Another Passover come and gone. And with the weather getting warm and dry here in L.A., I’m gonna have to make sure to take down the tree before it becomes a fire hazard. We Jews don’t blow the shofar for Passover—that’s a Yom Kippur thing. In fact, to be honest, I’ve never blown a shofar in my life, although I have been known to tell one or two shiksa actress bimbos that blowing a shofar is a good way to land movie roles in this town (which has resulted in not just a few cases of very surprised, and very happy, limo drivers).
The shofar is, of course, a ram’s horn used by Jewey Armstrongs the world over to herald something or another. And even though Passover is not the time for shofar blowin’, I was reminded of the Hebraic party favor in the wake of the devastating fire that hit the Notre Dame Cathedral. The leftist press has unleashed a barrage of op-eds calling for the new Notre Dame to reflect new Europe with its new immigrants who create new slums and favor local women with new rapes.
The most viral of those pieces is a Daily Beast rant written by Erika Harlitz-Kern, a Swedish historian who teaches at Florida International University (Harlitz-Kern devotes much of her Twitter feed to defending the onerous Swedish tax system, yet she lives in low-taxes Florida. How odd!). Her essay is titled “Give Notre Dame a Modern Roof the Alt-Right Will Hate,” and can’t you just hear the sound of the Beast editors climaxing in their pants in anticipation of how many social media hits a title like that will guarantee?
The gist of Hurdy-Gurdy’s rhetorical smegma is…well, I’ll let Muppet Chef sum it up herself:
Medieval Europe was a crossroads of global influence, not a mythical all-white past. The new Notre Dame should reflect that…. Notre Dame’s new roof should be a representation of the architecture of the first decades of the 21st century, more in the spirit of the pyramid at the Louvre than the spire that no longer defines the Paris city silhouette.
Yep, screw any notion of Notre Dame as something sacred. The new Dame oughta be modern and multicultural. Those moronic white Christians who see this old hovel as something to be treated with awe and respect are merely fronting for white supremacy. Give Nouveau Dame a diverse, Eid al-Fitr kinda vibe!
Funny, but I seem to recall Harlitz-Kern taking a different position about a different sacred object several years ago. In 2014, she penned an essay for her personal blog in which she bravely announced that she was boycotting the TV show Sleepy Hollow. Why? Because one episode insulted the sacredness of the Jewish shofar. Apparently, some character named Henry summoned some villain named Moloch by blowing an ancient horn, and Harlitz-Kern was having none of it:
Moloch enters our world when Henry, in accordance to the Book of Revelations, sounds a trumpet. In ‘Sleepy Hollow,’ the trumpet that Henry sounds is in fact a shofar. A shofar is a ram’s horn used during the synagogue service on Rosh HaShana. In Judaism, the blowing of the shofar symbolizes many things. For example, it symbolizes the human heart calling to God and God hearing that call. The shofar also symbolizes calling for the future and the arrival of the Messiah…. The shofar symbolizes the close connection between the Jewish nation and God. When Henry blows the shofar to summon Moloch, the symbolism of the shofar is perverted…. The actions and words of Henry call upon centuries-old antisemitic prejudice and hate-speech towards Jews.
Harlitz-Kern concluded her piece by calling Sleepy Hollow “one of the most racist shows on American television.”
So, Notre Dame is not sacred (and those who see it as such are “alt-rightists”), and the cathedral should be updated for today’s edgy, multicultural times. But the shofar is sacred, and must never be used in a context that alters its original meaning.
When it comes to preserving history, the left—as it does with everything it lays its bong-water-soaked hands on—uses race as the arbiter. Shofars? Sacred, because Jews. European cathedrals? Not sacred, because whites!
All remnants of Confederate art must be removed and erased because the South fought a war against the U.S. government (“We should not commemorate our former enemies!”). Yet the National Park Service vigorously advocates the preservation and exhibition of art created by Mexicans who fought against the U.S. during the Mexican-American War (“Let’s commemorate our former enemies!”). To leftists, it all comes down to this: Question: “Should we preserve the art of those who fought against us?” Answer: “Depends. Here’s a brown paper bag. If the artist’s skin is this color or darker, yes! If not, no!”
Kate Smith sang an anti-racism “racist” song?
Remove her statue!
Notorious B.I.G. rapped, “Can’t talk with a gun in your mouth, huh? Bitch-ass nigga, what?”
Give him a statue!
These days, erasing history is the left’s favorite pastime, because leftists understand the link between controlling the knowledge of history and controlling current events. Respecting Notre Dame’s past, acknowledging the religion and race of the folks who built it, mucks up the grand plan to create a multiracial Europe. Remember that viral story about how England’s “first humans” were black? Remember how it was covered again and again in the press? Remember when it was debunked? Probably not, because almost none of the initial breathless stories were updated or corrected. The phony “charcoal Cheddar Man” claim is necessary for the left’s narrative. “Why, England’s always been black! African immigration is simply folks comin’ back home.”
Defile a historic cathedral to promote multiculturalism, or defile some old bones for the same reason. To the left, it’s just another day at the office.
But let’s move away from ancient history. What’s fascinating is how leftists have mastered the art of erasing recent history.
With the 2020 primaries taking (mis)shape, top Democrats desperately need Americans to forget that up until recently many of them were pro–border security and anti–illegal immigration. The thing is, when leftists reverse themselves, they never own up to the reversal. They simply change their position to the one most popular with the screamiest meemies in their base, and then they have their friends in the press bury the old position (with an assist from their friends in Big Tech, who declare the old position “hate speech,” meaning that no one gets to rehash what the leftists were saying less than a decade ago). “Stop illegal immigration!” “No gay marriage!” “There are only two genders!” Hey—we never said that, and if you try to bring up the fact that we totally did say that, kiss your social media presence goodbye, racist!
During an appearance on PBS’ Firing Line With Margaret Hoover last week, Ann Coulter suggested that she might consider supporting Bernie Sanders for president if he returned to his original anti-open-borders position. Well, this presented a conundrum for the press. Ann Coulter willing to support Bernie Sanders? Social media gold! But…how to tell the story without revealing the fact that Bernie-boy used to be in favor of border control? Simple! Just erase the history. “Ann Coulter says she could vote for Sanders if he changed views on immigration,” screamed The Hill. “Coulter said she would vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders for president, and even consider working for him, if he changed his position on immigration. If Sanders changed his immigration stance to include policies such as ‘protecting the border’ he would have Coulter’s vote.”
See what they did there? Changed his position…not “went back to his original position,” which was Coulter’s actual quote. Because it’s vital to erase the history of Sanders’ previous views on immigration. After all, bringing it up might force him to explain the shift, and we can’t have that, can we?
A few days ago, Kamala Harris, a.k.a. the background dancer who screwed her way to lead singer, was asked by Don Lemon if she supported Sanders’ plan to allow murderers and rapists to retain their voting rights while in prison. “I think we should have that conversation,” said the former “prosecutor.” When I saw the clip, I honestly didn’t mind the evasive nature of her answer. Politicians are evasive by nature; it comes with the job. What pissed me off was the idea that leftists ever engage in a “conversation.” When do leftists ever engage in “conversations”? They adopt a position (often a complete reversal of a previous one), and then they declare the old position to be “hate speech” and those who espouse it “hate criminals.” Where was the “conversation” on trannies in the girls’ bathroom? Where was the “conversation” on there being 1,745 genders instead of two? I don’t recall having those “conversations,” do you? One day, leftists decided that “this is the new truth,” and suddenly people like me get banned from social media for stating the scientific fact that a man can’t wish himself into being a biological woman.
