I was at dinner last night with the Rosovsky's (he, the economic historian who had been dean of the faculty of arts and sciences at Harvard; she, the photographic historian of the Holy Land), and we were talking about--what else?--the Jews. Other subjects, too. But the Jews, as well. We'd all read Jan T. Gross's book, Neighbors, reviewed in the April 9 & 16, 2001 issue of TNR by Jaroslaw Anders, about the massacre in Jedwabne in 1941, not by the Germans but by the Polish neighbors of the Jews. Gross has just published a second book called Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz.
The North Korean underground nuclear test is barely two hours old. And already Reuters has reported a rise in the price of oil. Static from Pyongyang was the cause of the last steep increase in the cost of a barrel, and the increase went on for many months. The decrease that occurred over the last four to five weeks was attributed by many Democrats to the wiles of the president. What monkey-business do they imagine he will do now to reverse the increase?
OK, this may not be earthshaking. But it points to a deep social chasm in Western societies--deepening every day--between the social mores of Muslims and the civil rights of other citizens. Now, in this case, in which a Muslim cab driver refused to take on a blind passenger with her guide dog--not that he was actually dirty but because he was theologically "unclean"--the courts ruled for the blind woman and against the taxi man. Still, he insisted, he won't carry dogs in his cab.
This morning, from a friend very canny on British politics: As you know, the British Labour Party will be needing a new leader sometime soon, and many point to Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, who has spent every waking minute of the Blair administration not-so-privately whining about how he should have been Prime Minister much earlier, how Blair has stayed on too long, etc., etc. ...
I am thinking about a Spine on the Iranian writer Azar Nafisi (Reading Lolita in Tehran), a hooligan Columbia professor Hamid Nabashi, and the latter's lurid fantasies about the former. If I get it done, it'll be posted either later this evening or tomorrow a.m. Pondering about Iran, I realized how much difficulty I had for so long pronouncing President Ahmadinejad's name. Imagine, I said to myself, if you have trouble saying his name, how can you hope to understand his country?
Here we go again. Columbia University was the seat of the revolution nearly 40 years ago. OK, you want to quibble: Columbia was second to Berkeley. Mario Savio at the latter, Mark Rudd at the former. Maybe you are too young to remember them. Frankly, they were thugs. Rudd actually was one of the founders of the Weather Underground which robbed and killed innocent people. In any case, at academic institutions like these (and Harvard and Yale and Wisconsin and Kent State and any number of others) the enterprise of learning and teaching came virtually to halt.
Apropos my Spine about the conflict between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the patrimony of the emerging arsenal of Iranian nuclear weapons, there was an article in The New York Times by Nazila Fathi also on October 5 with a few more intriguing details that illumine the routine deceit of Tehran politics. (Not that there is no deceit in ours.)
Deval Patrick is the Democratic candidate for governor of my state Massachusetts. Frankly, I don't follow local politics as much as I should. But he has been, according to all the polls, the far-and-away favorite by roughly 20 percent (as of yesterday's WHDH-TV/Suffolk University survey), making him the first black person to look like a state-wide winner since Ed Brooke, the Republican U.S.
Maybe this Spine should have been posted on the Open University blog. Or perhaps I should note on this one that this posting will primarily interest those who were, at least at some point in their lives, pre-occupied by the American left, pro or con. It was very rare to find people in the middle or neutral. Actually, I grew up despising communism and pitying communists. Which is also an expression of pre-occupation. I now know why I felt as I did about the doctrine and the doctrinaires, especially the Jewish doctrinaires. You see, I knew I was a Zionist when I was ten.
A radical Muslim Pakistani was arrested in Oslo for shooting up a synagogue and planning an attack on the Israeli ambassador to Norway. Apparently, he was a member of a terrorist group that has not (yet) been apprehended.