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The incompetent character in charge of decline.

By BRET STEPHENS [Wall Street Journal] — No presidency is ever about nothing. And the something that the Trump administration is fast becoming about is its own paranoia, incompetence and recklessness, all playing out in vertigo-inducing ways… (Continued)

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‘Gobstopping’ Islamic art objects at the Ashmolean.

By JANE JAKEMAN  [The Art Newspaper] — To illustrate the material culture supporting the various Islamic beliefs in the supernatural, whether “orthodox” or “superstitious”, the Ashmolean Museum has brought together examples that range not only from scholarly interpretation to popular faith, but also from lavish courtly productions to objects cherished at humbler levels. This in itself represents a new movement in Islamic art studies, traditionally largely focused on connoisseurship. That approach isolated the gobstopper art object in a glass case, whether physical or metaphorical, whereas the banners, talismans and amulets of poorer folk discussed here were part of their daily lives. (Continued)

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The media: missed again.

By “XIAOMAO” [Chronicle & a comment to a Washington Post article, “The media didn’t want to believe Trump could win. So they looked the other way.”] — no, you didn’t “miss” it. you deliberately, persistently, and consistently dismissed people and their voices by twisting our words, taking things out of context to make your misleading headlines, suppressing comments that you don’t like, and in not so subtle way insisting that simply because someone doesn’t have some BS 4 year sociology degree, he is “uneducated” or “rural” (hence less worthy than you and your opinion!) you only picked and published and made up sh!t that served your own agenda and naïveté and hypocrisy, polling, your superficial demographic typing of trump supporters.

‘you lost yet I do not dare to think any of you will learn a lesson.’

you only mention white male without a college degree, Muslim, Latino or black. you know what? there are so many of us who don’t fit into your little boxes of convenience, and you carried on as if our opinion will never matter. I’ve got news for you! every single vote counted equally regardless what kind of stereotype label you put on a person. as for me? a woman of color, an immigrant, with 3 advanced degrees and living in both rural and urban places, both inside and outside of this country as we have mutiltple homes, I voted for Obama and this time trump. would any of your “journalists” care to know why? or would you try again to put me in one of your demographic boxes … uneducated white male? urban female of color? surburbian elite? huh? you lost yet I do not dare to think any of you will learn a lesson.

Continued at the Washington Post | More Chronicle & Notices.


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The weakness of secular belief.

The burkini has become a blasphemy against the French state and society consensus.

By BEN RYAN [Theos] — The real reason for banning the burkini had nothing to do with the women themselves but with the fear about what the burkini represents to France and French values. France is proud of its laïcité, its distinctive Republic vision of secularism, which is for many a key component of what it is to have a French society. In fact according to a poll by the Institut français d’opinion publique in 2015, 46% of French adults believe laïcité is the most important Republican principle (ahead of universal suffrage at 36% and freedom of association 8%).  It is also a country that feels under siege; a succession of terrorist attacks on French soil has made people afraid. Islam is now seen as a fundamental threat to Frenchness. The burkini is a visual sign of that fear – a public and (to many) alien demonstration of a faith that rightly or wrongly they now perceive as the enemy within. The burkini is a symbol of anti-laïcité, anti-Republicanism and, therefore, anti-Frenchness. It has become a blasphemy against the French state and society consensus. (Continued)

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Yves Bonnefoy, 1923-2016.

By SAM SACKS [The New Yorker] — Bonnefoy’s writing is made of these gentle disagreements—his lifelong project was the reconciliation of stubborn opposites. The child of a teacher and a railroad worker, he was born in Tours in 1923 and spent the war years studying mathematics and philosophy. With his celebrated début collection, in 1953 (“On the Motion and Immobility of Douve”), he began a truly polymathic literary career, publishing, along with free-verse poetry, short fiction, lyric essays, translations (notably of Shakespeare and Yeats), literary criticism, and art history. He devoted considerable attention to the visual arts. (His second marriage was to the American painter Lucy Vines; the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson was one of his closest friends.) He travelled widely, and lectured in comparative literature both in France and abroad.


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Chernobyl todayA LITTLE MORE THAN thirty years ago, just after eleven o’clock, on Friday night, April 26, 1986, the people of Kiev were going to bed. As the city slowed, demand for electricity decreased to the point that the grid operator in Kiev, who was responsible for balancing electrical production with demand, felt that one of the generators at the Chernobyl power plant could be taken offline without affecting service. (Continued)

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Geoffrey Hill, 1932-2016.

