What we don’t know about the Mavi Marmara incident: just about everything.
3 June 2010
A response to Ron Radosh, et al.
In the latest issue of City Journal, I published a story about a large cache of Soviet-era documents smuggled out of Russia by Pavel Stroilov, a Russian researcher now exiled in London, and a similar collection of smuggled documents held by the former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky. I wrote that the world was incurious about these papers; this, I argued, was symptomatic of a dangerous indifference to the history and horrors of Communism.
Why doesn’t anyone care about the unread Soviet archives?
In the world’s collective consciousness, the word “Nazi” is synonymous with evil. It is widely understood that the Nazis’ ideology—nationalism, anti-Semitism, the autarkic ethnic state, the Führer principle—led directly to the furnaces of Auschwitz. It is not nearly as well understood that Communism led just as inexorably, everywhere on the globe where it was applied, to starvation, torture, and slave-labor camps. Nor is it widely acknowledged that Communism was responsible for the deaths of some 150 million human beings during the twentieth century. The world remains inexplicably indifferent and uncurious about the deadliest ideology in history.
Recently, a Turkish museum's staff discovered that a large number of famous Ottoman-era drawings from their collection were forgeries, the originals probably stolen years ago. Claire Berlinski finds that the theft of valuable artworks across the world is more common than many think.
The New Vichy Syndrome: Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism
Many books have now been written about Europe's malaise, most making similar observations, but Dr. Theodore Dalrymple has two great gifts and an advantage. His gifts are his prose style-effortlessly fluent yet never affected-and his keen powers of observation. His advantage is his experience of life.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Last fall, having observed that few women in Istanbul took martial-arts classes, I conceived the idea to work with local instructors on creating a women's self-defense initiative. My project met with initial enthusiasm, particularly among women concerned with the high rate of domestic violence in Turkey. But other martial arts instructors in the city grew uneasy, sensing a plot to swindle them out of their small pieces of the martial-arts pie. Istanbul quickened with lunatic rumors that the initiative was a conspiracy to disparage the other instructors' martial prowess and steal their students. Martial-arts cliques consumed themselves with plotting and counter-plotting. Secret tribunals were held, covert alliances formed, poison-pen letters sent, friends betrayed. I gave up in disgust.
ISTANBUL “Hell no, angrily no,” says Galeri x-ist art director Kerimcan Guleryuz when asked if excitement about Turkish contemporary art exceeds the supply of real talent here. “They don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s not hype.” By “they” he means the collectors and gallery owners—and there are many—who are wondering if the Turkish art market is being set up for a fall.
My qualifications as an alarmist about the Islamization of Europe are second to none, according to my critics. But even I cannot find a good legal, political, or moral argument for Swiss voters’ decision, in a November referendum, to ban the building of minarets. Legally, it introduces a contradiction into the Swiss constitution, which is quite clear on this point: “Nobody may be discriminated against, namely for his or her . . . religious, philosophical, or political convictions.” If a citizen has a right to erect a cross, in other words, his fellow citizen must have the right to erect a minaret. This isn’t a minor technical point. The antidiscrimination article is not in the Swiss constitution arbitrarily. We in the West do not believe in banning religious symbols; that’s one of the key reasons we consider our societies superior to those that do. How can anyone in Switzerland be taken seriously now if he criticizes the Saudis for refusing to permit the building of churches?
26 January 2010
Americans with relatives in the earthquake-ravaged country can’t even get our bureaucrats on the phone.
To judge from the State Department’s response to the earthquake in Haiti, our government has not learned the obvious lessons about disaster preparation that it should have after September 11 and Hurricane Katrina. I know, unfortunately, because my family was in Port-au-Prince, where my sister-in-law worked for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. Her father, my brother, and my ten-month-old nephew were with her. They were all unharmed; obviously, many were not so fortunate. I cannot comment on the United States’ relief efforts in Haiti, which I have not seen firsthand and about which I have heard only confused reports. But I did observe the State Department’s response to the relatives of Americans in Haiti, and they suggest that our preparation for disasters needs far more thought.
By chance, my father and I were together when we heard the news. We had both just flown to Washington DC—he from Paris, I from Istanbul—to care for my grandmother, who’d had a heart attack. Before the words “major earthquake in Haiti” came over the car radio, we had been under the impression that we were living through a serious family emergency. Then we learned what those words really mean.