War Etiquette Tips
From Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
As a lad in Charleston, I at first chafed whenever Mama would squire me to my weekly instructions at Miss Buelah Fontaine's Palmetto Street Finishing Academy for Young Gentlemen. "Oh, Mama, must I?" I would plead. "I would much rather fish and hoop-roll and play mumblety-peg with the other boys." But Mama - God rest her overbearing memory - remained insistent, for she knew that under the stern tutelage of Miss Fontaine her son would grow into a true Carolina Gentleman, deft in the social graces and ready to ascend the ladder of societal respectability.
The evidence of time has, I hope, proven Mama's wisdom. With every thwack of Miss Buela's corrective switch, I soon learned the fine art of gentlemanliness; the Windsor knot, the four-in-hand, the gracious bow, the waltz, entering one's name on a dance card, the proper way to hold one's refreshments. By my 16th birthday I was ready to make my society debut at the 1971 Charleston Boy's Cotillion. Oh, how Mama and Miss Buelah beamed with matronly pride as I promenaded across the ballroom floor with my escort (and second cousin once removed) Miss Blanche Dwerryhouse. I like to think Daddy would have beamed at my dashing waltz too, had he not been delayed by an emergency prior engagement that magical Charleston evening.
Yes, the lessons I learned from Miss Buelah have served me in good stead throughout the years. As Fall rush chairman at my fraternity, I tutored all freshman pledges in the ways of genteel chivalry that made Phi Alpha Gamma renowned as the "Dandy Lads of Greek Row." Later, as a gallant young lieutenant in the Army's crack Mauve Beret JAG corps special lawsuit unit, I commanded Company B - the famed "Decorum's Dozen." And today, I am proud and humbled that my esteemed colleagues on the Democratic side of the aisle have elected me as the U.S. Senate's Mr. Congeniality for 12 years running. My experience has only served to underscore Miss Buelah's perspicacity, for I have seen that convivial manners always provide a welcome lubricant to social intercourse; whether it takes place in a fraternity bunkroom, the JAG officers barracks, or the late-night well of the Senate.
Unfortunately not everyone our society is equally steeped in the fine art of discretion; take for example the recent case of the Florida clergymen who thoughtlessly lit afire the Mohemmedan holy scriptures. His inept faux pas unsurprisingly resulted in hurt feelings, an uncomfortable international incident, and several dozen decapitations. And who can blame the plaintiffs for their reactive fit of pique? In the grand antebellum days of Charleston gentlemanly duels were held over lesser insults, and thus it should come as no surprise that the Afghans would similarly be moved to unsheathe their scimitars and defend the honor of their own plantations.
As Miss Buelah often reminded me, a civil tongue is the quickest way to fellowship; and that war is no excuse for forgetting one's manners. Unfortunately, in their understandable haste to finish the Constitution, America's founding fathers neglected to codify this common etiquette into our common law. As many were themselves gallant sons of Old Virginny, one must in retrospect excuse them for being unable to foresee their dear First Amendment cited as a flimsy pretext for insults and blasphemies and opinions of the most ghastly kind. But in their wisdom they also provided for the constitutional amendment process, so that their heirs - such as myself - would have the means to prevent further sullying of our national and international discourse. In the coming weeks I shall be introducing a series of new bipartisan amendments to insure that our national conversation remains cordial, and that the ruffians of the commons use their spittoons. Fortunately, I keep my amendments numbered for just such an occasion.
Until such time as my legislation is enacted, the least we can do as gentlemen is to endeavor a mending of the frayed relationship now existing between ourselves and the Taliban. In this regard, I would like to apply another lesson I learned at Miss Buelah Fontaine's academy: the gracious apology note.
The Right Reverend Ayman Al-Zawahiri
Cave 37-B, Kandahar Arms
My Dearest Reverend:
On behalf of my colleagues, please allow me to express our deepest shame at the blasphemous action of one our citizens in the incident that so rightly vexed you and other devout followers of the Prophet. Please rest assured that as a civilized nation we in no way condone or tolerate this type of behavior. Although we cannot undo the unimaginable hurt his thoughtlessness caused, we will leave no stone unturned until he has made amends. Your recommendations for a just punishment will of course be given every consideration.
In closing, I hope by putting this incident behind us, we can return to an existential conflict befitting our two great and gentlemanly peoples. I remain, as always,
Your Faithful Servant, etc.,
The Hon. Lindsey Graham of the Charleston Grahams
I hope you now see how a bit of cordiality acts as a soothing balm to the deepest wounds. In my next column, I will examine another vexing diplomatic problem - how to remove those bloody collar stains!