By TRISTRAM FANE SAUNDERS [DAILY TELEGRAPH] — One of Hill’s formative early memories was the sight German bombers flying over his home town of Bromsgrove. “Here were these peculiar, businesslike – sinisterly businesslike – winged things… I can still remember the peculiar frisson of it,” he told The Telegraph in 2013. (Continued)

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On the Somme, after the first day.


gduhamel1_cuI HAD NO desire for laughter, and yet at times I felt a vague longing to laugh. It was when I thought of those men who write about the war in the newspapers, saying: “The breach has been made. Why do we hesitate to fling fifty divisions into it?” or, “It remains only to mass reserves close to the front. Quick! Four hundred thousand men into the breach.” (Continued)

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‘Aleppo is President Obama’s Srebrenica…’

Editorial/Leader [Wall Street Journal] — A day after CIA Director John Brennan testified that ISIS now boasts far more fighters than al Qaeda had at its peak, there’s more disagreement in the Obama ranks. Fifty-one State Department diplomats have signed a letter that assails President Obama’s Syria policy…

Two decades ago the world stood by as thousands of Bosnian Muslims were rounded up and killed in Srebrenica. Aleppo is President Obama’s Srebrenica—not that a fawning press corps has noticed. (Continued)

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At Yale: ‘We ask that Major English Poets be abolished…’

A Petition [to the Yale University English Department] — We, undergraduate students in the Yale English Department, write to urge the faculty to reevaluate the undergraduate curriculum. We ask the department to reconsider the current core requirements and the introductory courses for the major. (Continued)

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A unique American college becomes just another State U.

By ROGER KIMBALL [Real Clear Politics] – You can’t set foot on a college campus these days without encountering incessant chatter about “diversity.” It doesn’t take long to realize that by “diversity” most colleges really mean “strict intellectual and moral conformity about any contentious issue.”  Indeed, most colleges and universities are one-party states, purveying, at enormous cost, a species of ideological indoctrination while their charges enjoy a four-year holiday from the responsibilities of adult life masquerading as a liberal education.  Their parents are happy, or at least reconciled to the expense and the indoctrination, because said college provides their child with the all-important stamp of societal approval in the form of a meal ticket called a “diploma.”  What have they actually learned? What skills have they mastered? What is their character?  Those are questions that no one, having just spent  (in many cases) $250,000, wants to ask. (Continued)

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‘Adieu’ is how the French pronounce ‘Brexit’.

By EDOUARD TÉTREAU [Le Figaro via VoxEurop] — Brexit is a fantastic opportunity. First off, for Europe itself. The UK’s exit would put a definitive stop to the EU’s hurried enlargement. The UK always encouraged this policy, seeing it as an effective way of diluting the Franco-German partnership that has called the shots on the continent. This enlargement has had two damaging consequences: states were integrated into the EU and even into the eurozone before they were ready, from Greece – doctoring its public accounts to benefit from the euro’s financial profligacy – to Viktor Orban’s Hungary and Bulgaria – one of the most corrupt countries in the world. (Continued)

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Aprés France, le déluge.

By JAMES POULOS [Orange County Register] — President Obama has studiously ignored the obvious – year upon year upon year – when it comes to France’s critical role in staving off disaster in Europe. To be sure, the White House is well aware that sometimes the most important work in foreign policy takes place all but silently, behind the scenes. But, repeating a pattern that has all but demolished its credibility in the realm of leadership, the administration has simply opted out of shaping public and elite opinion around the centrality of U.S.-French relations to a clear, coherent and now more than urgent mission: to defeat international jihad and ensure European peace and security. (Continued)

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A history lesson for Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper.


Walther Funk

Walther Funk. (via Wiki)

BORIS JOHNSON MADE what most people would regard as a mild observation to the Sunday Telegraph, when he said, “Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried [European unification] out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods.”

The furor was as immediate as it was ill-informed. The Telegraph headlined their scoop, “Boris Johnson: The EU wants a superstate, just as Hitler did”. Imagine that! The news that Hitler wanted a “superstate” was shocking. It led the BBC newscast, perhaps for the first time in nearly 70 years. Johnson’s political opponents quickly expressed their outrage. As the Independent reported:

The Shadow Foreign Secretary, Hilary Benn, described the former London Mayor’s comments as “offensive and desperate”.

“After the horror of the Second World War, the EU helped to bring an end to centuries of conflict in Europe and for Boris Johnson to make this comparison is both offensive and desperate.”

Former Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper joined the condemnation and called on Mr Johnson to not play “political games with the darkest and most sinister chapter of Europe’s history”.

For Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper, and perhaps the headline-writers at the Telegraph, it’s apparently a chapter so dark they have never read it. After all, as Michael Blackburn recently wrote here, even those who know absolutely nothing else about the twentieth century in Europe know about Hitler: “Even the nurse who wheels you to the bathroom in your nursing home will have heard of him. Nobody forgets Hitler.”

