Peggy Noonan today:
A great question for the future: Will Mr. Putin ever respect an American president again? He knows our political situation, knows we're a 50-50 nation, would assume we're blocked from consensus barring unusual circumstances such as a direct attack. He's not impressed by our culture or our economy. He might also make inferences from America's demographic shifts. If we are a more non-European nation than we were 30 years ago, might he think us less likely to be engaged by -- and enraged by -- unfortunate dramas playing out in Europe?Right -- we might have the guts as a nation to stand up to that guy if we weren't overrun with all those black and brown people.
I'm Italian. Noonan's Irish. Following this logic, it's the ancestry of people like us that explains why America in the past several decades has been so eager to launch wars in ... um ... Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Grenada, Vietnam, and Korea.
Elsewhere in the column, Noonan cites this as one of the "things that for me capture the moment and our trajectory":
the title of Tom Wolfe's most recent book, "Back to Blood." He was referring to tribalism, ethnicity, the enduring call of clan. But also just blood. Another enduring and even re-emergent force in human affairs.James Wood wrote a vicious takedown of Wolfe in The New Yorker when that novel came out. Here's what Wood wrote about the title:
The phrase "back to blood" is not new in Wolfe's work, either. It is characteristic shorthand for his conservative paranoia, and occurs early in "The Bonfire of the Vanities." The white mayor of New York is heckled by an angry crowd in Harlem. "Hymie!" and "Goldberg!" are tossed at him. He catches the eye of a sympathetic African-American woman, whose look seems to say, "What can I do?" The mayor tells himself, "They'll go after black people like her next. They'll be happy to do it! She knows that. But the good people are intimidated! They don't dare do a thing! Back to blood! Them and us!" Surveying the mayhem, the mayor imagines a soliloquy, a Wolfean trumpet blast: "Come down from your swell co-ops, you general partners and merger lawyers! It's the Third World down there! Puerto Ricans, West Indians, Haitians, Dominicans, Cubans, Colombians, Hondurans, Koreans, Chinese, Thais, Vietnamese, Ecuadorians, Panamanians, Filipinos, Albanians, Senegalese, and Afro-Americans! Go visit the frontier, you gutless wonders!"Is this what Noonan has in mind? It would be irresponsible not to speculate.