And a point.
Everyone I know is asking me why we are going to bomb Syria. There is a rarely a simple answer to such questions, but if we look closely at the would-be bombers--the leaders of Turkey and France for example, perhaps we can gain some insight. The latest coalition of the willing might be more accurately described as the conspiracy to kill Christians. Erdogan and his party have two reasons for hating the Assad regime. The more obvious reason is the Syrian downing of a Turkish "training flight" in 2012. Although relations have been strained by Erodogan's Islamist tendencies, Turkey has been an ally of the US and Israel for a long time, and, therefore, we have no reason to suppose that the Syrians did not have excellent reasons for shooting down a plane that had violated its air space during a period of armed civil conflict in Syria. Besides, Erdogan and his supporters have been quietly pursuing an Islamist revolution in Turkey that will take some time but ultimately head them in the direction of Iran--the same direction in which the Syrian rebels will take their country. In France, Hollande may simply want to appease the Muslims, but who knows?
We don't have to wonder about the motives of good old Dave Cameron, since he is even more eager than Tony Blair--formerly the CIA's man at Number 10--to curry favor with the warlords in Washington. That Christians will be the chief victims of a rebel victory is of no interest to Cameron or Hollande. As for our own President, one would have hoped that his manifest weakness and cowardice would have taught him not to attempt to play the man or indulge his anti-Christian resentments, but, with the taste of Bin Laden's blood still on his tongue, he may want more. From what I have read, the slaughter of innocent people is better than Viagra. Don't look for rational reasons, because there are none.
Down in Georgia, the trial of a black man accused of murdering a white baby in a stroller is coming to an end. The same people who keep asking me about Syria have also pestered me about the Brunswick case. "Why isn't there more media coverage? After all the deliberate murder of a baby is a lot more outrageous than the worst allegations against George Zimmerman?" No, I tell them, the media are right not to cover this "dog bites man" story. Young black males in America are constantly killing whites--whenever they are not killing each other--and the brutality of shooting a mother and her baby over a little money is everyday stuff.
It is 91 in Rockford and quite humid, too uncomfortable to think about unpleasant subjects. I've been lackadaisically reading Il Purgatorio and was struck by Dante's statement that even when the Church has condemned an enemy, he may by repentance find salvation. It's something to bear in mind the next time some leftist priest sends you to Hell for opposing open immigration. Speaking of poets, Seamus Heaney has died. I tried to like him, read this and that, and he did me a small favor once, but the repeated statement that he is the greatest Irish poet since Yeats is a bit much to take for anyone who has read Patrick Kavanagh. If someone can put me onto a really memorable and unprosaic poem of Heaney, I'd be grateful.
It is too hot even for verse. When not reading seriously for projects--the history of Pisa, for example, or studies of kinship--I've been rotting my brain on early 20th century detective fiction, especially R. Austin Freeman. This week I am tacking a novel of Robert Machray (free on Kindle!). The Mystery of Lincoln's Inn.
Evenings, unable to read until going to bed, I've sunk to watching videos several nights a week. We've been following the old series on Edward VII with fine performances by the actors playing statesmen (Michael Hordern as Gladstone, John Gielgud as Disraeli). We're also going back to revisit Commissario Montalbano in preparation for the release of four more episodes in September. We watched a pretty good Will Rogers movie a few nights ago--Life Begins at Forty--though Will looks closer to 60. A nice performance by John Ford regular Jane Darwell, who also plays in a film I watched last night as my wife was preparing for a small dinner party we are having this evening, namely, A Life at Stake, with a wonderful performance by Angela Lansbury as an evil but vulnerable femme fatale. She's no Jane Greer but well worth watching.
I've run out of paragraphs to fill but thought I'd offer the opinion that for anyone with even a fraction of an education or a particle of real human experience, the only feeling one can have for the millennial chatting everywhere about Miley Cyrus and her twerking is profound pity. More on this later, but after reading headlines about one more Disney star seeking fame by acting ghetto, I accidentally ran into a piece on, I think, the Huffington Post about a married woman who decided to have sexual relations once a day to get over her aversions. I don't know whom to pity more, the would-be sex toy or her husband or the readers of such stuff.
Thomas Fleming is the former editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of The Politics of Human Nature, Montenegro: The Divided Land, and The Morality of Everyday Life, named Editors' Choice in philosophy by Booklist in 2005. He is the coauthor of The Conservative Movement and the editor of Immigration and the American Identity. He holds a Ph.D. in classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Rockford Institute, he taught classics at the University of Miami of Ohio, served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, and was headmaster at the Archibald Rutledge Academy. He has been published in, among others, The Spectator (London), Independent on Sunday (London), Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Review, Classical Journal, Telos, and Modern Age. He and his wife, Gail, have four children and four grandchildren.