George Carlin wasn”t funny.
His “jokes” about the Catholic Church were juvenile truisms. On other topics, his “brilliant” observations barely approach cheap birthday-card standards.
Carlin’s ingenuity had nothing to do with words and everything to do with image. His career only took off when he swapped one Catskills uniform for another, trading his necktie for tie-dye.
His “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television“ was a groundbreaking original routine based on an official Federal Communications Commission list of forbidden utterances. It’s a routine Carlin was prosecuted for performing, leading to a court case that changed the American cultural landscape in general, the broadcasting industry in particular, and nothing I just typed is actually true.
Carlin lifted the routine from Lenny Bruce. The FCC never kept such a list. Carlin was arrested once for performing the bit onstage, which simply burnished his counterculture cred. (See “Lenny Bruce,” above.)
In 1973, a parent sued a radio station after it aired “Seven Words…” in the middle of the day, because Lord knows not much else worth worrying about was going on in America that year. The eventual Supreme Court (!) decision in Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica Foundation called Carlin’s routine “indecent but not obscene,” (?) reauthorized the FCC to “prohibit such broadcasts during hours when children were likely to be among the audience” (duh)”and, I hope, led an American taxpayer or two to wonder what this five-year-long litigious and bureaucratic pissing contest had cost them.
It didn”t cost Carlin a dime”and he reaped the publicity dividends until his death decades later.
Some sports franchises earn more revenue from merchandise than ticket sales. Likewise, Detroit car companies are now behemothic pension funds that manufacture the occasional unwanted automobile as a quaint sideline. Now consider the FCC: It’s a more efficient publicity machine than any actual talent agency. More seriously, any role it may have once played in “upholding community standards” and policing the airwaves is, like it or not, obsolete.
The Federal Communications Commission is “an independent agency of the United States government,” which sounds almost as comical as “obscene but not indecent.” Less funny is its $300-million-plus annual budget, and its mandate to”well, who knows anymore?
Established as a kind of hall monitor of radio (and now TV) broadcasting, the FCC’s “mission and strategy“ as of 2006 is to ensure that “all Americans…have affordable access to robust and reliable broadband products and services” (?!) and to guarantee that the nation’s “media regulations” will “promote competition and diversity””something that “regulations” have always been super-duper good at doing.
Oh, and once in a while, the FCC yells at someone for something. Remember when Janet Jackson’s pastie-covered nipple peeked out during her Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show with Justin Timberlake? (Sorry. Had you finally forgotten?)
The FCC fined CBS $550,000 for airing this “wardrobe malfunction.” The fine was later tossed out, but not before hack pundits mused about “censorship” for millions of (uncensored) words on end, a bunch of lawsuits were launched, settled and appealed, and other boring things happened that I”m too lazy to read about.
“The worst mistake of my presidency,” said Ronald Reagan of his decision to put Marines into the middle of Lebanon’s civil war, where 241 died in a suicide bombing of their barracks.
And if Barack Obama plunges into Syria’s civil war, it could consume his presidency, even as Iraq consumed the presidency of George W. Bush.
Why would Obama even consider this?
Because he blundered badly. Foolishly, he put his credibility on the line by warning that any Syrian use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” and be a “game changer” with “enormous consequences.”
Not only was this ultimatum unwise, Obama had no authority to issue it. If Syria does not threaten or attack us, Obama would need congressional authorization before he could constitutionally engage in acts of war against Syria. When did he ever receive such authorization?
Moreover, there is no proof Syrian President Bashar Assad ever ordered the use of chemical weapons.
U.S. intelligence agencies maintain that small amounts of the deadly toxin sarin gas were likely used. But if it did happen, we do not know who ordered it.
Syrian officials deny that they ever used chemicals. And before we dismiss Damascus’ denials, recall that an innocent man in Tupelo, Miss., was lately charged with mailing deadly ricin to Sen. Roger Wicker and President Obama. This weekend, we learned he may have been framed.
It is well within the capacity of Assad’s enemies to use or fake the use of poison gas to suck us into fighting their war.
Even if elements of Assad’s army did use sarin, we ought not plunge in. And, fortunately, that seems to be Obama’s thinking.
Why stay out? Because it is not our war. There is no vital U.S. interest in who rules Syria. Hafez Assad and Bashar have ruled Syria for 40 years. How has that ever threatened us?
