Times Two

November 19th, 2006 by john

Every once in a while, the New York Times shows that it is still capable of delivering something like surprise. Take today’s Op-Ed page.

Take, in particular, Nicholas Kristof’s gritty and shockingly personal (for the NYT) reply to a woman who wrote to say that he was spending too much time talking about Sudan and should focus on problems closer to home.

A woman named Marguerite H. wrote to me recently to complain about my columns on Darfur. “While the situation there is dreadful, we have plenty of needs to be filled at home,” she wrote. “You would be better off putting your energy into making a difference here at home.”

So, Marguerite, meet Halima Abdelkarim. That’s her photo above, and her life is partly in your hands. Listen to her story, and see if you still think we should put off helping her until we have solved our own problems. …
You have other priorities, I know, and so do we all. But our indifference has already allowed Halima to be gang-raped twice and her sister murdered in the first genocide of the 21st century. So, Marguerite, look Halima in the eye, and decide if you’re willing to turn away as she is slaughtered, or how many times you’re willing to allow her to be raped.

Then look down at the bottom of the page. There you’ll find a caustically subversive confection by novelist Bruce Wagner, who takes a bracing walk along the hall of mirrors that is truthiness and Juiciness:

He had many fans and supporters: the actress Vivica A. Fox said that, ultimately, he was a professional, and showed heart. Blood, sweat and tears — not just that of others — were shed. Ms. Fox said, “I especially enjoyed watching him — with the big old arms and the good booty.” Oh God, God, God.

But that was the moment I realized that my research assistant was sending me the file not of O. J. Simpson, who will star in a two-part show on Fox this month titled “If I Did It: Here’s How It Happened” (which gives details of the murders “if he were the one responsible”) but of Emmitt Smith, newly crowned champion of “Dancing With the Stars.” Still, I decided, rashly, that I had already invested too much time in my work, and that, however foolhardy, I would continue the Op-Ed propulsion, knowing full well that Mr. Smith had not committed any of the crimes that Mr. Simpson had been acquitted of — and yet, I would finish the essay as if he had.