Monday, January 11, 2016

The Passing of Two Giants--Bowie and Jonas

I awoke to the shocking news that David Bowie, an icon of my misspent youth, had died at the age of 69.

While I was never one of those crazed Bowie fans--how well I remember them, the Ziggy Stardusts of yore, the ones who pronounced "Bow" to rhyme with "cow," from high school--I always liked many of songs. My favorite: Ch-ch-ch-changes. (A pleasant memory snatched from the cranial hard drive: lying on a beach in Negril, Jamaica back in the 1980s, listening to the song over and over again on my Sony Walkman. 'Twas bliss.)

The other giant who has died--George Jonas--wasn't as well known as Bowie, but in his own way he was every bit as contrarian. Jonas, a writer who was wicked smart, dared to be different--a non-leftist intellectual blowing a big, wet raspberry at the pieties and sacred cows of Pierre's (now Justin's) multiculti Trudeaupia. And, as someone who knew what it was like to live under the iron fist of communism--he'd escaped from Hungary--Jonas knew whereof he spoke.

I can't say that his death came as a great surprise. He had been sick for many years with Parkinson's, an affliction that was physically debilitating but which left his mind as sharp as ever; he was still writing the occasional column for the National Post until quite recently.

My Jonas memory dates from 2005, when he was launching his book Beethoven's Mask at the Toronto Jewish Book Festival. Jonas, who was visibly shaking and could speak only very haltingly even back then, could not read from his work. Barbara Amiel, an ex-wife with whom he remained on friendly terms, took on reading duties for him. (Jonas's wife du jour, a stunner with long, straight dark hair, was blind and sat with her German Shepard guide dog directly in front of me, in the auditorium's first row.)

After the reading, there was an autographing session, and Jonas, shaking violently, bravely drew a scribble meant to resemble his John Hancock in each admirer's book.

Here's a snippet from that book that seems especially timely:
Two trends that can wreck nations and turn regions into trouble spots are non-traditional immigration and multiculturalism. Both come in different forms and guises, so they need to be defined case by case. For example, in countries that have no tradition (or need) for immigration, any immigration can amount to non-traditional immigration.
The kind of multiculturalism that can wreck nations does not mean Finnish saunas in Germany or Vietnamese restaurants in France. It does not mean mosques in Munich or private Spanish-language schools in Tampa, Florida. It does not mean urbane expressions of cultural cosmopolitanism that make Paris or London or other great cities of the world civilized or sophisticated. What it does mean is encouraging (or worse, entrenching in law) the retention of undigested, unassimilated foreign communities within a nation,  ultimately leading to the idea that there is no nation under the country's flag with a common (or "dominant") culture or identity, only diverse communities within the body politic jostling for advantages or looking to redress grievances, real or imagined.
Too bad Angela Merkel, for one, didn't heed such words of wisdom before she made her fatal error.

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