Unspeakable Kerry



Speaking in Paris on November 17, Secretary of State John Kerry made what are already infamous comments about the fight against terrorists and terrorism. He spoke to the staff and families of the U.S. embassy in Paris, and his remarks deserve quoting at some length—because they display a deep misunderstanding of what we are up against and how it must be fought. In State Department lingo his remarks would be called “deeply troubling.” In normal English usage, they are astonishing and unforgivable. Here are two paragraphs.

There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of—not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one ...

Bashar al-Assad and Ali Khamenei in Tehran, 2010

The Deal and the War


In July the Obama administration and its European and Russian partners met with Iran in Vienna to sign the so-called nuclear deal. The general idea was to at least delay nuclear proliferation in an already volatile part of the world. No doubt the White House was ...


Liberal Sanctimony


It would be an interesting exercise to trace the history of the word sanctimony. In its original derivation from the Latin sanctimonia, it seems to have had the straightforward sense of sanctity or sacredness. But centuries ago, it took on its current meaning—of pretended ...


Paris Letter

An immense spirit of solidarity.


Paris Memorial

In the confusion and horror of Paris in shock, the details stay with you. In the bleary early Saturday morning, behind the police barriers, a lone tour bus was still parked on Boulevard Voltaire in front of the Bataclan concert hall, where the Eagles of Death Metal gig had been bloodily interrupted by Daesh terrorists the night before. It was impossible not to notice how the band’s black-painted bus strangely matched the half-dozen hearses maneuvering around it to carry away bodies still lying in the concert hall by the dozen; a surreal ballet of mourning, watched mainly by cops and young soldiers, as Parisians had been advised to stay home.

Another image: a shaky telephone video of soccer fans spontaneously singing “La Marseillaise” while being evacuated from the Stade de France in north Paris, after three suicide bombers detonated themselves outside the France-Germany ...

Mumbai attacks

The Mumbai Parallels

Not the first such attack; probably not the last.


For those of us who were in Mumbai during the 2008 terrorist attacks there, the bulletins from Paris on Friday night evoked queasy déjà vu. With each shocking addition to the story—drive-by shootings at one crowded restaurant ...

Paris Muslims

Defending a Civilization

Does France have the strategic reserves?


After the astonishing German break through the French lines in May 1940, Winston Churchill flew to Paris to meet his French counterpart, Prime Minister Paul Reynaud, and army chief Maurice Gamelin. Reynaud had called Churchill ...

Walmart Protestor

Killing the Golden Goose

How Walmart’s left-wing critics destroy jobs.


Under three different CEOs, Walmart has done all kinds of somersaults to appease left-wing critics. In 2005, Lee Scott set goals of “zero waste” and “100 percent” conversion to renewable energy. In 2009, Mike Duke, the next ...


European Insecurity

The bloody crossroads where migration and terrorism meet


Xavier Lane Getty

If Europe doesn’t get serious about protecting its borders, it’s going to head back to the days of barbed wire and concrete walls. That’s what President François Hollande warned when he went before a rare joint sitting of France’s National Assembly and Senate to argue for an extended three-month state of emergency. His warning came in the wake of the half-dozen simultaneous bomb and machine-gun attacks in Paris on November 13, claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS), that left at least 130 dead.

Hollande’s standing with his countrymen has had something in common with that of Barack Obama. He came to power to replace a right-winger the broad public had come to loathe, in this case Nicolas Sarkozy. And Hollande soon settled into a pattern of permanent unpopularity that has left the man in the street counting the days till he leaves office, and the politically minded migrating steadily towards the opposite ideological pole. Marine Le Pen’s ...

Xavier Lane Getty

The Long War Continues

Whatever President Obama may say


In many ways, the reaction to the horrific attacks in Paris has been familiar. There were the expressions of solidarity: flowers at French embassies; social media avatars changed from silly selfies to photos of the ...

Books & Arts

Herbert the Red

When Stalin called, Professor Aptheker answered.


In New York, Herbert Aptheker, Tom Hayden, A. J. Muste, and Staughton Lynd discu

J. Edgar Hoover may have called Herbert Aptheker “the most dangerous Communist in the United States” in 1965, but an attentive reader of Gary Murrell’s interesting but very flawed biography will come away with a picture of an ideological fanatic who squandered his talents as a historian, gave slavish devotion to a monstrous regime, and lacked the intellectual courage to say publicly what he wrote privately. Overreaction by anti-Communists turned a hardworking Communist party hack into a mini-celebrity, and gave undeserved attention to a dishonest and flawed human being.

Born in 1915 in Brooklyn, the son of a wealthy garment manufacturer, Aptheker was radicalized while observing racism during a trip to Alabama as a teenager and began writing for Communist publications at Columbia University in the mid-1930s. While working on his master’s degree, he began a ...

John Horton Conway

Wizard of Princeton

The formula for one rare mathematician’s life.


This is an unusual biography of a highly unusual man, the prodigiously gifted mathematician and professional eccentric John Horton Conway—creative scientist, teacher, showman, and cult figure. His third ex-wife told the author, Siobhan Roberts, that he was ...

Levi Eshkol, Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House (1968)

Up, Down, and Around

A veteran diplomat reflects on Israel and America.


For over half a century, Harry Truman has been put forth as the paragon of presidential support for Israel. Presidents are routinely measured against the Truman standard, and under the right circumstances, they can gain the moniker ...

‘The Three Philosophers’ by Giorgione (ca. 1506-1510)

Imperial Vision

The centuries of art in the Habsburg realm.


The year is 1781 and a swarm of ordinary citizens have been admitted, free of charge, to see for themselves the imperial art collection in the Upper Belvedere Palace of Vienna. Never before in Europe has a great ...

Saoirse Ronan

Her New Life

From Ireland to Brooklyn, in a minor key.


Colm Tóibín did something interesting and unusual when he wrote his novel Brooklyn, which was published in 2009. He chose to tell an immigration story about an Irish girl just out of her teens who has no particular desire to go to America, no ...


The Fairness Doctrine

Jonathan V. Last's lessons in higher education.


Dave Clegg

Having a decidedly anti-romantic view of college, I find myself not entirely opposed to the student radicals besieging campuses across the country.

Once upon a time, universities transmitted knowledge and formed the minds and characters of young adults. But that ended long before I arrived at Johns Hopkins in the mid-1990s.

By then, the university had been transformed into a retail outlet selling, at the end of four years’ probation, a credential that promised entrée to professional life. This might sound like an invitation to bacchanalia, and in some instances it was. But in general, once you un-tether the university from the transmission of knowledge, the institution becomes little more than a forum for the exercise of power.

In my experience, the new arrangement was not especially pleasant. At Hopkins, at least, the result was a war of all against ...




Yale Protests

‘Nuanced’ and ‘Symbolic’ Protests

Readers are no doubt aware of the spreading contagion of public demonstrations—largely under the rubric of “Black Lives Matter”—that has agitated campuses from coast to coast. Thanks to modern electronic technology, the ...

Princeton University

Wilson’s Progeny

Finally there’s a protest by campus radicals The Scrapbook can sympathize with. Students at Princeton want to remove the name of the school’s most famous alumnus, President Woodrow Wilson, most notably from the university’s ...

Vanderbilt University

Fecal Freak-Out

No round-up of campus lunacy this week would be complete without a mention of the farcical incident at Vanderbilt University. It was described so well by our colleague Michael Warren at weeklystandard.com (which you should ...


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