Columbus Day/527e: Cherchez le massacre ! (Looking back at the holiday that helped Italians join the white race)

14 octobre, 2019

Chagall-Tabernacles-1916Le premier repas de Thanksgiving (novembre 1621), par Jean Leon Gerome FerrisImage result for Canadian Thanksgiving Oct 14 2019Related imagehttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/88/1891_New_Orleans_Italian_lynching.jpg?uselang=frMontgomery Advertiser, Vol. LXXVII, Issue 21, p. 4.https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0c/Biblioteca_del_Senado_de_la_Provincia_-_52_-_Por_una_raza_fuerte%2C_laboriosa%2C_pacifista_y_soberana.jpg

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Le quinzième jour du septième mois, quand vous récolterez les produits du pays, vous célébrerez donc une fête à l’Éternel (…) et vous vous réjouirez devant l’Éternel, votre Dieu, pendant sept jours. (…) Vous demeurerez pendant sept jours sous des tentes … afin que vos descendants sachent que j’ai fait habiter sous des tentes les enfants d’Israël, après les avoir fait sortir du pays d’Égypte. Je suis l’Éternel, votre Dieu. Lévitique 23: 39-43
Si l’image nous révolte tant, c’est parce que nous en sommes tous collectivement responsables (…) cette scène, ces mots, ce comportement sont d’une violence et d’une haine inouïes. Mais par notre lâcheté, par nos renoncements, nous avons contribué, petit à petit, à les laisser passer, à les accepter. Cette femme a été « publiquement piétinée, chosifiée, déshumanisée, devant le groupe d’enfants qu’elle accompagnait bénévolement (…) Quelles seront les conséquences d’une telle humiliation publique si ce n’est renvoyer à cet enfant qu’il demeure un citoyen de seconde zone, indigne d’être pleinement français et reconnu comme tel ? Où est l’indignation générale ? Où sont les émissions de télévision, de radio, hormis quelques billets et tribunes comme celle-ci pour condamner cette agression ? Où est la parole publique de premier niveau, celle de nos élus, des partis politiques, celle des ministres, celle du président de la République pour refuser l’inacceptable ? Ne nous y trompons donc pas. L’extrême droite a fait de la haine contre les musulmans un outil majeur de sa propagande, mais elle n’en a pas le monopole. Des membres de la droite et de la gauche dites républicaines n’hésitent pas à stigmatiser les musulmans, et en premier lieu les femmes portant le voile, souvent -au nom de la laïcité-. Jusqu’où laisserons-nous passer ces haines ? (…) Jusqu’à quand allons-nous accepter que la laïcité, socle de notre République, soit instrumentalisée pour le compte d’une vision ségrégationniste, raciste, xénophobe, mortifère de notre société ? Acceptons-nous de nous laisser sombrer collectivement ou disons-nous stop maintenant, tant qu’il est encore temps ? Nous demandons urgemment au Président de la République de condamner publiquement l’agression dont cette femme a été victime devant son propre fils (…) de refuser que nos concitoyens musulmans soient fichés, stigmatisés, dénoncés pour la simple pratique de leur religion et d’exiger solennellement que cessent les discriminations et les amalgames envers une partie de notre communauté nationale. 90 personnalités
Dans une tribune publiée ce mardi sur lemonde.fr, 90 personnalités, dont l’acteur Omar Sy, le rappeur Nekfeu, le réalisateur Mathieu Kassovitz, ou encore la députée LFI Danièle Obono demandent au Chef de l’Etat d’intervenir pour condamner fermement « l’agression » dont a été victime la mère voilée vendredi dernier après la vidéo tournée par un élu RN au Conseil régional de Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. Parmi les 90 personnalités signataires : Rokhaya Diallo, journaliste et réalisatrice, DJ Snake, artiste, Marina Foïs, actrice, Mathieu Kassovitz, acteur et réalisateur, Kyan Khojandi, auteur, Tonie Marshall, réalisatrice, productrice, Guillaume Meurice, humoriste, Géraldine Nakache, actrice et réalisatrice, Nekfeu, artiste, Danièle Obono, députée (La France insoumise), Alessandra Sublet, animatrice, Omar Sy, acteur… France bleu
Columbus makes Hitler look like a juvenile delinquent. Russell Means
It’s almost obscene to celebrate Columbus because it’s an unmitigated record of horror. We don’t have to celebrate a man who was really — from an Indian point of view — worse than Attila the Hun. Hans Koning
The evidence of Aztec cannibalism has largely been ignored and consciously or unconsciously covered up. Michael Harner (New School for Social Research)
Dr. Harner’s theory of nutritional need is based on a recent revision in the number of people thought to have been sacrificed by the Aztecs. Dr. Woodrow Borah an authority on the demography of ancient Mexico at the University of California, Berkeley, has recently estimated that the Aztecs sacrificed 250,000 people a year. This consituted about 1 percent of the region’s population of 25 million. (…) He argues that cannibalism, which may have begun for purely religious reasons, appears to have grown to serve nutritional needs because the Aztecs, unlike nearly all other civilizations, lacked domesticated herbivores such as pigs or cattle. Staples of the Aztec diet were corn and beans supplemented with a few vegetables, lizards, snakes and worms. There were some domesticated turkeys and hairless dogs. Poor people gathered floating mats of vegetation from lakes. (…) In contemporary sources, however, such as the writings of Hernando Cortes, who conquered the Aztecs in 1521, and Bernal Diaz, who accompanied Cortes, Dr. Hamer says there is abundant evidence that human sacrifice was a common event in every town and that the limbs of the victims were boiled or roasted and eaten. Diaz, who is regarded by anthropologists as a highly reliable source, wrote in “The Conquest of New Spain,” for example, that in the town of Tlaxcala “we found wooden cages made of lattice‐work in which men and women were imprisoned and fed until they were fat enough to be sacrificed and eaten. These prison cages existed throughout the country.” The sacrifices, carried out by priests, took place atop the hundreds of steepwalled pyramids scattered about the Valley of Mexico. According to Diaz, the victims were taken up the pyramids where the priests “laid them down on their backs on some narrow stones of sacrifice and, cutting open their chests, drew out their palpitating hearts which they offered to the idols before them. Then they kicked the bodies down the steps, and the Indian butchers who were waiting below cut off their arms and legs. Then they ate their flesh with a sauce of peppers and tomatoes.” (…) Diaz’s accounts indicate that the Aztecs ate only the limbs of their victims. The torsos were fed to carnivores in zoos. According to Dr. Harner, the Aztecs never sacrificed their own people. Instead they battled neighboring nations, using tactics that minimized deaths in battle and maximized the number of prisoners. The traditional explanation for Aztec human sacrifice has been that it was religious—a way of winning the support of the gods for success in battle. Victories procured even more victims, thus winning still more divine support in the next war. (…) Traditional anthropological accounts indicate that to win more favor from the gods during the famine the Aztecs arranged with their neighbors to stage battles for prisoners who could be sacrificed. The Aztecs’ neighbors, sharing similar religious tenets, wanted to sacrifice Aztecs to their gods. The NYT
Specialists in Mesoamerican history are going to be upset about this for obvious reasons. They’re not going to have the people they study looking like cannibals. They’re clinging to a very romantic point of view about the Aztecs. It’s the Hiawatha syndrome. Michael Harner
Some conquistadors wrote about the tzompantli and its towers, estimating that the rack alone contained 130,000 skulls. But historians and archaeologists knew the conquistadors were prone to exaggerating the horrors of human sacrifice to demonize the Mexica culture. As the centuries passed, scholars began to wonder whether the tzompantli had ever existed. Archaeologists at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) here can now say with certainty that it did. Beginning in 2015, they discovered and excavated the remains of the skull rack and one of the towers underneath a colonial period house on the street that runs behind Mexico City’s cathedral. (The other tower, they suspect, lies under the cathedral’s back courtyard.) The scale of the rack and tower suggests they held thousands of skulls, testimony to an industry of human sacrifice unlike any other in the world. Science
Some post-conquest sources report that at the re-consecration of Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in 1487, the Aztecs sacrificed about 80,400 prisoners over the course of four days. This number is considered by Ross Hassig, author of Aztec Warfare, to be an exaggeration. Hassig states « between 10,000 and 80,400 persons » were sacrificed in the ceremony. The higher estimate would average 15 sacrifices per minute during the four-day consecration. Four tables were arranged at the top so that the victims could be jettisoned down the sides of the temple. Nonetheless, according to Codex Telleriano-Remensis, old Aztecs who talked with the missionaries told about a much lower figure for the reconsecration of the temple, approximately 4,000 victims in total. Michael Harner, in his 1977 article The Enigma of Aztec Sacrifice, cited an estimate by Borah of the number of persons sacrificed in central Mexico in the 15th century as high as 250,000 per year which may have been one percent of the population. Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxochitl, a Mexica descendant and the author of Codex Ixtlilxochitl, estimated that one in five children of the Mexica subjects was killed annually. Victor Davis Hanson argues that a claim by Don Carlos Zumárraga of 20,000 per annum is « more plausible ». Wikipedia
Certains chercheurs ont émis l’hypothèse que l’apport en protéines des aliments dont disposaient les Aztèques était insuffisant, en raison de l’absence de grands mammifères terrestres domesticables, et que les sacrifices humains avaient pour fonction principale de pallier cette carence nutritionnelle. Cette théorie, en particulier quand elle a été diffusée par le New York Times, a été critiquée par la majorité des spécialistes de la Mésoamérique. Michael Harner a notamment accusé les chercheurs mexicains de minimiser le cannibalisme aztèque par nationalisme ; Bernardo R. Ortiz de Montellano, en particulier, a publié en 1979 un article détaillant les failles de l’analyse de Harner, en démontrant notamment que le régime alimentaire aztèque était équilibré, varié et suffisamment riche en protéines, grâce à la pêche d’une abondante faune aquatique et la chasse de nombreux oiseaux, et que donc l’anthropophagie ne pouvait pas être une nécessité, car elle n’aurait pas pu améliorer significativement un apport en protéines déjà suffisant. Michel Graulich a apporté d’autres éléments de critique. Il affirme que si cette théorie était exacte, la chair des victimes aurait dû être distribuée au moins autant aux gens modestes qu’aux puissants, mais il semble que ce n’était pas le cas ; il ajoute que seules les grandes villes pratiquaient le sacrifice humain de masse, et que ce phénomène n’a pas été prouvé dans la plupart des autres populations mésoaméricaines, dont l’alimentation semble pourtant comparable à celle des Aztèques. Wikipedia
Considérant que c’est le devoir de toutes les Nations de reconnaître la providence de Dieu Tout-puissant, d’obéir à sa volonté, d’être reconnaissantes pour ses bienfaits, et humblement implorer sa protection et sa faveur, et tandis que les deux Chambres du Congrès m’ont, par leur Comité mixte, demandé de recommander au Peuple des États-Unis qu’un jour public d’action de grâce et de prières soit observé en reconnaissance aux nombreux signes de faveur de Dieu Tout-puissant, particulièrement en ayant donné au Peuple les moyens d’établir pacifiquement une forme de gouvernement pour sa sûreté et son bonheur. Maintenant donc, je recommande et assigne que le premier jeudi après le 26e jour de novembre soit consacré par le Peuple de ces États au service du grand et glorieux Être, qui est l’Auteur bienfaisant de tout ce qu’il y a eu, qu’il y a et qu’il y aura de bon. Nous pouvons alors tous nous unir en lui donnant notre sincère et humble merci, pour son soin et sa protection, appréciés du Peuple de ce Pays, avant que celui-ci ne soit devenu une Nation de pitié ; pour les interpositions favorables de sa Providence lors de nos épreuves durant le cours et la fin de la récente guerre ; pour le grand degré de tranquillité, d’union, et d’abondance, que nous avons depuis appréciées ; pour le pacifisme et la raison qui nous ont été conférés pour nous permettre d’établir des constitutions de gouvernement pour notre sûreté et notre bonheur, en particulier la Loi nationale récemment instituée, ; pour la liberté civile et la liberté religieuse formant à elles seules une vraie bénédiction ; pour les moyens que nous avons d’acquérir et de répandre la connaissance utile ; et d’une manière générale pour toutes les grandes et diverses faveurs qu’il nous a bien heureusement conférées. Nous pouvons alors nous unir en offrant le plus humblement nos prières et supplications au grand Seigneur et Gouverneur des Nations et le solliciter pour pardonner nos transgressions nationales et autres transgressions ; pour nous permettre à tous, en poste public ou privé, de remplir nos nombreuses fonctions respectives, correctement et ponctuellement ; pour permettre à notre gouvernement national de rendre bénédiction à toutes les personnes, en étant constamment un Gouvernement de lois sages, justes, et constitutionnelles, discrètement et loyalement exécutées et obéies ; pour protéger, guider et bénir tous les Souverains et toutes les Nations (particulièrement celles qui ont montré de la bonté envers nous), afin de leur assurer paix et concordance, et assurer un bon gouvernement ; pour favoriser la connaissance et la pratique vraies de la religion et de la vertu, ainsi que davantage de science parmi eux et nous, et accorder généralement à toute l’Humanité un tel degré de prospérité temporelle comme lui seul sait pour être le meilleur. « Donné sous ma main à la Ville de New-York le troisième jour d’octobre par année 1789 de notre Seigneur. George Washington
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth. Abraham Lincoln
Whereas by a joint resolution approved June 29, 1892, it was resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled— That the President of the United States be authorized and directed to issue a proclamation recommending to the people the observance in all their localities of the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America, on the 21st of October, 1892, by public demonstrations and by suitable exercises in their schools and other places of assembly. Now, therefore, I, Benjamin Harrison, President of the United States of America, in pursuance of the aforesaid joint resolution, do hereby appoint Friday, October 21, 1892, the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus, as a general holiday for the people of the United States. On that day let the people, so far as possible, cease from toil and devote themselves to such exercises as may best express honor to the discoverer and their appreciation of the great achievements of the four completed centuries of American life. Columbus stood in his age as the pioneer of progress and enlightenment. The system of universal education is in our age the most prominent and salutary feature of the spirit of enlightenment, and it is peculiarly appropriate that the schools be made by the people the center of the day’s demonstration. Let the national flag float over every schoolhouse in the country and the exercises be such as shall impress upon our youth the patriotic duties of American citizenship. In the churches and in the other places of assembly of the people let there be expressions of gratitude to Divine Providence for the devout faith of the discoverer and for the divine care and guidance which has directed our history and so abundantly blessed our people. (…) Done at the city of Washington, this 21st day of July, A.D. 1892, and of the Independence of the United States the one hundred and seventeenth. US president Benjamin Harrison
Of all the bedtime-story versions of American history we teach, the tidy Thanksgiving pageant may be the one stuffed with the heaviest serving of myth. This iconic tale is the main course in our nation’s foundation legend, complete with cardboard cutouts of bow-carrying Native American cherubs and pint-size Pilgrims in black hats with buckles. And legend it largely is. In fact, what had been a New England seasonal holiday became more of a “national” celebration only during the Civil War, with Lincoln’s proclamation calling for “a day of thanksgiving” in 1863. That fall, Lincoln had precious little to be thankful for. The Union victory at Gettysburg the previous July had come at a dreadful cost – a combined 51,000 estimated casualties, with nearly 8,000 dead. Enraged by draft laws and emancipation, rioters in Northern cities like New York went on bloody rampages. And the president and his wife, Mary, were still mourning the loss of their 11-year-old son, Willie, who had died the year before. So it might seem odd that Lincoln chose this moment to announce a national day of thanksgiving, to be marked on the last Thursday in November. His Oct. 3, 1863, proclamation read: “In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity … peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict.” But it took another year for the day to really catch hold. In 1864 Lincoln issued a second proclamation, which read, “I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust.”(…) What prompted Lincoln to issue these proclamations – the first two in an unbroken string of presidential Thanksgiving proclamations – is uncertain. He was not the first president to do so. George Washington and James Madison had earlier issued “thanksgiving” proclamations, calling for somber days of prayer. Perhaps Lincoln saw an opportunity to underscore shared American traditions – a theme found in the “mystic chords of memory” stretching from “every patriot grave” in his first inaugural. Or he may have been responding to the passionate entreaties of Sara Josepha Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book – the Good Housekeeping of its day. Hale, who contributed to American folkways as the author of “Mary had a Little Lamb,” had been advocating in the magazine for a national day of Thanksgiving since 1837. (…)  But one crucial piece remained: The elevation of Thanksgiving to a true national holiday, a feat accomplished by Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1939, with the nation still struggling out of the Great Depression, the traditional Thanksgiving Day fell on the last day of the month – a fifth Thursday. Worried retailers, for whom the holiday had already become the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season, feared this late date. Roosevelt agreed to move his holiday proclamation up one week to the fourth Thursday, thereby extending the critical shopping season. Some states stuck to the traditional last Thursday date, and other Thanksgiving traditions, such as high school and college football championships, had already been scheduled. This led to Roosevelt critics deriding the earlier date as “Franksgiving.” With 32 states joining Roosevelt’s “Democratic Thanksgiving, ” 16 others stuck with the traditional date, or “Republican Thanksgiving.” After some congressional wrangling, in December 1941, Roosevelt signed the legislation making Thanksgiving a legal holiday on the fourth Thursday in November. And there it has remained. Kenneth C. Davis
Le 14 mars 1891, à la Nouvelle-Orléans, en Louisiane, onze Italiens furent lynchés par la foule en raison du rôle qu’ils avaient supposément joué dans le meurtre du commissaire de police David Hennessy. Ce lynchage, qui restera comme le lynchage de masse le plus important de toute l’histoire des États-Unis, eut lieu le lendemain du procès de neuf sur les dix-neuf hommes inculpés dans cette affaire de meurtre. Six de ces prévenus furent alors acquittés, et le jugement fut ajourné concernant les trois autres, pour défaut d’unanimité dans le jury sur le verdict. Croyant que le jury avait été soudoyé, une foule d’émeutiers fit irruption dans la prison où les hommes étaient détenus et tuèrent onze d’entre eux. Ce lynchage apparaît inhabituel en ceci que les émeutiers étaient au nombre de plusieurs milliers et que dans leurs rangs figuraient quelques-uns parmi les citoyens les plus en vue de la ville. La couverture de l’événement par la presse américaine fut d’ailleurs largement complaisante, et les responsables du lynchage ne furent jamais poursuivis. Le New York Times félicita les meurtriers, car la mort des Italiens « accroissait la sécurité des biens et de la vie des habitants de La Nouvelle-Orléans ». Le Washington Post assura que le lynchage mettrait un terme au « règne de la terreur » qu’imposerait les Italiens. Selon le Saint Louis Globe Democrat, les lyncheurs n’avaient fait qu’exercer « les droits légitimes de la souveraineté populaire ». L’incident eut de graves répercussions au plan national. L’Italie suspendit ses relations diplomatiques avec les États-Unis après le refus du président Benjamin Harrison d’ouvrir une enquête fédérale. La presse et la rumeur publique propagèrent l’idée que la marine italienne s’apprêtait à attaquer les ports américains et des milliers de volontaires se présentèrent pour faire la guerre à l’Italie3. La recrudescence des sentiments anti-italiens s’accompagna d’appels à une restriction de l’immigration. Le vocable mafia fit son entrée dans le lexique des Américains, et le stéréotype du mafioso italo-américain s’implanta durablement dans l’imaginaire populaire. En 1955, un homme d’affaires, décédé cette année-là, reconnut dans une lettre que l’assassinat du policier avait été organisé par un comité d’une cinquantaine d’hommes d’affaires anglo-saxons qui entendaient se débarrasser d’hommes d’affaires rivaux italiens. Ces lynchages constituent l’argument du téléfilm Vendetta, produit en 1999 par HBO et adapté d’un ouvrage de Richard Gambino paru en 1977, avec Christopher Walken dans le rôle principal. Wikipedia
La première célébration du jour de Christophe Colomb s’est faite dans la ville de San Francisco, en 1869, par une communauté majoritairement italo-américaine. Pourtant, le premier État tout entier à célébrer cette fête fut le Colorado, en 1907. Trente ans après, Franklin D. Roosevelt instaure ce jour comme un jour de fête nationale aux États-Unis. Il faudra cependant attendre la Proclamation du président George W. Bush du 4 octobre 2007 pour que le jour de Christophe Colomb soit officiellement fixé au deuxième lundi du mois d’octobre de chaque année. Christophe Colomb était au service de l’Espagne cependant il était d’origine italienne. « Cristoforo Colombo » est né en 1451 sur le territoire de la République de Gênes. Les Italiens ont été les premiers à célébrer le jour de Christophe Colomb lors de leur immigration vers les États-Unis. L’Empire State Building se pare alors des couleurs du drapeau italien (vert, blanc et rouge). Le Jour de Christophe Colomb (Columbus Day) est un jour férié fédéral aux États-Unis. Il est organisé depuis 1929 par la Columbus Citizens Foundation. Chaque État célèbre différemment le jour de Christophe Colomb. Cette fête a lieu sous forme de parades dans les rues américaines, il y a plusieurs défilés. Une Columbus Day Parade est organisée dans plusieurs villes comme à Denver. À New York, la Columbus Day Parade a lieu depuis 1915 le long de la célèbre 5e avenue à la hauteur de la 44e rue et continue sur la célèbre avenue de la Big Apple jusqu’au niveau de la 86e rue. On retrouve ainsi des fanfares, des chars, et différentes manifestations et fêtes dans tous les quartiers aux alentours de la route de la parade. À Washington, devant la Gare de l’Union a lieu une cérémonie officielle devant le Mémorial de Christophe Colomb. Les festivités commencent juste après le dépôt de gerbes aux pieds de ce monument. Ce n’est pas un jour férié dans tous les États des États-Unis, comme en Alaska, dans le Nevada, à Hawaï et dans le Dakota du Sud. Ces États ne reconnaissent pas le Jour de Christophe Colomb et fêtent d’autres événements. Cette fête est contestée aux États-Unis. Nombreux sont ceux rappelant que derrière la découverte de l’Amérique par Christophe Colomb se cachent des faits moins glorieux, tels que la colonisation ou encore le massacre des Indiens d’Amérique. Le Jour de Christophe Colomb est plus communément appelé « Jour de la Race » (Día de la Raza) dans les pays d’Amérique Latine comme le Brésil, le Guatemala, le Paraguay, Porto Rico, le Nicaragua ou la République Dominicaine. Il se déroule généralement le 12 octobre et est considéré, pour de nombreux pays, comme un anti-Colombus Day. Il célèbre la résistance à l’arrivée des européens dans le Nouveau Monde et est aussi utilisé pour commémorer les cultures indigènes. Au cours de cette journée des festivités sont organisées pour lutter contre le racisme, se souvenir des cultures et des traditions des peuples précolombiens. En Argentine la fête est appelée « Journée de la Diversité Culturelle » (Día de la Diversidad Cultural). Elle se veut être la naissance d’une nouvelle identité, issue de la fusion entre les peuples d’origine et les colonisateurs espagnols. Le 24 septembre 1892, le Congrès mexicain décréta le 12 octobre jour de fête nationale. Depuis 1917 à l’initiative de Venustiano Carranza il porte le nom de Día de la Raza. Le président Emilio Portes Gil lui donna le nom de Día de la Raza y Aniversario del Descubrimiento de América en 1929. Ce jour n’est plus un jour férié officiel actuellement, mais il donne lieu a de nombreuses festivités. L’Espagne est la seule à utiliser le nom de « Jour de l’Hispanité » (Día de la Hispanidad) pour célébrer cette fête. Le terme « hispanité » a été défini à la fin du XIXe siècle par des intellectuels. Il est officialisé fête nationale par Alfonso XIII en 1918 sous l’appellation «Fête de la Race » (Día de la Raza) en contradiction avec les idées progressistes. Après la restauration de la monarchie en 1981, un arrêté royal publié dans le premier Bulletin Officiel de l’État en 1982, officialise la date de 12 octobre en tant que Fête Nationale de l’Espagne et Jour de l’Hispanité. Cet événement est très cher au cœur des Espagnols puisque le navigateur est venu chercher la grande majorité de son équipage en Espagne. Wikipedia
Sans pouvoir préciser avec certitude l’ampleur de l’impact des maladies infectieuses chez les Amérindiens, le taux de mortalité aurait atteint 90 pour cent pour certaines populations durement affectées. Les Amérindiens, qui n’étaient pas immunisés contre des virus et maladies comme la coqueluche, la rougeole ou la variole qui sévissaient depuis des millénaires dans l’Ancien Monde, auraient été foudroyés par des épidémies plusieurs décennies avant que des colons arrivent dans des territoires apparemment peu peuplés de l’intérieur. N’ayant aucune connaissance sur les virus à l’époque, les Européens n’ont donc aucunement profité en connaissance de cause des faiblesses immunitaires des populations autochtones. Le processus a commencé dès les années 1500 et a emporté des centaines de milliers de vies. En 1520 et 1521, une épidémie de variole toucha les habitants de Tenochtitlan et fut l’un des principaux facteurs de la chute de la ville au moment du siège. En effet, on estime entre 10 et 50 % la part de la population de la cité qui serait morte à cause de cette maladie en deux semaines. Deux autres épidémies affectèrent la vallée de Mexico : la variole en 1545-1548 et le typhus en 1576-1581. Les Espagnols, pour compenser la diminution de la population, ont rassemblé les survivants des petites villes de la vallée de Mexico dans de plus grandes cités. Cette migration a brisé le pouvoir des classes supérieures, mais n’a pas dissous la cohésion de la société indigène dans un Mexique plus grand. Les épidémies de variole, de typhus, de grippe, de diphtérie de rougeole, de peste auraient tué entre 50 et 66 % de la population indigène selon les régions de Amérique latine. En 1617-1619, une épidémie de peste bubonique ravage la Nouvelle-Angleterre. Le bilan de ces épidémies est difficile à donner avec exactitude. Les sources sont inexistantes et les historiens ne sont pas d’accord sur les estimations. Certains avancent 10 millions d’Amérindiens pour tout le continent ; d’autres pensent plutôt à 90 millions, dont 10 pour l’Amérique du Nord. Le continent américain entier (de l’Alaska au Cap Horn) aurait abrité environ 50 millions d’habitants en 1492 ; pour comparaison, il y avait 20 millions de Français au XVIIe siècle. Les chiffres avancés pour le territoire des États-Unis d’aujourd’hui sont compris entre 7 et 12 millions d’habitants. Environ 500 000 Amérindiens peuplaient la côte Est de cet espace. Ils ne sont plus que 100 000 au début du XVIIIe siècle. Dans l’Empire espagnol, la mortalité des Amérindiens était telle qu’elle fut l’un des motifs de la traite des Noirs, permettant d’importer dans le « Nouveau Monde » de la main-d’œuvre pour les mines et les plantations. Wikipedia
Celebration of Christopher Columbus’s voyage in the early United States is recorded from as early as 1792. In that year, the Tammany Society in New York City (for whom it became an annual tradition) and the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston celebrated the 300th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the New World. For the 400th anniversary in 1892, following a lynching in New Orleans where a mob had murdered 11 Italian immigrants, President Benjamin Harrison declared Columbus Day as a one-time national celebration. The proclamation was part of a wider effort after the lynching incident to placate Italian Americans and ease diplomatic tensions with Italy. During the anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These rituals took themes such as citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation, and the celebration of social progress. Many Italian-Americans observe Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage, and the first such celebration had already been held in New York City on October 12, 1866. The day was first enshrined as a legal holiday in the United States through the lobbying of Angelo Noce, a first generation Italian, in Denver. The first statewide holiday was proclaimed by Colorado governor Jesse F. McDonald in 1905, and it was made a statutory holiday in 1907. In April 1937, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus and New York City Italian leader Generoso Pope, Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed October 12 be a federal holiday under the name Columbus Day. Since 1971 (Oct. 11), the holiday has been attributed to the second Monday in October,[20] coincidentally exactly the same day as Thanksgiving in neighboring Canada since 1957. It is generally observed nowadays by banks, the bond market, the U.S. Postal Service, other federal agencies, most state government offices, many businesses, and most school districts. Some businesses and some stock exchanges remain open, and some states and municipalities abstain from observing the holiday. The traditional date of the holiday also adjoins the anniversary of the United States Navy (founded October 13, 1775), and thus both occasions are customarily observed by the Navy and the Marine Corps with either a 72- or 96-hour liberty period. Actual observance varies in different parts of the United States, ranging from large-scale parades and events to complete non-observance. Most states do not celebrate Columbus Day as an official state holiday. Some mark it as a « Day of Observance » or « Recognition.” Most states that celebrate Columbus Day will close state services, while others operate as normal. San Francisco claims the nation’s oldest continuously existing celebration with the Italian-American community’s annual Columbus Day Parade, which was established by Nicola Larco in 1868, while New York City boasts the largest, with over 35,000 marchers and one million viewers around 2010. As in the mainland United States, Columbus Day is a legal holiday in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. In the United States Virgin Islands, the day is celebrated as both Columbus Day and « Puerto Rico Friendship Day. » Virginia also celebrates two legal holidays on the day, Columbus Day and Yorktown Victory Day, which honors the final victory at the Siege of Yorktown in the Revolutionary War. The celebration of Columbus Day in the United States began to decline at the end of the 20th century, although many Italian-Americans, and others, continue to champion it. The states of Florida, Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont, South Dakota, New Mexico, Maine, Wisconsin, and parts of California including, for example, Los Angeles County do not recognize it and have each replaced it with celebrations of Indigenous People’s Day (in Hawaii, « Discoverers’ Day », in South Dakota, « Native American Day »). A lack of recognition or a reduced level of observance for Columbus Day is not always due to concerns about honoring Native Americans. For example, a community of predominantly Scandinavian descent may observe Leif Erikson Day instead. In the state of Oregon, Columbus Day is not an official holiday. Iowa and Nevada do not celebrate Columbus Day as an official holiday, but the states’ respective governors are « authorized and requested » by statute to proclaim the day each year. Several states have removed the day as a paid holiday for state government workers, while still maintaining it—either as a day of recognition, or as a legal holiday for other purposes, including California and Texas. The practice of U.S. cities eschewing Columbus Day to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day began in 1992 with Berkeley, California. The list of cities which have followed suit as of 2018 includes Austin, Boise, Cincinnati, Denver, Los Angeles, Mankato, Minnesota, Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Seattle, St. Paul, Minnesota, Phoenix, Tacoma, and « dozens of others. » Columbus, Ohio has chosen to honor veterans instead of Christopher Columbus, and removed Columbus Day as a city holiday. Various tribal governments in Oklahoma designate the day as Native American Day, or name it after their own tribe. Wikipedia
In a country of diverse religious faiths and national origins like the United States, it made sense to develop a holiday system that was not entirely tied to a religious calendar. (Christmas survives here, of course, but in law it’s a secular holiday much like New Year’s Day.) So Americans do not all leave for the shore on August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, the way Italians do; and while St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by many Americans, it is not a legal holiday in any of the states. The American system of holidays was constructed mostly around a series of great events and persons in our nation’s history. The aim was to instill a feeling of civic pride. Holidays were chosen as occasions to bring everyone together, not for excluding certain people. They were supposed to be about the recognition of our society’s common struggles and achievements. Civic religion is often used to describe the principle behind America’s calendar of public holidays. Consider the range and variability of the meanings of our holidays. Certainly they have not always been occasions for celebration: Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day involve mourning for the dead and wounded. Labor Day commemorated significant hardships in the decades when unions were struggling to organize. Having grown up in the 1960s I remember how Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday (now lumped in with Presidents’ Day, and with some of its significance transferred to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) took on special meaning during the Civil Rights movement and after the JFK assassination. When thinking about the Columbus Day holiday it helps to remember the good intentions of the people who put together the first parade in New York. Columbus Day was first proclaimed a national holiday by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892, 400 years after Columbus’s first voyage. The idea, lost on present-day critics of the holiday, was that this would be a national holiday that would be special for recognizing both Native Americans, who were here before Columbus, and the many immigrants—including Italians—who were just then coming to this country in astounding numbers. It was to be a national holiday that was not about the Founding Fathers or the Civil War, but about the rest of American history. Like the Columbian Exposition dedicated in Chicago that year and opened in 1893, it was to be about our land and all its people. Harrison especially designated the schools as centers of the Columbus celebration because universal public schooling, which had only recently taken hold, was seen as essential to a democracy that was seriously aiming to include everyone and not just preserve a governing elite. You won’t find it in the public literature surrounding the first Columbus Day in 1892, but in the background lay two recent tragedies, one involving Native Americans, the other involving Italian Americans. The first tragedy was the massacre by U.S. troops of between 146 and 200 Lakota Sioux, including men, women and children, at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on December 29, 1890. Shooting began after a misunderstanding involving an elderly, deaf Sioux warrior who hadn’t heard and therefore did not understand that he was supposed to hand over his rifle to the U.S. Cavalry. The massacre at Wounded Knee marked the definitive end of Indian resistance in the Great Plains. The episode was immediately seen by the government as potentially troubling, although there was much popular sentiment against the Sioux. An inquiry was held, the soldiers were absolved, and some were awarded medals that Native Americans to this day are seeking to have rescinded. A second tragedy in the immediate background of the 1892 Columbus celebration took place in New Orleans. There, on March 14, 1891—only 10 weeks after the Wounded Knee Massacre—11 Italians were lynched in prison by a mob led by prominent Louisiana politicians. A trial for the murder of the New Orleans police chief had ended in mistrials for three of the Italians and the acquittal of the others who were brought to trial. Unhappy with the verdict and spurred on by fear of the “Mafia” (a word that had only recently entered American usage), civic leaders organized an assault on the prison to put the Italians to death. This episode was also troubling to the U.S. Government. These were legally innocent men who had been killed. But Italians were not very popular, and even Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying that he thought the New Orleans Italians “got what they deserved.” A grand jury was summoned, but no one was charged with a crime. President Harrison, who would proclaim the Columbus holiday the following year, was genuinely saddened by the case, and over the objections of some members of congress he paid reparations to the Italian government for the deaths of its citizens. Whenever I hear of protests about the Columbus Day holiday—protests that tend to pit Native Americans against Italian Americans, I remember these tragedies that occurred so soon before the first Columbus Day holiday, and I shake my head. President Harrison did not allude to either of these sad episodes in his proclamation of the holiday, but the idea for the holiday involved a vision of an America that would get beyond the prejudice that had led to these deaths. Columbus Day was supposed to recognize the greatness of all of America’s people, but especially Italians and Native Americans. Consider how the first Columbus Day parade in New York was described in the newspapers. It consisted mostly of about 12,000 public school students grouped into 20 regiments, each commanded by a principal. The boys marched in school uniforms or their Sunday best, while the girls, dressed in red, white and blue, sat in bleachers. Alongside the public schoolers there were military drill squads and 29 marching bands, each of 30 to 50 instruments. After the public schools, there followed 5,500 students from the Catholic schools. Then there were students from the private schools wearing school uniforms. These included the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, the Barnard School Military Corps, and the Italian and American Colonial School. The Dante Alighieri Italian College of Astoria was dressed entirely in sailor outfits. These were followed by the Native American marching band from the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, which, according to one description, included “300 marching Indian boys and 50 tall Indian girls.” That the Native Americans came right after the students from the Dante Alighieri School speaks volumes about the spirit of the original Columbus Day. (…) So Columbus Day is for all Americans. It marks the first encounter that brought together the original Americans and the future ones. A lot of suffering followed, and a lot of achievement too. That a special role has been reserved for Italians in keeping the parades and the commemoration alive for well over a century seems right, since Columbus was Italian (…) So much for his ethnicity. What about his moral standing? In the late 19th century an international movement, led by a French priest, sought to have Columbus canonized for bringing Christianity to the New World. To the Catholic Church’s credit, this never got very far. It sometimes gets overlooked in current discussions that we neither commemorate Columbus’s birthday (as was the practice for Presidents Washington and Lincoln, and as we now do with Martin Luther King, Jr.) nor his death date (which is when Christian saints are memorialized), but rather the date of his arrival in the New World. The historical truth about Columbus—the short version suitable for reporters who are pressed for time—is that Columbus was Italian, but he was no saint. The holiday marks the event, not the person. What Columbus gets criticized for nowadays are attitudes that were typical of the European sailing captains and merchants who plied the Mediterranean and the Atlantic in the 15th century. Within that group he was unquestionably a man of daring and unusual ambition. But what really mattered was his landing on San Salvador, which was a momentous, world-changing occasion such as has rarely happened in human history. William J. Connell
These sneaking and cowardly Sicilians, the descendants of bandits and assassins, who have transported to this country the lawless passions, the cutthroat practices … are to us a pest without mitigations. Our own rattlesnakes are as good citizens as they. Our own murderers are men of feeling and nobility compared to them. The Times
Congress envisioned a white, Protestant and culturally homogeneous America when it declared in 1790 that only “free white persons, who have, or shall migrate into the United States” were eligible to become naturalized citizens. The calculus of racism underwent swift revision when waves of culturally diverse immigrants from the far corners of Europe changed the face of the country. As the historian Matthew Frye Jacobson shows in his immigrant history “Whiteness of a Different Color,” the surge of newcomers engendered a national panic and led Americans to adopt a more restrictive, politicized view of how whiteness was to be allocated. Journalists, politicians, social scientists and immigration officials embraced the habit, separating ostensibly white Europeans into “races.” Some were designated “whiter” — and more worthy of citizenship — than others, while some were ranked as too close to blackness to be socially redeemable. The story of how Italian immigrants went from racialized pariah status in the 19th century to white Americans in good standing in the 20th offers a window onto the alchemy through which race is constructed in the United States, and how racial hierarchies can sometimes change. Darker skinned southern Italians endured the penalties of blackness on both sides of the Atlantic. In Italy, Northerners had long held that Southerners — particularly Sicilians — were an “uncivilized” and racially inferior people, too obviously African to be part of Europe. Racist dogma about Southern Italians found fertile soil in the United States. As the historian Jennifer Guglielmo writes, the newcomers encountered waves of books, magazines and newspapers that “bombarded Americans with images of Italians as racially suspect.” They were sometimes shut out of schools, movie houses and labor unions, or consigned to church pews set aside for black people. They were described in the press as “swarthy,” “kinky haired” members of a criminal race and derided in the streets with epithets like “dago,” “guinea” — a term of derision applied to enslaved Africans and their descendants — and more familiarly racist insults like “white nigger” and “nigger wop.” The penalties of blackness went well beyond name-calling in the apartheid South. Italians who had come to the country as “free white persons” were often marked as black because they accepted “black” jobs in the Louisiana sugar fields or because they chose to live among African-Americans. This left them vulnerable to marauding mobs like the ones that hanged, shot, dismembered or burned alive thousands of black men, women and children across the South. The federal holiday honoring the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus — celebrated on Monday — was central to the process through which Italian-Americans were fully ratified as white during the 20th century. The rationale for the holiday was steeped in myth, and allowed Italian-Americans to write a laudatory portrait of themselves into the civic record. Few who march in Columbus Day parades or recount the tale of Columbus’s voyage from Europe to the New World are aware of how the holiday came about or that President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed it as a one-time national celebration in 1892 — in the wake of a bloody New Orleans lynching that took the lives of 11 Italian immigrants. The proclamation was part of a broader attempt to quiet outrage among Italian-Americans, and a diplomatic blowup over the murders that brought Italy and the United States to the brink of war. (…) Italian immigrants were welcomed into Louisiana after the Civil War, when the planter class was in desperate need of cheap labor to replace newly emancipated black people, who were leaving backbreaking jobs in the fields for more gainful employment. These Italians seemed at first to be the answer to both the labor shortage and the increasingly pressing quest for settlers who would support white domination in the emerging Jim Crow state. Louisiana’s romance with Italian labor began to sour when the new immigrants balked at low wages and dismal working conditions. The newcomers also chose to live together in Italian neighborhoods, where they spoke their native tongue, preserved Italian customs and developed successful businesses that catered to African-Americans, with whom they fraternized and intermarried. In time, this proximity to blackness would lead white Southerners to view Sicilians, in particular, as not fully white and to see them as eligible for persecution — including lynching — that had customarily been imposed on African-Americans. (…) The carnage in New Orleans was set in motion in the fall of 1890, when the city’s popular police chief, David Hennessy, was assassinated on his way home one evening. Hennessy had no shortage of enemies. The historian John V. Baiamonte Jr. writes that he had once been tried for murder in connection with the killing of a professional rival. He is also said to have been involved in a feud between two Italian businessmen. On the strength of a clearly suspect witness who claimed to hear Mr. Hennessy say that “dagoes” had shot him, the city charged 19 Italians with complicity in the chief’s murder. That the evidence was distressingly weak was evident from the verdicts that were swiftly handed down: Of the first nine to be tried, six were acquitted; three others were granted mistrials. The leaders of the mob that then went after them advertised their plans in advance, knowing full well that the city’s elites — who coveted the businesses the Italians had built or hated the Italians for fraternizing with African-Americans — would never seek justice for the dead. After the lynching, a grand jury investigation pronounced the killings praiseworthy, turning that inquiry into what the historian Barbara Botein describes as “possibly one of the greatest whitewashes in American history. (…) President Harrison would have ignored the New Orleans carnage had the victims been black. But the Italian government made that impossible. It broke off diplomatic relations and demanded an indemnity that the Harrison administration paid. Harrison even called on Congress in his 1891 State of the Union to protect foreign nationals — though not black Americans — from mob violence. Harrison’s Columbus Day proclamation in 1892 opened the door for Italian-Americans to write themselves into the American origin story, in a fashion that piled myth upon myth. As the historian Danielle Battisti shows in “Whom We Shall Welcome,” they rewrote history by casting Columbus as “the first immigrant” — even though he never set foot in North America and never immigrated anywhere (except possibly to Spain), and even though the United States did not exist as a nation during his 15th-century voyage. The mythologizing, carried out over many decades, granted Italian-Americans “a formative role in the nation-building narrative.” It also tied Italian-Americans closely to the paternalistic assertion, still heard today, that Columbus “discovered” a continent that was already inhabited by Native Americans. But in the late 19th century, the full-blown Columbus myth was yet to come. The New Orleans lynching solidified a defamatory view of Italians generally, and Sicilians in particular, as irredeemable criminals who represented a danger to the nation. The influential anti-immigrant racist Representative Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, soon to join the United States Senate, quickly appropriated the event. He argued that a lack of confidence in juries, not mob violence, had been the real problem in New Orleans. “Lawlessness and lynching are evil things,” he wrote, “but a popular belief that juries cannot be trusted is even worse.” Facts aside, Lodge argued, beliefs about immigrants were in themselves sufficient to warrant higher barriers to immigration. Congress ratified that notion during the 1920s, curtailing Italian immigration on racial grounds, even though Italians were legally white, with all of the rights whiteness entailed. The Italian-Americans who labored in the campaign that overturned racist immigration restrictions in 1965 used the romantic fictions built up around Columbus to political advantage. This shows yet again how racial categories that people mistakenly view as matters of biology grow out of highly politicized myth making. NYT

Attention: un massacre peut en cacher beaucoup d’autres !

En cette journée où, entre Israël, les Etats-Unis et le Canada, voire les pays hispaniques, coïncident les célébrations de plusieurs traditions culturelles différentes …

Et où, énième illustration de la division toujours plus grande des Etats-Unis par nos déconstructeurs postmodernes obsédés par un prétendu génocide indien – pire qu’Attila et Hitler réunis !

Dû pour l’essentiel à un choc microbien, un nombre croissant d’états ne la fêtent plus ou l’ont même remplacée par la Journée des peuples indigènes  …

Pendant qu’après l’égorgement de quatre policiers du renseignement de la lutte anti-islamique et quelque 250 victimes de la barbarie islamiste …

Nos courageux enfants gâtés du showbiz dénonçaient dès le lendemain l’agression « d’une violence et d’une haine inouïes » que l’on sait …

Retour …

Sans parler, avant et après Colomb ou Cortez, des centaines de milliers de sacrifices humains de nos amis aztèques et mayas

Sur le massacre …

Et pratiquement plus grand lynchage, avec 11 immigrants italiens extraits manu militari de leur prison de la Nouvelle Orléans et sommairement abattus, de l’histoire américaine …

Qui comme après la fête du Thanksgiving du président Lincoln suite aux centaines de milliers de morts de la Guerre civile américaine …

Et à l’instar de la Saint Patrick d’une communauté irlandaise elle aussi initialement discriminée …

Lança nationalement, au moins pour une journée, cette véritable marche des fiertés

Qu’est devenue le Columbus Day pour une communauté italo-américaine et notamment sicilienne …

Jusque-là assimilée non seulement à une race de criminels …

Mais à une sous-race à peine au-dessus des esclaves affranchis et des emplois méprisés …

Qu’ils étaient venus remplacer dans un Sud tout récemment sorti du traumatisme d’une guerre civile meurtrière…

How Italians Became ‘White’
Vicious bigotry, reluctant acceptance: an American story.

Brent Staples Mr. Staples is a member of the editorial board.
NYT
Oct. 12, 2019

Congress envisioned a white, Protestant and culturally homogeneous America when it declared in 1790 that only “free white persons, who have, or shall migrate into the United States” were eligible to become naturalized citizens. The calculus of racism underwent swift revision when waves of culturally diverse immigrants from the far corners of Europe changed the face of the country.

As the historian Matthew Frye Jacobson shows in his immigrant history “Whiteness of a Different Color,” the surge of newcomers engendered a national panic and led Americans to adopt a more restrictive, politicized view of how whiteness was to be allocated. Journalists, politicians, social scientists and immigration officials embraced the habit, separating ostensibly white Europeans into “races.” Some were designated “whiter” — and more worthy of citizenship — than others, while some were ranked as too close to blackness to be socially redeemable. The story of how Italian immigrants went from racialized pariah status in the 19th century to white Americans in good standing in the 20th offers a window onto the alchemy through which race is constructed in the United States, and how racial hierarchies can sometimes change.

Darker skinned southern Italians endured the penalties of blackness on both sides of the Atlantic. In Italy, Northerners had long held that Southerners — particularly Sicilians — were an “uncivilized” and racially inferior people, too obviously African to be part of Europe.

Racist dogma about Southern Italians found fertile soil in the United States. As the historian Jennifer Guglielmo writes, the newcomers encountered waves of books, magazines and newspapers that “bombarded Americans with images of Italians as racially suspect.” They were sometimes shut out of schools, movie houses and labor unions, or consigned to church pews set aside for black people. They were described in the press as “swarthy,” “kinky haired” members of a criminal race and derided in the streets with epithets like “dago,” “guinea” — a term of derision applied to enslaved Africans and their descendants — and more familiarly racist insults like “white nigger” and “nigger wop.”

The penalties of blackness went well beyond name-calling in the apartheid South. Italians who had come to the country as “free white persons” were often marked as black because they accepted “black” jobs in the Louisiana sugar fields or because they chose to live among African-Americans. This left them vulnerable to marauding mobs like the ones that hanged, shot, dismembered or burned alive thousands of black men, women and children across the South.

The federal holiday honoring the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus — celebrated on Monday — was central to the process through which Italian-Americans were fully ratified as white during the 20th century. The rationale for the holiday was steeped in myth, and allowed Italian-Americans to write a laudatory portrait of themselves into the civic record.

Few who march in Columbus Day parades or recount the tale of Columbus’s voyage from Europe to the New World are aware of how the holiday came about or that President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed it as a one-time national celebration in 1892 — in the wake of a bloody New Orleans lynching that took the lives of 11 Italian immigrants. The proclamation was part of a broader attempt to quiet outrage among Italian-Americans, and a diplomatic blowup over the murders that brought Italy and the United States to the brink of war.

Historians have recently showed that America’s dishonorable response to this barbaric event was partly conditioned by racist stereotypes about Italians promulgated in Northern newspapers like The Times. A striking analysis by Charles Seguin, a sociologist at Pennsylvania State University, and Sabrina Nardin, a doctoral student at the University of Arizona, shows that the protests lodged by the Italian government inspired something that had failed to coalesce around the brave African-American newspaper editor and anti-lynching campaigner Ida B. Wells — a broad anti-lynching effort.

A Black ‘Brute’ Lynched

The lynchings of Italians came at a time when newspapers in the South had established the gory convention of advertising the far more numerous public murders of African-Americans in advance — to attract large crowds — and justifying the killings by labeling the victims “brutes,” “fiends,” “ravishers,” “born criminals” or “troublesome Negroes.” Even high-minded news organizations that claimed to abhor the practice legitimized lynching by trafficking in racist stereotypes about its victims.

As Mr. Seguin recently showed, many Northern newspapers were “just as complicit” in justifying mob violence as their Southern counterparts. For its part, The Times made repeated use of the headline “A Brutal Negro Lynched,” presuming the victims’ guilt and branding them as congenital criminals. Lynchings of black men in the South were often based on fabricated accusations of sexual assault. As the Equal Justice Initiative explained in its 2015 report on lynching in America, a rape charge could occur in the absence of an actual victim and might arise from minor violations of the social code — like complimenting a white woman on her appearance or even bumping into her on the street.

The Times was not owned by the family that controls it today when it dismissed Ida B. Wells as a “slanderous and nasty-minded mulattress” for rightly describing rape allegations as “a thread bare lie” that Southerners used against black men who had consensual sexual relationships with white women. Nevertheless, as a Times editorialist of nearly 30 years standing — and a student of the institution’s history — I am outraged and appalled by the nakedly racist treatment my 19th-century predecessors displayed in writing about African-Americans and Italian immigrants.

When Wells took her anti-lynching campaign to England in the 1890s, Times editors rebuked her for representing “black brutes” abroad in an editorial that joked about what they described as “the practice of roasting Negro ravishers alive and boring out their eyes with red-hot pokers.” The editorial slandered African-Americans generally, referring to rape as “a crime to which Negroes are particularly prone.” The Times editors may have lodged objections to lynching — but they did so in a rhetoric firmly rooted in white supremacy.
‘Assassins by Nature’

Italian immigrants were welcomed into Louisiana after the Civil War, when the planter class was in desperate need of cheap labor to replace newly emancipated black people, who were leaving backbreaking jobs in the fields for more gainful employment.

These Italians seemed at first to be the answer to both the labor shortage and the increasingly pressing quest for settlers who would support white domination in the emerging Jim Crow state. Louisiana’s romance with Italian labor began to sour when the new immigrants balked at low wages and dismal working conditions.

The newcomers also chose to live together in Italian neighborhoods, where they spoke their native tongue, preserved Italian customs and developed successful businesses that catered to African-Americans, with whom they fraternized and intermarried. In time, this proximity to blackness would lead white Southerners to view Sicilians, in particular, as not fully white and to see them as eligible for persecution — including lynching — that had customarily been imposed on African-Americans.

Nevertheless, as the historian Jessica Barbata Jackson showed recently in the journal Louisiana History, Italian newcomers were still well thought of in New Orleans in the 1870s when negative stereotypes were being established in the Northern press.

The Times, for instance, described them as bandits and members of the criminal classes who were “wretchedly poor and unskilled,” “starving and wholly destitute.” The stereotype about inborn criminality is plainly evident in an 1874 story about Italian immigrants seeking vaccinations that refers to one immigrant as a “burly fellow, whose appearance was like that of the traditional brigand of the Abruzzi.”

A Times story in 1880 described immigrants, including Italians, as “links in a descending chain of evolution.” These characterizations reached a defamatory crescendo in an 1882 editorial that appeared under the headline “Our Future Citizens.” The editors wrote:

“There has never been since New York was founded so low and ignorant a class among the immigrants who poured in here as the Southern Italians who have been crowding our docks during the past year.”

The editors reserved their worst invective for Italian immigrant children, whom they described as “utterly unfit — ragged, filthy, and verminous as they were — to be placed in the public primary schools among the decent children of American mechanics.”

The racist myth that African-Americans and Sicilians were both innately criminal drove an 1887 Times story about a lynching victim in Mississippi whose name was given as “Dago Joe” — “dago” being a slur directed at Italian and Spanish-speaking immigrants. The victim was described as a “half breed” who “was the son of a Sicilian father and a mulatto mother, and had the worst characteristics of both races in his makeup. He was cunning, treacherous and cruel, and was regarded in the community where he lived as an assassin by nature.”
Sicilians as ‘Rattlesnakes’

The carnage in New Orleans was set in motion in the fall of 1890, when the city’s popular police chief, David Hennessy, was assassinated on his way home one evening. Hennessy had no shortage of enemies. The historian John V. Baiamonte Jr. writes that he had once been tried for murder in connection with the killing of a professional rival. He is also said to have been involved in a feud between two Italian businessmen. On the strength of a clearly suspect witness who claimed to hear Mr. Hennessy say that “dagoes” had shot him, the city charged 19 Italians with complicity in the chief’s murder.

That the evidence was distressingly weak was evident from the verdicts that were swiftly handed down: Of the first nine to be tried, six were acquitted; three others were granted mistrials. The leaders of the mob that then went after them advertised their plans in advance, knowing full well that the city’s elites — who coveted the businesses the Italians had built or hated the Italians for fraternizing with African-Americans — would never seek justice for the dead. After the lynching, a grand jury investigation pronounced the killings praiseworthy, turning that inquiry into what the historian Barbara Botein describes as “possibly one of the greatest whitewashes in American history.”

The blood of the New Orleans victims was scarcely dry when The Times published a cheerleading news story — “Chief Hennessy Avenged: Eleven of his Italian Assassins Lynched by a Mob” — that reveled in the bloody details. It reported that the mob had consisted “mostly of the best element” of New Orleans society. The following day, a scabrous Times editorial justified the lynching — and dehumanized the dead, with by-now-familiar racist stereotypes.

“These sneaking and cowardly Sicilians,” the editors wrote, “the descendants of bandits and assassins, who have transported to this country the lawless passions, the cutthroat practices … are to us a pest without mitigations. Our own rattlesnakes are as good citizens as they. Our own murderers are men of feeling and nobility compared to them.” The editors concluded of the lynching that it would be difficult to find “one individual who would confess that privately he deplores it very much.”
Lynchers in 1891 storming the New Orleans city jail, where they killed 11 Italian-Americans accused in the fatal shooting of Chief Hennessy. Italian Tribune

President Harrison would have ignored the New Orleans carnage had the victims been black. But the Italian government made that impossible. It broke off diplomatic relations and demanded an indemnity that the Harrison administration paid. Harrison even called on Congress in his 1891 State of the Union to protect foreign nationals — though not black Americans — from mob violence.

Harrison’s Columbus Day proclamation in 1892 opened the door for Italian-Americans to write themselves into the American origin story, in a fashion that piled myth upon myth. As the historian Danielle Battisti shows in “Whom We Shall Welcome,” they rewrote history by casting Columbus as “the first immigrant” — even though he never set foot in North America and never immigrated anywhere (except possibly to Spain), and even though the United States did not exist as a nation during his 15th-century voyage. The mythologizing, carried out over many decades, granted Italian-Americans “a formative role in the nation-building narrative.” It also tied Italian-Americans closely to the paternalistic assertion, still heard today, that Columbus “discovered” a continent that was already inhabited by Native Americans.

But in the late 19th century, the full-blown Columbus myth was yet to come. The New Orleans lynching solidified a defamatory view of Italians generally, and Sicilians in particular, as irredeemable criminals who represented a danger to the nation. The influential anti-immigrant racist Representative Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, soon to join the United States Senate, quickly appropriated the event. He argued that a lack of confidence in juries, not mob violence, had been the real problem in New Orleans. “Lawlessness and lynching are evil things,” he wrote, “but a popular belief that juries cannot be trusted is even worse.”

Facts aside, Lodge argued, beliefs about immigrants were in themselves sufficient to warrant higher barriers to immigration. Congress ratified that notion during the 1920s, curtailing Italian immigration on racial grounds, even though Italians were legally white, with all of the rights whiteness entailed.

The Italian-Americans who labored in the campaign that overturned racist immigration restrictions in 1965 used the romantic fictions built up around Columbus to political advantage. This shows yet again how racial categories that people mistakenly view as matters of biology grow out of highly politicized myth making.

Voir aussi:

What Columbus Day Really Means

If you think the holiday pits Native Americans against Italian Americans, consider the history behind its origin

William J. Connell
American scholar
October 4, 2012

During the run-up to Columbus Day I usually get a call from at least one and sometimes several newspaper reporters who are looking for the latest on what has become one of the most controversial of our national holidays. Rather than begin with whatever issues the media are covering—topics like the number of deaths in the New World caused by the European discovery; or the attitude of Columbus toward the indigenous inhabitants of the Caribbean (whom he really did want to use as forced laborers); or whether syphilis really came from the Americas to Europe; or whether certain people (the cast of The Sopranos, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia) deserve to be excluded from or honored in the parade in New York—I always try to remind the reporters that Columbus Day is just a holiday.

Leave the parades aside. The most evident way in which holidays are celebrated is by taking a day off from work or school. Our system of holidays, which developed gradually over time and continues to evolve, is founded upon the recognition that weekends are not sufficient, that some jobs don’t offer much time off, and that children and teachers need a break now and then in the course of the school year. One characteristic of holidays is that unless they are observed widely, which is to say by almost everyone, many of us wouldn’t take them. There are so many incremental reasons for not taking time off (to make some extra money, to impress the boss, or because we’re our own bosses and can’t stop ourselves) that a lot of us would willingly do without a day’s vacation that would have been good both for us and for society at large if we had taken it. That is why there are legal holidays.

But which days should be holidays? Another way of posing the question would be to say, “Given that holidays are necessary, but that left to their own devices people would simply work, how do you justify a legal holiday so that it does not appear completely arbitrary, and so that people will be encouraged to observe it?” Most of the media noise around the Columbus Day holiday is about the holiday’s excuse, not the holiday itself. Realizing that helps to put matters in perspective.

In a country of diverse religious faiths and national origins like the United States, it made sense to develop a holiday system that was not entirely tied to a religious calendar. (Christmas survives here, of course, but in law it’s a secular holiday much like New Year’s Day.) So Americans do not all leave for the shore on August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, the way Italians do; and while St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by many Americans, it is not a legal holiday in any of the states. The American system of holidays was constructed mostly around a series of great events and persons in our nation’s history. The aim was to instill a feeling of civic pride. Holidays were chosen as occasions to bring everyone together, not for excluding certain people. They were supposed to be about the recognition of our society’s common struggles and achievements. Civic religion is often used to describe the principle behind America’s calendar of public holidays.

Consider the range and variability of the meanings of our holidays. Certainly they have not always been occasions for celebration: Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day involve mourning for the dead and wounded. Labor Day commemorated significant hardships in the decades when unions were struggling to organize. Having grown up in the 1960s I remember how Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday (now lumped in with Presidents’ Day, and with some of its significance transferred to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) took on special meaning during the Civil Rights movement and after the JFK assassination.

When thinking about the Columbus Day holiday it helps to remember the good intentions of the people who put together the first parade in New York. Columbus Day was first proclaimed a national holiday by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892, 400 years after Columbus’s first voyage. The idea, lost on present-day critics of the holiday, was that this would be a national holiday that would be special for recognizing both Native Americans, who were here before Columbus, and the many immigrants—including Italians—who were just then coming to this country in astounding numbers. It was to be a national holiday that was not about the Founding Fathers or the Civil War, but about the rest of American history. Like the Columbian Exposition dedicated in Chicago that year and opened in 1893, it was to be about our land and all its people. Harrison especially designated the schools as centers of the Columbus celebration because universal public schooling, which had only recently taken hold, was seen as essential to a democracy that was seriously aiming to include everyone and not just preserve a governing elite.

You won’t find it in the public literature surrounding the first Columbus Day in 1892, but in the background lay two recent tragedies, one involving Native Americans, the other involving Italian Americans. The first tragedy was the massacre by U.S. troops of between 146 and 200 Lakota Sioux, including men, women and children, at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on December 29, 1890. Shooting began after a misunderstanding involving an elderly, deaf Sioux warrior who hadn’t heard and therefore did not understand that he was supposed to hand over his rifle to the U.S. Cavalry. The massacre at Wounded Knee marked the definitive end of Indian resistance in the Great Plains. The episode was immediately seen by the government as potentially troubling, although there was much popular sentiment against the Sioux. An inquiry was held, the soldiers were absolved, and some were awarded medals that Native Americans to this day are seeking to have rescinded.

A second tragedy in the immediate background of the 1892 Columbus celebration took place in New Orleans. There, on March 14, 1891—only 10 weeks after the Wounded Knee Massacre—11 Italians were lynched in prison by a mob led by prominent Louisiana politicians. A trial for the murder of the New Orleans police chief had ended in mistrials for three of the Italians and the acquittal of the others who were brought to trial. Unhappy with the verdict and spurred on by fear of the “Mafia” (a word that had only recently entered American usage), civic leaders organized an assault on the prison to put the Italians to death. This episode was also troubling to the U.S. Government. These were legally innocent men who had been killed. But Italians were not very popular, and even Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying that he thought the New Orleans Italians “got what they deserved.” A grand jury was summoned, but no one was charged with a crime. President Harrison, who would proclaim the Columbus holiday the following year, was genuinely saddened by the case, and over the objections of some members of congress he paid reparations to the Italian government for the deaths of its citizens.

