At a ceremony marking the sixth anniversary of September 11, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick remarked that the murder of some 3,000 people by al Qaeda terrorists was a “mean and nasty and bitter attack” resulting from a “failure of human beings to understand each other and to learn to love each other.” He has since defended his remarks, telling a radio interviewer that, “I was taught in my church that all violent attack is a failure of human understanding.” The city of Boston, it ought to be remembered, played a tragic role in the attacks of September 11, as both planes that destroyed the World Trade Center had originated from Logan airport.
Governor Patrick’s rhetoric—”mean and nasty”—is more befitting a schoolmarm scolding a misbehaving second grader than a political leader condemning the worst attack ever on American soil. And it is more the language of a Cambridge city councilor than a governor. Thankfully, neither plays a role in the shaping of American foreign policy.
Taiwan’s rejection—for the fifteenth time in a row—by the agenda-setting committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations last Wednesday may well be seen, before too long, to have been a turning point. After all, who can believe that Taiwan will be turned down another fifteen times?
Chinese diplomats are nervous. They don’t want Taiwan even on the agenda, because they fear, correctly, that an open discussion might not go their way. They know that no one believes on principle that Taiwan should be excluded. Other countries are simply afraid of China.
How long can China continue to intimidate otherwise free-thinking nations? The answer is, not indefinitely.
Speaking in New York on the eve of the U.N. General Assembly annual session, French President Nicholas Sarkozy declared that a third round of sanctions against Iran was both desirable and likely. If the U.N. will not adopt a third resolution, Sarkozy suggested, the EU will: “Between surrender and war, there is a range of solutions that exist like the reinforcement of sanctions, which will eventually have an effect,” Sarkozy was quoted as saying. No war, clearly, though not surrender, either—a word that could describe Columbia University’s decision to host Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In yesterday’s “The Public Editor” column for the New York Times, Clark Hoyt informs us that the Times, after almost two weeks of insisting otherwise, now admits that it gave favorable treatment to the MoveOn.org ad defaming General David Petraeus—charging MoveOn.org $64,575 for the ad instead of the $142,083 MoveOn.org should have paid.
What a shocking revelation.
This afternoon, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke by invitation at Columbia University. (See Gabriel Schoenfeld’s post here.) Ahmadinejad has made clear that he considers the U.S. and Iran to be mortal enemies, and that the victory of Iran in the struggle between them is divinely ordained. This is to say nothing of his intention to develop a nuclear bomb, his genocidal attitude toward Israel, his denial of the Holocaust, and his blatant anti-Semitism and hatred of Christianity. In March 2005, the noted legal scholar Andrew McCarthy addressed in COMMENTARY the question of how far American legal protections of speech should extend toward our nation’s declared Islamist enemies. In “Free Speech for Terrorists?” he concludes that the First Amendment is not now and never has been a suicide pact.
As everybody’s favorite Holocaust denier, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, arrives in New York, two recent articles about Iranian activities deserve more attention than they’ve been getting.
This article reports on a convoy captured by NATO forces on September 6 in the western Afghan province of Farah, which borders Iran. The convoy was full of bombs of the kind that Iran has also been supplying to insurgents in Iraq. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. As the Washington Post account notes: “International forces captured two smaller shipments of sophisticated roadside bombs believed to be from Iran in April and May in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, a stronghold of the Taliban insurgency and one of the most violent areas in the country.”
How many American soldiers perished because the bomb built by Georg Elser to kill Adolf Hitler in a beer hall in Munich in November 1939 failed to go off on time and the dictator lived to prosecute the war he had launched two months earlier?
The number is known to precision: 292,131, including 31,215 from the state of New York, where Columbia University is located. The total number of casualties in that war–U.S. and foreign, Axis and Allied, military and civilian alike–is considerably higher: perhaps as many as 72 million.
On Friday, the world’s largest toymaker humbled itself before the world’s most populous communist state, a move that Kitty Pilgrim called “an unbelievable act of appeasement.” While Thomas Debrowski’s apology to Beijing may not have the same significance as Neville Chamberlain’s deal in Munich, the CNN anchor certainly had a point.
“Mattel takes full responsibility for these recalls and apologizes personally to you, the Chinese people and all of our customers who received the toys,” said Debrowski, Mattel’s executive vice president for worldwide operations, to Li Changjiang, the head of China’s product-safety agency. The California-based toymaker can’t be sorry enough when it comes to consumers, but the kowtow to Li and the Chinese people was a bit much. “It’s like a bank robber apologizing to his accomplice,” noted Senator Charles Schumer.
• It would be an understatement to say that Mary McCarthy’s novels haven’t aged well—I don’t know anyone without tenure who now reads them—and I can’t say that I get much out of her essays, either. But Memories of a Catholic Girlhood still has its admirers, myself (with reservations) among them, while the drama criticism that was collected in 1963 in a volume called Mary McCarthy’s Theatre Chronicles 1937-1962 hasn’t dated in the least. This trim little volume is still available in paperback, if only after a fashion—it was reissued a few years ago by the Authors Guild Back-in-Print Bookstore, a service of iUniverse, a print-on-demand publisher—but it deserves much wider circulation.
Theatre Chronicles is prefaced by a very funny essay in which McCarthy tells how a young Vassar graduate with no apparent qualifications other than the fact that she was sleeping with Philip Rahv came to be the drama critic of Partisan Review:
I was a source of uneasiness and potential embarrassment to the magazine, which had accpted me, unwillingly, as an editor because I had a minute “name” and was the girl friend of one of the “boys,” who had issued a ukase on my behalf. I was not a Marxist; I should have liked, rather, to be one, but I did not know the language, which seemed really like a foreign tongue….
The field assigned me was the theatre, because, just before this, I had been married to an actor. It was often debated whether we should have a theatre column at all. Some of the editors felt that the theatre was not worth bothering with, because it was neither a high art, like Art, nor a mass art, like the movies. But this was also an argument for letting me do it. If I made mistakes, who cared?