Scene: The Cambridge University Union in, as I remember, 1958. The invited speaker, Sir Oswald Mosley, the former leader of the British Union of Fascists, got up to his feet. A student dashed forward and hurled a custard pie into his face. Mosley produced a handkerchief, wiped his cheek, and said, “€œThese people always do this kind of thing.”€ The pie thrower was ejected. Mosley embarked on his speech, which was generally listened to in well-mannered silence by perhaps 200 students.

Mosley was hardly a popular figure. Fascism was, to put it mildly, unpopular. The war was a live memory, even for undergraduates of 18 or 20; most of us had fathers who had served in the war against Germany, Italy, and Japan. Some of our fathers had been killed, badly wounded, or confined in prisoner-of-war camps. Mosley had been an admirer, perhaps friend, of Hitler’s, who had been a guest at his second wedding. (In later years he sometimes spoke of the Führer as “€œa dreadful little man,”€ but we didn”€™t know this.) Mosley was anti-Semitic and there would have been a number of Jews in the audience, some of them friends of mine, one, Leon Brittan, in later life a minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government. Not many there would have had much, if any, time for Mosley or his opinions. But we gave him a hearing, even a respectful one.

That was how it was then. We believed in free speech. This belief was, after all, one of the differences between democracies and dictatorships or totalitarian regimes. So, believing in free speech, we were ready to listen to people with whose opinions we might disagree, even to some whose beliefs and words we might find repulsive. So what if they were? We might be angered but not wounded. We didn”€™t need to be protected from words. We weren”€™t tender souls who might be bruised by hearing something we found unpleasant. So all sorts of people expressing all ranges of opinion, from the far left to the far right, were invited to speak at the Union, were made welcome (given a good dinner before the event) and were listened to. I recall, for instance, people raging against the iniquities of the British Empire, which I thought, and still think, to have been on the whole a good thing. So what? As children we had probably all at some time chanted, “€œSticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”€

“€œA school or university that provides such “€˜safe places”€™ for its pupils and students is better called a nursery or kindergarten.”€

How different, how contemptibly different things are in so many universities today! Intolerance has stifled any willingness to hear what may be unwelcome. Try to host a debate featuring Israeli speakers at a British university today, and you will stir up trouble. There will be a demand for a boycott, threats of disruption. There will be calls for the authorities to ban a meeting likely to disturb or inflict pain on students. Sure, there’s a case against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians in the West Bank, a case against building Israeli settlements there; but there is also a case for Israel and for the policy of the Netanyahu government, and it’s a case that is entitled to be heard, a case, university authorities might properly argue, that their students should hear.

It’s not just politics, or not politics of this sort. At Christ Church, one of Oxford’s finest colleges, a debate on abortion recently had to be canceled. Why? Well, there were men among the speakers billed to appear, and this was deemed to be offensive. Abortion, in the view of the protesters, is not a subject on which men are entitled to hold and express opinions. It’s got nothing to do with them, you see, because, while men may still be required (usually) to father children, they don”€™t have wombs. So the moral question”€”whether it is right, as well as lawful, to get rid of an unborn child, to kill an unborn child”€”is no concern of theirs. A man who disapproves of abortion on demand might say something hurtful. Better, therefore, to silence him.

Students, it seems, require, even demand, to be protected from any opinion that might disturb them, even from anything that might make them slightly uncomfortable. They want to live in what is called a “€œsafe space.”€ By this is meant a reservation where they will hear nothing that might upset them, nothing that might impinge on their own view of reality, nothing unsettling, nothing that might make them think or lead them to question their own prefabricated view of the world. A school or university that provides such “€œsafe places”€ for its pupils and students is better called a nursery or kindergarten. For that’s what it is. When you shield adolescents and young adults from opinions or arguments that they might not like, you are treating them like small children.

Maybe that’s how they want to be treated. Here’s an example. Last year a debate was organized at Brown University on the subject of campus sexual assault, which, we may agree, can be a serious and nasty thing. One of the invited speakers was Wendy McElroy, a libertarian, who was thought likely to criticize the use of the term “€œrape culture.”€ This was, of course, alarming, one student saying, “€œBringing in a speaker like that could serve to invalidate people’s experience.”€ Other students organized a “€œsafe space”€ for anyone who might find the debate “€œtroubling or triggering.”€ This “€œsafe space”€ room was, according to The New York Times, equipped with “€œcookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies.”€ I kid you not, and it’s unlikely that The New York Times is in this instance kidding you either. These are university students, not small children, but their “€œsafe space”€ was fitted out like a kindergarten. It’s pathetic.

One student did bravely venture out of the “€œsafe space”€ to drop in on the debate. But she was soon back. “€œI was being bombarded,”€ she reportedly said, “€œby a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs.”€ I like her use of the word “€œbombarded,”€ though being “€œbombarded by a lot of viewpoints”€ in a university debate is a shade less hazardous and frightening than being bombarded in, say, Aleppo, where those under attack can”€™t retreat to a refuge stacked with cookies and coloring books and watch a video of frolicking puppies.

Is America still a serious nation?

Consider. While U.S. elites were denouncing Donald Trump as unfit to serve for having compared Miss Universe 1996 to “Miss Piggy” of “The Muppets,” the World Trade Organization was validating the principal plank of his platform.

America’s allies are cheating and robbing her blind on trade.

According to the WTO, Britain, France, Spain, Germany and the EU pumped $22 billion in illegal subsidies into Airbus to swindle Boeing out of the sale of 375 commercial jets.

Subsidies to the A320 caused lost sales of 271 Boeing 737s, writes journalist Alan Boyle. Subsidies for planes in the twin-aisle market cost the sale of 50 Boeing 767s, 777s and 787s. And subsidies to the A380 cost Boeing the sale of 54 747s. These represent crippling losses for Boeing, a crown jewel of U.S. manufacturing and a critical component of our national defense.

