- The Washington Times - Monday, January 12, 2009


“But members of the audience weren’t having any of it. They wanted to challenge the [Modern Language Association] panel about one thing: why [David] Horowitz was there in the first place.

“‘Are you now proud that you are the only organization to invite Horowitz to speak?’ an angry Barbara Foley of Rutgers University at Newark asked. ‘Did you do your homework’ about Mr. Horowitz’s blog, FrontPagemag.com? she continued, to audience applause. …

“At one point, a member of the audience could be seen giving Mr. Horowitz the finger. … Even before the session began, members of the MLA Radical Caucus handed out a statement protesting the organization’s decision to invite Mr. Horowitz to speak. Mr. Horowitz ‘consistently misrepresents the views of academics whom he wishes to discredit,’ the caucus said. ‘He is not a scholar but a liar of the Goebbels school.’ …

“That kind of rhetoric may have been what [Mark] Bauerlein had in mind when he said that certain professors on the left deny to Mr. Horowitz and other critics ‘any decent or honest motive. They don’t grant them the impulse to care about young minds and the curriculum. They cast them as partisan hacks, and that’s wrong.’

“It took the president of the MLA, Gerald Graff, a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, to bring the meeting back to substance. ‘The charge is whether professors are bullying students,’ he said during the question period.”

Liz McMillen, writing on “Impasse at the MLA,” on Jan. 9 at the Chronicle of Higher Education

Political animal

“No one has argued more forcefully than [Hannah] Arendt that to deprive human beings of their public, political identity is to deprive them of their humanity - and not just metaphorically. In ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism,’ she points out that the first step in the Nazis´ destruction of the Jews was to make them stateless, in the knowledge that people with no stake in a political community have no claim on the protection of its laws.

“This is the insight that makes Arendt a thinker for our time, when failed states have again and again become the settings for mass murder. She reveals with remorseless logic why emotional appeals to ‘human rights’ or ‘the international community’ so often prove impotent in the face of a humanitarian crisis. ‘The Rights of Man, after all, had been defined as “inalienable” because they were supposed to be independent of all governments,’ she writes in ‘Origins,’ ‘but it turned out that the moment human beings lacked their own government and had to fall back upon their minimum rights, no authority was left to protect them and no institution was willing to guarantee them.’

“This is exactly what happened in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and what is happening now in Darfur. Genocide is a political problem, Arendt insists, and it can be solved only politically.”

Adam Kirsch, writing on “Beware of Pity,” in the Jan. 12 issue of the New Yorker

‘Good’ Nazis

“It was tough to be a German after the second world war. How, given the terrible legacy of Nazism, could you ever feel good about your country again? Well, one answer was to emphasize stories of gallant resistance. And none appeared more gallant than that of Claus von Stauffenberg and the doomed plot to blow up Hitler just a year before the war ended. …

“Now Hollywood has decided this is a story worthy of the blockbuster treatment: a feature film starring Tom Cruise as Stauffenberg is being released, [but] … the history of German resistance to the Nazis is not quite as straightforward as a movie-maker might like.

“[Historian Ian] Kershaw also pulls no punches when he describes the views held early in the war by the ‘heroic’ Stauffenberg: ‘He was contemptuous of the Polish people, approved of the colonization of the country, and was enthusiastic about the German victory. He was still more jubilant after the stunning successes in the western campaign.’ You don’t need to be a fortune teller to predict that those sentiments won’t appear in the film.

“Even though Kershaw demonstrates that Stauffenberg was later appalled by the ‘mounting barbarity’ of the Nazi regime, this is clearly not a Hollywood story of ‘white hats and black hats.’ Everyone’s hat here is decidedly gray.”

Laurence Rees, writing in the Sunday Times Review, on Jan. 4

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