An American phenom, &c.

Collin Morikawa celebrates with the Claret Jug on the 18th green after winning the British Open in Sandwich, England, on July 18, 2021. (Peter van den Berg / USA TODAY Sports)

On the golfer Collin Morikawa; Cuba and race; Naipaul and Thatcher; the Trump movement; dueling national anthems; and more

Collin Morikawa is an utterly winning guy (in more than one sense). He has just won the British Open. And he is heading to the Olympics, to represent his country, namely the United States. A kid named Morikawa representing the Stars and Stripes in Japan. This is one thing I love about America, one thing I believe makes the country great.

• Morikawa has superb technique — one of the best swings on tour. I would give my right arm for what he has (which would complicate the swing, true). But Morikawa also has mental toughness and guts. Combine all that, and you have someone really hard to beat.

Something similar holds true in music, by the way: Combine superb technique with musicality, with imagination, with soul, and — watch out.

• Above, you may have noticed, I said “the British Open.” These days, they — you know: “they” — want you to say “the Open,” or “the Open Championship.” They want you to call the U.S. Open “the U.S. Open” and the British Open “the Open.”

Well, nuts to that.

For decades, we distinguished the two opens by saying “U.S.” and “British.” It was good enough for Jones, Hogan, Palmer, Nicklaus, and Woods — and it’s good enough for me.

Maybe I should add this: You say “the Open” in context, of course. At the Congressional Country Club in 1964, Ken Venturi threw up his arms and said, “By God, I’ve won the Open.” He did not say “the U.S. Open.” He had the context.

Anyway, this is a peeve of mine, and I am harrumphing . . .

• Overheard last week at the golf range in New York (there’s only one, in Manhattan):

First Young Man: “What do you call that thing? A hybrid? A rescue club? A seven-wood?”

Second Young Man: “A Grandpa club.”

• Regular readers have heard me say this a million times, but I will say it for the million and first: The Cuban dictatorship’s reputation as a positive force rests on three myths: (1) The dictatorship has been good for Afro-Cubans. (2) It has been good for literacy. (3) It has been good for health care. Many of us have addressed these myths in considerable detail. The myth about Afro-Cubans has come up in recent days. I think I first addressed this subject — at article length — in a piece published in the March 6, 2000, issue of National Review: “In Castro’s Corner: A story of black and red.”

Ask yourself: Why has Cuba’s opposition movement long been dominated by Afro-Cubans? If the dictatorship has been good for black people — why? Also, why has the Cuban government — the nomenklatura — been almost exclusively white? Even Charles Rangel, the pro-Castro ex-congressman from New York, criticized his friend Fidel for this.

(I don’t intend to write another article, here and now, but one Cuban exile told me that, when he arrived in the United States in the early 1960s, he was shocked at the racism he witnessed. Shocked. Cuba had not been a paradise of racial harmony — but it was a helluva lot better than what this young Cuban observed in the American South.)

• “Criminals and bullies.” That’s what Kateryna Yushchenko said, commenting on a report from Reuters: “A senior Russian security official warned Britain on Wednesday not to sail its warships near Russian-annexed Crimea again unless it wanted its sailors to get hurt.” Mrs. Yushchenko worked in the State Department, in the area of human rights, and became the First Lady of Ukraine.

When she said “Criminals and bullies,” I thought of “A gangster and a murderer.” David Pryce-Jones tells this story. He was there. Prime Minister Thatcher asked V. S. Naipaul what he thought of the new prime minister of Trinidad. “A gangster and a murderer,” said the great novelist from Trinidad. Mrs. Thatcher responded, “Quite.”

• “Language evolves,” people are always telling me. I know that, believe it or not. But the term “court packing” is used screwily today. It never meant, “The president is nominating people he favors, to be confirmed or rejected by the Senate.” It meant, “The president is trying to expand the Court — increase the number of seats on the Court — in order to frustrate the current Court majority.”

Look, if people dislike the kind of men and women being nominated for the Supreme Court, they have a remedy: elect different presidents and senators. In the meantime, this is our process.