Whenever I hear of protests about the Columbus Day holiday—protests that tend to pit Native Americans against Italian Americans, I remember these tragedies that occurred so soon before the first Columbus Day holiday, and I shake my head. President Harrison did not allude to either of these sad episodes in his proclamation of the holiday, but the idea for the holiday involved a vision of an America that would get beyond the prejudice that had led to these deaths. Columbus Day was supposed to recognize the greatness of all of America’s people, but especially Italians and Native Americans.

Consider how the first Columbus Day parade in New York was described in the newspapers. It consisted mostly of about 12,000 public school students grouped into 20 regiments, each commanded by a principal. The boys marched in school uniforms or their Sunday best, while the girls, dressed in red, white and blue, sat in bleachers. Alongside the public schoolers there were military drill squads and 29 marching bands, each of 30 to 50 instruments. After the public schools, there followed 5,500 students from the Catholic schools. Then there were students from the private schools wearing school uniforms. These included the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, the Barnard School Military Corps, and the Italian and American Colonial School. The Dante Alighieri Italian College of Astoria was dressed entirely in sailor outfits. These were followed by the Native American marching band from the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, which, according to one description, included “300 marching Indian boys and 50 tall Indian girls.” That the Native Americans came right after the students from the Dante Alighieri School speaks volumes about the spirit of the original Columbus Day.

I teach college kids, and since they tend to be more skeptical about Columbus Day than younger students, it’s nice to point out that the first Columbus Day parade had a “college division.” Thus 800 New York University students played kazoos and wore mortarboards. In between songs they chanted “Who are we? Who are we? New York Universitee!” The College of Physicians and Surgeons wore Skeletons on their hats. And the Columbia College students marched in white hats and white sweaters, with a message on top of their hats that spelled out “We are the People.”

So Columbus Day is for all Americans. It marks the first encounter that brought together the original Americans and the future ones. A lot of suffering followed, and a lot of achievement too. That a special role has been reserved for Italians in keeping the parades and the commemoration alive for well over a century seems right, since Columbus was Italian—although even in the 1890s his nationality was being contested. Some people, who include respectable scholars, still argue, based on elements of his biography and family history, that Columbus must really have been Spanish, Portuguese, Jewish, or Greek, instead of, or in addition to, Italian. One lonely scholar in the 1930s even wrote that Columbus, because of a square jaw and dirty blond hair in an old portrait, must have been Danish. The consensus, however, is that he was an Italian from outside of Genoa.

So much for his ethnicity. What about his moral standing? In the late 19th century an international movement, led by a French priest, sought to have Columbus canonized for bringing Christianity to the New World. To the Catholic Church’s credit, this never got very far. It sometimes gets overlooked in current discussions that we neither commemorate Columbus’s birthday (as was the practice for Presidents Washington and Lincoln, and as we now do with Martin Luther King, Jr.) nor his death date (which is when Christian saints are memorialized), but rather the date of his arrival in the New World. The historical truth about Columbus—the short version suitable for reporters who are pressed for time—is that Columbus was Italian, but he was no saint.

The holiday marks the event, not the person. What Columbus gets criticized for nowadays are attitudes that were typical of the European sailing captains and merchants who plied the Mediterranean and the Atlantic in the 15th century. Within that group he was unquestionably a man of daring and unusual ambition. But what really mattered was his landing on San Salvador, which was a momentous, world-changing occasion such as has rarely happened in human history. Sounds to me like a pretty good excuse for taking a day off from work.

Voir également:

Study traces origins of syphilis in Europe to New World

New evidence from the jungles of Guyana suggests Christopher Columbus and his crewmates carried syphilis-causing bacteria from America to Europe, triggering a massive epidemic that killed more than five million people there.

The findings — which scientists said are the first attempt to use molecular genetics to address the problem of the origin of the venereal disease — were published Monday in the online journal Public Library of Science/Neglected Tropical Disease.

They suggest that Columbus and his crew of explorers brought the deadly disease back from the New World during their famous voyage in 1492 while a non-sexually transmitted subspecies was already in existence in Renaissance Europe, or the Old World.

The study was based around an exceptionally large specimen provided by Canadian infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Silverman, who leads a medical team into the rainforests of Guyana each year to treat villagers who have virtually no contact with the outside world.

There, he discovered children with ulcer-like lesions on their arms and legs, « just like you get with syphilis but in the wrong place, » he told CBC.

Blood tests confirmed the children had yaws, an infectious skin disease believed to be extinct in the Western Hemisphere, though still present in parts of Africa and southeast Asia.

Yaws is considered the cousin of syphilis as they are both distinct varieties of the same bacterium.

Further testing by researchers in the United States suggested that yaws, in fact, was the elder cousin — an ancient infection that evolved from a harmless skin-to-skin condition of the limbs into a devastating sexually transmitted disease around the time of contact with Europeans.

« They couldn’t really catch it because they had long sleeves, long pants, » Silverman said. « So the only way they could get it, the only time they would expose their skin and might touch somebody was when they dropped their pants to have sex. »

Upon the Europeans’ return, many of them joined the army of Charles VIII in 1495 and invaded Italy. After their victory in Naples, the army — mostly made of mercenaries — returned home and spread syphilis across the Continent, culminating in the Great Pox.

This first outbreak of syphilis, documented just two years after Columbus and his men sailed the ocean blue in 1492, is believed to have killed more than five million Europeans.

« In this case we have an example of a disease that went the other way, from Native Americans to Europeans, » said Dr. Kristin Harper, a researcher in molecular genetics at Atlanta’s Emory University and the principal investigator in the study published Monday.

« So that’s especially interesting, I think. »

Syphilis is usually transmitted through sexual contact and initially results in a painless, open sore or ulcer in the area of exposure. The second stage consists of a rash on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.

Left untreated, the disease eventually attacks the heart, eyes and brain and can lead to mental illness, blindness and death.

Voir de plus:

Case Closed? Columbus Introduced Syphilis to Europe

Syphilis was one of the first global diseases, and understanding where it came from and how it spread may help us combat diseases today

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, but when he returned from ‘cross the seas, did he bring with him a new disease?

New skeletal evidence suggests Columbus and his crew not only introduced the Old World to the New World, but brought back syphilis as well, researchers say.

Syphilis is caused by Treponema pallidum bacteria, and is usually curable nowadays with antibiotics. Untreated, it can damage the heart, brain, eyes and bones; it can also be fatal.

The first known epidemic of syphilis occurred during the Renaissance in 1495. Initially its plague broke out among the army of Charles the VIII after the French king invaded Naples. It then proceeded to devastate Europe, said researcher George Armelagos, a skeletal biologist at Emory University in Atlanta.

« Syphilis has been around for 500 years, » said researcher Molly Zuckerman at Mississippi State University. « People started debating where it came from shortly afterward, and they haven’t stopped since. It was one of the first global diseases, and understanding where it came from and how it spread may help us combat diseases today. »

Stigmatized disease

The fact that syphilis is a stigmatized sexually transmitted disease has added to the controversy over its origins. People often seem to want to blame some other country for it, said researcher Kristin Harper, an evolutionary biologist at Emory. [Top 10 Stigmatized Health Disorders]

Armelagos originally doubted the so-called Columbian theory for syphilis when he first heard about it decades ago. « I laughed at the idea that a small group of sailors brought back this disease that caused this major European epidemic, » he recalled. Critics of the Columbian theory have proposed that syphilis had always bedeviled the Old World but simply had not been set apart from other rotting diseases such as leprosy until 1500 or so.

However, upon further investigation, Armelagos and his colleagues got a shock — all of the available evidence they found supported the Columbian theory, findings they published in 1988. « It was a paradigm shift, » Armelagos says. Then in 2008, genetic analysis by Armelagos and his collaborators of syphilis’s family of bacteria lent further support to the theory.

Still, there have been reports of 50 skeletons from Europe dating back from before Columbus set sail that apparently showed the lesions of chronic syphilis. These seemed to be evidence that syphilis originated in the Old World and that Columbus was not to blame.

Armelagos and his colleagues took a closer look at all the data from these prior reports. They found most of the skeletal material didn’t actually meet at least one of the standard diagnostic criteria for chronic syphilis, such as pitting on the skull, known as caries sicca, and pitting and swelling of the long bones.

In the seafood?

The 16 reports that did meet the criteria for syphilis came from coastal regions where seafood was a large part of the diet. This seafood contains « old carbon » from deep, upwelling ocean waters. As such, they might fall prey to the so-called « marine reservoir effect » that can throw off radiocarbon dating of a skeleton by hundreds or even thousands of years. To adjust for this effect, the researchers figured out the amount of seafood these individuals ate when alive. Since our bodies constantly break down and rebuild our bones, measurements of bone-collagen protein can provide a record of diet.

« Once we adjusted for the marine signature, all of the skeletons that showed definite signs of treponemal disease appeared to be dated to after Columbus returned to Europe, » Harper said, findings detailed in the current Yearbook of Physical Anthropology.

« What it really shows to me is that globalization of disease is not a modern condition, » Armelagos said. « In 1492, you had the transmission of a number of diseases from Europe that decimated Native Americans, and you also had disease from Native Americans to Europe. »

« The lesson we can learn for today from history is that these epidemics are the result of unrest, » Armelagos added. « With syphilis, wars were going on in Europe at the time, and all the turmoil set the stage for the disease. Nowadays, a lot of diseases jump the species barrier due to environmental unrest. »

« The origin of syphilis is a fascinating, compelling question, » Zuckerman said. « The current evidence is pretty definitive, but we shouldn’t close the book and say we’re done with the subject. The great thing about science is constantly being able to understand things in a new light. »

Of all the bedtime-story versions of American history we teach, the tidy Thanksgiving pageant may be the one stuffed with the heaviest serving of myth. This iconic tale is the main course in our nation’s foundation legend, complete with cardboard cutouts of bow-carrying Native American cherubs and pint-size Pilgrims in black hats with buckles. And legend it largely is.

In fact, what had been a New England seasonal holiday became more of a “national” celebration only during the Civil War, with Lincoln’s proclamation calling for “a day of thanksgiving” in 1863.

That fall, Lincoln had precious little to be thankful for. The Union victory at Gettysburg the previous July had come at a dreadful cost – a combined 51,000 estimated casualties, with nearly 8,000 dead. Enraged by draft laws and emancipation, rioters in Northern cities like New York went on bloody rampages. And the president and his wife, Mary, were still mourning the loss of their 11-year-old son, Willie, who had died the year before.

So it might seem odd that Lincoln chose this moment to announce a national day of thanksgiving, to be marked on the last Thursday in November. His Oct. 3, 1863, proclamation read: “In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity … peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict.”

But it took another year for the day to really catch hold. In 1864 Lincoln issued a second proclamation, which read, “I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust.” Around the same time, the heads of Union League clubs – Theodore Roosevelt’s father among them – led an effort to provide a proper Thanksgiving meal, including turkey and mince pies, for Union troops. As the Civil War raged on, four steamers sailed out of New York laden with 400,000 pounds of ham, canned peaches, apples and cakes – and turkeys with all the trimmings. They arrived at Ulysses S. Grant’s headquarters in City Point, Va., then one of the busiest ports in the world, to deliver dinner to the Union’s “gallant soldiers and sailors.”

This Thanksgiving delivery was an unprecedented effort – a huge fund-raising and food-collection drive. One soldier said, “It isn’t the turkey, but the idea we care for.”

The good people of nearby Petersburg, Va., had no turkey. Surrounded and besieged by Grant’s armies since June, they were lucky to eat at all. The local flocks of pigeons had all mysteriously disappeared and “starvation parties” were a form of mordant entertainment in this once cosmopolitan town.

What prompted Lincoln to issue these proclamations – the first two in an unbroken string of presidential Thanksgiving proclamations – is uncertain. He was not the first president to do so. George Washington and James Madison had earlier issued “thanksgiving” proclamations, calling for somber days of prayer. Perhaps Lincoln saw an opportunity to underscore shared American traditions – a theme found in the “mystic chords of memory” stretching from “every patriot grave” in his first inaugural.

Or he may have been responding to the passionate entreaties of Sara Josepha Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book – the Good Housekeeping of its day. Hale, who contributed to American folkways as the author of “Mary had a Little Lamb,” had been advocating in the magazine for a national day of Thanksgiving since 1837. Even as many states had begun to observe Thanksgiving, she wrote in 1860, “It will no longer be a partial and vacillating commemoration of our gratitude to our Heavenly Father, observed in one section or State, while other portions of our common country do not sympathize in the gratitude and gladness.”

So how did the lore of that Pilgrim repast get connected to Lincoln’s wartime proclamations?

The Plymouth “first Thanksgiving” dates from an October 1621 harvest celebration, an event at which the surviving passengers of the Mayflower – about half of the approximately 100 on board — were able to mark their communal harvest with a shared feast. By the account of the Pilgrim leader Edward Winslow, this event was no simple sit-down dinner, but a three-day revel. “Amongst other recreations,” Winslow wrote, “we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation.”

There is nothing novel or uniquely American — and nothing especially “Pilgrim”– about giving thanks for a successful harvest. Certainly it has been done by people throughout history and surely by earlier Europeans in America as well as Native Americans.

But New Englanders, who had long marked a Founders Day as a celebration of the Pilgrim and Puritan arrivals, began to move across America and took this tradition – and their singular version of history — with them. Essentially a churchgoing day with a meal that followed, the celebration of that legendary feast gradually evolved into the Thanksgiving we know.

Eventually, it was commingled with Lincoln’s first proclamation. During the post-Civil War period, the iconic Thanksgiving meal and the connection to the Pilgrims were cemented in the popular imagination, through artistic renderings of black-cloaked, churchgoing, gun-toting Puritans, a militant, faithful past that most likely rang familiar for many Civil War Americans.

But one crucial piece remained: The elevation of Thanksgiving to a true national holiday, a feat accomplished by Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1939, with the nation still struggling out of the Great Depression, the traditional Thanksgiving Day fell on the last day of the month – a fifth Thursday. Worried retailers, for whom the holiday had already become the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season, feared this late date. Roosevelt agreed to move his holiday proclamation up one week to the fourth Thursday, thereby extending the critical shopping season.

Some states stuck to the traditional last Thursday date, and other Thanksgiving traditions, such as high school and college football championships, had already been scheduled. This led to Roosevelt critics deriding the earlier date as “Franksgiving.” With 32 states joining Roosevelt’s “Democratic Thanksgiving, ” 16 others stuck with the traditional date, or “Republican Thanksgiving.” After some congressional wrangling, in December 1941, Roosevelt signed the legislation making Thanksgiving a legal holiday on the fourth Thursday in November. And there it has remained.


Kenneth C. Davis is the author of “Don’t Know Much About History” and “America’s Hidden History.” His forthcoming book, “The Hidden History of America At War: Untold Tales from Yorktown to Fallujah,” includes an account of the siege of Petersburg, Va.


11 septembre/18e: Des gens avaient fait quelque chose (While the Ilhan Omars of this world never miss an opportunity to spit on their adopted countries, thank God for Mitchell Zuckoff’s attempt to ‘delay the descent of 9/11 into the well of history’)

11 septembre, 2019

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Il n’y a pas de plus grand amour que de donner sa vie pour ses amis. (…) Si le monde vous hait, sachez qu’il m’a haï avant vous. (…) S’ils m’ont persécuté, ils vous persécuteront aussi. Jésus (Jean 15: 13-20)
Let’s roll ! Todd Beamer
You’ve got to turn on evil,when it’s coming after you, you’ve gotta face it down … Neil Young (« Let’s roll, 2001)
[Beamer’s wife Lisa] was talking about how he always used to say that (« let’s roll ») with the kids when they’d go out and do something, that it’s what he said a lot when he had a job to do. And it’s just so poignant, and there’s no more of a legendary, heroic act than what those people did. With no promise of martyrdom, no promise of any reward anywhere for this, other than just knowing that you did the right thing. And not even having a chance to think about it or plan it or do anything — just a gut reaction that was heroic and ultimately cost them all their lives. What more can you say? It was just so obvious that somebody had to write something or do something. Neil Young
In the normal course of events, Presidents come to this chamber to report on the state of the Union. Tonight, no such report is needed. It has already been delivered by the American people. We have seen it in the courage of passengers, who rushed terrorists to save others on the ground — passengers like an exceptional man named Todd Beamer. And would you please help me to welcome his wife, Lisa Beamer, here tonight. George W. Bush
Et immédiatement, le centre sacrificiel se mit à générer des réactions habituelles : un sentiment d’unanimité et de deuil. […] Des phrases ont commencé à se dire comme « Nous sommes tous Américains » – un sentiment purement fictif pour la plupart d’entre nous. Ce fut étonnant de voir l’unité se former autour du centre sacré, rapidement nommé Ground Zero, une unité qui se concrétisera ensuite par un drapeau, une grande participation aux cérémonies religieuses, les chefs religieux soudainement pris au sérieux, des bougies, des lieux saints, des prières, tous les signes de la religion de la mort. […] Et puis il y avait le deuil. Comme nous aimons le deuil ! Cela nous donne bonne conscience, nous rend innocents. Voilà ce qu’Aristote voulait dire par katharsis, et qui a des échos profonds dans les racines sacrificielles de la tragédie dramatique. Autour du centre sacrificiel, les personnes présentes se sentent justifiées et moralement bonnes. Une fausse bonté qui soudainement les sort de leurs petites trahisons, leurs lâchetés, leur mauvaise conscience. James Alison
La révolte contre l’ethnocentrisme est une invention de l’Occident, introuvable en dehors. (…) À la différence de toutes les autres cultures, qui ont toujours été ethnocentriques tout de go et sans complexe, nous autres occidentaux sommes toujours simultanément nous-mêmes et notre propre ennemi. René Girard
L’erreur est toujours de raisonner dans les catégories de la « différence », alors que la racine de tous les conflits, c’est plutôt la « concurrence », la rivalité mimétique entre des êtres, des pays, des cultures. La concurrence, c’est-à-dire le désir d’imiter l’autre pour obtenir la même chose que lui, au besoin par la violence. Sans doute le terrorisme est-il lié à un monde « différent » du nôtre, mais ce qui suscite le terrorisme n’est pas dans cette « différence » qui l’éloigne le plus de nous et nous le rend inconcevable. Il est au contraire dans un désir exacerbé de convergence et de ressemblance. (…) Ce qui se vit aujourd’hui est une forme de rivalité mimétique à l’échelle planétaire. Lorsque j’ai lu les premiers documents de Ben Laden, constaté ses allusions aux bombes américaines tombées sur le Japon, je me suis senti d’emblée à un niveau qui est au-delà de l’islam, celui de la planète entière. Sous l’étiquette de l’islam, on trouve une volonté de rallier et de mobiliser tout un tiers-monde de frustrés et de victimes dans leurs rapports de rivalité mimétique avec l’Occident. Mais les tours détruites occupaient autant d’étrangers que d’Américains. Et par leur efficacité, par la sophistication des moyens employés, par la connaissance qu’ils avaient des Etats-Unis, par leurs conditions d’entraînement, les auteurs des attentats n’étaient-ils pas un peu américains ? On est en plein mimétisme.Ce sentiment n’est pas vrai des masses, mais des dirigeants. Sur le plan de la fortune personnelle, on sait qu’un homme comme Ben Laden n’a rien à envier à personne. Et combien de chefs de parti ou de faction sont dans cette situation intermédiaire, identique à la sienne. Regardez un Mirabeau au début de la Révolution française : il a un pied dans un camp et un pied dans l’autre, et il n’en vit que de manière plus aiguë son ressentiment. Aux Etats-Unis, des immigrés s’intègrent avec facilité, alors que d’autres, même si leur réussite est éclatante, vivent aussi dans un déchirement et un ressentiment permanents. Parce qu’ils sont ramenés à leur enfance, à des frustrations et des humiliations héritées du passé. Cette dimension est essentielle, en particulier chez des musulmans qui ont des traditions de fierté et un style de rapports individuels encore proche de la féodalité. (…) Cette concurrence mimétique, quand elle est malheureuse, ressort toujours, à un moment donné, sous une forme violente. A cet égard, c’est l’islam qui fournit aujourd’hui le ciment qu’on trouvait autrefois dans le marxisme.  René Girard
J’ai l’impression que beaucoup de gens ont oublié le 11 Septembre – pas complètement, mais ils l’ont réduit à une espèce de norme tacite. Quand j’ai donné cet entretien au Monde, l’opinion générale pensait qu’il s’agissait d’un événement inhabituel, nouveau, et incomparable. Aujourd’hui, je pense que beaucoup de gens seraient en désaccord avec cette remarque. Malheureusement, l’attitude des Américains face au 11 Septembre a été influencée par l’idéologie politique, à cause de la guerre en Irak. Le fait d’insister sur le 11 Septembre est devenu « « conservateur » et « alarmiste ». Ceux qui aimeraient mettre une fin immédiate à la guerre en Irak tendent donc à le minimiser. Cela dit, je ne veux pas dire qu’ils ont tort de vouloir terminer la guerre en Irak, mais avant de minimiser le 11 Septembre, ils devraient faire très attention et considérer la situation dans sa globalité. Aujourd’hui, cette tendance est très répandue, car les événements dont vous parlez – qui ont eu lieu après le 11 Septembre et qui en sont, en quelque sorte, de vagues réminiscences – sont incomparablement moins puissants et ont beaucoup moins de visibilité. Par conséquent, il y a tout le problème de l’interprétation : qu’est-ce que le 11 Septembre ? (…) je le vois comme un événement déterminant, et c’est très grave de le minimiser aujourd’hui. Le désir habituel d’être optimiste, de ne pas voir l’unicité de notre temps du point de vue de la violence, correspond à un désir futile et désespéré de penser notre temps comme la simple continuation de la violence du XXe siècle. Je pense, personnellement, que nous avons affaire à une nouvelle dimension qui est mondiale. Ce que le communisme avait tenté de faire, une guerre vraiment mondiale, est maintenant réalisé, c’est l’actualité. Minimiser le 11 Septembre, c’est ne pas vouloir voir l’importance de cette nouvelle dimension. (…)  [la guerre froide et le terrorisme islamiste] sont similaires dans la mesure où elles représentent une menace révolutionnaire, une menace globale. Mais la menace actuelle va au-delà de la politique, puisqu’elle comporte un aspect religieux. Ainsi, l’idée qu’il puisse y avoir un conflit plus total que celui conçu par les peuples totalitaires, comme l’Allemagne nazie, et qui puisse devenir en quelque sorte la propriété de l’islam, est tout simplement stupéfiante, tellement contraire à ce que tout le monde croyait sur la politique. Il faudrait beaucoup y travailler, car il n’y a pas de vraie réflexion sur la coexistence des autres religions, et en particulier du christianisme avec l’islam. Le problème religieux est plus radical dans la mesure où il dépasse les divisions idéologiques – que bien sûr, la plupart des intellectuels aujourd’hui ne sont pas prêts d’abandonner. En deçà de ces visions idéologiques, nos réflexions sur le 11 Septembre resteront superficielles. Nous devons réfléchir dans le contexte plus large de la dimension apocalyptique du christianisme. Celle-ci est une menace, car la survie même de la planète est en jeu. Notre planète est menacée par trois choses qui émanent de l’homme : la menace nucléaire, la menace écologique et la manipulation biologique de l’espèce humaine. L’idée que l’homme ne puisse pas maîtriser ses propres pouvoirs est aussi vraie dans le domaine biologique que dans le domaine militaire. C’est cette triple menace mondiale qui domine aujourd’hui. (…) Le terrorisme est une forme de guerre, et la guerre est la continuation de la politique par d’autres moyens. En ce sens, le terrorisme est politique. Mais le terrorisme est la seule forme possible de guerre face à la technologie. Les événements actuels en Irak le confirment. La supériorité de l’Occident, c’est sa technologie, et elle s’est révélée inutile en Irak. L’Occident s’est mis dans la pire des situations en déclarant qu’il transformerait l’Irak en une démocratie jeffersonienne ! C’est précisément ce qu’il ne peut pas faire. Il est impuissant face à l’islam car la division entre les sunnites et les chiites est infiniment plus importante. Alors même qu’ils combattent l’Occident, ils parviennent encore à lutter l’un contre l’autre. Pourquoi l’Occident devrait-il s’investir dans ce conflit interne à l’islam alors que nous ne parvenons même pas à en concevoir l’immense puissance au sein du monde islamique lui-même ? (…) Il s’agit de notre incompréhension du rôle de la religion, et de notre propre monde ; c’est ne pas comprendre que ce qui nous unit est très fragile. Lorsque nous évoquons nos principes démocratiques, parlons-nous de l’égalité et des élections, ou bien parlons-nous de capitalisme, de consommation, de libre échange, etc. ? Je pense que dans les années à venir, l’Occident sera mis à l’épreuve. Comment réagira-t-il : avec force ou faiblesse ? Se dissoudra-t-il ? Les occidentaux devraient se poser la question de savoir s’ils ont de vrais principes, et si ceux-ci sont chrétiens ou bien purement consuméristes. Le consumérisme n’a pas d’emprise sur ceux qui se livrent aux attentats suicides. L’Amérique devrait y réfléchir, car elle offre au monde ce que l’on considère de plus attrayant. Pourquoi cela ne fonctionne- t-il pas vraiment chez les musulmans ? Est-ce par ressentiment ou ont-ils, contre cela, un système de défense bien organisé ? Ou bien, leur perspective religieuse est-elle plus authentique et plus puissante ? Le vrai problème est là. (…) Je suis bien moins affirmatif que je ne l’étais au moment du 11 Septembre sur l’idée d’un ressentiment total. Je me souviens m’être emporté lors d’une rencontre à l’École Polytechnique lorsque je me suis mis d’accord avec Jean-Pierre Dupuy sur l’interprétation du ressentiment du monde musulman. Maintenant, je ne pense pas que cela suffise. Le ressentiment seul peut-il motiver cette capacité de mourir ainsi ? Le monde musulman pourrait-il vraiment être indifférent à la culture de consommation de masse ? Peut-être qu’il l’est. Je ne sais pas. Il serait sans doute excessif de leur attribuer une telle envie. Si les islamistes ont vraiment pour objectif la domination du monde, alors ils l’ont déjà dépassée. Nous ne savons pas si l’industrialisation rapide apparaîtra dans le monde musulman, ou s’ils tenteront de gagner sur la croissance démographique et la fascination qu’ils exercent. Il y a de plus en plus de conversions en Occident. La fascination de la violence y joue certainement un rôle. (…) Il y a là du ressentiment, évidemment. Et c’est ce qui a dû émouvoir ceux qui ont applaudi les terroristes, comme s’ils étaient dans un stade. C’est cela le ressentiment. C’est évident et indéniable. Mais est-ce qu’il représente l’unique force ? La force majeure ? Peut-il être l’unique cause des attentats suicides ? Je n’en suis pas sûr. La richesse accumulée en Occident, comparée au reste du monde, est un scandale, et le 11 Septembre n’est pas sans rapport avec ce fait. Si je ne veux donc pas complètement supprimer l’idée du ressentiment, il ne peut pas être l’unique explication. (…)  L’autre force serait religieuse. Allah est contre le consumérisme, etc. En réalité, le musulman pense que les rituels de prohibition religieuse sont une force qui maintient l’unité de la communauté, ce qui a totalement disparu ou qui est en déclin en Occident. Les gens en Occident ne sont motivés que par le consumérisme, les bons salaires, etc. Les musulmans disent : « leurs armes sont terriblement dangereuses, mais comme peuple, ils sont tellement faibles que leur civilisation peut être facilement détruite ». C’est ce qu’ils pensent et ils n’ont peut-être pas complètement tort. Il me semble qu’il y a quelque chose de juste dans ce propos. Finalement, je crois que la perspective chrétienne sur la violence surmontera tout, mais ce sera une épreuve importante. (…) Il faut faire attention à ne pas justifier le 11 Septembre en le qualifiant de sacrificiel. Je pense que Jean-Pierre Dupuy ne le dit pas. Il maintient une sorte de neutralité. Mais ce qu’il dit sur la nature sacrée de Ground Zero au World Trade Center est, je pense, parfaitement justifié. (…) Je pense que James Alison a raison de parler de la katharsis dans le contexte du 11 Septembre. La notion de katharsis est extrêmement importante. C’est un mot religieux. En réalité, cela veut dire « la purge » au sens de purification. Dans l’Église orthodoxe, par exemple, katharos veut dire purification. C’est le mot qui exprime l’effet positif de la religion. La purge est ce qui nous rend purs. C’est ce que la religion est censée faire, et ce qu’elle fait avec le sacrifice. Je considère l’utilisation du mot katharsis par Aristote comme parfaitement juste. Quand les gens condamnent la théorie mimétique, ils ne voient pas l’apport d’Aristote. Il ne semble parler que de tragédie, mais pourtant, le théâtre tragique traite du sacrifice comme un drame. On l’appelle d’ailleurs ‘l’ode de la chèvre’. Aristote est toujours conventionnel dans ses explications – conventionnel au sens positif. Un Grec très intelligent cherchant à justifier sa religion, utiliserait, je pense, le mot katharsis. Ainsi, ma réponse mettrait l’accent sur la katharsis au sens aristotélicien du terme. (…) pour le 11 Septembre, il y avait la télévision qui nous rendait présents à l’événement, et intensifiait ainsi l’expérience. L’événement était en direct, comme nous le disons en français. On ne savait pas ce qui allait advenir par la suite. Moi-même, j’ai vu le deuxième avion frapper le gratte-ciel, en direct. C’était comme un spectacle tragique, mais réel en même temps. Si nous ne l’avions pas vécu dans le sens le plus littéral, il n’aurait pas eu le même impact. Je pense que si j’avais écrit La Violence et le Sacré après le 11 Septembre, j’y aurais très probablement inclus cet événement. C’est l’événement qui rend possible une compréhension des événements contemporains, car il rend l’archaïque plus intelligible. Le 11 Septembre représente un étrange retour à l’archaïque à l’intérieur du sécularisme de notre temps. Il n’y a pas si longtemps, les gens auraient eu une réaction chrétienne vis-à-vis du 11 Septembre. Aujourd’hui, ils ont une réaction archaïque, qui augure mal de l’avenir. (…) L’avenir apocalyptique n’est pas quelque chose d’historique. C’est quelque chose de religieux sans lequel on ne peut pas vivre. C’est ce que les chrétiens actuels ne comprennent pas. Parce que, dans l’avenir apocalyptique, le bien et le mal sont mélangés de telle manière que d’un point de vue chrétien, on ne peut pas parler de pessimisme. Cela est tout simplement contenu dans le christianisme. Pour le comprendre, lisons la Première Lettre aux Corinthiens : si les puissants, c’est-à-dire les puissants de ce monde, avaient su ce qui arriverait, ils n’auraient jamais crucifié le Seigneur de la Gloire – car cela aurait signifié leur destruction (cf. 1 Co 2, 8). Car lorsque l’on crucifie le Seigneur de la Gloire, la magie des pouvoirs, qui est le mécanisme du bouc émissaire, est révélée. Montrer la crucifixion comme l’assassinat d’une victime innocente, c’est montrer le meurtre collectif et révéler ce phénomène mimétique. C’est finalement cette vérité qui entraîne les puissants à leur perte. Et toute l’histoire est simplement la réalisation de cette prophétie. Ceux qui prétendent que le christianisme est anarchiste ont un peu raison. Les chrétiens détruisent les pouvoirs de ce monde, car ils détruisent la légitimité de toute violence. Pour l’État, le christianisme est une force anarchique, surtout lorsqu’il retrouve sa puissance spirituelle d’autrefois. Ainsi, le conflit avec les musulmans est bien plus considérable que ce que croient les fondamentalistes. Les fondamentalistes pensent que l’apocalypse est la violence de Dieu. Alors qu’en lisant les chapitres apocalyptiques, on voit que l’apocalypse est la violence de l’homme déchaînée par la destruction des puissants, c’est-à-dire des États, comme nous le voyons en ce moment. (…) mais (…) à la fin, la force religieuse est du côté du Christ. Cependant, il semblerait que la vraie force religieuse soit du côté de la violence. (…) Lorsque les puissances seront vaincues, la violence deviendra telle que la fin arrivera. Si l’on suit les chapitres apocalyptiques, c’est bien cela qu’ils annoncent. Il y aura des révolutions et des guerres. Les États s’élèveront contre les États, les nations contre les nations. Cela reflète la violence. Voilà le pouvoir anarchique que nous avons maintenant, avec des forces capables de détruire le monde entier. On peut donc voir l’apparition de l’apocalypse d’une manière qui n’était pas possible auparavant. Au début du christianisme, l’apocalypse semblait magique : le monde va finir ; nous irons tous au paradis, et tout sera sauvé ! L’erreur des premiers chrétiens était de croire que l’apocalypse était toute proche. Les premiers textes chronologiques chrétiens sont les Lettres aux Thessaloniciens qui répondent à la question : pourquoi le monde continue-t-il alors qu’on en a annoncé la fin ? Paul dit qu’il y a quelque chose qui retient les pouvoirs, le katochos (quelque chose qui retient). L’interprétation la plus commune est qu’il s’agit de l’Empire romain. La crucifixion n’a pas encore dissout tout l’ordre. Si l’on consulte les chapitres du christianisme, ils décrivent quelque chose comme le chaos actuel, qui n’était pas présent au début de l’Empire romain. Comment le monde peut-il finir alors qu’il est tenu si fortement par les forces de l’ordre ? (…)  [La religion chrétienne], fondamentalement, c’est la religion qui annonce le monde à venir ; il n’est pas question de se battre pour ce monde. C’est le christianisme moderne qui oublie ses origines et sa vraie direction. L’apocalypse au début du christianisme était une promesse, pas une menace, car ils croyaient vraiment en un monde prochain. (…) Je suis pessimiste au sens actuel du terme. Mais en fait, je suis optimiste si l’on regarde le monde actuel qui confirme vraiment toutes les prédictions. On voit l’apocalypse s’étendre tous les jours : le pouvoir de détruire le monde, les armes de plus en plus fatales, et autres menaces qui se multiplient sous nos yeux. Nous croyons toujours que tous ces problèmes sont gérables par l’homme mais, dans une vision d’ensemble, c’est impossible. Ils ont une valeur quasi surnaturelle. Comme les fondamentalistes, beaucoup de lecteurs de l’Évangile reconnaissent la situation mondiale dans ces chapitres apocalyptiques. Mais les fondamentalistes croient que la violence ultime vient de Dieu, alors ils ne voient pas vraiment le rapport avec la situation actuelle – le rapport religieux. Cela montre combien ils sont peu chrétiens. La violence humaine, qui menace aujourd’hui le monde, est plus conforme au thème apocalyptique de l’Évangile qu’ils ne le pensent. (…) Par exemple, nous avons moins de violence privée. Comparé à aujourd’hui, si vous regardez les statistiques du XVIIIe siècle, c’est impressionnant de voir la violence qu’il y avait. (…) le mouvement pacifiste est totalement chrétien, qu’il l’avoue ou non. Mais en même temps, il y a un déferlement d’inventions technologiques qui ne sont plus retenues par aucune force culturelle. Jacques Maritain disait qu’il y a à la fois plus de bien et plus de mal dans le monde. Je suis d’accord avec lui. Au fond, le monde est en permanence plus chrétien et moins chrétien. Mais le monde est fondamentalement désorganisé par le christianisme. (…) la pensée de Marcel Gauchet résulte de toute l’interprétation moderne du christianisme. Nous disons que nous sommes les héritiers du christianisme, et que l’héritage du christianisme est l’humanisme. Cela est en partie vrai. Mais en même temps, Marcel Gauchet ne considère pas le monde dans sa globalité. On peut tout expliquer avec la théorie mimétique. Dans un monde qui paraît plus menaçant, il est certain que la religion reviendra. Le 11 Septembre est le début de cela, car lors de cette attaque, la technologie n’était pas utilisée à des fins humanistes mais à des fins radicales, métaphysico-religieuses non chrétiennes. Je trouve cela incroyable, car j’ai l’habitude d’observer les forces religieuses et humanistes ensemble, et non pas en opposition. Mais suite au 11 Septembre, j’ai eu l’impression que la religion archaïque revenait, avec l’islam, d’une manière extrêmement rigoureuse. L’islam a beaucoup d’aspects propres aux religions bibliques à l’exception de la compréhension de la violence comme un mal non pas divin mais humain. Il considère la violence comme totalement divine. C’est pour cela que l’opposition est plus significative qu’avec le communisme, qui est un humanisme même s’il est factice et erroné, et qu’il tourne à la terreur. Mais c’est toujours un humanisme. Et tout à coup, on revient à la religion, la religion archaïque – mais avec des armes modernes. Ce que le monde attend est le moment où les musulmans radicaux pourront d’une certaine manière se servir d’armes nucléaires. Il faut regarder le Pakistan, qui est une nation musulmane possédant des armes nucléaires et l’Iran qui tente de les développer. (…) [la Guerre Froide est] complètement dépassée (…) Et la rapidité avec laquelle elle a été dépassée est incroyable. L’Union Soviétique a montré qu’elle devenait plus humaine lorsqu’elle n’a pas tenté de forcer le blocus de Kennedy, et à partir de cet instant, elle n’a plus fait peur. Après Khrouchtchev on a eu rapidement besoin de Gorbatchev. Quand Gorbatchev est arrivé au pouvoir, les oppositions ne se trouvaient plus à l’intérieur de l’humanisme. Les communistes voulaient organiser le monde pour qu’il n’y ait plus de pauvres. Les capitalistes ont constaté que les pauvres n’avaient pas de poids. Les capitalistes l’ont emporté. [Et ce conflit sera plus dangereux parce qu’il ne s’agit plus d’une lutte au sein de l’humanisme] bien qu’ils n’aient pas les mêmes armes que l’Union Soviétique – du moins pas encore. Le monde change si rapidement. Cela dit, de plus en plus de gens en Occident verront la faiblesse de notre humanisme ; nous n’allons pas redevenir chrétiens, mais on fera plus attention au fait que la lutte se trouve entre le christianisme et l’islam, plus qu’entre l’islam et l’humanisme. (…) Avec l’islam je pense que l’opposition est totale. Dans l’islam, si l’on est violent, on est inévitablement l’instrument de Dieu. Cela veut donc dire que la violence apocalyptique vient de Dieu. Aux États-Unis, les fondamentalistes disent cela, mais les grandes églises ne le disent pas. Néanmoins, ils ne poussent pas suffisamment leur pensée pour dire que si la violence ne vient pas de Dieu, elle vient de l’homme, et que nous en sommes responsables. Nous acceptons de vivre sous la protection d’armes nucléaires. Cela a probablement été la plus grande erreur de l’Occident. Imaginez-vous les implications. (…) la dissuasion nucléaire. Mais il s’agit de faibles excuses. Nous croyons que la violence est garante de la paix. Mais cette hypothèse ne me paraît pas valable. Nous ne voulons pas aujourd’hui réfléchir à ce que signifie cette confiance dans la violence. [Après autre événement tel que le 11 Septembre] Je pense que les personnes deviendraient plus conscientes. Mais cela serait probablement comme la première attaque. Il y aurait une période de grande tension spirituelle et intellectuelle, suivie d’un lent relâchement. Quand les gens ne veulent pas voir, ils y arrivent. Je pense qu’il y aura des révolutions spirituelles et intellectuelles dans un avenir proche. Ce que je dis aujourd’hui semble complètement invraisemblable, et pourtant je pense que le 11 Septembre va devenir de plus en plus significatif.  (…) Il faut distinguer entre le sacrifice des autres et le sacrifice de soi. Le Christ dit au Père : « Vous ne vouliez ni holocauste, ni sacrifice ; moi je dis : “Me voici” » (cf. He 10, 6-7). Autrement dit, je préfère me sacrifier plutôt que de sacrifier l’autre. Mais cela doit toujours être nommé sacrifice. Lorsque nous utilisons le mot « sacrifice » dans nos langues modernes, c’est dans le sens chrétien. Dieu dit : « Si personne d’autre n’est assez bon pour se sacrifier lui plutôt que son frère, je le ferai. » Ainsi, je satisfais à la demande de Dieu envers l’homme. Je préfère mourir plutôt que tuer. Mais tous les autres hommes préfèrent tuer plutôt que mourir. (…)  Dans le christianisme, on ne se martyrise pas soi-même. On n’est pas volontaire pour se faire tuer. On se met dans une situation où le respect des préceptes de Dieu (tendre l’autre joue, etc.) peut nous faire tuer. Cela dit, on se fera tuer parce que les hommes veulent nous tuer, non pas parce qu’on s’est porté volontaire. Ce n’est pas comme la notion japonaise de kamikaze. La notion chrétienne signifie que l’on est prêt à mourir plutôt qu’à tuer. C’est bien l’attitude de la bonne prostituée face au jugement de Salomon. Elle dit : « Donnez l’enfant à mon ennemi plutôt que de le tuer. » Sacrifier son enfant serait comme se sacrifier elle-même, car en acceptant une sorte de mort, elle se sacrifie elle-même. Et lorsque Salomon dit qu’elle est la vraie mère, cela ne signifie pas qu’elle est la mère biologique, mais la mère selon l’esprit. Cette histoire se trouve dans le Premier Livre des Rois (3, 16-28), qui est, à certains égards, un livre assez violent. Mais il me semble qu’il n’y a pas de meilleur symbole préchrétien du sacrifice de soi par le Christ. (…) Je vois en cela le contraste du christianisme avec toutes les religions archaïques du sacrifice. Cela dit, la religion musulmane a beaucoup copié le christianisme et elle n’est donc pas ouvertement sacrificielle. Mais la religion musulmane n’a pas détruit le sacrifice de la religion archaïque comme l’a fait le christianisme. Bien des parties du monde musulman ont conservé le sacrifice prémusulman. (…) bien entendu. Il faut lire les romans de William Faulkner. Bien des gens croient que le sud des États-Unis est une incarnation du christianisme. Je dirais que le sud est sans doute la partie la moins chrétienne des États-Unis en termes d’esprit, bien qu’il en soit la plus chrétienne en termes de rituel. Il n’y a pas de doute que le christianisme médiéval était beaucoup plus proche du fondamentalisme actuel. Mais il y a beaucoup de manières de trahir une religion. En ce qui concerne le sud, cela est évident, car il y a un grand retour aux formes les plus archaïques de la religion. Il faut interpréter ces lynchages comme une forme d’acte religieux archaïque. (…) Le terme de « violence religieuse » est souvent employé d’une manière qui ne m’aide pas à résoudre les problèmes que je me pose, à savoir ceux d’un rapport à la violence en mouvement constant et également historique. (…) Je dirais que toute violence religieuse implique un degré d’archaïsme. Mais certains points sont très compliqués. Par exemple, lors de la première guerre mondiale, est-ce que les soldats qui acceptaient d’être mobilisés pour mourir pour leur pays, et beaucoup au nom du christianisme, avaient une attitude vraiment chrétienne ? Il y a là quelque chose qui est contraire au christianisme. Mais il y a aussi quelque chose de vrai. Cela ne supprime pas, à mon avis, le fait qu’il y a une histoire de la violence religieuse, et que les religions, surtout le christianisme, au fond, sont continuellement influencées par cette histoire, bien que son influence soit, le plus souvent, pervertie. René Girard
Des millions de Faisal Shahzad sont déstabilisés par un monde moderne qu’ils ne peuvent ni maîtriser ni rejeter. (…) Le jeune homme qui avait fait tous ses efforts pour acquérir la meilleure éducation que pouvait lui offrir l’Amérique avant de succomber à l’appel du jihad a fait place au plus atteint des schizophrènes. Les villes surpeuplées de l’Islam – de Karachi et Casablanca au Caire – et ces villes d’Europe et d’Amérique du Nord où la diaspora islamique est maintenant présente en force ont des multitudes incalculables d’hommes comme Faisal Shahzad. C’est une longue guerre crépusculaire, la lutte contre l’Islamisme radical. Nul vœu pieu, nulle stratégie de « gain des coeurs et des esprits », nulle grande campagne d’information n’en viendront facilement à bout. L’Amérique ne peut apaiser cette fureur accumulée. Ces hommes de nulle part – Shahzad Faisal, Malik Nidal Hasan, l’émir renégat né en Amérique Anwar Awlaki qui se terre actuellement au Yémen et ceux qui leur ressemblent – sont une race de combattants particulièrement dangereux dans ce nouveau genre de guerre. La modernité les attire et les ébranle à la fois. L’Amérique est tout en même temps l’objet de leurs rêves et le bouc émissaire sur lequel ils projettent leurs malignités les plus profondes. Fouad Ajami
Relire aujourd’hui les principaux textes consacrés à ces attentats par des philosophes de renom constitue une étrange expérience. De manière prévisible, on y rencontre élaborations sophistiquées, affirmations grandioses ou péremptoires, performances rhétoriques bluffantes. Malgré tout, avec le recul, on ne peut qu’être saisi par un décalage profond entre ces performances virtuoses et la réalité rampante du terrorisme mondialisé que nous vivons à présent quotidiennement. Au fil des ans, un écart frappant s’est creusé entre discours subtils et réalités grossières, propos éthérés et faits massifs. Le 11 septembre devait être nécessairement considéré comme une énigme. Le philosophe français Jacques Derrida affirmait qu’« on ne sait pas, on ne pense pas, on ne comprend pas, on ne veut pas comprendre ce qui s’est passé à ce moment-là ». Il fallait d’abord récuser les évidences, considérées comme clichés idéologiques ou manipulations médiatiques. Ne parler donc ni de d’acte de guerre, ni de haine de l’Occident, ni de volonté de détruire les libertés fondamentales. Dialoguant à propos du 11 septembre avec Jürgen Habermas, qui centrait alors son analyse principalement sur la politique de l’Europe, Derrida, pour comprendre l’événement, s’attardait sur la notion d’Ereignis (« événement », ou « avenance ») dans l’histoire de l’être selon Heidegger et finissait par proposer une « hospitalité sans condition ». « C’est eux qui l’on fait, mais c’est nous qui l’avons voulu » soutenait pour sa part le sociologue Jean Baudrillard, attribuant aux rêves suicidaires de l’Occident l’effondrement des tours et la fascination des images des attentats. Pour celui voulait mettre en lumière « l’esprit du terrorisme », les « vrais » responsables étaient donc, au choix, les Etats-Unis, l’hégémonie occidentale ou chacun d’entre nous… D’autres se demandèrent aussitôt « à qui profite le crime » et conclurent que ce ne pouvait être qu’à la CIA, préparant ainsi les théories du complot qui firent florès. Ce ne sont que quelques exemples. Une histoire des lectures philosophiques du 11 septembre reste à écrire. Elle montrerait combien anti-américanisme et anti-capitalisme ont empêché tant d’esprits affutés de voir la nature religieuse du nouveau terrorisme comme les singularités de la nouvelle guerre. S’y ajoutaient la volonté de n’être pas dupe et la défiance envers les propagandes, transformées en déni systématique des informations de base. Les philosophes ont évidemment pour rôle indispensable d’être critiques, donc de démonter préjugés et fausses évidences, mais n’ont-ils pas pour devoir de ne jamais faire l’impasse sur les faits ? Au lieu de mettre en cause l’empire américain, l’arrogance des tours, le règne des images, il fallait scruter l’islamisme politique, les usages inédits de la violence, l’art terroriste de la communication. Quelques-uns l’ont fait, en parlant dans le désert. Aujourd’hui, il est urgent d’analyser ce qu’impliquent les changements intervenus depuis le 11 septembre. Car ce ne sont plus des symboles, comme les Twin Towers ou le Pentagone, qui sont ciblés, mais n’importe qui vivant chez les « impies » – dans la rue, aux terrasses, au concert, à l’école…. Les terroristes ne sont plus des commandos organisés d’ingénieurs formés au pilotage pour transformer des Boeing en bombes, mais de petits délinquants autogérés, s’emparant d’un couteau de cuisine ou d’un camion. Pour en venir à bout, il va falloir rattraper, au plus vite, le temps perdu à penser à côté de la plaque. Roger-Pol Droit
Le Cair a été fondé après le 11 Septembre parce qu’ils ont pris acte du fait que des gens avaient fait quelque chose et que nous tous allions commencer à perdre accès à nos libertés civiles. Ilhan Omar
Je pense que c’est un produit des médias sensationnalistes. Vous avez ces extraits sonores, et ces mots, et tout le monde les prononce avec une telle intensité, car ça doit avoir une signification plus grande. Je me souviens quand j’étais à la fac, j’ai suivi un cours sur l’idéologie du terrorisme. A chaque fois que le professeur disait « Al-Qaeda », ses épaules se soulevaient. Ilhan Omar
I was 18 years old when that happened. I was in a classroom in college and I remember rushing home after being dismissed and getting home and seeing my father in complete horror as he sat in front of that TV. And I remember just feeling, like the world was ending. The events of 9/11 were life-changing, life-altering for all of us. My feeling around it is one of complete horror. None of us are ever going to forget that day and the trauma that we will always have to live with. Ilhan Omar
9/11 was an attack on all Americans. It was an attack on all of us. And I certainly could not understand the weight of the pain that the victims of the families of 9/11 must feel. But I think it is really important for us to make sure that we are not forgetting, right, the aftermath of what happened after 9/11. Many Americans found themselves now having their civil rights stripped from them. And so what I was speaking to was the fact that as a Muslim, not only was I suffering as an American who was attacked on that day, but the next day I woke up as my fellow Americans were now treating me a suspect. Ilhan Omar
This book is painful to read. Even with the passage of nearly 18 years, reliving modern America’s most terrible day hits an exposed nerve that you thought had been fully numbed, only to discover that the ache was merely in remission. In “Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11,” Mitchell Zuckoff relives each minute of that morning in 2001 through the perspectives of those who endured the worst: passengers and crew members on the four planes turned into missiles by Islamist hijackers; innocents trapped in the burning twin towers and the Pentagon; rescue workers who struggled valiantly but futilely and, in many cases, fatally; people in Shanksville, Pa., on whom death rained from a clear sky. As much as anything, “Fall and Rise” is a quilt work of futures unrealized, from the woman about to tell her parents she was pregnant to the doctor hoping to build a kidney dialysis center, from the retired bookkeeper set to move in with her daughter to the college student with dreams of becoming a child psychologist. Zuckoff, a professor of narrative studies at Boston University and the author of several nonfiction books, relies on his own interviews with survivors, but also leans heavily on government studies, trial transcripts, books and documentaries long in the public realm. And so the overall picture that he shapes is not really new. But freshness of detail seems less his objective than preservation of memory — an attempt, as he says, “to delay the descent of 9/11 into the well of history.” By design, this narrative of close to 500 pages is not encyclopedic. Big Picture grandiosity — how Sept. 11 changed America and the world — has been left to others. The terrorism puppet master Osama bin Laden gets scant attention. Actions (and inactions) of President George W. Bush and his team merit only a few pages. Rudolph Giuliani, who made a lucrative life for himself after 9/11, earns glancing mention. Flawed communications systems that doomed hundreds of New York’s emergency responders are not explored with the kind of detail that can be found in, say, “102 Minutes,” a 2005 work by the New York Times journalists Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn. Rather, this book derives its power from its focus on individuals in the main unknown to the larger world, who managed to survive the ordeal or who lost their lives simply because they were unlucky. With journalistic rigor, Zuckoff acknowledges what he doesn’t know, for example how exactly each group of hijackers seized control of its plane. His language is largely unadorned; then again, embellishment is neither needed nor wanted. Many details are hard to take: the melted flesh, the pulverized bodies, the scorched lungs and, for sure, the revived memory of scores of desperate victims leaping from on high to escape the World Trade Center inferno. But there are also inspiring moments, like the grit shown by those aboard United Airlines Flight 93. It was the plane that never reached its target, crashing in Shanksville after passengers revolted against the hijackers. Phone messages that they left “formed a spoken tapestry of grace, warning, bravery, resolve and love.” Heroes abound, though not in the way that word is routinely used and abused. Heroism, as we see here, is often a product of necessity. Some may ask if this book, covering territory already well traveled, needed to be written. For those who lived through the horror, perhaps not. But a full generation has come of age with no memory of that day. It needs to hear anew what happened, and maybe learn that time, in fact, does not heal all wounds. Clyde Haberman
I teach really engaged journalism students. I’m not sure how the generation as a whole reacts to it. My students approach it with curiosity and a little bit of uncertainty because they didn’t experience it. They are well-read and aware of things, but for them it is a little like Pearl Harbor. They know who was involved and can cite numbers. They can say 3,000 dead, 9/11, four hijacked planes, 19 hijackers. They got the test questions down very well. They don’t have the human connection or that feeling for it that I wish they did. I hope that’s what my book can do. Mitchell Zuckoff
There is this entire generation who didn’t live through this, who don’t have any independent memories of what happened those days. Some members of that generation are going off to war to fight in Afghanistan — a war that started after this — and they don’t have any direct connection to it. Right now, other than Osama bin Laden, is there a single name that’s a household name associated with 9/11?. Names are news, and we connect to them, and that is what’s so important about this: before the time passes, before the people who I could talk to were gone, dead or just not available, to capture this as one story. (…) People do I think know to some extent what happened on Flight 93, the 40 heroes of 93, who rose up and fought back to try to save themselves and ultimately ended up saving untold numbers of people, either at the Capitol or the White House, was the destination. But there in Shanksville — and I tell the story largely through Terry Shaffer, who was the volunteer fire chief there, who had been planning for something his whole life, and he thought it might be a pile-up on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. And he races toward the scene expecting to find casualties, expecting to find people he can help. The story of the people in Shanksville and how they came together, and sort of embraced the families of the Flight 93 victims, is I think one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever heard. (…) One of the advantages of a book almost 18 years after the event is so much of the material has become public, that all the FAA records of the flight altitudes almost on a second-by-second basis, as we’re approaching Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the transcript of the cockpit recorder — which was enormously valuable, where we have the terrorist pilots discussing what they’re doing with each other, ‘Should we put it into the ground?’ All of those different things, because that and the the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui in 2006 [the so-called 20th hijacker,] certainly a conspirator even though he didn’t get on one of the planes. All of that material became available, and it was a mountain of material. But for me, it was priceless. (…) It was too important not to. It becomes a responsibility when you realize that there are so many people who don’t have a human connection to this story — the way I think of it is sometimes, 9/11 is becoming a story reduced to numbers: 9 and 11, four planes, 19 hijackers, 3,000 people killed. But you don’t connect names to it. And I felt if I could do that, if I could give people the story as it unfolded through the people that they could connect to, then I would have done something worthwhile. Mitchell Zuckoff

A ceux pour qui à chaque fois qu’il est prononcé, le nom « Al-Qaeda » soulève les épaules …

En cette 18e commémoration de l’abomination islamiste du 11 septembre 2001 …

Où, après l’avoir minimisé drapée dans son hijab, une membre du Congrès américain nous joue [avant comme à son habitude de se rétracter quatre jours plus tard – mise à jour du 15.09.2019] les sanglots longs de l’automne

Comment ne pas saluer les efforts ô combien méritoires de l’auteur d’un récent livre réunissant l’ensemble des témoignages possibles de l’évènement …

Contre les ravages du temps et les faiblesses et dérives de la psychologie et de la mémoire humaines …

Où à l’instar de ce journaliste de la radio publique américaine NPR qui n’avait en tête comme noms liés au 11/9 hormis Ben Laden, que le nom honni de Mohamed Atta …

Un peuple américain qui au lendemain de la tragédie avait plébiscité leur président jusqu’au score de popularité proprement soviétique ou africain de 99% le traine à présent dans la boue …

Et où, le même peuple qui avait, entre mémoriaux, noms d’écoles ou de bâtiments publics, films, livres, chansons ou tee-shirts, fait un véritable triomphe aux véritables héros du jour et aux dernières paroles de leur leader Todd Beamer (« Let’s roll !« ) …

En est à présent, via l’antisémite de service du Congrès américain Ilhan Omar et heureusement sauf exceptions, à minimiser l’attentat le plus proprement diabolique de leur histoire ?

‘Fall And Rise’ Seeks To Capture 9/11 As ‘One Story’ — And Keep It From Fading
Jeremy Hobson
WBUR
April 29, 2019

« There is this entire generation who didn’t live through this, who don’t have any independent memories of what happened those days, » Zuckoff (@mitchellzuckoff) tells Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson. « Some members of that generation are going off to war to fight in Afghanistan — a war that started after this — and they don’t have any direct connection to it. »

One of the driving forces behind the book was an effort to tie 9/11 into a single narrative before it was too late, Zuckoff says — and to ensure the attacks don’t fade too far from the public consciousness.

« Right now, other than Osama bin Laden, is there a single name that’s a household name associated with 9/11? » he says. « Names are news, and we connect to them, and that is what’s so important about this: before the time passes, before the people who I could talk to were gone, dead or just not available, to capture this as one story. »

Interview Highlights

On starting the book with what happened in the days leading up to Sept. 11

« That was very much by design, to start the book actually on September 10th, because what Mohamed Atta, what Ziad Jarrah, what the other terrorists were doing, all these machinations: training to fly planes coming here, living in this country and coming closer and closer — the circle is tightening — to get them in a position doing trial runs and making this plan which took very little money, a lot of planning but very little money, very little overhead, if you will, and to position themselves where they could be here in Boston, they could go up to Portland, Maine, and be ready to do these events.

« It’s not entirely clear [why they started their journey from Portland.] One strong suspicion we have is that the trip to Portland would allow them to avoid some suspicion. If you had eight Arab men all arriving at Boston’s Logan Airport at the same exact time for the same flights, they thought this might avoid some of that. But that is one of those unanswerable questions. »

« The idea of turning [a plane] into a guided missile wasn’t, quite literally, on the radar for anyone. And that’s unfortunately so sadly why it was so effective. »

Mitchell Zuckoff

On whether all of the hijackers knew the full extent of what they were doing

« I think it’s clear that all 19 knew exactly what was being planned, because it was a very coordinated attack. What happened on each one of the four planes was quite similar, where at a trigger moment, the muscle hijackers — the guys who were not flying the plane — went into attack mode. All of them had discussed … the preparations for purifying themselves for what they understood would be their last day. »

On the hijackers’ use of Mace in the cabin so that it would be more difficult for passengers to thwart the attack

« The Mace is an open question. There was some discussion they had it. A lot of it was just the element of surprise, was the greatest thing, and they committed an act of violence almost on every plane. They immediately cut someone’s throat to make it clear that they meant business. They said they had a bomb, they herded — these were very lightly attended planes, it was a random Tuesday morning to most people — they herded everyone into the back. And they also understood that the flight attendants and the crews would know that there was a standard protocol: You negotiate with terrorists. You expect that they’re going to want to land somewhere and exchange passengers and money for their freedom, or for their political aims. This was not part of anyone’s script except the terrorists.

« The idea of turning [a plane] into a guided missile wasn’t, quite literally, on the radar for anyone. And that’s unfortunately so sadly why it was so effective. »

On how communication failures shaped the way Sept. 11 unfolded

« Communication failures were rampant that day on every level, and that’s where really, that’s the sort of ground zero, if you will, of the communications failures — that people were calling saying what was going on. The airlines knew about it. And then even when it did finally reach the FAA, they weren’t alerting the military. So planes are still taking off. Things are still happening that [are] allowing one after another of these hijackings. The communication failures, they’re rampant, they’re across everything in terms of the communication failures at the towers, communication failures even before it happened.

« A fact that always stayed with me was on 9/11, the FAA had a list, a no-fly list, of a dozen people on it. The State Department had a list, its tip-off terrorists list of 60,000 people it was watching. The director of airline security for the FAA didn’t even know that State Department list existed. »

« Communication failures were rampant that day on every level. »

Mitchell Zuckoff

On stories about passengers on the planes that have stuck with him

« There are so many. One is from … United Flight 175, the second plane that [crashed into the World Trade Center,] took off from from Boston’s Logan Airport. And on that plane was a fellow named Peter Hanson and his wife Sue Kim and their daughter Christine. Christine was 2 years old and she was the youngest person directly affected by 9/11.

