French, Jewish, Jihadist

French, Jewish, Jihadist

Meyer Habib was clearly shocked when describing a Jewish woman who has joined Islamic State. “It’s the end of the world,” the Jewish MP declared. Habib was using colourful language, but his tone was appropriate. More»

Germany for Refugees

Germany for Refugees

Flags were flying everywhere. Kurdish, Turkish, Syrian, Palestinian. If you wanted to take inventory of where this neighborhood comes from, this would be the place to start. Police in riot gear milled through the crowd, taking stock of the situation, looking to be in place if things got out of hand. You could see the worry in their eyes. More»

Fear Trumps Morality

Fear Trumps Morality

Fear truly is the mind-killer. It has a way, when intentionally stoked and directed at some enemy, of killing a lot of people as well. In Israel, the bombardment and invasion of Gaza over the summer demonstrates what can happen when a populace is fed a consistent diet of fear, no matter how safe the society is and how meager the threat to them is. More»

Latest entries
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»

Going After Bergdahl

Going After Bergdahl

For those of you not familiar with Vietnam veteran Tim O’Brien’s 1978 novel Going After Cacciato I have two pieces of advice. Firstly, locate a copy and read it. It is as good and insightful a book on war as his better known The Things They Carried. Secondly, be prepared to find in Cacciato more than a faint echo of Bowe Bergdahl, the missing US soldier traded this week for five Taliban figures after going missing in action half a decade ago. More»

French Science Fiction

French Science Fiction

Go in alien drag. For activists looking for a new way to highlight racism, it was a brilliant idea. Particularly for an area of consciousness-raising where fresh ideas are in short supply, and liberal maxims such as ‘celebrate diversity’  fall on deaf ears. Portraying minorities and immigrants as extraterrestrials, forced to carry their belongings into exile, works. At least as far as this shot, of a 2010 protest in Paris, is concerned. More»

The Gender Syndrome

The Gender Syndrome

A young gunman murders people at a sorority house in Santa Barbara. Members of a football team rape an unconscious girl and proudly broadcast their happy discussions of the act, only to be protected by their community. A star football player hits his fiancée so hard he knocks her unconscious. These, and far too many other acts of overt violence by men against women have generated debate, outrage, and apologetics. More»

Blood and Soil Sports

Blood and Soil Sports

In business, it’s often said that when a firm becomes too big and too diverse in its pursuits, its efficiency starts to decline. As many of the world’s largest governing bodies struggle with gridlock and rapidly rising grassroots opposition, it is worth asking once more whether a similar “law” applies to politics. And what better time than the World Cup? More»

The Sachsenhausen Muslim

The Sachsenhausen Muslim

I grew up hearing rumours about the Jews. They were at once our puppet masters and minions of Shaytan; filthy beggars and degenerate elites; supporters of the Red Army and Balochi insurrectionists. I replayed the fairy tales in my head as I took the S1 train up to Sachsenhausen. I never believed them. More»