Présidence Trump: Attention un président peut en cacher un autre (The Ronald was once a Donald too)

12 mars, 2017

Governor Reagan does not dye his hair. He is just turning prematurely orange. Gerald Ford (Gridiron Dinner, 1974)
Au cours de ces 100 premiers jours, qu’est-ce qui vous a le plus surpris sur la présidence ? Qu’est-ce qui vous a le plus enchanté ? Vous a ramené à la réalité ? Et vous a le plus inquiété ? Jeff Zeleney
Vous avez accumulé beaucoup de victoires au cours des dernières semaines que beaucoup de gens pensaient difficiles. Êtes-vous prêt à vous appeler le  »comeback kid’ ? Carry Bohan
You racked up a lot of wins in the last few weeks that a lot of people thought would be difficult to come by. Are you ready to call yourself the ‘comeback kid’ ? Carry Bohan
During these first 100 days, what has surprised you the most about this office? Enchanted you the most from serving in this office? Humbled you the most? And troubled you the most? Jeff Zeleney (the New York Times)
Ronald Reagan has absolutely confounded prediction… Today, at the age of 77, he relinquishes the office so many people thought he never could get, being, it was said eight years ago, too old, too ideological, too conservative, too poorly informed, too politically marginal — in short, too out of it. But there he is, going out in a rare end-of-the-term surge of good feeling, his critics — on key issues, we are emphatically among them — still at a loss as to how to assess and finally even understand this man. The Washington Post (1989)
With a year left in the Gipper’s administration, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote that the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker scandal signaled “the end of the Age of Reagan” and his time in Washington was marked by “more disgraces than can fit in a nursery rhyme. (…) Before he went to Washington, and after he left Washington, the dominant culture loathed Ronald Reagan, had always loathed Reagan, would always loathe Reagan, and spent many an hour trying to tear him down. Simply understood, Ronald Reagan had made a lifetime of challenging conventional wisdom. Even in the hours after his death, they attacked and criticized him, even taking time to lambaste his movie career, which had ended exactly fifty years earlier in 1964. Craig Shirley
There are a lot of people who have a lot of reason to be fearful of him, mad at him. But that was one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics, period. And he did something extraordinary, and for people who have been hoping that he would become unifying, hoping that he might find some way to become presidential, they should be happy with that moment. For people who have been hoping that he would remain a divisive cartoon, which he often does, they should be a little worried tonight. That thing you just saw him do, if he finds way to do that over and over again, he’ll be there eight years. There was a lot he said in that speech that was counter-factual, not true, not right, and I oppose and will oppose, but he did something you can’t take away from him, he became president of the United States. Van Jones
Clashes among staff are common in the opening days of every administration, but they have seldom been so public and so pronounced this early. “This is a president who came to Washington vowing to shake up the establishment, and this is what it looks like. It’s going to be a little sloppy, there are going to be conflicts,” said Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush’s first press secretary. All this is happening as Mr. Trump, a man of flexible ideology but fixed habits, adjusts to a new job, life and city. Cloistered in the White House, he now has little access to his fans and supporters — an important source of feedback and validation — and feels increasingly pinched by the pressures of the job and the constant presence of protests, one of the reasons he was forced to scrap a planned trip to Milwaukee last week. NYT
The media suffer the lowest approval numbers in nearly a half-century. In a recent Emerson College poll, 49 percent of American voters termed the Trump administration “truthful”; yet only 39 percent believed the same about the news media. Every president needs media audit. The role of journalists in a free society is to act as disinterested censors of government power—neither going on witch-hunts against political opponents nor deifying ideological fellow-travelers. Sadly, the contemporary mainstream media—the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN), the traditional blue-chip newspapers (Washington Post, New York Times), and the public affiliates (NPR, PBS)—have lost credibility. They are no more reliable critics of President Trump’s excesses than they were believable cheerleaders for Barack Obama’s policies. Trump may have a habit of exaggeration and gratuitous feuding that could cause problems with his presidency. But we would never quite know that from the media. In just his first month in office, reporters have already peddled dozens of fake news stories designed to discredit the President—to such a degree that little they now write or say can be taken at face value. No, Trump did not have any plans to invade Mexico, as Buzzfeed and the Associated Press alleged. No, Trump’s father did not run for Mayor of New York by peddling racist television ads, as reported by Sidney Blumenthal. No, there were not mass resignations at the State Department in protest of its new leaders, as was reported by the Washington Post. No, Trump’s attorney did not cut a deal with the Russians in Prague. Nor did Trump indulge in sexual escapades in Moscow. Buzzfeed again peddled those fake news stories. No, a supposedly racist Trump did not remove the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the White House, as a Time Magazine reporter claimed. No, election results in three states were not altered by hackers or computer criminals to give Trump the election, as implied by New York Magazine. No, Michael Flynn did not tweet that he was a scapegoat. That was a media fantasy endorsed by Nancy Pelosi. (…) We would like to believe writers for the New York Times or Washington Post when they warn us about the new president’s overreach. But how can we do so when they have lost all credibility—either by colluding with the Obama presidency and the Hillary Clinton campaign, or by creating false narratives to ensure that Trump fails? (…) There are various explanations for the loss of media credibility. First, the world of New York and Washington DC journalism is incestuous. Reporters share a number of social connections, marriages, and kin relationships with liberal politicians, making independence nearly culturally impossible. More importantly, the election in 2008 of Barack Obama marked a watershed, when a traditionally liberal media abandoned prior pretenses of objectivity and actively promoted the candidacy and presidency of their preferred candidate. The media practically pronounced him god, the smartest man ever to enter the presidency, and capable of creating electric sensations down the legs of reporters. (…)  Obama, as the first African-American president—along with his progressive politics that were to the left of traditional Democratic policies—enraptured reporters who felt disinterested coverage might endanger what otherwise was a rare and perhaps not-to-be-repeated moment. We are now in a media arena where there are no rules. The New York Times is no longer any more credible than talk radio; CNN—whose reporters have compared Trump to Hitler and gleefully joked about his plane crashing—should be no more believed than a blogger’s website. Buzzfeed has become like the National Inquirer. Trump now communicates, often raucously and unfiltered, directly with the American people, to ensure his message is not distorted and massaged by reporters who have a history of doing just that. Unfortunately, it is up to the American people now to audit their own president’s assertions. The problem is not just that the media is often not reliable, but that it is predictably unreliable. It has ceased to exist as an auditor of government. Ironically the media that sacrificed its reputation to glorify Obama and demonize Trump has empowered the new President in a way never quite seen before. At least for now, Trump can say or do almost anything he wishes without media scrutiny—given that reporters have far less credibility than does Trump. Trump is the media’s Nemesis—payback for its own hubris. Victor Davis Hanson
The final irony? The supposedly narcissistic and self-absorbed Trump ran a campaign that addressed in undeniably sincere fashion the dilemmas of a lost hinterland. And he did so after supposedly more moral Republicans had all but written off the rubes as either politically irrelevant or beyond the hope of salvation in a globalized world. How a brutal Manhattan developer, who thrived on self-centered controversy and even scandal, proved singularly empathetic to millions of the forgotten is apparently still not fully understood. Victor Davis Hanson
In its most recent attack on Donald Trump and his supporters by the Wall Street Journal editorial page, one of its leading columnists, Peggy Noonan, asserted that Trump supporters are historically inaccurate in comparing Trump to the late President. She described Trump-Reagan comparisons as “desperate” and those who draw them as “idiots” and historical “illiterates.” She questions the level of competence of Trump but ignores that Reagan was also regarded as grossly incompetent — by media and GOP establishment hard-losers and spoilers, not Republican voters —and especially dangerous in foreign policy, which, presumably, only elites can understand foreign. Reagan was depicted as some sort of cowboy B-rated-film-star yahoo and loose cannon by the “chattering class” of 1980, one who might be tolerable as a governor, but who was definitely not sophisticated enough to comprehend let alone conduct foreign policy. Peggy Noonan relates in her column an adoring revisionist depiction of Ronald Reagan, as he has come to be appreciated today in the retrospective light of history. The Ronald Reagan she summons to make her case, however, is far from the Ronald Reagan of historical accuracy. The Ronald Reagan of the 1970s and 1980s was derided as inept and a potential disaster by status quo apologists, much as Donald Trump is being mocked today. (…) Like Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan was an entrepreneur – an aspiring broadcast sports reporter and film actor. He had to face the brutal competition of Hollywood, a place in which most aspirants to stardom failed. He started by himself, by selling his brand, just as Donald Trump started building hotels and golf courses by himself, also selling his brand (and did not squander his money, as young people from means often do, but multiplied it a thousand fold – and more — making the correct plans and decisions in difficult situations, and plain hard work). Reagan had to sell himself as a labor union leader, too – to character actors and extras in the movie industry, not just stars. He was not involved with any governmental entity early in his career. Later, he worked for General Electric, one of the largest capitalist success stories in the U.S. at the time. Before he became governor of California, he was a man of business in the entertainment industry, climbing up the ladder of success in radio, movies, and television completely on his own. Ronald Reagan believed in free market capitalism and would have been deeply impressed, I believe, by the business accomplishments and acumen of Donald Trump. Ronald Reagan knew the core greatness of the U.S. lies not in government and the wisdom of professional politicians but in that very private sector in which Donald Trump has thrived and achieved an extraordinary level of success. Donald Trump’s children, obviously well brought up, appear to be following in his footsteps. (…) Ronald Reagan knew the sting of being called a “light weight” movie star, a graduate of rural Midwestern Eureka College which no one among the elite had ever heard of. And doubtless ad hominem attacks detracted from, and damaged in some respects, his core message of more limited government and defeat of the Soviet empire. But he persisted despite the snide heckling of the arrogant establishment of the time, and he communicated his message honestly and directly – and, turns out, successfully — to the American people, thereby, accomplishing much good for the nation. Yes, and he also gave wings to a powerful political force, conservatism, which today, I suggest, finds its relevant fresh champion, however odd and imperfect the fit might seem at times, in the likes of a populist New York billionaire businessman who has a propensity to communicate his message of a better life and more secure future for Americans, directly and honestly, and with conviction, to the American body politic. Ronald Reagan as President of the United States? NEVER, they said. But the people voted, the nation spoke, and so, they were wrong. Today, despite differences over style and some issues, one thing we can all agree on: Hillary Clinton is no Ronald Reagan.  Ambassador Faith Whittlesey
Trump is a unique figure in American political history, but the nature of his singularity is not necessarily appreciated. He appalls people on both ends of the spectrum because his behavior and statements are not what we expect from our political leaders. His vulgarity, lack of impulse control, and willingness to ignore the truth and to spew abuse at anyone who criticizes him are — in the context of normative conduct among our power elites, let alone polite society — abnormal. His stubborn refusal to conform to conventional ideas about how leaders should behave still shocks those who consider themselves the gatekeepers of American politics. It isn’t so much that Trump is wrong on the issues in the eyes of those gatekeepers; it’s that they think his behavior makes him unfit for the presidency. While we give lip service to the notion that class distinctions shouldn’t matter, what is truly galling about Trump is that he won’t bow to the expectations of the powerful; instead, he has refused to assimilate into their culture. When they suggest that democracy is failing or accuse of Trump of being authoritarian or even anti-Semitic, what they are really doing is voicing dismay at the way he breaks the rules they hold sacred. What they are not doing is credibly asserting that he is a threat. But Trump’s refusal to live by the behavioral rules of our governing class heightens his appeal to many Americans who are sick of conventional politicians and the culture that produced them. He is a living, breathing rebuke to the deadening hand of political correctness that has gained such a grip on public discourse for just about everyone except Donald Trump. (…) Trump didn’t come to politics through the usual paths of law school, issues advocacy, or low-level political involvement, during the course of which standard-issue politicians learn how to behave in the manner we expect from members of the governing and chattering classes. He comes from great wealth and attended elite institutions, but he is the product of outer-borough New York, with its chip-on-the-shoulder sensibility, and the rough-and-tumble of the real-estate business. He spent the decades before his presidential campaign running a high-stakes business that placed him in the unorthodox worlds of the gaming industry and entertainment, not the corridors of political power. His niche was in celebrity culture, where people who more or less own permanent space in the gossip pages of New York tabloids, as Trump did throughout much of his adult life, might mix with those who run the country and sometimes donate to their campaigns but are not considered their peers. It might seem odd to claim that a billionaire who lived in a gold-plated Fifth Avenue penthouse has more in common with blue-collar Americans than with the country’s elites. But this is exactly the way Trump is perceived; it is also the way he acts. Despite the vituperation against his immigration policies or the effort to inflate alleged Russian connections into a new Watergate, it is this class factor that is at the heart of anti-Trump sentiment. If you are a member of our educated professional classes, Trump’s manners and statements appall you no matter where you stand on the political spectrum. They might also lead you to believe that his refusal to abide by the accepted rules of public discourse constitutes an encouragement of bigots — the tiny number of Americans who dwell in the political fever swamps and think Trump’s intemperate statements echo their own hate. But the belief that Trump is “dog whistling” to hate groups makes his critics largely blind to their own misjudgment: They cannot distinguish between, on one hand, their disgust with his manners and, on the other, policy disagreements with Trump, even though he is advocating either traditional conservative beliefs or populist stands that are likely to generate significant support across the political spectrum. Tuesday’s speech to Congress was not the beginning of the “pivot” that pundits have talked about since he started running for president. Trump will always be Trump in that he will never entirely conform to the cultural norms of the governing class, and its members within the media and the bureaucracy will continue trying to undermine him every chance they get. Yet his performance illustrates that he can also play the Washington game. And he can play it in a manner that could marginalize those who are still convulsed by the mad rage he generates in those who are offended by his conduct. Stories about Trump’s alleged ties to Russia help Democrats keep the national conversation focused on the administration’s illegitimacy. As long as such stories are front and center, Democrats can avoid confronting the source of their anger at him. Yet the shock when he speaks in a way that reassures the country that he can govern — as he did in Congress –unnerves his opponents because it illustrates that he can transcend class differences. And it’s Trump’s non-elite class affiliations that make them think they can eventually cast him out of power without having to appeal to the voters who put him in the White House. Unless the Russia stories become a genuine scandal that undoes his administration, a few more such presidential moments point the way to a Trump presidency that could be more successful than either his liberal or conservative critics could have imagined. Jonathan S. Tobin
Reagan’s and Trump’s opposing styles belie their similarities of substance. Both have marketed the same brand of outrage to the same angry segments of the electorate, faced the same jeering press, attracted some of the same battlefront allies (Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Phyllis Schlafly), offended the same elites (including two generations of Bushes), outmaneuvered similar political adversaries, and espoused the same conservative populism built broadly on the pillars of jingoistic nationalism, nostalgia, contempt for Washington, and racial resentment. They’ve even endured the same wisecracks about their unnatural coiffures. (…) Though Reagan’s 1980 campaign slogan (“Let’s Make America Great Again”) is one word longer than Trump’s, that word reflects a contrast in their personalities — the avuncular versus the autocratic — but not in message. Reagan’s apocalyptic theme, “The Empire is in decline,” is interchangeable with Trump’s, even if the Gipper delivered it with a smile.  (…) Grassroots Republicans, whom Reagan had been courting for years with speeches, radio addresses, and opinion pieces beneath the mainstream media’s radar, were indeed in his camp. But aside from a lone operative (John Sears) (…) “the other major GOP players — especially Easterners and moderates — thought Reagan was a certified yahoo.” (…) Only a single Republican senator, Paul Laxalt of Nevada, signed on to Reagan’s presidential quest from the start, a solitary role that has been played in the Trump campaign by Jeff Sessions of Alabama. What put off Reagan’s fellow Republicans will sound very familiar. He proposed an economic program — 30 percent tax cuts, increased military spending, a balanced budget — whose math was voodoo and then some. He prided himself on not being “a part of the Washington Establishment” and mocked Capitol Hill’s “buddy system” and its collusion with “the forces that have brought us our problems—the Congress, the bureaucracy, the lobbyists, big business, and big labor.” He kept a light campaign schedule, regarded debates as optional, wouldn’t sit still to read briefing books, and often either improvised his speeches or worked off index cards that contained anecdotes and statistics gleaned from Reader’s Digest and the right-wing journal Human Events — sources hardly more elevated or reliable than the television talk shows and tabloids that feed Trump’s erroneous and incendiary pronouncements. Like Trump but unlike most of his (and Trump’s) political rivals, Reagan was accessible to the press and public. His spontaneity in give-and-takes with reporters and voters played well but also gave him plenty of space to disgorge fantasies and factual errors so prolific and often outrageous that he single-handedly made the word gaffe a permanent fixture in America’s political vernacular. He confused Pakistan with Afghanistan. He claimed that trees contributed 93 percent of the atmosphere’s nitrous oxide and that pollution in America was “substantially under control” even as his hometown of Los Angeles was suffocating in smog. He said that the “finest oil geologists in the world” had found that there were more oil reserves in Alaska than Saudi Arabia. He said the federal government spent $3 for each dollar it distributed in welfare benefits, when the actual amount was 12 cents. He also mythologized his own personal history in proto-Trump style. As Garry Wills has pointed out, Reagan referred to himself as one of “the soldiers who came back” when speaking plaintively of his return to civilian life after World War II — even though he had come back only from Culver City, where his wartime duty was making Air Force films at the old Hal Roach Studio. Once in office, he told the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir that he had filmed the liberated Nazi death camps, when in reality he had not seen them, let alone (as he claimed) squirreled away a reel of film as an antidote to potential Holocaust deniers. For his part, Trump has purported that his enrollment at the New York Military Academy, a prep school, amounted to Vietnam-era military service, and has borne historical witness to the urban legend of “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in Jersey City celebrating the 9/11 attacks. Even when these ruses are exposed, Trump follows the Reagan template of doubling down on mistakes rather than conceding them. Nor was Reagan a consistent conservative. He deviated from party orthodoxy to both the left and the right. He had been by his own account a “near hopeless hemophilic liberal” for much of his adult life, having campaigned for Truman in 1948 and for Helen Gahagan Douglas in her senatorial race against Nixon in California in 1950. He didn’t switch his registration to Republican until he was 51. As California governor, he signed one of America’s strongest gun-control laws and its most liberal abortion law (both in 1967). His vocal opposition helped kill California’s 1978 Briggs Initiative, which would have banned openly gay teachers at public schools. As a 1980 presidential candidate, he flip-flopped to endorse bailouts for both New York City and the Chrysler Corporation. Reagan may be revered now as a free-trade absolutist in contrast to Trump, but in that winning campaign he called for halting the “deluge” of Japanese car imports raining down on Detroit. “If Japan keeps on doing everything that it’s doing, what they’re doing, obviously, there’s going to be what you call protectionism,” he said. Republican leaders blasted Reagan as a trigger-happy warmonger. Much as Trump now threatens to downsize NATO and start a trade war with China, so Reagan attacked Ford, the sitting Republican president he ran against in the 1976 primary, and Henry Kissinger for their pursuit of the bipartisan policies of détente and Chinese engagement. The sole benefit of détente, Reagan said, was to give America “the right to sell Pepsi-Cola in Siberia.” For good measure, he stoked an international dispute by vowing to upend a treaty ceding American control over the Panama Canal. “We bought it, we paid for it, it’s ours, and we’re going to keep it!” he bellowed with an America First truculence reminiscent of Trump’s calls for our allies to foot the bill for American military protection. Even his own party’s hawks, like William F. Buckley Jr. and his pal John Wayne, protested. Goldwater, of all people, inveighed against Reagan’s “gross factual errors” and warned he might “take rash action” and “needlessly lead this country into open military conflict.” Trump’s signature cause of immigration was not a hot-button issue during Reagan’s campaigns. In the White House, he signed a bill granting “amnesty” (Reagan used the now politically incorrect word) to 1.7 million undocumented immigrants. But if Reagan was free of Trump’s bigoted nativism, he had his own racially tinged strategy for wooing disaffected white working-class Americans fearful that liberals in government were bestowing favors on freeloading, lawbreaking minorities at their expense. Taking a leaf from George Wallace’s populist campaigns, Reagan scapegoated “welfare chiselers” like the nameless “strapping young buck” he claimed used food stamps to buy steak. His favorite villain was a Chicago “welfare queen” who, in his telling, “had 80 names, 30 addresses, and 12 Social Security cards, and is collecting veterans’ benefits on four nonexistent deceased husbands” to loot the American taxpayer of over $150,000 of “tax-free cash income” a year. Never mind that she was actually charged with using four aliases and had netted $8,000: Reagan continued to hammer in this hyperbolic parable with a vengeance that rivals Trump’s insistence that Mexico will pay for a wall to fend off Hispanic rapists. The Republican elites of Reagan’s day were as blindsided by him as their counterparts have been by Trump. Though Reagan came close to toppling the incumbent president at the contested Kansas City convention in 1976, the Ford forces didn’t realize they could lose until the devil was at the door. A “President Ford Committee” campaign statement had maintained that Reagan could “not defeat any candidate the Democrats put up” because his “constituency is much too narrow, even within the Republican party” and because he lacked “the critical national and international experience that President Ford has gained through 25 years of public service.” In Ford’s memoirs, written after he lost the election to Jimmy Carter, he wrote that he hadn’t taken the Reagan threat seriously because he “didn’t take Reagan seriously.” Reagan, he said, had a “penchant for offering simplistic solutions to hideously complex problems” and a stubborn insistence that he was “always right in every argument.” Even so, a Ford-campaign memo had correctly identified one ominous sign during primary season: a rising turnout of Reagan voters who were “not loyal Republicans or Democrats” and were “alienated from both parties because neither takes a sympathetic view toward their issues.” To these voters, the disdain Reagan drew from the GOP elites was a badge of honor. During the primary campaign, Times columnist William Safire reported with astonishment that Kissinger’s speeches championing Ford and attacking Reagan were helping Reagan, not Ford — a precursor of how attacks by Trump’s Establishment adversaries have backfired 40 years later. Much of the press was slow to catch up, too. A typical liberal-Establishment take on Reagan could be found in Harper’s, which called him Ronald Duck, “the Candidate from Disneyland.” That he had come to be deemed “a serious candidate for president,” the magazine intoned, was “a shame and embarrassment for the country.” But some reporters who tracked Reagan on the campaign trail sensed that many voters didn’t care if he came from Hollywood, if his policies didn’t add up, if his facts were bogus, or if he was condescended to by Republican leaders or pundits. As Elizabeth Drew of The New Yorker observed in 1976, his appeal “has to do not with competence at governing but with the emotion he evokes.” As she put it, “Reagan lets people get out their anger and frustration, their feeling of being misunderstood and mishandled by those who have run our government, their impatience with taxes and with the poor and the weak, their impulse to deal with the world’s troublemakers by employing the stratagem of a punch in the nose.” The power of that appeal was underestimated by his Democratic foes in 1980 even though Carter, too, had run as a populist and attracted some Wallace voters when beating Ford in 1976.  (…) Voters wanted to “follow some authority figure,” he theorized — a “leader who can take charge with authority; return a sense of discipline to our government; and, manifest the willpower needed to get this country back on track.” Or at least a leader from outside Washington, like Reagan and now Trump, who projects that image (“You’re fired!”) whether he has the ability to deliver on it or not. (…) Were Trump to gain entry to the White House, it’s impossible to say whether he would or could follow Reagan’s example and function within the political norms of Washington. His burlesque efforts to appear “presidential” are intended to make that case: His constant promise to practice “the art of the deal” echoes Reagan’s campaign boast of having forged compromises with California’s Democratic legislature while governor. More likely a Trump presidency would be the train wreck largely predicted, an amalgam of the blunderbuss shoot-from-the-hip recklessness of George W. Bush and the randy corruption of Warren Harding, both of whom were easily manipulated by their own top brass. The love child of Hitler and Mussolini Trump is not. He lacks the discipline and zeal to be a successful fascist. The good news for those who look with understandable horror on the prospect of a Trump victory is that the national demographic math is different now from Reagan’s day. The nonwhite electorate, only 12 percent in 1980, was 28 percent in 2012 and could hit 30 percent this year. Few number crunchers buy the Trump camp’s spin that the GOP can reclaim solidly Democratic territory like Pennsylvania and Michigan — states where many white working-class voters, soon to be christened “Reagan Democrats,” crossed over to vote Republican in Reagan’s 1984 landslide. Many of those voters are dead; their epicenter, Macomb County, Michigan, was won by Barack Obama in 2008. Nor is there now the ’70s level of discontent that gave oxygen to Reagan’s insurgency. President Obama’s approval numbers are lapping above 50 percent. Both unemployment and gas prices are low, hardly the dire straits of Carter’s America. Trump’s gift for repelling women would also seem to be an asset for Democrats, creating a gender gap far exceeding the one that confronted Reagan, who was hostile to the Equal Rights Amendment. And yet, to quote the headline of an Economist cover story on Reagan in 1980: It’s time to think the unthinkable. Trump and Bernie Sanders didn’t surge in a vacuum. This is a volatile nation. Polls consistently find that some two-thirds of the country thinks the country is on the wrong track. The economically squeezed middle class rightly feels it has been abandoned by both parties. The national suicide rate is at a 30-year high. Anything can happen in an election where the presumptive candidates of both parties are loathed by a majority of their fellow Americans, a first in the history of modern polling. It’s not reassuring that some of those minimizing Trump’s chances are the experts who saw no path for Trump to the Republican nomination. There could be a July surprise in which party divisions capsize the Democratic convention rather than, as once expected, the GOP’s. An October surprise could come in the form of a terrorist incident that panics American voters much as the Iranian hostage crisis is thought to have sealed Carter’s doom in 1980. Frank Rich
Et si comme le Ronald avant lui le Donald faisait un bon président ?
Même âge avancé, même situation maritale douteuse, même orange décrié des cheveux teints, (quasi) identique slogan de campagne, même passage dans le monde du spectacle, mêmes changements d’étiquettes politiques, même opposition y compris des caciques de son propre parti, même succession à une présidence faible et largement catastrophique, mêmes moqueries continuelles, (quasi) identique surnom dévalorisant, menaces d’assassinat, même retrait du diner annuel des correspondants  …
A l’heure où malgré un premier discours au Congrès pour une fois salué par tous
Vite éclipsé certes par ses allégations sur la surveillance de ses communications pendant sa campagne électorale de la part d’une Administration Obama …

Qui en son temps n’avait pas hésité à lancer le fisc sur ses ennemis ou faire écouter certains journalistes …

Se confirme, jour après jour et fuite après fuite, la véritable campagne de déstabilisation de la nouvelle administration américaine par la collusion des services secrets et de la presse …

Qui se souvient encore …
Contrastant avec l’étrange complaisance qui avait accueilli son prédécesseur …
Et au-delà d’une évidente différence d’expérience politique et de style …
Des moqueries et de l’opposition qu’avait attiré lui aussi à ses débuts …

Jusqu’à une tentative d’assassinat le privant notamment pour la première fois d’assister au fameux diner annuel des correspondants

Avant de devenir le président respecté des historiens aujourd’hui…
Celui que l’on qualifiait alors méchamment de… « le Ronald » ?
Ronald Reagan Was Once Donald Trump
What The Donald Shares With The Ronald
The Trump candidacy looks a lot more like Reagan’s than anyone might care to notice
Frank Rich
NY magazine
June 1, 2016
In an election cycle that has brought unending surprises, let it be said that one time-honored tradition has been upheld: the Republican presidential contenders’ quadrennial tug-of-war to seize the mantle of Ronald Reagan. John Kasich, gesturing toward the Air Force One on display at the Reagan-library debate, said, « I think I actually flew on this plane with Ronald Reagan when I was a congressman. » Rand Paul claimed to have met Reagan as a child; Ben Carson said he switched parties because of Reagan; Chris Christie said he cast his first vote for Reagan; Ted Cruz cheered Reagan for having defeated Soviet Communism and vowed, for nonsensical good measure, to « do the same thing. » And then there was Donald Trump, never one to be outdone by the nobodies in any competition. « I helped him, » he said of Reagan on NBC last fall. « I knew him. He liked me and I liked him. »The Reagan archives show no indication that the two men had anything more than a receiving-line acquaintanceship; Trump doesn’t appear in the president’s voluminous diaries. But of all the empty boasts that have marked Trump’s successful pursuit of the Republican nomination, his affinity to Reagan may have the most validity and the most pertinence to 2016. To understand how Trump has advanced to where he is now, and why he has been underestimated at almost every step, and why he has a shot at vanquishing Hillary Clinton in November, few road maps are more illuminating than Reagan’s unlikely path to the White House. One is almost tempted to say that Trump has been studying the Reagan playbook — but to do so would be to suggest that he actually might have read a book, another Trumpian claim for which there is scant evidence.

Before the fierce defenders of the Reagan faith collapse into seizures at the bracketing of their hero with the crudest and most vacuous presidential candidate in human memory, let me stipulate that I am not talking about Reagan the president in drawing this parallel, or about Reagan the man. I am talking about Reagan the candidate, the canny politician who, after a dozen years of failed efforts attended by nonstop ridicule, ended up leading the 1980 GOP ticket at the same age Trump is now (69) and who, like his present-day counterpart, was best known to much of the electorate up until then as a B-list show-business personality.

It’s true that Reagan, unlike Trump, did hold public office before seeking the presidency (though he’d been out of government for six years when he won). But Trump would no doubt argue that his executive experience atop the august Trump Organization more than compensates for Reagan’s two terms in Sacramento. (Trump would also argue, courtesy of Arnold Schwarzenegger, that serving as governor of California is merely a bush-league audition for the far greater responsibilities of hosting Celebrity Apprentice.) It’s also true that Reagan forged a (fairly) consistent ideology to address late-20th-century issues that are no longer extant: the Cold War, a federal government that feasted on a top income-tax bracket of 70 percent, and runaway inflation. Trump has no core conviction beyond gratifying his own bottomless ego.

Remarkably, though, the Reagan model has proved quite adaptable both to Trump and to our different times. Trump’s tenure as an NBC reality-show host is comparable to Reagan’s stint hosting the highly rated but disposable General Electric Theater for CBS in the Ed Sullivan era. Trump’s embarrassing turn as a supporting player in a 1990 Bo Derek movie (Ghosts Can’t Do It) is no more egregious than Reagan’s starring opposite a chimp in Hollywood’s Bedtime for Bonzo of 1951. While Trump has owned tacky, bankrupt casinos in Atlantic City, Reagan was a mere casino serf — the emcee of a flop nightclub revue featuring barbershop harmonizing and soft-shoe dancing at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas in 1954. While Trump would be the first president to have been married three times, here, too, he is simply updating his antecedent, who broke a cultural barrier by becoming the first White House occupant to have divorced and remarried. Neither Reagan nor Trump paid any price with the Evangelical right for deviations from the family-values norm; they respectively snared the endorsements of Jerry Falwell and Jerry Falwell Jr.

Reflecting the contrasting pop cultures of their times, Reagan’s and Trump’s performance styles are antithetical. Reagan’s cool persona of genial optimism was forged by his stints as a radio baseball broadcaster and a movie-studio utility player, and finally by his emergence on television when it was ruled by the soothing suburban patriarchs of Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, and Leave It to Beaver. Trump’s hot shtick, his scowling bombast and put-downs, is tailor-made for a culture that favors conflict over consensus, musical invective over easy listening, and exhibitionism over decorum in prime time. The two men’s representative celebrity endorsers — Jimmy Stewart and Pat Boone for Reagan, Hulk Hogan and Bobby Knight for Trump — belong to two different American civilizations.

But Reagan’s and Trump’s opposing styles belie their similarities of substance. Both have marketed the same brand of outrage to the same angry segments of the electorate, faced the same jeering press, attracted some of the same battlefront allies (Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Phyllis Schlafly), offended the same elites (including two generations of Bushes), outmaneuvered similar political adversaries, and espoused the same conservative populism built broadly on the pillars of jingoistic nationalism, nostalgia, contempt for Washington, and racial resentment. They’ve even endured the same wisecracks about their unnatural coiffures. “Governor Reagan does not dye his hair,” said Gerald Ford at a Gridiron Dinner in 1974. “He is just turning prematurely orange.” Though Reagan’s 1980 campaign slogan (“Let’s Make America Great Again”) is one word longer than Trump’s, that word reflects a contrast in their personalities — the avuncular versus the autocratic — but not in message. Reagan’s apocalyptic theme, “The Empire is in decline,” is interchangeable with Trump’s, even if the Gipper delivered it with a smile.

Craig Shirley, a longtime Republican political consultant and Reagan acolyte, has written authoritative books on the presidential campaigns of 1976 and 1980 that serve as correctives to the sentimental revisionist history that would have us believe that Reagan was cheered on as a conquering hero by GOP elites during his long climb to national power. To hear the right’s triumphalism of recent years, you’d think that only smug Democrats were appalled by Reagan while Republicans quickly recognized that their party, decimated by Richard Nixon and Watergate, had found its savior.

Grassroots Republicans, whom Reagan had been courting for years with speeches, radio addresses, and opinion pieces beneath the mainstream media’s radar, were indeed in his camp. But aside from a lone operative (John Sears), Shirley wrote, “the other major GOP players — especially Easterners and moderates — thought Reagan was a certified yahoo.” By his death in 2004, “they would profess their love and devotion to Reagan and claim they were there from the beginning in 1974, which was a load of horse manure.” Even after his election in 1980, Shirley adds, “Reagan was never much loved” by his own party’s leaders. After GOP setbacks in the 1982 midterms, “a Republican National Committee functionary taped a piece of paper to her door announcing the sign-up for the 1984 Bush for President campaign.”

Shirley’s memories are corroborated by reportage contemporaneous with Reagan’s last two presidential runs. (There was also an abortive run in 1968.) A poll in 1976 found that 90 percent of Republican state chairmen judged Reagan guilty of “simplistic approaches,” with “no depth in federal government administration” and “no experience in foreign affairs.” It was little different in January 1980, when a U.S. News and World Report survey of 475 national and state Republican chairmen found they preferred George H.W. Bush to Reagan. One state chairman presumably spoke for many when he told the magazine that Reagan’s intellect was “thinner than spit on a slate rock.” As Rick Perlstein writes in The Invisible Bridge, the third and latest volume of his epic chronicle of the rise of the conservative movement, both Nixon and Ford dismissed Reagan as a lightweight. Barry Goldwater endorsed Ford over Reagan in 1976 despite the fact that Reagan’s legendary speech on behalf of Goldwater’s presidential campaign in October 1964, “A Time for Choosing,” was the biggest boost that his kamikaze candidacy received. Only a single Republican senator, Paul Laxalt of Nevada, signed on to Reagan’s presidential quest from the start, a solitary role that has been played in the Trump campaign by Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

What put off Reagan’s fellow Republicans will sound very familiar. He proposed an economic program — 30 percent tax cuts, increased military spending, a balanced budget — whose math was voodoo and then some. He prided himself on not being “a part of the Washington Establishment” and mocked Capitol Hill’s “buddy system” and its collusion with “the forces that have brought us our problems—the Congress, the bureaucracy, the lobbyists, big business, and big labor.” He kept a light campaign schedule, regarded debates as optional, wouldn’t sit still to read briefing books, and often either improvised his speeches or worked off index cards that contained anecdotes and statistics gleaned from Reader’s Digest and the right-wing journal Human Events — sources hardly more elevated or reliable than the television talk shows and tabloids that feed Trump’s erroneous and incendiary pronouncements.

Like Trump but unlike most of his (and Trump’s) political rivals, Reagan was accessible to the press and public. His spontaneity in give-and-takes with reporters and voters played well but also gave him plenty of space to disgorge fantasies and factual errors so prolific and often outrageous that he single-handedly made the word gaffe a permanent fixture in America’s political vernacular. He confused Pakistan with Afghanistan. He claimed that trees contributed 93 percent of the atmosphere’s nitrous oxide and that pollution in America was “substantially under control” even as his hometown of Los Angeles was suffocating in smog. He said that the “finest oil geologists in the world” had found that there were more oil reserves in Alaska than Saudi Arabia. He said the federal government spent $3 for each dollar it distributed in welfare benefits, when the actual amount was 12 cents.

He also mythologized his own personal history in proto-Trump style. As Garry Wills has pointed out, Reagan referred to himself as one of “the soldiers who came back” when speaking plaintively of his return to civilian life after World War II — even though he had come back only from Culver City, where his wartime duty was making Air Force films at the old Hal Roach Studio. Once in office, he told the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir that he had filmed the liberated Nazi death camps, when in reality he had not seen them, let alone (as he claimed) squirreled away a reel of film as an antidote to potential Holocaust deniers. For his part, Trump has purported that his enrollment at the New York Military Academy, a prep school, amounted to Vietnam-era military service, and has borne historical witness to the urban legend of “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in Jersey City celebrating the 9/11 attacks. Even when these ruses are exposed, Trump follows the Reagan template of doubling down on mistakes rather than conceding them.

Nor was Reagan a consistent conservative. He deviated from party orthodoxy to both the left and the right. He had been by his own account a “near hopeless hemophilic liberal” for much of his adult life, having campaigned for Truman in 1948 and for Helen Gahagan Douglas in her senatorial race against Nixon in California in 1950. He didn’t switch his registration to Republican until he was 51. As California governor, he signed one of America’s strongest gun-control laws and its most liberal abortion law (both in 1967). His vocal opposition helped kill California’s 1978 Briggs Initiative, which would have banned openly gay teachers at public schools. As a 1980 presidential candidate, he flip-flopped to endorse bailouts for both New York City and the Chrysler Corporation. Reagan may be revered now as a free-trade absolutist in contrast to Trump, but in that winning campaign he called for halting the “deluge” of Japanese car imports raining down on Detroit. “If Japan keeps on doing everything that it’s doing, what they’re doing, obviously, there’s going to be what you call protectionism,” he said.

Republican leaders blasted Reagan as a trigger-happy warmonger. Much as Trump now threatens to downsize NATO and start a trade war with China, so Reagan attacked Ford, the sitting Republican president he ran against in the 1976 primary, and Henry Kissinger for their pursuit of the bipartisan policies of détente and Chinese engagement. The sole benefit of détente, Reagan said, was to give America “the right to sell Pepsi-Cola in Siberia.” For good measure, he stoked an international dispute by vowing to upend a treaty ceding American control over the Panama Canal. “We bought it, we paid for it, it’s ours, and we’re going to keep it!” he bellowed with an America First truculence reminiscent of Trump’s calls for our allies to foot the bill for American military protection. Even his own party’s hawks, like William F. Buckley Jr. and his pal John Wayne, protested. Goldwater, of all people, inveighed against Reagan’s “gross factual errors” and warned he might “take rash action” and “needlessly lead this country into open military conflict.”

Trump’s signature cause of immigration was not a hot-button issue during Reagan’s campaigns. In the White House, he signed a bill granting “amnesty” (Reagan used the now politically incorrect word) to 1.7 million undocumented immigrants. But if Reagan was free of Trump’s bigoted nativism, he had his own racially tinged strategy for wooing disaffected white working-class Americans fearful that liberals in government were bestowing favors on freeloading, lawbreaking minorities at their expense. Taking a leaf from George Wallace’s populist campaigns, Reagan scapegoated “welfare chiselers” like the nameless “strapping young buck” he claimed used food stamps to buy steak. His favorite villain was a Chicago “welfare queen” who, in his telling, “had 80 names, 30 addresses, and 12 Social Security cards, and is collecting veterans’ benefits on four nonexistent deceased husbands” to loot the American taxpayer of over $150,000 of “tax-free cash income” a year. Never mind that she was actually charged with using four aliases and had netted $8,000: Reagan continued to hammer in this hyperbolic parable with a vengeance that rivals Trump’s insistence that Mexico will pay for a wall to fend off Hispanic rapists.

The Republican elites of Reagan’s day were as blindsided by him as their counterparts have been by Trump. Though Reagan came close to toppling the incumbent president at the contested Kansas City convention in 1976, the Ford forces didn’t realize they could lose until the devil was at the door. A “President Ford Committee” campaign statement had maintained that Reagan could “not defeat any candidate the Democrats put up” because his “constituency is much too narrow, even within the Republican party” and because he lacked “the critical national and international experience that President Ford has gained through 25 years of public service.” In Ford’s memoirs, written after he lost the election to Jimmy Carter, he wrote that he hadn’t taken the Reagan threat seriously because he “didn’t take Reagan seriously.” Reagan, he said, had a “penchant for offering simplistic solutions to hideously complex problems” and a stubborn insistence that he was “always right in every argument.” Even so, a Ford-campaign memo had correctly identified one ominous sign during primary season: a rising turnout of Reagan voters who were “not loyal Republicans or Democrats” and were “alienated from both parties because neither takes a sympathetic view toward their issues.” To these voters, the disdain Reagan drew from the GOP elites was a badge of honor. During the primary campaign, Times columnist William Safire reported with astonishment that Kissinger’s speeches championing Ford and attacking Reagan were helping Reagan, not Ford — a precursor of how attacks by Trump’s Establishment adversaries have backfired 40 years later.

Much of the press was slow to catch up, too. A typical liberal-Establishment take on Reagan could be found in Harper’s, which called him Ronald Duck, “the Candidate from Disneyland.” That he had come to be deemed “a serious candidate for president,” the magazine intoned, was “a shame and embarrassment for the country.” But some reporters who tracked Reagan on the campaign trail sensed that many voters didn’t care if he came from Hollywood, if his policies didn’t add up, if his facts were bogus, or if he was condescended to by Republican leaders or pundits. As Elizabeth Drew of The New Yorker observed in 1976, his appeal “has to do not with competence at governing but with the emotion he evokes.” As she put it, “Reagan lets people get out their anger and frustration, their feeling of being misunderstood and mishandled by those who have run our government, their impatience with taxes and with the poor and the weak, their impulse to deal with the world’s troublemakers by employing the stratagem of a punch in the nose.”

The power of that appeal was underestimated by his Democratic foes in 1980 even though Carter, too, had run as a populist and attracted some Wallace voters when beating Ford in 1976. By the time he was up for reelection, Carter was an unpopular incumbent presiding over the Iranian hostage crisis, gas shortages, and a reeling economy, yet surely the Democrats would prevail over Ronald Duck anyway. A strategic memo by Carter’s pollster, Patrick Caddell, laid out the campaign against Reagan’s obvious vulnerabilities with bullet points: “Is Reagan Safe? … Shoots From the Hip … Over His Head … What Are His Solutions?” But it was the strategy of Caddell’s counterpart in the Reagan camp, the pollster Richard Wirthlin, that carried the day with the electorate. Voters wanted to “follow some authority figure,” he theorized — a “leader who can take charge with authority; return a sense of discipline to our government; and, manifest the willpower needed to get this country back on track.” Or at least a leader from outside Washington, like Reagan and now Trump, who projects that image (“You’re fired!”) whether he has the ability to deliver on it or not.

What we call the Reagan Revolution was the second wave of a right-wing populist revolution within the GOP that had first crested with the Goldwater campaign of 1964. After Lyndon Johnson whipped Goldwater in a historic landslide that year, it was assumed that the revolution had been vanquished. The conventional wisdom was framed by James Reston of the Times the morning after Election Day: “Barry Goldwater not only lost the presidential election yesterday but the conservative cause as well.” But the conservative cause hardly lost a step after Goldwater’s Waterloo; it would soon start to regather its strength out West under Reagan. It’s the moderate wing of the party, the GOP of Nelson Rockefeller and George Romney and Henry Cabot Lodge and William Scranton, that never recovered and whose last, long-smoldering embers were finally extinguished with a Jeb Bush campaign whose high-water mark in the Republican primaries was 11 percent of the vote in New Hampshire.

Mitt Romney and his ilk are far more conservative than that previous generation of ancien régime Republicans. But the Romney crowd is not going to have a restoration after the 2016 election any more than his father’s crowd did post-1964 — regardless of whether Trump is buried in an electoral avalanche, as Goldwater was, or wins big, as Reagan did against both Carter and Walter Mondale. Trump is far more representative of the GOP base than all the Establishment conservatives who are huffing and puffing that he is betraying the conservative movement and the spirit of Ronald Reagan. When the Bush family announces it will skip the Cleveland convention, the mainstream media dutifully report it as significant news. But there’s little evidence that many grassroots Republicans now give a damn what any Bush has to say about Trump or much else.

The only conservative columnist who seems to recognize this reality remains Peggy Noonan, who worked in the Reagan White House. As she pointed out in Wall Street Journal columns this spring, conservatism as “defined the past 15 years by Washington writers and thinkers” (i.e., since George W. Bush’s first inauguration) — “a neoconservative, functionally open borders, slash-the-entitlements party” — appears no longer to have any market in the Republican base. A telling poll by Public Policy Polling published in mid-May confirmed that the current GOP Washington leadership is not much more popular than the departed John Boehner and Eric Cantor: Only 40 percent of Republicans approve of the job performance of Paul Ryan, the Establishment wonder boy whose conservative catechism Noonan summarized, while 44 percent disapprove. Only 14 percent of Republicans approve of Mitch McConnell. This is Trump’s party now, and it was so well before he got there. It’s the populist-white-conservative party that Goldwater and Reagan built, with a hefty intervening assist from Nixon’s southern strategy, not the atavistic country-club Republicanism whose few surviving vestiges had their last hurrahs in the administrations of Bush père and fils. The third wave of the Reagan Revolution is here to stay.

Were Trump to gain entry to the White House, it’s impossible to say whether he would or could follow Reagan’s example and function within the political norms of Washington. His burlesque efforts to appear “presidential” are intended to make that case: His constant promise to practice “the art of the deal” echoes Reagan’s campaign boast of having forged compromises with California’s Democratic legislature while governor. More likely a Trump presidency would be the train wreck largely predicted, an amalgam of the blunderbuss shoot-from-the-hip recklessness of George W. Bush and the randy corruption of Warren Harding, both of whom were easily manipulated by their own top brass. The love child of Hitler and Mussolini Trump is not. He lacks the discipline and zeal to be a successful fascist.

The good news for those who look with understandable horror on the prospect of a Trump victory is that the national demographic math is different now from Reagan’s day. The nonwhite electorate, only 12 percent in 1980, was 28 percent in 2012 and could hit 30 percent this year. Few number crunchers buy the Trump camp’s spin that the GOP can reclaim solidly Democratic territory like Pennsylvania and Michigan — states where many white working-class voters, soon to be christened “Reagan Democrats,” crossed over to vote Republican in Reagan’s 1984 landslide. Many of those voters are dead; their epicenter, Macomb County, Michigan, was won by Barack Obama in 2008. Nor is there now the ’70s level of discontent that gave oxygen to Reagan’s insurgency. President Obama’s approval numbers are lapping above 50 percent. Both unemployment and gas prices are low, hardly the dire straits of Carter’s America. Trump’s gift for repelling women would also seem to be an asset for Democrats, creating a gender gap far exceeding the one that confronted Reagan, who was hostile to the Equal Rights Amendment.

And yet, to quote the headline of an Economist cover story on Reagan in 1980: It’s time to think the unthinkable. Trump and Bernie Sanders didn’t surge in a vacuum. This is a volatile nation. Polls consistently find that some two-thirds of the country thinks the country is on the wrong track. The economically squeezed middle class rightly feels it has been abandoned by both parties. The national suicide rate is at a 30-year high. Anything can happen in an election where the presumptive candidates of both parties are loathed by a majority of their fellow Americans, a first in the history of modern polling. It’s not reassuring that some of those minimizing Trump’s chances are the experts who saw no path for Trump to the Republican nomination. There could be a July surprise in which party divisions capsize the Democratic convention rather than, as once expected, the GOP’s. An October surprise could come in the form of a terrorist incident that panics American voters much as the Iranian hostage crisis is thought to have sealed Carter’s doom in 1980.*

While I did not rule out the possibility that Trump could win the Republican nomination as his campaign took off after Labor Day last year, I wrote that he had “no chance of ascending to the presidency.” Meanwhile, he was performing an unintended civic service: His bull-in-a-china-shop candidacy was exposing, however unintentionally, the sterility, corruption, and hypocrisy of our politics, from the consultant-and-focus-group-driven caution of candidates like Clinton to the toxic legacy of Sarah Palin on a GOP that now pretends it never invited her cancerous brand of bigoted populism into its midst. But I now realize I was as wrong as the Reagan naysayers in seeing no chance of Trump’s landing in the White House. I will henceforth defer to Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, one of the few Washington analysts who saw Trump’s breakthrough before the pack did. As of early May, he was giving Trump a 20 percent chance of victory in November.

What is to be done to lower those odds further still? Certainly the feeble efforts of the #NeverTrump Republicans continue to be, as Trump would say, Sad! Alumni from the Romney, Bush, and John McCain campaigns seem to think that writing progressively more enraged op-ed pieces about how Trump is a shame and embarrassment for the country will make a difference. David Brooks has called this a “Joe McCarthy moment” for the GOP — in the sense that history will judge poorly those who don’t stand up to the bully in the Fifth Avenue tower. But if you actually look at history, what it says is that there were no repercussions for Republicans who didn’t stand up to McCarthy — or, for that matter, to Nixon at the height of his criminality. William Buckley co-wrote a book defending McCarthy in 1954, and his career only blossomed thereafter. Goldwater was one of McCarthy’s most loyal defenders, and Reagan refused to condemn Nixon even after the Republican senatorial leadership had deserted him in the endgame of Watergate. Far from being shunned, both men ended up as their party’s presidential nominees, and one of them became president.

If today’s outraged Republican elites are seriously determined to derail Trump, they have a choice between two options: (1) Put their money and actions where their hashtags are and get a conservative third-party candidate on any state ballots they can, where a protest vote might have a spoiler effect on Trump’s chances; (2) Hold their nose and support Clinton. Both (1) and (2) would assure a Clinton presidency, so this would require those who feel that Trump will bring about America’s ruin to love their country more than they hate Clinton.

Dream on. That’s not happening. It’s easier to write op-ed pieces invoking Weimar Germany for audiences who already loathe Trump. Meanwhile, Republican grandees will continue to surrender to Trump no matter how much they’ve attacked him or he’s attacked them or how many high-minded editorials accuse them of failing a Joe McCarthy moral test. Just as Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus capitulated once Trump signed a worthless pledge of party loyalty last fall, so other GOP leaders are now citing Trump’s equally worthless list of potential Supreme Court nominees as a pretext for jumping on the bandwagon.

The handiest Reagan-era prototype for Christie, McCain, Nikki Haley, Peter King, Bobby Jindal, and all the other former Trump-haters who have now about-faced is Kissinger. Reagan had attacked him in the 1976 campaign for making America what Trump would call a loser — “No. 2” — to the Soviets in military might. Kissinger’s disdain of Reagan was such that, as Craig Shirley writes, he tried to persuade Ford to run again in 1980 so Reagan could be blocked. When that fizzled, Kissinger put out the word that Reagan was the only Republican contender he wouldn’t work with. But once Reagan had locked up the nomination, Kissinger declared him the “trustee of all our hopes” and lobbied to return to the White House as secretary of State. As I write these words, Kissinger is meeting with Trump.

And the Democrats? Hillary Clinton is to Trump what Carter and especially Mondale were to Reagan: a smart, mainstream liberal with a vast public-service résumé who stands for all good things without ever finding that one big thing that electrifies voters. No matter how many journalistic exposés are to follow on both candidates, it’s hard to believe that most Americans don’t already know which candidate they prefer when the choices are quantities as known as she and Trump. The real question is which one voters are actually going to show up and cast ballots for. Could America’s fading white majority make its last stand in 2016? All demographic and statistical logic says no. But as Reagan seduced voters and confounded the experts with his promise of Morning in America, we can’t entirely rule out the possibility that Trump might do the same with his stark, black-and-white entreaties to High Noon.

*This article appears in the May 30, 2016 issue of New York Magazine.

Voir aussi:

In its most recent attack on Donald Trump and his supporters by the Wall Street Journal editorial page, one of its leading columnists, Peggy Noonan, asserted that Trump supporters are historically inaccurate in comparing Trump to the late President. She described Trump-Reagan comparisons as “desperate” and those who draw them as “idiots” and historical “illiterates.”

She questions the level of competence of Trump but ignores that Reagan was also regarded as grossly incompetent — by media and GOP establishment hard-losers and spoilers, not Republican voters —and especially dangerous in foreign policy, which, presumably, only elites can understand foreign. Reagan was depicted as some sort of cowboy B-rated-film-star yahoo and loose cannon by the “chattering class” of 1980, one who might be tolerable as a governor, but who was definitely not sophisticated enough to comprehend let alone conduct foreign policy.

Peggy Noonan relates in her column an adoring revisionist depiction of Ronald Reagan, as he has come to be appreciated today in the retrospective light of history. The Ronald Reagan she summons to make her case, however, is far from the Ronald Reagan of historical accuracy. The Ronald Reagan of the 1970s and 1980s was derided as inept and a potential disaster by status quo apologists, much as Donald Trump is being mocked today.

Noonan also cites Reagan’s experience as president of a labor union as a qualification for the Presidency that candidate Reagan had, but that candidate Trump lacks. Taking away nothing from Ronald Reagan, I suggest that managing a multi-billion dollar business for decades, one that operates in practically every corner of the globe, as Donald Trump has done, might count as roughly equivalent to heading a Screen Actors Guild – and maybe even serving as a governor of California.

She also says Trump, unlike Reagan, is not a “leader of men.” Here, again, the columnist tries too hard to make her argument. Reagan “was the leader of an entire political movement,” Noonan writes. The people “elected him in landslides,” she asserts. Who does that sound like today? What political candidate in 2016 best resembles Reagan in both respects? Fortunately, voters create political verdicts, not columnists, and Donald Trump both leads a very substantial populist political movement and has won many primaries, often by unprecedented margins.

Noonan denigrates the historical comparison of Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan that Trump supporters often make. On closer inspection, it is she who is more historically “illiterate” or, to be kinder, “forgetful” — of the complete facts of Ronald Reagan’s rise to power, and how in so many respects that rise parallels Donald Trump’s emergence as a conservative challenger to the status quo.

Like Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan was an entrepreneur – an aspiring broadcast sports reporter and film actor. He had to face the brutal competition of Hollywood, a place in which most aspirants to stardom failed. He started by himself, by selling his brand, just as Donald Trump started building hotels and golf courses by himself, also selling his brand (and did not squander his money, as young people from means often do, but multiplied it a thousand fold – and more — making the correct plans and decisions in difficult situations, and plain hard work).

Reagan had to sell himself as a labor union leader, too – to character actors and extras in the movie industry, not just stars. He was not involved with any governmental entity early in his career. Later, he worked for General Electric, one of the largest capitalist success stories in the U.S. at the time. Before he became governor of California, he was a man of business in the entertainment industry, climbing up the ladder of success in radio, movies, and television completely on his own.

Ronald Reagan believed in free market capitalism and would have been deeply impressed, I believe, by the business accomplishments and acumen of Donald Trump. Ronald Reagan knew the core greatness of the U.S. lies not in government and the wisdom of professional politicians but in that very private sector in which Donald Trump has thrived and achieved an extraordinary level of success. Donald Trump’s children, obviously well brought up, appear to be following in his footsteps.

Do Mr. Trump’s business accomplishments count for so little at the Wall Street Journal? How many other men have tried and failed to do what Donald Trump has done in the private sector? Has his extraordinary success not won him some plaudits from a leading member of the conservative free market press? In her column, Noonan also makes numerous points about Trump’s lack of record as a proven governmental leader, as if this deficiency were disqualifying. Since when in the U.S. have we belittled a man of business accomplishments with such venom? Isn’t it entrepreneurs who built the prosperity of our great nation? The accusation Noonan levels against Donald Trump of “serving only himself” is the charge collectivists the world over frequently lodge against free market capitalists.

Ronald Reagan would never have discounted Donald Trump’s achievements, as the Wall Street Journal editorial page frequently does. Ronald Reagan was wiser than that. He would have praised them. He never would have said that because a man has not held elected office in this nation that he is, ipso facto, not a “leader of men.” A man who employs thousands (22,500 at last report) is not a “leader of men”? Someone who has built an enormous international business that brings him into contact on any given day with foreign leaders, both business and political, is not a leader? To recall a touch more history, the Founding Fathers were overwhelmingly men of property as well as “citizen leaders” like both Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. They were not career politicians.

Ronald Reagan knew the sting of being called a “light weight” movie star, a graduate of rural Midwestern Eureka College which no one among the elite had ever heard of. And doubtless ad hominem attacks detracted from, and damaged in some respects, his core message of more limited government and defeat of the Soviet empire. But he persisted despite the snide heckling of the arrogant establishment of the time, and he communicated his message honestly and directly – and, turns out, successfully — to the American people, thereby, accomplishing much good for the nation.

Yes, and he also gave wings to a powerful political force, conservatism, which today, I suggest, finds its relevant fresh champion, however odd and imperfect the fit might seem at times, in the likes of a populist New York billionaire businessman who has a propensity to communicate his message of a better life and more secure future for Americans, directly and honestly, and with conviction, to the American body politic.

Ronald Reagan as President of the United States? NEVER, they said. But the people voted, the nation spoke, and so, they were wrong.

Today, despite differences over style and some issues, one thing we can all agree on: Hillary Clinton is no Ronald Reagan.

Ambassador Faith Whittlesey served as White House Director of the Office of Public Liaison from 1983 to 1985 and twice, from 1981 to 1983 and again from 1985 to 1988, as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland. She also was active in President Reagan’s unsuccessful 1976 campaign and was Co-chairman of President Reagan’s Pennsylvania campaign in 1980.

Voir également:

Deja Vu All Over Again?

‘Ronald’ Trump: Why 2016 Is Looking a Lot Like 1980

In memory, Reagan’s victory seems easy and inevitable. It was anything but. And the parallels to today are a little creepy.

Meg Jacobs

The Daily Beast

05.24.16

It’s 1980 all over again. A media celebrity runs for the GOP nomination—something he has been planning for years—and sweeps the primaries, rattling the Republican establishment along the way. That’s the story of Ronald Reagan as he mobilized for what would be his landslide 1980 victory. And it is the story of Donald Trump too.

Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan met in an effort to heal the wounds that have opened up in this brutal primary. Come convention time, if history is any indicator, they will join together. But it is likely to be a rocky road. The same was true in 1980.

Today Republicans lionize Reagan and remember him as the quintessential coalition-builder. He brought the Republican Party together, unlike Donald Trump, who spent the spring tearing the GOP apart. But the truth is that in real time in 1980, Reagan was seen as the outside antiestablishment candidate. He was also seen as less than a serious contender, even when it looked like he would secure the nomination.When the Republican primary season started out, he was the only one out of seven candidates who had not held a government position inside Washington, a roster that included two senators, three congressmen, and a Treasury Secretary. Instead, Reagan was best known for his starring roles in middle-brow American movies, a career he parlayed into a run as California governor. When he announced his candidacy, critics derided him as the “celebrity in chief.”

Reagan held himself up as the icon of conservatism but, much like Trump, his past suggested a history of political flexibility if not outright liberalism. He had once been a Roosevelt Democrat. By the 1964 presidential race, he’d endorsed the GOP’s Senator Barry Goldwater and made his conversion to full-fledged conservative.

Still, in his years in the California governorship, Reagan continued to demonstrate political flexibility. He supported abortion rights, welfare spending, and, when necessary, tax increases. True, he called for cracking down on campus unrest. And by now his hallmark issue was fierce anticommunism as well as anti taxation. But Reagan understood that he governed in a state where ideological purity would not have secured for him the office he sought given that Democrats greatly outnumbered Republicans.

And yet in 1980 Reagan ran as the standard bearer of the Republican Party. Throughout the primary season, there was deep skepticism. George H.W. Bush was the presumptive establishment candidate. He had been a congressman, the Republican National chairman, an ambassador to the UN and China, and the CIA director. Bush’s early victory in the Iowa caucus suggested that voters were not sold on the movie star.

But Reagan was onto something, much the same way that Trump is. After a decade of slow growth, declining productivity, double-digit inflation—and an energy crisis that graphically demonstrated the government’s incapacity to solve problems—America was eager for solutions. What people hungered for more than anything else was leadership. Jerry Rafshoon, President Carter’s adviser, told him, ”People want you to act like a leader.”

And that is what Reagan understood. In short, digestible sound bites, he promised Americans that they would once again be great. On foreign policy, he would bring peace through strength. If Trump promises to build a wall, Reagan would tear one down. And on domestic policy, he would cut taxes. To Trump’s protectionism, Reagan offered supply-side economics. The master of media knew a winning platform when he saw it.

The establishment was slow to rally behind him. With the disastrous memory of 1964, when Barry Goldwater and his brand of conservatism lost in a landslide, Reagan seemed too risky. Moderates worried that his fierce anticommunist rhetoric would escalate tensions with the Soviet Union—even Barry Goldwater called him “trigger happy”—while mainstream fiscal conservatives said his budget numbers did not add up. Bush denounced this policy as “voodoo economics.”

Gerald Ford called Reagan “unelectable” in late March. Many Washington insiders and party regulars saw Reagan as too extreme and hoped that the former president would throw his hat in. Indeed, early polls showed Ford with greater appeal than Reagan among Democrats, a serious liability in a race where Republicans would need to attract cross-over voters to win. In early match ups, Ted Kennedy, who was challenging Carter from the left in the Democratic primary, beat Reagan by as much as 64 to 34 percent.

And age seemed a problem too. Reagan turned 69 a month into the primaries and, if elected, would surpass William Henry Harrison as the oldest president, who in 1841 caught a cold delivering his inaugural address, developed pneumonia, and died a month later. A Newsday reporter said Reagan was in a “race against time.”

He was also vulnerable as a celebrity. Reagan was, as one commentator explained, a “the end product of television politics . . . It is a show and he’s a star actor.” That was not a compliment.

Reagan won in New Hampshire, but the primary season was long and drawn out. In Massachusetts, he came in third behind Bush and John Anderson, the Illinois Senator who dropped out of the Republican contest and ran as an Independent. The conventional wisdom maintained that Anderson would draw votes from Carter as a moderate alternative, but nevertheless, his presence in the race suggested that the electorate might not be ready for Reagan’s brand of conservatism.

Indeed, Bush scored important victories in Pennsylvania and in Michigan. As Bush did well, some rallied behind Reagan, including Senator Howard Baker, who dropped out of the race, saying: “Only divisions from within our party can keep us from benefiting from the bitter divisions within the Democratic Party. The time has come to give Ronald Reagan our prayers, our nomination, our enthusiastic support.”

But the primary season did not come to an end until late May when, at last, Reagan secured enough delegates to win the nomination. And even then, many embraced Reagan only as an act of political pragmatism. As Ohio Governor James Rhodes explained, “I love George Bush. I love Gerald Ford. I love Ronald Reagan. Sometimes in love you have to make your choice. My choice is Ronald Reagan.”

As the GOP convention drew closer, other leading Republicans fell in line, among them the most senior liberal Republican, Senator Jacob Javits. He had refused to endorse Goldwater in 1964, but now he cast his lot with Reagan. With the endorsement, Javits would be a delegate at large. “I felt it was important for me to have an input,” he said, “and I knew I couldn’t have it unless I cast my vote for Reagan.” The New York senator was up for reelection, and he also believed that the GOP had a chance, with Reagan at the head of the ticket, to reclaim the Senate. (It did, but without him—Javits was upset in the Republican primary by the more conservative Al D’Amato)

But the prospect of party disunity did not end at the convention. Now it was the Republican right’s turn to fret about its candidate. When Reagan announced that he was selecting George Bush as his running mate, a decision that came only at the end of the convention and after much media speculation, the right threatened to walk. In 1976, Reagan had subverted his effort to win the Republican nomination over President Gerald Ford when he announced that his running mate would be Pennsylvania Republican Richard Schweiker, a liberal Republican who was antithetical to Reagan’s conservative claims. Now he seemed to be toying with moderation once again.

With evangelical voters mobilizing at the grassroots and many entering electoral politics for the first time, the leaders of this new social force wanted someone who would fight for their causes. Paul Weyrich, the head of right-wing Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, was angry. “I feel no need obligation to bring about our own destruction,” Weyrich thundered. “I won’t support a Reagan-Bush ticket.”

Reagan attempted to appease the right by signing onto a platform that dropped the ERA and called for an anti-abortion amendment. He also called evolution just a “theory” and expressed skepticism about the man-made causes of pollution. But the establishment was still worried. Texas Senator John Tower, who chaired the convention’s platform committee, warned his colleagues, “Republicans have a singular facility sometimes for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Disunity has cost us elections in the past.” Nevada Senator Paul Laxalt said the new right is “afraid of Ron.”

The general election was far from a shoo-in. The polls were all over the place, including placing President Carter ahead of the insurgent candidate. In the end, Reagan scored a decisive victory. But his success, and the ingredients that allowed for this landslide victory, were clear only in hindsight. A week before the election, it was too close to call.

Rather than moderating his rhetoric and toning down his platform in the general election, Reagan stepped up his game. He blamed Carter personally for the gas lines that had signaled the decline of American strength and prosperity. It was Carter’s fault that Iranian terrorists seized the American embassy in Teheran and held American hostages. And Carter’s efforts to negotiate nuclear deals with the Soviets were a disaster.

Reagan was a master of the sound bite: « A recession is when you lose your job, a depression is when your neighbor does, and a recovery is when Jimmy Carter does.” And he told a narrative that simultaneously devastated Carter while instilling confidence in him. His signature campaign slogan captured it all: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

These messages appealed to independent voters and white working-class voters, the so-called Reagan Democrats, who were suffering from slow growth and stagnant wages as they saw jobs disappearing overseas.
Reagan also eagerly embraced the race card. He went after white voters in the South, saying he was a defender of states’ rights near where civil rights workers had been brutally murdered in 1964. He denounced “welfare queens in fashion jeans” as the embodiment of excessive government waste, another not so subtly coded racial message.

1980 was also the first gender gap election when there was a clear discrepancy between how men and women voted. Reagan’s cowboy swagger and tough sounding rhetoric appealed to men. Lee Atwater explained it wasn’t so much that women didn’t like Reagan, it was just that men liked him so much.

If 1980 is any indicator of how an unlikely outspoken conservative candidate with a liberal background could win, Trump is well on his way. And Reagan did not just win; he won in a landslide, one that many did not see coming, and one that severely weakened much of the liberal agenda and put the country on a rightward path that still shapes politics today. Like Reagan, Trump has dominated the primaries, worried the establishment, and yet reveals himself to have deep-seated support. Like Reagan, he is the master of a new media to mobilize and rally supporters, especially white men. In spite of the media criticism he receives as running a post-policy campaign, his supporters feel he provides solutions and refreshingly says what he wants.

Just as Reagan did, Trump has had his eye set on the White House for a long time. In a 1990 Playboy interview, he said, “I hate seeing this country go to hell. We are laughed at by the rest of the world.” He also said, “Vision is my best asset. I know what sells and I know what people want.” Like Reagan, he has spent decades crafting his message. And so far his strategy seems to be working.

Voir encore:

Liberals sneered at Reagan yet he stunned the world. Don’t laugh, but Trump could too, says Justin Webb

‘He’s a lightweight, not someone to be considered seriously.’ It could have been the judgment of the world on Donald Trump. But, actually, it wasn’t. It was Ronald Reagan (pictured)

The verdict is unambiguous: ‘He’s a lightweight, not someone to be considered seriously.’ It could have been the judgement of the world on Donald Trump. But, actually, it wasn’t.

These words were spoken by President Richard Nixon about Ronald Reagan in the Seventies. Nixon added, for good measure, that Reagan was ‘shallow’ and of ‘limited mental capacity’.

Gerald Ford, who took over the presidency when Nixon had to resign after the Watergate scandal, was no less dismissive.

In a 1976 press release when Reagan announced he would challenge Ford as Republican nominee for the White House, Ford stated: ‘The simple political fact is that he cannot defeat any candidates the Democrats put up. Reagan’s constituency is much too narrow, even within the Republican Party.’

The Democrats were equally nonplussed. Those who did not write him off him as a man itching to start World War III, saw Reagan as merely useless —a B-list Hollywood actor whose best film was called Bedtime For Bonzo and starred a monkey.

Dunce

Washington grandee Clark Clifford — who was an adviser to four Democrat Presidents including JFK — simply called Reagan ‘an amiable dunce’.

Yet Reagan not only won the election in 1980 and 1984; he went on to become one of the 20th century’s towering figures.

Today, many of the U.S.’s brightest and best are once again united in their view: the man the Republicans have chosen as Presidential candidate is so unqualified for the job that this was — in effect — the week Hillary Clinton became the 45th president.

Yes, she has to see off her pesky Left-wing challenger Bernie Sanders before she can win her party’s official nomination.

But that’s almost done. And the rest is easy. Come the November presidential poll, she will face a man so barmy, so extreme, so utterly unpresidential, that she can’t lose. A dunce who is not even amiable. Donald Trump is going to gift Hillary Clinton the White House.

But some serious U.S. commentators are questioning conventional wisdom and citing Reagan’s rise to the White House all those years ago as a possible portent of things to come.

They are chastened by how wrong so many pundits have already been over ‘The Donald’, how he was written off from the start — only to come out with the Republican nomination.

They are seriously starting to wonder if he could go all the way and win the U.S. election in November.

Likewise, some in the British Establishment now fear David Cameron will have to work hard to patch things up with Trump after saying the tycoon’s suggested ban on Muslims was ‘divisive, stupid and wrong’ — and that if Trump ‘came to visit our country he’d unite us all against him’.

Could ‘The Donald’ really make the White House? If so, what kind of President would he be?

Let’s be blunt about the task Trump faces. He is massively unpopular. A Washington Post/ABC News poll last month found 67 per cent of likely voters had an unfavourable opinion of him.

Could ‘The Donald’ really make the White House? If so, what kind of President would he be?

Among most Americans he is only slightly less popular than Vladimir Putin (who comes in at around 70 per cent unfavourable). And in certain key groups, Hispanics, women, the young, he is off the scale — properly detested, even feared.

But American presidents are not elected in a single nationwide contest. And it is because of this that he could secure victory.

Under its Electoral College system, the people don’t actually vote directly for the President; they vote for a group of electors in their own state.

And these electors — 538 in total — then cast their votes to decide who enters the White House. The point is that in the U.S. Presidential election of 2012, if just 64 electors’ votes had gone to the other side, the Republican candidate Mitt Romney would have beaten Barack Obama.

Since most states are already firmly in the Republican or Democrat camp, it is these few votes at the margins that count.

And Trump, with his hugely resourced campaign and outrageous populist pledges, could swing them his way.

Moreover, he represents the anti-Establishment, a no-nonsense change for those fed up with the entire political class.

In New York a few weeks ago, I met Carl Paladino, who ran for the New York state governorship for the Republicans in 2010.

He is a Trump man now, and waves aside what he regards as old-fashioned talk of Democrats and Republicans and party allegiances.

‘Imagine you are a carpenter on a building site,’ he told me, ‘you sweat all day and get wet and cold. You don’t care about party. You want a champion. That’s Trump. It’s about him.’

The carpenters, united, could swing it Trump’s way. They would need help from fitters and joiners and other men (yes, his supporters are almost entirely men) who work with their hands. But it could be done.

The so-called rust belt states — in the north-east and midwest — are ripe for the picking. Trump does best in areas where the death rate among white people under 49 is highest — the downtrodden working class.

Megalomaniac

Many of these people traditionally vote Democrat, but they have been voting for Bernie Sanders — Hillary Clinton’s Left-wing rival for the Democrat nomination — rather than Hillary herself. She lost the Michigan contest to Sanders, just as she lost Indiana to him this week.

Yes, Sanders is a socialist and Trump a billionaire plutocrat. But on trade — protection of American jobs — Sanders and Trump are on the same page.

Add a dash of Trump’s xenophobia and he’s in business.

Those who voted for Sanders because he speaks up for the little guy might well feel that Trump is closer to their hearts than Hillary.

The so-called rust belt states — in the north-east and midwest — are ripe for the picking. Many of these people traditionally vote Democrat, but they have been voting for Bernie Sanders — Hillary Clinton’s Left-wing rival for the Democrat nomination — rather than Hillary herself

So President Trump is not a fantasy. There is a path for him.

Not an easy one, but a path nonetheless.

But if he won, what then?

Again, the conventional wisdom might well be wrong. He is portrayed as a dictator. A megalomaniac. A man who has taken over a political party for his own crazed purposes.

All of which might be true.

But if Trump seriously thinks he can run America as he runs Trump Casinos, he has a shock coming. America was designed to be ungovernable without the consent of Congress.

Trump may have pledged to build a wall with Mexico, but he could never get that passed, still less a scheme to keep Muslims out of America.

He would need Congress on his side. He would need the Supreme Court to agree that it was constitutional.

Defeat

Remember the key Obama policy of closing Guantanamo Bay was stymied not by Republicans but by members of his own party in Congress? He said: ‘DO IT’. They said no. And Guantanamo is still open.

Even in foreign affairs, where presidents can make quite a splash, the system is likely to defeat him. Trump seems, for instance, to be in favour of torture and has said that, as President, he’d authorise ‘worse than waterboarding’ against suspected terrorist captives.

But already John Rizzo, a top lawyer at the CIA when the agency employed so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, has pointed out that President Trump would face a revolt by his own staff.

It would be carnage if he tried to implement his preferred torture measures. Not for the captives, but for the President.

But would he care? Would he not just shrug and move on?

Perhaps the greatest oddness of Trump is that his core supporters are a fading and old-fashioned constituency — angry white people — but his politics are uber-modern.

He has no ideology. He believes in what works, and is, in some ways, surprisingly Left-wing.

He will fight a dizzying campaign this summer, coming at Hillary Clinton from the Right and from the Left. He will even accuse her of sexism for sticking up for Bill during his ‘bimbo eruptions’. He’ll dodge and weave, confuse and outrage, and generally shake up the nation.

He is no Ronald Reagan — at least not yet. But who knows, Donald Trump could yet surprise everyone and end up as the most unexpected President the White House has ever seen.

Voir par ailleurs:

Très attendue, l’intervention du président américain face à un Congrès au grand complet lui a permis d’endosser un ton rassembleur, sans pour autant préciser clairement les priorités et le chiffrage de sa politique ambitieuse.

C’était il y a plus de cinq semaines, le 20 janvier dernier. Lors de son investiture sur les marches du capitole, à Washington, Donald Trump était apparu à la tribune poing levé, et avait tenu un premier discours de président particulièrement sombre, évoquant un « carnage américain » dont sont victimes « trop de nos concitoyens ». Et promis d’y mettre fin « ici et maintenant », assurant que « chaque décision sur le commerce, les impôts, l’immigration, les affaires étrangères sera prise pour le bénéfice des familles et des travailleurs américains ».

C’est dire si, cinq semaines plus tard, sa première intervention solennelle devant le Congrès était attendue. Surtout après plus d’un mois passé à la Maison-Blanche, au cours duquel le 45e président des États-Unis a multiplié les annonces et déclarations qui ont jeté le flou sur sa capacité à endosser son costume présidentiel et à fixer des priorités dans sa politique.

Cravate bleue rayée et ton solennel

Sur la forme, Donald Trump, ce mardi 28 février au soir, devant un Congrès au grand complet, où siégeaient pour la circonstance les représentants, sénateurs, ministres et juges de la Cour suprême, a tenu sans doute son discours le plus « présidentiel », le plus modéré, le moins provocateur.

Apparu à la tribune, pour une fois, paré d’une cravate bleue rayée, comme pour rompre également avec son style habituel sur le plan vestimentaire, le président américain a fait une déclaration plus solennelle et optimiste, sans doute, saluant l’émergence d’une « nouvelle fierté nationale », saluant « un nouveau chapitre de la grandeur américaine (qui) débute », plaidant pour un « renouveau de l’esprit américain » indissociable, selon lui, d’une grande fermeté sur l’immigration, l’un des thèmes qu’il a le plus développés lors de son intervention.

Au cours de son discours, qu’il a voulu rassembleur, il a également à plusieurs reprises salué la présence de « témoins » dans l’assistance, auxquels il a rendu hommage, chacun venant incarner un chapitre de la politique qu’il entendait mettre en œuvre : une personne ayant subi une agression de la part d’un immigré en situation irrégulière sur le sol américain, les parents de policiers tués dans leur mission…

Hommage unanime à la veuve d’un soldat tué au Yémen

Ou encore la veuve du soldat Ryan Owens, membre des forces spéciales américaines, tué le 29 janvier dernier au cours d’une opération au Yémen. Assise aux côtés d’Ivanka Trump, fille du président, Carryn Owens, émue aux larmes a été longuement ovationnée par l’ensemble du congrès, offrant à cette cérémonie un moment d’unité nationale inédit depuis la prise de fonction de Donald Trump.