Europe’s backers may like to pretend the spore that bore the EU was taken from the European Steel and Coal Treaty of 1951 and planted in 1957 with the Treaty of Rome, the European Economic Community’s birth certificate. But in fact, as Johnson correctly noted, the latest effort to unify Europe has a slightly more colorful pedigree, one that includes the European unification plan put forward by Hitler’s Reich Minister for Economic Affairs, Walther Funk (with the persuasive support of the Wehrmacht, of course). It was exactly what Johnson meant when he used the term “superstate”: the Europe proposed by Funk and other Nazi strategists, according to Columbia historian Mark Mazower (in his excellent Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century), “bore more than a passing resemblance to the post-war Common Market.” The Nazis called their vision for Europe the “New Order” and as early as 1941, Funk and other German propagandists were proclaiming that “the United States of Europe has at last become a reality.”

The plan advanced by the Nazis saw a common currency, a central bank and the other institutions that are critical to the EU today.

The plan advanced by the Nazis saw a common currency, a central bank and the other institutions that are critical to the EU today—in the words of Hermann Neubacher, described by Mazower as “Hitler’s Balkan supremo,” a unified “Grossraum which instead of individual countries would form the economic unit of the future.” From the moment of its inception, the Nazi version of the European Union had the support of other Europeans; in fact, it was the Vichy deputy premier, Jacques Benoist-Mechin, who announced France was ready to “abandon nationalism and take [its] place in the European Community with honour.”Eugen Weber, writing in The Atlantic in 2001, observed that for the French as for the Germans, Hitler’s New Order was above all European. “With French and German bankers, industrialists, and other businessmen meeting regularly,” Weber wrote, “the idea of a United States of Europe was making its way, along with visions of a single customs zone and a single European currency. The European Union, its attendant bureaucracy, even the euro, all appear to stem from the Berlin-Vichy collaboration. Bureaucratic controls proliferated, administrative and business elites interpenetrated, postwar economic planning took shape—as did that greater Europe in which France’s Hitler-allotted role would be one of a bigger Switzerland, ‘a country of tourism … and fashion.’”

THIS IS NOT to sully an idea by association; after all, in 1946, surrounded by the rubble of war, even Churchill said a “United States of Europe” was necessary to help rebuild devastated France and Germany. But the war is long past — yet German ambitions linger. Josef Goebbels once predicted that “in fifty years’ time [Europeans will] no longer think in terms of countries.” Sixty years later, Gerhard Schroeder, from a rebuilt, resurgent Germany, echoed that thought when he said that “National sovereignty will soon prove itself to be a product of the imagination.” Every idea has its moment; moats were once the last word in security. But European unification is a constant thread running through all our postwar decades. Reading accounts of twentieth-century Europe, you can’t help notice how little the Continental political class has been affected by the massive storms that have broken over her. The worldview of the European political elites is the same now as it has always been. The growth — usually predicated on various claims of urgency and necessity — of government and the inevitably consequent centralization of power have a persistent gravity all their own. The idea of repudiating this, as Johnson and the Brexit side want, is to demand nothing less than the repudiation of the EU’s new, improved order, and to invite famine, war, pestilence, poverty, hives and rashes.

The prediction made by Goebbels is certainly true for the political leadership of the EU in 2016. In fact, for practical reasons, “Europe” has always meant Germany. For the bureaucrats in Brussels, Goebbels and Schroeder are both a little offensive, but a lot right. The Treaty of Rome, which followed Goebbels’ pronouncement by only 15 years, was intended to make Italian pasta attractive to grocery-shoppers in Luxembourg and German cars affordable to everybody. Now, after nearly five decades of festering growth by bureaucrats feeding on the rich agar of mysterious taxes and near-unaccountability, the old New Order, rechristened the European Union in 1992, has reached maturity as a gigantic, monstrous pyramid scheme run by the Germans, in which other nations are forced to contribute to the political well-being of people such as Cameron and Angela Merkel — or face doom.

Denis Boyles is the co-editor of The Fortnightly Review. His latest book, Everything Explained That Is Explainable: On the creation of the Encyclopædia Britannica’s celebrated Eleventh Edition 1910-1911, will be published by Knopf in June.

More Chronicle & Notices.

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The closed minds of American academics.

By BEN VOTH [American Thinker] — Even President Barack Obama recently lamented the declining state of affairs on America’s college campuses. Essentially, a doctrinaire sense of victimology has descended upon campuses such that free speech, critical thinking, and debate are all but abolished in favor of “Safe spaces.” The complaints are extensive and well-founded. Allan Bloom’s concern in the 1980s about the “Closing of the American Mind” is profound, real, and upon us at today’s university campuses. What is not often discussed is what should be done to reverse this crisis and to begin anew the opening of the American mind. (Continued)

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