Saturday, February 25, 2012

Political insults can be beautiful things

In our elections we see lots of barbs exchanged between the candidates. However, every once in a while, a response is just so wonderful it makes the history books. One such example is from the negotiations at the Untied Nations during the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:


One celebrated exchange between Romulo [representing Philippines] and Vishinsky [representing the Soviet Union] took place after Romulo had opposed a Soviet motion to abolish the Balkan Commission that had been formed to act as a UN watchdog after civil war had broken out in Greece in 1946. Vishinsky lashed out with a personal attack that pressed all of Romulo's hot buttons at once: "[T]his small man who spreads noise wherever he goes, who represents an insignificant country like the Philippines, has attacked the Soviet Union's motives. He reminds me of the Russian proverb, 'His ambition is worth a ruble when his ammunition is only worth a cent.'" Romulo, never at a loss for words, replied: ... As for my ambition being worth a ruble when my ammunition is only worth a cent, may I also remind Mr. Virshnsky that at the present rate of exchange the cent is worth more than the ruble."

~Mary Ann Glendon, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights




I can’t help but picture one of Dostoevsky's descriptions: "And even the curve of his spine was expressive of the horrible insult he had received."
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