Moreover, U.S. intervention would signal to Assad that the end is near, making his use of every weapon in his arsenal, including chemical weapons, more—not less—likely.
U.S. intervention would also make us de facto allies of Assad’s principal enemies, the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Nusra Front, Syria’s al-Qaida. As The New York Times reported Sunday, “Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.”
Do we really wish to expend American blood and treasure to bring about a victory of Islamists and jihadists in Syria?
Country singer George Jones, who to my ears had the greatest voice ever recorded, died on Friday. A genius of phrasing and nuance, Jones had a stratospheric voice that captured human heartbreak with bottomless poignancy. I once read that when he was a kid, Jones’s father would wake him up in the middle of the night and threaten to beat him if he didn”t sing for him. Whether or not that’s true, his voice conveyed a tortured soul that was unmistakably human.
Standing outside an Atlanta club on Friday night where I”d performed an amped-up version of “White Lightning” in honor of Jones’s passing, a self-proclaimed fan of mine told me he”d mentioned Ol” Possum’s death on Facebook, only to receive a verbal feces-smearing by someone who called Jones a “racist” and a “redneck” who deserves to “rot in hell.”
As far as this guy could tell, his Facebook buddy felt Jones’s main transgression was that he was a white man who sang country music and was therefore automatically less than human.
Apparently, progressives only believe in hell when their perceived ideological enemies have died, hence the joyous “death parties“ when Margaret Thatcher gave up the ghost and the cowardly gloating over Andrew Breitbart’s still-warm corpse by sneering, bucktoothed hacks who weren”t fit to sniff his underwear.
Without ever feeling a need to apologize, I”ve done a great deal of hating in my life, but I”ve never seen a group of twisted, self-satisfied losers so unabashedly hate-filled as modern prog-bots. This is unforgivably and punchably ironic mainly because their entire platform is erected upon shaky Popsicle sticks of “compassion,” “tolerance,” and respect for the “cultural other.” Since their default defense mechanism is to accuse their enemies of being motivated primarily by hatred, it reinforces my belief that the primary impetus of modern leftist psychology is blind, stupid, hypocritical projection.
Just as normal cells mutate into cancer cells and metastasize, the word “liberal” has strayed far from its original moorings and now tends to indicate someone who despises liberty and freedom and is a pathological control freak that wants to obliterate the mere suggestion of any thought that would undermine their bloated and unwarranted sense of self-worth.
More and more, the modern leftist resembles an 80-year-old film actress who never quite made it in the business and lives huddled somewhere in a dusty Hollywood apartment with 20 cats and five pounds of makeup on her face. Peel away the thick mask she’s painted on her crinkled mug, and you have Medusa in curlers.
More and more, it strikes me that leftist compassion is truly skin-deep and goes no further than the epidermis. Oh, sure, they will tolerate a multitude of skin colors (except for the paler manifestations), a sickening array of reconstructive genital mutilations, a Boschian tableau of divergent sex organs crammed into improbable orifices, and any yapping, screaming vagina no matter how hateful or insane the she-beast obviously is.
They will tolerate racial violence as long as the targets are correct. They will applaud homicidal sexism so long as the victims are male. They won”t blink if you demean others” sexual orientation so long you”re shitting upon the straights. Obviously, their tolerance is massive and ever expanding.
But don”t you dare think differently than they do. Their tolerance does not extend to what’s in your brain.
I write this during the weekend that finally saw the end of those two dreadful Chechens who were described by many newspapers”starting with the Times, of course”as typical American teenagers. Why is it that after every outrage, family members and friends of the perpetrators are given space to air their sick views here in the United States? I can”t remember British newspapers, or even the grotesquely lefty BBC, giving equal space to Muslims defending the terrorist attack of 2005, nor any Spanish media allowing defenders of the 2003 outrage in Madrid to soil the airwaves with the usual blah, blah, blah about American imperialism being the real cause of terrorism.
American financial and military involvement in the Middle East and total support of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands are the reasons terrorists give for blowing up innocent people minding their own business. But this is not the point of this column. As long as Uncle Sam plays policeman to the world he will suffer the consequences. And as long as our borders are open to Muslims there will be terrorism at home.
