The free speech wars on North American campuses appear to have arrived at their inevitable endpoint. For years, American and Canadian students have played around with a new form of morality in education. It is based not on a traditional concept of searching for truth or investigating and analysing ideas, but rather on the concept that the veracity of an opinion can be discerned by the person uttering it.
In this way, a considerable number of people have apparently decided that a variety of “privileges” exist that make some speakers vital to listen to and others unnecessary, unless they agree to mouth a set of pre-ordained platitudes.
This concept, coupled with the idea that minorities require special protection from speech, have now finally delivered the moral breakdown that was always waiting for it. The warning signs have been there for years.
In 2010, the former editor of the left-wing magazine The New Republic, Martin Peretz, arrived to speak at Harvard University. There he was greeted by a group of around a hundred students and others who decided to shout at him as he arrived at their campus. They decided to greet him with chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, Marty Peretz has got to go.” And so, a generation of American students who can have had little, if any, knowledge of Peretz’s career or left-wing interests, chose to name him a racist and be done with him.
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Gaza is having another of its all too frequent crisis with electricity at the lead amongst other crises. Not to fear, the free electricity provided by Israel is continuing to be provided free of charge, not exactly the best of principles at work there. Israel cannot be blamed this time and Arab nations are willing to sell Hamas the fuel which they could afford except that the Palestinian Authority (PA) demands they pay the extortionary tax on the fuel which the PA is refusing to forgo this time around. This is simply the PA attempting to extort more money from whoever ends up paying the fuel bill with their taxes added. Meanwhile the Gaza desalinization plant has had to shut down for lack of power, as have most manufacturers, as they cannot afford to run on generators and still realize a profit. The farms are being swamped with wastewater which…
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Frances Irwin is 90 years old. She was born in Poland and lives in Brooklyn. She is a Holocaust survivor.
Frances is lonely, even though her son takes care of her. She collects used aluminum foil in a kitchen piled high with paper plates. She relies on an emergency wristband to call for help. When you ask her to, she is able to vividly recall the worst of her World War II experience. She displays a mix of shame and trepidation when deciding whether to roll up her sleeve and show the world her forearm, tattooed at Auschwitz.
The truth is that Frances, like all Holocaust survivors, is old. Like many survivors, she’s dependent on Jewish and social welfare. She’s not living as well as she deserves to live. One day, not long from now, Frances and the others like her will die. Then there will be no more Holocaust survivors left.
Writer Ron Rosenbaum once noted in these pages that one of the greatest risks of Jewish life today is the smothering sentimentalization of our memory of the Shoah. Frances’ closing chapter offers no “meretricious uplift.” The fact that she survived Auschwitz only to suffer at the end of her life is appalling and embarrassing. These are painful things to think about, let alone say. And part of the uneasiness comes from the way wealthy and comfortable American Jews have used “remembering the Holocaust” as the touchstone of their communal existence.
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The new data released by Italy’s National Institute for Statistics for 2016 sounds again like a death knell. There has been a new negative record of births: 474,000 compared to 486,000 for 2015, which had already fallen to historic lows. There were 608,000 deaths in 2016. In one year, Italy lost 134,000 people — the equivalent of a city of the size of Ferrara or Salerno.
The demographic “illusion” is kept only by the influx of immigration (135,000). If one needs an idea of what Italy would be without immigrants, look at Emilia-Romagna, one of Italy’s most populated and affluent regions: in 2035 it will have 20% fewer residents.
Italy is sometimes thought of Europe’s guinea pig: wherever Italy goes, much of Europe follows it, especially in the central and southern countries. In 1995, Antonio Golini, a professor at La Sapienza University and a former president of the National Institute of Statistics, was contacted by the director-general of Plasmon, Italy’s largest producer of baby food. Looking at the declining birth rates, the firm asked him if something could be done to prevent the company from going out of business. Plasmon started to make dietary products for adults.
A year ago, European geographers went in search of “the most desolate place in Europe“. They discovered it not in northern and cold Lapland, but in sunny Spain, specifically in the area of Molina de Aragon, two hours from Madrid. Depopulation has not been the consequence of the climate, as in the Russian steppe or northern forests, but of a demographic crisis.
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We hope that during his visit to the Jewish state he will express his regrets for his previous biased and ignorant assessments.
Dry Bones- Israel’s Political Comic Strip Since 1973