Where was the “conversation” on immigration? I just remember going to bed one night when top Democrats were in favor of strong border control, and waking up the next morning to find that desiring strong border control makes you a Nazi.
If there was a “conversation,” I don’t remember it.
Affirmative action? Forced busing? Court ordered…no “conversation.” And if Democrats, who view voting rights for imprisoned murderers as a race issue (because of the disproportionately high number of blacks and Latinos who’d be affected), decide tomorrow to uniformly support that policy, overnight anyone who opposes it will immediately become Hitler.
Did any Western European leaders have a “conversation” with their constituents about flooding the continent with nonindigenous immigrants? When exactly was that referendum? At least with Brexit, there was a conversation, but has the popular consensus—the result of that conversation—been respected? Of course not.
Leftists don’t “converse.” They impose. And to do this, it often becomes necessary to erase history, ancient and recent. This is done not only to cow the current generation, but to brainwash the next. “Why, Notre Dame always had a minaret! Hell, the building was constructed by Muslims, who were always the majority in France! Just as England was always nonwhite.”
Future Europeans will learn little of old Christendom, but you can be damn sure they’ll know all about Auschwitz. In thirty years, every schoolkid in the West will know about the fifty Muslims killed in New Zealand in March 2019, and none will know of the hundreds of Christians killed in Sri Lanka a month later.
Controlling what we forget and what we remember, what we are encouraged to defile and what we are ordered to hold sacred (like Harlitz-Kern’s holy kazoo), is how you make sure there isn’t a conversation. Leftists understand this better than anyone.
If Stalin taught these bastards anything, it’s that the airbrush is mightier than the memory.
As he debated with himself whether to enter the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination, Joe Biden knew he had a problem.
As a senator from Delaware in the ’70s, he had bashed busing to achieve racial balance in public schools as stupid and racist.
As chairman of Senate Judiciary in the hearings on the nomination of Clarence Thomas in 1991, Biden had been dismissive of the charges by Anita Hill that the future justice had sexually harassed her.
In 1994, Biden had steered to passage a tough anti-crime bill that led to a dramatic increase in the prison population.
Crime went down as U.S. prisons filled up, but Biden’s bill came to be seen by many African Americans as discriminatory.
What to do? Acting on the adage that your best defense is a good offense, Biden decided to tear into President Donald Trump — for giving aid and comfort to white racists.
His announcement video began with footage of the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, highlighting Trump’s remark, after the brawl that left a female protestor dead, that there were “very fine people on both sides.”
“With those words,” said Biden, “the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it. And in that moment, I realized that the threat to this nation was unlike any I had seen in my lifetime.”
Cut it out, Joe. This is just not credible. Even he cannot believe Trump had in mind the neo-Nazis and Klansman chanting, “Jews will not replace us!” when Trump said there were “fine people” on both sides.
If this were truly a road-to-Damascus moment for Biden, calling forth a new resolve to remove so morally obtuse a resident of the Oval Office, why did he have to agonize so long before getting in the race?
And was Charlottesville, a riot involving Klansmen, neo-Nazis and radicals, really a “threat to this nation” unlike any Biden had seen in a lifetime that covers the Cuban missile crisis, Vietnam, the riots in 100 cities after Martin Luther King’s assassination and Sept. 11?
Even the anti-Trump media seemed skeptical. Their first interviews after Biden’s announcement were not about Charlottesville but why it took so long to call Anita Hill to apologize.
Yet there is an unstated message in the Biden video. It is this:
With the economy firing on all eight cylinders, and the drive for impeachment losing steam, a new strategy is emerging — to take Trump down by stuffing him in a box with white supremacists.
The strategy is not original. It was tried, but backfired on Hillary Clinton when she called Trump supporters “deplorables … racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic … bigots.”
This didn’t sit well with some white folks in Wisconsin, Michigan and Middle Pennsylvania.
Yet the never-Trumpers seem to think it could work this time.
After Saturday’s attack on the Passover service in Poway, California, which took a woman’s life, Trump denounced the atrocity, expressed his condolences, called Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who had been wounded, and consoled him for 15 minutes.
“Nevertheless,” wrote The Washington Post Monday in a front-page headline, “President’s words push race to fore of campaign.”
“The rise of white nationalist violence during Trump’s tenure is emerging as an issue,” said the Post, because Trump “previously played down the threat posed by white nationalism (and) … also has a long history of anti-Muslim remarks.”
The article should be taken seriously. For the Post is not only an enemy of Trump but a powerful institutional ally of the left. And during presidential campaigns, it doubles as an oppo research and attack arm of the Democratic Party.
“Violence, Hate Crimes Emerge as 2020 Issues” declared the inside headline on the Post story. The Post is not talking about customary crimes of violence in America or D.C. — robbery, rape, assault, battery, murder — a disproportionate share of which are committed by minorities of color.
The crimes that interest the Post are those committed by white males against minorities, which can be used to flesh out the picture of America that preexists in the mind of the left, if not in the real world.
Yet it does appear that issues of race, tribe and identity are becoming an obsession in our politics. This weekend, The New York Times faced charges of anti-Semitism for a cartoon of a blind Trump in a skullcap being led by a seeing-eye dog with the face of “Bibi” Netanyahu, who had a Star of David on his collar.
Recoiling under fire, the Times pulled the cartoon and apologized.
On Monday, Rev. Al Sharpton met with “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg. Subject of discussion: Reparations for slavery, which ended more than a century before the mayor was born.
“All is race,” wrote Disraeli in his novel “Tancred.” “There is no other truth.”
There are reasons I don’t like to venture from the Upper East Side. I was reminded of several at a dinner party in Brooklyn where I wisely kept my mouth shut as my tablemates spewed errant nonsense on myriad subjects.
The host, one of my more liberal classmates at Yale, gathered the six of us together at a gastropub in Park Slope where the menu bragged about its locally sourced, organic, cruelty-free ingredients.
As I sipped my first gin martini, on the rocks with a twist, I thought of Charlie the Tuna: “I don’t want tuna with good taste, I want tuna that tastes good.”
After the standard Trump-trashing and hopes for impeachment one hears at every sophisticated Gotham gathering, one fellow talked about a documentary he is making on the mythology of ancient Ecuador.
Of particular interest is the image carved in stone of a serpent exiting the mouth of a hybrid bird/lion/man, he said. “If you dreamed that dream, what would it mean?” he asked.
Before I could say, “Indigestion,” he said the image welled up from the collective unconscious of mankind. “They are inherited potentials—the psychic equivalent of instincts.”
He went on and on, and no one could interrupt, before he concluded: “One day Pre-Columbian art will take its rightful place with ancient Greek, Roman, and Oriental art. Our documentary is dedicated to advancing that outcome.”
Don’t hold your breath. I understand the yearning to believe that art and culture existed in the Andes 3,000 years ago, just as it did in the African nation of Wakanda—oh wait, that was just some Hollywood mythmaking in Black Panther.
