Paul Greenberg

Felipe Calderon, the Mexican president, played to the nationalistic galleries in his own State of the Union address the other day- even though he was prevented from delivering it directly to his county's Congress. (He's the second consecutive president of Mexico to be denied that privilege by an obstreperous opposition.) Senor Calderon had to settle foran invitation-only event at the National Palace to attack the gringos'daring to enforce their immigration laws. In a particularly unfortunate phrase, he warned: "Mexico does not end at its borders."

You can imagine the political hay that immigration-bashers will make of that assertion; it'll confirm all their overblown fears about a Mexican Reconquista. Thanks, Senor Presidente. We don't have enough hysteria in this country about a Hispanic invasion.

Think of the reaction in Mexico if our president were to proclaim, "The United States does not end at its borders." How long before he would be denounced as a yanqui imperialist - 30 seconds at most?

No doubt a great nation's influence and responsibilities does not end at its borders. (Which is why every American who gets himself in a jam in a foreign country heads straight for the U.S. Embassy.) But there are more tactful ways to talk about a country's responsibilities abroad than declaring its borders expandable.

 

Pete Seeger, the legendary American folk singer and fellow traveler, has finally come around. The 88-year-old icon of American folk music was reacting to a critical article in the New York Sun by Ron Radosh, who's made a career of pointing out the comsymp aspects of the American left during the Cold War. This time Radosh noted Pete Seeger's long, long silence about Stalin's crimes. And Seeger responded by writing his first-ever anti-Stalin ditty. Hooray! Better half a century late than never.

The song is called "The Big Joe Blues," and it's done in Woody Guthrie style complete with yodel. ("I got the Big Joe Blew-ewew-ew-ews.") At last, an instant folk song that every honest, red-white-and-blue conservative, that is, true American liberal, can sing along with. ("I'm singin' about old Joe, cruel Joe/ He ruled with an iron hand/ He put an end to the dreams/ of so many in every land.")

Imagine: an anti-Stalinist ballad written and composed by Pete Seeger, the very epitome of the whole political species that Comrade Lenin once summed up as Useful Idiots.

Here's the moral of this story: Never give up on anybody, even fellow travelers.

 


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.