1) Ali Khamenei is the “supreme leader” of Iran and one of the most monstrous, murderous people in the world. But he is with-it. More with-it than the president of Smith College. Khamenei tweeted “Black lives matter” (to taunt the U.S.). A few weeks before, the Smith gal said “All lives matter” — and got in big trouble for it.
2) We used to say, “If the Eskimos went socialist, they’d have to import ice.” Communist Cuba, in fact, has had to import sugar. I thought of these things when reading this headline: “Famous Venezuelan ice-cream store closes over milk shortage.” (Article here.) Can’t be a famous ice-cream store without milk. Will Venezuela ever run out of demagoguery?
3) The Telegraph ran a feature headed “2014 in 14 quotes.” One of the 14 came from an “anonymous White House official.” He or she said, “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit.” The Telegraph explained as follows:
‘Bibi’, to give him his full name, is Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel — and these words were spoken to reporter Jeffrey Goldberg after this year’s bombing campaign in Gaza. The conflict, in which Netanyahu had promised to “take the gloves off”, killed 2,200 people and injured 11,000 in seven short weeks, bringing Israel’s relations with the rest of the world to breaking point.
A reader must be scratching his head: Why would Israel up and bomb people, leaving 2,200 dead and 11,000 injured in “seven short weeks”? Did they just wake up one morning feeling bloodthirsty? Israel must be an incredibly evil state, huh?
If Israel ever goes down — is ever destroyed by its enemies — journalists who lie about the state, or create a false impression of it, will have a share of blame. Do you know what I mean by that?
Let me devote one more sentence to it: If you relied on articles such as the above, why wouldn’t you hate Israel? Why wouldn’t you think it illegitimate, and without the right to exist? (Yes, that was two.)
4) On to something lighter — sort of. For reasons I could explain, I Googled Elizabeth Becker, an important American journalist. At the top of her Wikipedia entry was the following sentence: “This article is about the U.S. journalist and author. For the concentration camp guard, see Elisabeth Becker.”
Not the pairing you dream of, really.
5) For the music-minded, a blogpost at The New Criterion: on Hilary Hahn at the New York Philharmonic.