February 01, 2005

Dead Certainties Indeed As is

Dead Certainties Indeed

As is his wont, dear reader, one of the junior editors here at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly”—let’s just call him “Chip”—was perusing the latest number of The New Republic. In said issue, he came across a review of a new collection of Isaiah Berlin’s letters, penned by Simon Schama, the University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University.

In the midst of his disquisition on Isaiah Berlin, Mr. Schama offers the following curious digression:

The naïve fancy that one-size-fits-all democracy could be transported from the Potomac to the Tigris, or that any sort of system of ideas could be held to be objectively “timeless” and thus deliverable independently of specific cultural circumstances, or that a major war might be fought on such deeply mistaken premises, would have filled him [Isaiah Berlin] with foreboding and grim disbelief.

To which we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” respond: For crying out loud! Has the Left grown so obsessed with the liberation of Iraq that it absolutely can’t stop nattering on about it, regardless of its appropriateness?

And how can Mr. Schama—whose discussion of the benefits of bringing democracy to Iraq leaves much to be desired—magically intuit the thoughts of a dead man? Has Mr. Schama conducted a séance?

If Mr. Schama is truly psychic, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” eagerly desire to know what Isaiah Berlin’s thoughts are on the upcoming Superbowl. We have a hunch that Isaiah Berlin favors the Patriots; is that correct, Mr. Schama?

Naturally, dear reader, Mr. Schama’s digression is pathetic. As if he couldn’t find enough living intellectuals to discredit the Iraq war, he has to dredge up a deceased fellow to solidify his prejudices.

This all made us, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” wonder: What other dead people would be opposed to the liberation of Iraq? Although we don’t pretend to possess Mr. Schama’s sixth sense, we have come up with this short list of historical figures who, were they alive today, would blithely join the ranks of International A.N.S.W.E.R.

“The Hatemonger’s Quarterly” Official List of Dead People Who Would Not Support the Iraq War

1. Attila the Hun: He wasn’t much for democracy.

2. Napoleon Bonaparte: France didn’t lead it. Plus, Dominique de Villepin opposed it.

3. Helen Keller: She couldn’t see the benefits.

4. Ed Asner: Okay, he’s not dead, but his acting career is.

5. Peter Paul Rubens: We just have a hunch on this one.

6. Irving Berlin: He figured if Isaiah were against it, he might as well oppose it too.

UPDATE: Dear reader, we are delighted to share with you an e-mail the late Isaiah Berlin sent to Simon Schama, and forwarded along to us. We think that it certainly puts Mr. Schama in his place.

To: Simon Schama
From: Isaiah Berlin
Re: The Liberation of Iraq

Dear Prof. Schama,

Although I am currently deceased, I thought it very important to write to you. I have recently read your review of a portion of my correspondence in The New Republic, and I was mortified (so to say) by your granting me an official position on the Iraq war.

As an assiduous reader of my works, you should know that I have refrained from commenting on political matters since my death. As such, I am deeply dismayed by your claims.

Can’t you pick on Gore Vidal? Isn’t he still alive?

Isaiah Berlin

PS: I love “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly.” It’s my favorite blog. Why didn’t you mention that in your review?

Posted at February 1, 2005 12:01 AM | TrackBack