Category Archives: Archives, History, and Historiography

Samuel Kassow: Who Will Write Our History?

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Trinity College History Professor Samuel Kassow discusses his recent work, Who Will Write Our History?: Rediscovering a Hidden Archive from the Warsaw Ghetto on C-SPAN 2’s “Book TV” program.

Click here to watch the video.

From the Book TV website:

Samuel Kassow recounts the efforts by Polish historian Emanuel Ringelblum and a group of amateur and professional historians, the Oyneg Shabes, who worked secretly from 1940 to 1943 to record Jewish suffering and subsequently hid thousands of records prior to the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto. This event was hosted by the Tenement Museum in New York City.

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Rachel Shabi and “Israel’s humiliating discrimination against Arab Jews”

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[H/t to Point of No ReturnZWord and TNR]

This is a guest post by Point of No Return at ZWord:

The Daily Telegraph, Britain’s centre-right mass-circulation newspaper, today carries a review of Rachel Shabi’s new book – unpromisingly titled ‘Israel’s humiliating discrimination against Arab Jews’ – about the discrimination faced in Israel by Jews from Arab countries, Not the Enemy.

The reviewer calls the book ‘eye-opening’, ’sobering’ and ‘disturbing and important’. He seems to nod in horrified agreement at Shabi’s catalogue of humilations inflicted on Mizrahi Jews by Ashkenazim (European) Jews. They were made to feel ‘excluded’ and ‘inferior.’

What’s more, Ms Shabi must know what she is writing about: she is after all the descendant of Iraqi Jews herself.

But this is no ordinary reviewer. This is Gerald Jacobs, literary editor of the Jewish Chronicle.

He hardly attempts to challenge Shabi’s narrative that the Mizrahi migration to Israel was ‘imposed by Zionist pressure and even acts of sabotage’ (Ah yes, those Zionist bombs).

One would have expected of a man in Jacobs’ shoes to know that, as I have already pointed out, Israeli popular culture is today dominated by Mizrahi influences. The stories of discrimination belong in the 1950s. Intermarriage is rife, and Mizrahim have reached the highest echelons of power. Jacobs does not even sniff a whiff of tendentiousness in Shabi’s anti-Zionism and her downplaying of Arab antisemitism – curiously it largely seems to begin in 1948 – nor does he question her spurious assumption that Jews from the Middle East are really Arabs.

If this is what we can expect from an editor of the leading organ of British Jewry, Lord help us.

Shabi is part of small group of post-Zionist Mizrahi intellectuals who want to reclaim the non-European aspect their identity. I think this is a positive thing. But some of these post-Zionists have a tendency to borrow analytical frameworks from Marxists and others who view Ashkenazim and Zionists in general as imperialists and colonialists. In this narrative, the Mizrahim are indigenous people who have been victimized by Zionism, just like the Palestinians. In other words, Mizrahi Jews and Palestinians are people of color and Ashkenazis are whitey. Shabi and her political allies, in turn, are part pf the global resistance against the forces of global empire. It is a very tired and played out perspective which is why I won’t be spending time reading the book.

However, to claim there is no discrimination against Mizrahim in Israel is not accurate. Most of my Israeli friends are Mizrahi and they see elite positions in universities, the armed forces and politics continue to be dominated by Ashkenazim and that Mizrahi families are generally less well off than Ashkenazi families. They see institutional inequality in Israel that is not as pronounced as that experienced by African Americans in the United States but still similar. Yes, they see their faces reflected in popular culture and entertainment but to a much lesser extent in the sciences, engineering, law, medicine, finance and politics.

Take a look at the Katamonim neighborhood in Jerusalem or Yeroham and other development towns in the Negev. What is the ratio of Jews from Iraq, Iran, Morocco, Ethiopia, etc. compared to those from Europe? From my experience (I realize this is totally anecdotal) most Ashkenazim avoid those places.