Sur le fond, le 45e président américain a repris nombre de ses thèmes favoris, promettant en particulier de ramener « des millions d’emplois » aux Américains ou dénonçant les accords de libre-échange. Il a fait peu de nouvelles annonces, et est resté pour l’heure en deçà des attentes sur ce que seraient véritablement ses priorités, ainsi que le financement de ses différentes mesures. Le discours, sur ce plan, s’annonce comme un prélude à la bataille pour le budget 2018 qui s’ouvre au Congrès, où les alliés républicains du président sont majoritaires.

Les premiers mots de son discours ont rendu hommage aux « célébrations du mois de l’Histoire des Noirs » et ont donné au président l’occasion de condamner solennellement « les dernières menaces en date visant des centres de la communauté juive et le vandalisme contre des cimetières juifs ». Il a également dénoncé une attaque raciste visant deux ressortissants indiens, dont l’un a été tué, une semaine plus tôt dans le Kansas.

Un effort de « reconstruction nationale »

Sur le plan économique, Donald Trump a énoncé deux principes qui reprennent ceux de son discours du 20 janvier : « achetez américain, engagez américain ». Il est revenu pour s’en féliciter sur les annonces d’investissement aux États-Unis de la part de plusieurs constructeurs automobiles, qui doivent selon lui mener à la création de nombreux emplois. Il a aussi salué la reprise des travaux des oléoducs Keystone XL et Dakota Access Pipeline.

Il en a également appelé à un effort de « reconstruction nationale » : « Pour lancer la reconstruction du pays, je vais demander au Congrès d’approuver une législation qui déclenchera des investissements de mille milliards de dollars pour les infrastructures aux États-Unis, financés grâce à des capitaux à la fois publics et privés, et créera des millions d’emplois », a-t-il déclaré, non sans déplorer que son pays ait dépensé jusqu’ici « des milliards et des milliards de dollars à l’étranger ».

Donald Trump a également évoqué son projet de réforme fiscale sans s’appesantir : « Notre équipe économique est en train de préparer une réforme fiscale historique qui réduira le montant des impôts de nos entreprises pour qu’elles puissent concurrencer n’importe qui et prospérer n’importe où et avec n’importe qui. En même temps, nous réduirons de manière massive les impôts pour la classe moyenne. » « Nous devons faire en sorte qu’il soit plus facile pour nos entreprises de faire des affaires aux États-Unis et plus difficile pour elles de partir », a-t-il aussi martelé.

Il a aussi demandé au Congrès de promulguer une loi afin de remplacer l’Obamacare, la loi sur la santé emblématique de Barack Obama, appelant de ses vœux « des réformes qui étendront le choix, donneront un meilleur accès (aux soins) et réduiront les coûts ».

Immigration : un système « basé sur le mérite »

Le président américain a abordé le sujet de l’immigration, un thème sur lequel il était très attendu, d’autant que, peu avant son allocution, lors d’une rencontre avec des journalistes de télévision à la Maison-Blanche, il avait provoqué la surprise en évoquant la possibilité d’une loi de régularisation pour les sans-papiers n’ayant pas commis de délit.

Il n’en a toutefois pas été question lors du discours au Congrès, du moins pas ouvertement. Mais Donald Trump a évoqué une réforme législative et proposé d’abandonner le système actuel, pour adopter à la place « un système basé sur le mérite ».

« Je pense qu’une réelle réforme positive de l’immigration est possible, pour autant que nous nous concentrons sur les objectifs suivants : améliorer l’emploi et les salaires des Américains, renforcer la sécurité de notre pays et restaurer le respect de nos lois », a-t-il aussi déclaré, confirmant par la même occasion son intention de construire un mur à la frontière avec le Mexique, ainsi que l’imminence d’un nouveau décret après l’échec du premier, bloqué par la justice.

Sur ce thème de l’immigration, il a encore annoncé la création d’un bureau spécial pour les victimes de crimes « d’immigration », baptisé VOICE (Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement). « Nous donnons une voix à ceux qui sont ignorés par les médias et réduits au silence par les intérêts particuliers », a affirmé Donald Trump dans une de ses rares piques hostiles aux médias.

« Représenter les États-Unis d’Amérique » plutôt que « le monde »

Enfin, Donald Trump est revenu sur sa demande au Congrès, annoncée la veille, de valider une hausse des dépenses militaires de 54 milliards de dollars. Il a toutefois précisé que son rôle n’était pas « de représenter le monde mais de représenter les États-Unis d’Amérique ». Sans donner de précision sur sa politique étrangère, il a prôné « l’harmonie et la stabilité », plutôt que « des guerres et des conflits », et réaffirmé son attachement à l’Otan, mis en doute par des déclarations antérieures évoquant obsolescence de l’Alliance.

Les représentants démocrates sont restés pour la plupart assis dans leurs sièges, visage fermé et bras croisés après ce discours. En signe de protestation silencieuse, une quarantaine d’élues démocrates s’étaient habillées en blanc, la couleur symbolisant la défense des droits des femmes.

La chaîne d’information CNN a pour sa part publié un sondage peu après le discours : une majorité de téléspectateurs y ont réagi positivement.

Voir aussi:
The Metaphysics of Trump
 Paradox: How does a supposedly bad man appoint good people eager to advance a conservative agenda that supposedly more moral Republicans failed to realize?
Victor Davis Hanson
National Review
February 28, 2017

We variously read that Trump should be impeached, removed, neutralized — or worse. But until he is, are his appointments, executive orders, and impending legislative agenda equally abhorrent? General acclamation followed the Trump appointments of retired Generals H. R. McMaster as national-security adviser, James Mattis as defense secretary, and John Kelly to head Homeland Security. The brief celebration of Trump’s selections was almost as loud as the otherwise daily denunciations of Trump himself. Trump’s equally inspired decisions, such as the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and Jeff Sessions as attorney general, presented the same ironies.

Most of these and other fine appointments came amid a near historic pushback against Trump, mostly over what he has said rather than what he’s done. But again, do the appointments create a dilemma for his existential critics who have gone beyond the traditional media audit of a public official and instead descended into calls for his removal — or worse?

Indeed, removal chic is now widespread, as even conservatives ponder impeachment, invoking the 25th Amendment for mental unfitness, while the more radical (here and abroad and both Right and Left) either abstractly or concretely ponder a coup or some other road to his demise.

How do his opponents square such excellent appointments with Trump himself? Even bad people can occasionally do good?

Are his Cabinet secretaries patriotically (as I believe) serving their president, even if prepared at times to nudge him away from what they might feel are occasional unwise detours? Appointees of the caliber of a Mattis, McMaster, or Kelly do not go to work for any president with the likelihood of becoming undercover actors — undercutting his authority, or posing to the press that they are the moral superior to their boss, or leaking information to massage favorable accounts of their superior savvy or morality at the president’s expense. No, they serve the president because they want their country to prosper and think that it can if their commander in chief (whose agendas for the most part they share) is successful.

Or do critics argue that such fine men and women are “selling out” by putting careers before principled resistance to a president who will supposedly usher in unprecedented disasters? So far, even the most vehement Trump censors have not faulted these fine appointees for supposedly being soiled by association with Trump, whom they have otherwise accused, in varying degrees, of partaking of fascism, Stalinism, and Hitlerism.

Again, the point is, How do critics square the circle of damning Trump as singularly unfit while simultaneously praising his inspired appointees, who, if they were to adopt a similar mindset, would never set foot in a Trump White House? How does someone so unqualified still manage to listen to advice or follow his own instincts to appoint so many willing, gifted public servants — at a time, we are told, when nearly the entire diplomatic and security establishment in Washington refuses to work for such a reprobate?

The same disconnect holds true for Trump’s executive orders. Except for the rocky rollout of the temporary ban on immigration — since rectified and reformulated — his executive orders seem inspired and likely to restore the rule of law, curb endless and burdensome new regulations, address revolving-door ethics, enhance the economy, halt federal bloat, promote energy production, and create jobs. Without the Trump victory, the Paul Ryan agenda — radical tax reform and deregulation — that has been comatose for a decade would never have become viable. So, is the position of the conservative rejectionists something like the following: “I detest Trump because even his positive agendas are spoiled by his sponsorship?”

Or do they reason that because his views deviate from free-market economics (when he jawbones companies and aims to renegotiate bilateral rather than multi-country trade deals, or use quid pro quo import taxes), so too his otherwise conservative positions on social issues, school choice, Obamacare’s repeal, defense spending, and tax reform are likewise suspect or irrelevant? Of course, his leftist critics face no such dilemmas and are far more consistent: They hate the Trump the man, and they hate Trump’s initiatives, and the two to them are inseparable and logical consequences of each other.

I thought that both Bush presidents were fine and good men and their agendas far preferable to the alternative. But was either in a political position to effect (or perhaps even willing to embrace) the sort of conservative change that the supposedly “not a conservative” Trump might well attempt? That irony too raises another metaphysical question: Does the Trump moment come despite or because of his take-no-prisoners rhetorical style?

In some sense (to adopt a taboo military metaphor) is Trump a sort of shaped charge? That is, is Trump’s combative coarseness the radiant outer shell that is necessary to melt through the deep state and bureaucratic armor so that the inner explosive of a conservative revolutionary agenda may reach its target intact? Given the hysterical and entrenched opposition, I’m not sure that John McCain or Mitt Romney would have enforced immigration law, frozen government hiring, or embraced Reagan-like tax and regulatory reform, although to be sure, McCain and Romney would have avoided Trump’s rhetorical excesses, his Twitter storms, and his occasional coarseness.

Which should properly be more exasperating: Trump’s over-the-top rhetoric that accompanies a possibly revolutionary and realized conservative agenda, or McCain and Romney’s sober and judicious failures at pushing a mostly Bush-like agenda? By not fighting back in take-no-prisoner terms, both Republican candidates failed, ensuring eight years of Obama — years that in my view have done far more damage to the country than anything envisioned by Trump’s first administration.

Even conservatives sometimes seem more bothered by Trump’s raw uncouthness in service to a conservative agenda than they were by Obama’s sautéed orneriness in advancing progressive hope and change. Years of the Cairo Speech, the apology tours, the Iran deal, the Iraq pullout, Obamacare, record debt and low growth — editorialized by chronic attacks on Fox News, along with “you didn’t build that,” “punish our enemies,” and “I won” putdowns from Obama — never prompted calls for the 25th Amendment like those in some anti-Trump tweets. Is the difference predicated on class, accent, education, tone, appearance, tastes, comportment, or the idea that a shared Beltway culture trumps diverse politics? If a polished and now-president Marco Rubio had the same agendas as Trump, but avoided his rhetoric and bluster, would anti-Trump conservatives be pro-Rubio? And would Rubio’s personality and cunning have ensured his election and confidence in steamrolling such an agenda through the Congress?

I don’t have easy answers to any of these paradoxes but will only suggest that in the last 40 years, despite three different Republican administrations, frequent GOP control of the House and Senate, and ostensible Republican majorities on the Supreme Court, the universities have eroded, the borders have evaporated, the government has grown, the debt has soared, the red–blue divide has intensified, identity politics have become surreal, the nation’s infrastructure has crumbled, the undeniable benefits from globalism have increasingly blessed mostly an entrenched elite, the culture has grown more crass and intolerant, the redistributive deep state has spread, and the middle classes have seen their purchasing power and quality of life either stagnate or decline.

In sum, it is far more difficult in 2017 to enact conservative change than it was 40 years ago — not necessarily because the message is less popular, but because government is far more deeply embedded in our lives, the Left is far more sophisticated in its political efforts to advance a message that otherwise has no real record of providing prosperity and security, and the Right had avoided the bare-knuckles brawling of the Left and instead grown accustomed to losing in a dignified fashion.

To the losers of globalization, the half-employed, and the hopelessly deplorable and irredeemable, lectures from the Republican establishment about reductions in capital-gain taxes, more free-trade agreements, and de facto amnesties, were never going to win the Electoral College the way that Trump did when he used the plural personal pronoun (“We love our miners, farmers, vets”) and promised to jawbone industries to help rust-belt workers.

The final irony? The supposedly narcissistic and self-absorbed Trump ran a campaign that addressed in undeniably sincere fashion the dilemmas of a lost hinterland. And he did so after supposedly more moral Republicans had all but written off the rubes as either politically irrelevant or beyond the hope of salvation in a globalized world. How a brutal Manhattan developer, who thrived on self-centered controversy and even scandal, proved singularly empathetic to millions of the forgotten is apparently still not fully understood.

Presidential Payback for Media Hubris
Victor Davis Hanson
Defining Ideas
Hoover institution
March 2, 2017

Donald Trump conducted a press conference recently as if he were a loud circus ringmaster whipping the media circus animals into shape. The establishment thought the performance was a window into an unhinged mind; half the country thought it was a long overdue media comeuppance.

The media suffer the lowest approval numbers in nearly a half-century. In a recent Emerson College poll, 49 percent of American voters termed the Trump administration “truthful”; yet only 39 percent believed the same about the news media.

Every president needs media audit. The role of journalists in a free society is to act as disinterested censors of government power—neither going on witch-hunts against political opponents nor deifying ideological fellow-travelers.

Sadly, the contemporary mainstream media—the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN), the traditional blue-chip newspapers (Washington Post, New York Times), and the public affiliates (NPR, PBS)—have lost credibility. They are no more reliable critics of President Trump’s excesses than they were believable cheerleaders for Barack Obama’s policies.

Trump may have a habit of exaggeration and gratuitous feuding that could cause problems with his presidency. But we would never quite know that from the media. In just his first month in office, reporters have already peddled dozens of fake news stories designed to discredit the President—to such a degree that little they now write or say can be taken at face value.

No, Trump did not have any plans to invade Mexico, as Buzzfeed and the Associated Press alleged.

No, Trump’s father did not run for Mayor of New York by peddling racist television ads, as reported by Sidney Blumenthal.

No, there were not mass resignations at the State Department in protest of its new leaders, as was reported by the Washington Post.

No, Trump’s attorney did not cut a deal with the Russians in Prague. Nor did Trump indulge in sexual escapades in Moscow. Buzzfeed again peddled those fake news stories.

No, a supposedly racist Trump did not remove the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the White House, as a Time Magazine reporter claimed.

No, election results in three states were not altered by hackers or computer criminals to give Trump the election, as implied by New York Magazine.

No, Michael Flynn did not tweet that he was a scapegoat. That was a media fantasy endorsed by Nancy Pelosi.

In fact, Daniel Payne of the Federalist has compiled a lengthy list of sensational stories about Trump’s supposed buffooneries, mistakes, and crudities that all proved either outright lies or were gross exaggerations and distortions.

We would like to believe writers for the New York Times or Washington Post when they warn us about the new president’s overreach. But how can we do so when they have lost all credibility—either by colluding with the Obama presidency and the Hillary Clinton campaign, or by creating false narratives to ensure that Trump fails?

Ezra Klein at Vox just wrote a warning about the autocratic tendencies of Donald Trump. Should we believe him? Perhaps not. Klein was the originator of Journolist, a “left-leaning” private online chat room of journalists that was designed to coordinate media narratives that would enhance Democratic politicians and in particular Barack Obama. Such past collusion begs the question of whether Klein is really disinterested now in the fashion that he certainly was not during the Obama administration.

Recently, New York Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush coauthored a report about initial chaos among the Trump White House staff, replete with unidentified sources. Should we believe Thrush’s largely negative story?

Perhaps. But then again, Thrush not so long ago turned up in the Wikileaks troves as sending a story to Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta for prepublication audit. Thrush was his own honest critic, admitting to Podesta: “Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u. Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this Tell me if I f**ked up anything.”

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post has become a fierce critic of President Trump. Are his writs accurate? Milbank also appeared in Wikileaks, asking the Democratic National Committee to provide him with free opposition research for a negative column he was writing about candidate Trump. Are Milbank’s latest attacks his own—or once again coordinated with Democratic researchers?

The Washington Post censor Glenn Kessler posted the yarn about Trump’s father’s racist campaign for New York mayor—until he finally fact-checked his own fake news and deleted his tweet.

Sometimes the line between journalism and politicians is no line at all. Recently, former Obama deputy National Security advisor Ben Rhodes (brother of CBS news president David Rhodes) took to Twitter to blast the Trump administration’s opposition to the Iran Deal, brokered in large part by Rhodes himself. “Everything Trump says here,” Rhodes stormed, “is false.”

Should we believe Rhodes’s charges that Trump is now lying about the details of the Iran Deal?

Who knows, given that Rhodes himself not long ago bragged to the New York Times of his role in massaging reporters to reverberate an administration narrative: “We created an echo chamber They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.” Rhodes also had no respect for the very journalists that he had manipulated: “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

Is Rhodes now being disinterested or once again creating an “echo chamber”?

His boss, former UN Ambassador and National Security Advisor in the Obama administration, Susan Rice (married to Ian Cameron, a former producer at ABC news), likewise went on Twitter to blast the Trump administration’s decision to include presidential advisor Steven Bannon in meetings of the National Security Council: “This is stone cold crazy,” Rice asserted, “After a week of crazy.”

Is Rice (who has no military experience) correct that the former naval officer Bannon has no business participating in such high strategy meetings?

In September 2012, Rice went on television on five separate occasions to insist falsely to the nation that the attacks on the Benghazi consulate were the work of spontaneous rioters and not a preplanned hit by an al Qaeda franchise. Her own quite crazy stories proved a convenient administration reelection narrative of Al Qaeda on the run, but there were already sufficient sources available to Rice to contradict her false news talking points.

There are various explanations for the loss of media credibility.

First, the world of New York and Washington DC journalism is incestuous. Reporters share a number of social connections, marriages, and kin relationships with liberal politicians, making independence nearly culturally impossible.

More importantly, the election in 2008 of Barack Obama marked a watershed, when a traditionally liberal media abandoned prior pretenses of objectivity and actively promoted the candidacy and presidency of their preferred candidate. The media practically pronounced him god, the smartest man ever to enter the presidency, and capable of creating electric sensations down the legs of reporters. The supposedly hard-hitting press corps asked Obama questions such as, “During these first 100 days, what has …enchanted you the most from serving in this office? Humbled you the most…?”

Obama, as the first African-American president—along with his progressive politics that were to the left of traditional Democratic policies—enraptured reporters who felt disinterested coverage might endanger what otherwise was a rare and perhaps not-to-be-repeated moment.

We are now in a media arena where there are no rules. The New York Times is no longer any more credible than talk radio; CNN—whose reporters have compared Trump to Hitler and gleefully joked about his plane crashing—should be no more believed than a blogger’s website. Buzzfeed has become like the National Inquirer.

Trump now communicates, often raucously and unfiltered, directly with the American people, to ensure his message is not distorted and massaged by reporters who have a history of doing just that. Unfortunately, it is up to the American people now to audit their own president’s assertions. The problem is not just that the media is often not reliable, but that it is predictably unreliable. It has ceased to exist as an auditor of government. Ironically the media that sacrificed its reputation to glorify Obama and demonize Trump has empowered the new President in a way never quite seen before. At least for now, Trump can say or do almost anything he wishes without media scrutiny—given that reporters have far less credibility than does Trump.

Trump is the media’s Nemesis—payback for its own hubris.

As soon as President Trump began fielding press questions, liberal reporters started developing a new pastime: balking at their conservative counterparts for lobbing « softball questions. » But a quick review of the record reveals that journalism’s strike zone has narrowed suddenly and significantly. The mainstream media certainly wasn’t pitching heat during President Barack Obama’s first couple press conferences.

While some straight-laced newspapermen threw fastballs, plenty of reporters from well-respected outlets were more than happy to let the Democratic president tee-off. Anyone who doubts that should rewind the highlights from Obama’s early months in office.

When Obama called on Jeff Zeleney back in May 2009, the New York Times reporter didn’t get the president on the record about the state of national security or the worsening fiscal crisis. Instead, the writer wondered if the leader of the free world felt magical.

« During these first 100 days, » he asked, « what has surprised you the most about this office? Enchanted you the most from serving in this office? Humbled you the most? And troubled you the most? »

More than happy to oblige, Obama hammered the four-point question. But the press didn’t balk. They were enthralled. And for the next eight years, that episode would repeat itself again and again.

Even after Democrats got hammered in the 2010 midterms, the rigor of questions didn’t improve. Instead, respected journalists from respectable outlets kept up their game of soft toss. Normally, the press is supposed to be a bit adversarial with their sources. But Carry Bohan of Reuters was downright congratulatory about a bipartisan tax deal forged with Republicans.

« You racked up a lot of wins in the last few weeks that a lot of people thought would be difficult to come by, » Bohan asked Obama. « Are you ready to call yourself the ‘comeback kid?' »

Sometimes, the press openly batted for Democrats. During the 2011 Republican primary, CNN White House correspondent Dan Lothian asked Obama if he thought the GOP candidates were « uninformed, out of touch, or irresponsible. »

Only when Obama headed for the exit did it seem like journalists really started to dig deep. Before Trump set up shop in the Oval Office, the press corps went on the offensive. During Obama’s final presser, six of the eight questions were about Obama’s successor.

If hatred of Trump is rooted in class rather than ideology, more civility from the president will undo the ‘resistance.’

Jonathan S. Tobin
The Weekly standard
March 2, 2017

Trump: L’improbable champion d’une revanche des bouseux que personne n’avait vu venir (How a lifelong New Yorker became tribune of the rustics and deplorables)

25 janvier, 2017
trump-gothic chart-presidents-rankedamerican-tragedy
static2-politico-comstatic-politico-comAux États-Unis, les plus opulents citoyens ont bien soin de ne point s’isoler du peuple ; au contraire, ils s’en rapprochent sans cesse, ils l’écoutent volontiers et lui parlent tous les jours. Ils savent que les riches des démocraties ont toujours besoin des pauvres et que, dans les temps démocratiques, on s’attache le pauvre par les manières plus que par les bienfaits. La grandeur même des bienfaits, qui met en lumière la différence des conditions, cause une irritation secrète à ceux qui en profitent; mais la simplicité des manières a des charmes presque irrésistibles : leur familiarité entraîne et leur grossièreté même ne déplaît pas toujours. Ce n’est pas du premier coup que cette vérité pénètre dans l’esprit des riches. Ils y résistent d’ordinaire tant que dure la révolution démocratique, et ils ne l’abandonnent même point aussitôt après que cette révolution est accomplie. Ils consentent volontiers à faire du bien au peuple ; mais ils veulent continuer à le tenir à distance. Ils croient que cela suffit ; ils se trompent. Ils se ruineraient ainsi sans réchauffer le coeur de la population qui les environne. Ce n’est pas le sacrifice de leur argent qu’elle leur demande; c’est celui de leur orgueil. Tocqueville
Last night I stood at your doorstep, trying to figure out what went wrong. It’s gonna be a long walk home. Bruce Springsteen 
Les gens  attendaient  Trump  et  son  discours franc, qui dit les choses comme elles sont et qui promet de défendre les intérêts du peuple.  Il  ne  tourne  pas  autour  du  pot  et c’est ça qu’on aime. (…)  et même si Trump ne le sait pas,  je  suis  persuadé  qu’il  a  été  envoyé par Dieu pour réparer ce pays et lui rendre  sa  grandeur  !  Le  système  est  corrompu,  nous  devons  revenir  aux  fondamentaux  :  les  valeurs  américaines,  le travail, le respect. Obama  est  allé  s’excuser  autour  du  monde, et  résultat,  personne  ne  nous  respecte. Cela va changer. Kelly Lee
Les choses vont changer avec Trump car ce  n’est  pas  un  politicien,  il  ne  doit rien à cette élite qui vit entre elle depuis si longtemps. Mike Costello
Les médias sont en embuscade, mais nous ne sommes pas inquiets parce que le peuple a vraiment vu le vrai visage partisan  de  ces  médias.  Trump  ne  se  laissera pas  faire.  Au  début  j’ai  été  choquée  de voir   son   usage   de   Twitter   car   je   suis conservatrice. Mais maintenant, je comprends.  Il  déjouera  leurs  plans  et  dira aux gens ce qu’il pense vraiment s’ils déforment    ses    propos. Nous avons besoin de lois. Aujourd’hui, les  gardes-frontières  n’ont  pas  le  droit d’arrêter les illégaux et laissent des villes sanctuaires  les  protéger  sans  la  moindre sanction.  Est-ce  normal  ?  La  presse  dit que c’est raciste de penser ce que je vous dis,   mais   c’est   ridicule   !   Nous   serions donc devenus une nation de racistes par- ce   que   nous   ne   sommes   pas   d’accord avec  ce   laxisme ? Annette
Ce  qui  nous  plaît   chez Trump, c’est qu’il ne doit rien à personne. Il est milliardaire mais il accepte de faire  ce  job  pour  sauver  le  pays.  Il  n’en   avait pas besoin. C’est son atout. Car il va  pouvoir  se  concentrer  sur  l’essentiel,  au   lieu de penser à être réélu.  Obama  s’est  trop  excusé, nous devons montrer notre force. Nous espérons  que  Trump  sera  le  Reagan  de   notre  génération. James Mack (ouvrier machiniste de Pennsylvanie)
Vous allez dans certaines petites villes de Pennsylvanie où, comme ans beaucoup de petites villes du Middle West, les emplois ont disparu depuis maintenant 25 ans et n’ont été remplacés par rien d’autre (…) Et il n’est pas surprenant qu’ils deviennent pleins d’amertume, qu’ils s’accrochent aux armes à feu ou à la religion, ou à leur antipathie pour ceux qui ne sont pas comme eux, ou encore à un sentiment d’hostilité envers les immigrants. Barack Obama (2008)
Pour généraliser, en gros, vous pouvez placer la moitié des partisans de Trump dans ce que j’appelle le panier des pitoyables. Les racistes, sexistes, homophobes, xénophobes, islamophobes. A vous de choisir. Hillary Clinton
It’s not just visual: In interview after interview in all corners of the state, I’ve found that Trump’s support across the ideological spectrum remains strong. Democrats, Republicans, independents, people who have not voted in presidential elections for years — they have not wavered in their support. Two components of these voters’ answers and profiles remain consistent: They are middle-class, and they do not live in a big city. They are suburban to rural and are not poor — an element I found fascinating, until a Gallup survey last week confirmed that what I’ve gathered in interviews is more than just freakishly anecdotal. The Gallup analysis, based on 87,000 interviews over the past year, shows that while economic anxiety and Trump’s appeal are intertwined, his supporters for the most part do not make less than average Americans (not those in New York City or Washington, perhaps, but their Main Street peers) and are less likely to be unemployed. The study backs up what many of my interviews across the state found — that these people are more concerned about their children and grandchildren. While Trump supporters here are overwhelmingly white, their support has little to do with race (yes, you’ll always find one or two who make race the issue) but has a lot to do with a perceived loss of power. Not power in the way that Washington or Wall Street board rooms view power, but power in the sense that these people see a diminishing respect for them and their ways of life, their work ethic, their tendency to not be mobile (many live in the same eight square miles that their father’s father’s father lived in). Thirty years ago, such people determined the country’s standards in entertainment, music, food, clothing, politics, personal values. Today, they are the people who are accused of creating every social injustice imaginable; when anything in society fails, they get blamed. The places where they live lack economic opportunities for the next generation; they know their children and grandchildren will never experience the comfortable situations they had growing up — surrounded by family who lived next door, able to find a great job without going to college, both common traits among many successful small-business owners in the state. These Trump supporters are not the kind you find on Twitter saying dumb or racist things; many of them don’t have the time or the patience to engage in social media because they are too busy working and living life in real time. These are voters who are intellectually offended watching the Affordable Care Act crumble because they warned six years ago that it was an unworkable government overreach. They are the same people who wonder why President Obama has not taken a break from a week of golfing to address the devastating floods in Louisiana. (As one woman told me, “It appears as if he only makes statements during tragedies if there is political gain attached.”) Voice such a remark, and you risk being labeled a racist in many parts of America. The Joe-Six-Pack stereotype of a Trump supporter was not created in a vacuum; it’s real and it’s out there. Yet, if you dig down deep into the Gallup survey — or, better yet, take a drive 15 minutes outside of most cities in America — you will learn a different story. That is, if you look and listen. Salena Zito
America is coming apart. For most of our nation’s history, whatever the inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens, we maintained a cultural equality known nowhere else in the world—for whites, anyway. (…) But t’s not true anymore, and it has been progressively less true since the 1960s. People are starting to notice the great divide. The tea party sees the aloofness in a political elite that thinks it knows best and orders the rest of America to fall in line. The Occupy movement sees it in an economic elite that lives in mansions and flies on private jets. Each is right about an aspect of the problem, but that problem is more pervasive than either political or economic inequality. What we now face is a problem of cultural inequality. When Americans used to brag about « the American way of life »—a phrase still in common use in 1960—they were talking about a civic culture that swept an extremely large proportion of Americans of all classes into its embrace. It was a culture encompassing shared experiences of daily life and shared assumptions about central American values involving marriage, honesty, hard work and religiosity. Over the past 50 years, that common civic culture has unraveled. We have developed a new upper class with advanced educations, often obtained at elite schools, sharing tastes and preferences that set them apart from mainstream America. At the same time, we have developed a new lower class, characterized not by poverty but by withdrawal from America’s core cultural institutions. (…) Why have these new lower and upper classes emerged? For explaining the formation of the new lower class, the easy explanations from the left don’t withstand scrutiny. It’s not that white working class males can no longer make a « family wage » that enables them to marry. The average male employed in a working-class occupation earned as much in 2010 as he did in 1960. It’s not that a bad job market led discouraged men to drop out of the labor force. Labor-force dropout increased just as fast during the boom years of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s as it did during bad years. (…) As I’ve argued in much of my previous work, I think that the reforms of the 1960s jump-started the deterioration. Changes in social policy during the 1960s made it economically more feasible to have a child without having a husband if you were a woman or to get along without a job if you were a man; safer to commit crimes without suffering consequences; and easier to let the government deal with problems in your community that you and your neighbors formerly had to take care of. But, for practical purposes, understanding why the new lower class got started isn’t especially important. Once the deterioration was under way, a self-reinforcing loop took hold as traditionally powerful social norms broke down. Because the process has become self-reinforcing, repealing the reforms of the 1960s (something that’s not going to happen) would change the trends slowly at best. Meanwhile, the formation of the new upper class has been driven by forces that are nobody’s fault and resist manipulation. The economic value of brains in the marketplace will continue to increase no matter what, and the most successful of each generation will tend to marry each other no matter what. As a result, the most successful Americans will continue to trend toward consolidation and isolation as a class. Changes in marginal tax rates on the wealthy won’t make a difference. Increasing scholarships for working-class children won’t make a difference. The only thing that can make a difference is the recognition among Americans of all classes that a problem of cultural inequality exists and that something has to be done about it. That « something » has nothing to do with new government programs or regulations. Public policy has certainly affected the culture, unfortunately, but unintended consequences have been as grimly inevitable for conservative social engineering as for liberal social engineering. The « something » that I have in mind has to be defined in terms of individual American families acting in their own interests and the interests of their children. Doing that in Fishtown requires support from outside. There remains a core of civic virtue and involvement in working-class America that could make headway against its problems if the people who are trying to do the right things get the reinforcement they need—not in the form of government assistance, but in validation of the values and standards they continue to uphold. The best thing that the new upper class can do to provide that reinforcement is to drop its condescending « nonjudgmentalism. » Married, educated people who work hard and conscientiously raise their kids shouldn’t hesitate to voice their disapproval of those who defy these norms. When it comes to marriage and the work ethic, the new upper class must start preaching what it practices. Charles Murray
We’re in the midst of a rebellion. The bottom and middle are pushing against the top. It’s a throwing off of old claims and it’s been going on for a while, but we’re seeing it more sharply after New Hampshire. This is not politics as usual, which by its nature is full of surprise. There’s something deep, suggestive, even epochal about what’s happening now. I have thought for some time that there’s a kind of soft French Revolution going on in America, with the angry and blocked beginning to push hard against an oblivious elite. It is not only political. Yes, it is about the Democratic National Committee, that house of hacks, and about a Republican establishment owned by the donor class. But establishment journalism, which for eight months has been simultaneously at Donald Trump’s feet (“Of course you can call us on your cell from the bathtub for your Sunday show interview!”) and at his throat (“Trump supporters, many of whom are nativists and nationalists . . .”) is being rebelled against too. Their old standing as guides and gatekeepers? Gone, and not only because of multiplying platforms. (…) All this goes hand in hand with the general decline of America’s faith in its institutions. We feel less respect for almost all of them—the church, the professions, the presidency, the Supreme Court. The only formal national institution that continues to score high in terms of public respect (72% in the most recent Gallup poll) is the military (…) we are in a precarious position in the U.S. with so many of our institutions going down. Many of those pushing against the system have no idea how precarious it is or what they will be destroying. Those defending it don’t know how precarious its position is or even what they’re defending, or why. But people lose respect for a reason. (…) It’s said this is the year of anger but there’s a kind of grim practicality to Trump and Sanders supporters. They’re thinking: Let’s take a chance. Washington is incapable of reform or progress; it’s time to reach outside. Let’s take a chance on an old Brooklyn socialist. Let’s take a chance on the casino developer who talks on TV. In doing so, they accept a decline in traditional political standards. You don’t have to have a history of political effectiveness anymore; you don’t even have to have run for office! “You’re so weirdly outside the system, you may be what the system needs.” They are pouring their hope into uncertain vessels, and surely know it. Bernie Sanders is an actual radical: He would fundamentally change an economic system that imperfectly but for two centuries made America the wealthiest country in the history of the world. In the young his support is understandable: They have never been taught anything good about capitalism and in their lifetimes have seen it do nothing—nothing—to protect its own reputation. It is middle-aged Sanders supporters who are more interesting. They know what they’re turning their backs on. They know they’re throwing in the towel. My guess is they’re thinking something like: Don’t aim for great now, aim for safe. Terrorism, a world turning upside down, my kids won’t have it better—let’s just try to be safe, more communal. A shrewdness in Sanders and Trump backers: They share one faith in Washington, and that is in its ability to wear anything down. They think it will moderate Bernie, take the edges off Trump. For this reason they don’t see their choices as so radical. (…) The mainstream journalistic mantra is that the GOP is succumbing to nativism, nationalism and the culture of celebrity. That allows them to avoid taking seriously Mr. Trump’s issues: illegal immigration and Washington’s 15-year, bipartisan refusal to stop it; political correctness and how it is strangling a free people; and trade policies that have left the American working class displaced, adrift and denigrated. Mr. Trump’s popularity is propelled by those issues and enabled by his celebrity. (…) Mr. Trump is a clever man with his finger on the pulse, but his political future depends on two big questions. The first is: Is he at all a good man? Underneath the foul mouthed flamboyance is he in it for America? The second: Is he fully stable? He acts like a nut, calling people bimbos, flying off the handle with grievances. Is he mature, reliable? Is he at all a steady hand? Political professionals think these are side questions. “Let’s accuse him of not being conservative!” But they are the issue. Because America doesn’t deliberately elect people it thinks base, not to mention crazy. Peggy Noonan
The furor of ignored Europeans against their union is not just directed against rich and powerful government elites per se, or against the flood of mostly young male migrants from the war-torn Middle East. The rage also arises from the hypocrisy of a governing elite that never seems to be subject to the ramifications of its own top-down policies. The bureaucratic class that runs Europe from Brussels and Strasbourg too often lectures European voters on climate change, immigration, politically correct attitudes about diversity, and the constant need for more bureaucracy, more regulations, and more redistributive taxes. But Euro-managers are able to navigate around their own injunctions, enjoying private schools for their children; generous public pay, retirement packages and perks; frequent carbon-spewing jet travel; homes in non-diverse neighborhoods; and profitable revolving-door careers between government and business. The Western elite classes, both professedly liberal and conservative, square the circle of their privilege with politically correct sermonizing. They romanticize the distant “other” — usually immigrants and minorities — while condescendingly lecturing the middle and working classes, often the losers in globalization, about their lack of sensitivity. On this side of the Atlantic, President Obama has developed a curious habit of talking down to Americans about their supposedly reactionary opposition to rampant immigration, affirmative action, multiculturalism, and political correctness — most notably in his caricatures of the purported “clingers” of Pennsylvania. Yet Obama seems uncomfortable when confronted with the prospect of living out what he envisions for others. He prefers golfing with celebrities to bowling. He vacations in tony Martha’s Vineyard rather than returning home to his Chicago mansion. His travel entourage is royal and hardly green. And he insists on private prep schools for his children rather than enrolling them in the public schools of Washington, D.C., whose educators he so often shields from long-needed reform. In similar fashion, grandees such as Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos do not live what they profess. They often lecture supposedly less sophisticated Americans on their backward opposition to illegal immigration. But both live in communities segregated from those they champion in the abstract. The Clintons often pontificate about “fairness” but somehow managed to amass a personal fortune of more than $100 million by speaking to and lobbying banks, Wall Street profiteers, and foreign entities. The pay-to-play rich were willing to brush aside the insincere, pro forma social-justice talk of the Clintons and reward Hillary and Bill with obscene fees that would presumably result in lucrative government attention. Consider the recent Orlando tragedy for more of the same paradoxes. The terrorist killer, Omar Mateen — a registered Democrat, proud radical Muslim, and occasional patron of gay dating sites — murdered 49 people and wounded even more in a gay nightclub. His profile and motive certainly did not fit the elite narrative that unsophisticated right-wing American gun owners were responsible because of their support for gun rights. No matter. The Obama administration and much of the media refused to attribute the horror in Orlando to Mateen’s self-confessed radical Islamist agenda. Instead, they blamed the shooter’s semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle and a purported climate of hate toward gays. (…) In sum, elites ignored the likely causes of the Orlando shooting: the appeal of ISIS-generated hatred to some young, second-generation radical Muslim men living in Western societies, and the politically correct inability of Western authorities to short-circuit that clear-cut connection. Instead, the establishment all but blamed Middle America for supposedly being anti-gay and pro-gun. In both the U.S. and Britain, such politically correct hypocrisy is superimposed on highly regulated, highly taxed, and highly governmentalized economies that are becoming ossified and stagnant. The tax-paying middle classes, who lack the romance of the poor and the connections of the elite, have become convenient whipping boys of both in order to leverage more government social programs and to assuage the guilt of the elites who have no desire to live out their utopian theories in the flesh. Victor Davis Hanson
Barack Obama is the Dr. Frankenstein of the supposed Trump monster. If a charismatic, Ivy League-educated, landmark president who entered office with unprecedented goodwill and both houses of Congress on his side could manage to wreck the Democratic Party while turning off 52 percent of the country, then many voters feel that a billionaire New York dealmaker could hardly do worse. If Obama had ruled from the center, dealt with the debt, addressed radical Islamic terrorism, dropped the politically correct euphemisms and pushed tax and entitlement reform rather than Obamacare, Trump might have little traction. A boring Hillary Clinton and a staid Jeb Bush would most likely be replaying the 1992 election between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush — with Trump as a watered-down version of third-party outsider Ross Perot. But America is in much worse shape than in 1992. And Obama has proved a far more divisive and incompetent president than George H.W. Bush. Little is more loathed by a majority of Americans than sanctimonious PC gobbledygook and its disciples in the media. And Trump claims to be PC’s symbolic antithesis. Making Machiavellian Mexico pay for a border fence or ejecting rude and interrupting Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a press conference is no more absurd than allowing more than 300 sanctuary cities to ignore federal law by sheltering undocumented immigrants. Putting a hold on the immigration of Middle Eastern refugees is no more illiberal than welcoming into American communities tens of thousands of unvetted foreign nationals from terrorist-ridden Syria. In terms of messaging, is Trump’s crude bombast any more radical than Obama’s teleprompted scripts? Trump’s ridiculous view of Russian President Vladimir Putin as a sort of « Art of the Deal » geostrategic partner is no more silly than Obama insulting Putin as Russia gobbles up former Soviet republics with impunity. Obama callously dubbed his own grandmother a « typical white person, » introduced the nation to the racist and anti-Semitic rantings of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and petulantly wrote off small-town Pennsylvanians as near-Neanderthal « clingers. » Did Obama lower the bar for Trump’s disparagements? Certainly, Obama peddled a slogan, « hope and change, » that was as empty as Trump’s « make America great again. » (…) How does the establishment derail an out-of-control train for whom there are no gaffes, who has no fear of The New York Times, who offers no apologies for speaking what much of the country thinks — and who apparently needs neither money from Republicans nor politically correct approval from Democrats? Victor Davis Hanson
In 1978, the eminent sociologist William Julius Wilson argued confidently that class would soon displace race as the most important social variable in American life. As explicit legal barriers to minority advancement receded farther into the past, the fates of the working classes of different races would converge. By the mid 2000s, Wilson’s thesis looked pretty good: The black middle class was vibrant and growing as the average black wealth nearly doubled from 1995 to 2005. Race appeared to lose its salience as a political predictor: More and more blacks were voting Republican, reversing a decades-long trend, and in 2004 George W. Bush collected the highest share of the Latino (44 percent) vote of any Republican ever and a higher share of the Asian vote (43 percent) than he did in 2000. Our politics grew increasingly ideological and less racial: Progressives and the beneficiaries of a generous social-welfare state generally supported the Democratic party, while more prosperous voters were more likely to support Republicans. Stable majorities expressed satisfaction with the state of race relations. It wasn’t quite a post-racial politics, but it was certainly headed in that direction. But in the midst of the financial crisis of 2007, something happened. Both the white poor and the black poor began to struggle mightily, though for different reasons. And our politics changed dramatically in response. It’s ironic that the election of the first black president marked the end of our brief flirtation with a post-racial politics. By 2011, William Julius Wilson had published a slight revision of his earlier thesis, noting the continued importance of race. The black wealth of the 1990s, it turned out, was built on the mirage of house values. Inner-city murder rates, which had fallen for decades, began to tick upward in 2015. In one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent memory, a white supremacist murdered nine black people in a South Carolina church. And the ever-present antagonism between the police and black Americans — especially poor blacks whose neighborhoods are the most heavily policed — erupted into nationwide protests. Meanwhile, the white working class descended into an intense cultural malaise. Prescription-opioid abuse skyrocketed, and deaths from heroin overdoses clogged the obituaries of local papers. In the small, heavily white Ohio county where I grew up, overdoses overtook nature as the leading cause of death. A drug that for so long was associated with inner-city ghettos became the cultural inheritance of the southern and Appalachian white: White youths died from heroin significantly more often than their peers of other ethnicities. Incarceration and divorce rates increased steadily. Perhaps most strikingly, while the white working class continued to earn more than the working poor of other races, only 24 percent of white voters believed that the next generation would be “better off.” No other ethnic group expressed such alarming pessimism about its economic future. And even as each group struggled in its own way, common forces also influenced them. Rising automation in blue-collar industries deprived both groups of high-paying, low-skill jobs. Neighborhoods grew increasingly segregated — both by income and by race — ensuring that poor whites lived among poor whites while poor blacks lived among poor blacks. As a friend recently told me about San Francisco, Bull Connor himself couldn’t have designed a city with fewer black residents. Predictably, our politics began to match this new social reality. In 2012, Mitt Romney collected only 27 percent of the Latino vote. Asian Americans, a solid Republican constituency even in the days of Bob Dole, went for Obama by a three-to-one margin — a shocking demographic turn of events over two decades. Meanwhile, the black Republican became an endangered species. Republican failures to attract black voters fly in the face of Republican history. This was the party of Lincoln and Douglass. Eisenhower integrated the school in Little Rock at a time when the Dixiecrats were the defenders of the racial caste system.(…) For many progressives, the Sommers and Norton research confirms the worst stereotypes of American whites. Yet it also reflects, in some ways, the natural conclusions of an increasingly segregated white poor. (…) The reality is not that black Americans enjoy special privileges. In fact, the overwhelming weight of the evidence suggests that the opposite is true. Last month, for instance, the brilliant Harvard economist Roland Fryer published an exhaustive study of police uses of force. He found that even after controlling for crime rates and police presence in a given neighborhood, black youths were far likelier to be pushed, thrown to the ground, or harassed by police. (Notably, he also found no racial disparity in the use of lethal force.) (…) Getting whipped into a frenzy on conspiracy websites, or feeling that distant, faceless elites dislike you because of your white skin, doesn’t compare. But the great advantages of whiteness in America are invisible to the white poor, or are completely swallowed by the disadvantages of their class. The young man from West Virginia may be less likely to get questioned by Yale University police, but making it to Yale in the first place still requires a remarkable combination of luck and skill. In building a dialogue around “checking privilege,” the modern progressive elite is implicitly asking white America — especially the segregated white poor — for a level of social awareness unmatched in the history of the country. White failure to empathize with blacks is sometimes a failure of character, but it is increasingly a failure of geography and socialization. Poor whites in West Virginia don’t have the time or the inclination to read Harvard economics studies. And the privileges that matter — that is, the ones they see — are vanishing because of destitution: the privilege to pay for college without bankruptcy, the privilege to work a decent job, the privilege to put food on the table without the aid of food stamps, the privilege not to learn of yet another classmate’s premature death. (…) Because of this polarization, the racial conversation we’re having today is tribalistic. On one side are primarily white people, increasingly represented by the Republican party and the institutions of conservative media. On the other is a collection of different minority groups and a cosmopolitan — and usually wealthier — class of whites. These sides don’t even speak the same language: One side sees white privilege while the other sees anti-white racism. There is no room for agreement or even understanding. J. D. Vance
Est-ce le plus beau cadeau qu’Hillary Clinton ait fait à son adversaire ? En traitant “la moitié” des électeurs de Trump de “basket of deplorables”, Hillary a donné à l’équipe Trump un nouveau slogan de campagne : Les Deplorables (en français sur l’affiche avec le “e” sans accent, et aussi sur les t-shirts, sur les pots à café, dans la salle, etc.) ; avec depuis hier une affiche empruntée au formidable succès de scène de 2012 à Broadway Les Misérables (avec le “é” accentué, ou Les Mis’, tout cela en français sur l’affiche et sur la scène), et retouchée à la mesure-Trump (drapeau US à la place du drapeau français, bannière avec le nom de Trump). Grâce soit rendue à Hillary, le mot a une certaine noblesse et une signification à la fois, – étrangement, – précise et sophistiqué, dont le sens négatif peut aisément être retourné dans un contexte politique donné (le mot lui-même a, également en anglais, un sens négatif et un sens positif), surtout avec la référence au titre du livre de Hugo devenu si populaire aux USA depuis 2012…  L’équipe Trump reprend également la chanson-standard de la comédie musicale “Do You Hear the People Sing”, tout cela à partir d’une idée originale d’un partisan de Trump, un artiste-graphiste qui se désigne sous le nom de Keln : il a réalisé la composition graphique à partir de l’affiche des Misérables et l’a mise en ligne en espérant qu’elle serait utilisée par Trump. Depuis quelques jours déjà, les partisans de Trump se baptisent de plus en plus eux-mêmes Les Deplorables (comme l’on disait il y a 4-5 ans “les indignés”) et se reconnaissent entre eux grâce à ce mot devenu porte-drapeau et slogan et utilisé sur tous les produits habituels (“nous sommes tous des Deplorables”, comme d’autres disaient, dans le temps, “Nous sommes tous des juifs allemands”). De l’envolée de Clinton, – dont elle s’est excusée mais sans parvenir à contenir l’effet “déplorable” pour elle, ni l’effet-boomerang comme on commence à le mesurer, –nous écrivions ceci le 15 septembre : « L’expression (“panier” ou “paquet de déplorables”), qui qualifie à peu près une moitié des électeurs de Trump, est assez étrange, sinon arrogante et insultante, voire sophistiquée et devrait être très en vogue dans les salons progressistes et chez les milliardaires d’Hollywood ; elle s’accompagne bien entendu des autres qualificatifs classiques formant le minimum syndical de l’intellectuel-Système, dits explicitement par Hillary, de “racistes”, xénophobes”, et ajoutons comme sous-entendus “crétins absolus” ou bien “sous-hommes”, et ajoutons encore implicitement “irrécupérables” et de la sorte “à liquider” ou à envoyer en camp de rééducation ou plutôt à l’asile, comme l’éclairé Bacri conseille de faire avec Zemmour. » Récupéré par les électeurs de Trump eux-mêmes puis par l’équipe Trump, le slogan peu résonner comme un cri de révolte qui pourrait donner un formidable rythme et un atout considérable de communication à la campagne du candidat républicain. Philippe Grasset
In another eerie ditto of his infamous 2008 attack on the supposedly intolerant Pennsylvania “clingers,” Obama returned to his theme that ignorant Americans “typically” become xenophobic and racist: “Typically, when people feel stressed, they turn on others who don’t look like them.” (“Typically” is not a good Obama word to use in the context of racial relations, since he once dubbed his own grandmother a “typical white person.”) Too often Obama has gratuitously aroused racial animosities with inflammatory rhetoric such as “punish our enemies,” or injected himself into the middle of hot-button controversies like the Trayvon Martin case, the Henry Louis Gates melodrama, and the “hands up, don’t shoot” Ferguson mayhem. Most recently, Obama seemed to praise backup 49ers quarterback and multimillionaire Colin Kaepernick for his refusal to stand during the National Anthem, empathizing with Kaepernick’s claims of endemic American racism. (…) Even presidential nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not really defending the Obama administration’s past “red line” in Syria, the “reset” with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the bombing of Libya, the Benghazi tragedy, the euphemistic rebranding of Islamic terrorism as mere “violent extremism,” the abrupt pullout from (and subsequent collapse of) Iraq, or the Iran nuclear deal that so far seems to have made the theocracy both rich and emboldened. (…) Racial relations in this country seem as bad as they have been in a half-century. (…) Following the Clinton model, a post-presidential Obama will no doubt garner huge fees as a “citizen of the world” — squaring the circle of becoming fabulously rich while offering sharp criticism of the cultural landscape of the capitalist West on everything from sports controversies to pending criminal trials. What, then, is the presidential legacy of Barack Obama? It will not be found in either foreign- or domestic-policy accomplishment. More likely, he will be viewed as an outspoken progressive who left office loudly in the same manner that he entered it — as a critic of the culture and country in which he has thrived. But there may be another, unspoken legacy of Obama, and it is his creation of the candidacy of Donald J. Trump. Trump is running as an angry populist, fueled by the promise that whatever supposed elites such as Obama have done to the country, he will largely undo. Obama’s only legacy seems to be that “hope and change” begat “make America great again.” Victor Davis Hanson
Hillary Clinton’s comment that half of Donald Trump’s supporters are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic”—a heck of a lot of phobia for anyone to lug around all day—puts back in play what will be seen as one of the 2016 campaign’s defining forces: the revolt of the politically incorrect. They may not live at the level of Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables,” but it was only a matter of time before les déplorables—our own writhing mass of unheard Americans—rebelled against the intellectual elites’ ancien régime of political correctness. (…) Mrs. Clinton’s (…) dismissal, at Barbra Streisand’s LGBT fundraiser, of uncounted millions of Americans as deplorables had the ring of genuine belief. Perhaps sensing that public knowledge of what she really thinks could be a political liability, Mrs. Clinton went on to describe “people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them . . . and they’re just desperate for change.” She is of course describing the people in Charles Murray’s recent and compelling book on cultural disintegration among the working class, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.” This is indeed the bedrock of the broader Trump base. Mrs. Clinton is right that they feel the system has let them down. There is a legitimate argument over exactly when the rising digital economy started transferring income away from blue-collar workers and toward the “creative class” of Google and Facebook employees, no few of whom are smug progressives who think the landmass seen from business class between San Francisco and New York is pocked with deplorable, phobic Americans. Naturally, they’ll vote for the status quo, which is Hillary. But in the eight years available to Barack Obama to do something about what rankles the lower-middle class—white, black or brown—the non-employed and underemployed grew. A lot of them will vote for Donald Trump because they want a radical mid-course correction. (…) The progressive Democrats, a wholly public-sector party, have disconnected from the realities of the private economy, which exists as a mysterious revenue-producing abstraction. Hillary’s comments suggest they now see much of the population has a cultural and social abstraction. (…) Donald Trump’s appeal, in part, is that he cracks back at progressive cultural condescension in utterly crude terms. Nativists exist, and the sky is still blue. But the overwhelming majority of these people aren’t phobic about a modernizing America. They’re fed up with the relentless, moral superciliousness of Hillary, the Obamas, progressive pundits and 19-year-old campus activists. Evangelicals at last week’s Values Voter Summit said they’d look past Mr. Trump’s personal résumé. This is the reason. It’s not about him. The moral clarity that drove the original civil-rights movement or the women’s movement has degenerated into a confused moral narcissism. (…) It is a mistake, though, to blame Hillary alone for that derisive remark. It’s not just her. Hillary Clinton is the logical result of the Democratic Party’s new, progressive algorithm—a set of strict social rules that drives politics and the culture to one point of view. (…) Her supporters say it’s Donald Trump’s rhetoric that is “divisive.” Just so. But it’s rich to hear them claim that their words and politics are “inclusive.” So is the town dump. They have chopped American society into so many offendable identities that only a Yale freshman can name them all. If the Democrats lose behind Hillary Clinton, it will be in part because America’s les déplorables decided enough of this is enough. Bret Stephens
This year there’s a new name on our list of the Eight Greats: Israel. A small country in a chaotic part of the world, Israel is a rising power with a growing impact on world affairs. Although 2016 saw the passage of yet another condemnation of Israel at the United Nations, this time in the Security Council thanks to an American decision to abstain rather than veto, overall the Jewish state continues to develop diplomatic, economic and military power and to insert itself into the heart of regional politics. Three factors are powering Israel’s rise: economic developments, the regional crisis, and diplomatic ingenuity. Looking closely at these tells us something about how power works in the contemporary world. The economic developments behind Israel’s new stature are partly the result of luck and location, and partly the result of smart choices. As to the luck and location factor, large, off-shore discoveries of natural gas and oil are turning Israel into an energy exporter. Energy self-sufficiency is a boost to Israel’s economy; energy exports boost Israel’s foreign policy clout. In 2016 Erdogan’s Turkey turned on most of its NATO and Western allies; ties with Israel strengthened. Turkey’s Islamist ruler wants gas, and he wants to limit Turkey’s dependence on Russia. Israel is part of the answer. But beyond luck, Israel’s newfound clout on the world stage comes from the rise of industrial sectors and technologies that good Israeli schools, smart Israeli policies and talented Israeli thinkers and entrepreneurs have built up over many years. In particular, Israel’s decision to support the rise of a domestic cybersecurity and infotech economy has put Israel at the center of the ongoing revolution in military power based on the importance of information control and management to 21st century states. It is not just that private investors all over the world look to invest in Israel’s tech startups; access to Israeli technology (like the technology behind the Iron Dome missile system) matters to more and more countries. It’s not just America; India, China and Russia all want a piece of Israeli tech wizardry. Other, less glamorous Israeli industries, like the irrigation, desalinization and dry land farming tech that water poor Israel has developed over the decades play their part. Israel’s diplomatic outreach to Africa and its deepening (and increasingly public) relationship with India benefit from Israel’s ability to deliver what people in other countries and governments want. The second factor in Israel’s appearing on our list is the change in the Middle Eastern balance of power that has transformed Israel from a pariah state to a kingmaker. On the one hand, Syria, one of Israel’s most vociferous enemies and biggest security threats in the old days, has now been broken on the wheel. What has happened in Syria is a terrible human tragedy; but in the cold light of realpolitik the break up of Syria further entrenches Israel’s military supremacy in its immediate neighborhood. Egypt hates Hamas, ISIS and Islamic Jihad as much as Israel does; never has Egyptian-Israeli security cooperation been as close as it is today. Even more consequentially, the rise of Iran and its aspirations to regional hegemony on the one hand and the apparent support for its dreams from the Obama administration made Israel critical to the survival of the Sunni Arabs, including the Gulf states, who loathe Iran and fear a Shia victory in the religious conflict now raging across the Middle East. The Arab Establishment today has two frightening enemies: radical jihadi groups like ISIS on one side, and Iran on the other. Israel has a mix of intelligence and military capabilities that can help keep the regional balance stable; privately and even not so privately many prominent Arab officials today will say that Israeli support is necessary for the survival of Arab independence. Finally, Israel has managed, uncharacteristically, to advance its global political agenda through effective and even subtle diplomacy. Just as Israel was able to strengthen its relationship with Turkey even as Turkish-U.S. and Turkish EU relations grew distant, Israel has been able to build a realistic and fruitful relationship with Russia despite Russia’s standoff with the west over Ukraine, and Russia’s ties with Iran. The deepening Israel-India relationship has also required patience and skill. Israel’s diplomatic breakthroughs in relations with African countries who have been hostile to Israel since the 1967 war were also built through patient and subtle diplomacy, often working behind the scenes. That behind-the-scenes outreach diplomacy has also helped Israel achieve new levels of contact and collaboration with many Arab countries. It is not, of course, all sweetness and light. Hezbollah has tens of thousands of missiles aimed at Israel and, thanks to Iran’s victories in Syria, it can now enjoy much more reliable supplies from its patron. The Palestinian Question is as far from a solution as possible, and even as they fragment and squabble among themselves, the Palestinians continue to fight for Israel’s delegitimation in the UN and elsewhere. Israeli politics are as volatile and bitter as ever. The kaleidoscopic nature of Middle East politics means that today’s hero can be tomorrow’s goat. While the breakdown of regional order has so far been a net positive for Israel’s security and power, things could change fast. In ISIS coup in Saudi Arabia, the collapse of Jordan, the fall of the Sisi government in Egypt: it is not hard to come up with scenarios that would challenge Israel in new and dangerous ways. Former President Obama and his outgoing Secretary of State, John Kerry (neither widely regarded these days as a master of geopolitics), frequently warned Israel that its policies were leaving it isolated and vulnerable. This is to some degree true: European diplomats, American liberals and many American Jews are much less sympathetic to Israel today than they have been in the past. Future Israeli leaders may have to think hard about rebuilding links with American Democrats and American Jews. But for now at least, Israel can afford to ignore the dismal croaking of the outgoing American administration. One of a small handful of American allies to be assiduously courted by the Trump campaign, Israel begins 2017 as the keystone of a regional anti-Iran alliance, a most-favored-nation in the White House, and a country that enjoys good relations with all of the world’s major powers bar Iran. Teodor Herzl would be astonished to see what his dream has grown into; David Ben-Gurion would be astounded by the progress his poor and embattled nation has made.
We’re at a space shuttle moment. The most vulnerable time for the space shuttle is when it re-enters the environment, so that when it comes back into the environment it doesn’t blow up. The tiles need to be tight. I’m concerned about the tightness of the tiles on the space shuttle right now. We have to get through this heat. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed
What happened the next night shocked even the most pessimistic Democrats. But in another sense, it was the reckoning the party had been expecting for years. They were counting on a Clinton win to paper over a deeper rot they’ve been worrying about—and to buy them some time to start coming up with answers. In other words, it wasn’t just Donald Trump. Or the Russians. Or James Comey. Or all the problems with how Clinton and her aides ran the campaign. Win or lose, Democrats were facing an existential crisis in the years ahead—the result of years of complacency, ignoring the withering of the grass roots and the state parties, sitting by as Republicans racked up local win after local win. (…) What’s clear from interviews with several dozen top Democratic politicians and operatives at all levels, however, is that there is no comeback strategy—just a collection of half-formed ideas, all of them challenged by reality. And for whatever scheme they come up with, Democrats don’t even have a flag-carrier. Barack Obama? He doesn’t want the job. Hillary Clinton? Too damaged. Bernie Sanders? Too socialist. Joe Biden? Too tied to Obama. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer? Too Washington. Elizabeth Warren? Maybe. And all of them old, old, old. The Democrats’ desolation is staggering. But part of the problem is that it’s easy to point to signs that maybe things aren’t so bad. After all, Clinton did beat Trump by 2.8 million votes, Obama’s approval rating is nearly 60 percent, polls show Democrats way ahead of the GOP on many issues and demographics suggest that gap will only grow. But they are stuck in the minority in Congress with no end in sight, have only 16 governors left and face 32 state legislatures fully under GOP control. Their top leaders in the House are all over 70. Their top leaders in the Senate are all over 60. Under Obama, Democrats have lost 1,034 seats at the state and federal level—there’s no bench, no bench for a bench, virtually no one able to speak for the party as a whole. (…) There are now fewer than 700 days until Election Day 2018, as internal memos circulating among Democratic strategists point out with alarm. They differ in their prescriptions, but all boil down to the same inconvenient truth: If Republicans dominate the 2018 midterms, they will control the Senate (and with it, the Supreme Court) for years, and they will draw district lines in states that will lock in majorities in the House and across state capitals, killing the next generation of Democrats in the crib, setting up the GOP for an even more dominant 2020 and beyond. Most doubt Democrats have the stamina or the stomach for the kind of cohesive resistance that Republicans perfected over the years. In their guts, they want to say yes to government doing things, and they’re already getting drawn in by promises to work with Trump and the Republican majorities. They’re heading into the next elections with their brains scrambled by Trump’s win, side-eyeing one another over who’s going to sell out the rest, nervous the incoming president will keep outmaneuvering them in the media and throw up more targets than they could ever hope to shoot at—and all of this from an election that was supposed to cement their claim on the future. (…) everyone from Obama on down is talking about going local, focusing on the kinds of small races and party-building activities Republicans have been dominating for cycle after cycle. But all that took decades, and Democrats have no time. What are they going to do next? There hasn’t been an American political party in worse shape in living memory. And there may never have been a party less ready to confront it. Politico
Are you scratching your head and wondering, Since when did liberals and the Left embrace a sunny, light-filled vision of the United States? If so, you’re not misremembering things. These are the same liberal elites who have been telling us for decades that America is shot through with an ever-expanding array of hatreds and injustice that disenfranchise large portions of the population and force them to live in fear. (…) These thoroughly representative members — and products — of the cultural elite are the same people who have given us “safe spaces” and “allyship” on college campuses, under the preposterous notion that any American college student who is not white, male, and heterosexual is “unsafe.” The Left has developed a typology of American students as victims, their allies, and their presumed oppressors. (…) The press, the campus-rape bureaucracy, and an army of federal regulators proclaim that terrified college co-eds are living through a rape tsunami, which can be eradicated only by campus kangaroo courts. So rapidly does American oppression metastasize into new forms, in the eyes of the Left, that the Left is constantly forced to coin a new vocabulary for it: microaggression, intersectionality, institutional racism, white privilege, cis privilege, implicit bias, etc. The media’s contempt for Trump’s use of the phrase “carnage” to describe the rising violence in the inner city is particularly ludicrous. The press has slavishly amplified the Black Lives Matter claim that we are living through an epidemic of racist police shootings of black men. A New York Times editorial from July 2016 was titled “When Will the Killing Stop?” That same month, President Barack Obama asserted that black mothers and fathers were right to fear that their child will be killed by a cop — remarkably, he made this claim during the memorial service for five Dallas police officers gunned down by a Black Lives Matter–inspired assassin. (…) So if Trump is so contemptibly misguided in his description of the rising street violence over the last two years as “carnage,” how does that criminal violence compare with the supposed epidemic of cop killings of black men? In 2015, the last year for which we have official national data, more than 6,000 black males, according to the FBI, were killed by criminals, themselves overwhelmingly black. That is 900 more black males killed in 2015 than in the year before, but the number of black victims was undoubtedly higher even than that, since an additional 2,000 homicide victims were reported to the FBI without a racial identity. Black males make up about half of the nation’s homicide victims, so they presumably make up a similar share of racially unclassified homicide victims. According to several uncontradicted non-governmental estimates, homicides continued rising throughout 2016, thanks to what I have called the “Ferguson effect”: officers backing off proactive policing in minority neighborhoods, under the relentless charge of racism, and the resulting increase in violent crime. The year 2016, therefore, probably also saw well over 6,000 black males murdered on the streets. By contrast, the nation’s police fatally shot 16 “unarmed” black males and 20 “unarmed” white males in 2016, according to the Washington Post’s database of police killings. I have put “unarmed” in quotes because the Post’s classification of “unarmed” victims rarely conveys the violence that the suspect directed at the shooting officer. But even when we take the “unarmed” classification at face value, those 16 fatal police shootings of unarmed black men represent no more than 0.2 percent of all black male lives lost to homicide in 2016. If police shootings of allegedly unarmed black males represent a national epidemic of bloodshed, then what should we call the gunning down of over 375 times that number of black men by criminals? “Carnage” seems like a pretty good descriptor. In Chicago alone in 2016, 24 children under the age of twelve, overwhelmingly black, were shot. Trump has regularly denounced inner-city violence; he promised in his inaugural that that violence “stops right here and stops right now.” He invoked the “child . . . born in the urban sprawl of Detroit” or in the “windswept plains of Nebraska” as both looking up “at the same night sky” and deserving of the same public safety. President Obama scoffed at Trump’s concern over rising urban violence even as he regularly accused the cops of lethally discriminating against blacks. For truth-telling when it comes to the actual dangers in American society, I’ll take the current president over the former one and the cultural milieu from which he emerged. Heather Mac Donald
Obama, franchement il fait partie des gens qui détestent l’Amérique. Il a servi son idéologie mais pas l’Amérique. Je remets en cause son patriotisme et sa dévotion à l’église qu’il fréquentait. Je pense qu’il était en désaccord avec lui-même sur beaucoup de choses. Je pense qu’il était plus musulman dans son cœur que chrétien. Il n’a pas voulu prononcer le terme d’islamisme radical, ça lui écorchait les lèvres. Je pense que dans son cœur, il est musulman, mais on en a terminé avec lui, Dieu merci. Evelyne Joslain
Il n’y a évidemment que des coups à prendre – et ils sont nombreux – lorsque l’on dénonce les discours alarmistes qui visent l’Amérique de Donald J. Trump.  Mais, contrairement aux chiens de garde de BFMTV, la Rédaction de Marianne ne « dégage » pas ceux qui font entendre une voix dissonante (un cas de « délit d’opinion » s’y est produit ces jours derniers), ce qui est tout à l’honneur de Delphine Legouté et Renaud Dely, en particulier, mais également de TSF Jazz et Radio Nova qui ont régulièrement donné la parole à l’auteur de ce blog qui existe depuis mars 2012. La démocratie à l’épreuve du verbe est tout ce que ceux qui se revendiquent du camp des « progressistes » redoutent. L’histoire n’est pas nouvelle. Ceux qui se paient de mots et veulent censurer les mots des autres n’ont rien de différents de ces gens qui se rendent le dimanche à la messe et sont, pour quelques un, des salauds hors les murs de l’église ou trop souvent, des intolérants, et de ces autres dont Montaigne disait qu’ils «envoyent leur conscience au bordel, et tiennent leur contenance en règle». Le tout, c’est de conserver un langage agréable à l’oreille, d’afficher des convictions à vous faire croire que certains humains naissent naturellement purs de tout instinct grisâtre et de toute idée injuste et surtout, de défendre la belle idée plutôt que l’action qui elle, comporte toujours sa part de risque et d’échec. Les centaines de milliers de personnes qui viennent de défiler, aux Etats-Unis et à travers le monde, pour crier leur opposition voire leur haine contre le 45ème président des Etats-Unis sont tout à fait en droit de revendiquer, mais que revendiquent-ils au juste ? Ils disent s’opposer à la violence, et la chanteuse Madonna porte leur voix en disant qu’elle a pensé à « faire exploser la Maison-Blanche ». Ils veulent la paix dans le monde et ne se sont pas lancés dans les rues pour demander à « leur » président, Barack Obama, de traiter la montée de l’Etat Islamique et l’effondrement de la société syrienne avec le sérieux nécessaire. Ils demandent le respect vis-à-vis des immigrants mais on ne les a vu nulle part pour s’opposer à la plus grande vague d’expulsions jamais organisée et qui a marqué les deux mandats de Barack Obama, sans compter le travail des fameuses brigades « ICE », en charge de la traque des illégaux. On ne les a jamais vus, non plus, le long des 1300 kilomètres de mur déjà construit à la frontière avec le Mexique. Ils n’ont pas organisé de « sittings » géants pour demander la fin des exécutions capitales ou la grâce de Snowden, Manning ou Bregham. Pire : les « millennials », ainsi que l’on appelle les plus jeunes, ou les Afro-Américains, ont boudé les urnes et ont fait défaut à la candidate démocrate Hillary Clinton le 8 novembre. Ce sont les mêmes qui scandent « Trump n’est pas mon président ». Les femmes ? Offusquées, scandalisées par les propos et les attitudes de Trump, oui, mais leur colère date t-elle de son apparition dans le paysage politique américain ? Et cette colère, dont on ne sait plus ni les contours ni les messages tant ils sont portés par une rage totale, quelle est sa finalité, quelle mesure, quel changement, au juste, peuvent l’apaiser ? On ne sait plus. (…) Comment expliquer tant de frustrations, de colères, de fureurs, au terme de huit années de pouvoir d’un homme aussi célébré que Barack Obama ? On lui impute soudain mille législations et actions positives, alors que l’on dénonçait, hier encore, l’obstruction systématique des Républicains – élus, soit dit en passant, lors des élections intermédiaires – à toutes ses entreprises. On s’attaque à un système électoral que personne ne change depuis sa mise en place et que l’on ne dénonce pas quand il profite à son camp. On annonce une guerre totale contre l’administration Trump lorsqu’hier, on s’en prenait au manque d’esprit bipartite du camp républicain. Tout cela est incohérent. Toute cette séquence, en réalité, est de pure rhétorique. Certes, dans nos pays européens, à l’exception de l’Angleterre, où l’expression publique est bornée par des lois visant à contenir certains outrages, Donald J. Trump se serait exposé à de nombreuses plaintes sinon condamnations. Mais quelle ironie que de voir les Américains, qui vénèrent la liberté d’expression totale et méprisent nos entraves à cette liberté, s’émouvoir soudain des débordements de M. Trump. Le puritanisme américain a encore de beaux jours devant lui. C’est le même qui préside au sentiment de bien faire, d’exporter la démocratie dans le monde, tout en pilotant des drones meurtriers ou en fabriquant de futurs terroristes dans des geôles à Guantanamo ou ailleurs : l’important, c’est de faire les choses avec une bonne intention, de ne pas en parler et d’avoir bonne conscience, bref, de garder son exquise politesse. C’est au nom de cet état d’esprit que l’Amérique – et le monde – célèbre toujours un John Fitzgerald-Kennedy quand bien-même ce dernier fut le premier président autorisant fin août 1961, le premier usage du Napalm sur les paysans vietnamiens. Ce n’est pas une affaire strictement américaine : la France et son Indochine, avec son discours sur la patrie des droits de l’Homme et ses Sangatte, n’a pas de leçon à donner aux Yankees. Tout comme l’époque est au ricanement, comme le dit fort justement Alain Finkielkraut, tout comme l’époque est au souriant antisémitisme ou la célébration de tout ce qui est jeune, femme ou de couleur dans le camp des prétendu « progressistes », elle l’est au déni. Désormais, chaque action, chaque signature du nouveau président américain fera résonner le monde de colère et de condamnation, et la politique américaine va se résumer à un vaste complot visant à l’abattre et avec lui, son administration. C’est cela, désormais, la démocratie, la lutte des gens « bien » contre les méchants et les imbéciles. Le problème, c’est que les gens bien se plaignent de tout ce qu’ils on fait et n’ont pas fait lorsqu’ils en avaient le pouvoir, pour le reprocher à ceux auxquels il a été confié. Une histoire de fou. Stéphane Trano 
La photo comparant la foule présente à l’investiture de Donald J. Trump vendredi dernier et celle de Barack Obama en 2009 a fait le tour des réseaux sociaux ce week-end. Des chaines de télévision et des journaux influents se sont également laissé emporter par cette vague. Donald Trump est le président le moins populaire depuis Jimmy Carter, il y a 40 ans. Selon un sondage du Washington Post et  de ABC News, le nouveau président aurait moins de 40% d’opinions favorables. Certes, il est impopulaire. Certes, son investiture a regroupé moins de personnes que ce à quoi l’on s’attendait. Est-ce une raison pour comparer son investiture à celle de l’ancien président démocrate, Barack Obama? Tout cela serait une affaire de démographie. Depuis bien longtemps, le District de Columbia ainsi que les états autour, tels que la Virginie, le Maryland, la Pennsylvanie, la Caroline du Nord, le Delaware, etc. sont des états démocrates. Lorsqu’un président démocrate est élu, il est plus facile pour ces personnes de rejoindre Washington, puisqu’ils se trouvent relativement près de la capitale, contrairement à certaines personnes vivant dans des états républicains, plus éloignés. Donald J. Trump a misé sa campagne présidentielle sur l’économie et l’immigration, cherchant le vote de la classe moyenne et des minorités. Cette population gagne entre 46 000 et 86 000 euros par an. Après avoir payé les dettes, les impôts, le loyer, les courses et autres dépenses de la vie quotidienne, il ne reste plus rien. (…) Cette population se bat pour vivre normalement, et pour avoir un salaire décent. Selon le ministère du travail et de l’emploi, 5% de la population, soit 18 millions d’américains, auraient entre deux et trois emplois pour pouvoir subvenir aux besoins de leurs familles. Ils ne sont pas tous républicains, mais pour les ceux qui souhaitent s’offrir un weekend dans la capitale pour assister à l’investiture d’un président républicain, cela coûte cher et parait hors de portée. (…) Contrairement, un président démocrate a déjà un bon nombre de ses électeurs vivant dans les états autour de Waghington DC et qui peuvent venir dans la capitale plus facilement. Donald J. Trump n’arrive pas au pouvoir avec une popularité à son plus haut, mais cela est-il la raison d’une foule moins nombreuse lors de son investiture? Lorsque George W. Bush est devenu le 43e président des États-Unis en 2001, seulement 300 000 personnes se sont montrées pour son investiture et son taux de popularité était de 62% selon le site internet de la Maison-Blanche. En janvier 2005, entre 100 000 et 400 000 personnes ont assisté à son investiture. Au final, ce n’est pas la première fois qu’une investiture républicaine attire moins de monde qu’une investiture démocrate.  George W. Bush était plus populaire que Trump lors de ses investitures, mais plus de monde a assisté à celle de Donald J. Trump. (…) Selon le comité d’investiture, 700 000 personnes se seraient regroupées sur le Mall, la sécurité intérieure quant-à elle, estime qu’entre 800 000 et 900 000 personnes auraient été présentes ce jour là. Comparer une investiture d’un president démocrate et celle d’un républicain n’est pas représentatif de la popularité du president élu. Cependant, Obama était tout de même plus populaire que Trump lors de son investiture avec 78% de popularité et presque 2 millions de personnes à son investiture en 2009. Clémentine Boyer Duroselle
Le génie Trump a vu que la classe politique était un tigre de papier et que le pays était en colère. En prenant la main sur un parti politique américain majeur en tant qu’outsider, il a fait quelque chose de jamais vu, et c’est lui qui devrait gagner. Conrad Black
After the election, in liberal, urban America, one often heard Trump’s win described as the revenge of the yahoos in flyover country, fueled by their angry “isms” and “ias”: racism, anti-Semitism, nativism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and so on. Many liberals consoled themselves that Trump’s victory was the last hurrah of bigoted, Republican white America, soon to be swept away by vast forces beyond its control, such as global migration and the cultural transformation of America into something far from the Founders’ vision. As insurance, though, furious progressives also renewed calls to abolish the Electoral College, advocating for a constitutional amendment that would turn presidential elections into national plebiscites. Direct presidential voting would shift power to heavily urbanized areas—why waste time trying to reach more dispersed voters in less populated rural states?—and thus institutionalize the greater economic and cultural clout of the metropolitan blue-chip universities, the big banks, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, New York–Washington media, and Hollywood, Democrat-voting all. Barack Obama’s two electoral victories deluded the Democrats into thinking that it was politically wise to jettison their old blue-collar appeal to the working classes, mostly living outside the cities these days, in favor of an identity politics of a new multicultural, urban America. Yet Trump’s success represented more than simply a triumph of rural whites over multiracial urbanites. More ominously for liberals, it also suggested that a growing minority of blacks and Hispanics might be sympathetic with a “country” mind-set that rejects urban progressive elitism. For some minorities, sincerity and directness might be preferable to sloganeering by wealthy white urban progressives, who often seem more worried about assuaging their own guilt than about genuinely understanding people of different colors. Trump’s election underscored two other liberal miscalculations. First, Obama’s progressive agenda and cultural elitism prevailed not because of their ideological merits, as liberals believed, but because of his great appeal to urban minorities in 2008 and 2012, who voted in solidarity for the youthful first African-American president in numbers never seen before. That fealty wasn’t automatically transferable to liberal white candidates, including the multimillionaire 69-year-old Hillary Clinton. Obama had previously lost most of America’s red counties, but not by enough to keep him from winning two presidential elections, with sizable urban populations in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania turning out to vote for the most left-wing presidential candidate since George McGovern. Second, rural America hadn’t fully raised its electoral head in anger in 2008 and 2012 because it didn’t see the Republican antidotes to Obama’s progressive internationalism as much better than the original malady. Socially moderate establishmentarians like the open-borders-supporting John McCain or wealthy businessman Mitt Romney didn’t resonate with the spirit of rural America—at least not enough to persuade millions to come to the polls instead of sitting the elections out. Trump connected with these rural voters with far greater success than liberals anticipated. Urban minorities failed in 2016 to vote en bloc, in their Obama-level numbers; and rural Americans, enthused by Trump, increased their turnout, so that even a shrinking American countryside still had enough clout to win. What is insufficiently understood is why a hurting rural America favored the urban, superrich Trump in 2016 and, more generally, tends to vote more conservative than liberal. Ostensibly, the answer is clear: an embittered red-state America has found itself left behind by elite-driven globalization, battered by unfettered trade and high-tech dislocations in the economy. In some of the most despairing counties, rural life has become a mirror image of the inner city, ravaged by drug use, criminality, and hopelessness. Yet if muscular work has seen a decline in its relative monetary worth, it has not necessarily lost its importance. After all, the elite in Washington and Menlo Park appreciate the fresh grapes and arugula that they purchase at Whole Foods. Someone mined the granite used in their expensive kitchen counters and cut the timber for their hardwood floors. The fuel in their hybrid cars continues to come from refined oil. The city remains as dependent on this elemental stuff—typically produced outside the suburbs and cities—as it always was. The two Palo Altoans at Starbucks might have forgotten that their overpriced homes included two-by-fours, circuit breakers, and four-inch sewer pipes, but somebody somewhere made those things and brought them into their world. In the twenty-first century, though, the exploitation of natural resources and the manufacturing of products are more easily outsourced than are the arts of finance, insurance, investments, higher education, entertainment, popular culture, and high technology, immaterial sectors typically pursued within metropolitan contexts and supercharged by the demands of increasingly affluent global consumers. A vast government sector, mostly urban, is likewise largely impervious to the leveling effects of a globalized economy, even as its exorbitant cost and extended regulatory reach make the outsourcing of material production more likely. Asian steel may have devastated Youngstown, but Chinese dumping had no immediate effect on the flourishing government enclaves in Washington, Maryland, and Virginia, filled with well-paid knowledge workers. Globalization, big government, and metastasizing regulations have enriched the American coasts, in other words, while damaging much of the nation’s interior. Few major political leaders before Trump seemed to care. He hammered home the point that elites rarely experienced the negative consequences of their own ideologies. New York Times columnists celebrating a “flat” world have yet to find themselves flattened by Chinese writers willing to write for a fraction of their per-word rate. Tenured Harvard professors hymning praise to global progressive culture don’t suddenly discover their positions drawn and quartered into four part-time lecturer positions. And senators and bureaucrats in Washington face no risk of having their roles usurped by low-wage Vietnamese politicians. Trump quickly discovered that millions of Americans were irate that the costs and benefits of our new economic reality were so unevenly distributed. As the nation became more urban and its wealth soared, the old Democratic commitment from the Roosevelt era to much of rural America—construction of water projects, rail, highways, land banks, and universities; deference to traditional values; and Grapes of Wrath–like empathy—has largely been forgotten. A confident, upbeat urban America promoted its ever more radical culture without worrying much about its effects on a mostly distant and silent small-town other. In 2008, gay marriage and women in combat were opposed, at least rhetorically, by both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in their respective presidential campaigns. By 2016, mere skepticism on these issues was viewed by urban elites as reactionary ignorance. In other words, it was bad enough that rural America was getting left behind economically; adding insult to injury, elite America (which is Democrat America) openly caricatured rural citizens’ traditional views and tried to force its own values on them. Lena Dunham’s loud sexual politics and Beyoncé’s uncritical evocation of the Black Panthers resonated in blue cities and on the coasts, not in the heartland. Only in today’s bifurcated America could billion-dollar sports conglomerates fail to sense that second-string San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protests of the national anthem would turn off a sizable percentage of the National Football League’s viewing audience, which is disproportionately conservative and middle American. These cultural themes, too, Trump addressed forcefully. In classical literature, patriotism and civic militarism were always closely linked with farming and country life. In the twenty-first century, this is still true. The incubator of the U.S. officer corps is red-state America. “Make America Great Again” reverberated in the pro-military countryside because it emphasized an exceptionalism at odds with the Left’s embrace of global values. Residents in Indiana and Wisconsin were unimpressed with the Democrats’ growing embrace of European-style “soft power,” socialism, and statism—all the more so in an age of European constitutional, financial, and immigration sclerosis. Trump’s slogan unabashedly expressed American individualism; Clinton’s “Stronger Together” gave off a whiff of European socialist solidarity. Trump, the billionaire Manhattanite wheeler-dealer, made an unlikely agrarian, true; but he came across during his presidential run as a clear advocate of old-style material jobs, praising vocational training and clearly enjoying his encounters with middle-American homemakers, welders, and carpenters. Trump talked more on the campaign about those who built his hotels than those who financed them. He could point to the fact that he made stuff, unlike Clinton, who got rich without any obvious profession other than leveraging her office. Give the thrice-married, orange-tanned, and dyed-haired Trump credit for his political savvy in promising to restore to the dispossessed of the Rust Belt their old jobs and to give back to farmers their diverted irrigation water, and for assuring small towns that arriving new Americans henceforth would be legal—and that, over time, they would become similar to their hosts in language, custom, and behavior. Ironically, part of Trump’s attraction for red-state America was his posture as a coastal-elite insider—but now enlisted on the side of the rustics. A guy who had built hotels all over the world, and understood how much money was made and lost through foreign investment, offered to put such expertise in the service of the heartland—against the supposed currency devaluers, trade cheats, and freeloaders of Europe, China, and Japan. Trump’s appeal to the interior had partly to do with his politically incorrect forthrightness. Each time Trump supposedly blundered in attacking a sacred cow—sloppily deprecating national hero John McCain’s wartime captivity or nastily attacking Fox superstar Megyn Kelly for her supposed unfairness—the coastal media wrote him off as a vulgar loser. Not Trump’s base. Seventy-five percent of his supporters polled that his crude pronouncements didn’t bother them. As one grape farmer told me after the Access Hollywood hot-mike recordings of Trump making sexually vulgar remarks had come to light, “Who cares? I’d take Trump on his worst day better than Hillary on her best.” Apparently red-state America was so sick of empty word-mongering that it appreciated Trump’s candor, even when it was sometimes inaccurate, crude, or cruel. Outside California and New York City and other elite blue areas, for example, foreigners who sneak into the country and reside here illegally are still “illegal aliens,” not “undocumented migrants,” a blue-state term that masks the truth of their actions. Trump’s Queens accent and frequent use of superlatives—“tremendous,” “fantastic,” “awesome”—weren’t viewed by red-state America as a sign of an impoverished vocabulary but proof that a few blunt words can capture reality. To the rural mind, verbal gymnastics reveal dishonest politicians, biased journalists, and conniving bureaucrats, who must hide what they really do and who they really are. Think of the arrogant condescension of Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the disastrous Obamacare law, who admitted that the bill was written deliberately in a “tortured way” to mislead the “stupid” American voter. To paraphrase Cicero on his preference for the direct Plato over the obscure Pythagoreans, rural Americans would have preferred to be wrong with the blunt-talking Trump than to be right with the mush-mouthed Hillary Clinton. One reason that Trump may have outperformed both McCain and Romney with minority voters was that they appreciated how much the way he spoke rankled condescending white urban liberals. Poorer, less cosmopolitan, rural people can also experience a sense of inferiority when they venture into the city, unlike smug urbanites visiting red-state America. The rural folk expect to be seen as deplorables, irredeemables, and clingers by city folk. My countryside neighbors do not wish to hear anything about Stanford University, where I work—except if by chance I note that Stanford people tend to be condescending and pompous, confirming my neighbors’ suspicions about city dwellers. And just as the urban poor have always had their tribunes, so, too, have rural residents flocked to an Andrew Jackson or a William Jennings Bryan, politicians who enjoyed getting back at the urban classes for perceived slights. The more Trump drew the hatred of PBS, NPR, ABC, NBC, CBS, the elite press, the universities, the foundations, and Hollywood, the more he triumphed in red-state America. Indeed, one irony of the 2016 election is that identity politics became a lethal boomerang for progressives. After years of seeing America reduced to a binary universe, with culpable white Christian males encircled by ascendant noble minorities, gays, feminists, and atheists—usually led by courageous white-male progressive crusaders—red-state America decided that two could play the identity-politics game. In 2016, rural folk did silently in the voting booth what urban America had done to them so publicly in countless sitcoms, movies, and political campaigns. In sum, Donald Trump captured the twenty-first-century malaise of a rural America left behind by globalized coastal elites and largely ignored by the establishments of both political parties. Central to Trump’s electoral success, too, were age-old rural habits and values that tend to make the interior broadly conservative. That a New York billionaire almost alone grasped how red-state America truly thought, talked, and acted, and adjusted his message and style accordingly, will remain one of the astonishing ironies of American political history. Victor Davis Hanson

 

Attention: un idiot du village peut en cacher un autre !

