One day, in 1974, I found myself frozen in my steps. On the broad 9 de Julio Avenue that divides Buenos Aires rises a tall white obelisk that is the city’s most conspicuous landmark. In those days, a revolving billboard had been suspended around it: inscribed upon it in large blue letters on a white background was the slogan “Silence Is Health.” Two years later, the slogan made a macabre reappearance. In the basement of the military dictatorship’s death camp based at the Navy School of Mechanics, where some five thousand people were exterminated, officers hung two banners along the corridor that opened onto its torture cells. One read “Avenue of Happiness,” the other “Silence Is Health.”
In October 2011, seven months after the tsunami and meltdowns, a second collection of the artist Katsumata’s work was published in Japan. Titled Deep Sea Fish (Shinkaigyō), the volume reprinted stories that Katsumata drew in the 1980s about the disposable laborers who clean and maintain Japan’s nuclear power plants, as well as others he wrote in the 1970s dealing (sometimes indirectly) with the way industrialization had upended the Japanese countryside, creating a new class of alienated immigrants in the cities and a world of vanishing fables in the interior.
The controversy over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is, in reality, a displacement of a deeper, more systemic political rift in the party. And, in vital ways, that’s a far more significant obstacle than the administrative-disciplinary issue of rooting out a small minority of Holocaust equivocators and vitriolic anti-Zionists. This is an argument for the need to reframe our understanding of why anti-Semitism seems to loom so large in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. The true story is that the fight between Corbyn skeptics and Corbyn fans over Jews and Israel has become a ruinous proxy for what is, in its essence, a struggle between social-democrats and socialists for the soul of the party itself.
“Our government is normalizing white nationalism,” says Christian Picciolini, a former neo-Nazi skinhead now involved in deradicalization. “The rhetoric coming out of the White House is emboldening these people.” I have lost count of how many times I have been asked as a Muslim, “Where are the moderate Muslims?” So allow me to ask: Where are the moderate whites, and what are they doing to combat extremism?
The renowned photojournalist Shahidul Alam is supposed to be in New York on October 28 to receive a humanitarian award from the Lucie Foundation, which honors photographers every year. There is no guarantee, however, that Alam will be able to attend the ceremony. Late on August 5, plainclothes security officers raided Alam’s home in Dhaka and arrested him. Hours earlier, Alam had given an interview to the Al-Jazeera network in which he had criticized the government crackdown on students who were protesting against worsening road safety. When he was taken to court the next day, Alam was limping. He shouted to journalists that he had been beaten up in custody: “My bloodstained shirt was washed and put back on me.”
A life in literary criticism: how Review writers read and responded to the books of V.S. Naipaul (1932–2018).
From 2002, Hilary Mantel: Perhaps what we will say about Naipaul was that he was the self-made man who didn’t stop at weaving the cloth for his own garments but clothed his own bones in prose. We will say he was the rational man who was afraid to see night fall, because it falls within himself. His shining belief in order and progress is stained by an area of internal darkness: by a natural apprehension—though not a certainty—that the power of reason will be defeated.
In 1980, I wrote my college newspaper endorsement of a man named Barry Commoner who was running for president. He was the candidate of the Citizens’ Party, a kind of precursor to the Greens, and since I was disgusted with both Carter and Reagan, and because he was an environmentalist well ahead of his time, I thought it made sense to back him. It made emotional sense at the time—though it’s hard for me to remember why I was so righteously indignant about poor Jimmy Carter—but it made no logical sense. Since this was a college paper, and since it was in reliably Democratic Massachusetts, it didn’t really matter—but my self-absorption did teach me a lesson I haven’t forgotten.
Naipaul was our greatest poet of the half-baked and the displaced. It was the imaginary wholeness of civilizations that sometimes led him astray. There is no such thing as a whole civilization. But some of Naipaul’s greatest literature came out of his yearning for it. Although he may, at times, have associated this with England or India, his imaginary civilization was not tied to any nation. It was a literary idea, secular, enlightened, passed on through writing. That is where he made his home, and that is where, in his books, he will live on.
Dominican politicians have successfully manipulated anti-Haitian feeling for political gain. Radio shows discuss the Haitian “invasion” that must be stopped at all costs. There is a widespread belief that Haiti is a failed state, and that the world is conspiring against the Dominican Republic to force it to deal with its neighbor’s problems. There is a fear, too, of their country being somehow contaminated by Haiti’s ills. “When you peel back the first layer, the second layer,” said Matías Bosch, a grandson of the DR’s first democratically-elected president, “what you have left, in the end, is pure racism.”
An exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery gathers together the work of forty-eight disparate artists exploring the legacy of perhaps the most frequently depicted cultural figure in history, and his fame is their common palette. Michael Jackson is inseparable from this astronomical celebrity. It was his making and his tragedy. It glows with a bright, mournful edge from every one of these artworks, probing the question of what might have been if his enormous success had not in some way required, or at least contributed to, his eventual annihilation.