Millions for Tribute

That imperial anthem, the hymn of the U.S. Marine Corps, is today somehow an obscure exercise.  The halls of Montezuma? The shores of Tripoli?  Our gum-popping, Gucci-schlepping youth can no more respond to its referential difficulties than could the Ivy League-credentialed savants of the War Party.  What’s more, the pseudopatriots would be shocked to know that the music to the hymn was written by a croaking frog, Jacques Offenbach, for his opera bouffe, Genevieve de Brabant, in 1868.

Our latest Bush-directed engagement with another host of wogs may have the benefit of stimulating some historical reflection, such as that Mesopotamia, a.k.a. “Iraq,” has been called the Cradle of Civilization, and for good reason.  Another reflection is that our country has had some experience in dealing with violent Muslims, and we would do well to recall what has been so elaborately forgotten (or, I should say, erased).  And it is just at this point that Richard B. Parker, diplomat and professor, has made such a useful contribution.

Mr. Parker has served as ambassador to Algeria, Lebanon, and Morocco and taught at the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University, among other institutions.  His sense of the past and of cultural distinctions is both practical and academic, and he has brought this sense to bear most effectively is this latest of his books. ...

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