Earlier, writes Boyle, the WTO ruled that, “without the subsidies, Airbus would not have existed … and there would be no Airbus aircraft on the market.”

In “The Great Betrayal” in 1998, I noted that in its first 25 years the socialist cartel called Airbus Industrie “sold 770 planes to 102 airlines but did not make a penny of profit.”

Richard Evans of British Aerospace explained: “Airbus is going to attack the Americans, including Boeing, until they bleed and scream.” And another executive said, “If Airbus has to give away planes, we will do it.”

“In the U.S. trade picture, even in the darkest of times, the brightest of categories has been commercial aircraft.”

When Europe’s taxpayers objected to the $26 billion in subsidies Airbus had gotten by 1990, German aerospace coordinator Erich Riedl was dismissive, “We don’t care about criticism from small-minded pencil-pushers.”

This is the voice of economic nationalism. Where is ours?

After this latest WTO ruling validating Boeing’s claims against Airbus, the Financial Times is babbling of the need for “free and fair” trade, warning against a trade war.

But is “trade war” not a fair description of what our NATO allies have been doing to us by subsidizing the cartel that helped bring down Lockheed and McDonnell-Douglas and now seeks to bring down Boeing?

Our companies built the planes that saved Europe in World War II and sheltered her in the Cold War. And Europe has been trying to kill those American companies.

Yet even as Europeans collude and cheat to capture America’s markets in passenger jets, Boeing itself, wrote Eamonn Fingleton in 2014, has been “consciously cooperating in its own demise.”

By Boeing’s own figures, writes Fingleton, in the building of its 787 Dreamliner, the world’s most advanced commercial jet, the “Japanese account for a stunning 35 percent of the 787’s overall manufacture, and that may be an underestimate.”

“Much of the rest of the plane is also made abroad … in Italy, Germany, South Korea, France, and the United Kingdom.”

The Dreamliner “flies on Mitsubishi wings. These are no ordinary wings: they constitute the first extensive use of carbon fiber in the wings of a full-size passenger plane. In the view of many experts, by outsourcing the wings Boeing has crossed a red line.”

Mitsubishi, recall, built the Zero, the premier fighter plane in the Pacific in the early years of World War II.

In a related matter, the U.S. merchandise trade deficit in July and August approached $60 billion each month, heading for a trade deficit in goods in 2016 of another $700 billion.

Holocaust denial is dead, but no one knows it. Worse, it appears as though no one wants to know. Not the media, not Jews, and especially not Jew-haters. But it’s true. Denial has gone the way of the woolly mammoth. It exists these days as a bogeyman, a bugbear, an illusion in the minds of hardcore anti-Semites and harder-core Semites. It’s a scarecrow that Jew-haters erect to frighten Jews and that Jews maintain to frighten themselves.

But let’s ease into that point. Better to begin at the cinema, where fantasies come alive…

On Friday, September 30th, the world will be treated to the premiere of the new motion picture Denial, which tells the story of how Deborah Lipstadt, the heroically plucky (or pluckily heroic) college professor and Holocaust scholar, prevailed in court after being sued for libel by the villainous, evil Holocaust denier David Irving. Lipstadt is played by Academy Award-winning actress Rachel Weisz, and Irving is portrayed by renowned bridge troll Timothy Spall. The director is Mick Jackson, the Brit responsible for Volcano (you remember that one, don”€™t you? About the volcano that sprouts up in the middle of L.A. to harass Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche. We all saw that one, right?).

The film is based on true events. In the mid-1990s, Irving sued Lipstadt for libel in an English court after she labeled him (among other things) a Holocaust denier, a racist and an anti-Semite, and a falsifier of history. Irving eventually lost the case, which had been argued before a judge rather than a jury (by mutual agreement of the plaintiff and defendant). The judge conceded that although Lipstadt had made several false accusations against Irving, the more serious of her claims”€”that he was a denier, a hater, an associate of haters, and a falsifier”€”were provable enough to excuse her from the charge of libel.

Although I was out of revisionism by the time the judgment was rendered (April 2000), I was keenly aware that, among revisionists, Irving’s defeat was seen as a major, potentially fatal setback, not just for Irving but for Holocaust revisionism in general. Revisionists had always been on the side of the defendant, the prosecuted, the persecuted. The victims of the legal system. There is a certain nobility in being the one dragged before the bench merely for speech. But this time, it was a revisionist who had instigated the proceedings. The defendant was a Jewish Holocaust author, and the “€œcrime”€ was her words. On Irving’s part, it was a Barbarossa-level gambit”€”the kind of campaign a man should undertake only if he is absolutely, positively certain of victory, because the consequences of defeat would be devastating. And for Irving, they certainly were. He could now legally be called a denier and an anti-Semite with impunity. The fact is, I”€™m surprised as hell that it took Hollywood sixteen years to finally turn the trial into a movie.

“€œLike parasites, the deniers thrive off the myth that Auschwitz is the totality of the Holocaust.”€

I asked Irving, who I”€™ve known since 1992, for his thoughts on the film. He told me that no one from the production ever contacted him for his side of the story (no surprise there). He added:

Ridley Scott was directing the original version, but the newspapers say he quit when HBO asked him to include fictional elements. I have not seen anything of “€˜Denial”€™ but bits of trailers: the opening scene, of my first confrontation with Lipstadt in Atlanta in November 1994, is fictional; it happened, but my actual challenge, waving $1,000 in notes in the air, was: “€œIf you will now show this audience the actual blueprint you just told this audience that you have, I will give you these notes.”€ See our video of the scene, posted on YouTube. They have changed that wording materially.

