Belmont Club

The email inbox

The email inbox has been busy this last few days. Many of the messages have a common theme. From Yaacov Ben Moshe, there’s a reflection on the 1930s movie Duck Soup. “In this 1933 Marx Brothers film, the mythical country of Freedonia is broke and on the verge of revolution. Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont), Freedonia’s principal benefactress, will lend the country 20 million dollars if the president withdraws and places the government in the hands of the “fearless, progressive” Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx). At his inauguration, Firefly shows up late, insults everyone in sight, and sings a song about how he intends to abuse his power. Naturally, the crowd cheers wildly.”  Illusion is a powerful concept.  And it is sometimes hard to tell whether what’s before us is hope or illusion.

Real hope is cheerful. Illusion often contains the hidden promise of being able to revenge oneself on others. What the illusionist never explains is that the man in the mirror will return the favor. The ever cheerful Stephen Green sent me an email — in the first mass email he has ever sent — with a jauntily defiant message, linked to his blog, suggesting that while he’s not afraid of hope, he misgives illusion. “If (when?) Obama is elected, by my estimation there’s an at least even chance that the newly-reconstructed FCC will reverse course and attempt to apply the New Fairness Doctrine to blogs. If (when?) it happens, I’ll break that law. I will break it with all due malice and in full knowledge of the possible consequences. I’ll shout ‘Fire Obama!’ in a crowded theater. And then, for the first time ever, I’ll ask for reader donations. Because I’ll going to need them, lots of them, to pay for the lawyers. But that law, should it pass, will not stand.” Some people doubt that there’s a “Coming Counterrevolution To Hush The Alternative Media” but after Mark Steyn and the “human rights” tribunals, maybe it’s best not to be too sure.

But if the email inbox was full of worry, it was short on prescriptions for action. Maybe it is better, rather than simply rail against the unfairness of the MSM, to cancel your subscription to Time, if you still have it, and redirect it to the Stephen Green defense fund. More generally someone should set up a blogger defense fund and we should all redirect our subscriptions there. People with no money (and there are probably quite a few of those) can do other things: write books, plays and songs or network.  Even people with no talent at all should live fearlessly and well. That was always the greatest act of rebellion of all.

The difference between hope and illusion is that hope is natural. It springs from life, while illusion, on the other hand, springs from manipulation. Michael Totten put his finger on the difference when he observed that the world of the street was often not the world of the newspaper headline.  “Kosovo is the fourth country I’ve visited where the UN has or has had a key role, and in only one of them – Lebanon – is the UN not despised by just about everyone. In Lebanon the UN has so little power to make a difference one way or the other that any anger at the institution would largely be pointless.” Whenever you see the thousands of kids dancing for Kim Jong Il, remember that most of them probably hate him, or will in a few years.

What will tomorrow bring? Have no fear. It will be what we make it.