« While they were approaching the South Tower and it was clear something terrible was happening, they knew it, Peter called his father Lee in Connecticut, and the two phone calls between Peter and Lee are so poignant. And I spent time with Lee and Eunice Hanson in their home, in Peter’s boyhood bedroom, talking about those. Peter was actually first telling his father, ‘Please call someone, let them know what’s happening.’ And then Peter is actually comforting his father on the phone, when his wife and daughter are there huddled next to him in the back of this plane that they understand is flying too low, is heading toward the Statue of Liberty and toward the World Trade Center. »

On people in the first tower to be hit thinking they didn’t need to evacuate

« They were being told not to evacuate in both the towers. Some people were being told, ‘It’s over in the other tower.’ People didn’t know what was happening. And when the plane cut through, it knocked out the telecommunication system within the building that would have allowed people down in the basement and in the first floor to communicate to them. So the confusion began immediately, and people — some of them stayed in place for well over an hour. They didn’t know there was a ticking clock for the survival of the building.

« I spoke to a number of the Port Authority police officers who were the dispatchers that day who took those calls. They haunted by them still. And they are recorded calls, so I can hear them, I can see the transcripts. They’re remarkable in that they’re trying to keep these people calm, they’re trying to hope for the best. But there is no way up, and there’s no way out. »

On « the miracle of Stairwell B »

« One group of firefighters was Ladder 6, it was a unit in New York led by a remarkable guy named Jay Jonas, and Jay Jonas was a fire captain and he had this team of guys, a half dozen guys, and they’re sent into the North Tower, and they’re going up and they’re walking stair by stair. And when the South Tower collapses, Jay realizes, ‘I gotta get my guys out of here, quick.’

« On the way down, they pause to help a woman, Josephine Harris, who has been injured, who was exhausted, who can’t go any farther. But they slow their exit to help Josephine, and as they’re going farther and farther down through the building to get to the lobby, the North Tower starts to collapse. They’re inside this center stairwell, and they just huddled together, hold on for dear life, and the building literally peels away around them, just keeping a few floors of Stairwell B — which is exactly where they are. And Jay realizes that having slowed to help Josephine ended up saving all of them, because had they been in the lobby, the lobby was completely destroyed. Had they been just outside, they would have been wiped out as well. So it truly was a miracle. »

On what unfolded in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on 9/11

« People do I think know to some extent what happened on Flight 93, the 40 heroes of 93, who rose up and fought back to try to save themselves and ultimately ended up saving untold numbers of people, either at the Capitol or the White House, was the destination. But there in Shanksville — and I tell the story largely through Terry Shaffer, who was the volunteer fire chief there, who had been planning for something his whole life, and he thought it might be a pile-up on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. And he races toward the scene expecting to find casualties, expecting to find people he can help. The story of the people in Shanksville and how they came together, and sort of embraced the families of the Flight 93 victims, is I think one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever heard. »

On the difficulties of determining what exactly was happening on the planes

« One of the advantages of a book almost 18 years after the event is so much of the material has become public, that all the FAA records of the flight altitudes almost on a second-by-second basis, as we’re approaching Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the transcript of the cockpit recorder — which was enormously valuable, where we have the terrorist pilots discussing what they’re doing with each other, ‘Should we put it into the ground?’ All of those different things, because that and the the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui in 2006 [the so-called 20th hijacker,] certainly a conspirator even though he didn’t get on one of the planes. All of that material became available, and it was a mountain of material. But for me, it was priceless. »

On why he wrote this book

« It was too important not to. It becomes a responsibility when you realize that there are so many people who don’t have a human connection to this story — the way I think of it is sometimes, 9/11 is becoming a story reduced to numbers: 9 and 11, four planes, 19 hijackers, 3,000 people killed. But you don’t connect names to it. And I felt if I could do that, if I could give people the story as it unfolded through the people that they could connect to, then I would have done something worthwhile. »

Book Excerpt: ‘Fall And Rise’

by Mitchell Zuckoff

Just after 9 a.m., inside her hilltop house in rural Stoystown, Pennsylvania, homemaker Linda Shepley watched her television in shock. The screen showed smoke billowing from a gash in the North Tower as Today show anchor Katie Couric interviewed an NBC producer who witnessed the crash of American Flight 11.

“You say that emergency vehicles are there?” Couric asked Elliott Walker by phone.

“Oh, my goodness!” Walker cried at 9:03 a.m. “Ah! Another one just hit!”

Linda watched the terror in her living room beside her husband, Jim, a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation manager, who’d taken the day off to trade in their old car. The Shepleys saw a grim-faced President Bush speak to the nation from Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. Then Couric interviewed a terrorism expert but interrupted him for a phone call with NBC military correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, who declared at 9:39 a.m., “Katie, I don’t want to alarm anybody right now, but apparently, it felt just a few moments ago like there was an explosion of some kind here at the Pentagon.”

From the home where they’d lived for nearly three decades, the Shepleys could have driven to Washington in time for lunch or to New York City for an afternoon movie. Yet as the political and financial capitals reeled, those big cities felt almost as far away as the caves of Afghanistan. Jim went to the garage, to clean out the car he still planned to trade in that day. Linda hurried to finish the laundry before she accompanied Jim to the dealership.

Forty-seven years old, with kind eyes and three grown sons, Linda loved the smell of clothes freshly dried by the crisp Allegheny mountain air. As ten o’clock approached, she filled a basket with wet laundry and carried it to the clothesline in her backyard, two grassy acres with unbroken views over rolling hills that stretched southeast toward the neighboring borough of Shanksville. As Linda lifted a wet T-shirt toward the line, she heard a loud thump-thump sound behind her, like a truck rumbling over a bridge. Startled, she glanced over her left shoulder and saw a large commercial passenger plane, its wings wobbling, rocking left and right, flying much too low in the bright blue sky.

As the plane passed overhead at high speed, Linda saw the jet was intact, with neither smoke nor flame coming from either engine. Linda made no connection between the plane’s strange behavior and the news she’d watched minutes earlier about hijacked airliners crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Instead, she suspected that a mechanical problem had forced the plane low and wobbly, on a flight path over her house that she’d never before witnessed. Maybe, Linda thought, the pilot was signaling distress and searching for someplace to make an emergency landing. Linda worried that their local airstrip, Somerset County Airport, was far too small to handle such a big plane. And if that was the pilot’s destination, she thought, he or she was heading the wrong way.

Linda didn’t know the plane was United Flight 93, and she couldn’t imagine that minutes earlier the passengers and crew had taken a vote to fight back. Or that CeeCee Lyles, Jeremy Glick, Todd Beamer, Sandy Bradshaw, and others on board had shared that decision during emotional phone calls, or that the revolt was reaching its peak, or that the four hijackers had resolved to crash the plane short of their target to prevent the hostages from retaking control.

Linda tracked the jet as sunlight glinted off its metal skin. Its erratic flight pattern continued. The right wing dipped farther and farther. The left wing rose higher, until the plane was almost perpendicular with the earth, like a catamaran in high winds. Linda saw it start to turn and roll, flipping nearly upside down. Then the plane plunged, nosediving beyond a stand of hemlocks two miles from where Linda stood. As quickly as the jet disappeared, an orange fireball blossomed, accompanied by a thick mushroom cloud of dark smoke.

“Jim!” Linda screamed. “Call 9-1-1!”

Her husband burst outside, fearing that their neighbor’s Rottweiler mix had broken loose from its chain and attacked her.

“A big plane just crashed!” Linda yelled.

“A small plane,” Jim said skeptically, as he regained his bearings. “No, no, no, no. It was a big one. It was a big one! I saw the engines on the wings.”

Jim rushed inside and grabbed a phone.

Heartsick, still clutching the wet T-shirt, Linda stared toward the rising smoke. Soon she’d wonder whether, in the last seconds before the crash, any of the men and women on board saw her hanging laundry on this glorious late-summer day.


Excerpted from the book FALL AND RISE by Mitchell Zuckoff. Copyright © 2019 by Mitchell Zuckoff. Republished with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Voir aussi:

The Many Tragedies of 9/11
Clyde Haberman
The NYT
May 3, 2019

FALL AND RISE
The Story of 9/11
By Mitchell Zuckoff

This book is painful to read. Even with the passage of nearly 18 years, reliving modern America’s most terrible day hits an exposed nerve that you thought had been fully numbed, only to discover that the ache was merely in remission.

In “Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11,” Mitchell Zuckoff relives each minute of that morning in 2001 through the perspectives of those who endured the worst: passengers and crew members on the four planes turned into missiles by Islamist hijackers; innocents trapped in the burning twin towers and the Pentagon; rescue workers who struggled valiantly but futilely and, in many cases, fatally; people in Shanksville, Pa., on whom death rained from a clear sky. As much as anything, “Fall and Rise” is a quilt work of futures unrealized, from the woman about to tell her parents she was pregnant to the doctor hoping to build a kidney dialysis center, from the retired bookkeeper set to move in with her daughter to the college student with dreams of becoming a child psychologist.

Zuckoff, a professor of narrative studies at Boston University and the author of several nonfiction books, relies on his own interviews with survivors, but also leans heavily on government studies, trial transcripts, books and documentaries long in the public realm. And so the overall picture that he shapes is not really new. But freshness of detail seems less his objective than preservation of memory — an attempt, as he says, “to delay the descent of 9/11 into the well of history.”

By design, this narrative of close to 500 pages is not encyclopedic. Big Picture grandiosity — how Sept. 11 changed America and the world — has been left to others. The terrorism puppet master Osama bin Laden gets scant attention. Actions (and inactions) of President George W. Bush and his team merit only a few pages. Rudolph Giuliani, who made a lucrative life for himself after 9/11, earns glancing mention. Flawed communications systems that doomed hundreds of New York’s emergency responders are not explored with the kind of detail that can be found in, say, “102 Minutes,” a 2005 work by the New York Times journalists Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn.

Rather, this book derives its power from its focus on individuals in the main unknown to the larger world, who managed to survive the ordeal or who lost their lives simply because they were unlucky. With journalistic rigor, Zuckoff acknowledges what he doesn’t know, for example how exactly each group of hijackers seized control of its plane. His language is largely unadorned; then again, embellishment is neither needed nor wanted.

Many details are hard to take: the melted flesh, the pulverized bodies, the scorched lungs and, for sure, the revived memory of scores of desperate victims leaping from on high to escape the World Trade Center inferno. But there are also inspiring moments, like the grit shown by those aboard United Airlines Flight 93. It was the plane that never reached its target, crashing in Shanksville after passengers revolted against the hijackers. Phone messages that they left “formed a spoken tapestry of grace, warning, bravery, resolve and love.”

Heroes abound, though not in the way that word is routinely used and abused. Heroism, as we see here, is often a product of necessity.

Some may ask if this book, covering territory already well traveled, needed to be written. For those who lived through the horror, perhaps not. But a full generation has come of age with no memory of that day. It needs to hear anew what happened, and maybe learn that time, in fact, does not heal all wounds.

Clyde Haberman, the former NYC columnist for The Times, is a contributing writer for the newspaper.

FALL AND RISE
The Story of 9/11
By Mitchell Zuckoff
589 pp. Harper/HarperCollins Publishers. $29.99.

Voir également:

 

When the first of the World Trade Center towers collapsed on September 11 2001, paramedic Moussa Diaz was among thousands of people engulfed in the cloud of smoke and debris that surged from the wreckage.

Asphyxiating in the toxic swirl around him, he fought the urge to give up, staggering on until he saw a spotlight wielded by a man with a white beard and long hair.

“Are you Jesus Christ?” Diaz asked, convinced he must already be dead. “No,” came the reply. “I’m a cameraman.”

Those who have been close to death often talk of how the experience played tricks on their mind, including the fleeting belief that they could not possibly have survived and must already be in the afterlife.

Yet as Mitchell Zuckoff notes in his new book about 9/11, little of the extraordinary individual testimony from that awful day has worked its way into the public memory.

The average person may recall what they were doing on 9/11, and perhaps the names of hijackers such as Mohamed Atta, but would likely struggle to name a single one of the 2,977 people who died.

“Of the nearly three thousand men, women, and children killed on 9/11, arguably none can be considered a household name,” Zuckoff writes. “The best ‘known’ victim might be the so-called Falling Man, photographed plummeting from the North Tower.”

This is not because the world sought to forget: merely that in the avalanche of events triggered by the atrocity – Afghanistan was invaded less than a month later – the voices of the day itself got buried in the sheer weight of news coverage.

With that in mind, Zuckoff, who covered the attacks for the Boston Globe, has produced this doorstopper of a reconstruction, aimed partly at younger generations who feel no “personal connection” to what happened. He notes that for some of his students at Boston University, where he now teaches journalism, it seems “as distant as World War I”.

Rather like the investigators who searched the mountains of rubble for victims’ personal effects, it is a mammoth undertaking. As well as interviews with Diaz and others, Zuckoff sifts through official archives, trials of terror suspects, and countless news reports. The stories of rescuers and survivors are interwoven with the poignant last words of victims, many of whom left only desperate voice messages as their planes hit the towers.

This, however, is not a print version of United 93, the Hollywood take on the “Let’s roll” passenger rebellion, which brought down one hijacked plane before it could hit the White House. Reluctant to use journalistic licence for a topic of such gravitas, Zuckoff sticks strictly to the known facts.

As a result, his account of the “Let’s roll” incident favours accuracy over drama, relying partly on the more fragmentary version of events preserved by the cockpit voice recorder. The sounds of a struggle, followed by the hijacker-turned-pilot screaming “Hey, hey, give it to me!” suggests passengers may have got as far as wrestling the joystick from his control. But Zuckoff leaves us to fill in many of the gaps for ourselves.

Far more vivid are the scenes inside the burning towers, where witnesses are still alive to recreate what they saw. A dead lobby guard sits melted to his desk by the fireball from the planes’ fuel. Women have hair clips melted into their skulls by the heat. One paramedic, reminded of his own daughter by the sight of a girl’s severed foot inside a pink trainer, looks skywards to clear his mind, only to see people jumping from the towers.

In all, about 200 people ended their lives that way, one killing a firefighter as they landed. Ernest Armstead, a fire department medic, recalls a harrowing conversation with one female jumper who was somehow still alive, despite being little more than a head on a crumpled torso. When she saw him place a black triage tag around her neck, indicating she was beyond help, she shouted: “I am not dead!”

For many rescuers, it was clear early on that the entire crash scene was beyond help. As they contemplate the 1,000ft climb to the blazing North Tower impact zone – the lifts are out of action – firefighter-farmer Gerry Nevins speaks for all his colleagues when he says: “We may not live through today.” They shake hands, then start climbing nonetheless. Father-of-two Nevins was among the 420 emergency workers to perish.

For all the heroism, it was also a day of failures, not least in imagining that terrorists might use planes as bombs in the first place. Air safety chiefs considered hijackings a thing of the past, leading to lax security procedures that allowed the hijackers to carry knives on board.

A plan to stage an exercise where terrorists flew a cargo plane into the UN’s New York HQ had been ruled out as too fanciful. Boasts that the Twin Towers could withstand airline crashes failed to consider the thousands of gallons of burning jet fuel, which weakened their steel cores and caused them to collapse.

This book is not an easy read: heartwarming in parts, horrific in others and studiously cautious in those areas where only the dead really know what happened.

But as a definitive “lest we forget” account, it will take some beating. For those too young to remember where they were on 9/11, and for all future generations too, it should be required reading.

Voir encore:

Mitchell Zuckoff on Writing His 9/11 Magnum Opus

Adam Vitcavage
The Millions
July 10, 2019

The seniors graduating from high school this year know what 9/11 is. They know four planes, two towers, 3,000-plus victims, 19 terrorists, Osama bin Laden. They know all of that because they were taught it in history classes. Because, to them, that’s all it is: history.

With each passing year, the terrorist attacks that happened on the bright blue morning of September 11, 2001 become more of a history lesson than a lived experience. This year, most high school seniors were born in 2001. Eighteen years later, they have the facts memorized, but often fail to understand the emotional and lived experience of that day.

Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11, a new book by former Boston Globe reporter and current Boston University professor Mitchell Zuckoff, aims to fix that. Fall and Rise reports the facts, but Zuckoff also weaves the lives of people affected by 9/11 to create a narrative not frequently seen on cable news channels or in documentaries.

Fall and Rise shares stories about pilots, passengers, and aviation professionals linked to American Airlines Flights 11 and 77, and United Airlines Flights 93 and 175. He reveals stories about Mohammed Atta and other terrorists. Zuckoff also dives into the stories of New Yorkers and other Americans who experienced that day in different ways. The result is a woven story that puts the humanity back into a day the history books won’t forget.

I spoke with Zuckoff about what he was doing the day of the attacks, what followed, and how a Boston Globe feature published five days after the attacks turned into an essential book more than 6,000 days later.

The Millions: What was the day of September 11, 2001 like for you?

Mitchell Zuckoff: I was on book leave from the Boston Globe trying to write my first book. When the first plane went in, I didn’t think much of it. It could have been an accident. When the second plane went in, I ran to the phone and it was ringing as I got there. Globe editor Mark Morrow was on the other line and said my book leave was over.

He told me to come to the paper and it became apparent that I was going to be in what we call the control chair to write the lead story for that day. It became a matter of trying to figure out what was going on by taking feeds from several of my colleagues, working closely with the aviation reporter, Matthew Brelis, who took the byline with me. It was an intense and confusing day.

This was personal, on top of everything, because two of the planes took off about a mile from the Globe office at Logan International Airport.

TM: You mention the confusion. When did it become clear to you that it was a coordinated terrorist attack?

MZ: I think when the second plane went in. I was still home. When the first plane went in, we didn’t know what size it was. There was speculation that it was some sightseeing plane that got confused. Then there was no way, 17 minutes apart, that two planes were going to hit two towers accidentally. When I got in my car, we didn’t know about the flight heading to the Pentagon or United 93.

TM: What exactly were you looking for in real time during an event like this?

MZ: Really, what we do on any story. We were trying to answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how of it in as much detail as possible. I was just trying to process it all. My desk is an explosion of papers and printers and notes from reporters. We want it to come out so our readers can digest it in a meaningful way.

TM: I was in seventh grade and in Arizona at the time, so I had no clue what was going on. I was hours back—

MZ: That’s significant. Really significant. Folks on the West Coast, by the time they woke up, it was essentially over. People on the East Coast were watching the Today Show or running to CNN to watch it unfold. It’s a different experience.

TM: I remember it as my mother waking me up for school. She said something, and to this day I remember it as being “They’re attacking us.” I always second-guessed myself, but as you said it was something being reported.

MZ: That would have been a good thing to say.

TM: As the day continued to unfold, how much of a rush was it to finish the initial report out there?

MZ: The adrenaline is flying. We had a rolling deadline because we knew we had as many editions as we needed. The first probably left my hands at 6:00 p.m. I continued to write through the story as it continued to unfold. There were little details—little edits like finding better verbs—that continued to be changed until about 1:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m.

You can’t unwind after that. You walk around the newsroom waiting until it comes off the presses. I needed to let the adrenaline leave because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep.

TM: Then that first week, and this may be a dumb question, but how much did the events consume your writing life?

MZ: Completely. I wrote the lead story again the next day. I came back in and it was understood I would do it again. The next day, on Thursday the 13th, I approached the editors with the idea that I could keep doing the leads, but I had an idea for a narrative I could have done for Sunday’s paper. I needed to dispatch some reporters to help me, but I pitched them to weave a narrative. I wanted to weave together six lives: three people on the first plane and three people from New York: one who got out, one who we didn’t know, and a first responder.

That consumed me all day Thursday and Friday reporting it with those reporters. Then writing it Friday into Saturday for the lead feature in the Sunday paper.

TM: That’s what became the backbone of Fall and Rise. But, at the time, you were already reporting the facts. What was it like going into the humanity of those affected less than a week after the attacks?

MZ: Satisfying in a really deep way. I felt, as much as I valued writing the news, I felt we could do something distinctive and lasting with this narrative. I think all of us—not just reporting the news, but consuming the news—all of us were so inundated with information.

I felt we needed to reflect on the emotion of the moment. By talking about the pilot John Oganowsky and the other folks I focused in on, I felt it could be a bit cathartic. We were all numb and in shock. But this could help.

TM: Did you talk to the people in the narrative or was it strictly the other reporters?

MZ: It was the reporters. I was focused on telling the story of Mohammad Atta. I gave myself that assignment. I was guiding my four teammates to some extent. If someone came up with an important detail or timestamp, I would ask the other reporters to follow up with questions about that particular moment to build around it. I didn’t talk to the families until much later.

TM: When was the first time you talked to survivors or the families of victims?

MZ: I talked to some back then. I was teamed up two weeks after the attacks with Michael Rezendes, who was on the Spotlight team, to write about the terrorists. So, at that point, I wasn’t talking a lot with the families—I did some in 2001 and 2002—but really my deep dive into the families didn’t start until five years ago when I really began working on this book.

TM: What did focusing on the terrorists do to you mentally and emotionally?

MZ: It took a lot out of me. We were really trying to instill the journalistic impartiality to it. But you can’t be objective about this sort of thing. We could be impartial. We couldn’t be exactly sure of who these guys were. We had their identities, but we were aware people use false identities or other’s identities. We had to enforce this impartiality to it. We had to be detached in our work even as we were grieving in our hearts.

TM: With the toll it takes, why continue to write about 9/11 after all these years?

MZ: Exactly that reason: because it does take a toll. The way I process things is to write about them. I didn’t really have a let down for months. I was focused on the work before letting the emotion in. It never really left me. I was still talking about this story to my students. I was still talking about this to my family. There are certain stories that will never leave, but I have to instill something of value into it. I wanted to write something that outlasts me.

TM: You’ve had books come out over the years that weren’t related to 9/11—most notably 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi. This comes out nearly 18 years later. What was the process like throughout all these years?

MZ: I was not writing directly on Fall and Rise during those years. I was working on those other books and projects. It was on a back processor in my mind. The lede story from 9/11 hangs in my office at Boston University. It’s in the corner of my eye. I think it was always playing in the back of my mind.

Once I dove into it in 2014, it was all consuming. It was the deepest dive I have ever taken on a story. As much as I care about all of the work I’ve done, I kind of knew I would never tell a more important story than this. I had to respect the stories of the people telling me about the worst day of their lives. That responsibility was with me day and night for these past five years.

TM: What were the families’ responses to a reporter coming to ask about the worst day of their lives after all this time?

MZ: It amazed me because overwhelmingly people said yes. There were some who understood what I was doing, but told me they couldn’t go there again. They couldn’t revisit that day. The ones who said yes were amazing. I know I was tearing open a wound. A lot of the interviews go for hours and hours. There were moments of weeping and I have no problem acknowledging I did so along with them.

TM: These stories aren’t necessarily widely known and now they’re preserved in this book. It’s so important because now 9/11 may just seem like an event students study in textbooks. Eighteen years…your college freshmen were born the year it happened or the year after, I suppose. How does this generation react to it?

MZ: I teach really engaged journalism students. I’m not sure how the generation as a whole reacts to it. My students approach it with curiosity and a little bit of uncertainty because they didn’t experience it. They are well-read and aware of things, but for them it is a little like Pearl Harbor. They know who was involved and can cite numbers. They can say 3,000 dead, 9/11, four hijacked planes, 19 hijackers. They got the test questions down very well. They don’t have the human connection or that feeling for it that I wish they did. I hope that’s what my book can do.

Voir enfin:

Tweets racistes de Trump : qu’a vraiment dit Ilhan Omar sur Al-Qaeda et le 11 Septembre ?

Pauline Moullot
Libération
17 juillet 2019

Le président américain a accusé une élue démocrate d’origine somalienne de «bomber le torse» en pensant à l’organisation terroriste.

Question posée par Annie le 16/07/2019

Bonjour,

Nous avons reformulé votre question, qui était : «Quels ont été les propos d’Ilhan Omar sur Al-Qaeda et sur le 11 Septembre, que Trump a cités par sous-entendu dans sa conférence de presse ?»

Dans une nouvelle saillie raciste lundi 15 juillet, Donald Trump a accusé la députée démocrate Ilhan Omar, née en Somalie, d’encenser Al-Qaeda. Pour comprendre ce qu’il s’est passé, il faut rembobiner au dimanche 14 juillet. Ce jour-là, le président américain s’en prend, sans les nommer, à quatre élues démocrates, toutes issues de minorités, à la Chambre des représentants : Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib et Ayanna Pressley. Il les appelle notamment à «retourner dans leur pays». La première, réfugiée somalienne, est devenue avec Rashida Tlaib l’une des deux premières femmes musulmanes élues au Congrès en novembre. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez est la plus jeune représentante démocrate de l’histoire, et Ayanna Pressley, première élue afro-américaine au conseil municipal de Boston en 2009. Surnommées «The Squad» par la presse américaine, ces femmes non-blanches se sont démarquées par leur progressisme et leurs prises de position régulières contre la politique de Donald Trump sur l’immigration.

Le lendemain, le Président réitère ses injures racistes en conférence de presse, les appelant de nouveau à quitter les Etats-Unis. A ce moment-là, il assure qu’Ilhan Omar aurait défendu Al-Qaeda et les attentats du 11 Septembre.

A la question «que répondez-vous à ceux qui disent que vos tweets sont racistes ?», Trump rétorque ainsi : «Et bien, elles sont très malheureuses. Elles ne font que se plaindre à longueur de temps. Tout ce que je dis, c’est que si elles veulent partir, qu’elles partent. Elles peuvent partir. Je veux dire, je pense à Omar. Je ne sais pas, je ne l’ai jamais rencontrée. Je l’écoute parler d’Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda a tué beaucoup d’Américains. Et elle dit : « Vous pouvez bomber le torse, quand je pense à Al-Qaeda, je peux bomber le torse. » Quand elle parle des attentats du World Trade Center, elle dit « des gens ». Vous vous souvenez de ce fameux « des gens ». Ces personnes, à mon avis, détestent l’Amérique. Donc quand je les entends dire à quel point Al-Qaeda est merveilleux, quand je les entends parler de « ces gens » à propos du World Trade Center…»

Ses propos sur Al-Qaeda

Vous nous demandez ce qu’a vraiment dit Ilhan Omar à propos d’Al-Qaeda et du 11 septembre. L’équipe de Trump a indiqué à nos confrères américains de Politifact que le président faisait référence à deux déclarations d’Omar, largement reprises par les pro-Trump pour la décrédibiliser ces derniers mois.

La première remonte à 2013. Invitée sur une chaîne locale de Minneapolis, TwinCities PBS, Ilhan Omar commente les répercussions sur la communauté somalienne d’un attentat commis par les shebab somaliens au Kenya, affiliés à Al-Qaeda. Plusieurs extraits de cette interview de vingt-huit minutes ont été repris par ses opposants ces derniers mois. Elle ne parle pourtant pas une seule fois de bomber le torse en pensant à Al-Qaeda. Elle discute avec le présentateur du fait que l’on demande à la communauté somalienne aux Etats-Unis de condamner ces actes, et plus largement aux musulmans de condamner tous les actes terroristes. Elle parle alors de «cette supposition qui fait croire que nous sommes tous connectés à ces actes. […] La population générale doit comprendre qu’il y a une différence entre les personnes qui commettent ces actes diaboliques, car c’est un acte diabolique, et nous avons des gens diaboliques dans le monde. Et des gens normaux qui essaient de continuer à mener leur vie.» Elle parle ensuite du fait que les Somaliens sont les premières victimes des shebab et insiste : «Ces personnes exercent la terreur. Et toute leur idéologie est basée sur le fait de terroriser les communautés.»

La partie la plus détournée de l’interview intervient quand le présentateur l’interroge ensuite sur le fait que l’on conserve les noms arabes, sans les traduire, pour désigner les groupes terroristes. Ces noms, qui ont pourtant d’autres significations en arabe, «polluent notre langage quotidien», ajoute le présentateur. Là, Ilhan Omar acquiesce et répond : «Je pense que c’est un produit des médias sensationnalistes. Vous avez ces extraits sonores, et ces mots, et tout le monde les prononce avec une telle intensité, car ça doit avoir une signification plus grande. Je me souviens quand j’étais à la fac, j’ai suivi un cours sur l’idéologie du terrorisme. A chaque fois que le professeur disait « Al-Qaeda », ses épaules se soulevaient.» Ilhan Omar parle donc de la façon dont les médias évoquent les groupes terroristes, et explique comment cela se voit dans le langage corporel. Mais ne parle pas du tout de bomber le torse.

Ses propos sur le 11 Septembre

Enfin, les propos de Trump sur de supposées déclarations d’Ilhan Omar sur l’attentat du World Trade Center visent un discours prononcé par l’élue au Conseil des relations américano-islamiques (Cair) de Los Angeles, en mars. Le président américain avait alors publié sur Twitter une vidéo montrant les tours jumelles s’effondrer, avec une citation d’Ilhan Omar en arrière-plan. Que disait-elle exactement ? Expliquant que les musulmans étaient fatigués d’être considérés comme «des citoyens de seconde zone», elle ajoute : «Le Cair a été fondé après le 11 Septembre parce qu’ils ont pris acte du fait que des gens avaient fait quelque chose et que nous tous allions commencer à perdre accès à nos libertés civiles.» C’est ce terme «gens» qui lui a été reproché. Mais à aucun moment elle ne loue l’organisation terroriste.

Le Washington Post et Ilhan Omar ont fait remarquer que George W. Bush avait utilisé la même expression après les attentats de 2001. «Je vous entends, je vous entends. Et le reste du monde vous entend. Et les gens, ces gens qui ont fait tomber les tours, vont nous entendre bientôt».

Selon le New York Times, Ilhan Omar a qualifié les accusations de Trump de «ridicules». Toutes les élues démocrates ont répliqué lundi 15 juillet, en organisant une conférence de presse commune pour dénoncer le racisme du président américain. Mercredi, celui-ci s’est de nouveau emparé de son clavier pour assurer qu’il n’était pas raciste, en leur demandant de nouveau de quitter le pays.


Présidence Trump: Le pire des présidents (What if Trump’s very flaws were his strengths and his unpresidentiality the very quality needed to bring long-overdue changes to America and the world ?)