This is not meant to diss Ashkenazi Jews–I love my peeps–but one of the perennial downfalls of the Jewish people is our lack of unity. Acknowledging that these tensions exist is only the first step. The next step is addressing the inequality, perhaps above all in education. To provide one example, the Kedma School is doing some great work to assist Mizrahi students in achieving their bagrut:

Before Kedma was founded, only 10% of high school-age children from the Katamonim area completed high school with a bagrut certificate, and many students dropped out of school altogether. Ten years later, in 2003-2004, the percent of 12th-grade Kedma students who completed a full bagrut certificate was higher than the national average: 57% finished with a full bagrut certificate, and 30% were missing only one or two exams to complete the bagrut (click here to view a comparative chart). The first senior class graduated in 2000, and today there are 150 students in grades 7 through 12 who study at Kedma.

I agree with Noga (The Contentious Centrist) when she writes:

Imagine, that Jews can actually be like any other people, have their prejudices and cultural biases and seek to feel that they are better than their neigbours! Wow!

Yet when I look at what is going down in the world today I see a real need for Jewish unity. Not only between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi but between secular and religious and across all the other boundaries that keep the Jewish people divided.

OK, rant over.

C-SPAN Presidential Survey

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C-SPAN has released the results of their Second Survey of Presidential Leadership. From the Survey website:

Fifty-eight historians from across the political spectrum who contributed to C-SPAN’s year long series, American Presidents: Life Portraits participated in C-SPAN’s survey. They rated the 41 men who have served in the White House on ten different qualities of presidential leadership. Results of this survey, overall rankings and each president’s scores in individual categories, are being released by C-SPAN to coincide with the February 21 observance of President’s Day…

The cable public affairs network was guided in the survey effort by a team of four historians and academics: Dr. Douglas Brinkley, Director of the Eisenhower Center at the University of New Orleans; Dr. Edna Greene Medford, Associate Professor of History, Howard University; Richard Norton Smith, Director of the Gerald R. Ford Museum and Library; and Dr. John Splaine, Education professor, University of Maryland.

The four survey advisors devised a survey which asked participants to use a one (“not effective”) to ten (“very effective”) scale to rate each president on ten qualities of presidential leadership: “Public Persuasion,” “Crisis Leadership,” “Economic Management,” “Moral Authority,” “International Relations,” “Administrative Skills,” “Relations with Congress,” “Vision/Agenda Setting,” and “Pursuit of Equal Justice for All”. And, to reflect the changing role of the presidency over the course of US history, the advisory team chose as the tenth category, “Performance Within the Context of His Times.”

The survey was sent by mail in December to 87 historians and other professional observers of the presidency whose work contributed to C-SPAN’s 41 week biography series, American Presidents. Fifty-eight agreed to participate. Survey responses were tabulated by averaging all the responses in any given category for each president. Each of the ten categories were given equal weighting in the total scores. Overseeing the tabulation were Robert Kennedy, C-SPAN CFO and Dr. Robert Browning, a political scientist who serves as director of the C-SPAN archives.

The surveys provide an interesting snapshot of how a particular president is viewed at a particular time. For example, President George W. Bush is number 36 on the list. Will his position rise over time or decline? Back when the first poll was taken in 2000, President Clinton was ranked 21st. Today he has risen to 15th, placing him ahead of John Adams, James Madison, and John Quincy Adams. Time will tell with Bush as well.

Survey results here. Comparison between 2000 and 2009 is here. A list of historians who participated in the survey is here.

Lincoln and Darwin: Happy 200th!

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[Image swiped from Clashing Culture]

Malcolm Jones (Newsweek):

How’s this for a coincidence? Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born in the same year, on the same day: Feb. 12, 1809. As historical facts go, it amounts to little more than a footnote. Still, while it’s just a coincidence, it’s a coincidence that’s guaranteed to make you do a double take the first time you run across it. Everybody knows Darwin and Lincoln were near-mythic figures in the 19th century. But who ever thinks of them in tandem? Who puts the theory of evolution and the Civil War in the same sentence? Why would you, unless you’re writing your dissertation on epochal events in the 19th century? But instinctively, we want to say that they belong together. It’s not just because they were both great men, and not because they happen to be exact coevals. Rather, it’s because the scientist and the politician each touched off a revolution that changed the world.