But all civilizations are not created equal. The ancient Greeks and Romans had real art, science, and literature. The headhunters in Borneo, cannibals in the Congo, and ancient goldsmiths of Ecuador did not.
The documentarian had barely paused for breath when the woman to his right started talking about how great it was that a nonbinary “genderqueer,” Asia Kate Dillon, has a big role as hedge fund manager Taylor Mason on Showtime’s Billions.
All the characters on the show refer to Taylor as “they” and “them,” as they, meaning Dillon, want, or should that be wants?
I find this ridiculous. Dillon can be a he, or a she, or an it, but I don’t think it’s fair for any human to become plural. “They” is a crime against grammar and common sense.
We have to stand up to bullies, and insist on singularity. But I certainly didn’t share those thoughts to be attacked as a Neanderthal. I had another forkful of kale.
Our host quickly changed the subject to Maureen Dowd’s brilliant interview of Tom Ford, proving that her talents are being wasted on covering politics.
Dowd revealed that Ford learned he was gay as a college freshman when Andy Warhol took him to Studio 54, where he snorted coke, drank booze, and had sex for the first time with a man.
We also learned that the handsome fashion designer is so vain that he won’t attend Barry Diller’s pre-Oscar picnic because he doesn’t like to be seen in daylight. He hates overhead lighting, and has a special table at Sunset Tower where a special switch turns off the hated illumination.
At Ford’s ranch in New Mexico, the tractors are painted black to color-coordinate with his Black Angus steers and his black horses.
As the late Karl Lagerfeld once said, “I’m very much down to earth, just not this earth.”
By now, a third bottle of wine was being poured, and the woman to my left was complaining about some floozy who had recently hit on her husband.
“She wasn’t wearing any underwear. She was showing him her vagina,” the wife said. “That’s an exaggeration,” the husband protested.
If it were me, I would have smiled and sniffed a finger, but that’s why I’ve been divorced three times. Don’t come to me for marital advice.
The Week’s Most Perverted, Diverted, and Disconcerted Headlines
SPORTS TEAMS BAN KATE SMITH FOR “PICKANINNY” AND “DARKIES” SONGS
Kate Smith was a fat white woman beloved for decades by Americans for her rendition of “God Bless America,” which she belted out with the gusto of a woman who can swallow a dozen donuts in one bite and still have room for a sip of milk. Her version received heavy play at sporting events across the fruited plains, most notably during the seventh-inning stretch at New York Yankees games and during Philadelphia Flyers hockey games.
But because it has become increasingly evident that every white American born before 1985 was a coon-baiting Nazi, both teams have decided that La Smith has to go.
Smith, you see, will remain eternally guilty of being the chanteuse behind 1933’s song “Pickaninny Heaven,” which includes horrifying lyrics about “colored children” who are accused of enjoying “great big watermelons.” Not having been beaten or shot to death for that crime against humanity, she brazenly went on to record 1939’s “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” which explained that African Americans were born to pick cotton. She also endorsed a “Mammy Doll” the same year. The doll was apparently offensive because it encouraged children to hug and show affection to a simulacrum of a black woman.
Neither the Yankees nor the Flyers will be playing “God Bless America” at games anymore, despite the fact that the song doesn’t mention darkies or coons or pickaninnies or eggplants or toads or bones or any of the other terrifying terms that white Americans have used to oppress black people for centuries, names that have been proved to prevent black Americans from averaging anywhere close to 100 on IQ tests. The Flyers have taken it one step further and have removed a Kate Smith statue that stood outside their arena.
These people will never be happy until everyone is as unhappy as they are.
WORLD: 100+ CHURCHES ATTACKED MONTHLY
No matter your feelings about Christianity, it’s hard to deny that the Western press is far less sympathetic toward attacks on Christians than they are toward even the slightest disparaging comment about Muslims and Jews.
According to a website called Open Doors USA, slightly over 100 churches and Christian buildings are burned or attacked monthly worldwide. Nearly 350 Christians are murdered for their faith every month as well.
Other findings from Open Doors USA’s research:
• nearly a quarter-billion Christians worldwide—or one in nine—“experience high levels of persecution.”
• North Korea is the most dangerous country on earth for Christians.
• In 8 of the top 10 countries for persecution of Christians, the animus is fueled by Islam.
• In many of these countries, Christian women experience “double persecution”—one for being Christian and one for being women, which, well, can be understandable given the way so many of them act.
We suspect that the press looks the other way regarding these global atrocities not so much because they hate Christians but because, despite global demographic trends, they still tend to see “Christendom” as synonymous with “whiteness.”
STARBUCKS PROVIDES A SAFE SPACE FOR JUNKIES
Ever since a pair of impertinent and (we’re assuming) malodorous black males caused a huge stink at a Philadelphia Starbucks last year because they insisted on loitering and using the bathroom despite having refused to purchase anything, the massively and undeservedly successful bitter-coffee chain has opened its bathrooms to anyone who desires to befoul them, all of it, naturally, in the name of “inclusiveness.”
Because everyone is equal and there is no difference between a billionaire inventor who wishes to pee-pee in a Starbucks bathroom and a strung-out homeless junkie who desires to shoot up in a Starbucks bathroom, any murmurs that there is a difference between the two will be countered with violence and endless shaming, and you don’t want that, although we secretly do. However, one California Starbucks manager—and believe us, we’re desperately trying to identify him and get him fired:
I think the bathroom policy has definitely changed the store’s environment. It’s great that Starbucks wants to try and include everyone, but that means that they include absolutely everyone.
Now comes word that in order to make the world a safer place for the poor underpaid Starbucks employees who risk getting infected with Hep-C or HIV by getting pricked with a used needle while merely taking out the trash, Starbucks has installed needle-disposal boxes in 25 US markets.
What kind of person does heroin in a coffee shop, anyway? We don’t seem to ever recall anyone sipping a cappuccino in an opium den.
BAR THAT IMPOSED 18% “GENDER SURCHARGE” ON MEN CLOSES DOWN
Although many feminists claim that they only seek equality and don’t hate men, you can’t trust these fem nazis as far as they can spit.
A café in Australia that caters to vegan feminists—an amalgamation of two of the most supremely unpleasant identity groups in the galaxy—made headlines back in 2017 when it announced that it would impose an 18% “gender surcharge” against men due to some illusory “wage gap” that is said to exist in Australia as well. What they never tell you about these “wage gaps” is that if women were actually willing to accept wages that were 18% lower than men, not a single man would be employed. They also never seem to tell you that women may not make as much money as men, but all studies prove they spend more money than men. They also never dare to mention that at least in the USA, women control more personal wealth than men do.
That’s why it is with sadistic glee that we announce the Handsome Her café in Melbourne—which levied this oppressive 18% surcharge on male customers—is closing down today!
It’s a good day to be a man in Australia.
“FAT SEX THERAPIST” SAYS FITNESS IS FOR NAZIS
Sonalee Rashatwar is a morbidly obese urine-colored woman who diverts her natural shame for being fat and ugly into convoluted Critical Theory gibberish about how “Thinness is a white supremacist beauty ideal.”
