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Here’s Neo-neocon, once again draping herself in her pre-9/11 hairshirt, offering further insight into why she wasn’t outraged by Chappaquiddick until four planes descended from the sky and shattered her world:

But a much greater favorite [childhood book] was Ferdinand the Bull. Ah Ferdinand, Ferdinand, he of the fragrant flowers under the cork tree. I didn’t know the word “pacifist” (nor is it mentioned in the book), but the idea of opting out of struggle and strife into a simple life of non-aggression and nature was remarkably appealing. . . .

. . . I wonder how many people never grow past the fairy tale notion that evil will disappear if we would just sit under that cork tree and smell those flowers long enough. As one of the Amazon commenters points out, in a real bullfight Ferdinand’s lack of ferocity would cause him not to be shipped off to pleasant pastures, as in the book, but to be killed–which is the almost invariable fate of bulls in that activity anyway.

[Neo-con tells us a lot of stuff about bull-fighting, mostly to the effect that sissy, girly bulls like Ferdinand get an extra dose of humiliation when they’re killed.]

Ferdinand is a lovely story, and I wish it well. But it’s not much of a guide to war, I’m afraid—or even to bullfighting.

Yes, it’s a shame that children’s books are so useless at sorting out real-world problems. When I bought Rotten Island for my daughter, for example, I was expecting William Steig would be able to help us both understand a little more clearly how to deal with the bellum omnium contra omnes toward which the world is currently sliding. Alas, Steig seems to think that everyone loses in war — which is nonsense, because only losers lose wars. Rotten Island dodges that fact and ultimately hands the “island” over to a bunch of stupid birds.

Similarly, when my copy of Drummer Hoff arrived in the mail, the Tax Deduction and I opened it with great enthusiasm; we’d been vexed for weeks by the problem of how to assemble an 18th century field cannon, and by the looks of it, Barbara and Ed Emberley had written the definitive layperson’s account. There again, though, we were terribly dismayed by the book’s dark conclusion and its inability to consider that sometimes, if the West is to survive, Sergeant Chowder really does have to bring the powder, and Major Scott really does need to bring the shot, and everyone on the sidelines needs to support the troops — no matter how goofy they look — and drink a nice big mug of shut-the-fuck-up. Did the Emberleys, as they wrote their anti-war screed in 1968, have the slightest understanding that by subtly advocating for the withdrawal of the United States from Vietnam, they were consigning millions to the fires of communism?

Please don’t get me started on the ideological demerits of Brave Potatoes (hint: it’s not about making a decent stew) or Farmer Duck, which I judge to be a poor guide for anyone looking to keep their livestock in a condition of supplicating fear.

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