Simon Jenkins (The Age):

CHARLES Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born on the same day two centuries ago, thanks be to the false god of coincidence. But which, you cry, was the greater? Was it the man who transformed our understanding of the human race, or the man who made the mightiest nation on earth also the custodian of liberty and democracy? Was it the scientist or the statesman?

Darwin claims the crown for the scale of his intellectual revolution, but was he no more than an observer, a describer, a cataloguer? Did he not fail Marx’s test, that any philosopher can interpret the world while “the point is to change it”? Lincoln may have ensured that America became a force for world freedom, but was he not just a lucky war leader, and of a cause whose time had anyway come?

The comparison is silly, but not the question. We can leave the two men as giants but we can set the pursuit of science against politics and ask which deserves the greater respect.

Immigrants and Immigration Policy, Part I

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[H/t to D.K. aka The Kvetcher]

The Kvetcher has been exploring some interesting and controversial territory regarding immigration. Reading his discussions with the people at the Nativist, paleocon VDARE website is like stepping into some strange yet familiar nexus where the tropes of radical left and extreme right meet.

Here is DK’s original post (Jewish Unease Towards Mass Immigration from Islamic Countries Spreads Left):

For a long-time in the mainstream Jewish community, it seemed only Stephen Steinlight was brave enough to publicly declare it wasn’t in the Jewish community’s interest to support mass immigration from Islamic countries. (In fact, Steinlight went further, questioning the wisdom of accepting mass immigration from Mexico, because he is a fearless and principled man, who treasures his country and his community more than being popular).

Well…it’s over seven years later, and finally the hawkish Left is coming round.

Marty Peretz writes on TNR,

As it happens, jihadism has less deadly manifestations than murder. As the Ku Klux Klan had less deadly manifestations than lynching. This morning I watched a frightening episode in the public life of America. It was a demonstration by, say, 200 Muslim immigrants in Fort Lauderdale against the Israeli air strikes over Gaza. Now, the first amendment protects such demos, and I would not for a moment want to curb them. But I ask each of you to pay attention to the details of what was being shouted. Especially by the young women screaming, “Jews to the ovens.” No jihad in America, huh? Do we want such immigrants in our country? Well, John, do we?

Most Jews on the social Left will continue to denounce our concerns as “fascist” and “racist” and will continue to give space-cadet reasons why we shouldn’t be concerned AT ALL about little inconveniences like terrorism, harassment, and a loss of power from say, an additional ten million religious Muslims immigrating to the U.S.

D.K. posted a follow-up titled “Jews and the Larger Mass Immigration Issues” where he notes:

I would ask the question like this: Is this a good time for mass immigration?

The answer is an unequivocal “no.” We are in a period of massive unemployment. Seeking a greater labor supply at this time is absolutely absurd, and cruel to our working-class countrymen. We already suffer from an acute and increasing labor surplus. And it is probably only going to get worse, perhaps much worse.

There are plenty of other reasons to object to mass immigration. The list is so long…but employment issues alone in today’s devolving economy suffice to warrant something approaching a moratorium on mass immigration, or at least, it presents an opportune time for reevaluation of current policies.

And that is legal immigration. That defense offered for amnesty or amnesty-like policies for illegal immigrants is a mind-blowing chutzpah. Maddeningly, there are Jews and Jewish groups who actually claim on our communal behalf that illegal immigration somehow parallels are own legal immigrant past.

So I posted some comments and questions at The Kvetcher, and, lo and behold, DK devoted a blog post to me. Here are my comments, condensed in some places and somewhat elaborated in others:

The labor economist Isaac Hourwich (Immigration and Labor, 1912) argued close to a century ago that American assumptions regarding immigration and the labor market are not correct i.e. that too many people were chasing too few jobs and this was driving wages down. The solution for critics of immigration was to limit or ban it altogether. However, rather than overcrowding the labor market and driving down wages, Hourwich contends the expansion of the economy far outpaced the pace of immigration. He supports his claims with economic data complied by the federal and various state governments.