En ce lendemain d’une investiture

Qui ressemble de plus en plus à une gueule de bois pour une gauche aussi mauvaise perdante qu’imbue d’elle-même …

Qui n’a de cesse, comme elle l’avait fait pour Reagan ou Bush, de moquer le prétendu idiot du village

Au moment même où commence à apparaitre au grand jour le bilan proprement catastrophique, pour son pays comme pour son propre parti, de son soi-disant brillant prédecesseur …

Et où un petit Etat sur lequel l’Administration Obama avait jusqu’à son dernier souffle tant craché fait son entrée dans le monde très select des huit plus grandes puissances de la planète …

Comment ne pas voir avec l’historien militaire américain Victor Davis Hanson et l’un des rares analystes à l’avoir perçue …

La revanche de ces bouseux que ces derniers avaient si longtemps méprisée ?

Mais aussi avec l’homme d’affaires britannique Conrad Black …

Le véritable génie de leur improbable multi-milliardaire et hédoniste new-yorkais de champion  …

Quasiment seul contre l’establishment des médias, de l’université ou du monde du spectacle ou même de son propre parti à l’avoir reconnue ?

Trump and the American Divide

How a lifelong New Yorker became tribune of the rustics and deplorables

Victor Davis Hanson
City Journal

Winter 2017

At 7 AM in California’s rural Central Valley, not long before the recent presidential election, I stopped to talk with an elderly irrigator on the shared border alleyway of my farm. His face was a wrinkled latticework, his false teeth yellow. His truck smelled of cigarettes, its cab overflowing with flotsam and jetsam: butts, scribbled notes, drip-irrigation parts, and empty soda cans. He rolled down the window and muttered something about the plunging water-table level and whether a weak front would bring any rain. And then, this dinosaur put one finger up on the wheel as a salutation and drove off in a dust cloud.

Five hours later, and just 180 miles distant, I bought a coffee at a Starbucks on University Avenue in Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley, the spawn of Stanford University. Two young men sat at the table next to me, tight “high-water” pants rising above their ankles, coat cuffs drawn up their forearms, and shirts buttoned all the way to the top, in retro-nerd style. Their voices were nasal, their conversation rapid-fire— politics, cars, houses, vacations, fashion, and restaurants all came up. They were speaking English, but of a very different kind from the irrigator’s, accentuating a sense of being on the move and upbeat about the booming reality surrounding them.

I hadn’t just left one part of America to visit another, it seemed, but instead blasted off from one solar system to enter another cosmos, light-years distant. And to make the contrast even more radical, the man in the truck in Fresno County was Mexican-American and said that he was voting for Trump, while the two in Palo Alto were white, clearly affluent—and seemed enthused about Hillary Clinton’s sure win to come.

The postelection map of Republican and Democratic counties mirrored my geographical disconnect. The Donald Trump nation of conservative red spanned the country, to within a few miles of the two coasts, covering 85 percent of the nation’s land area. Yet Clinton won the popular vote, drawing most of her support in razor-thin, densely populated blue ribbons up and down the East and West Coast corridors and in the Great Lakes nexus. As disgruntled liberal commentator Henry Grabar summed up the election result: “We now have a rural party and an urban party. The rural party won.” This time around, anyway.

The urban party has been getting beat up a lot, even before Trump’s surprising victory. Not only have the Democrats surrendered Congress; they now control just 13 state legislatures and 15 governorships—far below where they were pre–Barack Obama. Over the past decade, more than 1,000 elected Democratic state lawmakers have lost their jobs, with most of the hemorrhaging taking place outside the cities. As political analyst Ron Brownstein puts it, “Of all the overlapping generational, racial, and educational divides that explained Trump’s stunning upset over Hillary Clinton . . . none proved more powerful than the distance between the Democrats’ continued dominance of the largest metropolitan areas, and the stampede toward the GOP almost everywhere else.”

“Everywhere else” basically means anywhere but the two coasts. After the election, in liberal, urban America, one often heard Trump’s win described as the revenge of the yahoos in flyover country, fueled by their angry “isms” and “ias”: racism, anti-Semitism, nativism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and so on. Many liberals consoled themselves that Trump’s victory was the last hurrah of bigoted, Republican white America, soon to be swept away by vast forces beyond its control, such as global migration and the cultural transformation of America into something far from the Founders’ vision.

As insurance, though, furious progressives also renewed calls to abolish the Electoral College, advocating for a constitutional amendment that would turn presidential elections into national plebiscites. Direct presidential voting would shift power to heavily urbanized areas—why waste time trying to reach more dispersed voters in less populated rural states?—and thus institutionalize the greater economic and cultural clout of the metropolitan blue-chip universities, the big banks, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, New York–Washington media, and Hollywood, Democrat-voting all.

Barack Obama’s two electoral victories deluded the Democrats into thinking that it was politically wise to jettison their old blue-collar appeal to the working classes, mostly living outside the cities these days, in favor of an identity politics of a new multicultural, urban America. Yet Trump’s success represented more than simply a triumph of rural whites over multiracial urbanites. More ominously for liberals, it also suggested that a growing minority of blacks and Hispanics might be sympathetic with a “country” mind-set that rejects urban progressive elitism. For some minorities, sincerity and directness might be preferable to sloganeering by wealthy white urban progressives, who often seem more worried about assuaging their own guilt than about genuinely understanding people of different colors.

Trump’s election underscored two other liberal miscalculations. First, Obama’s progressive agenda and cultural elitism prevailed not because of their ideological merits, as liberals believed, but because of his great appeal to urban minorities in 2008 and 2012, who voted in solidarity for the youthful first African-American president in numbers never seen before. That fealty wasn’t automatically transferable to liberal white candidates, including the multimillionaire 69-year-old Hillary Clinton. Obama had previously lost most of America’s red counties, but not by enough to keep him from winning two presidential elections, with sizable urban populations in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania turning out to vote for the most left-wing presidential candidate since George McGovern.

The city remains as dependent on elemental stuff—typically produced outside the suburbs and cities—as ever

Second, rural America hadn’t fully raised its electoral head in anger in 2008 and 2012 because it didn’t see the Republican antidotes to Obama’s progressive internationalism as much better than the original malady. Socially moderate establishmentarians like the open-borders-supporting John McCain or wealthy businessman Mitt Romney didn’t resonate with the spirit of rural America—at least not enough to persuade millions to come to the polls instead of sitting the elections out. Trump connected with these rural voters with far greater success than liberals anticipated. Urban minorities failed in 2016 to vote en bloc, in their Obama-level numbers; and rural Americans, enthused by Trump, increased their turnout, so that even a shrinking American countryside still had enough clout to win.

What is insufficiently understood is why a hurting rural America favored the urban, superrich Trump in 2016 and, more generally, tends to vote more conservative than liberal. Ostensibly, the answer is clear: an embittered red-state America has found itself left behind by elite-driven globalization, battered by unfettered trade and high-tech dislocations in the economy. In some of the most despairing counties, rural life has become a mirror image of the inner city, ravaged by drug use, criminality, and hopelessness.

Yet if muscular work has seen a decline in its relative monetary worth, it has not necessarily lost its importance. After all, the elite in Washington and Menlo Park appreciate the fresh grapes and arugula that they purchase at Whole Foods. Someone mined the granite used in their expensive kitchen counters and cut the timber for their hardwood floors. The fuel in their hybrid cars continues to come from refined oil. The city remains as dependent on this elemental stuff—typically produced outside the suburbs and cities—as it always was. The two Palo Altoans at Starbucks might have forgotten that their overpriced homes included two-by-fours, circuit breakers, and four-inch sewer pipes, but somebody somewhere made those things and brought them into their world.

In the twenty-first century, though, the exploitation of natural resources and the manufacturing of products are more easily outsourced than are the arts of finance, insurance, investments, higher education, entertainment, popular culture, and high technology, immaterial sectors typically pursued within metropolitan contexts and supercharged by the demands of increasingly affluent global consumers. A vast government sector, mostly urban, is likewise largely impervious to the leveling effects of a globalized economy, even as its exorbitant cost and extended regulatory reach make the outsourcing of material production more likely. Asian steel may have devastated Youngstown, but Chinese dumping had no immediate effect on the flourishing government enclaves in Washington, Maryland, and Virginia, filled with well-paid knowledge workers. Globalization, big government, and metastasizing regulations have enriched the American coasts, in other words, while damaging much of the nation’s interior.

Few major political leaders before Trump seemed to care. He hammered home the point that elites rarely experienced the negative consequences of their own ideologies. New York Times columnists celebrating a “flat” world have yet to find themselves flattened by Chinese writers willing to write for a fraction of their per-word rate. Tenured Harvard professors hymning praise to global progressive culture don’t suddenly discover their positions drawn and quartered into four part-time lecturer positions. And senators and bureaucrats in Washington face no risk of having their roles usurped by low-wage Vietnamese politicians. Trump quickly discovered that millions of Americans were irate that the costs and benefits of our new economic reality were so unevenly distributed.

As the nation became more urban and its wealth soared, the old Democratic commitment from the Roosevelt era to much of rural America—construction of water projects, rail, highways, land banks, and universities; deference to traditional values; and Grapes of Wrath–like empathy—has largely been forgotten. A confident, upbeat urban America promoted its ever more radical culture without worrying much about its effects on a mostly distant and silent small-town other. In 2008, gay marriage and women in combat were opposed, at least rhetorically, by both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in their respective presidential campaigns. By 2016, mere skepticism on these issues was viewed by urban elites as reactionary ignorance. In other words, it was bad enough that rural America was getting left behind economically; adding insult to injury, elite America (which is Democrat America) openly caricatured rural citizens’ traditional views and tried to force its own values on them. Lena Dunham’s loud sexual politics and Beyoncé’s uncritical evocation of the Black Panthers resonated in blue cities and on the coasts, not in the heartland. Only in today’s bifurcated America could billion-dollar sports conglomerates fail to sense that second-string San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protests of the national anthem would turn off a sizable percentage of the National Football League’s viewing audience, which is disproportionately conservative and middle American. These cultural themes, too, Trump addressed forcefully.

Is there something about the land itself that promotes conservatism? The answer is as old as Western civilization. For the classical Greeks, the asteios (“astute”; astu: city) was the sophisticated “city-like” man, while the agroikos (“agrarian”; agros: farm/field) was synonymous with roughness. And yet there was ambiguity as well in the Greek city/country dichotomy: city folk were also laughed at in the comedies of Aristophanes as too impractical and too clever for their own good, while the unpolished often displayed a more grounded sensibility. In the Roman world, the urbanus (“urbane”; urbs: city) was sometimes too sophisticated, while the rusticus (“rustic”; rus: countryside) was often balanced and pragmatic.

Country people in the Western tradition lived in a shame culture. Family reputation hinged on close-knit assessments of personal behavior only possible in small communities of the like-minded and tribal. The rural ethos could not afford radical changes in lifestyles when the narrow margins of farming safety rested on what had worked in the past. By contrast, self-reinvention and social experimentation were possible only in large cities of anonymous souls and varieties of income and enrichment. Rural people, that is, don’t honor tradition and habit because they’re somehow better human beings than their urban counterparts; a face-to-face, rooted society offers practical reinforcement for doing so.

In classical literature, patriotism and civic militarism were always closely linked with farming and country life. In the twenty-first century, this is still true. The incubator of the U.S. officer corps is red-state America. “Make America Great Again” reverberated in the pro-military countryside because it emphasized an exceptionalism at odds with the Left’s embrace of global values. Residents in Indiana and Wisconsin were unimpressed with the Democrats’ growing embrace of European-style “soft power,” socialism, and statism—all the more so in an age of European constitutional, financial, and immigration sclerosis. Trump’s slogan unabashedly expressed American individualism; Clinton’s “Stronger Together” gave off a whiff of European socialist solidarity.

Farming, animal husbandry, mining, logging—these traditional bodily tasks were often praised in the past as epitomes of the proper balance between physical and mental, nature and culture, fact and theory. In classical pastoral and Georgic poetry, the city-bound often romanticized the countryside, even if, on arrival, they found the flies and dirt of Arcadia bothersome. Theocritus and Virgil reflected that, in the trade-offs imposed by transforming classical societies, the earthiness lost by city dwellers was more grievous to their souls than the absence of erudition and sophistication was to the souls of simpler farmers and shepherds.

Trump, the billionaire Manhattanite wheeler-dealer, made an unlikely agrarian, true; but he came across during his presidential run as a clear advocate of old-style material jobs, praising vocational training and clearly enjoying his encounters with middle-American homemakers, welders, and carpenters. Trump talked more on the campaign about those who built his hotels than those who financed them. He could point to the fact that he made stuff, unlike Clinton, who got rich without any obvious profession other than leveraging her office.

Give the thrice-married, orange-tanned, and dyed-haired Trump credit for his political savvy in promising to restore to the dispossessed of the Rust Belt their old jobs and to give back to farmers their diverted irrigation water, and for assuring small towns that arriving new Americans henceforth would be legal—and that, over time, they would become similar to their hosts in language, custom, and behavior.

Changes come more slowly to rural interior areas, given that the sea, the historical importer of strange people and weird ideas, is far away. Maritime Athens was liberal, democratic, and cosmopolitan; its antithesis, landlocked Sparta, was oligarchic, provincial, and tradition-bound. In the same way, rural upstate New York isn’t Manhattan, and Provo isn’t Portland. Rural people rarely meet—and tend not to wish to meet—the traders, foreigners, and importers who arrive at ports with their foreign money and exotic customs.

The “Old Oligarch”—a name given to the author of a treatise by an anonymous right-wing grouch of fifth-century BC Athens—described the subversive hustle and the cornucopia of imported goods evident every day at the port of Piraeus. If one wished to destroy the purity of rural, conservative society, his odd rant went, then the Athens of Pericles would be just about the best model to follow. Ironically, part of Trump’s attraction for red-state America was his posture as a coastal-elite insider—but now enlisted on the side of the rustics. A guy who had built hotels all over the world, and understood how much money was made and lost through foreign investment, offered to put such expertise in the service of the heartland—against the supposed currency devaluers, trade cheats, and freeloaders of Europe, China, and Japan.

Language is also different in the countryside. Rural speech serves, by its very brevity and directness, as an enhancement to action. Verbosity and rhetoric, associated with urbanites, were always rural targets in classical literature, precisely because they were seen as ways to disguise reality so as to advance impractical or subversive political agendas. Thucydides, nearly 2,500 years before George Orwell’s warnings about linguistic distortion, feared how, in times of strife, words changed their meanings, with the more polished and urbane subverting the truth by masking it in rhetoric that didn’t reflect reality. In the countryside, by contrast, crops either grow or wither; olive trees either yield or remain barren; rain either arrives or is scarce. Words can’t change these existential facts, upon which living even one more day often depends. For the rural mind, language must convey what is seen and heard; it is less likely to indulge adornment.

Today’s rural-minded Americans are little different. Trump’s appeal to the interior had partly to do with his politically incorrect forthrightness. Each time Trump supposedly blundered in attacking a sacred cow—sloppily deprecating national hero John McCain’s wartime captivity or nastily attacking Fox superstar Megyn Kelly for her supposed unfairness—the coastal media wrote him off as a vulgar loser. Not Trump’s base. Seventy-five percent of his supporters polled that his crude pronouncements didn’t bother them. As one grape farmer told me after the Access Hollywood hot-mike recordings of Trump making sexually vulgar remarks had come to light, “Who cares? I’d take Trump on his worst day better than Hillary on her best.” Apparently red-state America was so sick of empty word-mongering that it appreciated Trump’s candor, even when it was sometimes inaccurate, crude, or cruel. Outside California and New York City and other elite blue areas, for example, foreigners who sneak into the country and reside here illegally are still “illegal aliens,” not “undocumented migrants,” a blue-state term that masks the truth of their actions. Trump’s Queens accent and frequent use of superlatives—“tremendous,” “fantastic,” “awesome”—weren’t viewed by red-state America as a sign of an impoverished vocabulary but proof that a few blunt words can capture reality.

To the rural mind, verbal gymnastics reveal dishonest politicians, biased journalists, and conniving bureaucrats, who must hide what they really do and who they really are. Think of the arrogant condescension of Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the disastrous Obamacare law, who admitted that the bill was written deliberately in a “tortured way” to mislead the “stupid” American voter. To paraphrase Cicero on his preference for the direct Plato over the obscure Pythagoreans, rural Americans would have preferred to be wrong with the blunt-talking Trump than to be right with the mush-mouthed Hillary Clinton. One reason that Trump may have outperformed both McCain and Romney with minority voters was that they appreciated how much the way he spoke rankled condescending white urban liberals.

Poorer, less cosmopolitan, rural people can also experience a sense of inferiority when they venture into the city, unlike smug urbanites visiting red-state America. The rural folk expect to be seen as deplorables, irredeemables, and clingers by city folk. My countryside neighbors do not wish to hear anything about Stanford University, where I work—except if by chance I note that Stanford people tend to be condescending and pompous, confirming my neighbors’ suspicions about city dwellers. And just as the urban poor have always had their tribunes, so, too, have rural residents flocked to an Andrew Jackson or a William Jennings Bryan, politicians who enjoyed getting back at the urban classes for perceived slights. The more Trump drew the hatred of PBS, NPR, ABC, NBC, CBS, the elite press, the universities, the foundations, and Hollywood, the more he triumphed in red-state America.

Indeed, one irony of the 2016 election is that identity politics became a lethal boomerang for progressives. After years of seeing America reduced to a binary universe, with culpable white Christian males encircled by ascendant noble minorities, gays, feminists, and atheists—usually led by courageous white-male progressive crusaders—red-state America decided that two could play the identity-politics game. In 2016, rural folk did silently in the voting booth what urban America had done to them so publicly in countless sitcoms, movies, and political campaigns.

In sum, Donald Trump captured the twenty-first-century malaise of a rural America left behind by globalized coastal elites and largely ignored by the establishments of both political parties. Central to Trump’s electoral success, too, were age-old rural habits and values that tend to make the interior broadly conservative. That a New York billionaire almost alone grasped how red-state America truly thought, talked, and acted, and adjusted his message and style accordingly, will remain one of the astonishing ironies of American political history.

Voir aussi:

He grasped that what voters cared about were the very issues politicos were disdainfully ignoring.

Victor Davis Hanson

National review
December 20, 2016

The American middle classes, the Chinese, and Vladimir Putin have never been convinced that Ivy League degrees, vast Washington experience, and cultural sophistication necessarily translate into national wisdom. Trump instead relies more on instinct and operates from cunning — and we will soon see whether we should redefine “wisdom.” But for now, for example, we have never heard a presidential candidate say such a thing as “We love our miners” — not “we like” miners, but “we love” them. And not just any miners, but “our” miners, as if, like “our vets,” the working people of our moribund economic regions were unique and exceptional people, neither clingers nor irredeemables. In Trump’s gut formulation, miners certainly did not deserve “to be put out of business” by Hillary Clinton, as if they were little more than the necessary casualties of the war against global warming. For Trump, miners were not the human equivalent of the 4,200 bald eagles that the Obama administration recently assured the wind turbine industry can be shredded for the greater good of alternate energy and green profiteering. In other words, Trump instinctively saw the miners of West Virginia — and by extension the working-class populations of states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio — as emblematic of the forgotten man, in a way few of his Republican rivals, much less Hilary Clinton, grasped. No other candidate talked as constantly about jobs, “fair” trade, illegal immigration, and political correctness — dead issues to most other pollsters and politicos. Rivals, Democratic and Republican alike, had bought into the electoral matrix of Barack Obama: slicing the electorate into identity-politics groups and arousing them to register and vote in record numbers against “them” — a fossilized, supposedly crude, illiberal, and soon-to-be-displaced white working class. For Democrats that meant transferring intact Obama’s record numbers of minority voters to a 68-year-old multimillionaire white woman; for Republicans, it meant pandering with a kinder, softer but still divisive identity-politics message. Trump instinctively saw a different demographic. And even among minority groups, he detected a rising distaste for being patronized, especially by white, nasal-droning, elite pajama-boy nerds whose loud progressivism did not disguise their grating condescension. Trump Dismissed as a Joke Yet even after destroying the Clinton Dynasty, the Bush-family aristocracy, the Obama legacy, and 16 more-seasoned primary rivals, Trump was dismissed by observers as being mostly a joke, idiotic and reckless. Such a dismissal is a serious mistake, because what Trump lacks in traditionally defined sophistication and awareness, he more than makes up for in shrewd political cunning of a sort not seen since the regnum of Franklin Roosevelt. Take a few recent examples. Candidate Donald Trump was roundly hounded by the political and media establishment for suggesting that the election might be “rigged.” Trump was apparently reacting to old rumors of voting-machine irregularities. (In fact, in about a third of blue Detroit’s precincts, to take just one example, more votes this election were recorded than there were registered voters.) Or perhaps Trump channeled reports that there was an epidemic of invalid or out-of-date voter registrations. (Controversially, the normally staid Pew Charitable Trust found that 2.4 million voter registrations were no longer accurate or were significantly inaccurate.) Or maybe he fanned fears that illegal aliens were voting. (Another controversial study from two professors at Old Dominion suggested that over 6 percent of non-citizens may have voted in 2008; and the president on the eve of the election, in his usual wink-and-nod fashion, assured the illegal-alien community that there would be no federal interest in examining immigration status in connection with voting status.) Or perhaps Trump was convinced that the media and the Democratic establishment worked hand in hand to warp elections and media coverage. (The WikiLeaks trove revealed that media operatives leaked primary debate questions and sent their stories to the Clinton campaign for fact-checking before publication, as two successive DNC chairpersons resigned in disgrace for purportedly sabotaging the primary-challenge efforts of Bernie Sanders.) For all this and more, Trump was roundly denounced by the status quo as a buffoon who cherry-picked scholarly work to offer puerile distortions. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both expressed outrage at Trump’s supposedly incendiary suggestions of voter irregularity, alleging that Trump was either delusional or insurrectionary or both. But was he? Or did he sense that his candidacy was touching off an “any means necessary” effort of unethical progressives to warp the law and custom for purportedly noble ends? After the election, that supposition was more than confirmed. The Joke’s on Them Trump’s enemies have now proved him a Nostradamus. Fourth-party candidate Jill Stein, joined by the remains of the Clinton campaign, asked for a recount of the 2016 election, but only in those states that provided Trump his electoral majority and only on the assumption that there was zero chance that Stein’s candidacy would be affected by any conceivable new vote figure. Though perhaps, Trump’s critics wished, the recount would resurrect the candidacy of Stein’s stalking horse Hillary Clinton. Trump’s enemies have now proved him a Nostradamus. Then members of the Clinton campaign and powerful Democrats joined an effort to pressure electors of the Electoral College to defy their state-mandated duty to reflect the vote totals of their states and instead refrain from voting for Donald Trump. That was all but a neo-Confederate, insurrectionary act that sought to nullify the spirit of the Constitution and the legal statues of many states — part and parcel of new surreal progressive embrace of states’-rights nullification that we have not seen since the days of George Wallace. Trump then earned greater outrage when he questioned the CIA’s sudden announcement, via leaks, that the Russians had hacked Clinton-campaign communication. When Trump said that the newfound post-election “consensus” on Russian hacking was improper, unreliable, and suggestive of an overly politicized intelligence apparatus, he once again drew universal ire — proof positive that he lacked a “presidential” temperament. Yet our intelligence agencies do have a history of politicization. The 2006 national intelligence assessment at the height of the Iraq insurgency and of George W. Bush’s unpopularity oddly claimed that Iran had stopped nuclear-weapons work as early as 2003 — a finding that, if plausible, would probably have rendered irrelevant all of Obama’s frantic efforts just three years later to conclude an Iran deal. And our intelligence agencies’ record at assessment is not exactly stellar, given that it missed the Pakistan and Indian nuclear-bomb programs, Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, and the status of Saddam’s WMD program. There is still no solid proof of deliberate Russian cyber interference intended to aid Donald Trump. Loretta Lynch is skeptical that Russia tried to help the Trump campaign. A Washington Post story alleging that the RNC was hacked was based on myth. WikiLeaks, for what it is worth, insists its source was not Russian. And we now learn that intelligence authorities are refusing to testify in closed session to the House Intelligence Committee about the evidence that prompted their odd post-election announcements — announcements that contradict their earlier pre-election suggestions that Russian hacking was not affecting the election. One possibility is that the likelihood of a Clinton victory spurred the administration and the likely president-elect to suggest that the election process remained sacrosanct and immune from all tampering — while the completely unforeseen loss to Trump abruptly motivated them to readjust such assessments. Trump has a habit of offering off-the-cuff unconventional observations — often unsubstantiated by verbal footnotes and in hyperbolic fashion. Then he is blasted for ignorance and recklessness by bipartisan grandees. Only later, and quietly, he is often taken seriously, but without commensurate public acknowledgement. A few more examples. Candidate Trump blasted the “free-loading” nature of NATO, wondered out loud why it was not fighting ISIS or at least Islamic terrorism, and lamented the inordinate American contribution and the paucity of commensurate allied involvement. Pundits called that out as heresy, at least for a few weeks — until scholars, analysts, and politicos offered measured support for Trump’s charges. Europeans, shocked by gambling in Casablanca, scrambled to assure that they were upping their defense contributions and drawing the NATO line at the Baltic States. President-elect Trump generated even greater outrage in the aftermath of the election when he took a call from the Taiwanese president. Pundits exploded. Foreign policy hands were aghast. Did this faker understand the dimensions of his blunder? Was he courting nuclear war? Trump shrugged, as reality again intruded: Why sell billions of dollars in weaponry to Taiwan if you cannot talk to its president? Are arms shipments less provocative than receiving a single phone call? Why talk “reset” to the thuggish murderous Castro brothers but not to a democratically elected president? Why worry what China thinks, given that it has swallowed Tibet and now created artificial islands in the South China Sea, in defiance of all maritime custom, law, and tradition? Two weeks later after the call, analysts — true to the pattern — meekly agreed that such a phone call was hardly incendiary. Perhaps, they mused, it was overdue and had a certain logic. Perhaps it had, after all, sent a valuable message to China that the U.S. may now appear as unpredictable to China as China has appeared to the U.S. Perhaps the Taiwan call had, after all, sent a valuable message to China that the U.S. may now appear as unpredictable to China as China has appeared to the U.S. More recently, Trump asked in a tweet why we should take back a sea drone stolen by China from under the nose of a U.S. ship. Aside from questions of whether the drone is now compromised, damaged, or bugged, would anyone be happy that a thief appeared days later at the door, offering back the living room’s stolen loot, on the condition to just let bygones be bygones — at least until the next heist? On most issues, Trump sensed what was verbiage and what was doable — and what was the indefensible position of his opponents. Prune away Trump’s hyperbole, and we see that his use of the illegal immigration issue is another good example. Finishing the existing southern border wall is sane and sober. “Making Mexico pay for it” can quietly be accomplished, at least in part, by simply taxing the over $50 billion in remittances sent to Mexico and Latin America by those in the U.S. who cannot prove legal residence or citizenship. Ending sanctuary cities will win majority support: Who wants to make the neo-Confederate argument that local jurisdictions can override U.S. law — and, indeed, who would make that secessionist case on behalf of violent criminal aliens? Deporting illegal-alien law-breakers — or those who are fit and able but without any history of work — is likewise the sort of position that the Left cannot, for political reasons, easily oppose. As for the rest, after closing off the border, Trump will likely shrug and allow illegal aliens who are working, who have established a few years of residence, and who are non-criminal to pay a fine, learn English, and get a green card — perhaps relegating the entire quagmire of illegal immigration to a one-time American aberration that has diminishing demographic and political relevance. Trump the Brawler Finally, Trump sensed that the proverbial base was itching for a bare-knuckles fighter. They wanted any kind of brawler who would not play by the Marquess of Queensberry rules of 2008 and 2012 that had doomed Romney and McCain, who, fairly or not, seemed to wish to lose nobly rather than win in black-and-blue fashion, and who were sometimes more embarrassed than proud of their base. Trump again foresaw that talking trash in crude tones would appeal to middle Americans as much as Obama’s snarky and ego-driven, but otherwise crude trash-talking delighted his coastal elites. So Trump said the same kinds of things to Hillary Clinton that she, in barely more measured tones, had often said to others but never expected anyone to say out loud to her. And the more the media cried foul, the more Trump knew that voters would cry “long overdue.”  We can expect that Trump’s impulsiveness and electronically fed braggadocio will often get him into trouble. No doubt his tweets will continue to offend. But lost amid the left-wing hatred of Trump and the conservative Never Trump condescension is that so far he has shattered American political precedents by displaying much more political cunning and prescience than have his political opponents and most observers. Key is his emperor-has-no-clothes instinct that what is normal and customary in Washington was long ago neither sane nor necessary. And so far, his candidacy has not only redefined American politics but also recalibrated the nature of insight itself — leaving the wise to privately wonder whether they were ever all that wise after all.

Voir également:

The brilliant Donald Trump deserves to win

His political achievements are already unprecedented, and his insight amounts to genius

Conrad Black
The Spectator

23 July 2016

Almost anyone who has followed the US presidential selection process closely could realise what a brilliant campaign Donald Trump has conducted. He saw that in its self-absorption, the US political class had completely failed to grasp the extent of public anger at the deterioration of almost everything. American public policy has brought about the greatest sequence of disasters since the 1920s, when the liquor business was given to gangsters by Prohibition, followed by the equities debt bubble and the Great Depression.

In the past 20 years, both parties shared in the creation of the housing bubble, which produced the greatest financial crisis since the 1930s, and a decade of war in the Middle East which, despite excellent military execution, Obama has turned into a victory for Iran and an immense humanitarian disaster. Further foreign policy humiliations have included the evaporating ‘red line’ in Syria, the 180-degree switch in official attitudes to Iran, culminating in a delayed green light to nuclear weapons (if Tehran chooses to wait).

Both political parties share the blame for the admission of 12 million unskilled workers into the US illegally, and for trade pacts with cheap-labour countries that appear to import unemployment. The political class and its media claque conducted business as usual while the welfare, education and justice systems became clogged with migrants, and the national debt of $9 trillion doubled in seven years. Barack Obama told the Joint Chiefs of Staff that climate change was the greatest threat to America and he and Hillary Clinton refuse to utter the words ‘Islamic terrorism’. (He called the San Bernardino massacre ‘workplace-related’.)

There has never been anything remotely like the rise of America from a small number of colonists to the most dominant power in history, and Americans are not philosophical about being held up to ridicule in the world. Nor have they ever tolerated a flatline on the country’s prosperity and prospects. Donald Trump, a great public figure — as the developer of famous buildings, an impresario and television host — saw the depth of American outrage at all this and as a non-politician was not complicit in any of it.

He paid for his own campaign and ran against the entire political class, facing 16 rivals for the Republican nomination. He won from the start, piling up astonishing pluralities as the commentariat slowly retreated. They claimed he could not aspire to more than 20, 30, 40 per cent of Republicans, would be sandbagged at the convention, would attract a Ross Perot-like third party to splinter the Republican vote, and would be routed in a horrible landslide by Hillary Clinton. The flabby Republican establishment backed Ted Cruz, an intelligent man who nevertheless told the world that God had commanded he run and who pitched his campaign to the Bible-thumping corn-cobbers with M-16s in the rear windows of their pick-up trucks. The media have remained smugly hostile to Trump, despite warnings that a majority of Americans despise the media too — and that they were just stoking a pro-Trump backlash.

As Trump has moved up, Hillary Clinton has had to move far to the left to hold off Bernie Sanders, a septuagenarian former Stalinist kibbutznik and socialist senator for Vermont. Trump’s genius has been to see, when no one else did, that the political class was a spavined paper tiger and the country was afire with rage; to scoop the Archie Bunker (Alf Garnett) vote with blue-collar political incorrectness and his comic talents, which won him the debates; and yet to remain centrist on everything but illegal immigration and bad trade deals. (Trump and Clinton both went to great lengths to maintain the centrists in control of both parties, against severe challenges from the far Republican right and Democratic left; but almost none of the media, foreign or domestic, has noticed.) The best is yet to come: the last refuge of his opponents is that Trump will be an undignified and frightening candidate. He will be the sane and educated man he is.

Hillary Clinton is carrying more baggage than the Queen Mary and Trump will carpet-bomb the country in September and October with a billion dollars of reminders of Benghazi (she slept while her ambassador was murdered), the televised apology to the world’s Muslims, the FBI director’s non-indictment indictment; the malodorous conflicts of the Clinton Foundation entwined with the Clinton State Department. Even Whitewater is due for a rerun. This is not Norman Rockwell’s or Walt Disney’s America, and it never was. American presidential politics is a jungle; the nominees are great beasts, but Donald Trump is larger and fiercer. In taking over a major US political party from the outside, he has done something that has never been done before, and he should win.

Voir encore:

Democrats in the Wilderness
Inside a decimated party’s not-so-certain revival strategy.
Edward-Isaac Dovere

Politico

January/February 2017

Standing with some 30,000 people in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia the night before the election watching Hillary Clinton speak, exhausted aides were already worrying about what would come next. They expected her to win, of course, but they knew President Clinton was going to get thrashed in the 2018 midterms—the races were tilted in Republicans’ favor, and that’s when they thought the backlash would really hit. Many assumed she’d be a one-term president. They figured she’d get a primary challenge. Some of them had already started gaming out names for who it would be.

“Last night I stood at your doorstep / Trying to figure out what went wrong,” Bruce Springsteen sang quietly to the crowd in what he called “a prayer for post-election.” “It’s gonna be a long walk home.”

What happened the next night shocked even the most pessimistic Democrats. But in another sense, it was the reckoning the party had been expecting for years. They were counting on a Clinton win to paper over a deeper rot they’ve been worrying about—and to buy them some time to start coming up with answers. In other words, it wasn’t just Donald Trump. Or the Russians. Or James Comey. Or all the problems with how Clinton and her aides ran the campaign. Win or lose, Democrats were facing an existential crisis in the years ahead—the result of years of complacency, ignoring the withering of the grass roots and the state parties, sitting by as Republicans racked up local win after local win.

“The patient,” says Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, “was clearly already sick.”

As Trump takes over the GOP and starts remaking its new identity as a nationalist, populist party, creating a new political pole in American politics for the first time in generations, all eyes are on the Democrats. How will they confront a suddenly awakened, and galvanized, white majority? What’s to stop Trump from doing whatever he wants? Who’s going to pull a coherent new vision together? Worried liberals are watching with trepidation, fearful that Trump is just the beginning of worse to come, desperate for a comeback strategy that can work.

What’s clear from interviews with several dozen top Democratic politicians and operatives at all levels, however, is that there is no comeback strategy—just a collection of half-formed ideas, all of them challenged by reality. And for whatever scheme they come up with, Democrats don’t even have a flag-carrier. Barack Obama? He doesn’t want the job. Hillary Clinton? Too damaged. Bernie Sanders? Too socialist. Joe Biden? Too tied to Obama. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer? Too Washington. Elizabeth Warren? Maybe. And all of them old, old, old.

The Democrats’ desolation is staggering. But part of the problem is that it’s easy to point to signs that maybe things aren’t so bad. After all, Clinton did beat Trump by 2.8 million votes, Obama’s approval rating is nearly 60 percent, polls show Democrats way ahead of the GOP on many issues and demographics suggest that gap will only grow. But they are stuck in the minority in Congress with no end in sight, have only 16 governors left and face 32 state legislatures fully under GOP control. Their top leaders in the House are all over 70. Their top leaders in the Senate are all over 60. Under Obama, Democrats have lost 1,034 seats at the state and federal level—there’s no bench, no bench for a bench, virtually no one able to speak for the party as a whole.

“The fact that our job should be easier just shows how poorly we’re doing the job,” says Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton, an Iraq War veteran seen as one of the party’s rising stars.

The View From the Field
Rising Democratic stars around the country diagnose their party’s problems.

What did Democrats get wrong in the 2016 race?

“We arrived at this point through some combination of either outright offending or at least failing to inspire nearly every segment of our party’s base voters.”
—Tim Ryan, U.S. representative, Ohio

“Democrats failed to listen sufficiently to voters, appreciate their discontent with the status quo and articulate how they will fight for working Americans.”
—Gretchen Whitmer, former state senate Democratic leader, Michigan

“People and polls were unfairly distracted by unintelligent, racist banter centering on anti-establishment or anti-politically correct views.”
—Shavonda Sumter, state assemblywoman, New Jersey
There are now fewer than 700 days until Election Day 2018, as internal memos circulating among Democratic strategists point out with alarm. They differ in their prescriptions, but all boil down to the same inconvenient truth: If Republicans dominate the 2018 midterms, they will control the Senate (and with it, the Supreme Court) for years, and they will draw district lines in states that will lock in majorities in the House and across state capitals, killing the next generation of Democrats in the crib, setting up the GOP for an even more dominant 2020 and beyond.

Most doubt Democrats have the stamina or the stomach for the kind of cohesive resistance that Republicans perfected over the years. In their guts, they want to say yes to government doing things, and they’re already getting drawn in by promises to work with Trump and the Republican majorities. They’re heading into the next elections with their brains scrambled by Trump’s win, side-eyeing one another over who’s going to sell out the rest, nervous the incoming president will keep outmaneuvering them in the media and throw up more targets than they could ever hope to shoot at—and all of this from an election that was supposed to cement their claim on the future.

Some thinking has started to take shape. Obama is quickly reformatting his post-presidency to have a more political bent than he had planned. Vice President Joe Biden is beginning to structure his own thoughts on mentoring and guiding rising Democrats. (No one seems to be waiting to hear from Clinton.) At the law office of former Attorney General Eric Holder, which is serving as the base for the redistricting reform project he is heading for Obama, they’re getting swarmed with interest and checks. At the Democratic Governors Association, all of a sudden looking like the headquarters of the resistance, they’re sorting through a spike in interested candidates. And everyone from Obama on down is talking about going local, focusing on the kinds of small races and party-building activities Republicans have been dominating for cycle after cycle.

But all that took decades, and Democrats have no time. What are they going to do next? There hasn’t been an American political party in worse shape in living memory. And there may never have been a party less ready to confront it.

“We’re at a space shuttle moment,” says Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who is widely expected to run statewide soon in Georgia. “The most vulnerable time for the space shuttle is when it re-enters the environment, so that when it comes back into the environment it doesn’t blow up. The tiles need to be tight. I’m concerned about the tightness of the tiles on the space shuttle right now. We have to get through this heat.”

***

Problem No. 1: Message

What scares many Democrats about Trump isn’t any particular campaign pledge—his promises to build a wall or keep out Muslims or shut down Obamacare. Those are fights they can wrap their heads around. No, the existential, hair-on-fire threat to the Democratic Party is just how easy it was for Trump to sneak around their flank and rob them of an issue they thought was theirs alone—economic populism—even as they partied at fundraisers in Hollywood and the Hamptons.

It so happens that the most prominent advocate of this view—Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren—is, for the moment, the party’s most plausible standard-bearer in 2020. The mission now, Warren believes, can be summed up in five words: Take back populism from Trump. “The American people know what they want,” she said in an interview, urging an emphasis on economic opportunity. “If Donald Trump and his Republican Party can’t deliver on any of that, then the American people will see that he’s not on their side.”

The View From the Field
Rising Democratic stars around the country diagnose their party’s problems.

Why are Democrats lagging at the state and local levels?

“We’ve paid an enormous price for letting our local organizations atrophy to a point of near irrelevance.”
—Ruben Gallego, U.S. representative, Arizona

“In part, it’s because certain policy ambitions are best achieved on a national level. But that national focus has become myopic.”
—Stacey Abrams, Democratic leader, Georgia House of Representatives

“[Republicans] had a 50-state model approach to winning the redistricting battles. We didn’t.”
—Eric Swalwell, U.S. representative, California
Trump has made it easy by stacking his administration with millionaires and billionaires whose confirmation preparations included memorizing the price of milk so they don’t seem out of touch—people like Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin, whose bank once foreclosed on a 90-year-old woman’s house when she made a 27-cent payment error.

“Donald Trump with these appointments is saying squarely to the American people that he lied to them and his promise is worth nothing,” adds Warren. “That’s the point to keep making.”

Connecticut’s Chris Murphy, seen by many as a rising liberal leader of the Senate, makes a slightly different argument. The lesson from Trump’s win, in his eyes, is how sick voters are of the status quo and pragmatism. Murphy is all for saying no to Trump, but he argues that Democrats need to come up with their own proposals, however unrealistic, and say yes—big league. Entitlement reform? Forget it, Murphy says: Now’s the time to talk about expanding Social Security, not shrinking it. “A lot of Democrats laughed at Bernie Sanders when he proposed free college. First of all, that’s not impossible,” Murphy says, but more to the point, “it’s a way to communicate a really important issue in terms that people will understand.”

Illinois Representative Cheri Bustos, a former journalist who has been tapped to help lead House Democrats’ communications efforts, is urging her colleagues to go hyperlocal—a strategy informed by her own success in a bad year for the party. She won by 20 percentage points in a northwest Illinois district that Trump carried by half a point and Obama carried by 17 points in 2012. Bustos wants each member to identify constituents who will be affected by policy shifts under Trump and have district staff promote those people in local media. Tell their stories, she says.

Every path back to power runs through figuring out how to get voters to believe again that the Democratic Party, founded on and forever about a fairer economy, is aware that millions of Americans feel the economy’s been unfair to them and think Democrats have no real plans to do anything about it.

“Trump is talking about the economy of the past, bringing us backward to an economy that doesn’t exist anymore. Rather than going back into the coal mines, we’ve got to show how hardworking people in Appalachia can contribute to the new economy,” says Moulton, who is often talked about as a candidate for statewide office and beyond. “The message has to be: ‘We need you, we want you to be a part of the economy.’ We’re not going to pretend that it’s going to be 1955 again, but there’s a new economy coming and America’s not going to succeed if it’s not responding.”

This has echoes of how Bill Clinton campaigned in 1992—as a champion of globalization who would make it work better for ordinary Americans—but that was before so many of the factories had closed, before the culture felt different, before the internet made everything more immediate and more immediately infuriating. Yet Obama and his 21st-century Democrats beat back the Clinton restoration in 2008 in large part by running against the incremental, crabwise approach of the ’90s. Bill Clinton was a Southern Democrat who grew up in a world of political constraints, and there aren’t too many of those anymore; what the base wants now is Warren-like progressive passion, without any of the liberal self-loathing they sensed in the Clintons.

Over emails, texts and phone calls, ad hoc networks of younger Democrats have started to form, eager to talk about a new start for the party.

“Part of the work I’m doing right now is recognizing there is nobody left. It’s pulling together my peers,” says Eric Garcetti, a 45-year old Mexican-American Jewish mayor of Los Angeles who is widely assumed to be part of the party’s future in California and potentially beyond. He wanted Clinton to win. But there’s a certain freedom in moving past Clintonism.

“It’s maybe the end of … ‘The era of big government is over,’” he says.

***

Problem No. 2: The Politics of Obstruction

It’s been 10 years since Democrats didn’t control at least one wing of the federal government, and a lot of them, argues Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat elected to the House in 2014, have forgotten what that’s like. Those who do, he says, are all basing their thinking on what they did to George W. Bush or what Mitch McConnell did to Obama. “They’re scared of the unknown. This is a new world for them. And they’re trying to find solace in what they know,” Gallego says.

Gallego points to his time as assistant minority leader in the Arizona legislature under an all GOP-controlled government, where Democrats held the line until splintered Republicans gave in, allowing them to preserve Obama’s Medicaid expansion. For what’s ahead in Washington, he’s pushing a kind of explanatory resistance, refusing any cooperation with Trump—“It’s very dangerous to give this man anything, because anything he does makes him more powerful, and he’s going to use power irresponsibly”—while using every fight as an opportunity to promote what the party stands for instead.

Trump’s pledge to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure is one of those opportunities, Gallego says. His idea: Make Trump release his taxes to show that he won’t personally benefit from any provision in the bill, while using whatever’s in the bill to make concrete and specific cases to voters about why the president and the Congress are hurting them, and why Democrats’ intransigence matters directly in people’s lives.

It sounds reasonable enough, except for one problem: There’s no way Republicans, who control every lever of power in the House, will allow it. And there’s no way the 70-year-old Trump, elected without releasing his taxes and feeling validated by every decision he has made so far, is going to suddenly become a new man once he’s sitting in the Oval Office.

“I worry that our caucus is going to pick way too many things to communicate, way too many things to display outrage about,” says Murphy.

The only mechanism Democrats have to actually shape what happens in Washington is the Senate—with 48 votes that give them an eight-vote margin for error on filibusters and the hope that three Republicans will break away on some votes to join them in the majority. Trump works best with a foil, and they’re determined not to serve themselves up to him as obstructionists.

And here, Democrats have more of a strategy than they are perhaps letting on. In essence, the idea is to focus on issues that drive a wedge through the Republican caucus. On Obamacare, they will step out of the way and let Republicans squirm among themselves. On infrastructure, the plan is to split Republicans between those leery of new spending and those who just want to get along with Trump. Either way, Democrats figure, they win: They could get a bill they support, or send the process into enough of a tailspin that GOP forces devour one another and there won’t be any bill at all. As for Trump, they will just wait him out. “If he comes much closer to where we are, we could work with him,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in an interview, “and that kind of issue unites our caucus and divides theirs.”

Many on the left view Schumer warily, suspicious of his breaks with Obama on Israel and Iran, his close ties to Wall Street and his reputation for cutting deals and hogging the spotlight. The base wants McConnell-style, uncaring and unapologetic obstruction, or at least the old Harry Reid, burn-the-place-down and taunt-the-flames kind of pushback. There’s already a vast library of liberal freak-out think pieces about Schumer’s refrain that he’s not going to say no to bills just because they have Trump’s name on them.

The View From the Field
Rising Democratic stars around the country diagnose their party’s problems.

What’s the Democratic Party’s greatest weakness right now?

“Our as yet unmet need for a standard-bearer to move us past the disappointments of 2016 and lead the opposition effort during the Trump presidency.”
—Cyrus Habib, lieutenant governor, Washington state

“[Democrats] are the true champions of economic empowerment for middle-class Americans and those who aspire to the middle class. … But that wasn’t successfully communicated in this election.”
—Elizabeth Brown, city councilmember, Columbus, Ohio

“Our inclination to over-learn some of the lessons from the last election. It would be a mistake to lose sight of what has made us the best party to represent a rapidly evolving nation: our inclusiveness.”
—Crisanta Duran, speaker of the House, Colorado State Assembly
Asked about what he’s been telling Trump in their private phone calls, Schumer is coy. “I said, ‘You ran against both the Democratic and Republican establishments—if you do that as president, you could get some things done, but if you just let the hard right capture your presidency, like with the Cabinet appointments,’” Schumer recounts, “‘it could well be a flop.’”

Relentless obstruction could easily be a trap, too. “My worry is that we lose focus. I don’t know what outrage to focus on a daily basis, and I worry that our caucus is going to pick way too many things to communicate, way too many things to display outrage about,” Murphy says, “and in the end, nothing will end up translating.”

***

Problem No. 3: The Midterms

If there’s anyone who can lay claim to having the worst job in Washington, it’s Chris Van Hollen. A freshman senator from Maryland, he has been charged with leading the Democrats’ efforts to retake the Senate in 2018. When Schumer, who is expected to stay central to fundraising and campaign strategy, announced Van Hollen’s role, he somewhat disingenuously described him as “our first choice”—as in first choice who didn’t say no.

Schumer and Van Hollen have a complex calculus ahead of them, driven not only by the need to keep the party base energized against Trump, but also the reality that 10 of their incumbents come from states Trump won and may often align with the president for their own survival. Senate Democrats were facing a terrible 2018 map before Trump, with 25 seats up for grabs, and their prospects have gotten notably worse, with races in already difficult spots like Missouri, North Dakota and West Virginia as the baseline, and potentially new territory opened up in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, after Trump’s wins there. Republicans are defending eight seats, but only one in a state Clinton won.

A good way to make Van Hollen stop short and almost laugh is to ask him about candidate recruitment for next year. Sitting at a conference table in the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s headquarters on Capitol Hill, Van Hollen makes abundantly clear that the math he’s thinking about is how to stay as close to the current 48 as he can.

“Our focus,” he says, “will be on supporting our members, so we can hold the blue wall.”

Make it through 2018. Hope for 2020.

Van Hollen, who masterminded Democrats’ pickup of 21 House seats in 2008, only to lose 60 in the 2010 midterm wipeout, is seen as one of the party’s canniest strategists. It’s early days yet, but he and other top Democrats have already been studying the 2016 election returns in detail, searching for clues that can help them staunch the bleeding in 2018. One intriguing thing they’ve found: All those people who voted for both Obama and Trump look like reliable anti-Washington voters primed to boomerang against the GOP now that the other guys are in charge. Incumbents have been told to act as if they’re the mayors of their states. There’s talk of centralizing around a few easy and direct proposals, much shorter than the Republicans’ old Contract with America. Shortly before kicking off his candidacy, Van Hollen, notably, pitched a plan that would take $2,000 off the taxes of anyone earning less than $200,000 per year, reward savings and triple the child care tax credit.

As for those vexing red-state senators, “I don’t think anyone is running toward Trump. They’re running toward the issues that are important to the people in their states,” Van Hollen says. Maybe so. But get used to headlines about Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin and Claire McCaskill going rogue.

If there is hope for the Democratic Party in the short term, it’s in the governors’ mansions they control now—and the ones they hope to control in the near future. Governors like Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee in Washington, Jerry Brown in California and Andrew Cuomo in New York are going to be blocking and tackling in their capitols, pushing state-level legislation on immigration, Medicare, environmental standards and reproductive rights. California Democrats have already hired Holder as a sort of warrior-lawyer, anticipating years of legal battles with Trump’s Washington.

On the other end of the spectrum is Montana Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat who won reelection by 4 percentage points on the same day Trump won his state by more than 20, running on a record of Medicaid expansion, campaign finance reform, equal pay and expanding public education—on top of having issued more vetoes than any Montana governor in history. Instead of raging against Trump and the Republicans in Congress, Bullock wants to ignore them. “We as Democrats need to recognize that there’s no such thing as a national issue,” he says.

The View From the Field
Rising Democratic stars around the country diagnose their party’s problems.

What should the Democratic Party’s core message be?

“Donald Trump co-opted our core message, which is that voters want their leaders to step up and lead on their bread-and-butter issues. If Trump can’t deliver on his promises, we need to show that progressive economic polices are the pathway forward.”
—Lorena Gonzalez, state assemblywoman, California

“We are the party of opportunity and fairness. … Opportunity requires that Americans have a path to the middle class; fairness insists that path be open to all.”
—Mike Johnston, state senator, Colorado

“Trump wants to take us back to an economy of the past, which simply doesn’t exist anymore. Democrats have the opportunity to show how all Americans can be a part of the economy of the future, and how we need the diverse talents of all our people to be at our best.”
—Seth Moulton, U.S. representative, Massachusetts
All this positioning is building up to a heady 2017 and 2018, with governors’ races in nine swingy states where a Republican has been in charge the past eight years. Add in likely pickups in blue New Jersey this year and potentially Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts next year, and Democrats could end up with a slew of new governors.

“You want models? I got models,” says Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, who’s doing another stint as chair of the Democratic Governors Association. Think Bullock in Montana, Roy Cooper in North Carolina and John Bel Edwards in Louisiana—Malloy argues that each 2018 race will need a tailored, locally smart strategy. But if there’s one tactic that binds them all together, it’s this: relentless aggression. Malloy blames 2016 on Democrats overestimating voters’ ability to see that they were being lied to by Trump and other Republicans. He has no intention of making the same mistake in 2018.

“We can’t assume anything,” Malloy says. “It’s going to be hand-to-hand combat.”

Some Democrats see a different lesson in 2016, with a takeaway best summed up by a Samuel L. Jackson line from Pulp Fiction: Personality goes a long way. On paper, Trump had none of the characteristics of a successful GOP nominee—a Manhattan billionaire who bragged about cheating on his first wife with the mistress who later became his second divorce, a closet full of skeletons and a history of cozying up to Democrats? But he was able to connect on such a visceral level that none of those liabilities mattered. What he also showed is how irrelevant parties are—before he pulled chunks of the Democratic base away from Clinton, he swallowed the strongest field of up-and-coming Republican leaders in decades, all while throwing conservative dogma in the toilet. Internalize that, Garcetti says, because “there’s no question that the next generation of voters for the next 50 years will be people who don’t wake up thinking about themselves as a Democrat or a Republican.”

Pick your movie analogy: People want more Jay Bulworth, less Tracy Flick. It often took a village of Clinton advisers just to produce one tweet; Trump pulls out his Android smartphone and lets loose. “Do your own social media for crying out loud. That authenticity is important,” New Jersey Senator Cory Booker advises. Democrats aren’t going to turn into Trump clones, dashing off grammatically challenged 140-character tirades at 3 a.m., but their politicians are trying to unlearn how to be politicians.

“Everybody who’s in elected office, who wants a future in this space, whatever you are, be it,” Atlanta’s Reed says. “Anybody can win right now. But I’ll tell you who will definitely lose: a fraud.”

***

Problem No. 4: The Obama Legacy

Several times since the election, between knocks on Clinton for running a low-energy campaign, Obama has compared this moment for Democrats to 2004, when George W. Bush was narrowly reelected, the House stayed Republican, and he and Ken Salazar were the only Democrats newly elected to a Republican-dominated Senate. Two years later, he points out, Democrats swept Congress. Two years after that, he’s the president.

What Obama conveniently leaves out is how significantly gerrymandering, enabled by state-level losses, has since tilted the House map for Republicans, how different that 2006 Senate map looked from what’s ahead, and how at this same point, four years out from Election Day 2008, it was pretty clear that Obama and Clinton and John Edwards and probably Biden and Bill Richardson and all the way down to Dennis Kucinich were going to run for president. Now, no one has any idea who the field will be in 2020, and no one outside Washington knows the names that get talked about in Washington.

“With Barack, we skipped a whole generation,” Biden told me in an interview in his West Wing office just over a week before Trump’s inauguration, when I asked him if he would run in 2020 and what that says about the party’s lack of young leaders. “There’s also been times when it looked like there were a lot of qualified people who were younger, and all of a sudden you turn to the older folks in the party.” He didn’t name any.

Warren might spark a movement, and she could almost certainly count on winning New Hampshire, but she would be 71 and make a lot of Democrats worry she would take the party too far left. Booker can, and likes to assert that he can, tap into an Obama-esque post-racial aspirationalism. Cuomo would have a socially progressive, fiscal centrist record to tout. Many are talking up Kamala Harris, though almost none of them know anything about the new California senator other than that she’s a multi-ethnic woman; few have heard her speak or couldn’t identify a single policy position she holds. Other names get tossed around—Hickenlooper, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

“There isn’t a clear tier-one level of elected officials jumping out right now,” says Mitch Stewart, Obama’s 2012 battleground states director and now a Democratic operative working with some of the up-and-coming talent. “There’s so much more oxygen in the run-up to this next election than there has been previously, that leaders in industry, leaders in nonprofit, leaders in service outside of politics can take a real look at the 2020 race.”

And so conversations tip to the likes of Sheryl Sandberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Cuban, Tom Steyer, Tom Hanks. There’s always the George Clooney fantasy. Meryl Streep wasn’t even done with her Trump-bashing speech at the Golden Globes before that idea started going around, at least informally.

In the meantime, Democrats face a dangerous period in which it’s not clear who is calling the shots. Obama and Biden have both rethought their retirement plans to help shape the next generation of Democrats—Obama focused more on rebuilding party infrastructure, cultivating the grass roots and potentially meeting with presidential candidates as 2020 gets closer; Biden more engaged with nurturing talented up-and-comers. But both are determined to sit out day-to-day politics, people close to them say, though Trump could easily goad either or both of them back into the fray.

“What I was able to do during my campaigns, I wasn’t able to do during midterms,” Obama said. “I didn’t crack the code on that.”

Many Democrats want Obama now to be the field marshal on the campaign trail and the architect of the revival, if only out of penance for the eight years of Democratic decimation on his watch—a record that culminated in his sharing a limo from the White House to the Inauguration with a man once thought to be the most unelectable major-party nominee in generations.

“You’re right,” Obama said at his good-riddance-to-2016 news conference when I asked him about those critiques. “What I was able to do during my campaigns, I wasn’t able to do during midterms. It’s not that we didn’t put in time and effort into it. I spent time and effort into it, but the coalition I put together didn’t always turn out to be transferable.” Obama blamed some of the losses on the inherent pushback to one party being in power, some to “deep-standing traditional challenges for Democrats, like during off-year elections, the electorate is older and we do better with a younger electorate.”

“I didn’t crack the code on that,” Obama acknowledged, “and if other people have ideas about how to do that even better, I’m all for it.”

***

Problem No. 5: Trump

You could park Trump Force One in the gap between Democrats’ capabilities and their ambitions. They’re eager to crush Trump not just for the sake of stopping the changes he’s pursuing—they want to embarrass him personally, and they look at 2020 as a chance to pretend that he was never really elected, that America didn’t put him in the same seat as Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

They are petrified that everyone will keep underestimating Trump and will be busy fighting over basic values while the president and his Republican majority roll over them and roll back most of what they fought for during the past eight years. Elections are usually won on pocketbook issues; nobody really knows how it would work to run on abstract concepts like freedom of the press or transparency—but many Democrats are tempted to turn their opposition to Trump into a crusade to save America itself.

“We’ve never had to have a conversation about reselling democracy,” says Murphy. “Liberals scoffed at his talk of jailing journalists and throwing out major portions of the Constitution, because we just sort of assumed that everybody’s on board with this thing called American democracy.”

“The conversations that I’m having in the cloakroom, in texts and on the phone, reflect a caucus that is not about politics right now,” agrees Booker. “This is a crisis moment in America.”

There is no time for any of it: no time to debate what the party should focus on, no time to recruit candidates, no time to identify new leaders, no time to rebuild Democrats’ core of operations, no time to unpack everything that went wrong in the 2016 campaign, no time to build a legislative strategy, no time to wrap their heads around how much change is coming to America and American politics.

After decades of neglect, there’s nothing else, either.

“The Democratic Party now is left literally at zero—zero dollars in the bank, zero infrastructure as the Clinton campaign closes up shop,” wrote Democratic National Committee consultant Donnie Fowler in a post-mortem ordered by outgoing interim chair Donna Brazile, “and, most importantly, zero majority control in Washington and in 33 of the states.”

On the other hand, Trump could be the Democrats’ salvation. He’s already deeply unpopular, and midterms tend to go badly for the party in the White House. It’s tempting for Democrats to think all they need to do is wait for their adversaries to defeat themselves. Or that some reporter will finally discover the Holy Grail of Donald Trump scoops—the story that will take him, and the GOP, down. Or that Republicans will continue to overreach and get eaten by a Trump tweet the way they did the very first day of this Congress with the attempt to scrap the Office of Congressional Ethics. Or that the savior candidate will come from nowhere and rescue the party by sheer force of personality—another Obama.

“Elections are only as bad as the next one,” Garcetti says, “when suddenly the impossible becomes possible.”

Whatever the truth of that statement, the next two and four years are going to be all about Trump. Anson Kaye, one of Clinton’s top media consultants, has been spending the weeks since the election giving a presentation on what happened and what he thinks has to happen now. It ends like this: “Trump is a radical. / Which makes him an opportunity. / Values first. / Stand up (for the little guy/against bullies/in the line of fire) / Talk like a normal person. / Protect the right to vote. / Treat 2018 like a national election. / Target governors and state legislators.”

Then on the final slide: “Be clear-eyed about the America we live in.”

Voir encore:

At the base of Trump’s support

Salena Zito

Trib Live
Aug. 20, 2016

RUFFSDALE

If you drive anywhere in Pennsylvania, from the turnpike to the old U.S. routes to the dirt roads connecting small towns like Hooversville with “bigger” small towns like Somerset, you might conclude that Donald Trump is ahead in this state by double digits.

Large signs, small signs, homemade signs, signs that wrap around barns, signs that go from one end of a fence to another, all dot the landscape with such frequency that, if you were playing the old-fashioned road-trip game of counting cows, you would hit 100 in just one small town like this one.

In Ruffsdale, I am pretty sure I saw more than 100 Trump signs.

It’s as if people here have not turned on the television to hear pundits drone on and on about how badly Trump is losing in Pennsylvania.

It’s not just visual: In interview after interview in all corners of the state, I’ve found that Trump’s support across the ideological spectrum remains strong. Democrats, Republicans, independents, people who have not voted in presidential elections for years — they have not wavered in their support.

Two components of these voters’ answers and profiles remain consistent: They are middle-class, and they do not live in a big city. They are suburban to rural and are not poor — an element I found fascinating, until a Gallup survey last week confirmed that what I’ve gathered in interviews is more than just freakishly anecdotal.

The Gallup analysis, based on 87,000 interviews over the past year, shows that while economic anxiety and Trump’s appeal are intertwined, his supporters for the most part do not make less than average Americans (not those in New York City or Washington, perhaps, but their Main Street peers) and are less likely to be unemployed.

The study backs up what many of my interviews across the state found — that these people are more concerned about their children and grandchildren.

While Trump supporters here are overwhelmingly white, their support has little to do with race (yes, you’ll always find one or two who make race the issue) but has a lot to do with a perceived loss of power.

Not power in the way that Washington or Wall Street board rooms view power, but power in the sense that these people see a diminishing respect for them and their ways of life, their work ethic, their tendency to not be mobile (many live in the same eight square miles that their father’s father’s father lived in).

Thirty years ago, such people determined the country’s standards in entertainment, music, food, clothing, politics, personal values. Today, they are the people who are accused of creating every social injustice imaginable; when anything in society fails, they get blamed.

The places where they live lack economic opportunities for the next generation; they know their children and grandchildren will never experience the comfortable situations they had growing up — surrounded by family who lived next door, able to find a great job without going to college, both common traits among many successful small-business owners in the state.

These Trump supporters are not the kind you find on Twitter saying dumb or racist things; many of them don’t have the time or the patience to engage in social media because they are too busy working and living life in real time.

These are voters who are intellectually offended watching the Affordable Care Act crumble because they warned six years ago that it was an unworkable government overreach. They are the same people who wonder why President Obama has not taken a break from a week of golfing to address the devastating floods in Louisiana. (As one woman told me, “It appears as if he only makes statements during tragedies if there is political gain attached.”)

Voice such a remark, and you risk being labeled a racist in many parts of America.

The Joe-Six-Pack stereotype of a Trump supporter was not created in a vacuum; it’s real and it’s out there. Yet, if you dig down deep into the Gallup survey — or, better yet, take a drive 15 minutes outside of most cities in America — you will learn a different story.

That is, if you look and listen.

Voir enfin:

Year In Review
The Eight Great Powers of 2017

In 2016, Russia surpassed Germany, and Israel joined the list for the first time

Walter Russell Mead & Sean Keeley

1. The United States of America

No surprise here: as it has for the last century, the United States remains the most powerful country on earth. America’s dynamic economy, its constitutional stability (even as we watch the Age of Trump unfold), its deep bench of strong allies and partners (including 5 of the 7 top powers listed below), and its overwhelming military superiority all ensure that the United States sits secure in its status on top of the greasy pole of international power politics.

Not that American power increased over the past year. 2016 may have been the worst year yet for the Obama Administration, bringing a string of foreign policy failures that further undermined American credibility across the world. In Syria, Russia brutally assisted Assad in consolidating control over Aleppo and sidelined Washington in the subsequent peace talks. China continued to defy the American-led international order, building up its military presence in the South China Sea and reaching out to American allies like the Philippines. Iran and its proxies continued their steady rise in the Middle East, while the Sunnis and Israel increasingly questioned Washington’s usefulness as an ally. Meanwhile, the widespread foreign perception that Donald Trump was unqualified to serve as the President of the United States contributed to a growing chorus of doubt as to whether the American people posses the wit and the wisdom to retain their international position. Those concerns seemed to be growing in the early weeks of 2017.

In the domestic realm, too, America’s leaders did little to address the country’s pressing long-term economic problems, nor did they inspire much confidence in the potential for effective bipartisan cooperation. The populist surge that almost gave the Democratic nomination to the Socialist senator Bernie Sanders and brought Donald J. Trump to the White House was a sign of just how alienated from politics as usual many Americans have become. Foreigners will be watching the United States closely in 2017 to see whether and how badly our internal divisions are affecting the country’s will and ability to pursue a broad international agenda.

Still, for all this gloom, there was good news to be had. Fracking was the gift that kept on giving, as the United States surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the country with the world’s largest recoverable oil assets and American businesses discovered new innovations to boost their output. The economy continued its steady growth and unemployment fell to a pre-financial crisis low, with the Fed’s year-end interest rate hike serving as a vote of confidence in the economy’s resilience.

As the Trump administration gets under way, the United States is poised for what could be the most consequential shift in American policy in several generations. On some issues, such as the shale revolution, Trump will build on the progress already made; in other areas, such as China’s maritime expansionism or domestic infrastructure, his policies may bring a welcome change; in others still, Trump’s impulsiveness could well usher in the dangerous consequences that his liberal detractors so fear.

But regardless of what change the coming year brings, it is important to remember that America’s strength does not derive solely or primarily from the whims of its leaders. America’s constitutional system, its business-friendly economy, and the innovation of its people are more lasting sources of power, proving Trump critics right on at least one count: America has never stopped being great.

2.  China (tie)

In 2016, China cemented its status as the world’s second greatest power and the greatest long-term challenger to the United States. In the face of American passivity, Beijing projected power in the South and East China Seas, built up its artificial outposts and snatched a U.S. military drone at year’s end. Aside from its own forceful actions, China also enjoyed several strokes of good fortune in 2016, from the election of a China-friendly populist in the Philippines to the demise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will grant China a new opportunity to set the trade agenda in the Asia-Pacific.

China continued to alternate between intimidating and courting its neighbors, scoring some high-profile victories in the process. Most prominent was the turnaround from Manila, as the new Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte embraced China: in part because of his anti-Americanism, but also thanks to Chinese support for his anti-drug campaign and the promise of lucrative trade ties and a bilateral understanding on the South China Sea. Beijing also cannily exploited the Malaysian Prime Minister’s disillusionment with the United States to pull him closer into Beijing’s orbit, while pursuing cozier ties with Thailand and Cambodia.

Not all the news was good for Beijing last year. For every story pointing to Beijing’s growing clout on the world stage, there was another pointing to its inner weakness and economic instability. Over the course of the year, Chinese leaders found themselves coping with asset bubbles, massive capital flight, politically driven investment boondoggles, pension shortfalls, brain drain, and a turbulent bond market. The instinctual response of the Chinese leadership, more often than not, was for greater state intervention in the economy, while Xi sidelined reformers and consolidated his power. These signs do not suggest confidence in the soundness of China’s economic model.

And despite the gains made from flexing its military muscle, there have been real costs to China’s aggressive posture. In 2016, Vietnam militarized its own outposts in the South China Sea as it watched China do the same. Indonesia began to pick sides against China, staging a large-scale exercise in China-claimed waters. Japan and South Korea agreed to cooperate on intelligence sharing—largely in response to the threat from North Korea, but also, implicitly, as they both warily watch a rising Beijing. And India bolstered its military presence in the Indian Ocean in response to China’s ongoing “string of pearls” strategy to project power there. For all its power, then, China is also engendering some serious pushback in its neighborhood.

The new year finds China in an improved position but also a precarious one, as its economic model falters and it seeks to break out of its geopolitical straitjacket.

2. Japan (tie)

Here at TAI we have long argued that Japan is a perennially underrated global power whose influence has been steadily increasing over the past few years. 2016 saw that trend continue, thanks to smart diplomacy from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a widespread anxiety over China’s aggression that drove many of its neighbors toward greater cooperation with Tokyo.