Incidentally, what were these Chechens doing here anyway? In 2004, the year the younger brother arrived to these shores, Chechen terrorists in Russia murdered over 300 people, nearly half of them children, during a three-day siege. Did we need to give Chechen immigrants priority over, say, Scandinavians? The immigration authorities have as much to answer for as anyone.
If we were to shut down radical Islamist propaganda over the Internet”Uncle Sam listens in on everything so he could do that in a jiffy, and to hell with ACLU”and deport all those who have involved themselves with Islamic hate preachers, presto, you will be reading about terrorism in France and Britain but not over here.
But the real terrorists behind the idiots who either blow themselves up or shoot innocents in public places are our allies the Saudis and Qataris, those nice fat guys in sheets who behead women accused of adultery, execute teenagers for stealing, and having bought much of Europe are now busy trying to make their economic power felt over here. Their first client is none other than Al Gore, who just sold his TV network to Al Jazeera for 500 million big ones. (Don”t worry, Al, the man who stole the first election from you sold out the whole country for less to the Saudis after 9/11.) The big lie is that Al Jazeera is not used as a vehicle by Al-Qaeda and is not hostile to the US, but is a professionally run news channel that has won prominent US journalism prizes. (Some prizes. The fix was on.)
So I made the crossing over to Panama just fine, at least from the legal point of view. Despite the guards’ Rottweiler expressions, they can’t even be bothered to swat a mosquito in that humidity, let alone police the border. And I get the feeling the cartel is doing most of”in fact all of”the policing hereabouts.
Now if things were bad in Puerto Viejo the last time we were together in Costa Rica, they’ve gotten worse still. So much so, I was pleased to see the passport official’s fat belly, and decaying teeth. The good news is that it seems Panama is still content to accept most anybody across the border. In a world where the real frontier is digital, I took a certain pleasure in walking across the bridge over the Rio Sereno, where the holes in the planks are still not repaired.
The scene in Puerto Viejo is so bad, the authorities left the township entirely to its own devices. Now, when a crackhead goes berserk, they literally tie him to a telephone pole with second-hand duct tape then leave him there, writhing in the hot sun for up to three days, or however long it takes for the epileptic-style twitching of his acute withdrawal to wear off…to the extent that exhaustion does finally overtake the poor wretch and he will stop mugging everybody in sight or practicing his idiosyncratic form of violence, a nervy jiu-jitsu style you won’t find in the phonebook but which I can describe as…”spasticus artisticus”…?
The situation in Puerto Viejo descended to the point where, as I got off the bus and strolled into town, dusk descending, I was greeted by a new species of creature Darwin never accounted for: the crack whore. These ladies resemble robots more than human beings: They follow you around, walking in a kind of moonwalk, like Michael Jackson if he was made of used car parts. They followed me despite my seasoned air of indifference, or false purpose, because, you see, they knew better. And right they were. And because, and here’s the rub: nobody has any purpose whatsoever in Puerto Viejo. (Unless that purpose is robbery or drug dealing).
The only redeeming feature of my hotel room was a half-working satellite television. As you know, the world of communications is dear to my heart. I like to stay abreast of current affairs in this failing star we call Planet Earth. And there was something prophetic on that crackly channel transmitting CNN last night, the headline being: “Where now for Apple?”
Apple, as in one of the cash-richest companies in the world whose stock price, you may or may not know, has been languishing at about 40% what it was this time last year. Somehow, and call me deluded, somehow it seemed to me that the two things were not disconnected.
Three things, in fact. The unholy trinity was:
1. The state of affairs in Puerto Viejo and in many similar coastal towns between Colombia and the border of the Republic of Texas.
2. The falling stock price of AAPL.
3. The generalized, long-suppressed anxiety felt equally by the man in the street and the leaders of the G20.
The feeling that, well, something’s just not quite right. And it hasn’t been since”well, since at least October 2008. Like the end of US governance in Baghdad, the Western world economy feels as if the last plane has taken off, once and for all”and we’re left here on the ground with what exactly? Like somebody crashed the party and nobody knows what to say to them, not least our business leaders, not until they can find out who they are, what they’re selling, and if it’s cross-collateralized. To listen to our business leaders you’d think they were speaking Esperanto. Somebody needs to school these mofo’s (not to mention the politicians) how to make a real statement, one that’s not self-negating due to intentionally bad grammar, a by-product of the advice their lawyers gave them in order not to put a foot wrong, to keep the stock price stable. Does anybody speak the truth today?
