The Long View 2005-12-08: Coulter, Warren, Rice, Brooks, Noonan & That Spengler

Monty Python's The Life of Brian came up in response to John Reilly's review of Anne Rice's Out of Egypt. It never gets old.


Coulter, Warren, Rice, Brooks, Noonan & That Spengler

 

Students Against Hate seem to have not so much shouted down Ann Coulter during her recent attempt to give an address at the University of Connecticut as to have out-amplified her:

STORRS -- Music that seemed to come from somewhere in the raucous audience that packed the Jorgensen Center at the University of Connecticut Wednesday night brought Ann Coulter's speech to an abrupt end about 15 minutes after she started.

On the other hand, she was able to conduct a question-and-answer session:

"I love to engage in repartee with people that are a lot stupider than I am," she said.

Now there's invective for you.

Granted, we'd be living in a cartoon if that was the only public discourse we had, but some recent remarks by David Warren should give us pause about the kind of world we'd be living in if we actually succeeded in shutting people like Ann Coulter up:

Christ also taught "forgiveness". But forgiveness, and toleration, are hardly interchangeable ideas. They are, rather, directly in conflict: and the latter leaves no room for the former. We cannot forgive what we don't think wrong. Yet if it is indeed wrong, it requires forgiveness.

I challenge my reader to think this through over the next week, in this Advent season, while I'll be away. To think about how cold and mean a society becomes, when toleration is raised to its only moral standard, and the whole possibility of forgiveness is consequently withdrawn.

The smartest thing ever said by a fictional Antichrist was said by the one in Monsignor Hugh Benson's variously appalling novel, Lord of the World:

One does not forgive; one simply understands.

Smart, but lethal.

* * *

Speaking of eschatology, I just finished reading Anne Rice's novel about Jesus as a child, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. My review is here. I very much liked the book. Yes, it is possible to describe daily life in first-century Palestine without the story becoming a Monty Python routine (what have the Romans ever done for us?) or turning into the Longest Story Ever Told.

A word about that review, though. At the end of the book, Anne Rice discusses her research, some of which touches on slightly obscure areas of theology I know a little about. Not as much as I thought, however. I uploaded the review last night, but, partly in response to a reader's question (thanks, Tom!) I had to add a sentence of correction this morning.

I had forgotten the distinction between preterism and hyper-preterism.

I'm such a scatter brain.

* * *

Moving on to the New Dispensation, David Books in today's New York Times has a column, "Running Out of Steam," about the implosion of the Republican Party. Here's a line worthy of Ann Coulter:

When conservatism was a movement of ideas, it attracted oddballs; now that it’s the movement with power, it attracts sleazeballs.

More substantively, he notes the perverse genius of a political leadership whose primary support comes from the most financially risk-adverse segment of the population (people with incomes between $30K and $50K) but who nonetheless propose to reform Social Security by making the participants bear more of the risk. In any case, Brooks sees hope:

The good news is that we are about to enter a political season with no obvious conservative standard bearer, leaving plenty of room for innovation. Also, the current conservative crisis has produced some new thinking. A few weeks ago, two young writers, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam (my former assistant), unveiled a fresh conservative agenda in a Weekly Standard essay called “The Party of Sam’s Club.” These writers, 26 and 25 years old, are closer to the future than the party leaders.

Does that last sentence mean, "They are closer to the future than they are to the party leaders?" or "They are closer to the future than the party leaders are?" In either case, I have discussed that article previously. Now we know who is in cahoots with whom.

* * *

More harsh words for the Republican leadership, though not so harsh as what Ann Coulter could come up with if she had a mind to, come from Peggy Noonan:

Again: What does it mean when your first act is to break the laws of your new country? What does it mean when you know you are implicitly supported in lawbreaking by that nation's ruling elite? What does it mean when you know your new country doesn't even enforce its own laws? What does it mean when you don't even have to become an American once you join America?

Actually, my own experience of people who were once illegals but who have regularized their immigration status is that they are pretty patriotic. The disturbing thing is that they usually come from countries where the law is a joke or an obstacle course for honest folk. The immigration system suggests to newcomers that the US is no different.

* * *

If you need another precursor of Antichrist, That Spengler at Asia Times has a candidate for you:

Until Mahmud Ahmedinejad's ascent...no Islamist leader had emerged with the cunning and capacity to exploit the West's confusion. Iran seemed the least likely venue for Islamist leadership. With 15% inflation and 11% unemployment, Iran seemed vulnerable in early 2005 - almost as vulnerable, one might add, as Germany was in early 1933 when Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor. [Western analysts were surprised by Ahmedinejad's rise to power because they] ignored the groundswell of support from the rural poor and the Tehran slums that gave Ahmedinejad an overwhelming margin of victory in the June presidential elections. It took the new president just a few months to put paid to dissidents and moderates, placing hundreds of his Revolutionary Guard comrades in the key positions of Iran's bureaucracy, and purging 40 ambassadors from the diplomatic corps. Hitler was no more ruthless in consolidating power during the weeks following his ascension to the Kanzleramt in March 1933.

That Spengler (what is the fellow's name?) has joined the ranks of those who think that Iran is the chief winner of the Iraq War, because of the close ties between Shia southern Iraq and Shia Iran. I think this is unlikely to be the case: Qom and Najaf are not quite Geneva and Rome, but the relationship is not such that the Iraqi dog would consent to be wagged by the Iranian tail; rather the opposite, if anything.

Then there is the fact that Iranian techs are probably assembling a nuke even as I write this. The existence of a nuclear Iran would force a post-occupation Iraq, and indeed the rest of the region, to maintain fairly close ties with the United States. Had a Baathist regime remained in Baghdad, the situation really would be hopeless.

Copyright © 2005 by John J. Reilly

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