Give a man a reputation as an early riser, as the old saw goes, and he can sleep until noon everyday. The same phenomenon evidently applies to bad reputations as well. Brand Donald Trump a bigot, and suddenly every policy he endorses, no matter how innocuous or mainstream, becomes repugnant.
Consider the current furor over the GOP frontrunner’s remarks on Monday concerning radical mosques. In a television interview, Trump was asked whether he would consider shuttering certain mosques that appear to promote terrorism. Here is Trump’s response:
“Well, I would hate it do it but it’s something that you’re going to have to strongly consider because some of the ideas and some the hatred, the absolute hatred, is coming from these areas. You know, New York City as an example. We had a group of people from what I understand that really knew what they were doing, that were really studying the situation and they’re not doing that anymore under the new mayor. And I think that’s a mistake. It’s something that many people — not just me — are considering and many people are going to do.”
Make of Trump’s suggestion what you will (and there are serious constitutional reasons to doubt that such a policy is workable in the United States), but it puts him firmly in the mainstream of political opinion, particularly in social democratic Europe, which has been grappling with the problem of radical mosques for quite some time.
Germany has established precedent, by shutting down the mosque where some of the 9/11 hijackers worshiped. Now, other European countries are considering following in Berlin’s footsteps. Great Britain’s home secretary Theresa May has proposed issuing “closure orders” that would shut down pro-jihadi mosques. Belgium’s prime minister has also vowed to shut “certain radical mosques.” And in the wake of the Paris atrocities, France’s interior minister has argued in favor of closing “mosques where hate is preached.”
Stateside, when Mr. Trump merely suggested considering following in the footsteps of tolerant, democratic Germany, he was flayed for it. In a characteristic example, a blogger at the Washington Post bemoaned Trump’s appeal to the “massive political power of fear.” (Naturally, the remarkably parochial article mentioned none of the European examples.) Other publications filed similarly context-free denunciations of Mr. Trump.
Others simply lied about what the real estate mogul had said. Slate magazine premised an entire column on a blatant mischaracterization of what Trump suggested. Jamelle Bouie omitted all of the qualifications in Trump’s statement, and instead asserted that Trump wants to “shut down mosques.” That’s tantamount to saying the health department wants to “shut down restaurants” if it shutters a place that has an E. coli outbreak. The Daily Beast was similarly dishonest.
None of this is to endorse Trump's suggestion, by the way. But the media may wish to keep in mind that he's merely proposing a policy that's been endorsed by such famous right-wing extremists as France's socialist interior minister.
Moody’s must have it in for France. Sure, its economy is moribund. Sure, its trade unions are among the most intransigent in the world. But surely the socialist government deserves some credit for one of the most significant reforms in 200 years.
Until mid-September, the half-million migrants who had been marching northwards into central Europe seemed like the Old World equivalent of Hurricane Sandy survivors. Families uprooted by the war in Syria were seeking safety, according to this view of things. It was sad to see little girls sleeping by the side of the road, but inspiring to see European volunteers, with their clipboards and their bags of snacks, their water bottles and Port-a-Potties, showing such compassion and logistical expertise.
Secretary of State John Kerry defended the Obama administration's decision to take the Iran deal to the United Nations before the U.S. Congress votes on it. Kerry made the remarks in an interview this morning on ABC News:
The ABC reporter, Jon Karl, asked, "But the bottom line, the UN is going to vote on this before Congress gets to vote on this?"
Two big deals were signed this week, with one thing in common – can-kicking. The Eurozone countries, more precisely Germany, kicked the Greek debt can down the road for three years by lending the already over-indebted country another €86bn.
Have you ever had two dinners in one night? I did, more than 20 years ago, in Budapest. My buddy Todd and I had gone backpacking through Europe, hitting 11 cities in 30 days. As students, we were careful not to overspend, staying at pensions and hostels and crashing at my former host family’s house in Germany. By the time we reached Budapest, our last stop, we’d saved more money than we’d anticipated.
April turns out to be “Remember-a-Nazi Month.” A 93-year-old Auschwitz guard, a former member of Adolf Hitler’s Waffen-SS unit, is on trial on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder. He says he “morally” shares the guilt for taking cash and belongings from the prisoners as they entered the camp, but is innocent of any criminal act.
In Athens in mid-January, two weeks before the election that would make 40-year-old engineer Alexis Tsipras Greece’s new prime minister, a bunch of cleaning ladies explained to me why they planned to vote for his party, the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza, for its Greek acronym). We met where they had lived, at least part of the time, for the past 16 months: among tents on the sidewalk in front of the economics ministry in downtown Athens.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has cautioned that the adventurism of Russian president Vladimir Putin would not remain limited to Ukraine, or even to other countries bordering on Russia. Since Russia seized Crimea in February-March 2014, Putin’s provocative campaign has included imposition of phantom “governments” in two areas of eastern Ukraine, Luhansk and Donetsk, and harassment of the Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which are members of NATO.
Condemnation of Israel for its conduct of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza continues unabated. The chief accusation, heard time and again, is that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have either been cavalier about civilian casualties or are intentionally inflicting them. Israel and its defenders, for their part, have been at pains to point out the great lengths the IDF has gone to avoid injuring civilians, while at the same time noting the innumerable ways in which Hamas has violated the laws of war.