The bottom line is immigration flows in open, free, capitalist economies respond to labor demand. As labor demand increases, immigration will increase. As labor demand decreases, immigration will decrease. Increases and decreases in labor demand result from the boom/bust cycles of the broader economy. Stated very simply:

Economy Labor Demand Immigration

Or, as as Hourwich notes:

The supply of immigrant labor is determined by free competition, like any other commodity. It may sometimes exceed the demand and at other times fall short if it; in the long run, however, supply adjusts itself to demand.

Regarding “own legal immigrant past,” the notion of “legal” and “illegal” immigrant is a fairly recent invention and our borders were much more porous in the past than they are today. It was actually much easier (politically and economically) to immigrate to the U.S. in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries than the twenty-first. Travel by steamship back then was more dangerous than airplane today, but it was much less expensive.

Another critique is the language used by contemporary Nativist outfits like VDARE is almost identical to that used by Nativists in the eighteenth century, nineteenth century and twentieth century. The claims made back then were as false (Russians, Italians, Poles, etc. do not want to learn English, they are clannish and stick to their “own kind,” they do not want to assimilate, etc.) as they are today.

Given my familiarity with the radical (baroque, faux, rococco, leftover) left, I was also puzzled by one poster (“Jenny”) who claimed:

[T]here has been an alliance formed between the corporate elites and the far left.

I suspect Jenny has not been to any demonstrations over the past say, fifteen or twenty years or read much, if any, far left literature. The far left–anarchists, communists, etc.–are definitely not in alliance with corporate elites. They are against NAFTA just like the paleocons at VDARE. They even use similar (anti-capitalist) rhetoric. Extremists on the left and right both rail against what they call globalism (hard right) or globalization (hard left).

Jenny adds:

I read an article today that stated that even among Mexicans, three out of five aren’t religious any longer. There is a strong movement of radical Marxists in the pro-illegal alien community, and they are indoctrinating them. That’s the reason why there is such a huge antisemitic tendency in the illegal alien community, and no amount of ADL huckstering on their behalf is going to change that.

If you follow the link above Jenny’s arguments and the rhetoric she uses are almost identical to those used against Jews, Italians, Catholics, Russians and others who were part of “new immigration” wave in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These arguments were rehashed from the critiques made of those who arrived as part of the “old immigrantation” wave (Dutch, Germans and Irish) in the eighteenth century.

I recommended DK and Jenny (and readers, if interested) have a read of Isaac Hourwich’s “Immigration and Labor” (link below). It is eye-opening, if depressing, to see how little the arguments have changed.

The idea that immigrants of the past did not flock to communities dominated by their countrymen and countrywomen, that they did not create media in their own languages (newspapers, books, etc.), is simply not supported by the evidence. Take a look at the images of early American cities with storefront signs in Yiddish, Polish, Italian, Russian, etc. (not English) take a look at the names of the newspapers that were popular in immigrant communities, take a look at the languages they were published in.

This process of assimilation has been going on for a long, long, time. Critics of immigration said Jews would not assimilate. They said we were not interested in becoming American, we were only interested in making a “quick profit” and that increasing numbers of us were not even religious, instead informed and guided by foreign ideologies like Marxism, anarchism and communism. Sound familiar?

While not in favor of open borders, I am generally in the pro-immigration camp. I am also in favor of free trade as opposed to protectionism. Nevertheless, D.K.’s overarching concern with radicalism is something that concerns me as well. While worries of Europe turning into Eurabia are often overstated, there has been an alarming increase in political violence and anti-Semitism on the continent.

