Thursday, May 03, 2007
The Oxford Union
A roomful of twits.
BRITS. Let me get this straight. The most elite rhetorical society of the United Kingdom, the Oxford Union, actually put forward this proposition for debate: "This House regrets the founding of The United States of America."
The National Review's Jonah Goldberg led the opposition, and his argument is detailed here in all its witty details. I like Jonah Goldberg. He's smart, well read, funny, unpretentious, irreverent, and acute. The transcript of his debate performance only confirms all these impressions.
BUT. He participated. He participated in this ridiculous charade.
I'm not saying he didn't make salient arguments. At one point he said:
(O)n the off chance that there are some in the room who do not get the joke, or -- worse -- that someone here isn't kidding, let me make a few brief points.
First, there is no objection my honorable opponents could make to the existence of America that could not be made about the existence of Great Britain herself.
At least two of these men reject the Enlightenment. And I'm not talking about the French one. But the good one from Scotland. (When it comes to Enlightenments, as Michael Meyers says in So I Married an Ax Murderer -- "if it's not Scottish, it's crap.")
Excellent. He should have sat down after that. But he didn't. He continued to participate. He clearly fails to understand the underlying philosophy of Scottish enlightenment, which is this: Reason with those who can be reasonable; ignore everyone else until they can't be ignored any longer, then kill them.
Here's the argument that never had to be made to a bunch of sodomite twits at the world's most effete university:
Mickey Mantle had a father -- a cruel, controlling SOB who wanted to redeem his lost youth by having a superstar son. Mickey Mantle was great. No one remembers his father. The proposition put forward by the Oxford Union is akin to a lawsuit by Mantle Senior arguing that Mickey should never have been born because the son so eclipsed the father. Such a lawsuit would be dismissed by every court in the U.S. and the U.K. Yes, there was a time when the father had guts and smarts, but that time is long gone (l-o-o-o-o-ng gone), and the mere fact that he is bringing suit against his own son proves it beyond doubt. He's nothing but a failed has-been seeking second-hand celebrity for feats he only wishes he could have accomplished himself. Case closed.
I can forgive Jonah because it's always fun to be the American in the most British of assemblies. There's no other setting -- apart from visiting France or Germany -- that so swells the chest with a pride that gleams from sea to shining sea. It's doubly rewarding to experience this feeling in black tie, with champagne at the ready, amidst the sepulchral vaults housing Britain's liveliest and deadest intellects.
BUT. Jonah shouldn't have participated. He knows it. We console him for his entirely justified embarrassment.