I asked Irving if, in hindsight, he stands by his decision to sue Lipstadt:

I would do it again”€”she is ignorant beyond words. Her ongoing astonishment at finding that in England libel law requires that you can prove what you claim says it all. The fact is that the judge despite all found her guilty of the other easy libels she uttered. She stayed out of the witness box, on no doubt good advice. She wrote that I spoke to extremists like Hezbollah in Sweden: I had never been in that country and that is still true, and have never dealt with Hezbollah. She wrote that I stole the Goebbels diaries from the Moscow archives in 1992, a very wounding allegation, which a simple query to me or Moscow would have shown to be untrue: she wrote that I had a large painting of Hitler in my study, untrue. Ditto. And so on. What should I do? If I leave the small lies uncontested, the big liars win. The judgment agreed that these were libels, but…

I sued after her lies were published, not before. That is the difference. My lawsuit asked for token damages from her and her UK publisher, the amount being only five hundred pounds, to be paid to a charity for limbless amputees in memory of my oldest daughter. The publishers showed themselves willing to settle on that basis”€”and were threatened then with legal action by their joint tortfeasor, Lipstadt. These are all unknown facts.

Even though it is absolutely true that the presiding judge did in fact find that Lipstadt had lied about the Goebbels diaries allegation and the “€œHitler portrait,”€ it remains that the judge agreed that Irving is a “€œdenier.”€ Although, it should be noted, the judge added that Irving has “€œsubstantially modified his position”€ over time on various aspects of the Holocaust. And, I will add, he’s further modified them since. Which is as good an entry point as any to the fact that Holocaust denial is dead.

What is Holocaust denial? It’s what you hear when ignorant goobers shout “€œHolohoax.”€ In essence, Holocaust denial is the belief that the worst the Nazis were guilty of was second-degree murder. Sure, Jews were rounded up and put into camps, and sure, some Jews died there, but from typhus and other diseases”€”not premeditated murder. That is denial. And when I say it’s dead, I don”€™t mean that no one subscribes to that factually bereft take on history. What I mean is that the three people most likely to be cited as the top experts in the “€œfield”€ of denial completely dismiss the views of the deniers.

David Irving is no longer a denier, if he ever was one. He accepts the fact that Jews were slaughtered en masse by mobile Einsatzgruppen units in the months following the invasion of Russia, he accepts the liquidation of the Jews in the Ostland (Eastern territory) ghettos, and he accepts that the “€œReinhard”€ camps (Treblinka, Belzec, and Sobibor) were extermination centers. Mark Weber, whose Institute for Historical Review defined Holocaust revisionism (and denial) in the 1990s, believes the same. And me? The “€œJewish revisionist”€? I never denied the Reinhard camps, the Ostland liquidations, or the Einsatzgruppen killings, and as early as 1995 I chided my fellow revisionists for rejecting the notion of a Nazi extermination program.

Sure, there are still deniers posting YouTube videos and calling them “€œdocumentaries,”€ most notably the (in the words of his own attorney) “€œmentally ill”€ Eric Hunt, but the only thing these cranks are capable of doing is recycling my 25-year-old work regarding Auschwitz and falsely labeling it denial.

Ah, Auschwitz. Yes, here’s where we still have a problem. Auschwitz is why Irving, Weber, and I are unlikely to be invited to the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s fall cotillion. If the Einsatzgruppen killings and the Reinhard extermination program are parts 1 and 2, respectively, of the Holocaust, there are genuine problems with what is commonly claimed to be part 3″€”that in 1943 Auschwitz-Birkenau was “€œrenovated”€ to become an ultra-super be-all end-all extermination facility. To me, the evidence just isn”€™t there, and the evidence that does exist calls that claim into question. But I”€™m not here to argue that point (I wrote a book to do that). What I”€™m here to argue is that Auschwitz is not the totality of the Holocaust. Most standard Holocaust histories agree that two-thirds of the Jews who were killed in the Holocaust were killed prior to the 1943 Auschwitz “€œrenovations.”€ If one accepts the Einsatzgruppen killings, the Ostland liquidations, and the Reinhard extermination program (and there are other provable instances of premeditated mass murder, but I”€™m painting with a broad brush for the sake of space), one is not a denier.

Except that one is, by the standards set by the deniers and the Deborah Lipstadts of the world. Because both “€œsides”€ purposely push the nonsense that Auschwitz is the totality of the Holocaust. The deniers do so because they want to deflect attention from the premeditated killing periods and programs for which the evidence is by and large incontrovertible. The Lipstadts do so because, well, they”€™ve backed themselves into a corner by putting Auschwitz, with its phony, postwar tourist-attraction “€œgas chamber”€ and its complete lack of documentary evidence supporting a killing program, front and center as the heart of the Holocaust. They”€™re in so deep at this point that they can”€™t back off.

One hour and one minute into the first presidential debate, Donald Trump finally mentioned, in passing, the word that had gotten him this far: “€œborder.”€

And then Trump immediately forgot to bring up borders anymore, other than a rushed reference to the Border Patrol endorsing him. (He touched very briefly three times on “€œimmigration.”€)

Not surprisingly, Trump’s two opponents, Hillary Clinton and Lester Holt, didn”€™t bring up borders.

Trump can hardly rely on them. NBC’s Holt had heard plenty of “€œyou”€™ll never work in this town again”€ threats from his colleagues in the press if he didn”€™t bias the questions against Trump more than Matt Lauer had at a lower-key Clinton-Trump forum on Sept. 7.

Holt did an expert job of tilting his moderation toward Hillary while still giving Trump a fighting chance. Sure, that’s not fair, but that’s the best Trump can expect in the debates.

