Programming note: Last week's midweek Clubland Q&A seemed to go down well with listeners, so we'll try it again tomorrow and address all the hot topics. Trump's contempt for his New York judge is getting close to rivaling mine for my DC judge, so we'll certainly have a word on that. I'm off to my New Hampshire doctor, but I'll be back live around the planet at 3pm North American Eastern/8pm GMT on Wednesday.
~Yesterday's observation that we should nix the cheap Nazi comparisons because they are insufficient to the moment prompted a lot of reader response, a big chunk of which was along the lines of: Are you serious, Steyn? You're saying we're in for millions of deaths?
Well, I hope not. But there is blood-lust in the air - I don't mean in Gaza (it's always in the air there) but in the streets of western cities. In our comments, Ian Cory, a First Day Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from southern England, put it this way:
In Nineteen Eighty-Four Britain is known as 'Airstrip One'. In 2023 it is becoming Gaza Strip 2!
Indeed. Israeli Steyn Clubber Dafna Breines adds:
Hamas are not alone in cynically using the Palestinians as human shields. The rest of the world uses them as such, too.
The difference is that Hamas uses Palestinian human shields against the IDF.
The rest of the world uses them as human shields against their own conscience ('I'm not an anti-Semite, I'm pro-Palestinian').
The truth has already started blowing apart both.
Ah, but, in the malign alliance between Islamic supremacists and the polytechnic left, who's playing whom? As I have said for decades, "The 'oldest hatred' didn't get that way without an ability to adapt":
Once upon a time on the Continent, Jews were hated as rootless cosmopolitan figures who owed no national allegiance. So they became a conventional nation state, and now they're hated for that. And, if Hamas get their way and destroy the Jewish state, the few who survive will be hated for something else. So it goes.
The latest adaptation is "the oldest hatred" meets the new religion of "identity politics" - which is Lenin's old who/whom paradigm applied to every one on the planet. So a murdered Israeli baby can never be a victim, because, even at four months old, he is part of the oppressor class.
We're taught it in school. If a white girl in kindergarten is already an avatar of "white privilege", then we are all not our brother's keeper (for this, sadly, is an age of only children) but our great-great-great-grandfather's keeper. If a white six-year-old bears the sin of what white men did in the eighteenth century, then why wouldn't a French Jewess in Lyon not be a legitimate target for those who wish to protest the Gaza "occupation"? This is the hideous dehumanising logic of "identity politics".
I'm doing way too much self-quoting these days, so just for a change of pace let me re-quote my quotation of somebody else - another French Jew, the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut:
'The lofty idea of "the war on racism" is gradually turning into a hideously false ideology,' he said in 2005. 'And this anti-racism will be for the 21st century what Communism was for the 20th century: a source of violence.'
Just so. The polytechnic left marching for the Palestinians won't cut them any slack in the long run. For (back to self-quoting), as I wrote a long time ago, "in one of history's bleaker jests, in the coming Europe the Europeans will be the new Jews."
This is a column almost two decades old, beginning with some literary citations that stayed with me: The Heart of Princess Osra led to my own Prisoner of Windsor and Roumanian Journey became a Tale for Our Time. But the central thesis has broadened, too. The mobs chanting "Gas the Jews!" outside Sydney Opera House and "Kill them all!" in downtown Montreal are the future of the west, absent serious, sustained course correction. Absent that, then like the Lost Tribes of the ancient Kingdom of Israel, what remains of less ancient but still venerable kingdoms will be held by Lost Tribes of England, Lost Tribes of France, Lost Tribes of [Your Nation Here], fleeing their homelands and wandering the earth. There's your "refugees".
Here is what I wrote in August 2006:
One of my favorite all-but-unknown books is The Heart Of Princess Osra, written by Anthony Hope in 1896. Hope hit the big time with The Prisoner Of Zenda and its boffo sequel Rupert Of Hentzau, two rip-roaring yarns in which an English dilettante twice contrives to save from usurpers the throne of Ruritania.
The Heart Of Princess Osra is also set in Hope's fictional Mitteleuropean kingdom, but this time a century and a half earlier - the 1730s - and it's not a rollicking adventure but a series of ill-starred romantic vignettes featuring King Rudolf III's younger sister and various unsuitable suitors. Yet it does make you appreciate how fully the author conceived his fictional landscape: Ruritania wasn't merely the setting of a thriller, so why just use it as such? Hope knew its history, its rulers and its laws long before the events of The Prisoner took place. As evidence of that, look no further than chapter one, page one of Princess Osra:
'Stephen! Stephen! Stephen!'
The impatient cry was heard through all the narrow gloomy street, where the old richly-carved house-fronts bowed to meet one another and left for the eye's comfort only a bare glimpse of blue. It was, men said, the oldest street in Strelsau, even as the sign of the Silver Ship was the oldest sign known to exist in the city. For when Aaron Lazarus the Jew came there, seventy years before, he had been the tenth man in unbroken line that took up the business; and now Stephen Nados, his apprentice and successor, was the eleventh.
Old Lazarus had made a great business of it, and had spent his savings in buying up the better part of the street; but since Jews then might hold no property in Strelsau, he had taken all the deeds in the name of Stephen Nados; and when he came to die, being unable to carry his houses or his money with him, having no kindred, and caring not a straw for any man or woman alive save Stephen, he bade Stephen let the deeds be, and, with a last curse against the Christians (of whom Stephen was one, and a devout one), he kissed the young man, and turned his face to the wall and died.
