Monday, October 25, 2004

Nordlinger is Good Today

In his regular Impromptus column.

Let me begin with something apocalyptic. (Since when do you have a choice?) I think Nov. 2 will tell us a lot about the American people — and what it tells us may not be pretty. We are in a war, or at least we Bush supporters think we're in a war. It is an exceptionally difficult war, of a new type. What will it say about the Americans if, at this moment, they turn to John Kerry of Massachusetts?


Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Michael Moore are not supporting Kerry because they think he'll continue the War on Terror — certainly not because they think he'll do a better job of it. They are supporting him because they think he doesn't mean it. I bet they're right.

In my view, this election is not a contest to determine how we'll fight the War on Terror; it's a contest to determine whether we will fight it at all. And the decision made by the Americans will be fateful.


As I have said before, I wish this election weren't so important. But I'm afraid it is. If the Americans elected John Kerry in, oh, 1992 or 1996, that would be one thing. If they elect him in 2004 — that will tell us something disheartening.

A little story: Some time ago, England had what was called "the Metric Martyr." This was a fellow — a grocer or a butcher, I forget which — who sold his goods in imperial measures: pounds, ounces, etc. But because England is now beholden to Brussels, he was prosecuted for not using the metric system (hence, Metric Martyr).

I asked our senior editor David Pryce-Jones (a Brit), "How could the British people permit this? I mean, it's their system — the imperial system, or the English system — to begin with." David answered, "The British people wouldn't permit it. The question is whether they remain the British people."

I have thought about that story in the last few weeks.

After discussing several other topics, Nordlinger ends the column with this thought:

In last Thursday's Impromptus, I published a letter containing the old wisdom, "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he'll eat for life." Another reader wrote, "I think the more appropriate line about fishing is, 'Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he'll try to replace you with someone who'll give him fish every day.'"

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