The foot-in-mouth Contessa, &c.


Contessa Brewer, the anchorwoman for MSNBC, is a piece of work. (Beautiful name, by the way: Contessa Brewer.) I’ve never seen her. But I’ve followed her career via the printed press. She’s the one who said, “There are questions about whether this has racial overtones.” She was talking about a pro-gun rally outside a hall where President Obama was giving a speech. “I mean, here you have a man of color in the presidency and white people showing up with guns.”

Her network was showing a man packing heat. They were showing just the middle of his body. Turned out the man was black. Whoops. “White people showing up with guns.”

Speaking of La Contessa and race: She introduced Jesse Jackson as the Rev. Al Sharpton. If a conservative had mixed them up — we would never be hearing the end of it. Ever.

And the latest? As I understand it, she was trying to school a congressman, Mo Brooks (R., Ala.), in economics. She told him that, without bailouts, the country would be in a “depression.” Brooks said he disagreed. Brewer asked whether he had a degree in economics. (A little sniffy, don’t you think?) The congressman said, “Yes, ma’am, I do. Highest honors.”

Whoops again. Besides, what does having a degree in economics have to do with anything? Economists disagree with one another all the time, and they all have degrees in economics.

Anyway . . .

At the Telegraph, Damian Thompson had a blogpost titled “I love the Proms — but why subsidise them?” He was speaking of the summer concert series held in London. In his post, he brought up two phenomena that I have long found vexing: the general political mindset of arts people; and the wrongful invocation of Nazism.

The coalition government in Britain, in an effort to save the country from financial ruin, is embarked on a program of budget cuts. And when cuts for the arts were announced, says Thompson, “a well-known music critic tweeted: ‘Does the Government think music is degenerate?’” Thompson then notes, “That was an in-joke, and a pretty sick one.”

Yes — very sick. “Entartete Musik,” or “degenerate music,” was the label of the Nazis for music by Jewish composers, or music that was otherwise undesirable.

The British government — operating in a liberal democracy — is seeking budget cuts. They’re like the Nazis, you see?

You don’t? Then you are not really qualified to work in the arts.

Thompson also writes, “I once tried defending the cuts to a group of musicians at a dinner party. It was a real ‘I’ll get my coat’ moment.”

Oh, baby, you shouldn’t have taken your coat off in the first place.

I was recently reminded of another accusation of Nazism, or comparison to Nazism: one made by Rajendra Pachauri in 2004. Pachauri is head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that upstanding branch of the U.N. The IPCC won the Nobel peace prize in 2007, along with Al Gore. Pachauri spoke for the agency at the ceremony.

In 2004, he was very upset with Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish environmental scientist. Lomborg very much accepts global warming, the way Pachauri does. But he does not favor radical, and possibly bankrupting, measures to counteract it.

Pachauri said to the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, “What’s the difference between Lomborg’s way and Hitler’s way of viewing humanity?” He concluded, “If you follow Lomborg’s way of thinking, it might be right, what Hitler did.”

Swell. And if you call even your fellow global-warming believers Hitler — what language do you have left over for the “deniers”?

Johann Hari is in a bit of trouble, over in Britain. A left-wing journalist, he has been published in all the expected places: the New York Times, Le Monde, The New Republic, the Huffington Post, and so on. He has now been suspended by his newspaper, the Independent. Apparently, he has done some unethical, dishonest things. You can Google, if you like. (For news stories on the matter, I mean.)

Some time ago, The New Republic published a disgusting piece by Hari about a National Review cruise. The cruise he described bore little resemblance to the one that actually took place.

I have colleagues who greatly respect The New Republic. Maybe you respect it, too. For me, it’s a little bit harder. I have been slimed in that magazine, and so have people whom I admire (Victor Davis Hanson, for one). And NR as a whole was slimed by that Hari thing.

In happier news, Martin Peretz continues to be right about Israel . . .

Couple of weeks ago, I had a Prague Journal, along with some scribbles on The Corner. I quoted a young Czech intellectual, who sighed, “Here, they claim Mahler, Freud, and Kafka” — claim them as Czechs, she meant. All of them were German-speaking Jews who just happened to be born in the Czech part of the Austrian Empire. There was nothing Czech about Mahler and Freud; Kafka, you could sort of argue for, as Prague was important to him.

My sighing friend said, “It’s pathetic, but what can you do?”