Understanding Egypt's Protests
February 01, 2011
Cairo, Egypt—For years, analysts and journalists have described the Egyptian masses as apathetic and embattled. But, after the last five days, it’s impossible to say this anymore. Since January 25, protesters have taken to the streets in Egypt’s major cities, demanding an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s almost 30-year reign. Here is an explainer of the main actors in Egypt today and what they may be thinking. The protesters. Egyptian men and women of all ages and social classes are amassed in central squares in major cities, including Cairo, Alexandria, Mansoura, Suez, and Aswan.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: God and Others
January 13, 2011
Hadewijch IFC Films When We Leave Olive Films If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle Film Movement The films of the French director Bruno Dumont have earned him, besides two Cannes Festival prizes, a reputation for brutality. He has often used his manifest talent to burrow into moral darkness. But the new work that he has written and directed, Hadewijch, is a spiritual odyssey—the travails of Céline, a twenty-year-old theology student, in her search for further envelopment in God.
The Grounds of Courage
January 13, 2011
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy By Eric Metaxas (Thomas Nelson, 591 pp., $29.99) Early in January 1939, the precocious German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, age thirty-two, learned that all males in his age cohort had been ordered to register with the military. A dedicated opponent of the Nazi regime, he might have responded by declaring himself a conscientious objector, but there were two problems with such a course of action.
Helen Thomas Lets The Mask Slip
December 03, 2010
When Helen Thomas said that Israel's Jews should just GTFO and return to Germany and Poland, I suggested her comments were not anti-Semitic per se but merely very blunt anti-Zionism. But her latest comments suggests that, no, she really has a problem with Jews: Thomas, who grew up in Detroit the daughter of Lebanese immigrants, was in Dearborn today for an Arab Detroit workshop on anti-Arab bias. ... In a speech that drew a standing ovation, Thomas talked about "the whole question of money involved in politics." "We are owned by propagandists against the Arabs.
The Charnel Continent
December 02, 2010
Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler And Stalin By Timothy Snyder (Basic Books, 524 pp., $29.95) ‘Now we will live!’... the hungry little boy liked to say ... but the food that he saw was only in his imagination.” So the little boy died, together with three million fellow Ukrainians, in the mass starvation that Stalin created in 1933. “I will meet her ... under the ground,” a young Soviet man said about his wife. Both were shot in the course of Stalin’s Great Terror of 1937 and 1938, which claimed 700,000 victims.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Worlds of Difference
October 16, 2010
Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today Schulberg Productions Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould Lorber Films Kings of Pastry First Run Features The American government made a documentary about the Nuremberg trial in 1945 - 1946 that was shown in Germany in 1948. It is only lately being shown in the United States. Reasons for the delay are obscure: one surmise is that relations with the Soviet Union quickly cooled and our government didn’t want to push a film that had the Soviets sitting alongside us in a tribunal.
The Velvet Surrender
September 17, 2010
Václav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic, is legendary for his lack of manners. When his country assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union in 2009, Klaus—a stocky and vigorous man with close-cropped white hair and a fastidiously trimmed moustache—got into a scrap with a group of European politicians because he had refused to fly the EU flag above his office in Prague Castle. Nicolas Sarkozy pronounced the snub “hurtful,” yet Klaus was anything but contrite. Instead, he used his first address to the European Parliament to compare the EU to the Soviet Union.
The Fortunate Journey
September 13, 2010
The Escorial: Art and Power in the Renaissance By Henry Kamen (Yale University Press, 291 pp., $35) The historian Henry Kamen has spent a distinguished career presenting what he calls a “revisionist” history of early modern Spain.
The Unwisdom of Crowds
September 06, 2010
Toward the end of Defying Hitler, his extraordinary memoir of the rise of Nazism in Germany, Sebastian Haffner describes how the Nazis had “made all Germans everywhere into comrades.” This, he argued, had been a moral catastrophe. This emphatically was not because comradeship was never a good thing. To the contrary, as Haffner was at pains to insist, it was a great and necessary comfort and help for people who had to live under unbearable, inhuman conditions, above all in war.
The New York Times Laments "A Sadly Wary Misunderstanding of Muslim-Americans." But Really Is It "Sadly Wary" Or A "Misunderstanding" At All?
September 04, 2010
UPDATE: I have written an apology for one sentence written below. Of course, this first sentence presumes that the Times in its olympian wisdom has a more accurate view--one it could describe as both "shrewdly knowing" and "sensitively knowing"--of this group and its beliefs than ordinary metropolitan mortals. The newspaper has done a poll of New York City residents which found that 33% of them thought Muslim-American "more sympathetic to terrorists" than other citizens. Frankly, I don't trust opinion surveys on matters like this.