At this point Trump is on track to rank, along with Henry Clay, William Jennings Bryan, Al Smith, Barry Goldwater, and George McGovern, as one of the finest losers in American history. To win, however, Trump’s effort is going to have to be even more heroic than it has been to get him to where he is.

Holt gave Trump one big opening by asking:

You mention ISIS, and we think of ISIS certainly as over there, but there are American citizens who have been inspired to commit acts of terror on American soil, the latest incident, of course, the bombings we just saw in New York and New Jersey, the knife attack at a mall in Minnesota, in the last year, deadly attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando.

But then Trump immediately went to ISIS over there and forgot to ever get home to bring up his prudent “€œextreme vetting”€ plan. (Similarly, he left out his wall and Hillary’s basket of deplorables.)

“€œIn general, Trump was, by Trumpian standards, philosophical and self-deprecating.”€

Hillary almost managed to botch this herself with her bemusing yet Orwellian response:

And I think we”€™ve got to have an intelligence surge, where we are looking for every scrap of information…. You know, they responded so quickly, so professionally to the attacks that occurred by Rahami. And they brought him down. And we may find out more information because he is still alive, which may prove to be an intelligence benefit.

Of course, Ahmad Khan Rahami, the Afghan-born chicken fryer who placed a bunch of poorly designed bombs in New York and New Jersey, isn”€™t some intelligence trove. He’s a moron. When Afghanistan sends its people, they”€™re not sending their best. He’s just another hostile hothead the U.S. establishment has allowed to colonize our country for no good reason.

Of course, Trump would have wound up arguing with Clinton and Holt about what to do about Islamic terrorists who are already American citizens. But he might have been able to draw attention to the impact of immigration policy on the future, which is, after all, when we”€™re going to have to live the rest of our lives.

In general, Trump was, by Trumpian standards, philosophical and self-deprecating. For example, he brought up his new hotel in Washington, D.C.:

We”€™re just opening up on Pennsylvania Avenue right next to the White House, so if I don”€™t get there one way, I”€™m going to get to Pennsylvania Avenue another.

Trump knows he doesn”€™t have a pedantic mind for details, so he seemed concerned about getting his assertions exactly right:

The Obama Administration, from the time they”€™ve come in, is over 230 years”€™ worth of debt, and he’s topped it. He’s doubled it in a course of almost eight years, seven and a half years, to be semi-exact.

One of the weirdly personal exchanges came when Hillary claimed that Trump stiffed the architect hired to design the clubhouse of the Trump National Golf Club Westchester:

CLINTON: We have an architect in the audience who designed one of your clubhouses at one of your golf courses. It’s a beautiful facility. It immediately was put to use. And you wouldn”€™t pay what the man needed to be paid, what he was charging you to do…

TRUMP: Maybe he didn”€™t do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work…

But, as both Hillary and Trump well know, Bill Clinton still maintains a locker in that same Trump National clubhouse, although none of the principals have publicly mentioned it during the campaign.

Trump’s main hope in his remarkable long-shot crusade has been to lure Hillary into an overly frank dialogue, whether in a debate or on the campaign trail, over just whose side she is on: 300 million Americans or 7 billion non-Americans?

The growing fanaticism of elite ideology, for which the aging Hillary has become a largely unquestioning vessel, in the “€œultimate wisdom of a borderless world“€ would be profoundly disturbing to tens of millions of voters if Trump can focus attention upon it.

Trump started off the debate strongly enough on trade, where Mrs. Clinton’s obvious insincerity is evident in her supposedly now objecting to the TPP after Bernie Sanders made it an issue.

Trump then pummeled Hillary on crime, calling for “€œlaw and order”€ seven times. He pointed to New York City’s superb increase in public safety under Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg as his model.

Hillary, who appears obsessed with turning out the vote in the slums of Charlotte and Philadelphia, could only bring herself to mention “€œlaw and order”€ once, and then in a scoffing tone:

So we”€™ve got to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system. We cannot just say “€œlaw and order.”€

On race and crime, Hillary emitted a number of statements that fell somewhere between dog whistles and whoppers, such as:

And it’s just a fact that if you”€™re a young African-American man and you do the same thing as a young white man, you are more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted, and incarcerated.

NEW YORK”€”If you study Method acting at one of the great New York studios that grew out of the Stanislavsky system, the first thing they teach you is that acting is not about speaking, it’s about reacting.

“€œAlways watch the actor who is not speaking,”€ the great Freddie Kareman used to tell his classes at Carnegie Hall. “€œIf he’s engaged and focused and concentrated, that’s when you”€™ll see his craft.”€

Or as Martin Scorsese once told me, “€œPay no attention to the words. We”€™ll change the words. We”€™re looking for what’s underneath the words.”€

The great thing about watching a Presidential debate with a split screen is that you get to watch the face that’s not speaking and you get to see what’s underneath the words.

And what did these two faces say?

Trump’s face, pinched, orange, topped by what can only be called a wispy ghost of a crewcut, was saying, “€œI can”€™t stand the sound of your voice. You”€™re annoying me. You”€™re a nothing.”€

And Hillary’s face, coiffed, pancaked, accessorized, was saying, “€œI”€™m going to smile sarcastically, even if I hate him, so the crowd will think I don”€™t care.”€

In other words, if you”€™re trying to decide which candidate is crazy, it’s not me!

“You don”€™t have to know how to do anything as President.”