A case of absimilation “ Refugee roulette “ Who’ll guard the guards? “
Premature Islamophobe “ Re-inflating the housing bubble “ Collar and
cuffs “ Patriot Day lockdown “ Barely makes sense “ Govt. can’t annul
laws “ Tiger Mom “ The meaning of Derb.
More than half the country says they think pot should be legalized. This is due in part to a brilliant PR campaign that frames cannabis as a valuable medicinal herb instead of a party drug. “[T]he medical marijuana movement has refurbished cannabis’s image,” says a recent cover story in Fortune, “properly reorienting connotations away from intoxication and irresponsibility and toward wellness and spirituality.”
However, a funny thing happened on the way to the courthouse. As the talk of decriminalization became more mainstream, the drug itself became more hardcore. The cannabis they”re talking about legalizing today feels more like magic mushrooms than the joints people were smoking when the discussion began.
A Slate article from last month entitled “Not That High: Today’s Marijuana is Too Strong, and That’s Bad for New Business“ claims the technology has become so advanced, THC levels are now running at 25%.
I quit smoking weed because when you have kids, you need to be on call in case someone has a nightmare. You can”t tell your daughter monsters don”t exist when you”re starting to think that maybe they do.
I spoke to some young pot-smokers, and they all agree things have gotten out of hand. An intern named Dan told me he has to dilute his joints with 75% tobacco. Another said that she had to give up joints and that even one small puff of a one hitter can be too intense.
That’s all fine and dandy, but to really understand how intense marijuana has become I can”t merely harass kids all day. I need to try it. So I had a friend of a friend hook me up with a very strong strain called “Master Kush,” and I”m going to smoke it right now.
(The remainder of this article was written”and published unedited”after half a toke of today’s weed.)
A half hour has gone by and this is what happened. First of all. It’s very hard to type. I don”t think I could write with a pen. I had a big rip off a bong (I sound like a narc) and had a huge coughing fit that got so intense I honestly thought about calling 911. It was totally involuntary and it kept going on and on and on. People were laughing at first but then I could see them get concerned and that got me concerned. It was one of those coughs where you start thinking you”re going to barf but you never quite barf. Man, just thinking about it makes me want to barf.
I felt like I was going to throw up or maybe just have diarrhea so I went to the bathroom but nothing happened. I was still coughing at that point. The guy in the stall next to me must have thought I had the plague. I was acting like a guy in one of those virus outbreak movies where you see the first few people dying.
So, I come back to the couch and then things get really bad. I was panting and having a slow tortuous panic attack that made both my hands go numb with pins and needles. I took my shirt off and lay on the cold floor to cool down but then my feet went numb too. It was hell. And it kept getting worse. I was writhing around on the floor trying to find a position that didn”t feel like the world was going to end. The room was spinning and every time I opened my eyes, it felt like I was looking through someone else’s glasses. My friend said, “I”ve never seen pot do that to anyone before” and I could sort of laugh but it was hard work. I vascialted [sic] from panting panic attacks on the couch to lying on the floor to cool down. I started thinking about calling 911 again but the thought of being in a loud ambulance seemed too scary.
NEW YORK—The search for the two Chechen terrorists in Boston was nothing compared to mine for new digs in the Big Bagel. I accrued reams of knowledge while cruising the City that Never Sleeps with real-estate agents—did you know that New York has 5,200,000 trees? April is still cold and the branches are bare, but the pear and cherry trees are in full bloom and soon Manhattan will be under a green canopy.
On my way to judo at lunchtime and karate in the evening at Richard Amos’s dojo—he’s a Brit and has been teaching me now for 14 years—I witness the spring bird migration, with all sorts of species—they say more than 200—swooping into the Bagel on their way north. My favorites are the hawk on 74th Street atop 927 Fifth Avenue and the nesting peregrine falcons over the Brooklyn Bridge that sure no con man sells it to some unsuspecting Russki. And there’s always the friendly owl in the middle of Central Park—where I go to rest on Saturdays—who lives among the tall trees, tiny lake, and small streams of the 79th Street ramble.