The self-described “Fat Sex Therapist” was recently able to be forklifted out of bed in order to give a lecture about “radical fat liberation” where she claimed that it made sense that the man who shot up two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand was a fitness instructor because Nazis were into fitness and likely would have punched anyone who used the phrase “radical fat liberation” non-ironically:
…the man who shot up Christchurch, New Zealand was also a fitness instructor…[because] Nazis really love this idea of an idealized body….It makes a lot of sense to me that a fitness instructor…might also think about an idealized body in this thin white supremacist way.
It also makes sense that a disgustingly fat woman would concoct absurd philosophical defenses of her physical repulsiveness because it’s easier than doing the roughly 20 million sit-ups it would require for someone such as Sonalee Rashatwar to become remotely desirable to men.
JEWISH FAMILY ACCUSED OF PAINTING SWASTIKAS ON THEIR OWN BUSINESS
After the Holocaust and Christ’s crucifixion and the stereotypes in that one Spike Lee movie and all those Henry Ford newspaper columns, it is undeniable to everyone except foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Semites that Jews have suffered more persecution than any other group in history combined. This is why it is especially horrific and saddening when Jews persecute themselves.
Three Jewish family members in Winnipeg—that’s in Canada, we think—are being charged with public mischief after allegedly painting swastikas on the walls of a café they owned.
When news first broke of the alleged hate crime, the executive director of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada proclaimed in a loud, honking voice:
I think that the attack on the BerMax Caffe is the most violent and vicious anti-Semitic attack [in Winnipeg] and certainly in recent memory.
Not to be outdone, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg called the incident “’the most brazen act of anti-Semitism that we’ve seen in our community, and perhaps ever.”
But alas, it appears to have been wishful thinking on their part. According to Winnipeg police chief Danny Smyth:
We found evidence of a crime. It just wasn’t a hate crime. I am hugely disappointed and, frankly, angry that this family has used hate and racism in such a disingenuous way.
We, however, are neither disappointed nor angry. We aren’t even surprised.
Every Monday, Jim Goad reads the previous day’s “Week That Perished” on his podcast.
NEW YORK—David Niven’s younger son Jamie, now an old man like yours truly and a bit overweight, approached my table and announced he had seen a video of me lunching elsewhere with two friends. He said this in front of two ladies I was with, one of whom has in the past raised issues, namely the wife. Luckily the video showed me with the designer Carolina Herrera and her husband, who are social friends, so after a pregnant pause Jamie Niven said goodbye and left. It was the end of the story, and for once I was doing something innocent, like having lunch.
Thinking back, however, I am outraged. Someone I don’t know, and most likely have never heard of, points a smartphone and films away, monitoring my every move for strangers’ eyes. They then post it online for anyone to see as if I were a world figure. I am neither a trained seal, nor an actor, nor am I a public person like a politician, but one who treasures my privacy. When you think of it, it should be illegal, even a punishable-by-prison offense. Privacy, along with health, is our most precious of gifts, and once upon a time we were able to control the former, Garbo-like. No longer. Technology is to privacy what Netanyahu is to Palestinians. I want no part of the “selfie” life, it’s designed for and lived by half-wits and morons.
I know I sound old, but I am old, and old is not necessarily wrong when it comes to certain things. Like privacy or face-to-face contact, something that no longer takes place among the young. I’ve dated some pretty beautiful women in my time, but have never spent hours drooling over a machine talking to them. No screen can replace proximity to your heart’s desire. You young whippersnappers don’t know what you’re missing.
Living one’s life online must be awfully depressing. Personally I’d rather be alone on a desert isle than look at that bloody screen all day—that is, as long as I have a Friday to cook the fish I catch and do the cleaning up. I’d split the coconuts with a karate strike, do wind sprints on the beach, swim, and read books all day. A weekly female visit would be de rigueur. But no smartphone or any screen device under the penalty of being fed to the sharks.
And it gets worse. Some Silicon Valley billionaire asshole recently announced that “You have no privacy, so get over it,” but if I could get this creep on my desert island I’d love to use him as a makiwara and punch and kick all that crap he’s made of out of him. People have gone nuts, share-crazy, most-exposed nuts. This, of course, means the end of cheating, or illicit love, as I prefer to call it. Just think what great history we would have been deprived of if technology existed since time immemorial? Menelaus would have cut off Paris’ you-know-what in time and we would have never had the Iliad or the Odyssey. Caesar would have listened in on the plotters and shown them the film before he cut them down. And Josephine would not have dared to cuckold the great Napoleon. And speaking of great events, we’d know for sure who the headless man was with the Duchess of Argyle. Oh well, it’s going to get much worse, no ifs or buts about it.
When mobile telephones first began making the rounds, I was informed that they could break up the happiest of marriages by giving away one’s location. I never bothered to find out if that was true because—like gangsters of old—I use pay phones when calling women not my wife. This old prophylactic habit has grown into a hysterical aversion to smartphones and those using them. Excessive info creates its own apathy to news, a sort of blindness. And with new technology all we get nowadays is an excess of news.
And I hear that a new device will soon be installed in every door and room, and film nonstop. Can you imagine a life constantly under the scrutiny of a device that films everything, which can then readily be viewed by everyone? I’d rather be on Devil’s Island under the scrutiny of a few screws. The nerds who invent these privacy killers say it is in the name of security. What bullshit. Banks had cameras even in the good old days of Bonnie and Clyde, and that’s when masks were invented. So what are you going to do? Wear a mask when the girlfriend or wife’s away and pretend someone else was using the bed? The nerds who invent these annoyances don’t care, they’re exhibitionists-cum-narcissists.
The byword is “transparency,” and I totally reject it, although if I weren’t writing for the gentile folks of Takimag I’d use different phrasing. Here you had that greedy slob Zuckerberg selling the digital privacy of hundreds of millions who naively trusted the bum, and also selling children’s data and tracking people’s movements, and the guy is walking around free and unharmed. Remember when the Russians lived ten in a room with a simple sheet hanging between families in the same room for privacy? We’re heading back to those days, thanks to the tech giants run by those good-looking people out west. Think about it and weep, but before that, get rid of the smartphone and feel free again.
Joy at the misfortunes of others is no doubt an ineradicable part of Man’s bad character, and I doubt whether there is a person alive who has never experienced it. Generally speaking, however, most of us retain enough decency, or enough desire to appear decent in the eyes of others, not to express that joy in too open a fashion. In the midst of our joy we feel some element of shame at our own joy.
Not so, however, one George Eaton, deputy editor of the New Statesman, the left-wing political and cultural British weekly (which has a very distinguished history). Mr. Eaton published a pared-down, not to say distorted and mendacious, version of an interview with Sir Roger Scruton, the polymathic conservative philosopher, on what are known as the social media, in which Scruton was falsely represented as a crude xenophobe and racist, a kind of Antichrist to political correctness’ Messiah.
Within four hours, as if acting in a true national emergency, a British government minister, James Brokenshire, sacked Scruton from the honorary position that he had been appointed by the minister only a few month earlier, as chairman of a commission to encourage the construction of more aesthetically pleasing housing in Britain than has been constructed in the past few decades—which, God knows, is very necessary, given the sheer ugliness that has spread through the country like ink through blotting paper.