In 2016, Japan continued to be at the forefront of opposition to China, pushing back against Chinese incursions and pursuing partnerships with other Asian states that are similarly troubled by China’s rise. In its own neighborhood, in the East China Sea, Japan upped its deterrence posture and announced plans to deploy a tactical ballistic missile shield. Tokyo also took a firmer stance on the South China Sea dispute (to which it is not a party) as it sought to rally claimants who are similarly fed up with China’s aggression. The threat from North Korea also strengthened Japan, allowing Tokyo and Seoul to find common ground on missile defense and an intelligence-sharing pact that infuriated Beijing. Farther abroad, Japan inked a landmark civil nuclear deal with India and continued to lay the groundwork for a promising partnership with New Delhi.

Not every Japanese initiative paid off: despite much hoopla about the Putin-Abe summit, Japan made little headway with Russia in their decades-old islands dispute. But on the whole, Abe can claim a remarkably successful year in foreign policy. Abe’s nationalist outlook and push for Japanese remilitarization remain controversial at home, but his record-high approval ratings and the ongoing reality of Chinese aggression have vindicated him for now.

America’s erratic course in the Pacific created both problems and opportunities for Japan. Obama’s dithering, Trump’s irascibility, and the collapse of American support for TPP meant that both friends and rivals became wary of an increasingly unpredictable United States. America’s unsteady course pushed Japan toward a more visible leadership role in the region, and Japan’s role in the construction of a maritime alliance to balance China took on a much higher profile than before. Japanese nationalists welcomed the country’s newly assertive regional stance, but they worried about the reliability of Japan’s most important ally.

On the economic front, Japan’s year was less successful. Economic growth continued to be sluggish for much of 2016, despite a better-than-expected third quarter. The demise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was another setback, dealing a blow to Japan’s economic strategy and its efforts to contain China. Still, Japan remains the world’s third-largest economy, and it shrewdly wielded its financial clout in countries like Myanmar and Sri Lanka as it sought to counter China’s checkbook diplomacy. All in all, Japan in 2016 continued to prove its mettle, acting not only as a powerful balance against China but as a major power in its own right.

4. Russia

Russia rose in our power rankings this year as Vladimir Putin continued to punch above his weight, defying predictions of economic collapse and military quagmire. The country once dismissed by President Obama as a “regional power” acting out of weakness ran circles around the United States in Syria, held its ground in Ukraine, weathered an economic storm at home, watched cracks widen in the European Union, and inserted itself into the heart of the American presidential election.

Putin scored both tactical and symbolic victories in Syria, allowing Assad to retake Aleppo while repeatedly humiliating the United States in the process. Russia’s ability to sideline the U.S. in post-Aleppo peace talks only confirmed that Russia, not the U.S., has become the major power broker in the county. Meanwhile, Putin’s reconciliation with Erdogan, NATO’s most estranged ally, positions Russia well to drive a wedge between Turkey and the West while laying the groundwork for a favorable settlement in Syria.

Closer to home, Russian troops continued to forestall any lasting peace in Ukraine, rendering any talk of EU or NATO integration a moot point. Russia-friendly leaders were elected in Georgia, Estonia, and Moldova, while the EU was buffeted by the shocks of Brexit, Eurosceptic populist insurgencies across the continent, and an ongoing stream of refugees, created in large part by Russia’s actions in Syria.

Putin’s fortunes took another upturn in November, when the United States elected Donald Trump, who has consistently promised to pursue friendlier ties with Moscow. The post-election uproar over Russia’s hacking of the DNC, and the dubious assertion that Trump will be Putin’s Manchurian candidate also played right into Putin’s hands, creating an impression that the all-powerful Putin holds the American electoral process in his hands.

When faced with these victories, it is worth remembering Russia’s many underlying weaknesses. Russia remains a weakly institutionalized state, subject to the whims of its strongman leader, and torn by long-simmering ethnic divisions and vast inequality. Its economy is resource-dependent and highly vulnerable to price shocks. Its military capabilities are laughably out of sync with the superpower image it attempts to project around the world. None of these realities changed this year, and all of them undermine Russia’s long-term potential as a great power. But 2016 showed that in a world of weak opponents, Russia can punch well above its weight. In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

5. Germany

Germany was ahead of Russia in last year’s power rankings. This year, their positions are reversed. Partly, this is because Putin had a good year; partly, it is because Germany, and Germany’s project in Europe, had a bad one.

As we wrote last year, Germany is locked in a long-term fight with Russia over the future direction of Europe. Germany wants a Europe in which European policies and laws are decided by EU institutions without outside interference. Germany’s dream is Russia’s nightmare; for hundreds of years Russia has had a say in almost every important question in Europe. Russia’s most important economic interests and, historically at any rate, its most important security concerns are European. The idea that a bunch of bureaucrats in Brussels can decide what rules Gazprom must obey, or how Russian minorities in the Baltic states are to be treated strikes many Russians (even many of Putin’s opponents) as unacceptable. Russia wants to be involved in European decision making about defense, about trade, about migration and about the Middle East. It wants a veto over NATO and EU expansion, and it wants a larger say in how these institutions work. It wants to bring power back into European politics, and to revive the old fashioned games of balance of power. Russia wants to tear down the edifice that Germany is trying to build.

In 2016, the wrecking ball gained on the construction crew. It wasn’t just the Brexit vote, though that vote was a profound shock to the European system and its rippling aftershocks continue to shake the foundations of the EU. There were also the continuing gains in public opinion polls of parties (both on the right and on the left) who oppose the current version of the European project in countries like France, Italy and the Netherlands—all among the six original founding members of the EU. It was the continuing rise to power of “illiberal democrats” in countries like Poland and Hungary. It was the continuing impasse over the euro and the corrosive fallout of the eurocrisis. It was the shock of Syrian and North African migrants, flocking into Europe and setting the EU countries against one another, even as Chancellor Merkel weakened her authority at home and abroad by a poorly thought out if warm hearted response to the crisis. It was the abrupt deterioration in EU-Turkish relations, and the painful realization in Brussels and Berlin that the EU will have to swallow its pride and concerns for human rights in order to prevent Turkey’s emerging strongman from blackmailing Europe with the threat of opening the floodgates for migration from Syria, Afghanistan and other troubled Islamic countries.

Europe was less united, less confident and less strong at the end of 2016 than it was at the beginning. With the election of Donald Trump, a man whose sympathies seem to lie more with the wrecking ball than with the construction crew, Europe’s prospects could darken still more. And with them, Germany’s clout could diminish further.

6. India

Like Japan, India is often overlooked in lists of the world’s great powers, but it occupies a rare and enviable position on the world stage. India is the world’s largest democracy, home to the second-largest English-speaking population in the world and boasting a diversified and rapidly growing economy. On the geopolitical front, India has many suitors: China, Japan and the United States are all seeking to incorporate India into their preferred Asian security architecture, while the EU and Russia court New Delhi for lucrative trade and defense agreements. Under the leadership of Narendra Modi, India has deftly steered its way among these competing powers while seeking to unleash its potential with modernizing economic reforms.

Not that Modi’s economic reforms are going all that well; the public backlash resulting from Modi’s hasty demonetization policy this year showcases the perils of overzealous reform. And India’s rapid growth trajectory has brought other crises that the government has been ill-equipped to address, India’s accelerating air pollution being the most visible example. Meanwhile, the escalation of the Kashmir conflict with Pakistan threatened to edge two bitterly opposed nuclear powers to the brink of war.

Despite these internal problems and the Pakistan scare, India found its footing elsewhere in 2016. Long hesitant to pick sides, New Delhi took several clear steps this year to deter a rising and aggressive China, announcing that it would fast-track its defense infrastructure projects in the Indian Ocean, amid fears that China was trying to encircle India with a “string of pearls.” Likewise, Modi explored new naval cooperation with both the United States and Japan, and signed a host of defense deals with Russia, France and Israel to modernize the Indian military. From the Middle East and East Africa to Southeast Asia, India is making its presence felt in both economics and security policy in ways that traditional great powers like Britain and France only wish they could match.

7. Iran

The proxy wars between Saudi Arabia and Iran continued unabated throughout 2016, and as we enter the new year Iran has confidently taken the lead. Saudi Arabia remains a formidable power, but it was Iran that pulled ahead in the last 12 months.

Throughout 2016, Iranian proxies were on the march across the Middle East, and the Shi’a Crescent seemed closer to reality than ever before. In Lebanon, Tehran rejoiced at the growing clout of Hezbollah and the election of Shi’a-friendly Michel Aoun, while the Saudis bitterly cut off aid in a sign of their diminishing influence in Beirut. And in Syria, Shiite militias helped to retake Aleppo and turn the tide for Assad. Iran was also gaining ground in Iraq. More disquieting than all this, from the Saudi perspective, were developments in Yemen. Iran-backed Houthi rebels took the fight to the Saudi-backed government in a war that has already claimed 10,000 lives.

Meanwhile, the fruits of the nuclear deal continued to roll in: high-profile deals with Boeing and Airbus sent the message that Iran was open for business, while Tehran rapidly ramped up its oil output to pre-sanctions levels.

2017 may be a more difficult year for Tehran; one of the mullahs’ most important assets, President Obama, is no longer in office and, as far as anybody can tell, the Trump administration seems more concerned about rebuilding ties with traditional American allies in the region than in continuing Obama’s attempt to reach an understanding with Iran.

8. Israel

This year there’s a new name on our list of the Eight Greats: Israel. A small country in a chaotic part of the world, Israel is a rising power with a growing impact on world affairs. Although 2016 saw the passage of yet another condemnation of Israel at the United Nations, this time in the Security Council thanks to an American decision to abstain rather than veto, overall the Jewish state continues to develop diplomatic, economic and military power and to insert itself into the heart of regional politics.

Three factors are powering Israel’s rise: economic developments, the regional crisis, and diplomatic ingenuity. Looking closely at these tells us something about how power works in the contemporary world.

The economic developments behind Israel’s new stature are partly the result of luck and location, and partly the result of smart choices. As to the luck and location factor, large, off-shore discoveries of natural gas and oil are turning Israel into an energy exporter. Energy self-sufficiency is a boost to Israel’s economy; energy exports boost Israel’s foreign policy clout. In 2016 Erdogan’s Turkey turned on most of its NATO and Western allies; ties with Israel strengthened. Turkey’s Islamist ruler wants gas, and he wants to limit Turkey’s dependence on Russia. Israel is part of the answer.

But beyond luck, Israel’s newfound clout on the world stage comes from the rise of industrial sectors and technologies that good Israeli schools, smart Israeli policies and talented Israeli thinkers and entrepreneurs have built up over many years. In particular, Israel’s decision to support the rise of a domestic cybersecurity and infotech economy has put Israel at the center of the ongoing revolution in military power based on the importance of information control and management to 21st century states. It is not just that private investors all over the world look to invest in Israel’s tech startups; access to Israeli technology (like the technology behind the Iron Dome missile system) matters to more and more countries. It’s not just America; India, China and Russia all want a piece of Israeli tech wizardry.

Other, less glamorous Israeli industries, like the irrigation, desalinization and dry land farming tech that water poor Israel has developed over the decades play their part. Israel’s diplomatic outreach to Africa and its deepening (and increasingly public) relationship with India benefit from Israel’s ability to deliver what people in other countries and governments want.

The second factor in Israel’s appearing on our list is the change in the Middle Eastern balance of power that has transformed Israel from a pariah state to a kingmaker. On the one hand, Syria, one of Israel’s most vociferous enemies and biggest security threats in the old days, has now been broken on the wheel. What has happened in Syria is a terrible human tragedy; but in the cold light of realpolitik the break up of Syria further entrenches Israel’s military supremacy in its immediate neighborhood. Egypt hates Hamas, ISIS and Islamic Jihad as much as Israel does; never has Egyptian-Israeli security cooperation been as close as it is today. Even more consequentially, the rise of Iran and its aspirations to regional hegemony on the one hand and the apparent support for its dreams from the Obama administration made Israel critical to the survival of the Sunni Arabs, including the Gulf states, who loathe Iran and fear a Shia victory in the religious conflict now raging across the Middle East. The Arab Establishment today has two frightening enemies: radical jihadi groups like ISIS on one side, and Iran on the other. Israel has a mix of intelligence and military capabilities that can help keep the regional balance stable; privately and even not so privately many prominent Arab officials today will say that Israeli support is necessary for the survival of Arab independence.

Finally, Israel has managed, uncharacteristically, to advance its global political agenda through effective and even subtle diplomacy. Just as Israel was able to strengthen its relationship with Turkey even as Turkish-U.S. and Turkish EU relations grew distant, Israel has been able to build a realistic and fruitful relationship with Russia despite Russia’s standoff with the west over Ukraine, and Russia’s ties with Iran. The deepening Israel-India relationship has also required patience and skill. Israel’s diplomatic breakthroughs in relations with African countries who have been hostile to Israel since the 1967 war were also built through patient and subtle diplomacy, often working behind the scenes. That behind-the-scenes outreach diplomacy has also helped Israel achieve new levels of contact and collaboration with many Arab countries.

It is not, of course, all sweetness and light. Hezbollah has tens of thousands of missiles aimed at Israel and, thanks to Iran’s victories in Syria, it can now enjoy much more reliable supplies from its patron. The Palestinian Question is as far from a solution as possible, and even as they fragment and squabble among themselves, the Palestinians continue to fight for Israel’s delegitimation in the UN and elsewhere. Israeli politics are as volatile and bitter as ever. The kaleidoscopic nature of Middle East politics means that  today’s hero can be tomorrow’s goat. While the breakdown of regional order has so far been a net positive for Israel’s security and power, things could change fast. In ISIS coup in Saudi Arabia, the collapse of Jordan, the fall of the Sisi government in Egypt: it is not hard to come up with scenarios that would challenge Israel in new and dangerous ways.

Former President Obama and his outgoing Secretary of State, John Kerry (neither widely regarded these days as a master of geopolitics), frequently warned Israel that its policies were leaving it isolated and vulnerable. This is to some degree true: European diplomats, American liberals and many American Jews are much less sympathetic to Israel today than they have been in the past. Future Israeli leaders may have to think hard about rebuilding links with American Democrats and American Jews.

But for now at least, Israel can afford to ignore the dismal croaking of the outgoing American administration. One of a small handful of American allies to be assiduously courted by the Trump campaign, Israel begins 2017 as the keystone of a regional anti-Iran alliance, a most-favored-nation in the White House, and a country that enjoys good relations with all of the world’s major powers bar Iran. Teodor Herzl would be astonished to see what his dream has grown into; David Ben-Gurion would be astounded by the progress his poor and embattled nation has made.


Investiture Trump: Attention, un Roosevelt peut en cacher un autre (Will Trump be a Republican Roosevelt ?)

23 janvier, 2017
Campaign Posters3
vetoesobama-fdr-new-new-dealdemo-reagantrump-roosevelt-jpg
chart-presidents-ranked2016electionresults2016_presidential_election_by_county-svgdc-by-raceSans malveillance envers quiconque, avec charité pour tous, avec fermeté dans la justice, pour autant que Dieu nous accorde de voir ce qui est juste, efforçons-nous d’achever l’ouvrage dans lequel nous sommes engagés, de panser les plaies de la nation. Abraham Lincoln (second discours d’investiture, 1864)
La seule chose dont nous devons avoir peur est la peur elle-même — l’indéfinissable, la déraisonnable, l’injustifiable terreur qui paralyse les efforts nécessaires pour convertir la déroute en marche en avant. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Ne vous demandez pas ce que votre pays peut faire pour vous; demandez-vous ce que vous pouvez faire pour votre pays. John F. Kennedy (1961)
Dans cette crise actuelle, l’État n’est pas la solution à notre problème ; l’État est le problème. De temps en temps nous avons été tentés de croire que la société est devenue trop complexe pour être contrôlée par la discipline de chacun, que le gouvernement par une élite était supérieur au gouvernement du peuple, par le peuple et pour le peuple. Et bien, si personne parmi nous n’est capable de se gouverner lui-même, alors qui parmi nous a la capacité d’en gouverner un autre ? Ronald Reagan
Nous sommes toujours une nation jeune, mais, dans les mots de la Sainte Ecriture : le temps est venu de mettre de côté les choses de l’enfance. Barack Hussein Obama (janvier 2009)
Aujourd’hui non seulement nous transférons le pouvoir d’une administration à une autre ou d’un parti à un autre, mais nous transférons le pouvoir de la capitale Washington et le donnons à nouveau à vous, le peuple Américain. (…) Le temps des paroles creuses est fini. Maintenant, c’est l’heure de l’action. (…) Une nouvelle fierté nationale va animer nos âmes, élever nos regards et guérir nos divisions. Il est temps de se remémorer ce vieux dicton que nos soldats n’oublieront jamais: que l’on soit noir, métis ou blanc, le même sang patriote court dans nos veines, nous jouissons tous des mêmes libertés et nous saluons tous le même grand drapeau américain. Et qu’un enfant soit né dans la banlieue de Detroit ou dans les plaines balayées par les vents du Nebraska, ils regardent tous le même ciel la nuit, leur coeur est plein des mêmes rêves et ils sont habités du même souffle de vie du Créateur tout-puissant. Ainsi, à tous les Américains, dans chaque ville, qu’elle soit proche ou lointaine, petite ou grande, d’une montagne à l’autre, d’un océan à l’autre, entendez ces mots: vous ne serez plus jamais ignorés. (…) Ensemble nous allons rendre à l’Amérique sa force. Nous allons rendre à l’Amérique sa prospérité. Nous allons rendre à l’Amérique sa fierté. Nous allons rendre à l’Amérique sa sécurité. Et oui, ensemble, nous allons rendre à l’Amérique sa grandeur. Donald J. Trump
 Nous avons dû lutter contre les vieux ennemis de la paix, le monopole industriel et financier, la spéculation, la banque véreuse, l’antagonisme de classe, l’esprit de clan, les profiteurs de guerre. Ils avaient commencé à considérer le gouvernement des Etats-Unis comme un simple appendice de leurs affaires privées. Nous savons aujourd’hui qu’il est tout aussi dangereux d’être gouverné par l’argent organisé que par le crime organisé. Franklin Roosevelt (1936)
L’establishment de Washington et les corporations financières qui l’ont financé existent pour une seule raison : se protéger et s’enrichir eux-mêmes. Cet establishment politique défaillant et corrompu est responsable des désastreux accords commerciaux. Il a détruit nos usines et nos emplois, qui ont fui vers la Chine, le Mexique et d’autres pays .. C’est une structure de pouvoir globale dont les décisions économiques ont pillé la classe ouvrière, dépouillé notre pays de sa richesse et mis cet argent dans les poches de grandes corporations et d’entités politiques. Donald Trump
We are the only country in the advanced world that makes it harder to vote rather than easier. And that dates back—there’s an ugly history to that. That we should not be shy about talking about … I’m talking about voting rights. The reason we are the only country among advanced democracies that makes it harder to vote is that it traces directly back to Jim Crow and the legacy of slavery. And it became sort of acceptable to restrict the franchise. And that’s not who we are. That shouldn’t be who we are. That’s not when America works best. So I hope that people pay a lot of attention to making sure that everybody has a chance to vote. Make it easier, not harder. This whole notion of voting fraud—this is something that is constantly has been disproved. This is fake news. The notion that there are a whole bunch of people out there who are going out there and not eligible to vote and want to vote. We have the opposite problem. We have a whole bunch of people who are eligible to vote who don’t vote. And so the idea we put in place the idea of a whole bunch of barriers to people voting doesn’t make sense. Barack Hussein Obama
President Obama says the effort to ensure ballot integrity “traces directly back to Jim Crow and the legacy of slavery.” This is idiotic. When Democrats imposed Jim Crow laws across the South in the wake of Reconstruction, they relied on poll taxes and ridiculously difficult or ambiguous tests — administered only, apparently, to African Americans who hadn’t finished a certain grade level — to maintain Democratic Party control. Voter ID had nothing to do with it. But no one ever said that Barack Obama knows anything about history. John Hinderaker
We already ask that people prove who they are in order to rent a car, buy a mortgage, or travel abroad — and I believe we should go further by taking the same approach to protect voting rights. In many other transactions, ID is an essential requirement — voting for a democratically elected government, your MP, or your councillor is one of the most important transactions someone can make and it is right that in turn their identity and the security of their vote should be protected. Chris Skidmore (Britain’s minister for the Constitution)
At his final press conference, Obama promised that he would continue to fight voter-ID laws and other measures designed to improve voting integrity. The U.S. is “the only country among advanced democracies that makes it harder to vote,” he claimed. “It traces directly back to Jim Crow and the legacy of slavery, and it became sort of acceptable to restrict the franchise. . . . This whole notion of election-voting fraud, this is something that has constantly been disproved. This is fake news.” The argument over whether or not there is voter fraud will rage on, in part because the Obama administration has spent eight years blocking states from gaining access to federal lists of non-citizen and other possibly illegal voters. Even so, there is abundant evidence that voter fraud is easy to commit. The Heritage Foundation’s website contains hundreds of recent examples of people convicted of stealing votes. But Obama’s first statement, that the U.S. is unique in trying to enforce ballot integrity, is demonstrably false. All industrialized democracies — and most that are not — require voters to prove their identity before voting. Britain was a holdout, but last month it announced that persistent examples of voter fraud will require officials to see passports or other documentation from voters in areas prone to corruption. In 2012, I attended a conference in Washington, D.C., of election officials from more than 60 countries; they convened there to observe the U.S. presidential election. Most were astonished that so many U.S. states don’t require voter ID. Lawyers with whom I spoke are also astonished to see Obama link voter ID with the Jim Crow era. (…) Which is precisely why it’s so disappointing to see Barack Obama use it to raise baseless fears that voter ID is a racist form of voter suppression. Even as he leaves office, the president who promised to unify us is continuing his level best to polarize and divide us. John Fund
Are you scratching your head and wondering, Since when did liberals and the Left embrace a sunny, light-filled vision of the United States? If so, you’re not misremembering things. These are the same liberal elites who have been telling us for decades that America is shot through with an ever-expanding array of hatreds and injustice that disenfranchise large portions of the population and force them to live in fear. (…) These thoroughly representative members — and products — of the cultural elite are the same people who have given us “safe spaces” and “allyship” on college campuses, under the preposterous notion that any American college student who is not white, male, and heterosexual is “unsafe.” The Left has developed a typology of American students as victims, their allies, and their presumed oppressors. (…) The press, the campus-rape bureaucracy, and an army of federal regulators proclaim that terrified college co-eds are living through a rape tsunami, which can be eradicated only by campus kangaroo courts. So rapidly does American oppression metastasize into new forms, in the eyes of the Left, that the Left is constantly forced to coin a new vocabulary for it: microaggression, intersectionality, institutional racism, white privilege, cis privilege, implicit bias, etc. The media’s contempt for Trump’s use of the phrase “carnage” to describe the rising violence in the inner city is particularly ludicrous. The press has slavishly amplified the Black Lives Matter claim that we are living through an epidemic of racist police shootings of black men. A New York Times editorial from July 2016 was titled “When Will the Killing Stop?” That same month, President Barack Obama asserted that black mothers and fathers were right to fear that their child will be killed by a cop — remarkably, he made this claim during the memorial service for five Dallas police officers gunned down by a Black Lives Matter–inspired assassin. (…) So if Trump is so contemptibly misguided in his description of the rising street violence over the last two years as “carnage,” how does that criminal violence compare with the supposed epidemic of cop killings of black men? In 2015, the last year for which we have official national data, more than 6,000 black males, according to the FBI, were killed by criminals, themselves overwhelmingly black. That is 900 more black males killed in 2015 than in the year before, but the number of black victims was undoubtedly higher even than that, since an additional 2,000 homicide victims were reported to the FBI without a racial identity. Black males make up about half of the nation’s homicide victims, so they presumably make up a similar share of racially unclassified homicide victims. According to several uncontradicted non-governmental estimates, homicides continued rising throughout 2016, thanks to what I have called the “Ferguson effect”: officers backing off proactive policing in minority neighborhoods, under the relentless charge of racism, and the resulting increase in violent crime. The year 2016, therefore, probably also saw well over 6,000 black males murdered on the streets. By contrast, the nation’s police fatally shot 16 “unarmed” black males and 20 “unarmed” white males in 2016, according to the Washington Post’s database of police killings. I have put “unarmed” in quotes because the Post’s classification of “unarmed” victims rarely conveys the violence that the suspect directed at the shooting officer. But even when we take the “unarmed” classification at face value, those 16 fatal police shootings of unarmed black men represent no more than 0.2 percent of all black male lives lost to homicide in 2016. If police shootings of allegedly unarmed black males represent a national epidemic of bloodshed, then what should we call the gunning down of over 375 times that number of black men by criminals? “Carnage” seems like a pretty good descriptor. In Chicago alone in 2016, 24 children under the age of twelve, overwhelmingly black, were shot. Trump has regularly denounced inner-city violence; he promised in his inaugural that that violence “stops right here and stops right now.” He invoked the “child . . . born in the urban sprawl of Detroit” or in the “windswept plains of Nebraska” as both looking up “at the same night sky” and deserving of the same public safety. President Obama scoffed at Trump’s concern over rising urban violence even as he regularly accused the cops of lethally discriminating against blacks. For truth-telling when it comes to the actual dangers in American society, I’ll take the current president over the former one and the cultural milieu from which he emerged. Heather Mac Donald
La photo comparant la foule présente à l’investiture de Donald J. Trump vendredi dernier et celle de Barack Obama en 2009 a fait le tour des réseaux sociaux ce week-end. Des chaines de télévision et des journaux influents se sont également laissé emporter par cette vague. Donald Trump est le président le moins populaire depuis Jimmy Carter, il y a 40 ans. Selon un sondage du Washington Post et  de ABC News, le nouveau président aurait moins de 40% d’opinions favorables. Certes, il est impopulaire. Certes, son investiture a regroupé moins de personnes que ce à quoi l’on s’attendait. Est-ce une raison pour comparer son investiture à celle de l’ancien président démocrate, Barack Obama? Tout cela serait une affaire de démographie. Depuis bien longtemps, le District de Columbia ainsi que les états autour, tels que la Virginie, le Maryland, la Pennsylvanie, la Caroline du Nord, le Delaware, etc. sont des états démocrates. Lorsqu’un président démocrate est élu, il est plus facile pour ces personnes de rejoindre Washington, puisqu’ils se trouvent relativement près de la capitale, contrairement à certaines personnes vivant dans des états républicains, plus éloignés. Donald J. Trump a misé sa campagne présidentielle sur l’économie et l’immigration, cherchant le vote de la classe moyenne et des minorités. Cette population gagne entre 46 000 et 86 000 euros par an. Après avoir payé les dettes, les impôts, le loyer, les courses et autres dépenses de la vie quotidienne, il ne reste plus rien. (…) Cette population se bat pour vivre normalement, et pour avoir un salaire décent. Selon le ministère du travail et de l’emploi, 5% de la population, soit 18 millions d’américains, auraient entre deux et trois emplois pour pouvoir subvenir aux besoins de leurs familles. Ils ne sont pas tous républicains, mais pour les ceux qui souhaitent s’offrir un weekend dans la capitale pour assister à l’investiture d’un président républicain, cela coûte cher et parait hors de portée. (…) Contrairement, un président démocrate a déjà un bon nombre de ses électeurs vivant dans les états autour de Waghington DC et qui peuvent venir dans la capitale plus facilement. Donald J. Trump n’arrive pas au pouvoir avec une popularité à son plus haut, mais cela est-il la raison d’une foule moins nombreuse lors de son investiture? Lorsque George W. Bush est devenu le 43e président des États-Unis en 2001, seulement 300 000 personnes se sont montrées pour son investiture et son taux de popularité était de 62% selon le site internet de la Maison-Blanche. En janvier 2005, entre 100 000 et 400 000 personnes ont assisté à son investiture. Au final, ce n’est pas la première fois qu’une investiture républicaine attire moins de monde qu’une investiture démocrate.  George W. Bush était plus populaire que Trump lors de ses investitures, mais plus de monde a assisté à celle de Donald J. Trump. (…) Selon le comité d’investiture, 700 000 personnes se seraient regroupées sur le Mall, la sécurité intérieure quant-à elle, estime qu’entre 800 000 et 900 000 personnes auraient été présentes ce jour là. Comparer une investiture d’un president démocrate et celle d’un républicain n’est pas représentatif de la popularité du president élu. Cependant, Obama était tout de même plus populaire que Trump lors de son investiture avec 78% de popularité et presque 2 millions de personnes à son investiture en 2009. Clémentine Boyer Duroselle
Avec le discours d’investiture, le nouveau président présente habituellement sa vision de l’Amérique et les objectifs de son mandat. Le discours le plus court de l’histoire, 135 mots, a été prononcé par George Washington, lors de son assemtnation pour son second mandat, le 4 mars 1793. Le plus long, avec 8495 mots, l’a été par William Henry Harrisson, le 4 mars 1841. Ce dernier a parlé pendant près de deux heures, sans manteau ni chapeau, en pleine tempête de neige. Il est mort peu de temps après, et on a longtemps cru que c’était parce qu’il avait pris froid ce jour-là. Les historiens modernes croient plutôt qu’il est mort après avoir bu l’eau contaminée par les égouts à la Maison-Blanche. Parmi les discours les plus marquants, celui d’Abraham Lincoln. En 1865, il a exhorté les Américains, déchirés par la guerre civile, à considérer l’avenir « sans malveillance envers quiconque, avec charité pour tous ». En 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt a dit aux Américains ébranlés par la Grande Dépression : « La seule chose dont nous devons avoir peur est la peur elle-même. » Quant à John F. Kennedy, il a lancé à ses concitoyens en 1961 cette phrase devenue historique : « Ne vous demandez pas ce que votre pays peut faire pour vous; demandez-vous ce que vous pouvez faire pour votre pays. » Radio-Canada
C’est l’insulte à la mode, l’insulte tendance, l’insulte qui vous classe dans les dîners parisiens. Avant, on disait fasciste ou pétainiste, on évoquait Hitler, Mussolini, Franco. (…) Enfin, Poutine et Orban connurent il y a peu leur moment de consécration: incarner le mal absolu aux yeux des pensants du boulevard Saint-Germain. Désormais, c’est Trump. Gare à la trumpisation de la vie politique nous prévient François Hollande. Le Brexit gagne en Angleterre ? C’est Trump. Marine Le Pen est donnée au second tour de la présidentielle dans tous les sondages ? Encore Trump. Sarkozy évoque nos ancêtres les Gaulois ? Encore et toujours Trump.  Trump veut dire à la fois populiste, raciste, nationaliste, misogyne, islamophobe, ringard, vulgaire, stupide, beauf, plouc. La droite extrême et l’extrême droite, la droite dure. Les contempteurs du Donald font ce qu’ils reprochent à Trump : ils s’attachent à l’image, à la forme, à la superficie des choses. Ils ne regardent que le style de Trump, pas son programme. Eh oui, n’en déplaise à beaucoup, Trump a un programme électoral. On y retrouve le fameux mur qu’il veut édifier pour arrêter l’immigration mexicaine. Mais pas seulement. Trump prévoit également de lancer de grands travaux d’infrastructures qui sont, comme on sait, très vétustes en Amérique. Il ne faut pas oublier que dans une première vie Trump fut promoteur immobilier. Et puis, Trump n’aime pas beaucoup Wall Street qu’il propose de taxer lourdement. Le candidat républicain augmenterait aussi l’impôt des plus riches. On comprend que l’establishment de son parti le renie. Trump est un partisan du protectionnisme commercial pour relocaliser les usines américaines parties au Mexique ou en Asie. Trump rétablirait enfin la séparation entre banques d’investissement et banques de dépot qu’avait établie le président Roosevelt en 1932 et qu’avait abolie Bill Clinton dans les années 90. Et tout ça, n’est pas un hasard. Le programme de Trump ressemble comme un frère – ou plutôt un petit-fils – à celui de Roosevelt et son fameux new deal. C’est un programme de gauche, mais la gauche des années 30. Une gauche qui refusait l’immigration pour défendre les emplois des ouvriers américains. Une gauche patriotique et républicaine, dirait-on en France. Hillary Clinton incarne aussi la gauche, mais la gauche des minorités raciales et sexuelles, des féministes, du libéralisme, du cosmopolitisme, de l’individualisme. La gauche qui a fini par faire amie-amie avec Wall Street. La gauche du libéralisme, de l’individualisme. La gauche du libre-échange et des interventions militaires au nom des droits de l’homme. La gauche des années 60.  l’affrontement entre Trump et Clinton n’est donc pas un combat entre le menteur et la voleuse, entre la droite et la gauche, ni même entre la droite populiste et la droite libérale, mais bien entre deux gauches : la gauche des années 30 contre la gauche des années 60. Une Amérique qui veut rester américaine contre une Amérique qui veut devenir un pays monde. Entre deux pays, deux peuples. Une Amérique périphérique et vaincue de la mondialisation contre une Amérique des vainqueurs vivant dans les grandes métropoles. Deux Amériques comme il y a deux Angleterre et comme il y a deux France. Eric Zemmour
Pourquoi tant de haine? Pourquoi tant de mépris, de dérision? Pourquoi tant de sarcasmes, d’invectives, d’insultes? Pourquoi cette hostilité unanime des élites, économiques, politiques, intellectuelles, artistiques, médiatiques? Pourquoi Donald Trump a-t-il subi un tel ostracisme, jusqu’au sein de son propre parti? Ce n’était pas l’objet premier de son livre, mais André Bercoff y répond quand même à la fin: «Le multimilliardaire se range résolument du côté des déclassés et des laissés-pour-compte, de ceux qu’on appelle en douce France les beaufs, les ploucs, les Dupont-Lajoie. En clair, les réactionnaires. Là est la trahison de Trump que le camp d’en face ne lui pardonne pas.» (…) Trump, c’est la version instinctive et vulgaire de la critique universitaire sophistiquée faite par Samuel Huntington de la déconstruction américaine préparée dans les campus américains des années 1960, et mise en oeuvre dans les années 1990. Trump, c’est le paradoxal retour à la synthèse du New Deal des années 1930 détruit par les héritiers « de gauche » libéraux et libertaires et l’alliance de Wall Street et des néo-conservateurs. (…) Le meurtre par la gauche de sa base sociologique – ce qu’elle appelait naguère avec emphase « le peuple » ! – a fini par créer son anticorps. Le programme de Trump, c’est celui de Roosevelt en 1932 : protectionnisme, grands travaux d’infrastructure, immigration zéro (Roosevelt n’a pas remis en cause les quotas très stricts mis en place dans les années 1920 et qui ne seront supprimés que dans les années 1960 !), hausse des impôts pour les plus riches, véritable système de sécurité sociale et la mise sous tutelle de Wall Street et des financiers. L’ennemi de Trump est vraiment la finance. En politique étrangère, et au-delà des provocations et des invectives de campagne électorale, Trump achèverait la révolution engagée par Obama : L’Amérique abandonnerait les théâtres subalternes pour se concentrer sur la seule défense du marché principal des grandes entreprises américaines : l’Asie; et affronter le seul rival dangereux : la Chine, à l’instar encore de Roosevelt, privilégiant la guerre contre l’Allemagne nazie afin de « libérer » le principal marché américain : l’Europe. Quitte à sous-traiter à la Russie le Proche-Orient, voire l’Afrique à la France. Trump, où le petit-fils caché de Roosevelt. La preuve par l’absurde de la trahison de la gauche. On comprend mieux soudain la haine que suscite Trump au sein des élites américaines et européennes. Alors, mieux vaut continuer à se moquer de sa chevelure ridicule et de ses blagues de garçon de coiffeur. Eric Zemmour

Trump sera-t-il un Roosevelt républicain ?

Au lendemain de l’investiture d’une nouvelle présidence américaine …

Qui après l’arrogance et l’accident industriel Obama et ses huit longues années d’abaissement de la puissance américaine …

Et alors qu’entre deux dénonciations de son fascisme supposé ou de sa revendication du contrôle d’identité dans les bureaux  de vote (voire de sa moindre foule à une inauguration dans une capitale – sans compter les états alentour – à plus de 90% démocrate depuis plus de 50 ans et à quelque 60% non-blanche), les élites protégées des médias ou du monde du spectacle continuent leur entreprise de déligitimation du choix de toute une partie de l’Amérique jusqu’ici oubliée et dénigrée …

S’annonce, avec ses accents reaganiens comme ses appels à la reconstruction du pays, pleine d’espoir mais aussi, avec la nouvelle page vide que représente l’homme d’affaires Donald Trump et l’incroyable extension de pouvoir que lui a léguée son prédécesseur, d’une certaine incertitude …

Retour sur une présidence à laquelle l’on doit nombre des acquis sociaux les plus importants de l’histoire américaine …
Mais aussi la formidable expansion de la puissance étatique dénoncée aujourd’hui par le nouveau président Trump …
A savoir celle d’un président qui, entre la plus grande dépression et la plus grande guerre que son pays ait connues, prendra et quittera le pouvoir quasiment en même temps qu’un certain Adolf Hitler …
Et finira par devenir le président le plus mandaté de l’histoire américaine – pas moins de quatre élections au compteur pour 12 ans de règne pour celui qui appelera ses concitoyens à « n’avoir peur que de la peur elle-même » …
Tout en ne manquant pas, avec sa popularité record d’inventeur des « causeries autour du feu » et croisé tardif de la fin de la Prohibition comme de l’abandon du principe des deux mandats inauguré dès le départ par Washington lui-même mais aussi la nationalisation et la socialisation massives de l’économie du « New Deal », de faire des jaloux et des envieux …
Ou plus tard avec l’ouverture des archives, le racisme supposé (l’internement de minorités notamment japonaise, la non-reconnaissance du médaillé noir de Berlin Jessis Owens), la naïveté face à Staline et l’abandon de l’Europe de l’est au communisme, le refus de bombarder Auschwitz (et de fournir à Hitler une occasion d’accuser les Alliés de crimes de guerre alors que la priorité était à la victoire ?) ou même les pas moins de cinq maitresses, de nourrir les critiques posthumes …
Donald Trump, petit-fils caché de Roosevelt
«Trump, c’est le paradoxal retour à la synthèse du New Deal des années 1930 détruite par les héritiers ‘‘de gauche » libéraux et libertaires et l’alliance de Wall Street et des néo-conservateurs.»
Eric Zemmour
Le Figaro
14/09/2016
LA CHRONIQUE D’ÉRIC ZEMMOUR – Un portrait haut en couleur du candidat républicain à la Maison-Blanche. Sans les habituels a priori hostiles des médias.Pourquoi tant de haine? Pourquoi tant de mépris, de dérision? Pourquoi tant de sarcasmes, d’invectives, d’insultes? Pourquoi cette hostilité unanime des élites, économiques, politiques, intellectuelles, artistiques, médiatiques? Pourquoi Donald Trump a-t-il subi un tel ostracisme, jusqu’au sein de son propre parti? Ce n’était pas l’objet premier de son livre, mais André Bercoff y répond quand même à la fin: «Le multimilliardaire se range résolument du côté des déclassés et des laissés-pour-compte, de ceux qu’on appelle en douce France les beaufs, les ploucs, les Dupont-Lajoie. En clair, les réactionnaires. Là est la trahison de Trump que le camp d’en face ne lui pardonne pas.»Trahison: le grand mot est lâché. Trahison du baby-boomer qui se retourne contre sa génération. Trahison du patron de l’immobilier qui dénonce la corruption des politiques qu’il a lui-même beaucoup corrompus pour bâtir son empire de briques et de verre. Trahison d’un establishment dont il fut longtemps une figure de proue pour devenir la voix de l’Amérique « périphérique ».

Trump est le traître parfait. Un traître de comédie dans une époque qui nie la lutte des classes pour mieux protéger et dissimuler la victoire implacable des riches. Un vainqueur qui s’est mis à défendre les perdants. Comme un bourgeois du XIXe siècle se battant aux côtés des ouvriers. Pour découvrir ce secret de la présidentielles américaine, il fallait un journaliste vacciné contre les a priori idélogiques des journalistes; et un écrivain françias vacciné contre l’anti-américanisme. André Bercoff était cet homme-là. Bercoff fut l’un des rares journalistes européens (le seul ?) à interviewer Trump au début de la campagne des primaires alors que tous les « spécialistes »  ne donnaient pas cher de sa peau. Bercoff a gardé ce temps d’avance pour nous conter le parcours haut en couleur de ce magnat de l’immobilier des années 1980 devenu une star de la télé-ralité. Il le fait avec ses qualités (sens de la formule) et ses défauts (sens de la formule). A le lire, on comprend qu’un Trump français serait bien au-delà de la facile comparaison avec Bernard Tapie: l’enfant qu’aurait eu Francis Bouygues avec Loana !

Stendhal disait que « la caractéristique des Français est de ne pas être dupe ». Bercoff est très français. Séduit, bluffé, oui, mais pas dupe. De sa vulgarité, de son narcissisme, de ses vantardises, de ses roublardises, de son cynisme aussi de VRP de lui-même et de la marque Trump. « Ma vie est une bande dessinnée dont je suis le héros et ça me plait », dit Trump. Napoléon disait: « Quel roman que ma vie ». La différence de style est la même qu’entre les « comics » et Chateaubriand. En deux siècles, l’armée a été remplacée par la télévision. La fortune de Trump serait en France un obstacle rédhibitoire à toute carrière politique; elle le sert aux Etats-Unis, non seulement parce qu’elle authentifie le rêve américain qui est devenu un cauchemar pour une classe moyenne larguée par l’extraordinaire accroissement des inégalités depuis trente ans, mais aussi, et surtout parce qu’elle rend imperméable aux pressions des lobbyistes qui ont acheté une vie politique américaine revenue au degré inouï de corruption des temps héroïques de la conquête de l’Ouest et des « grands voleurs ».

Quand il dit, goguenard, « si je cherchais un premier emploi aujourd’hui je serais heureux d’être un Noir hautement diplomé parce qu’il bénéficie d’un véritable avantage », Trump résume le mal-être d’une classe moyenne blanche, prise en tenailles entre la globalisation (et la délocalisation de ses emplois en Chine) et la discrimination positive en faveur des minorités raciales et sexuelles.

Trump, c’est la version instinctive et vulgaire de la critique universitaire sophistiquée faite par Samuel Huntington de la déconstruction américaine préparée dans les campus américains des années 1960, et mise en oeuvre dans les années 1990.

Trump, c’est le paradoxal retour à la synthèse du New Deal des années 1930 détruit par les héritiers « de gauche » libéraux et libertaires et l’alliance de Wall Street et des néo-conservateurs.

Bercoof le pressent lorsqu’il met le programme de Trump en relation avec le « fabriquez français » de Montebourg ou le « travailler et vivre au pays » du communiste Georges Marchais qui réclamait déjà l’arrêt de toute immigration en 1980; mais il pourrait aller plus loin dans son analyse que le classique: « les extrêmes se touchent ». Le meurtre par la gauche de sa base sociologique – ce qu’elle appelait naguère avec emphase « le peuple » ! – a fini par créer son anticorps.

Le programme de Trump, c’est celui de Roosevelt en 1932 : protectionnisme, grands travaux d’infrastructure, immigration zéro (Roosevelt n’a pas remis en cause les quotas très stricts mis en place dans les années 1920 et qui ne seront supprimés que dans les années 1960 !), hausse des impôts pour les plus riches, véritable système de sécurité sociale et la mise sous tutelle de Wall Street et des financiers. L’ennemi de Trump est vraiment la finance.

En politique étrangère, et au-delà des provocations et des invectives de campagne électorale, Trump achèverait la révolution engagée par Obama : L’Amérique abandonnerait les théâtres subalternes pour se concentrer sur la seule défense du marché principal des grandes entreprises américaines : l’Asie; et affronter le seul rival dangereux : la Chine, à l’instar encore de Roosevelt, privilégiant la guerre contre l’Allemagne nazie afin de « libérer » le principal marché américain : l’Europe. Quitte à sous-traiter à la Russie le Proche-Orient, voire l’Afrique à la France. Trump, où le petit-fils caché de Roosevelt. La preuve par l’absurde de la trahison de la gauche.

On comprend mieux soudain la haine que suscite Trump au sein des élites américaines et européennes. Alors, mieux vaut continuer à se moquer de sa chevelure ridicule et de ses blagues de garçon de coiffeur.

Voir aussi:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 – 1945)

Un président pour changer l’Amérique : Roosevelt

Demain, 20 janvier 2017, sera investi le nouveau président des États-Unis. C’est l’occasion de revenir sur l’histoire des 45 présidents américains et de l’un des plus illustres, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Nous vous racontons son combat titanesque contre la Crise et le Mal nazi. Mais aussi ses secrets de famille longtemps restés dans l’ombre.

Nous revenons aussi sur l’histoire méconnue de son successeur, Truman. Modeste fabricant de chemises sans instruction ni expérience, il a pris les plus graves décisions que puisse prendre un chef d’État…

Hérodote

Président de guerre

Franklin Delano Roosevelt devient en 1933 le 32e président des États-Unis, alors que sévit depuis 1929 la plus grave crise économique de l’époque moderne.

Huit ans après son entrée à la Maison Blanche, le redressement est à peine engagé que l’Europe entre en guerre.

Les États-Unis sont eux-mêmes attaqués par le Japon, allié de l’Allemagne hitlérienne. En première ligne dans la lutte, le président meurt brutalement le 12 avril 1945, dans sa treizième année à la Maison Blanche (un record !), à la veille de la victoire finale.

Son quadruple mandat a installé les États-Unis dans le statut inédit de superpuissance

André Larané
Rétrospective sur Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Les Actualités Françaises 1945),  source : INA

La crise

Herbert Clark Hoover (10 août 1874, West Branch, Iowa ; 20 octobre 1964, New York)Avec le krach boursier d’octobre 1929, les États-Unis et, à leur suite, le reste du monde occidental entrent dans une crise économique majeure. Les faillites bancaires et industrielles se multiplient, le crédit s’effondre (« credit crunch ») et, avec lui, la consommation.

Lors des élections présidentielles de novembre 1932, les États-Unis, première puissance mondiale avec 123 millions d’habitants, comptent déjà 13 à 14 millions de chômeurs et leur production industrielle a été divisée par deux en 3 ans !

Le président sortant Herbert Hoover persiste à croire aux vertus régulatrices du marché et croit voir « la prospérité au coin de la rue ». Le parti démocrate lui oppose le gouverneur de l’État de New York Franklin Delanoo Roosevelt (50 ans) qui, lui, est partisan d’une intervention musclée de l’État.

Une famille compliquée

Franklin Delano Roosevelt à 18 ans (1900)Issu d’une famille patricienne de la côte Est, Franklin Roosevelt est un lointain cousin de l’ancien président Théodore Roosevelt, dont il a épousé la nièce Eleanor le 17 mars 1905. Le couple aura cinq enfants.

Réservée autant que son mari est extraverti, Eleanor doit compter avec la présence envahissante de sa belle-mère qui n’a jamais accepté leur union.

Elle trouve un réconfort dans la présence à ses côtés de sa secrétaire Lucy Mercer, enjouée et dévouée à la famille.

Arrive ce qui devait arriver : dès 1916, Lucy entame une liaison adultérine avec Franklin. Eleanor découvre leur correspondance amoureuse deux ans plus tard en défaisant les bagages de son mari, de retour d’un voyage en Europe.

Franklin et Eleanor Roosevelt en famille

Il est question de divorce. Une éventualité catastrophique pour le jeune homme auquel tous les espoirs sont permis. On convient donc d’un arrangement : le couple fait chambre à part, Franklin renonce à revoir Lucy… et Eleanor met toute son énergie (et sa fortune) à soutenir la carrière de son mari.

Lucy Mercer, 1915 (26 avril 1891 ; 31 juillet 1948)Lucy s’éloigne et épouse un riche veuf dont elle a une fille. Mais elle reste en correspondance avec Franklin et le retrouvera au plus fort de la guerre. Elle sera à ses côtés le jour de sa mort.

Quant à Eleanor, elle tient parole au-delà de toute espérance. Quand son mari connaîtra les premières atteintes de la polio, elle le remplacera dans les réunions publiques. À la Maison Blanche, elle gagnera par sa dignité et son engagement dans les oeuvres sociales le qualificatif de First Lady (« Première Dame »), une première. Après la chute du nazisme, elle mettra son nom et sa réputation au service des Nations Unies et participera à la rédaction de la Déclaration universelle des Droits de l’Homme.

Un jeune homme prometteur

Après ses études à Harvard et dans l’école de droit de Columbia, Franklin Roosevelt s’est engagé très tôt en politique. En 1910, il devient sénateur de l’État de New York et en 1913, à seulement 31 ans, entre dans le cabinet du président Wilson comme secrétaire d’État adjoint à la Marine.

Franklin Roosevelt, jeune Secrétaire d'État adjoint à la Marine (1913)

Sa jeune notoriété lui vaut de figurer sur le ticket démocrate en novembre 1920 comme vice-président du candidat James Cox. Mais celui-ci, qui est partisan d’engager les États-Unis dans la Société des Nations, est battu par le candidat républicain Warren Harding, partisan d’un retour à l’isolationnisme.

Comble de malheur, le 10 août 1921, alors qu’il fait de la voile dans le Nouveau-Brunswick, Roosevelt tombe à l’eau, victime d’une soudaine paralysie. Les médecins diagnostiquent une première attaque de poliomyélite. La maladie va le priver de l’usage de ses jambes. Il s’en remet très partiellement et surmonte son handicap avec un courage qui lui vaut le respect…

Notons que les photographes veilleront à dissimuler son handicap à l’opinion publique : Franklin Roosevelt sera toujours montré assis ou appuyé à l’épaule d’un ami. Les photographes témoigneront de la même réserve concernant sa vie privée, y compris lorsque Roosevelt les recevra dans son bureau en présence de sa maîtresse Lucy.

En 1928, grâce à la médiation de son épouse, Roosevelt fait un retour triomphal en politique en se faisant élire gouverneur de l’État de New York. Quand éclate la crise, il organise des opérations de secours à grande échelle et multiplie les innovations sociales et économiques. Aussi suscite-t-il un immense espoir aux élections de 1932 malgré la rudesse de ses opposants, tant dans le camp républicain que dans son propre parti démocrate.

Hoover avertit que « si FDR est élu, l’herbe poussera bientôt dans des centaines de villes et des milliers de localités ». Les intellectuels progressistes comme John Dos Passos et Erskine Caldwell l’accusent quant à eux de ne présenter « qu’une version démagogique du républicanisme ».

Les élections du 8 novembre lui valent néanmoins une victoire sans appel avec 57,41% du vote populaire et 472 grands électeurs contre 59 à son rival Hoover.

Débute alors une période de transition cruciale jusqu’à l’intronisation officielle, le 4 mars 1933. Le Congrès et les États en profitent pour voter un 20e amendement à la Constitution qui ramène au 20 janvier la passation des pouvoirs.

Discours d'investiture de Franklin Roosevelt le 5 mars 1933 (DR)

Le « New Deal » (en français Nouvelle donne)

Le nouveau président, qui s’est entouré d’un « Brain trust » (groupe informel de jeunes intellectuels), a préparé sans attendre un ensemble de mesures interventionnistes, avant tout pragmatiques, destinées à sortir le pays de la crise. C’est le « New Deal » (Nouvelle Donne). Il va les faire voter tambour battant par le Congrès au cours d’une extraordinaire session de cent jours, du 9 mars au 16 juin 1933.

Franklin Roosevelt signe l'Emergency Banking Act (10 mars 1933) sous le regard de son Secrétaire d'État au Trésor William Woodwin (DR)Dès le lendemain de son entrée à la Maison Blanche, il proclame l’état d’urgence (une première en temps de paix) et ferme temporairement les banques. Il interdit les exportations d’or et d’argent puis signe l’Emergency Banking Act, le 10 mars. Trois jours plus tard, 400 banques sont déjà en état de rouvrir leurs portes.

Pour éviter le renouvellement d’une crise de confiance, le gouvernement encadre l’activité bancaire avec le Federal Securities Act (27 mai 1933) et le Banking Act (16 juin 1933).

Plus important que tout, il abandonne l’étalon-or le 19 avril 1933 et dévalue le dollar de 40% : pour l’économiste Alfred Sauvy, cette mesure conventionnelle et peu médiatique aura un impact positif sur la reprise économique autrement plus important que toutes les lois du New Deal !

Le 12 mai 1933, l’Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) vise à mettre fin à la surproduction (coton, blé, tabac, maïs) et relever les prix agricoles pour soutenir le niveau de vie des fermiers. Il préconise une réduction des cultures et des cheptels en échange de subventions. Ainsi se met en place une politique massive de soutien de la culture du coton… aujourd’hui accusée de léser gravement les cultivateurs africains.

Le mois suivant, le 16 juin 1933, l’équivalent se met en place dans l’industrie avec le National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) qui tend à réduire les heures de travail dans l’industrie et augmenter les salaires. Un Bureau national du travail (National Recovery Administration, NRA) sert de médiateur dans les conflits entre patrons et ouvriers.

Le président Roosevelt debout (adossé à une balustrade) à côté de son épouse EleanorLast but not least, le 5 décembre 1933, le gouvernement fait voter le 21e amendement qui… annule le 18e et met fin à la Prohibition de l’alcool : coup dur pour la grande criminalité.

Contre le chômage, qui ne bénéficie encore d’aucune mutuelle d’assurance, Roosevelt met 500 millions de dollars à la disposition de la Federal Emergency Relief Administration. Il confie aussi un vaste programme de travaux publics d’un total de 3 500 millions de dollars à l’Emergency Public Works Administration. La réalisation emblématique est l’aménagement hydraulique de la vallée du Tennessee par la Tennessee Valley Authority fondée le 18 mai 1933.

L’année suivante est mise en place une Securities and Exchange Commission chargée de surveiller la validité des transactions boursières. Tout cela va de pair avec un considérable renforcement de l’admistration fédérale, passée de 600 000 à près d’un million de fonctionnaires entre 1933 et 1939.

Le président, qui est arrivé au pouvoir en même temps que Hitler (et mourra quelques jours avant lui), se montre comme le dictateur adepte des nouvelles techniques de communication : il explique volontiers son action politique à la radio, au cours de longues « causeries au coin du feu ». Il fait volontiers la Une de Time Magazine de son ami Henry Luce. Il innove aussi par l’utilisation des sondages avec l’institut Gallup.

Le président Roosevelt en chaise roulante dans l'intimité de sa propriété de Hyde Park (NY)Cela ne désarme pas les opposants. Au Congrès, les républicains et même les démocrates font obstacle aux projets législatifs de la Maison Blanche, obligeant le président à opposer pas moins de 635 fois son veto aux lois de l’assemblée. Un record ! La Cour Suprême, de son côté, n’admet pas que l’État s’entiche de diriger l’économie. Aussi invalide-t-elle en mai 1935 plusieurs mesures du New Deal dont le NIRA (aides à l’industrie). En janvier 1936, c’est au tour de l’AAA d’être invalidé !

C’est au moment où les attaques contre le New Deal se font les plus vives que la production industrielle rebondit enfin. Elle retrouve en 1936 90% de son niveau de 1929. Aux élections de novembre 1936, le président démocrate est reconduit avec 60,80% du vote populaire et 523 grands électeurs contre… 8 à son rival républicain Alf Landon !

C’est l’amorce d’une recomposition du paysage politique : le parti démocrate séduit les citadins, intellectuels et ouvriers, mais aussi les noirs du Sud qui commencent à délaisser le parti républicain du président Lincoln.

L’inquiétude

Il n’était que temps. L’année suivante, en 1937, l’activité économique rechute très brutalement avec une baisse de 40% de la production industrielle. C’est qu’en marge des mesures de rétorsion de la Cour Suprême, le gouvernement lui-même croit le moment venu de redresser les comptes publics en réduisant les dépenses et augmentant les impôts ! Il est obligé de faire machine arrière…

Le chômage ne disparaîtra qu’avec la Seconde Guerre mondiale, lorsque l’État inondera les industriels de commandes en vue d’un réarmement à marches forcées. C’est qu’en attendant, le deuxième mandat de Franklin Roosevelt est tout entier dominé par les menaces internationales.

Dès son accession au pouvoir, Roosevelt et son Secrétaire d’État Cordell Hull ont pratiqué une politique de bon voisinage en reconnaissant dès novembre 1933 le gouvernement soviétique et en renonçant à la politique du « gros bâton » en Amérique centrale.

Le président, soucieux d’exprimer le pacifisme de ses concitoyens, promulgue aussi en 1935 le Neutrality Act par lequel il s’interdit de fournir des armes à tout belligérant. Mais avec la montée des tensions internationales, cet isolationnisme lui apparaît de plus en plus irresponsable.

En octobre 1939, alors que vient d’éclater la Seconde Guerre mondiale, il fait amender le Neutrality Act en introduisant la clause cash and carry : des belligérants peuvent acheter des armes aux États-Unis à condition de les payer comptant et d’en assurer le transport. Cette clause avantage le Royaume-Uni et la France qui, seuls, peuvent envisager de transporter des armes en sécurité dans l’océan Atlantique.

Mais les citoyens américains n’en restent pas moins hostiles à toute intervention dans le conflit européen. Peu leur chaut que la Tchécoslovaquie, la Pologne, la Belgique, les Pays-Bas et la France soient agressés et envahis par Hitler…

Le président Roosevelt en couverture de Time (29 novembre 1943)Contre l’usage, Roosevelt, au vu de la situation internationale, prend la liberté de solliciter un troisième mandat. Sa décision fait débat au sein de son propre camp, au point qu’il doit modifier son ticket et remplacer son vice-président J.N. Garner par Henry Wallace. Son rival républicain Wendell Wilkie fait campagne pour la paix et contre le « faiseur de guerre ».  Il ne peut empêcher la réélection de Roosevelt mais celui-ci doit se satisfaire d’un résultat plus modeste que la fois précédente avec 54% du vote populaire et 449 grands électeurs contre 82 à son rival.

Le président a dès lors les mains plus libres en matière géopolitique. Décidé à soutenir le camp des démocraties, il obtient en mars 1941 le vote de la loi « prêt-bail » (Lend-Lease Act) qui facilite les ventes d’armes aux Britanniques et peut les étendre à « tout pays dont le président jugerait la défense essentielle pour la sécurité des États-Unis ».

Alors que le Royaume-Uni de Winston Churchill est encore contraint de lutter seul contre l’Allemagne de Hitler, l’industrie américaine se met toute entière à son service.

Oubliée la récession. Les États-Unis entrent dans une phase d’expansion et de prospérité sans précédent qui va leur assurer la suprématie mondiale pour plusieurs générations. Financées par les commandes publiques et les emprunts britanniques, les usines tournent à plein régime pour fabriquer non plus des voitures mais des tanks, des canons, des avions et des bateaux.

Le 22 juin 1941, avec l’invasion de l’URSS par la Wehrmacht, la guerre sur le continent européen est relancée et change d’échelle.

Roosevelt, plus que jamais convaincu de l’urgence d’intervenir, organise une rencontre spectaculaire avec le Premier ministre Winston Churchill, « quelque part en mer », au large de Terre-Neuve, le 14 août 1941. Cette première rencontre entre les deux hommes d’État est destinée à préparer les Américains à une alliance avec leurs cousins anglo-saxons avec des buts de guerre honorables. De fait, les deux hommes s’engagent sur des principes moraux destinés à soutenir l’effort de guerre et préparer le monde futur. C’est la Charte de l’Atlantique, à l’origine de la charte des Nations Unies.

Dès le mois suivant,  la loi « prêt-bail » est étendue à l’URSS de Staline, alliée obligée des démocraties. Le 16 septembre 1941, usant de ses pouvoirs de commandant en chef, Roosevelt autorise aussi la flotte de guerre à escorter les cargos américains à destination des îles britanniques, pour leur éviter les attaques des sous-marins. Ce n’est pas la guerre mais ça y ressemble.

En définitive, il faudra rien moins que l’attaque japonaise sur Pearl Harbor, le 7 décembre 1941, pour faire basculer l’opinion américaine ! Cette attaque avait été rendue inéluctable par l’embargo de Roosevelt sur les livraisons au Japon de pétrole, caoutchouc et autres matières stratégiques. Entravé dans ses projets de conquête de l’Asie, le Japon impérialiste s’était alors vu dans la nécessité de lancer un avertissement aux Américains : se préparer à une guerre douloureuse ou se retirer d’Extrême-Orient et du Pacifique. Un avertissement illusoire compte tenu de la disproportion des forces entre le petit Japon et la première puissance économique mondiale.

La guerre inaugure le Siècle américain

Dès le lendemain de Pearl Harbor, le 8 décembre, le Congrès déclare la guerre au Japon. Il ne peut faire moins. Mais le 11 décembre, c’est l’Allemagne qui, en soutien de son très lointain « allié » japonais, déclare à son tour la guerre aux États-Unis. Curieuse maladresse de Hitler qui aurait pu se garder de cette provocation…

La Marine et l’aéronavale engagent leurs premiers combats dans des attaques tous azimuts contre les Japonais pour sauver ce qui peut l’être de leurs possessions du Pacifique. Contre toute attente, elles essuient d’humiliants revers avec la perte des Philippines qui s’ajoute à celles de Singapour et de l’Indonésie. L’expansion nipponne est stoppée cependant par la bataille de Midway, du 3 au 6 juin 1942.

Conscient que la plus grande menace est l’Allemagne, Roosevelt décide de donner alors la priorité à la guerre européenne : « Germany first ». Les pilotes américains participent aux raids sur l’Allemagne et l’armée prépare les attaques périphériques sur l’Afrique du Nord. Le tournant décisif est la bataille d’El Alamein, à l’automne 1942. Vient ensuite le débarquement en Sicile en juillet 1943 puis le débarquement de Normandie en juin 1944. Des opérations finalement secondaires par rapport aux batailles de titans que se livrent Allemands et Soviétiques dans les plaines de l’Est, à Stalingrad et Koursk.

Dès 1942, le président des États-Unis s’affirme comme le chef de la coalition antiallemande. Churchill, le « Vieux Lion », est condamné à jouer les utilités tandis que Staline, s’il se montre prodigue du sang de son peuple, ne peut se passer de l’immense machine de guerre américaine.

Deux mois après le débarquement anglo-saxon en Afrique du nord, il organise une première conférence interalliée à Casablanca (Maroc), dans l’hôtel Anfa (12-24 janvier 1943). Avec Churchill, il met au point le prochain débarquement de Sicile et l’aide à l’URSS. Il impose surtout l’objectif d’une capitulation sans condition de l’Allemagne, en rupture avec les traditions diplomatiques européennes, ce qui a pour résultat de renforcer l’union de l’armée et du peuple allemands autour de Hitler ! Roosevelt, qui cache mal par ailleurs son antipathie pour de Gaulle, échoue à le réconcilier avec le général Henri Giraud, un opportuniste falot auquel il aurait préféré confié la direction de la France libre.

Le 22 novembre 1943, Roosevelt et Churchill se retrouvent au Caire où ils rencontre Tchang Kaï-chek, le président de la Chine nationaliste en guerre contre le Japon. Ils se mettent d’abord sur les buts de guerre dans le Pacifique. Là-dessus, les deux dirigeants anglo-saxons reprennent l’avion pour l’Iran.

Le 28 novembre 1943, Roosevelt rencontre enfin Staline à la conférence de Téhéran. Le président est ébranlé et séduit par le dictateur. Il croit pouvoir l’amener à démocratiser son régime et se prend à rêver d’un condominium américano-soviétique sur le monde ! En attendant, il convient avec lui de l’ouverture d’un second front à l’Ouest. Ce sera le débarquement de Normandie. Par-dessus la tête de Churchill, les deux alliés préparent aussi le démembrement de l’Allemagne.

Deux mois plus tard, les mêmes hommes se retrouvent à la conférence de Yalta, en Crimée, pour régler le sort de l’Allemagne et du Japon. Roosevelt, déjà très malade, est chaperonné par Staline qui le manipule à loisir. Le président américain, impatient d’en finir avec le Japon, se montre prêt à toutes les concessions en échange d’une participation de l’URSS à l’invasion de l’archipel ! Plein d’illusions sur la parole de Staline, à la grande fureur de Churchill, il lui consent d’importants abandons en Europe orientale, notamment en Pologne.

Sur le retour, le président s’arrête à Suez pour mettre sur pied une alliance avec un autre chef aussi peu recommandable, le roi d’Arabie Ibn Séoud. Ce pacte du Quincy va perdurer jusqu’en ce XXIe siècle.

Épilogue

Franklin Delanoo Roosevelt en 1944Trois mois plus tôt, en novembre 1944, les Américains n’ont pas refusé à Roosevelt un quatrième mandat, malgré un état de santé des plus alarmants. Il a été réélu sans difficulté face au républicain Thomas E. Dewey avec 53,4% du vote populaire.

L’élément important de l’élection fut le choix du nouveau vice-président, vu qu’il devait être appelé à gouverner à brève échéance. Ni les leaders du parti démocrate ni le président lui-même ne souhaitent une trop forte personnalité ! C’est sur Harry S. Truman que leur choix se porte. Né le 8 mai 1884 dans le Missouri, il n’a pas fait d’études supérieures. Fermier, employé, combattant sur le front français en 1917, il ouvre une chemiserie qui fait faillite et, en 1922, commence enfin une carrière politique. Il se montre un sénateur consciencieux et honnête.

L’inéluctable survient : épuisé et malade, Franklin Delano Roosevelt meurt d’une hémorragie cérébrale le 12 avril 1945, à 63 ans, quelques semaines avant le suicide de Hitler et la capitulation de l’Allemagne.

Funérailles du président Franklin Roosevelt, Pennsylavania Av., Washington (photo : Librairie du Congrès)

Il revient à son successeur, Harry S. Truman, de conclure la guerre et bâtir la paix au pied levé, ayant eu à peine l’occasion d’en débattre avec le président dans les semaines qui ont précédé sa mort. « J’ai cru que la lune, les étoiles et toutes les planètes m’étaient tombées dessus », confiera-t-il aux journalistes… En dépit de son impréparation, il va relever le défi et confirmer les États-Unis comme superpuissance.

Voir aussi:

The Uncanny Parallels Between Donald Trump And FDR

The New Deal’s executor held many positions similar to those of to one Donald J. Trump.

Julian Adorney

Imagine a U.S. president who is bombastic, egotistical, and just a little racist. He worries opening the borders will mean an influx of undesirables. He implements capricious executive orders, and seems more concerned with his own power than with the Constitution. He’s often called a fascist by people who know what the term means.

No, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Debate raged last December about whether President Trump would be a fascist. Steve Horwitz and Martin O’Malley, among others, claimed he would be. Not so fast, said Megan McArdle at Bloomberg View. A fascist president could never take power in America, McArdle argues, because, among other things, “America has neither the weak institutions nor the revolutionary organizations necessary for a Trump Reich to fester.”

But that’s not quite true. FDR may not have been Hitler or Mussolini. But the difference was one of degree, not of kind. And now Trump is following in his footsteps.

Suspicious of Americans, Immigrants, and Refugees

FDR spied on political dissidents in the name of national security. In May 1940, he warned of a “fifth column” in America (a military term for civilian rebels), and claimed refugees might be enemy agents.

FDR was also hostile towards refugees. When Jews sought to escape from Nazi Germany, FDR barred the gates.

In “FDR Goes to War,” noted historians Burton and Anita Folsom tell the story of how FDR used the Internal Revenue Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and attorney general to go after his political enemies. He wiretapped phones, ordered tax audits of dissidents, and created a personal spy group to collect incriminating information about political rivals.

All of this was before FDR rounded up almost 122,000 Japanese-Americans and forced them into internment camps. While national security concerns were cited, FDR also considered Asians biologically untrustworthy.

FDR was also hostile towards refugees. When Jews sought to escape from Nazi Germany, FDR barred the gates. The State Department cut refugee immigration by 75 percent by imposing burdensome regulations. FDR defended his actions on the grounds that “among the refugees there are some spies….” But as with the internment camps, a darker motive also played in: FDR was an anti-Semite who waved away pleas to let in Jewish refugees as “Jewish wailing.”

This isn’t to suggest that all opposition to immigration is fascist. Many reasonable Americans favor immigration restrictions. But FDR’s immigration ideas, summed up in his claim that immigrants ought to have “blood of the right sort,” were clearly prejudicial. So is Trump’s rhetoric about Mexicans.

The New Deal’s Not So Different from Fascism

Economically too, FDR’s ideology closely resembled the fascist policies of Mussolini’s Italy. With the creation of the National Recovery Association (NRA), FDR set up a system that pushed each industry into a cartel that cooperated with the federal government to set wages, prices, and “fair practices.” One NRA report even stated directly, “The Fascist Principles are very similar to those we have been evolving here in America.”

FDR saw himself as a benevolent dictator, and his actions reflect that grandiosity. Trump has made a campaign of this same sort of grandiosity.

This similarity was not accidental. Rexford Tugwell, one of the architects of the New Deal, wrote that Mussolini had done “many of the things which seem to me necessary.”

Roosevelt said he was “deeply impressed by what [Mussolini] has accomplished.” Mussolini returned the favor in his review of FDR’s 1933 book “Looking Forward,” noting that, “Reminiscent of Fascism is (FDR’s) principle that the state no longer leaves the economy to its own devices.”

Like Trump, FDR had little respect for the separation of powers. When he tried to pass a 99.5 percent marginal tax rate on income above $100,000, Congress rebuffed him. So he issued an executive order mandating a 100 percent marginal tax rate, and lowered the ceiling to incomes of $25,000 per year (which Congress later rescinded). His attempt to do a similar end-run around the Supreme Court, the court-packing scheme, is infamous.

Paul Warburg, one of FDR’s first-term advisors, claimed, “I believe that Mr. Roosevelt is so charmed with the fun of brandishing the band leader’s baton at the head of the parade, so pleased with the picture he sees of himself, that he is no longer capable of recognizing that the human power to lead is limited.” FDR saw himself as a benevolent dictator, and his actions reflect that grandiosity. Trump has made a campaign of this same sort of grandiosity.

It’s true that FDR didn’t take total power in the United States, and that U.S. institutions prevented him from doing so. The Supreme Court struck down his ideas, especially before 1937. When he tried to pack the court with allies, the public rallied against him. Congress also refused to pass certain laws on his agenda.

The Dictatorial Type Keeps Resurfacing

But FDR was both powerful and destructive. He was not Mussolini, but he ran roughshod over the rule of law, and dramatically transformed American politics—which should serve as an example of what a Trump presidency might look like.

In fact, a Trump presidency could be even more dangerous, because the powers of the presidency have expanded. The White House can place citizens on terrorist watch lists—spying on them and preventing them from flying. The president can order U.S. citizens who are abroad, like Anwar Al-Awlaki, to be assassinated without a trial. The National Security Agency allows the president to spy on political dissidents such as Faisal Gill (a Muslim Republican) and Nihad Awab (director of a Muslim civil rights organization), or even to wiretap news outletslike the Associated Press.

This doesn’t mean a Trump presidency would lead to brown shirts on the street. But there is more to fascism than goose-stepping and military style uniforms, and Trump, like FDR, displays many such characteristics. So when people look at Trump’s agenda and claim “it can’t happen here,” they’re ignoring history that’s not even a century old. Not only could such things happen, they already have.

The only sure way to guard against Trump is to roll back the enormous power of the government that he would be managing. History, even in the United States, shows that dangerous men dupe voters and take power. We should shrink government so that when they’re elected, they take as little power as possible.

Voir également:
Anmnews

January 27, 2014

It is undeniable that in America today our federal government is over sized, overpowered and out of control. The more power, wealth it controls and aspects of our lives it micromanages translates to diminishing economic and individual liberty. Most Americans of sound mind are aware of the infringements on our 1st, 2nd and 4th Amendment rights. When Barack Hussein Obama was elected he promised to fundamentally transform America and that’s the one promise he’s kept.

Subverting and perverting the constitution is nothing new in our government. As the federal government has grown over the last 80 years, it has drifted further and further from the Republic our founders’ framed us to be. Some argue that we ceased to be a Republic shortly after the Great Depression.

I recently read a book written in 1955 titled, “The Decline of the American Republic”, by John T. Flynn. In one passage he wrote:

The American Republic the founders described existed for 144 years. In the 22 years since 1933 it has been subjected to profound change, accomplished without any change in the actual words of the Constitution. It has been done by sheer usurpation by power of the federal government. This could not, of course, have been brought about without favoring circumstances. The chief influence was what has come to be known as the Great Depression of 1929.

FDR’s recovery from the Great Depression involved the so-called “New Deal”, a series of economic programs. These economic programs were a massive power grab and elevated FDR’s administration to something resembling the fascism of Mussolini. The progressive movement was in full swing jam packed with socialist revolutionaries.

When Flynn wrote his book in 1955 he offered solutions he felt could restore the American Republic and stop the march to a socialist state. It struck me while reading this that his time in history is a microcosm of modern day America under our current oppressive regime and all it’s thuggery. Obama has accelerated this entire deconstruction of America to Mach 10 with no end in site.

We The People are the only solution to the problem. We were intended to be masters of the federal government, not servants. Every day it becomes more certain to me that we need to use Article V to call a Convention of States and amend the Constitution. We could stop the misuses of power, the out of control spending and power grabs of the federal courts. The era we live in now is precisely what the Founders feared and the reason why they injected these protective measures to use. We have a duty to use them!

We’re Americans, we don’t give up easy. It’s time to rise up and support the Convention of States. They are seeking volunteers and monetary support. Alabama and New Mexico recently joined the fight and Georgia is on the brink. This brings total to six states and they’re just getting started. We owe it to all of the brave men and women that have fought over the last 250 years to secure and protect our freedom!

Voir encore:

10 choses à savoir sur l’investiture de Donald TrumpDanielle BeaudoinRadio Canada19 janvier 2017

Circoncision de Jésus: Cachez cette judaïté que je ne saurai voir ! (The continuation of the final solution by other means ?)

