it as if it were yesterday. I was about to be taken into Athens to see the latest
American import, Beau Geste starring Gary Cooper, a pseudo-historical
thriller about three brothers who run away and sign up with the Foreign Legion…you
can guess the rest. Then my great-uncle arrived, remonstrated with the nanny
for polluting my young mind with rubbish, canceled the visit and set
me down for a lecture on…Shakespeare.
anyone was brought up to hate the Bard it would have to be me. After all, Hamlet,
the prince of ambivalence, is a very poor substitute for Beau, a romantic soldier
of fortune destined to die among the towelheads in a Viking’s funeral pyre.
and yet. Sometime last year, those modernists who run Britain at present decided
to water down the teaching of Shakespeare to children under 16. The modernists–trendy
philistines who advise the government on education–have not as yet had
their way, but the fact that such reforms have even been suggested is widely
seen as the dumbing down of Britain once and for all.
at the great historian Paul Johnson’s garden party, I asked a few of the
worthies present what they thought of the Bard. It was like polling members
of the Politburo about whether they liked Stalin circa 1949. To a man, and a
few women, the consensus was that Shakespeare not only invented the English
language as we know it, but that his humanity has much to teach us about ourselves.
That Shakespeare should be taught more, rather than less, and that teachers
should show films like Romeo + Juliet and Shakespeare in Love
to familiarize young people with just how great this guy really was.
as I said, these were educated people, leading figures from the worlds of theater,
literature and academia, even journalism (a profession that until recently was
seen by the above as being a step above safecracking and child molesting). They
would say that is a cynic’s retort, but the cynic would be wrong,
along with those who think that grownup books should be replaced by websites.
If one gives up on Shakespeare one might as well give up on understanding human
nature. As one professor told me, "He integrates the wisdom of the Renaissance
better than any other writer, and he is the antidote to the dumbing down going
on almost everywhere in society today." As my great-uncle said when I told
him I understood nothing, he helps intelligence to grow, without him you remain
flat, without a stimulus.
with Shakespeare is, of course, a victory for the lowbrows. It is like doing
away with learning how to drive in a world where the automobile is king. Worse,
it is replacing literature with Neighbors or Oprah, as vile an
act as putting a Coca-Cola sign on top of the Parthenon, something I’m
sure has already been proposed by the hucksters of the industry. And it’s
deliberate. Not for profit, mind you, but for doing away with the past, the
road to the Alzheimer’s civilization the multiculturalists and politically
correct are aiming for.
I once asked
Yehudi Menuhin who the greatest composers were according to him. "There
were three geniuses, the three B’s, Bach, Beethoven and Brahms," he
said. "But only one miracle, Mozart!" Well, I’m Greek, and I
think Homer was the only miracle, but I will grant the Bard equal status, an
Joe Sobran will obviously disagree. Joe believes the Earl of Southampton was
the author of the plays and sonnets attributed to Will, but that doesn’t
change the fact that a human being wrote them. ("I’m here, I’m
queer, I’m Edward De Vere…" says Sobran in his Shakespeare lectures.)
is not unique to Britain. It was a series of great American critics who sounded
the alarm with books such as The Closing of the American Mind and The
Western Canon. But the Blooms and Bellows of this world are few, whereas
the philistines are sprouting like Muslims. Earlier this week, in Greece for
yet another party, I visited my old karate dojo for some training. Karatekas
are not usually among the haves. For some strange reason rich people do not
like getting hit. After a particularly good session, we sat around for a few
beers. Homer came up, and I was delighted to hear poor boys educated in public
schools all speak like professors on the glory that was Greece.
are not fools. We know that the only way our culture will survive is by teaching
it the old-fashioned way, not watering it down to please the Albanians and Muslims
who are overrunning our borders. No siree, if one wants to come to Greece and
send his son or daughter to school, he or she will have to learn it our way,
not theirs. In Britain and, alas, soon in America, the immigrant demands schools
teach his own culture, and to hell with 1000 years of European enlightenment.
The good news is that in France–a place soon to be as brown as California–Racine,
Voltaire, Baudelaire, Rabelais and Proust are still tops with teachers, as is
Goethe in Germany and Dante in the land of pasta.
of our freedoms gone, with the p.c. Nazis watching us like hawks, are we also
to lose the right to speak correctly? Are our children to be deprived of Romeo
and Juliet, of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, of Hamlet and
Othello, of As You Like It, for such crap as media studies, feminist
history and video-based dramas? Let us nonphilistines, left, center or right,
unite in not allowing the Bard to be treated like Coriolanus. (As the great
Cole wrote, "And if she says your behavior’s heinous, kick her right
in the Coriolanus…")
for some good news. I have just learned that a suit is being considered against
Saudi Arabian so-called royals, those rich ex-camel drivers who finance terror
to keep their solid-gold Cadillacs back home in Riyadh. Class actions are anathema
to me, pure and simple blackmail by those disgusting lawyers who financed Bill
Clinton and who got paid back in billions extorted from the tobacco companies
by the Draft Dodger’s corrupt Justice Dept. In this case, however, I am
with the lawyers. The ones suing are the Sept. 11 victims’ families, and
the corrupt Saudis have plenty of assets that can be seized right here in the
good old USA.
nations are supposedly immune from foreign lawsuits, but all that went out the
window when Uncle Sam stopped recognizing the seven state sponsors of terrorism
in 1996. Although the Saudis are not on the list, I cannot see anyone in the
Bush administration pulling strings to keep them off. The Saudis have had it
both ways for far too long. They have plenty of moolah, and they should part
with it. Every person who lost a loved one in the outrage of Sept. 11 should
sue, and everyone should be compensated in the millions. All the Saudis have
to do is lay off the hookers for a day or two and, presto, the money will be
recently, where King Fahd has taken over most of the town, the spectacle of
his lackeys walking around with bodyguards pushing people out of the way and
going shopping at 3 in the morning was as disgusting a sight as I’ve had
the bad luck to see in a lifetime. Come to think of it, I can’t remember
when I was angrier. I’ve always loved Switzerland and the Swiss, and I’ve
been defending them since I began writing. But this was not their finest hour