• General Milley has been quoted on the subject of Donald Trump’s final weeks in office. And there is a lot of upset — and a lot of denial — on the Trump side. Something occurs to me, strongly: To be a Trumper, or an anti-anti-Trumper, you have to believe that people are always lying about Trump. Mark Milley, John Kelly, Jim Mattis, John Bolton, and on and on — liars all. It reminds me of the woman who says, “They’re always lying about my Harry. He never beats me or the kids. The neighbors are always trying to split us apart.”

Well, maybe the neighbors — block after block of them — are telling the truth?

• You also hear, “Well, Trump has people around him to keep him from doing really bad things.” Okay. But if the president needs people around him to keep him from doing really bad things — maybe he is not fit, in mind or character, for the office?

• A headline: “Officials arrest ‘Roman gladiator’ who stormed Capitol while filming it for his mom.” (Article here.) Sometimes you gotta watch those mama’s boys.

• Michael C. Bender is a White House reporter for the Wall Street Journal. He has written a fascinating article, adapted from his new book. The subject is the Trump movement, especially in 2020, and the first month of the following year. I would like to highlight two portions of Bender’s article.

He quotes a woman, Saundra Kiczenski, who was in the January 6 crowd: “We weren’t there to steal things. We weren’t there to do damage. We were just there to overthrow the government.” Then the author writes the following:

But when Trump posted a video to social media asking supporters to go home (and saying he loved them) after the riot raged for hours, Kiczenski felt confused and depressed. “We were supposed to be fighting until the end,” she said.

I will now paste a paragraph that provides a stunning portrait in political loyalty — maybe the most stunning such portrait I have ever seen:

When Randal Thom, a 60-year-old ex-Marine with a long gray mustache, fell severely ill with a high fever and debilitating congestion, he refused to go to the hospital. He was a heavy smoker who was significantly overweight and knew he faced an increased risk of severe effects from covid-19. Still, he refused to take a coronavirus test and potentially increase the caseload on Trump’s watch: “I’m not going to add to the numbers,” he told me. Thom survived the scare, but died months later in a car accident while returning home to Minnesota from a Trump boat parade in Florida.

• Bidding to be the next Trump is the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis. He is selling a T-shirt that says “Don’t Fauci My Florida.” He knows his audience, for sure. I would not bet against him, for the nomination, or for the big prize itself.

• “We were going back and forth, and then we fell in love, okay? No, really. He wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters. We fell in love.” Thus said President Trump about his relationship with Kim Jong-un, the dictator of North Korea. George W. Bush was a different kind of president (and he is a different kind of Republican, if he still is one). I noticed a new press release from Dallas:

Today, the George W. Bush Institute announced the five recipients of the 2021 North Korea Freedom Scholarship. Established in 2017, the North Korea Freedom Scholarship is designed to help North Korean escapees and their children pursue higher education and build productive, prosperous lives as new Americans.

That is so like the man — like Bush. And like his tradition, which, although unpopular, is not quite dead.

• Did you see this headline? “NFL to play Black national anthem at all league games in 2021.” (Article here.) Oh, cripe.

Believe it or not, the black national anthem became an issue in the 2008 presidential campaign. Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, was forced to say, “We have only one national anthem.” I wrote about the issue in a piece for National Review: “Right Song, Wrong Place.” You may enjoy it. A highly interesting subject, and a great song.

(What do I think about the NFL’s decision? I have not read much about it. But I did say, “Oh, cripe,” above. As a rule, I dislike the idea of dueling national anthems. I think it’s bad for the country. Still, I understand the attachment of black Americans to “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” I’m attached to it too, and have been ever since I learned it when I was 16 or so.)

• I have many more issues. But I don’t want to keep you too long. There’s rotten news out of Belarus. And rotten news out of Hungary. I think I’ll say something about Israel. I learned it from Avi Mayer, who tweeted a photo — of Tel Aviv’s city hall. As Mayer wrote, the hall was “illuminated with the German flag in solidarity with the people of Germany after devastating floods claimed more than 150 lives and destroyed entire villages across the western part of the country.”

May I tell you something that I probably wouldn’t say in public? Just between us? I thought that was kind of . . . big of Israel, really.

• Okay, before I blurt out more, I’ll close — with some music: a post on Max Reger, the German composer, who deserves a lot more time in the sun than he has received in recent years. Thanks so much for joining me, everybody, and I’ll talk to you soon.

If you’d like to receive Impromptus by e-mail — links to new columns — write to jnordlinger@nationalreview.com.

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