Thursday, April 4

Some of the Barbarians are Inside the Gate

This is just an unabashed rant. As there is very little chance of anyone reading it here who hasn't already read it elsewhere, you are forewarned.



As America's indomitable President dusts the pretzel-crumbs from his collar and sets about mustering the troops in preparation for the next stage of his country's defense of the civilized world, I wonder if I am the only person feeling left out. How many of you, like me, have heard the increasingly plangent call to arms of the atavistic warrior within and, frustrated, cried "What can I do? How can I, but a humble student, do my part to defend the civilized world?" Well, despair no more. I am here to inform you that there is a war to be fought on the home front, with glory enough for all. The walls of the civilized world are under attack from within as well as from without, and we can each do our part in defending them from the savages who blithely would tear them down. Space being limited, I will offer but a few examples.

Savage: The pervasive mispronunciation of the titles of Oscar-nominated movies "Moulin Rouge" and "Amélie." Yes they are foreign words, and yes it is fair to wonder why we should be concerned with offending the sensibilities of a people whose history of ignoble collaborations predates the Olympic figure skating competition, but it really should not be too much to insist that average Americans, let alone the irredeemably savage Mary Hart, get it right.

Savage: Multiple facial piercings (a word, I am pleased to discover, that is not recognized by my spellchecking program). I once heard an excessively pierced man on the television explain that he liked getting a new piercing because "the pain reminds him that he is alive." That is a long, long way from "Cotigo, ergo sum."

Savage: The peculiar habit, exhibited by many otherwise unobjectionable people, of taking milk with their coffee after breakfast.

Savage: The Reverend (sic) Al Sharpton's nascent bid for the Presidency (and his shameless epigoni, who support it).

Savage: S.U.V. owners. I support the freedom of choice as enthusiastically as the next man, but I ask you, in all seriousness, what is someone in New York City thinking when he purchases an S.U.V.? (And I use the term "purchase" in the loosest sense as, judging by the scruffiness of the average driver, not many of these cars are being bought with ready money.) Beyond the obvious lapses in common sense and aesthetics that such a purchase betrays, how do these same people, who have just acquired a vehicle less fuel efficient than the Q.E. II, have the gall then to complain about high gas prices? I pray nightly to the God who smote the firstborn of the Egyptians that somehow these urban carbuncles (unfortunately, pun intended) are irradiating their drivers, rendering them mercifully sterile and of no danger to posterity.

This severely abridged list (sadly, I could go on, and on, and on) might easily be dismissed as the vain "O tempora! O mores!" of a young man grown old before his time. Fair enough. But at least I will sleep easier knowing that I have tried to do my bit on behalf of civilization.