1 janvier, 2017

Circumcision of christ (Giovanni Bellini's studio, Venice, 16th cent.)Epiphany I: Adoration of the Magi (Gottfried Helnwein, 1996) "Spoils of Jerusalem" (The Arch of Titus, Rome, c. 81 AD)https://i2.wp.com/static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/10/23/1382539023487/William-Kate-and-Prince-G-009.jpg

calendrierlegaret2C’est ici mon alliance, que vous garderez entre moi et vous, et ta postérité après toi: tout mâle parmi vous sera circoncis.Vous vous circoncirez; et ce sera un signe d’alliance entre moi et vous. A l’âge de huit jours, tout mâle parmi vous sera circoncis, selon vos générations, qu’il soit né dans la maison, ou qu’il soit acquis à prix d’argent de tout fils d’étranger, sans appartenir à ta race. Genèse 10: 12-17
Vous circoncirez donc votre coeur … Deutéronome 10: 16
L’Éternel, ton Dieu, circoncira ton coeur et le coeur de ta postérité, et tu aimeras l’Éternel, ton Dieu, de tout ton coeur et de toute ton âme, afin que tu vives. Deutéronome 30: 6
Le salut vient des Juifs. Jésus (Jean 4:22)
Il ne faut donc point que les Juifs s’imaginent aujourd’hui avoir eu quelque avantage sur le reste des nations. Quant à leur longue dispersion, il n’est point surprenant qu’ils aient subsisté si longtemps depuis la ruine de leur empire, puisqu’ils se sont séquestrés des autres peuples et se sont attiré leur haine, non-seulement par des coutumes entièrement contraires, mais par le signe de la circoncision qu’ils observent très-religieusement. Or, que la haine des nations soit pour les juifs un principe de conservation, c’est ce que nous avons vu par expérience. Un roi d’Espagne les ayant autrefois contraints ou de quitter son royaume ou d’en embrasser la religion, il y en eut une infinité qui prirent ce dernier parti. Et comme en se faisant chrétiens ils devenaient capables de tous les privilèges des autres citoyens et dignes de tous les honneurs, ils se mêlèrent si étroitement aux Espagnols qu’il ne reste plus d’eux aucune trace ni aucun souvenir. En Portugal il en a été tout autrement : car étant forcés d’embrasser le christianisme sans être admis aux privilèges et aux dignités de l’État, ils ont toujours vécu, quoique convertis, dans un état d’isolement par rapport aux autres Portugais. Le signe de la circoncision me paraît ici d’une telle conséquence que je le crois capable d’être à lui tout seul le principe de la conservation du peuple juif. Je dirai plus : si l’esprit de leur religion n’efféminait leurs âmes, je suis convaincu qu’une occasion favorable venant à se présenter, les Juifs pourraient (tant les choses humaines sont variables) reconstituer leur empire et devenir ainsi l’objet d’une seconde élection de Dieu. (…)  Au reste, si quelqu’un persiste à soutenir pour telle ou telle raison que l’élection des Juifs est une élection éternelle, je n’y veux pas contredire, pourvu qu’il demeure d’accord que cette élection, de quelque durée qu’elle soit, en tant qu’elle est particulière aux Juifs, ne regarde que les avantages temporels et l’établissement de leur empire (puisqu’il n’y a que ce seul point par où les nations se distinguent les unes des autres), mais qu’à l’égard de l’intelligence et de la vertu véritable, toutes les nations sont égales, Dieu n’ayant sur ce point aucune sorte de préférence ni d’élection pour personne. Baruch Spinoza
The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens. (…) May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. (…) May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy. G. Washington
Prions aussi pour les Juifs perfides afin que Dieu Notre Seigneur enlève le voile qui couvre leurs cœurs et qu’eux aussi reconnaissent Jésus, le Christ, Notre-Seigneur. Prière du Vendredi saint (VIIe siècle)
Prions pour les Juifs à qui Dieu a parlé en premier : qu’ils progressent dans l’amour de son Nom et la fidélité de son Alliance. Prière du vendredi saint (1970)
A blonde Madonna, dressed as if she were spending an evening at the opera, presents her child to the watchful eyes of Nazi SS Guards, One officer looks as if he were studying the child’s genitals, perhaps to see whether he has been circumcised. Dark hair parted severely to one side and fleshy baby cheeks lending a slight and comical hangdog expression, the young child presents something of an eerie resemblance to the Führer. (…) Gottfried Helnwein, responsible for these strange and unsettling images, is an Austrian artist born in the years immediately after World War Two.  (…) Helnwein is an artist who has never been afraid of causing outrage in those offended or made uncomfortable by talk of Germany’s Nazi past and of Austria’s complicity in it. Once, as a student, he paraded the streets of his home town dressed up as Hitler, spewing forth theatrical blood from his mouth – a memorably outrageous gesture at the time, if only for the fact that, like that famous Fawlty Towers sketch where all mention of « the war » was a closed one in front of its German guests, Austria would make no gesture to acknowledgement to it either. (Until the ’80s Austria had an official policy of denial, neglecting to address the subject even in school text books.) (…) For all Helnwein’s humanist proclamations, it must be said that his work is never quite so unequivocal. Standing in front of the works you’re never quite clear how to read Helnwein’s disturbing images. The surreal, uncomfortable juxtapositions of both Nazi and Christian iconography, never present straightforward interpretations. Nor are they merely polemical in any agit-prop sense. There is a sense in which Helnwein seems to court controversy; he also clearly delights in a certain moral ambiguity, a shadiness which perversely makes his images all the more compelling. An early turning point in his choice of imagery came for Helnwein in 1979. In this year Dr. Heinrich Gross was appointed Head of State Psychiatry in Austria. In an interview published in one of Austria’s major national newspapers, he was asked whether he had killed hundreds of children in mental hospitals under the Nazi euthanasia programme. Gross said yes, and commented that « at the time it was a different reality. Today I wouldn’t do it. » Asked if he had injected the children, he replied that he had « just mixed poison in their food », adding that since they were unaware of what was going on, the young victims had died humanely. That interview with Gross caused no reaction in Helnwein’s country. But it was in response to this interview that Helnwein first began using images of children in his painting, addressing their helplessness and pain by depicting them as broken, disfigured doll-like creatures. When he read Gross’ self-justification as a « humane » killer, Helnwein responded by producing a photorealist painting of a girl slumped in a plate of food. Only then was a debate initiated which ultimately led to Gross’ resignation. Though Helnwein is no mere polemicist, he clearly believes in an art which has the power not only to confront and challenge, but also to make some real changes. Fisen Güner
In his last will, the Austrian playwright Thomas Bernhard, who died in 1989, banned the production of his texts on home soil. Bernhard never hid his fury at Austria’s refusal to admit its history. Helnwein, born in 1948, clearly shares Bernhard’s view. He is furious about Austria’s self-image as victim of the Third Reich, rather than its willing collaborator. In 1965 posters for the Freedom Party, later led by Jörg Haider, demanded: « Forget about the past! Look ahead at the future. » Helnwein, then still a teenager, reacted by painting a portrait of Adolf Hitler that got him expelled from art school. His « crime » was to have reminded Austria of its best-known son.(…) Of all his paintings, the most disturbing is Epiphany (1996), for which he dips into our collective memory of Christianity’s most famous birth. This Austrian Catholic Nativity scene has no magi bearing gifts. Madonna and child are encircled by five respectful Waffen SS officers palpably in awe of the idealised, kitsch-blonde Virgin. The Christ toddler, who stands on Mary’s lap, stares defiantly out of the canvas. Helnwein’s baby Jesus is Adolf Hitler. Julia Pascal
Examined too casually, the stories of Plymouth Colony and Hanukkah seem to show heroes fighting for universal religious freedom. But the heroes of the Jewish story fought not only against a foreign persecutor. They also fought against fellow Jews who—perhaps more attracted to the cosmopolitan and sophisticated Greek culture than to the ways of their ancestors—cooperated with their rulers. Jon D. Levenson
The universal principle of religious liberty is hardly the message of the Jewish Maccabean revolt or of the miracles commemorated by Jews at Hanukkah. The revolt began when Mattityahu killed a fellow Jew who had attempted to sacrifice a pig to Zeus (1 Mac. 2:24–25). So much for religious liberty. Mattityahu then killed the Greek official who had ordered the assembled Jews to abandon their religion, and then launched a guerrilla war against the Greco-Syrian king. (…) A proper reading of the Jewish and historical record reveals that Mattityahu and the Maccabees revolted against not only religious oppression by Greek authorities but also Jewish assimilation to Hellenic culture. Jews do not celebrate Hanukkah for its generalizable message of religious freedom; Hanukkah is particular to Jews, not universal. It commemorates the reassertion of Jewish sovereignty and the liberation and rededication of the holy Temple with the aid of God. (…) It is this meaning that President Obama not only missed in his official statement but opposed through his actions at the U.N. The latter have been rightly condemned for breaking from decades of U.S. policy and nourishing Palestinian maximalism. The president decided to allow the U.N. Security Council to dismiss as “a flagrant violation under international law” Israeli presence in the Jews’ indigenous biblical heartland, including the Western Wall of the Temple for which the Maccabees fought. Apparently the president regards the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem as just another illegal “settlement.” How’s that for a Hanukkah gift? (…) The basic Israeli argument for control of East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank has always been that Jews have a right to live, practice their religion, and self-govern in their indigenous homeland; in other words, Zionism — which, like Hanukkah, President Obama has never been able to understand without universalizing and overlooking the Jewish people’s particular attachment to their home… Elliot Kaufman
Obama despises Israel because at root, Obama despises the traditional Judeo-Christian underpinning of Western civilization. He breaks down Bible believers into two categories: fools and liars. The fools are the “bitter clingers,” the idiot masses who fall into racism and xenophobia and Bible jabber because they’re poor and stupid. The liars are the self-interested characters who want to do what they want to do while citing the Bible for their support. (…) Real Christians are leftists — as Obama said in 2006, “I believed and still believe in the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change. . . . The black church understands in an intimate way the biblical call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and challenge powers and principalities.” Obama, then, is a religious leftist. He prefers a form of Christianity that rejects biblical centrality and that replaces the Bible with leftism at its heart. It’s not a coincidence that Obama attended Jeremiah Wright’s church for two decades. Wright preached hatred against Israel throughout his tenure, calling it an “apartheid” state and labeling all settlements “illegally occupied territories.” He labeled Jesus “a Palestinian” and argued that “the Palestinian people have had the Europeans come and take their country. . . . The youth in Ferguson and the youth in Palestine have united together to remind us that the dots need to be connected.” You can take Obama out of Jeremiah Wright’s church, but you can’t take Jeremiah Wright’s church out of Obama. Obama strongly mirrors that language himself, complaining about the “desperation and disorder of the powerless, how it twists the lives of children on the streets of Jakarta or Nairobi in much the same way as it does the lives of children on Chicago’s South Side.” To Obama, Bible believers who utilize religion as an excuse to cover for the real class oppression are merely cynical manipulators. You can take Obama out of Jeremiah Wright’s church, but you can’t take Jeremiah Wright’s church out of Obama. (…) And what is the ultimate repository of such manipulation of religion? The Jewish state. The Jews of Israel, Obama believes, are aggressors, using biblical writ as an excuse for oppression, hiding behind the Bible when it’s really naked self-interest at work. That’s why Obama stated at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Japan that “no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill. . . . How easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause.” (…) To Obama, that’s what the Jews of Israel do. Because their control over Israel is inherently connected to biblical mandate, Obama must oppose them. He must side instead with a religion of social justice, not a religion of biblical principle. That means rejecting Jewish Jerusalem. That means rewriting the Bible, that document of sadism and oppression, to make it over into The Book of Obama. That means Israel must pay for the sin of worshiping its God over the god of warmed-over, amoral redistributionism. Obama’s likely to be disappointed. The Jews have been exiled from Jerusalem several times. Never again. Ben Shapiro
Alan Dershowitz, the famed Harvard professor, legal scholar and criminal lawyer whose judgment American Jews have long trusted and respected (…) now realizes that Obama had repeatedly duped him, and that through his endorsements of Obama, Dershowitz in turn duped many American Jews, helping to secure Obama’s election and re-election. Now Israel has been compromised as never before, with the United Nations through Obama’s manoeuvrings having declared that Jews have no right to live in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, which they have inhabited for the greater part of 3,000 years, and that Israel has no rights to its holiest sites, including the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. Winning Jewish support wasn’t especially important to Obama and other Democrats in terms of votes — Jews represent just two per cent of the U.S. electorate, generally making their numbers inconsequential at the ballot box. But Jews are hugely important — even decisive — in their political giving. The Jewish two per cent — which is overwhelmingly liberal — accounts for about two-thirds of all donations received by the Democratic Party. Put another way, the Jewish two per cent donates twice as much to Democrats as the non-Jewish 98 per cent. The importance of Jewish money to Democratic fortunes explains why Obama waited to make his moves against Israel until after his two presidential campaigns and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, whom he hoped would preserve his legacy. If Jews understood his real intentions toward Israel, Obama knew, many would withdraw their financial support. Obama’s prudent course — his only viable course — in realizing his desire to strip Israel of its paramount possessions, embodiments of its heritage, was to keep his intentions secret, all the while upping his rhetoric that “no president has ever done more for Israel.” Obama also needed to maintain this public pretence to keep his fellow Democrats in the dark, most of whom would blanche at the thought of offending, and losing, their Jewish backers. The American public’s general sympathy for Israel, and general antipathy toward Palestinians, also made any prior anti-Israel coming out a non-starter. (…) With this week’s passage of the anti-Israel UN resolution, the Dershowitz infatuation with Obama is over. The famed criminal lawyer finally sees the evidence that had been in plain sight all along, and now understands the extent of Obama’s deception. It was “so nasty. He pulled a bait-and-switch,” Dershowitz laments, in explaining how Obama in private pretended that it was “the settlements deep in the West Bank” that were negotiable, not the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, so core to Judaism and to Israel’s heritage. Lawrence Solomon
Le mouvement BDS ne cache pas son antisionisme. Mieux que ça, il le revendique. Omar Barghouti, co-fondateur du collectif de boycott anti-Israël, ne cesse de le répéter. Le fait qu’il soit diplômé de l’Université de Tel Aviv ne semble pas le gêner dans son entreprise de délégitimation d’Israël. Une preuve supplémentaire du prétendu apartheid fantasmé par BDS. Omar Barghouti veut la fin d’Israël en tant qu’Etat Juif. Pour cela, il préconise un Etat binational, ce qui aurait pour effet de légitimer le retour des descendants des réfugiés palestiniens de 1948. C’est d’ailleurs un point essentiel, mais rarement évoqué, de la charte du collectif. La suite, on la connaît. Faire augmenter la démographie arabe jusqu’à ce que les juifs soient en minorité et que le simple vote d’une loi permette de faire disparaître Israël légalement. M. Barghouti n’a rien inventé. Arafat avait cru bon d’imposer cette condition qu’il savait inacceptable (même pour le travailliste Ehoud Barak) et avait refusé de signer les accords de Camp David II en 2000 privant les Palestiniens de conditions inespérées et, à terme, d’un Etat. Dans une telle hypothèse, croire que les juifs continueraient à bénéficier des mêmes droits que le reste de la population est une chimère. Tous les jours en effet, les palestiniens de Gaza comme de Cisjordanie sont soumis à une violente propagande anti-juive et rien ne laisse présager la possibilité d’une cohabitation pacifique. L’antisémitisme virulent et constant des prêches et des discours officiels (mise en ligne du faux antisémite « Protocoles des Sages de Sion » sur un site affilié au Service gouvernemental palestinien de l’Information), les livres scolaires palestiniens – financés à coup de millions d’euros par l’Union Européenne – qui enseignent depuis des années à haïr les juifs, qui les affublent de tous les maux, les programmes télévisés pour la jeunesse, notamment sur Al-Aqsa TV, dans lesquels de jeunes enfants ânonnent que les juifs sont les descendants des singes et des porcs et qu’ils souhaiteraient mourir en martyrs en tuant le plus de juifs possible, tout cela illustre la volonté des dirigeants palestiniens, qu’ils soient islamistes ou à tendance nationaliste, de ne jamais accepter les juifs à leur côté. Les juifs devront alors fuir comme ils ont dû fuir les pays arabes après la création de l’Etat d’Israël non sans avoir auparavant été privés de leurs biens, de leurs commerces, de leur argent. 800.000 juifs chassés  d’Irak, de Syrie, d’Egypte, du Yémen, d’Algérie, du Liban, du Maroc dont personne ne se soucie du retour ni de l’indemnisation. Les juifs devront fuir, mais pour aller où ? En Europe où l’on crie à nouveau « mort aux juifs » dans les rues ? En Russie où l’on prétend que la guerre en Ukraine est un complot juif ? En Afrique où l’islamisation à l’œuvre dans de nombreux pays laisse libre cours à une propagande antisémite ? Récemment, sur les quais de Seine, des partisans de BDS déclaraient que les juifs devaient quitter la Palestine pour retourner « chez eux », c’est-à-dire nulle part précisément. Le Juif errant, voilà le seul juif supportable pour le BDS. C’est aussi en cela que l’antisionisme confine à l’antisémitisme. Mais BDS ne s’arrête pas là. Lors des dernières manifestations du BDS en Afrique du Sud, certains manifestants criaient « mort aux juifs » en brandissant des drapeaux palestiniens et du Hezbollah. À l’Université Libre de Bruxelles en mars 2015, des étudiants juifs étaient pris à partie, sans raison particulière, par des militants du BDS. En juin 2015, l’ancien député communiste Jean-Claude Lefort, Président honoraire de l’Association France-Palestine Solidarité et soutien indéfectible de BDS, appelait au boycott de produits cachers fabriqués en France. Mais surtout, la semaine dernière, sous la pression du BDS local, le festival de reggae espagnol Rototom Sunsplash de Benicassim a décommandé un chanteur juif américain, Matisyahu, après avoir exigé qu’il fasse une déclaration en faveur d’un État Palestinien et qu’il se « positionne » au sujet du sionisme. Pourquoi lui ? Parce qu’il est juif. Aucun autre artiste n’a eu à subir ce diktat. Le festival a reconnu qu’il avait agi ainsi en raison d’une « campagne de pression, coercition et menaces » de la part de BDS qui l’avait « empêché de raisonner clairement ». BDS demande-t-il à Jamel Debbouze, parce qu’il est musulman, de condamner publiquement la chasse aux chrétiens en Syrie, la mise en esclavage des yazidis en Irak, les meurtres de coptes en Egypte, le massacre des animistes au Sud-Soudan avant de monter sur scène ?  Oudy Ch. Bloch (27.08.2015)
Est-ce vraiment la volonté de Dieu qu’il n’existe plus aucun judaïsme dans le monde? Serait-ce vraiment le triomphe de Dieu si les rouleaux n’étaient plus sortis de l’arche  et si la Torah n’était plus lue dans les synagogues, si nos anciennes prières hébraïques, que Jésus lui-même utilisa pour adorer Dieu , n’étaient plus récitées, si le Seder de la Pâque n’était plus célébré dans nos vies, si la loi de Moïse n’était plus observée dans nos foyers?  Serait-ce vraiment ad majorem Dei gloriam d’avoir un monde sans Juifs? Abraham Heschel
Au IVe siècle, on disait aux Juifs; « Vous n’avez pas le droit de vivre parmi nous en tant que juifs ». A partir du Moyen-Age jusqu’au XIXe siècle, on disait aux Juifs; « Vous n’avez pas le droit de vivre parmi nous. » A l’époque nazie, on disait aux Juifs: « Vous n’avez pas le droit de vivre. » Paul Hillburg
Il a fallu la « solution finale » des nazis allemands pour que les chrétiens commencent à prendre conscience que le prétendu problème juif est en réalité un problème chrétien et qu’il l’a toujours été. Alice L. Eckardt
Après Auschwitz, (…) demander aux juifs de devenir chrétiens est une manière spirituelle de les effacer de l’existence et ne fait donc que renforcer les conséquences de l’Holocauste. (…)  Après Auschwitz et la participation des nations à ce massacre, c’est le monde chrétien qui a besoin de conversion. Gregory Baum
Tant que l’Eglise chrétienne se considère comme le successeur d’Israël, comme le nouveau peuple de Dieu, aucun espace théologique n’est laissé aux autres confessions et surtout à la religion juive. Gregory Baum
Si la loi du sabbat appartient au cérémoniel et n’est plus obligatoire, pourquoi remplacer le sabbat par un autre jour? (…) Si la grâce chrétienne a mis fin à la loi juive, si le dimanche chrétien a abrogé le sabbat juif, si la notion d’un Dieu invisible indéfiniment suspendu à une croix a remplacé la notion du Tout-puissant invisible, si le salut et son emphase sur le spirituel l’a emporté sur la création, sur a nature et sur le corps, si le Nouveau Testament a supprimé l’Ancien, si les païens ont remplacé Israël; alors les juifs ont eu théologiquement raison, et ont encore raison aujourd’hui, de rejeter la religion chrétienne. Jacques Doukhan
A l’époque de la peste noire, on tua des étrangers, on massacra des Juifs et, deux siècles plus tard, on fit brûler des sorcières, et cela pour des raisons parfaitement identiques à celles qu’on a rencontrées dans nos mythes. Tous ces malheureux se retrouvèrent indirectement victimes des tensions internes engendrées par les épidémies de peste et autres catastrophes collectives dont ils étaient tenus responsables par leurs persécuteurs. Les crimes imaginaires et les châtiments réels de ces victimes ne sont autres que les crimes et châtiments qu’on trouve dans la mythologie. Pourquoi donc, dans le cas de la seule mythologie, faudrait-il croire que, si les crimes sont imaginaires, les punitions et les victimes ne sauraient elles-mêmes être réelles ? Tout indique que le contraire est vrai. Les textes qui témoignent d’atrocités historiques, les archives judiciaires relatives à la chasse aux sorcières, par exemple, comportent les mêmes accusations extravagantes que les mythes, la même indifférence aux preuves matérielles et le même sentiment massif et irréfléchi que tout est exact, sentiment souvent exprimé, même s’il n’est pas effectivement partagé, par les boucs émissaires eux-mêmes. Tous les indices trahissant la victimisation d’individus imparfaitement assimilés – étrangers, handicapés physiques ou mentaux – sont présents dans ces documents, tout comme ils le sont dans la mythologie, pour autant qu’on puisse le vérifier ; à nous, observateurs d’aujourd’hui, ils livrent la vraie nature de ce qui s’est passé. (…) Je suis convaincu que la plupart des données d’ordre culturel sont pertinentes pour l’étude du sacrifice, y compris dans une société comme la nôtre qui ne pratique pas d’immolations sacrificielles. Le premier exemple qui me vient à l’esprit est notre propre interrogation du sacrifice ici même. Il y a forcément un rapport entre cette interrogation et le fait que les sacrifices sanglants sont de nos jours perçus comme odieux, non seulement par une petite élite, mais par l’ensemble de notre société, laquelle est désormais en voie de mondialisation rapide. Malgré ce sentiment d’horreur, une grande part de nos coutumes et pratiques et une bonne part de notre pensée peuvent encore être reliées au sacrifice d’une façon que nous ne soupçonnons pas. J’estime que notre histoire fourmille de phénomènes si clairs de ce point de vue qu’on ne saurait les exclure d’une enquête sur le sujet. C’est le cas, par exemple, de notre attitude envers certaines formes de persécution collective, de la façon dont nous comprenons et condamnons les préjugés collectifs et toutes les pratiques d’exclusion. Je crois également à la pertinence de nombreux textes littéraires, comme la tragédie grecque ou le théâtre de Shakespeare. Je pense aussi que la Bible et surtout le Nouveau Testament ont joué un rôle important dans tous les progrès que nous avons déjà faits, et que nous ferons demain, dans la recherche d’une meilleure compréhension du sacrifice. René Girard
En 1947 pour apaiser les tensions, les Nations Unies ont séparé la région en deux, Israël voit alors le jour. La Jordanie, elle, cède un bout de son territoire la Cisjordanie, cela doit devenir le futur État Palestinien. Mais en 1967, Israël entre en guerre contre ses voisins et annexe la Cisjordanie, c’est le début de l’occupation des territoires palestiniens. M6
« Eschatologique » désigne généralement la « fin des temps ». Je n’irais peut-être pas jusque là mais sans doute entrons-nous dans la fin d’un temps. De nombreux signes nous montrent que cette année signera en effet la fin de l’époque que la chute du mur de Berlin (1989) a ouverte, elle-même la suite de l’après deuxième guerre mondiale, deux périodes charnières qui nous ont fait entrer dans un monde encore inconnu. Entre 1989 et 2017, nous avons subi l’effet d’une même utopie qui s’est cristallisée autour de l’attente millénariste que le passage du bi-millénaire avait suscitée en 2000 et que l’on peut définir comme le post-modernisme. Un rêve de toute puissance et de fusion massifiante s’est alors emparée de l’Occident démocratique qui a cru à la fin de toute limite, à la maitrise totale du destin et de la nature humaines, à l’Etat mondial, à la fin des frontières et des territoires,… Une véritable ivresse de toute puissance. La montée en force de la Russie, la décomposition annoncée de l’Union Européenne, scène principale de cette frénésie et de ce drame, le spectacle digne d’une légende de l’armée de « migrants » qui, l’an dernier, l’envahissait en rangs serrés, l’effondrement de l’Etat arabe de toutes parts, l’agression planétaire de l’islam font entendre les craquements de l’ordre ancien. Nous sommes passés de l’affrontement entre des Etats à l’affrontement entre des blocs massifs, des civilisations, des empires ou aspirants à l’empire.  En Europe, c’est le choc UE-Russie, au Moyen Orient Iran-Arabie, Turquie-Iran, Chiites-Sunnites, Islam-Occident, sans oublier la Chine confrontée aux Etats-Unis. Les mondes concurrents se recentrent chacun sur soi, en même temps que progresse la mondialisation comme si chacun s’apprétait à bondir sur son voisin. Une étrange atmosphère s’est emparée de l’Occident, où tout le monde rivalise de « moralité », de pureté, de reconnaissance d’autrui mais où le double discours et la perversion des valeurs montrent chaque jour leurs effets. (…) Comme toujours, le peuple d’Israël est le révélateur de l’état de l’humanité. Ce qui lui arrive en est le symptôme. Deux scènes, très semblables, illustrent de façon théâtrale cette perversion du langage et de la réalité :  le vote de la reconnaissance de l’Etat imaginaire de Palestine par le parlement français et le vote anti-israélien du Conseil de sécurité, les deux en standing ovation, puis, demain la conférence de Paris. Qu’avaient-ils donc tant à se féliciter pour un tel vote? Combien cette joie exprime-t-elle de haine rentrée et de mépris, expression irrépressible d’une animosité atavique envers le peuple juif redevenu souverain et échappant au patronage de la magnanimité compassionnelle de l’Occident ? Que sont donc ces Palestiniens, pour jouer les victimes favorites de toute la planète où d’infiniment plus graves situations sont laissées à l’abandon? Sinon parce qu’ils représentent un Israël substitutif qu’ils envisagent de substituer à Israël dans son propre être et son propre territoire? Le « nouvel israël » des postcolonialistes! Car l’inimitié fondamentale des Palestiniens est de l’ordre de l’évidence. Cet acharnement a gravi les échelons : d’abord à l’UNESCO puis à l’ONU, qui décrète que les Juifs sont des colons à Jérusalem et qu’ils le sont sur la Terre d’Israël. Le sort de Jerusalem décide stratégiquement, en effet, du sort de toute ce territoire. Quelle sera la prochaine étape sinon l’annihilation morale et juridique d’Israël? 
On le montrait aux femmes grosses, enchâssé dans un reliquaire d’argent, afin de les faire accoucher sans travail ; et ce prépuce était d’un bon revenu. Collin de Plancy
La première génération chrétienne fut confronté à un problème difficile lorsque se convertirent en masse des personnes d’origine non juive. Après un débat animé, les non-juifs furent dispensés de la circoncision par une assemblée tenue à Jérusalem au milieu du Ier siècle, traditionnellement appelée « Concile de Jérusalem » (Actes des Apôtres, chapitre XV). Cependant même après cette date persistèrent des tensions à ce sujet, comme on le voit dans les Épîtres de Saint Paul, qui continue à argumenter à l’encontre des chrétiens « judaïsants » : seule est nécessaire la « circoncision du cœur » (Romains 2, 28-29, adapté de Deutéronome 10, 16-17 et 30, 6), ou encore : « La circoncision n’est rien, et l’incirconcision n’est rien ; ce qui compte, c’est de garder les commandements de Dieu. » (1 Corinthiens, VII, 19), car il n’y a plus « ni juifs, ni païens », mais un seul corps dans le Christ Jésus. Wikipedia
Le saint Prépuce (en latin Sanctum Praeputium) – également appelé « sainte Vertu »1 (Sanctam Virtutem) ou « saint Vœu » – est le nom donné à différentes reliques relatives au prépuce issu de la circoncision de Jésus de Nazareth. À l’instar de plusieurs reliques corporelles du Christ – comme le cordon ombilical ou ses dents de lait – sa détention a été revendiquée par plusieurs lieux de culte chrétiens, particulièrement dans l’Occident médiéval. (…) à l’abbaye de Coulombs, une croyance locale prêtait au saint prépuce le pouvoir d’apporter la fécondité aux femmes stériles8 et un accouchement sans difficulté aux femmes enceintes9. Alors que Catherine de Valois était enceinte en 1421, son mari, le roi Henri V d’Angleterre, à qui une bulle du pape Martin V accordait le privilège de pouvoir déplacer les reliques10, fit emprunter et apporter à son épouse, en Angleterre, le saint prépuce de l’abbaye de Coulombs11. La relique fut ensuite renvoyée en France et exposée à la Sainte-Chapelle, à Paris1. Les moines bénédictins de Coulombs durent s’adresser en 1427 au duc de Bedford, régent du jeune Henri VI, pour la faire transférer à l’abbaye Saint-Magloire de Paris, puis en 1441 au roi de France Charles VII pour en reprendre possession, sans toutefois pouvoir lui faire quitter Paris. C’est Jean Lamirault, abbé de Coulombs de 1442 à 144614, qui fit revenir la relique à Coulombs. Wikipedia
Dans l’ordonnance réformée du temps de Noël, il nous semble que tous doivent tourner leur attention vers la réinstauration de la solennité de Sainte Marie, Mère de Dieu ; ainsi placée au 1er janvier selon l’ancienne coutume de la liturgie de Rome, elle est destinée à célébrer la part qu’a eue Marie au mystère du salut et à exalter la dignité particulière qui en découle pour la « Mère très sainte… qui nous a mérité d’accueillir l’Auteur de la vie ». Elle constitue par ailleurs une excellente occasion pour renouveler notre adoration au Nouveau-Né, Prince de la Paix, pour écouter à nouveau le joyeux message des anges (cf. Lc 2, 14), pour implorer de Dieu, par la médiation de la Reine de la Paix, le don suprême de la paix. C’est pour cette raison qu’en l’heureuse coïncidence de l’octave de la Nativité du Seigneur et du 1er janvier, journée de vœux, nous avons institué la Journée mondiale de la Paix, qui reçoit de plus en plus d’adhésions et produit déjà dans le cœur de beaucoup des fruits de paix. Pape Paul VI (1974)
Le corps d’un enfant est modifié durablement et de façon irréparable par la circoncision. Cette modification est contraire à l’intérêt de l’enfant qui doit décider plus tard par lui même de son appartenance religieuse. Le droit de l’enfant à son intégrité physique prime sur le droit des parents. Tribunal de Cologne
Les jeunes Suédois ne sont pas autorisés à voter avant 18 ans, ne peuvent pas acheter d’alcool avant 20 ans, toutefois un projet est en cours pour autoriser les enfants à déposer une demande de changement juridique de genre dès 12 ans. Bien que les Suédois soient choqués par la mutilation génitale subie par de nombreuses filles immigrées, le gouvernement suédois semble vouloir légiférer sur une autre sorte de mutilation génitale des enfants : les opérations de changement de sexe ou, pour utiliser un terme plus politiquement correct,  le « gender reassignment surgery » (GRS), la chirurgie de réaffectation sexuelle. Les Observateurs
Ce commandement (celui de la circoncision) est-il si essentiel à la définition de l’identité juive au point de demander aux parents juifs de s’exposer à d’éventuelles poursuites pénales afin de le respecter ? En tant que rabbin, il me semble, en effet, que tel soit le cas. Cela fait à présent des années que les Juifs et les faiseurs d’opinions européens se font mutuellement croire que le judaïsme d’un côté et la charte des droits fondamentaux et les valeurs morales et éthiques de l’autre, cohabitent en parfaite harmonie. Nous voyons aujourd’hui les limites de cette fausse supposition, dans la mesure où – pour être totalement honnête – l’interdiction de la circoncision est parfaitement conforme à l’esprit et à la lettre de la charte des droits fondamentaux. Ce dont nous avons besoin (…) c’est d’un dialogue qui permette (…) d’expliquer non pas simplement pourquoi la tradition juive est attachée à la pratique de la circoncision mais surtout pourquoi le judaïsme ne peut ‘cautionner’ la charte des droits fondamentaux. Rabbin David Meyer
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and B’nai B’rith International condemned a resolution and report of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strsbourg, which calls the Jewish ritual circumcision a “violation of children’s physical integrity,” undermining the religious freedom to perform circumcision on newborn boys. … Circumcision is not discretionary, but rather central, in Jewish life and practice throughout history,” added B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “It must be made clear what those who support the criminalizing of circumcision in Europe are proposing: Discrimination against the Jewish community in Europe. EPL
Un tribunal allemand a condamné fin juin un médecin et des parents musulmans pour la circoncision de leur enfant, estimant que ceux-ci avaient enfreint le droit de l’enfant à une éducation sans « violence ». Cette décision vient renforcer la position de ceux qui militent pour que la loi interdise aux parents de procéder à la circoncision de leurs garçons avant leur majorité. Cette position est fondée sur l’idée que la circoncision est une mutilation comparable à l’excision chez la petite fille. Ni juif ni musulman, mais agnostique de famille catholique, je pense qu’il s’agit d’une question grave dont on doit penser les différentes dimensions. La dimension sanitaire : qu’est-ce que la circoncision ? Quel est son rapport bénéfices-risques ? La circoncision consiste en l’excision du prépuce, petit repli cutané qui recouvre le gland. C’est aujourd’hui une intervention chirurgicale bénigne, mais dont les complications peuvent être sérieuses si l’acte chirurgical est réalisé par des praticiens peu qualifiés ou mal équipés. La circoncision est créditée d’un certain nombre d’effets bénéfiques : limitation du risque de transmission hétérosexuelle de l’infection par le VIH chez l’homme (Organisation mondiale de la santé, 2007), prévention des fréquents paraphimosis (inflammation du prépuce) de l’enfance ; prévention de certains problèmes sexuels chez les jeunes hommes en rapport avec les fréquents prépuces serrés. De surcroît, jamais depuis le début de l’ère de la médecine scientifique la pratique de la circoncision par le corps médical n’a été contestée par lui comme non éthique. (…) Tout d’abord, sur le plan sémantique : la circoncision est-elle une mutilation ? Selon la définition du dictionnaire « mutilation : retranchement d’un membre ou d’une autre partie du corps », il s’agit bien d’une mutilation mineure. Mais ce terme comporte une forte connotation péjorative, évoquant un univers de tortures et de blessures de guerre, de douleurs et de séquelles, sans aucun bénéfice. L’utiliser dans une discussion sur la circoncision, qui comporte indéniablement certains bénéfices, apparaît déjà comme un jugement de valeur. Cette analyse montre aussi qu’il n’est pas possible de comparer la circoncision à l’excision clitoridienne dont les bénéfices sanitaires sont nuls face aux risques hémorragiques, infectieux mais surtout sexuels. Cette mutilation, car c’en est une, limite en effet pour sa vie entière le plaisir sexuel de la petite fille qui en est l’objet. Sur les plans religieux et culturel, quelle est la place de la circoncision dans l’islam et le judaïsme ? Bien que n’étant pas mentionnée dans le Coran, la circoncision est pratiquée dans l’ensemble du monde musulman, où elle est considérée comme une prescription de la tradition de l’islam, et la plupart des familles y sont très attachées. Elle revêt un caractère central dans la culture, la religion et l’identité juives, dont elle constitue l’un des principaux marqueurs. Rappelons que des milliers d’hommes juifs ont payé de leur vie l’existence de cette scarification reconnaissable entre toutes, qui témoigne de l’alliance avec Dieu. Si les familles juives ont continué à marquer ainsi leurs garçons, malgré les risques mortels, c’est pour que chaque juif soit reconnu comme tel par les juifs comme par les non-juifs. La mise en cause de la liberté de faire circoncire leurs garçons par les familles juives est une remise en question de leur identité la plus intime, la plus mémorielle, alors même que s’éteignent peu à peu les regards qui ont vu la Shoah. Enfin, la dimension familiale : a-t-on le droit de décider de circoncire ses enfants à leur place ? Tout parent sait que l’éducation des enfants est une perpétuelle tentative d’évaluation angoissée du rapport entre les bénéfices et les risques de ce qu’on leur commande, laisse faire ou interdit. Elever un enfant, c’est réfléchir en permanence à ce qu’on peut et à ce qu’on doit lui transmettre, en pesant chaque jour sa liberté d’aujourd’hui à l’aune de celle de demain. Les parents décident, en faisant circoncire leurs garçons, d’inscrire dans leur corps la marque d’une identité plurimillénaire, considérant sans doute que la dimension sanitaire du problème, qu’ils ne méconnaissent pas, est très secondaire par rapport à cette transmission religieuse et culturelle. Veut-on vraiment que la loi décide à leur place ? (…) Vouloir limiter la discussion sur la circoncision à sa seule dimension sanitaire aboutit à nier a priori son rôle dans la transmission de l’identité religieuse et à une remise en cause majeure de celle-ci. C’est comme si on réduisait la question du voile islamique à un débat sur la santé des cheveux, le débat sur la burqa au rapport bénéfices-risques du soleil sur la peau, vitamine D d’un côté, mélanome de l’autre, ou encore, comme si on remettait en question la pratique du carême, de la cacherout ou du ramadan pour des raisons nutritionnelles. Ce type de raisonnement, qui met en avant des arguments sanitaires aux dépens des pratiques religieuses et culturelles, pour le bien des populations, sonne de façon familière aux oreilles de ceux qui connaissent les rhétoriques totalitaires : élimination des malades mentaux sous couvert d’eugénisme dans l’Allemagne nazie, rhétorique sur la « régénération » des citadins par l’hygiène du travail de la terre chez les massacreurs khmers rouges, reprise en main des jeunes Français par l’hygiénisme des chantiers de jeunesse sous le régime de Vichy, les exemples ne manquent pas. Loin de moi l’idée d’assimiler à des adeptes du totalitarisme tous ceux qui seraient prêts à interdire la circoncision avant la majorité des garçons, mais ont-ils pesé toutes les dimensions du problème ? Et que savent-ils des motivations profondes des leaders, Michel Onfray par exemple, qui accompagnent les campagnes militantes visant à cette interdiction, dont on peut parfois se demander jusqu’où peut conduire leur haine des « monothéismes » ? Richard Guédon
Les premières réactions de la communauté juive face à la décision du 26 juin d’un tribunal allemand interdisant la circoncision ont été l’incrédulité, puis la colère. Certains rabbins européens ont d’ailleurs décrit la décision d’un tribunal local de Cologne, qui définit la circoncision comme un acte criminel entrainant une « mutilation irréversible » de l’enfant, comme « la pire attaque à l’encontre des Juifs depuis la Shoah ». Il me semble important, aujourd’hui, d’appréhender avec plus de retenue les termes et les concepts utilisés par les magistrats allemands afin de juger dans quelle mesure la nouvelle réalité juridique remet en question notre culture juive en Europe ainsi que nos croyances et pratiques. (…) En tout premier lieu, l’interdiction de la circoncision engendrée par cette décision juridique pourrait inciter certains – au sein même de la communauté juive – à remettre en cause le concept de dina demalkhuta dina (littéralement, « la loi du pays est la loi »), selon lequel les Juifs se doivent de respecter les lois séculières des lieux de leurs résidences. Il ne s’agirait pas pourtant de la première fois que la « loi du pays » serait profondément en contradiction avec la loi juive. A titre d’exemple, nous savons que la Halakhah stipule que les défunts doivent être inhumés sans cercueil, et que l’enterrement doit avoir lieu le jour du décès. Cependant, dans la plupart des pays occidentaux, la loi impose la mise en bière, et l’enterrement est rarement autorisé le jour du décès. Face à cette réalité juridique, les rabbins d’autrefois avaient estimé que la volonté de respect des traditions funéraires juives ne devait pas aller jusqu’à compromettre la présence juive en Europe. Ils choisirent donc de se conformer au principe de dina demalkhuta dina, s’accommodant des régulations funéraires de l’occident. Qu’en est-il de la circoncision ? Ce commandement est-il si essentiel à la définition de l’identité juive au point de demander aux parents juifs de s’exposer à d’éventuelles poursuites pénales afin de le respecter ? En tant que rabbin, il me semble, en effet, que tel soit le cas. Cependant, je demeure conscient qu’il sera de notre devoir, en tant que rabbins et penseurs juifs, d’expliquer, tant à notre communauté qu’à la société européenne en général, la raison pour laquelle la circoncision constitue un élément indispensable de l’existence juive. Cette tâche relève de la gageure. Devant la possibilité d’une crise profonde et potentiellement dangereuse entre l’Europe et le judaïsme, les parents et les communautés juives méritent mieux et surtout plus qu’un simple rappel biblique évoquant le lien entre la brit milah [cironcision] et le symbole de l’Alliance. La situation actuelle soulève également une question importante pour l’Europe. La formulation de la décision juridique allemande indique clairement que l’ »atteinte irréversible » que la circoncision porte au corps de l’enfant sans le consentement de ce dernier constitue un acte illégal. Cet acte, selon le tribunal, est criminel et enfreint la Charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne, dans la mesure où il expose le nourrisson à « des dangers physiques potentiels » au nom des convictions religieuses de ses parents. S’il en est ainsi, ne pourrait-on pas en dire autant à propos de la notion même d’identité juive ? Après tout, la plupart des Juifs sont simplement nés juifs, sans qu’ils en aient eu le choix. Compte tenu de l’histoire européenne, où le simple fait d’être juif suffît à occasionner la violence et la mort, il serait légitime de se demander si donner naissance à un enfant juif pourrait, involontairement, exposer ce dernier à « des dangers physiques potentiels ». En privilégiant – à l’excès – les droits de l’enfant et la nécessité constante du « consentement », les magistrats allemands ont amené leur société sur un terrain de discorde avec l’identité juive, qui, de par sa nature, ne repose pas sur le choix de l’individu. Cela fait à présent des années que les Juifs et les faiseurs d’opinions européens se font mutuellement croire que le judaïsme d’un côté et la charte des droits fondamentaux et les valeurs morales et éthiques de l’autre, cohabitent en parfaite harmonie. Nous voyons aujourd’hui les limites de cette fausse supposition, dans la mesure où – pour être totalement honnête – l’interdiction de la circoncision est parfaitement conforme à l’esprit et à la lettre de la charte des droits fondamentaux. Les responsables politiques européens ne peuvent donc être capables de comprendre pourquoi, soudainement, cet arrêt juridique sur la circoncision met le peuple juif dans un tel émoi. Ce dont nous avons besoin à présent, c’est d’un dialogue qui permette, pour la première fois, d’expliquer non pas simplement pourquoi la tradition juive est attachée à la pratique de la circoncision mais surtout pourquoi le judaïsme ne peut « cautionner » la charte des droits fondamentaux. Ceci afin que l’Europe puisse comprendre que ce document – qu’elle veut fondateur et surtout universel – n’a pas été rédigé dans un esprit de consultation véritable et honnête avec les autorités religieuses. La véritable question est d’ordre philosophique et ne touche que très partiellement la problématique de la circoncision. L’Europe peut-elle faire place, en son sein, à une tradition comme la nôtre, basée sur une identité qui n’est pas fondée sur la notion de choix ? La question est délicate. L’absence de choix inhérente à l’existence juive offre une véritable résistance à la pensée européenne moderne. En tant que Juifs, nous rappelons à l’Europe dans laquelle nous vivons depuis deux mille ans, que tout dans la vie ne repose pas nécessairement sur un choix. Si le judaïsme et l’Europe osent affronter honnêtement ces questions délicates, en cherchant à y répondre au niveau intellectuel et pas uniquement émotionnel, la décision du tribunal allemand sur la circoncision pourrait représenter une étape importante dans l’évolution de l’identité juive européenne. Cette décision nous abattra-t-elle en tant que peuple se voulant fidèle à une tradition, ou serons-nous capables de parvenir à une plus grande confiance et une meilleure compréhension entre les traditions juives et européennes ? David Meyer
Un tiers des bébés admis à l’hôpital avec de l’herpès ont été infectés durant le rite de la circoncision. Le Grand Rabbinat, avec le ministère de la Santé, a ainsi émis une nouvelle recommandation pour le mohel (rabbin en charge de la circoncision): de retirer le sang de la plaie à l’aide d’une paille et non plus avec la bouche. Une étude réalisée par des experts de l’hôpital « Wolfson », a déclaré cette semaine avoir analysé des données provenant de cinq cliniques dans le centre d’Israël pour les 8 dernières années et a constaté que pendant ce temps, 22 nourrissons ont été hospitalisés pour de l’herpès. Dans un tiers des cas, l’infection est survenue au cours de la brit-mila. Les parents d’enfants infectés ont informés que le mohel n’a pas utilisé un tube ou une pipette pour enlever le sang de la plaie, et l’ont fait conformément à la tradition juive par la bouche. Selon la tradition juive, qui remonte à cinq mille ans, après la cérémonie de la circoncision, mohel doit aspirer le sang de la plaie pour prévenir l’infection.La plupart des mohel le font à la main, avec une pipette ou un tube. Cependant, beaucoup de mohel protègent la version originale du rituel – avec la bouche. Dans ce cas, les médecins disent que l’infection à l’herpès d’un nouveau-né peut causer des maladies graves et même la mort. En 2005, aux Etats-Unis, suite à une  infection par l’herpès pendant le rite de la circoncision, un nouveau-né est mort. En août 2012, l’Association des pédiatres Israël a exigé de mettre un terme à la pratique de la succion orale du sang après la circoncision. JJSNews
Nous concluions en 2012 que ce jugement attestait d’un contexte où se télescopaient de manière brutale traditions religieuses et liberté relative de religion, mutilations génitales et santé publique, et où étaient de plus en plus contestées certaines pratiques religieuses ou coutumières peu compatibles avec l’éthique de mise de nos jours à l’égard des êtres humains comme des animaux — qu’il s’agisse de l’ablation du clitoris, de la circoncision ou de l’abattage rituel de viande cacher ou halal… On ne pouvait ignorer de ce point de vue, écrivions-nous, le rapport délicat entretenu à l’égard de l’islam et du judaïsme par l’opinion occidentale — et les racines chrétiennes d’une part de l’ethos européen n’y sont pas étrangères, qui ont abandonné l’inscription dans le corps de l’homme de l’alliance avec Dieu qui se trouve être au cœur de l’héritage juif et musulman, et ce au bénéfice d’une « éthique de l’intention », selon les mots de Max Weber. Une relation où l’altérité se joue sur des registres anthropologiques autant qu’idéologiques — la difficulté à accepter le voile islamique l’a bien montré — et qui ne pouvait manquer d’interroger aussi une différence identitaire marquée dans la chair de l’individu mâle, vingt ans après les premières polémiques sur la « différence » des filles voilées. Depuis, si le Bundestag a adopté en décembre 2012 un texte de loi qui permet d’encadrer la pratique de la circoncision dans un environnement médicalisé et si le débat s’est quelque peu tari en Allemagne, il a resurgi au plan européen. Car le dossier n’est pas clos pour autant. D’abord en Allemagne même, dans la mesure où l’adoption de la loi voulue par la chancelière, si elle a permis de sortir de l’insécurité juridique que l’arrêt colonais avait mise en lumière, coupe court à toute réflexion en profondeur sur ses enjeux sous-jacents et surtout entre toujours en contradiction avec des textes internationaux auxquels la République fédérale a souscrit, et qui protègent l’enfant de toute atteinte non nécessaire et irréversible à son intégrité physique. Ensuite parce qu’un jour ou l’autre, d’autres pays européens seront confrontés à la contradiction entre la tolérance prévalant généralement à l’égard de la circoncision des jeunes garçons et certains textes légaux, d’ordre interne ou international. D’autres débats, proches et non moins sensibles, qui touchent au plus profond des obligations que s’imposent certaines communautés religieuses, se déploient aujourd’hui ou émergeront en effet à l’avenir, comme celui du refus des transfusions sanguines, ou celui de l’abattage rituel — amplement discuté depuis quelques années en Norvège ou en Suisse, mais aussi en Suède ou en Pologne, et menant parfois à des interdictions, car si la loi européenne impose l’étourdissement préalable de l’animal avant sa mise à mort tout en prévoyant des exceptions « au nom de la pratique religieuse » pour les abattages rituels juif et musulman, elle laisse également à tout pays de l’Union européenne le choix d’adopter une législation plus rigoureuse en la matière. (…) Ce débat au Conseil de l’Europe avait, sans doute maladroitement, entraîné une mise en équivalence des mutilations sexuelles féminines et de la circoncision. La circoncision masculine, si elle n’entraîne bien évidemment, dans l’immense majorité des cas, ni conséquences sanitaires graves, ni perte du plaisir sexuel, et si elle ne répond pas à une volonté patriarcale — ou matriarcale — de soumission comme c’est le cas du sexe féminin avec l’excision ou l’infibulation, n’en demeure pas moins disent ses adversaires, quand elle est pratiquée sans consentement avant l’âge adulte, une atteinte au corps de l’enfant, puisqu’il s’agit de l’ablation de tissus sains et fonctionnels du corps humain. Et ce sans compter une question qui préoccupe beaucoup notre époque, celle de la souffrance, puisque l’ablation hors hôpital, qui est la norme hormis en Amérique du Nord, est pratiquée sans anesthésie autre que superficielle et, pour une partie des interventions, dans un cadre non médicalisé — rappelons que l’arrêt colonais n’avait ainsi pas rejeté l’ablation du prépuce à des fins médicales. Le plus souvent, la circoncision rituelle, sans être autorisée expressément en droit, n’est pas non plus interdite en Europe. En principe, comme toute atteinte non médicalement justifiée à l’intégrité physique d’une personne, elle devrait tomber sous le coup du code pénal. Or, pour diverses raisons — bien que pourrait être visé, outre l’atteinte à l’inviolabilité du corps humain, l’exercice illégal de la médecine par les circonciseurs non médecins —, la tolérance prévaut, assimilant la circoncision à une pratique coutumière et non médicale. Cette pratique pose toute la question de l’identité, entre choix et contrainte, puisqu’elle est ici marquée dans le corps de l’individu — les réactions des organisations juives à l’arrêt de Cologne l’ont bien montré qui, à l’instar de celles du Parlement juif européen ou du Conseil central des Juifs d’Allemagne, y ont vu une « ingérence inacceptable dans les prérogatives des communautés religieuses », concernant « un rite qui touche au plus profond » de la tradition juive, alors que l’une des plus importantes organisations musulmanes de la République fédérale voyait dans l’arrêt de Cologne pas moins que la « criminalisation » d’une coutume musulmane et juive millénaire. Ce qui entraîne de facto la question de la mainmise d’un groupe social ou religieux sur les corps des individus, afin de signifier dans leur chair l’appartenance à une communauté. Le terme « irréparable», qui figurait dans les attendus du jugement de Cologne pour qualifier l’atteinte au corps de l’enfant, met quant à lui en évidence l’opposition entre une tradition qui inscrit irrévocablement dans la chair de l’homme une appartenance à une communauté, et une démocratie moderne qui accorde des droits aux individus et non aux collectivités et considère que les appartenances et les identités puissent être révocables et librement choisies — butant dès lors sur les limites non seulement à la liberté religieuse, mais aussi à l’étendue de l’exercice de l’autorité parentale. En décrétant que la modification irréparable qu’apportait la circoncision était « contraire à l’intérêt de l’enfant, qui doit décider plus tard par lui-même de son appartenance religieuse », le tribunal de Cologne a considéré que les droits des parents en matière d’éducation, tout comme la liberté religieuse, n’étaient pas remis en cause dès lors que l’enfant était en âge de décider lui-même de procéder ou non à cette mutilation — la liberté religieuse étant ainsi, si l’on suit l’interprétation qu’en ont fait les juges colonais, renforcée plutôt que diminuée. Ce qui rejoint les questions soulevées dans le débat portant sur l’avortement ou l’euthanasie, relativement à la liberté d’un jeune à disposer de son corps. La loi allemande a aussi mis en lumière un élément assez peu relevé en matière de débat sur la diversité culturelle. A savoir la capacité de chaque religion — ou de tout responsable religieux, ou de tout croyant — à trouver un accommodement entre le respect de ses obligations et la loi civile et à faire primer cette dernière en cas de contradiction insurmontable. Jean-Philippe Schreiber

La continuation de la solution finale par d’autres moyens ?

En cette fête du Nouvel An …

Qui cette année coïncidait, comme Noël pour son début, à la fin de la fête juive de Hanouka

Que le soi-disant « plus grand ami des Juifs » s’obstine comme à son habitude à réduire à une improbable lutte pour les droits civiques

Et au lendemain de la pire résolution onusienne depuis l’infâme résolution – de 1975 – abrogée seize ans plus tard – sur le sionisme comme racisme …

Qui après leur islamisation par l’UNESCO illégalise les lieux saints juifs les plus sacrés, Mur du Temple de Jérusalem et Tombeau des patriarches d’Hébron compris …

Et appelle, nouvelle étoile jaune entre deux reportages à charge dans nos médias, à l’étiquetage d’infâmie pour les seuls produits israéliens  …

Avant la criminalisation qui se prépare, au-delà de risques réels mais aisément évitables et monarchie britannique exceptée, d’une pratique identitaire millénaire  …

Sur fond de tolérance complice, entre excision et castration chimique, pour les pires mutilations …

Qui se souvient …

Que pendant des siècles …

Entre Saint Prépuce, couteau ou pierre de circoncision vénérés comme des reliques …

Sujet d’une myriade d’oeuvres picturales …

Fête officielle catholique et inscription dans le calendrier …

Ou objet d’une procession annuelle dans la village italien de Calcata  jusqu’au vol du reliquaire en 1983 …

Et jusqu’à sa suppression et son remplacement par une énième  fête mariale par le pape Paul VI en 1974 …

Le 1er janvier était en fait comme le rappelle très justement Alain Legaret sur Facebook …

L’un des dernières fêtes chrétiennes à rappeler le plus explicitement du monde …

La judaïté du fondateur de notre ère chrétienne – pardon – commune ….

A savoir la fête de la Circoncision ?

Le débat européen sur la circoncision

Jean-Philippe Schreiber (ULB)

Fabienamnet

4 février 2014

ORELA s’était fait l’écho des prémisses du débat européen sur la circoncision, et ce dès la publication de l’arrêt du tribunal de Grande Instance de Cologne, en juin 2012, qui statuait que « le corps d’un enfant était modifié durablement et de manière irréparable par la circoncision », une modification « contraire à l’intérêt de l’enfant, qui doit décider plus tard par lui-même de son appartenance religieuse ». Cet arrêt, on s’en souvient, avait créé une situation jurisprudentielle inédite en Allemagne, interdisant alors de facto toute intervention de ce type en offrant pour la première fois une base légale à toute appréciation en la matière.

Nous concluions en 2012 que ce jugement attestait d’un contexte où se télescopaient de manière brutale traditions religieuses et liberté relative de religion, mutilations génitales et santé publique, et où étaient de plus en plus contestées certaines pratiques religieuses ou coutumières peu compatibles avec l’éthique de mise de nos jours à l’égard des êtres humains comme des animaux — qu’il s’agisse de l’ablation du clitoris, de la circoncision ou de l’abattage rituel de viande cacher ou halal… On ne pouvait ignorer de ce point de vue, écrivions-nous, le rapport délicat entretenu à l’égard de l’islam et du judaïsme par l’opinion occidentale — et les racines chrétiennes d’une part de l’ethos européen n’y sont pas étrangères, qui ont abandonné l’inscription dans le corps de l’homme de l’alliance avec Dieu qui se trouve être au cœur de l’héritage juif et musulman, et ce au bénéfice d’une « éthique de l’intention », selon les mots de Max Weber. Une relation où l’altérité se joue sur des registres anthropologiques autant qu’idéologiques — la difficulté à accepter le voile islamique l’a bien montré — et qui ne pouvait manquer d’interroger aussi une différence identitaire marquée dans la chair de l’individu mâle, vingt ans après les premières polémiques sur la « différence » des filles voilées.

Depuis, si le Bundestag a adopté en décembre 2012 un texte de loi qui permet d’encadrer la pratique de la circoncision dans un environnement médicalisé et si le débat s’est quelque peu tari en Allemagne, il a resurgi au plan européen. Car le dossier n’est pas clos pour autant. D’abord en Allemagne même, dans la mesure où l’adoption de la loi voulue par la chancelière, si elle a permis de sortir de l’insécurité juridique que l’arrêt colonais avait mise en lumière, coupe court à toute réflexion en profondeur sur ses enjeux sous-jacents et surtout entre toujours en contradiction avec des textes internationaux auxquels la République fédérale a souscrit, et qui protègent l’enfant de toute atteinte non nécessaire et irréversible à son intégrité physique. Ensuite parce qu’un jour ou l’autre, d’autres pays européens seront confrontés à la contradiction entre la tolérance prévalant généralement à l’égard de la circoncision des jeunes garçons et certains textes légaux, d’ordre interne ou international.

D’autres débats, proches et non moins sensibles, qui touchent au plus profond des obligations que s’imposent certaines communautés religieuses, se déploient aujourd’hui ou émergeront en effet à l’avenir, comme celui du refus des transfusions sanguines, ou celui de l’abattage rituel — amplement discuté depuis quelques années en Norvège ou en Suisse, mais aussi en Suède ou en Pologne, et menant parfois à des interdictions, car si la loi européenne impose l’étourdissement préalable de l’animal avant sa mise à mort tout en prévoyant des exceptions « au nom de la pratique religieuse » pour les abattages rituels juif et musulman, elle laisse également à tout pays de l’Union européenne le choix d’adopter une législation plus rigoureuse en la matière.

Au Parlement européen, les débats relatifs au rapport sur la liberté de religion et de conviction dû à une eurodéputée lituanienne du Parti populaire européen (PPE), Laima Liucija Andrikiené, avaient suscité là aussi de vives réactions et mené à de nombreux amendements au texte initial, qui faisait la part trop belle à une interprétation  lato sensu de la liberté religieuse, au point de conduire, outre des accommodements religieux dans l’enseignement ou la promotion du créationnisme, à la tolérance à l’égard de pratiques médicales dangereuses mues par le respect de prescrits religieux. L’assemblée parlementaire du Conseil de l’Europe, à Strasbourg, a elle aussi été à son tour le théâtre d’un débat houleux sur la circoncision, en janvier dernier, mettant aux prises, devant la Commission des questions sociales et de la santé, des porte-paroles juifs et musulmans d’une part, des parlementaires défenseurs de l’intégrité physique des enfants d’autre part — sans compter des experts divisés —, et ce suite à une résolution controversée adoptée en octobre 2013, considérant la circoncision comme une violation du droit des enfants à l’intégrité physique.

Ce débat au Conseil de l’Europe avait, sans doute maladroitement, entraîné une mise en équivalence des mutilations sexuelles féminines et de la circoncision. La circoncision masculine, si elle n’entraîne bien évidemment, dans l’immense majorité des cas, ni conséquences sanitaires graves, ni perte du plaisir sexuel, et si elle ne répond pas à une volonté patriarcale — ou matriarcale — de soumission comme c’est le cas du sexe féminin avec l’excision ou l’infibulation, n’en demeure pas moins disent ses adversaires, quand elle est pratiquée sans consentement avant l’âge adulte, une atteinte au corps de l’enfant, puisqu’il s’agit de l’ablation de tissus sains et fonctionnels du corps humain. Et ce sans compter une question qui préoccupe beaucoup notre époque, celle de la souffrance, puisque l’ablation hors hôpital, qui est la norme hormis en Amérique du Nord, est pratiquée sans anesthésie autre que superficielle et, pour une partie des interventions, dans un cadre non médicalisé — rappelons que l’arrêt colonais n’avait ainsi pas rejeté l’ablation du prépuce à des fins médicales.

Le plus souvent, la circoncision rituelle, sans être autorisée expressément en droit, n’est pas non plus interdite en Europe. En principe, comme toute atteinte non médicalement justifiée à l’intégrité physique d’une personne, elle devrait tomber sous le coup du code pénal. Or, pour diverses raisons — bien que pourrait être visé, outre l’atteinte à l’inviolabilité du corps humain, l’exercice illégal de la médecine par les circonciseurs non médecins —, la tolérance prévaut, assimilant la circoncision à une pratique coutumière et non médicale. Cette pratique pose toute la question de l’identité, entre choix et contrainte, puisqu’elle est ici marquée dans le corps de l’individu — les réactions des organisations juives à l’arrêt de Cologne l’ont bien montré qui, à l’instar de celles du Parlement juif européen ou du Conseil central des Juifs d’Allemagne, y ont vu une « ingérence inacceptable dans les prérogatives des communautés religieuses », concernant « un rite qui touche au plus profond » de la tradition juive, alors que l’une des plus importantes organisations musulmanes de la République fédérale voyait dans l’arrêt de Cologne pas moins que la « criminalisation » d’une coutume musulmane et juive millénaire. Ce qui entraîne de facto la question de la mainmise d’un groupe social ou religieux sur les corps des individus, afin de signifier dans leur chair l’appartenance à une communauté.

Le terme « irréparable», qui figurait dans les attendus du jugement de Cologne pour qualifier l’atteinte au corps de l’enfant, met quant à lui en évidence l’opposition entre une tradition qui inscrit irrévocablement dans la chair de l’homme une appartenance à une communauté, et une démocratie moderne qui accorde des droits aux individus et non aux collectivités et considère que les appartenances et les identités puissent être révocables et librement choisies — butant dès lors sur les limites non seulement à la liberté religieuse, mais aussi à l’étendue de l’exercice de l’autorité parentale. En décrétant que la modification irréparable qu’apportait la circoncision était « contraire à l’intérêt de l’enfant, qui doit décider plus tard par lui-même de son appartenance religieuse », le tribunal de Cologne a considéré que les droits des parents en matière d’éducation, tout comme la liberté religieuse, n’étaient pas remis en cause dès lors que l’enfant était en âge de décider lui-même de procéder ou non à cette mutilation — la liberté religieuse étant ainsi, si l’on suit l’interprétation qu’en ont fait les juges colonais, renforcée plutôt que diminuée. Ce qui rejoint les questions soulevées dans le débat portant sur l’avortement ou l’euthanasie, relativement à la liberté d’un jeune à disposer de son corps.

La loi allemande a aussi mis en lumière un élément assez peu relevé en matière de débat sur la diversité culturelle. A savoir la capacité de chaque religion — ou de tout responsable religieux, ou de tout croyant — à trouver un accommodement entre le respect de ses obligations et la loi civile et à faire primer cette dernière en cas de contradiction insurmontable. A ce propos, un rabbin et théologien pourtant réputé fort libéral, David Meyer, avait écrit dans un point de vue publié par le journal Le Monde, au lendemain de l’arrêt de Cologne : « Ce commandement (celui de la circoncision) est-il si essentiel à la définition de l’identité juive au point de demander aux parents juifs de s’exposer à d’éventuelles poursuites pénales afin de le respecter ? En tant que rabbin, il me semble, en effet, que tel soit le cas ». Ce qui en d’autres termes constituait un encouragement, dans le chef d’une autorité spirituelle, à transgresser la loi au nom d’une obligation religieuse que l’on considère plus fondamentale — le rabbin Meyer y voyant tout à la fois, en citoyen responsable et en intellectuel engagé dans la cité, un germe de « crise profonde et potentiellement dangereuse » entre le judaïsme et son environnement.

Courageusement, le rabbin Meyer a mis en lumière ce que d’aucuns ne veulent ou n’osent pas voir, à savoir qu’au bout des deux logiques, civile et religieuse, il n’y a quelquefois pas d’accommodement possible, et qu’il faudra bien trancher laquelle s’impose à l’autre : « Cela fait à présent des années, écrit encore David Meyer, que les Juifs et les faiseurs d’opinions européens se font mutuellement croire que le judaïsme d’un côté et la charte des droits fondamentaux et les valeurs morales et éthiques de l’autre, cohabitent en parfaite harmonie. Nous voyons aujourd’hui les limites de cette fausse supposition, dans la mesure où – pour être totalement honnête – l’interdiction de la circoncision est parfaitement conforme à l’esprit et à la lettre de la charte des droits fondamentaux ». Et de conclure, de son point de vue : « Ce dont nous avons besoin (…) c’est d’un dialogue qui permette (…) d’expliquer non pas simplement pourquoi la tradition juive est attachée à la pratique de la circoncision mais surtout pourquoi le judaïsme ne peut ‘cautionner’ la charte des droits fondamentaux ». On ne pouvait être plus clair.

Voir aussi:

La circoncision religieuse est-elle une mutilation sexuelle?

C’est en tout cas ce que semble penser le Tribunal de grande instance de Cologne dans un jugement appelé à faire jurisprudence. La communauté juive, scandalisée, monte au créneau. En Europe, la question des rites juifs et musulmans fait débat un peu partout.
« Le corps d’un enfant est modifié durablement et de façon irréparable par la circoncision. Cette modification est contraire à l’intérêt de l’enfant qui doit décider plus tard par lui même de son appartenance religieuse. Le droit de l’enfant à son intégrité physique prime sur le droit des parents ». Trois petites phrases qui provoquent un véritable tollé chez les juifs et les musulmans d’Allemagne. La circoncision, rite central du judaïsme, se retrouve ainsi sur la sellette par une décision de justice.En Europe, les rites propres aux communautés juive et musulmane sont malmenés un peu partout sous couvert d’intentions louables.
En Suisse, l’abattage rituel du bétail est proscrit depuis 1894, même si l’importation de viande casher (mais pas hallal) est autorisée; les volailles, elles, peuvent être abattues selon les rites juif et musulman. En Norvège, en Suède, en Islande, en Grèce, au Luxembourg et dans six provinces autrichiennes, l’abattage rituel est également interdit par la loi. Les Pays-Bas ont failli le proscrire également l’année dernière, et le débat reste vif en Grande-Bretagne, au Danemark et… en Allemagne.
Car pour nos sociétés sécularisées, abattage rituel et circoncision sont des vestiges archaïques de fonctionnements tribaux peu adéquats avec les valeurs occidentales, même si bien peu le disent tout haut, comme François Fillon l’avait fait juste avant la présidentielle en qualifiant ces pratiques de « traditions ancestrales appelées à s’adapter au monde actuel ». Les rabbins européens s’inquiètent depuis longtemps de la croisade anti-hallal qui rassemble dans un drôle d’attelage protecteurs des animaux et sympathisants d’extrême-droite. « La circoncision sera visée dans la foulée de la shehita (rite d’abattage israélite) », pouvait-on lire dans le Jerusalem Post dès le mois de janvier dernier. L’actualité vient de leur donner raison.
Mais en filigrane, c’est une autre question qui est soulevée par ce jugement. Si l’enfant est de plus en plus considéré comme un individu dont il faut préserver l’intégrité physique, morale et spirituelle, est-il encore possible pour ses parents, quelle que soit leur religion ou leur culture, de lui imposer une éducation? Ou bien toute inscription rituelle dans une communauté donnée va-t-elle être considérée comme une violence à son encontre, puisque ses parents choisissent pour lui jusqu’à un certain âge?
Voir également:

Expliquer la circoncision

Le débat sur la circoncision en révèle un autre: la charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne a été négociée sans discussion avec les autorités religieuses. Il est temps d’y remédier.

David Meyer, rabbin

Le Monde

25.09.2012

Les premières réactions de la communauté juive face à la décision du 26 juin d’un tribunal allemand interdisant la circoncision ont été l’incrédulité, puis la colère. Certains rabbins européens ont d’ailleurs décrit la décision d’un tribunal local de Cologne, qui définit la circoncision comme un acte criminel entrainant une « mutilation irréversible » de l’enfant, comme « la pire attaque à l’encontre des Juifs depuis la Shoah« . Il me semble important, aujourd’hui, d’appréhender avec plus de retenue les termes et les concepts utilisés par les magistrats allemands afin de juger dans quelle mesure la nouvelle réalité juridique remet en question notre culture juive en Europe ainsi que nos croyances et pratiques.

Le livre de l’Ecclésiaste (3:1-3) nous enseigne que « toutes choses ont leur temps (…) un temps pour abattre, et un temps pour bâtir ». La décision allemande semble effectivement vouloir « abattre » l’une des pratiques cardinales du judaïsme. Mais cette décision peut-elle également  « bâtir » quelque chose ? Pourrions-nous saisir cette occasion pour renouveler et renforcer notre identité juive en Europe ? Face à cette tâche, deux éléments sont en jeu. Le premier concerne la communauté juive, le second concerne l’Europe.

En tout premier lieu, l’interdiction de la circoncision engendrée par cette décision juridique pourrait inciter certains – au sein même de la communauté juive – à remettre en cause le concept de dina demalkhuta dina (littéralement, « la loi du pays est la loi »), selon lequel les Juifs se doivent de respecter les lois séculières des lieux de leurs résidences. Il ne s’agirait pas pourtant de la première fois que la « loi du pays » serait profondément en contradiction avec la loi juive. A titre d’exemple, nous savons que la Halakhah stipule que les défunts doivent être inhumés sans cercueil, et que l’enterrement doit avoir lieu le jour du décès. Cependant, dans la plupart des pays occidentaux, la loi impose la mise en bière, et l’enterrement est rarement autorisé le jour du décès. Face à cette réalité juridique, les rabbins d’autrefois avaient estimé que la volonté de respect des traditions funéraires juives ne devait pas aller jusqu’à compromettre la présence juive en Europe. Ils choisirent donc de se conformer au principe de dina demalkhuta dina, s’accommodant des régulations funéraires de l’occident.

Qu’en est-il de la circoncision ? Ce commandement est-il si essentiel à la définition de l’identité juive au point de demander aux parents juifs de s’exposer à d’éventuelles poursuites pénales afin de le respecter ? En tant que rabbin, il me semble, en effet, que tel soit le cas. Cependant, je demeure conscient qu’il sera de notre devoir, en tant que rabbins et penseurs juifs, d’expliquer, tant à notre communauté qu’à la société européenne en général, la raison pour laquelle la circoncision constitue un élément indispensable de l’existence juive. Cette tâche relève de la gageure. Devant la possibilité d’une crise profonde et potentiellement dangereuse entre l’Europe et le judaïsme, les parents et les communautés juives méritent mieux et surtout plus qu’un simple rappel biblique évoquant le lien entre la brit milah [cironcision] et le symbole de l’Alliance.

La situation actuelle soulève également une question importante pour l’Europe. La formulation de la décision juridique allemande indique clairement que l’« atteinte irréversible » que la circoncision porte au corps de l’enfant sans le consentement de ce dernier constitue un acte illégal. Cet acte, selon le tribunal, est criminel et enfreint la Charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne, dans la mesure où il expose le nourrisson à « des dangers physiques potentiels » au nom des convictions religieuses de ses parents. S’il en est ainsi, ne pourrait-on pas en dire autant à propos de la notion même d’identité juive ? Après tout, la plupart des Juifs sont simplement nés juifs, sans qu’ils en aient eu le choix. Compte tenu de l’histoire européenne, où le simple fait d’être juif suffît à occasionner la violence et la mort, il serait légitime de se demander si donner naissance à un enfant juif pourrait, involontairement, exposer ce dernier à « des dangers physiques potentiels ». En privilégiant – à l’excès – les droits de l’enfant et la nécessité constante du « consentement », les magistrats allemands ont amené leur société sur un terrain de discorde avec l’identité juive, qui, de par sa nature, ne repose pas sur le choix de l’individu.

Cela fait à présent des années que les Juifs et les faiseurs d’opinions européens se font mutuellement croire que le judaïsme d’un côté et la charte des droits fondamentaux et les valeurs morales et éthiques de l’autre, cohabitent en parfaite harmonie. Nous voyons aujourd’hui les limites de cette fausse supposition, dans la mesure où – pour être totalement honnête – l’interdiction de la circoncision est parfaitement conforme à l’esprit et à la lettre de la charte des droits fondamentaux. Les responsables politiques européens ne peuvent donc être capables de comprendre pourquoi, soudainement, cet arrêt juridique sur la circoncision met le peuple juif dans un tel émoi. Ce dont nous avons besoin à présent, c’est d’un dialogue qui permette, pour la première fois, d’expliquer non pas simplement pourquoi la tradition juive est attachée à la pratique de la circoncision mais surtout pourquoi le judaïsme ne peut « cautionner » la charte des droits fondamentaux. Ceci afin que l’Europe puisse comprendre que ce document – qu’elle veut fondateur et surtout universel – n’a pas été rédigé dans un esprit de consultation véritable et honnête avec les autorités religieuses.

La véritable question est d’ordre philosophique et ne touche que très partiellement la problématique de la circoncision. L’Europe peut-elle faire place, en son sein, à une tradition comme la nôtre, basée sur une identité qui n’est pas fondée sur la notion de choix ? La question est délicate. L’absence de choix inhérente à l’existence juive offre une véritable résistance à la pensée européenne moderne. En tant que Juifs, nous rappelons à l’Europe dans laquelle nous vivons depuis deux mille ans, que tout dans la vie ne repose pas nécessairement sur un choix. Si le judaïsme et l’Europe osent affronter honnêtement ces questions délicates, en cherchant à y répondre au niveau intellectuel et pas uniquement émotionnel, la décision du tribunal allemand sur la circoncision pourrait représenter une étape importante dans l’évolution de l’identité juive européenne. Cette décision nous abattra-t-elle en tant que peuple se voulant fidèle à une tradition, ou serons-nous capables de parvenir à une plus grande confiance et une meilleure compréhension entre les traditions juives et européennes ?

David Meyer, rabbin à Bruxelles et professeur de littérature rabbinique à l’Université grégorienne pontificale de Rome.

Voir de même:

Il ne faut pas interdire la circoncision

« Vouloir limiter cette discussion à sa seule dimension sanitaire aboutit à nier a priori son rôle dans la transmission de l’identité religieuse et à une remise en cause majeure de celle-ci », estime Richard Guédon.

Richard Guédon, docteur en médecine

Le Monde

 28.08.2012

Un tribunal allemand a condamné fin juin un médecin et des parents musulmans pour la circoncision de leur enfant, estimant que ceux-ci avaient enfreint le droit de l’enfant à une éducation sans « violence ». Cette décision vient renforcer la position de ceux qui militent pour que la loi interdise aux parents de procéder à la circoncision de leurs garçons avant leur majorité. Cette position est fondée sur l’idée que la circoncision est une mutilation comparable à l’excision chez la petite fille.

Ni juif ni musulman, mais agnostique de famille catholique, je pense qu’il s’agit d’une question grave dont on doit penser les différentes dimensions. La dimension sanitaire : qu’est-ce que la circoncision ? Quel est son rapport bénéfices-risques ?

La circoncision consiste en l’excision du prépuce, petit repli cutané qui recouvre le gland. C’est aujourd’hui une intervention chirurgicale bénigne, mais dont les complications peuvent être sérieuses si l’acte chirurgical est réalisé par des praticiens peu qualifiés ou mal équipés. La circoncision est créditée d’un certain nombre d’effets bénéfiques : limitation du risque de transmission hétérosexuelle de l’infection par le VIH chez l’homme (Organisation mondiale de la santé, 2007), prévention des fréquents paraphimosis (inflammation du prépuce) de l’enfance ; prévention de certains problèmes sexuels chez les jeunes hommes en rapport avec les fréquents prépuces serrés.

De surcroît, jamais depuis le début de l’ère de la médecine scientifique la pratique de la circoncision par le corps médical n’a été contestée par lui comme non éthique. Tâchons néanmoins de répondre à certaines questions que pourrait soulever cette pratique.

Tout d’abord, sur le plan sémantique : la circoncision est-elle une mutilation ? Selon la définition du dictionnaire « mutilation : retranchement d’un membre ou d’une autre partie du corps », il s’agit bien d’une mutilation mineure. Mais ce terme comporte une forte connotation péjorative, évoquant un univers de tortures et de blessures de guerre, de douleurs et de séquelles, sans aucun bénéfice. L’utiliser dans une discussion sur la circoncision, qui comporte indéniablement certains bénéfices, apparaît déjà comme un jugement de valeur.

Cette analyse montre aussi qu’il n’est pas possible de comparer la circoncision à l’excision clitoridienne dont les bénéfices sanitaires sont nuls face aux risques hémorragiques, infectieux mais surtout sexuels. Cette mutilation, car c’en est une, limite en effet pour sa vie entière le plaisir sexuel de la petite fille qui en est l’objet.

Sur les plans religieux et culturel, quelle est la place de la circoncision dans l’islam et le judaïsme ? Bien que n’étant pas mentionnée dans le Coran, la circoncision est pratiquée dans l’ensemble du monde musulman, où elle est considérée comme une prescription de la tradition de l’islam, et la plupart des familles y sont très attachées.

Elle revêt un caractère central dans la culture, la religion et l’identité juives, dont elle constitue l’un des principaux marqueurs. Rappelons que des milliers d’hommes juifs ont payé de leur vie l’existence de cette scarification reconnaissable entre toutes, qui témoigne de l’alliance avec Dieu. Si les familles juives ont continué à marquer ainsi leurs garçons, malgré les risques mortels, c’est pour que chaque juif soit reconnu comme tel par les juifs comme par les non-juifs. La mise en cause de la liberté de faire circoncire leurs garçons par les familles juives est une remise en question de leur identité la plus intime, la plus mémorielle, alors même que s’éteignent peu à peu les regards qui ont vu la Shoah.

Enfin, la dimension familiale : a-t-on le droit de décider de circoncire ses enfants à leur place ? Tout parent sait que l’éducation des enfants est une perpétuelle tentative d’évaluation angoissée du rapport entre les bénéfices et les risques de ce qu’on leur commande, laisse faire ou interdit. Elever un enfant, c’est réfléchir en permanence à ce qu’on peut et à ce qu’on doit lui transmettre, en pesant chaque jour sa liberté d’aujourd’hui à l’aune de celle de demain. Les parents décident, en faisant circoncire leurs garçons, d’inscrire dans leur corps la marque d’une identité plurimillénaire, considérant sans doute que la dimension sanitaire du problème, qu’ils ne méconnaissent pas, est très secondaire par rapport à cette transmission religieuse et culturelle. Veut-on vraiment que la loi décide à leur place ?

Pour se faire une opinion, il faut intégrer toutes ces dimensions. Vouloir limiter la discussion sur la circoncision à sa seule dimension sanitaire aboutit à nier a priori son rôle dans la transmission de l’identité religieuse et à une remise en cause majeure de celle-ci. C’est comme si on réduisait la question du voile islamique à un débat sur la santé des cheveux, le débat sur la burqa au rapport bénéfices-risques du soleil sur la peau, vitamine D d’un côté, mélanome de l’autre, ou encore, comme si on remettait en question la pratique du carême, de la cacherout ou du ramadan pour des raisons nutritionnelles.

