Today marks the 77th anniversary of the Rafle du Vel d’Hiv in Paris. It took the French over 50 years to admit their very proactive role in this tragedy, and Jacques Chirac was the one to finally tell the truth. For this reason, I will always have respect for him, in spite of his being — in my view – politically objectionable on other matters. There was absolutely nothing for him to gain from this in terms of votes. It was simply the right thing to do.
A hero was celebrated in France last month. Michel Bacos was the pilot of the jet hijacked at Entebbe, the man who stayed – by choice – with the Jewish hostages, though he was not Jewish. What he was, was a veteran of World War II who had obviously learned the lessons of that nightmare. Hatikva, the Israeli anthem, was played before his burial.
I sometimes think about going back to school for my Ph.D. But then I read things like this and wonder. There was a time when having a doctorate meant something positive about your intellect and your ability to think critically. I don’t think that is true anymore. I think it merely means something about being able to fit in with the unfortunate zeitgeist. Further, I think my Significant Other is correct when he says tenure should be abolished.
It’s a quiet, rainy Good Friday. Currently contemplating whether I should go out and try to get some pictures of the procession. Wanted to comment a bit on Notre Dame and the fire. First, read this great piece by historian Tom Holland. Second, I’m a bit tired of hearing all of this silly sort of “instead of millionaires donating money to rebuild a church, shouldn’t these same millionaires be building houses for the poor” comment repeated over and over. Lovely ideal, but one needn’t have spent years studying economics to understand why this is not how things function. If it were that simple such decisions would be so much easier and clearer, and no one would be destitute.
Third, here’s a bad photo I took of Notre Dame, four years ago. I have taken good photos of the cathedral, but I have a fondness for this picture above the others. Significant Other and I were in Paris and I convinced him to take a boat ride along the Seine. I had seen Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant do the same in Charade and imagined us in elegant splendour, drinking champagne. Instead, ’twas a nightmare: crowded with loud, aggressive tourists; cold; rushed. I am a seasoned traveler, and should have known this was how it would be, but…I did get this photo and we had a great laugh about the whole experience.
There is so much bad press about the Catholic Church these days (much of it deserved), but I found this to be tremendously lovely and important.
Those awful murders, at Charlie Hebdo and at the Hyper Cacher, happened four years ago yesterday. I repost this piece of mine, which I think if one of my better efforts, and this very important analysis from Spiked Online (a website you should be checking on a regular basis).
From the Spiked article:
Free speech is the right to express one’s ideas without fear of retribution, even if others disagree with you – even if they are repulsed. This right leaves people free to dissent and free to persuade others of their ideas. No political, religious or ideological viewpoint should be allowed a special exception from challenge, criticism or ridicule.
But once the moment of ‘Je Suis Charlie’ faded, prominent voices effectively began to blame Charlie Hebdo for the attack.
When PEN America, a writers’ organisation, decided to give its Free Expression Courage Award to Charlie Hebdo, more than 200 well-known writers protested.
I mentioned yesterday how much I miss my brother (scroll down) – well, all the more so when it comes to these issues. Not a chance in heck he would have been blaming the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and editorialists for their own slaughter.
Or, barrel o’ links. (Beryl O’Links is an Irish lass, she is!)
As we wind down 2018, a few links of interest: the death of Georges Loinger, may his memory be a blessing; trove of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poems found; kitties domesticated themselves; and, Hijab in the House, by the brilliant Bruce Bawer. In regards this last story, I mentioned to one of my sisters this summer that I was concerned about the anti-Semitism of some of the rising young “stars” of the Democratic Party, and she insisted that anyone openly espousing contempt for Jews would never be elected. I was like, yeah, we’ll see. Cough.
Giant, giant talent. If you read French click here for a tribute at Le Figaro. They called him France’s Sinatra, and what is interesting is that he introduced Sinatra when the latter sang at the Olympia in Paris in 1962. The recording is here. (It is a fantastic recording, in spite of what some of the dopey reviewers assert.) It would be impossible for me to choose one favourite Aznavour song, but this one is always in my top five.
One of the most harrowing interviews Lanzmann did was also among the briefest in Shoah — Yitzhak Zuckerman, a leader of the Jewish resistance in Warsaw, who survived Treblinka and saw untold numbers of friends and comrades die. He told Lanzmann bitterly, “if you could lick my heart, it would poison you.”
At the film’s premier, the French journalist Jean Daniel told Lanzmann: “This justifies a life.”
The emphasis is mine, and I utterly agree with Jean Daniel’s comment.