Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dark Humor: Nothing is Wasted in China 黑色幽默: 出名的中国式节约

Dark Humor: Nothing is Wasted in China 黑色幽默:出名的中国式节约


Back to the ’08 Olympics, &c. 重温北京奥运的教训

By Jay Nordlinger (Editor of National Review)

One of my great complaints — regular readers have heard it for a long time — is that no one ever goes back: No one ever reviews what was said, takes stock, etc. For example, a senator says, “If Ronald Reagan deploys those Pershings, we will have nuclear war!” Well, did we?

This is the great power of Mona Charen’s book Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got It Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First. She cites chapter and verse; and everyone is on the record, accountable. (To read my review of that book — published in a March 2003 National Review — go here.)

Why am I bringing all this up? Well, advocates of granting the Olympic Games to China all said that having the Games would force the PRC to liberalize. It would be good for human rights, people said. Even Chinese authorities themselves said that the Games would cause them to liberalize!

That was the great selling point.

And what happened? Not only did the Games not have a liberalizing effect; they had the opposite — moving the PRC to crack down all the more. I documented this extensively in a five-part series on this site last August. You can find it in my archive, here.

And just the other day, I saw this headline, from the Falun Dafa Information Center: “Fueled by Olympics, Falun Gong Persecution Escalated Sharply in 2008.” You’re darn right it did (and the relevant article is here).

Now, there’s nothing wrong with guessing, or arguing, and being wrong. It may have happened even to me one time. And it was possible that the Games would have a liberalizing effect (although I always thought that was a foolish guess, for reasons I detail in the above-mentioned series). In any case, the granting of the Games to Beijing set the cause of human rights back.

And it would be nice if some of the advocates of those Olympics — and there were millions of them — would simply say, “Oops: Turned out to be wrong.” Why should they say this? Because I think there should be Mao-style self-criticisms? No. Because I like to say “I told you so”? No. It just seems to me that, before we glide on, we should review, take stock, so as to prevent similar errors or misjudgments in the future.

Isn’t that elementary? (And elementary, as you know, is one of the specialties of this column.)

A grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini has said some interesting things — and the Middle East Media Research Institute, as usual, has relayed them (here). An interviewer asked Hossein Khomeini, “In your opinion, is the regime ruling Iran today exactly the same Islamic republic that Ayatollah Khomeini wished for?”

And he said, “No, we certainly did not want such a thing. The religious people did not want this, and the non-religious did not either. Only people who are mentally deviant could possibly want such a thing. Nobody else would want a regime that, in the name of Islam, challenges all the rights of the people, and, in many cases, tramples those rights underfoot.”

Of course, Ayatollah Khomeini planned a nightmare, for all of us: for as many as he could lay his hands on. And he plunged many millions into that nightmare. Still, interesting, what the grandson said.

On Saturday, I spotted a headline that said, “Good news on the ocean front for a change.” I thought, “Boy, Obama moves fast: He has been in office less than a month!” The article said,

Some Pacific Island countries are successfully protecting their reefs, haddock and scallops are recovering in New England waters, and a few types of whales are even making a comeback.

“The news today is that there is good news” for the oceans, Nancy Knowlton of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History told a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Friday.

That doesn’t mean that people no longer need to be concerned about the future of the oceans and sea life, but she said it is time to move beyond the obituaries and recognize there is also progress.

Well, he said he would heal the waters, and lo . . .

In many music reviews for the New York Sun (2002–08), I decried the practice of shushing in concert halls. Someone would clap at an inappropriate moment, or a cellphone would go off, and others would immediately shush: which I’ve always found worse — more disruptive, more annoying — than the original offense.

With this in mind, an old colleague from the Sun sent me an article from the Guardian, here. It begins, “Museum attendants should be stopped from ‘shushing’ children and displays should be hung low enough for youngsters to see properly, according to a manifesto to make museums more family-friendly published today.”

I dunno. I’ll have to think about it. Probably some children in museums deserve to be shushed . . .

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