The stench of ‘Occupy,’ &c.


In southern Manhattan, the “Occupy” crowd tried to squat on private property, and were arrested. One of the occupier-squatters was quoted as saying, “We’re just trying to say that this country has gone in the wrong direction, and we need spaces that we can control and we can decide our future in, and that’s what this is about.”

Haven’t Communists talked like this, more or less, for generations? Is that too McCarthyite for you? Or just true?

I read a headline: “Occupy Boston Storms Israeli Consulate.” I thought, “It always comes down to the Jews, doesn’t it? So many grievances, so many extreme movements. It doesn’t take them very long before they get around to the Jews . . .”

Semi-frightening (and sometimes you need to drop the “semi-.”)

There were reports of a TB outbreak at Occupy Atlanta. A reader wrote me, “Brings new meaning to the idea of a consumption tax, doesn’t it?”

I know, I know: A classy column, one that repeats jokes about disease . . .

In the current issue of CityArts, I have a review of the new production of Gounod’s Faust at the Metropolitan Opera. The final paragraph reads as follows:

Just before the curtain rose following an intermission, a man in the audience started shouting, “Occupy Wall Street! Occupy Wall Street!” Some of the patrons cheered him on, saying, “Yeah, yeah!” Others booed. After a while, the man was shushed or evicted. He was more polite than the anti-Israel shouters in London: They shout at the Jerusalem Quartet or the Israel Philharmonic as the music is playing. This fellow did his shouting before the music began.

In recent weeks and months, there has been much talk about the question of Germany, and its place in Europe. The question of Germanness — what it is, what it isn’t; what it should be, what it shouldn’t be — is of course a very old and critical one.

I wish to quote some lines from Willy Brandt’s Nobel lecture, delivered in 1971:

I say here what I say in Germany: A good German cannot be a nationalist. A good German knows that he cannot refuse a European calling. Through Europe, Germany returns to itself and to the constructive forces of its history. Our Europe, born of the experience of suffering and failure, is the imperative mission of reason.

Egypt is a mess, and an alarming one. I was moved by something I read in a news article: “Egypt’s new interim prime minister broke into tears in front of journalists on Sunday as he spoke about the state of the country’s economy, saying it was ‘worse than anyone imagines.’”

That’s something, an Egyptian prime minister breaking down in public, for that reason. This goes way beyond Ed Muskie, or Pat Schroeder, or John Boehner . . .

Huang Jinqiu, a Chinese writer and dissident, has been released after eight years in prison. So, how did it go for him? This report gives us a whiff of it:

According to reliable sources, Huang, while in prison, was transferred to the Liyang Psychiatric Hospital in Changzhou because he appealed his sentence and refused to kneel on one knee while speaking with prison authorities. After being returned to prison, he was placed in the strict supervision block, where he was subjected to torture and physical and verbal abuse, including beating, being shocked with an electric baton on his legs and mouth, having his toes crushed, and solitary confinement. During this period, he was forced to run 150 laps a day on gravel, and, when he could not run anymore, was dragged through gravel, which tore through his clothes.

The abuses and torture resulted in torn cartilage in both of his knees and torn ligaments in his legs. He developed traumatic arthritis and inflammation of the joints. At his worst moment, he was unable to stand to walk and lost some of his ability to care for himself. The prison hospital refused him treatment.

Just another of millions of cases in the country President Clinton used to call our “strategic partner.”


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