13 juillet, 2019

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Là où le péché abonde, la grâce surabonde. Paul (Romains 5 : 20)
Où est le péril, croît, le salutaire aussi. Hölderlin
La vertu même devient vice, étant mal appliquée, et le vice est parfois ennobli par l’action. Frère Laurent (Roméo et Juliette, Shakespeare)
Le monde moderne n’est pas mauvais : à certains égards, il est bien trop bon. Il est rempli de vertus féroces et gâchées. Lorsqu’un dispositif religieux est brisé (comme le fut le christianisme pendant la Réforme), ce ne sont pas seulement les vices qui sont libérés. Les vices sont en effet libérés, et ils errent de par le monde en faisant des ravages ; mais les vertus le sont aussi, et elles errent plus férocement encore en faisant des ravages plus terribles. Le monde moderne est saturé des vieilles vertus chrétiennes virant à la folie.  G.K. Chesterton
Comme une réponse, les trois slogans inscrits sur la façade blanche du ministère de la Vérité lui revinrent à l’esprit. La guerre, c’est la paix. La liberté, c’est l’esclavage. L’ignorance, c’est la force. 1984 (George Orwell)
La liberté, c’est la liberté de dire que deux et deux font quatre. Lorsque cela est accordé, le reste suit. George Orwell (1984)
Il est des idées d’une telle absurdité que seuls les intellectuels peuvent y croire. George Orwell
Les intellectuels sont portés au totalitarisme bien plus que les gens ordinaires. George Orwell
Le langage politique est destiné à rendre vraisemblables les mensonges, respectables les meurtres, et à donner l’apparence de la solidité à ce qui n’est que vent. George Orwell
Parler de liberté n’a de sens qu’à condition que ce soit la liberté de dire aux gens ce qu’ils n’ont pas envie d’entendre. George Orwell
I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal. General Curtis LeMay
La démocratie est le pire système de gouvernement, à l’exception de tous les autres qui ont pu être expérimentés dans l’histoire. Winston Churchill (1947)
To label him a great or good or even a weak president misses the point. He was merely necessary. Herbert Parmet (Eisenhower, 1972)
Sur les plans géographique, culturel et social, il existe bien des points communs entre les situations françaises et américaines, à commencer par le déclassement de la classe moyenne. C’est « l’Amérique périphérique » qui a voté Trump, celle des territoires désindustrialisés et ruraux qui est aussi celle des ouvriers, employés, travailleurs indépendants ou paysans. Ceux qui étaient hier au cœur de la machine économique en sont aujourd’hui bannis. Le parallèle avec la situation américaine existe aussi sur le plan culturel, nous avons adopté un modèle économique mondialisé. Fort logiquement, nous devons affronter les conséquences de ce modèle économique mondialisé : l’ouvrier – hier à gauche –, le paysan – hier à droite –, l’employé – à gauche et à droite – ont aujourd’hui une perception commune des effets de la mondialisation et rompent avec ceux qui n’ont pas su les protéger. La France est en train de devenir une société américaine, il n’y a aucune raison pour que l’on échappe aux effets indésirables du modèle. (…) Dans l’ensemble des pays développés, le modèle mondialisé produit la même contestation. Elle émane des mêmes territoires (Amérique périphérique, France périphérique, Angleterre périphérique… ) et de catégories qui constituaient hier la classe moyenne, largement perdue de vue par le monde d’en haut. (…) Faire passer les classes moyennes et populaires pour « réactionnaires », « fascisées », « pétinisées » est très pratique. Cela permet d’éviter de se poser des questions cruciales. Lorsque l’on diagnostique quelqu’un comme fasciste, la priorité devient de le rééduquer, pas de s’interroger sur l’organisation économique du territoire où il vit. L’antifascisme est une arme de classe. Pasolini expliquait déjà dans ses Écrits corsaires que depuis que la gauche a adopté l’économie de marché, il ne lui reste qu’une chose à faire pour garder sa posture de gauche : lutter contre un fascisme qui n’existe pas. C’est exactement ce qui est en train de se passer. Christophe Guilluy
Madame Hidalgo persécute l’artisan qui roule dans une vieille camionnette, mais elle rêve d’attirer toujours plus de touristes dont les autocars font trembler les pavés parisiens, elle veut une ville verte et cycliste pour accueillir des foules livrées par Airbus. Bref, elle psalmodie avec la même conviction l’urgence écologique et l’impératif touristique, ce qui est à hurler de rire. (…) On ne cesse de nous rappeler que la planète n’est pas renouvelable, mais les vieilles pierres, les églises, les temples ne le sont pas non plus. Il est tout de même curieux qu’on trouve normal de pénaliser un travailleur qui n’a pas les moyens de se payer une voiture propre mais qu’on refuse toute mesure de restriction touristique au prétexte que les classes moyennes brésiliennes ou indiennes ont aussi le droit de visiter Chambord. Du reste, cet argument est d’une rare hypocrisie: si nous nous mettons en quatre pour recevoir le touriste, même modeste, ce n’est évidemment pas par esprit démocratique mais parce que, pauvre ou pas, nous pourrons le soulager de quelques devises. Rassurez-vous, je ne prétends pas qu’il faudrait interdire le tourisme, mais au moins le réguler. On somme les Chinois de modérer leurs émissions de carbone, pourquoi serait-il intolérable de leur demander de réduire leurs voyages? Alors oui, peut-être faudra-t-il à l’avenir attendre plus longtemps et payer plus cher pour visiter nos monuments. Mais si on ne restreint pas les flux, ces générations futures pour lesquelles on nous demande de changer nos habitudes n’auront plus rien à visiter. (…) On a (…) vendu la mobilité, la flexibilité, la désaffiliation comme des idéaux à des classes populaires ou moyennes qui non seulement n’ont pas les moyens financiers et culturels de passer leur vie à sauter les frontières ou à s’installer ailleurs que dans l’endroit où ils ont acheté une maison invendable, mais qui, en plus, semblent assez largement rétives aux beautés du nomadisme. (…) Le tourisme éthique et citoyen inventé par les marchands de voyages et le «guide du Roublard» (encore Muray) n’étaient pas mal non plus. Encore une fois, le tourisme écologique est un oxymore. Ou pour le dire autrement, une vaste blague. Cependant, aujourd’hui, certains écolos (et les technos du ministère) rêvent de «valoriser» la nature et d’en faire à son tour un patrimoine touristique bien plus profitable que l’élevage qui occupe actuellement les déserts français. Les promoteurs de ce Yellowstone à la française, sur lequel Causeur publie une enquête, aimeraient donc se débarrasser du pastoralisme, cette activité humaine ancestrale, pour implanter des loups et des ours. Le calcul est simple: des touristes fortunés susceptibles de payer pour voir des prédateurs, il y en a beaucoup, alors que ces éleveurs nous coûtent un pognon de dingue. En somme, cette écologie de l’ensauvagement lutte contre l’homme et pour le touriste. (…) Je ne me moque nullement de ces bénéfices, je me désole que nous acceptions de n’être plus qu’un pays où on vient passer ses vacances ou, pire encore, un pays qu’on traverse pour aller en Italie ou en Espagne. Nous sommes fiers de notre médaille d’or du nombre de touristes mais ce chiffre masque le fait que beaucoup ne dépensent chez nous que le prix de deux pleins et de trois sandwiches. Par ailleurs, on oublie toujours, quand on parle des recettes du tourisme, de compter le coût des nuisances qu’il occasionne et des investissements qu’il nécessite, dont une partie notable est à la charge de la collectivité. Cela dit, je ne me désole pas que des milliards d’étrangers rêvent de visiter Paris, je me désole du fait que «la ville de demain», comme dit la maire, soit d’abord conçue pour eux et si peu pour ceux qui y vivent. Et aussi que nous renoncions à être une grande nation industrielle pour être la première destination touristique du monde. Comme si nous n’avions plus rien d’autre à vendre que notre passé débité en visites guidées et produits dérivés. (…) Quand Paris a «gagné» les JO, – contre personne car il n’y avait pas d’autres candidats – nous avons été les seuls à dénoncer cette catastrophe. On nous disait: vous n’aimez rien, ce sera formidable pour la ville, la grande fête du sport, et tout ce baratin. Plus l’échéance approche et plus on se rend compte que ce sera, comme toujours, la grande fête du business, de la pub, de la vente de bière, de la fête obligatoire et du bruit. Paris va se transformer en ville-sandwich mais joue les vertueuses en refusant Total, un peu comme une prostituée qui refuserait les hommes mariés. Et je ne vous parle même pas des retards dans les chantiers et des dépassements de budget qui s’annoncent. Dans quatre ans, tous ceux qui nous sommaient hier de nous enthousiasmer hurleront au scandale. (…) Muray était un prophète, il a deviné toutes les potentialités diaboliques et comiques de notre époque sans autre et sans ailleurs bien avant qu’elles soient accomplies. Autant dire que les occasions de lui rendre hommage ne manquent pas. Il est impossible de comprendre ce qui se joue dans l’arraisonnement touristique du monde sans le lire. Elisabeth Lévy
I don’t believe only in reproductive freedom, I believe in reproductive justice. And what that means is just because a woman, or let’s also not forget someone in the trans community — a trans female — is poor, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t exercise that right to choose. So I absolutely would cover that right to have an abortion. Julian Castro
Let me just be very clear: we have to have a secure border. But I am in favor of saying that we’re not going to treat people who are undocumented [and] cross the borders as criminals, that is correct. What we cannot do is have any more policy like we have under this current president that is about inhumane conduct, that is about putting babies in cages, that is about separating children from their parents and we have got to have policy that is about passing comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway toward citizenship. I would not make it punishable by jail. It should be a civil enforcement issue, but not a criminal enforcement issue. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)
I’ve been to that facility, where they talk about cages. That facility was built under President Obama under (Homeland Security) Secretary Jeh Johnson. I was there because I was there when it was built. The kids are being house in the same facility built under the Obama administration.’ If you want to call them cages, call them cages. But if the left wants to call them cages and the Democrats want to call them cages then they have to accept the fact that they were built and funded in FY 2015. It’s chain link dividers that keeps children separate from unrelated adults. It’s about protecting children. Thomas Homan (Obama’s executive associate director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement)
Ne fermez pas les portes à ceux qui frappent. Le monde des migrants et des réfugiés est la croix de l’humanité. Pape François
Des associations comme SOS Méditerranée et Sea Watch nous honorent et nous obligent face à l’inertie des gouvernements européens. Carola Rackete et Pia Klemp sont les emblèmes de ce combat, porteuses des valeurs européennes auxquelles la Ville de Paris appelle une nouvelle fois notre continent à rester fidèle. Patrick Klugman (adjoint à la maire de Paris chargé des Relations internationales)
L’Eglise est dans son rôle quand elle fait preuve de compassion et de charité pour les plus vulnérables. Elle sort de ses fonctions quand elle fait de la politique, par son opposition aux Etats qui entendent contrôler leurs frontières. Une chose est d’aider des migrants qui risquent la mort. Une autre est de rester indifférent aux peuples d’Europe qui voient l’immigration de masse comme une force potentielle de déstabilisation de leur civilisation fatiguée. François se comporte comme s’il avait déjà tiré un trait sur la vieille Europe infertile et décadente, pour lui préférer la plus prolifique clientèle du tiers-monde. Et se plaçant en chef de file des humanitaires, sans manifester de curiosité particulière pour leurs arrangements avec les passeurs en Méditerranée, le Pape est en train de transformer l’Eglise catholique en une super-ONG à la George Soros. Il est également en train de vider de sa substance le subtil message religieux, qui s’adresse à chaque croyant soucieux de sa rédemption, au profit de lourds slogans humanitaires culpabilisant les Etats. Le plus grave est que François ne semble pas vouloir mesurer la force conquérante de l’islam au contact de l’Occident, et la faiblesse de l’Europe oublieuse de ses propres racines. Le cardinal Robert Sarah remarque avec justesse : « L’Europe veut s’ouvrir à toutes les cultures – ce qui peut être louable et source de richesse – et à toutes les religions du monde, mais elle ne s’aime plus« . Le pape, non plus, n’aime pas l’Europe. Ivan Rioufol
Arrêtée par la police italienne, le capitaine du bateau Sea Watch, Carola Rackete, semble être devenue l’héroïne de toute une gauche européenne dont l’activisme humanitaire et victimiste pro-migrants sert en réalité une idéologie anti-nationale, anti-frontières et viscéralement hostile à la civilisation européenne-occidentale assimilée au Mal et dont les « fautes » passées et présentes ne pourraient être expiées qu’en acceptant l’auto-submersion migratoire et islamique… Rappelons que le Sea-Watch 3, navire de 600 tonnes battant pavillon hollandais et cofinancé par les fonds de George Soros et autres riches contributeurs, a non seulement « récupéré » des migrants illégaux acheminés par des passeurs nord-africains, ce qui est en soi un viol de la loi, mais a délibérément forcé le blocus des eaux territoriales italiennes, donc violé la souveraineté de ce pays. De ce fait, son capitaine, l’Allemande Carola Rackete, va être présentée à un juge en début de semaine, à Agrigente, dans le sud de la Sicile, puis répondra des faits « d’aide à l’immigration clandestine » (punie de prison par la loi italienne et le « décret-sécurité » (decreto-sicurezza) du gouvernement / Ligue (5 étoiles de Rome), puis de « résistance à un bateau de guerre ». Quant aux 42 migrants clandestins de la Sea Watch 3 débarqués après l’arrestation de la capitaine-activiste allemande (11 migrants plus « vulnérables » avaient déjà été débarqués légalement), ils ont fini par débarquer à Lampedusa après que la France, l’Allemagne, le Portugal, le Luxembourg et la Finlande ont accepté un plan de répartition visant à en accueillir chacun quelques-uns. (…) Pendant ce temps, des petites embarcations moins identifiables et qui ne font pas la une des médias continuent d’arriver chaque jour à Lampedusa et au sud d’Agrigente (200 ces derniers jours). Et d’autres navires affrétés par des ONG pro-migrants continuent de défier les autorités italiennes ou d’autres pays (Malte, Espagne, Grèce, etc.) dans l’indifférence générale et en violation banalisée de la loi et du principe de protection des frontières. On peut citer par exemple l’ONG espagnole Proactiva open arms, qui patrouille au large de la Libye malgré la menace d’une amende de 200 000 à 900 000 euros brandie par les autorités espagnoles. « Si je dois payer par la prison ou par une amende le fait de sauver les vies de quelques personnes, je le ferais », a d’ailleurs assuré Oscar Camps, fondateur de l’ONG. Utilisant la même rhétorique de « résistance » et de « désobéissance civile » face à une autorité étatique « répressive », Carola Rackette expliquait elle aussi au Spiegel, quelques jours seulement avant d’accoster à Lampedusa : « Si nous ne sommes pas acquittés par un tribunal, nous le serons dans les livres d’histoire. » (…) La stratégie d’intimidation psychologique des ONG et lobbies subversifs pro-migrants consiste en fait à adopter une rhétorique victimaire et hautement culpabilisatrice qui a pour but de faire passer pour des horribles racistes / fascistes les défenseurs des frontières et des lois sécuritaires pourtant démocratiquement adoptées. Carola Rackete a ainsi déclaré au journal italien La Repubblica : « J’ai la peau blanche, j’ai grandi dans un pays riche, j’ai le bon passeport, j’ai pu faire trois universités différentes et j’ai fini mes études à 23 ans. Mon obligation morale est d’aider les gens qui n’ont pas bénéficié des mêmes conditions que moi (…). Les pauvres, ils ne se sentent pas bienvenus, imaginez leur souffrance (…), j’ai voulu accoster de force car beaucoup risquaient de se suicider sur la bateau et étaient en danger depuis 17 jours d’immobilisation ». (…) Très fier de lui et de son « coup », Chris Grodotzki, le président de l’ONG Sea Watch, se réjouit que « dans toute l’Europe, Carole est devenue un symbole. Nous n’avons jamais reçu autant de dons », indiquant qu’en Italie une cagnotte a recueilli dimanche 400 000 euros. Samedi, en Allemagne, deux stars de la télévision, Jan Böhmermann et Klaas Heufer-Umlauf, ont lancé quant à eux une cagnotte et 500 000 euros ont été récoltés en moins de vingt-quatre heures. En fait, l’aide aux migrants clandestins est une activité lucrative pour les ONG, et pas seulement pour les passeurs et les établissements payés pour offrir le gîte et l’accueil avec les deniers publics. (…) D’après Matteo Salvini, Carola Rackete serait une « criminelle » qui aurait tenté de « tuer des membres des forces de l’ordre italienne ». Il est vrai que la vedette de la Guarda della Finanza, (12 mètres), très légère, n’aurait pas résisté au choc du navire de la Sea Watch (600 tonnes) si elle ne s’était pas retirée. Inculpée par le procureur d’Agrigente, la capitaine de la Sea Watch risque jusqu’à dix ans de prison pour « résistance ou violence envers un navire de guerre ». En fait, bien moins que dans de nombreux autres pays du monde, y compris démocratiques comme l’Australie, les Etats-Unis ou la Hongrie. Le procureur d’Agrigente, Luigi Patronaggio, qui est pourtant connu pour ne pas être du tout favorable à la Ligue de Matteo Salvini, a d’ailleurs qualifié le geste de Carola Rackete de « violence inadmissible » et placé la capitaine du navire humanitaire aux « arrêts domiciliaires » (contrôle judiciaire avec assignation à résidence), avant le lancement d’une procédure de flagrant délit. L’intéressée a répondu via le Corriere della Sera, en affirmant que « ce n’était pas un acte de violence, seulement de désobéissance ». (…) Depuis, de Rome à Berlin, et au sein de toute la gauche et l’extrême-gauche européenne, « Carola » est devenue une nouvelle « héroïne de la désobéissance civile », le concept clef de la gauche marxiste ou libertaire pour justifier moralement le fait de bafouer délibérément les règles des Etats et de violer les lois démocratiques qui font obstacle à leur idéologie anti-nationale. Et la désinformation médiatique consiste justement à faire passer l’appui que Carola Rackete a reçu – de la part de stars de TV, de politiques bien-pensants et de lobbies pro-migrants chouchoutés par les médias – pour un « soutien de l’Opinion publique ». En Allemagne, du président de l’Église évangélique, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, au PDG de Siemens, Joe Kaeser, de nombreuses voix se sont élevées pour prendre sa défense comme si elle était une nouvelle Pasionaria « antifasciste / antinazie », 90 ans plus tard… (…) En Italie, outre la figure de Leo Luca Orlando, le maire de Palerme, qui accorde régulièrement la « citoyenneté d’honneur » de sa ville aux dirigeants d’ONG pro-migrants et qui assimile les « cartes de séjours » et contrôles aux frontières à des « instruments de torture », l’ensemble de la gauche (hors le parti 5 étoiles allié de la Ligue), et surtout le parti démocrate, (PD), jouent cette carte de « l’illégalité légitime » et appuie les ONG anti-frontières. « Par nécessité, vous pouvez enfreindre la loi », ont déclaré aux membres de la Sea Watch les députés de gauche montés à bord du bateau Sea Watch 3 avant l’arrestation de Carole Rackete. Premier à être monté à bord du Sea Watch 3, l’élu du PD Graziano Delrio ose lancer : « Dans certains cas, vous ne pouvez pas respecter les lois et vous pouvez même au contraire, dans des cas de nécessité, enfreindre les lois. » (..;) Détail stupéfiant, les représentants du PD venus manifester leur solidarité avec la capitaine (étrangère) d’un navire (étranger) faisant le travail de passeurs / trafiquants d’êtres humains, n’ont pas même condamné ou regretté le fait que la « militante humanitaire Carole » a failli tuer les policiers de la vedette de la Guardia di Finanza qui bloquait le Sea Watch 3. Estimant qu’il ne pouvait manquer ce « coup médiatique » afin de complaire aux lobbies et médias immigrationnistes dominant, l’ex-Premier ministre (PD) Matteo Renzi était lui aussi sur le pont du Sea Watch 3 lorsque Carola Rackete a décidé de forcer le blocus. Avec lui, d’autres parlementaires de gauche (Matteo Orfini, Davide Faraone, Nicola Fratoianni et Riccardo Magi) ont carrément « béni » cette action illégale et violente qui a pourtant mis en danger les membres des forces de leur propre pays. (..;) Étaient également venus applaudir la capitaine allemande et son action illégale : le curé de Lampedusa, Don Carmelo La Magra ; l’ancien maire de l’île Giusi Nicolini, le médecin et député européen Pietro Bartolo, et le secrétaire local du parti PD Peppino Palmeri, lequel a déclaré pompeusement que « l’humanité a gagné, (…). Je pense que oui, nous devons être unis dans une fraternité universelle »… Plutôt que de respecter la légalité des lois approuvées démocratiquement par le Parlement de leur propre pays dont ils sont élus, ces représentants de la gauche ont accusé le gouvernement Ligue / 5 étoiles d’avoir « laissé au milieu de la mer pendant 16 jours un bateau qui avait besoin d’un refuge » (Matteo Orfini), alors qu’en réalité, sur les 53 migrants illégaux au départ présents sur le Sea Watch 3, onze avaient été débarqués en Italie en raison de leur état vulnérable, les autres étant nourris et auscultés par des médecins envoyés par l’Etat italien. (..;) Dès qu’elle est descendue du navire accompagnée des policiers italiens venus l’arrêter, Carola Rackete a été saluée par les ovations d’un groupe d’activistes ainsi que par le curé de la paroisse de Lampedusa, Carmelo La Magra, lequel dormait dans le cimetière de sa paroisse depuis une semaine « en signe de solidarité ». Rivalisant avec les plus virulents pro-migrants d’extrême-gauche, le curé de Lampedusa a exulté : « Noël vient quand il arrive. Bienvenue aux migrants à Porto Salvo di Lampedusa. » Le prêtre de l’église de San Gerlando di Lampedusa s’est ainsi joint à l’appel de l’Action catholique italienne « à permettre le débarquement immédiat des 42 personnes à bord du Sea Watch ». (..;) Au début du mois de mai dernier, lors de son voyage en Bulgarie, le Pape avait donné le ton et répondu ainsi à la politique des « ports fermés » de Matteo Salvini : « Ne fermez pas les portes à ceux qui frappent. Le monde des migrants et des réfugiés est la croix de l’humanité. » Preuve que les curés pro-migrants et l’Église catholique de plus en plus immigrationniste sont, comme la gauche anti-nationale post-ouvrière, totalement déconnectés des peuples et de leurs ouailles : rappelons qu’à Lampedusa la Ligue de Salvini est arrivée en tête avec 45 % des voix aux dernières élections européennes ; que plus de 65 % des Italiens (catholiques) approuvent ses lois et actions visant à combattre l’immigration clandestine ; et que le Pape François, certes populaire auprès des médias quand il défend les migrants, exaspère de plus en plus et a même rendu antipapistes des millions d’Italiens qui se sentent trahis par un souverain Pontife qui semble préférer les musulmans aux chrétiens et les Africains aux Européens. A tort ou à raison d’ailleurs. (…) Il est vrai que la Sicile et en particulier Lampedusa sont plus que jamais en première ligne face à l’immigration clandestine : rien que pendant les deux dernières semaines durant lesquelles le Sea Watch est resté bloqué au large de l’île, Lampedusa a assisté impuissante, malgré la politique des « ports fermés » de Matteo Salvini et de son nouveau « décret sécurité », plus de 200 clandestins (majoritairement tunisiens et aucunement des « réfugiés » politiques syriens) acheminés par des barques de fortunes plus difficiles à repérer que les navires des ONG. Depuis des années, la ville est littéralement défigurée, l’arrivée de migrants entraînant des faits quotidiens de violences, d’agressions, de vols et destructions de commerces. (…) Malgré cela, le médiatique curé de Lampedusa, grand adepte du pape François, martèle qu’il faut « accueillir, protéger, promouvoir et intégrer les migrants et les réfugiés ». Dans une autre ville de Sicile, Noto, où nous nous sommes rendus le 27 juin dernier, une immense croix en bois a été construite à partir de morceaux d’une embarcation de migrants et a été carrément érigée dans l’entrée de la plus grande église du centre-ville. A Catania, ville très catholique-conservatrice et de droite – où se déroule chaque année début février la troisième plus grande fête chrétienne au monde, la Santa Agata – la cathédrale a été prise d’assauts par des sit-in pro-migrants en défense de Carola Rackete et de la Sea Watch. (…) Quant à Palerme, l’alliance entre l’Église catholique et le maire de la Ville, Leo Luca Orlando, chef de file de la lutte contre la politique migratoire de Matteo Salvini, est totale, alors même que Orlando est un anticlérical patenté à la fois islamophile et pro-LGBT. Sa dernière trouvaille a consisté à proposer d’éliminer le terme même de « migrant », puisque « nous sommes tous des personnes ». D’après lui, le terme « migrants » devrait être supprimé, tout comme la gauche a réussi à faire supprimer celui de « clandestin », remplacé dans le jargon journalistique par celui, trompeur, mais plus valorisant, de « migrant ». Cette manipulation sémantique visant à abolir la distinction migrant régulier / illégal est également très présente dans le pacte de Marrakech des Nations-unies. (..;) Récemment, à l’occasion de la rupture du jeûne du ramadan, le médiatique maire palermitain s’est affiché en train de prier avec une assemblée de musulmans, consacrant même une « journée consacrée à l’islam » en rappelant le « glorieux passé arabo-islamique » de la Sicile (en réalité envahie et libérée deux siècles plus tard par les Normands). Orlando utilise lui aussi à merveille l’arme de la culpabilisation lorsqu’il ne cesse de justifier l’immigration illimitée au nom du fait que les Siciliens « ont eu eux aussi des grands-parents qui ont décidé d’aller vivre dans un autre pays en demandant à être considérés comme des personnes humaines ». Bref, « on est tous des migrants ». Une musique bien connue aussi en France. (…) A chaque nouvelle affaire de blocage de bateaux d’ONG pro-migrants par les autorités italiennes obéissant à la politique de la Ligue, le maire de Palerme se déclare prêt à accueillir des navires dans le port de Palerme. Lors de notre visite, le 26 juin dernier, Orlando nous a d’ailleurs remis une brochure consacrée à l’accueil des migrants, « chez eux chez nous ». Comme le Pape ou l’ex-maire de Lampedusa, Leoluca Orlando est depuis quelques années tellement obsédé par « l’impératif d’accueil » des migrants, alors que la Sicile connaît encore une grande pauvreté et un chômage de masse, qu’il suscite une réaction de rejet et d’exaspération, d’autant que de nombreuses initiatives en faveur des migrants sont financées par des citoyens italiens-siciliens hyper-taxés et précarisés. (…) Le 28 juin, lorsque nous avons parlé de la question migratoire au maire de la seconde ville de Sicile, Catania, Salvatore Pogliese, ex-membre d’Alleanza nazionale élu député européen et maire sous les couleurs de Forza Italia, celui-ci nous confiait qu’il jugeait absurdes et extrêmes les vues du maire de Palerme ou du curé de Lampedusa. Et il rappelait que lorsque des maires pro-migrants jouent aux « héros » en réclamant l’ouverture sans limites des ports pour accueillir les « réfugiés » du monde entier, ils mentent puisque l’ouverture des ports relève, comme en France, non pas des maires, mais de l’Etat central (ministères des Transports et de l’Intérieur). (..;) Une autre alliance de forces « progressistes » / pro-migrants n’a pas manqué de surprendre les analystes de la vie politique italienne, notamment à l’occasion de la Gay Pride, organisée à Milan le 28 juin, par le maire de gauche, Beppe Sala, champion de la « diversité » et des minorités en tout genre : l’alliance de la gauche et des multinationales et des Gafam. C’est ainsi que certains journaux italiens de droite ont relevé le fait que les sponsors de la Gay Pride, officiellement indiqués sur le site de l’événement – Google, Microsoft, eBay, Coca-Cola, PayPal, RedBull, Durex, Benetton, etc. – ont tenu et obtenu que soient associées à la cause des gays celle des migrants afin de « prendre en compte toutes les différences, pas seulement liées à l’identité et à l’orientation sexuelle (immigration, handicap, appartenance ethnique, etc.) ». (..;) Les « migrants » illégaux et autres faux réfugiés secourus par les ONG immigrationnistes, adeptes des « ports ouverts », ont donc eu droit à un traitement de faveur et ont pu officiellement venir « exprimer toute sa solidarité avec le capitaine du navire (Sea Watch 3) Carola Rackete, avec les membres de l’équipage et avec toutes les personnes à bord », écrit sur Facebook « Ensemble sans murs », qui « participera avec enthousiasme au défilé de mode de Milan ». L’idéologie diversitaire est si puissante, et l’accueil des migrants est tellement devenu la « cause des causes » capable de surpasser les autres, qu’elle s’invite même chez les lobbies LGBT, pourtant la « minorité » la plus directement persécutée – avec les juifs – par l’islamisme. (..;) Or, une grande majorité d’immigrés clandestins est de confession musulmane : Subsahariens, Erythréens, Soudanais, Égyptiens, Syriens, Turcs, Maghrébins ou Pakistanais et Afghans qui émigrent en masse dans la Vieille Europe de façon tant légale (regroupement familial, migrations économiques, visas étudiants, mineurs non-accompagnés…) qu’illégale. (..;) Pour bien comprendre « d’où parlent » les défenseurs des migrants clandestins qui ne cessent d’apostropher Victor Orban, Matteo Salvini ou encore le « diable en chef » Donald Trump pour leurs politiques de contrôle de l’immigration, il suffit de constater le deux poids deux mesures et l’indignation sélective de la gauche et de l’Église catholique qui dénoncent les « populistes européens xénophobes / islamophobes / racistes » mais très peu le néo-Sultan Erdogan et encore moins les pays d’Afrique, du Maghreb, d’Amérique latine ou d’Asie qui répriment extrêmement sévèrement et violemment l’immigration clandestine et / ou l’islamisme. (…) Deux exemples flagrants suffiront à s’en convaincre : l’ONU a récemment condamné « l’islamophobie » européenne et occidentale, notamment de la France et de l’Italie, mais pas les massacres de masse de musulmans en Chine ou en Inde. Ensuite, le 5 septembre 2018, lorsque la marine marocaine a fait tirer sur une embarcation de migrants clandestins, faisant un mort et un blessé grave, puis fait arrêter le capitaine espagnol du bateau, l’ONU n’a pas bronché. Pas plus dans de nombreux cas de mauvais traitements, persécutions de migrants subsahariens ou de chrétiens dans l’ensemble des pays d’Afrique du Nord et arabes. (..;) Les Etats européens et les « militants » antifascistes hostiles aux « populistes » n’ont pas manifesté la moindre indignation face à ces phénomènes récurrents. Pas plus que les antiracistes français et leurs alliés féministes et pro-LGBT ne dénoncent la misogynie et l’homophobie islamiques, de facto exonérées par primat xénophile et auto-racisme anti-occidental. Ce dernier exemple est significatif : loin de se laisser culpabiliser, les autorités marocaines ont pourtant assumé le fait qu’une « unité de combat de la Marine royale » a ouvert le feu sur l’embarcation (un « go-fast » léger) en tuant une passagère. Comme Carola Rackete, le capitaine de la vedette de clandestins n’avait pas obéi aux ordres des militaires marocains l’intimant de stopper sa course. (..;) Morale de l’histoire : l’immigrationnisme des ONG comme la Sea Watch et autres « No Borders » est – comme l’antiracisme à sens unique – une arme subversive tournée contre les seuls peuples blancs-judéo-chrétiens-occidentaux et leurs Etats-Nations souverains. D’évidence, les forces cosmopolitiquement correctes (gauche internationaliste-marxiste ; libéraux-multiculturalistes ; multinationales / Mc Word ; Église catholique ; fédéralistes européens et autres instances onusiennes) veulent détruire en premier lieu les vieilles nations européennes culpabilisées et vieillissantes, sorte de terra nullius en devenir conçue comme le laboratoire de leurs projets néo-impériaux / mondialistes respectifs. (..) Ces différentes forces ne sont pas amies, mais elles convergent dans un même projet de destruction des Etats-souverains occidentaux. Voilà d’où parlent les No Borders. Et à l’aune de ce constat, le fait que le milliardaire Soros et les multinationales précitées sponsorisent des opérations pro-migrants, pourtant exécutées par des ONG et forces de gauche et d’extrême-gauche ou chrétiennes / tiersmondistes, en dit long sur la convergence des forces cosmopolitiquement correctes hostiles à l’Etat-Nation et à la défense de l’identité occidentale. Alexandre del Valle
Cela s’inscrit dans la ligne politique engagée par l’Iran depuis quarante ans. Ils déploient une politique de chantage sans pour autant l’assumer. Ils déploient une politique de chantage sans pour autant l’assumer. Ils jettent de l’huile sur le feu, mais de manière modérée. La seule chose qui leur reste, c’est leur pouvoir de nuisance. Mahnaz Shirali
Le Président américain Donald Trump est présenté comme un abruti erratique guidé par ses impulsions, ignorant et dangereux. Bien que le rapport Mueller ait montré qu’il n’y a jamais eu aucune «collusion» entre Trump et la Russie, les journalistes français en leur grande majorité se refusent à le dire explicitement et à reconnaître qu’ils ont pratiqué la désinformation à dose intensive pendant deux ans. Les résultats obtenus par ­Trump, tant sur le plan intérieur que sur le plan extérieur, sont à peine notés et ne le sont parfois pas du tout. Quand ils le sont, le nom de Trump est le plus souvent omis, comme si le citer positivement, ne serait-ce qu’une seule fois, était absolument impensable. Ce n’est, en soi, pas grave: ­Trump gouverne sans se préoccuper de ce que diront des journalistes français. Cela contribue néanmoins à entraver la compréhension des choses de tous ceux qui ne s’informeraient que grâce à la presse française, et nombre de gens seront dès lors surpris lorsque Trump sera réélu en novembre 2020 (car tout l’indique: il sera réélu). On leur expliquera sans doute que c’est parce que le peuple américain est lui-même ignorant et dangereux. Cela contribue aussi à empêcher de voir que l’action et les idées de Trump ont un impact beaucoup plus vaste, et qui excède de beaucoup les frontières des États-Unis. La politique économique menée par Donald Trump – qui ajoute à une forte baisse des impôts et à une déréglementation radicale, un refus de se soumettre aux lubies écologistes et un nationalisme économique basé sur la renégociation de tous les accords internationaux antécédemment négociés et sur la création de rapports de force – porte ses fruits et mène divers gouvernements sur la planète à adopter des mesures allant dans la même direction. Sa politique intérieure – basée sur un retour à une immigration strictement contrôlée et sur la réaffirmation des valeurs qui fondent la civilisation occidentale – porte, elle aussi, ses fruits, même si elle est, dans plusieurs États du pays, entravée par les décisions délétères de la gauche américaine qui entend protéger les immigrants illégaux (criminels compris). Plusieurs gouvernements sur la planète adoptent des mesures allant dans le même sens. Au Proche-Orient, Donald ­Trump conduit une asphyxie du régime iranien qui progresse et, n’en déplaise à ceux qui refusent de le voir, diminue la dangerosité de celui-ci. Il met en place un rapprochement entre les pays du monde arabe sunnite et Israël qui modifie profondément la donne régionale et, n’en déplaise là encore à ceux qui refusent de le voir, fait apparaître pour la première fois des espoirs réels qu’émerge une paix durable. L’anéantissement de l’État islamique permet de juguler le terrorisme islamique sur les cinq continents. L’action d’endiguement de la Chine communiste déstabilise celle-ci et freine les ambitions hégémoniques nourries par Xi Jinping. La Corée du Nord n’est plus une menace pour la Corée du Sud et le Japon. L’arrivée au pouvoir de Jaïr Bolsonaro au Brésil est au cœur d’un changement majeur dans toute l’Amérique latine. En Europe, Trump ne cesse d’appuyer les dirigeants «populistes» d’Europe centrale contre les orientations anti-démocratiques et islamophiles de l’Union européenne, et la perspective d’une Europe des nations souveraines fait son chemin. L’ère Trump est en son aurore. La grande presse du monde qui parle anglais le dit explicitement. Ne comptez pas sur la grande presse française pour vous le dire! Guy Millière
Trump ne voulait pas du rôle de policier mondial, mais il se trouve obligé de l’assumer, puisqu’il n’y a aucune puissance capable de remplacer les États-Unis dans ce domaine-clé. C’est l’Amérique, pas l’ONU impotente et corrompue, qui maintient les routes commerciales, et le monde entier en profite, gratuitement – comme si cela allait de soi. Or, non seulement, cela ne va pas de soi, mais beaucoup d’obligés geignent contre un pseudo «impérialisme américain», sans jamais se remettre en question. Si l’Amérique trouve certes son compte dans ce service planétaire assuré à grands frais par sa flotte et ses services de surveillance, ce n’est pas elle qui en a le plus besoin, mais ses alliés qui, eux, ne sont pas sevrés du brut que leur vend l’OPEP. C’est aussi l’Amérique qui en assume les risques comme on vient de voir avec la descente en flammes d’un drone de 100 millions de dollars, heureusement sans pilote, qui croisait dans l’espace international et non iranien. Cela, après des attaques iraniennes, sans raison non plus, sur des pétroliers norvégien et japonais. Alors, «l’opinion internationale» (c’est-à-dire la gauche mondialiste et ses médias désinformateurs) se dit «soulagée» que Trump n’ait pas poursuivi «son escalade», mais tous ces trolls qui renversent ignominieusement les responsabilités, déplorent à présent son «manque de stratégie». Qu’est-ce que des anti-américains et anti-militaristes primaires peuvent comprendre aux questions de stratégie avec leur logiciel bloqué? La véritable question est: pourquoi l’ayatollah Khamenei décide-t-il maintenant de provoquer Trump? Les sanctions asphyxient son économie de rente, d’autant que l’aide concoctée par les Européens cupides, hypocrites et lâches, tarde à se matérialiser. Les dirigeants de l’UE, qui mar­chent au pas de l’oie avec Merkel, entretiennent une cécité criminelle vis-à-vis de l’Iran. Sous Merkel, l’Allemagne oublie qu’elle doit tout aux États-Unis. Elle remercie par une politique teigneuse de tarifs douaniers. Elle se targue cyniquement d’être la plus mauvaise payeuse de l’OTAN, achète le gaz de la Russie et refuse le gaz américain. Et voici qu’elle pactise avec les ayatollahs contre les USA. L’Allemagne et l’UE illustrent tout ce qui est inacceptable pour Trump: l’archétype de l’allié félon aux prétentions disproportionnées au vu de la réalité. Et elles sont coupables de négligence inadmissible envers notre sécurité collective en dissimulant le danger pour l’Occident qu’est la République islamique, nullement différente (dans ses visées hégémoniques et ses méthodes internes brutales) de l’État islamique que l’Iran aidait et que Trump a éradiqué. L’Iran n’a jamais cessé l’enrichissement d’uranium et continue d’alimenter le terrorisme islamique. Les sanctions ne sont que justice et, malgré leur dureté renforcée, Trump espère des Iraniens éclairés un énième et décisif soulèvement contre ses dirigeants. Car il n’en a qu’après ce régime meurtrier et sympathise avec les Iraniens, mais il leur rappelle qu’il ne peut intervenir militairement, sauf attaque avec victimes américaines, auquel cas la réponse serait foudroyante. Loin de vouloir la guerre, il veut «redonner à l’Iran sa grandeur». Khamenei sait qu’à la Maison Blanche, Trump s’est entouré volontairement de conseillers aux vues opposées qui représentent chacun une partie de la base de Trump et qui constituent un «brain-trust». Il table sur le fait que Trump est tenu par l’impératif de sa réélection. Les « deux côtés de l’équation », comme Trump les appelle, sont parfaitement honorables et défendent des arguments que l’on ne peut négliger. Pour le moment, le côté «colombe» exulte, les isolationnistes, les libertariens, et toute la mouvance du «The American Conservative». Les «faucons» comprennent que l’heure de l’action militaire n’est pas venue. Mais ce serait mal connaître ­Trump que de penser qu’il ne va pas trouver le moyen de faire payer aux criminels de Téhéran leurs méfaits. Il doit, seul, parvenir à empêcher les ayatollahs d’accéder au nucléaire et faire cesser leur financement du terrorisme, sans engager de troupes et sans dépenser des milliards. C’est une tâche de police mondiale à laquelle les Européens devraient participer. La stratégie de Trump, c’est de voir venir, de ne pas dévoiler son jeu et de se tenir prêt à frapper. Ceux qui lui font confiance ne sont pas inquiets et savourent un divertissement politique quotidien de qualité. Evelyne Joslain
Critics describe President Donald Trump’s foreign policy as a muddled, unpredictable collection of impulses, with the one organizing principle being the coddling of like-minded, ruthless dictators. But there is, in fact, a defining diplomatic strategy: He is cleaning up the messes left by his predecessors. Trump, regularly derided as the most irresponsible of presidents, is actually taking ownership of the most terrifying problems the country faces and trying to solve them in a direct way that his recent predecessors avoided. With respect to Iran, China, North Korea and even Russia, Trump is taking tough stances. He is getting cozy with dictators because the man who considers himself an artist of the deal understands that those are the people he must strike bargains with. Under Trump, China has finally been recognized as a long-term strategic opponent and potential enemy, rather than a nation of billions yearning for democracy. Capitalism has indeed taken hold in China — though without economic nor political liberalization. Instead, authoritarian China is using its newfound riches to expand its economic, political and military influence. Since Clinton permanently normalized trade relations with China in 2000, American manufacturing has relocated to China for its cheap labor, the Chinese have consistently cheated on trade and the annual U.S. trade deficit with China has soared from $83 billion to a record $419 billion in 2018. Recognizing that placating China and quietly nudging it to play fair is not going to work; Trump has taken a more direct approach and assessed tariffs on Chinese imports while threatening even more. The Chinese are now at the table, talking, and Washington may at last secure a more equitable deal. After two and a half decades of Washington dithering, by 2017 the North Koreans were on the cusp of being able to load their bombs on missiles that could reach the continental United States. So Trump decided to try something different. (…) Trump likely cannot succeed in disarming Kim of his weapons by disarming him personally. The North Korean dictator is probably just buying more time. But Trump is at least taking an unconventional approach rather than re-enacting the failures of the past. Since Clinton, administrations have fostered quixotic illusions of reasonable moderates within the Tehran leadership. But there was little change in that country’s behavior — which has included supporting terrorist groups like Hezbollah and killing more than 600 U.S. troops in Iraq through militia surrogates. Obama’s 2015 Iran deal was the ultimate can-kicking exercise, granting Iran sanctions relief in return for limits on its nuclear program that would expire over the next dozen years. The arrangement could have given Iran the cash it would need to complete its nuclear ambitions once sunset clauses allowing it to enrich more uranium were invoked. (…) But Trump has reasoned the time to get tough with Iran is now, not in a dozen years when they are stronger and have perfected technologies related to nuclear weapons. U.S. policy toward Russia pre-Trump had also been marked by years of complacency — remember Russian President Vladimir Putin convincing Bush there was a soul behind his eyes? During the 2012 presidential campaign, Obama dismissed Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s concerns about Russia with a quip about the 1980s wanting its foreign policy back. Obama was also caught on an open mic whispering to Russia’s then-President Dmitri Medvedev that he’d have more “flexibility” after the election. (…) Trump’s administration, Foreign Policy explained, “has held a tough line on Russia, building on his predecessor’s policies by layering on further sanctions, expelling dozens of Russian diplomats, and providing lethal weapons support to Ukraine — a step that former President Barack Obama had been unwilling to take.” Trump’s demand that European nations pay their North Atlantic Treaty Organization obligations — another can regularly kicked down the road — might seem hostile toward long-time allies, but ensures they have skin in the game when it comes to confronting Russia. The Washington establishment, so used to conventional ways, is aghast. But business as usual has strengthened our enemies. Trump’s iconoclasm is worth a try. Keith Koffler
Presidents are drawn to intellectuals — thinkers who can elevate their impulses, distill coherence from chaos and sometimes write the very history they helped shape. It is not always a fruitful partnership. John F. Kennedy had wordsmiths and chroniclers in Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger Jr., as well as the whiz kids who authored Vietnam. George W. Bush met with historians, philosophers and theologians during dark times in his presidency, when the fiasco of Iraq weighed heavy. Ronald Reagan leaned on the governing plans of the Heritage Foundation, while Bill Clinton combined endless policy salons with the centrist blueprints of the Democratic Leadership Council. Barack Obama had, well, himself. And recall how Jimmy Carter took inspiration from the writings of Christopher Lasch for his ill-fated “malaise” speech in 1979. Yes, surrounding yourself with the brightest does not always prove best. Being a Trump intellectual is an entirely different task. Donald Trump won the White House campaigning against established expertise. He doesn’t like to read beyond a page or so. His brain trust is more “Fox & Friends” than American Enterprise Institute, his influences more Bannon than Buckley. (…) Presidents and intellectuals are always an awkward love affair, especially so when one side seems desperate and the other indifferent. Trump has seemed more concerned about retaining the affections of conservative media figures such as Fox News host Sean Hannity or commentator Ann Coulter, whose 2015 book “Adios, America” likely inspired his attack on Mexican immigrants in the speech announcing his presidential bid. Yet, for all their declared high principle, Trump’s intellectuals have tied themselves to the whims and feuds of their leader, captive minds to that indefinable mix of ideology, impulse and invective known as Trumpism. Hanson, to his credit, attempts to define it in broad terms. Trumpism, he concludes, “was the idea that there were no longer taboo subjects. Everything was open for negotiation; nothing was sacred.” A useful interpretation, but a partial one. Even if nothing is sacred, must everything be profane? (…)  In September 2016, Michael Anton, a former aide in the George W. Bush White House, published “The Flight 93 Election,” a pseudonymous essay that previewed this adversarial fixation in melodramatic terms. Voting for Trump, he wrote in the Claremont Review of Books, was like charging the cockpit of a hijacked plane on Sept. 11, 2001. You might die, but if you do nothing, death is certain. A Hillary Clinton presidency would constitute an extinction-level event for American freedom and true conservatism; it would be “pedal-to-the-metal on the entire progressive-Left agenda.” Or, as Anton put it in an excess of metaphor, “Russian Roulette with a semi-auto.” The essay drew criticism for its imagery, anonymity and hostility toward conventional conservatives as well as immigrants — Anton decried America’s “ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners” — thus making the writer a perfect candidate for a job in the Trump White House. Anton, whose identity was revealed by the late Weekly Standard, served for 14 months as a National Security Council official. Then-White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon dubbed him “one of the most significant intellects in this nationalist movement.” So with his new book, “After the Flight 93 Election,” Anton would seem well-positioned to move beyond the election and argue a more concrete case for the president, drawing on the administration’s first two years and on the author’s experience in the Trump White House. Except Anton doesn’t even try; the “After” of his title is an afterthought. Instead, he reprints his original essay, plus a follow-up “restatement” that was posted a week later, arguing that Trump constituted “the first serious national-political defense of the Constitution in a generation” and that concerns over despotism were pointless because the candidate was more “buffoon” than tyrant. Also, Hillary was still way worse. The book’s only new material is the preface and a lengthy rumination (titled “Pre-Statement on Flight 93”) that purports to explain “the essences of conservatism, Americanism, and Western civilization, and to review the main threats to their survival.” The system of federalism, separation of powers and limited government bequeathed to us by the founders is under siege, Anton writes, and the barbarians rattling the gate are the latest iteration of early-20th-century progressives and 1960s radicals, justifying an ever-expanding administrative state with social-justice mantras of personal identity. “The post-1960s Left co-opts the language of ‘justice’ and ‘rights’ as a rhetorical device to get what it wants: the transfer of power, honor, and wealth between groups as retribution for past offenses.” The result, Anton contends, is crime, family dissolution, weak foreign policy, limitless government and restricted speech. (…) In “The Case for Trump,” historian Victor Davis Hanson also treats 2016 as a reaction by voters tired of progressive orthodoxy, globalization and left-wing identity politics. “Trump did not create these divides,” Hanson writes. “He simply found existing sectarianism politically useful.” Trump’s insults, vile language and incessant denigration of opponents are just part of his “uncouth authenticity,” which appeals to supporters and enrages the rest. From the start of his campaign, Trump displayed “an uncanny ability to troll and create hysteria among his media and political critics,” Hanson marvels. “In their anti-Trump rage, they revealed their own character flaws.” Hanson relishes those flaws, and, despite the title, his book focuses less on the case for Trump than on the case against everyone else. Hillary Clinton’s infamous “basket of deplorables” line typified the “toxic venom” with which liberals regard the nation’s interior, he writes, while Clinton’s past misdeeds, real or alleged, provided “scandal vaccination” for Trump’s bankruptcies, sexual misconduct and endless lawsuits. Clinton’s problem, Hanson explains, was threefold: She lied so much that her various deceptions could not be reconciled; she never learned from her past scandals; and she thought herself exempt from accountability. The fact that this trifecta nicely describes Trump’s behavior while in office does not seem to occur to Hanson. He’d rather indulge in casual sexism, criticizing Clinton’s “shrill” voice and her “signature off-putting laugh,” and inexplicably suggesting that while “Trump’s bulk fueled a monstrous energy; Hillary’s girth sapped her strength.” Hanson, a senior fellow with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, assails the “deep state,” even while acknowledging that Trump’s use of the term is so vague as to be meaningless. He praises the “inspired” and “impressive” Cabinet members Trump has assembled, largely forgetting their high-profile scandals, conflicts of interest, obeisance and resignations. “The Case for Trump” is notable for such omissions. (…) Stephen Moore and Arthur Laffer disagree with some of Trump’s hard-line positions on immigration and worry about his trade protectionism. “To say the least, Donald Trump is a work in progress on trade,” they admit. “He is playing a high-stakes game of poker here with a big upside. But if it doesn’t work, the ramifications scare us to death.” So why did the veteran conservative economists sign on as advisers for Trump’s 2016 campaign, and why did they write a book — titled “Trumponomics” and published late last year — enthusiastically defending the economic policies and instincts of a leader who thinks trade wars are good and easy to win? The answer is simple: “We liked his tax plan.” Forget single-issue voters; Moore and Laffer are single-issue thinkers. Cutting taxes is the siren that lured them to Trump, and for which they appear willing to make any substantive or intellectual sacrifices. The authors recount their role in helping shape the 2017 tax bill — they’re especially proud of their op-eds, which they quote extensively in the book, along with praise thereof — and reiterate their belief that tax cuts and deregulation will unleash so much economic activity that hard choices melt away. “We have always believed that the shrewdest way to make entitlement programs solvent is to restore rapid growth,” they write. And they swoon over Trump’s “unyielding optimism” about the nation’s economic potential, even when he embraces growth projections that the two economists consider unrealistic. Washington Post
Hanson himself calls Trump “flawed,” but his presidency exemplary. Hanson is a retired classics professor from California State University, Fresno, and senior fellow in military history at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and he has written two dozen books on topics ranging from the ancient world to the Second World War. He lives on a working farm in a multiracial, rural area in the interior of California, southeast of San Francisco. He doesn’t live in an Ivory Tower. He also uses his hometown of Selma as a classic example of why America elected Trump. Once prosperous with family-run farms and food-processing plants and other manufacturing jobs, now most jobs are gone, unemployment high, crime and drug abuse commonplace. “In 1970, we did not have keys for our outside doors; in 2018, I have six guard dogs,” he writes.  While he is a conservative with an upfront agenda, his critics come from the left and the right. One of the nastiest attacks upon Hanson comes from a Republican who worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and calls him a “Nazi sympathizer,” “racist enabler” and a “treasonous sophist.” A liberal writer says it’s oxymoronic to call Hanson a “pro-Trump intellectual.” If his ideas are ticking off both ends of the spectrum, they must have some merit, or, at the very least, be interesting. In defending his book, Hanson’s tone is civil. He tells stories from antiquity to make a point; or he acknowledges that Trump is a blowhard like the character Rodney Dangerfield played in the movie Caddyshack. But that doesn’t mean Trump’s policies aren’t working, he says. When one defends a position with reasoned thought, instead of rants and personal attacks like so many Trump supporters and detractors, it’s a welcome change. Some of Hanson’s observations are disagreeable, others are worthy of pointing out and giving Trump his due.  For example, Trump’s stand towards China and its murky trade practices is a reprieve from the appeasement of recent years. His support of the Catholic and Jewish faiths is also admirable. Ultimately, though, The Case for Trump crumbles on two fundamental points. It is disingenuous to separate the man from the presidency, but Hanson does. “Trump’s own uncouthness,” he writes, “was in its own manner contextualized by his supporters as a long overdue pushback to the elite disdain and indeed hatred shown them.”  Hanson also points out character flaws in former presidents as somehow a reason to hand Trump a “get-out-of-jail-free-card” for his extracurricular activities with hookers and porn stars. “It doesn’t mean Donald Trump is a saint,” Hanson said during a recorded book tour event, “but he’s not an aberration either.” My mother often said “two wrongs don’t make a right” and that applies here, along with Trump’s penchant to surround himself with hucksters, grifters, con men, liars and felons. Then there are the relentless and often vicious personal tweets and attacks on the Constitution. Sorry, but these character cancers cannot be ignored simply because one likes Trump’s tax cuts and deregulation that may or may not have boosted economic growth. Besides, Hanson doesn’t make the case — with hard facts — that Trump’s policies are actually working. Has picking on allies like Canada really helped Wisconsin dairy farmers? Has he really tamed Kim Jong Un and his nuclear aspirations? Have Trump policies really boosted growth more than simply the cyclical nature of the economy itself? The list goes on and on. Trump opponents probably won’t read the book, but it’s not your regular right-wing diatribe camouflaged as a book. It’s readable and, at times, highly entertaining in how he skewers Trump’s adversaries. But, in the end, the book can’t make a case that electing a status quo disruptor like Donald Trump is any more than a Pyrrhic victory in the classical tragic sense. Bob Brehl
Securing national borders seems pretty orthodox. In an age of anti-Western terrorism, placing temporary holds on would-be immigrants from war-torn zones until they can be vetted is hardly radical. Expecting “sanctuary cities” to follow federal laws rather than embrace the nullification strategies of the secessionist Old Confederacy is a return to the laws of the Constitution. Using the term “radical Islamic terror” in place of “workplace violence” or “man-caused disasters” is sensible, not subversive. Insisting that NATO members meet their long-ignored defense-spending obligations is not provocative but overdue. Assuming that both the European Union and the United Nations are imploding is empirical, not unhinged. Questioning the secret side agreements of the Iran deal or failed Russian reset is facing reality. Making the Environmental Protection Agency follow laws rather than make laws is the way it always was supposed to be. Unapologetically siding with Israel, the only free and democratic country in the Middle East, used to be standard U.S. policy until Obama was elected. (…) Expecting the media to report the news rather than massage it to fit progressive agendas makes sense. In the past, proclaiming Obama a “sort of god” or the smartest man ever to enter the presidency was not normal journalistic practice. (…) Half the country is having a hard time adjusting to Trumpism, confusing Trump’s often unorthodox and grating style with his otherwise practical and mostly centrist agenda. In sum, Trump seems a revolutionary, but that is only because he is loudly undoing a revolution. Victor Davis Hanson
What makes such men and women both tragic and heroic is their knowledge that the natural expression of their personas can lead only to their own destruction or ostracism from an advancing civilization that they seek to protect. And yet they willingly accept the challenge to be of service . . . Yet for a variety of reasons, both personal and civic, their characters not only should not be altered, but could not be, even if the tragic hero wished to change . . . In the classical tragic sense, Trump likely will end in one of two fashions, both not particularly good: either spectacular but unacknowledged accomplishments followed by ostracism . . . or, less likely, a single term due to the eventual embarrassment of his beneficiaries. Victor Davis Hanson
Trump’s own uncouthness was in its own manner contextualized by his supporters as a long overdue pushback to the elite disdain and indeed hatred shown them. (…) Trumpism was the idea that there were no longer taboo subjects. Everything was open for negotiation; nothing was sacred. Victor Davis Hanson
The very idea that Donald Trump could, even in a perverse way, be heroic may appall half the country. Nonetheless, one way of understanding both Trump’s personal excesses and his accomplishments is that his not being traditionally presidential may have been valuable in bringing long-overdue changes in foreign and domestic policy. Tragic heroes, as they have been portrayed from Sophocles’ plays (e.g., Ajax, Antigone, Oedipus Rex, Philoctetes) to the modern western film, are not intrinsically noble. Much less are they likeable. Certainly, they can often be obnoxious and petty, if not dangerous, especially to those around them. These mercurial sorts never end well — and on occasion neither do those in their vicinity. Oedipus was rudely narcissistic, Hombre’s John Russell (Paul Newman) arrogant and off-putting. Tragic heroes are loners, both by preference and because of society’s understandable unease with them. Ajax’s soliloquies about a rigged system and the lack of recognition accorded his undeniable accomplishments are Trumpian to the core — something akin to the sensational rumors that at night Trump is holed up alone, petulant, brooding, eating fast food, and watching Fox News shows. Outlaw leader Pike Bishop (William Holden), in director Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, is a killer whose final gory sacrifice results in the slaughter of the toxic General Mapache and his corrupt local Federales. A foreboding Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), of John Ford’s classic 1956 film The Searchers, alone can track down his kidnapped niece. But his methods and his recent past as a Confederate renegade make him suspect and largely unfit for a civilizing frontier after the expiration of his transitory usefulness. These characters are not the sorts that we would associate with Bob Dole, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, or Mitt Romney. The tragic hero’s change of fortune — often from good to bad, as Aristotle reminds us — is due to an innate flaw (hamartia), or at least in some cases an intrinsic and usually uncivilized trait that can be of service to the community, albeit usually expressed fully only at the expense of the hero’s own fortune. The problem for civilization is that the creation of those skill sets often brings with it past baggage of lawlessness and comfortability with violence. Trump’s cunning and mercurialness, honed in Manhattan real estate, global salesmanship, reality TV, and wheeler-dealer investments, may have earned him ostracism from polite Washington society. But these talents also may for a time be suited for dealing with many of the outlaws of the global frontier. (…) So what makes such men and women both tragic and heroic is their full knowledge that the natural expression of their personas can lead only to their own destruction or ostracism. Yet for a variety of reasons, both personal and civic, their characters not only should not be altered but could not be, even if the tragic hero wished to change, given his megalomania and Manichean views of the human experience. Clint Eastwood’s Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan cannot serve as the official face of the San Francisco police department. But Dirty Harry alone has the skills and ruthlessness to ensure that the mass murderer Scorpio will never harm the innocent again. So, in the finale, he taunts and then shoots the psychopathic Scorpio, ending both their careers, and walks off — after throwing his inspector’s badge into the water. Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper) of High Noon did about the same thing, but only after gunning down (with the help of his wife) four killers whom the law-abiding but temporizing elders of Hadleyville proved utterly incapable of stopping. (…) In other words, tragic heroes are often simply too volatile to continue in polite society. In George Stevens’s classic 1953 western Shane, even the reforming and soft-spoken gunslinger Shane (Alan Ladd) understands his own dilemma all too well: He alone possesses the violent skills necessary to free the homesteaders from the insidious threats of hired guns and murderous cattle barons. (And how he got those skills worries those he plans to help.) Yet by the time of his final resort to lethal violence, Shane has sacrificed all prior chances of reform and claims on reentering the civilized world of the stable “sodbuster” community. (…) Trump could not cease tweeting, not cease his rallies, not cease his feuding, and not cease his nonstop motion and unbridled speech if he wished to. It is his brand, and such overbearing made Trump, for good or evil, what he is — and will likely eventually banish him from establishment Washington, whether after or during his elected term. His raucousness can be managed, perhaps mitigated for a time — thus the effective tenure of his sober cabinet choices and his chief of staff, the ex–Marine general, no-nonsense John Kelly — but not eliminated. His blunt views cannot really thrive, and indeed can scarcely survive, in the nuance, complexity, and ambiguity of Washington. Trump is not a mannered Mitt Romney, who would never have left the Paris climate agreement. He is not a veteran who knew the whiz of real bullets and remains a Washington icon, such as John McCain, who would never have moved the American embassy to Jerusalem. Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush certainly would never have waded into no-win controversies such as the take-a-knee NFL debacle and unvetted immigration from suspect countries in the Middle East and Africa, or called to account sanctuary cities that thwarted federal law. Our modern Agamemnon, Speaker Paul Ryan, is too circumspect to get caught up with Trump’s wall or a mini-trade war with China. Trump does not seem to care whether he is acting “presidential.” The word — as he admits — is foreign to him. He does not worry whether his furious tweets, his revolving-door firing and hiring, and his rally counterpunches reveal a lack of stature or are becoming an embarrassing window into his own insecurities and apprehensions as a Beltway media world closes in upon him in the manner that, as the trapped western hero felt, the shrinking landscape was increasingly without options in the new 20th century. The real moral question is not whether the gunslinger Trump could or should become civilized (again, defined in our context as becoming normalized as “presidential”) but whether he could be of service at the opportune time and right place for his country, crude as he is. After all, despite their decency, in extremis did the frontier farmers have a solution without Shane, or the Mexican peasants a realistic alternative to the Magnificent Seven, or the town elders a viable plan without Will Kane? Perhaps we could not withstand the fire and smoke of a series of Trump presidencies, but given the direction of the country over the last 16 years, half the population, the proverbial townspeople of the western, wanted some outsider, even with a dubious past, to ride in and do things that most normal politicians not only would not but could not do — before exiting stage left or riding off into the sunset, to the relief of most and the regrets of a few. The best and the brightest résumés of the Bush and Obama administrations had doubled the national debt — twice. Three prior presidents had helped to empower North Korea, now with nuclear-tipped missiles pointing at the West Coast. Supposedly refined and sophisticated diplomats of the last quarter century, who would never utter the name “Rocket Man” or stoop to call Kim Jong-un “short and fat,” nonetheless had gone through the “agreed framework,” “six-party talks,” and “strategic patience,” in which three administrations gave Pyongyang quite massive aid to behave and either not to proliferate or at least to denuclearize. And it was all a failure, and a deadly one at that. For all of Obama’s sophisticated discourse about “spread the wealth around” and “You didn’t build that,” quantitative easing, zero interest rates, massive new regulations, the stimulus, and shovel-ready, government-inspired jobs, he could not achieve 3 percent annualized economic growth. Half the country, the more desperate half, believed that the remedy for a government in which the IRS, the FBI, the DOJ, and the NSA were weaponized, often in partisan fashion and without worry about the civil liberties of American citizens, was not more temporizing technicians but a pariah who cleaned house and moved on. Certainly Obama was not willing to have a showdown with the Chinese over their widely acknowledged cheating and coerced expropriation of U.S. technology, with the NATO allies over their chronic welching on prior defense commitments, with the North Koreans after they achieved the capability of hitting U.S. West Coast cities, or with the European Union over its mostly empty climate-change accords. Moving on, sometimes fatally so, is the tragic hero’s operative exit. Antigone certainly makes her point about the absurdity of small men’s sexism and moral emptiness in such an uncompromising way that her own doom is assured. Tom Doniphon (John Wayne), in John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, unheroically kills the thuggish Liberty Valance, births the career of Ranse Stoddard and his marriage to Doniphon’s girlfriend, and thereby ensures civilization is Shinbone’s frontier future. His service done, he burns down his house and degenerates from feared rancher to alcoholic outcast. (…) He knows that few appreciate that the tragic heroes in their midst are either tragic or heroic — until they are safely gone and what they have done in time can be attributed to someone else. Worse, he knows that the tragic hero’s existence is solitary and without the nourishing networks and affirmation of the peasant’s agrarian life. (…) By his very excesses Trump has already lost, but in his losing he might alone be able to end some things that long ago should have been ended. Victor Davis Hanson
That is how human nature is. (…) if you talk to people in the military, the diplomatic corps, the academic world, and, just to take one example, China, they will tell you in the last two years they have had an awakening. They feel that Chinese military superiority is now to deny help to America’s allies. They believe that the trade deficit is unsustainable. They will tell you all of that, and you are almost listening to Donald Trump in 2015, but they won’t mention the word “Trump,” because to do so would contaminate that argument. What I am getting at is he looked at the world empirically. (…) he said, “This is what’s wrong, and this is what we would have to do to address this problem.” And he said it in such a way—whether he wanted to say it in that way or whether he was forced to say it in that way, I don’t know—but he said it in such a way that was designed to grab attention, to be polarizing, to get through bureaucratic doublespeak. So now he succeeded, but if I were to ask anybody at Stanford University, or anybody that I know is a four-star general or a diplomat, “What caused your sudden change about China?,” they would not say Donald Trump, and yet we know who it was. [Like a hero out of Greek myth] as long as we understand the word “hero.” Americans don’t know what that word means. They think it means you live happily ever after or you are selfless. Whether it is Achilles or Sophocles’s Ajax or Antigone, they can act out of insecurity, they can act out of impatience—they can act out of all sorts of motives that are less than what we say in America are heroic. But the point that they are making is, I see a skill that I have. I see a problem. I want to solve that problem, and I want to solve that problem so much that the ensuing reaction to that solution may not necessarily be good for me. And they accept that. (…) I tried to use as many examples as I could of the classic Western, whether it was “Shane” or “High Noon” or “The Magnificent Seven.” They all are the same—the community doesn’t have the skills or doesn’t have the willpower or doesn’t want to stoop to the corrective method to solve the existential problem, whether it is cattle barons or banditos. So they bring in an outsider, and immediately they start to be uneasy because he is uncouth—his skills, his attitude—and then he solves the problem, and they declare to him, whether it is Gary Cooper in “High Noon” or Alan Ladd in “Shane,” “I think it’s better you leave. We don’t need you anymore. We feel dirty that we ever had to call you in.” I think that is what is awaiting Trump. (…) I think Trump really did think that there were certain problems and he had particular skills that he could solve. Maybe in a naïve fashion. But I think he understood, for all the emoluments-clause hysteria, that he wasn’t going to make a lot of money from it or be liked for it. (…) I look at everything empirically. I know what the left said, and the media said, but I ask myself, “What actually happened?” There are a billion Muslims in the world, and he has, I think, six countries who were not able to substantiate that their passports were vetted. [Trump’s final travel plan limits or prevents travel from seven countries.] We didn’t even, in the final calibration, base it on religion. I think we have two countries that are not predominantly Muslim. (…) As far as separation, I remember very carefully that the whole child separation was started during Barack Obama. (…) It was unapologetically said this came from Obama and we are going to continue to practice deterrence. As someone who lives in a community that is ninety per cent Hispanic, probably forty per cent undocumented, I can tell you that it’s a very different world from what people are talking about in Washington. I have had people knock on my door and ask me where the ob-gyn lives, because they got her name in Oaxaca. And the woman in the car is six months pregnant and living across the border and given the name of a nice doctor in Selma, California, that will deliver the baby. (…) It has happened once, but I know people who come from Mexico with the names of doctors and clinics in Fresno County where they know they will get, for free, twenty to thirty thousand dollars of medical care and an anchor baby. I know that’s supposed to be an uncouth thing to say. (…) As I am talking right now, I have a guy, a U.S. citizen, tiling my kitchen, and he does not like the idea that people hire people illegally for twelve dollars an hour in cash, when he should be getting eighteen, nineteen, twenty dollars. But, when you make these arguments, they are just brushed aside by the left or the media, by saying, oh, these are anecdotal or racist or stereotype. (…) [Trump saying there were good people on both sides] was very clumsy (…) But there wasn’t a monolithic white racist protest movement. There were collections of people. Some of them were just out there because maybe they are deluded and maybe they are not. I don’t know what their hearts are like, but they did not want statues torn down or defaced. (…) You can argue that what was O.K. in 2010 suddenly was racist in 2017. But, in today’s polarized climate, Trump should have said, “While both groups are demonstrating, we can’t have a group on any side that identifies by race.” He should have said that. He just said there were good people on both sides. It was clumsy. (…) I was trying to look at Trump in classical terms, so words like eirôneia, or irony—how could it be that the Republican Party supposedly was empathetic, but a millionaire, a billionaire Manhattanite started using terms I had never heard Romney or McCain or Paul Ryan say? He started saying “our.” Our miners. And then, on the left, every time Hillary Clinton went before a Southern audience, she started speaking in a Southern accent. And Barack Obama, I think you would agree, when he gets before an inner-city audience, he suddenly sounded as if he spoke in a black patois. When Trump went to any of these groups, he had the same tie, the same suit, the same accent. What people thought was that, whatever he is, he is authentic. (…) I read a great deal about the Mar-a-Lago project, and I was shocked that the people who opposed that on cultural and social grounds were largely anti-Semitic. Trump had already announced that he was not going to discriminate against Jews and Mexicans and other people. He said, “I want wealthy people.” I went to Palm Beach and talked to wealthy Jewish donors and Cubans, and they said the same thing to me—“He likes rich people. He doesn’t care what you look like.” (…) I don’t know what the driving force was, but I found that he was indifferent. And I think the same thing is true of blacks and Hispanics. (…)  [using birtherism as a way of discrediting Obama]  was absurd. I think it was demonstrable that Obama was born in the United States. The only ambiguity was that two things gave rise to the conspiracy theorists. One was—and I think this is a hundred-per-cent accurate—an advertising group that worked in concert with his publisher put on a booklet that Obama was born in Kenya. That gave third-world cachet to “Dreams from My Father.” And he didn’t look at it or didn’t change it. [In 1991, four years before Obama’s first book was published, his literary agency incorrectly stated on a client list that Obama was born in Kenya.] And he left as a young kid and went to Indonesia and applied when he came back as a Fulbright Fellow, and I don’t know if this is substantiated or just rumor, but he probably was given dual citizenship. [The claim that Obama was a Fulbright Fellow from Indonesia, and therefore had Indonesian citizenship, originated in a hoax e-mail, from April 1, 2009, and has been discredited.] (…) What I am getting at is, here you have a guy named Barack Obama, who grew up in Hawaii, and there were indications in his past that there was ambiguity. (…) I think Trump was doing what Trump does, which is trying to sensationalize it. I don’t think it was racial. I think it was political. (…) I mean carefully calibrated in a political sense. That’s my point. Not that it was careful in the sense of being humane or sympathetic. By that I mean, there were elements in Ted Cruz’s personality that offended people. And he got Ted Cruz really angry, and Ted Cruz doesn’t come across well. (…) if you go back and look at the worst tweets, they are retaliatory. What he does is he waits like a coiled cobra until people attack him, and then he attacks them in a much cruder, blunter fashion. And he has an uncanny ability to pick people that have attacked him, whether it’s Rosie O’Donnell, Megyn Kelly—there were elements in all those people’s careers that were starting to bother people, and Trump sensed that out. I don’t think he would have gotten away with taking on other people that were completely beloved. Colin Kaepernick. People were getting tired of him, so he took him on. All that stuff was calibrated. Trump was replying and understood public sympathy would be at least fifty-fifty, if not in his favor. Victor Davis Hanson

Et si, à l’instar de la démocratie selon Churchill, Donald Trump était le pire des présidents – à l’exception de tous les autres ?

En ces temps proprement orwelliens

Où des élus démocrates assimilent aux camps nazis les camps de rétention pour migrants clandestins …

Ou, entre deux subventions de l’avortement à quasi-terme ou des transsexuels, des candidats du même parti proposent de décriminaliser l’immigration illégale …

Pendant que de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique, on célèbre avec le maître-démagoque du Vatican et une Mairie de Paris plus touristophile que jamais le trafic d’êtres humains …

Et après 30 ou 40 ans de tolérance …

D’une Corée du nord finalement capable d’atteindre avec ses missiles nucléaires la totalité du territoire américain

D’un Iran menaçant un de ses voisins de rayage de la carte et mettant l’ensemble de la région à feu et à sang …

D’une Chine empilant les surplus commerciaux grâce au pillage des secrets industriels de ses partenaires tout en militarisant les eaux territoriales de ses voisins

D’une Allemagne accumulant elle aussi les excédents commerciaux tout en réduisant à 1,25% sa contribution à ses défenses militaires …

Comment brusquement ne pas voir …

Avec l’historien américain Victor Davis Hanson

Ou les politologues français Guy Millière ou Evelyne Joslain

Et avec ses électeurs de 2016 comme probablement de 2020 …

La véritable force finalement des si nombreuses faiblesses …

D’un président aussi peu « présidentiel » que l’actuel président américain ?

Donald Trump, Tragic Hero
His very flaws may be his strengths
Victor Davis Hanson
April 12, 2018

The very idea that Donald Trump could, even in a perverse way, be heroic may appall half the country. Nonetheless, one way of understanding both Trump’s personal excesses and his accomplishments is that his not being traditionally presidential may have been valuable in bringing long-overdue changes in foreign and domestic policy.

Tragic heroes, as they have been portrayed from Sophocles’ plays (e.g., Ajax, Antigone, Oedipus Rex, Philoctetes) to the modern western film, are not intrinsically noble. Much less are they likeable. Certainly, they can often be obnoxious and petty, if not dangerous, especially to those around them. These mercurial sorts never end well — and on occasion neither do those in their vicinity. Oedipus was rudely narcissistic, Hombre’s John Russell (Paul Newman) arrogant and off-putting.

Tragic heroes are loners, both by preference and because of society’s understandable unease with them. Ajax’s soliloquies about a rigged system and the lack of recognition accorded his undeniable accomplishments are Trumpian to the core — something akin to the sensational rumors that at night Trump is holed up alone, petulant, brooding, eating fast food, and watching Fox News shows.

Outlaw leader Pike Bishop (William Holden), in director Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, is a killer whose final gory sacrifice results in the slaughter of the toxic General Mapache and his corrupt local Federales. A foreboding Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), of John Ford’s classic 1956 film The Searchers, alone can track down his kidnapped niece. But his methods and his recent past as a Confederate renegade make him suspect and largely unfit for a civilizing frontier after the expiration of his transitory usefulness. These characters are not the sorts that we would associate with Bob Dole, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, or Mitt Romney.

The tragic hero’s change of fortune — often from good to bad, as Aristotle reminds us — is due to an innate flaw (hamartia), or at least in some cases an intrinsic and usually uncivilized trait that can be of service to the community, albeit usually expressed fully only at the expense of the hero’s own fortune. The problem for civilization is that the creation of those skill sets often brings with it past baggage of lawlessness and comfortability with violence. Trump’s cunning and mercurialness, honed in Manhattan real estate, global salesmanship, reality TV, and wheeler-dealer investments, may have earned him ostracism from polite Washington society. But these talents also may for a time be suited for dealing with many of the outlaws of the global frontier.

At rare times, a General George S. Patton (“Give me an army of West Point graduates and I’ll win a battle. Give me a handful of Texas Aggies and I’ll win a war”) could be harnessed to serve the country in extremis. General Curtis LeMay did what others could not — and would not: “I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal. . . . Every soldier thinks something of the moral aspects of what he is doing. But all war is immoral and if you let that bother you, you’re not a good soldier.” Later, the public exposure given to the mentalities and behaviors of such controversial figures would only ensure that they would likely be estranged from or even caricatured by their peers — once, of course, they were no longer needed by those whom they had benefited. When one is willing to burn down with napalm 75 percent of the industrial core of an often-genocidal wartime Japan, and thereby help bring a vicious war to an end, then one looks for sorts like Curtis LeMay and his B-29s. In the later calm of peace, one is often shocked that one ever had. A sober and judicious General Omar Bradley grows on us in peace even if he was hardly Patton in war.

So what makes such men and women both tragic and heroic is their full knowledge that the natural expression of their personas can lead only to their own destruction or ostracism. Yet for a variety of reasons, both personal and civic, their characters not only should not be altered but could not be, even if the tragic hero wished to change, given his megalomania and Manichean views of the human experience. Clint Eastwood’s Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan cannot serve as the official face of the San Francisco police department. But Dirty Harry alone has the skills and ruthlessness to ensure that the mass murderer Scorpio will never harm the innocent again. So, in the finale, he taunts and then shoots the psychopathic Scorpio, ending both their careers, and walks off — after throwing his inspector’s badge into the water. Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper) of High Noon did about the same thing, but only after gunning down (with the help of his wife) four killers whom the law-abiding but temporizing elders of Hadleyville proved utterly incapable of stopping.

The out-of-place Ajax in Sophocles’ tragedy of the same name cannot function apart from the battlefield. Unlike Odysseus, he lacks the tact and fluidity to succeed in a new world of nuanced civic rules. So he would rather “live nobly, or nobly die” — “nobly” meaning according to an obsolete black-and-white code that is no longer compatible with the ascendant polis.

In other words, tragic heroes are often simply too volatile to continue in polite society. In George Stevens’s classic 1953 western Shane, even the reforming and soft-spoken gunslinger Shane (Alan Ladd) understands his own dilemma all too well: He alone possesses the violent skills necessary to free the homesteaders from the insidious threats of hired guns and murderous cattle barons. (And how he got those skills worries those he plans to help.) Yet by the time of his final resort to lethal violence, Shane has sacrificed all prior chances of reform and claims on reentering the civilized world of the stable “sodbuster” community. As Shane tells young Joey after gunning down the three villains of the film and thereby saving the small farming community: “Can’t break the mold. I tried it, and it didn’t work for me. . . . Joey, there’s no living with . . . a killing. There’s no going back from one. Right or wrong, it’s a brand. A brand sticks. There’s no going back.”

Trump could not cease tweeting, not cease his rallies, not cease his feuding, and not cease his nonstop motion and unbridled speech if he wished to. It is his brand, and such overbearing made Trump, for good or evil, what he is — and will likely eventually banish him from establishment Washington, whether after or during his elected term. His raucousness can be managed, perhaps mitigated for a time — thus the effective tenure of his sober cabinet choices and his chief of staff, the ex–Marine general, no-nonsense John Kelly — but not eliminated. His blunt views cannot really thrive, and indeed can scarcely survive, in the nuance, complexity, and ambiguity of Washington.

Trump is not a mannered Mitt Romney, who would never have left the Paris climate agreement. He is not a veteran who knew the whiz of real bullets and remains a Washington icon, such as John McCain, who would never have moved the American embassy to Jerusalem. Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush certainly would never have waded into no-win controversies such as the take-a-knee NFL debacle and unvetted immigration from suspect countries in the Middle East and Africa, or called to account sanctuary cities that thwarted federal law. Our modern Agamemnon, Speaker Paul Ryan, is too circumspect to get caught up with Trump’s wall or a mini-trade war with China.

Trump does not seem to care whether he is acting “presidential.” The word — as he admits — is foreign to him. He does not worry whether his furious tweets, his revolving-door firing and hiring, and his rally counterpunches reveal a lack of stature or are becoming an embarrassing window into his own insecurities and apprehensions as a Beltway media world closes in upon him in the manner that, as the trapped western hero felt, the shrinking landscape was increasingly without options in the new 20th century.

The real moral question is not whether the gunslinger Trump could or should become civilized (again, defined in our context as becoming normalized as “presidential”) but whether he could be of service at the opportune time and right place for his country, crude as he is. After all, despite their decency, in extremis did the frontier farmers have a solution without Shane, or the Mexican peasants a realistic alternative to the Magnificent Seven, or the town elders a viable plan without Will Kane?

Perhaps we could not withstand the fire and smoke of a series of Trump presidencies, but given the direction of the country over the last 16 years, half the population, the proverbial townspeople of the western, wanted some outsider, even with a dubious past, to ride in and do things that most normal politicians not only would not but could not do — before exiting stage left or riding off into the sunset, to the relief of most and the regrets of a few.

The best and the brightest résumés of the Bush and Obama administrations had doubled the national debt — twice. Three prior presidents had helped to empower North Korea, now with nuclear-tipped missiles pointing at the West Coast. Supposedly refined and sophisticated diplomats of the last quarter century, who would never utter the name “Rocket Man” or stoop to call Kim Jong-un “short and fat,” nonetheless had gone through the “agreed framework,” “six-party talks,” and “strategic patience,” in which three administrations gave Pyongyang quite massive aid to behave and either not to proliferate or at least to denuclearize. And it was all a failure, and a deadly one at that.

For all of Obama’s sophisticated discourse about “spread the wealth around” and “You didn’t build that,” quantitative easing, zero interest rates, massive new regulations, the stimulus, and shovel-ready, government-inspired jobs, he could not achieve 3 percent annualized economic growth. Half the country, the more desperate half, believed that the remedy for a government in which the IRS, the FBI, the DOJ, and the NSA were weaponized, often in partisan fashion and without worry about the civil liberties of American citizens, was not more temporizing technicians but a pariah who cleaned house and moved on. Certainly Obama was not willing to have a showdown with the Chinese over their widely acknowledged cheating and coerced expropriation of U.S. technology, with the NATO allies over their chronic welching on prior defense commitments, with the North Koreans after they achieved the capability of hitting U.S. West Coast cities, or with the European Union over its mostly empty climate-change accords.

Moving on, sometimes fatally so, is the tragic hero’s operative exit. Antigone certainly makes her point about the absurdity of small men’s sexism and moral emptiness in such an uncompromising way that her own doom is assured. Tom Doniphon (John Wayne), in John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, unheroically kills the thuggish Liberty Valance, births the career of Ranse Stoddard and his marriage to Doniphon’s girlfriend, and thereby ensures civilization is Shinbone’s frontier future. His service done, he burns down his house and degenerates from feared rancher to alcoholic outcast.

The remnants of The Magnificent Seven would no longer be magnificent had they stayed on in the village, settled down to age, and endlessly rehashed the morality and utility of slaughtering the outlaw Calvera and his banditos. As Chris rides out, he sums up to Vin their dilemma: “The old man was right. Only the farmers won. We lost. We always lose.” He knows that few appreciate that the tragic heroes in their midst are either tragic or heroic — until they are safely gone and what they have done in time can be attributed to someone else. Worse, he knows that the tragic hero’s existence is solitary and without the nourishing networks and affirmation of the peasant’s agrarian life.

John Ford’s most moving scene in his best film, The Searchers, is Ethan Edwards’s final exit from a house of shadows, swinging open the door and walking alone into sunlit oblivion. If he is lucky, Trump may well experience the same self-inflicted fate.

By his very excesses Trump has already lost, but in his losing he might alone be able to end some things that long ago should have been ended.

Voir aussi:

Q & A
The Classicist Who Sees Donald Trump as a Tragic Hero
Isaac Chotiner
The New Yorker
February 20, 2019

Many of the books written in support of Donald Trump’s Presidency have been authored by Trump family hangers-on or charlatans looking to make a buck. (Examples include “Trump’s Enemies: How the Deep State Is Undermining the Presidency,” by Corey Lewandowski and David N. Bossie, and “The Russia Hoax: The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump,” by Gregg Jarrett.) “The Case for Trump,” by Victor Davis Hanson, is different. (There isn’t even a subtitle.) Hanson, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, is a classicist and military historian, who was awarded the National Humanities Medal by George W. Bush, in 2007. His previous book, “The Second World Wars,” was respectfully reviewed by the Times and The New Yorker.

But Hanson has another side, one that is well suited for the age of Trump. A longtime contributor to the National Review, he has a history of hostility to undocumented Mexican and Central American immigrants, who he claims are undermining American culture, and to African-Americans who speak about the persistence of racism, including Barack Obama, whom he has described as a leading member of “the new segregationists.” In his new book, which will be published by Basic Books, in March, Hanson explains why he thinks Trump was elected, and why he views the President as akin to a classically tragic hero, whom America needs but will never fully appreciate.

I recently spoke by phone with Hanson, who was in his home, in California. During our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed whether Trump should be compared to heroes of Greek myth, Hanson’s view of the Charlottesville protesters, and whether the President is carefully choosing the people he attacks.

I want to start with a quote from your book. You compare the President to others you admire in American history, writing, “What makes such men and women both tragic and heroic is their knowledge that the natural expression of their personas can lead only to their own destruction or ostracism from an advancing civilization that they seek to protect. And yet they willingly accept the challenge to be of service . . . Yet for a variety of reasons, both personal and civic, their characters not only should not be altered, but could not be, even if the tragic hero wished to change . . . In the classical tragic sense, Trump likely will end in one of two fashions, both not particularly good: either spectacular but unacknowledged accomplishments followed by ostracism . . . or, less likely, a single term due to the eventual embarrassment of his beneficiaries.” I wonder how your training as a classicist informs this passage, but I also want to ask, is our flawed, sinful country not worthy of Donald Trump?

No, I don’t mean that, as to the latter. I mean that that is how human nature is. So, if you talk to people in the military, the diplomatic corps, the academic world, and, just to take one example, China, they will tell you in the last two years they have had an awakening. They feel that Chinese military superiority is now to deny help to America’s allies. They believe that the trade deficit is unsustainable. They will tell you all of that, and you are almost listening to Donald Trump in 2015, but they won’t mention the word “Trump,” because to do so would contaminate that argument. What I am getting at is he looked at the world empirically.

Empirically?

Yes, empirically, and he said, “This is what’s wrong, and this is what we would have to do to address this problem.” And he said it in such a way—whether he wanted to say it in that way or whether he was forced to say it in that way, I don’t know—but he said it in such a way that was designed to grab attention, to be polarizing, to get through bureaucratic doublespeak. So now he succeeded, but if I were to ask anybody at Stanford University, or anybody that I know is a four-star general or a diplomat, “What caused your sudden change about China?,” they would not say Donald Trump, and yet we know who it was.

Do you feel that in some ways he is a hero out of Greek myth?

Yeah, as long as we understand the word “hero.” Americans don’t know what that word means. They think it means you live happily ever after or you are selfless. Whether it is Achilles or Sophocles’s Ajax or Antigone, they can act out of insecurity, they can act out of impatience—they can act out of all sorts of motives that are less than what we say in America are heroic. But the point that they are making is, I see a skill that I have. I see a problem. I want to solve that problem, and I want to solve that problem so much that the ensuing reaction to that solution may not necessarily be good for me. And they accept that.

It reminds me of Trump saying that people will get sick of winning. It seems like you are saying we have gotten sick of it, and that is the tragedy of Trump.

I think so. I tried to use as many examples as I could of the classic Western, whether it was “Shane” or “High Noon” or “The Magnificent Seven.” They all are the same—the community doesn’t have the skills or doesn’t have the willpower or doesn’t want to stoop to the corrective method to solve the existential problem, whether it is cattle barons or banditos. So they bring in an outsider, and immediately they start to be uneasy because he is uncouth—his skills, his attitude—and then he solves the problem, and they declare to him, whether it is Gary Cooper in “High Noon” or Alan Ladd in “Shane,” “I think it’s better you leave. We don’t need you anymore. We feel dirty that we ever had to call you in.” I think that is what is awaiting Trump.

How does this fit, in a Greek sense, with the man we are often confronted with—constantly tweeting, spending much of his day watching cable news, obsessed with small slights. Do these things, allowing for the modern context, also remind you of great heroes of myth?

Have you read Sophocles’s Ajax ever? It’s one of his best plays.

No, I haven’t.

You have a neurotic hero who cannot get over the fact that he was by all standards the successor to Achilles and deserves Achilles’s armor, and yet he was outsmarted by this wily, lesser Odysseus, who rigged the contest and got the armor. All he does is say, “This wasn’t fair. I’m better. Doesn’t anybody know this?” It’s true, but you want to say to Ajax, “Shut up and just take it.” Achilles has elements of a tragic hero. He says, at the beginning of the Iliad, “I do all the work. I kill all the Trojans. But when it comes to assigning booty, you always give it to mediocrities—deep-state, administrative nothings.” So he stalks off. And the gods tell him, “If you come back in, you will win fame, but you are going to end up dead.” So he makes a tragic, heroic decision that he is going to do that.

I think Trump really did think that there were certain problems and he had particular skills that he could solve. Maybe in a naïve fashion. But I think he understood, for all the emoluments-clause hysteria, that he wasn’t going to make a lot of money from it or be liked for it.

You don’t have much to say about child separation, the ban on certain Muslims, Charlottesville—the more controversial aspects of his Presidency. Are these nicks on a glorious record, or are they actually accomplishments?

I look at everything empirically. I know what the left said, and the media said, but I ask myself, “What actually happened?” There are a billion Muslims in the world, and he has, I think, six countries who were not able to substantiate that their passports were vetted. [Trump’s final travel plan limits or prevents travel from seven countries.] We didn’t even, in the final calibration, base it on religion. I think we have two countries that are not predominantly Muslim.

It was very clever how they did that.

Yeah. And so that’s one thing. As far as separation, I remember very carefully that the whole child separation was started during Barack Obama.

The policy of separating was a Trump thing.

It was used by Trump. It was unapologetically said this came from Obama and we are going to continue to practice deterrence. As someone who lives in a community that is ninety per cent Hispanic, probably forty per cent undocumented, I can tell you that it’s a very different world from what people are talking about in Washington. I have had people knock on my door and ask me where the ob-gyn lives, because they got her name in Oaxaca. And the woman in the car is six months pregnant and living across the border and given the name of a nice doctor in Selma, California, that will deliver the baby.

This has happened once? More than once?

It has happened once, but I know people who come from Mexico with the names of doctors and clinics in Fresno County where they know they will get, for free, twenty to thirty thousand dollars of medical care and an anchor baby. I know that’s supposed to be an uncouth thing to say.

Just a bit.

And they will be here. As I am talking right now, I have a guy, a U.S. citizen, tiling my kitchen, and he does not like the idea that people hire people illegally for twelve dollars an hour in cash, when he should be getting eighteen, nineteen, twenty dollars. But, when you make these arguments, they are just brushed aside by the left or the media, by saying, oh, these are anecdotal or racist or stereotype.

Right, people hear a story about someone knocking on your door wanting an ob-gyn and they say that is anecdotal. Charlottesville was the last one you are going to address, Trump saying there were good people on both sides.

That was very clumsy to say. But there wasn’t a monolithic white racist protest movement. There were collections of people. Some of them were just out there because maybe they are deluded and maybe they are not. I don’t know what their hearts are like, but they did not want statues torn down or defaced.

History buffs, really.

Yeah. You can argue that what was O.K. in 2010 suddenly was racist in 2017. But, in today’s polarized climate, Trump should have said, “While both groups are demonstrating, we can’t have a group on any side that identifies by race.” He should have said that. He just said there were good people on both sides. It was clumsy.

This is what you were saying about Greek heroes. You don’t get the perfect person who will phrase everything or do everything perfectly.

You don’t. You don’t. I was trying to look at Trump in classical terms, so words like eirôneia, or irony—how could it be that the Republican Party supposedly was empathetic, but a millionaire, a billionaire Manhattanite started using terms I had never heard Romney or McCain or Paul Ryan say? He started saying “our.” Our miners. And then, on the left, every time Hillary Clinton went before a Southern audience, she started speaking in a Southern accent. And Barack Obama, I think you would agree, when he gets before an inner-city audience, he suddenly sounded as if he spoke in a black patois. When Trump went to any of these groups, he had the same tie, the same suit, the same accent. What people thought was that, whatever he is, he is authentic.

Honest, authentic.

I don’t know about honest, but authentic and genuine. Honest in the sense that . . .

The larger sense.

Yeah.

Race has been a big part of Trump’s Presidency. There is not a lot of that in your book. The index contains an entry for “blacks,” which just says, when you turn to the page, that “African-Americans increasingly began to control big-city governments.” But there wasn’t a larger discussion of race. Where do you think Trump stands on racial issues?

When I wrote the book, I was interested, so I actually looked at things. I read a great deal about the Mar-a-Lago project, and I was shocked that the people who opposed that on cultural and social grounds were largely anti-Semitic. Trump had already announced that he was not going to discriminate against Jews and Mexicans and other people. He said, “I want wealthy people.” I went to Palm Beach and talked to wealthy Jewish donors and Cubans, and they said the same thing to me—“He likes rich people. He doesn’t care what you look like.”