I”€™m not sure who won. I used a ten-point-must scoring system, with the bout divided into 15 rounds, like professional boxing, and I had it 147-142 for Trump. I thought Trump won all the early rounds, but the referee turned on him about halfway through”€”Lester Holt of NBC News”€”trying to nail him on the birther issue and his taxes. (There were no corresponding “€œgotcha”€ questions for Hillary.) Trump let the questions get under his skin and started flailing wildly. Watching Hillary, you could tell she wanted to jump in a couple of times, then decided to rope-a-dope him. Trump recovered near the end, as both fighters were growing fatigued, and scored a couple of points when Hillary turned nasty and personal, practically accusing him of being an owner of female slaves, before the whole thing petered out in a forced “€œI will support the winner”€ hug.

Post-bout analysis was all over the lot, with Hillary loyalists claiming utter and complete demolishment of their opponent because she was “€œmore prepared.”€

I”€™ve got news for these Rhodes Scholars. People don”€™t care about who’s prepared. They care about who’s lying and, in this case, who’s lying more than the other liar. Everything else is just code words. Trump probably can”€™t lower taxes from 35 to 15 percent. Hillary can”€™t achieve her goals by taxing only the rich. Neither of them said anything particularly brilliant about police shootings. The jousting on free trade agreements and NATO was all familiar stuff that gets bandied about every day”€”nobody knows which course produces more prosperity.

But since this was the first and only time Trump has ever been involved in a one-on-one debate, much less a one-on-one debate that goes on for more than 90 minutes, and since he was competing against a veteran fighter who has done it 40 times, I think Trump has to be given the victory according to the Rocky principle: Sylvester Stallone didn’t win the fight, but he was still on his feet at the final bell.

People who have only seen Trump in sound bites watched him go the distance without faltering. Were his remarks long on general observation and short on detail? Yes they were. Did Hillary know more than he did? Probably. Does it matter? Only to people who think the President should be a college professor. You don”€™t have to know how to do anything as President. You have to have the right instincts and you have to hire the right people.

For people who don”€™t trust Trump because of his lack of self control, there he was being halfway restrained, especially when he got attacked personally at the end. I would imagine there were a lot of Undecideds who thought, “€œYou know what? He’s not that crazy.“€

The big unexamined issue throughout this election year is the one looming so large, hovering over the nation like a toxic cloud, that no one can see it”€”namely, Why does the world’s most powerful nation continue to cling to a two-party system?

I can”€™t believe I have to write about “€œcultural appropriation“€ again/now/anymore. But as another Clinton veers toward the White House, and a new Blair Witch movie debuts, why shouldn”€™t the Permanent Floating Nineties Revival embrace the other accoutrements of that decade, especially the asphyxiating political correctness that never did go out of style?

And why did we blithely presume it would? While we grown-ups were assuring each other that PC was just an irksome craze, millions of infants lacking our built-up resistance were exposed to the disease. Now these spawn”€”known as millennials”€”are, if not quite “€œadults”€ by our standards, physically mature and, alas, capable of something resembling speech.

Earlier this month, novelist and self-described liberal Lionel Shriver (she won the 2005 Orange Prize for We Need to Talk About Kevin) addressed the Brisbane Writers Festival. Her must-read opening keynote wouldn”€™t have looked out of place here at Taki’s. In Friday’s New York Times, she explains:

Briefly, my address maintained that fiction writers should be allowed to write fiction”€”thus should not let concerns about “€œcultural appropriation”€ constrain our creation of characters from different backgrounds than our own. I defended fiction as a vital vehicle for empathy. If we have permission to write only about our own personal experience, there is no fiction, but only memoir. Honestly, my thesis seemed so self-evident that I”€™d worried the speech would be bland.

“€œShriver’s must-read opening keynote wouldn”€™t have looked out of place here at Taki’s.”€

Hardly, and not just because Shriver, having mocked that American college where students were “€œoffered counseling“€ after a handful of their peers wore sombreros as party hats, wound up her talk by shoving one onto her head.

Alas, a 25-year-old hyphenated female of African extraction”€”an “€œengineer and memoirist,”€ yet”€”missed that part. She stomped out of the auditorium twenty minutes in, although not before stage-whispering to her companion, “€œHow is this happening?”€ (despite the dearth of boxcars or slave ships lingering in the immediate vicinity).

Anyhow, the poor thing recovered herself sufficiently to write a Maoist cri de rate (in, of course, The Guardian) denouncing Shriver as a reactionary, imperialist, colonialist blah blah so sleepy zzzzzzzz…

This gal’s cant-stuffed conniption, virtually indistinguishable from the SLA’s Patty Hearst ransom note, spurred one of those “€œdialogues about race”€ we”€™re always supposed to be having even when we”€™re already having one (or twelve).

Now, while all this was going on”€”well, first I have to explain the Tragically Hip.

I apologize in advance.

Foreign ears will likely mistake the Hip for a fairly capable R.E.M. cover band”€”very “€œStuff White People Like,”€ nothing more. But up here during, yes, the 1990s, college students got maudlin drunk on this group’s unsingable songs, in part because the only words you can make out are Canadian place names and slang terms, and there will always exist a particular variety of parochial”€”the type who otherwise despises “€œpatriotism”€”€”who inevitably finds that sort of thing weirdly…I don”€™t know if “€œflattering”€ is quite the word, but it will have to do. It helps that, off stage, the Hip promote the usual “€œprogressive”€ bunkum.

The Tragically Hip are hardly the Rolling Stones or the Who, or Smashing Pumpkins or Hole. The Tragically Hip will never make any Top 50, or even Top 500, Musical Groups of All Time List.

And yet, I”€™ve been duly informed, they are “€œCanada’s Band.”€ The announcement on May Two-Four that lead singer and songwriter Gord Downie had fatal brain cancer meant, for me, that (forget what I wrote last week) his gnomic lyrics finally had a pretext, and for everyone else, that the band was embarking on a national farewell tour.

