October 01, 2009
NEW YORK–Cement barriers, stanchions, cop cars, motorcycles, black SUV’s, flashing lights, bullhorn warnings to move to the side or else, mean-looking dudes in dark suits, dark glasses and talking into their cufflinks, a hobbit named Sarkozy jogging in Central Park to the exclusion of the rest of us, African dictator kleptocrats emptying jewelry shops on Fifth Avenue, Netanyahu walking down Park after the residents of that tony street had been removed, that was the Big Bagel last week when the zoo that’s the UN Security Council came to town. The hate fest rolls on, fueled by the arrogance of our supposed leaders and the reluctance by the hacks to call a spade a spade. African dictators who murder their subjects and keep billions abroad have no right to police escorts in civilized societies, yet that’s what they got last week. Uncle Sam’s pet, the Israeli prime minister, brings Avigdor Lieberman with him, the latter having gone on record that he wants to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their rapidly diminishing lands. The ex-night club bouncer was an eyesore, worse than the hobbit jogging in shorts. After the freak show, I did have trouble sleeping knowing the world is such a malevolent place. Yes, the hint was dropped. Israel might go at it alone, with a nod and wink from Uncle S.
So, being the historian that I am, I ask you: When was the last time Iran attacked a foreign country?
Answer: Around 480 B.C. I’d say, give or take a few decades, until the great Kimon cleared the Greek islands from their plague.
What about Israel? Around 2006 and as recently as 2008 would be an accurate assessment. Oh well, Iran talks tough for internal purposes so it should be bombed. Israel has hundreds of nukes but whines a lot so we should turn a blind eye. Go figure, as they say in Qum.
Kimon came to mind because of the murderers and crooks that made life impossible last week in the Bagel. Oppressors and bullies, as far removed from statesmanship as Stanley Mathews or Bobby Charlton are from Hadji Diouf, the man who spits on opponents as well as fans and was imported from Senegal along with his fine manners. Kimon was the aristocrat without equal. Son of the great Miltiades, the winner of the battle of Marathon, he was exiled by the ungrateful Athenians, just as his father was. The reason was envy. Kimon liked the Spartans and encouraged Athens to fight the Persians instead of their own kind. When his sister went on his behalf to see that bogus aristo and pseudo democrat Pericles, she bared her breasts in order to curry favour. “You’re much too old for it,” said the sham great man rather gracelessly.
Any Kimons around today? You’ve got to be joking. The closest are people like Robert E. Lee, Sir Philip Sidney, Don John, winner of Lepanto, and I guess that’s about it. Marlborough was too mercenary, Napoleon too bloodthirsty, Alexander too ambitious, Wellington too petty, Manstein too Nazi. Perhaps Guderian and Washington. No, Kimon was the knight “sans peur and sans raproche” who set the bar for moral grandeur, and was a hell of a ladies’ man to boot. In fact he was often accused of frivolity by those not as lucky as he was with the fair sex, but frivolous Kimon was not. He loved and adored his wife, but his great looks, charm and victories on the battlefield could not keep women out of his bed. Athens should have erected one hundred statues of him, but only one stands today. Instead we have tens of Venizelos, not to mention Harry Truman, a haberdasher who has a lot in common with neo-Hellenes.
Every culture had the Greeks—and I do mean the ancient ones, not to be confused with the rabble of today—to turn to for inspiration, except of course for the Greeks themselves. They had to make it up as they went along, a bit like our greatest playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, but at least he had communism, John Houseman, and rock and roll to help him along. Not to mention Shakespeare. Homer had nothing, yet the Odyssey is the greatest epic poem ever. If there is a greater play than Oedipus, it has skipped by me, or any greater philosophers than Parmenides, Socrates, and Aristotle—I leave that nervous doubting ninny Plato aside—I must have been asleep all these years. We Greeks—I’m so ancient I consider myself one—bequeathed to Christianity the tools needed to refute heresy and prepared the world for the “unknown God” to whom the Greeks had already erected an altar, thus making it easy for Paul to teach the gospel.
Even the great Americans, Jefferson and Adams and Madison et al., relied on their studies of Athens’s failed experiment in democracy, something today’s clowns seem to forget. Democracy as practiced today stands for nothing, yet is the most overused word in the vocabulary of phonies. To hear politicians use it makes one’s skin crawl. I heard it one too many times last week by people who have sold their souls to corporations, by murderers like Qaddafi and by phonies like Gordon Brown, Netanyahu and Sarkozy. Time to change the wording. Korpocracy would be more appropriate, as they’re all full of crap in the first place!
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