Egalitarian, yeah.

I don’t know what the driving force was, but I found that he was indifferent. And I think the same thing is true of blacks and Hispanics.

What did you think about him using birtherism as a way of discrediting Obama?

You mean when he was a private citizen? He dropped that.

Well, what do you think about it?

I think it was absurd. I think it was demonstrable that Obama was born in the United States. The only ambiguity was that two things gave rise to the conspiracy theorists. One was—and I think this is a hundred-per-cent accurate—an advertising group that worked in concert with his publisher put on a booklet that Obama was born in Kenya. That gave third-world cachet to “Dreams from My Father.” And he didn’t look at it or didn’t change it. [In 1991, four years before Obama’s first book was published, his literary agency incorrectly stated on a client list that Obama was born in Kenya.] And he left as a young kid and went to Indonesia and applied when he came back as a Fulbright Fellow, and I don’t know if this is substantiated or just rumor, but he probably was given dual citizenship. [The claim that Obama was a Fulbright Fellow from Indonesia, and therefore had Indonesian citizenship, originated in a hoax e-mail, from April 1, 2009, and has been discredited.]

Rumors are fine.

Yeah. While in Indonesia. What I am getting at is, here you have a guy named Barack Obama, who grew up in Hawaii, and there were indications in his past that there was ambiguity.

You don’t think Trump was using it as a racially—

No, no, I think Trump was doing what Trump does, which is trying to sensationalize it. I don’t think it was racial. I think it was political.

You write, “Trump picked his targets carefully. His epithets even more carefully.” On the other hand, you have him making fun of Mika Brzezinski’s looks or saying that Ted Cruz’s dad had a role in the J.F.K. assassination.

I mentioned how that was crude in the book.

O.K., so do we think he picks his targets carefully, or maybe not?

If you go back and look at that, I mean carefully calibrated in a political sense. That’s my point. Not that it was careful in the sense of being humane or sympathetic. By that I mean, there were elements in Ted Cruz’s personality that offended people. And he got Ted Cruz really angry, and Ted Cruz doesn’t come across well.

Right, if someone accused your dad of killing J.F.K., or said that your wife was unattractive, you might get a little—

I think so. But if you go back and look at the worst tweets, they are retaliatory.

What he does is he waits like a coiled cobra until people attack him, and then he attacks them in a much cruder, blunter fashion. And he has an uncanny ability to pick people that have attacked him, whether it’s Rosie O’Donnell, Megyn Kelly—there were elements in all those people’s careers that were starting to bother people, and Trump sensed that out. I don’t think he would have gotten away with taking on other people that were completely beloved. Colin Kaepernick. People were getting tired of him, so he took him on. All that stuff was calibrated. Trump was replying and understood public sympathy would be at least fifty-fifty, if not in his favor.

No, I mean, if you are going to attack a woman as ugly you want to make sure you at least have public sympathy on your side.

I think so. There are certain women that may be homely.

Voir également:

Book paints Trump as tragic hero
Robert Brehl
The Catholic register
March 26, 2019

In a new book, The Case for Trump, scholarly classicist Victor Davis Hanson paints the U.S. president as a tragic hero like Achilles or Ajax from classic Greek literature.

“What makes such men and women both tragic and heroic is their knowledge that the natural expression of their personas can lead only to their own destruction or ostracism from an advancing civilization that they seek to protect. And yet they willingly accept the challenge to be of service,” Hanson writes.

“Yet for a variety of reasons, both personal and civic, their characters not only should not be altered, but could not be, even if the tragic hero wished to change. … In the classical tragic sense, Trump likely will end in one of two fashions, both not particularly good: either spectacular but unacknowledged accomplishments followed by ostracism … or, less likely, a single term due to the eventual embarrassment of his beneficiaries.”

Donald Trump, with metaphorical sword and shield in hand, slaying 21st century dragons like illegal immigrants or foreign despots threatening America; all the while, his selfless bravery misunderstood. It’s quite an image.

But it would be wrong to swiftly dismiss Hanson’s ideas and his book, especially by those opposed to the president and his policies. Hanson himself calls Trump “flawed,” but his presidency exemplary.

Hanson is a retired classics professor from California State University, Fresno, and senior fellow in military history at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and he has written two dozen books on topics ranging from the ancient world to the Second World War. He lives on a working farm in a multiracial, rural area in the interior of California, southeast of San Francisco. He doesn’t live in an Ivory Tower.

He also uses his hometown of Selma as a classic example of why America elected Trump. Once prosperous with family-run farms and food-processing plants and other manufacturing jobs, now most jobs are gone, unemployment high, crime and drug abuse commonplace. “In 1970, we did not have keys for our outside doors; in 2018, I have six guard dogs,” he writes. 

While he is a conservative with an upfront agenda, his critics come from the left and the right. One of the nastiest attacks upon Hanson comes from a Republican who worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and calls him a “Nazi sympathizer,” “racist enabler” and a “treasonous sophist.” A liberal writer says it’s oxymoronic to call Hanson a “pro-Trump intellectual.”

If his ideas are ticking off both ends of the spectrum, they must have some merit, or, at the very least, be interesting.

In defending his book, Hanson’s tone is civil. He tells stories from antiquity to make a point; or he acknowledges that Trump is a blowhard like the character Rodney Dangerfield played in the movie Caddyshack. But that doesn’t mean Trump’s policies aren’t working, he says. When one defends a position with reasoned thought, instead of rants and personal attacks like so many Trump supporters and detractors, it’s a welcome change.

Some of Hanson’s observations are disagreeable, others are worthy of pointing out and giving Trump his due. 

For example, Trump’s stand towards China and its murky trade practices is a reprieve from the appeasement of recent years. His support of the Catholic and Jewish faiths is also admirable.

Ultimately, though, The Case for Trump crumbles on two fundamental points.

It is disingenuous to separate the man from the presidency, but Hanson does. “Trump’s own uncouthness,” he writes, “was in its own manner contextualized by his supporters as a long overdue pushback to the elite disdain and indeed hatred shown them.” 

Hanson also points out character flaws in former presidents as somehow a reason to hand Trump a “get-out-of-jail-free-card” for his extracurricular activities with hookers and porn stars. 

“It doesn’t mean Donald Trump is a saint,” Hanson said during a recorded book tour event, “but he’s not an aberration either.”

My mother often said “two wrongs don’t make a right” and that applies here, along with Trump’s penchant to surround himself with hucksters, grifters, con men, liars and felons. Then there are the relentless and often vicious personal tweets and attacks on the Constitution. 

Sorry, but these character cancers cannot be ignored simply because one likes Trump’s tax cuts and deregulation that may or may not have boosted economic growth.

Besides, Hanson doesn’t make the case — with hard facts — that Trump’s policies are actually working. Has picking on allies like Canada really helped Wisconsin dairy farmers? Has he really tamed Kim Jong Un and his nuclear aspirations? Have Trump policies really boosted growth more than simply the cyclical nature of the economy itself? The list goes on and on.

Trump opponents probably won’t read the book, but it’s not your regular right-wing diatribe camouflaged as a book. It’s readable and, at times, highly entertaining in how he skewers Trump’s adversaries.

But, in the end, the book can’t make a case that electing a status quo disruptor like Donald Trump is any more than a Pyrrhic victory in the classical tragic sense.

Voir de même:

Trump’s policies on Iran, North Korea and Russia are cleaning up messes left by Obama, Bush and Clinton

Business as usual has strengthened our enemies for decades. Trump’s iconoclasm is worth a try.
Keith Koffler

Trump, however, has decided a nuclear Iran is not acceptable — neither now nor 12 years from now. He withdrew from the deal and re-invoked sanctions in the hope that the Iranians will renegotiate the terms that legally could have put them on a path toward nuclear weapons.

Of course, this path too has drawbacks — Iran responded by claiming it will increase its uranium enrichment. But Trump has reasoned the time to get tough with Iran is now, not in a dozen years when they are stronger and have perfected technologies related to nuclear weapons.

U.S. policy toward Russia pre-Trump had also been marked by years of complacency — remember Russian President Vladimir Putin convincing Bush there was a soul behind his eyes? During the 2012 presidential campaign, Obama dismissed Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s concerns about Russia with a quip about the 1980s wanting its foreign policy back. Obama was also caught on an open mic whispering to Russia’s then-President Dmitri Medvedev that he’d have more “flexibility” after the election.

In key ways, the White House has been strengthening U.S. posture toward Russia — even if Trump seems to be buddying up to Putin. The Brookings Institution noted this, asserting, “The Trump administration’s policy actions often seem at odds with the president’s rhetoric,” and listing a series of Trump policy actions toward Russia.

Trump’s administration, Foreign Policy explained, “has held a tough line on Russia, building on his predecessor’s policies by layering on further sanctions, expelling dozens of Russian diplomats, and providing lethal weapons support to Ukraine — a step that former President Barack Obama had been unwilling to take.”

Trump’s demand that European nations pay their North Atlantic Treaty Organization obligations — another can regularly kicked down the road — might seem hostile toward long-time allies, but ensures they have skin in the game when it comes to confronting Russia.

The Washington establishment, so used to conventional ways, is aghast. But business as usual has strengthened our enemies. Trump’s iconoclasm is worth a try.

Guy Milliere

Les 4 vérités
02 juillet , 2019

Les semaines se suivent et se ressemblent dans la grande presse française.

Le Président américain Donald Trump est présenté comme un abruti erratique guidé par ses impulsions, ignorant et dangereux.

Bien que le rapport Mueller ait montré qu’il n’y a jamais eu aucune «collusion» entre Trump et la Russie, les journalistes français en leur grande majorité se refusent à le dire explicitement et à reconnaître qu’ils ont pratiqué la désinformation à dose intensive pendant deux ans.

Les résultats obtenus par ­Trump, tant sur le plan intérieur que sur le plan extérieur, sont à peine notés et ne le sont parfois pas du tout. Quand ils le sont, le nom de Trump est le plus souvent omis, comme si le citer positivement, ne serait-ce qu’une seule fois, était absolument impensable.

Ce n’est, en soi, pas grave: ­Trump gouverne sans se préoccuper de ce que diront des journalistes français. Cela contribue néanmoins à entraver la compréhension des choses de tous ceux qui ne s’informeraient que grâce à la presse française, et nombre de gens seront dès lors surpris lorsque Trump sera réélu en novembre 2020 (car tout l’indique: il sera réélu).

On leur expliquera sans doute que c’est parce que le peuple américain est lui-même ignorant et dangereux.

Cela contribue aussi à empêcher de voir que l’action et les idées de Trump ont un impact beaucoup plus vaste, et qui excède de beaucoup les frontières des États-Unis.

J’ai écrit en 2017 un premier livre sur l’action et les idées de ­Trump et j’y disais que la révolution Trump venait de commencer.

Depuis, la révolution Trump suit son cours, aux États-Unis et sur le reste de la planète.

J’ai écrit en 2018 un deuxième livre expliquant la doctrine ­Trump («Ce que veut Trump»).

Je publierai un troisième livre en 2020 qui portera sur l’ère Trump. Car nous sommes dans l’ère ­Trump.

La politique économique menée par Donald Trump – qui ajoute à une forte baisse des impôts et à une déréglementation radicale, un refus de se soumettre aux lubies écologistes et un nationalisme économique basé sur la renégociation de tous les accords internationaux antécédemment négociés et sur la création de rapports de force – porte ses fruits et mène divers gouvernements sur la planète à adopter des mesures allant dans la même direction.

Sa politique intérieure – basée sur un retour à une immigration strictement contrôlée et sur la réaffirmation des valeurs qui fondent la civilisation occidentale – porte, elle aussi, ses fruits, même si elle est, dans plusieurs États du pays, entravée par les décisions délétères de la gauche américaine qui entend protéger les immigrants illégaux (criminels compris).

Plusieurs gouvernements sur la planète adoptent des mesures allant dans le même sens.

La façon de Trump d’affronter la gauche et les médias désinformateurs contribue à donner à d’autres dirigeants conservateurs le courage d’affronter la gauche et les médias désinformateurs d’une même façon.
La politique étrangère menée par Donald Trump change le monde.

Au Proche-Orient, Donald ­Trump conduit une asphyxie du régime iranien qui progresse et, n’en déplaise à ceux qui refusent de le voir, diminue la dangerosité de celui-ci.

Il met en place un rapprochement entre les pays du monde arabe sunnite et Israël qui modifie profondément la donne régionale et, n’en déplaise là encore à ceux qui refusent de le voir, fait apparaître pour la première fois des espoirs réels qu’émerge une paix durable.

L’anéantissement de l’État islamique permet de juguler le terrorisme islamique sur les cinq continents.

L’action d’endiguement de la Chine communiste déstabilise celle-ci et freine les ambitions hégémoniques nourries par Xi Jinping. La Corée du Nord n’est plus une menace pour la Corée du Sud et le Japon.

L’arrivée au pouvoir de Jaïr Bolsonaro au Brésil est au cœur d’un changement majeur dans toute l’Amérique latine.

En Europe, Trump ne cesse d’appuyer les dirigeants «populistes» d’Europe centrale contre les orientations anti-démocratiques et islamophiles de l’Union européenne, et la perspective d’une Europe des nations souveraines fait son chemin.

L’ère Trump est en son aurore. La grande presse du monde qui parle anglais le dit explicitement. Ne comptez pas sur la grande presse française pour vous le dire!

Voir encore:

Evelyne Joslain

02 juillet, 2019

Trump ne voulait pas du rôle de policier mondial, mais il se trouve obligé de l’assumer, puisqu’il n’y a aucune puissance capable de remplacer les États-Unis dans ce domaine-clé.

C’est l’Amérique, pas l’ONU impotente et corrompue, qui maintient les routes commerciales, et le monde entier en profite, gratuitement – comme si cela allait de soi. Or, non seulement, cela ne va pas de soi, mais beaucoup d’obligés geignent contre un pseudo «impérialisme américain», sans jamais se remettre en question.

Si l’Amérique trouve certes son compte dans ce service planétaire assuré à grands frais par sa flotte et ses services de surveillance, ce n’est pas elle qui en a le plus besoin, mais ses alliés qui, eux, ne sont pas sevrés du brut que leur vend l’OPEP.

C’est aussi l’Amérique qui en assume les risques comme on vient de voir avec la descente en flammes d’un drone de 100 millions de dollars, heureusement sans pilote, qui croisait dans l’espace international et non iranien. Cela, après des attaques iraniennes, sans raison non plus, sur des pétroliers norvégien et japonais.

Alors, «l’opinion internationale» (c’est-à-dire la gauche mondialiste et ses médias désinformateurs) se dit «soulagée» que Trump n’ait pas poursuivi «son escalade», mais tous ces trolls qui renversent ignominieusement les responsabilités, déplorent à présent son «manque de stratégie».

Qu’est-ce que des anti-américains et anti-militaristes primaires peuvent comprendre aux questions de stratégie avec leur logiciel bloqué?

La véritable question est: pourquoi l’ayatollah Khamenei décide-t-il maintenant de provoquer Trump?

Les sanctions asphyxient son économie de rente, d’autant que l’aide concoctée par les Européens cupides, hypocrites et lâches, tarde à se matérialiser.
Les dirigeants de l’UE, qui mar­chent au pas de l’oie avec Merkel, entretiennent une cécité criminelle vis-à-vis de l’Iran.

Sous Merkel, l’Allemagne oublie qu’elle doit tout aux États-Unis. Elle remercie par une politique teigneuse de tarifs douaniers. Elle se targue cyniquement d’être la plus mauvaise payeuse de l’OTAN, achète le gaz de la Russie et refuse le gaz américain. Et voici qu’elle pactise avec les ayatollahs contre les USA.

L’Allemagne et l’UE illustrent tout ce qui est inacceptable pour Trump: l’archétype de l’allié félon aux prétentions disproportionnées au vu de la réalité. Et elles sont coupables de négligence inadmissible envers notre sécurité collective en dissimulant le danger pour l’Occident qu’est la République islamique, nullement différente (dans ses visées hégémoniques et ses méthodes internes brutales) de l’État islamique que l’Iran aidait et que Trump a éradiqué.

L’Iran n’a jamais cessé l’enrichissement d’uranium et continue d’alimenter le terrorisme islamique. Les sanctions ne sont que justice et, malgré leur dureté renforcée, Trump espère des Iraniens éclairés un énième et décisif soulèvement contre ses dirigeants. Car il n’en a qu’après ce régime meurtrier et sympathise avec les Iraniens, mais il leur rappelle qu’il ne peut intervenir militairement, sauf attaque avec victimes américaines, auquel cas la réponse serait foudroyante. Loin de vouloir la guerre, il veut «redonner à l’Iran sa grandeur».

Khamenei sait qu’à la Maison Blanche, Trump s’est entouré volontairement de conseillers aux vues opposées qui représentent chacun une partie de la base de Trump et qui constituent un «brain-trust». Il table sur le fait que Trump est tenu par l’impératif de sa réélection. Les « deux côtés de l’équation », comme Trump les appelle, sont parfaitement honorables et défendent des arguments que l’on ne peut négliger.
Pour le moment, le côté «colombe» exulte, les isolationnistes, les libertariens, et toute la mouvance du «The American Conservative».

Les «faucons» comprennent que l’heure de l’action militaire n’est pas venue. Mais ce serait mal connaître ­Trump que de penser qu’il ne va pas trouver le moyen de faire payer aux criminels de Téhéran leurs méfaits.

Il doit, seul, parvenir à empêcher les ayatollahs d’accéder au nucléaire et faire cesser leur financement du terrorisme, sans engager de troupes et sans dépenser des milliards.

C’est une tâche de police mondiale à laquelle les Européens devraient participer.

La stratégie de Trump, c’est de voir venir, de ne pas dévoiler son jeu et de se tenir prêt à frapper.

Ceux qui lui font confiance ne sont pas inquiets et savourent un divertissement politique quotidien de qualité.

Voir par ailleurs:

Alexandre del Valle

Valeurs actuelles

1 juillet 2019

De retour de Sicile, Alexandre del Valle revient sur l’affaire du bateau de l’ONG pro-migrants Sea Watch qui avait « secouru » 53 clandestins dans les eaux internationales au large de la Libye, mi-juin et dont le capitaine fait la une des journaux depuis que son navire a risqué, dans la nuit du 28 juin, d’écraser une vedette de la Guardia della Finanza qui l’empêchait d’accoster.

Arrêtée par la police italienne, le capitaine du bateau Sea Watch, Carola Rackete, semble être devenue l’héroïne de toute une gauche européenne dont l’activisme humanitaire et victimiste pro-migrants sert en réalité une idéologie anti-nationale, anti-frontières et viscéralement hostile à la civilisation européenne-occidentale assimilée au Mal et dont les « fautes » passées et présentes ne pourraient être expiées qu’en acceptant l’auto-submersion migratoire et islamique…

La stratégie culpabilisatrice et victimaire des ONG / lobbies pro-Migrants

Rappelons que le Sea-Watch 3, navire de 600 tonnes battant pavillon hollandais et cofinancé par les fonds de George Soros et autres riches contributeurs, a non seulement « récupéré » des migrants illégaux acheminés par des passeurs nord-africains, ce qui est en soi un viol de la loi, mais a délibérément forcé le blocus des eaux territoriales italiennes, donc violé la souveraineté de ce pays. De ce fait, son capitaine, l’Allemande Carola Rackete, va être présentée à un juge en début de semaine, à Agrigente, dans le sud de la Sicile, puis répondra des faits « d’aide à l’immigration clandestine » (punie de prison par la loi italienne et le « décret-sécurité » (decreto-sicurezza) du gouvernement / Ligue (5 étoiles de Rome), puis de « résistance à un bateau de guerre ». Quant aux 42 migrants clandestins de la Sea Watch 3 débarqués après l’arrestation de la capitaine-activiste allemande (11 migrants plus « vulnérables » avaient déjà été débarqués légalement), ils ont fini par débarquer à Lampedusa après que la France, l’Allemagne, le Portugal, le Luxembourg et la Finlande ont accepté un plan de répartition visant à en accueillir chacun quelques-uns.

Pendant ce temps, des petites embarcations moins identifiables et qui ne font pas la une des médias continuent d’arriver chaque jour à Lampedusa et au sud d’Agrigente (200 ces derniers jours). Et d’autres navires affrétés par des ONG pro-migrants continuent de défier les autorités italiennes ou d’autres pays (Malte, Espagne, Grèce, etc.) dans l’indifférence générale et en violation banalisée de la loi et du principe de protection des frontières. On peut citer par exemple l’ONG espagnole Proactiva open arms, qui patrouille au large de la Libye malgré la menace d’une amende de 200 000 à 900 000 euros brandie par les autorités espagnoles. « Si je dois payer par la prison ou par une amende le fait de sauver les vies de quelques personnes, je le ferais », a d’ailleurs assuré Oscar Camps, fondateur de l’ONG. Utilisant la même rhétorique de « résistance » et de « désobéissance civile » face à une autorité étatique « répressive », Carola Rackette  expliquait elle aussi au Spiegel, quelques jours seulement avant d’accoster à Lampedusa : « Si nous ne sommes pas acquittés par un tribunal, nous le serons dans les livres d’histoire. » Niente di meno !

Mon obligation morale est d’aider les gens qui n’ont pas bénéficié des mêmes conditions que moi.

La stratégie d’intimidation psychologique des ONG et lobbies subversifs pro-migrants consiste en fait à adopter une rhétorique victimaire et hautement culpabilisatrice qui a pour but de faire passer pour des horribles racistes / fascistes les défenseurs des frontières et des lois sécuritaires pourtant démocratiquement adoptées. Carola Rackete a ainsi déclaré au journal italien La Repubblica : « J’ai la peau blanche, j’ai grandi dans un pays riche, j’ai le bon passeport, j’ai pu faire trois universités différentes et j’ai fini mes études à 23 ans. Mon obligation morale est d’aider les gens qui n’ont pas bénéficié des mêmes conditions que moi (…). Les pauvres, ils ne se sentent pas bienvenus, imaginez leur souffrance (…), j’ai voulu accoster de force car beaucoup risquaient de se suicider sur la bateau et étaient en danger depuis 17 jours d’immobilisation ».

Très fier de lui et de son « coup », Chris Grodotzki, le président de l’ONG Sea Watch, se réjouit que « dans toute l’Europe, Carole est devenue un symbole. Nous n’avons jamais reçu autant de dons », indiquant qu’en Italie une cagnotte a recueilli dimanche 400 000 euros. Samedi, en Allemagne, deux stars de la télévision, Jan Böhmermann et Klaas Heufer-Umlauf, ont lancé quant à eux une cagnotte et 500 000 euros ont été récoltés en moins de vingt-quatre heures. En fait, l’aide aux migrants clandestins est une activité lucrative pour les ONG, et pas seulement pour les passeurs et les établissements payés pour offrir le gîte et l’accueil avec les deniers publics.

Quand la gauche italienne et européenne appelle à violer les lois des Etats souverains

D’après Matteo Salvini, Carola Rackete serait une « criminelle » qui aurait tenté de « tuer des membres des forces de l’ordre italienne ». Il est vrai que la vedette de la Guarda della Finanza, (12 mètres), très légère, n’aurait pas résisté au choc du navire de la Sea Watch (600 tonnes) si elle ne s’était pas retirée. Inculpée par le procureur d’Agrigente, la capitaine de la Sea Watch risque jusqu’à dix ans de prison pour « résistance ou violence envers un navire de guerre ». En fait, bien moins que dans de nombreux autres pays du monde, y compris démocratiques comme l’Australie, les Etats-Unis ou la Hongrie. Le procureur d’Agrigente, Luigi Patronaggio, qui est pourtant connu pour ne pas être du tout favorable à la Ligue de Matteo Salvini, a d’ailleurs qualifié le geste de Carola Rackete de « violence inadmissible » et placé la capitaine du navire humanitaire aux « arrêts domiciliaires » (contrôle judiciaire avec assignation à résidence), avant le lancement d’une procédure de flagrant délit. L’intéressée a répondu via le Corriere della Sera, en affirmant que « ce n’était pas un acte de violence, seulement de désobéissance ».

Depuis, de Rome à Berlin, et au sein de toute la gauche et l’extrême-gauche européenne, « Carola » est devenue une nouvelle « héroïne de la désobéissance civile », le concept clef de la gauche marxiste ou libertaire pour justifier moralement le fait de bafouer délibérément les règles des Etats et de violer les lois démocratiques qui font obstacle à leur idéologie anti-nationale. Et la désinformation médiatique consiste justement à faire passer l’appui que Carola Rackete a reçu – de la part de stars de TV, de politiques bien-pensants et de lobbies pro-migrants chouchoutés par les médias – pour un « soutien de l’Opinion publique ». En Allemagne, du président de l’Église évangélique, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, au PDG de Siemens, Joe Kaeser, de nombreuses voix se sont élevées pour prendre sa défense comme si elle était une nouvelle Pasionaria « antifasciste / antinazie », 90 ans plus tard…

Dans certains cas, vous ne pouvez pas respecter les lois et vous pouvez même au contraire, dans des cas de nécessité, enfreindre les lois.

En Italie, outre la figure de Leo Luca Orlando, le maire de Palerme, qui accorde régulièrement la « citoyenneté d’honneur » de sa ville aux dirigeants d’ONG pro-migrants et qui assimile les « cartes de séjours » et contrôles aux frontières à des « instruments de torture », l’ensemble de la gauche (hors le parti 5 étoiles allié de la Ligue), et surtout le parti démocrate, (PD), jouent cette carte de « l’illégalité légitime » et appuie les ONG anti-frontières. « Par nécessité, vous pouvez enfreindre la loi », ont déclaré aux membres de la Sea Watch les députés de gauche montés à bord du bateau Sea Watch 3 avant l’arrestation de Carole Rackete. Premier à être monté à bord du Sea Watch 3, l’élu du PD Graziano Delrio ose lancer : « Dans certains cas, vous ne pouvez pas respecter les lois et vous pouvez même au contraire, dans des cas de nécessité, enfreindre les lois. »

Détail stupéfiant, les représentants du PD venus manifester leur solidarité avec la capitaine (étrangère) d’un navire (étranger) faisant le travail de passeurs / trafiquants d’êtres humains, n’ont pas même condamné ou regretté le fait que la « militante humanitaire Carole » a failli tuer les policiers de la vedette de la Guardia di Finanza qui bloquait le Sea Watch 3. Estimant qu’il ne pouvait manquer ce « coup médiatique » afin de complaire aux lobbies et médias immigrationnistes dominant, l’ex-Premier ministre (PD) Matteo Renzi était lui aussi sur le pont du Sea Watch 3 lorsque Carola Rackete a décidé de forcer le blocus. Avec lui, d’autres parlementaires de gauche (Matteo Orfini, Davide Faraone, Nicola Fratoianni et Riccardo Magi) ont carrément « béni » cette action illégale et violente qui a pourtant mis en danger les membres des forces de leur propre pays.

Étaient également venus applaudir la capitaine allemande et son action illégale : le curé de Lampedusa, Don Carmelo La Magra ; l’ancien maire de l’île Giusi Nicolini, le médecin et député européen Pietro Bartolo, et le secrétaire local du parti PD Peppino Palmeri, lequel a déclaré pompeusement que « l’humanité a gagné, (…). Je pense que oui, nous devons être unis dans une fraternité universelle »… Plutôt que de respecter la légalité des lois approuvées démocratiquement par le Parlement de leur propre pays dont ils sont élus, ces représentants de la gauche ont accusé le gouvernement Ligue / 5 étoiles d’avoir « laissé au milieu de la mer pendant 16 jours un bateau qui avait besoin d’un refuge » (Matteo Orfini), alors qu’en réalité, sur les 53 migrants illégaux au départ présents sur le Sea Watch 3, onze avaient été débarqués en Italie en raison de leur état vulnérable, les autres étant nourris et auscultés par des médecins envoyés par l’Etat italien.

L’alliance immigrationniste entre la gauche anti-nationale ; l’Eglise catholique et le grand Capital !

Dès qu’elle est descendue du navire accompagnée des policiers italiens venus l’arrêter, Carola Rackete a été saluée par les ovations d’un groupe d’activistes ainsi que par le curé de la paroisse de Lampedusa, Carmelo La Magra, lequel dormait dans le cimetière de sa paroisse depuis une semaine « en signe de solidarité ». Rivalisant avec les plus virulents pro-migrants d’extrême-gauche, le curé de Lampedusa a exulté : « Noël vient quand il arrive. Bienvenue aux migrants à Porto Salvo di Lampedusa. » Le prêtre de l’église de San Gerlando di Lampedusa s’est ainsi joint à l’appel de l’Action catholique italienne « à permettre le débarquement immédiat des 42 personnes à bord du Sea Watch ».

Au début du mois de mai dernier, lors de son voyage en Bulgarie, le Pape avait donné le ton et répondu ainsi à la politique des « ports fermés » de Matteo Salvini : « Ne fermez pas les portes à ceux qui frappent. Le monde des migrants et des réfugiés est la croix de l’humanité. » Preuve que les curés pro-migrants et l’Église catholique de plus en plus immigrationniste sont, comme la gauche anti-nationale post-ouvrière, totalement déconnectés des peuples et de leurs ouailles : rappelons qu’à Lampedusa la Ligue de Salvini est arrivée en tête avec 45 % des voix aux dernières élections européennes ; que plus de 65 % des Italiens (catholiques) approuvent ses lois et actions visant à combattre l’immigration clandestine ; et que le Pape François, certes populaire auprès des médias quand il défend les migrants, exaspère de plus en plus et a même rendu antipapistes des millions d’Italiens qui se sentent trahis par un souverain Pontife qui semble préférer les musulmans aux chrétiens et les Africains aux Européens. A tort ou à raison d’ailleurs.

Il est vrai que la Sicile et en particulier Lampedusa sont plus que jamais en première ligne face à l’immigration clandestine : rien que pendant les deux dernières semaines durant lesquelles le Sea Watch est resté bloqué au large de l’île, Lampedusa a assisté impuissante, malgré la politique des « ports fermés » de Matteo Salvini et de son nouveau « décret sécurité », plus de 200 clandestins (majoritairement tunisiens et aucunement des « réfugiés » politiques syriens) acheminés par des barques de fortunes plus difficiles à repérer que les navires des ONG. Depuis des années, la ville est littéralement défigurée, l’arrivée de migrants entraînant des faits quotidiens de violences, d’agressions, de vols et destructions de commerces.

Nous sommes tous des personnes.

Malgré cela, le médiatique curé de Lampedusa, grand adepte du pape François, martèle qu’il faut « accueillir, protéger, promouvoir et intégrer les migrants et les réfugiés ». Dans une autre ville de Sicile, Noto, où nous nous sommes rendus le 27 juin dernier, une immense croix en bois a été construite à partir de morceaux d’une embarcation de migrants et a été carrément érigée dans l’entrée de la plus grande église du centre-ville. A Catania, ville très catholique-conservatrice et de droite – où se déroule chaque année début février la troisième plus grande fête chrétienne au monde, la Santa Agata – la cathédrale a été prise d’assauts par des sit-in pro-migrants en défense de Carola Rackete et de la Sea Watch.

Quant à Palerme, l’alliance entre l’Église catholique et le maire de la Ville, Leo Luca Orlando, chef de file de la lutte contre la politique migratoire de Matteo Salvini, est totale, alors même que Orlando est un anticlérical patenté à la fois islamophile et pro-LGBT. Sa dernière trouvaille a consisté à proposer d’éliminer le terme même de « migrant », puisque « nous sommes tous des personnes ». D’après lui, le terme « migrants » devrait être supprimé, tout comme la gauche a réussi à faire supprimer celui de « clandestin », remplacé dans le jargon journalistique par celui, trompeur, mais plus valorisant, de « migrant ». Cette manipulation sémantique visant à abolir la distinction migrant régulier / illégal est également très présente dans le pacte de Marrakech des Nations-unies.

Récemment, à l’occasion de la rupture du jeûne du ramadan, le médiatique maire palermitain s’est affiché en train de prier avec une assemblée de musulmans, consacrant même une « journée consacrée à l’islam » en rappelant le « glorieux passé arabo-islamique » de la Sicile (en réalité envahie et libérée deux siècles plus tard par les Normands). Orlando utilise lui aussi à merveille l’arme de la culpabilisation lorsqu’il ne cesse de justifier l’immigration illimitée au nom du fait que les Siciliens « ont eu eux aussi des grands-parents qui ont décidé d’aller vivre dans un autre pays en demandant à être considérés comme des personnes humaines ». Bref, « on est tous des migrants ». Une musique bien connue aussi en France.

A chaque nouvelle affaire de blocage de bateaux d’ONG pro-migrants par les autorités italiennes obéissant à la politique de la Ligue, le maire de Palerme se déclare prêt à accueillir des navires dans le port de Palerme. Lors de notre visite, le 26 juin dernier, Orlando nous a d’ailleurs remis une brochure consacrée à l’accueil des migrants, « chez eux chez nous ». Comme le Pape ou l’ex-maire de Lampedusa, Leoluca Orlando est depuis quelques années tellement obsédé par « l’impératif d’accueil » des migrants, alors que la Sicile connaît encore une grande pauvreté et un chômage de masse, qu’il suscite une réaction de rejet et d’exaspération, d’autant que de nombreuses initiatives en faveur des migrants sont financées par des citoyens italiens-siciliens hyper-taxés et précarisés.

Le 28 juin, lorsque nous avons parlé de la question migratoire au maire de la seconde ville de Sicile, Catania, Salvatore Pogliese, ex-membre d’Alleanza nazionale élu député européen et maire sous les couleurs de Forza Italia, celui-ci nous confiait qu’il jugeait absurdes et extrêmes les vues du maire de Palerme ou du curé de Lampedusa. Et il rappelait que lorsque des maires pro-migrants jouent aux « héros » en réclamant l’ouverture sans limites des ports pour accueillir les « réfugiés » du monde entier, ils mentent puisque l’ouverture des ports relève, comme en France, non pas des maires, mais de l’Etat central (ministères des Transports et de l’Intérieur).

L’alliance de la gauche et des multinationales

Une autre alliance de forces « progressistes » / pro-migrants n’a pas manqué de surprendre les analystes de la vie politique italienne, notamment à l’occasion de la Gay Pride, organisée à Milan le 28 juin, par le maire de gauche, Beppe Sala, champion de la « diversité » et des minorités en tout genre : l’alliance de la gauche et des multinationales et des Gafam. C’est ainsi que certains journaux italiens de droite ont relevé le fait que les sponsors de la Gay Pride, officiellement indiqués sur le site de l’événement – Google, Microsoft, eBay, Coca-Cola, PayPal, RedBull, Durex, Benetton, etc. – ont tenu et obtenu que soient associées à la cause des gays celle des migrants afin de « prendre en compte toutes les différences, pas seulement liées à l’identité et à l’orientation sexuelle (immigration, handicap, appartenance ethnique, etc.) ».

Les « migrants » illégaux et autres faux réfugiés secourus par les ONG immigrationnistes, adeptes des « ports ouverts », ont donc eu droit à un traitement de faveur et ont pu officiellement venir « exprimer toute sa solidarité avec le capitaine du navire (Sea Watch 3) Carola Rackete, avec les membres de l’équipage et avec toutes les personnes à bord », écrit sur Facebook « Ensemble sans murs », qui « participera avec enthousiasme au défilé de mode de Milan ». L’idéologie diversitaire est si puissante, et l’accueil des migrants est tellement devenu la « cause des causes » capable de surpasser les autres, qu’elle s’invite même chez les lobbies LGBT, pourtant la « minorité » la plus directement persécutée – avec les juifs – par l’islamisme.

Or, une grande majorité d’immigrés clandestins est de confession musulmane : Subsahariens, Erythréens, Soudanais, Égyptiens, Syriens, Turcs, Maghrébins ou Pakistanais et Afghans qui émigrent en masse dans la Vieille Europe de façon tant légale (regroupement familial, migrations économiques, visas étudiants, mineurs non-accompagnés…) qu’illégale.

Deux poids deux mesures

Pour bien comprendre « d’où parlent » les défenseurs des migrants clandestins qui ne cessent d’apostropher Victor Orban, Matteo Salvini ou encore le « diable en chef » Donald Trump pour leurs politiques de contrôle de l’immigration, il suffit de constater le deux poids deux mesures et l’indignation sélective de la gauche et de l’Église catholique qui dénoncent les « populistes européens xénophobes / islamophobes / racistes » mais très peu le néo-Sultan Erdogan et encore moins les pays d’Afrique, du Maghreb, d’Amérique latine ou d’Asie qui répriment extrêmement sévèrement et violemment l’immigration clandestine et / ou l’islamisme.

Deux exemples flagrants suffiront à s’en convaincre : l’ONU a récemment condamné « l’islamophobie » européenne et occidentale, notamment de la France et de l’Italie, mais pas les massacres de masse de musulmans en Chine ou en Inde. Ensuite, le 5 septembre 2018, lorsque la marine marocaine a fait tirer sur une embarcation de migrants clandestins, faisant un mort et un blessé grave, puis fait arrêter le capitaine espagnol du bateau, l’ONU n’a pas bronché. Pas plus dans de nombreux cas de mauvais traitements, persécutions de migrants subsahariens ou de chrétiens dans l’ensemble des pays d’Afrique du Nord et arabes.

Les Etats européens et les « militants » antifascistes hostiles aux « populistes » n’ont pas manifesté la moindre indignation face à ces phénomènes récurrents. Pas plus que les antiracistes français et leurs alliés féministes et pro-LGBT ne dénoncent la misogynie et l’homophobie islamiques, de facto exonérées par primat xénophile et auto-racisme anti-occidental. Ce dernier exemple est significatif : loin de se laisser culpabiliser, les autorités marocaines ont pourtant assumé le fait qu’une « unité de combat de la Marine royale » a ouvert le feu sur l’embarcation (un « go-fast » léger) en tuant une passagère. Comme Carola Rackete, le capitaine de la vedette de clandestins n’avait pas obéi aux ordres des militaires marocains l’intimant de stopper sa course.

Morale de l’histoire : l’immigrationnisme des ONG comme la Sea Watch et autres « No Borders » est – comme l’antiracisme à sens unique – une arme subversive tournée contre les seuls peuples blancs-judéo-chrétiens-occidentaux et leurs Etats-Nations souverains. D’évidence, les forces cosmopolitiquement correctes (gauche internationaliste-marxiste ; libéraux-multiculturalistes ; multinationales / Mc Word ; Église catholique ; fédéralistes européens et autres instances onusiennes) veulent détruire en premier lieu les vieilles nations européennes culpabilisées et vieillissantes, sorte de terra nullius en devenir conçue comme le laboratoire de leurs projets néo-impériaux / mondialistes respectifs.

Ces différentes forces ne sont pas amies, mais elles convergent dans un même projet de destruction des Etats-souverains occidentaux. Voilà d’où parlent les No Borders. Et à l’aune de ce constat, le fait que le milliardaire Soros et les multinationales précitées sponsorisent des opérations pro-migrants, pourtant exécutées par des ONG et forces de gauche et d’extrême-gauche ou chrétiennes / tiersmondistes, en dit long sur la convergence des forces cosmopolitiquement correctes hostiles à l’Etat-Nation et à la défense de l’identité occidentale.


Etats-Unis/Crise migratoire: Quel déni démocrate ? (Déjà vu: Did the Democrats learn anything from 2016 ?)

30 juin, 2019

Image may contain: one or more people, crowd, meme and outdoor, text that says 'HERE IS THE LINE TO GET INTO TRUMP'S "CONCENTRATION CAMPS"'Image may contain: 5 people, textPolitical Cartoons by Steve Kelley (Jul. 1, 2019)