No sooner had the unjustified dismissal of Scruton been announced than Mr. Eaton posted a picture of himself, apparently in a dark suit but without a tie, proudly or at least complacently swigging champagne directly from a bottle, accompanied by the comment that this is what it felt like to secure the dismissal of someone as bad, as prejudiced, as Scruton. Not long afterward, the journalist removed this unedifying picture of himself and his comment, but it was too late: It is still easily found on the internet. He felt constrained to apologize for it, though to whom is not quite clear. Mrs. Sparsit, in Hard Times, said she thought there was a pain somewhere in the room, but could not positively say that she had got it; Mr. Eaton apologized to someone, but one could not positively say to whom, or even for what.
However, he is still a young man (32), and allowances must be made for the indiscretions of youth. Let him who has never committed an indiscretion never apologize for anything. I will here confess to an indiscretion of my own, to give concrete meaning to generalization: Having been in Romania very shortly before the downfall of the Ceausescu couple, I rejoiced when they were overthrown and then shot. It was only later that I saw what I should have seen at once, namely that their “trial” was a corrupt and vicious farce and, odious as the couple were, they were treated as no human beings should be treated. They managed something that I should not have thought possible: They occupied the higher moral ground and were more dignified than their accusers.
Nevertheless, Mr. Eaton’s gesture was extremely unpleasant and spoke of an ugliness of soul (that may yet change for the better). Something else struck me about it, however, of wider cultural significance.
The deputy editor of a left-wing magazine is, almost by definition, an egalitarian, at least in theory. He is supposed to be horrified by the inequality in our society. But being against inequality in theory is not the same as not wishing to distinguish yourself from others and occupying a position that is in some way superior to them, just as a man who in theory does not believe in monogamy is not necessarily preserved from jealousy with regard to his sexual partner (quite the contrary, in fact).
Many egalitarians, in fact, are snobs, both intellectually and socially, but still want to preserve their reputation for egalitarianism, the reputation upon which their membership of the caste of right-thinking persons depends. To drink champagne directly from the bottle squares this particular circle: A proletarian would drink directly from a bottle, but only a person of a certain economic or social standing drinks champagne. The same is true of the suit without a tie: An open-necked shirt is casual, but a suit is formal. One is a good prole and a good bourgeois at the same time; one has one’s social cake and eats it, too.
This explains the vogue for artfully torn jeans. No one supposes that the person who wears such garments can afford to dress only in rags; on the contrary, he supposes precisely the opposite, that the person in torn clothing is actually prosperous. And no one who could really afford to dress only in rags would choose to dress in torn jeans.
But why do people who in fact are bourgeois affect to be something else? (This goes for speech habits, too, incidentally.) In this is to be seen and heard the true cultural triumph of socialist or Marxist ideology. It has induced a state of self-hatred in the bourgeoisie, perhaps mingled with fear. The bourgeois wants to continue to be bourgeois from the economic point of view, but does not want to be seen as such. When he dresses in torn jeans, or speaks like a porter in a fish market, he does not want actually to be in a position in which he cannot afford whole cloth, or to carry fish in a basket on his head for a living. He does not want to relinquish his income or his shares or give his children the debased education reserved for the children of the proletariat, but neither does he want openly to declare his egalitarianism, on the contrary. Like the person with piercings in his face—his nose, ears, and tongue—he wants to draw attention to himself and avoid people looking at him at the same time. He is a walking, breathing mixed metaphor.
Hence drinking champagne directly from a bottle in a suit worn without a tie. All men are equal, but I am better.
It is often said that what is most unique about Western civilization derives from Athens and Jerusalem, the former city representing Greek philosophy and the latter Judeo-Christian values. This is somewhat simplistic, to be sure, and even more so, perhaps, is the concept of Judeo-Christianity.
And yet, the Athens-Jerusalem metaphor comprehends some important truths. Consider only the Jerusalem part. Well, it is difficult to imagine the West ending slavery without the moral universalism it got from the Jews and that Christians augmented via the astonishing, world-transforming figure of Jesus Christ. The radical idea that every human being has dignity, and therefore must be treated as such, did not exist in the harsh pagan world, which took slavery for granted. In general, religion served to widen the moral compass, so that it eventually became wrong to regard out-groups as nothing but objects to use, exploit, or plunder (although certainly people often fell far short of practicing this value). Most liberals today assume that liberal democracy is the only legitimate form of government. But this regime comes from Protestant Christianity, and accordingly, it is not necessarily feasible outside of the tradition that produced it.
I could give other examples in this vein, but what I now want to stress is that, uniquely valuable though it is, moral universalism is nonetheless a mixed good. This is glaringly evident from an article published on April 16 at The Federalist, “The Moral Case For Israel Annexing The West Bank—And Beyond.” In this atrocious work, Jason Hill, a pseudo-scholar of “cosmopolitanism,” “race theory,” and other trendy subjects at DePaul University, asserts that
Jewish exceptionalism and the exceptionalist nature of Jewish civilization require an unconditional space for the continued evolution of their civilization. What’s good for Jewish civilization is good for humanity at large. Jewish civilization is an international treasure trove that must be protected.
“America must also admit,” says Hill,
that it owes Israel political and financial reparations for America’s many decades of support of the PLO and the PA, which have pledged destruction to Israel, and have rejected all plausible peace offerings from Israel, preferring instead war and destruction.
This political and economic reparation would see the United States supplying Israel even more advanced military capabilities, and funding Israel’s military defense in any manner Israel deems necessary for its survival and unrivaled military status in the Middle East….
One wonders how the man’s poor students are able to get through his classes without whacking him with a fly swatter. From a political point of view, it’s obvious that “What’s good for Jewish civilization” is not necessarily “good for humanity at large,” because there is no “humanity at large” in a political sense, nor do nations ever have altogether the same interests. People are free to believe that “Jewish civilization require[s] an unconditional space for the continued evolution of their [i.e., Jewish] civilization,” but it’s absurd to claim that America should fund “Israel’s military defense in any manner Israel deems necessary.” Like Israel, America is a sovereign nation, and nothing could be more self-destructive than allowing a foreign nation to decide our foreign policy. If Israel wants to annex the West Bank, that is their business. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians have legitimate grievances concerning one another, but these peoples need to work things out on their own. America is not the world’s arbiter, and hasn’t the ability to be, either.
Also stupid and contemptible is Hill’s belief that the U.S. “owes Israel political and financial reparations.” We are already giving that nation $38 billion over the next ten years—that is, $10.41 million per day! For this extravagance we can thank an administration and Congress that cannot manage to build a wall at the Southern border, and that has betrayed the working-class people who voted for the shameless liar and moral coward that is Donald Trump, a man whose foreign policy is now indistinguishable from the standard neoconservative warmongering.
On April 11, The American Conservative published an important article entitled “America Just Declared War on Iran and Nobody Blinked.” Written by Scott Ritter, a former Marine Corps intelligence officer, it is worth quoting at length:
The impetus behind Trump’s decision [to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization] is clear—he wants to support Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu himself acknowledged as much in a tweet: “Thank you, my dear friend President Donald Trump, for deciding to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. Thank you for answering another one of my important requests, which serves the interests of our country and the countries of the region.”
The other request referred to by Netanyahu was the decision made in May 2018 to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement. Since that time, the U.S. has found itself increasingly isolated from the rest of the world, especially Europe, which has opted to remain a part of the agreement, which it notes that Iran continues to fully comply with. The decision to designate the IRGC as a terrorist group is viewed by many as a mechanism for increasing pressure on Iran by expanding the scope and scale of economic sanctions against entities doing business with the IRGC. The timing of the announcement is seen as an attempt to influence the outcome of elections in Israel, where Netanyahu is struggling in a bid for reelection….
