Among the many incoherencies of Obama’s foreign policy, none is more glaring and appalling than his stance toward one of the worst mass murderers of our time, Omar Al Bashir, the dictator of Sudan. Al Bashir and his totalitarian political Islamic regime have conducted two eliminationist campaigns—of mass murder, mass expulsion, and mass rapes—over 20 years, first in Southern Sudan and then in Darfur.
Stephen Metcalf's essay on libertarianism and Robert Nozick, which I linked, has naturally provoked libertarian pushback. Reason editor Matt Welch publishes a rebuttal consisting entirely of pointing out that Ann Coulter also dislikes libertarianism, therefore Slate agrees with Coulter. (And you know who hated communism? Hitler!
Has any show in the history of Broadway been as written-about as Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark? We at TNR have not abstained, yet our commentary was but a drop in the sea of coverage that the disastrous musical has occasioned. In the past week, in The New York Times alone, there were five articles focusing almost exclusively on the subject; a complete search reveals over two-hundred hits from the Times.
The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg Edited by Georg Adler, Peter Hudis, and Annelies Laschitza Translated by George Shriver (Verso, 609 pp., $39.95) Once upon a time there lived a Jewish lady, of modest stature and of a certain age, who walked with a limp and liked to sing to the birds. Through the bars on her window she would treat the titmice to a Mozart aria, and then await their call, the transcription of which she wished, as she wrote to a friend, to be the only adornment on her grave.
Literary Passports: The Making of Modernist Hebrew Fiction in Europe By Shachar M. Pinsker (Stanford University Press, 487 pp., $60) Elias Canetti, the German-language writer, born to a Bulgarian Sephardic family, who won the Nobel Prize in 1981, tells in his memoirs of his daily meetings in a Viennese café during the 1920s with a certain Dr. Sonne. A man of broad culture who radiated a quietly powerful sense of authority, Dr. Sonne was known by Canetti, somewhat to his perplexity, to be a Hebrew poet.
When the financial system was on the edge of melting down back in the fall of 2008, there was much talk in the punditocracy of a second Great Depression. The story was that we risked repeating the mistake at the onset of the first Great Depression: allowing a cascade of bank failures that both destroyed much of the country’s wealth and left the financial system badly crippled.
When I was an undergraduate at Oxford University my tutor—a deeply eccentric but profoundly decent man who claimed to both “loathe this century” and be surprised by the fact that he had lived to see it—had a map on his wall. The map showed the world. The continents were outlined in black on a white field. Shaded red were all of Britain’s former overseas possessions, from India to swathes of Africa to North America.
[Guest post by Ruth Franklin:] In Cannes the other day Lars von Trier proved, grossly and witlessly, that no amount of irony can catch up with an expression of sympathy for Hitler and the Nazis. Now a similarly pathetic attempt at cute Holocaust humor has appeared in The Daily Beast. The online publication posted a screed by Dale Peck about the death of the book business in which he complained about the industry’s stagnancy. Peck’s pugnacious style is well known, and was honed in the pages of this magazine.
A specter is haunting the hopeful promise of a democratic Egypt—the specter of popularly legitimated anti-Semitism that would result from the electoral success of the Muslim Brotherhood. In light of the democratic victories enjoyed by Hamas in the 2006 elections in the West Bank and Gaza, the prospect is not a hypothetical one.
Always listen for the “to be sure” line, the caveat that reveals we may be getting things backward, or at least getting ahead of the curve. In announcing the death of Osama bin Laden, President Obama wisely put the to-be-sure front and center: “The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al Qaeda. But his death does not mark the end of our effort.” Good. “We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad.” Also good. But the point, so obvious as to be redundant the first time around, needs to be made to Americans in particular.