On a more subjective note, I have long felt that Jews, as the people who coined the term Diaspora and spent so much of our collective existence as outsiders in others’ lands, should be sensitive about the situation of immigrants. Remember, we were strangers in the land of Egypt (Leviticus 19:34):

The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

One last thing, I know they would probably prefer not to know, but DK’s positions are not very far from Sultan Knish’s

More Info:

AFL-CIO page on Immigrant Workers

Center for Migration Studies NY

Change to Win Coalition on Immigrant Workers’ Rights

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)

Immigration and Labor by Isaac Hourwich (1912) via Google Books.

Jewish Labor Committee

New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE)

Ernest Sternberg: A Revivified Corpse, Left-Fascism in the Twenty-First Century

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Ernest’s Sternberg’s review of Bernard-Henri Lévy’s, Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism (New York: Random House, 2008 ) in Telos (A Revivified Corpse: Left Fascism in the Twenty-First Century) is well worth reading (also check out Fred Siegel’s review in Democratiya here).

The review is a pithy summary of many of the issues that concern me today including the collusion and alliances of the extreme left and extreme right, the development of Islamist totalitarianism, and the increasing frequency of antisemitism cloaked as anti-imperialism. Observing events in his native France since the fall of the Soviet Union and especially after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Lévy asks, “what happened to the secular, liberal, left?” In answering this question, Sternberg notes two ideas at the core of Lévy’s conception of contemporary neo-progressive thought:

One is the Good (a poorly chosen word, an insult to classical thinking about the good): the idea that here and now our troubled society can be upended to create a shining new and just society. It’s the end for which it’s worth sacrificing a generation to starvation, reeducation camps, and the police state (p. 66).

Perhaps a better term is “the perfect” as in “the perfect is the enemy of the good” or simply, utopianism.

The review continues:

The other is the Evil: that filth and corruption in which we are now trapped. Leading from one to the other is the “boulevard of history.” Driving us along it is that dialectical machine, that curative force, that “political medicalism” (Lévy quoting Foucault) that carries us from our miserable existence into this fabulous future, with such certainty that we need not fret about lives discarded along the way.

How far we have drifted from May ’68, Lévy mourns. It had seemed then that the Left had shorn itself of communism, devoted itself to anti-fascism and anti-racism, and agreed to work for human rights through imperfect liberal-democratic regimes. It is this non-Marxist Left that had Lévy’s allegiance. But after the collapse of communism and all the more so after 9/11, Lévy saw the coalescence of a new ideology, a new degenerate Left. It first seemed to him pointless, just something cobbled together from defunct ideologies. But then he understood that it was a revivified Left, which was once again acceding to totalitarian temptation. The outcome is today’s neoprogressivism.

Sternberg has more substantial critiques of Lévy’s analysis. In particular, his “failure to comprehend mainstream Anglo-American conservatism.” For Lévy:

conservatism brings to mind those martinets who persecuted Dreyfus: those whose highest values were Authority, Order, Nation, State, Tradition, and Social Body (his capitalizations) as against intellectuals, freedom, democracy, parliament, and rights of man (p. 24). Unable to extricate himself from hoary Left-Right dichotomy, even as he reveals its bankruptcy, Lévy claims the parliamentarian Edmund Burke, whose sin was to be a conservative, as one of the origins of the historical path to Nazism (p. 92).

The irony is that Lévy himself has taken a Burkean turn. Lévy identifies the essence of the anti-totalitarian spirit as one that conceives of politics “as a world of indecision, indetermination, which takes into account the complexity of human affairs, the need for deliberation and compromise” (p. 70)…

American conservatives aren’t interested in Burke because he admired the French queen but because he formulated a powerful argument for incremental reform in light of society’s overwhelming complexity, an argument not so far removed from Lévy’s own…

…Most versions of American conservative thought look for inspiration and tradition not to an ancien régime, but to the American revolution, the Founding Fathers, the constitution, Lincoln’s reforms, and incremental development of America as the original liberal, anti-absolutist state.