Ce type de raisonnement, qui met en avant des arguments sanitaires aux dépens des pratiques religieuses et culturelles, pour le bien des populations, sonne de façon familière aux oreilles de ceux qui connaissent les rhétoriques totalitaires : élimination des malades mentaux sous couvert d’eugénisme dans l’Allemagne nazie, rhétorique sur la « régénération » des citadins par l’hygiène du travail de la terre chez les massacreurs khmers rouges, reprise en main des jeunes Français par l’hygiénisme des chantiers de jeunesse sous le régime de Vichy, les exemples ne manquent pas.

Loin de moi l’idée d’assimiler à des adeptes du totalitarisme tous ceux qui seraient prêts à interdire la circoncision avant la majorité des garçons, mais ont-ils pesé toutes les dimensions du problème ? Et que savent-ils des motivations profondes des leaders, Michel Onfray par exemple, qui accompagnent les campagnes militantes visant à cette interdiction, dont on peut parfois se demander jusqu’où peut conduire leur haine des « monothéismes » ?

Richard Guédon, docteur en médecine

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Santé

Un rituel juif de circoncision à l’origine de la mort de deux bébés aux Etats-Unis

Deux nouveau-nés sont morts ces dix dernières années à New York d’herpès transmis pendant une cérémonie juive de circoncision, lors de laquelle l’officiant a recueilli dans sa bouche le sang du bébé.

Le Progrès

  • 07/06/2012
  • En outre, onze enfants ont été atteints du HSV-1, le virus responsable de la plupart des herpès oro-faciaux. Ces cas ont tous été recensés dans le même quartier de New York, entre 2000 et 2011. L’un des deux nouveau-nés décédés avait été circoncis en même temps que son frère jumeau au cours d’une cérémonie traditionelle pendant laquelle le « mohel », chargé de l’opération, a procédé à l’ablation de son prépuce, puis sucé le sang de son pénis.
    «Alors qu’ils avaient huit jours, les jumeaux ont été circoncis par un « mohel », qui a ensuite procédé à une succion orogénitale. Huit jours plus tard, les jumeaux avaient de la fièvre et portaient des lésions sur l’abdomen, les fesses, le périnée et les organes génitaux», relèvent les CDC dans leur étude.
    Après examen, il s’est avéré que les bébés étaient porteurs du HSV-1 et le premier jumeau à avoir été circoncis est décédé.
    Leur mère n’avait d’herpès ni au moment de l’accouchement, ni après. Les 14 employés de l’hôpital où les bébés ont été soignés n’étaient pas non plus porteurs du virus. En revanche, le mohel qui avait procédé à la circoncision et à la succion était atteint du HSV-1. L’autre enfant décédé des suites d’un herpès serait mort en 2011, mais compte tenu du fait que le mohel n’a pu être testé, il s’agit pour les autorités d’un cas «probable» et non avéré.

    Voir encore:

    Le Grand Rabbinat d’Israël émet de nouvelles directives pour les circoncisions.

    JSSNews
    13 avril 2013

    Un tiers des bébés admis à l’hôpital avec de l’herpès ont été infectés durant le rite de la circoncision. Le Grand Rabbinat, avec le ministère de la Santé, a ainsi émis une nouvelle recommandation pour le mohel (rabbin en charge de la circoncision): de retirer le sang de la plaie à l’aide d’une paille et non plus avec la bouche.

    Une étude réalisée par des experts de l’hôpital « Wolfson », a déclaré cette semaine avoir analysé des données provenant de cinq cliniques dans le centre d’Israël pour les 8 dernières années et a constaté que pendant ce temps, 22 nourrissons ont été hospitalisés pour de l’herpès. Dans un tiers des cas, l’infection est survenue au cours de la brit-mila. Les parents d’enfants infectés ont informés que le mohel n’a pas utilisé un tube ou une pipette pour enlever le sang de la plaie, et l’ont fait conformément à la tradition juive par la bouche.

    Selon la tradition juive, qui remonte à cinq mille ans, après la cérémonie de la circoncision, mohel doit aspirer le sang de la plaie pour prévenir l’infection.La plupart des mohel le font à la main, avec une pipette ou un tube. Cependant, beaucoup de mohel protègent la version originale du rituel – avec la bouche.

    Dans ce cas, les médecins disent que l’infection à l’herpès d’un nouveau-né peut causer des maladies graves et même la mort. En 2005, aux Etats-Unis, suite à une  infection par l’herpès pendant le rite de la circoncision, un nouveau-né est mort. En août 2012, l’Association des pédiatres Israël a exigé de mettre un terme à la pratique de la succion orale du sang après la circoncision. 

    Malgré tout, le Grand Rabbinat rappel, et à juste titre, que la plupart des « complications » suite à une circoncision, ont lieu après un acte fait par un médecin à l’hôpital et non par des rabbins.

    La circoncision, qui se fait à l’âge de 8 jours dans le judaïsme, est l’acte qui relie l’enfant à Dieu.

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     2016 a battu tous les records en termes d’inepties véhiculées contre Israël

    Intitulé Jérusalem, quand la ville sainte se déchire, le reportage est truffé d’erreurs aussi monumentales qu’invraisemblables. On se souvient peut-être que le 29 novembre 1947, les Nations unies ont adopté un plan de partition de ce qui restait de la Palestine, après que l’Angleterre en ait cédé les quatre cinquièmes à l’émir du Hedjaz en 1921. Ce dernier avait appelé son nouveau royaume la Transjordanie. Le plan de 1947 prévoyait la création d’un Etat juif et d’un Etat arabe. Personne ne parlait alors d’Etat palestinien. Un statut international était prévu pour Jérusalem. Problème : alors qu’Israël a accepté le plan, les Arabes l’ont rejeté. Toutefois selon M6, « en 1947, pour apaiser les tensions les Nations unies ont séparé la région en deux. Israël voit alors le jour. La Jordanie, elle, cède un bout de son territoire : la Cisjordanie. Cela doit devenir le futur Etat palestinien. » Nous sommes en plein dans le jeu des sept erreurs. En 1947, la Transjordanie se trouvait toujours de l’autre côté du Jourdain et Israël n’avait pas encore proclamé son indépendance. Après la déclaration de celle-ci le 14 mai 1948, l’Etat juif a été immédiatement attaqué par les armées de cinq pays arabes dont la Transjordanie qui a occupé la Cisjordanie et Jérusalem-Est et s’est empressée de les annexer avant de changer son nom en Jordanie. Et le documentaire de poursuivre : « En 1967 Israël entre en guerre contre ses voisins et annexe la Cisjordanie. C’est le début de l’occupation des territoires palestiniens. » Or, d’une part Israël n’a jamais annexé la Cisjordanie et de l’autre, ladite Cisjordanie incluant la totalité des territoires revendiqués aujourd’hui par Abou Mazen se trouvait, de 1948 à 1967, sous contrôle jordanien. Pourquoi un Etat palestinien n’a-t-il alors pas vu le jour ? La question ne sera évidemment pas posée par M6…

     Voir de même:

    2017, année eschatologique

    Shmuel Trigano
    JForum
    Jan 1, 2017

    Combien cette joie exprime-t-elle de haine rentrée et de mépris, expression irrépressible d’une animosité atavique envers le peuple juif redevenu souverain

    « Eschatologique » désigne généralement la « fin des temps ». Je n’irais peut-être pas jusque là mais sans doute entrons-nous dans la fin d’un temps. De nombreux signes nous montrent que cette année signera en effet la fin de l’époque que la chute du mur de Berlin (1989) a ouverte, elle-même la suite de l’après deuxième guerre mondiale, deux périodes charnières qui nous ont fait entrer dans un monde encore inconnu. Entre 1989 et 2017, nous avons subi l’effet d’une même utopie qui s’est cristallisée autour de l’attente millénariste que le passage du bi-millénaire avait suscitée en 2000 et que l’on peut définir comme le post-modernisme. Un rêve de toute puissance et de fusion massifiante s’est alors emparée de l’Occident démocratique qui a cru à la fin de toute limite, à la maitrise totale du destin et de la nature humaines, à l’Etat mondial, à la fin des frontières et des territoires,… Une véritable ivresse de toute puissance.

    La montée en force de la Russie, la décomposition annoncée de l’Union Européenne, scène principale de cette frénésie et de ce drame, le spectacle digne d’une légende de l’armée de « migrants » qui, l’an dernier, l’envahissait en rangs serrés, l’effondrement de l’Etat arabe de toutes parts, l’agression planétaire de l’islam font entendre les craquements de l’ordre ancien. Nous sommes passés de l’affrontement entre des Etats à l’affrontement entre des blocs massifs, des civilisations, des empires ou aspirants à l’empire.  En Europe, c’est le choc UE-Russie, au Moyen Orient Iran-Arabie, Turquie-Iran, Chiites-Sunnites, Islam-Occident, sans oublier la Chine confrontée aux Etats-Unis. Les mondes concurrents se recentrent chacun sur soi, en même temps que progresse la mondialisation comme si chacun s’apprétait à bondir sur son voisin. Une étrange atmosphère s’est emparée de l’Occident, où tout le monde rivalise de « moralité », de pureté, de reconnaissance d’autrui mais où le double discours et la perversion des valeurs montrent chaque jour leurs effets. Nous sommes à Sodome dont la cruauté était déguisée sous la morale. Le visiteur, nous dit la tradition juive,  y était accueilli mais forcé de dormir dans un lit trop petit pour les plus grands auxquels on coupait les pieds, trop grand pour les plus petits, dont on étirait les jambes jusqu’à ce que mort s’en suive…

    Comme toujours, le peuple d’Israël est le révélateur de l’état de l’humanité. Ce qui lui arrive en est le symptôme. Deux scènes, très semblables, illustrent de façon théâtrale cette perversion du langage et de la réalité :  le vote de la reconnaissance de l’Etat imaginaire de Palestine par le parlement français et le vote anti-israélien du Conseil de sécurité, les deux en standing ovation, puis, demain la conférence de Paris. Qu’avaient-ils donc tant à se féliciter pour un tel vote? Combien cette joie exprime-t-elle de haine rentrée et de mépris, expression irrépressible d’une animosité atavique envers le peuple juif redevenu souverain et échappant au patronage de la magnanimité compassionnelle de l’Occident ? Que sont donc ces Palestiniens, pour jouer les victimes favorites de toute la planète où d’infiniment plus graves situations sont laissées à l’abandon? Sinon parce qu’ils représentent un Israël substitutif qu’ils envisagent de substituer à Israël dans son propre être et son propre territoire? Le « nouvel israël » des postcolonialistes! Car l’inimitié fondamentale des Palestiniens est de l’ordre de l’évidence. Cet acharnement a gravi les échelons : d’abord à l’UNESCO puis à l’ONU, qui décrète que les Juifs sont des colons à Jérusalem et qu’ils le sont sur la Terre d’Israël. Le sort de Jerusalem décide stratégiquement, en effet, du sort de toute ce territoire. Quelle sera la prochaine étape sinon l’annihilation morale et juridique d’Israël?  Nous voyons se lever à nouveau la horde amalécite et le combat devient total car c’est au fondement même de l’existence du peuple d’Israël que l’humanité assemblée au Conseil de sécurité porte atteinte. La planète d’un côté, Israël de l’autre c’est un signe attendu de la fin des temps dans la tradition messianique juive, la condition d’Abraham. L’humanité réunie décrête qu’Israël est un étranger sur sa terre et s’apprête à le mettre en quarantaine s’il ne vient pas à récipiscence avant de lui porter le coup fatal. Situation prophétique, s’il en est! Alors qu’au nord pointe le museau d’un nouvel empire de Perse, « du nord éclatera le mal » (Jr 1,14) ) au point focal de la concurrence des empires, russe, iranien, turc.  Que fera le joker du destin, Trump?

    Voir encore:
    President Obama’s Two Hanukkah messages
    Elliot Kaufman
    National Review
    December 28, 2016
    He misunderstands the particular meaning that the holiday has for the Jewish people.
    President Obama blessed the Jewish people with two Hanukkah messages this year: one in a statement in advance of his annual Hanukkah party on Friday, and one at the United Nations.
    At the U.N., Obama abstained, leaving Israel to be denounced. This vote and its implications have been amply analyzed. The president’s official Hanukkah message and its implications, however, have flown under the radar. He mentioned the “Jewish people’s perseverance and the persistence of faith,” but the heart of his message was about religious liberty. “For more than two centuries,” the statement reads, the meaning of this holiday has inspired an American tradition of religious freedom — one codified in the Bill of Rights and chronicled in the enduring promise President George Washington made in his letter to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island: that the United State “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
    If that signals a renewed commitment from the president to preserve religious freedom, it should be lauded. This is, after all, the administration that fought the Little Sisters of the Poor all the way to the Supreme Court to coerce the nuns into paying for contraception.
    The problem with the president’s message is that he confuses the meaning of the Jewish holiday, attempting to draw from it a universalistic teaching, as he did last year when, generalizing, he said that “at its heart, Hanukkah is about the struggle for justice.” Both last year’s official greeting and this year’s reflect a tendency to overlook the particular ancient attachments of the Jewish people.
    The universal principle of religious liberty is hardly the message of the Jewish Maccabean revolt or of the miracles commemorated by Jews at Hanukkah. The revolt began when Mattityahu killed a fellow Jew who had attempted to sacrifice a pig to Zeus (1 Mac. 2:24–25). So much for religious liberty. Mattityahu then killed the Greek official who had ordered the assembled Jews to abandon their religion, and then launched a guerrilla war against the Greco-Syrian king. A proper reading of the Jewish and historical record reveals that Mattityahu and the Maccabees revolted against not only religious oppression by Greek authorities but also Jewish assimilation to Hellenic culture.
    Jews do not celebrate Hanukkah for its generalizable message of religious freedom; Hanukkah is particular to Jews, not universal. It commemorates the reassertion of Jewish sovereignty and the liberation and rededication of the holy Temple with the aid of God. Jews do not celebrate Hanukkah for its generalizable message of religious freedom; Hanukkah is particular to Jews, not universal.
    It is this meaning that President Obama not only missed in his official statement but opposed through his actions at the U.N. The latter have been rightly condemned for breaking from decades of U.S. policy and nourishing Palestinian maximalism. The president decided to allow the U.N. Security Council to dismiss as “a flagrant violation under international law” Israeli presence in the Jews’ indigenous biblical heartland, including the Western Wall of the Temple for which the Maccabees fought.
    Apparently the president regards the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem as just another illegal “settlement.” How’s that for a Hanukkah gift?
    When the Jordanians occupied the West Bank following Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, they expelled the Jews from their most cherished ancient communities. The moral heavyweights at the U.N. argue that those communities lie beyond the Green Line established by the terms of armistice in 1949. But the armistice lines simply reflect the location of troops following a failed Arab attempt to annihilate the inchoate Jewish state. At the insistence of the Arab powers, the armistice lines were explicitly defined as not constituting final political boundaries. Rather, the West Bank remained a disputed territory before and after Israel won it from Jordan in the Six-Day War, which was precipitated by Arab blockades in 1967.
    The basic Israeli argument for control of East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank has always been that Jews have a right to live, practice their religion, and self-govern in their indigenous homeland; in other words, Zionism — which, like Hanukkah, President Obama has never been able to understand without universalizing and overlooking the Jewish people’s particular attachment to their home. As Leo Strauss reminded the editors of National Review in 1957, the moral spine of the Jews was in danger of being broken by the so-called emancipation which in many cases had alienated them from their heritage, and yet not given them anything more than merely formal equality; it had brought about a condition which has been called “external freedom and inner servitude”; political Zionism was the attempt to restore that inner freedom, that simple dignity, of which only people who remember their heritage and are loyal to their fate, are capable.
    Obama’s two Hanukkah messages do not reveal a hatred of Israel, as some have alleged, but rather a misunderstanding of its meaning to the Jewish people.

    — Elliot Kaufman is the managing editor of the Stanford Review.

    Voir aussi:

    Left-Wing Jews Are Embarrassing Judaism

    Dennis Prager

    November 15, 2016

    When you sit shiva over the election of a president, you’ve made a religion of politics.

    A highly respected American rabbi, Yitz Greenberg, used to tell American Jewish audiences, whether Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, “I don’t care what denomination you’re a member of, as long as you’re ashamed of it.”

    I have adopted that phrase and apply it to religions generally. One could just as easily say to Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims: “I don’t care what religion you identify with, as long as you’re ashamed of it.” Meaning, of course, ashamed of what many of its members have done to it.

    Just think of what has happened to much of mainstream Protestantism; to much of Catholicism, including, sadly, the current pope; and most especially to the Islamic world.

    Given the subject of this column — the destructive influence of leftism on Jews and Judaism — it is relevant to mention some of my Jewish involvement. Among other things, I taught Jewish history and religion at Brooklyn College, was the spokesman for the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, have written two books and hundreds of essays and columns on Jews and Judaism, received the American Jewish Press Association Award for Excellence in Jewish Commentary, have brought many thousands of Jews to Judaism, and have lectured to more Jewish groups in the past 40 years than almost any living Jew.

    So, I say this with only sadness: Many American Jews on the left, including rabbis and lay leaders, are embarrassing Jews and Judaism. I say this to ring an alarm in Jewish life and to tell non-Jewish America that these people represent leftism, not Judaism. Furthermore, I am talking only about leftist, not liberal, Jews. Unfortunately, however, both within and outside of Judaism, liberalism has become synonymous with leftism.

    This past week the embarrassing behavior of left-wing Jews reached a new level.

    The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Jews and their clergy at various synagogues around America were gathering to “sit shiva” — the Hebrew and Jewish term for the seven-day period of grieving that Jews engage in after the loss of an immediate relative — because Donald Trump was elected president.

    Consider for a moment how childish and narcissistic this is: using the sacred ritual reserved for the death of one’s child or parent as a way to express disappointment over a presidential election.

    And, of course, there were the irresponsible, over-the-top outbursts by Jewish columnists and academics.

    Take Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, who devoted his column after the election to writing an open letter to his twelve-year-old daughter. “As I watched the returns at Donald Trump’s celebration here Tuesday night,” Milbank began, “the hardest part was trying to reassure my seventh-grade daughter at home, via phone and text, that she would be okay.

    “She had expected to be celebrating the election of the first female president, but instead, this man she had been reading and hearing horrible things about had won, and she feared her own world could come apart.”

    The man’s twelve-year-old daughter “feared her own world could come apart” because of the election result. He reassured her, however, that her world would be fine, especially since she would be receiving so much love at her upcoming bat-mitzvah.

    Milbank’s daughter’s trauma was more than matched by the reaction of a Jewish adult, Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine. On November 12, he tweeted “This is the worst thing that has happened in my life.” Chait was 31 years old on 9/11.

    A response to his tweet by a woman named Bethany S. Mandel pretty well summarized the maturity level of Chait’s comment: “I took my mom off life support at 16 & dad hanged himself 3 yrs later. I’m sorry this election was so hard for you.”

    I am sure Ms. Mandel would join me in paying Mr. Chait a shiva call.

    Speaking of 9/11, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said on Bill Maher’s show that Trump’s victory was “a moral 9/11.” He suggested that Trump’s becoming president might be worse: 9/11 happened to us, but we “did this [elect Trump] to ourselves.”

    And his colleague at the New York Times, Paul Krugman, wrote that he now realizes that he “truly didn’t understand the country we live in.”

    Never have truer words been written. It’s tough to understand those for whom you only have contempt. When Jews abandoned Judaism, many of them did not abandon Judaism’s messianic impulse.

    Add similar comments made during the election by other Jewish leftists in the media and academia and you get the picture.

    How are we to understand this?

    Here’s one explanation:

    When Jews abandoned Judaism, many of them did not abandon Judaism’s messianic impulse. Beginning with Karl Marx, the grandson of two Orthodox rabbis, they simply secularized it and created secular substitutes such as Marxism, humanism, socialism, feminism, and environmentalism.

    If left-wing Jews want to sit shiva, they should do so for their religion, which, like much of Protestant Christianity and Roman Catholicism, has been so deeply and negatively influenced by leftism.

    — Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, was published by Regnery. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com

    Voir également:

    Obama Despises Israel Because He Despises the West

    Ben Shapiro
    National review
    December 28, 2016
    A religious leftist, he breaks down Bible believers into two categories: fools and liars.
    Barack Obama has done his best for nearly eight years to undermine the state of Israel. He’s signed a treaty that enshrines an Iranian path to a nuclear weapon while funding their global terrorist activities to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. He’s repeatedly undercut Israel’s image on the world stage, labeling Israel a mere outgrowth of the Holocaust and suggesting that Israeli intransigence stands as the chief obstacle to peace. He’s ushered Benjamin Netanyahu out the side door of the White House, attempted to undercut the prime minister’s speech before Congress, and then deployed an election team to Israel to try to defeat him in an election. Obama has tried to cut weapons shipments to Israel in the middle of a war against terrorists, forced Israel to apologize for stopping weapons shipments to Hamas terrorists, and funded the Palestinian terrorist unity government with American taxpayer dollars.
    Nonetheless, Israel has survived.
    Actually, Israel has thrived. It’s thrived, in part, because Obama’s absolute incompetence has created an alliance of convenience between Israel and its erstwhile enemies. Saudi Arabia is more fearful of a nuclear Iran than of Israel; Egypt worries more about the Muslim Brotherhood than about Israel; Jordan frets over the Palestinians more than it does over Israel. Even the Palestinian Authority is more concerned about Hamas and ISIS than about Israel.
    That means that there’s been very little pressure on Israel to make concessions to Palestinian terrorists in recent years.
    Until now.
    Obama’s animus for the state of Israel stretches beyond the typical internationalist leftist view of Israel as a colonialist outpost, a cancer growing in the heart of the Muslim Middle East. Most internationalist leftists think that Israel is the cause of Muslim ire, that if Israel were to disappear, suddenly the Muslim lands surrounding it would view the rest of the world with fresh, dewy eyes. This is the same general philosophy that blames the West for the problem of Islamic violence, that suggests that income maldistribution breeds discontent that in turn breeds terrorism. Obama may think that, but that’s not what drives him.
    Something deeper drives Obama when it comes to Israel. Why else would he spend the last few weeks of his presidency throwing gasoline on Israel and then lighting a match? Some might suggest ideological kinship with Islam. Obama isn’t a Muslim, of course, but he has bragged often and loudly about his heartfelt connection to the religion — and Muslims the world over, by polling data, see Israel as the chief threat to global peace. There are points of commonality between Obama’s philosophy and that of Muslim hardliners: Both see the Crusades as the instigation of the Islamic world’s war on the West; both believe that Israel has destroyed Muslim solidarity in the Middle East; both attribute democratic feeling to Islamist movements.
    Or perhaps even that explanation is insufficient: It doesn’t tell us why Obama is so eager to hand over control of Middle Eastern policy to Vladimir Putin and Russia, for example.
    Here’s the most plausible explanation: Obama despises Israel because at root, Obama despises the traditional Judeo-Christian underpinning of Western civilization. He breaks down Bible believers into two categories: fools and liars. The fools are the “bitter clingers,” the idiot masses who fall into racism and xenophobia and Bible jabber because they’re poor and stupid. The liars are the self-interested characters who want to do what they want to do while citing the Bible for their support.
    Real Christians are leftists — as Obama said in 2006, “I believed and still believe in the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change. . . . The black church understands in an intimate way the biblical call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and challenge powers and principalities.”
    Obama, then, is a religious leftist. He prefers a form of Christianity that rejects biblical centrality and that replaces the Bible with leftism at its heart. It’s not a coincidence that Obama attended Jeremiah Wright’s church for two decades. Wright preached hatred against Israel throughout his tenure, calling it an “apartheid” state and labeling all settlements “illegally occupied territories.” He labeled Jesus “a Palestinian” and argued that “the Palestinian people have had the Europeans come and take their country. . . . The youth in Ferguson and the youth in Palestine have united together to remind us that the dots need to be connected.” You can take Obama out of Jeremiah Wright’s church, but you can’t take Jeremiah Wright’s church out of Obama.
    Obama strongly mirrors that language himself, complaining about the “desperation and disorder of the powerless, how it twists the lives of children on the streets of Jakarta or Nairobi in much the same way as it does the lives of children on Chicago’s South Side.” To Obama, Bible believers who utilize religion as an excuse to cover for the real class oppression are merely cynical manipulators. You can take Obama out of Jeremiah Wright’s church, but you can’t take Jeremiah Wright’s church out of Obama.
    And what is the ultimate repository of such manipulation of religion? The Jewish state. The Jews of Israel, Obama believes, are aggressors, using biblical writ as an excuse for oppression, hiding behind the Bible when it’s really naked self-interest at work. That’s why Obama stated at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Japan that “no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill. . . . How easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause.”
    To Obama, that’s what the Jews of Israel do. Because their control over Israel is inherently connected to biblical mandate, Obama must oppose them. He must side instead with a religion of social justice, not a religion of biblical principle.
    That means rejecting Jewish Jerusalem. That means rewriting the Bible, that document of sadism and oppression, to make it over into The Book of Obama. That means Israel must pay for the sin of worshiping its God over the god of warmed-over, amoral redistributionism.
    Obama’s likely to be disappointed. The Jews have been exiled from Jerusalem several times. Never again.
    — Ben Shapiro is the editor in chief of the Daily Wire.
    Voir de même:

    Lawrence Solomon: How Barack Obama fooled the Jews and betrayed them once he had their money

    Lawrence Solomon

    National Post

    December 29, 2016

    “(President Obama) called me into the Oval Office before the election and he said to me, ‘Alan, I want your support. And I have to tell you, I will always have Israel’s back.’ I didn’t realize that what he meant was that he’d have (Israel’s) back to stab them in the back.”

    So spoke this week a livid Alan Dershowitz, the famed Harvard professor, legal scholar and criminal lawyer whose judgment American Jews have long trusted and respected. Dershowitz now realizes that Obama had repeatedly duped him, and that through his endorsements of Obama, Dershowitz in turn duped many American Jews, helping to secure Obama’s election and re-election. Now Israel has been compromised as never before, with the United Nations through Obama’s manoeuvrings having declared that Jews have no right to live in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, which they have inhabited for the greater part of 3,000 years, and that Israel has no rights to its holiest sites, including the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.

    Winning Jewish support wasn’t especially important to Obama and other Democrats in terms of votes — Jews represent just two per cent of the U.S. electorate, generally making their numbers inconsequential at the ballot box. But Jews are hugely important — even decisive — in their political giving. The Jewish two per cent — which is overwhelmingly liberal — accounts for about two-thirds of all donations received by the Democratic Party. Put another way, the Jewish two per cent donates twice as much to Democrats as the non-Jewish 98 per cent.

    The importance of Jewish money to Democratic fortunes explains why Obama waited to make his moves against Israel until after his two presidential campaigns and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, whom he hoped would preserve his legacy. If Jews understood his real intentions toward Israel, Obama knew, many would withdraw their financial support.

    Obama’s prudent course — his only viable course — in realizing his desire to strip Israel of its paramount possessions, embodiments of its heritage, was to keep his intentions secret, all the while upping his rhetoric that “no president has ever done more for Israel.” Obama also needed to maintain this public pretence to keep his fellow Democrats in the dark, most of whom would blanche at the thought of offending, and losing, their Jewish backers. The American public’s general sympathy for Israel, and general antipathy toward Palestinians, also made any prior anti-Israel coming out a non-starter.

    Persuading Dershowitz — an important step to winning over the Jewish community — could not have been an easy feat. Shortly after Dershowitz’s first endorsement of Obama, in the 2008 presidential election, Dershowitz became alarmed at Obama’s apparent willingness to let Iran develop nuclear weapons, coming to believe that Obama’s policies were dangerous for Israel and that Obama could be “remembered in history as the Neville Chamberlain of the 21st century, the person who didn‘t see the greatest evil, didn’t recognize the greatest evil of the 20th century.”

    Yet despite these concerns, coupled with pique that Obama had ties to anti-Semites and a staff that was hostile to Israel, Obama somehow managed to persuade Dershowitz that he would never, ever let Israel down. Dershowitz endorsed Obama for a second time and even campaigned for him against Mitt Romney, a true friend of Israel.

    After Obama’s reelection, Dershowitz again had buyer’s remorse, becoming ever more forceful in his criticisms of Obama, calling him a bully and an inept negotiator, to the point that when they met Obama “won’t look me in the eye.” Yet Dershowitz continued to have faith in Obama’s good intentions. Unlike America’s conservative Jews, most of whom saw Obama’s animus toward Israel early on — Obama combined a courtship of the Muslim states with deliberate slights of Israel and its prime minister — Dershowitz remained under Obama’s spell, seeing him as merely misguided, and persuadable.

    The Dershowitz delusion persisted with Obama’s successor, Hillary Clinton, whom Dershowitz backed despite her own close and questionable associations, including Huma Abedin, an aide and travelling companion who had worked for a radical Muslim publication, and Sid Blumenthal, who fed Hillary with the bigoted material of his son, Max Blumenthal, “a despicable anti-Semite and a horrible person,” in Dershowitz’s estimation.

    With this week’s passage of the anti-Israel UN resolution, the Dershowitz infatuation with Obama is over. The famed criminal lawyer finally sees the evidence that had been in plain sight all along, and now understands the extent of Obama’s deception. It was “so nasty. He pulled a bait-and-switch,” Dershowitz laments, in explaining how Obama in private pretended that it was “the settlements deep in the West Bank” that were negotiable, not the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, so core to Judaism and to Israel’s heritage.

    Dershowitz, and with him the great majority of America’s Jews, took the bait. The rest is history.

    Voir de plus:

    BDS : les masques tombent

    Quand l’antisionisme vire à l’antisémitisme

    Oudy Ch. Bloch

    Causeur

    27 août 2015

     

    Le mouvement BDS ne cache pas son antisionisme. Mieux que ça, il le revendique. Omar Barghouti, co-fondateur du collectif de boycott anti-Israël, ne cesse de le répéter. Le fait qu’il soit diplômé de l’Université de Tel Aviv ne semble pas le gêner dans son entreprise de délégitimation d’Israël. Une preuve supplémentaire du prétendu apartheid fantasmé par BDS.

    Omar Barghouti veut la fin d’Israël en tant qu’Etat Juif. Pour cela, il préconise un Etat binational, ce qui aurait pour effet de légitimer le retour des descendants des réfugiés palestiniens de 1948. C’est d’ailleurs un point essentiel, mais rarement évoqué, de la charte du collectif.

    La suite, on la connaît. Faire augmenter la démographie arabe jusqu’à ce que les juifs soient en minorité et que le simple vote d’une loi permette de faire disparaître Israël légalement. M. Barghouti n’a rien inventé. Arafat avait cru bon d’imposer cette condition qu’il savait inacceptable (même pour le travailliste Ehoud Barak) et avait refusé de signer les accords de Camp David II en 2000 privant les palestiniens de conditions inespérées et, à terme, d’un Etat.

    Dans une telle hypothèse, croire que les juifs continueraient à bénéficier des mêmes droits que le reste de la population est une chimère. Tous les jours en effet, les palestiniens de Gaza comme de Cisjordanie sont soumis à une violente propagande anti-juive et rien ne laisse présager la possibilité d’une cohabitation pacifique.

    L’antisémitisme virulent et constant des prêches et des discours officiels (mise en ligne du faux antisémite « Protocoles des Sages de Sion » sur un site affilié au Service gouvernemental palestinien de l’Information), les livres scolaires palestiniens – financés à coup de millions d’euros par l’Union Européenne – qui enseignent depuis des années à haïr les juifs, qui les affublent de tous les maux, les programmes télévisés pour la jeunesse, notamment sur Al-Aqsa TV, dans lesquels de jeunes enfants ânonnent que les juifs sont les descendants des singes et des porcs et qu’ils souhaiteraient mourir en martyrs en tuant le plus de juifs possible, tout cela illustre la volonté des dirigeants palestiniens, qu’ils soient islamistes ou à tendance nationaliste, de ne jamais accepter les juifs à leur côté.

    Les juifs devront alors fuir comme ils ont dû fuir les pays arabes après la création de l’Etat d’Israël non sans avoir auparavant été privés de leurs biens, de leurs commerces, de leur argent. 800.000 juifs chassés  d’Irak, de Syrie, d’Egypte, du Yémen, d’Algérie, du Liban, du Maroc dont personne ne se soucie du retour ni de l’indemnisation.

    Les juifs devront fuir, mais pour aller où ? En Europe où l’on crie à nouveau « mort aux juifs » dans les rues ? En Russie où l’on prétend que la guerre en Ukraine est un complot juif ? En Afrique où l’islamisation à l’œuvre dans de nombreux pays laisse libre cours à une propagande antisémite ?

    Récemment, sur les quais de Seine, des partisans de BDS déclaraient que les juifs devaient quitter la Palestine pour retourner « chez eux », c’est-à-dire nulle part précisément. Le Juif errant, voilà le seul juif supportable pour le BDS.

    C’est aussi en cela que l’antisionisme confine à l’antisémitisme. Mais BDS ne s’arrête pas là.

    Lors des dernières manifestations du BDS en Afrique du Sud, certains manifestants criaient « mort aux juifs » en brandissant des drapeaux palestiniens et du Hezbollah. À l’Université Libre de Bruxelles en mars 2015, des étudiants juifs étaient pris à partie, sans raison particulière, par des militants du BDS. En juin 2015, l’ancien député communiste Jean-Claude Lefort, Président honoraire de l’Association France-Palestine Solidarité et soutien indéfectible de BDS, appelait au boycott de produits cachers fabriqués en France.

    Mais surtout, la semaine dernière, sous la pression du BDS local, le festival de reggae espagnol Rototom Sunsplash de Benicassim a décommandé un chanteur juif américain, Matisyahu, après avoir exigé qu’il fasse une déclaration en faveur d’un État Palestinien et qu’il se « positionne » au sujet du sionisme. Pourquoi lui ? Parce qu’il est juif. Aucun autre artiste n’a eu à subir ce diktat. Le festival a reconnu qu’il avait agi ainsi en raison d’une « campagne de pression, coercition et menaces » de la part de BDS qui l’avait « empêché de raisonner clairement ».

    BDS demande-t-il à Jamel Debbouze, parce qu’il est musulman, de condamner publiquement la chasse aux chrétiens en Syrie, la mise en esclavage des yazidis en Irak, les meurtres de coptes en Egypte, le massacre des animistes au Sud-Soudan avant de monter sur scène ? Non.

    Il n’y a que les juifs, et non plus les israéliens – ce qui était déjà inepte -, que BDS boycotte ainsi.

    BDS est un mouvement antisémite. Structurellement. Il ne s’agit pas seulement de certains militants plus radicaux que d’autres qui abreuvent les réseaux sociaux de propos orduriers. Non, c’est bien plus que cela. Sous couvert de soutien au peuple palestinien, les actions mises en œuvre par les directions locales ou nationales de BDS tendent à légitimer le rejet et la haine.

    Les discours clivants et les vidéos outrancières se succèdent. Les pouvoirs publics, par manque de courage ou par calculs électoraux, l’un n’étant pas exclusif de l’autre, s’empressent de ne rien faire. Petit à petit, le poison se diffuse. Petit à petit, les réflexes antisémites s’installent. Les trop peu nombreuses réactions suite à l’indigne opération « Gaza Plage » montre à quel point la société civile est devenue perméable à ce genre de discours et s’en accommode.

    C’est un pas de plus vers le délitement de la cohésion nationale. Un de ceux qui nourrissent les extrêmes.

    Voir encore:

    Gottfried Helnwein, LONDON, 2000
    NEW KIDS OUT TO SHOCK
    Fisun Güner
    What’s On, London
    May 17, 2000

    A blonde Madonna, dressed as if she were spending an evening at the opera, presents her child to the watchful eyes of Nazi SS Guards, One officer looks as if he were studying the child’s genitals, perhaps to see whether he has been circumcised. Dark hair parted severely to one side and fleshy baby cheeks lending a slight and comical hangdog expression, the young child presents something of an eerie resemblance to the Führer.

    In another image, a young girl, wearing a white dress, lies prone on a table. She appears to be in a deep sleep and is surrounded by disfigured World War One veterans. Perhaps their calm, watchful presence suggests that the Great War led directly to the birth of a generation asleep to its own unspeakable atrocities.

    Gottfried Helnwein, responsible for these strange and unsettling images, is an Austrian artist born in the years immediately after World War Two. Despite achieving huge success and acclaim in the States, where he is exhibited regularly, Helnwein’s name and work are little known in the UK. In fact, his show at the Robert Sandelson Gallery is his very first solo exhibition here.

    Helnwein is an artist who has never been afraid of causing outrage in those offended or made uncomfortable by talk of Germany’s Nazi past and of Austria’s complicity in it. Once, as a student, he paraded the streets of his home town dressed up as Hitler, spewing forth theatrical blood from his mouth – a memorably outrageous gesture at the time, if only for the fact that, like that famous Fawlty Towers sketch where all mention of « the war » was a closed one in front of its German guests, Austria would make no gesture to acknowledgement to it either. (Until the ’80s Austria had an official policy of denial, neglecting to address the subject even in school text books.)

    « I know that individuals are poorly treated on this planet, » Helnwein has said. « They are being harmed and subdued. And all this is covered by optimistic propaganda. Long before I began painting I felt that humanity was in dire straits. The pain reaches out to everyone, even though it is rarely spoken of. Nonetheless, everyone wants to overcome pain, to transcend it. »

    For all Helnwein’s humanist proclamations, it must be said that his work is never quite so unequivocal. Standing in front of the works you’re never quite clear how to read Helnwein’s disturbing images. The surreal, uncomfortable juxtapositions of both Nazi and Christian iconography, never present straightforward interpretations. Nor are they merely polemical in any agit-prop sense. There is a sense in which Helnwein seems to court controversy; he also clearly delights in a certain moral ambiguity, a shadiness which perversely makes his images all the more compelling.

    An early turning point in his choice of imagery came for Helnwein in 1979. In this year Dr. Heinrich Gross was appointed Head of State Psychiatry in Austria. In an interview published in one of Austria’s major national newspapers, he was asked whether he had killed hundreds of children in mental hospitals under the Nazi euthanasia programme. Gross said yes, and commented that « at the time it was a different reality. Today I wouldn’t do it. » Asked if he had injected the children, he replied that he had « just mixed poison in their food », adding that since they were unaware of what was going on, the young victims had died humanely. That interview with Gross caused no reaction in Helnwein’s country.

    But it was in response to this interview that Helnwein first began using images of children in his painting, addressing their helplessness and pain by depicting them as broken, disfigured doll-like creatures. When he read Gross’ self-justification as a « humane » killer, Helnwein responded by producing a photorealist painting of a girl slumped in a plate of food. Only then was a debate initiated which ultimately led to Gross’ resignation.

    Though Helnwein is no mere polemicist, he clearly believes in an art which has the power not only to confront and challenge, but also to make some real changes.

    Voir de même:

    Nazi dreaming
    Art – Julia Pascal on the man set on reminding Austria of the past it would rather forget
    Julia Pascal
    New Statesman
    10 April 2006

    Gottfried Helnwein’s latest exhibition, « Face It », is the artist’s first show in his native Austria since 1985. A retrospective of 40 works from the 1970s to the present, it is more shocking than the Royal Academy’s infamous « Sensation » of 1997. Helnwein aims to disturb not with, say, an elephant-dung Madonna, as Chris Ofili did then, but with a far more controversial Virgin.

    In his last will, the Austrian playwright Thomas Bernhard, who died in 1989, banned the production of his texts on home soil. Bernhard never hid his fury at Austria’s refusal to admit its history. Helnwein, born in 1948, clearly shares Bernhard’s view. He is furious about Austria’s self-image as victim of the Third Reich, rather than its willing collaborator.

    In 1965 posters for the Freedom Party, later led by Jörg Haider, demanded: « Forget about the past! Look ahead at the future. » Helnwein, then still a teenager, reacted by painting a portrait of Adolf Hitler that got him expelled from art school. His « crime » was to have reminded Austria of its best-known son.

    Since then, Helnwein’s work has often provoked howls of anger at home. In the early 1970s, he was part of the Wiener Aktionisten (« Vienna Activists »). These dissenters were the interface between street theatre, public art and political protest. They threatened Austria’s collective amnesia. Most were either imprisoned or forced into exile. In 1971, protesters defaced his first public Aktion with stickers which, without a trace of irony, proclaimed the work as entartete Kunst – the Nazi term for degenerate art. The mayor of Vienna ordered the police to confiscate his canvases. A year later, another exhibition in Vienna closed prematurely after threats of local council strikes.

    Helnwein consistently refuses to allow Austria (and Germany) to whitewash the Hitler years. In 1988, on the 50th anni- versary of Kristallnacht, he constructed a four-metre-high, hundred-metre-long « picture wall » of enlarged photographic portraits of young children and erected the installation in central Cologne between the Museum Ludwig and the cathedral. He titled the work Selektion – a reference to those selected to be gassed in the concentration camps. Several photos got slashed. He further inflamed opinion by making a picture of a dead child slumped over a bowl of food. It was a direct accusation against Heinrich Gross, a leading psychiatrist who admitted in the 1970s that hundreds of children were poisoned at a Nazi-era hospital where he worked.

    Helnwein’s art is never easy entertainment. Varying his techniques, he uses oil, acrylics, collage, computer manipulation or digital print, and challenges audiences to make their own « readings ». A group of photographic self-portraits, Der Untermensch (1970-87), includes images of the artist in Nazi costume, his face a mask of black make-up except for a white mouth. There is a series of foetus images: one has a nose reminiscent of Julius Streicher’s stereotypical Jew. When, as a young man, Helnwein cut his face and hands on the edges of skis, or with razors or wood-engraving tools, it prompted him to paint bandaged figures starting with his own body. Immolation is a constant reference. The theme plays out on several levels.

    Certainly his presentation of damaged children evokes direct associations with Dr Mengele’s experiments, but he has also photographed young girls dressed in SS hats, thus provoking questions about the effect of the Third Reich on the next generation of Austrians and Germans. As the Russian art critic Alexander Borovsky notes, there is « no abstract existential angst » to Helnwein’s impulses. Rather, they are deliberate critiques of perversion, by Nazi culture and by our own.

    Although Helnwein’s work is rooted in the legacy of German expressionism, he has absorbed elements of American pop culture. In 1977 he became interested in adapting Disney cartoons. Of that time, he has said: « I learned more from Donald Duck than anything in school. » His earlier series Peinlich (« Embarrassing« ) – pencil, watercolour and India ink on cardboard – shows a typical 1950s little girl in a pink dress and carrying a comic. Her innocent appeal is destroyed by the gash deforming her cheek and lips. It is as if Donald Duck had met Mengele.

    Helnwein declares himself fascinated by the relationship between « high » and « trivial » art, and has enjoyed an important relationship with American celebrity, living between Los Angeles and Ireland. He met and photographed the Rolling Stones in London, and his portrait of John F Kennedy made the front cover of Time on the 20th anniversary of the president’s assassination. Andy Warhol and Muhammad Ali posed for him; he shot the cover for one of Michael Jackson’s albums. Examining his imagery from the 1970s to the present, one sees influences as diverse as Bosch, Goya, John Heartfield, Beuys and Mickey Mouse, all filtered through a postwar Viennese childhood.

    Helnwein also has a strong sense of theatre. He has worked in opera, designing sets and costumes for Maximilian Schell and working with the equally notorious Austrian choreographer Johann Kresnik. His poster for the 1988 production of Lulu at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg caused outrage across Europe. A tiny Sigmund Freud in a long coat stares up at a gigantic woman, who lifts her skirt to expose her vagina. The opposite of porn, it provocatively illustrates Wedekind’s view of a sexually ambiguous bourgeois society on the brink of destruction. This iconography overturns the 1929 screen image of Louise Brooks as Lulu in G W Pabst’s Pandora’s Box. Whereas that film presents us with a face, Helnwein shows the pubis.

    Of all his paintings, the most disturbing is Epiphany (1996), for which he dips into our collective memory of Christianity’s most famous birth. This Austrian Catholic Nativity scene has no magi bearing gifts. Madonna and child are encircled by five respectful Waffen SS officers palpably in awe of the idealised, kitsch-blonde Virgin. The Christ toddler, who stands on Mary’s lap, stares defiantly out of the canvas. Helnwein’s baby Jesus is Adolf Hitler.

    « Face It » is at the Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, Austria, until 5 June. For further details go to www.lentos.at/de or to www.helnwein.com

    Julia Pascal’s latest play, Crossing Jerusalem, is published by Oberon Books (£12.99)

    Voir par ailleurs:

    Jews in America:
    “To Bigotry No Sanction; to Persecution No Assistance”

    George Washington’s Letter to theJews of Newport, Rhode Island

    On August 17, 1790, Moses Seixas, the warden of Congregation Kahal Kadosh Yeshuat Israel, better known as the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, penned an epistle to George Washington, welcoming the newly elected first president of the United States on his visit to that city. Newport had suffered greatly during the Revolutionary War. Invaded and occupied by the British and blockaded by the American navy, hundreds of residents fled, and many of those who remained were Tories. After the British defeat, the Tories fled in turn. Newport’s nineteenth-century economy never recovered from these interruptions and dislocations.

    Washington’s visit to Newport was largely ceremonial—part of a goodwill tour Washington was making on behalf of the new national government created by the adoption of the Constitution in 1787. Newport had historically been a good home to its Jewish residents, who numbered approximately 300 at the time of Washington’s visit. The Newport Christian community’s acceptance of Jewish worship was exemplary, although individual Jews such as Aaron Lopez and Isaac Elizer were unable to obtain full political equality as citizens of Rhode Island. The Jews of Newport looked to the new national government, and particularly to the enlightened president of the United States, to remove the last of the barriers to religious liberty and civil equality confronting American Jewry.

    Moses Seixas’s letter on behalf of the congregation – he described them as “the children of the Stock of Abraham” – expressed the Jewish community’s esteem for President Washington and joined “with our fellow citizens in welcoming [him] to New Port.” The congregation expressed its pleasure that the God of Israel, who had protected King David, had also protected General Washington, and that the same spirit which resided in the bosom of Daniel and allowed him to govern over the “Babylonish Empire” now rested upon Washington. While the rest of world Jewry lived under the rule of monarchs, potentates and despots, as American citizens the members of the congregation were part of a great experiment: a government “erected by the Majesty of the People,” to which they could look to ensure their “invaluable rights as free citizens.”

    Seixas expressed his vision of an American government in words that have become a part of the national lexicon. He beheld in the United States “a Government which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance—but generously affording to All liberty of conscience, and immunities of citizenship: – deeming every one, of whatever nation, tongue or language equal parts of the great Governmental Machine: – This so ample and extensive federal union whose basis is Philanthropy, mutual confidence, and public virtue, we cannot but acknowledge to be the work of the Great God, who ruleth the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabitants of the Earth, doing whatsoever seemeth [to Him] good.”

    Seixas closed his letter to the president by asking God to send the “Angel who conducted our forefathers through the wilderness into the promised land [to] conduct [Washington] through all the difficulties and dangers of this mortal life.” He told Washington of his hope that “when like Joshua full of days, and full of honour, you are gathered to your Fathers, may you be admitted into the Heavenly Paradise to partake of the water of life, and the tree of immortality.”

    Not surprisingly, it is Washington’s response, rather than Seixas’s epistle, which is best remembered and most frequently reprinted. Washington began by thanking the congregation for its good wishes and rejoicing that the days of hardship caused by the war were replaced by days of prosperity. Washington then borrowed ideas – and actual words – directly from Seixas’s letter:

    The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.

    Washington’s concluding paragraph perfectly expresses the ideal relationship among the government, its individual citizens and religious groups:

    May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.

    Washington closed with an invocation: “May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.”

    The letter, a foundation stone of American religious liberty and the principle of separation between church and state, is signed, simply, “G. Washington.” Each year, Newport’s Congregation Kahal Kadosh Yeshuat Israel, now known as the Touro Synagogue, re-reads Washington’s letter in a public ceremony. The words deserve repetition.


    Livres: Les sionistes ont même inventé l’école ! (2,000 years of schooling and they put you on the day shift: History confirms De Gaulle’s « elite, domineering people » qualification of the Jewish people)