The media covered every aspect of this cross-country excursion with that cloying, breathless boosterism normally reserved for the Olympics. Except even the Games”€™ critics are allowed to voice their dissent, and not a discouraging word was permitted as the Tragically Hip traipsed across the country all summer, their “€œsongs”€ blaring on the radio even more than already demanded by CanCon.

The CBC broadcast their final gig live, calling it “€œan honour and a privilege.”€ Prime Minister Zoolander (later conspicuously absent from any 15th-anniversary commemorations of 9/11) attended, of course. Maclean’s put Downie on the cover of a special issue and devoted dozens of pages to the tour, analyzing each set list and quoting fans declaring the Hip’s songs “€œthe soundtrack of our lives”€ and Downie “€œa genius”€ and a “€œshaman”€ and a “€œsaint.”€

It’s official: Donald Trump, Jr. compared Syrian refugees to a bowl of Skittles candy, which means he’s Hitler, and so is his dad, and so are you.

Last Monday Trump’s son tweeted a picture of a bowl of Skittles that had the caption:

If I had a bowl of skittles and told you three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.

The reaction was swift, harsh, illogical, and hysterical. A representative for Wrigley, which produces Skittles through the Mars candy company, explained to The Hollywood Reporter that “Skittles are candy. Refugees are people.The New York Times scolded Trump Jr. by noting that “human beings are not Skittles.” The Memphis Commercial Appeal unequivocally stated that “Refugees are people, not Skittles.”

Perhaps they’ve never heard of metaphors?

They’ve definitely heard of Nazis, though, because they never shut up about them. “Nazi Who Originated Donald Trump Jr.’s Skittles Analogy Was Hanged at Nuremberg,” shrieks the headline at The Intercept. The New York Times, which denied the Holodomorwhile it was happening but never misses a chance to call someone a Nazi, said that “comparing Syrians to Skittles carries echoes of the Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher comparing Jews to mushrooms in a popular children’s book that posited the ticklish dilemma of how to distinguish poisonous toadstools from edible fungus.” Haaretz bleated that “Nazi Propagandist Julius Streicher Would Be Proud of Trump Jr.” A writer for Stuff asserts that “this reasoning was first used by actual Nazis.”

“€œTo deny that demographic changes lead to cultural changes”€”often detrimentally so, at least to the host population”€”is to deny reality.”€

Accusing white supremacists of having a “strange…obsession” with Skittles ever since the Trayvon Martin case, a gay Syrian writes:

The idea at the root of the M&Ms or Skittles imagery is as old as Nazism itself….Skittles are being assimilated in a mysterious way into the coded language of white supremacy….What do Skittles mean for the white power movement that is slowly emerging into the mainstream?

Dazzlingly penetrating question, Mr. Gay Syrian. Let me know what your dogged research uncovers. Next time me and my White Brothers don our Druid costumes and pass around the silver chalice containing All-White Skittles, I’m going to grill them about the occult origins of this heretofore secret ceremony.

I don’t remember anyone on the left referring to radical feminists as Nazis a couple years ago when they used a nearly identical metaphor regarding male rapists and M&Ms.

And the roots of Trump’s tweet go much further back than the Nazis. The idea that one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch didn’t start with The Osmonds, you know. In 1736, Benjamin Franklin wrote:

The rotten apple spoils his companion.

And Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, written in the 1300s but first published in 1478, contains a line that translates roughly like this in modern English:

About an old proverb, the words that say:
“€œA rotten apple”€˜s better thrown away
Before it spoils the barrel.”€

So even in the 1300s, the “one bad apple” concept was considered an “old proverb.” Saying that it has its roots in Nazi propaganda only makes sense for people who treat Godwin’s Law as if it were one of the Ten Commandments. For such types, the only evil, insidious, socially destructive virus that has ever existed is “anti-Semitism””€”a virus which, I might add, microbiologists have so far been unable to isolate.

Ripping a page from the playbook his father authored, Trump Jr. refused to apologize for the post-Skittles-metaphor outrage:

I”€™m not comparing someone to candy, I”€™m using it as a”€”it’s a statistical thing. We have to be careful who we let into this country. You”€™ve seen what’s going on in Europe”€”and this is not just about terrorists, it’s about the rape statistics that have gone on there….For me, I guess I’m a straightforward guy. I don’t deal in microaggression, where it takes a special kind of person to find whatever message they’re looking for.

Almost as if they’d all been handed the same press release with the same talking points, the Trumpophobes trotted out a study by the Cato Institute”€”a “right wing” think tank which they usually despise”€”claiming that an average American’s odds of being killed by a Syrian refugee in a terror attack were less than one in three billion.

Well, at least that’s how it’s gone so far with Syrian refugees in the USA. True, it wasn’t Syrian refugees who pulled off 9/11, Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon Bombing, the Chattanooga Shootings, the San Bernardino Massacre, or the gay bloodbath in Orlando.

It’s fun watching the pundits on CNN try to intellectualize the riots in Charlotte. They bounce stats around and wonder aloud if the protesters are more angry about 19th-century lynchings or 20th-century segregation. They keep talking about bus seats and Alabama like anyone throwing a brick gives a shit. We all know Keith Scott was not reading a book, just as we know these rioters don”€™t read books. Do you expect an apology when we find out the cop was justified? Of course not. Nobody on TV seems prepared to face the truth, which is, these stupid kids are rioting because it’s really, really, really fun. That’s it. The same was true of the Rodney King riots and the riots in Ferguson. All vandals need is a semblance of a meme for justification and they”€™re good to go. To pretend it’s anything more than that is to tell your rapist you”€™re a Malcolm X scholar in hopes that he”€™ll stop. 

