Born in communist Czechoslovakia, Dalibor Rohac is unsettled by the continued displays of the symbols of communism by people on the political left. In view of the millions of victims of communist regimes, he finds it difficult to understand the surviving taste for the hammer and sickle, Che Guevara t-shirts and the like. Rohac mentions some possible explanations for this: that few people grasp the magnitude of the crimes of communism; that, whereas totalitarian fascism was always a poisonous idea, communism may be seen as a good idea that went wrong... A good idea gone wrong as may be, communism didn’t just go wrong in some minor or insignificant detail, but on a vast scale, and the manner in which it went wrong wasn’t only the manner of what one calls a ‘mistake’… No one with a genuine attachment to humane ideals should want to be associated with, much less bear upon their person, the iconography in question. It should have been completely discredited.
At the same time, for my part I do not find it so difficult to understand why this hasn’t happened. It hasn’t happened, because the left is far from having rid itself of those tendencies towards apologia for dictatorship and disregard for human rights that prevailed in the mid-20th century… Moreover, we are not talking here, as is sometimes alleged, of only a small fraction of the left - the far left: unreconstructed Stalinists, the SWP and its penumbra, and so forth. They form, to be sure, a core region of the anti-democratic indulgence I mean. But it also has a large hinterland among well-meaning ‘liberals’… The regrettable fact of the matter is that too much of the left still gives anti-capitalism and/or equality priority over the norms of democracy, liberty and human rights; and this is why the iconography tainted by the deaths of millions of innocent people is still seen as being cool where it no longer should be.
Unsurprisingly, I differ from Norm on one point, a point I think of as quite important. Communism – Marxism and its variants – was never a good idea. It is, and always was, a monstrous idea, a license for coercion, atrocity and horror - predictably so. And not coincidentally, it was conceived by, and has since entranced, some very unpleasant people.
I’m currently being sued... by Dr Michael Mann, the eminent global warm-monger, for mocking his increasingly discredited climate-change “hockey stick.” So Dr Mann has sued for what his complaint to the court called “defamation of a Nobel prize recipient.” In fact, Dr Mann is not a “Nobel prize recipient.” But, as Donna LaFramboise recently pointed out, he has spent many years passing himself off as one. The nearest he got to a Nobel was as one of several thousand contributors to one of various reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which in 2007 shared a Nobel Peace Prize. So Dr Mann is a Nobel laureate in the same sense that my mother is: She’s Belgian, and Belgium is in the European Union, and the European Union was collectively awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year. My mum does not claim to be a Nobel prize winner, but Dr Mann did, on an industrial scale, including in his publicist’s bio, his book jackets and his website — until, in the wake of his false complaint, the Nobel Institute in Oslo declared that he was not a Nobel laureate at all. In that sense, Dr Mann is, indeed, a fraud. It is a fascinating legal question whether a man guilty of serial misrepresentation can, in fact, be defamed.
“We must increase our debt limit so that we can pay our bills.” As Tyler Durden notes, this is the “most disturbing sentence uttered during the debt ceiling debate/government shut down.” […] There are around 72 million American children under the age of 18. If you do the maths, assuming they are on the hook for our debts, that means that currently each American child is around $236,000 in debt. Since only around one-half of Americans are federal income taxpayers, it would be more accurate to say that each future taxpayer owes $472,000. If two of them get married, they owe just short of $1 million, with more debt being piled up every day and with interest costs sure to increase. These numbers can be sliced and diced in various ways, but any way you look at it, it is insane that those in Washington who wanted to blow past the statutory debt limit without hesitation so that we can “pay our bills” are hailed as responsible. Here is a hint: if you have to borrow money to pay your bills, you aren’t paying your bills.
Joburgers have a chance to stroll through a huge walk-in vagina thanks to an art installation erected at the old Women’s Jail in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, the Sunday Times reported. “By creating this vagina which you walk into, it contains you as the viewer, but also screams and laughs, almost like a battle cry which revolts against the prison,” the artist Reshma Chhiba told the newspaper. The walkway - installed in section two of the jail - is 12 metres long and made up of red velvet and cotton. A soundtrack of laughter and screaming plays throughout.
“Not many people – men or women – are unfazed about walking through this vaginal canal,” said Chhiba. She said that despite the fact the work was linked to the Hindu goddess Kali, she did not want herself to be seen as someone only making Indian art. “It’s a global vagina,” said Chhiba. The walkthrough is part of a larger project – ‘The Two Talking Yonis’ (Yoni is Sanskrit for vulva) – in which photographs and paintings are exhibited at two other venues. “It’s scary to people raised with certain patriarchal values,” she told the Sunday Times.
The artist discusses her giant and empowering vagina here.
Mr Eugenides guides us to another classic sentence from the Guardian. Specifically, a classic subheading:
A year after being sexually abused on a tube train I returned to dance for all women who have been assaulted.
The article in question, by Ellie Cosgrave, is titled I Danced Against Sexual Assault on the Tube to Reclaim it for Women. In it, Ms Cosgrave recounts a revolting incident:
When a man pressed his erection against me on a crowded tube carriage, it’s hard to describe exactly how I felt. As he started breathing heavily down my neck, my body clenched and I willed the next stop to come so I could untangle myself and get to work.
I can’t help feeling there’s something missing here. I think it’s where the punching should go. Along with the outrage, the protest, the alerting of other passengers and the summoning of police.
On arriving in the office I found semen streaked down the back of my legs, and my heart sank. I scuttled off to the toilets to clean myself up before my morning meeting.
Clearly, the encounter was not a happy one. Payback was in order.
Over the year that followed I became increasingly angry, until eventually it was all I could talk about… On International Women’s Day I went back to the spot where my incident happened. I held a sign explaining what had happened to me, and I danced. I danced my protest, and it felt right. It was petrifying, exhilarating, and soothing all at once, and it was absolutely fitting.
Because when some creep on the tube whips out his tackle and starts masturbating against you, the best thing to do, the most fitting thing to do, is to wait a year then gyrate like a mad person in front of random strangers, most of whom are trying very hard not to notice. Yes, make a scene. A year later. And if there’s one thing tube masturbators respond to, it’s bad performance art they’ll never get to see. By
“dancing loudly,” she tells us, “I feel a unity with all the women across the
world who refuse to be silent.”
Amid the various commenters rushing to let others know that they’re “ashamed to be a man,” one Guardian reader adds their support with a review of Ms Cosgrave’s incongruous display:
I loved the juxtaposition of your dance, cleansing the space and reclaiming it, with the poles of the tube. The image created of the objectification of the female form as a pole dancer and the expressiveness of performing a dance of catharsis.
It’s difficult to tell whether the comment is sincere or some laser-guided parody. But such is the Guardian and its readership.