Intellectual historian George Nash covers this in The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America: Since 1945. Nash argues that the ideology of American conservatism is difficult to pin down. For European conservatives, things were (are?) much easier. Generally speaking, European conservatives were against radical political and social change—better known as revolution—and they supported a national church. In the United States, a country founded on revolution, such a political idea would be regarded as anti-American and the establishment of a state Church–whether Protestant or Catholic–also ran counter to American political culture.

A more serious deficiency is Lévy:

lacks an explanation for the rise of neoprogressive barbarism. Despite much intellectual name-dropping, the book is short on theory. Yet, his initial outline of totalitarian articles of faith gives a hint. The new totalitarians must envision a Good as well as an Evil, only Lévy is silent on what their Good might be.

Sternberg will discuss “Left Fascism” at the 2009 Telos Conference in NYC (Jan 17). Details below:

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From the conference website:

The conference topic will be New Administration: War, Class and Critical Theory, which will consider both the new administration in Washington and political shifts abroad, viewed in light of Telos‘s long-standing concern with “administered society,” expansive bureaucracies, and the role of the “new class.”

Conference Schedule

Saturday, January 17

9:00 Greetings: Mary Piccone, Introduction: Russell Berman

New Class and Capitalism:
Beyond Welfare and State and Neo-Liberalism

Chair: David Pan

9:15 Jim Kulk: “Political Divisions and the Financial Crisis”

10:00 John Milbank: “Revived Red Toryism: The New Political Paradox”

10:45 Break

11:00 Neil Turnbull: “Federal Populism and its Failure as Regionalism”

11:45 Michael Marder: “In the Name of the Law: Schmitt and the Metonymic Abuses of Legitimacy”

12:30 Lunch

Old Wars, New Wars

Chair: Tim Luke

1:30 Joseph Bendersky: “Horkheimer, ‘Militant Democracy,’ and War”

2:15 David Pan: “World Order and the Decline of U.S. Power: Soft or Hard Landing?”

3:00 Break

3:15 Adrian Pabst: “The Berlin Doctrine: Rethinking the Euro-Atlantic Community”

4:00 Ernie Sternberg: “Left Fascism”

4:45 Closing Discussion

RIP: Samuel Huntington and Freddie Hubbard

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Political Scientist Samuel Huntington, author of The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Political Order in Changing Societies, The Soldier and the State and many other influential books has died at the age of 81. Robert Kaplan writing in Atlantic (Dec 2001) notes:

The Soldier and the State constituted a warning: America’s liberal society, Huntington argued, required the protection of a professional military establishment steeped in conservative realism. In order to keep the peace, military leaders had to take for granted—and anticipate—the “irrationality, weakness, and evil in human nature.” Liberals were good at reform, not at national security. “Magnificently varied and creative when limited to domestic issues,” Huntington wrote, “liberalism faltered when applied to foreign policy and defense.” Foreign policy, he explained, is not about the relationship among individuals living under the rule of law but about the relationship among states and other groups operating in a largely lawless realm. The Soldier and the State concluded with a rousing defense of West Point, which, Huntington wrote, “embodies the military ideal at its best … a bit of Sparta in the midst of Babylon.”

The subject that Huntington has more recently put on the map is the “clash of civilizations” that is occurring as Western, Islamic, and Asian systems of thought and government collide. His argument is more subtle than it is usually given credit for, but some of the main points can be summarized.

• The fact that the world is modernizing does not mean that it is Westernizing. The impact of urbanization and mass communications, coupled with poverty and ethnic divisions, will not lead to peoples’ everywhere thinking as we do.

• Asia, despite its ups and downs, is expanding militarily and economically. Islam is exploding demographically. The West may be declining in relative influence.

• Culture-consciousness is getting stronger, not weaker, and states or peoples may band together because of cultural similarities rather than because of ideological ones, as in the past.

• The Western belief that parliamentary democracy and free markets are suitable for everyone will bring the West into conflict with civilizations—notably, Islam and the Chinese—that think differently.

• In a multi-polar world based loosely on civilizations rather than on ideologies, Americans must reaffirm their Western identity.