Lorsque l’esprit impur est sorti d’un homme, il va par des lieux arides, cherchant du repos, et il n’en trouve point. Alors il dit: Je retournerai dans ma maison d’où je suis sorti; et, quand il arrive, il la trouve vide, balayée et ornée. Il s’en va, et il prend avec lui sept autres esprits plus méchants que lui; ils entrent dans la maison, s’y établissent, et la dernière condition de cet homme est pire que la première. Jésus (Matthieu 12 : 43-45)
Le monde moderne n’est pas mauvais : à certains égards, il est bien trop bon. Il est rempli de vertus féroces et gâchées. Lorsqu’un dispositif religieux est brisé (comme le fut le christianisme pendant la Réforme), ce ne sont pas seulement les vices qui sont libérés. Les vices sont en effet libérés, et ils errent de par le monde en faisant des ravages ; mais les vertus le sont aussi, et elles errent plus férocement encore en faisant des ravages plus terribles. Le monde moderne est saturé des vieilles vertus chrétiennes virant à la folie.  G.K. Chesterton
Notre monde est de plus en plus imprégné par cette vérité évangélique de l’innocence des victimes. L’attention qu’on porte aux victimes a commencé au Moyen Age, avec l’invention de l’hôpital. L’Hôtel-Dieu, comme on disait, accueillait toutes les victimes, indépendamment de leur origine. Les sociétés primitives n’étaient pas inhumaines, mais elles n’avaient d’attention que pour leurs membres. Le monde moderne a inventé la « victime inconnue », comme on dirait aujourd’hui le « soldat inconnu ». Le christianisme peut maintenant continuer à s’étendre même sans la loi, car ses grandes percées intellectuelles et morales, notre souci des victimes et notre attention à ne pas nous fabriquer de boucs émissaires, ont fait de nous des chrétiens qui s’ignorent. René Girard
L’inauguration majestueuse de l’ère « post-chrétienne » est une plaisanterie. Nous sommes dans un ultra-christianisme caricatural qui essaie d’échapper à l’orbite judéo-chrétienne en « radicalisant » le souci des victimes dans un sens antichrétien. (…) Jusqu’au nazisme, le judaïsme était la victime préférentielle de ce système de bouc émissaire. Le christianisme ne venait qu’en second lieu. Depuis l’Holocauste , en revanche, on n’ose plus s’en prendre au judaïsme, et le christianisme est promu au rend de bouc émissaire numéro un. (…) Le mouvement antichrétien le plus puissant est celui qui réassume et « radicalise » le souci des victimes pour le paganiser. (…) Comme les Eglises chrétiennes ont pris conscience tardivement de leurs manquements à la charité, de leur connivence avec l’ordre établi, dans le monde d’hier et d’aujourd’hui, elles sont particulièrement vulnérables au chantage permanent auquel le néopaganisme contemporain les soumet. René Girard
Notre message est sans équivoque: n’envoyez pas vos enfants seuls, sur des trains ou par des passeurs. S’ils réussissent à arriver ici, ils seront renvoyés. Mais surtout, ils risquent de ne pas arriver. Barack Obama (09/07/2014)
La Maison-Blanche a demandé mardi au Congrès américain le déblocage en urgence de 3,7 milliards de dollars pour faire face à l’entrée illégale de dizaines de milliers d’enfants. Le président américain reconnaît lui-même que son pays fait face à «une situation humanitaire d’urgence». Barack Obama a demandé formellement au Congrès mardi de débloquer 3,7 milliards de dollars (2,7 milliards d’euros) pour répondre à l’afflux croissant d’enfants clandestins à la frontière avec le Mexique. L’objectif: augmenter les capacités d’accueil des sans-papiers et le nombre de juges gérant leurs dossiers, renforcer la surveillance de la frontière… mais surtout améliorer les conditions de détention de ces enfants arrêtés à la frontière après avoir tenté la traversée du Rio Grande au péril de leur vie. «Sans crédits supplémentaires, à moins de prendre des mesures extraordinaires, les agences ne disposeront pas des ressources suffisantes pour répondre à la situation de façon appropriée», a insisté la Maison-Blanche. Car sur le terrain, les besoins sont colossaux. Depuis le mois d’octobre, pas moins de 52.000 sans-papiers mineurs venus seuls, surtout d’Amérique centrale (Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador), ont été interpellés à la frontière entre le Mexique et les États-Unis. Sans compter les milliers d’autres arrêtés en compagnie de leurs proches. Le phénomène est loin d’être nouveau, mais les chiffres ont doublé par rapport à l’an dernier. Au total, plus de 90.000 enfants pourraient être interpellés cette année, soit 15 fois plus qu’en 2011, selon une note officielle. Ces enfants, parfois âgés de 3 ou 4 ans seulement, arrivent affamés, déshydratés, après un périple de plusieurs milliers de kilomètres. Ils se retrouvent dans «des conditions terribles», «n’ont pas de lit et dorment par terre», déplore auprès de l’AFP Domingo Gonzalo, membre de l’association Campaña Fronteriza qui oeuvre au Texas. La Croix-Rouge américaine a même dû venir en aide aux autorités en fournissant des couvertures et des kits d’hygiène pour les jeunes détenus, tandis que des bases militaires sont transformées en centres d’accueil d’urgence, en Californie ou au Texas. Parmi ces mineurs, beaucoup fuient la pauvreté, la violence liée au narcotrafic de leur pays. (…) Mais s’ils affluent à la frontière américaine, c’est que beaucoup disent être venus profiter d’une «nouvelle» loi qui leur donnerait des «permisos», des permis de séjour pour mineurs, une rumeur qui se répand depuis des mois dans ces pays d’Amérique centrale, à en croire des migrants interrogés par le New York Times. Rumeur alimentée par les passeurs qui profitent de ce trafic. Pour les républicains toutefois, le principal responsable de cet afflux massif s’appelle Barack Obama: avec son message pro-immigration, il a selon eux donné des espoirs aux jeunes clandestins. La reforme que défend le président prévoit en effet de faciliter un peu l’accès à la nationalité pour les enfants sans-papiers, contre un renforcement du contrôle de la frontière mexicaine. «Apparemment, on se passe le mot qu’une fois appréhendé par les agents à la frontière, grâce au laxisme de cette administration, on ne sera jamais expulsé», accuse ainsi le représentant républicain Bob Goodlatte. Le gouverneur du Texas Rick Perry estime que cette «crise humanitaire» menace la sécurité intérieure du pays. «La bonne décision est de mon point de vue d’expulser immédiatement» ces enfants. Comme l’a rappelé sur CNN un élu démocrate du Texas, Henry Cuellar, «si vous êtes Mexicain, vous êtes renvoyés (…) mais si vous venez d’un pays qui n’est pas frontalier avec les Etats-Unis comme les pays d’Amérique centrale, alors la loi dit que vous devez être pris en charge par les services fédéraux de la Santé et qu’ils vont vous placer» dans un centre d’accueil ou une famille. Or pour le républicain Rick Perry, «leur permettre de rester ne fera qu’encourager le prochain groupe à entreprendre ce très dangereux voyage». (…) Les démocrates rappellent aussi que leur plan prévoyait la construction de centaines de kilomètres de nouvelles barrières frontalières et le renforcement du nombre de policiers. Visiblement dépassée par l’ampleur du phénomène, l’administration Obama répète que la plupart de ces enfants clandestins ne seront pas autorisés à rester dans le pays. Le président s’est même adressé aux parents d’Amérique centrale le mois dernier dans une interview télévisée: «Notre message est sans équivoque: n’envoyez pas vos enfants seuls, sur des trains ou par des passeurs», a-t-il déclaré sur la chaîne américaine ABC. «S’ils réussissent à arriver ici, ils seront renvoyés. Mais surtout, ils risquent de ne pas arriver». Malgré ses efforts, des centaines de mineurs clandestins continuent de gagner la frontière chaque jour. Le Figaro (09/07/2014)
On peut parler aujourd’hui d’invasion arabe. C’est un fait social. Combien d’invasions l’Europe a connu tout au long de son histoire ! Elle a toujours su se surmonter elle-même, aller de l’avant pour se trouver ensuite comme agrandie par l’échange entre les cultures. Pape François
Je ne crois pas qu’il y ait aujourd’hui une peur de l’islam, en tant que tel, mais de Daech et de sa guerre de conquête, tirée en partie de l’islam. L’idée de conquête est inhérente à l’âme de l’islam, il est vrai. Mais on pourrait interpréter, avec la même idée de conquête, la fin de l’Évangile de Matthieu, où Jésus envoie ses disciples dans toutes les nations. (…) Devant l’actuel terrorisme islamiste, il conviendrait de s’interroger sur la manière dont a été exporté un modèle de démocratie trop occidentale dans des pays où il y avait un pouvoir fort, comme en Irak. Ou en Libye, à la structure tribale. On ne peut avancer sans tenir compte de cette culture.  (…) Sur le fond, la coexistence entre chrétiens et musulmans est possible. Je viens d’un pays où ils cohabitent en bonne familiarité. (…) En Centrafrique, avant la guerre, chrétiens et musulmans vivaient ensemble et doivent le réapprendre aujourd’hui. Le Liban aussi montre que c’est possible. Pape François
It is what our country is, it is a country of immigrants. We have not recently done a very good job of remembering who we are. My family were treated terribly and were not accepted and America learned to accept all these ideas. Being here talking with you is important to remind them of who we are and who we have always been which is you. You forget that these are people who didn’t just leave their country for no reason at all. These are people who left because a terrible tragedy. We always look around at the end of these tragedies and say if we knew, we would have done something and the reality is, of course we know. What is shocking to me is not that it happened but its continuing to happen for five years. It’s actually easy to dismiss giant numbers but it’s very hard to dismiss a young child sitting on the ground crying as her mother said, ‘If we die. I rather we die by a bullet because it would be quicker.’ George Clooney
When he became president he expressed America first. That is wrong; When I saw pictures of some of those young children, I was sad. America… should take a global responsibility. [But] European countries should take these refugees and give them education and training, and the aim is return to their own land with certain skills. (…) A limited number is OK, but the whole of Europe [will] eventually become Muslim country, African country – impossible. Dalai Lama
Je me qualifie de droite nationale, souverainiste, populaire, conservatrice. Le conservatisme tel que je l’entends et tel que l’entend François-Xavier Bellamy, et dans lequel peuvent se retrouver beaucoup de Français, est une sorte de disposition d’esprit qui consiste à vouloir conserver des héritages séculaires. Marion Maréchal
La scène est impressionnante. Dans la nuit de jeudi à vendredi, le commissariat de Val-de-Reuil-Louviers (Eure), au sud de Rouen, a été pris d’assaut par une bande de jeunes. Aux alentours de deux heures du matin, une quinzaine d’individus cagoulés ont attaqué l’établissement en lançant des projectiles en nombre, tirant également des mortiers, selon les rapports de police, consultés par Le Figaro. Sur les images de vidéosurveillance que nous avons pu consulter, on aperçoit deux agents de garde tenter de contenir les tirs des assaillants à l’aide de boucliers. En chemisette, les fonctionnaires ne semblent pas du tout préparés à un tel assaut. Des fumigènes, des «éléments pyrotechniques» de toutes les couleurs ainsi que des pavés sont jetés sur les policiers. Lors de l’assaut, plusieurs d’entre eux ont crié «Allah Akbar», d’autres insultant les forces de l’ordre. Les individus semblent déterminés à pénétrer dans le commissariat. Leurs attaques durent pendant environ une demie heure, à la fois contre les fonctionnaires et le bâtiment. Ceux-ci répliquent à l’aide de gaz lacrymogènes, avant que des policiers de la Brigade anticriminalité (BAC) et de la Direction départementale de la sécurité publique (DDSP) n’arrivent en renfort. Vers 2 heures 30, le calme est finalement revenu. Si aucun agent n’a été blessé, quelques dégâts matériels ont été constatés: trois vitres ont été touchées, un véhicule endommagé. Selon les premières investigations, les auteurs des faits sont des jeunes âgés de 15-20 ans. Lors de l’assaut, plusieurs d’entre eux ont crié «Allah Akbar», d’autres insultant les forces de l’ordre. «Bande d’enculés de Français», «Venez sortez on va vous cramer», ont scandé les suspects, cagoulés mais pas gantés, qui se sont enfuis à l’arrivée des renforts. Sur les lieux, les restes de 115 projectiles ont été retrouvés. L’attaque a suscité une vague de colère dans la profession. Dans un communiqué publié vendredi, le syndicat Alliance a dénoncé un assaut d’une «violence inouïe». Évoquant des «policiers à bout, au bord de la rupture», le syndicat s’inquiète de la situation de «souffrance» de ce commissariat de l’Eure, en manque d’effectifs et de moyens. D’après une source syndicale, contactée par Le Figaro, le même bâtiment avait été la cible d’une offensive du même type en juillet 2018. Le Figaro
Nobody would have the balls today to write ‘The Satanic Verses’, let alone publish it. Writing is now timid because writers are now terrified. Hanif Kureishi
What we are talking about here is not a system of formal censorship, under which the state bans works deemed offensive. Rather, what has developed is a culture of self-censorship in which the giving of offence has come to be seen as morally unacceptable. In the 20 years since the publication of The Satanic Verses the fatwa has effectively become internalised. Kenan Malik (2008)
It was after Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses that many Western publishing houses began bowing to Islamist intimidation. Christian Bourgois, a French publishing house that had bought the rights, refused to publish The Satanic Verses. It was the first time that, in the name of Islam, a writer was condemned to disappear from the face of the earth — to be murdered for a bounty. Rushdie is still with us, but the murder in 2004 of Theo van Gogh for producing and directing a film, « Submission », about Islamic violence toward women; the death of so many Arab-Islamic intellectuals guilty of writing freely, the Danish cartoon riots and the many trials (for instance, here and here) and attempted murders (such as here and here), the slaughter at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the attacks after Pope’s Benedict speech in Regensburg, the books and scripts cancelled, the depictions of Muhammad closeted in the warehouses of museums, and the increasing threats and punishments, including flogging, to countless journalists and writers such as Saudi Arabia’s Raif Badawi, should alarm us — not bring us to our knees. As the Saatchi Gallery’s capitulation shows, freedom of speech in Europe is now exhausted and weak. So far, we have caved in to Islamic extremists and Western appeasers. It is the tragic lesson of the Rushdie case 30 years later: no author would dare to write The Satanic Verses today; no large publishing house such as Penguin would print it; media attacks against « Islamophobes » would be even stronger, as would the bottomless betrayal of Western diplomats. Also today, thanks to social media as a weapon of censorship and implicit mass threats, any author would probably be less fortunate than Rushdie was 30 years ago. Since that time, we have made no progress. Instead, we have been seeing the jihad against The Satanic Verses over and over again. The Rushdie affair also seems to have deeply shaped British society. The Saatchi Gallery’s surrender in London is not unique. The Tate Britain gallery shelved a sculpture, « God is Great », by John Latham, of the Koran, Bible and Talmud embedded in glass. Christopher Marlowe’s « Tamburlaine the Great » was censored at the Barbican Centre. The play included a reference to the Prophet of Islam being « not worthy to be worshipped » as well as a scene in which the Koran is burned. The Whitechapel Art Gallery in London purged an exhibit containing nude dolls which could possibly have upset the Muslim population. At the Mall Galleries in London, a painting, « ISIS Threaten Sylvania », by the artist Mimsy, was censored for showing toy stuffed-animal terrorists about to massacre toy stuffed-animals having a picnic. At the Royal Court Theatre in London, Richard Bean was forced to censor himself for an adaptation of « Lysistrata », the Greek comedy in which the women go on a sex strike to stop the men who wanted to go to war. In Bean’s version, Islamic virgins go on strike to stop terrorist suicide bombers. Unfortunately, in the name of fighting « Islamophobia », the British establishment now appears to be submitting to creeping sharia: and purging and censoring speech on its own. Recently, some major conservative intellectuals have been sacked in the UK. One is the peerless philosopher Roger Scruton, who was fired from a governmental committee for saying that the word « Islamophobia » has been invented by the Muslim Brotherhood « to stop discussion of a major issue ». Then it was the turn of the great Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, whose visiting fellowship at Cambridge University was rescinded for posing with a man wearing an « I’m a proud Islamophobe » T-shirt. Professor Peterson later said that the word « Islamophobia » has been « partly constructed by people engaging in Islamic extremism, to ensure that Islam isn’t criticised as a structure ». The instances of Scruton and Peterson only confirm the real meaning of « Islamophobia », a word invented to silence any criticism of Islam by anyone, or as Salman Rushdie commented, a word « created to help the blind remain blind ». Where is the long-overdue push-back? Writing in 2008, The Telegraph’s Tim Walker quoted the famous playwright Simon Gray saying that Nicholas Hytner, director of London’s National Theatre from 2003-2015, « has been happy to offend Christians, » but « is wary of putting on anything which could upset Muslims. » The last people who did so were the journalists of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. They paid with their lives. By refusing to confront the speech police, or to support freedom of expression for Salman Rushdie, Roger Scruton, Jordan Peterson, Charlie Hebdo and Jyllands-Posten — just the tip of a huge iceberg — we have started down the road of submission to sharia law and to tyranny. We all have been covering up our supposedly « blasphemous » culture with burqas to avoid offending people who do not seem to mind offending us. Giulio Meotti (Il Foglio)
We have what I would call a concentration camp system and the definition of that in my book is, mass detention of civilians without trial. There’s this crystallization that happens. The longer they’re there, the worse conditions get. That’s just a universal of camps. They’re overcrowded. We already know from reports that they don’t have enough beds for the numbers that they have. As you see mental health crises and contagious diseases begin to set in, they’ll work to manage the worst of it. [But] then there will be the ability to tag these people as diseased, even if we created [those conditions]. Then we, by creating the camps, try to turn that population into the false image that we [used] to put them in the camps to start with. Over time, the camps will turn those people into what Trump was already saying they are. « What those camps had in common with what’s going on today is they involved the wholesale detention of families, separate or together, » Pitzer says. « There was very little in the way of targeted violence. Instead, people died from poor planning, overloaded facilities and unwillingness to reverse policy, even when it became apparent the policy wasn’t working, inability to get medical care to detainees, poor food quality, contagious diseases, showing up in an environment where it became almost impossible to get control of them. The point is that you don’t have to intend to kill everybody. When people hear the phrase ‘Oh, there’s concentration camps on the southern border,’ they think, ‘Oh, it’s not Auschwitz.’ Of course, it’s not those things, each camp system is different. But you don’t have to intend to kill everyone to have really bad outcomes. In Cuba, well over 100,000 civilians died in these camps in just a period of a couple years. In Southern Africa during the Boer War, fatalities went into the tens of thousands. And the overwhelming majority of them were children. Fatalities in the camps ended up being more than twice the combat fatalities from the war itself. There’s usually this crisis period that a camp system either survives or doesn’t survive in the first three or four years. If it goes past that length of time, they tend to continue for a really long time. And I think we have entered that crisis period. I don’t yet know if we’re out of it. Unless there’s some really decisive turn away, we’re going to be looking at having these camps for a long time. It’s particularly hard to engineer a decisive turn because these facilities are often remote, and hard to protest. They are not top-of-mind for most citizens, with plenty of other issues on the table. When Trump first instituted the Muslim Ban—now considered, in its third iteration, to be Definitely Not a Muslim Ban by the Supreme Court—there were mass demonstrations at U.S. airports because they were readily accessible by concerned citizens. These camps are not so easily reached, and that’s a problem. We have border patrol agents that are sometimes arresting U.S. citizens. That’s still very much a fringe activity. That doesn’t seem to be a dedicated priority right now, but it’s happening often enough. And they’re held, sometimes, for three or four days. Even when there are clear reasons that people should be let go, that they have proof of their identity, you’re seeing these detentions. You do start to worry about people who have legally immigrated and have finished paperwork, and maybe are naturalized. You worry about green-card holders. Let’s say there’s 20 hurdles that we have to get over before we get to someplace really, really, really bad. I think we’ve knocked 10 of them down. Andrea Pitzer (journalist)
What’s required is a little bit of demystification of it. Things can be concentration camps without being Dachau or Auschwitz. Concentration camps in general have always been designed—at the most basic level—to separate one group of people from another group. Usually, because the majority group, or the creators of the camp, deem the people they’re putting in it to be dangerous or undesirable in some way. At one point, [the administration] said that they were intentionally trying to split up families and make conditions unpleasant, so the people wouldn’t come to the U.S. If you’re doing that, then that’s not a prison. That’s not a holding area or a waiting area. That’s a policy. I would argue, at least in the way that [the camps are] being used now, a significant portion of the mentality is [tied to] who the [detainees] are rather than what they did. If these were Canadians flooding across the border, would they be treated in the same manner as the people from Mexico and from Central and South America? If the answer is yes, theoretically, then I would consider these places to be perhaps better described as transit camps or prison camps. But I suspect that’s not how they’d be treated, which then makes it much more about who the people are that you’re detaining, rather than what they did. The Canadian would have crossed the border just as illegally as the Mexican, but my suspicion is, would be treated in a different way. It’s a negative trajectory in at least two ways. One, I feel like these policies can snowball. We’ve already seen unintended consequences. If we follow the thread of the children, for example, the government wanted to make things more annoying, more painful. So they decided, We’re going to separate the children from the families. But there was no infrastructure in place for that. You already have a scenario where even if you have the best intentions, the infrastructure doesn’t exist to support it. That’s a consequence of policy that hasn’t been thought through. As you see the population begin to massively increase over time, you do start to see conditions diminishing. The second piece is that the longer you establish this sort of extralegal, extrajudicial, somewhat-invisible no-man’s land, the more you allow potentially a culture of abuse to develop within that place. Because the people who tend to become more violent, more prejudiced, whatever, have more and more free rein for that to become sort of the accepted behavior. Then, that also becomes a new norm that can spread throughout the system. There is sort of an escalation of individual initiative in violence. As it becomes clear that that is acceptable, then you have a self-fulfilling prophecy or a positive feedback loop that just keeps radicalizing the treatment as the policy itself becomes radicalizing. Waitman Wade Beorn (University of Virginia)
In the origins of the camps, it’s tied to the idea of martial law. I mean, all four of the early instances—Americans in the Philippines, Spanish in Cuba, and British in South Africa, and Germans in Southwest Africa—they’re all essentially overriding any sense of rights of the civilian population. And the idea is that you’re able to suspend normal law because it’s a war situation. It’s important here to look at the language that people are using. As soon as you get people comparing other groups to animals or insects, or using language about advancing hordes, and we’re being overrun and flooded and this sort of thing, it’s creating the sense of this enormous threat. And that makes it much easier to sell to people on the idea we’ve got to do something drastic to control this population which going to destroy us. « Unless there’s some really decisive turn away, we’re going to be looking at having these camps for a long time, » Pitzer says. It’s particularly hard to engineer a decisive turn because these facilities are often remote, and hard to protest. They are not top-of-mind for most citizens, with plenty of other issues on the table. When Trump first instituted the Muslim Ban—now considered, in its third iteration, to be Definitely Not a Muslim Ban by the Supreme Court—there were mass demonstrations at U.S. airports because they were readily accessible by concerned citizens. These camps are not so easily reached, and that’s a problem. The more authoritarian the regime is, and the more people allow governments to get away with doing this sort of thing politically, the worse the conditions are likely to get. So, a lot of it depends on how much pushback there is. But when you get a totally authoritarian regime like Stalin’s regime in the Soviet Union, there’s no control, or no countervailing force, the state can do what it likes, and certainly things will then tend to break down. It’s more of a political question, really. Are people prepared to tolerate the deteriorating conditions? And if public opinion isn’t effective in a liberal democratic situation, things can still get pretty bad. Jonathan Hyslop (Colgate University)
The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are. They are concentration camps, and if that doesn’t bother you . . . I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that we should not ⁠— that ‘never again’ means something. And that the fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the ‘Home of the Free’ is extraordinarily disturbing, and we need to do something about it. This week, children ⁠— immigrant children ⁠— were moved to the same internment camps where the Japanese were held in the early ⁠— in the earlier 20th century . . . This is not just about the immigrant communities being held in concentration camps being a crisis. This is a crisis for ourselves. This is a crisis on ⁠— if America will remain America in its actual principles and values or if we are losing to an authoritarian and fascist presidency. I don’t use those words lightly. I don’t use those words to just throw bombs. I use that word because that is what an administration that creates concentration camps is. A presidency that creates concentration camps is fascist, and it’s very difficult to say that. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez
This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying. And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps. Concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial. And that’s exactly what this administration is doing. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez
Cette administration a installé des camps de concentration à la frontière sud des États-Unis pour les immigrés, où ils sont brutalisés dans des conditions inhumaines et où ils meurent. Il ne s’agit pas d’une exagération. C’est la conclusion de l’analyse d’experts. Et à tous les républicains geignards qui ne connaissent pas la différence : les camps de concentration et les camps de la mort ne sont pas la même chose. Les camps de concentration sont considérés par les experts comme les lieux “de détention de masse de civils sans procès”  et c’est exactement ce que ce gouvernement fait. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez
Whether we call them concentration camps, mass detention centers or cages for children, they are a moral abomination. The real question is not what we call these mass detention sites growing all over the country, the question is: What is every government official and citizen doing to stop this evil? Our government is scapegoating, demonizing and terrorizing immigrants. These policies echo the worst of Jewish history and the worst of American history. Anyone distracting from these clear facts with manufactured outrage is subverting Jewish history and trauma, and that is shameful. Jewish Americans overwhelmingly reject the hateful, anti-immigrant policies being perpetrated by the very people pretending to be offended on our behalf. Stosh Cotler (Bend the Arc: Jewish Action)
As [a] historian of fascism & [the] Holocaust, I would also call these centers concentration camps. As a Jewish person who lost family in [the] Holocaust, I regret that some Republicans use memory of the Holocaust to defend racist policies of Trumpism. Federico Finchelstein (The New school)
I know what concentration camps are. I was inside two of them, in America. And yes, we are operating such camps again. George Takei
This nation has a long and tragic history of separating children from their parents, ever since the days of slavery. We must end this practice. It is barbaric. George Takei
On Monday, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referred to US border detention facilities as “concentration camps,” spurring a backlash in which critics accused her of demeaning the memory of those who died in the Holocaust. Debates raged over a label for what is happening along the southern border and grew louder as the week rolled on. But even this back-and-forth over naming the camps has been a recurrent feature in the mass detention of civilians ever since its inception, a history that long predates the Holocaust. At the heart of such policy is a question: What does a country owe desperate people whom it does not consider to be its citizens? The twentieth century posed this question to the world just as the shadow of global conflict threatened for the second time in less than three decades. The dominant response was silence, and the doctrine of absolute national sovereignty meant that what a state did to people under its control, within its borders, was nobody else’s business. After the harrowing toll of the Holocaust with the murder of millions, the world revisited its answer, deciding that perhaps something was owed to those in mortal danger. From the Fourth Geneva Convention protecting civilians in 1949 to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the international community established humanitarian obligations toward the most vulnerable that apply, at least in theory, to all nations. The twenty-first century is unraveling that response. Countries are rejecting existing obligations and meeting asylum seekers with walls and fences, from detainees fleeing persecution who were sent by Australia to third-party detention in the brutal offshore camps of Manus and Nauru to razor-wire barriers blocking Syrian refugees from entering Hungary. While some nations, such as Germany, wrestle with how to integrate refugees into their labor force—more and more have become resistant to letting them in at all. The latest location of this unwinding is along the southern border of the United States. So far, American citizens have gotten only glimpses of the conditions in the border camps that have been opened in their name. In the month of May, Customs and Border Protection reported a total of 132,887 migrants who were apprehended or turned themselves in between ports of entry along the southwest border, an increase of 34 percent from April alone. Upon apprehension, these migrants are temporarily detained by Border Patrol, and once their claims are processed, they are either released or handed over to ICE for longer-term detention. Yet Border Patrol itself is currently holding about 15,000 people, nearly four times what government officials consider to be this enforcement arm’s detention capacity. On June 12, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that Fort Sill, an Army post that hosted a World War II internment camp for detainees of Japanese descent, will now be repurposed to detain migrant children. In total, HHS reports that it is currently holding some 12,000 minors. Current law limits detention of minors to twenty days, though Senator Lindsey Graham has proposed expanding the court-ordered limit to 100 days. Since the post is on federal land, it will be exempt from state child welfare inspections. In addition to the total of detainees held by Border Patrol, an even higher number is detained at centers around the country by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency: on a typical day at the beginning of this month, ICE was detaining more than 52,500 migrants. The family separation policy outraged the public in the 2018, but despite legal challenges, it never fully ended. Less publicized have been the deaths of twenty-four adults in ICE custody since the beginning of the Trump administration; in addition, six children between the ages of two and sixteen have died in federal custody over the last several months. It’s not clear whether there have been other deaths that have gone unreported. (…) Even with incomplete information about what’s happening along the border today and what the government plans for these camps, history points to some conclusions about their future. Mass detention without trial earned a new name and a specific identity at the end of the nineteenth century. The labels then adopted for the practice were “reconcentración” and “concentration camps”—places of forced relocation of civilians into detention on the basis of group identity. Other kinds of group detention had appeared much earlier in North American history. The US government drove Native Americans from their homelands into prescribed exile, with death and detention in transit camps along the way. Some Spanish mission systems in the Americas had accomplished similar ends by seizing land and pressing indigenous people into forced labor. During the 245 years when slavery was legal in the US, detention was one of its essential features. Concentration camps, however, don’t typically result from the theft of land, as happened with Native Americans, or owning human beings in a system of forced labor, as in the slave trade. Exile, theft, and forced labor can come later, but in the beginning, detention itself is usually the point of concentration camps. By the end of the nineteenth century, the mass production of barbed wire and machines guns made this kind of detention possible and practical in ways it never had been before. (…) These early experiments with concentration camps took place on the periphery of imperial power, but accounts of them nevertheless made their way into newspapers and reports in many nations. As a result, the very idea of them came to be seen as barbaric. By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, the first camp systems had all been closed, and concentration camps had nearly vanished as an institution. Within months of the outbreak of World War I, though, they would be resurrected—this time rising not at the margins but in the centers of power. Between 1914 and 1918, camps were constructed on an unprecedented scale across six continents. In their time, these camps were commonly called concentration camps, though today they are often referred to by the more anodyne term “internment.” Those World War I detainees were, for the most part, foreigners—or, in legalese, aliens—and recent anti-immigration legislation in several countries had deliberately limited their rights. (…) Local camps appeared in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921, after a white mob burned down a black neighborhood and detained African-American survivors. In Bolshevik Russia, the first concentration camps preceded the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922 and planted seeds for the brutal Gulag system that became official near the end of the USSR’s first decade. While some kinds of camps were understood to be harsher, after World War I their proliferation did not initially disturb public opinion. They had yet to take on their worst incarnations. In 1933, barely more than a month after Hitler was appointed chancellor, the Nazis’ first, impromptu camp opened in the town of Nohra in central Germany to hold political opponents. Detainees at Nohra were allowed to vote at a local precinct in the elections of March 5, 1933, resulting in a surge of Communist ballots in the tiny town. Locking up groups of civilians without trial had become accepted. Only the later realization of the horrors of the Nazi death camps would break the default assumption by governments and the public that concentration camps could and should be a simple way to manage populations seen as a threat. However, the staggering death toll of the Nazi extermination camp system—which was created mid-war and stood almost entirely separate from the concentration camps in existence since 1933—led to another result: a strange kind of erasure. In the decades that followed World War II, the term “concentration camp” came to stand only for Auschwitz and other extermination camps. It was no longer applied to the kind of extrajudicial detention it had denoted for generations. The many earlier camps that had made the rise of Auschwitz possible largely vanished from public memory. It is not necessary, however, to step back a full century in American history to find camps with links to what is happening on the US border today. Detention at Guantánamo began in the 1990s, when Haitian and Cuban immigrants whom the government wanted to keep out of the United States were housed there in waves over a four-year period—years before the “war on terror” and the US policy of rendition of suspected “enemy combatants” made Camps Delta, X-Ray, and Echo notorious. Tens of thousands of Haitians fleeing instability at home were picked up at sea and diverted to the Cuban base, to limit their legal right to apply for asylum. The court cases and battles over the suffering of those detainees ended up setting the stage for what Guantánamo would become after September 11, 2001. In one case, a federal court ruled that it did have jurisdiction over the base, but the government agreed to release the Haitians who were part of the lawsuit in exchange for keeping that ruling off the books. A ruling in a second case would assert that the courts did not have jurisdiction. Absent the prior case, the latter stood on its own as precedent. Leaving Guantánamo in this gray area made it an ideal site for extrajudicial detention and torture after the twin towers fell. This process of normalization, when a bad camp becomes much more dangerous, is not unusual. Today’s border camps are a crueler reflection of long-term policies—some challenged in court—that earlier presidents had enacted. Prior administrations own a share of the responsibility for today’s harsh practices, but the policies in place today are also accompanied by a shameless willingness to publicly target a vulnerable population in increasingly dangerous ways. (..;) What kind of conditions can we expect to develop in these border camps? The longer a camp system stays open, the more likely it is that vital things will go wrong: detainees will contract contagious diseases and suffer from malnutrition and mental illness. We have already seen that current detention practices have resulted in children and adults succumbing to influenza, staph infections, and sepsis. The US is now poised to inflict harm on tens of thousands more, perhaps hundreds of thousands more. Along with such inevitable consequences, every significant camp system has introduced new horrors of its own, crises that were unforeseen when that system was opened. We have yet to discover what those will be for these American border camps. But they will happen. Every country thinks it can do detention better when it starts these projects. But no good way to conduct mass indefinite detention has yet been devised; the system always degrades. When, in 1940, Margarete Buber-Neumann was transferred from the Soviet Gulag at Karaganda to the camp for women at Ravensbrück (in an exchange enabled by the Nazi–Soviet Pact), she came from near-starvation conditions in the USSR and was amazed at the cleanliness and order of the Nazi camp. New arrivals were issued clothing, bedding, and silverware, and given fresh porridge, fruit, sausage, and jam to eat. Although the Nazi camps were already punitive, order-obsessed monstrosities, the wartime overcrowding that would soon overtake them had not yet made daily life a thing of constant suffering and squalor. The death camps were still two years away. The United States now has a vast and growing camp system. It is starting out with gruesome overcrowding and inadequate healthcare, and because of budget restrictions, has already taken steps to cut services to juvenile detainees. The US Office of Refugee Resettlement says that the mounting number of children arriving unaccompanied is forcing it to use military bases and other sites that it prefers to avoid, and that establishing these camps is a temporary measure. But without oversight from state child welfare inspectors, the possibilities for neglect and abuse are alarming. And without any knowledge of how many asylum-seekers are coming in the future, federal administrators are likely to find themselves boxed in to managing detention on military sites permanently. President Trump and senior White House adviser Stephen Miller appear to have purged the Department of Homeland Security of most internal opposition to their anti-immigrant policies. In doing so, that have removed even those sympathetic to the general approach taken by the White House, such as former Chief of Staff John Kelly and former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in order to escalate the militarization of the border and expand irregular detention in more systematic and punitive ways. This kind of power struggle or purge in the early years of a camp system is typical.  The disbanding of the Cheka, the Soviet secret police, in February 1922 and the transfer of its commander, Felix Dzerzhinsky, to head up an agency with control over only two prisons offered a hint of an alternate future in which extrajudicial detention would not play a central role in the fledgling Soviet republic. But Dzerzhinsky managed to keep control over the “special camps” in his new position, paving the way for the emergence of a camp-centered police state. In pre-war Germany in the mid-1930s, Himmler’s struggle to consolidate power from rivals eventually led him to make camps central to Nazi strategy. When the hardliners win, as they appear to have in the US, conditions tend to worsen significantly. Is it possible this growth in the camp system will be temporary and the improvised border camps will soon close? In theory, yes. But the longer they remain open, the less likely they are to vanish. When I visited the camps for Rohingya Muslims a year before the large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing began, many observers appeared to be confusing the possible and the probable. It was possible that the party of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi would sweep into office in free elections and begin making changes. It was possible that full democracy would come to all the residents of Myanmar, even though the government had stripped the Rohingya of the last vestiges of their citizenship. These hopes proved to be misplaced. Once there are concentration camps, it is always probable that things will get worse. The Philippines, Japanese-American internment, Guantánamo… we can consider the fine points of how the current border camps evoke past US systems, and we can see how the arc of camp history reveals the likelihood that the suffering we’re currently inflicting will be multiplied exponentially. But we can also simply look at what we’re doing right now, shoving bodies into “dog pound”-style detention pens, “iceboxes,” and standing room-only spaces. We can look at young children in custody who have become suicidal. How much more historical awareness do we really need? Andrea Pitzer
Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drew a firestorm of criticism this week after she appeared in an Instagram video claiming that the Trump administration « is running concentration camps on our southern border. » (…) Republican lawmakers were quick to push back against Ocasio-Cortez’s statement, which she repeated on Tuesday and Wednesday, arguing that the Congresswoman was disrespecting the memory of the 6 millions Jews who died in Nazi concentration camps by comparing these facilities to the ICE detention centers. But many experts were quick to point out that, by definition, the ICE detention facilities are concentration camps. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a concentration camp as, « a place where large numbers of people (such as prisoners of war, political prisoners, refugees, or the members of an ethnic or religious minority) are detained or confined under armed guard. »Many argue that this definition matches the detention centers currently set up on the southern border. « Why are they called concentration camps? Well, to state the obvious, it’s because large numbers of people are ‘concentrated’ in camps. A better question is, why don’t we just call them prisons? We don’t say ‘prisons’ because prisons are a part of the formal legal system, » Lester Andrist, a sociologist who has studied indefinite detention, tweeted. Andrist argues that the U.S. has a long history of establishing such facilities, including the Japanese-American internment camps that existed during World War II and, mostly recently, Guantanamo Bay. George Takei, the 82-year-old American actor of Japanese descent who is best known for his role in the Star Trek movies and television show, took to Twitter to share his perspective. « I know what concentration camps are. I was inside two of them, in America. And yes, we are operating such camps again, » the Takei tweeted. The Takei family was interned in Arkansas and California in the 1940s. Federico Finchelstein, a historian at the New York-based New School, agreed that the progressive congresswoman is right to call the ICE facilities concentration camps. « As [a] historian of fascism & [the] Holocaust, I would also call these centers concentration camps, » Finchelstein tweeted. « As a Jewish person who lost family in [the] Holocaust, I regret that some Republicans use memory of the Holocaust to defend racist policies of Trumpism. » In May, a top Pentagon official called China’s detention camps holding Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities « concentration camps » despite the fact that genocide has not been committed there. Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the holocaust, however, was one of the institutions that pushed back against Ocasio-Cortez’s claims. « Concentration camps assured a slave labor supply to help in the Nazi war effort, even as the brutality of life inside the camps helped assure the ultimate goal of ‘extermination through labor,' » the organization tweeted on Wednesday. But the young Congresswoman stood by her position, noting that concentration camps are not the same as extermination camps. Newsweek
Recent assertions by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., that U.S.-run detention centers for migrants are « concentration camps » drew immediate rebukes from some politicians, Jewish groups and social media users. « This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying. This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis, » she tweeted June 18. Her tweet didn’t specifically mention Nazi Germany, but she used the term « never again » on her Instagram, a phrase often used as a warning to prevent another genocide like the Holocaust. In a subsequent tweet, Ocasio-Cortez offered a distinction between « concentration camps » and « death camps. » « And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps. Concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial.’ And that’s exactly what this administration is doing. » (…) Historians we contacted said it was possible to make a case that the term « concentration camp » is a more general term than just referring to camps in Nazi Germany. However, these historians said Ocasio-Cortez glosses over some important differences. They also said that the strong, longstanding association of the term « concentration camps » with Nazi Germany likely overwhelms any technical similarities the two types of camps may have. We won’t rate this item on our Truth-O-Meter for that reason. (…) Nazi Germany was not the first nation to use concentration camps. The term dates from the eve of the 20th century, when it was used to describe policies used in at least three conflicts: South Africa’s Boer War, Spain’s campaign against Cuban insurrectionists and the United States’ campaign against Philippine insurgents. The intent was to « cut insurgents off from their support, » said David J. Silbey, a Cornell University historian. « It was an effective tactic, but a brutal one, uprooting people from their homes and often leading to mass outbreaks of disease and starvation among the captive populations. » Beginning in 1917, the Soviet Union used what were commonly known as « forced labor camps » to repress dissidents. The Soviets also forced people from the Baltic States and Poland into camps following their invasions of those countries in 1939. Germany established concentration camps shortly after Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. Contrary to the popular image of concentration camps as killing factories, most facilities were initially designed for slave labor. « Systematic killing didn’t begin until the invasion of the Soviet Union, and it wasn’t until the January 1942 Wannsee Conference that the Nazis formally decided on a policy of extermination, » said Stephen Shalom, a political scientist at William Paterson University. These became what historians often refer to as « death camps. » Over time, the distinction in the popular mind between the different types of camps blurred. The reality, though, is that the early camps produced deaths from neglect or overwork, rather than carrying out executions. « None of the camps were pleasant, but the death camps were certainly the worst, » said Lance Janda, a military historian at Cameron University. The United States operated camps to hold Japanese-Americans following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, which drove the U.S. into World War II. Though generally referred to as « internment camps » or « relocation camps, » these complexes have occasionally been referred to as « concentration camps, » including by Chief Justice John Roberts in 2018. The American Heritage Dictionary defines « concentration camp » as « a camp where persons are confined, usually without hearings and typically under harsh conditions, often as a result of their membership in a group the government has identified as dangerous or undesirable. » Ocasio-Cortez and her staff have pointed to such linguistic precedents to argue that U.S. detention camps for migrants can be reasonably described as « concentration camps. » Some scholars agree that similarities exist. « As historian of fascism & Holocaust, I would also call these centers concentrations camps, » tweeted The New School historian Federico Finchelstein. Colgate University sociologist Jonathan Hyslop, who was also quoted in an Esquire magazine article that Ocasio-Cortez has cited, told PolitiFact that the definition of « concentration camp » is more elastic than most people think. (…) Adult immigrants in federal custody who are either waiting to be deported or waiting for a resolution of their immigration case are held in government-run centers or other contracted facilities. Immigrant rights advocates have long warned about poor standards and the mistreatment of detainees at some detention facilities. Generally, information about detention facilities can be difficult to obtain, inconsistent and outdated, and overall lacking in transparency. The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security on June 3, 2019, issued a report detailing concerns about Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainee treatment and care at four detention facilities. The report is based on unannounced 2018 inspections, in which investigators « observed immediate risks or egregious violations of detention standards at facilities. » Among the issues documented: overly restrictive segregation, inadequate medical care, unreported security incidents, and significant food safety issues. (…) Overall, experts described the U.S. detention facilities as being far different from those of the earliest concentration camps, or from the Nazi camps — even from the ones that weren’t « death camps. » « The original purpose of concentration camps was to remove the populace from areas that were controlled or contested by guerrillas and thus deny the guerrillas popular support in its tangible forms — food, shelter, information, recruits, and so on, » said Texas A&M University historian Brian McAllister Linn. « This is not the purpose of the detention facilities in the Southwest. » Janda — who emphasized that he is unhappy with the current U.S. detention policy — nonetheless drew a distinction based on intent. « What we’re doing is just not the same as what the Nazis or the Soviets did, and it’s a disservice to people suffering under dictatorships around the world to act like it is, » Janda said. « We’re not rounding up legal citizens, or going after specific minority groups and holding them indefinitely to squash dissent. » Richard Breitman, an American University historian, was among several experts who said they would have avoided the term « concentration camp. » While the term « does show where abuse and dehumanization might lead, » he said, « it confuses more than it explains. » Politifact
People have become numbers, they’ve become statistics. People talk about immigrants in the absence of their humanity. As sad as it is, I think we need to show the photo. Fernando Garcia (Border Network for Human Rights)
I have avoided those kinds of photos all my career and in all my books. At a moment like this, maybe this step has to be taken. To me this is the official Stephen Miller portrait. Luis Alberto Urrea (novelist)
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) joins others who are disturbed and concerned over a tweet by the Associated Press which includes an exploitative and dehumanizing photograph of a father and child, drowned in the Rio Grande. (…) Men, women, and children cross the border daily often escaping terror with hopes of a better life, knowing the peril that awaits them as they attempt to make the long journey to America. The thoughtless use of this picture only seeks to take advantage of a sensational situation. Ultimately, NAHJ’s objection is not about the photograph. Instead, our protest encompasses a bigger picture about the way visual journalism is utilized. While pertinent to the struggles of migrant families crossing the border, the picture, as the “website card” is both insensitive and disrespectful. It dehumanizes the plight of a community that are risking their lives, and the lives of their families, out of desperation. Pushing people to look at a shocking image that isn’t in context, is not beneficial for the viewers, it is not beneficial for journalists, and it is absolutely detrimental to the immigrant community. National Ass. of Hispanic journalists
There didn’t seem much room for Democrats to move left on immigration, but they’ve found it. On the first night of the Democratic debates, Julian Castro made a big issue of his call to repeal Section 1325 of Title 8 of the United States Code, which says it’s a federal crime to enter the country without authorization. This felt like a ploy for attention from the periphery of the second-tier debate stage, yet last night seven out of the ten candidates raised their hands for the idea, including top contenders Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg. The collective posture of the party is getting closer and closer to open borders, only without embracing the label. (…) The repeal of Section 1325 would send a message of permissiveness that would create another incentive for migrants to come across the border, and remove a tool for going after coyotes (it can be difficult to prove their offense, so prosecuting them for illegal entry is a backstop). Section 1325 has been on the books for 90 years, and it reflects the commonsense view that entering the United States without lawful permission should be a crime. Yes, it’d still be a civil offense to be present in the United States without papers, and in theory, still possible to be deported — although this brings us to the rest of the Democratic approach to immigration. Asked if an illegal immigrant in the interior of the country who hasn’t committed another crime should be deported, Joe Biden replied that such a person “should not be the focus of deportation.” Kamala Harris said he “absolutely” should not be deported, and Representative Eric Swalwell said “that person can be part of this great American experience.” This is a promise to gut interior enforcement that, coupled with the latitudinarian attitude at the border, would be a huge step toward open borders. If there were any doubt that Democrats want to welcome illegal immigrants and treat them like U.S. citizens, seeing every single candidate on the stage last night promising to provide government health insurance to illegal immigrants removes it. This, obviously, would be even more of a magnet to illegal immigration, and would erode the difference between U.S. citizens and people who literally showed up the day before yesterday in violation of our laws. Besides, the U.S. government is under enough fiscal strain providing promised benefits to citizens and legal residents without, in effect, extending the safety net to some percentage of the population of Northern Triangle countries. The Democrats’ radicalism on immigration is certainly a political mistake that will give President Trump ready fodder next year. We’d say it’s impossible for Democrats to get any further out on this limb, but the next round of debates is only a month away. National Review
In this week’s Democratic debates, it wasn’t just individual candidates who presented themselves to the public. It was also the party itself. What conclusions should ordinary people draw about what Democrats stand for, other than a thunderous repudiation of Donald Trump, and how they see America, other than as a land of unscrupulous profiteers and hapless victims? Here’s what: a party that makes too many Americans feel like strangers in their own country. A party that puts more of its faith, and invests most of its efforts, in them instead of us. They speak Spanish. We don’t. They are not U.S. citizens or legal residents. We are. They broke the rules to get into this country. We didn’t. They pay few or no taxes. We already pay most of those taxes. They willingly got themselves into debt. We’re asked to write it off. They don’t pay the premiums for private health insurance. We’re supposed to give up ours in exchange for some V.A.-type nightmare. They didn’t start enterprises that create employment and drive innovation. We’re expected to join the candidates in demonizing the job-creators, breaking up their businesses and taxing them to the hilt. (…) On closer inspection, the message got even worse. Promising access to health insurance for north of 11 million undocumented immigrants at a time when there’s a migration crisis at the southern border? Every candidate at Thursday’s debate raised a hand for that one, in what was surely the evening’s best moment for the Trump campaign. Calling for the decriminalization of border crossings (while opposing a wall)? That was a major theme of Wednesday’s debate, underlining the Republican contention that Democrats are a party of open borders, limitless amnesty and, in time, the Third World-ization of America.  (…) Eliminating private health insurance, an industry that employs more than 500,000 workers and insures 150 million?  (…) Since Democrats are already committed to destroying the coal industry and seem inclined to turn Silicon Valley into a regulated utility, it’s worth asking: Just how much of the private economy are they even willing to keep? And then there are the costs that Democrats want to impose on the country. Warren, for instance, favors universal child care (estimated cost, $70 billion a year), Medicare-For-All ($2.8 trillion to $3.2 trillion annually), student-debt cancellation and universal free college ($125 billion annually), and a comprehensive climate action plan ($2 trillion, including $100 billion in aid to poor countries), along with a raft of smaller giveaways, like debt relief for Puerto Rico. As Everett Dirksen might have said: A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money. Someone will have to pay for all this, and it won’t just be the very rich making between seven and 10 figures a year. It will be you. Throughout the debates, I kept wondering if any of the leading candidates would speak to Americans beyond the Democratic base. Bret Stevens
A gentleman of early middle age in Kansas City wrote to say he’d sat out the 2016 election because he was dissatisfied with both parties. But now he’s for Donald Trump, and the reason “runs deeper than politics.” America’s elites in politics, media and the academy have grown oblivious to “the average Joe’s intense disgust” at being morally instructed and “preached to.” (…) and (…) “in Donald Trump, voters found a massive sledgehammer that pulverizes the ridiculous notion that Americans aren’t good enough.” Mr. Trump doesn’t buy the guilt narrative. “It’s surely not about the man at this point. It stopped being about Trump long ago. It is about that counter-punch that has been missing from our culture for far too long.” (…) A reader who grew up upper-middle-class in the South writes on the politics of the situation. His second wife, also a Southerner, grew up poor. She is a former waitress and bartender whose politics he characterizes as “pragmatic liberal.” (…) “She told me, ‘He speaks my language, and there’s a lot more of me than there is of you.’ ” I have to say after a week of reading such letters that emotionally this cycle feels like 2016 all over again. Various facts are changed (no Mrs. Clinton) but the same basic dynamic pertains—the two Americas talking past each other, the social and cultural resentments, the great estrangement. It’s four years later but we’re re-enacting the trauma of 2016. And the Democrats again appear to be losing the thread. They’ve spent the past few months giving the impression they are in a kind of passionate lockstep with a part of their base, the progressives, and detached from everyone else. And in the debates they doubled down. (…) what Night One did was pick up the entire party and put it down outside the mainstream and apart from the center. (…) They are, functionally, in terms of the effects of their stands, for open borders. They are in complete agreement with the abortion regime—no reservations or qualms, no sense of just or civilized limits. They’re all in on identity politics. One candidate warned against denying federally funded abortions to “a trans female.” Two said they would do away with all private health insurance. Every party plays to its base in the primaries and attempts to soften its stands in the general. But I’m wondering how the ultimate nominee thinks he or she will walk this all back. It is too extreme for America, and too extreme for the big parts of its old base that the Democrats forgot in 2016. It was as if they were saying, “Hi, middle-American people who used to be Democrats and voted for Trump, we intend to alienate you again. Go vote for that jerk, we don’t care.” Another problem: America has a painful distance between rich and poor, but it is hard to pound the “1%” hammer effectively in a nation enjoying functional full employment. Our prosperity is provisional and could leave tomorrow, but right now America’s feeling stronger. “Grapes of Wrath” rhetoric resonates when people think they’re in or entering a recession or depression. The debaters Wednesday night looked like they were saying, “Who ya gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?” (…) Night two was more raucous but similarly extreme. The first 15 minutes included higher taxes, free college and student-loan forgiveness. Most candidates agreed on free health insurance for illegal immigrants. They also appeared to believe that most or all U.S. immigration law should be abolished. (…) It was an odd evening in that it was lively, spirited, at moments even soulful, and yet so detached from reality. Peggy Noonan
If you want to know why there’s a surge at the border it’s not just because things are bad in Central America. It’s because we’re giving away permanent residence, free school, and maybe soon free health care, etc. to anyone who arrives. (…) I don’t think most Americans agree with open borders. That’s still a fringe position. But as long as the left can label opposition to open borders racist, a lot of people will hesitate to speak up in opposition to it. And as long as the media lets Dems talk as if there is only upside to illegal immigration, most people won’t ever hear about what all this generosity is costing them. John Sexton
There is now a photograph that sums up everything wrong about America’s broken and overwhelmed immigration system. You’ve seen it, and it is hard to let it leave the mind or the conscience. Together with the accounts of horrifying abuse of children in detention — and “abuse” is not hyperbole — we can see the crisis as it is. We can no longer look away. The starkness of the crisis is a good thing, though. Until now, many have denied that any crisis existed at all. They have, in fact, denied that the highest levels of mass immigration since the Bush years are an issue at all. As Byron York has noted, Speaker Pelosi called the arrival of close to a million asylum seekers “a fake crisis”; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that hundreds of thousands of men, women, and many children, overwhelming any attempt to process them with the current resources, was “a crisis that does not exist.” This included many Never-Trumpers, like Bill Kristol (“a fake crisis”), and Max Boot (“a faux crisis”). The editors of the Washington Post denied the facts reported by their own Nick Miroff, claiming it was “a make-believe crisis.” None of these people will admit they were gravely mistaken, or that their denial and delay in acting clearly exacerbated the situation. But now that we’re on the same page, the question is: Where do we go with this now? (…) Since 2014, there has been a 240 percent increase in asylum cases. As Fareed Zakaria has pointed out, the number of asylum cases from Honduras, Guatemala, and Venezuela has soared at the same time as the crime rate in those countries was being cut in half. (…) But somehow the courts have decided that you qualify for asylum if there is simply widespread crime or violence where you live, and Ramirez was also going to use that argument as well. A government need not persecute you; you just have to experience an unsafe environment that your government is failing to suppress. This so expands the idea of asylum, in my view, as to render it meaningless. Courts have also expanded asylum to include domestic violence, determining that women in abusive relationships are a “particular social group” and thereby qualify. In other words, every woman on the planet who has experienced domestic abuse can now come to America and claim asylum. Also everyone on the planet who doesn’t live in a stable, orderly, low-crime society. Literally billions of human beings now have the right to asylum in America. As climate change worsens, more will rush to claim it. All they have to do is show up. Last month alone, 144,000 people were detained at the border making an asylum claim. This year, about a million Central Americans will have relocated to the U.S. on those grounds. To add to this, a big majority of the candidates in the Democratic debates also want to remove the grounds for detention at all, by repealing the 1929 law that made illegal entry a criminal offense and turning it into a civil one. And almost all of them said that if illegal immigrants do not commit a crime once they’re in the U.S., they should be allowed to become citizens. How, I ask, is that not practically open borders? The answer I usually get is that all these millions will have to, at some point, go to court hearings and have their asylum cases adjudicated. The trouble with that argument is that only 44 percent actually turn up for their hearings; and those who do show up and whose claims nonetheless fail can simply walk out of the court and know they probably won’t be deported in the foreseeable future. Immigration and Customs Enforcement forcibly removed 256,086 people in 2018, 57 percent of whom had committed crimes since they arrived in the U.S. So that’s an annual removal rate of 2 percent of the total undocumented population of around 12 million. That means that for 98 percent of undocumented aliens, in any given year, no consequences will follow for crossing the border without papers. At the debates this week, many Democratic candidates argued that the 43 percent of deportees who had no criminal record in America should not have been expelled at all and been put instead on a path to citizenship. So that would reduce the annual removal rate of illegal immigrants to a little more than 1 percent per year. In terms of enforcement of the immigration laws, this is a joke. It renders the distinction between a citizen and a noncitizen close to meaningless. None of this reality was allowed to intervene in the Democratic debates this week. (…) What emerged was their core message to the world: Get here without papers and you’ll receive humane treatment while you’re processed, you’ll never be detained, you’ll get work permits immediately, and you’ll have access to publicly funded health care and a path to citizenship if you don’t commit a crime. This amounts to an open invitation to anyone on the planet to just show up and cross the border. The worst that can happen is you get denied asylum by a judge, in which case you can just disappear and there’s a 1 percent chance that you’ll be caught in a given year. Who wouldn’t take those odds? This is in a new century when the U.S. is trying to absorb the largest wave of new immigrants in our entire history, and when the percentage of the population that is foreign-born is also near a historic peak. It is also a time when mass immigration from the developing world has destabilized liberal democracies across the West, is bringing illiberal, anti-immigration regimes to power across Europe, and was the single biggest reason why Donald Trump is president. I’m told that, as a legal immigrant, I’m shutting the door behind me now that I’ve finally made it to citizenship. I’m not. I favor solid continuing legal immigration, but also a reduction in numbers and a new focus on skills in an economy where unskilled labor is increasingly a path to nowhere. It is not strange that legal immigrants — who have often spent years and thousands of dollars to play by the rules — might be opposed to others’ jumping the line. It is not strange that a hefty proportion of Latino legal immigrants oppose illegal immigration — they are often the most directly affected by new, illegal competition, which drives down their wages. (…) When I’m told only white racists favor restrictionism, I note how the Mexican people are more opposed to illegal immigration than Americans: In a new poll, 61.5 percent of Mexicans oppose the entry of undocumented migrants, period; 44 percent believe that Mexico should remove any undocumented alien immediately. Are Mexicans now white supremacists too? That hostility to illegal immigration may even explain why Trump’s threat to put tariffs on Mexico if it didn’t crack down may well have worked. Since Trump’s bluster, the numbers have measurably declined — and the crackdown is popular in Mexico. I can also note that most countries outside Western Europe have strict immigration control and feel no need to apologize for it. Are the Japanese and Chinese “white supremacists”? Please. Do they want to sustain their own culture and national identity? Sure. Is that now the equivalent of the KKK? Andrew Sullivan
Résidence permanente, scolarité et soins gratuits, élargissement toujours plus large des critères d’accueil jusqu’à la violence domestique, décriminalisation de l’entrée illégale …
Y-a-t-il une mesure pro-migrants clandestins que les Démocrates n’auront pas préconisée ?
A l’heure où en Europe, sur fond d’une soumission à une police de la pensée de plus en plus étouffante, les attaques de commissariat aux cris d’Allahu akbar commencent à se banaliser …
Où une militante écologiste se fait mousser sur le dos d’une quarantaine de migrants clandestins …
Alors que les caméras de Frontex viennent de démontrer les véritables mises en scène auxquelles se livrent les passeurs …
Et que sur fond d’une immigration sauvage complètement hors contrôle – jusqu’à l’arrestation de djihadistes égyptiens au Nicaragua …
Le NYT nous refait sur le Rio Grande (avant probablement Hollywood ?) le coup du petit noyé syrien de Méditerrannée
Pendant que pour un problème qui date principalement de l’Administration Obama, chercheurs, célébrités et parlementaires voient des camps nazis ou de l’esclavage partout …
Comment ne pas être frappé …
De l’incroyable légèreté des candidats démocrates pour la présidentielle de l’an prochain …
Qui après avoir passé deux ans à nier la réalité de la crise migratoire en sont …
Comme le rappellent l’ancien blogueur Andrew Sullivan ou l’ancienne plume de Reagan Peggy Noonan

A nier la réalité elle-même ?

New York magazine

There is now a photograph that sums up everything wrong about America’s broken and overwhelmed immigration system. You’ve seen it, and it is hard to let it leave the mind or the conscience. Together with the accounts of horrifying abuse of children in detention — and “abuse” is not hyperbole — we can see the crisis as it is. We can no longer look away.

The starkness of the crisis is a good thing, though. Until now, many have denied that any crisis existed at all. They have, in fact, denied that the highest levels of mass immigration since the Bush years are an issue at all. As Byron York has noted, Speaker Pelosi called the arrival of close to a million asylum seekers “a fake crisis”; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that hundreds of thousands of men, women, and many children, overwhelming any attempt to process them with the current resources, was “a crisis that does not exist.” This included many Never-Trumpers, like Bill Kristol (“a fake crisis”), and Max Boot (“a faux crisis”). The editors of the Washington Post denied the facts reported by their own Nick Miroff, claiming it was “a make-believe crisis.”

None of these people will admit they were gravely mistaken, or that their denial and delay in acting clearly exacerbated the situation. But now that we’re on the same page, the question is: Where do we go with this now?

Yesterday was a sign of real bipartisan progress. The House passed a Senate bill to spend $4.6 billion to relieve the humanitarian crisis and tackle some of the structural inadequacies of the current failed system. The left wing of the Democratic caucus wanted to insist on various restrictions on the use of the $4.6 billion, primarily to ensure that none of it is earmarked (God forbid) for enforcement of the law. The problem with waging a longer fight would be that Congress would break for its July 4 recess having done nothing to help. Pelosi put children before politics, and it’s hard not to admire her humane pragmatism.

So it’s a start. What’s next? The good news is that the Democrats are finally beginning to announce policy plans that offer some solid ideas. A new bill for an overhaul of the entire system called the Northern Triangle and Border Stabilization Act has been introduced in the House. It proposes increased U.S. aid to Central American countries, to tackle the problem at its roots; a big investment in border facilities to ensure far more humane treatment of asylum seekers; a much stricter monitoring system to keep track of them after processing to make sure they turn up for their court hearings; many more immigration judges to reduce the massive backlog of cases; and it allows for asylum claims to be made in home countries, rather than at the border.

These are all good ideas and certainly worth trying. But what they don’t address is the larger problem of how to reduce levels of mass immigration. The Democrats want to raise the cap on refugees from Central America to 100,000 a year and propose no tightening of asylum law. But it’s the asylum law that needs to change. Since 2014, there has been a 240 percent increase in asylum cases. As Fareed Zakaria has pointed out, the number of asylum cases from Honduras, Guatemala, and Venezuela has soared at the same time as the crime rate in those countries was being cut in half.

Take the tragic tale of Oscar Ramirez and his young daughter Valeria, the father and daughter captured in death in that heartbreaking photograph. Ramirez’s widow explained to the Washington Post why her husband wanted to move to America: He wanted “a better future for their girl.” This is an admirable goal, but it is classic economic immigration, and it would appear, based on what we know, that it has absolutely nothing to do with asylum. Here again is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services definition: “Refugee status or asylum may be granted to people who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.”

But somehow the courts have decided that you qualify for asylum if there is simply widespread crime or violence where you live, and Ramirez was also going to use that argument as well. A government need not persecute you; you just have to experience an unsafe environment that your government is failing to suppress. This so expands the idea of asylum, in my view, as to render it meaningless.

Courts have also expanded asylum to include domestic violence, determining that women in abusive relationships are a “particular social group” and thereby qualify. In other words, every woman on the planet who has experienced domestic abuse can now come to America and claim asylum. Also everyone on the planet who doesn’t live in a stable, orderly, low-crime society. Literally billions of human beings now have the right to asylum in America. As climate change worsens, more will rush to claim it. All they have to do is show up.

Last month alone, 144,000 people were detained at the border making an asylum claim. This year, about a million Central Americans will have relocated to the U.S. on those grounds. To add to this, a big majority of the candidates in the Democratic debates also want to remove the grounds for detention at all, by repealing the 1929 law that made illegal entry a criminal offense and turning it into a civil one. And almost all of them said that if illegal immigrants do not commit a crime once they’re in the U.S., they should be allowed to become citizens.

How, I ask, is that not practically open borders? The answer I usually get is that all these millions will have to, at some point, go to court hearings and have their asylum cases adjudicated. The trouble with that argument is that only 44 percent actually turn up for their hearings; and those who do show up and whose claims nonetheless fail can simply walk out of the court and know they probably won’t be deported in the foreseeable future.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement forcibly removed 256,086 people in 2018, 57 percent of whom had committed crimes since they arrived in the U.S. So that’s an annual removal rate of 2 percent of the total undocumented population of around 12 million. That means that for 98 percent of undocumented aliens, in any given year, no consequences will follow for crossing the border without papers. At the debates this week, many Democratic candidates argued that the 43 percent of deportees who had no criminal record in America should not have been expelled at all and been put instead on a path to citizenship. So that would reduce the annual removal rate of illegal immigrants to a little more than 1 percent per year. In terms of enforcement of the immigration laws, this is a joke. It renders the distinction between a citizen and a noncitizen close to meaningless.

None of this reality was allowed to intervene in the Democratic debates this week. At one point, one moderator tellingly spoke about Obama’s record of deporting ” 3 million Americans.” In that bubble, there were no negatives to mass immigration at all, and no concern for existing American citizens’ interests in not having their wages suppressed through this competition. There was no concession that child separation and “metering” at the border to slow the crush were both innovated by Obama, trying to manage an overwhelmed system. Candidates vied with each other to speak in Spanish. Every single one proposed amnesty for all those currently undocumented in the U.S., except for criminals. Every single one opposes a wall. There was unanimous support for providing undocumented immigrants immediately with free health care. There was no admission that Congress needed to tighten asylum law. There was no concern that the Flores decision had massively incentivized bringing children to game the system, leaving so many vulnerable to untold horrors on a journey no child should ever be forced to make.

What emerged was their core message to the world: Get here without papers and you’ll receive humane treatment while you’re processed, you’ll never be detained, you’ll get work permits immediately, and you’ll have access to publicly funded health care and a path to citizenship if you don’t commit a crime. This amounts to an open invitation to anyone on the planet to just show up and cross the border. The worst that can happen is you get denied asylum by a judge, in which case you can just disappear and there’s a 1 percent chance that you’ll be caught in a given year. Who wouldn’t take those odds?

This is in a new century when the U.S. is trying to absorb the largest wave of new immigrants in our entire history, and when the percentage of the population that is foreign-born is also near a historic peak. It is also a time when mass immigration from the developing world has destabilized liberal democracies across the West, is bringing illiberal, anti-immigration regimes to power across Europe, and was the single biggest reason why Donald Trump is president.

I’m told that, as a legal immigrant, I’m shutting the door behind me now that I’ve finally made it to citizenship. I’m not. I favor solid continuing legal immigration, but also a reduction in numbers and a new focus on skills in an economy where unskilled labor is increasingly a path to nowhere. It is not strange that legal immigrants — who have often spent years and thousands of dollars to play by the rules — might be opposed to others’ jumping the line. It is not strange that a hefty proportion of Latino legal immigrants oppose illegal immigration — they are often the most directly affected by new, illegal competition, which drives down their wages.

I’m told that I’m a white supremacist for believing in borders, nation-states, and a reduction in legal immigration to slow the pace of this country’s demographic revolution. But I support this because I want a more successful integration and Americanization of immigrants, a better future for skilled immigrants, and I want to weaken the populist and indeed racist movements that have taken the West by storm in the past few years. It’s because I loathe white supremacy that I favor moderation in this area.

When I’m told only white racists favor restrictionism, I note how the Mexican people are more opposed to illegal immigration than Americans: In a new poll, 61.5 percent of Mexicans oppose the entry of undocumented migrants, period; 44 percent believe that Mexico should remove any undocumented alien immediately. Are Mexicans now white supremacists too? That hostility to illegal immigration may even explain why Trump’s threat to put tariffs on Mexico if it didn’t crack down may well have worked. Since Trump’s bluster, the numbers have measurably declined — and the crackdown is popular in Mexico. I can also note that most countries outside Western Europe have strict immigration control and feel no need to apologize for it. Are the Japanese and Chinese “white supremacists”? Please. Do they want to sustain their own culture and national identity? Sure. Is that now the equivalent of the KKK?

The Democrats’ good ideas need to be put in contact with this bigger question if they are to win wider support. In the U.S. in the 21st century, should anyone who enters without papers and doesn’t commit a crime be given a path to citizenship? Should all adversely affected by climate change be offered a path to citizenship if they make it to the border? Should every human living in violent, crime-ridden neighborhoods or countries be granted asylum in America? Is there any limiting principle at all?

I suspect that the Democrats’ new position — everyone in the world can become an American if they walk over the border and never commit a crime — is political suicide. I think the courts’ expansion of the meaning of asylum would strike most Americans as excessively broad. I think many Americans will have watched these debates on immigration and concluded that the Democrats want more immigration, not less, that they support an effective amnesty of 12 million undocumented aliens as part of loosening border enforcement and weakening criteria for citizenship. And the viewers will have realized that their simple beliefs that borders should be enforced and that immigration needs to slow down a bit are viewed by Democrats as unthinkable bigotry.

Advantage Trump.

Voir aussi:

The 2020 Democrats Lack Hindsight
They ignore reality and march in lockstep with their base. Did they learn anything from 2016?
Peggy Noonan
June 28, 2019

I’ve received tens of thousands of letters and other communications from Trump supporters the past few years, some of which have sparked extended dialogues. Two I got after last week’s column struck me as pertinent to this moment, and they make insufficiently appreciated points.
A gentleman of early middle age in Kansas City wrote to say he’d sat out the 2016 election because he was dissatisfied with both parties. But now he’s for Donald Trump, and the reason “runs deeper than politics.”
America’s elites in politics, media and the academy have grown oblivious to “the average Joe’s intense disgust” at being morally instructed and “preached to.”
“Every day, Americans are told of the endless ways they are falling short. If we don’t show the ‘proper’ level of understanding according to a talking head, then we are surely racist. If we don’t embrace every sanitized PC talking point, then we must be heartless. If we have the audacity to speak our mind, then we are most definitely a bigot.” These accusations are relentless.
“We are jabbed like a boxer with no gloves on to defend us. And we are fed up. We are tired of being told we aren’t good enough.” He believes the American people are by nature kind and generous—“they would give you the shirt off their back if you were in trouble”—and that “in Donald Trump, voters found a massive sledgehammer that pulverizes the ridiculous notion that Americans aren’t good enough.” Mr. Trump doesn’t buy the guilt narrative.
“It’s surely not about the man at this point. It stopped being about Trump long ago. It is about that counter-punch that has been missing from our culture for far too long.”
The culture of accusation, he says, is breaking us apart.
A reader who grew up upper-middle-class in the South writes on the politics of the situation. His second wife, also a Southerner, grew up poor. She is a former waitress and bartender whose politics he characterizes as “pragmatic liberal.” They watched Mr. Trump’s 2015 announcement together, and he said to her, “He doesn’t have a chance.” She looked at him “with complete conviction” and said, “He’s going to win.”
As the campaign progressed, she never wavered. At the end, with the polls saying Hillary, “I asked my wife how she could be so certain Trump was going to win.” He found her response “astute and telling.”
“She told me, ‘He speaks my language, and there’s a lot more of me than there is of you.’ ”
I have to say after a week of reading such letters that emotionally this cycle feels like 2016 all over again. Various facts are changed (no Mrs. Clinton) but the same basic dynamic pertains—the two Americas talking past each other, the social and cultural resentments, the great estrangement. It’s four years later but we’re re-enacting the trauma of 2016.
And the Democrats again appear to be losing the thread.
They’ve spent the past few months giving the impression they are in a kind of passionate lockstep with a part of their base, the progressives, and detached from everyone else.
And in the debates they doubled down. Both nights had fizz. There was a lot of earnestness and different kinds of brightness.
But what Night One did was pick up the entire party and put it down outside the mainstream and apart from the center.
This is what the candidates said:
They are, functionally, in terms of the effects of their stands, for open borders.
They are in complete agreement with the abortion regime—no reservations or qualms, no sense of just or civilized limits.
They’re all in on identity politics. One candidate warned against denying federally funded abortions to “a trans female.”
Two said they would do away with all private health insurance.
Every party plays to its base in the primaries and attempts to soften its stands in the general. But I’m wondering how the ultimate nominee thinks he or she will walk this all back. It is too extreme for America, and too extreme for the big parts of its old base that the Democrats forgot in 2016.
It was as if they were saying, “Hi, middle-American people who used to be Democrats and voted for Trump, we intend to alienate you again. Go vote for that jerk, we don’t care.”
Another problem: America has a painful distance between rich and poor, but it is hard to pound the “1%” hammer effectively in a nation enjoying functional full employment. Our prosperity is provisional and could leave tomorrow, but right now America’s feeling stronger.
“Grapes of Wrath” rhetoric resonates when people think they’re in or entering a recession or depression. The debaters Wednesday night looked like they were saying, “Who ya gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?”
After these big facts, candidate-by-candidate analysis seems secondary. Beto O’Rourke’s fatuous, self-actualizing journey makes the Democrats look sillier than they have to. Elizabeth Warren was focused and energetic, and her call to break up concentrations of power, including big tech, was strong and timely. She made a terrible mistake in holding to her intention to do away with private health insurance. An estimated 180 million Americans have such policies. Why force potential supporters to choose between her and their family’s insurance? Who does she think is going to win that? Why put as the headline on your plan, “This is what I’m going to take away from you”? Why would she gamble a serious long-term candidacy on such a vow? It is insane.
If she is extremely lucky Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won’t endorse her soon and make it worse.
Bill de Blasio had the best moment in the first half-hour, suggesting Democrats shouldn’t bicker about policy differences but instead unite as progressives. He has that air of burly, happy aggression that is the special province of idiots. Tulsi Gabbard broke through when it became clear she was the only explicitly antiwar candidate on the stage; this had the interesting effect of showing the others up.
Night two was more raucous but similarly extreme. The first 15 minutes included higher taxes, free college and student-loan forgiveness. Most candidates agreed on free health insurance for illegal immigrants. They also appeared to believe that most or all U.S. immigration law should be abolished.
The big dawgs did OK. If Kamala Harris was not a big dawg, she is now. Joe Biden sort of held his own but seemed to flag. Bernie Sanders seemed not as interesting as last cycle, more crotchety and irritable.
Eric Swalwell’s uncorking of a memory from when he was 6—ol’ Sen. Biden came to town and talked about passing the torch to younger leaders—was an attempt at slyness that so widely missed its mark, was so inelegant and obvious, that it was kind of fabulous. By the end of the night Mr. Swalwell had flamed out from sheer obnoxiousness.
The nonpolitician Marianne Williamson was delightfully unshy, sincere and, until her daffy closing statement, sympathetic. Kirsten Gillibrand yippily interrupted—“It’s my turn!”—and did herself no good.
It was an odd evening in that it was lively, spirited, at moments even soulful, and yet so detached from reality.
Voir également:

A Wretched Start for Democrats
The party seems interested in helping everyone except the voters it needs.
Bret Stephens
The New York Times
June 28, 2019

Amigos demócratas, Si ustedes siguen así, van a perder las elecciones. Y lo merecerán.
Translation for the linguistically benighted: “Democratic friends, if you go on like this, you’re going to lose the elections. And you’ll deserve it.

In this week’s Democratic debates, it wasn’t just individual candidates who presented themselves to the public. It was also the party itself. What conclusions should ordinary people draw about what Democrats stand for, other than a thunderous repudiation of Donald Trump, and how they see America, other than as a land of unscrupulous profiteers and hapless victims?

Here’s what: a party that makes too many Americans feel like strangers in their own country. A party that puts more of its faith, and invests most of its efforts, in them instead of us.

They speak Spanish. We don’t. They are not U.S. citizens or legal residents. We are. They broke the rules to get into this country. We didn’t. They pay few or no taxes. We already pay most of those taxes. They willingly got themselves into debt. We’re asked to write it off. They don’t pay the premiums for private health insurance. We’re supposed to give up ours in exchange for some V.A.-type nightmare. They didn’t start enterprises that create employment and drive innovation. We’re expected to join the candidates in demonizing the job-creators, breaking up their businesses and taxing them to the hilt.

That was the broad gist of the Democratic message, in which the only honorable exceptions, like Maryland’s John Delaney and Colorado’s John Hickenlooper, came across as square dancers at a rave.

On closer inspection, the message got even worse.

Promising access to health insurance for north of 11 million undocumented immigrants at a time when there’s a migration crisis at the southern border? Every candidate at Thursday’s debate raised a hand for that one, in what was surely the evening’s best moment for the Trump campaign.

Calling for the decriminalization of border crossings (while opposing a wall)? That was a major theme of Wednesday’s debate, underlining the Republican contention that Democrats are a party of open borders, limitless amnesty and, in time, the Third World-ization of America.

Switching to Spanish? Memo to Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker: If you can’t speak the language without a heavy American accent, don’t bother. It just reminds those of us who can that the only thing worse than an obnoxious gringo is a pandering one.

Eliminating private health insurance, an industry that employs more than 500,000 workers and insures 150 million? Elizabeth Warren, Bill de Blasio, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris support it (though the California senator later recanted the position). Since Democrats are already committed to destroying the coal industry and seem inclined to turn Silicon Valley into a regulated utility, it’s worth asking: Just how much of the private economy are they even willing to keep?

And then there are the costs that Democrats want to impose on the country. Warren, for instance, favors universal child care (estimated cost, $70 billion a year), Medicare-For-All ($2.8 trillion to $3.2 trillion annually), student-debt cancellation and universal free college ($125 billion annually), and a comprehensive climate action plan ($2 trillion, including $100 billion in aid to poor countries), along with a raft of smaller giveaways, like debt relief for Puerto Rico.

As Everett Dirksen might have said: A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money. Someone will have to pay for all this, and it won’t just be the very rich making between seven and 10 figures a year. It will be you.

Throughout the debates, I kept wondering if any of the leading candidates would speak to Americans beyond the Democratic base. But Joe Biden seemed too feeble, oratorically and intellectually, to buck the self-defeating trend. Pete Buttigieg was, as always, fluent, knowledgeable and sincere. But his big moment — a mea culpa for a racially charged policing incident in South Bend — felt like another well-mannered white guy desperate to put his wokeness on display.

Harris, meanwhile, came across as Barack Obama in reverse, especially with her scurrilous attack on Biden for the sin of having had a functional political relationship with two former segregationist senators in the 1970s. This was portrayed as a clever debate move but it will come to haunt her.

Obama’s political genius was to emphasize what Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, authors of ‘The Coddling of the American Mind,” have called “common-humanity identity politics”— he made you feel comfortable no matter the color of your skin. Harris’s approach, by contrast, is “common-enemy identity politics.” Making white Americans feel racially on trial for views they may have held in the past on crime, busing and similar subjects is not going to help the Democrats.

None of this means that Democrats can’t win in 2020. The economy could take a bad turn. Or Trump could outdo himself in loathsomeness. But the Democratic Party we saw this week did even less to appeal beyond its base than the president. And at least his message is that he’s on their — make that our — side.

Bret L. Stephens has been an Opinion columnist with The Times since April 2017. He won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary at The Wall Street Journal in 2013 and was previously editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post. @BretStephensNYT Facebook

Voir de même:

The Party of Illegal Immigration

There didn’t seem much room for Democrats to move left on immigration, but they’ve found it.

On the first night of the Democratic debates, Julian Castro made a big issue of his call to repeal Section 1325 of Title 8 of the United States Code, which says it’s a federal crime to enter the country without authorization. This felt like a ploy for attention from the periphery of the second-tier debate stage, yet last night seven out of the ten candidates raised their hands for the idea, including top contenders Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg.

The collective posture of the party is getting closer and closer to open borders, only without embracing the label.

Illegal immigrants aren’t typically prosecuted under Section 1325, although the Bush administration started a program called “Operation Streamline” to increase prosecutions, hoping to discourage would-be crossers and especially to create a deterrent against illegal reentry (illegal entry is a misdemeanor often punished by time served, whereas illegal reentry is a felony). Such prosecutions were a key element of Trump’s family-separation policy that had to be quickly abandoned.

The repeal of Section 1325 would send a message of permissiveness that would create another incentive for migrants to come across the border, and remove a tool for going after coyotes (it can be difficult to prove their offense, so prosecuting them for illegal entry is a backstop). Section 1325 has been on the books for 90 years, and it reflects the commonsense view that entering the United States without lawful permission should be a crime. Yes, it’d still be a civil offense to be present in the United States without papers, and in theory, still possible to be deported — although this brings us to the rest of the Democratic approach to immigration.

Asked if an illegal immigrant in the interior of the country who hasn’t committed another crime should be deported, Joe Biden replied that such a person “should not be the focus of deportation.” Kamala Harris said he “absolutely” should not be deported, and Representative Eric Swalwell said “that person can be part of this great American experience.” This is a promise to gut interior enforcement that, coupled with the latitudinarian attitude at the border, would be a huge step toward open borders.

If there were any doubt that Democrats want to welcome illegal immigrants and treat them like U.S. citizens, seeing every single candidate on the stage last night promising to provide government health insurance to illegal immigrants removes it. This, obviously, would be even more of a magnet to illegal immigration, and would erode the difference between U.S. citizens and people who literally showed up the day before yesterday in violation of our laws. Besides, the U.S. government is under enough fiscal strain providing promised benefits to citizens and legal residents without, in effect, extending the safety net to some percentage of the population of Northern Triangle countries.

The Democrats’ radicalism on immigration is certainly a political mistake that will give President Trump ready fodder next year. We’d say it’s impossible for Democrats to get any further out on this limb, but the next round of debates is only a month away.

Voir de plus:

États-Unis : Barack Obama sous pression face à l’afflux d’enfants clandestins

La Maison-Blanche a demandé mardi au Congrès américain le déblocage en urgence de 3,7 milliards de dollars pour faire face à l’entrée illégale de dizaines de milliers d’enfants.

Le président américain reconnaît lui-même que son pays fait face à «une situation humanitaire d’urgence». Barack Obama a demandé formellement au Congrès mardi de débloquer 3,7 milliards de dollars (2,7 milliards d’euros) pour répondre à l’afflux croissant d’enfants clandestins à la frontière avec le Mexique. L’objectif: augmenter les capacités d’accueil des sans-papiers et le nombre de juges gérant leurs dossiers, renforcer la surveillance de la frontière… mais surtout améliorer les conditions de détention de ces enfants arrêtés à la frontière après avoir tenté la traversée du Rio Grande au péril de leur vie. «Sans crédits supplémentaires, à moins de prendre des mesures extraordinaires, les agences ne disposeront pas des ressources suffisantes pour répondre à la situation de façon appropriée», a insisté la Maison-Blanche.

