Border Patrol

Border Patrol

Europe means diversity. Stroll down streets as far away from one another as Stuttgart’s Koenigstrasse, Milan’s Corso Buenos Aires, or London’s Oxford Circus, and the insight will be the same. Everyone is from somewhere else. Chinese, Arab, Nigerian, Indian, Roma. The mix tends to be relatively consistent, if not exactly the same. More»

Post-Passion Europe

Post-Passion Europe

Heroes are hard to come by in Europe. Even as the nightmare of two world wars recedes farther into the distance, the sense that they were the product of excessive belief persists. Had there been less passion to mobilize, the reasoning goes, the flames of nationalism would have petered out a lot sooner. But it is proving increasingly difficult to keep the continent bound together with “post-passion.” More»

Ukraine is Everywhere

Ukraine is Everywhere

On September 3rd, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan made a “surprise declaration” – as it is still sometimes referred to – that he would bring his country into the new Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) alongside Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia. Of course, it should have been anything but that. More»

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Europe for Internationalists

Europe for Internationalists

The recent European elections left those who benefit from a laissez-faire continent concerned that “populism” could rebuild the walls they spent decades disassembling. Though many of the anti-EU parties have little in common beyond their hostility to Brussels, this term is still being used to describe them all. It’s as if traditional ideological divisions had ceased to exist. More»

9/11 Forever

9/11 Forever

You’d be forgiven for thinking it was September 11th, 2001 again. The tone of newscasts this past week recalled the hysteria of a decade ago. It is almost as though the “America Under Attack” segments which showed us the Twin Towers falling were once again being readied for replay, following ISIS’ inevitable triumph over Iraq’s US-backed Shia government. More»

Armenian, Ukrainian, Soviet

Armenian, Ukrainian, Soviet

Given the current state of affairs in Ukraine, it’s hardly surprising that the Georgian-born Armenian filmmaker Sergei Parajanov should yet again court controversy from beyond the grave. More»

Death of a Rapper

Death of a Rapper

Golden Dawn. For a Nazi party, the name is kind of funny. “The first time I heard it, I thought it meant taking a leak in the morning,” remarked a colleague. In English, it fails to connote power, the way the names of other more serious-sounding older European fascist groups do, like Romania’s Iron Guard and Hungary’s Arrow Cross. More»

Iraq Invades the West

Iraq Invades the West

The first news I received about the events now snappily referred to as the #ISIScrisis was that 500,000 thousand Iraqis were fleeing to somewhere, from somewhere, because of something. Such is the degree to which upheavals in the Middle East have become white noise. More»

Three Days Before the Shooting

Three Days Before the Shooting

When I heard about the rampage in Isla Vista — in which a deranged narcissist unleashed a nightmare on the slightly fallen student paradise beside the University of California, Santa Barbara—I was in Washington, DC attending symposia on Ralph Ellison. Now, back at UCSB, wrapping up the quarter with my writing students, I think I finally understand the ending of Invisible Man. More»

Home Is Where the Hatred Is

Home Is Where the Hatred Is

The mood was jubilant at Mohamed Merah’s wake. His mother sat at home greeting enthusiastic mourners. “Be proud!” They said. “Your son has brought France to its knees!” The celebratory atmosphere only ended when Merah’s older brother Abdelgani screamed: “My brother is not a hero! He is a common assassin!” More»

My War

My War

When the opportunity of getting involved in the Never Again for Anyone project first came up, I had to consider seriously whether it made sense for me to take part or not. After all, the project is focused on the inherited traumatic effects experienced by third generation survivors, the grandchildren of the Holocaust, of which I am not one. More»

The Problem With France

The Problem With France

Blame it on Bild. Throughout the crisis, the tabloid outdid itself in appealing to Germany’s most predictable prejudices. Lacking a work ethic, prone to corruption, living off of government handouts, profligate Greeks were the perfect foil for thrifty BMW workers from Bavaria. If Berlin was going to have to pay, what was a little reactionary grumbling amongst friends? More»

Careful What You Wish For

Careful What You Wish For

If you live outside the United States, let me begin by saying that I am very sorry for what is about to happen. Despite the damage that the Republican Party and their right-wing fellow travelers have done to this country and, worse, to the rest of the world, it seems the American public is once again leaning in their direction. More»

The State of Capitalism

The State of Capitalism

Animosities can linger after they make any sense. But sometimes their persistence is less perverse than it seems. Almost as soon as its existence was secured, the twentieth-century welfare state began showing signs of wear and tear. Business visionaries celebrated the laissez-faire possibilities that would emerge from its demise. Futurologists such as Alvin and Heidi Toffler joined writers of science fiction like Neal Stephenson in predicting what would replace it. More»

Reconsidering the Roma

Reconsidering the Roma

I attended the Carnival of Cultures parade Sunday, a much-hyped annual event, meant to highlight local diversity, in Berlin. About halfway through, I spotted a Romani flag on one of the floats: a red wheel on top of blue and green rectangles. It was being waved above a block of jugglers and musicians that were colorful and lively. It troubled me. More»