So the Dalton School has decided that satire is not an acceptable form of comment in their rarified academic cloister. After getting some flak from students who watched “CSA: The Confederate State of America,” a pseudo-documentary of the U.S. had the south been victorious in the civil war - the administration immediately apologized for its insensitivity. Rather than using the opportunity to teach the unique, historic value of satire in the arts, the school chose to beg for mercy from the parents of those wounded students. How many of the parents and students have been to see “The Book of Mormon” and laughed comfortably through its skewering of Mormons? How many of the parents also went to see “The Producers,” making light of Hitler and the Nazis? Both of these plays were award-winning box-office mega-hits geared to the same demographic group that sends its children to New York’s elite private schools. Yet the doyens of our politically correct culture have deemed it ok to spoof certain topics but not others. Slavery is sacrosanct though genocide is not. Women and gays are; white men not. Palestinians and Muslims protected; Israelis and Jews - fair game.
Scientific integrity is the theme of the Greek tragedies that currently involve two of America’s most prestigious physicians. Both men worked for decades to reach the pinnacle of the medical profession; now both are brought low.
There are possibly no more discordant pairings in our national history than the numbers 9/11 with the words gift shop and cafe. Yet this is what the eminent directors of the 9/11 Memorial Museum have decided to create at the museum built below the main plaza. There will be an admission fee of $24 for everyone but relatives of the victims, with appropriate discounts for seniors and students. Assuming that the museum fulfills its stated function of offering a somber history lesson for America and other nations, why would we want to discourage attendance by charging for it? Why would we want to sully the point of this visit by hawking souvenirs and refreshments? At a museum that is partly equivalent to visiting a killing field, the proper emotions we should be summoning are sorrow, anger, reflection and mourning.
The recent flap over Lisa Bonchek Adams’ tweets about her cancer, and the bigger flap about the columns written by Bill Keller and his wife, Emma Gilbey Keller, are symptoms of another sickness: Our current mania to tell all, to all the world.
As Americans and humanity celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy of justice, equality and freedom, there are millions around the world who continue to suffer discrimination and oppression of the kind the African American pastor and leader struggled against until he paid the ultimate price for his engagement. MLK, Jr. led a tireless civil rights movement to end segregation and inequality—and to help his community and all citizens attain dignity under a one flag, one law for all. America has been identified for decades as the greatest liberal democracy in history and around the globe, in part, due to this man’s journey for public good. It has taken similar struggles by Americans from all races, ethnicities and religions—who from the founding fathers to modern times have made sacrifices in blood and treasure—to produce who we are as a nation, composed of both natives and emigres.
A miracle on the Nile has been accomplished this week. Tens of millions of Egyptian citizens from all walks of life, Muslims and Christians, conservatives and liberals, seculars and religious, young and old, and in some instances, healthy and sick, have come out to cast a vote in the referendum of the century: either to say yes to new moderate constitution, relatively democratic, or to say no and revert to an Islamist constitution adopted by the previous Muslim Brotherhood regime. Most likely, an overwhelming majority of voters will chose to move away from the 2012 Islamist regime of Mohammed Morsi and select a more liberating draft, one that reinforces fundamental rights to women and minorities. The referendum will seal a popular uprising that exploded almost a year ago, and culminated in two gigantic peaceful demonstrations last summer against the political oppression of the Ikhwan regime. In short, we are finally witnessing a real democratic revolution emerging in the largest Arab Muslim majority country in the world.
When President Obama proclaimed in the fall of 2012 during the presidential campaign that Al Qaeda was “on the run,” who knew he meant that Usama bin Laden’s acolytes were just hustling off to other places, including back to their old stomping grounds in Iraq.
The new season of Downton Abbey opened with a two hour segment Sunday night. In it, Julian Fellowes constructs a loving and politically incorrect portrait of the Granthams and their relatives, our favorite upstairs aristocrats, portraying them as people who are truly noble as well as members of the nobility. And continuing with currently unpopular themes, it is the downstairs people who show their petty jealousies and vindictive natures. Mayor de Blasio, intent only on punishing the wealthy in order to provide for universal kindergarten, might want to start watching Downton and expanding his mind to allow for rich, good-hearted citizens of Gotham, as well as Edwardian English Granthamites.
New Yorkers who watched the inauguration ceremonies of Bill de Blasio saw something quite extraordinary take place - the conversion of the Big Apple to the Apple that is Rotten to its core. Not one speaker came to praise our city - all were there to bury it and focus only on its racism and indifference to social justice. Starting with Harry Belafonte, a singer from Trinidad whose career was internationally launched from this country but who espouses anti-Americanism at every opportunity, we heard a litany of our many sins, notably our treatment of the black man. Instead of using his time at the podium to inspire his black brothers to stay in school, stay off drugs and marry before reproducing - he seized on New York’s stop and frisk law which has already been modified and needs no further comment. Instead of chastising his black brothers to stop murdering (mostly their own brethren), he bemoaned the fact that our country has the largest population of black prisoners in the world. On to the Reverend Fred Lucas Jr. (chaplain for the Dept of Sanitation), dressed in an elegant coat, scarf and hat, who referred to New York as a plantation but failed to say which massah gave him the fancy threads.