Car sur le terrain, les besoins sont colossaux. Depuis le mois d’octobre, pas moins de 52.000 sans-papiers mineurs venus seuls, surtout d’Amérique centrale (Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador), ont été interpellés à la frontière entre le Mexique et les États-Unis. Sans compter les milliers d’autres arrêtés en compagnie de leurs proches. Le phénomène est loin d’être nouveau, mais les chiffres ont doublé par rapport à l’an dernier. Au total, plus de 90.000 enfants pourraient être interpellés cette année, soit 15 fois plus qu’en 2011, selon une note officielle.

Ces enfants, parfois âgés de 3 ou 4 ans seulement, arrivent affamés, déshydratés, après un périple de plusieurs milliers de kilomètres. Ils se retrouvent dans «des conditions terribles», «n’ont pas de lit et dorment par terre», déplore auprès de l’AFP Domingo Gonzalo, membre de l’association Campaña Fronteriza qui oeuvre au Texas. La Croix-Rouge américaine a même dû venir en aide aux autorités en fournissant des couvertures et des kits d’hygiène pour les jeunes détenus, tandis que des bases militaires sont transformées en centres d’accueil d’urgence, en Californie ou au Texas.

Un hangar faisant office de centre de détention, en Arizona.

Le message pro-immigration du président, principal coupable selon les républicains

Parmi ces mineurs, beaucoup fuient la pauvreté, la violence liée au narcotrafic de leur pays. L’Agence des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés, citée par les Los Angeles Times, rappelle que ces mineurs ne s’exilent pas seulement aux Etats-Unis: ils cherchent aussi à atteindre d’autres pays comme le Mexique, le Costa Rica ou le Nicaragua. Mais s’ils affluent à la frontière américaine, c’est que beaucoup disent être venus profiter d’une «nouvelle» loi qui leur donnerait des «permisos», des permis de séjour pour mineurs, une rumeur qui se répand depuis des mois dans ces pays d’Amérique centrale, à en croire des migrants interrogés par le New York Times. Rumeur alimentée par les passeurs qui profitent de ce trafic.

Pour les républicains toutefois, le principal responsable de cet afflux massif s’appelle Barack Obama: avec son message pro-immigration, il a selon eux donné des espoirs aux jeunes clandestins. La reforme que défend le président prévoit en effet de faciliter un peu l’accès à la nationalité pour les enfants sans-papiers, contre un renforcement du contrôle de la frontière mexicaine. «Apparemment, on se passe le mot qu’une fois appréhendé par les agents à la frontière, grâce au laxisme de cette administration, on ne sera jamais expulsé», accuse ainsi le représentant républicain Bob Goodlatte.

Le gouverneur du Texas Rick Perry estime que cette «crise humanitaire» menace la sécurité intérieure du pays. «La bonne décision est de mon point de vue d’expulser immédiatement» ces enfants. Comme l’a rappelé sur CNN un élu démocrate du Texas, Henry Cuellar, «si vous êtes Mexicain, vous êtes renvoyés (…) mais si vous venez d’un pays qui n’est pas frontalier avec les Etats-Unis comme les pays d’Amérique centrale, alors la loi dit que vous devez être pris en charge par les services fédéraux de la Santé et qu’ils vont vous placer» dans un centre d’accueil ou une famille. Or pour le républicain Rick Perry, «leur permettre de rester ne fera qu’encourager le prochain groupe à entreprendre ce très dangereux voyage».

Obama, qui doit se rendre au Texas mercredi pour s’entretenir avec Rick Perry, a fait de la réforme de l’immigration un chantier majeur de son deuxième mandat. Se heurtant au blocage de la chambre des représentants dominée par les républicains, il s’est engagé à agir par décret pour faire avancer les choses. Dans son camp, on affirme qu’il ne faut pas faire d’amalgame entre ce qui se passe en ce moment à la frontière et l’urgence d’une réforme migratoire, qui ne régulariserait que certaines personnes arrivées avant 2011. Les démocrates rappellent aussi que leur plan prévoyait la construction de centaines de kilomètres de nouvelles barrières frontalières et le renforcement du nombre de policiers.

Visiblement dépassée par l’ampleur du phénomène, l’administration Obama répète que la plupart de ces enfants clandestins ne seront pas autorisés à rester dans le pays. Le président s’est même adressé aux parents d’Amérique centrale le mois dernier dans une interview télévisée: «Notre message est sans équivoque: n’envoyez pas vos enfants seuls, sur des trains ou par des passeurs», a-t-il déclaré sur la chaîne américaine ABC (vidéo ci-dessous). «S’ils réussissent à arriver ici, ils seront renvoyés. Mais surtout, ils risquent de ne pas arriver». Malgré ses efforts, des centaines de mineurs clandestins continuent de gagner la frontière chaque jour.

Voir encore:

Why The Times Published a Photo of Drowned Migrants

We asked top editors about the decision-making process: “These are not easy images to use.”

Lara Takenaga
The New Yort Times
June 26, 2019

After The Times published a haunting photo this week of two migrants, a father and his young daughter, who had drowned in the Rio Grande, many readers said they appreciated the attention it brought to the national conversation around immigration.

Some have questioned the decision, however.

“I understand that the photograph you have with your story is meant to somehow transmit a message, perhaps convey pain and trauma, make us feel shame and sadness, and thereby ignite change,” one reader commented on the article accompanying the image. “But somehow I also find it a thoroughly humiliating (disrespectful) photograph, too.”

To give readers insight into our editorial process, we asked several top editors how The Times decided to run the photo.

At least a dozen editors discussed the image, which came from The Associated Press, at length on Tuesday after seeing it on social media. Once the photo’s legitimacy had been verified, editors decided to publish it online that evening with an article that reported on the victims, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, and explained the image’s significance in the immigration debate. The photo appeared prominently on The Times’s front page on Wednesday.

Beth Flynn, our deputy photo editor, said the editors decided to run the image because it bore witness to what is happening at the border between the United States and Mexico right now.

“It’s important for our readers to see and understand that,” she said.

The photo reminded the editors of other powerful images, including the photo of a 3-year-old Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed ashore in Turkey, that have brought world tragedies into greater focus and humanized the victims, said Tom Jolly, the associate masthead editor who oversees The Times’s print operations.

Among the questions the editors discussed were whether prominent use of the image on the front page would be seen as gratuitous (they decided it wasn’t) and whether it added important context to our coverage of the border, Ms. Flynn said. While The Times has written about migrants who died attempting to cross the Rio Grande, there have not been images of that plight. This photo “has such impact” as a result, Ms. Flynn said.

They also considered whether they would feel the same about the photo if it showed two white Americans.

“In this case, after an almost two-hour conversation involving people with different backgrounds and perspectives, we felt that yes, this photo was an iconic moment that represented something bigger than just the image itself,” Mr. Jolly said.

One concern about running the photo at the top of the front page was whether it would give the appearance of The Times making a political statement, Mr. Jolly said. But the editors were confident that the image stood on its own, reflecting the perils migrants on the border face, not a position on the issue of immigration.

There are some places the photo hasn’t appeared: The Times has a longstanding policy of not using graphic images in social media posts, except in extremely rare circumstances.

“It’s one thing to feature graphic photos on the homescreen or in an article,” Cynthia Collins, our off-platform editor, said. “It’s quite another thing to serve a graphic image in tweets and Facebook posts that can appear in the newsfeeds of people who didn’t deliberately seek out the news and editorial judgment of The New York Times.”

After readers criticized a photo of dead bodies that ran with a January article about an attack in Nairobi, Kenya, top editors in our photo department compiled internal guidelines for the publication of graphic or sensitive photos. Phil Corbett, our standards editor, summarized them for us:

  • Editors are advised to take enough time to discuss such a decision thoroughly, and to consult high-ranking editors as needed.

  • They should consider a series of questions and factors, including the newsworthiness of the event; how crucial the photo is to telling the story; the likely impact on loved ones, survivors and the community affected; and whether our judgment would be the same regardless of who the victims were or where the events occurred.

The conversations are never taken lightly.

“These are not easy images to use,” Mr. Jolly said. “They’re as difficult for us to look at as anyone. We do not do it without a tremendous amount of thought.”

Voir de plus:

An Expert on Concentration Camps Says That’s Exactly What the U.S. Is Running at the Border

« Things can be concentration camps without being Dachau or Auschwitz. »

New Tent Camps Go Up In West Texas For Migrant Children Separated From Parents

Joe RaedleGetty Images

Surely, the United States of America could not operate concentration camps. In the American consciousness, the term is synonymous with the Nazi death machines across the European continent that the Allies began the process of dismantling 75 years ago this month. But while the world-historical horrors of the Holocaust are unmatched, they are only the most extreme and inhuman manifestation of a concentration-camp system—which, according to Andrea Pitzer, author of One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, has a more global definition. There have been concentration camps in France, South Africa, Cuba, the Soviet Union, and—with Japanese internment—the United States. In fact, she contends we are operating such a system right now in response to a very real spike in arrivals at our southern border.

“We have what I would call a concentration camp system,” Pitzer says, “and the definition of that in my book is, mass detention of civilians without trial.”

Historians use a broader definition of concentration camps, as well.

« What’s required is a little bit of demystification of it, » says Waitman Wade Beorn, a Holocaust and genocide studies historian and a lecturer at the University of Virginia. « Things can be concentration camps without being Dachau or Auschwitz. Concentration camps in general have always been designed—at the most basic level—to separate one group of people from another group. Usually, because the majority group, or the creators of the camp, deem the people they’re putting in it to be dangerous or undesirable in some way. »

« Things can be concentration camps without being Dachau or Auschwitz. »

Not every concentration camp is a death camp—in fact, their primary purpose is rarely extermination, and never in the beginning. Often, much of the death and suffering is a result of insufficient resources, overcrowding, and deteriorating conditions. So far, 24 people have died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the Trump administration, while six children have died in the care of other agencies since September. Systems like these have emerged across the world for well over 100 years, and they’ve been established by putative liberal democracies—as with Britain’s camps in South Africa during the Boer War—as well as authoritarian states like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Camps set up with one aim can be repurposed by new regimes, often with devastating consequences.

History is banging down the door this week with the news the Trump administration will use Fort Sill, an Oklahoma military base that was used to detain Japanese-Americans during World War II, to house 1,400 unaccompanied migrant children captured at the border. Japanese internment certainly constituted a concentration-camp system, and the echoes of the past are growing louder. Of course, the Obama administration temporarily housed migrants at military bases, including Fort Sill, for four months in 2014, built many of the newer facilities to house migrants, and pioneered some of the tactics the Trump administration is now using to try to manage the situation at the border.

Roll call is taken by the army at Japanese internment camp, Tule Lake, CA.

Roll call is taken by the army at a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II in Tule Lake, CA in 1944.

Carl MydansGetty Images

The government of the United States would never call the sprawling network of facilities now in use across many states « concentration camps, » of course. They’re referred to as « federal migrant shelters » or « temporary shelters for unaccompanied minors » or « detainment facilities » or the like. (The initial processing facilities are run by Border Patrol, and the system is primarily administered to by the Department of Homeland Security. Many adults are transferred to ICE, which now detains more than 52,000 people across 200 facilities on any given day—a record high. Unaccompanied minors are transferred to Department of Health and Human Services custody.) But by Pitzer’s measure, the system at the southern border first set up by the Bill Clinton administration, built on by Barack Obama’s government, and brought into extreme and perilous new territory by Donald Trump and his allies does qualify. Two historians who specialize in the area largely agree.


Many of the people housed in these facilities are not « illegal » immigrants. If you present yourself at the border seeking asylum, you have a legal right to a hearing under domestic and international law. They are, in another formulation, refugees—civilian non-combatants who have not committed a crime, and who say they are fleeing violence and persecution. Yet these human beings, who mostly hail from Central America’s Northern Triangle of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—a region ravaged by gang violence and poverty and corruption and what increasingly appears to be some of the first forced migrations due to climate change—are being detained on what increasingly seems to be an indefinite basis.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration continually seeks new ways to stop people from applying for asylum, and to discourage others from attempting to. The current regime has sought to restrict the asylum criteria to exclude the exact issues, like gang or domestic violence, that these desperate people often cite for why they fled their homes. The administration has sought to introduce application fees and work-permit restraints. They have tried to prohibit migrants from seeking asylum « if they have resided in a country other than their own before coming to the U.S., » which would essentially eliminate anyone who traveled to the border through Mexico. Much of this has been struck down in federal court.

But most prominently, Trump’s Department of Homeland Security has used « metering » at the border, where migrants are forced to wait for days or weeks on the Mexican side—often sleeping in makeshift shelters or fully exposed to the elements—until they are allowed across border checkpoints to make their asylum claims and be processed. That processing system is overwhelmed, and the Obama administration also used metering at various points, but it remains unclear whether the wait times need to be as long as they are. (DHS did not respond to a request for comment.) There are no guarantees on how long migrants will have to wait, and so they’ve increasingly turned to crossing illegally between checkpoints—which constitutes « illegal entry, » a misdemeanor—in order to present themselves for asylum. This criminalizes them, and the Trump administration tried to make illegal entry a disqualifier for asylum claims. The overall effort appears to be to make it as difficult as possible to get a hearing to adjudicate those claims, raising the specter that people can be detained longer or indefinitely.

All this has been achieved through two mechanisms: militarization and dehumanization. In her book, Pitzer describes camps as “a deliberate choice to inject the framework of war into society itself. » These kinds of detention camps are a military endeavor: they are defensible in wartime, when enemy combatants must be detained, often for long periods without trial. They were a hallmark of World War I Europe. But inserting them into civil society, and using them to house civilians, is a materially different proposition. You are revoking the human and civil rights of non-combatants without legal justification.

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A migrant family sits inside an Immigration Detention Center in Nogales after they were detained by border patrol agents.

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« In the origins of the camps, it’s tied to the idea of martial law, » says Jonathan Hyslop, author of « The Invention of the Concentration Camp: Cuba, Southern Africa and the Philippines, 1896–1907, » and a professor of sociology and anthropology at Colgate University. « I mean, all four of the early instances—Americans in the Philippines, Spanish in Cuba, and British in South Africa, and Germans in Southwest Africa—they’re all essentially overriding any sense of rights of the civilian population. And the idea is that you’re able to suspend normal law because it’s a war situation. »

This pairs well with the rhetoric that Trump deploys to justify the system and his unconstitutional power grabs, like the phony « national emergency »: he describes the influx of asylum-seekers and other migrants as an « invasion, » language his allies are mirroring with increasing extremism. If you’re defending yourself from an invasion, anything is defensible.

That goes hand-in-hand with the strategy of dehumanization. For decades, the right has referred to undocumented immigrants as « illegals, » stripping them of any identity beyond an immigration status. Trump kicked off his formal political career by characterizing Hispanic immigrants as « rapists » and « drug-dealers » and « criminals, » never once sharing, say, the story of a woman who came here with her son fleeing a gang’s threats. It is always MS-13 and strong, scary young men. There’s talk of « animals » and monsters, and suddenly anything is justifiable. In fact, it must be done. Trump’s supporters have noticed. At a recent rally, someone in the crowd screamed out that people arriving at the border should be shot. In response, the president cracked a « joke. »

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Trump’s rhetoric about the border has served the purpose of militarizing the system and dehumanizing its subjects.

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« It’s important here to look at the language that people are using, » Hyslop says. « As soon as you get people comparing other groups to animals or insects, or using language about advancing hordes, and we’re being overrun and flooded and this sort of thing, it’s creating the sense of this enormous threat. And that makes it much easier to sell to people on the idea we’ve got to do something drastic to control this population which going to destroy us. »

In a grotesque formulation of the chicken-and-the-egg conundrum, housing people in these camps furthers their dehumanization.

« There’s this crystallization that happens, » Pitzer says. « The longer they’re there, the worse conditions get. That’s just a universal of camps. They’re overcrowded. We already know from reports that they don’t have enough beds for the numbers that they have. As you see mental health crises and contagious diseases begin to set in, they’ll work to manage the worst of it. [But] then there will be the ability to tag these people as diseased, even if we created [those conditions]. Then we, by creating the camps, try to turn that population into the false image that we [used] to put them in the camps to start with. Over time, the camps will turn those people into what Trump was already saying they are. »

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Spanish Republican refugees are held at a concentration camp in Perthus, France, in 1939. Tens of thousands fled the Spanish civil war and were kept in French camps, which were turned over to the Nazis when France fell a few years later.

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Make no mistake: the conditions are in decline. When I went down to see the detention facility in McAllen, Texas, last summer at the height of the « zero-tolerance » policy that led inevitably to family separation, Border Patrol agents were by all appearances doing the very best they could with limited resources. That includes the facilities themselves, which at that point were mostly built—by the Clinton administration in the ’90s—to house single adult males who were crossing the border illegally to find work. By that point, Border Patrol was already forced to use them to hold families and other asylum-seekers, and agents told me the situation was untenable. They lacked requisite staff with the training to care for young children, and overcrowding was already an issue.

But according to a report from Trump’s own government—specifically, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security—the situation has deteriorated significantly even since then. The facilities are overcrowded, underfunded, and perhaps at a perilous inflection point. It found adult detainees are « being held in ‘standing-room-only conditions’ for days or weeks at a border patrol facility in Texas, » Reuters reports. But it gets worse.

Single adults were held in cells designed for one-fifth as many detainees as were housed there and were wearing soiled clothing for days or weeks with limited access to showers, the report said. Pictures published with the report show women packed tightly together in a holding cell.

“We also observed detainees standing on toilets in the cells to make room and gain breathing space, thus limiting access to toilets,” the watchdog wrote.

This was at Paso del Norte, a facility near El Paso, which has a stated capacity of 125 detainees. But when DHS inspectors visited, it was holding 900. For a period, Border Patrol tried housing migrants in cage under a nearby bridge. It was ultimately scrapped amid public outcry. When migrants and asylum-seekers are transferred to ICE, things can get worse. Queer and trans migrants face exceptionally harsh treatment, with reports of high levels of physical and sexual abuse, and the use of solitary confinementconsidered torture by many psychologists—is widespread. As a reminder, by DHS’s own assertion, these detainments are civil, not criminal, and are not meant to be punitive in the way of a prison. Many of these people have not even been accused of a crime.

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Migrants awaiting processing are held in temporary fencing underneath the Paso Del Norte Bridge on March 28, 2019 in El Paso, Texas.

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Again: these are inhuman conditions, and crystalize the dehumanization. So, too, does the Trump administration’s decision, reported by The Washington Post, to cancel classes, recreational programs, and even legal aid for the children held at facilities for unaccompanied minors. Why should these kids get to play soccer or learn English? Why should they get legal assistance? They’re detainees.

The administration is citing « budget pressures » related to what is undoubtedly a dramatic spike in arrivals at the border last month: 144,000 people were detained in May. It remains unclear how much of this is tied to the Trump administration’s border policies, like metering, which have severely slowed the process of declaring oneself for asylum and left people camped on the Mexican border for days or weeks after a thousand-mile trek through Mexico. Or Trump’s recent all-out push to seize money for a border wall and declare « we’re closed, » which some speculate led to a surge of people trying to get over the line before that happened.

It’s also in dispute how many of these people actually need to be detained. Vox‘s Dara Lind suggests releasing migrants from Guatemala or Honduras isn’t straightforward as « many newly arrived asylum seekers aren’t familiar with the US, often speak neither English nor Spanish, and may not have appropriate clothing or funds for bus fare. » But release with ankle bracelets has proven very effective as an alternative to detention: 99 percent of immigrants enrolled in one such program showed up for their court dates, though ICE claims it’s less effective when someone is set to be deported. Those subjected to the bracelets say they are uncomfortable and demeaning, but it’s better than stuffing a detention cell to five-times capacity. Unless, of course, that’s exactly what you want to happen.

« Over time, the camps will turn those people into what Trump was already saying they are. »

« At one point, [the administration] said that they were intentionally trying to split up families and make conditions unpleasant, so the people wouldn’t come to the U.S., » Beorn, from UVA, says. « If you’re doing that, then that’s not a prison. That’s not a holding area or a waiting area. That’s a policy. I would argue, at least in the way that [the camps are] being used now, a significant portion of the mentality is [tied to] who the [detainees] are rather than what they did.

« If these were Canadians flooding across the border, would they be treated in the same manner as the people from Mexico and from Central and South America? If the answer is yes, theoretically, then I would consider these places to be perhaps better described as transit camps or prison camps. But I suspect that’s not how they’d be treated, which then makes it much more about who the people are that you’re detaining, rather than what they did. The Canadian would have crossed the border just as illegally as the Mexican, but my suspicion is, would be treated in a different way. »


It was the revelation about school and soccer cuts that led Pitzer to fire off a tweet thread this week outlining the similarities between the U.S. camp system and those of other countries. The first examples of a concentration camp, in the modern sense, come from Cuba in the 1890s and South Africa during the Second Boer War.

« What those camps had in common with what’s going on today is they involved the wholesale detention of families, separate or together, » Pitzer says. « There was very little in the way of targeted violence. Instead, people died from poor planning, overloaded facilities and unwillingness to reverse policy, even when it became apparent the policy wasn’t working, inability to get medical care to detainees, poor food quality, contagious diseases, showing up in an environment where it became almost impossible to get control of them.

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A camp for British prisoners of war during the Boer War.

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« The point is that you don’t have to intend to kill everybody. When people hear the phrase ‘Oh, there’s concentration camps on the southern border,’ they think, ‘Oh, it’s not Auschwitz.’ Of course, it’s not those things, each camp system is different. But you don’t have to intend to kill everyone to have really bad outcomes. In Cuba, well over 100,000 civilians died in these camps in just a period of a couple years. In Southern Africa during the Boer War, fatalities went into the tens of thousands. And the overwhelming majority of them were children. Fatalities in the camps ended up being more than twice the combat fatalities from the war itself. »

In-custody deaths have not reached their peak of a reported 32 people in 2004, but the current situation seems to be deteriorating. In just the last two weeks, three adults have died. And the Trump administration has not readily reported fatalities to the public. There could be more.

« There’s usually this crisis period that a camp system either survives or doesn’t survive in the first three or four years. If it goes past that length of time, they tend to continue for a really long time. And I think we have entered that crisis period. I don’t yet know if we’re out of it. »

Camps often begin in wartime or a crisis point, and on a relatively small scale. There are then some in positions of power who want to escalate the program for political purposes, but who receive pushback from others in the regime. There’s then a power struggle, and if the escalationists prevail over the other bureaucrats—as they appear to have here, with the supremacy of Stephen Miller over (the reliably pliant but less extreme) Kirstjen Nielsen—the camps will continue and grow. Almost by definition, the conditions will deteriorate, even despite the best intentions of those on the ground.

« It’s a negative trajectory in at least two ways, » Beorn says. « One, I feel like these policies can snowball. We’ve already seen unintended consequences. If we follow the thread of the children, for example, the government wanted to make things more annoying, more painful. So they decided, We’re going to separate the children from the families. But there was no infrastructure in place for that. You already have a scenario where even if you have the best intentions, the infrastructure doesn’t exist to support it. That’s a consequence of policy that hasn’t been thought through. As you see the population begin to massively increase over time, you do start to see conditions diminishing.

« The second piece is that the longer you establish this sort of extralegal, extrajudicial, somewhat-invisible no-man’s land, the more you allow potentially a culture of abuse to develop within that place. Because the people who tend to become more violent, more prejudiced, whatever, have more and more free rein for that to become sort of the accepted behavior. Then, that also becomes a new norm that can spread throughout the system. There is sort of an escalation of individual initiative in violence. As it becomes clear that that is acceptable, then you have a self-fulfilling prophecy or a positive feedback loop that just keeps radicalizing the treatment as the policy itself becomes radicalizing. »

And for a variety of reasons, these facilities are incredibly hard to close. « Unless there’s some really decisive turn away, we’re going to be looking at having these camps for a long time, » Pitzer says. It’s particularly hard to engineer a decisive turn because these facilities are often remote, and hard to protest. They are not top-of-mind for most citizens, with plenty of other issues on the table. When Trump first instituted the Muslim Ban—now considered, in its third iteration, to be Definitely Not a Muslim Ban by the Supreme Court—there were mass demonstrations at U.S. airports because they were readily accessible by concerned citizens. These camps are not so easily reached, and that’s a problem.

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Migrants board buses to take them to shelters after being released from migration detention as construction of a new migrant processing facility is underway at the Customs and Border Protection – El Paso Border Patrol Station on the east side of El Paso on April 28, 2019.

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« The more authoritarian the regime is, and the more people allow governments to get away with doing this sort of thing politically, the worse the conditions are likely to get, » Hyslop says. « So, a lot of it depends on how much pushback there is. But when you get a totally authoritarian regime like Stalin’s regime in the Soviet Union, there’s no control, or no countervailing force, the state can do what it likes, and certainly things will then tend to break down.

« It’s more of a political question, really. Are people prepared to tolerate the deteriorating conditions? And if public opinion isn’t effective in a liberal democratic situation, things can still get pretty bad. »

Almost regardless, the camps will be difficult to dismantle by their very nature—that extrajudicial « no-man’s land » Beorn mentioned. The prison at Guantanamo Bay is a perfect example. It began in the early 1990s as a refugee camp for people fleeing Haiti and Cuba. The conditions were bad and legally questionable, Pitzer found, and eventually the courts stepped in to grant detainees some rights. In the process, however, they granted the camps tacit legitimacy—they were allowed to continue with the approval of the judiciary.

Suddenly, they were enshrined in the law as a kind of gray area where detainees did not enjoy full human rights. That is actually why it was chosen by the Bush administration to house terror suspects: it was already rubber-stamped as a site for indefinite detention. By the time President Obama came into office with promises to close it, he found the task incredibly difficult, because it had been ingrained in the various institutions and branches of American constitutional government. He could not get rid of it. As courts continue to rule on the border camp system, the same issues are likely to take hold.

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Border agents detain a group of migrants.

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Another issue is that these camp systems, no matter where they are in the world, tend to fall victim to expanding criteria. The longer they stay open, the more reasons a government finds to put people in them. That’s particularly true if a new regime takes control of an existing system, as the Trump administration did with ours. The mass detention of asylum-seekers—who, again, have legal rights—on this scale is an expansion of the criteria from « illegal » immigrants, who were the main class of detainee in the ’90s and early 2000s. Asylum seekers, particularly unaccompanied minors, began arriving in huge numbers and were detained under the Obama administration. But there has been an escalation, both because of a deteriorating situation in the Northern Triangle and the Trump administration’s attempts to deter any and all migration. There is reason to believe the criteria will continue to expand.

« We have border patrol agents that are sometimes arresting U.S. citizens, » Pitzer says. « That’s still very much a fringe activity. That doesn’t seem to be a dedicated priority right now, but it’s happening often enough. And they’re held, sometimes, for three or four days. Even when there are clear reasons that people should be let go, that they have proof of their identity, you’re seeing these detentions. You do start to worry about people who have legally immigrated and have finished paperwork, and maybe are naturalized. You worry about green-card holders. »

In most cases, these camps are not closed by the executive or the judiciary or even the legislature. It usually requires external intervention. (See: D-Day) That obviously will not be an option when it comes to the most powerful country in the history of the world, a country which, while it would never call them that, and would be loathe to admit it, is now running a system at the southern border that is rapidly coming to resemble the concentration camps that have sprung up all over the world in the last century. Every system is different. They don’t always end in death machines. But they never end well.

« Let’s say there’s 20 hurdles that we have to get over before we get to someplace really, really, really bad, » Pitzer says. « I think we’ve knocked 10 of them down. »

Voir encore:
‘Some Suburb of Hell’: America’s New Concentration Camp System

Andrea Pitzer
New York review of books
June 21, 2019
Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Barbed wire, fences, and security cameras surrounding a tent city constructed in 2007 to house undocumented immigrants in Raymondville, Texas

On Monday, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referred to US border detention facilities as “concentration camps,” spurring a backlash in which critics accused her of demeaning the memory of those who died in the Holocaust. Debates raged over a label for what is happening along the southern border and grew louder as the week rolled on. But even this back-and-forth over naming the camps has been a recurrent feature in the mass detention of civilians ever since its inception, a history that long predates the Holocaust.

At the heart of such policy is a question: What does a country owe desperate people whom it does not consider to be its citizens? The twentieth century posed this question to the world just as the shadow of global conflict threatened for the second time in less than three decades. The dominant response was silence, and the doctrine of absolute national sovereignty meant that what a state did to people under its control, within its borders, was nobody else’s business. After the harrowing toll of the Holocaust with the murder of millions, the world revisited its answer, deciding that perhaps something was owed to those in mortal danger. From the Fourth Geneva Convention protecting civilians in 1949 to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the international community established humanitarian obligations toward the most vulnerable that apply, at least in theory, to all nations.

The twenty-first century is unraveling that response. Countries are rejecting existing obligations and meeting asylum seekers with walls and fences, from detainees fleeing persecution who were sent by Australia to third-party detention in the brutal offshore camps of Manus and Nauru to razor-wire barriers blocking Syrian refugees from entering Hungary. While some nations, such as Germany, wrestle with how to integrate refugees into their labor force—more and more have become resistant to letting them in at all. The latest location of this unwinding is along the southern border of the United States.

So far, American citizens have gotten only glimpses of the conditions in the border camps that have been opened in their name. In the month of May, Customs and Border Protection reported a total of 132,887 migrants who were apprehended or turned themselves in between ports of entry along the southwest border, an increase of 34 percent from April alone. Upon apprehension, these migrants are temporarily detained by Border Patrol, and once their claims are processed, they are either released or handed over to ICE for longer-term detention. Yet Border Patrol itself is currently holding about 15,000 people, nearly four times what government officials consider to be this enforcement arm’s detention capacity.

On June 12, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that Fort Sill, an Army post that hosted a World War II internment camp for detainees of Japanese descent, will now be repurposed to detain migrant children. In total, HHS reports that it is currently holding some 12,000 minors. Current law limits detention of minors to twenty days, though Senator Lindsey Graham has proposed expanding the court-ordered limit to 100 days. Since the post is on federal land, it will be exempt from state child welfare inspections.

In addition to the total of detainees held by Border Patrol, an even higher number is detained at centers around the country by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency: on a typical day at the beginning of this month, ICE was detaining more than 52,500 migrants. The family separation policy outraged the public in the 2018, but despite legal challenges, it never fully ended. Less publicized have been the deaths of twenty-four adults in ICE custody since the beginning of the Trump administration; in addition, six children between the ages of two and sixteen have died in federal custody over the last several months. It’s not clear whether there have been other deaths that have gone unreported.

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Migrants at a makeshift Customs and Border Protection detention center, El Paso, Texas, March 27, 2019

Conditions for detainees have not been improving. At the end of May, a Department of Homeland Security inspector general found nearly 900 migrants at a Texas shelter built for a capacity of 125 people. On June 11, a university professor spotted at least 100 men behind chain-link fences near the Paso del Norte Bridge in El Paso, Texas. Those detainees reported sitting outside for weeks in temperatures that soared above 100 degrees. Taylor Levy, an El Paso immigration lawyer, described going into one facility and finding “a suicidal four-year-old whose face was covered in bloody, self-inflicted scratches… Another young child had to be restrained by his mother because he kept running full-speed into metal lockers. He was covered in bruises.”

If deciding what to do about the growing numbers of adults and children seeking refuge in the US relies on complex humanitarian policies and international laws, in which most Americans don’t take a deep interest, a simpler question also presents itself: What exactly are these camps that the Trump administration has opened, and where is this program of mass detention headed?

Even with incomplete information about what’s happening along the border today and what the government plans for these camps, history points to some conclusions about their future. Mass detention without trial earned a new name and a specific identity at the end of the nineteenth century. The labels then adopted for the practice were “reconcentración” and “concentration camps”—places of forced relocation of civilians into detention on the basis of group identity.

Other kinds of group detention had appeared much earlier in North American history. The US government drove Native Americans from their homelands into prescribed exile, with death and detention in transit camps along the way. Some Spanish mission systems in the Americas had accomplished similar ends by seizing land and pressing indigenous people into forced labor. During the 245 years when slavery was legal in the US, detention was one of its essential features.

Concentration camps, however, don’t typically result from the theft of land, as happened with Native Americans, or owning human beings in a system of forced labor, as in the slave trade. Exile, theft, and forced labor can come later, but in the beginning, detention itself is usually the point of concentration camps. By the end of the nineteenth century, the mass production of barbed wire and machines guns made this kind of detention possible and practical in ways it never had been before.

Under Spanish rule in 1896, the governor-general of Cuba instituted camps in order to clear rebel-held regions during an uprising, despite his predecessor’s written refusal “as the representative of a civilized nation, to be the first to give the example of cruelty and intransigence” that such detention would represent. After women and children began dying in vast numbers behind barbed wire because there had been little planning for shelter and even less for food, US President William McKinley made his call to war before Congress. He spoke against the policy of reconcentración, calling it warfare by uncivilized means. “It was extermination,” McKinley said. “The only peace it could beget was that of the wilderness and the grave.” Without full records, the Cuban death toll can only be estimated, but a consensus puts it in the neighborhood of 150,000, more than 10 percent of the island’s prewar population.

Today, we remember the sinking of the USS Maine as the spark that ignited the Spanish-American War. But war correspondent George Kennan (cousin of the more famous diplomat) believed that “it was the suffering of the reconcentrados, more, perhaps, than any other one thing that brought about the intervention of the United States.” On April 25, 1898, Congress declared war. Two weeks later, US Marines landed at Fisherman’s Point on the windward side of the entrance to Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. After a grim, week-long fight, the Marines took the hill. It became a naval base, and the United States has never left that patch of land.

As part of the larger victory, the US inherited the Philippines. The world’s newest imperial power also inherited a rebellion. Following a massacre of American troops at Balangiga in September 1901, during the third year of the conflict, the US established its own concentration camp system. Detainees, mostly women and children, were forced into squalid conditions that one American soldier described in a letter to a US senator as “some suburb of hell.” In the space of only four months, more than 11,000 Filipinos are believed to have died in these noxious camps.

Meanwhile, in southern Africa in 1900, the British had opened their own camps during their battle with descendants of Dutch settlers in the second Boer War. British soldiers filled tent cities with Boer women and children, and the military authorities called them refugee camps. Future Prime Minister David Lloyd George took offense at that name, noting in Parliament: “There is no greater delusion in the mind of any man than to apply the term ‘refugee’ to these camps. They are not refugee camps. They are camps of concentration.” Contemporary observers compared them to the Cuban camps, and criticized their deliberate cruelty. The Bishop of Hereford wrote to The Times of London in 1901, asking: “Are we reduced to such a depth of impotence that our Government can do nothing to stop such a holocaust of child-life?”

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A mother and child in a concentration camp built by the British to hold civilians during the Second Boer War, South Africa, 1901–1902

Maggoty meat rations and polluted water supplies joined outbreaks of contagious diseases amid crowded and unhealthy conditions in the Boer camps. More than 27,000 detainees are thought to have died there, nearly 80 percent of them children. The British had opened camps for black Africans as well, in which at least 14,000 detainees died—the real number is probably much higher. Aside from protests made by some missionaries, the deaths of indigenous black Africans did not inspire much public outrage. Much of the history of the suffering in these camps has been lost.

These early experiments with concentration camps took place on the periphery of imperial power, but accounts of them nevertheless made their way into newspapers and reports in many nations. As a result, the very idea of them came to be seen as barbaric. By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, the first camp systems had all been closed, and concentration camps had nearly vanished as an institution. Within months of the outbreak of World War I, though, they would be resurrected—this time rising not at the margins but in the centers of power. Between 1914 and 1918, camps were constructed on an unprecedented scale across six continents. In their time, these camps were commonly called concentration camps, though today they are often referred to by the more anodyne term “internment.”

Those World War I detainees were, for the most part, foreigners—or, in legalese, aliens—and recent anti-immigration legislation in several countries had deliberately limited their rights. The Daily Mail denounced aliens left at liberty once they had registered with their local police department, demanding, “Does signing his name take the malice out of a man?” The Scottish Field was more direct, asking, “Do Germans have souls?” That these civilian detainees were no threat to Britain did not keep them from being demonized, shouted at, and spat upon as they were paraded past hostile crowds in cities like London.

Though a small number of people were shot in riots in these camps, and hunger became a serious issue as the conflict dragged on, World War I internment would present a new, non-lethal face for the camps, normalizing detention. Even after the war, new camps sprang up from Spain to Hungary and Cuba, providing an improvised “solution” for everything from vagrancy to anxieties over the presence of Jewish foreigners.

Some of these camps were clearly not safe for those interned. Local camps appeared in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921, after a white mob burned down a black neighborhood and detained African-American survivors. In Bolshevik Russia, the first concentration camps preceded the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922 and planted seeds for the brutal Gulag system that became official near the end of the USSR’s first decade. While some kinds of camps were understood to be harsher, after World War I their proliferation did not initially disturb public opinion. They had yet to take on their worst incarnations.

In 1933, barely more than a month after Hitler was appointed chancellor, the Nazis’ first, impromptu camp opened in the town of Nohra in central Germany to hold political opponents. Detainees at Nohra were allowed to vote at a local precinct in the elections of March 5, 1933, resulting in a surge of Communist ballots in the tiny town. Locking up groups of civilians without trial had become accepted. Only the later realization of the horrors of the Nazi death camps would break the default assumption by governments and the public that concentration camps could and should be a simple way to manage populations seen as a threat.

However, the staggering death toll of the Nazi extermination camp system—which was created mid-war and stood almost entirely separate from the concentration camps in existence since 1933—led to another result: a strange kind of erasure. In the decades that followed World War II, the term “concentration camp” came to stand only for Auschwitz and other extermination camps. It was no longer applied to the kind of extrajudicial detention it had denoted for generations. The many earlier camps that had made the rise of Auschwitz possible largely vanished from public memory.

Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images

A US Marine walking the outer perimeter of Camp X-Ray, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, 2002

It is not necessary, however, to step back a full century in American history to find camps with links to what is happening on the US border today. Detention at Guantánamo began in the 1990s, when Haitian and Cuban immigrants whom the government wanted to keep out of the United States were housed there in waves over a four-year period—years before the “war on terror” and the US policy of rendition of suspected “enemy combatants” made Camps Delta, X-Ray, and Echo notorious. Tens of thousands of Haitians fleeing instability at home were picked up at sea and diverted to the Cuban base, to limit their legal right to apply for asylum. The court cases and battles over the suffering of those detainees ended up setting the stage for what Guantánamo would become after September 11, 2001.

In one case, a federal court ruled that it did have jurisdiction over the base, but the government agreed to release the Haitians who were part of the lawsuit in exchange for keeping that ruling off the books. A ruling in a second case would assert that the courts did not have jurisdiction. Absent the prior case, the latter stood on its own as precedent. Leaving Guantánamo in this gray area made it an ideal site for extrajudicial detention and torture after the twin towers fell.

This process of normalization, when a bad camp becomes much more dangerous, is not unusual. Today’s border camps are a crueler reflection of long-term policies—some challenged in court—that earlier presidents had enacted. Prior administrations own a share of the responsibility for today’s harsh practices, but the policies in place today are also accompanied by a shameless willingness to publicly target a vulnerable population in increasingly dangerous ways.

I visited Guantánamo twice in 2015, sitting in the courtroom for pretrial hearings and touring the medical facility, the library, and all the old abandoned detention sites, as well as newly built ones, open to the media—from the kennel-style cages of Camp X-Ray rotting to ruin in the damp heat to the modern jailhouse facilities of Camp 6. Seeing all this in person made clear to me how vast the architecture of detention had become, how entrenched it was, and how hard it would be to close.

Without a significant government effort to reverse direction, conditions in every camp system tend to deteriorate over time. Governments rarely make that kind of effort on behalf of people they are willing to lock up without trial in the first place. And history shows that legislatures do not close camps against the will of an executive.

Just a few years ago there might have been more potential for change spurred by the judicial branch of our democracy, but this Supreme Court is inclined toward deference to executive power, even, it appears, if that power is abused. It seems unlikely this Court will intervene to end the new border camp system; indeed, the justices are far more likely to institutionalize it by half-measures, as happened with Guantánamo. The Korematsu case, in which the Supreme Court upheld Japanese-American internment (a ruling only rescinded last year), relied on the suppression of evidence by the solicitor general. Americans today can have little confidence that this administration would behave any more scrupulously when defending its detention policy.

What kind of conditions can we expect to develop in these border camps? The longer a camp system stays open, the more likely it is that vital things will go wrong: detainees will contract contagious diseases and suffer from malnutrition and mental illness. We have already seen that current detention practices have resulted in children and adults succumbing to influenza, staph infections, and sepsis. The US is now poised to inflict harm on tens of thousands more, perhaps hundreds of thousands more.

Along with such inevitable consequences, every significant camp system has introduced new horrors of its own, crises that were unforeseen when that system was opened. We have yet to discover what those will be for these American border camps. But they will happen. Every country thinks it can do detention better when it starts these projects. But no good way to conduct mass indefinite detention has yet been devised; the system always degrades. 

When, in 1940, Margarete Buber-Neumann was transferred from the Soviet Gulag at Karaganda to the camp for women at Ravensbrück (in an exchange enabled by the Nazi–Soviet Pact), she came from near-starvation conditions in the USSR and was amazed at the cleanliness and order of the Nazi camp. New arrivals were issued clothing, bedding, and silverware, and given fresh porridge, fruit, sausage, and jam to eat. Although the Nazi camps were already punitive, order-obsessed monstrosities, the wartime overcrowding that would soon overtake them had not yet made daily life a thing of constant suffering and squalor. The death camps were still two years away.

The United States now has a vast and growing camp system. It is starting out with gruesome overcrowding and inadequate healthcare, and because of budget restrictions, has already taken steps to cut services to juvenile detainees. The US Office of Refugee Resettlement says that the mounting number of children arriving unaccompanied is forcing it to use military bases and other sites that it prefers to avoid, and that establishing these camps is a temporary measure. But without oversight from state child welfare inspectors, the possibilities for neglect and abuse are alarming. And without any knowledge of how many asylum-seekers are coming in the future, federal administrators are likely to find themselves boxed in to managing detention on military sites permanently.

President Trump and senior White House adviser Stephen Miller appear to have purged the Department of Homeland Security of most internal opposition to their anti-immigrant policies. In doing so, that have removed even those sympathetic to the general approach taken by the White House, such as former Chief of Staff John Kelly and former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in order to escalate the militarization of the border and expand irregular detention in more systematic and punitive ways. This kind of power struggle or purge in the early years of a camp system is typical. 

The disbanding of the Cheka, the Soviet secret police, in February 1922 and the transfer of its commander, Felix Dzerzhinsky, to head up an agency with control over only two prisons offered a hint of an alternate future in which extrajudicial detention would not play a central role in the fledgling Soviet republic. But Dzerzhinsky managed to keep control over the “special camps” in his new position, paving the way for the emergence of a camp-centered police state. In pre-war Germany in the mid-1930s, Himmler’s struggle to consolidate power from rivals eventually led him to make camps central to Nazi strategy. When the hardliners win, as they appear to have in the US, conditions tend to worsen significantly.

Is it possible this growth in the camp system will be temporary and the improvised border camps will soon close? In theory, yes. But the longer they remain open, the less likely they are to vanish. When I visited the camps for Rohingya Muslims a year before the large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing began, many observers appeared to be confusing the possible and the probable. It was possible that the party of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi would sweep into office in free elections and begin making changes. It was possible that full democracy would come to all the residents of Myanmar, even though the government had stripped the Rohingya of the last vestiges of their citizenship. These hopes proved to be misplaced. Once there are concentration camps, it is always probable that things will get worse.

The Philippines, Japanese-American internment, Guantánamo… we can consider the fine points of how the current border camps evoke past US systems, and we can see how the arc of camp history reveals the likelihood that the suffering we’re currently inflicting will be multiplied exponentially. But we can also simply look at what we’re doing right now, shoving bodies into “dog pound”-style detention pens, “iceboxes,” and standing room-only spaces. We can look at young children in custody who have become suicidal. How much more historical awareness do we really need?

What Is a Concentration Camp? Experts Agree With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Border Facilities

Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drew a firestorm of criticism this week after she appeared in an Instagram video claiming that the Trump administration « is running concentration camps on our southern border. »

« They are concentration camps, » Ocasio-Cortez affirmed in the video, referring to detention facilities where U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is holding undocumented migrants and asylum seekers who have fled to the U.S. « I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘never again’ means something. The fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the ‘home of the free’ is extraordinarily disturbing and we need to do something about it. »

Republican lawmakers were quick to push back against Ocasio-Cortez’s statement, which she repeated on Tuesday and Wednesday, arguing that the Congresswoman was disrespecting the memory of the 6 millions Jews who died in Nazi concentration camps by comparing these facilities to the ICE detention centers.

But many experts were quick to point out that, by definition, the ICE detention facilities are concentration camps. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a concentration camp as, « a place where large numbers of people (such as prisoners of war, political prisoners, refugees, or the members of an ethnic or religious minority) are detained or confined under armed guard. »

Many argue that this definition matches the detention centers currently set up on the southern border.

« Why are they called concentration camps? Well, to state the obvious, it’s because large numbers of people are ‘concentrated’ in camps. A better question is, why don’t we just call them prisons? We don’t say ‘prisons’ because prisons are a part of the formal legal system, » Lester Andrist, a sociologist who has studied indefinite detention, tweeted.

Andrist argues that the U.S. has a long history of establishing such facilities, including the Japanese-American internment camps that existed during World War II and, mostly recently, Guantanamo Bay. George Takei, the 82-year-old American actor of Japanese descent who is best known for his role in the Star Trek movies and television show, took to Twitter to share his perspective.

« I know what concentration camps are. I was inside two of them, in America. And yes, we are operating such camps again, » the Takei tweeted. The Takei family was interned in Arkansas and California in the 1940s.

Federico Finchelstein, a historian at the New York-based New School, agreed that the progressive congresswoman is right to call the ICE facilities concentration camps.

« As [a] historian of fascism & [the] Holocaust, I would also call these centers concentration camps, » Finchelstein tweeted. « As a Jewish person who lost family in [the] Holocaust, I regret that some Republicans use memory of the Holocaust to defend racist policies of Trumpism. »

In May, a top Pentagon official called China’s detention camps holding Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities « concentration camps » despite the fact that genocide has not been committed there.

Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the holocaust, however, was one of the institutions that pushed back against Ocasio-Cortez’s claims.

« Concentration camps assured a slave labor supply to help in the Nazi war effort, even as the brutality of life inside the camps helped assure the ultimate goal of ‘extermination through labor,' » the organization tweeted on Wednesday.

But the young Congresswoman stood by her position, noting that concentration camps are not the same as extermination camps.

« And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps, » Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Tuesday. « Concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial.’ And that’s exactly what this administration is doing. »

Voir enfin:

Recent assertions by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., that U.S.-run detention centers for migrants are « concentration camps » drew immediate rebukes from some politicians, Jewish groups and social media users.

« This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying.

This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis, » she tweeted June 18.

Her tweet didn’t specifically mention Nazi Germany, but she used the term « never again » on her Instagram, a phrase often used as a warning to prevent another genocide like the Holocaust.

In a subsequent tweet, Ocasio-Cortez offered a distinction between « concentration camps » and « death camps. »

« And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps. Concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial.’ And that’s exactly what this administration is doing. »

Some had strongly negative reactions.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., tweeted, « This is wrong @AOC. These are incredibly dangerous and disgusting words that demean the millions murdered during the Holocaust. »

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democratic presidential candidate, said Ocasio-Cortez « was wrong. You cannot compare what the Nazis did in the concentration camps. »

We decided to take a closer look at whether historians believe the label « concentration camp » can be reasonably applied to the migrant detention camps now being operated in the United States.

Historians we contacted said it was possible to make a case that the term « concentration camp » is a more general term than just referring to camps in Nazi Germany. However, these historians said Ocasio-Cortez glosses over some important differences.

They also said that the strong, longstanding association of the term « concentration camps » with Nazi Germany likely overwhelms any technical similarities the two types of camps may have. We won’t rate this item on our Truth-O-Meter for that reason.

When did the concept of a « concentration camp » emerge?

Nazi Germany was not the first nation to use concentration camps. The term dates from the eve of the 20th century, when it was used to describe policies used in at least three conflicts: South Africa’s Boer War, Spain’s campaign against Cuban insurrectionists and the United States’ campaign against Philippine insurgents.

The intent was to « cut insurgents off from their support, » said David J. Silbey, a Cornell University historian. « It was an effective tactic, but a brutal one, uprooting people from their homes and often leading to mass outbreaks of disease and starvation among the captive populations. »

Beginning in 1917, the Soviet Union used what were commonly known as « forced labor camps » to repress dissidents. The Soviets also forced people from the Baltic States and Poland into camps following their invasions of those countries in 1939.

Germany established concentration camps shortly after Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. Contrary to the popular image of concentration camps as killing factories, most facilities were initially designed for slave labor.

« Systematic killing didn’t begin until the invasion of the Soviet Union, and it wasn’t until the January 1942 Wannsee Conference that the Nazis formally decided on a policy of extermination, » said Stephen Shalom, a political scientist at William Paterson University. These became what historians often refer to as « death camps. »

Over time, the distinction in the popular mind between the different types of camps blurred. The reality, though, is that the early camps produced deaths from neglect or overwork, rather than carrying out executions.

« None of the camps were pleasant, but the death camps were certainly the worst, » said Lance Janda, a military historian at Cameron University.

Japanese-American internment camps

The United States operated camps to hold Japanese-Americans following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, which drove the U.S. into World War II.

Though generally referred to as « internment camps » or « relocation camps, » these complexes have occasionally been referred to as « concentration camps, » including by Chief Justice John Roberts in 2018.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines « concentration camp » as « a camp where persons are confined, usually without hearings and typically under harsh conditions, often as a result of their membership in a group the government has identified as dangerous or undesirable. »

Ocasio-Cortez and her staff have pointed to such linguistic precedents to argue that U.S. detention camps for migrants can be reasonably described as « concentration camps. »

Some scholars agree that similarities exist.

« As historian of fascism & Holocaust, I would also call these centers concentrations camps, » tweeted The New School historian Federico Finchelstein.

Colgate University sociologist Jonathan Hyslop, who was also quoted in an Esquire magazine article that Ocasio-Cortez has cited, told PolitiFact that the definition of « concentration camp » is more elastic than most people think.

Today’s migrant detention facilities in the United States

So where do today’s detention centers in the United States fit in?

Adult immigrants in federal custody who are either waiting to be deported or waiting for a resolution of their immigration case are held in government-run centers or other contracted facilities.

Immigrant rights advocates have long warned about poor standards and the mistreatment of detainees at some detention facilities. Generally, information about detention facilities can be difficult to obtain, inconsistent and outdated, and overall lacking in transparency.

The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security on June 3, 2019, issued a report detailing concerns about Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainee treatment and care at four detention facilities. The report is based on unannounced 2018 inspections, in which investigators « observed immediate risks or egregious violations of detention standards at facilities. »

Among the issues documented: overly restrictive segregation, inadequate medical care, unreported security incidents, and significant food safety issues.

On June 21, the Associated Press reported that a legal team that interviewed 60 children at a facility near El Paso found that « kids are taking care of kids, and there’s inadequate food, water and sanitation for the 250 infants, children and teens at the Border Patrol station. »

Separately, there are about 13,700 immigrant children in the federal government’s care, at an average length of 44 days in May 2019, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services told PolitiFact. These children crossed the border illegally alone, without a parent or guardian, and are also waiting for a decision on their immigration case.

As government officials seek sponsors for the children, the detainees receive a bed, meals, medical care, and showers. But the facilities have recently been directed to scale back some services, such as education and recreation, citing lack of sufficient funds.

Some historians point to ‘intent’ as a major distinction

Overall, experts described the U.S. detention facilities as being far different from those of the earliest concentration camps, or from the Nazi camps — even from the ones that weren’t « death camps. »

« The original purpose of concentration camps was to remove the populace from areas that were controlled or contested by guerrillas and thus deny the guerrillas popular support in its tangible forms — food, shelter, information, recruits, and so on, » said Texas A&M University historian Brian McAllister Linn. « This is not the purpose of the detention facilities in the Southwest. »

Janda — who emphasized that he is unhappy with the current U.S. detention policy — nonetheless drew a distinction based on intent.

« What we’re doing is just not the same as what the Nazis or the Soviets did, and it’s a disservice to people suffering under dictatorships around the world to act like it is, » Janda said. « We’re not rounding up legal citizens, or going after specific minority groups and holding them indefinitely to squash dissent. »

Richard Breitman, an American University historian, was among several experts who said they would have avoided the term « concentration camp. »

While the term « does show where abuse and dehumanization might lead, » he said, « it confuses more than it explains. »

Voir par ailleurs:

Un migrant salvadorien et sa fille d’environ deux ans se sont noyés en tentant de traverser le Rio Bravo pour entrer aux Etats-Unis depuis le Mexique. Les corps d’Óscar et Valeria Martínez Ramírez ont été retrouvés, lundi 24 juin, sur la rive du fleuve dans les environs de Matamoros, dans l’Etat mexicain de Tamaulipas, selon un rapport de la justice mexicaine auquel l’AFP a eu accès.

Selon ce rapport judiciaire, Óscar Martínez Ramírez, un cuisinier âgé de 25 ans, sa compagne Tania Vanessa Ávalos, âgée de 21 ans, et leur petite fille Angie, 2 ans, étaient arrivés la semaine précédente à Matamoros, après avoir traversé tout le Mexique. Dimanche après-midi, la famille a décidé d’essayer de gagner à la nage la rive américaine du Rio Bravo, qui longe la frontière entre le Mexique et les Etats-Unis, accompagnée d’un ami.

Le père a pris l’enfant sur son dos en la calant à l’intérieur de son tee-shirt pour traverser le fleuve. Mais, emportés par des courants violents, tous deux se sont noyés, sous les yeux de la mère, laquelle a pu retourner en vie sur la rive mexicaine, selon les explications qu’elle a fournies aux autorités locales. Les photographies des corps du jeune père et de l’enfant, flottant sur le ventre sur la rive mexicaine du fleuve, ont choqué l’opinion publique au Salvador, mais aussi aux Etats-Unis, où CNN (en anglais) les compare à la photo d’Aylan Kurdi, cet enfant syrien de 3 ans dont le corps avait été découvert sur une plage en Turquie, en 2015.

Un « mur invisible »

Le gouvernement mexicain est la cible de vives critiques ces derniers jours pour son attitude envers les migrants. Quelque 15 000 militaires ont été déployés à la frontière avec les Etats-Unis et une photographie de l’AFP, prise pendant le week-end, montre deux femmes et une fillette arrêtées par des membres lourdement armés de la Garde nationale. Des opposants y voient un « mur invisible », référence à la promesse de campagne du président américain, Donald Trump, de faire ériger un mur entre les deux pays aux frais du Mexique.

Le président mexicain, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, a démenti, mardi, qu’un ordre ait été donné aux militaires pour interpeller les migrants qui traversent la frontière avec les Etats-Unis. « Aucun ordre n’a été donné dans ce sens (…) ce n’est pas notre rôle », a déclaré le chef de l’Etat lors de sa conférence de presse quotidienne.

Voir également:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez compare les centres de rétention à des « camps de concentration »

Les propos de la jeune élue démocrate ont déclenché un tollé chez les Républicains.

L’Obs

L’étoile montante démocrate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez est au coeur d’une vive polémique mardi 18 juin après avoir qualifié les camps de rétention pour migrants érigés à la frontière sud des Etats-Unis de « camps de concentration ».

« Les Etats-Unis gèrent des camps de concentration à la frontière sud, c’est exactement ce qu’ils sont », a déclaré la jeune élue du Congrès lundi soir dans une intervention vidéo en direct sur Instagram. « C’est extrêmement dérangeant et il faut réagir », a ajouté l’élue d’origine portoricaine que partisans et détracteurs appellent AOC.

« Une présidence qui crée des camps de concentration est fasciste », a-t-elle asséné, déclenchant des réactions outrées chez les républicains.

« C’est une faute @AOC. Ce sont des mots dangereux et écoeurants qui portent atteinte aux millions de personnes tuées dans l’Holocauste », a tweeté le sénateur républicain Rick Scott.

« S’il vous plaît @AOC, rendez-nous service et passez quelques minutes à réviser l’Histoire », a renchéri la représentante Liz Cheney, fille de l’ancien vice-président Dick Cheney. « Six millions de juifs ont été exterminés dans l’Holocauste. Vous salissez leur mémoire et vous vous déshonorez avec ce type de commentaires ».

AOC contre-attaque

La démocrate, très habituée aux joutes sur les réseaux sociaux, n’a pas tardé à contre-attaquer.

« A tous les républicains geignards qui ne connaissent pas la différence : les camps de concentration et les camps de la mort ne sont pas la même chose. Les camps de concentration sont considérés par les experts comme les lieux “de détention de masse de civils sans procès”  et c’est exactement ce que ce gouvernement fait », a écrit mardi matin sur Twitter.

Les Etats-Unis enregistrent depuis des mois une forte hausse des arrivées de migrants à la frontière avec le Mexique. En mai, les garde-frontières américains y ont arrêté plus de 144.000 personnes, dont 57 000 mineurs.

Le Congrès finance plus de 40 000 places dans des centres de rétention, trop peu pour faire face à ces flux. De nombreux migrants sont donc remis en liberté, quand les autres s’entassent dans des structures surchargées.

Voir enfin:

Masquer notre Culture pour « ne Pas Offenser »
Giulio Meotti
Gatestone institute
27 juin 2019

  • Récemment, au Royaume-Uni, d’éminents intellectuels conservateurs ont été écartés. Roger Scruton, philosophe d’une exceptionnelle stature a été limogé d’une commission gouvernementale …
  • Puis ce fut le tour Jordan Peterson. L’Université de Cambridge a annulé la bourse de recherche de ce psychologue canadien de réputation internationale…
  • En refusant de dénoncer la censure, en ne défendant pas le droit à la liberté d’expression de Salman Rushdie, de Roger Scruton, de Jordan Peterson, de Charlie Hebdo et du Jyllands-Posten – la pointe d’un énorme iceberg – nous avons pris le chemin de la soumission à la charia et à la tyrannie. Notre culture soi-disant « blasphématoire » a été revêtue d’une burqa pour éviter d’attenter à la sensibilité de personnes qui elles, ne semblent pas gênées de nous offenser.

Il y a trois ans, le gouvernement italien a pris la honteuse décision de voiler d’antiques statues romaines pour ne pas attenter à la sensibilité islamique du président iranien Hassan Rouhani, en visite officielle en Italie. Les statues nues ont été enfermées dans des caissons blancs. Il y a un an, à Florence, une autre statue de style gréco-romain représentant un homme nu, a également été recouverte à l’occasion de la visite du prince héritier d’Abou Dhabi. Aujourd’hui, l’une des plus fameuses galeries d’art britanniques a masqué deux tableaux sur plainte de visiteurs musulmans dénonçant leur caractère « blasphématoire ».

À la Saatchi Gallery de Londres, deux tableaux de nus accolés à une citation en arabe de la shahada, l’un des cinq piliers de l’islam, ont suscité l’ire de visiteurs musulmans. Leur demande de retrait des peintures de l’exposition Rainbow Scenes (Scènes Arc en Ciel) n’a pas été satisfaite, mais les deux œuvres « offensantes » ont été voilées. « Saatchi se comporte comme l’Arabie saoudite, les œuvres qui blasphèment contre l’islam sont cachées au public », a commenté Brendan O’Neill dans la revue Spiked. Un expert a vu dans cette affaire un « retour des Versets sataniques ». Il faisait ainsi référence au roman publié en 1988, qui valut à son auteur, Salman Rushdie, citoyen britannique, d’être condamné à mort par le « Guide suprême » iranien, l’ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. La prime sur la tête de Rushdie a été portée à 4 millions de dollars en 2016 après qu’un groupe d’Iraniens a augmenté la « récompense » de 600 000 dollars – sans que cela provoque une quelconque protestation de la Grande-Bretagne.

De nombreuses maisons d’édition occidentales ont cédé à l’intimidation islamiste. L’éditeur Christian Bourgois qui avait acheté les droits des Versets sataniques pour la France, a refusé de les publier. Pour la première fois, au nom de l’islam, un écrivain a été condamné à disparaître de la surface de la terre – et à voir sa tête mise à prix.