[There] can be no doubt that the Trump administration understands that by designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization, it has placed the lives of thousands of American personnel still serving in the Middle East at risk. There are currently between 1,000 and 1,500 U.S. troops inside Syria, and they are surrounded by IRGC-affiliated forces and militias. And more than 5,000 U.S. troops are stationed inside Iraq, where the IRGC controls powerful Shiite militias as well as significant portions of the Iraqi military….
[If] the U.S. acts kinetically against the IRGC, Americans will die. That this policy has been implemented in support of the re-election campaign of an Israeli prime minister, in furtherance of an effort to undermine the Iranian nuclear deal that was likewise implemented at the behest of Benjamin Netanyahu, means these brave men and women will not have died in the service of their country. They will have perished as pawns of a policy conceived in Tel Aviv that places the political fortunes of a foreign politician above the lives of our heroes.
Notice the contrast between these words and Hill’s. Of course, that is only to be expected: Ritter has actually served in the military, while Hill is a typical baleful academic blockhead with no skin in the game. Surrounded by enemies, Netanyahu naturally wants to use the U.S. to realize Israeli interests. Seeing as Trump is so obliging, one understands why Israel’s prime minister continues to try to get all he can from America. Still, we don’t have the ability to solve all of Israel’s problems, and it’s not in our interest to try to do so.
This brings us to the issue of moral universalism. Once you believe a nation or people is “exceptional,” it is but a step (for imprudent minds) to the belief that you should do anything to advance its or their interests. Similarly, if liberal democracy is thought to be the best form of government for all peoples, then it seems to follow that you should compel all “deviant” nations to become liberal democracies. But such thinking is nothing but a wildly naive, abstract, mental game—nor will hard and messy reality be chopped down to size by human hubris. From the global refugee crisis to Islamic terrorism, there have been terrible consequences for our perpetual foreign interventions, and the last thing we need is to follow the Israelis and the Saudis into World War III.
According to a February Gallup Poll, “Americans’ stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is as strongly pro-Israel as at any time in Gallup’s three-decade trend. Sixty-four percent say their sympathies in the dispute lie more with the Israelis.” Seventy-four percent report a favorable opinion of Israel. And though such support is much greater among Republicans, majorities of Democrats and independents share their opinions.
I am not interested in what side one “should” support in the dispute. I want to offer an explanation of American Zionism, it being such a political liability. In the first place, we should recognize America’s radical Protestant history. For owing to it, there has been a strong Zionist element in our country from the beginning; and between Christianity’s tendency to assume unnecessary guilt and its belief that the Jews are “God’s chosen people,” it is no wonder that support for Israel is so high.
In my April 5 column, “White Liberals: Our Greatest Political Liability,” I noted that
The organization GenForward, of the University of Chicago, recently surveyed a number of people from ages 18 to 34. Of the four ethnic groups—whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians—whites had the lowest in-group bias. Asked their opinion about whites becoming a minority, projected to happen in about thirty years, 57 percent of white liberals said that that would be a strength for the country.
I also pointed out that “The American National Election Studies data, which include voters of all ages, show that of the four major ethnic groups, and three political categories (liberals, moderates, and conservatives), only white liberals lack a significant in-group bias.”
In order to account for these striking moral differences between white liberals and other groups, I argued that the identity-politics left should be understood as a kind of neo-Protestant Puritanism. The greater problem, though, is Christianity itself, for today American Catholics are just as prone to self-defeating guilt and blind pity as Protestants. As with white liberals, so with Christian and Republican Zionists. Christianity is founded on the pagan concept of substitutionary atonement. From the perspective of this rather irrational (but once extremely valuable) moral psychology, it is hardly surprising that simply because the Holocaust happened, many Christians seem to believe they are wrong (or sinful) if they do not support Israel no matter what. Needless to say, the Holocaust was a horrible tragedy, but foreign policy is not so simple as to make unconditional support for Israel (or any other nation, for that matter) desirable.
American Christians are to Israel as white liberals are to Black Lives Matter and illegal immigrants: If you do not always support or agree with the victim group, like all other “good people,” something must be wrong with you. Another apt analogy would be the “men” of our time in relation to feminist women: If you do not always comply with the latter’s demands, you are bad. Such examples demonstrate why moral universalism, as practiced by many, is a mixed good. The concept of original sin is specific to Christianity. Jews find it strange. Yet it helped to transform the moral character of the pagan world, and it would be impossible to convey how much mankind owes to it. But for all that, Christianity contained the seeds of its own destruction, its greater pity and tendency to unnecessary guilt being conducive to profound moral decadence and decay.
Behold, then, our difficult condition, and the unwillingness of many to see that the political domain needs to be understood on its own terms. Subordinating it to other considerations always creates a biased point of view, something that can be quite dangerous. It is a deadly serious problem here that this country is full of gullible Christians who believe that by giving Netanyahu whatever he wants, America is supporting “God’s chosen people” and doing what Christians must before “the rapture,” or some such nonsense. Common sense tells us that America should come first, and that our military should not perish as “pawns of a policy conceived in Tel Aviv that places the political fortunes of a foreign politician above the lives of our heroes.” And yet, a vast number of Christians are committed to “Jewish exceptionalism,” even though, as regards foreign policy in the Middle East, that commitment is about as useful as snake handling and speaking in tongues.
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—The lawyers and CPAs who run Elvis Presley Enterprises have been threatening the city of Memphis for the past two years with plans to dismantle Graceland—the most hallowed redneck house in the world—and move it to another continent.
They mean this quite literally. They have offers on the table, they say, to bring in redneck historians and lovingly peel up the green shag carpet from the Jungle Room—where Elvis’ last two albums were recorded despite the rushing background noise of the waterfall that spurts out of one wall—and then move all the lacquered wood furniture in the shape of tree stumps to someplace like Dubai, where real estate entrepreneurs like to collect items of Americana and turn them into pop culture museums. It would be sort of like displaying objects from the Titanic if the Titanic had been intentionally sunk in Southampton harbor and then sold off for scrap.
If the heirs of the Elvis empire don’t get their tax breaks, then Dubai is the obvious destination for the pink Cadillac, the white jumpsuits, the gold jewelry, and the two airplanes the King traveled in, namely the Lisa Marie and the Hound Dog II (I have to apologize for my Elvis scholarship—I don’t actually remember what happened to the Hound Dog I), if only because they have lots of space there in the desert and lots of dirhams. The more logical choice, in my opinion, would be Japan, where there are no doubt so many Elvis fetishists that the merchandise sales alone would keep the redneck Elvis heirs in whiskey and recreational vehicles for the rest of recorded time, to say nothing of the wonderment aroused on the streets of Osaka when the whole male population adopted blue suede shoes and monogrammed neck chains.