The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon highlight the tragic relevance not just of Huntington’s ideas about a clash of civilizations but of his entire life’s work. Since the 1950s he has argued that American society requires military and intelligence services that think in the most tragic, pessimistic terms. He has worried for decades about how American security has mostly been the result of sheer luck—the luck of geography—and may one day have to be truly earned. He has written that liberalism thrives only when security can be taken for granted—and that in the future we may not have that luxury. And he has warned that the West may one day have to fight for its most cherished values and, indeed, physical survival against extremists from other cultures who despise our country and who will embroil us in a civilizational war that is real, even if political leaders and polite punditry must call it by another name. While others who hold such views have found both happiness and favor working among like-minded thinkers in the worlds of the corporation, the military, and the intelligence services, Huntington has deliberately remained in the liberal bastion of Ivy League academia, to fight for his ideas on that lonely but vital front.

You can read the entire article here.

The exceptional jazz trumpeter and composer Freddie Hubbard passed away this week as well. He was 70. Hubbard’s oeuvre, from bebop to fusion, is incredibly diverse and reflects the changes in jazz from the late 1950s, through the 1960s and into the 1970s. The following is from Jazztrumpetsolos.com:

Freddie played mellophone and then trumpet in his school band, studying at the Jordan Conservatory with the principal trumpeter of the local symphony. He worked as a teenager with Wes and Monk Montgomery, and eventually founded his own first band, the Jazz Contemporaries, with bassist Larry Ridley and saxophonist James Spaulding. Moving to New York in 1958 at the age of 20, he quickly astonished fans and critics alike with the depth and maturity of his playing working with veteran jazz artists Philly Joe Jones (1958-59, 1961), Sonny Rollins (1959), Slide Hampton (1959-60), J.J. Johnson (1960), Eric Dolphy, his room-mate for 18 months, and Quincy Jones, with whom he toured Europe (1960-61). He was barely 22 when he recorded Open Sesame, his solo debut, in June 1960. That album, featuring Hank Mobley, McCoy Tyner, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones, set the stage for one of the more meteoric careers in jazz.

Within the next 10 months, Hubbard recorded his second album, Goin’ Up, with the same personnel as his first, and a third, Hub Cap, with Julian Priester and Jimmy Heath. Four months later, in August 1961, he made what many consider his masterpiece, Ready For Freddie, which was also his first Blue Note collaboration with Wayne Shorter. That same year, he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (replacing Lee Morgan). Freddie had quickly established himself as an important new voice in jazz. While earning a reputation as a hard-blowing young lion, he had developed his own sound, distancing himself from the early influence of Clifford Brown and Miles Davis and won Down Beat’s “New Star” award on trumpet.

He remained with Blakey until 1966, leaving to form his own small groups, which over the next few years featured Kenny Barron and Louis Hayes. Throughout the 60s he also played in bands led by others, including Max Roach and Herbie Hancock. Hubbard was a significant presence on Herbie Hancock’s Blue Note recordings beginning with the pianist’s debut as a leader, Takin’ Off, and continuing on Empyrean Isles and Maiden Voyage. He was also featured on four classic 60s sessions: Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz, Oliver Nelson’s Blues And The Abstract Truth, Eric Dolphy’s Out To Lunch!, and John Coltrane’s Ascension during that time.

Freddie achieved his greatest popular success in the 1970s with a series of crossover albums on CTI Records. Although his early 70s jazz albums Red Clay, First Light and Straight Life were particularly well received (First Light won a Grammy Award), this period saw Hubbard emulating Herbie Hancock and moving into jazz fusions. However, he sounded much more at ease in the hard bop context of his 1977 tour with the V.S.O.P. quintet, the band which retraced an earlier quintet led by Miles Davis and brought together ex-Davis sidemen Hancock, Hayes, Wayne Shorter and Ron Carter, with Hubbard taking the Davis role.

