It's 10 minutes to midnight on a Thursday in Riyadh, the start of the Saudi weekend, and even though it's the middle of finals, Tahlia Street swarms with kids in Porsches and Ferraris looking for a good time. Throbbing bass beats back the syncopated rhythm of bleating car horns. The aim is not so much to get through the traffic as to draw attention to the young men in the driver's seats.
For American Jews, the problem of the “ordinary German” is especially troubling, because it brings us directly to the darkest and most unassuageable suspicions about Jewish vulnerability. The most controversial books about the Holocaust, from Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem to Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners, have been the ones that try to explain how the Germans—citizens of an advanced society, famous for its culture and education—could be led in the space of a few years to commit a genocide of the Jews. For if this people could do it, the strong implication is that under the right (or, better, the wrong) circumstances, any people could do it. And the history of the world since 1945 seems to bear out this implication. Cambodians, Serbs, and Rwandans have all shown that people do not have to be Nazis, or anti-Semites, in order to slaughter their neighbors.
When I was offered a job as a film critic for the New York Post in 1975, it had just been labeled “a terrible newspaper” by Nora Ephron in her media column for Esquire. Having been a Post reporter, she knew whereof she spoke. Dolly Schiff, the paper’s legendary dowager-in-chief, was notorious for being cheap, petty, whimsical, and, somewhat more fetchingly, a rumored onetime paramour of FDR. Her paper was a rapidly declining asset—a staunchly liberal tabloid chasing after a hypothetical middlebrow afternoon readership too highfalutin for the Daily News and yet insufficiently titillated by the sober New York Times.
At 9:31pm on 16 October 2008 a message appeared on the virulently anti-Muslim website Gates of Vienna. Under the user name Year2183, a reference to a manifesto he was writing, Anders Behring Breivik appears exasperated that his fellow far-right bloggers are too accommodating to Europe's Muslims. Responding to Fjordman, the anonymous Norwegian "counterjihad" blogger, Breivik insists that only the forced deportation of Muslims will suffice. His stance, he realises, has become too extreme even for the anti-multicultural blogosphere.
PUBLISHED: July 30, 2011
LENGTH: 6 minutes (1714 words)