    16 novembre, 2016
    Un livre aux éditions Albin Michel
    Le salut vient des Juifs. Jésus (Jean 4:22)
     Et ces commandements, que je te donne aujourd’hui, seront dans ton coeur. Tu les inculqueras à tes enfants. Deutéronome 6: 6-7
    Fais de l’étude de la Torah ta principale occupation. ShammaÏ (10 avant JC)
    On pouvait se demander, en effet, et on se demandait même chez beaucoup de Juifs, si l’implantation de cette communauté sur des terres qui avaient été acquises dans des conditions plus ou moins justifiables et au milieu des peuples arabes qui lui étaient foncièrement hostiles, n’allait pas entraîner d’incessants, d’interminables, frictions et conflits. Certains même redoutaient que les Juifs, jusqu’alors dispersés, mais qui étaient restés ce qu’ils avaient été de tous temps, c’est-à-dire un peuple d’élite, sûr de lui-même et dominateur, n’en viennent, une fois rassemblés dans le site de leur ancienne grandeur, à changer en ambition ardente et conquérante les souhaits très émouvants qu’ils formaient depuis dix-neuf siècles. De Gaulle (conférence de presse du 27 novembre 1967)
    Twenty years of schoolin’ And they put you on the day shift. Bob Dylan
    You who build these altars now to sacrifice these children, you must not do it anymore. Leonard Cohen
    And what can I tell you my brother, my killer What can I possibly say? I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you I’m glad you stood in my way.If you ever come by here, for Jane or for me Well your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free.  Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes I thought it was there for good so I never tried. Leonard Cohen
    The problem with that song is that I’ve forgotten the actual triangle. Whether it was my own – of course, I always felt that there was an invisible male seducing the woman I was with, now whether this one was incarnate or merely imaginary I don’t remember, I’ve always had the sense that either I’ve been that figure in relation to another couple or there’d been a figure like that in relation to my marriage. I don’t quite remember but I did have this feeling that there was always a third party, sometimes me, sometimes another man, sometimes another woman. It was a song I’ve never been satisfied with. It’s not that I’ve resisted an impressionistic approach to songwriting, but I’ve never felt that this one, that I really nailed the lyric. I’m ready to concede something to the mystery, but secretly I’ve always felt that there was something about the song that was unclear. So I’ve been very happy with some of the imagery, but a lot of the imagery. Leonard Cohen
    Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord that David played, and it pleased the Lord. Leonard Cohen
    Je suis juif… un Juif n’a-t-il pas des yeux ? Un Juif n’a-t-il pas des mains, des organes, des proportions, des sens, des émotions, des passions ? N’est-il pas nourri de même nourriture, blessé des mêmes armes, sujet aux mêmes maladies, guéri par les mêmes moyens, réchauffé et refroidi par le même été, le même hiver, comme un chrétien ? Si vous nous piquez, ne saignons-nous pas ? Si vous nous chatouillez, ne rions-nous pas ? Si vous nous empoisonnez, ne mourons-nous pas ? Shakespeare (Le Marchand de Venise)
    Combattez ceux qui rejettent Allah et le jugement dernier et qui ne respectent pas Ses interdits ni ceux de Son messager, et qui ne suivent pas la vraie Religion quand le Livre leur a été apporté, (Combattez-les) jusqu’à ce qu’ils payent tribut de leurs mains et se considèrent infériorisés.Coran 9:29
    Des théologiens absurdes défendent la haine des Juifs… Quel Juif pourrait consentir d’entrer dans nos rangs quand il voit la cruauté et l’hostilité que nous manifestons à leur égard et que dans notre comportement envers eux nous ressemblons moins à des chrétiens qu’à des bêtes ? Luther  (1519).
    Nous ne devons pas […] traiter les Juifs aussi méchamment, car il y a de futurs chrétiens parmi eux. Luther
    Si les apôtres, qui aussi étaient juifs, s’étaient comportés avec nous, Gentils, comme nous Gentils nous nous comportons avec les Juifs, il n’y aurait eu aucun chrétien parmi les Gentils… Quand nous sommes enclins à nous vanter de notre situation de chrétiens, nous devons nous souvenir que nous ne sommes que des Gentils, alors que les Juifs sont de la lignée du Christ. Nous sommes des étrangers et de la famille par alliance; ils sont de la famille par le sang, des cousins et des frères de notre Seigneur. En conséquence, si on doit se vanter de la chair et du sang, les Juifs sont actuellement plus près du Christ que nous-mêmes… Si nous voulons réellement les aider, nous devons être guidés dans notre approche vers eux non par la loi papale, mais par la loi de l’amour chrétien. Nous devons les recevoir cordialement et leur permettre de commercer et de travailler avec nous, de façon qu’ils aient l’occasion et l’opportunité de s’associer à nous, d’apprendre notre enseignement chrétien et d’être témoins de notre vie chrétienne. Si certains d’entre eux se comportent de façon entêtée, où est le problème? Après tout, nous-mêmes, nous ne sommes pas tous de bons chrétiens. Luther (Que Jésus Christ est né Juif, 1523)
    Les Juifs sont notre malheur (…) .Les Juifs sont un peuple de débauche, et leur synagogue n’est qu’une putain incorrigible. On ne doit montrer à leur égard aucune pitié, ni aucune bonté. Nous sommes fautifs de ne pas les tuer! Luther
    Juifs. Faire un article contre cette race qui envenime tout, en se fourrant partout, sans jamais se fondre avec aucun peuple. Demander son expulsion de France, à l’exception des individus mariés avec des Françaises ; abolir les synagogues, ne les admettre à aucun emploi, poursuivre enfin l’abolition de ce culte. Ce n’est pas pour rien que les chrétiens les ont appelés déicides. Le juif est l’ennemi du genre humain. Il faut renvoyer cette race en Asie, ou l’exterminer. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1849)
    Observons le Juif de tous les jours, le Juif ordinaire et non celui du sabbat. Ne cherchons point le mystère du Juif dans sa religion, mais le mystère de sa religion dans le Juif réel. Quelle est donc la base mondaine du judaïsme ? C’est le besoin pratique, l’égoïsme. Quel est le culte mondain du Juif ? C’est le trafic. Quelle est la divinité mondaine du Juif ? C’est l’argent. Karl Marx
    L’argent est le dieu jaloux d’Israël devant qui nul autre Dieu ne doit subsister.Karl Marx
    Dans les villes, ce qui exaspère le gros de la population française contre les Juifs, c’est que, par l’usure, par l’infatigable activité commerciale et par l’abus des influences politiques, ils accaparent peu à peu la fortune, le commerce, les emplois lucratifs, les fonctions administratives, la puissance publique . […] En France, l’influence politique des Juifs est énorme mais elle est, si je puis dire, indirecte. Elle ne s’exerce pas par la puissance du nombre, mais par la puissance de l’argent. Ils tiennent une grande partie de de la presse, les grandes institutions financières, et, quand ils n’ont pu agir sur les électeurs, ils agissent sur les élus. Ici, ils ont, en plus d’un point, la double force de l’argent et du nombre. Jean Jaurès (La question juive en Algérie, Dépêche de Toulouse, 1er mai 1895)
    Nous savons bien que la race juive, concentrée, passionnée, subtile, toujours dévorée par une sorte de fièvre du gain quand ce n’est pas par la force du prophétisme, nous savons bien qu’elle manie avec une particulière habileté le mécanisme capitaliste, mécanisme de rapine, de mensonge, de corset, d’extorsion. Jean Jaurès (Discours au Tivoli, 1898)
    Parmi eux, nous pouvons compter les grands guerriers de ce monde, qui bien qu’incompris par le présent, sont néanmoins préparés à combattre pour leurs idées et leurs idéaux jusqu’à la fin. Ce sont des hommes qui un jour seront plus près du cœur du peuple, il semble même comme si chaque individu ressent le devoir de compenser dans le passé pour les péchés que le présent a commis à l’égard des grands. Leur vie et leurs œuvres sont suivies avec une gratitude et une émotion admiratives, et plus particulièrement dans les jours de ténèbres, ils ont le pouvoir de relever les cœurs cassés et les âmes désespérées. Parmi eux se trouvent non seulement les véritables grands hommes d’État, mais aussi tous les autres grands réformateurs. À côté de Frédéric le Grand, se tient Martin Luther ainsi que Richard Wagner. Hitler (« Mein Kampf », 1925)
    Le 10 novembre 1938, le jour anniversaire de la naissance de Luther, les synagogues brûlent en Allemagne. Martin Sasse (évêque protestant de Thuringe)
    Avec ses actes et son attitude spirituelle, il a commencé le combat que nous allons continuer maintenant; avec Luther, la révolution du sang germanique et le sentiment contre les éléments étrangers au Peuple ont commencé. Nous allons continuer et terminer son protestantisme; le nationalisme doit faire de l’image de Luther, un combattant allemand, un exemple vivant « au-dessus des barrières des confessions » pour tous les camarades de sang germanique. Hans Hinkel (responsable du magazine de la Ligue de Luther Deutsche Kultur-Wacht, et de la section de Berlin de la Kampfbund, discours de réception à la tête de la Section Juive et du département des films de la Chambre de la Culture et du ministère de la Propagande de Goebbels)
    Là, vous avez déjà l’ensemble du programme nazi. Karl Jaspers
    Tout ce qui se passe dans le monde aujourd’hui est la faute des sionistes. Les Juifs Américains sont derrière la crise économique mondiale qui a aussi frappé la Grèce.Mikis Theodorakis (2011)
    Les enfants de Trump doivent reprendre l’entreprise avec le conflit d’intérêt, ils pourront vendre des gratte-ciels au gouvernement israélien. Des immeubles luxueux à construire dans les territoires occupés, que le Président des États-Unis les aidera à occuper et il leur enverra des Mexicains pour nettoyer les chiottes. Charline Vanhoenacker
    C’était une cité fortement convoitée par les ennemis de la foi et c’est pourquoi, par une sorte de syndrome mimétique, elle devint chère également au cœur des Musulmans.Emmanuel Sivan
    Il a réinventé des figures très anciennes dans le rock : celle du grand prêtre juif, sa fonction sacerdotale, ainsi que celle du poète mystique et du troubadour – bref, tous les registres de la vie du cœur… Son rock  est précis tant dans les textes que les sons, avec sa voix monocorde qui entre en résonance avec de petites valses obscures et des chœurs angéliques. Vingt ans après, il transforme le crooner en figure spirituelle et toujours nous reconnecte à ce que nous avons de plus profond : le cœur…Il a un talent naturel pour la gravité, il utilise cette disposition fondamentale (physique par sa voix grave, culturelle par son nom et psychologique (ses tendances à tutoyer les abîmes de la dépression). Il voit les corps tomber dans un monde soumis aux lois de la gravité, il est dans le jeu avec la gravité et nous donne des armes spirituelles avec son pouvoir de changer une chose en son contraire, une charge lourde en légèreté. Ce visionnaire de la gravité sait utiliser le pessimisme pour nous rendre plus vivants et plus joyeux..Christophe Lebold
    Chez Dylan, il y a profusion du langage alors qu’il faut cinq ans de réécriture à Cohen pour enlever tout ce qui n’est pas nécessaire…(…) Avec Songs of Léonard Cohen (1967), I am your man (1988) et Ten new songs (2001), on a les trois versions de Cohen : le troubadour, le crooner et le maitre zen. Et on a ses trois formes de gravité : celle du poète, noire et désespérée, puis celle, ironique et sismique portée par cette voix grave qui fait trembler le monde et, enfin, à partir de 2000, cette gravité aérienne d’un maître zen angélique qui nous instruit sur notre lumière cachée. Avec ces trois albums, on peut convertir tout le monde à Léonard Cohen… [Ma chanson préférée ?] serait Everybody knows (1988) qui sonne comme une lamentation de Jérémie sur l’état du monde, avec l’ironie d’un crooner postmoderne (…) La vie du perfectionniste Leonard capable de réécrire ses chansons vingt ans après me montre à quel point l’écriture est un travail de chiffonnier… Dans nos vies sursaturées de prétendues informations, de bavardages incessants, de gadgets électroniques et de surconsommation où tout est organisé pour détruire nos vies intérieures, il est important de retrouver un sens de la puissance lumineuse du verbe, car il peut illuminer nos vies de façon concise : ce n’est plus de l’érudition gratuite, ça nous rend plus vivants, plus affûtés et plus précis. Rien de tel pour cela que la compagnie d’un homme aussi drôle et profond que Leonard pour s’affûter : son pessimisme est lumineux. Il nous fait du bien en utilisant des chansons douces comme des armes spirituelles et il nous reconnecte directement par le verbe et le sens mélodique, sur des airs de valses obsédantes, à nos cœurs et à tout ce qui est mystérieux (l’amour ou son absence, l’abîme ou Dieu). Fréquenter ce contrebandier de lumière est quelque chose de merveilleux, il nous apprend aussi à transformer quelque chose en son contraire, c’est aussi une activité à notre portée… (…) C’est un poète de la qualité qui opérait sur un médium de masse. Dans les sixties, le rock a cherché des poètes pour se légitimer : il y avait lui, Dylan et les Beatles. Les gens n’en sont pas revenus que ce métaphysicien du cœur brisé leur parle de leur condition d’être en chute libre– et  leur propose d’entendre une miséricorde angélique, un appel à l’élévation…C’est sur cette brisure du cœur que l’on peut fonder une vraie fraternité… Son premier album n’a pas pris une ride en quarante-sept ans : déjà minimaliste, il est tranchant et aussi indémodable qu’une calligraphie zen…Leonard est un éveillé qui suspend son départ pour nous éveiller à ce que nous avons d’essentiel.  (…) Je pense à ce koan zen : un âne regarde un puits jusqu’à ce que le puits regarde l’âne… Leonard peut faire ça, son œuvre a cette force de transformation absolue. Un maître, c’est quelqu’un qui vous libère…Christophe Lebold
    Plus que la tradition de la musique américaine, c’est celle des troubadours et trouvères, ces poètes-conteurs-chanteurs du Moyen-Âge que Bob Dylan a d’abord incarné. Né dans le Minnesota en 1941 à deux pas de la route 61 qui inspirera l’un de ses albums les plus emblématiques « Highway 61 revisited », celui qui est d’abord Robert Zimmerman  pour l’état-civil et Shabbtaï à sa circoncision, vient d’une famille juive d’Odessa qui a fui les pogroms du début du XXè siècle. La petite communauté juive locale est dit-on, très unie par les épreuves vécues en Europe de l’Est. Le signe de l’errance, de la fuite. Il en est le porteur, il l’assume à la première occasion en filant à New York à la première occasion, abandonnant ses études à l’université dès la première année. Là-bas, à Greenwich Village, il n’est pas le plus doué de tous les folkeux qui écument le quartier, mais il est le plus assidu. « Avec le temps, la goutte fend les rocs les plus résistants » dit le Talmud. Pour ce faire, il fréquente de longues heures les bibliothèques afin de dénicher les chansons folkloriques les plus anciennes. Jonathan Aleksandrowicz
    Leonard Cohen a grandi au sein d’une famille juive d’ascendance polonaise. Son grand-père était rabbin et son père, décédé alors qu’il n’a que 9 ans, a été le créateur du journal The Jewish Times. « Monsieur Cohen est un juif observant qui respecte le shabbat même lorsqu’il est en tournée », écrit le New York Times en 2009. Parallèlement à sa judéité, Leonard Cohen se retire de la vie publique durant près de cinq ans (1994-1999) dans un monastère bouddhiste près de Los Angeles, en plein désert californien. Certains se demandent alors comment il peut être à la fois juif pratiquant et bouddhiste. « Pour commencer, dans la tradition du Zen que j’ai pratiquée, il n’y a pas de service de prière et il n’y a pas d’affirmation de déité. Donc, théologiquement, il n’y a pas d’opposition aux croyances juives », racontera l’artiste. (…) Pour sa carrière multiforme, Leonard Cohen se voit décerner de nombreuses récompenses, dont celle en 2003 de compagnon de l’Ordre du Canada, de membre du Panthéon des auteurs et compositeurs canadiens en 2006, membre du Rock and Roll Hall of Fame en 2008. Parce que Leonard Cohen est un homme « à part » dans la chanson, allant de la musique folk à la pop en passant par le blues et l’électro, il n’a eu de cesse d’inspirer de nombreux artistes qui ont aussi repris, et parfois traduit, ses propres chansons. Plus de 1 500 titres du poète chanteur ont été repris. Il en va ainsi de dizaines d’artistes de renommée mondiale, dont Nina Simone, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, Peter Gabriel, Alain Bashung, Graeme Allwright, Suzanne Vega, sans oublier la version bouleversante d’ « Hallelujah » par Jeff Buckley. Leonard Cohen a de son côté très rarement repris des titres dont il n’était pas l’auteur. Parmi eux, sa réinterprétation de « La complainte du partisan » (dont la musique est signée Anna Marly, coautrice avec Maurice Druon et Joseph Kessel du « Chant des partisans »). « The Partisan », sera aussi repris à son tour par Noir Désir. RFI
    Le personnage biblique de David, dont le nom en hébreu signifie « bien-aimé », pourrait représenter à cet égard le « modèle » de Leonard. La tradition attribue à ce roi poète et musicien tout l’ensemble du livre des Psaumes. Mais le texte biblique nous fait connaître aussi le nom d’un certain nombre de femmes de ce grand polygame : Ahinoam, Abigayil, Mikal, Égla, Avital, Bethsabée, Abishag… (…) De fait, les compositions de Cohen regorgent d’allusions scripturaires, qui témoignent d’une fréquentation assidue du Livre saint : on y retrouve bien des personnages (Adam, Samson, David ou Isaac), des épisodes (notamment ceux du Déluge ou de la sortie d’Égypte), des réminiscences de tel ou tel prophète voire, justement, de tel ou tel psaume. Ainsi, la chanson By the Rivers Dark (album Ten New Songs) propose une relecture hardie du ps.136-137 : « Vers les sombres fleuves j’allais, errant / j’ai passé ma vie à Babylone / et j’ai oublié mon saint cantique / je n’avais pas de force à Babylone ». Mais il y a plus : sans jamais s’y attarder, Cohen distille à l’occasion des allusions très précises à la tradition juive, tant liturgique que mystique –et notamment à la kabbale. On trouve par exemple des allusions au thème de la « brisure des vases » dans la chanson Anthem (album The Future) : « il y a une fissure, une fissure en toute chose / c’est comme ça que la lumière pénètre »… Parmi les figures juives du passé, il en est une qui ne laisse pas tranquille le juif Leonard Cohen : c’est celle de Jésus. L’homme de Nazareth apparaît avec une fréquence étonnante dans le corpus des chansons (j’en relève pour ma part une douzaine d’occurrences, explicites ou non). « Jésus pris au sérieux par beaucoup, Jésus pris à la blague par quelques-uns » (Jazz Police, album I’m Your Man) : et par toi-même, Leonard ? Cela reste quelque peu indécidable. S’il avoue ne rien comprendre au Sermon sur la montagne (Democracy, album The Future), et évoque « le Christ qui n’est pas ressuscité / hors des cavernes du cœur » (The Land of Plenty, album Ten New Songs), notre auteur, à propos de Jésus, se parle ainsi à lui-même : « tu veux voyager avec lui / tu veux voyager en aveugle / et tu penses pouvoir lui faire confiance / car il a touché ton corps parfait avec son esprit » (Suzanne, album Songs of Leonard Cohen). Et comment comprendre cette double injonction : « Montre-moi l’endroit où le Verbe s’est fait homme / montre-moi l’endroit où la souffrance a commencé » (Show me the Place, album Old Ideas) ? Il y a là un singulier mélange de dérision et de fascination. Curieusement, les figures de la sainteté chrétienne suscitent chez lui une sympathie plus immédiate : celles de la vierge Marie –si c’est bien elle qu’il faut reconnaître dans Notre-Dame de la solitude (Our Lady of Solitude, album Recent Songs) ; de François d’Assise (Death of a Ladies’ Man, dans l’album homonyme) ; de Bernadette de Lourdes (Song of Bernadette, chantée par Jennifer Warnes dans son album Famous Blue Raincoat) ; et surtout de Jeanne d’Arc (Last Year’s Man et Joan of Arc, toutes deux dans l’album Songs of Love and Hate). C’est le lieu de rappeler que le jeune Leonard Cohen a acquis, à Montréal, une bonne culture chrétienne. Certains aspects de la piété catholique, comme le culte du Sacré-Cœur ou les visions de sœur Faustine, continuent d’ailleurs à le toucher. (…) « prêtre » se dit en hébreu… « cohen ». Il faut citer à ce propos la superbe chanson qui s’adresse ainsi à l’Être divin : « Que ta miséricorde se déverse / sur tous ces cœurs qui brûlent en enfer / si c’est ta volonté / de nous faire du bien » (If it Be Your Will, album Various Positions). Ici s’unissent bel et bien le cœur de l’homme (il s’agit d’une prière d’intercession) et celui de Dieu (prêt à répandre sa tendresse sur l’humanité). Or selon un adage de la tradition juive : « la porte de la prière est parfois fermée, mais la porte de la miséricorde reste toujours ouverte » Leonard a compris cette leçon. Et s’il n’adopte le ton de la prière que de manière exceptionnelle (par exemple dans Born in Chains et You Got Me Singing, deux chansons de l’album Popular Problems), il témoigne fréquemment d’une véritable compassion envers tous ceux qui crient : « de grâce, ne passez pas indifférents » (Please, Don’t Pass me by, album Live Songs), qu’il s’agisse de l’enfant encore à naître, de l’exclu, du handicapé, bref de tous les « pauvres » au sens biblique du terme. « Et je chante ceci pour le capitaine / dont le navire n’a pas été bâti / pour la maman bouleversée / devant son berceau toujours vide / pour le cœur sans compagnon / pour l’âme privée de roi / pour la danseuse étoile / qui n’a plus aucune raison de danser » (Heart With no Companion, album Various Positions). Du reste, au-delà de toutes les formes religieuses, il convient de souligner que plusieurs textes de notre Juif errant évoquent la rencontre de Dieu. Ces expériences mystiques, que l’auteur suggère avec discrétion, peuvent avoir pour cadre une église (Ain’t no Cure for Love, album I’m Your Man), mais aussi une simple chambre (Love Itself, album Ten New Songs), voire un lieu indéterminé (Almost Like the Blues, album Popular Problems). Pudeur cohénienne, mais aussi sans doute réticence juive à mettre un nom sur le « Sans-Nom ». « J’entends une voix qui m’évoque celle de Dieu », dit-il (Closing Time, album The Future) : n’est-ce pas elle qu’il faut reconnaître dans Going Home (album Old Ideas) : « J’aime parler avec Leonard… » ? Mais ce dialogue d’amour entre Leonard et son Dieu restera secret. Chéri par les femmes, le David biblique apparaît également comme l’élu de Dieu, lequel déclare : « J’ai trouvé David, un homme selon mon cœur » (Actes des apôtres, 13, 22). Et notre barde de Montréal, comme en écho : « J’ai appris qu’il y avait un accord secret / que David jouait pour plaire au Seigneur » (Hallelujah, album Various Positions). Outre les deux tonalités que l’on vient d’évoquer, la lyrique et la mystique, il existe un troisième registre, non moins prégnant chez Leonard : c’est celui du constat désabusé, parfois même désespéré pour ne pas dire nihiliste. Donnons-en quelques échantillons : « Les pauvres restent pauvres et les riches s’enrichissent / c’est comme ça que ça se passe / tout le monde le sait » (Everybody Knows, album I’m Your Man) ; « De parcourir le journal / ça donne envie de pleurer / tout le monde s’en fiche que les gens / vivent ou meurent » (In my Secret Life, album Ten New Songs) ; « Je n’ai pas d’avenir / je sais que mes jours sont comptés / le présent n’est pas si agréable / juste pas mal de choses à faire / je pensais que le passé allait me durer / mais la noirceur s’y est mise aussi » (The Darkness, album Old Ideas) ; « J’ai vu des gens qui mouraient de faim / il y avait des meurtres, il y avait des viols / leurs villages étaient en feu / ils essayaient de s’enfuir » (Almost Like the Blues, album Popular Problems). Et rien n’échappe à cet acide corrosif, pas même l’amour des femmes. Nous voilà loin de la célébration de l’éros, comme si l’on était passé du Cantique des Cantiques… au livre de Qohélet : « Vanité des vanités, dit Qohélet ; vanité des vanités, tout est vanité » (Qohélet, 1, 2). Mais justement, ces deux textes bibliques se présentent comme écrits par le même Salomon, ce qui ne manquera pas de rendre perplexes les commentateurs : comment le fils de David a-t-il pu composer deux ouvrages d’esprit aussi diamétralement opposé ? Les rabbins ont imaginé une réponse : c’est le jeune Salomon, amoureux et optimiste, qui a écrit le Cantique ; devenu vieux, blasé et pessimiste, il a composé le livre de Qohélet. Mais tout cela relève du même genre littéraire : la littérature de sagesse. Somme toute, il en va de même pour Leonard, qui déploie à son tour les différents aspects d’une moderne sagesse. Du reste, mystique et critique peuvent chez lui aller de pair : « Tu m’as fait chanter / quand bien même tout allait de travers / tu m’as fait chanter / la chanson ‘Alléluia’ » (You Got me Singing, ibid.)… Dominique Cerbelaud
    C’est à regret que je parle des Juifs : cette nation est, à bien des égards, la plus détestable qui ait jamais souillé la terre. Voltaire (Article « Tolérance »)
    Qu’ils s’en aillent! Car nous sommes en France et non en Allemagne!” … Notre République est menacée d’une invasion de protestants car on choisit volontiers des ministres parmi eux., … qui défrancise le pays et risque de le transformer en une grande Suisse, qui, avant dix ans, serait morte d’hypocrisie et d’ennui. Zola (Le Figaro, le 17/5/1881)
    Ce projet a causé la désertion de 80 à 100 000 personnes de toutes conditions, qui ont emporté avec elles plus de trente millions de livres ; la mise à mal de nos arts et de nos manufactures. (…) Sire, la conversion des cœurs n’appartient qu’à Dieu …Vauban (« Mémoire pour le rappel des Huguenots », 1689)
    Dans la dispute entre ces races pour savoir à laquelle revient le prix de l’avarice et de la cupidité, un protestant genevois vaut six juifs. A Toussenel, disciple de Fourier, 1845
    Qu’ils s’en aillent! Car nous sommes en France et non en Allemagne! … Notre République est menacée d’une invasion de protestants car on choisit volontiers des ministres parmi eux., … qui défrancise le pays et risque de le transformer en une grande Suisse, qui, avant dix ans, serait morte d’hypocrisie et d’ennui. Zola (Le Figaro, le 17/5/1881)
    Si le Décalogue consacre son commandement ultime à interdire le désir des biens du prochain, c’est parce qu’il reconnaît lucidement dans ce désir le responsable des violences interdites dans les quatre commandements qui le précèdent. Si on cessait de désirer les biens du prochain, on ne se rendrait jamais coupable ni de meurtre, ni d’adultère, ni de vol, ni de faux témoignage. Si le dixième commandement était respecté, il rendrait superflus les quatre commandements qui le précèdent. Au lieu de commencer par la cause et de poursuivre par les conséquences, comme ferait un exposé philosophique, le Décalogue suit l’ordre inverse. Il pare d’abord au plus pressé: pour écarter la violence, il interdit les actions violentes. Il se retourne ensuite vers la cause et découvre le désir inspiré par le prochain. René Girard
    De même que pour les juifs, ce sont les mêmes qui dénoncent les sorcières et qui recourent à leurs services. Tous les persécuteurs attribuent à leurs victimes une nocivité susceptible de se retourner en positivité et vice versa. René Girard
    Ils ont tout, c’est connu. Vous êtes passé par le centre-ville de Metz ? Toutes les bijouteries appartiennent aux juifs. On le sait, c’est tout. Vous n’avez qu’à lire les noms israéliens sur les enseignes. Vous avez regardé une ancienne carte de la Palestine et une d’aujourd’hui ? Ils ont tout colonisé. Maintenant c’est les bijouteries. Ils sont partout, sauf en Chine parce que c’est communiste. Tous les gouvernements sont juifs, même François Hollande. Le monde est dirigé par les francs-maçons et les francs-maçons sont tous juifs. Ce qui est certain c’est que l’argent injecté par les francs-maçons est donné à Israël. Sur le site des Illuminatis, le plus surveillé du monde, tout est écrit. (…) On se renseigne mais on ne trouve pas ces infos à la télévision parce qu’elle appartient aux juifs aussi. Si Patrick Poivre d’Arvor a été jeté de TF1 alors que tout le monde l’aimait bien, c’est parce qu’il a été critique envers Nicolas Sarkozy, qui est juif… (…)  Mais nous n’avons pas de potes juifs. Pourquoi ils viendraient ici ? Ils habitent tous dans des petits pavillons dans le centre, vers Queuleu. Ils ne naissent pas pauvres. Ici, pour eux, c’est un zoo, c’est pire que l’Irak. Peut-être que si j’habitais dans le centre, j’aurais des amis juifs, mais je ne crois pas, je n’ai pas envie. J’ai une haine profonde. Pour moi, c’est la pire des races. Je vous le dis du fond du cœur, mais je ne suis pas raciste, c’est un sentiment. Faut voir ce qu’ils font aux Palestiniens, les massacres et tout. Mais bon, on ne va pas dire que tous les juifs sont des monstres. Pourquoi vouloir réunir les juifs et les musulmans ? Tout ça c’est politique. Cela ne va rien changer. C’est en Palestine qu’il faut aller, pas en France. Karim
    Ce sont les cerveaux du monde. Tous les tableaux qui sont exposés au centre Pompidou appartiennent à des juifs. A Metz, tous les avocats et les procureurs sont juifs. Ils sont tous hauts placés et ils ne nous laisseront jamais monter dans la société. « Ils ont aussi Coca-Cola. Regardez une bouteille de Coca-Cola, quand on met le logo à l’envers on peut lire : « Non à Allah, non au prophète ». C’est pour cela que les arabes ont inventé le « Mecca-cola ». Au McDo c’est pareil. Pour chaque menu acheté, un euro est reversé à l’armée israélienne. Les juifs, ils ont même coincé les Saoudiens. Ils ont inventé les voitures électriques pour éviter d’acheter leur pétrole. C’est connu. On se renseigne. (…) Si Mohamed Merah n’avait pas été tué par le Raid, le Mossad s’en serait chargé. Il serait venu avec des avions privés. Ali
    Certains trouvent encore intolérable d’admettre que le peuple juif se soit trouvé, à trois reprises, plus ou moins volontairement, un élément essentiel au patrimoine de l’humanité: le monothéisme, le marché et les lieux saints. Car il n’est pas faux de dire, même si c’est schématique, que les juifs ont été mis en situation d’avoir à prêter aux deux autres monothéismes, et à les partager avec eux, leur dieu, leur argent et leurs lieux saints. Et comme la meilleure façon de ne pas rembourser un créancier, c’est de le diaboliser et de l’éliminer, ceux qui, dans le christianisme et l’islam, n’acceptent toujours pas cette dette à l’égard du judaïsme, se sont, à intervalles réguliers, acharnés à le détruire, attendant pour recommencer que le souvenir de l’élimination précédente se soit estompé. Jacques Attali
    Nobel Prizes have been awarded to over 850 individuals, of whom at least 22% (without peace prize over 24%) were Jews, although Jews comprise less than 0.2% of the world’s population (or 1 in every 500 people). Overall, Jews have won a total of 41% of all the Nobel Prizes in economics, 28% in medicine, 26% in Physics, 19% in Chemistry, 13% in Literature and 9% of all peace awards… Wikipedia
    Luther rend nécessaire ce que Gutenberg a rendu possible : en plaçant l’Écriture au centre de l’eschatologie chrétienne, la Réforme fait d’une invention technique une obligation spirituelle. François Furet et Jacques Ozouf
    After the Reformation, Protestant regions arose from the backwaters of Europe to displace the Catholic countries as the economic powerhouses. By 1700 prior to the full-fledged industrial revolution–Protestant countries had overtaken the Catholic world in terms of income. A strong Protestant-Catholic income gap became well established over the next 250 years. There were no signs of convergence until the 1960s. This is not, however, a simple vindication of the “Protestant ethic” thesis. … A number of alternative hypotheses … might account for the economic dominance of Protestant Europe. They include (1) secularization – freeing the economy from religious controls; (2) the growth of education (and the Protestant emphasis on literacy – ability to read the bible); (3) the dismal consequences of the Catholic Counter-Reformation; (4) the importance of the Atlantic (slave) trade in creating an autonomous business class that would demand modernizing institutional reforms.  (…) The Reformation was a crucial cultural moment in the development of capitalism … The Reformation made literacy a central part of religious devotion. In the Catholic Church, the clergy interpreted (channeled?) the word of God for believers. The bible was thought to be too complex to be understood by the common folk. (Indeed, even much of the clergy did not have direct access to the bible.) Protestantism, in contrast, spread the notion of a “priesthood of all believers”. All Christians should study the bible, connecting with their religion in a much more personal and private way. This is a tall order when only a tiny fraction of the population is literate, and the bible is written in Latin. Protestants worked hard on both these fronts, translating the bible into the vernacular (the languages that people actually spoke), and evangelizing for mass education. Rather suddenly, and for completely non-economic reasons, the medieval reign of ignorance was rejected, in its place were demands for investment in human capital.  Scotland is a great example of this. A founding principle of the Scottish Reformation (1560) was free education for the poor. Perhaps the world’s first local school tax was established in 1633 (strengthened in 1646). In this environment grew the Scottish En lightenment: David Hume, Francis Hutcheson, Adam Ferguson, and the godfather of modern economics, Adam Smith. By this time, Scottish scholarship stood so far above that of other nations that Voltaire wrote, “we look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilization”. An attractive feature of this thinking about Protestantism is its amenability to quantitative empirical testing. Did Protestant countries invest more heavily in education? … at least in 1830, Protestant countries had much higher primary school enrollment: 17% in Germany, 15% in the US, 9% in the UK, 7% in France, and only about 3% or 4% in Italy and Spain … While Protestant countries were aspiring to the ideal of a “priesthood of all believers”–nurturing a social norm of literacy and personal scholarship, Catholic Europe reacted viciously to the Reformation and devoted a hundred or so years to the brutal containment and control of “thought, knowledge, and belief”. The emphasis here is not so much on literacy per se. In Landes’ view, the Reformation did not simply give a “boost to literacy,” but more importantly “spawned dissidents and heresies, and promoted the skepticism and refusal of authority that is at the heart of the scientific endeavor”. While Protestants were translating the bible and agitating for public education, the Counter-Reformation (the Inquisition) was burning books, burning heretics, and imprisoning scientists. The Catholic reaction to the Reformation – in large part driven by the Spanish Empire – was to terrorize the principle of free thought. Though in many ways the birthplace of modern science, “Mediterranean Europe as a whole missed the train of the so-called scientific revolution” (Landes 1998:180). In a climate of fear and repression, the intellectual and scientific center of Europe shifted northward.  Perhaps the Reformation, rather than creating a new “spirit of capitalism,” simply led to the relocation capitalist activity. Without any religious strife, the industrial revolution might well have taken root wherever medieval capitalism was strongest (Italy, Belgium, Spain, etc). The religious wars and Counter-Reformation “convulsed” the centers of old medieval capitalism, leading to a mass migration of capital and entrepreneurial skill. Perhaps the most promising lead for historical research is to study the patterns of capital mobility and migration following the Reformation. Splitting Europe into two religious worlds produced striking dynamics that I believe go far beyond Weber’s thesis. The Protestant world, it seems, nurtured a contentious spirit of heresy and critical thought, popular literacy, and a laissez faire business morality; Catholism burned books, imprisoned scientists, stifled thought, and demanded stringent orthodoxy. All of this condemned the old prosperous regions of Europe to become the periphery (the “Olive Belt”). The backward regions that revolted from Rome became the destination for capitalist migration, and here, the institutions of modern capitalism gradually took shape. Finally, it no doubt helped that at around the same time, the center of commerce and trade shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, adding a new “opportunity of geography” to the Protestant regions.  Cristobal Young
    Pour ses promoteurs, il existe dans la France de la Troisième République un  » complot protestant « , mené par des étrangers de l’intérieur. Ce  » péril  » menace l’identité française et cherche sournoisement à  » dénationaliser  » le pays. Leurs accusations veulent prendre appui sur l’actualité : la guerre de 1870, la création de l’école laïque, les rivalités coloniales, l’affaire Dreyfus, la séparation des églises et de l’État. Derrière ces événements se profilerait un  » parti protestant  » qui œuvrerait en faveur de l’Angleterre et de l’Allemagne. Mais, à coté de l’actualité, la vision de l’histoire constitue également un enjeu et les antiprotestants, en lutte contre l’interprétation universitaire de leur époque, tentent une révision de la compréhension d’événements historiques comme la Saint-Barthélemy et la Révocation de l’Édit de Nantes. Ils accusent les protestants d’intolérance et érigent des statues à Michel Servet, victime de Calvin au XVIe siècle. La réaction protestante à ces attaques se marque non seulement par une riposte juridique, mais aussi par une auto-analyse plus critique que dans le passé. Cet axe se termine par une réflexion plus large sur la condition minoritaire en France et la manière dont la situation faite aux minorités est révélatrice du degré de démocratie de la société française. (…) L’antisémitisme de cette époque concentre deux traditions hostiles aux juifs : l’une, religieuse, qui les accuse de  » déicide « , l’autre, économique, qui les accuse de  » spéculation financière « . La conjonction de ces deux traditions engendre des thèses raciales sur une lutte éternelle entre l’  » aryen  » et le  » sémite « , alors que les accusations raciales antiprotestantes, quand elles existent, n’atteignent pas ce degré d’intensité. L’anticléricalisme est l’envers du cléricalisme : deux camps de force égale se trouvent en rivalité politico-religieuse et leurs arguments dérivent souvent dans des stéréotypes où la haine n’est pas absente. La haine anticléricale se développe lors de la lutte contre les congrégations. Mais, à partir de 1905, la séparation des églises et de l’État constitue un  » pacte laïque  » et permet un dépassement de l’anticléricalisme. (…) Paradoxalement, plus le groupe visé est faible, plus la haine à son encontre est forte. À ce titre, l’antiprotestantisme apparaît comme une haine intermédiaire entre l’anticléricalisme et l’antisémitisme. Mais, partout, à l’origine des haines, se trouve une vision conspirationniste de l’histoire : les pouvoirs établis et les idées qui triomphent sont le résultat de  » menées occultes « , d’ « obscurs complots ». Jean Bauberot
     L’Âge moderne est l’Âge des Juifs, et le XXe siècle est le Siècle des Juifs. La modernité signifie que chacun d’entre nous devient urbain, mobile, éduqué, professionnellement flexible. Il ne s’agit plus de cultiver les champs ou de surveiller les troupeaux, mais de cultiver les hommes et de veiller sur les symboles […] En d’autres termes, la modernité, c’est le fait que nous sommes tous devenus juifs. Yuri Slezkine
    The problem with so many of the theories thus far expounded is that they have gaping holes in logic or evidence so large that let’s just say they’d never make it into the Talmud. By far the largest fault with them is the reality that many of these arguments rely on an idea of the Jewish past that we don’t have any good reason to think is true; just because the rabbis desired it doesn’t mean it was necessarily so. And our overall received notions of a Jewish community that was fiercely observant and often Orthodox also have little evidence to back them up. (And, as Alana Newhouse revealed a couple of years ago, even the images we have of a fiercely pious Jewish shtetl have been largely manipulated.) (…) By combining a very thorough look at the historical record with new economic and demographic analyses, the authors summarily dismiss a great many of the underlying assumptions that have produced theories around Jewish literacy in the past. Where many tied the Jewish move into professional trades to the European era when Jews were persecuted, Botticini and Eckstein bring forward evidence that the move away from the unlettered world of premodern agriculture actually happened a thousand years earlier, when Jews were largely free to pursue the profession of their choice. And where so many have simply taken as a given universal literacy among Jews, the economists find that a majority of Jews actually weren’t willing to invest in Jewish education, with the shocking result that more than two-thirds of the Jewish community disappeared toward the end of the first millennium. Botticini and Eckstein pore over the Talmud and notice the simple fact that it’s overwhelmingly concerned with agriculture, which, in conjunction with archaeological evidence from the first and second century, paints a picture of a Jewish past where literacy was the privilege of an elite few. But these rabbis were also touting a vision of a future Judaism quite different from that which had been at least symbolically dominant for much of Jewish history to that point. Where a focus on the Temple in Jerusalem, with ritual sacrifices and the agricultural economy they required being the standard to that point, these rabbis—broadly speaking, the Pharisees—sought to emphasize Torah reading, prayer, and synagogue. When the sect of Judaism that emphasized the Temple—broadly, the Sadducees—was essentially wiped out by the Romans shortly after the time of Jesus, the Pharisaic leaders, in the form of the sages of the Talmud, were given a mostly free hand to reshape Judaism in their own image. Over the next several hundred years, they and their ideological descendants codified the Talmud and declared a need for universal Jewish education as they did so. All of this history is widely known and understood, but what Botticini and Eckstein do differently is trace this development alongside the size of the Jewish population and their occupational distribution. The Jewish global population shrunk from at least 5 million to as little as 1 million between the year 70 and 650. It’s not surprising that a conquered people, stifled rebellions, and loss of home would lead to population shrinkage, but Botticini and Eckstein argue that « War-related massacres and the general decline in the population accounted for about half of this loss. » Where did the remaining 2 million out of 3 million surviving Jews go? According to them, over multiple generations they simply stopped being Jewish: With the notion of Jewish identity now tied directly to literacy by the surviving Pharisaic rabbis of the Talmud, raising one’s children as Jews required a substantial investment in Jewish education. To be able to justify that investment, one had to be either or both an especially devoted Jew or someone hoping to find a profession for his children where literacy was an advantage, like trade, crafts, and money lending. For those not especially devoted and having little hope of seeing their children derive economic benefit from a Jewish education, the option to simply leave the Jewish community, the economists argue, was more enticing than the option to remain as its unlettered masses. Two-thirds of the surviving Jewish population, they assert, took that route. This distinct twist of the population story, which accompanies research showing a shift from nearly 90 percent of the Jewish population engaging in agriculture to nearly 90 percent engaging in professional trades over that same several hundred years, addresses a key problem of previous theories of Jewish literacy: determining what happened to those who wouldn’t be scholars. Botticini and Eckstein bring other evidence of Jewish tradition generating success in trade. An extrajudicial system of rabbinical courts for settling disputes allowed for the development of the kind of trust required for commercial enterprises to grow. A universal language of Hebrew eased international negotiations. And in a devastating critique of the theory that persecution actually pushed this economic shift along, the economists examine the societies in which Jews originally developed this bias toward trades and find Jews faced no particular discrimination that would have made them less successful in agriculture. In fact, they show, Jews were often discriminated against precisely because of their emphasis on trade, such as in their expulsion from England in 1290, which only came after they were repeatedly told to give up the profession of money lending (eventually echoed in Ulysses S. Grant’s order to expel the Jews from the territory under his command during the Civil War). And so the Jewish people have grown into a people of two intertwined legacies: a culture in which the Jewishly literate continue to pass the torch and one in which an emphasis on trades was necessary to continue to do so for all but the most fervently devoted. When a given family stopped being devoted or wealthy enough, it simply faded away. Steven Weiss
    Written by economists Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein, the paper explained Jewish success in terms of early literacy in the wake of Rome’s destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. and the subsequent dispersion of Jews throughout the Roman empire – Jews who had to rely on their own rabbis and synagogues to sustain their religion instead of the high priests in Jerusalem. You may know a similar story about the Protestant Reformation: the bypassing of the Catholic clergy and their Latin liturgy for actual reading of Scripture in native languages and the eventual material benefits of doing so. Why is Northern Europe — Germany, Holland, England, Sweden — so much more prosperous than Southern Europe: Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain? Why do the latter owe the former instead of the other way around? Might it have something to do with the Protestant legacy of the North, the Catholic legacy of the South? Paul Solman
    The key message of “The Chosen Few” is that the literacy of the Jewish people, coupled with a set of contract-enforcement institutions developed during the five centuries after the destruction of the Second Temple, gave the Jews a comparative advantage in occupations such as crafts, trade, and moneylending — occupations that benefited from literacy, contract-enforcement mechanisms, and networking and provided high earnings. (…) the Jews in medieval Europe voluntarily entered and later specialized in moneylending and banking because they had the key assets for being successful players in credit markets: capital already accumulated as craftsmen and trade networking abilities because they lived in many locations, could easily communicate with and alert one another as to the best buying and selling opportunities, and literacy, numeracy, and contract-enforcement institutions — “gifts” that their religion has given them — gave them an advantage over competitors. Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein
    Wherever and whenever Jews lived among a population of mostly unschooled people, they had a comparative advantage. They could read and write contracts, business letters, and account books using a common [Hebrew] alphabet while learning the local languages of the different places they dwelled. These skills became valuable in the urban and commercially oriented economy that developed under Muslim rule in the area from the Iberian Peninsula to the Middle East. Maristella Botticini
    The chief editor of the Journal des économistes (…) claimed that anti-Semitism and hatred against the Jews were to be compared to the expulsion of the Huguenots from France in seventeenth century, as economic and religious persecution usually ran parallel. The religious persecutions of the Huguenots could be explained as economic persecution that applied perfectly to Jews of the nineteenth century. According to this explanation, Catholic religious intolerance caused the expulsion of the most dynamic factions of society, and thus provoked the decline of Catholic nations. (…) The groundbreaking work of Max Weber and his underlining critique of Marxist interpretation of religion and economy played – and in some ways continue to play – a key role in addressing research in the field of religion and economic modernization. Weber also assigned a significant role to Judaism, although his work contributed to fueling an enormous debate and some resentful reactions, especially from Jewish intellectuals. The Chosen Few is a book that encompasses the history of the Jews from the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE) to the expulsion from Spain in 1492. (…) Ancient Judaism underwent a form of seismic modification that, as Botticini and Eckstein describe, redefined the religious structure of Judaism. The most typical example is the disappearance of the sacrificial system that was organized around the temple of Jerusalem following its destruction in 70 CE. The political collapse of ancient Judaism is the starting point of the Chosen Few, which aims at understanding the epochal changes of rabbinical Judaism, and more precisely, the kind of culture Judaism prompted after what might aptly be called the great “trauma” of the collapse of its ancient and central structure. The Chosen Few deals with the relationship between religious rules and literacy, and accordingly, it attempts to investigate the transformation that Judaism underwent through a relatively long formative period. (…) The first assumption is that Jews in the ancient world (200b BCE – 200 CE) who lived in Eretz Israel were mainly occupied in agricultural activities. In a time span of a few centuries however, Jews of the Diaspora had dramatically changed their economic and professional position. How had that come into being? The change is particularly indebted to the introduction of a rule that proved to be central, according to Botticini and Eckstein’s account.  It is precisely the rule attributed to Yehoshua ben Gamla, a priest mentioned in the early rabbinic texts, according to which a compulsory obligation to teach Torah to children was enforced as a communal regulation. In comparative terms, this norm was introduced in the background of a religious world that was modeled after the rules of ancient religions, which focused on sacrificial offerings and temple activities, initiation and magic, fasting and prayers. Despite their different beliefs and ritual structure, Roman and Greek religions, alongside Zoroastrianism, mysteries religions, Orphic and Dionysian cults, and Mithraism never implemented a law that imposed significant textual knowledge of a written sacred tradition. For historians of religion this is an important innovation indeed, even though the imminent spread of Christianity and Islam would introduce a great number of additional transformations to the religious world of late antiquity. (…) Nevertheless, as with every grand narrative that aims at providing one unique explanation for historical facts, this one provokes a number of questions and possible critical responses. I will mention only three problems that may be of some relevance. 1. First of all, one must recall that the Diaspora did not begin after the fall of Jerusalem, but rather, was a conspicuous and relevant component of ancient Judaism. Jews lived in metropolises, like Rome and Alexandria, and were likely engaged in urban activities. Historiography on Christianity has stressed that Christianity spread first and foremost in the great urban centers of the Roman Empire, although the movement of Jesus was mainly throughout villages. The fascinating theory of conversion offered by the authors is therefore interesting, but needs to be supported by more evidence. 2. Considering the wide scope of the book and the claim to a universal and general explanatory theory of Judaism, some comparison with other similar groups was needed. In which way did Judaism in the Muslim empire differ from Christian minorities, which in turn were endowed with similar trades? How then are Armenians, Greek Orthodox, or various sectarian religious groups to be evaluated when they competed with Jews and performed similar roles? 3. Theory and history are somehow disconnected in this book. The theory the authors offer is applied to very different historical, social and religious contexts. One wonders if the organization of economy in the Muslim empire and the one in Medieval Christian Europe does not bear multiple and dissimilar features, resulting in a perpetually different relationship with Judaism, when not directly influencing it. Anachronism is generally inevitable, but my impression is that it strikes as too strong an element in this narrative. Is it possible to assume, with the help of economic theory and modeling, that a peasant in the ancient world would behave exactly as a contemporary peasant in a third world country? The long journey back in time requires, among other things, identification with a world that might have been radically different. Moreover, this long journey is often an intricate path into a labyrinth, which the historian is impelled to explore in its multiple directions. Cristiana Facchini
    What if most of what we thought we know about the history of the Jewish people between the destruction of the Second Temple and the Spanish Expulsion is wrong? This intriguing premise informs The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492, an ambitious new book by economists Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein. Seventy-five years after historian Salo Baron first warned against reducing the Jewish past to “a history of suffering and scholarship,” most of us continue to view medieval Jewish history in this vein. “Surely, it is time to break with the lachrymose theory of pre-Revolutionary woe, and to adopt a view more in accord with historic truth,” Baron implored at the end of his 1928 Menorah Journal article “Ghetto and Emancipation: Shall We Revise the Traditional View?” Botticini and Eckstein (…) systematically dismantle much of the conventional wisdom about medieval Jewish history. For example, they explore how the scattered nature of the Jewish Diaspora was driven primarily by the search for economic opportunity rather than by relentless persecution. They also demonstrate that war-related massacres only account for a fraction of the Jewish population declines from 70 to 700 C.E. and from 1250 to 1400 C.E., and cast serious doubt on the theory that widespread conversion to Christianity and Islam during these periods was motivated primarily by anti-Jewish discrimination. Likewise, they show that restrictions on Jewish land ownership and membership in craft guilds in Christian Europe — factors that are often cited to explain medieval Jews’ proclivity for trade and moneylending — postdated by centuries the Jews’ occupational shift from agriculture to commerce. The authors are hardly alone among scholars in advancing their case. But in consolidating a vast secondary literature into a concise and compelling argument, they provide a commendable service. (…) As the subtitle of their book suggests, the authors look to education to explain the across-the-board transformation of Jewish life in the first 15 centuries of the Common Era. Specifically, they zero in on the rabbinic injunction that required fathers to teach their sons how to read and study the Torah. Literacy, they argue, was the engine that drove the train of Jewish history. It facilitated the economic transformation of the Jews from farmers to craftsmen, merchants and financiers. It encouraged their mobility, as they went in search of locations that presented the prospect of profitability. It determined their migration patterns, specifically their congregation in bustling city centers throughout the Muslim world, where they were able to thrive in myriad urban occupations such as banking, cattle dealing, wine selling, textile manufacturing, shopkeeping and medicine. It also explained their scattered settlement in scores of small communities throughout Christian Europe, where the demand for skilled occupations was far more limited. It was even indirectly responsible for Jewish population decline. Botticini and Eckstein suggest that illiterates were regarded as outcasts in Jewish society and that a substantial percentage chose to escape denigration and social ostracism by embracing Christianity and Islam, where illiteracy remained the norm. Once the occupational and residential transformation from farming was complete, the authors argue, there was no going back. Jews paid a high premium for their literate society. Jewish cultural norms required the maintenance of synagogues and schools, and presumed that families would forgo years of their sons’ potential earnings to keep them in school. When urban economies collapsed, as they did in Mesopotamia and Persia as a result of the Mongol conquest, the practice of Judaism became untenable, and the result was widespread defection through conversion to Islam. Accordingly, the Jews became “a small population of highly literate people, who continued to search for opportunities to reap returns from their investment in literacy.”  The authors’ theory may leave some a little queasy, including those who have rationalized the Jewish proclivity for moneylending in medieval England, France and Germany as a logical response to antagonistic authorities who systematically cut them off from other avenues of economic opportunity. (…) Botticini and Eckstein (…) On the contrary (…) insist, Jews were naturally attracted to moneylending because it was lucrative and because they possessed four significant cultural and social advantages that predisposed their success. First and foremost was rabbinic Judaism’s emphasis on education; literacy and numeracy were prerequisite skills for moneylending. Jews were also able to rely on other built-in advantages, including significant capital, extensive kinship networks, and rabbinic courts and charters that provided legal enforcement and arbitration mechanisms in the cases of defaults and disputes. The authors add that while maltreatment, discriminatory laws and expulsions were frequently motivated by the prevalence of Jews in moneylending, they played little or no role in promoting this occupational specialization. The relevance of cultural determinism is the subject of vigorous debate in intellectual circles (…) Of particular concern is the relative paucity of evidence that Botticini and Eckstein marshal for their literacy argument. Talmudic pronouncements on the importance of education can easily, and inaccurately, be read as descriptive rather than prescriptive, and the authors arguably overestimate the influence of the rabbis on the behaviors and self-definition of the Jewish masses. They seem to be on firmer ground once they have recourse to the variegated documents in the Cairo Genizah, but they devote almost no attention to Jewish educational trends in Christian Europe. They also have little to say on the extent to which instruction in arithmetic and the lingua franca supplemented a school curriculum designed to promote facility in reading and interpreting Hebrew and Aramaic holy books. Instruction in these areas would have a direct impact on the Jews’ ability to function in an urban economy. Undoubtedly, Jewish school attendance rates and curricular norms varied by location and over time.
    Botticini and Eckstein argue that most ancient Jews were farmers who did not need literacy to earn a living.  When Judaism re-formed around text study following the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E., parents were forced to pay school fees if they wanted their children to stay Jewish.  According to Botticini and Eckstein, over the next six centuries the Jewish population plummeted from 5.5 to 1.2 million because only boys from families with an unusual degree of commitment, or those whose sons had the brains and diligence to pore over legal texts, paid to send their children to school. Everyone else converted to Christianity (…) Botticini and Eckstein support their model with « archaeological discoveries that document the timing of the construction of synagogues » in which children could be educated. They explain that « the earliest archaeological evidence of the existence of a synagogue in the Land of Israel » dates to the mid-1st century C.E. This is an enormous misstatement of fact. A number of pre-destruction Palestinian synagogues have been identified, the earliest uncovered so far, in Modi’in, dating to the early 2nd or late 3rd century B.C.E. Which brings us to the question of whether Botticini and Eckstein’s selection event ever occurred.  Some numbers cited by Botticini and Eckstein are just plain wrong.  For example, they summarize the findings of ancient historians Seth Schwartz and Gildas Hamel, and of archaeologist Magen Broshi, as « the Land of Israel hosting no more than 1 million Jews. »[7] Schwartz actually wrote: « Palestine reached its maximum sustainable pre-modern population of approximately one million in the middle of the first century. Probably about half of this population was Jewish. »  Thus, Botticini and Eckstein miscite Schwartz’s « about half of » for a population of one million Jews.  They then guess that there were, in fact, 2.5 million Jews in Israel. There are no accurate counts of ancient Jewry. Estimates that no more than 1 million people could have lived in the Land of Israel in the first century were derived from arable acreage and crop yields. And there is no evidence suggesting that ancient Israel had the capacity to import the gargantuan volumes of falafel mix that would have been required to feed a population of over a million.  (Rome imported wheat on that scale; Israel didn’t.) Botticini and Eckstein choose, without offering a rationale, one contemporary demographer’s « cautiously » offered estimate of 4.5 million Jews total in the ancient world. Then they blithely add up to a million more Jews, to reach their 5 – 5.5 million number. But graphing an unsubstantiated number, as they do, does not make the number accurate. If we accept more conservative estimates of 2 or even 2.5 million Jews worldwide before the year 70, loss of a million or so during and after the brutal Roman-Jewish Wars, when it is assumed that many Greek- and Latin-speaking God-fearers fell away from Judaism, is not surprising.  Judged by the evidence they provide, Botticini and Clark’s elegant model in which the choices of ancient Jewish farmers facing high tuition bills produced a dramatic selection event doesn’t hold water. (…) Botticini and Eckstein support their hypothesis with the information, repeated by Clark that, « passages by early Christian writers and Church Fathers indicate that most Jewish converts to Christianity were illiterate and poor. » This information, however, is cited to outdated work by Adolf von Harnack, turn-of-the-century German theologian whose anti-Judaism prepared the way for Nazi anti-Semitism and who, as President of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, created the infamous Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and EugenicsDiana Muir Appelbaum and Paul S. Appelbaum
    David Mamet writes that there are two kinds of places in the world: places where Jews cannot go, and places where Jews cannot stay. So how exactly have the Jews survived? According Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein, authors of The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492 (Princeton University Press, 2012), the answer has as much to do with economics as with spirituality. Five major events rocked the Jewish world during those 1,422 years: the destruction of the Second Temple, the rise of Christianity; the birth of Islam; birth of modern Christian Europe; and the Mongol invasion. Since Jews who aren’t university professors (and there are some) often view events through a lens of “Is this good or bad for the Jews?” I’ll summarize the authors’ findings in that manner. Destruction of the Temple and the rise of Christianity—bad for the Jews. After the year 70, the priests who ran the Temple were no longer in the ascendency, yielding power to the Jewish rabbis and scholars who ultimately wrote the Talmud over the next few centuries. Most Jews (and most of everyone else) were farmers back then. After the destruction of the Temple, the worldwide Jewish population dwindled not just because of war and massacre, but because of economics. If you were devout and wealthy, you were likely to pay for your sons’ Jewish education. If you were spiritual but didn’t have much money, you became a Christian or joined one of the other popular groups that didn’t require an expensive Jewish education. What good is a son who can read the Torah if you just want him to help harvest pomegranates? So economics dictated who stayed and who strayed. The rise of the Islamic empire: surprisingly, good for the Jews. When Muhammad appeared in the seventh century, Jews began to move from farms into new Moslem-built cities including Baghdad and Damascus. There they went into trades that proved far more lucrative than farming, most notably international trade and money lending. In those arenas, Jews had enormous advantages: universal literacy; a common language and religious culture; and the ability to have contracts enforced, even from a distance of thousands of miles. The Moslem world then stretched from the Spain and Portugal to halfway across Asia. Anywhere in the Arab ambit, Jews could move, trade, or relocate freely and benefit from their extensive religious and family networks. According to thousand-year-old documents found in the Cairo Genizah, business documents linking Jewish traders across the Arab world would have Jewish court decisions written on the back. So Jews could send money or goods thousands of miles, certain their investments would be safe. European Christianity from the year 1,000: not so good for the Jews. If Islamic culture offered Jews a warm welcome, Western Europe was a mixed blessing. Seemingly every few dozen miles in Western Europe, a different prince or king was in charge, with different laws, different requirements for citizenship, and different attitudes about the Jews. Some places were extremely welcoming of Jews; others less so. Monarchs might boot out their Jewish populations in hard economic times, so that Gentile citizens wouldn’t have to repay their loans, only to welcome them back when the economy improved. Contrary to common belief, Botticini and Eckstein write, Jews weren’t forced into money lending because they were forced out of guilds. Under Muslim and Christian rule alike, Jews went into finance centuries before the guilds were even founded. In other words, Jews chose careers in finance the same way the best and the brightest in modern American culture head for Wall Street and business school. Western Europe, therefore, was a mixed blessing for the Jews. On the upside, they could do business, live their Jewish lives, and establish some of the finest Talmudic academies in Jewish history. Alas, Jews were also subject to massacres and expulsions, which happened with terrifying regularity across the centuries, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition of 1492. Meanwhile, back in the Middle East: the thirteenth-century Mongol invasion: bad for the Jews. Oh, really, really bad for the Jews. The relative freedom and safety the Jews enjoyed under Muslim rule came to an abrupt halt in the early 13th century, when Genghis Khan and his marauders attacked and leveled most of urban civilization that the Moslems had so painstakingly built up over the centuries. With the destruction of cities and urban institutions, those Jews fortunate enough to survive the Mongol invasion had no option other than going back to farming. Some stayed; some converted to Islam. So the numbers of Jews in formerly Arab lands would remain low for hundreds of years, until all traces of Mongol civilization were wiped out and the world began to rebuild. Eggpen
    Why has education been so important to the Jewish people? Author Maristella Botticini says a unique religious norm enacted within Judaism two millennia ago made male literacy universal among Jews many centuries earlier than it was universal for the rest of the world’s population. (…) Emphasizing literacy over time set Jews up for economic success, say Botticini and Zvi Eckstein, authors of the 2012 book “The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History.” (…) In their book, which they describe as a reinterpretation of Jewish social and economic history from the years 70 to 1492 A.D., Botticini and Eckstein say that Jews over those years became “the chosen few”—a demographically small population of individuals living in hundreds of locations across the globe and specializing in the most skilled and urban occupations. These occupations benefit from literacy and education. (…) From an economic point of view, the authors write, it was costly for Jewish farmers living in a subsistence agrarian society to invest a significant amount of their income on the rabbis’ imposed literacy requirement. A predominantly agrarian economy had little use for educated people. Consequently, a proportion of Jewish farmers opted not to invest in their sons’ religious education and instead converted to other religions, such as Christianity, which did not impose this norm on its followers. “During this Talmudic period (3rd-6th centuries), just as the Jewish population became increasingly literate, it kept shrinking through conversions, as well as war-related deaths and general population decline,” Botticini tells JNS.org. “This threatened the existence of the large Jewish community in Eretz Israel (the land of Israel) and in other places where sizable Jewish communities had existed in antiquity, such as North Africa, Syria, Lebanon, Asia Minor, the Balkans, and Western Europe. By the 7th century, the demographic and intellectual center of Jewish life had moved from Eretz Israel to Mesopotamia, where roughly 75 percent of world Jewry now lived.” Like almost everywhere else in the world, Mesopotamia had an agriculture-based economy, but that changed with the rise of Islam during the 7th century and the consequent Muslim conquests under the caliphs in the following two centuries. Their establishment of a vast empire stretching from the Iberian Peninsula to India led to a vast urbanization and the growth of manufacture and trade in the Middle East; the introduction of new technologies; the development of new industries that produced a wide array of goods; the expansion of local trade and long-distance commerce; and the growth of new cities. (…) The book does not whitewash the persecution that took place during the 15 centuries of Jewish history it examines, Eckstein says. “When [persecution of Jews] happened, we record [it] in our book,” he says. “[But] what we say is something different. There were times and locations in which legal or economic restrictions on Jews did not exist. Not because we say so, but because it is amply documented by many historians. Jews could own land and be farmers in the Umayyad and Abbasid Muslim empire. The same is true in early medieval Europe. If these restrictions did not exist in the locations and time period we cover, they cannot explain why the Jews left agriculture and entered trade, finance, medicine. There must have been some other factor that led the Jews to become the people they are today. In ‘The Chosen Few’ we propose an alternative hypothesis and we then verify whether this hypothesis is consistent with the historical evidence.” Jewish News Service
    En fait, ce que nous avons voulu démontrer, ma collègue Maristella Botticini, de la Bocconi, et moi, c’est que l’obligation d’étudier a un coût, et oblige donc l’individu rationnel à rechercher une compensation pour obtenir un retour sur investissement. Dans le cas des juifs, le problème se pose après la destruction du Temple de Jérusalem, en 70 de l’ère courante. La caste des prêtres qui constituait alors l’élite perd le pouvoir au profit de la secte des pharisiens, qui accorde une grande importance à l’étude. C’est de cette secte que vont sortir les grands rabbis, ceux qui vont pousser les juifs à se concentrer sur l’étude de la Torah, un texte dont la tradition veut qu’elle ait été écrite par Moïse sous la dictée de Dieu. Vers l’an 200, obligation est ainsi faite aux pères de famille d’envoyer leurs fils dès l’âge de 6 ans à l’école rabbinique pour apprendre à lire et étudier la fameuse Torah. Or l’essentiel des juifs sont des paysans, et pour les plus pauvres, cette obligation pèse très lourd car elle les prive de bras pour travailler aux champs. Beaucoup vont alors préférer se convertir au christianisme, d’où, on le voit dans les statistiques de l’époque, une baisse drastique de la population juive au Proche-Orient à partir du IIIe siècle alors que, jusqu’à la destruction du Temple, cette religion était en augmentation constante et multipliait les convertis. Pour ceux qui ont accepté le sacrifice financier que représente la dévotion, il va s’agir de valoriser leur effort. Or autour d’eux, ni les chrétiens ni, plus tard, les musulmans n’imposent à leurs enfants d’apprendre à lire et à écrire. Les juifs bénéficient donc d’un avantage compétitif important. C’est ainsi un juif converti à l’islam qui a servi de scribe à Mahomet et aurait mis par écrit pour la première fois le Coran. (…) Notre étude, fondée sur l’évolution économique et démographique du peuple juif, de l’Antiquité à la découverte de l’Amérique, remet en cause en fait la plupart des théories avancées jusqu’ici. Si les juifs sont médecins, juristes ou banquiers plus souvent qu’à leur tour, ce n’est pas parce qu’ils sont persécutés et condamnés à s’exiler régulièrement, comme l’a avancé l’économiste Gary Becker, ou parce qu’ils n’avaient pas le droit d’être agriculteurs, comme l’a soutenu Cecil Roth. Car si dans certains pays, on les a empêchés de posséder des terres, c’était bien après qu’ils aient massivement abandonné l’agriculture, et s’ils ont pu être persécutés, cela ne justifie pas qu’ils soient devenus médecins ou juristes : les Samaritains, très proches des juifs et eux aussi traités comme des parias, sont demeurés paysans. De même, contrairement à ce que dit Max Weber, ce n’est pas parce qu’un juif ne peut pas être paysan du fait des exigences de la Loi juive. Les juifs du temps du Christ la respectaient alors qu’ils étaient majoritairement occupés à des travaux agricoles et à la pêche. C’est dans l’Orient musulman, sous les Omeyyades et les Abbassides, à un moment où ils sont particulièrement valorisés, que les juifs s’installent massivement dans les villes et embrassent des carrières citadines. Pourquoi ? Parce qu’ils peuvent alors tirer parti du fait d’être lettrés. D’un point de vue purement économique, il est alors beaucoup plus rentable de devenir marchand ou scientifique que de labourer la terre. D’où notre théorie : si les juifs sont devenus citadins et ont occupé des emplois indépendants de l’agriculture, c’est d’abord parce qu’ils étaient formés. Et s’ils étaient formés, c’est que leur religion exigeait qu’ils le soient. (…) ces professions étaient beaucoup plus rentables que le travail de paysan. Pour un juif du Moyen Âge, l’apprentissage de la Torah allait de pair avec le fait de faire des affaires. Rachi, le grand commentateur du Talmud, était un entrepreneur qui possédait des vignes. Ses quatre fils, tous érudits, se sont installés dans quatre villes différentes où ils ont tous fait du business, notamment de prêts d’argent, tout en étant rabbins. Grâce à leur connaissance des langues et leurs réseaux familiaux, les juifs ont pu rentabiliser leur formation, le fait de savoir lire et écrire, mais aussi raisonner, plus aisément que d’autres communautés. (…) Il est essentiel que la culture fasse partie intégrante de l’éducation quotidienne. Et en cela, la mère joue un rôle essentiel, toutes les études le montrent. C’est elle qui transmet les valeurs fondamentales. La probabilité que vous alliez à l’université est plus importante si votre mère a été elle-même à l’université. Donc, le fait que la mère ait un minimum d’éducation a représenté très tôt un avantage compétitif par rapport aux autres communautés religieuses où la femme n’en recevait pas. Nous étudions actuellement la période allant de la Renaissance à l’Holocauste. Et nous avons déjà découvert ceci : en Pologne, au XVIIe siècle, la population juive a fortement progressé par rapport à la population chrétienne. Pourquoi ? Tout simplement parce que la mortalité infantile y était plus faible. Conformément à l’enseignement du Talmud, les enfants bénéficiaient en effet d’un soin tout particulier. Les femmes gardaient leur enfant au sein plus longtemps que les chrétiennes, et elles s’en occupaient elles-mêmes. Voilà un exemple tout simple des effets que peut avoir l’éducation. Zvi Eckstein
    Pour faire face au danger que le christianisme et la romanisation faisaient courir à la survie du judaïsme, les Pharisiens imposèrent une nouvelle forme de dévotion. Tout chef de famille, pour rester fidèle à la foi judaïque, se devait d’envoyer ses fils à l’école talmudique, afin de perpétuer et d’approfondir, par un travail cumulatif de commentaire, la connaissance de la Torah. Cette nouvelle obligation religieuse a eu des répercussions socio-économiques considérables. Envoyer ses fils à l’école représentait un investissement coûteux qui n’était pas à la portée de la majorité des juifs, simples paysans comme les autres populations du Moyen-Orient au milieu desquelles ils vivaient. Ceux qui n’en avaient pas les moyens et restèrent paysans, s’éloignèrent du judaïsme. Ils  se convertirent souvent au christianisme.  C’est ce qui explique l’effondrement de la population juive durant l’Antiquité tardive. Ceux qui tenaient au contraire à remplir leurs obligations religieuses, durent choisir des métiers plus rémunérateurs. Ils devinrent commerçants, artisans, médecins et surtout financiers. Les juifs ne se sont pas tournés vers ces métiers urbains parce qu’on leur interdisait l’accès à la terre, comme on l’a dit souvent, mais pour pouvoir gagner plus d’argent et utiliser en même temps leurs compétences de lettrés. Ils étaient capables désormais de tenir des comptes, écrire des ordres de paiement, etc… (…) S’ils s’imposent partout dans le crédit, ce n’est pas parce que l’Eglise interdisait aux chrétiens le prêt à intérêt (en réalité l’islam et le judaïsme lui imposaient des restrictions comme le christianisme), mais parce qu’ils ont à la fois la compétence et le réseau pour assurer le crédit, faire circuler les ordres de paiements et les marchandises précieuses du fond du monde musulman aux confins de la chrétienté.  (…) c’est souvent à la demande des seigneurs ou évêques locaux qu’ils étaient venus s’installer dans les villes chrétiennes, parce qu’on recherchait leur savoir faire pour développer les échanges et l’activité bancaire. Les premières mesures d’expulsion des juifs par des princes chrétiens à la fin du XIII° siècle semblent avoir été guidées par la volonté de mettre la main sur leurs richesses beaucoup plus que par le désir de les convertir. (…) C’est pour des raisons religieuses que le judaïsme s’est imposé brusquement un investissement éducatif coûteux qui le singularise parmi les grandes religions du livre. Car ni le Christianisme qui  s’est donné une élite particulière, à l’écart du monde, vouée à la culture écrite, ni l’Islam n’ont imposé à leur peuple de croyants un tel investissement dans l’alphabétisation. Cet investissement a eu l’effet d’une véritable sélection darwinienne.  Il a provoqué une réorientation complète de l’activité économique du monde juif  en même temps  qu’il faisait fondre sa masse démographique. Il a surtout fait fleurir, par le miracle de l’éducation, des aptitudes intellectuelles précieuses qui en ont fait durablement une minorité recherchée et jalousée. André Burguière

    Vous avez dit « peuple d’élite, sûr de lui-même et dominateur » ?

    Et si de Gaulle ou le premier Mohamed venu de nos banlieues avaient vu juste ?

    Thanksgiving, le panier à trois points, l’Amérique, Superman, les droits civiques, le soft power, le génocide, la fête nationale, l’humour, la musique populaire, le désir, l’école …

    Isaiah Berlin, Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers, Harold Arlen, Hammerstein, Gershwin, Bernstein, Copland, Glass, Robert Zimmerman (alias Bob Dylan), Leonard Cohen, Elvis Presley, David Marks (Beach boys), Simon & Garfunkel, Jefferson Airplane, The Mamas & the Papas, Robby Krieger, Phil Spector, Melanie (Safka), Joey Ramone, Randy Meisner, Randy Newman, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, (né James Osterberg) Beastie Boys, Pat Benatar (née Patricia Mae Andrzejewski), Blood, Sweat & Tears, David Lee Roth, Blue Öyster Cult, Kiss, Guns N’ Roses, The Cars, Harry Connick, Jr., Country Joe and the Fish, Neil Diamond, Chris Isaak, Janis Ian, Billy Joel, Carole King (née Carole Klein), Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Courtney Love, Juice Newton (née Judith Kay Cohen), Pink, Barbra Streisand, Leonard Cohen, Abel Meeropol (« Strange fruit » pour Billie Holliday), Benny Goodman …

    Goldwyn, Mayer, Warner, Cohn (Columbia), Zukor (Paramount), Fritz Lang, Ernst Lubitsch, Erich von Stroheim, Greorge Cukor, Cecil B. DeMille, Stanley Donen, Otto Preminger, Hedy Lamarr, frères Marx, Douglas Fairbanks (né Douglas Ullman), Fred Astaire (né Frederick Austerlitz), Danny Kaye, Paulette Goddard, Kirk Douglas, Michael Douglas, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Wise, Jerry Lewis, Mel Brooks, Sydney Pollack, Milos Forman, Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Woody Allen, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kate Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Joaquin Phoenix, Winona Ryder, Alicia Silverstone, Tori Spelling, Patricia Arquette, Lisa Bonet, Phoebe Cates, Robert Downey Jr., David Duchovny, Daryl Hannah, Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Jason Leigh, ulia Louis-Dreyfus, Cindy Margolis, Sarah Jessica Parker , Sean Penn, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Ben Stiller, Rosanna Arquette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Carrie Fisher, Jerry Seinfeld, Howard Stern, Debra Winger , James Caan, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Goldie Hawn, Henry Winkler, Elliott Gould, Harvey Keitel, Leonard Nimoy, Gene Wilder, Lauren Bacall, Lenny Bruce, Tony Curtis, Paul Newman, Shelley Winters, Peter Falk, Lee J. Cobb, Sammy Davis, Jr., Marilyn Monroe (par conversion)…

    Joe Shuster et Jerome Siegel (Superman), Joe Simon (Captain America), Bill Finger et Bob Kane (Batman), Stan Lee (Spider-Man, X-Men, The Hulk, Fantastic Four), Jack Kirby (Captain America, Hulk), Max Fleischer (Popeye, Betty Boop), Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat), Art Spiegelman (Maus), Harvey Kurtzman, Al Jaffee, Al Feldstein, Will Elder et William Gaines (MAD) …

    Capa, Man Ray, Fischer, Kasparov, Houdini, « Bugsy » Siegel

    Einstein, Bohr, Hertz, Charpak, Cohen-Tanoudji, Bergson, Pasternak, Bellow, Singer, Canetti, Brodsky, Gordimer, Kertész, Pinter, Modiano, Dylan, Samuelson, Leontief, Friedman, Solow, Becker, Stieglitz, Kaufman, Cassin, Kissinger, Begin, Wiesel, Rabin, Peres …

    Mahler, Mendelssohn, Schoenberg, Bernstein, Glass, Offenbach, Strauss …

    Kafka, Proust, Heine, Zweig, Salinger, Rand, Miller, Heller, Mailer, Roth, Asimov, Auster, Hitchens …

    Disraeli, Goldwater, Blum, Mendes-France, Mandel, Bloomberg, Miliband, Bernanke, Emanuel, Weiner …

    Pissaro, Chagall, Modigliani, Soutine, Rivera, Kahlo, Lichtenstein, Rothko, Freud …

    Marx, Freud, Spinoza, Ricardo, Trotsky, Chomsky, Arendt, Adorno, Jonas, Aron, Cassirer, Derrida, Durkheim, Lévi-Strauss, Fromm, Husserl, Benjamin, Wittgenstein, Jankelevitch, Levinas, Finkielkraut …

    Rothschild, Rockerfeller, Levi Strauss, Zuckerberg, Ellison, Dell, Calvin Klein, Ralf Lauren,  Madoff,  Soros, Ivanka Trump …

    Abraham, Moïse, Salomon, Jésus, Saul de Tarse (alias Paul)  …

    A l’heure où, entre le prix Nobel de Bob Dylan et l’hommage planétaire à Léonard Cohen, la chanson populaire reçoit littéralement ses lettres de noblesse …

    Et où l’ONU comme nos premiers humoristes venus n’ont que les juifs à la bouche …

    Comment ne pas voir …

    Derrière la forêt que cachent ces deux formidables arbres …

    A savoir sans compter notre Jean-Jacques Goldman national contraint devant le trop-plein de célébrité (et d’imposition ?) de s’exiler à Londres …

    La confirmation – sans parler des prix Nobel de science (24% pour moins de 0.2% de la population mondiale) – dans un domaine de plus …

    Du fameux mot du général de Gaulle comme, de nos banlieues aux territoires dits « occupés », de l’intution des nouveaux damnés de la terre …

    Surtout lorsque l’on comprend avec l’éclairant ouvrage de Maristella Botticini et Zvi Eckstein …

    L’avance plus que millénaire suite à la destruction de leur Temple par les Romains et, abandonnant peu à peu l’agriculture, le réinvestissement dans l’étude de la « patrie portable » qu’était devenue leur Torah …

    Qu’ils avaient prise dans l’alphabétisation de leurs enfants et, la surinstruction aidant, dans la spécialisation dans les professions les plus profitables (artisanat, commerce, prêt et médecine) …

    D’où aussi la multimillénaire et souvent meurtrière jalousie que, comme plus tard leurs cousins protestants, ils ont inévitablement suscitée tout au long de leur histoire dans les sociétés où ils avaient le malheur de prospérer… ?

    Comment l’éducation a façonné l’histoire juive
    André Burguière
    Mediapart
    16 mars 2016

    Avec leur remarquable « La poignée d’élus », les historiens Maristella Botticini et Zvi Ekcstein développent avec brio une thèse qui dédramatise la dispersion du peuple juif. Dans le sillage de Marc Bloch, ils montrent que la  religion concerne aussi l’infrastructure des sociétés, pas seulement leur superstructure.

    Une avalanche de livres récents sur l’histoire du peuple juif a mis à mal l’image romantique du juif errant cherchant vainement, à travers le monde, un refuge et un toit loin de la Terre Sainte, après la destruction du Grand Temple de Jérusalem par Titus, le fils de l’Empereur Vespasien. Armés d’une solide connaissance des sources, Maristella Botticini et Zvi Ekcstein développent avec brio une thèse qui finit de dédramatiser la dispersion du peuple juif.

    Au début de l’ère chrétienne, la population juive, présente en Palestine, en Mésopotamie et sur la rive africaine de la Méditerranée compte  prés de 6 millions d’âmes. Cinq siècles plus tard, il n’en reste à peine plus d’un million. La désintégration du monde urbain et la peste justinienne (au VI° et VII° siècles) ont provoqué un fort recul du peuplement dans tout le bassin méditerranéen mais pas au point d’expliquer un tel effondrement. En réalité, l’anéantissement des activistes juifs (les résistants de Massada) par l’intervention romaine, la disparition des zélotes ainsi que des notables religieux qui assuraient le service du Grand Temple, avaient fortifié en Palestine le pouvoir de la seule élite juive épargnée, les Pharisiens, c’est-à-dire les lettrés. Pour faire face au danger que le christianisme et la romanisation faisaient courir à la survie du judaïsme, les Pharisiens imposèrent une nouvelle forme de dévotion. Tout chef de famille, pour rester fidèle à la foi judaïque, se devait d’envoyer ses fils à l’école talmudique, afin de perpétuer et d’approfondir, par un travail cumulatif de commentaire, la connaissance de la Torah. Cette nouvelle obligation religieuse a eu des répercussions socio-économiques considérables. Envoyer ses fils à l’école représentait un investissement coûteux qui n’était pas à la portée de la majorité des juifs, simples paysans comme les autres populations du Moyen-Orient au milieu desquelles ils vivaient. Ceux qui n’en avaient pas les moyens et restèrent paysans, s’éloignèrent du judaïsme. Ils  se convertirent souvent au christianisme.  C’est ce qui explique l’effondrement de la population juive durant l’Antiquité tardive. Ceux qui tenaient au contraire à remplir leurs obligations religieuses, durent choisir des métiers plus rémunérateurs. Ils devinrent commerçants, artisans, médecins et surtout financiers. Les juifs ne se sont pas tournés vers ces métiers urbains parce qu’on leur interdisait l’accès à la terre, comme on l’a dit souvent, mais pour pouvoir gagner plus d’argent et utiliser en même temps leurs compétences de lettrés. Ils étaient capables désormais de tenir des comptes, écrire des ordres de paiement, etc…

    A partir du IX° siècle, la diaspora juive se reconstitue mais avec une répartition géographique différente. Toujours très présente en Mésopotamie et bientôt dans tout le monde musulman, elle commence à s’installer dans l’Europe chrétienne où elle tisse un réseau de plus en plus dense de petites communautés juives qui recouvre le réseau urbain en plein réveil. Les « juiveries » sont de taille modeste car les juifs craignent de se faire concurrence dans ces métiers très spécialisés. En revanche, le grand nombre de ces implantations qui peuvent se mettre en réseau, fait leur force. Dans un espace où la circulation est difficile, risquée, le fait d’avoir des correspondants, à l’autre bout du monde connu, en qui l’on peut avoir pleine confiance parce que la moindre irrégularité commerciale ou financière les exclurait de leur communauté, a donné aux juifs un avantage considérable.

    S’ils s’imposent partout dans le crédit, ce n’est pas parce que l’Eglise interdisait aux chrétiens le prêt à intérêt (en réalité l’islam et le judaïsme lui imposaient des restrictions comme le christianisme), mais parce qu’ils ont à la fois la compétence et le réseau pour assurer le crédit, faire circuler les ordres de paiements et les marchandises précieuses du fond du monde musulman aux confins de la chrétienté. A part quelques cas assez rares d’intolérance religieuse, comme dans l’Espagne wisigothique, les juifs n’ont guère été l’objet de persécutions religieuses avant le XII° siècle. L’historien Berhard Blumenkranz avait daté les premiers pogroms de juifs en Occident (par exemple dans la vallée du Rhin) de la mise en mouvement des premières croisades.

    Mais c’est souvent à la demande des seigneurs ou évêques locaux qu’ils étaient venus s’installer dans les villes chrétiennes, parce qu’on recherchait leur savoir faire pour développer les échanges et l’activité bancaire. Les premières mesures d’expulsion des juifs par des princes chrétiens à la fin du XIII° siècle semblent avoir été guidées par la volonté de mettre la main sur leurs richesses beaucoup plus que par le désir de les convertir.

    Ce sont paradoxalement les mongols, pourtant eux-mêmes assez éclectiques au plan religieux et parfois tentés par le judaïsme, qui ont interrompu ce premier âge d’or de la diaspora juive, à partir du milieu du XIII° siècle, en ravageant le monde musulman. L’effondrement des principales villes a ruiné l’activité des juifs qui animaient les circuits d’échanges économiques et financiers. Ruinés, les juifs sont redevenus paysans et, ne pouvant plus assumer l’investissement scolaire exigé par le rabbinat, ils se sont assez vite islamisés. Cet effondrement a créé un véritable court circuit avec le réseau des implantations juives de l’Europe chrétienne. Il y aura, à l’époque moderne, un nouveau cycle de la diaspora juive qui va même gagner le Nouveau Monde ; mais un cycle au rythme heurté, perturbé par les expulsions, les procès de l’Inquisition et d’autres manifestations de l’intolérance chrétienne, en attendant des horreurs bien pires encore.

    La façon dont Maristella Botticini et Zvi Eckstein ont rebattu les cartes de l’histoire, ô combien singulière, du peuple juif en lui appliquant un modèle inspiré par la réflexion économique, sera peut-être critiquée par certains spécialistes pour son schématisme démonstratif. Mais elle est fascinante. Marc Bloch, voulant critiquer le réductionnisme de certaines interprétations marxistes du rôle de l’Eglise au Moyen-Âge, affirmait que pour comprendre certaines époques, il fallait renoncer  à considérer que la  religion concerne toujours la superstructure et l’économie l’infrastructure. C’est parfois l’inverse. Ce livre nous en fournit une magnifique démonstration.

    C’est pour des raisons religieuses que le judaïsme s’est imposé brusquement un investissement éducatif coûteux qui le singularise parmi les grandes religions du livre. Car ni le Christianisme qui  s’est donné une élite particulière, à l’écart du monde, vouée à la culture écrite, ni l’Islam n’ont imposé à leur peuple de croyants un tel investissement dans l’alphabétisation. Cet investissement a eu l’effet d’une véritable sélection darwinienne.  Il a provoqué une réorientation complète de l’activité économique du monde juif  en même temps  qu’il faisait fondre sa masse démographique. Il a surtout fait fleurir, par le miracle de l’éducation, des aptitudes intellectuelles précieuses qui en ont fait durablement une minorité recherchée et jalousée.

    * Maristella Botticini et Zvi Eckstein, La poignée d’élus. Comment l’éducation a façonné l’histoire juive 70-1492 , Albin Michel, 425 p., 30 euros.

    Voir aussi:

    Pourquoi les Juifs sont-ils plus souvent médecins que paysans ?

    Dans « Une poignée d’élus », deux économistes expliquent les heureuses conséquences de l’apprentissage des textes sacrés par les enfants. Interview.

    Catherine Golliau

    Le Point
    05/04/2016

    Bob Dylan, le juif errant prix Nobel de littérature

    Jonathan Aleksandrowicz

    Actualité juive

    13/10/2016

    Enorme surprise ! Bob Dylan, l’auteur-compositeur-interprète qui a traversé la musique populaire de la seconde moitié du XXè siècle, vient d’être récompensé par le prix Nobel de littérature.

    On attendait le Syrien Adonis, le Japonais Murakami, voire le Norvégien Jon Fosse. Le jury du prix Nobel de littérature a choisi de prendre tout son monde à contrepied pour 2016 en faisant d’un chanteur populaire mais grand poète le récipiendaire de la distinction. Bien sûr, certain regretteront avec justesse que Philip Roth n’ait encore une fois pas été récompensé, mais la retraite du vieux patron des lettres américaines l’a probablement écarté pour toujours des débats tenus secrets durant 50 ans des jurés du Nobel. Quant au très vendeur Murakami, la réputation de « superficialité » de ses textes selon le petit monde du livre remet aux calendes grecques la figuration de son nom au palmarès, même s’il est chaque année le grandissime favori des bookmakers.

    Bob Dylan, donc. Le sale gosse de la folk-music, celui qui donne désormais des concerts où il assure le strict minimum, limitant ses interactions avec le public. Un choix fort pour le jury du Nobel, le désignant « pour avoir créé dans le cadre de la grande tradition de la musique américaine de nouveaux modes d’expression poétique ». Plus que la tradition de la musique américaine, c’est celle des troubadours et trouvères, ces poètes-conteurs-chanteurs du Moyen-Âge que Bob Dylan a d’abord incarné. Né dans le Minnesota en 1941 à deux pas de la route 61 qui inspirera l’un de ses albums les plus emblématiques « Highway 61 revisited », celui qui est d’abord Robert Zimmerman  pour l’état-civil et Shabbtaï à sa circoncision, vient d’une famille juive d’Odessa qui a fui les pogroms du début du XXè siècle. La petite communauté juive locale est dit-on, très unie par les épreuves vécues en Europe de l’Est. Le signe de l’errance, de la fuite. Il en est le porteur, il l’assume à la première occasion en filant à New York à la première occasion, abandonnant ses études à l’université dès la première année.

    Hobboes

    Là-bas, à Greenwich Village, il n’est pas le plus doué de tous les folkeux qui écument le quartier, mais il est le plus assidu. « Avec le temps, la goutte fend les rocs les plus résistants » dit le Talmud. Pour ce faire, il fréquente de longues heures les bibliothèques afin de dénicher les chansons folkloriques les plus anciennes. Les Etats-Unis sortent de peu de la Seconde guerre mondiale et la crise des années 1930 est derrière elle, mais son imaginaire collectif est encore tributaire des Hobboes, ces vagabonds, clochards célestes, que le « Jeudi noir » a mis sur les routes et les rails en quête d’un travail plus à l’ouest. La conquête de l’ouest au XIXe siècle s’est poursuivie avec l’espoir à l’ouest. Les lecteurs de John Steinbeck se souviendront des « Raisins de la colère ». Ces Hobboes, donc, figures mythiques du rêve américain, sans le sou mais les yeux dans les étoiles, affamés mais libres, ont souvent une guitare à la main et la bouche pleine de chansons pour rythmer les nuits de leur infortune. Ils deviennent la source d’inspiration principale de Bob Dylan qui à l’origine chante des reprises. Suivre cette tradition, la dépoussiérer, mais rien n’y ajouter.

    Pourtant, le jeune homme écrit déjà des poèmes, de longs poèmes qu’il met en musique. Ecrite dix minutes dans un café, « Blowin’ in the wind » devient l’une des premières Protest Songs qui portent les luttes d’émancipation aux Etats-Unis. Car Bob Dylan, c’est d’abord la figure de la contre-culture américaine. Avant Woodstock, son Flower Power et son Summer of Love, Bob Dylan est le chantre des Beatniks : un artiste engagé, le « prophète-poète » de cette jeune génération d’après-guerre, chantant même avec sa grande complice de l’époque Joan Baez à la Marche de Washington. Encore cette idée de mouvement, la marche, cette impossibilité de tenir en place qui force à l’errance. Mais « The times they are a changin’ », car il opère dès 1965 un tournant plus rock, que le monde Folk dont il est issu ne lui pardonne pas. Exit la guitare sèche et l’harmonica, « Highway 61 revisited », plus musclé, résonne de guitares électriques, et comporte notamment la célébrissime « Like a rolling stone », élue morceau rock du XXe siècle ! D’une durée de presque sept minutes, Bob Dylan raconte dans ses « Chroniques » qu’elle comportait bien plus de strophes à l’origine. Situation identique pour l’ultra-repris « Knocking on heaven’s door » qui fait partie de la bande-originale du film de Sam Peckinpah « Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid » dans lequel il tient un rôle muet de lanceur de couteaux pas malhabile de ses mains.

    Audace

    Des chansons à rallonge, des poèmes aux strophes sans fin, Bob Dylan pourtant admet lui-même que l’inspiration a tendance à se tarir et qu’il lui faut user de moyens intenses pour la faire jaillir du rocher. Ses « Chroniques » évoquent d’ailleurs avec intensité son errance lorsqu’il dut enregistrer deux albums à Nashville. Une véritable traversée du désert, d’autant que le « poète-prophète » est bientôt surnommé le « poète-profit » à cause d’un style jugé commercial. Qu’importe, encore un contrepied : sa voix usée le pousse à chaque fois à réinterpréter ses chansons et le fan distrait serait bien incapable de reconnaître ses titres préférés lors d’un concert s’il n’est pas capable d’attention. Les strophes qui s’étiraient en longueur se brisent en même temps que sa voix comme si chaque nouvelle scène portait la possibilité d’errer autour d’une chanson comme autour d’un idéal que l’on n’atteint jamais. Détresse à cause d’un horizon de sens toujours fuyant ? Une réponse peut-être, dans la conversion au christianisme évangélique à la fin des années 1970 : le beatnik assagi par la grâce d’une nouvelle naissance ! Les fans sont déçus, les musiciens le raillent ? Lui n’en a cure ! Que les filles et « les garçons ne pleurent pas », parce que même le chant demeure pour lui une aventure personnelle, et la Bible abonde en prophètes qui se mirent le peuple à dos. L’errance ne s’achève pas là, puisqu’il fait son retour au judaïsme. Enfin la terre promise ? Pas sûr, tant pour lui, tout vient à se faner…

    Le choix des jurés du Nobel est donc extrêmement audacieux. C’est une icône populaire qui se trouve récompensée, un chanteur avant que d’être un poète, un homme qui a su sans cesse se poser des questions. On a désormais hâte d’entendre son discours de réception du prix qui sera sans nul doute la curiosité des soirées de remise.

    Voir encore:

    Leonard Cohen et son Dieu
    Dominique Cerbelaud
    La Croix
    22/10/2016

    À l’occasion de la sortie du nouvel album de Leonard Cohen, « You want it darker », le théologien Dominique Cerbelaud évoque la quête spirituelle du chanteur canadien.

    Vendredi 21 octobre 2016, Leonard Cohen, 82 ans, offre un nouvel album à son public, intitulé You want it darker (« Tu voudrais qu’il fasse plus sombre »). C’est l’occasion de revenir sur son œuvre de chanteur, entreprise voici un demi-siècle. C’est à 1967, en effet, que remonte le premier disque du Montréalais, Songs of Leonard Cohen (« Chansons de Leonard Cohen »), qui comportait notamment le titre Suzanne – une chanson qui devait assurer à tout jamais sa notoriété.

    De fait, le public français connaît Cohen surtout comme chanteur (rappelons cependant son œuvre de poète et de romancier), mais il ne garde souvent mémoire que des compositions les plus anciennes, sans guère prêter attention à l’œuvre ultérieure – sinon pour quelques chansons cultes comme Hallelujah ou Closing Time. Ce corpus, qui compte aujourd’hui environ cent cinquante titres, mérite pourtant qu’on s’y arrête : il s’agit, comme on dit si bien, de « chansons à textes », longuement mûries et soigneusement composées, d’une densité et d’une richesse rares. On se propose de le survoler ici sous l’angle des thématiques religieuses, qui représentent à n’en pas douter l’une des grandes préoccupations de Leonard Cohen.

    D’autres thèmes y apparaissent avec insistance, et en tout premier lieu celui de la relation amoureuse, décliné inlassablement : « À cause de ces quelques chansons/dans lesquelles j’évoque leur mystère/ les femmes ont été d’une gentillesse exceptionnelle /envers mon grand âge » (Because of, album Dear Heather). Ainsi parlait le septuagénaire, avec une belle modestie : en réalité, c’est dans bon nombre de textes qu’il célèbre le mystère de la femme, sous toutes ses figures et dans tous ses états. Et les femmes, de toute évidence, lui en savent gré.

    Qu’elle soit nommée (depuis les mythiques Suzanne, Nancy et Marianne jusqu’aux plus récentes Heather et Alexandra), ou que, le plus souvent, elle reste anonyme, la femme est en effet omniprésente du début à la fin du corpus cohénien.

    Le personnage biblique de David, dont le nom en hébreu signifie « bien-aimé », pourrait représenter à cet égard le « modèle » de Leonard. La tradition attribue à ce roi poète et musicien tout l’ensemble du livre des Psaumes. Mais le texte biblique nous fait connaître aussi le nom d’un certain nombre de femmes de ce grand polygame : Ahinoam, Abigayil, Mikal, Égla, Avital, Bethsabée, Abishag… Laissons aux biographes le soin de faire la liste de celles qu’a pu connaître le Canadien errant… si tant est que cela ait de l’importance dans son parcours de créateur.

    Des allusions très précises à la tradition juive

    Et nous voilà déjà dans le texte biblique !

    De fait, les compositions de Cohen regorgent d’allusions scripturaires, qui témoignent d’une fréquentation assidue du Livre saint : on y retrouve bien des personnages (Adam, Samson, David ou Isaac), des épisodes (notamment ceux du Déluge ou de la sortie d’Égypte), des réminiscences de tel ou tel prophète voire, justement, de tel ou tel psaume. Ainsi, la chanson By the Rivers Dark (album Ten New Songs) propose une relecture hardie du ps.136-137 : « Vers les sombres fleuves j’allais, errant / j’ai passé ma vie à Babylone / et j’ai oublié mon saint cantique / je n’avais pas de force à Babylone ».

    Mais il y a plus : sans jamais s’y attarder, Cohen distille à l’occasion des allusions très précises à la tradition juive, tant liturgique que mystique –et notamment à la kabbale. On trouve par exemple des allusions au thème de la « brisure des vases » dans la chanson Anthem (album The Future) : « il y a une fissure, une fissure en toute chose / c’est comme ça que la lumière pénètre »…

    Parmi les figures juives du passé, il en est une qui ne laisse pas tranquille le juif Leonard Cohen : c’est celle de Jésus. L’homme de Nazareth apparaît avec une fréquence étonnante dans le corpus des chansons (j’en relève pour ma part une douzaine d’occurrences, explicites ou non). « Jésus pris au sérieux par beaucoup, Jésus pris à la blague par quelques-uns » (Jazz Police, album I’m Your Man) : et par toi-même, Leonard ? Cela reste quelque peu indécidable. S’il avoue ne rien comprendre au Sermon sur la montagne (Democracy, album The Future), et évoque « le Christ qui n’est pas ressuscité / hors des cavernes du cœur » (The Land of Plenty, album Ten New Songs), notre auteur, à propos de Jésus, se parle ainsi à lui-même : « tu veux voyager avec lui / tu veux voyager en aveugle / et tu penses pouvoir lui faire confiance / car il a touché ton corps parfait avec son esprit » (Suzanne, album Songs of Leonard Cohen). Et comment comprendre cette double injonction : « Montre-moi l’endroit où le Verbe s’est fait homme / montre-moi l’endroit où la souffrance a commencé » (Show me the Place, album Old Ideas) ? Il y a là un singulier mélange de dérision et de fascination.

    Curieusement, les figures de la sainteté chrétienne suscitent chez lui une sympathie plus immédiate : celles de la vierge Marie –si c’est bien elle qu’il faut reconnaître dans Notre-Dame de la solitude (Our Lady of Solitude, album Recent Songs) ; de François d’Assise (Death of a Ladies’ Man, dans l’album homonyme) ; de Bernadette de Lourdes (Song of Bernadette, chantée par Jennifer Warnes dans son album Famous Blue Raincoat) ; et surtout de Jeanne d’Arc (Last Year’s Man et Joan of Arc, toutes deux dans l’album Songs of Love and Hate). C’est le lieu de rappeler que le jeune Leonard Cohen a acquis, à Montréal, une bonne culture chrétienne. Certains aspects de la piété catholique, comme le culte du Sacré-Cœur ou les visions de sœur Faustine, continuent d’ailleurs à le toucher.

    Ajoutons que depuis de longues années, l’auteur-compositeur s’intéresse au bouddhisme zen, et qu’il a effectué à ce titre de longs séjours au monastère de Mount Baldy, près de Los Angeles. Cependant, les thèmes religieux extrême-orientaux n’apparaissent guère dans le corpus des chansons, sinon à l’état de traces…

    Un ton élégiaque

    Mais au-delà de ces contenus, il faut tenter d’évoquer le ton, ou plutôt les tons dont il use pour les décliner.

    Nous avons déjà rencontré la modulation élégiaque : c’est celle de la célébration de l’amour, toujours recommencée. Des paysages s’ébauchent ici, ou plutôt des évocations, où l’on trouve bon nombre de clairs de lune, de cloches qui carillonnent et de chants d’oiseaux. Sans oublier le fleuve, souvent présent chez ce natif de Montréal…

    Nous avons également capté au passage les accents mystiques.

    Rappelons à cet égard que l’emblème juif le plus communément répandu s’appelle « sceau de Salomon » ou « bouclier de David ». Il se constitue de deux triangles entrelacés qui dessinent une étoile à six branches. C’est celui qui figure par exemple sur le drapeau de l’État d’Israël.

    Or Leonard s’est confectionné, au fil du temps, son propre « sceau » à partir non pas de deux triangles, mais de deux cœurs.

    Comment interpréter un tel logo ? On peut voir dans l’assemblage de ces deux cœurs l’union du masculin et du féminin, une sorte de yin-yang judaïsé.

    Mais on peut aussi en proposer une autre lecture car ce dessin est apparu pour la première fois sur la couverture de la deuxième édition du Book of Mercy (Livre de la Miséricorde), le recueil de prières juives composé par Leonard. Aujourd’hui enrichi et compliqué d’éléments adventices, il s’accompagne parfois de la légende « Order of the Unified Heart », ce qui renvoie clairement à l’univers religieux. Dès lors, les deux cœurs ne représentent-ils pas celui de l’homme… et celui de Dieu ? Cet Ordre religieux d’un nouveau genre, Leonard en est d’ores et déjà le grand prêtre : n’est-ce pas la fonction primordiale du prêtre d’assurer ainsi la double médiation, de la terre vers le ciel et du ciel vers la terre ? Or « prêtre » se dit en hébreu… « cohen ».

    Il faut citer à ce propos la superbe chanson qui s’adresse ainsi à l’Être divin : « Que ta miséricorde se déverse / sur tous ces cœurs qui brûlent en enfer / si c’est ta volonté / de nous faire du bien » (If it Be Your Will, album Various Positions).

    Ici s’unissent bel et bien le cœur de l’homme (il s’agit d’une prière d’intercession) et celui de Dieu (prêt à répandre sa tendresse sur l’humanité).

    Or selon un adage de la tradition juive : « la porte de la prière est parfois fermée, mais la porte de la miséricorde reste toujours ouverte ».

    Une compassion intense envers les souffrants

    Leonard a compris cette leçon. Et s’il n’adopte le ton de la prière que de manière exceptionnelle (par exemple dans Born in Chains et You Got Me Singing, deux chansons de l’album Popular Problems), il témoigne fréquemment d’une véritable compassion envers tous ceux qui crient : « de grâce, ne passez pas indifférents » (Please, Don’t Pass me by, album Live Songs), qu’il s’agisse de l’enfant encore à naître, de l’exclu, du handicapé, bref de tous les « pauvres » au sens biblique du terme. « Et je chante ceci pour le capitaine / dont le navire n’a pas été bâti / pour la maman bouleversée / devant son berceau toujours vide / pour le cœur sans compagnon / pour l’âme privée de roi / pour la danseuse étoile / qui n’a plus aucune raison de danser » (Heart With no Companion, album Various Positions).

    Du reste, au-delà de toutes les formes religieuses, il convient de souligner que plusieurs textes de notre Juif errant évoquent la rencontre de Dieu. Ces expériences mystiques, que l’auteur suggère avec discrétion, peuvent avoir pour cadre une église (Ain’t no Cure for Love, album I’m Your Man), mais aussi une simple chambre (Love Itself, album Ten New Songs), voire un lieu indéterminé (Almost Like the Blues, album Popular Problems). Pudeur cohénienne, mais aussi sans doute réticence juive à mettre un nom sur le « Sans-Nom ». « J’entends une voix qui m’évoque celle de Dieu », dit-il (Closing Time, album The Future) : n’est-ce pas elle qu’il faut reconnaître dans Going Home (album Old Ideas) : « J’aime parler avec Leonard… » ? Mais ce dialogue d’amour entre Leonard et son Dieu restera secret.

    Chéri par les femmes, le David biblique apparaît également comme l’élu de Dieu, lequel déclare : « J’ai trouvé David, un homme selon mon cœur » (Actes des apôtres, 13, 22). Et notre barde de Montréal, comme en écho : « J’ai appris qu’il y avait un accord secret / que David jouait pour plaire au Seigneur » (Hallelujah, album Various Positions).

    Mystique et critique

    Outre les deux tonalités que l’on vient d’évoquer, la lyrique et la mystique, il existe un troisième registre, non moins prégnant chez Leonard : c’est celui du constat désabusé, parfois même désespéré pour ne pas dire nihiliste. Donnons-en quelques échantillons : « Les pauvres restent pauvres et les riches s’enrichissent / c’est comme ça que ça se passe / tout le monde le sait » (Everybody Knows, album I’m Your Man) ; « De parcourir le journal / ça donne envie de pleurer / tout le monde s’en fiche que les gens / vivent ou meurent » (In my Secret Life, album Ten New Songs) ; « Je n’ai pas d’avenir / je sais que mes jours sont comptés / le présent n’est pas si agréable / juste pas mal de choses à faire / je pensais que le passé allait me durer / mais la noirceur s’y est mise aussi » (The Darkness, album Old Ideas) ; « J’ai vu des gens qui mouraient de faim / il y avait des meurtres, il y avait des viols / leurs villages étaient en feu / ils essayaient de s’enfuir » (Almost Like the Blues, album Popular Problems).

    Et rien n’échappe à cet acide corrosif, pas même l’amour des femmes. Nous voilà loin de la célébration de l’éros, comme si l’on était passé du Cantique des Cantiques… au livre de Qohélet : « Vanité des vanités, dit Qohélet ; vanité des vanités, tout est vanité » (Qohélet, 1, 2).

    Mais justement, ces deux textes bibliques se présentent comme écrits par le même Salomon, ce qui ne manquera pas de rendre perplexes les commentateurs : comment le fils de David a-t-il pu composer deux ouvrages d’esprit aussi diamétralement opposé ? Les rabbins ont imaginé une réponse : c’est le jeune Salomon, amoureux et optimiste, qui a écrit le Cantique ; devenu vieux, blasé et pessimiste, il a composé le livre de Qohélet. Mais tout cela relève du même genre littéraire : la littérature de sagesse.