The politicians made sure New York now resembles an African or Caribbean metropolis. This is no longer the city I once loved like no other, and that includes Paris, but it’s still an extraordinary sight, especially during the early hours coming home from a party in Brooklyn and seeing the skyline unfold with the dawn. Manhattan is still the place that screams, “This is where the money is,” while Brooklyn is now a middle-class borough full of baby carriages and men hurrying to work in suits on their bicycles.
What I miss most, especially during the return of drunken dawns, are the stickball games among poor kids, games I saw throughout my youth and even as late as the early 1970s in the side streets of Downtown Noo Yawk. Poor children used to play stickball in the streets, climb lampposts, and pitch pennies. No longer. Big Brother, as in Wall Street and Big Business, has become the Big Oppressor, its mega-towers banishing the sun and barricading the views, dumping the street urchins onto crowded subway platforms. Kids used to swim in fountains and in the East River. Today helicopters would be winching them up with traffic closed for safety’s sake.
And yet skyscraper hatred makes no sense. Manhattan without them would be an expensive Queens, and there are fewer than 20 buildings in the city that top 800 feet. We have the Great Depression to thank for the way the city’s shape dips low south of Midtown, and we have 9/11 to thank for the new glass pillars going up in the void left by the Twin Towers. The stratosphere is not as yet crowded, the brownstones are still uncrushed, and the undertow of nostalgia is still strong.
The Boston Marathon bombing story came garnished with an unusual number of ironies, coincidences, and historical echoes.
Irony. Item number 27 in Christian Landers’s book Stuff White People Like is “Marathons.” Sample from the accompanying text:
To a white person, the absolute pinnacle of fitness is to run a marathon. Not to win, just to run. White people will train for months….They will then set goals like running in the Boston Marathon….
Where’s the irony in that? Well, check out item No. 7 in Landers’s book: “Diversity.”
To be fair, though, Landers adds some qualification to No. 7:
White people love ethnic diversity, but only as it relates to restaurants.
Since neither of the Tsarnaev brothers, nor any of their family members, is a restaurateur, possibly this one doesn”t count. It does sort of tie in with the location of the bombings, though.
Irony. The bombings occurred in zip code 02116. Not knowing the first thing about Boston, I shall have to rely on the stats in city-data.com (which is sometimes out of date). Whaddawe got?
Population is 21,508, of which 21 percent are foreign-born, with China and Hong Kong accounting for 36 percent, so there’s a Chinatown in there. Ice People 79 percent, Sun People 15 percent. Median age 33, low-ish for the state. Average household 1.7 persons, way low. Median household income $69,000, but average AGI $208,000, so there are some rich folks pulling up that average. (The median of the four numbers 2, 4, 6, 1,000,000 is 5; the average is 250,003.) The “household income distribution” is W-shaped: some poor, more rich, lots in the middle.
I”m getting a picture. Old Euro-ethnic neighborhood with gentrification, single hipsters, domestic help, Chinese.
And this is of course Massachusetts. Zip code 02116 is in congressional district 8, which went for Obama 58-41 last November. That’s Barack Obama, the guy whose political career was launched in the living room of terrorist bombers Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. There’s your irony.
Mind you, that 58-41 for the district is a tad less than Massachusetts overall, which went 61-38 for Obama. Why? Probably because of Euro-ethnic Reagan Democrats. I see 13 percent of persons in zip 02116 declare their first ancestry as Irish.
Irony. Irish-Americans, along with a cast of characters that included Colonel Gaddafi, Yasser Arafat, and the KGB, were keen supporters and financiers of the 1966-1999 terror-bombing campaign by the so-called Irish Republican Army (a name insulting to the Irish Republic, which has a perfectly good professional army not involved in terrorism).
The most authoritative account of that campaign lists the IRA and its affiliates as responsible for 636 civilian deaths (Table 20), though it does not tell us how many were caused by bombs in public places. For an on-the-spot account of what such bombings meant, I recommend”though only for those with strong stomachs”Kevin Myers’s Watching the Door, which I reviewed here.
As an Englishman living in the USA during the mid-1970s peak of those killings, I knew from other expats which bars to avoid when I didn”t feel like being insulted or socked on the jaw. There were places where well-nigh any bar was out of bounds: New York’s Woodside, Rockaway, and North Bronx, and anywhere in central Boston. Those were the places where Noraid raised most of their funds. Don”t be spendin” it on bandages, now!
