11 and President Bush.

If you read President Bush’s speeches you’ll understand that he completely busted that paradigm and has been turning the enormous ship of state ever since. No longer shall we, the U.S., operate on the benign neglect policy.

Buckley doesn’t like that. He is like Hook on Peter Pan: Old. Used Up. Done For. Let the croc of irrelevancy swallow him up, because conservatives today understand that in order to conserve our very nation we are going to have to kick some ass and change some countries around.

The process is well on its way. The Iraqi people have rejected a civil war after the Askariya shrine in Samarra was bombed. There was a great deal of unrest, but the enemy wanted an all out collapse. They didn't get it.

William F. Buckley is not a leftist; far from it. He is simply old, used up, and done for. The world has passed him by and he is not willing to change to meet it. My father, who is older than Mr. Buckley and speaks without that hideous effete accent, is still vibrant, growing, changing and young. He recently gave up his decades-long subscription to National Review Magazine. "It just seems tired and bitter," he said to me.

I've met leftists who are in their twenties who are exhausted, bitter, angry and depressed. They also see the world is passing them by and they are unwilling to change. They cling to a philosophy which is stale and dead.

How sad that Mr. Buckley is one of those. But "Tomorrow is another day," as Scarlett O'Hara would say, and we can always hope that Mr. Buckley wakes up tomorrow and gets out of bed like my Dad; creaky, sometimes grumpy, but with a sense of purpose, optimism, and cheer.

Never, never Old. Used Up. Or Done For.

Friday, March 03, 2006

A monarchy no more

Freedom marches on; the latest heartening news is from Overland High School in Aurora, Colorado, where the out-of-control rant of leftie Geography teacher Jay Bennish was taped by a fed-up sixteen year old student. The rant, replayed, has turned the story into a national one and the teacher (one hopes) will soon be selling fries and shakes at Burger King.

The rants and rages of bad teachers are nothing new. We all resonate to this story, whatever our political beliefs, because we have all been held captive by a teacher who abused their authority. Who hasn't sat through a lecture wishing to challenge the teacher but knowing that your grade depended upon your submissive (and inwardly seething) silence?

Teachers have long known this, and the bad ones abuse it. The really bad ones use their authority and position to sexually abuse their students. Other bad ones use their position to indoctrinate their students into a political belief -- the mind-numbed, incoherent students of Overland High are a perfect example of children fed so much propaganda that they have no idea what an argument is, much less how to make one.

Public school and university teachers are the last bastion of monarchy; they reign in their kingdoms with the serfs of their classrooms helpless to challenge them. Upset the teacher, and your grade dives to a "D". Toady up, and you get an "A." (This is not true in the hard sciences, of course; your teacher can loathe you and if you know how to calculate the quadratic equation, they have to give you an "A." But then again, teachers in the hard sciences don't spend any time in indoctrination; they're too busy actually teaching.)

Now the monarchy is trembling on the throne. Any student with an IPOD or a cell phone or a cheap digital recorder can make public the king's madness, and prove to the disbelieving that yes, this is abuse.

The student at Overland High told his Dad about the teacher's ravings, and just like Roald Dahl wrote in Matilda, his parent did not believe him. But technology gave the boy the tool to prove to his father that the abuse was real. The teacher cowers in his home and the student stands astride the broken throne. Miss Trunchbull was driven from her school in a shower of leftover lunch food; one could only hope Jay Bennish meets the same fate.

Long live freedom. And may every teacher think twice before they spit their hatred and bias into the classroom. The students are serfs no more.