Smashing windows and running through the streets lighting fires is “€œthe unbeatable high,”€ as Jello Biafra put it in the Dead Kennedys”€™ classic “€œRiot.”€ You can see that in their faces. They”€™re laughing, mugging for the camera, and jumping up and down like kids in the mosh pit. They”€™re not revolutionaries. They”€™re spoiled brats. This is laser tag to them.

The people we see trashing Charlotte are mostly black, predominantly young, and without a doubt wildly disproportionately the children of single mothers. Like all American cities on the verge of collapse, it is a Dem-run catastrophe that provides pregnant teenagers with a financial incentive to tell they baby daddy to peace out. The result is not a generation of black-power intellectuals who pore over history and plan their next strategic attack. It’s a demographic that puts partying and self-indulgence over everything.

“€œThey”€™re not revolutionaries. They”€™re spoiled brats. This is laser tag to them.”€

Taleeb Starkes just did a brilliant video for Prager U entitled “€œTop 5 Issues Facing Black Americans.”€ He cites: Unquestioning Allegiance to So-Called Progressive Policies, Proliferation of Baby Mamas, Urban Terrorism, Lack of Diversity (of Ideas), and the Victim Mentality as the reasons his race is in a perpetual state of decline. I”€™d argue they”€™re all the same thing. The left tells blacks they are at a disadvantage due to racism and that no matter how educated a black man is or how hard he works, he will always be treated as a second-class citizen. To rectify this injustice, they throw taxpayer money at the problem. The free money provides the victim mentality and that leads to the extra baby mamas. It’s not questioned because nobody wants to bite the hand that feeds them. That’s four of the five and “€œUrban Terrorism”€ is the fifth, which is what we”€™re experiencing in Charlotte now. That stems from boredom which comes from having no dad which comes from welfare which comes from Democrats. The blog Handle’s Haus has a very stark and disturbing take on this phenomenon:

The problem is that while “€œpoverty”€ does not cause crime, idle hands are the devil’s workshop, and a heavy-concentration of young men who are either not willing or able (or both) to hold down a job and get busy raising a family is a well-established recipe for disaster that was known to the ancients since time immemorial. This problem exists in our pockets of crime, no one has any good and politically-palpable idea of what to do about it, and the accelerating three legged stool of immigration, automation, and globalization is making it increasingly worse.

Handle goes on to blame boredom for the drug war and says mass incarceration is your only option when dealing with a generation that’s never known discipline. It’s not a revolution. It’s fatherless kids looking for something to do. This makes a lot more sense than some kind of Black Panther covert op involving the empowerment of the underclass.

We tend to imbue our own pontification on everyone else because as a culture we were cursed with too much empathy. If jihadists blow up a building, we go back to the Crusades and try to determine which Christian transgression they are retaliating against. ISIS are nothing more than inbred sand people who have memorized a book that keeps repeating, “€œConvert or die.”€ They are basically Koko the gorilla in a terrible mood. When Osama bin Laden said 9/11 was about our foreign policy, he was simply parroting what we think would give him the most credence. To take him seriously is to make him Western.

During the early stages of the rioting, an overfed black girl in a Mötley Crüe shirt confronted a Fox News reporter. The rhetoric she barfed out was so rehearsed it sounded like the lyrics to a punk anthem. “€œBlack people get shot every day, right?”€ she explained. “€œIt’s okay for that, right? It’s okay for our brothers and our fathers not to come home, right? I serve a purpose, sir. My father serves a purpose. My brother serves a purpose. Whether I”€™m here, I”€™m in school, I”€™m in my car, I could still get shot by the police. I could get shot anywhere.”€ Cue the heavy bass line as she stage-dives into the crowd. The reporter then alluded to the fact that the protester who was just shot was likely shot by a random black person and not a cop. This allegation, while true, was met with apoplectic screaming and violence, so the news crew quickly moved on. About 3,400 blacks were lynched throughout American history. As Starkes points out in his video, blacks kill twice that many blacks every year. I”€™d understand the rage if death-by-cop was even in the same universe as death-by-black, but we”€™re talking about a 1,000-to-1 ratio. To bring this up, however, is to wreck the party, and nobody likes a buzzkill.

Sicily – Under the watchful eye of Mount Etna the storied past of the island lies parched and yellowish, but as one gets nearer to the fiery growling giant the air turns cool, the sun glistening against black volcanic rock. Sicily is of two minds. Orange groves and beaches galore, then dank forests and possible lava flows. Sicily’s history resembles the landscape: Peaceful and religious, violent and vengeful.

I first sailed to Taormina back in the Sixties, visited the ancient Greek amphitheatre, and listened to Dvorak’s New World Symphony while breathing in the smells of history. It was an extraordinary spectacle: Beautifully dressed people, a great Italian symphony orchestra, and a sunset that illuminated the ancient site and brought alive its legends as it has for thousands of years. It was as romantic as it gets, and then some.

Back in 415 BC, the Athenian patrician Alcibiades pulled a number that signaled the end of Athenian hegemony. Alcibiades had a vision of the conquest of Syracuse and the foundation of a new empire of the west. Bogged down in a war of attrition with Sparta, the Athenians did a Bush-Blair, by invading Sicily. A vast armada was annihilated, as was the Athenian imperial mission. End of story, for Athens, that is.

“He is a great aristocrat who understands the vulgarity of the upwardly mobile middle classes and new money.”

I’ve often thought of Alcibiades and the Greeks landing in Sicily with conquest of Carthage in mind. I’ve sailed through Scylla & Charybdis, the Messina Straits, countless times, and had a knockdown once just as we were crossing in the middle of the two Homeric monsters. Sicily might not be good for Greek sailors, but oh, what a past. We once stopped to visit Prince Galvano Lanza, whose name features in The Leopard, and his staff was striking. He lay in his palazzo, immobile, a thousand year weariness etched on his face, reading about Napoleon. The staff eventually obliged and even put on their finest. Princes and servants, violence and ritual, church and no state, that’s Sicily for you.