Therefore Stephen was a rich man, and had no need to carry on the business, though it never entered his mind to do anything else...
That's pretty darn good. There's not another single reference to Ruritanian Jewry in any of Hope's writing, but he's thorough enough in the conception of his fairytale kingdom even to know what the anti-Semitic property restrictions are. The author located Ruritania somewhere between Saxony and Bohemia, although, thanks to the movie versions of Zenda, we tend to think of it as being in the Balkans. But it doesn't matter where you put it, the likes of Lazarus the Jew are long gone from Strelsau's bustling streets. In Roumanian Journey, Sacheverell Sitwell recounted his visit in 1937 to the Bukovina, formerly the easternmost province of the Habsburg Empire, then part of Romania, now in the Ukraine. Its capital, Czernowitz, was a mélange of Romanians, Ruthenians, Poles, Germans, Armenians and Swabians, but, as Sitwell couldn't help noticing, you'd never know that from a stroll down Main Street:
There is not a shop that has not a Jewish name painted above its windows. The entire commerce of the place is in the hands of the Jews. Yiddish is spoken here more than German.
Despite an effete English distaste for the general atmosphere, Sitwell acknowledged certain advantages: "The benefit of this Jewish hegemony is a noticeable quickness of brains," he wrote. "Shopping takes up a tenth of the time that it consumes in other towns."
You won't hear Yiddish in the stores these days. The Jews of Czernowitz are dead or fled, as they are from a thousand other cities across Europe. For centuries, the rap against the Hebrews was that they were sinister rootless cosmopolitan types unbound by allegiance to whichever polity they happened to be residing in. So, after the Second World War, the ones who were left became a more or less conventional nation state, and now they're hated for that.
But all the hoo-ha about Holocaust denial (and granted, from President Ahmadinejad to Mel Gibson's dad, there's a lot of it about) has obscured the fact that the world has re-embraced, with little objection, an older form of anti-Semitism. Israel is, in effect, subject to a geopolitical version of the same conditions endured by Lazarus the Jew in Anthony Hope's Strelsau.
The Zionist Entity is for the moment permitted to remain in business but, like Aaron Lazarus, it's not entitled to the enforceable property rights of every other nation state. No other country - not Canada, not Slovenia, not Thailand - would be expected to forego the traditional rights of nations subjected to kidnappings of its citizens, random rocket attacks into residential areas, and other infringements of its sovereignty. This isn't about who's right and who's wrong: there are regional flare-ups all over the map - Ivory Coast, Congo, Bosnia - and, regardless of the rights and wrongs, for the most part the world just sits back and lets them get on with it. There are big population displacements - as there were, contemporaneous to the founding of Israel, in Europe and the Indian sub-continent - but one side wins and the other makes do with what it can get, and the dust settles.
The energy expended by the world in denying this particular regional crisis the traditional settlement is unique and perverse, except insofar as by ensuring that the "Palestinian question" is never resolved one is also ensuring that Israel's sovereignty is also never really settled: it, too, is conditional - and, to judge from recent columns in The Washington Post and The Times of London, it's increasingly seen that way in influential circles - the Jew is tolerated as a current leaseholder but, as in Anthony Hope's Ruritania, he can never truly own the land. Once again the Jews are rootless transients, though, in one of history's blacker jests, they're now bemoaned in the salons of London and Paris as an outrageous imposition of an alien European population on the Middle East.
Which would have given Aaron Lazarus a laugh. The Jews spent millennia on the Continent without ever being accepted as European. But no sooner are the Continent's Jewry all but extinct than suddenly every Jew left on the planet is a European.
In her Impressions from the Road, with Historical Essays (1903), Elizaveta de Vitte witnessed the same phenomenon in the Bukovina Sacheverell Sitwell later noted, but blamed the success of the Jews for the poverty of the Russians:
Out of the 600 students in the Chernowitz University, only fifty are Russian! It is true that admission to the University is open to everyone, but the actual enrollment happens in the following way: on a set day, Jews block the doors of the University...
The Zionists' "disproportionate" response in Lebanon is merely the latest version of the famous Jewish pushiness. With hindsight, even the artful invention of the hitherto unknown ethnicity of "Palestinian" can be seen as the need to demonstrate that where there is a Jew there is always the Jew's victim.
It's a very strange feeling to read nineteenth-century novels and travelogues and recognize the old psychoses currently reemerging in even more preposterous forms. These are dark times for the world: we are on the brink of the nuclearization of ancient pathologies. "I have a premonition that will not leave me," wrote Eric Hoffer, America's great longshoreman philosopher, after the '67 war. "As it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us."
~from The Jerusalem Post, August 6th 2006
We are seeing that last line play out on the streets of Paris and New York, Berlin and Toronto. As to "nuclearization", it might come to that. But, as we see on the streets of western cities, our civilization's cultural confidence is so enfeebled that a few more years of current immigration trends-plus-education policy could do it...
~Many readers, listeners and viewers have inquired about how to support Steyn's long-delayed trial in the DC Superior Court and his rather newer one against Ofcom in the English High Court over their throttling of honest discussion of the Covid and the vaccines. Well, there are several ways to lend a hand, including:
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