According to the claims made before the desperate Memphis bureaucrats—struggling to match the tourist attractions of archrival Nashville, which has the Grand Ole Opry and in my opinion the much more important Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge—there are places all over the world clamoring to become the next Lake Havasu City, Arizona. (That would be the casino-laden desert oasis on the Nevada border where London Bridge was moved in 1967.) Curiously, several members of the royal family and the blue-blood classes of Olde England have made the pilgrimage to Graceland, including, most recently, Prince William and Prince Harry. (A future king looking for pointers from a past king?) But none of them have bothered to gaze at London Bridge in its new location, presumably because they had 135 years to look at it back home. Usually England goes the other way with this stuff, though. How many years has Greece been agitating for the return of the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum? If the Elvis money changers could somehow make a deal with a Brit company, the precious pool tables and slot-car tracks used by Elvis and his posse would be forever beyond the reach of aggrieved Scots-Irish mourners in the American South. Would Parliament honor petitions from a Redneck Congress convened in, say, Chattanooga to reclaim the heritage of the Presbyterian diaspora? I think not.
I have a little expertise in the issues involved here, which include, by the way, the desire of Graceland’s owners to build a manufacturing plant on the Graceland grounds that would turn out Chia Pets and Clappers. For those of you reading this overseas, both Chia Pets and Clappers are essential ornaments in any proper redneck American household, especially if purchased for $19.95 from late-night 800-number commercials. The Chia Pet is a terra-cotta figurine, usually shaped like an animal, on which green mossy plant material grows to resemble hair or fur. (Yes, there is a specific Elvis Chia Pet.) The Clapper, on the other hand, is a couch-potato device that predates the Internet of Things by several decades, a sound-activated light switch that requires you to clap your hands twice to turn it on, twice again to turn it off, allowing you to watch eleven consecutive episodes of Forensic Files without ever having to get out of bed. The Chia Pet/Clapper factory will supposedly employ a thousand people, a number that would boggle the mind of Ron Popeil, inventor of the Chop-o-Matic food processor.
But as I say, I qualify as an amateur expert on Elvis’ place in world history since I was an actor in a critically trashed 1989 movie called Great Balls of Fire, a Jerry Lee Lewis biopic filmed entirely in Memphis and vicinity. My character was Dewey Phillips, the pioneering radio personality who had a show called Red, Hot and Blue on WHBQ in the 1950s. In my youthful zeal for background research, I sought out every newspaper article, recording, and reminiscence about this disc jockey who had been the first to broadcast an Elvis record. (The song was “That’s All Right,” although he also played the flip side, which was “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”) And what I discovered was that a phenomenon like Elvis could only have occurred in the Mississippi Delta of that era.
Elvis was from Tupelo, Mississippi, 100 miles to the southeast of Graceland, but he would have been immersed in the African-American music that emerged from the Baptist churches and blues honky-tonks ranged up and down the Mississippi River between St. Louis and New Orleans. Dewey Phillips broadcast that music on Red, Hot and Blue, sometimes even highlighting actual church choirs, but in Memphis the blues and gospel music of black folk ran smack-dab up against all that clog dancing and fiddling that came down through the Appalachian Valley from Scotland, Ulster, and Cumberland. As all Elvis aficionados know, the King was criticized early in his career for singing like a black man, and the term “rock and roll” itself comes straight up out of the slave-based Delta rice fields.
Elvis may not have been black, but his musical DNA was as mixed-race as Alexander Hamilton. Memphis was the place where original black music met original white music. That’s what makes it American, that’s what makes Memphis the Santiago de Compostela of rock and roll, and that’s why you can move Graceland to Nairobi or Edinburgh but you’ll only be telling half the story. If Graceland moves, Graceland dies.
According to Robert Mueller, a president can be guilty of obstruction of justice simply by exercising the powers of the president — if he does so with “an intent to obtain an improper advantage for himself or someone else, inconsistent with official duty and the rights of others.”
Wow. That’s a new standard for a president’s Article II powers! I don’t see it in my pocket Constitution.
What Mueller is saying is that he should hold the position of supreme exalted master president to review all decisions made by the man who was elected to the office of president by mere voters.
Mueller can’t say Trump obstructed justice. The investigation found no Russian “collusion,” or related crimes, so there was no justice to obstruct. That’s why there’s nothing in the report about “perjury,” “destroying evidence” or any other recognizable crime, like, say, “accepting a cash bribe.”
Instead, Mueller proposes to review the decisions of the person duly elected president on a purity-of-motive standard. “An improper motive,” the Mueller report states, “can render an actor’s conduct criminal even when the conduct would otherwise be lawful and within the actor’s authority.”
Except the “actor” here is the president. We’re not talking about the authority of a CEO or chief of police. We’re talking about the U.S. president, whose “authority” comes directly from the Constitution.
If a special counsel is entitled to sit in judgment on a president’s motives for exercising his constitutional powers, there will never be a president who is not under investigation for everything he does. Mueller is claiming that prosecutors and Congress have a right to probe the president’s state of mind when he orders the 101st Airborne into action or nominates a new Supreme Court justice.
While we’re at it, can the president convene a commission to investigate the motives of a member of Congress for voting a particular way? How about a Supreme Court justice? (I’ve been dying to get to the bottom of Justice Roberts’ vote to uphold Obamacare.)
I’m fine with the new standard, provided it’s retroactive and the punishment is death.
Have I got “corrupt” for you!
In addition to perjuring himself, suborning the perjury of others and hiding evidence in a private citizen’s civil rights lawsuit against him, Bill Clinton issued a number of highly unusual pardons when he was president.
Clinton crony Susan McDougal, the Clintons’ partner in the Whitewater Development Corp. scam, was convicted on charges of fraud and conspiracy. She sat in jail for 18 months on contempt of court charges rather than answer questions about whether Bill Clinton had lied in his testimony about Whitewater.
Before leaving office, President Clinton pardoned McDougal.
Is there any possibility that Clinton issued that pardon with “an intent to obtain an improper advantage for himself”? Any at all?
In July 1999, Hillary Clinton indicated that she would be running for the U.S. Senate from New York. Weeks later, President Clinton offered clemency to members of the Puerto Rican terrorist group F.A.L.N, responsible for 130 bombings in the 1970s and ’80s that killed five, maimed more than 80 and caused almost $3 million in damage.
Was Clinton’s motive for this pardon to help Hillary win the Puerto Rican vote in New York? Time for a purity-of-heart investigation!
(Principled as ever, Hillary initially supported the clemencies, until they turned out to be wildly, shockingly unpopular, whereupon Hillary remembered that she opposed them.)
Over the objections of everyone, President Clinton also granted a full pardon to Marc Rich, an international fugitive wanted on more than 50 counts of wire fraud, racketeering, evading $48 million in income taxes and trading with the enemy — specifically, conspiring with Iran as that country was holding 52 Americans hostage.
What possible explanation can there be for such a pard– Oh! Look at this! Rich’s ex-wife gave $450,000 to Clinton’s presidential library, more than $100,000 to Hillary’s Senate campaign and more than $1 million to the Democratic National Committee.
Is it possible that Clinton’s pardon of Rich was intended to “obtain an improper advantage for himself or someone else, inconsistent with official duty”?
How about the Clinton pardons for which his brother-in-law, Hugh Rodham, was paid $400,000? I’m not a fancy prosecutor in Robert Mueller’s office, but it sure looks to me like selling those pardons constituted “an improper advantage” at least to Hugh.
I haven’t even gotten started. This is just the pardons!