Speaking of Il Gattopardo, Guiseppe di Lampedusa’s lyric lament for a disappearing world, and one of the greatest post-war European novels, the protagonist, Fabrizio, Prince of Salina, is probably my favourite fictional hero. An excellent horseman, a terrific shot, a tireless womanizer, Fabrizio is brave, intelligent, wise, a sinner, yet a loving family man with a very generous heart. He is a great aristocrat who understands the vulgarity of the upwardly mobile middle classes and new money.

As everyone except Kanye West, the Kardashians, and others of their ilk knows, the novel is set in 1860, with Garibaldi and his troops landing in Sicily when the Risorgimento begins in earnest. Landowning aristocrats and peasant tenants are in confusion, the contract between them undermined by various unfamiliar forces, political liberalism and a rising middle class. The prince takes it all in stride. He understands his own coming irrelevance, daydreams of past – and future lovers – remains conservative and mystical about his lands and his position.

Unlike other great books, the film of The Leopard by an aristocrat of Fabrizio’s ilk, Luchino Visconti, is equal to the novel. Visconti told a friend of mine that the one great riddle of his life was how an acrobat born and raised in the Bronx could play the Prince of Salina as if he were Lampedusa himself. This was Burt Lancaster in the 1963 movie, like the novel, probably the best film ever. One feels the prince’s pain as modernity approaches but he never expresses it. He watches the young dancing at the great ball at the end, and the yearning for his long gone youth is evident only in his eyes.

The Week’s Most Neurotic, Narcotic, and Sclerotic Headlines

Legendary boxing promoter Don King is known for his colorful language, wild hair, and the fact that he once stomped a man to death. On Wednesday at a church in Cleveland, he endorsed Donald J. Trump for president.

As Trump sat behind him smiling with the infinite wisdom and unparalleled compassion of a Nordic deity, King urged white women and minorities to vote for the GOP nominee:

You”€™ve got to understand what I”€™m trying to say to you is that the white woman”€”and I put it in this kind of [words] so you understand what I”€™m saying”€”the white woman and the slave, the people of color, when the system was created, they did not get heard….The white woman did not have the rights, and she still don”€™t have the rights….And people of color don”€™t have their rights”€”those are the “€˜left-outs.’…[Trump] said we will create a whole new system, we will take this system apart. Everybody should jump on it”€”especially black people and the white woman”€”because they both have been excluded and they are considered inferior and old property.

At no time during his oration did King specify the name or identity of “the white woman” in question. We suspect it is either Rosie O’Donnell or Megyn Kelly.

King”€”who had been scheduled to speak at July’s Republican National Convention until Pee Wee Herman lookalike Reince Priebus nixed the idea”€”also delighted the audience and the world at large by using the word “Negro” five times and an even more horrible word once:

I told Michael Jackson, I said, “€˜If you are poor, you are a poor negro.’…I would use the N-word. But if you are rich, you are a rich negro. If you are intelligent, intellectual, you”€™re an intellectual negro. If you are a dancing and sliding and gliding nigger”€”I meant negro”€”you”€™re a dancing and sliding and gliding negro.

Thank you, Don King, for doing your part to help Donald Trump dance, slide, and glide into the White House this November.

“€œA large”€”yet also largely unmentioned”€”voting bloc which may swing the election in Hillary Clinton’s favor this November are white women who are pains in the ass.”€

The week’s biggest news story repeats the same racially insane scenario from Milwaukee over the summer”€”a black cop shoots and kills an armed black man, then black rioters burn the city and randomly attack white people while a black police chief begs for peace.

This time the “protesters” were in Charlotte, NC, although many of those arrested in the mayhem appear to be from out of state.

The visibly upset brother of shooting victim Keith Lamont Scott is on camera blaming white people and white cops for the fact that a black cop shot his brother:

I just know that all white people are fucking devils. All white cops are fucking devils, and white people.

White Republican North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittinger told the BBC that the rioters were jealous of whites:

They hate white people because white people are successful and they”€™re not. I mean, yes, it is, it is a welfare state. We have spent trillions of dollars on welfare, and we”€™ve put people in bondage so they can”€™t be all that they are capable of being.

Pittinger was forced into giving a public apology. Keith Lamont Scott’s brother wasn’t.

Shortly after being imprisoned for leaking military documents, the traitorous and mentally unstable Army soldier named Bradley Manning announced that he was a chick named Chelsea Manning. Papers such as The New York Times defy objective reality by referring to Manning using feminine pronouns.

On September 13 Manning’s lawyer announced that the Army has granted his request to proceed with gender reassignment surgery, whereupon Manning ceased his super-dramatic hunger strike and said, “This is all I wanted”€”for them to let me be me.” But on Saturday it was revealed that Manning will spend two weeks in solitary confinement for a suicide attempt in early July.

If you think any of this sounds nuts, that is clearly because you suffer from a mental illness known as transphobia.

Baseball’s San Francisco Giants briefly became the San Francisco Anti-Semites last week when someone in charge of their Twitter account accidentally hate-tweeted the following:

Mr. Bumgarner gets KKKike for the third time tonight

The unnamed tweeter had meant to say that Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner had struck out LA Dodgers outfielder Enrique Hernandez”€”whose nickname is “Kiké””€”three times, with “K” being baseball shorthand for a strikeout. Instead they screwed up and referenced the Klan while using a virulent anti-Jewish slur, which led Giants management to apologize to Jewish people but not Klansmen.