Over the last few days, as I watched both the homicidal antics of the Boston Bomb Brothers and the characteristically competent Tom Cruise science-fiction movie Oblivion, I was reminded that one of the least expected developments of my lifetime has been how the vast majority of the world’s population is no longer expected or even encouraged to be liberal. At least they are not asked to be “liberal” in the mid-1960s Star Trek sense, meaning obeying a universalist ethic that values all individuals equally.
Instead, the world’s six billion or so nonwhites are now told to be as conservative as possible. I’m using “conservative” in the sense of being naturally ethnocentric, of having loyalties emanating in a concentric pattern, radiating outward from self and nuclear family to extended family, clan, tribe, nation, religion, or race.
Thus, in the 21st century, practically nobody thinks that there is anything wrong with blacks voting almost universally for Barack Obama because he’s black. Those blacks are merely expressing their admirable racial solidarity.
Likewise, consider the immense marketing campaign for amnesty that was proceeding so smoothly until those Chechen immigrants started acting so Checheny. Almost the entire Establishment has been inciting racialism among Mexican-American voters. The press has been demanding that Mexicans get angry if any American dares stand up for laws against illegal immigration. Why? Because keeping Mexican nationals out of America is an insult to their race.
The notion that a Republican politician could stand up and ask Mexican-American voters to demonstrate their loyalty to America by voting against illegal immigration because it is, on the whole, bad for their fellow American citizens is simply unthinkable today. Asking Mexicans to think in sophisticated legal terms such as “citizen” instead of crude biological terms such as “race” has become too advanced for today’s advanced thinkers.
The Tsarnaev Brothers lived in the absolute heart of liberal intellectual America”in Cambridge, Massachusetts, less than two miles from both Harvard and MIT. Therefore, you can be confident that they were never instructed that they owe anything to the country that let them in.
That would be insensitive. Instead, they should display pride in Chechen culture.
Of course, it would be bigoted for anybody to notice anything about Chechen society, such as its ancient tendency toward valor and violence. These two maniacs come from a long tradition of brave psychos. The Tsarnaevs acted out on the streets of Boston a traditional role in Chechen culture, the abrek wild men who leave behind all domestic comforts to devote their lives to vendettas against enemy ethnicities.
Chechens play a remarkably large role in classic Russian literature, greater than any single American Indian tribe does in American letters. The Chechens were admired by Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, and Solzhenitsyn for the adamantine atavism of their bandit barbarism. Their absolute lack of Christian universalist guilt fascinated and appalled the great Russian writers.
For example, Tolstoy’s novel The Cossacks is about the Christian ethnic group that intermingled Russian and Chechen mores. Tolstoy described the influence of the “half-savage Mohammedan tribes” on the Orthodox Cossacks:
Living among the Chechens the Cossacks intermarried with them and adopted the manners and customs of the hill tribes, though they still retained the Russian language in all its purity, as well as their Old Faith….Even now the Cossack families claim relationship with the Chechens, and the love of freedom, of leisure, of plunder and of war, still form their chief characteristics.
On the other hand, unlike everybody from Barack Obama to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, people descended from European Christendom are not allowed the simple ethnocentric pleasure of rooting for their own kind. They alone must be liberal.
Over time, however, the essence of modern liberalism has decayed from universalism and fair play to priding oneself on one’s “leapfrogging loyalties” in siding with The Other rather than those annoying fellow citizens to whom you feel morally superior. Cinematic examples include the Marine who joins the noble blue space Indians in Avatar and the Boer bureaucrat who helps the feckless flying saucer refugees in District 9.
Yet even whites still enjoy the fundamental appeal of rooting for their own. Occasionally, this is allowed in entertainment at the nuclear family level, such as in the unsurprising surprise hit Taken, in which Liam Neeson flattens much of Paris to retrieve his daughter from Muslim pimps.
More allegorically, the urge to cheer on the home team empowers conservative anti-alien sci-fi films such as Oblivion because white Americans are allowed to fight for the whole human race. As Ronald Reagan, who understood a bit about movie logic, explained to the UN in 1987: “I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.”