    Somme toute, il en va de même pour Leonard, qui déploie à son tour les différents aspects d’une moderne sagesse. Du reste, mystique et critique peuvent chez lui aller de pair : « Tu m’as fait chanter / quand bien même tout allait de travers / tu m’as fait chanter / la chanson ‘Alléluia’ » (You Got me Singing, ibid.)…

    Qu’il me soit permis de citer pour finir un souvenir personnel. Lors de ma première rencontre avec Leonard (une après-midi entière dans le jardin d’un hôtel particulier parisien), je lui ai posé la question : « Leonard, tu es juif ; tu es en train de parler avec un prêtre catholique ; on sait que tu t’intéresses beaucoup au bouddhisme : comment tout cela tient-il ensemble ? »

    Réponse : « Oui, je suis juif, et cela a beaucoup d’importance pour moi ; j’ai des amis catholiques, et j’ai grand plaisir à parler avec eux ; je fais des séjours au monastère de Mount Baldy. Mais tu vois, pour moi, tout cela ce sont des chemins. Ce qui importe, c’est le but. La seule chose qui m’intéresse, c’est Dieu »…

    Y a-t-il beaucoup de célébrités, dans le monde du show-biz, qui pourraient dire en toute vérité : « La seule chose qui m’intéresse, c’est Dieu » ?

    Voir enfin:

    Leonard Cohen, mort d’un artiste légendaire

    Le poète et chanteur canadien Leonard Cohen s’est éteint à l’âge de 82 ans, a annoncé son entourage ce 10 novembre. Amoureux des mots, monstre sacré de la musique, il laisse derrière lui une carrière de plus de cinquante ans de succès qui ont traversé les générations. « Tu nous manqueras », a dit le Premier ministre canadien Justin Trudeau, dans un vibrant hommage au musicien disparu.

    Leonard Cohen est mort, a annoncé son entourage ce 10 novembre 2016, quelques jours après la sortie de son dernier album You want it darker, hanté par la mort. L’homme, au visage d’acteur qui ne se défaisait que rarement de son chapeau et de sa guitare ou de son harmonica, avait 82 ans.

    Né à Montréal le 21 septembre 1934, Leonard Cohen se met à la guitare dès l’adolescence et forme, quelques années plus tard le groupe de country music Buckskin Boys. Etudiant à l’université de Montréal, le musicien, qui est aussi homme de lettres, publie ses premiers poèmes dans une revue étudiante. Il n’a que 18 ans quand est édité un recueil de ses poésies. Le nom de Leonard Cohen commence à se répandre.

    Le jeune homme ne cache pas son amour pour les romanciers français comme Camus et Sartre, pour le poète espagnol Federico Garcia Lorca, l’Irlandais William Butler Yeats, et pour la Bible, « les poésies de la Bible », confiait-il.

    Leonard Cohen s’envole pour Londres à la fin des années 1960 puis décide de s’installer sur une île grecque, Hydra, lieu propice à l’inspiration, en 1960. Là-bas, il acquiert une maison qu’il gardera quarante ans et continue d’écrire des poèmes et des romans. En 1966, à la publication de Beautiful Losers même si le nombre de ventes n’est pas énorme, le Boston Globe déclare que « James Joyce n’est pas mort. Il vit sous le nom de Leonard Cohen ».

    « Suzanne »

    Puis Leonard Cohen se lance dans la chanson. Il côtoie Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, etc. C’est grâce au titre très minimaliste « Suzanne », l’ex-épouse d’un de ses amis, qu’il parvient à fouler les planches de la scène musicale en 1967, aux Etats-Unis où il s’est installé. La même année il sort son premier album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, salué par la critique européenne.

    Mais il faut attendre Songs from a Room (1969), pour que la future star planétaire soit reconnue, avec, entre autres, les titres « Bird on the Wire », « Story of Isaac » et « The Partisan ». Leonard Cohen va ensuite composer plus d’une dizaine d’albums, et sortir de nombreux live. Son très spirituel et mystique (et planétairement connu) « Hallelujah » sort en 1984 sur l’album Various Positions. Le changement de ton apparaît, ainsi que les synthétiseurs, en 1988 sur I’m Your Man. Pour ses 80 printemps sort Popular Problems, un album empreint de blues encensé par la critique internationale. Le charme inconditionnel de Leonard Cohen opère, encore et toujours.

    Durant toute sa carrière d’écrivain, de musicien, de compositeur, Leonard Cohen n’aura presque écrit et chanté que les mêmes thèmes. L’amour et la passion bien sûr et l’espoir, mais aussi religion, la rédemption, la sexualité, la drogue, l’imperfection de la condition humaine et la solitude, un sujet dont il ne se défait que rarement, lui qui avouait être chroniquement en dépression.

    Un homme mystique et charismatique

    Leonard Cohen a grandi au sein d’une famille juive d’ascendance polonaise. Son grand-père était rabbin et son père, décédé alors qu’il n’a que 9 ans, a été le créateur du journal The Jewish Times. « Monsieur Cohen est un juif observant qui respecte le shabbat même lorsqu’il est en tournée », écrit le New York Times en 2009.

    Parallèlement à sa judéité, Leonard Cohen se retire de la vie publique durant près de cinq ans (1994-1999) dans un monastère bouddhiste près de Los Angeles, en plein désert californien. Certains se demandent alors comment il peut être à la fois juif pratiquant et bouddhiste. « Pour commencer, dans la tradition du Zen que j’ai pratiquée, il n’y a pas de service de prière et il n’y a pas d’affirmation de déité. Donc, théologiquement, il n’y a pas d’opposition aux croyances juives », racontera l’artiste.

    En 1996, Leonard Cohen est ordonné moine zen, il porte le nom de Jikan, « le silencieux ». Il faudra attendre 2001 pour retrouver le chanteur et poète, avec le sublime Ten New Songs, coécrit avec Sharon Robinson. Le compositeur, toujours très énigmatique, avoue devoir prendre son temps pour écrire, il est en quête perpétuelle de réflexion… et de perfection.

    Pour sa carrière multiforme, Leonard Cohen se voit décerner de nombreuses récompenses, dont celle en 2003 de compagnon de l’Ordre du Canada, de membre du Panthéon des auteurs et compositeurs canadiens en 2006, membre du Rock and Roll Hall of Fame en 2008.

    Des centaines de reprises et une influence sur de nombreuses générations

    Parce que Leonard Cohen est un homme « à part » dans la chanson, allant de la musique folk à la pop en passant par le blues et l’électro, il n’a eu de cesse d’inspirer de nombreux artistes qui ont aussi repris, et parfois traduit, ses propres chansons.

    Plus de 1 500 titres du poète chanteur ont été repris. Il en va ainsi de dizaines d’artistes de renommée mondiale, dont Nina Simone, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, Peter Gabriel, Alain Bashung, Graeme Allwright, Suzanne Vega, sans oublier la version bouleversante d’ « Hallelujah » par Jeff Buckley.

    Leonard Cohen a de son côté très rarement repris des titres dont il n’était pas l’auteur. Parmi eux, sa réinterprétation de « La complainte du partisan » (dont la musique est signée Anna Marly, coautrice avec Maurice Druon et Joseph Kessel du « Chant des partisans »). « The Partisan », sera aussi repris à son tour par Noir Désir.

    Le 29 juillet 2016, Marianne Ihlen, la muse norvégienne de Leonard Cohen pour qui il compose « So, long, Marianne » disparaît à l’âge de 81 ans. Leonard Cohen, deux jours avant la mort de « la plus belle femme qu’il ait jamais connue », lui écrit une lettre. « Eh bien, Marianne, voici venu le temps où nous sommes vraiment si vieux que nos corps partent en morceaux, et je crois que je vais te suivre très bientôt. Sache que je suis si près derrière toi qu’en tendant ta main, tu peux toucher la mienne (…) Je veux seulement te souhaiter un très bon voyage. Adieu, ma vieille amie. Mon amour éternel, nous nous reverrons. » So long, Leonard Cohen.

    Voir par ailleurs:

    The Chosen Few
    Has an emphasis on education been bad for the Jewish population?
    Steven Weiss
    Slate
    Nov. 9 2012

    Jews, as a whole, have done very well for themselves in the West since World War II: Besides the aforementioned Nobel prizes, American Jews, according to one of the largest studies, are nearly twice as likely to have a college degree as the average American and more than four times as likely to have a graduate degree. This translates into a serious economic advantage: American Jews are roughly 33 percent more likely to be employed in a high-status job category, and Jewish households here report around 25 percent higher income than the average American household.

    While examining such a phenomenon would have been unthinkable a few decades ago—when Jews generally tended to be more frightened of raising the kinds of topics anti-Semites like to talk about—the past decade or so has seen a wellspring of effort devoted to tackling what’s variously described as Jewish « literacy, » « superiority, » or any number of other things, including « chosenness. »

    The core theory usually derives from a mix of two themes that stand out in Jewish history: an emphasis on education and a tendency to be persecuted. For the former, the rabbis of the Talmud and thereafter were fierce advocates of universal primary education, with the best-known example being a Jewish boy indicating his achievement of Jewish adulthood by reading publicly from the Torah at a bar mitzvah. (Universal primary education was boys-only until at least the late 19th century.) In regard to persecution, a common notion is that Jews weren’t allowed to own land throughout much of their history in exile and thus were forced to invest in a form of personal capital that could be of value across geographies. There are other theories, too, some even including a notion of simple genetic superiority, by way of an idea that Jewish communities modified natural selection through upholding scholars as examples of the proper way to be, providing them the choicest wives and expecting them to have many children.

    The problem with so many of the theories thus far expounded is that they have gaping holes in logic or evidence so large that let’s just say they’d never make it into the Talmud. By far the largest fault with them is the reality that many of these arguments rely on an idea of the Jewish past that we don’t have any good reason to think is true; just because the rabbis desired it doesn’t mean it was necessarily so. And our overall received notions of a Jewish community that was fiercely observant and often Orthodox also have little evidence to back them up. (And, as Alana Newhouse revealed a couple of years ago, even the images we have of a fiercely pious Jewish shtetl have been largely manipulated.)

    Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein started jawing over the issue of the Jews’ economic history in the Boston University cafeteria 12 years ago, and the resulting research, conferences, and communication since has produced the first of a two-volume work, The Chosen Few, that tackles these issues in a way no one has before, taking an interdisciplinary approach to this basic question.

    By combining a very thorough look at the historical record with new economic and demographic analyses, the authors summarily dismiss a great many of the underlying assumptions that have produced theories around Jewish literacy in the past. Where many tied the Jewish move into professional trades to the European era when Jews were persecuted, Botticini and Eckstein bring forward evidence that the move away from the unlettered world of premodern agriculture actually happened a thousand years earlier, when Jews were largely free to pursue the profession of their choice. And where so many have simply taken as a given universal literacy among Jews, the economists find that a majority of Jews actually weren’t willing to invest in Jewish education, with the shocking result that more than two-thirds of the Jewish community disappeared toward the end of the first millennium.

    Botticini and Eckstein pore over the Talmud and notice the simple fact that it’s overwhelmingly concerned with agriculture, which, in conjunction with archaeological evidence from the first and second century, paints a picture of a Jewish past where literacy was the privilege of an elite few. But these rabbis were also touting a vision of a future Judaism quite different from that which had been at least symbolically dominant for much of Jewish history to that point. Where a focus on the Temple in Jerusalem, with ritual sacrifices and the agricultural economy they required being the standard to that point, these rabbis—broadly speaking, the Pharisees—sought to emphasize Torah reading, prayer, and synagogue. When the sect of Judaism that emphasized the Temple—broadly, the Sadducees—was essentially wiped out by the Romans shortly after the time of Jesus, the Pharisaic leaders, in the form of the sages of the Talmud, were given a mostly free hand to reshape Judaism in their own image. Over the next several hundred years, they and their ideological descendants codified the Talmud and declared a need for universal Jewish education as they did so.

    All of this history is widely known and understood, but what Botticini and Eckstein do differently is trace this development alongside the size of the Jewish population and their occupational distribution. The Jewish global population shrunk from at least 5 million to as little as 1 million between the year 70 and 650. It’s not surprising that a conquered people, stifled rebellions, and loss of home would lead to population shrinkage, but Botticini and Eckstein argue that « War-related massacres and the general decline in the population accounted for about half of this loss. » Where did the remaining 2 million out of 3 million surviving Jews go? According to them, over multiple generations they simply stopped being Jewish: With the notion of Jewish identity now tied directly to literacy by the surviving Pharisaic rabbis of the Talmud, raising one’s children as Jews required a substantial investment in Jewish education. To be able to justify that investment, one had to be either or both an especially devoted Jew or someone hoping to find a profession for his children where literacy was an advantage, like trade, crafts, and money lending. For those not especially devoted and having little hope of seeing their children derive economic benefit from a Jewish education, the option to simply leave the Jewish community, the economists argue, was more enticing than the option to remain as its unlettered masses. Two-thirds of the surviving Jewish population, they assert, took that route.

    This distinct twist of the population story, which accompanies research showing a shift from nearly 90 percent of the Jewish population engaging in agriculture to nearly 90 percent engaging in professional trades over that same several hundred years, addresses a key problem of previous theories of Jewish literacy: determining what happened to those who wouldn’t be scholars.

    Botticini and Eckstein bring other evidence of Jewish tradition generating success in trade. An extrajudicial system of rabbinical courts for settling disputes allowed for the development of the kind of trust required for commercial enterprises to grow. A universal language of Hebrew eased international negotiations. And in a devastating critique of the theory that persecution actually pushed this economic shift along, the economists examine the societies in which Jews originally developed this bias toward trades and find Jews faced no particular discrimination that would have made them less successful in agriculture. In fact, they show, Jews were often discriminated against precisely because of their emphasis on trade, such as in their expulsion from England in 1290, which only came after they were repeatedly told to give up the profession of money lending (eventually echoed in Ulysses S. Grant’s order to expel the Jews from the territory under his command during the Civil War).

    And so the Jewish people have grown into a people of two intertwined legacies: a culture in which the Jewishly literate continue to pass the torch and one in which an emphasis on trades was necessary to continue to do so for all but the most fervently devoted. When a given family stopped being devoted or wealthy enough, it simply faded away.

    The astonishing theory presented here has great implications for both the Jewish community and the broader world today. For an American Jewish community in which more than 75 percent of day school students are now Orthodox and the top concern for most Orthodox families in repeated surveys is finding a way to pay for ever-increasing tuition costs, the price of admission to the highly affiliated Jewish community is not just a large amount of ritual observance but also a basic need to join the 1 percent—or nearly so. Frequently, one can hear Orthodox Jews joke that $250,000 a year is « minimum wage » for the community; certainly, this overstates things but only by so much. In the New York area, elementary school often carries a price tag of $15,000-$25,000 in post-tax dollars per year; at the high-school level, some tuition rates are well into the $30,000 range. Outside of the New York area, tuition is generally lower, but so is the average income. And as Botticini and Eckstein predicted for their medieval models, modern American Jews who are fiercely devoted but without high incomes will endure significant financial sacrifice to maintain their Jewish lifestyles: The ultra-Orthodox enclave of Kiryas Joel, N.Y., is the poorest city in the country, and ultra-Orthodox communities broadly are frequently both poor and heavy recipients of government assistance.

    And for most of the 80 to 90 percent of families representing the non-Orthodox portion of the Jewish community in America, the cost of Jewish education has simply meant great numbers growing up without the ability to read Hebrew or engage with the Bible and other Jewish texts.

    Here we see precisely the same dichotomy that Eckstein and Botticini saw in the early years of post-Temple rabbinic Judaism: The especially devoted and wealthy provide their children with a Jewish education, but many others see too high a price in either or both of time and money and so choose a different path.

    And yet, so many of today’s unlettered Jews have been able to retain at least some sense of Jewish identity, where their predecessors 1,500 years ago could not. A majority of American Jews today are unaffiliated with the synagogues the Pharisaic rabbis emphasized, and yet 79 percent report feeling « very positive » about being Jewish. In part, Botticini and Eckstein would likely argue, that’s because of America’s unique tolerance of Jews, which removes the economic disincentive of maintaining an identity as a Jewish minority even when one doesn’t have a very strong connection to Judaism.

    At the same time, today’s unaffiliated Jews no longer face an economic disadvantage relative to those attending Jewish schools: The aim for universal literacy in America broadly, and increasingly in all corners of the world, has led to the same kinds of professional opportunities for many people in the way that Jews used to have largely to themselves. Or, as Eckstein put it in an interview with me, « Almost everybody has become Jewish, because almost everybody is literate. »

    Voir aussi:

    Maristella Botticini

    April 18, 2013

    A note from Paul Solman: Nine years ago, someone sent me an academic paper that put forward a radically new explanation of why Jews have been so successful economically. Written by economists Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein, the paper explained Jewish success in terms of early literacy in the wake of Rome’s destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. and the subsequent dispersion of Jews throughout the Roman empire – Jews who had to rely on their own rabbis and synagogues to sustain their religion instead of the high priests in Jerusalem.

    You may know a similar story about the Protestant Reformation: the bypassing of the Catholic clergy and their Latin liturgy for actual reading of Scripture in native languages and the eventual material benefits of doing so. Why is Northern Europe — Germany, Holland, England, Sweden — so much more prosperous than Southern Europe: Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain? Why do the latter owe the former instead of the other way around? Might it have something to do with the Protestant legacy of the North, the Catholic legacy of the South?

    Botticini and Eckstein have spent their careers studying not Christianity, but Judaism. And they have now come out with a book elaborating on their novel thesis: “The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492,” published by the Princeton University Press.


    Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein: Imagine a dinner conversation in a New York or Milan or Tel Aviv restaurant in which three people–an Israeli, an American, and a European — ask to each other: “Why are so many Jews urban dwellers rather than farmers? Why are Jews primarily engaged in trade, commerce,
    entrepreneurial activities, finance, law, medicine, and scholarship? And why have the Jewish people experienced one of the longest and most scattered diasporas in history, along with a steep demographic decline?”


    Most likely, the standard answers they would suggest would be along these lines: “The Jews are not farmers because their ancestors were prohibited from owning land in the Middle Ages.” “They became moneylenders, bankers, and financiers because during the medieval period Christians were banned from lending money at interest, so the Jews filled in that role.” “The Jewish population dispersed worldwide and declined in numbers as a result of endless massacres.”

    Imagine now that two economists (us) seated at a nearby table, after listening to this conversation, tell the three people who are having this lively debate: “Are you sure that your explanations are correct? You should read this new book, ours, “The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History,” and you would learn that when one looks over the 15 centuries spanning from 70 C.E. to 1492, these oft-given answers that you are suggesting seem at odds with the historical facts. This book provides you with a novel explanation of why the Jews are the people they are today — a comparatively small population of economically successful and intellectually prominent individuals.”

    Suppose you are like one of the three people in the story above and you wonder why you should follow the advice of the two economists. There are many books that have studied the history of the Jewish people and have addressed those fascinating questions. What’s really special about this one?

    To understand the spirit of the study we’ve undertaken, one should borrow two tools: a magnifying glass and a telescope. With the magnifying glass, the reader will be like a historian, who focuses on a place and a time period, painstakingly digs through the sources, and carefully documenting the historical trajectory of the Jews there. A thousand such scholars will offer a detailed description of the history of the Jews in hundreds of locales throughout history.

    But with the telescope, the reader will be like an economist, who assembles and painstakingly compares the information offered by the works of the historians, creates a complete picture of the economic and demographic history of the Jewish people over 15 centuries, and then uses the powerful tools of economic reasoning and logic to address one of the most fundamental questions in Jewish history:

    Why are the Jews, a relatively small population, specialized in the most skilled and economically profitable occupations?

    In doing so, the “alliance” of the historians and the economists offers a completely novel interpretation of the historical trajectory of the Jews from 70 to 1492. In turn, this may help us understand several features of the history of the Jewish people from 1500 up to today, including the successful performance of the Israeli economy despite the recent economic crisis.

    The journey of “The Chosen Few” begins in Jerusalem, following the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70, continues in the Galilee during the first and second centuries, moves to Babylon in Mesopotamia during the fourth and fifth centuries, and then to Baghdad in the second half of the first millennium when the Muslim Abbasid empire reaches its economic and intellectual apex.

    At the turn of the millennium, the historical voyage reaches Cairo, Constantinople, and Cordoba, and soon after the whole of western and southern Europe, then turns back to Baghdad in the 1250s during the Mongol conquest of the Middle East before ending in Seville in 1492.

    During these 15 centuries, a profound transformation of Judaism coupled with three
    historic encounters of the Jews — with Rome, with Islam, and with the Mongol Conquest — shaped the economic and demographic history of the Jewish people in a unique and long-lasting way up to today.

    Let’s first start describing the profound transformation of Judaism at the beginning of the first millennium, which has been amply documented by scholarly works. In the centuries before 70, the core of Judaism was centered around two pillars: the Temple in Jerusalem, in which sacrifices were performed by a small elite of high priests, and the reading and the study of the Written Torah, which was also restricted to a small elite of rabbis and scholars. (It was the power of this elite that the Jew Yeshua ben Josef, later know as Jesus Christ, so often decried.)

    The destruction of the Temple in 70 at the end of the first Jewish-Roman war was the first of the three external events which permanently shaped the history of the Jewish people. Momentously, it canceled one of the two pillars of Judaism, shifting the religious leadership within the Jewish community from the high priests in Jerusalem to a much more widely dispersed community of rabbis and scholars. In so doing, it transformed Judaism into a religion whose main norm required every Jewish man to read and to study the Torah in Hebrew himself and, even more radically, to send his sons from the age of six or seven to primary school or synagogue to learn to do the same.

    In the world of universal illiteracy, as it was the world at the beginning of the first millennium, this was an absolutely revolutionary transformation. At that time, no other religion had a similar norm as a membership requirement for its followers, and no state or empire had anything like laws imposing compulsory education or universal literacy for its citizens. The unexpected consequences of this change in the religious norm within Judaism would unfold in the subsequent centuries.

    To understand what happened to the Jewish people in the eight centuries after 70, “The Chosen Few” asks the reader to travel back in time to a village in the Galilee around the year 200. What would the reader see?

    They would see Jewish farmers, some rich, some poor who have to decide whether to send their children to primary school as their rabbis tell them to do. Some farmers are very attached to Judaism and willing to obey the norms of their religion, others are not very devout and consider whether or not to convert to another religion. In this rural economy, educating the children as Judaism requires is a cost, but brings no economic benefits because literacy does not make a
    farmer more productive or wealthier.

    Given this situation, what would economic logic predict? What would likely happen to Judaism and the Jewish people? Given a high preference for religious affiliation, some Jews will educate their children and will keep their attachment to their religion. Other Jews, however, will prefer their material well-being and will not educate their children. Furthermore, a portion of this latter group will likely convert to other religions with less demanding requirements. And so, over time, even absent wars or other demographic shocks, the size of the Jewish population will shrink because of this process of conversions.

    But are the predictions of the economic theory consistent with what really happened to the Jews during the first millennium? The historical evidence assembled in our book says yes. The implementation of this new religious norm within Judaism during the Talmud era (third to sixth centuries) determined two major patterns from 70 C.E. to the early 7th century.

    The first of these trends was the growth and spread of literacy among the predominantly rural Jewish population. The second: a slow but significant process of conversion out of Judaism (mainly into Christianity) which, caused a significant fall in the Jewish population — from 5 to 5.5 million circa 65 to roughly 1.2 million circa 650. War-related massacres and epidemics contributed to this drastic drop, but they cannot by themselves explain it.

    At the beginning of the 7th century, the Jews experienced their second major historic
    encounter — this time with Islam. In the two centuries after the death of Mohammed, in 632, the Muslim Umayyad and, later, Abbasid caliphs, established a vast empire stretching from the Iberian Peninsula to India and China, with a common language (Arabic), religion (Islam), laws, and institutions. Concomitant with the ascent of this empire, agricultural productivity grew, new industries developed, commerce greatly expanded, and new cities and towns developed. These changes vastly increased the demand for skilled and literate occupations in the newly established urban empire.

    How did this affect world Jewry? Between 750 and 900, almost all the Jews in Mesopotamia and Persia — nearly 75 percent of the world’s remaining 1.2 million Jews — left agriculture, moved to the cities and towns of the newly established Abbasid Empire, and entered myriad skilled occupations that provided higher earnings than as farmers. Agriculture, the typical occupation of the Jewish people in the days of Josephus in the first century, was no longer their typical occupation seven to eight centuries later.

    This occupational transition occurred at a time in which there were no legal restrictions on Jewish land ownership. The Jews could and did own land in the many locations of the vast Abbasid Muslim Empire. And yet, Jews moved away from farming. This is of vital importance.

    Modern explanations of why the Jews became a population of craftsmen, traders, shopkeepers, bankers, scholars, and physicians have relied on supposed economic or legal restrictions. But these do not pass the test of the historical evidence.

    This is one of our main and novel messages: mass Jewish literacy was key. It enabled Jews — incentivized Jews — to abandon agriculture as their main occupation and profitably migrate to Yemen, Syria, Egypt, and the Maghreb.

    The tide of migrations of Jews in search of business opportunities also reached Christian Europe. Migrations of Jews within and from the lands of the Byzantine Empire, which included southern Italy, may have set the foundations, via Italy, for much of European Jewry. Similarly, Jews from Egypt and the Maghreb settled in the Iberian Peninsula, and later, in Sicily and parts of southern Italy.

    The key message of “The Chosen Few” is that the literacy of the Jewish people, coupled with a set of contract-enforcement institutions developed during the five centuries after the destruction of the Second Temple, gave the Jews a comparative advantage in occupations such as crafts, trade, and moneylending — occupations that benefited from literacy, contract-enforcement mechanisms, and networking and provided high earnings.

    Once the Jews were engaged in these occupations, there was no economic pressure to convert, which is consistent with the fact that the Jewish population, which had shrunk so dramatically in earlier times, grew slightly from the 7th to the 12th centuries.

    Moreover, this comparative advantage fostered the voluntary diaspora of the Jews during the early middle ages in search of worldwide opportunities in crafts, trade, commerce, moneylending, banking, finance, and medicine.

    This in turn would explain why the Jews, at this point in history, became so successful in occupations related to credit and financial markets. Already during the 12th and 13th centuries, moneylending was the occupation par excellence of the Jews in England, France, and Germany, and one of the main professions of the Jews in the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, and other locations in western Europe.

    A popular view contends that both their exclusion from craft and merchant guilds and usury bans on Muslims and Christians segregated European Jews into moneylending during the Middle Ages. But our study shows, with evidence we have come upon during more than a decade of research, that this argument is simply untenable.

    Instead, we have been compelled to offer an alternative and new explanation, consistent with the historical record: the Jews in medieval Europe voluntarily entered and later specialized in moneylending and banking because they had the key assets for being successful players in credit markets:

    • capital already accumulated as craftsmen and traders,
    • networking abilities because they lived in many locations, could easily communicate with and alert one another as to the best buying and selling opportunities, and
    • literacy, numeracy, and contract-enforcement institutions — “gifts” that their religion has given them — gave them an advantage over competitors.

    With these assets, small wonder that a significant number of Jews specialized in the most profitable occupation that depended on literacy and numeracy: finance. In this sector they worked for many centuries. As they specialized, just as Adam Smith would have predicted, they honed their craft, giving them a competitive advantage, right up to the present.

    But what if the economy and society in which the Jews lived, suddenly ceased being urban and commercially-oriented and turned agrarian and rural, reverting to the environment in which Judaism had found itself centuries earlier?

    The third historic encounter of the Jews — this time with the Mongol conquest of the Middle East — offers the possibility to answer this question. The Mongol invasion of Persia and Mesopotamia began in 1219 and culminated in the razing of Baghdad in 1258. It contributed to the demise of the urban and commercial economy of the Abbasid Empire and brought the economies of Mesopotamia and Persia back to an agrarian and pastoral stage for a long period.

    As a consequence, a certain proportion of Persian, Mesopotamian, and then Egyptian, and Syrian Jewry abandoned Judaism. Its religious norms, especially the one requiring fathers to educate their sons, had once again become a costly religious sacrifice with no economic return. And so a number of Jews converted to Islam.

    Once again, persecutions, massacres, and plagues (e.g., the Black Death of 1348) took a toll on the Jewish population in these regions and in western Europe. But the voluntary conversions of Jews in the Middle East and North Africa, we argue, help explain why world Jewry reached its lowest level by the end of the 15th century.

    The same mechanism that explains the decline of the Jewish population in the six centuries after the destruction of the Second Temple, that is, accounts for the decline of the Jewish communities of the Middle East in the two centuries following the Mongol shock.

    None of this was planned. The rabbis and scholars who transformed Judaism into a religion of literacy during the first centuries of the first millennium, could not have foreseen the profound impact of their decision to make every Jewish man capable of reading and studying the Torah (and, later, the Mishna, the Talmud, and other religious texts).

    However, an apparently odd choice of religious norm–the enforcement of literacy in a mostly illiterate, agrarian world, potentially risky in that the process of conversions could make Judaism too costly and thus disappear–turned out to be the lever of the Jewish economic success and intellectual prominence in the subsequent centuries up to today. This is the overall novel message of “The Chosen Few.”


    Maristella Botticini is professor of economics, as well as director and fellow of the Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research (IGIER), at Bocconi University in Milan.

    Zvi Eckstein is the Mario Henrique Simonson Chair in Labor Economics at Tel Aviv University and professor and dean of the School of Economics at IDC Herzliya in Herzliya, Israel.

    Their current book, “The Chosen Few,” won the National Jewish Book Award for scholarship. Addressing the puzzles that punctuate Jewish history from 1492 to today is the task of the next journey, which the authors will take in their next book, “The Chosen Many.”

    Voir également:

    The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492

    Maristella Botticini, Zvi Eckstein

    Princeton – Oxford: Princeton University Press,  2012, pp. xvii-323 (Kindle Edition).
    (Heb. Transl. Haim Rubin, Tel Aviv, 2012; It. Transl. Università Bocconi Editore, Milano, 2013)

    Cristiana Facchini

    The Return of the Grand Narrative

    In 1899, Henry Dagan published a short collection of interviews under the title Enquête sur l’antisemitisme.1 All the most prominent French and Italian intellectuals of socialist beliefs were asked a few questions about the rise and spread of anti-Semitism. Amongst the many different answers given for it, a particular one emerged.

    Most likely owing to a common socialist culture, the intellectuals that took part in this project explained that the rise of new forms of anti-Semitism could be better understood through the economic prism, therefore presenting anti-Semitism as a response to the economic struggle intensified by capitalism, and ultimately as a form of resentment that spread amongst impoverished middle classes. The chief editor of the Journal des économistes established a parallel that was almost a myth. He claimed that anti-Semitism and hatred against the Jews were to be compared to the expulsion of the Huguenots from France in seventeenth century, as economic and religious persecution usually ran parallel. The religious persecutions of the Huguenots could be explained as economic persecution that applied perfectly to Jews of the nineteenth century. According to this explanation, Catholic religious intolerance caused the expulsion of the most dynamic factions of society, and thus provoked the decline of Catholic nations. Surprisingly enough, this explanation was grounded in seventeenth century Jewish thought, an argument that was originally elaborated by Simone Luzzatto, a learned and sophisticated Venetian rabbi, in an attempted plea for tolerance of the Jews according to the doctrine of raison d’état.2 The decline of Catholic countries was later to be explained as the result of the expulsion of Jews and the rise of new mercantile nations that preached religious tolerance, namely, those of Protestant leaning. How these arguments developed since the early modern period cannot be explored here. Nevertheless, they provide an ideal framework for the understanding of recent trends in historiography of the Jews and Judaism.

    Religion and economy have been at the core of scholarly debate and public discussion since the inception of modernity as such. The groundbreaking work of Max Weber and his underlining critique of Marxist interpretation of religion and economy played – and in some ways continue to play – a key role in addressing research in the field of religion and economic modernization. Weber also assigned a significant role to Judaism, although his work contributed to fueling an enormous debate and some resentful reactions, especially from Jewish intellectuals.3 Ever since, historians have been debating the relationship between religion and economy, with each historiographical tradition opposing, criticizing, supporting or correcting Weber’s hypothesis.4

    Scholarly research on the economic behavior of religious minorities, and more precisely of merchant communities, has attracted a lot of attention. Works such as Yuri Slezkin and Francesca Trivellato, to mention just a few, analyzed the role of religious and ethnic minorities and the services they provided for their host communities from different angles.5 Historiography on port-cities has suggested that religious minorities – and Jews especially – offered highly specialized services, which added to shaping a certain path to modernity.6

    While the above-mentioned works dealt with early modern and modern Jewish history, certainly providing  a ‘grand narrative,’ works that embrace the long sweep of Jewish history, or even the whole notion of Judaism, are much rarer in the context of postmodern narratives. In this sense, the book of Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein is a novelty in the recent historiographical setting, and therefore calls for a short commentary.

    The Chosen Few is a book that encompasses the history of the Jews from the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE) to the expulsion from Spain in 1492. Attempts to write a comprehensive history of Judaism are very rare: there are a few excellent exceptions, with the most outstanding examples being sociologist Shemuel N. Eisenstadt’s Jewish Civilization and Judaism by Catholic theologian Hans Kung. Both perspectives are culturally charged, the first one being from a Jewish standpoint, and the second from a Christian stance. Nevertheless, both are interesting as they convey modes of understanding Judaism in its extraordinary long history and in holistic terms: as a complex religious system, and subsequently, as a civilization that coped with many challenges of various natures.

    Ancient Judaism underwent a form of seismic modification that, as Botticini and Eckstein describe, redefined the religious structure of Judaism. The most typical example is the disappearance of the sacrificial system that was organized around the temple of Jerusalem following its destruction in 70 CE. The political collapse of ancient Judaism is the starting point of the Chosen Few, which aims at understanding the epochal changes of rabbinical Judaism, and more precisely, the kind of culture Judaism prompted after what might aptly be called the great “trauma” of the collapse of its ancient and central structure. The Chosen Few deals with the relationship between religious rules and literacy, and accordingly, it attempts to investigate the transformation that Judaism underwent through a relatively long formative period. More precisely, the authors are interested in reassessing some tenets of Jewish history, from late antiquity to the early Renaissance, as they claim in their book.

    The Chosen Few is divided into ten chapters, each one dealing with a specific topic: the first one introduces the general theme of the book, and particularly deals with the issue of demography; the second aims at assessing whether or not the Jews were a persecuted minority; the third chapter progresses through a chronological path and deals with the introduction of new rules related to religious literacy as a feature of ancient Judaism; chapter  four is mainly theoretical, whereas chapter five delves into the consequences of literacy from 200-650. The sixth chapter follows up on and analyzes the transformation of Jews from farmers into merchants (750-1150); the seventh deals with migration and the eighth with the key issue of segregation and money-lending (1000-1500); the ninth introduces a lesser-known topic, which is the impact of the Mongol conquest, and finally, the last chapter summarizes the results and offers new insight into future research.

    The table of contents clearly reflects major trends in historiography of the latest decades, although both authors address one of the main issues that have been on the agenda of historians and social scientist since the nineteenth century, when historiography on Jews and Judaism developed into a more or less professional discipline. How and why did Jews turn to certain specific professions, namely money-lending, medicine, trade, and a few other specialized urban occupations? The debate over Jews, Judaism and economy is an important part of Western thought, not to mention the very problematic essay composed by Marx on the “Jewish Question”, which fired, along with other writings on religion, the scholarly and public debate on religion and its role in society. These questions reflected a different problem as well, which was related to the process of political emancipation of the Jews in European society. The issue over role of the Jews in the past was twofold, and reflected changes in the process of Jewish integration throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century. On one hand, supporters of Jewish emancipation suggested that the Jewish economic structure and specialization should also be changed, and that Jews must be permitted to practice professions that they were previously barred from, due to religious hatred. Political emancipation and reforms, like the ones implemented in the Hapsburg Empire, contributed to a great extent in shifting the professional position of the Jews. These achievements and their relatively successful integration into the fabric of modern society incited resentment and new forms of anti-Semitism.

    Historians and Jewish historiography in particular underlined how Jews were pushed by legal restrictions and impediments into despised and risky professions, namely to the performance of what was considered “polluted activities.” This was especially true in Christian societies where, though often with a certain ambivalence, some economic activities were forbidden for specific social groups. Authors of The Chosen Few challenge a set of these historical explanations, and expressly claim that they are retroactive historiographical answers that may not be applicable to the history of the Jews in late antiquity and the medieval period. Let us briefly follow the authors on their journey.

    The first assumption is that Jews in the ancient world (200b BCE – 200 CE) who lived in Eretz Israel were mainly occupied in agricultural activities. In a time span of a few centuries however, Jews of the Diaspora had dramatically changed their economic and professional position. How had that come into being? The change is particularly indebted to the introduction of a rule that proved to be central, according to Botticini and Eckstein’s account.  It is precisely the rule attributed to Yehoshua ben Gamla, a priest mentioned in the early rabbinic texts, according to which a compulsory obligation to teach Torah to children was enforced as a communal regulation. In comparative terms, this norm was introduced in the background of a religious world that was modeled after the rules of ancient religions, which focused on sacrificial offerings and temple activities, initiation and magic, fasting and prayers.7 Despite their different beliefs and ritual structure, Roman and Greek religions, alongside Zoroastrianism, mysteries religions, Orphic and Dionysian cults, and Mithraism never implemented a law that imposed significant textual knowledge of a written sacred tradition. For historians of religion this is an important innovation indeed, even though the imminent spread of Christianity and Islam would introduce a great number of additional transformations to the religious world of late antiquity.8 We will not discuss the issue extensively; suffice it to note that literacy was not one of the primary interests of other religious groups, which preserved, transmitted and elaborated religious memory in different ways and through other means.

    Compulsory Jewish education, the goal of which was primarily religious and not universal, contributed to redefining the borders of Judaism when the “religious market” was fluid and very diverse. In chapter four, the authors apply some known theories based on choice analysis and economic behavior. Moreover, they highlight how a religious system is defined according to its appeal and capability to attract or sustain its members. Religion is one of the many commodities that are available on a relative free market, and it is likely to attract or reject on the basis of its appeal. Men and women will choose according to their expectations and needs. “Religious affiliation typically requires some costly signal of belonging to a club or network,”9 and rabbinic Judaism required literacy and education. According to this norm, Jewish farmers had to send their children to school where the teaching of the Torah was enforced. In other words, it meant they had to invest time and resources in religious literacy, rather than having the help of their children in working the land. Any farming society would be well-acquainted with this problem.

    On the basis of this assumption, the authors elaborate a model, which aims to explain the demographic crisis of Judaism between the first and seventh century, and the pattern of conversion. According to the model, the high cost of the norm was likely to drive away Jewish families that were unwilling to receive such low benefits or that were not wealthy enough to support such a request. The idealized Galilean village of around 200 CE, as it is envisioned by the authors, depicts several situations that are likely to provide an explanation for patterns of conversion in late antiquity. The religious farmer, whether wealthy or less so, would perform the norm because the benefits of belonging to the group were higher than the cost of literacy. Yet both the wealthy and the less affluent farmer might also choose to not obey the norm for a number of reasons, and thus would have to accept the social stigma that came with the label of am ha-aretz.10 Ultimately, they might decide to convert and join a different religious group, especially one of the many Christian sects that proliferated in the late antiquity period, and that were quite familiar, particularly those still following certain Jewish rules (as the Ebionites did). Rich and poor were likely to pay the cost of compulsory religious literacy and belong to the group; or, they might avoid the cost and live on the margin of the religious group, ultimately deciding to convert to another religion.

    This theory is fascinating and offers new insight into what can be termed self-segregation rules, focusing, in this case for example, on literacy more than the laws of purity. It also provides an explanatory theory for conversion that is applicable to societies that are relatively open and pluralistic in their religious organization. Examples of microhistory, which are not provided for this period, might shed light on the opportunities, constraint and options made available to a small or larger group of Jews. Their choices would be determined by a number of factors that would influence their actions and practice.

    The implementation of the rule of religious education spread during the Talmudic period (200-650) when the society of farmers became literate. Talmudic literature, Gaonic responsa and archeological evidence from synagogues indicate a strong emphasis on universal education.

    The implementation of rule over education coincides with the demographic decline detected by scholars. Although figures vary, there is a scholarly consensus on the dramatic drop of the Jewish population between the fall of the temple and the end of the Talmudic period. The causes of this decline were usually attributed to the impact of wars, famine, plague and changes in fertility rates. However, Botticini and Eckstein claim that these explanations are not supported by evidence, and the only explanation for the demographic demise of the Jewish population is conversion. As the theory suggests, conversion of Jews to Christianity escalated as a result of religious rules that enforced increased literacy in the framework of a farming society.

    In the following centuries major changes took place in the religion and culture of the Jews, and the structure of the Jewish Diaspora was reconfigured. What were the consequences of this process? From chapter six onward, the theory defined in the previous chapters is used to explain the main, though inadvertent, changes in the social structure of Judaism. The world of literate farmers was destined to develop into a world of urban professionals composed of merchants, doctors, craftsmen, and artisans. As a part of the old Diaspora vanished in highly Hellenized areas, a new Diaspora rose in those regions that underwent a religious revolution around the seventh century CE. The majority of Jews now lived in Mesopotamia and Persia, where they slowly abandoned agriculture and moved to villages in order to practice new professions. This transformation reached its apex after the establishment of the Abbasid Empire.11 “This occupational transition took about 150 years: by 900 the overwhelming majority of the Jews in Mesopotamia and Persia were engaged in a wide variety of crafts, trade, moneylending and medicine.”12

    The rise of Islam and the establishment of a world-wide, highly urbanized and dynamic empire offered the ideal setting for the benefits enhanced by literacy. The authors claim that, in the changing context of the Muslim caliphate, religious literacy had “spillover effects,” meaning that skills acquired by learning to read and write might improve the ability to count, write contracts and letters, and therefore bolster practices of law-enforcement. The improvement in technology, science and art that accompanied the development of a sophisticated empire contributed to the dissemination of literacy at large, and these main changes in society contributed to reinforcing literacy among Jews. Using ample evidence from the Cairo Geniza and specifically Shelomo Goitein’s research, the authors highlight that literacy was spread among Jewish communities of the Muslim world, where, one should add, seventy percent of Jewry lived.

    Following Avner Greif, the authors stress how rabbinic Judaism, with Talmudic and responsa literature, were able to build a system of legal protection which operated as a contract-enforcement mechanism, even in the absence of a state. In this sense, a common language and high literacy contributed to transforming Jewish settlements and their professional landscape radically, prompting a change that, according to Botticini and Eckstein, would continue in the following centuries.

    The following chapters are devoted to describing the formation of a voluntary Diaspora, and focus on the rise of Western European Jewry. How did Jews arrive to the Christian countries of Western Europe?

    Chapter seven and eight address the question of how the Diaspora came into being, and how Jews willingly moved from different areas – mainly to cities – in search of better social conditions and professional options. The arrival of Jews into the diverse and parceled Christian kingdoms of the Middle Ages suggests that Jews were invited, in small groups, to offer their highly specialized services. A parallel development in the cultural and religious milieu took place in the same period, with the emergence of the great rabbinic centers of France and Ashkenaz that contributed to normalizing support for these new settlements. By the year 1000, charters show that Jews could own land, and were involved in the fields of craft, trade and medicine in general, with highly specialized urban professions. However, money-lending was not a distinctively Jewish occupation. How did Jews become involved in money-lending?

    The answer follows the path of argumentation which was set forth earlier. The authors explore different historical explanations, according to which Jews were pushed into money-lending: one suggests that they were thrust into it because of the exclusive membership of Christian guilds (Roth); another one emphasizes persecutions and portable capital as driving forces that produced this professional specialization, and the last explanation is given by Haym Soloveitchik, which regards the laws on buying and selling wine in medieval Europe. Because wine was a profitable commodity, Jewish involvement with this business needed to be formally and legally sanctioned from within the Jewish community. According to Soloveitchik, laws regulating wine trade and consumption were gradually softened by eminent rabbis – particularly Rashi –    and the strict rules that forbade Jews to drink, buy and sell wine produced by Gentiles was slowly lifted.

    Botticini and Eckstein offer some historical examples of a Jewish preference for money-lending. Both English and French cases illustrate how Jews became preeminent in money-lending and how later, between the thirteen and the fourteenth century, they were slowly replaced by Christians, especially Lombards and Florentines. Jews were expelled from England in 1290, more than a century after the appearance of ritual murder libels. In France, after reaching a key role in money-lending, Jews were expelled at the end of fourteenth century, and the same pattern is traceable throughout German lands and elsewhere, with the exception of the Italian states and the Iberian Peninsula.

    “We show that the entry and then specialization of the Jews in lending money at interest can be explained by their comparative advantage in the four assets that were and still are the pillars of the financial intermediation: capital, networking, literacy and numeracy, and contract enforcement institutions.”13 This is the leitmotif that supports the whole narrative, which is a grand narrative on Judaism: literacy and economic performances. An inadvertent revolution was launched by rabbis in the midst of a great trauma, and with the collapse of the ancient politeia, and through compulsory religious education of male children, a great transformation that would subsequently be well-suited for the social and economic integration in developed empires and economies was triggered. The theory is certainly intriguing and attractive, and at times very convincing. “Lachrymose history” is not part of this story, which instead highlights the positive and creative effort of Judaism in Muslim and Christian lands. Moreover, a number of historical certainties are challenged and a different explanation is offered, on the basis of microanalysis or detailed accounts of historical material. A wide and impressive amount of secondary literature is described and thoroughly discussed, along with a number of primary sources.

    Ultimately, as I have already said, the book is both a historical account of Judaism, and a history of the Jews covering a relatively long historical period and which offers a fairly new interpretation through the lens of economic history. Such an undertaking indicates a certain interest in the return of grand narratives, after a period of postmodern historical practices that made a narrative of any kind impossible.

    Nevertheless, as with every grand narrative that aims at providing one unique explanation for historical facts, this one provokes a number of questions and possible critical responses. I will mention only three problems that may be of some relevance.

    1. First of all, one must recall that the Diaspora did not begin after the fall of Jerusalem, but rather, was a conspicuous and relevant component of ancient Judaism. Jews lived in metropolises, like Rome and Alexandria, and were likely engaged in urban activities. Historiography on Christianity has stressed that Christianity spread first and foremost in the great urban centers of the Roman Empire, although the movement of Jesus was mainly throughout villages. The fascinating theory of conversion offered by the authors is therefore interesting, but needs to be supported by more evidence.

    2. Considering the wide scope of the book and the claim to a universal and general explanatory theory of Judaism, some comparison with other similar groups was needed. In which way did Judaism in the Muslim empire differ from Christian minorities, which in turn were endowed with similar trades? How then are Armenians, Greek Orthodox, or various sectarian religious groups to be evaluated when they competed with Jews and performed similar roles?

    3. Theory and history are somehow disconnected in this book. The theory the authors offer is applied to very different historical, social and religious contexts. One wonders if the organization of economy in the Muslim empire and the one in Medieval Christian Europe does not bear multiple and dissimilar features, resulting in a perpetually different relationship with Judaism, when not directly influencing it.

    Anachronism is generally inevitable, but my impression is that it strikes as too strong an element in this narrative. Is it possible to assume, with the help of economic theory and modeling, that a peasant in the ancient world would behave exactly as a contemporary peasant in a third world country? The long journey back in time requires, among other things, identification with a world that might have been radically different. Moreover, this long journey is often an intricate path into a labyrinth, which the historian is impelled to explore in its multiple directions.

    Cristiana Facchini, Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna


    [1] Enquête sur l’antisemitisme, ed. Henry Dagan, (Paris: Stock 1899).
    [2] See Simone Luzzatto, Scritti politici e filosofici di un ebreo scettico nella Venezia del Seicento, a cura di Giuseppe Veltri (Milan: Bompiani, 2013); Jonathan Karp, The Politics of Jewish Commerce. Economic Thought and Emancipation in Europe, 1638-1848 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).
    [3] Max Weber, Ancient Judaism (New York: Free Press, 1952).
    [4] I refer, for example, to Catholic scholars who have tried to show how Catholicism fueled economic modernity, following Weber’s path but attempting to amend it. Trevor Roper offered a different interpretation of Weber’s theory, claiming that modernity and capitalism were initiated by merchant communities who practiced a form of “erasmianism.” Sombart opposed his interpretation of capitalism as a byproduct of Judaism, although with an anti-Semitic twist.
    [5] Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century (Princeton – Oxford: Princeton University Press,  2004); Francesca Trivellato, The Familiarity of Strangers: The Sephardic Diaspora, Livorno, and Cross-cultural Trade in the Early Modern Period (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009).
    [6] For a more complex view on minorities and port-cities see: Tullia Catalan, “The Ambivalence of a Port-City. The Jews of Trieste from the 19th to the 20th Century,” Quest. Issues in Contemporary Jewish History 2/2011: 69-98.
    [7] These ritual settings relating to different religious systems appeared in the ancient world (chap. 3).
    [8] For a brief introduction to these themes: Guy G. Stroumsa, The End of Sacrifice: Religious Transformations of Late Antiquity (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2009).
    [9] Botticini, Eckstein, The Chosen Few, pos. 2334.
    [10] There is a lot of literature on ammei ha-aretz, “people of the land.” Botticini and Eckstein affirm that they are those people/Jews unwilling to perform the norm of learning the Torah.
    [11] Botticini, Eckstein, The Chosen Few, Chapter 5.
    [12] Chapter 5, pos. 3326.
    [13] Chapter 8, pos. 6131.
    Voir également:

    The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492
    By Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein
    Princeton University Press, 323 pages, $39.50

    What if most of what we thought we know about the history of the Jewish people between the destruction of the Second Temple and the Spanish Expulsion is wrong? This intriguing premise informs The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492, an ambitious new book by economists Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein.

    Seventy-five years after historian Salo Baron first warned against reducing the Jewish past to “a history of suffering and scholarship,” most of us continue to view medieval Jewish history in this vein. “Surely, it is time to break with the lachrymose theory of pre-Revolutionary woe, and to adopt a view more in accord with historic truth,” Baron implored at the end of his 1928 Menorah Journal article “Ghetto and Emancipation: Shall We Revise the Traditional View?”

    Botticini and Eckstein could not agree more, and in the book they systematically dismantle much of the conventional wisdom about medieval Jewish history. For example, they explore how the scattered nature of the Jewish Diaspora was driven primarily by the search for economic opportunity rather than by relentless persecution. They also demonstrate that war-related massacres only account for a fraction of the Jewish population declines from 70 to 700 C.E. and from 1250 to 1400 C.E., and cast serious doubt on the theory that widespread conversion to Christianity and Islam during these periods was motivated primarily by anti-Jewish discrimination. Likewise, they show that restrictions on Jewish land ownership and membership in craft guilds in Christian Europe — factors that are often cited to explain medieval Jews’ proclivity for trade and moneylending — postdated by centuries the Jews’ occupational shift from agriculture to commerce.

    The authors are hardly alone among scholars in advancing their case. But in consolidating a vast secondary literature into a concise and compelling argument, they provide a commendable service. Their demolition job is not an end in itself, however. Rather, it affords them with an opportunity to advance their own unifying theory of Jewish history to fill the explanatory void.

    As the subtitle of their book suggests, the authors look to education to explain the across-the-board transformation of Jewish life in the first 15 centuries of the Common Era. Specifically, they zero in on the rabbinic injunction that required fathers to teach their sons how to read and study the Torah.

    Literacy, they argue, was the engine that drove the train of Jewish history. It facilitated the economic transformation of the Jews from farmers to craftsmen, merchants and financiers. It encouraged their mobility, as they went in search of locations that presented the prospect of profitability. It determined their migration patterns, specifically their congregation in bustling city centers throughout the Muslim world, where they were able to thrive in myriad urban occupations such as banking, cattle dealing, wine selling, textile manufacturing, shopkeeping and medicine.

    It also explained their scattered settlement in scores of small communities throughout Christian Europe, where the demand for skilled occupations was far more limited. It was even indirectly responsible for Jewish population decline. Botticini and Eckstein suggest that illiterates were regarded as outcasts in Jewish society and that a substantial percentage chose to escape denigration and social ostracism by embracing Christianity and Islam, where illiteracy remained the norm.

    Once the occupational and residential transformation from farming was complete, the authors argue, there was no going back. Jews paid a high premium for their literate society. Jewish cultural norms required the maintenance of synagogues and schools, and presumed that families would forgo years of their sons’ potential earnings to keep them in school. When urban economies collapsed, as they did in Mesopotamia and Persia as a result of the Mongol conquest, the practice of Judaism became untenable, and the result was widespread defection through conversion to Islam. Accordingly, the Jews became “a small population of highly literate people, who continued to search for opportunities to reap returns from their investment in literacy.” And thus they remained up to the present day.

    Botticini and Eckstein’s argument seems tailor-made for the present American environment of stagnant, if not declining, economic resources. In an age where steep day school tuition has (unintentionally) become a form of birth control in modern Orthodox circles and contributed to sluggish enrollment rates among the non-Orthodox, Jewish practice is once again in danger of becoming unsustainable. American Jewish assimilation is often understood as a function of Jewish apathy, but perhaps part of the problem is that Judaism is pricing itself out of the market.

    The authors’ theory may leave some a little queasy, including those who have rationalized the Jewish proclivity for moneylending in medieval England, France and Germany as a logical response to antagonistic authorities who systematically cut them off from other avenues of economic opportunity. Many of these same defenders of Jewish honor have been quick to insist that nothing particular to Judaism itself promoted moneylending.

    Botticini and Eckstein have little patience for this sort of apologetics. On the contrary, they insist, Jews were naturally attracted to moneylending because it was lucrative and because they possessed four significant cultural and social advantages that predisposed their success. First and foremost was rabbinic Judaism’s emphasis on education; literacy and numeracy were prerequisite skills for moneylending.

    Jews were also able to rely on other built-in advantages, including significant capital, extensive kinship networks, and rabbinic courts and charters that provided legal enforcement and arbitration mechanisms in the cases of defaults and disputes. The authors add that while maltreatment, discriminatory laws and expulsions were frequently motivated by the prevalence of Jews in moneylending, they played little or no role in promoting this occupational specialization.

    The relevance of cultural determinism is the subject of vigorous debate in intellectual circles, as evidenced by the recent brouhaha over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s remarks about the differences in wealth between Israel and the Palestinian territories being the result of cultural differences. Most scholars would probably dismiss Romney’s argument as “dangerously out of date,” as Jared Diamond recently wrote in The New York Times. At the same time, Diamond and others warn against mono-causal explanations for socioeconomic historical trends, and such concern is warranted for “The Chosen Few” as well.

    Of particular concern is the relative paucity of evidence that Botticini and Eckstein marshal for their literacy argument. Talmudic pronouncements on the importance of education can easily, and inaccurately, be read as descriptive rather than prescriptive, and the authors arguably overestimate the influence of the rabbis on the behaviors and self-definition of the Jewish masses.

    They seem to be on firmer ground once they have recourse to the variegated documents in the Cairo Genizah, but they devote almost no attention to Jewish educational trends in Christian Europe. They also have little to say on the extent to which instruction in arithmetic and the lingua franca supplemented a school curriculum designed to promote facility in reading and interpreting Hebrew and Aramaic holy books. Instruction in these areas would have a direct impact on the Jews’ ability to function in an urban economy. Undoubtedly, Jewish school attendance rates and curricular norms varied by location and over time.

    To be fair, the history of Jewish education remains an understudied subject, leaving Botticini and Eckstein relatively few secondary sources from which to draw evidence. One can say that their economic theory is plausible, particularly if it is advanced in conjunction with other factors.

    But the jury must remain out in the absence of more conclusive hard evidence. Hopefully, the fascinating and elegant argument set forth in “The Chosen Few” will encourage historians to interrogate literary sources and archaeological evidence in search of a clearer picture about Jewish educational norms, Jewish literacy and its impact on the demographics and socioeconomic trajectory of Jewish life in the Middle Ages.

    Jonathan B. Krasner is Associate Professor of the American Jewish Experience at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, in New York.

     Voir encore:

    TROUBLESOME INDEED: JEWS, GENES & INTELLIGENCE
    Paul S. Appelbaum, Diana Muir Appelbaum

    GeneWatch 27-2
    May-July 2014
    Jews play a disproportionate role in A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History, an extended argument by Nicholas Wade for the impact on modern life of genetic differences among races. Why are Jews so important to the story? Because, well, says Wade, Jews are such a really smart race. Of course, there’s an irony here. The last time genes were used to explain why some whole peoples prosper and others don’t – during the Progressive Era’s eugenics movement – Jews were held up as a people of innately low physical, moral, and intellectual capacity. Now, Wade and others tell us that Jews are endowed by evolution with superior verbal and mathematical ability (albeit not spatial intelligence; in Wade’s view, Jews stopped hunting so long ago that Jewish genes can’t find their way out of a paper bag).

    Wade, a respected science writer, casts himself as a new Darwin, announcing that « human evolution has been recent, copious and regional. » He points out that natural selection for certain genes has enabled human groups in the Himalayas, Andes and the Ethiopian plateau to evolve capacities to thrive at high altitudes. Moreover, other genetically transmitted traits, such as the ability to tolerate the lactose in cow’s milk, have spread across geographic regions. So far, so good, but note that this is pretty much as far as the really solid evidence for recent, regional human evolution goes.

    Wade is after bigger game. He wants to argue that events like the bifurcation of the world into farmers and hunter-gatherers, which began about 10,000 B.C.E., or the « rabbinical requirement for universal male literacy » may have produced genetic adaptations favoring specific kinds of social and emotional intelligence within particular ethnic or racial groups. And for Wade that includes « a genetic enhancement of Jewish cognitive capacity. »[1]

    Operating on a global scale, Wade argues that the regional (or if you prefer, racial) evolution of mental capacities can answer such big questions as: Why is European civilization more prosperous than other cultures?  Max Weber fingered the Protestant Ethic as the cause, while Jared Diamond argued for environment in Guns, Germs and Steel.  Wade relies on the thesis of a remarkable 2007 book by economic historian Gregory Clark, A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World, which was reviewed for the New York Times by… Nicholas Wade. Clark suggested that the Industrial Revolution happened when « [t]hrift, prudence, negotiation and hard work were becoming values for communities that previously had been spendthrift, impulsive, violent and leisure loving. » Then he startled the academic world by proposing a novel causative mechanism for this shift.

    Clark proposes that most English girls from successful families married men less prosperous than their fathers, and that these children of prosperity out-reproduced the offspring of the poor, giving England bumper crops of penniless youth endowed with the virtues that created the industrial revolution. Clark acknowledges that this was a cultural phenomenon – modestly fixed parents taught their children the virtues that had made grandpapa rich – but he argues that an overlooked key to success lay in upscale genes.

    Reviewers asked for evidence, and Clark produces it in a new book, The Son Also Rises, in which a multi-lingual phalanx of research assistants mine a diverse array of data seeking out peculiar surnames. It turns out that everyone from banking moguls to registered paupers can bear surnames shared by a mere handful of people. By tracing rare surnames over time, Clark demonstrates that when a man with an odd surname owned substantial property in England in the 1300s, or was a Swedish intellectual in the 1600s, or passed the Imperial Chinese examinations to become a Mandarin during the Song Dynasty, people with that surname were more successful than average for the next 400 or even 1,000 years.

    Clark finds more social mobility in the 1400s than you probably imagine, and less today than you probably wish.  Accomplishment, he thinks, runs in families, and high status « is actually genetically determined. »[2] Whether he proves his case is a different matter.

    After all, the child of successful parents is likely to be taught real skills, such as good grammar, vocabulary, and a « proper » accent, and he or she may also benefit from ineffable advantages. Given that even in egalitarian Sweden, people from old families with aristocratic names like Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern or Latin ones like Linnaeus do better than Swedes with « peasant » names like Johnsson, it could be that just having an impressive surname contributes to success. Moreover, a growing body of data supports the idea that success is largely dependent on believing that success is possible. Amy Chua and Jeff Rubenfeld tap into something like this in The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America, proposing that a sort of superiority complex accounts in part for the success of certain immigrant groups, including Jews and Chinese.

    But Nicholas Wade’s just-so story about Ashkenazi success relies on a bold 2012 book, The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, by economists Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein. Here he finds evidence that Jews « adapted genetically to a way of life that requires higher than usual cognitive capacity, » representing « a striking example of natural selection’s ability to change a human population in just a few centuries. »[3]

    Botticini and Eckstein argue that most ancient Jews were farmers who did not need literacy to earn a living.  When Judaism re-formed around text study following the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E., parents were forced to pay school fees if they wanted their children to stay Jewish.  According to Botticini and Eckstein, over the next six centuries the Jewish population plummeted from 5.5 to 1.2 million because only boys from families with an unusual degree of commitment, or those whose sons had the brains and diligence to pore over legal texts, paid to send their children to school. Everyone else converted to Christianity, a dramatic selection event that Wade describes as possibly « the first step toward a genetic enhancement of Jewish cognitive capacity. »[4] And so it might be if there were evidence that it happened – and if there actually is a gene for diligence.

    It is not clear why we should assume that families with « low-ability sons » converted to Christianity while those with « smart and diligent » sons paid for an expensive Torah education not calculated to lead to a high-earning career.[5] Why not assume that parents of smart and diligent sons would have improved their prospects by converting (see late 19th-century Germany, for example), or by having them taught Greek or Latin?  After all, that is what almost everybody else in the Roman Empire did. The first and second centuries teemed with now-forgotten religions: the cult of Isis, the Dionysian Mysteries and Mithraism were wildly popular and growing fast. The real question is why a million or so Jews remained Jewish in a late Roman world where persecution of non-Christians and the advantages of joining the new imperial church drove other, more popular religions to extinction?

    Botticini and Eckstein support their model with « archaeological discoveries that document the timing of the construction of synagogues » in which children could be educated. They explain that « the earliest archaeological evidence of the existence of a synagogue in the Land of Israel » dates to the mid-1st century C.E.[6] This is an enormous misstatement of fact. A number of pre-destruction Palestinian synagogues have been identified, the earliest uncovered so far, in Modi’in, dating to the early 2nd or late 3rd century B.C.E.

    Which brings us to the question of whether Botticini and Eckstein’s selection event ever occurred.  Some numbers cited by Botticini and Eckstein are just plain wrong.  For example, they summarize the findings of ancient historians Seth Schwartz and Gildas Hamel, and of archaeologist Magen Broshi, as « the Land of Israel hosting no more than 1 million Jews. »[7] Schwartz actually wrote: « Palestine reached its maximum sustainable pre-modern population of approximately one million in the middle of the first century. Probably about half of this population was Jewish. »  Thus, Botticini and Eckstein miscite Schwartz’s « about half of » for a population of one million Jews.  They then guess that there were, in fact, 2.5 million Jews in Israel.

    There are no accurate counts of ancient Jewry. Estimates that no more than 1 million people could have lived in the Land of Israel in the first century were derived from arable acreage and crop yields. And there is no evidence suggesting that ancient Israel had the capacity to import the gargantuan volumes of falafel mix that would have been required to feed a population of over a million.  (Rome imported wheat on that scale; Israel didn’t.) Botticini and Eckstein choose, without offering a rationale, one contemporary demographer’s « cautiously » offered estimate of 4.5 million Jews total in the ancient world. Then they blithely add up to a million more Jews, to reach their 5 – 5.5 million number. But graphing an unsubstantiated number, as they do, does not make the number accurate.

    If we accept more conservative estimates of 2 or even 2.5 million Jews worldwide before the year 70, loss of a million or so during and after the brutal Roman-Jewish Wars, when it is assumed that many Greek- and Latin-speaking God-fearers fell away from Judaism, is not surprising.  Judged by the evidence they provide, Botticini and Clark’s elegant model in which the choices of ancient Jewish farmers facing high tuition bills produced a dramatic selection event doesn’t hold water.

    But Wade is a man in search of data to support his theory of recent, regional evolution.  Ashkenazi Jews are among the most intensively studied of ethnic genetic clusters, and he tracks them down the Rhine Valley like a bloodhound. The Ashkenazi Jewish community was founded by a mere handful of Jews living along the Rhine about a thousand years ago, and founder effects can be genetically powerful.  It is not absurd to regard Ashkenazim as a large cousinhood – something like the Darwins and Wedgwoods, two intertwined families that have produced generation after generation of accomplished offspring.  Because the number of founders was so small, and Jews married one another, genetic characteristics could have been amplified within the community.

    However, Clark does not flag the founder effect as the cause of Ashkenazi success. He posits a centuries-long selection, beginning as described by Botticini and Eckstein and continuing because only the successful could afford to pay the punitive taxes imposed on Jews by Muslim and Christian governments. « There must have been some selection based on talent. »[8]

    Perhaps there was.  The actual evidence, however, is spotty, and the sources for the event provided by Botticini and Eckstein are sometimes downright creepy.  Botticini and Eckstein support their hypothesis with the information, repeated by Clark that, « passages by early Christian writers and Church Fathers indicate that most Jewish converts to Christianity were illiterate and poor. »[9] This information, however, is cited to outdated work by Adolf von Harnack, turn-of-the-century German theologian whose anti-Judaism prepared the way for Nazi anti-Semitism and who, as President of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, created the infamous Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics.

    There are good reasons to be suspicious of arguments suggesting powerful selection effects over brief time frames for cognitive abilities. To be sure, intelligence – at least the form most frequently measured by psychologists – has a clear genetic component. But years of research have failed to identify any genes that account for this effect. The dominant explanation is that intelligence, like height, may be determined by the cumulative effect of scores, perhaps hundreds of genes, each of which makes an incremental contribution to cognitive ability. To further complicate things, those genes may interact to amplify or negate their influences on intelligence, and it is certain that environment plays a key role. Indeed, recent evidence indicates that genetic effects on intelligence are stronger in high socioeconomic circumstances, which presumably allow maximization of individual potential, but fade away in poor families.

    With scores of genes likely involved, most distributed widely in the population, selection for or against particular genes becomes more difficult and time-consuming. The rapid selection event on which Wade (following Botticini and Eckstein) relies hence strains credulity from a biological perspective. Although some guesses about how the Jews got their disproportionate share of Nobel prizes put forward in these books could be right (after all, it’s awfully hard to disprove an untestable theory), there is very little evidence to support them and good reasons to doubt their validity.

    Diana Muir Appelbaum is an author and historian.

    Paul S. Appelbaum is Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine & Law at Columbia University, where he directs a center on the ethical, legal and social implications of advances in genetics.

    ENDNOTES

    1. A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History, by Nicholas Wade, Penguin Press, 2014, p. 212.

    2. The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility, by Gregory Clark, Princeton University Press, 2014, p. 281.

    3. The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, by Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein, Princeton University Press, 2012, p. 199.

    4. Wade, p. 211.

    5. Botticini and Eckstein, p. 93 and p. 82.

    6. Ibid., p. 103-4.

    7. Ibid., p. 274.

    8. Clark, p. 230.

    9. Ibid., p. 231.

    Voir de plus:

     10/07/2013
    David Mamet writes that there are two kinds of places in the world: places where Jews cannot go, and places where Jews cannot stay.

    So how exactly have the Jews survived?

    According Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein, authors of The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492 (Princeton University Press, 2012), the answer has as much to do with economics as with spirituality.

    Five major events rocked the Jewish world during those 1,422 years: the destruction of the Second Temple, the rise of Christianity; the birth of Islam; birth of modern Christian Europe; and the Mongol invasion. Since Jews who aren’t university professors (and there are some) often view events through a lens of “Is this good or bad for the Jews?” I’ll summarize the authors’ findings in that manner.

    Destruction of the Temple and the rise of Christianity—bad for the Jews. After the year 70, the priests who ran the Temple were no longer in the ascendency, yielding power to the Jewish rabbis and scholars who ultimately wrote the Talmud over the next few centuries. Most Jews (and most of everyone else) were farmers back then. After the destruction of the Temple, the worldwide Jewish population dwindled not just because of war and massacre, but because of economics.
    If you were devout and wealthy, you were likely to pay for your sons’ Jewish education.

    If you were spiritual but didn’t have much money, you became a Christian or joined one of the other popular groups that didn’t require an expensive Jewish education. What good is a son who can read the Torah if you just want him to help harvest pomegranates? So economics dictated who stayed and who strayed.

    The rise of the Islamic empire: surprisingly, good for the Jews.

    When Muhammad appeared in the seventh century, Jews began to move from farms into new Moslem-built cities including Baghdad and Damascus. There they went into trades that proved far more lucrative than farming, most notably international trade and money lending. In those arenas, Jews had enormous advantages: universal literacy; a common language and religious culture; and the ability to have contracts enforced, even from a distance of thousands of miles.

    The Moslem world then stretched from the Spain and Portugal to halfway across Asia. Anywhere in the Arab ambit, Jews could move, trade, or relocate freely and benefit from their extensive religious and family networks. According to thousand-year-old documents found in the Cairo Genizah, business documents linking Jewish traders across the Arab world would have Jewish court decisions written on the back. So Jews could send money or goods thousands of miles, certain their investments would be safe.

    European Christianity from the year 1,000: not so good for the Jews.

    If Islamic culture offered Jews a warm welcome, Western Europe was a mixed blessing.

    Seemingly every few dozen miles in Western Europe, a different prince or king was in charge, with different laws, different requirements for citizenship, and different attitudes about the Jews. Some places were extremely welcoming of Jews; others less so. Monarchs might boot out their Jewish populations in hard economic times, so that Gentile citizens wouldn’t have to repay their loans, only to welcome them back when the economy improved.

    Contrary to common belief, Botticini and Eckstein write, Jews weren’t forced into money lending because they were forced out of guilds. Under Muslim and Christian rule alike, Jews went into finance centuries before the guilds were even founded. In other words, Jews chose careers in finance the same way the best and the brightest in modern American culture head for Wall Street and business school.

    Western Europe, therefore, was a mixed blessing for the Jews. On the upside, they could do business, live their Jewish lives, and establish some of the finest Talmudic academies in Jewish history. Alas, Jews were also subject to massacres and expulsions, which happened with terrifying regularity across the centuries, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition of 1492.

    Meanwhile, back in the Middle East: the thirteenth-century Mongol invasion: bad for the Jews. Oh, really, really bad for the Jews.

    The relative freedom and safety the Jews enjoyed under Muslim rule came to an abrupt halt in the early 13th century, when Genghis Khan and his marauders attacked and leveled most of urban civilization that the Moslems had so painstakingly built up over the centuries.

    With the destruction of cities and urban institutions, those Jews fortunate enough to survive the Mongol invasion had no option other than going back to farming. Some stayed; some converted to Islam. So the numbers of Jews in formerly Arab lands would remain low for hundreds of years, until all traces of Mongol civilization were wiped out and the world began to rebuild.

    The poet Ogden Nash once wrote, “How odd of God/To choose the Jews.” If you’ve ever wondered how the Chosen People survived the vagaries of history, reading The Chosen Few will give you answers you cannot find anywhere else.

    Voir enfin:

    Authors examine education’s impact on Jewish history

    August 8, 2014

    Why has education been so important to the Jewish people?

    Author Maristella Botticini says a unique religious norm enacted within Judaism two millennia ago made male literacy universal among Jews many centuries earlier than it was universal for the rest of the world’s population.

    “Wherever and whenever Jews lived among a population of mostly unschooled people, they had a comparative advantage,” Botticini tells JNS.org. “They could read and write contracts, business letters, and account books using a common [Hebrew] alphabet while learning the local languages of the different places they dwelled. These skills became valuable in the urban and commercially oriented economy that developed under Muslim rule in the area from the Iberian Peninsula to the Middle East.”

    Emphasizing literacy over time set Jews up for economic success, say Botticini and Zvi Eckstein, authors of the 2012 book “The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History.”

    An economic historian, Botticini earned a B.A. in Economics from Università Bocconi in Milan and a Ph.D. in Economics from Northwestern University. After working at Boston University, she returned to Italy and works at her alma mater. An economist, Eckstein received his B.A. from Tel Aviv University and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He spent five years as the Bank of Israel’s deputy governor, and is now dean of the School of Economics at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzylia.

    In their book, which they describe as a reinterpretation of Jewish social and economic history from the years 70 to 1492 A.D., Botticini and Eckstein say that Jews over those years became “the chosen few”—a demographically small population of individuals living in hundreds of locations across the globe and specializing in the most skilled and urban occupations. These occupations benefit from literacy and education.

    “Our book begins with the profound and well-documented transformation of the Jewish religion after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 [AD] at the end of the first Jewish-Roman war,” Eckstein tells JNS.org. “Judaism permanently lost one of its two pillars—the Temple in Jerusalem—and consequently the religious leadership shifted from the high priests, who were in charge of the Temple service, to the rabbis and scholars, who had always considered the study of the Torah, the other pillar of Judaism, the paramount duty of any Jewish individual.”

    The Jews’ new religious leadership set their people on a path to become “a literate religion, which required every Jewish man to read and study the Torah and every father to send his sons to a primary or synagogue school to learn to do the same,” says Eckstein.

    From an economic point of view, the authors write, it was costly for Jewish farmers living in a subsistence agrarian society to invest a significant amount of their income on the rabbis’ imposed literacy requirement. A predominantly agrarian economy had little use for educated people. Consequently, a proportion of Jewish farmers opted not to invest in their sons’ religious education and instead converted to other religions, such as Christianity, which did not impose this norm on its followers.

    “During this Talmudic period (3rd-6th centuries), just as the Jewish population became increasingly literate, it kept shrinking through conversions, as well as war-related deaths and general population decline,” Botticini tells JNS.org. “This threatened the existence of the large Jewish community in Eretz Israel (the land of Israel) and in other places where sizable Jewish communities had existed in antiquity, such as North Africa, Syria, Lebanon, Asia Minor, the Balkans, and Western Europe. By the 7th century, the demographic and intellectual center of Jewish life had moved from Eretz Israel to Mesopotamia, where roughly 75 percent of world Jewry now lived.”

    Like almost everywhere else in the world, Mesopotamia had an agriculture-based economy, but that changed with the rise of Islam during the 7th century and the consequent Muslim conquests under the caliphs in the following two centuries. Their establishment of a vast empire stretching from the Iberian Peninsula to India led to a vast urbanization and the growth of manufacture and trade in the Middle East; the introduction of new technologies; the development of new industries that produced a wide array of goods; the expansion of local trade and long-distance commerce; and the growth of new cities.

    “These developments in Mesopotamia increased the demand for literate and educated people—the very skills Jews had acquired as a spillover effect of their religious heritage of study,” Eckstein says.

    Between 750 and 900, almost all Jews in Mesopotamia and Persia—nearly 75 percent of world Jewry—left agriculture and moved to the cities and towns of the newly established Abbasid Empire to engage in skilled occupations. Many also migrated to Yemen, Syria, Egypt, and the Maghreb; to, from, and within the Byzantine Empire; and later to Christian Europe in search of business opportunities.

    “Once the Jews were engaged in these skilled and urban occupations, they rarely converted to other religions, and hence, the Jewish population remained stable or grew between the 8th and the 13th centuries,” Botticini says.

    The book does not whitewash the persecution that took place during the 15 centuries of Jewish history it examines, Eckstein says.

    “When [persecution of Jews] happened, we record [it] in our book,” he says. “[But] what we say is something different. There were times and locations in which legal or economic restrictions on Jews did not exist. Not because we say so, but because it is amply documented by many historians. Jews could own land and be farmers in the Umayyad and Abbasid Muslim empire. The same is true in early medieval Europe. If these restrictions did not exist in the locations and time period we cover, they cannot explain why the Jews left agriculture and entered trade, finance, medicine. There must have been some other factor that led the Jews to become the people they are today. In ‘The Chosen Few’ we propose an alternative hypothesis and we then verify whether this hypothesis is consistent with the historical evidence.”

    Botticini says the key message of the book “is that even in very poor communities or countries, individuals and families should invest in education and human capital even when it is costly and it seems to bring no economic returns in the short-run.”

    “Education and human capital endow those individuals and those communities that invest in them with skills and a comparative advantage that pays off and can bring economic well-being and intellectual achievements in many dimensions,” she says.

    “A motto in which we strongly believe [is] go to the local public library and borrow a book and read it,” adds Botticini. “Even when you end up disagreeing with or not liking a book, it is never a waste of time reading a book. Reading and studying are precious gifts. This is the bottom line message of ‘The Chosen Few.’”

    Christophe Lebold, une vie de Léonard…

    Salon littéraire

    Maître de conférences à l’Université de Strasbourg et metteur en scène de théâtre, Christophe Lebold a une autre corde vibrante à son arc zen : il est l’auteur d’une somme monumentale consacrée à Leonard Cohen.

    En janvier 2012, un poète de soixante-dix-huit ans sortait de sa retraite et renouait avec une renommée internationale de rock star distraitement abandonnée au seuil d’un monastère zen : serial séducteur notoire vivant en ermite et « chanteur sans voix » réputé plutôt « déprimant », l’immense Leonard Cohen venait de publier un nouvel album haut de gamme nourri de poésie délicatement ciselée et de grâce, Old Ideas. Un retour en majesté qui fait passer sur le monde, une fois encore, en sombres mélopées infiniment hypnotiques, comme un frisson de beauté – celle-là même que toute sa vie il a cherché à voir de près, jusqu’à s’y brûler parfois sans pour autant être carbonisé…

    Broyer du noir pour faire advenir la lumière ?

    Leonard Cohen