To mention a few other curious exercises of Clinton’s Article II powers, there was also the sudden decision of his Department of Justice to investigate the NYPD, then presided over by — I’m sure this is entirely a coincidence — Hillary’s presumed opponent for the Senate, Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
May we ask about the feds’ motive for turning with a blind fury on the police department that had slashed New York City’s murder rate by 67%?
And what was President Clinton’s thinking when he approved the sale of sensitive ballistic-missile guidance technology to China over the objections of his own Pentagon, State Department and Justice Department? Here’s something any independent counsel might want to look at: The Chinese had just funneled millions of dollars in illegal campaign donations to the Democrats.
Does that get a purity-of-heart investigation?
How about Obama? When he said if he had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin, and then sent three White House officials to Michael Brown’s funeral — more than he sent to Margaret Thatcher’s funeral — did Obama seriously believe Martin and Brown were innocent victims? Or was he just trying to gin up the black vote to help Democrats’ electoral prospects — i.e. trying “to obtain an improper advantage for himself or someone else, inconsistent with official duty and the rights of others.”
I’m sure Democratic presidents will be treated EXACTLY like President Trump.
Remember the most egregious of the Clinton pardons, the one granted to tax cheat and friend-of-the-Crazy-Ayatollah Marc Rich? Of course you do — it was just few paragraphs back.
Guess who investigated that pardon and concluded that Clinton’s motives were pure? Yes: That would be James Comey.
Last week’s fire in the world’s most famous Gothic cathedral, Notre-Dame de Paris, reminds us of the increasingly awkward political issue posed by the immense achievements of the European past.
In the current year, liberal individualism is falling out of fashion. As our culture becomes more demographically diverse, our assumptions revert back to more atavistic ways of thought. The rising ethnicities who look to comic-book author Ta-Nehisi Coates as their leading intellectual assume that one’s worth is not dependent upon Jeffersonian abstractions about individual dignity, but upon the renown of one’s ancestors. Thus, in today’s Coatesian Age, it looms larger than it did a generation or two ago whether one’s forebears built Notre-Dame or a hut.
In an era when our most influential voices attempt to unite our increasingly diverse and therefore divisive ethnicities around demonizing the forefathers of Europeans, the overwhelming beauty of the cathedrals of the high Middle Ages is, as they say, problematic.
As Paul Johnson wrote in his 2003 book Art: A New History:
The medieval cathedrals of Europe—there are over a hundred of them—are the greatest accomplishments of humanity in the whole theater of art.
Coates has made himself a fortune promoting an antiquarian theory about how whites made themselves rich by the “plunder” of blacks.
Yet the vast wealth devoted to the construction and ornamentation of the Gothic cathedrals of Europe can hardly be attributed to slavery or colonialist exploitation, since they were begun long before the age of exploration. Notre-Dame, for example, was largely constructed between 1163 and 1345.
While occasionally the faithful would volunteer to haul building materials for free, we now know much about the finances of the cathedrals. In summary, they paid out huge sums in market-rate wages to roving artists and to local craftsmen and laborers.
Nor can the technological advances of the Gothic cathedral be said to have been “stolen” from non-Europeans.
Leave aside the absurdist zero-sum thinking that concepts can be stolen that has been returning to fashion in the past few years as dumb Afrocentrist ideas have been encouraged. The Gothic cathedrals were radically new because of their huge advances in making the walls lighter so they could let in more light through their stained-glass windows.
The key breakthroughs that made these achievements possible are well-documented. Rapid progress was made in Northern Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries, especially around Paris, beginning with the Abbot Suger’s Saint-Denis in the 1130s. Interestingly, the rebuilding of Saint-Denis’ north tower, which was torn down for safety’s sake in 1846, is finally supposed to begin this year.
Suger’s couplet is carved on Saint-Denis:
For bright is that which is brightly coupled with the bright,
And bright is the noble edifice which is pervaded by the new light.
Various pundits and architects such as Norman Foster are now calling for Notre-Dame to be rebuilt in some steel-and-glass modernist style, like a vast Apple store, that they assert would be more fitting for our age of diversity. For example, Erika Harlitz-Kern wrote in the Daily Beast:
Medieval Europe was a crossroads of global influence, not a mythical all-white past. The new Notre Dame should reflect that.
Ironically, they don’t realize that contemporary starchitects with their egomaniacal hatred of tradition represent white maleness at its most Promethean and annoying. As my old friend John McCarthy, a founder of artificial intelligence, observed, “When architects get prizes, the people suffer.”
In contrast, the world loves Notre-Dame (which averaged 13 million visitors per year) for many of the reasons that would be familiar to Victor Hugo, author of the 1831 best-seller The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, which inspired its restoration after its desecration during the French Revolution, such as its romantic antiquity and its paradoxical combination of intellectual rigor of design with eccentric richness of ornamentation (especially its wonderful gargoyles).
In contrast to today’s designers, the obscure architects of Notre-Dame were representative of a humbler age.
One problem with appreciating the great medieval cathedrals is that we don’t know much about the personalities of the countless artists who worked on them. We take an interest in celebrities, with which more recent eras of art are much better endowed.
For instance, we don’t know even the names of the anonymous architects of Notre-Dame’s first four-score years. From the mid–13th century onward, we do typically possess the names of the designers, but little in the way of interesting anecdotes or overarching narratives have come down to us.
In contrast, the artists of the 15th-century Italian Renaissance, especially the Florentines due to Giorgio Vasari’s immensely influential, if biased, 1550 book Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, are so well-known that their names are applied to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Ironically, although Venice was the capital of book printing, it fell to second place in the received history of Renaissance art because it didn’t publish its artists’ stories as engagingly as the Florentines did theirs. Vasari bequeathed thrilling stories, such as how Brunelleschi had built the dome of the Florence cathedral, the first huge dome erected since ancient times, as a rebuke to the pointed style of “the barbarous German.”
But we do know enough about the people who built the Gothic cathedrals in the 12th and 13th centuries to know that they were not racially diverse by today’s standards.
On the other hand, it’s important to note that one key cultural innovation of the French was an appreciation for the feminine, which is why the cathedral is named “Our Lady.” This glorious innovation is now under threat from the new chauvinist migrants to Paris.
As Vasari complained, the creators of the Gothic cathedrals were largely Northern Europeans excited that they had progressed beyond their backward barbarian heritage to assume world leadership in architecture.
This is a problem for the conventional wisdom, which propagandizes that, in the words of Dan Quayle, diversity is our strength.
One contemporary solution is to assert that the population of Europe in the distant past must have been highly diverse and that this fact has been whitewashed.
Back in 1991, when Morgan Freeman was cast alongside Kevin Costner in Robin Hood, it was still felt necessary to dream up a backstory about how the two heroes had met in Jerusalem during the Third Crusade. By last year’s Mary, Queen of Scots, however, no justification was seen as necessary for explaining the casting of random blacks and Chinese as aristocrats in 16th-century Britain. (Amusingly, Hugo made the heroine of his Hunchback of Notre-Dame somewhat less improbably a beautiful Gypsy girl.)
But this racial fairy tale about a diverse medieval Europe basically isn’t true. The evidence is mounting against it as grave-robbing geneticists scan DNA from old corpses.
Alternatively, the reigning dogma might assert that since the cathedral wasn’t built by diverse peoples, Notre-Dame therefore can’t be beautiful.
The problem with this approach, though, is: Just look at it.