Freddie Hubbard “Bird Like”

“Red Clay”:

Herf on the RAF and the German New Left

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[H/t to ZWord]

Professor Jeffrey Herf has an article on the German New Left that you really should check out, “An Age of Murder: Ideology and Terror in Germany“:

It is best to begin with the obvious. This is a series of lectures about murder, indeed about an age of murder.[1] Murders to be sure inspired by political ideas, but murders nevertheless. In all, the Rote Armee Fraktion (Red Army Faction, hereafter the RAF) murdered thirty-four people and would have killed more had police and intelligence agencies not arrested them or prevented them from carrying out additional “actions.”[2]

Yesterday, the papers reported that thirty-two people were killed in suicide-bomb attacks in Iraq, and thirty-four the day before, and neither of those war crimes were front-page news in the New York Times or the Washington Post. So there is an element of injustice in the amount of time and attention devoted to the thirty-four murders committed by the RAF over a period of twenty-two years and that devoted to the far more numerous victims of radical Islamist terror. Yet the fact that the murders of large numbers of people today has become horribly routine is no reason to dismiss the significance of the murders of a much smaller number for German history.

Along with the murders came attempted murders, bank robberies, and explosions at a variety of West German and American institutions. The number of dead could have been much higher. If the RAF had not used pistols, machine guns, bazookas, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), remote-controlled bombs, and airplane hijackings, and if the West German radicals of the 1970s through the 1990s had only published turgid, long-winded communist manifestos, no one would have paid them much attention at the time. I doubt that the German Historical Institute would have decided to sponsor a series about Marxist-Leninist sects of the 1970s.

This article is important for a number of reasons. First, for clarifying the totalitarian (and specifically German) roots of the German New Left. Second, for discussing the RAF’s antisemitism and the prevalence of antisemitism in the German New Left. Third, for debunking some of the myths circulated on the radical left about the RAF.

If you are unfamiliar with Professor Herf’s work, he is an historian of Modern Europe and has written extensively on Germany during the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany and the Cold War. He is also one of the authors of “American Liberalism and the Euston Manifesto“:

We reject the now ossified and unproductive political polarization of American politics rooted as it is in the conflicts of the 1960s, not the first decade of this century. We are frustrated in the choice between conservative governance that thwarts much needed reforms at home, on the one hand, and a liberalism which has great difficulty accepting the projection of American power abroad, on the other. The long era of Republican ascendancy may very well be coming to an end. If and when it does, we seek a renewed and reinvigorated American liberalism, one that is up to the task of fighting and winning the struggle of free and democratic societies against Islamic extremism and the terror it produces.

90 Years After Armistice, Remember Our Vets

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Today is Veterans Day in the U.S. The holiday was established to recognize the end of World War One (Armistice Day) as well as honoring the service of our armed forces in all conflicts. When I was a child the holiday was widely honored with parades, speeches and school closings. Today, Veterans Day is increasingly forgotten by many Americans. Remember, support our troops in the field and when they come home.

The following excerpt is from the Veterans of Foreign Wars website:

Remembering gives true meaning to sacrifice and service. Millions of Americans’ lives were forever altered because they donned a uniform to protect the freedoms and rights we take for granted. We owe an eternal debt of gratitude to them. And acknowledging Veterans Day is the time that debt comes due. It’s our way of keeping faith.

All of this is particularly relevant now, with the nation at war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nearly 4,800 Americans have been killed in the two war zones to date. Approximately 1.7 million tours have been logged so far with 600,000 individuals having served there. About 325,000 of them have used VA benefits and services. Many, present as well as past, have displayed exceptional courage on the battlefield, as this month’s issue clearly illustrates.

The 23.8 million veterans living in America deserve the recognition. It is often forgotten that legislative battles were waged over this day and its earlier version called Armistice Day in 1926, 1938, 1954 and throughout the 1970s. Let’s not take its value for granted.

AMVETS

Foundation for American Veterans

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

Operation Gratitude

Veterans of Foreign Wars

Wounded Warrior Project

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