Rushdie a survécu, mais Theo van Gogh lui, a été assassiné en 2004 pour avoir produit et réalisé « Soumission », un film sur la violence islamique à l’égard des femmes ; la mort de tant d’intellectuels arabo-musulmans coupables d’avoir écrit librement ; les émeutes qui ont suivi les caricatures danoises, les nombreux procès (ici et ici ), les tentatives de meurtre (ici et ici), l’exécution de la rédaction du magazine satirique français Charlie Hebdo, les violences qui ont suivi le discours du pape Benoît à Ratisbonne, les renoncements à publication et la réécriture de textes littéraires, les musées qui enferment dans leurs caves des représentations de Mahomet, les menaces et sanctions croissantes, y compris la flagellation, infligées à d’innombrables journalistes et écrivains tels que Raif Badawi en Arabie saoudite… tous ces évènements auraient dû nous mettre en garde au lieu de nous mettre à genoux.

La capitulation de la galerie Saatchi montre que la liberté de parole en Europe est faible et en voie d’extinction. Les extrémistes islamiques et les apaiseurs occidentaux ont obtenu gain de cause. C’est la tragique leçon de l’affaire Rushdie : aujourd’hui, après 30 ans, aucun auteur n’oserait plus écrire Les Versets Sataniques ; aucune grande maison d’édition comme Penguin n’oserait plus l’imprimer ; les attaques des médias contre les « islamophobes » sont plus fortes aujourd’hui qu’hier, et la trahison des diplomates occidentaux est abyssale. Aujourd’hui, face aux médias sociaux, outil de censure et menace de masse implicite, un auteur serait probablement moins chanceux que ne l’a été Rushdie il y a 30 ans. Plus le temps a passé et moins nous avons progressé. Le jihad contre Les Versets sataniques s’est reproduit encore et encore.

« Personne n’a plus les c… d’écrire Les Versets sataniques, et encore moins de les publier », a déclaré l’écrivain Hanif Kureishi. « L’écriture devient timide parce que les écrivains sont terrifiés ».

En 2008, Kenan Malik écrivait :

« Aucune censure formelle n’est à l’œuvre, et aucun État n’interdit la publication d’œuvres offensantes. Une culture de l »autocensure se développe qui a rendu moralement inacceptable d’attenter à la sensibilité d’autrui. Dans les vingt années qui ont suivi la publication des Versets sataniques, la fatwa a été intériorisée ».

L’affaire Rushdie a transformé en profondeur la société britannique. La reddition de la Saatchi Gallery à Londres n’a rien d’exceptionnel. La Tate Gallery a remisé une sculpture de John Latham intitulée « Dieu est grand » laquelle emprisonnait dans du verre le Coran, la Bible et le Talmud. « Tamerlan le Grand » de Christopher Marlowe a été censuré au Barbican Centre : la tirade affirmant que le prophète de l’islam « ne méritait pas d’être vénéré », et la scène ou le Coran était brûlé ont été retirées. La Whitechapel Art Gallery de Londres a expurgé une exposition des poupées nues qui auraient risqué d’incommoder la population musulmane. Aux Mall Galleries de Londres, un tableau de Mimsy intitulé « ISIS Threaten Sylvania » (L’Etat islamique menace Sylvania) qui représentait des peluches terroristes sur le point de massacrer d’autres peluches en train de pique-niquer a été censuré.

Au Royal Court Theatre de Londres, Richard Bean a été contraint de censurer son adaptation de « Lysistrata », la comédie grecque dans laquelle les femmes font la grève du sexe pour empêcher les hommes de partir à la guerre. Dans la version de Bean, des vierges islamiques agissaient de même pour arrêter les kamikazes.

Désormais, au nom de la lutte contre « l’islamophobie », l’establishment britannique rampe vers la charia : il purge et censure lui-même.

Récemment, au Royaume-Uni, d’éminents intellectuels conservateurs ont été écartés. Roger Scruton, figure de proue de la réflexion sur le conservatisme, a été limogé d’une commission gouvernementale pour avoir déclaré que le mot « islamophobie » avait été inventé par les Frères musulmans « pour mettre fin à la discussion sur un problème majeur ».

L’Université de Cambridge a annulé la bourse de recherche du distingué psychologue canadien Jordan Peterson, parce qu’il avait posé au côté d’un homme revêtu d’un t-shirt « I’m a proud Islamophobe » (Je suis un fier islamophobe). Le professeur Peterson a déclaré peu après que le mot « islamophobie » avait été « imaginé par des extrémistes musulmans, afin de garantir que l’islam ne soit jamais critiqué en tant que structure ».

Les cas Scruton et Peterson confirment – s’il était besoin – que « l’islamophobie » a bel et bien été inventée pour faire taire toute critique de l’islam, ou encore, comme l’a commenté Salman Rushdie, ce mot a été « créé pour aider les aveugles à rester aveugles ». La réaction en retour se fait toujours attendre.

En 2008, Tim Walker du Telegraph, citant le célèbre dramaturge Simon Gray, a expliqué que Nicholas Hytner, directeur du National Theatre de Londres de 2003 à 2015, « s’est employé à offenser les chrétiens » en prenant bien « garde de ne jamais mettre en colère les musulmans ». Les journalistes du magazine satirique français Charlie Hebdo, les derniers qui ont tenté de rire de l’islam, l’ont payé de leur vie. En ne défendant pas le droit à la liberté d’expression de Salman Rushdie, de Roger Scruton, de Jordan Peterson, de Charlie Hebdo et du Jyllands-Posten – la pointe d’un énorme iceberg – nous avons pris le chemin de la soumission à la charia et à la tyrannie. Nous avons habillé notre culture soi-disant « blasphématrice » d’une burqa pour éviter d’attenter à la sensibilité de personnes qui elles, ne semblent pas du tout gênées de nous offenser.

Giulio Meotti, journaliste culturel à Il Foglio, est un journaliste et auteur italien.


Mode: Les sionistes ont même inventé le look WASP ! (50 years of Ralph Lauren: How a Brooklyn-born son of Russian-Jewish immigrants almost single-handedly sold America and the world the old money New England look)

17 mars, 2019
Cheveux blancs, peau bronzée, sourire conquérant. Le petit Ralph Lifschitz - Lauren est un pseudo - s'est constitué un personnage taillé pour la publicité. Une image idéalisée de l'Amérique qui tapisse son bureau comme ses boutiques. https://scontent-cdt1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/10407816_10152590664390071_4019207009613686867_n.jpg?_nc_cat=107&_nc_ht=scontent-cdt1-1.xx&oh=dde54470b8d9ecba6716cdd408368e75&oe=5D0BB99F
https://i.pinimg.com/originals/59/b7/6e/59b76ec056faf8a0816d30ef1b00e1c7.jpgImage result for RALPH LAUREN PREPPY LOOKhttps://i.pinimg.com/originals/43/58/30/43583079d810c463669af4caa33bd32e.jpghttps://i0.wp.com/comm396-s16.ascjclass.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/20/2017/10/Royalty-Lauren-Ad-2.jpghttps://i0.wp.com/www.ivy-style.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/wallpaper.jpg https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/lauren.jpeghttps://i.etsystatic.com/14608849/r/il/019bbc/1608803273/il_fullxfull.1608803273_gcnp.jpg
https://scontent-cdt1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/53800891_10205836926759399_8735189174769942528_n.jpg?_nc_cat=102&_nc_ht=scontent-cdt1-1.xx&oh=c37a4e6722113f4bbe9fa2ad18dd2c9a&oe=5D0C3BD6

Au début, on me disait : « Mais Ralph, tu viens du Bronx, tu te prends pour qui ? » Ralph Lauren
There were also people who thought that because I was Jewish, I had no right to create these preppy clothes. Harvard, Yale, Princeton. Ralph Lauren
Petite garce juive, c’est toi qui vas lui laver ses chaussettes ? Mayo Methot
The novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald, for example are peopled with earnest heroes who hailed from the Midwest but who came to play in the racy world of New York via Princeton or Yale. Cooke
Not only will I not say that again, but I’ll be more thoughtful going forward in the way that I talk about our marriage, and also the way in which I acknowledge the truth of the criticism that I have enjoyed white privilege. So yes, I think the criticism is right on. My ham-handed attempt to try to highlight the fact that Amy has the lion’s share of the burden in our family — that she actually works but is the primary parent in our family, especially when I served in Congress, especially when I was on the campaign trail — should have also been a moment for me to acknowledge that that is far too often the case, not just in politics, but just in life in general. I hope as I have been in some instances part of the problem, I can also be part of the solution. Beto O’Rourke
It was the second apology O’Rourke made during the podcast. The first was for his writings as a teenager when he was a member of a group of activist hackers. Those writings, which came under the pseudonym « Psychedelic Warlord » and included a piece of fiction from a killer’s point of view, were revealed in a Reuters report. He said he was « mortified to read it now, incredibly embarrassed … whatever my intention was as a teenager doesn’t matter. » « I have to look long and hard at my actions, at the language I have used, and I have to constantly try to do better, » he said. The comments came as O’Rourke responded to a question about how he would combat white supremacy. O’Rourke criticized President Donald Trump, saying that Mexican and Muslim children « internalize it » when the President attacks them with a broad brush. He also criticized Trump’s response to the violence at a white supremacists’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. « We also have to confront this racism, this xenophobia, this nativism and this hatred, or else I’m confident it will consume us. And so calling it out is part of it, and then setting an example of how we want to treat each other, » he said. CNN
The Vanity Fair cover photo of Beto O’Rourke, taken by Annie Leibovitz, is an apparent homage to the famous Time magazine portrait of Ronald Reagan when he was chosen as Man of the Year in 1980. (…) Reagan was shown in a blue shirt and jeans with a brown leather belt and his hands on his hips. (…) O’Rourke, a former Democratic Texas congressman, was photographed with a light-blue shirt, tucked into a pair of jeans and a leather belt. He is standing next to his truck on a dirt road and has his hands on his hips. (…) O’Rourke is entering a crowded field of candidates for the Democratic nomination. The latest Real Clear Politics average puts O’Rourke a distant 6th place with 5.3 percent. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has not yet announced a bid, leads the pack in the high-20’s with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., sitting in second place. O’Rourke exemplifies a new normal. None of the other major white progressive candidates—Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or Kirsten Gillibrand—invoked God in their presidential announcements either. (Amy Klobuchar, who is running as a comparative moderate, did.) Today’s white liberals don’t only talk about faith less than their predecessors did. They talk about it in a strikingly different way. Earlier Democrats invoked religion as a source of national unity. (…) The implication was that religious observance was something Americans of both parties shared. Today, by contrast, progressive white candidates more often cite religion as a source of division. In his announcement video, O’Rourke boasted that during his Senate campaign in Texas, “people allowed no difference, however great or however small, to stand between them and divide us. Whether it was religion or gender or geography or income, we put our labels and our differences aside.” The only reference to faith in Warren’s announcement speech was an acknowledgment that “we come from different backgrounds. Different religions.” The lone reference in Sanders’s was a call for “ending religious bigotry.” While white progressives once described religion as something that brought Americans together, they’re now more likely to describe it as something that drives them apart. It’s not hard to understand why. For starters, the percentage of white Democrats who express no religious affiliation has skyrocketed. According to unpublished data tabulated for me last year by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), 8 percent of white Democrats expressed no religious affiliation in 1990. By 2016, the figure was 33 percent. In 1990, white self-described liberals were 39 points more likely to describe themselves as Protestant than as religiously unaffiliated. By 2016, religiously unaffiliated beat Protestant by nine points. Secular Democrats haven’t only grown more numerous. They’ve also become some of the party’s most motivated activists. As The Atlantic’s Emma Green has noted, a PRRI poll taken last August and September found that Democrats who shun organized religion were more than twice as likely to have attended a political rally in the previous year than Democrats who identify with a religious group. The other reason liberal candidates more often describe religion as a source of division is the rise of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. Before Donald Trump, Republican religious discourse was more ecumenical. The 2000 Republican convention featured a Muslim prayer, and George W. Bush regularly spoke about Americans who attended a “church, synagogue, or mosque.” In such an environment, it was easier for Democrats to depict an America divided by race, class, and gender but unified by religious faith, even if different Americans expressed that faith in different ways. Today, by contrast, since more Americans don’t practice a religion, and the president demonizes some of those who do, it’s more natural to describe religion as a rift to be overcome. But while there are legitimate reasons to talk about religion less (America has become a less religious country) and to describe it more negatively (religious bigotry has risen sharply), doing so could hurt Democrats such as O’Rourke in their efforts to defeat Trump. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center poll, while a small plurality of Democrats thinks politicians talk about religion too much, Republicans overwhelmingly think politicians talk about it too little. Among those Republicans are devout Christians who agree with Trump on abortion but consider him a detestable human being, and might be lured into voting against him by a Democrat who both spoke compellingly about a guiding faith and appeared to live by it. Democratic candidates might be tempted to pursue an opposite strategy: employing secular rhetoric to rouse their secular base. But the Democratic base isn’t overwhelmingly secular; it’s partly secular and partly religious. Republicans, by contrast, are overwhelmingly religious. Which may explain why, according to a 2017 study in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, candidates who were perceived as secular experienced a “drop in Republican support that … was not balanced by an increase in Democratic support.” That’s partly because of African Americans. While many white Democrats want politicians to speak about religion less, black Democrats overwhelmingly want them to speak about it more. When asked in 2016 whether political leaders were talking about “their faith and prayer” too much or too little, black Protestants said “too little” by a larger margin than even Republicans. While only 41 percent of Democrats said it was very or somewhat important that a president shared their religious views, among black Protestants, the figure was 72 percent, again even higher than among Republicans. (…) For Harris and Booker, whose path to the Democratic nomination requires winning the black vote, religious language is a necessity. And the same religious language that helps them win over African Americans in the primary may help them win over Republicans in the general election. In their appetite for public professions of faith, black Democrats and white Republicans are similar. It’s white liberals who stand out. White progressives such as O’Rourke, Sanders, and Warren tacitly recognize that religion is no longer the force for national unity it once was. For Harris and Booker, the intriguing possibility is that it’s still unifying enough to propel them to the White House. The Atlantic
Let us count the ways in which college admissions are corrupt. They are corrupted by the reserving of spots for ‘legacy’ applicants. To qualify for one of these highly selective non-competitive places, you need to be born with forebears who attended your choice of college, and to be able to sit straight without drooling out of either corner of your mouth. Legacy places are essentially affirmative action for the wealthier sort of white people. They should not be confused with a more recent form of corruption, affirmative action for the wealthier sort of non-white people. Reserving a certain number of spots on the basis of race was originally intended to assist the upward mobility of black people, many of whose ancestors having been owned by the ancestors of the people who still monopolize legacy admissions. But these days, affirmative action effectively preserves the class advantages of any non-white applicant with good-enough SAT scores, and at the expense of a poorer non-white applicant. The exceptions to this rule are American applicants of East Asian and Indian background. These hard-working children of hard-working immigrants are penalized for their hard work and family values, and have to get higher SAT scores than other racial groups, especially African Americans. It is an inarguable fact that if America’s top colleges admitted students solely by academic merit and potential, their entire intake would be of Chinese and Indian extraction, with a sprinkling of Jews to make the jokes. All colleges rig the racial profile of their intake by explicitly racist measures. The Ivy League adds an extra layer of racial screening by insisting on ‘character’, which means impersonating the manners of white people. This is an elaborately cruel form of corruption which has grown out of the corruption of affirmative action, itself a corrective to the earlier corruption of college admissions by race and class. As William ‘Rick’ Singer is alleged to know, college admissions are openly corrupted by sporting ability. I’ve taught in what are laughably sold as top liberal arts colleges. Almost all the students on sports scholarships are semi-literate. They sleep through their lectures, which is understandable, given their rigorous training schedules. They pay their less athletic fellow students to write their papers for them, which is also understandable, given their selfless donation of their sporting talent to the community. They just sit there like sleepy bears, giving off a faint whiff of locker rooms and vanilla protein shake as they twiddle with their cellphones. College admissions are also corrupted by admitting foreign students who can’t speak or write English, but whose parents are willing to pay top dollar. It’s an open secret that many mainland Chinese and South Korean applicants to ‘top liberal arts colleges’ don’t write their application essays; either that, or their English goes into reverse after sending off the essays. But, just as you can’t fire an athlete, you can’t send the foreign students home. Finally, colleges are begging to be corrupted by donations. The more colleges replace merit with profiling on the basis of racial background, family connections, economic origin, or sporting ability, the greater the squeeze on the remaining places. This creates an incentive for bribery by ‘donation’. When colleges claim that they’re not swayed by donations, they’re lying. If they were serious about reducing the scope for bribery, they’d refuse to accept donations from families with applications active or imminent. William Deresiewicz, one of the few people to have taught at an American university and spoken honestly about the hollowing of the system, wrote a book in 2014 called Excellent Sheep. Deresiewicz believes that the risk-averse selection strategies of elite colleges have created a narrow and risk-averse elite. It now turns out that elite colleges do admit a wide and risk-embracing pool of applicants with low SAT scores — providing their parents pay a bit extra, or a lot. Everything is for sale in the American university except a decent liberal education. Money talks, and merit comes last. Huffman, Loughlin and the other parents are in court not just because they seem to have been blessed with children of inordinate stupidity, but because they grasped the rules of college corruption perfectly, and played the game the wrong way, and perhaps too well. William ‘Rick’ Singer knew the system so well that he created a simulacrum of the admissions process. He invented a fake charity, which is what most private colleges are. He paid competent students to sit entry exams, which happens all the time. He cut deals with sports coaches, rather than the coaches and the scouts cutting deals with the family. He obtained sports scholarships for students who didn’t lift a finger or a bat once they were in. And, like the elite schools, he extracted a fortune from suckers. When he gets out of prison, a brilliant career awaits, possibly as dean of a liberal arts college in Vermont. Dominic Green
Ralph Lifschitz, dit Ralph Lauren (né le 14 octobre 1939 à New York), est un entrepreneur et un styliste américain, fondateur de la marque homonyme ; il est également un symbole du style preppy et du prêt-à-porter américain. Ralph Lauren est né dans le Bronx à New York, de parents immigrés juifs de Russie : Frank et Frida Lifschitz. Son père était peintre en bâtiment. Il habite dans le même quartier que Calvin Klein, de deux ans son cadet. Les deux enfants se connaissent alors simplement de vue. Ils se soutiendront par la suite dans leur carrière respective. Dès son plus jeune âge, Ralph commença à travailler après l’école pour s’acheter d’élégants et onéreux costumes. (…) À l’âge de seize ans, Ralph et son frère aîné Jerry changent leur nom de famille Lifschitz en Lauren, à cause de moqueries de leurs camarades de classe sur ce patronyme. Le choix de « Lauren » viendrait de l’actrice Lauren Bacall, une incarnation du « rêve américain ». Certains considèrent pourtant ce changement comme un déni de leur héritage juif mais Ralph jugeait cela nécessaire pour le succès. Il étudie la gestion au City College de New York, qu’il quitta après deux ans, sans diplôme. De 1962 à 1964, il sert dans l’Armée américaine, affecté dans un centre d’entrainement, Fort Dix dans le New Jersey. (…) Passionné de mode et sans avoir étudié dans une école de stylisme, il devient vendeur dans différentes boutiques. Il se fait embaucher chez Brooks Brothers en tant que vendeur, dans leur boutique de Madison Avenue. Ses idées de nouvelles formes et couleurs n’étant pas retenues, il décide de créer une collection de cravates, très larges et à rayures, en expliquant que c’est à travers des cravates que les hommes de l’époque pouvaient s’exprimer. Ces cravates sont fabriquées à son compte et il démarche lui-même des magasins. Après un premier refus, Bloomingdale’s accepte de les vendre. (…) souhaitant créer sa propre marque, fasciné par le style chic des WASP (sans pour autant rêver de faire partie de ce monde) ainsi que du « rêve américain » (…) Il (…) emprunte 50 000 dollars (…), ce qui lui permet d’ouvrir une boutique de cravates où il vend notamment sa propre marque nommée Polo. Un an plus tard, il élargit à la vente de chemises et autres vêtements pour homme. (…) il crée, à la demande de sa femme, une ligne pour les femmes taillée dans un style masculin. Cette ligne voit pour la première fois l’emblème de la marque : le cavalier joueur de polo. En 1972, il diffuse ses fameux polos à manches courtes sortis dans plus de 24 coloris. Les polos deviennent bientôt un classique. Ralph Lauren gagne la reconnaissance du public en fournissant la garde-robe du film Gatsby le Magnifique. En 1984, il transforme la « Rhinelander Mansion », l’ancienne maison des photographes Edgar de Evia et Robert Denning, en vitrine pour Polo Ralph Lauren. Au cours des années 1980, il se lance dans la production d’accessoires pour la maison, afin de diversifier la gamme de produits de sa compagnie. C’est plus tard dans les années 1990, qu’il lance la ligne Polo Sport avec laquelle il connaît un grand succès. De cette marque Polo, il y a aussi des incontournables comme la chemise Oxford Col pointe boutonne, les pantalons Chinos, les deux très preppy, les vestes en tweed, les chemises en denim et en chambray. Le 11 juin 1997, la marque Ralph Lauren entre en bourse, au New York Stock Exchange, avec pour symbole RL. En 2007, Ralph Lauren a 35 boutiques aux États-Unis et 23 villes distribuent Ralph Lauren Purple Label. (…) En 2014, l’entreprise compte plus de 300 boutiques dans 80 pays, pèse 13 milliards de dollars en bourse et génère 6,9 milliards de dollars de chiffre d’affaires. Ralph et sa femme Ricky, personnalité des Hamptons, ont deux fils et une fille (…) En 2012, sa fortune est estimée 7,5 milliards de dollars, ce qui la classe comme la 122e personne la plus riche au monde. (…) Il possède une villa à la Jamaïque, un manoir dans le Connecticut, une maison dans les Hamptons, un ranch dans le Colorado et un appartement dans l’Upper East Side, à Manhattan. (…) Ralph Lauren est aussi connu pour être un collectionneur automobile de sport et de luxe. Il est d’ailleurs fasciné par leur esthétique et l’histoire des concepteurs comme Enzo Ferrari ou Ettore Bugatti. Il possède, en 2011, 70 voitures de collection, qui sont stockées à Katonah, dans l’État de New York. (…) 17 des voitures de sa collection ont été exposées deux fois à Paris au Musée des arts décoratifs. Ces voitures, dont certaines ont plus de 80 ans, retracent l’histoire de l’automobile sportive de 1929 à 1996. (…) La Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation soutient des initiatives de traitement du cancer, d’assistance et d’éducation dans les communautés défavorisées. Wikipedia
Betty Joan Perske naît le 16 septembre 1924 dans le quartier du Bronx à New York. Elle est la fille unique de Natalie (née Weinstein-Bacal), une secrétaire, et de William Perske, un vendeur. Ses deux parents sont issus de l’immigration juive de l’Europe centrale. Lauren Bacall rapporte dans ses mémoires que sa mère, née à Ellis Island, a ses racines en Roumanie et son père est né dans le New Jersey de parents immigrés originaires de la région de Valojyn en Biélorussie. Elle confie également qu’elle aurait fait de ses origines sa force intérieure. Betty n’a que cinq ans quand ses parents divorcent. Elle est alors élevée par sa mère, qui la pousse à apprendre la danse et la comédie. Elle ne voit plus beaucoup son père et est très proche de sa mère. Elle décide de prendre le deuxième nom roumain de sa mère, Bacall. À l’adolescence, pendant ses études secondaires à la Julia Richman High School (en) à New York, Lauren Bacall entame une carrière de mannequin au Garment Center. Parallèlement, elle fait de petites apparitions sur scène à Broadway. En 1941, elle quitte l’école et commence des études à l’American Academy of Dramatic Arts, où elle côtoie Kirk Douglas, alors qu’elle cumule un emploi d’ouvreuse de cinéma et de mannequin. Engagée par le magazine Harper’s Bazaar en 1942 comme mannequin, elle en fait la couverture en mars 1943. Elle apparaît aussi dans Vogue. Elle se fait remarquer pour « sa grâce féline, ses cheveux blond épais et ses yeux bleu-verts ». Elle fait ses débuts sur les planches à Broadway en 1942, à l’âge de 17 ans dans Johnny 2 X 4. (…) Durant la période où elle continue à être mannequin, la femme d’Howard Hawks, Nancy, tombe sur la couverture du Harper’s Bazaar Magazine et presse son mari de lui faire passer une audition pour Le Port de l’angoisse. Cette dernière voit en elle la possibilité de réaliser l’ambition de son mari qui consiste à « créer » un nouveau profil de star de cinéma. (…) Hawks lui fait changer son prénom pour Lauren et Perske adopte définitivement le deuxième nom de sa mère, Bacall ; Lauren Bacall devient son nom de scène définitif (il y ajoute un « l », le nom de jeune fille de sa mère étant « Bacal »). Nancy Hawks la prend sous son aile. Nancy lui apprend à s’habiller de manière sophistiquée, la guide en matière d’élégance, dans ses goûts et manières. Howard Hawks demande à Bacall de s’entraîner à avoir une voix plus basse, profonde et sexy. Lorsqu’il l’emmène à Hollywood, il lui fait prendre des cours auprès d’un moniteur vocal pour abaisser la tonalité de sa voix et en faire l’archétype de la femme fatale. Lorsqu’Howard Hawks lui annonce qu’elle aura pour partenaire Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall ne se montre guère enthousiaste, indiquant qu’elle aurait préféré jouer avec Cary Grant12. Le tournage est marqué par deux événements importants pour Bacall. Premièrement, elle est terrifiée par la caméra et garde la tête baissée contre sa poitrine, levant seulement les yeux pour regarder son partenaire. C’est de là que lui vient son surnom « The Look ». Ceci reste comme sa marque de fabrique. Deuxièmement, sa relation avec Bogart quitte le registre professionnel et les deux acteurs entament une relation amoureuse, au grand dam de Hawks. L’alchimie entre les deux acteurs est visible à l’écran et la réplique de Bacall à Bogart « Si vous avez besoin de moi, vous n’avez qu’à siffler. Vous savez siffler, Steve ? Vous rapprochez vos lèvres comme ça et vous soufflez ! » est classée à la 34e place dans le « Top 100 » des répliques les plus mémorables de l’American Film Institute. Le film est un succès et, à seulement dix-neuf ans, avec sa voix rauque si particulière, sa carrière est lancée. Elle va désormais « incarner la femme fatale du film noir et de la comédie sophistiquée, personnifiant un idéal de beauté à la fois androgyne et féminin ». (…) Lauren Bacall épouse Humphrey Bogart le 21 mai 1945 à Mansfield, dans l’Ohio. Pour elle, il quitte sa femme Mayo Methot, qui lança à Lauren Bacall : « Petite garce juive, c’est toi qui vas lui laver ses chaussettes ? » (…)  Lauren a 20 ans et Bogart 45 ans. (…) Lauren Bacall était la cousine germaine de Shimon Peres, né Szymon Perski, ancien président de l’État d’Israël et Lauréat du prix Nobel de la paix. Wikipedia
Preppy ou preppie, souvent utilisé sous le diminutif prep, est un style vestimentaire à tendance sportswear, un courant de mode, ayant pour origine les milieux de l’upper class (en) WASP de la Côte Est des États-Unis aux environs des années 1950, puis répandu entre autres dans les Hamptons plus au sud. Ce style, au départ élitiste par ses origines, est l’héritier de l’Ivy League apparu dans le groupe éponyme des grandes universités américaines ainsi que du Bobby-soxer. Son étymologie vient de « preparatory » (élève de classe préparatoire à l’université ; le terme est inventé par Erich Segal dans les années 1970, où ce style devient un classique après la sortie du film Love Story et le lancement peu de temps après d’une collection du styliste Ralph Lauren parmi ses premières. Ses représentants, pour la plupart de grandes entreprises américaines de prêt-à-porter, sont principalement l’historique J. Press (en) symbole du style Ivy League à l’origine, Brooks Brothers1, Paul Stuart (en), le mondialement connu Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, également Fred Perry, marque immortalisée par Kennedy, J.Crew et Kate Spade dans une moindre mesure, ou plus récemment Vineyard Vines ainsi que le styliste Marc Jacobs. Pour les marques d’origine européenne, Lacoste, qui a rencontré un grand succès aux États-unis, ou plus tard Daniel Crémieux, sont des entreprises emblématiques de ce style. Le look preppy se caractérise symboliquement pour les hommes par des mocassins type « penny loafer » ou des chaussures-bateau (tels que ceux de la marque Sebago), un pantalon Chino ou type Nantucket Reds, un polo ou une chemise Oxford, une cravate reprenant les couleurs de l’université. Par extension, une sweat-shirt également aux couleurs de l’université et à larges écritures, ou une veste anglaise Barbour peuvent être un élément classique de la tenue définie comme « preppie ». Pour les femmes, des sandales en cuir aux pieds, le short ou la robe (notamment celles de Lilly Pulitzer), ou une jupe le plus souvent à motifs tartan. Les vêtements ont parfois un rapport avec les sports, dont le tennis ou le bateau ; Tommy Hilfiger précise que « l’esprit marin est la base même du preppy américain, ce style sportswear que l’on adopte chez nous, même pour aller travailler. » Le preppy, bien que très différent par ses symboles vestimentaires, est parfois comparé au « Bon chic bon genre ». Wikipedia
New England is home to four colleges that comprise the Ivy League athletic conference: Harvard, Yale, Brown and Dartmouth. The other colleges – Princeton, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania and Columbia – are also in the Northeast. In the conformist 1950s, students at these colleges popularized the Ivy League look, which had its roots in the conservative styles of New England. For men, the Ivy League look consisted of a suit with a narrow-shouldered unfitted jacket, worn with a button-down shirt, skinny tie, and penny loafers (preferably Bass Weejuns). Charcoal gray and olive were the preferred colors. Chinos and tweed blazers offered a casual alternative. The look spread beyond campuses to young men in all parts of suburban America where details such as buckle straps from Ivy trousers were transplanted to caps, shirts, and shoes. High school students wore a more extreme four-button jacket bearing the name « Jivey Ivy. » By 1960, most men sported modified Ivy models that incorporated unpadded shoulders, narrow lapels, and tapered trousers. Brooks Brothers, a citadel of conservatism, came to the forefront as the Ivy League style became popular. When the young John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a senator from Massachusetts, became the president of the United States, the Ivy League look reached the White House. Ivy League women wore cashmere twin sets, Shetland sweaters, or blazers with kilts or tweed skirts. In the summer, blouses with peter pan collars were worn with Bermuda shorts. A pearl necklace set off any outfit. The Ivy look is well bred, understated, but not fussy. Many New England men and women held to the conservative, classic styles that compromised the Ivy League look during the sartorial upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s. In the late 1970s, conservative styles once again seemed right for the times, and the Ivy League look resurfaced as the preppy look. The essential ingredients for the male preppy wardrobe included a conservative gray flannel suit, preferably made by Brooks Brothers, a long-time favorite label of New Englanders. For less formal wear, button-down oxford shirts or Lacoste polo shirts worn with khakis or corduroys sufficed. Other favorites included Harris Tweed jackets, down vests, Burberry tench coasts, L.L. Bean field coats, and camel hair Polo coats. Preppy women wore female versions of masculine styles: khaki, flannel, or corduroy slacks; a kilt or plaid skirt, a blazer or tweed jacket; and a Shetland or Fair-Isle sweater over a ruffle-necked white blouse or cotton turtleneck. Preppy styles for women were rather androgynous: female versions of the men’s styles produced by the same companies. Both genders wore clothes of Indian madras, a cotton plaid fabric that had first become popular in the early 1960s. Shoes common to both men and women were loafers or Sperry Top-Siders (boat shoes). Socks were optional. Men donned wing tips for dressy affairs while women wore simple pumps.vLike the Ivy League look before it, the preppy look emphasized the wearing of classic fabrics from natural fibers. The only departure from conservative dressing was the bright pink and green color combinations seen in preppy ensembles. Preppy clothes were well made, with attention to detail. Brand names were important. The American designer Ralph Lauren has built a financial empire on fashions inspired by this old money New England look. Michael Sletcher
The clothes look good in magazines, but look older in stores. I would never buy Polo at full price. Christina
Sometimes, I hear designers from older generations saying, ‘Oh, fashion needs to make women dream. I feel that this is really difficult today. I think it’s dated. Fashion shouldn’t make you dream in 2016. It should just be there, for us to wear. Gvasalia
Lauren built a career by brazenly positioning himself as the quintessential interpreter of the American zeitgeist. More than any designer, he has used America’s mythology — our secular religion — for profit. In doing so, he has displayed a keen understanding of our cultural symbols. He can parse the difference between a pair of blue jeans worn with cowboy boots and those worn with a black leather jacket. He sees the romance in a prairie skirt or a well-worn Native American blanket. He knows what it means in our racially conflicted society to photograph a dark-skinned, athletic black man in his preppiest, old-money brand. And he knows how a bright-eyed blonde feeds our vision of Mayflower blue bloods. And as consumers, we have bought into those symbols and made Lauren an extremely wealthy man. The Washington Post
Entering the Rhinelander Mansion on New York’s Upper East Side is like quietly opening a window into Ralph Lauren’s mind. Many describe Lauren’s superpower as his ability to turn his wildest dreams into reality, and inside that mansion, Ralph Lauren’s original flagship location, his dreams are made real in every nook and cranny of the place. Each room presents one lavish scene after the next, and it’s not hard to imagine Lauren himself toiling at the displays to make sure everything sits just right. Spaces are small and illuminated with candles and the softest of lighting, beckoning shoppers to linger. A glass of water arrives on a small silver platter, garnished with a single slice of lemon, just for you. It’s stunningly clear here, walking slowly up a staircase lined with oil paintings from the company’s collection, that Ralph Lauren is a lifestyle. No detail is left to chance: Ralph Lauren ties are fanned out on a table in front of a bar stacked high with Ralph Lauren shirts, next to a case of monogrammed Ralph Lauren cufflinks. Ralph Lauren briefcases are placed next to Ralph Lauren paperweights on a Ralph Lauren desk topped with Ralph Lauren stationery, positioned underneath a giant, glittering chandelier that can’t possibly — but maybe? — be branded Ralph Lauren. Everything, right down to the 82,000 square feet of mahogany hauled in for the mansion’s renovation in the 1980s, reeks of style and status and money. Old money. [but] Once you leave the giant department stores of New York City and head to the malls of suburbia, Ralph Lauren becomes a few racks of Oxfords, polos, and pleated pants. Reliably found in your local Dillard’s, and just as reliably found on sale. (…) Most shoppers haven’t encountered the totality of Ralph Lauren’s world. How could they? Since the early 2000s, Ralph Lauren Corporation has owned and operated at least 25 different brands. It’s a staggering list: Polo Ralph Lauren, Polo Jeans, Polo Golf, Pink Pony, Purple Label, Blue Label, Black Label, Ralph by Ralph Lauren, Lauren Ralph Lauren, Lauren for Men, Women’s Collection, RRL, RLX, Rugby, Denim & Supply, Club Monaco, Chaps, Ralph Lauren Childrenswear, Ralph Lauren Watches, Ralph Lauren Fine Jewelry, American Living, Ralph Lauren Home, Lauren Home, Ralph Lauren Paint, and Lauren Spa. Not all are still in operation. For the shoppers who actually are familiar with the company’s multitude of lines, it’s still exhausting. « The identity of the brand gets lost, » laments Efney Hall, who has been shopping Ralph Lauren for over a decade. Lauren has stepped aside to make way for a new CEO, Stefan Larsson — the first person besides Lauren to ever hold that title in the company’s 50-year history. The company has been in the process of whittling down the brand list and there are plans to refocus on just three main lines: Ralph Lauren (the new umbrella label for Women’s Collection and Purple Label), Polo Ralph Lauren, and Lauren Ralph Lauren. At the same time that Ralph Lauren is reevaluating its structure and bringing in fresh leadership, it also has to contend with the fact that the specific style of Americana that’s so deeply embedded in every inch of the brand isn’t something shoppers are clamoring to align themselves with now. If the privileged, preppy aesthetic that Lauren built his company around is no longer the height of aspiration, what will the future of Ralph Lauren look like? Ralph Lauren did not grow up living the lifestyle that would later make him a billionaire. No, Ralph Lauren was born Ralph Lifshitz, a shy Jewish kid who lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment in the Bronx with his parents and three siblings. In Genuine Authentic: The Real Life of Ralph Lauren, writer Michael Gross paints a picture of young Ralph as a dreamer, never one to run with the crowd. « If white bucks were in fashion, he wore saddle shoes, » a former classmate told Gross. « When we wore crew necks, he wore V-necks. He was always a step ahead. » lLauren’s perception of taste and class was constructed by what he saw around him, according to Gross. His richer friends’ parents drove convertibles, went on European vacations, and had country club memberships. In films, he watched Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, and Fred Astaire glide across the screen, wearing beautiful suits and getting the girls every time. (…) However, Lauren’s mother had set a strict path for Ralph: he was to be a rabbi. (…) At 19, he and his brother Jerry changed their last name from Lifshitz to Lauren. (As Gross reports it, Ralph polled friends on two alternatives, London or Lauren; he was personally partial to London.) In the official document filed for the name change, the reason listed was confusion over people, both at school and at work, who shared the same last name. In reality, Lifshitz had the word « shit » in it and Ralph’s plans for himself did not include dealing with that for the rest of his life. (…) Lauren had no professional training in design, but he believed so deeply in his wild ties that other people did too. He caught the attention of Norman Hilton, one of the biggest names in the menswear industry at the time, who eventually became the first investor in Lauren’s business. Polo Fashions, Inc., named after the posh sport (not the shirts Lauren would later become famous for), launched in 1968 and, as Hilton’s son Nick remembers it, his father poured $75,000 into the startup. By the end of his first year running Polo Fashions, Lauren had expanded from ties into full suits that the Daily News Record (a menswear trade publication that was later folded into WWD) featured alongside heavyweights like Bill Blass and Oleg Cassini. (…) It was then that he decided to change the name on his labels from Polo Fashions to Polo by Ralph Lauren, in part to imitate how other designers were using their own names on their womenswear labels. And then, for the launch of women’s button-down shirts, the company added a new design element: a small embroidered polo player. It was an overnight success. (…) As Lauren’s business grew, buoyed in large part by the ‘80s prep revival, the polo player became an integral part of the women’s and men’s lines, including on the polo shirts that became a signature of the Ralph Lauren look. Chaps was the first of many extensions that Ralph Lauren would experiment with. Chaps was Lauren’s answer to Polo knockoffs that were flooding the market. He couldn’t stop the knockoffs from being produced, so he created a cheaper line to compete with them. The company also expanded quickly through a number of licensing partnerships, a relatively easy way to put the Ralph Lauren name on a variety of products without having to deal with manufacturing any of it. (…) Lauren’s vision of America drew heavily from the world of Ivy League preps, but the brand appealed far beyond the country club crowd. (…) Ralph Lauren went public in 1997 and continued to thrive throughout the early 2000s, opening new lines seemingly on a whim. (…) By 2012, Ralph Lauren stock was trading at more than $170 per share, having shot up by $100 in five years. There was so much faith in the success of the company. (…) The company employed approximately 25,000 people in 2012, and was reporting $6.8 billion in sales and net profits of $681 million. Then came the slide and Ralph Lauren’s literal and metaphorical stock began to tumble. Shares fell nearly 50 percent from a high point of $192 in May 2013 to $82 in February 2016. Sales were still holding steady, but profits slid drastically. (…) Ralph Lauren is going through operational struggles during not only a tumultuous period in the retail industry, but also a time that’s seeing a cultural shift away from what the brand stands for. The prep aesthetic has always smacked of privilege, something accessible primarily to white people with trust funds and monogrammed shirtsleeves. Now, the WASP lifestyle that completely captivated Lauren as a young entrepreneur is considered out of touch at best, offensive and oppressive at worst. Take, for instance, the media’s reaction to the company’s Olympic uniform designs this year. Headlines announcing the kits included: « Ralph Lauren’s Olympic Uniforms Are Straight Out of Prep School Hell »; « USA’s Olympic Uniforms Are WASPy Bullshit »; « Team USA’s Official Olympic Uniforms are Peak Vanilla »; and Racked’s own contribution, « I Need More From Team USA’s Olympic Uniforms ». The Daily Mail rounded up the best tweets from the debacle. (…) Today’s shoppers are interested in more democratic clothing options — options that are casual, practical, and mass. Athleisure is a $97 billion business in the US, accounting for nearly one-third of the entire apparel, footwear, and accessories market. Vetements, the French design collective led by Demna Gvasalia that no one can stop talking about, is making a killing off of what can best be described as incredibly ordinary clothing. (…) The counterculture revolution of the late ‘60s and ‘70s ushered in an era of long hair and bell bottoms as a response to the conservative style of the ‘50s. Then, in the ‘80s, Lauren led a massive preppy revival that other traditional menswear retailers like Brooks Brothers and J.Press also felt the effects of. This aligned with the Reagan era, a time when conservative politics replaced the freewheeling ideals of the previous two decades. When Lisa Birnbaum published The Preppy Handbook in 1980, it was meant to satirize the prep scene that was reemerging, but ended up being regarded as a literal handbook. The Financial Times described Ralph Lauren as the greatest fashion beneficiary of the book, saying he « cashed in as the preppy wannabe’s clothier. » Then the pendulum swung back away from prepsters in the ‘90s, when grunge became the go-to cool kid look. But in the early aughts, prep was popular yet again. Birnbaum published a sequel to the Handbook called True Prep. Lauren’s business was on an upswing. Abercrombie & Fitch had infiltrated every high school in America. (…) And now, here we are again, back at a place where anti-establishment sentiment runs deep. How does a company like Ralph Lauren react to these cultural ebbs and flows? By giving its take on whatever the look of the moment is. (…) Patricia Mears, the deputy director of the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, remembers observing how Lauren’s merchandise morphed to speak to different generations when she was conducting research for a book and exhibition on Ivy style at FIT in 2012. Racked
L’empire Ralph Lauren était à l’origine une ligne de cravates! Près de 40 ans après sa création, la marque est devenue un symbole américain, au même titre que Coca-Cola ou Ford. Ce qui l’inspire: les symboles américains, le cinéma, l’univers des cow-boys, des personnalités comme Ernest Hemingway et F. Scott Fitzgerald… (…) Jamais provocant, toujours propret, le style Ralph Lauren a séduit par son alliage de praticité et d’élégance discrète. Refusant de jouer le jeu de la mode périssable, Ralph Lauren a préféré produire des pièces indémodables, comme son célèbre polo. Dans les années 70, lorsqu’il se lance dans le prêt-à-porter féminin, il crée des pièces élégantes et simples. Ses tailleurs sont soignés, ses chemisiers impeccables et ses jupes toujours bien taillées. Résultat, la marque preppy a fini par représenter la bonne société américaine, prospère et distinguée. Utilisant à foison le bleu, le blanc et le rouge (les couleurs du drapeau américain), Ralph Lauren cultivera avec soin cette image très américaine, puisant notamment ses références dans l’univers du western (le jean, le cuir et les imprimés Navajos…). Homme d’affaire redoutable, il diversifiera ses activités dans les années 80, produisant également des accessoires pour la maison. Dans les années 90, sentant que les Américains se préoccupent de plus en plus de leur santé et de leur forme physique, Ralph Lauren lancera sa ligne Polo Sport qui connaît un important succès populaire depuis. Elle (Québec)
Qui ne se souvient pas des sweats estampillés Harvard et des pulls nonchalamment posés sur les épaules d’Ali MacGraw et de Ryan O’Neal dans Love Story? En 1970, Erich Segal inventait le terme « preppy ». Abréviation de « preparatory » (élève de classe préparatoire ), ce mot décrivait les jeunes Wasp (White Anglo-Saxon protestants) acceptés dans l’une des huit prestigieuses universités de l’Ivy League, sur la côte Est. Selon Segal, « l’une des caractéristiques du preppy est qu’il s’habille parfaitement au naturel »: chemises de polo, manteaux Barbour et chaussures de voile étaient les icônes d’un style populaire depuis 1933, lorsque les chemises brodées d’un crocodile créées par René Lacoste devinrent le dernier cri aux Etats-Unis. Prenant la relève pendant les années 1950 et 1960, des marques comme Brooks Brothers, J. Press et Fred Perry s’installent dans les campus et habillent les Kennedy. Le look est déjà devenu un classique quand, deux ans après la publication de Love Story, le jeune Ralph Lauren dévoile sa première collection complète pour femme: une allure 100% East Coast. Le créateur inspirera Perry Ellis ou Tommy Hilfiger, et même l’écrivain Lisa Birnbach (Ivy Leaguer invétérée elle-même), qui en 1980 publie Official Preppy Handbook, un guide satirique pour aspirants au prepdom aussitôt devenu un best-seller. « Ce style bostonien est facile à porter tout en étant très élégant », commente Gildas Loaëc, directeur artistique de Kitsuné, lui-même vêtu d’un sweat « I was in college Kitsuné ». « On parle beaucoup de son retour, ces dernières saisons, mais le preppy est un style intemporel. Il est simplement devenu plus médiatisé, donc moins associé à un certain statut social. » L’Express
Lauren Bacall a envoûté le cinéma hollywoodien par sa voix grave et son regard bleu glacé pendant plus de 60 ans de carrière. Née le 16 septembre 1924 à New York, Betty Joan Perske de son vrai nom est la fille unique d’immigrants juifs roumano-polonais, de la famille de l’ancien président israélien Shimon Peres. Une couverture du Harper’s Bazaar et quelques photos de mode à l’intérieur du magazine ont décidé de son destin, en mars 1943. Elle a dix-neuf ans, se partage entre mannequinat, petit boulot d’ouvreuse et cours d’art dramatique, dans son New York natal. La femme de Howard Hawks remarque ce physique altier, visage aux traits aigus, regard vert perçant sous les arcades sourcilières prononcées. Elle presse son mari d’auditionner la jeune beauté pour son prochain film, Le Port de l’angoisse(To Have and Have Not). Betty dit parfaitement son texte ; mais elle est si intimidée qu’elle baisse le menton tout en levant les yeux vers la caméra. Ainsi naissent les légendes: elle sera «the look», ce fameux regard en dessous, étrangement direct et mystérieux. Il y passe de la sensualité et de l’insolence, du défi et de la distance. La future star dispose encore d’un atout que ne laissaient pas soupçonner les photos: sa voix grave, aux intonations presque rauques, que Hawks lui fait aussitôt travailler. Elle s’appelle encore Betty, mais elle a déjà pris le nom de jeune fille de sa mère: Bacal. De son père, qui les a abandonnées quand elle était enfant, elle ne veut plus entendre parler. Howard Hawks, cinéaste Pygmalion qui la prend sous contrat pour sept films, lui fait ajouter un «l» à Bacal, choisit le prénom de Lauren. Dès sa première apparition à l’écran, la voilà prête à devenir la nouvelle femme fatale des films noirs qui connaissent alors leur âge d’or. Un autre Pygmalion l’attend sur le tournage: son partenaire, Humphrey Bogart, alors au sommet de sa gloire. Il a 44 ans, il est marié à l’actrice Mayo Methot, il boit trop. Le coup de foudre est réciproque, et la passion qui dévore les personnages déborde vite hors champ. Les luttes entre gaullistes et pétainistes dans les eaux de Fort-de-France, qui servent d’intrigue au Port de l’angoisse, ont laissé un souvenir plus obscur que la rencontre éclatante de sensualité et d’insolence du patron de bateau et de l’aventurière. Et la réplique fameuse: «Si vous avez besoin de moi, vous n’avez qu’à siffler. Vous savez siffler, Steve?» Cet aplomb garçonnier, cette distinction un brin voyou, ça on ne l’avait pas encore vu. La manière Bacall de traiter la séduction en bonne camarade est restée inégalée. (…) Dans les années 1950, Lauren Bacall se tourne vers la comédie, où son élégance sûre d’elle-même, sa drôlerie, son côté abrupt, un peu masculin, font merveille. Negulesco lui offre Comment épouser un millionnaire etLes femmes mènent le monde, Minnelli La Femme modèle. Elle y interprète une dessinatrice de mode mondaine, genre d’emploi qu’elle retrouvera plus tard dans Misery de Rob Reiner (1990) etPrêt-à-porter de Robert Altman (1994). (…) Pour que les choses soient claires, elle a écrit deux autobiographies, Par moi-même (éditions Stock) etSeule (éditions Michel Lafon), qui en est le complément. Des titres éloquents. Elle y raconte ses origines de fille d’émigrés juifs, roumains, allemands et polonais (elle était la cousine de Shimon Pérès), le brusque départ de son père, qu’elle refusera de revoir quand il ressurgira des années plus tard, les hommes de sa vie: après Bogart, il y a eu Sinatra, qui l’a plaquée goujatement, Jason Robards, épousé en 1961, dont elle divorcera huit ans plus tard à cause de son alcoolisme. «J’ai passé seule la plus grande partie de ma vie», a-t-elle observé. Elle trouvait que les hommes intelligents et spirituels se faisaient rares. Howard Hawks avait sans doute raison de penser que, plus qu’une actrice, Bacall était une personnalité. Un fier tempérament. Elle portait l’indépendance et les volutes de fumée comme personne. Le Figaro
Avec Bogart, elle formait le couple le plus mythique de Hollywood. Pendant plus de cinquante ans, elle a continué sa route sans lui, avant de s’éteindre à 89 ans. Elle a tout d’une princesse, mais elle est née d’un représentant de commerce et d’une émigrée juive roumaine du Bronx. Il a l’air d’un dur mais il est fils de bourgeois, cousin d’aristocrates anglais. Dès leur premier film, elle est la lumière et lui, l’ombre. Entre Lauren Bacall et Humphrey Bogart, tout commence par une réplique culte, « Vous n’aurez qu’à me siffler », lancée en 1943 sur le plateau du « Port de l’angoisse », d’une voix rauque, travaillée à la cigarette pendant trois semaines. Ce n’était que le signe extérieur d’un aplomb qui annonçait une ère nouvelle. Mais face au héros tragique, bagarreur de 44 ans qui savait si bien encaisser les vacheries du destin, elle avait, en la prononçant, le menton qui tremblait. Tant pis, elle le regarderait par en dessous pour assurer son équilibre. Une panthère qui surveille sa proie. Ainsi naquit son surnom, « The Look ». Du fond de son désespoir tranquille, Bogie a deviné la bluffeuse hors pair, qui joue comme si elle avait un brelan d’as… En réalité, elle en est encore à courir après l’ombre de papa, disparu dans la jungle où se perdent les hommes infidèles. Lauren adule sa mère. Elle survit de petits boulots : ouvreuse, mannequin dans les grands magasins, c’est-à-dire portemanteau. Il lui a fallu renoncer à l’école de théâtre, car on n’y donnait pas de bourse aux filles. Un garçon lui a déjà fait du gringue : Kirk Douglas. Mais elle a gardé ses distances. Peut-être a-t-elle deviné que, au fond, elle n’était pas son genre : pas de seins, pas de fesses, trop grands pieds. C’est l’époque où Marilyn se fait refaire le nez, la poitrine, et teindre en blonde. Une gueule de fantasme. Lauren Bacall mise sur la différence. Une jeune vierge au visage de femme fatale qui s’impose dans le style de la copine insolente et affranchie, elle qui connaît si mal les hommes. (…) La troisième Mme Bogart est, comme les autres, une actrice (…) Mayo Methot (…) A Lauren, elle lancera : « Petite garce juive, c’est toi qui vas lui laver ses chaussettes ? » (…) L’alcool est alors un attribut essentiel de la virilité.  (…) Elle avait 33 ans quand Bogie est mort. Pendant plus d’un demi-siècle, elle a porté vaillamment le fantôme écrasant, ça ne l’a pas empêchée d’épouser un autre acteur, Jason Robards, qui disparaissait pendant des nuits entières de beuverie. Elle a eu un troisième enfant, des amants, elle a tenté de refaire sa vie mais personne n’avait la carrure. (…) La solitude, Lauren Bacall l’a apprivoisée, elle qui disait : « J’ai passé bien plus d’années sans Bogart qu’avec lui. Mais après sa mort, je me suis mise à penser et agir comme lui. Je suis un peu devenue lui. » Paris Match
J’adorais les vieux vêtements de l’armée, j’allais en acheter dans les surplus. J’avais des idées fixes. Par exemple, je voulais une veste indienne avec des franges. Il n’y en avait pas dans les magasins mais c’est ce que je voulais. Comme j’étais très athlétique, je portais aussi des vêtements de sport. J’allais beaucoup au cinéma, j’étais un fan de westerns. J’aimais Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Cary Grant. Les films, les livres, les vitrines des magasins, les gens que je regardais, tout cela était dans ma tête, je fabriquais des histoires sans forcément m’en rendre compte. Peut-être parce que j’ai hérité de mon père peintre le sens du style et des couleurs, ces histoires se traduisaient sous une forme esthétique. Le sport, le western, les ranchers, les ouvriers… J’étais comme « romancé » par différentes vies. Au début, on me disait souvent : « Mais Ralph, tu viens du Bronx, tu te prends pour qui ? Pour un cow-boy, pour un gentleman-farmer anglais ? » Je répondais : « L’Amérique s’est faite avec des rêves. » (…) Je suis passé entre les gouttes de ces époques. A ce moment-là, je formais mon style. Je retrouvais mes copains, on fumait, j’étais bohème, je portais la barbe et des baskets, mais je n’étais pas contestataire, pas hippie. J’avais les cheveux courts. Je n’ai pas fui l’armée, j’ai fait mon service militaire. Les hippies sont venus après moi, quand j’étais trop vieux pour l’être. J’aimais profondément l’Amérique comme je continue à l’aimer. (…) Il ne faut pas non plus exagérer. J’ai eu une enfance très heureuse, avec beaucoup d’amis. On n’était pas riches, je me rappelle avoir eu très envie d’un vélo et que mes parents n’avaient pas de quoi me l’offrir, mais je ne me sentais pas pauvre. J’étais juste comme tout le monde, attiré par ce que l’on n’a pas. Les pauvres rêvent de ce qu’ils pourraient s’acheter avec de l’argent. Les Chinois rêvent de s’habiller en Gucci. Et moi, je rêvais d’une veste à franges qui n’existait que dans les films ! (…) J’aime le sport, je voulais ce symbole. J’étais fan de baseball mais ça n’aurait pas collé. Je voulais un sport plus stylé. Avec le polo, je pensais au play-boy dominicain Porfirio Rubirosa, collectionneur de femmes illustres, qui nous faisait envie. Je n’avais jamais joué au polo mais l’image de ce sport correspondait à ce qui me faisait rêver. Les chevaux, le côté play-boy, athlétique, esthétique, romantique. (…) Je n’ai jamais voulu vivre comme un WASP à la Gatsby, aller de fête en fête comme dans un roman de Francis Scott Fitzgerald. Les clubs de sport ne me faisaient pas spécialement envie, et d’ailleurs je n’ai jamais fait partie d’aucun. Ce n’est pas mon truc. Je ne suis pas un mondain, je n’aime rien autant que la vie de famille. (…) Je fais de l’antimode. J’ai mélangé le goût de l’Amérique pour la nouveauté au goût de l’Europe pour ce qui ne se démode pas. La veste en jean simple et bien coupée est un symbole de mon style. Mes vêtements correspondent à ce que je rêvais d’être, or je me rêve en différents personnages. En cow-boy, en athlète, en gentleman-farmer de la campagne anglaise, chacun n’étant pas conforme à la réalité mais à l’idée que je m’en fais. Je vois un gentleman farmer en boots et blouson de moto, il est comme ça dans mon rêve. Le style, c’est un rôle d’acteur, la représentation que vous vous faites de vous-même. Je me vends dans mes rôles, je me vends dans mes rêves. Je vends un idéal. Ralph Lauren
Mon père est moins un styliste qu’un écrivain ou un cinéaste qui utilise les vêtements pour raconter des histoires. David Lauren
On me demande toujours pourquoi les gens qu’il habille sont si « waspy ». On ne pourrait être plus loin de la vérité. Polo a été la première entreprise de mode à habiller un modèle afro-américain pour les magazines. Et il a construit un hôpital à Harlem spécialisé dans le traitement du cancer. Bruce WeberL’aventure a commencé là, 3220 Steuben Avenue, en plein cœur du Bronx, dans ce petit immeuble de cinq étages de brique rouge, avec ses escaliers métalliques dégringolant en biais sur la façade. C’est là que Ralph Lifschitz grandit avec sa soeur et ses deux frères après que ses parents, des juifs russes originaires de Pinsk, en Biélorussie, eurent choisi de tout quitter pour débarquer à New York. America ! America ! Le pays de la liberté et de tous les possibles, ils en avaient rêvé comme tant d’autres au point de s’entasser sur un bateau et de se jeter, affamés, dans la cacophonie des immigrés d’Ellis Island. Le père est peintre en bâtiment, artiste peintre à ses heures, le quartier du Bronx est alors ce qu’ils trouvent de mieux pour leurs moyens, avec ses rues calmes et ses grands parcs boisés. Une ambiance tranquille de la middle class américaine, aujourd’hui cernée, quelques pâtés de maison plus loin, par des zones délabrées et des repaires de dealers. Près d’un siècle plus tard, à 73 ans, Ralph le New-Yorkais est un pur produit de l’Amérique. De l’épopée de ses parents, il se rend compte qu’il ne sait au fond pas grand-chose. Sont-ils partis avant ou après la révolution de 1917 ? Qu’ont-ils fui ? Il l’ignore. Ils n’étaient pas du genre à s’attarder sur le passé. On ne parlait pas yiddish à la maison mais sa mère, pratiquante, veillait au maintien des fêtes juives. (…) Même son propre nom ne le retient pas. A l’école qu’il fréquentait, juste à côté de l’appartement de Steuben Avenue, ce patronyme suscitait les moqueries. A la récré, haut-lieu des cruautés collectives, « Lifschitz » se transformait en gros mot, « Lif-shit », à coups de gros rires gras. Ralph Lifschitz a 16 ans quand il décide d’abandonner cette consonance encombrante. Le choix du pseudo lui vient sans peine. Le jeune homme juge plus commode de conserver ses initiales et il admire Lauren Bacall, l’une des incarnations de son rêve américain. Deux bonnes raisons pour décider du sort de sa métamorphose. En un tour de main, Ralph Lifschitz devient Ralph Lauren. (…) Il y avait certes de l’ambition chez ce gamin du Bronx qui s’obstinait comme un fou à jouer au baseball et au basket-ball, malgré son 1,68 m. Il adorait le basket. Il courait comme un mille-pattes et compensait son handicap de taille par l’adresse et la stratégie. Il rêvait aussi d’être Joe DiMaggio, le champion de baseball qui avait épousé Marilyn. Ou une star de cinéma comme Cary Grant, son autre idole. (…) Qui aurait pu deviner que ce nom deviendrait celui de l’une des marques de vêtements les plus célèbres et les plus vendues dans le monde ? Que Ralph Lifschitz serait un jour le créateur de Polo Ralph Lauren, une multinationale cotée en Bourse, employant plus de 26 000 personnes et dont le chiffre d’affaires, 6,7 milliards de dollars (plus de 5 milliards d’euros) en 2013, dépasse celui des autres entreprises de vêtements de luxe, loin devant Giorgio Armani, son premier concurrent ? Que le petit cavalier de polo serait le logo universel des élites et des classes moyennes aisées de toute la planète, jusqu’aux Libanais qui avaient fui la guerre civile et arboraient leurs chemises « RL » en s’autobaptisant « Réfugiés de Luxe » ? S’il y a un mythe Ralph Lauren, il est dans ce chic populaire qui fonde son épopée de self made man. Une histoire si américaine. (…) La 122e fortune mondiale selon le magazine Forbes (classement 2012), avec une fortune évaluée à 7,5 milliards de dollars, est un homme doux et courtois, cool et raffiné, comme son immense bureau empli d’objets beaux et insolites. Une immense photographie de rodéo prise d’en haut, une bicyclette en chrome et cuir, des fauteuils design conçus par lui, des livres, des avions, tout un monde. (…) un immense patio tout en boiseries vernies et à la lumière tamisée, tel un vieil hôtel anglais, avec fauteuils clubs, canapés en cuir, lustres, peintures anciennes, sculptures d’animaux en bronze, pieds de lampe cuivrés, livres et magazines d’art sur les tables, coupelles de Smarties et autres bonbons colorés. Et des photos de Ralph Lauren, bien sûr. (…) C’est le péché mignon et le paradoxe de ce petit homme, pourtant curieux des autres et apparemment modeste : rares sont les murs de ses bureaux ou de ses boutiques, ou les pages de ses catalogues, où l’on ne retrouve pas plusieurs portraits géants de lui aux côtés de photos de cow-boys, de légendes d’Hollywood ou de voitures de collection. Ralph Lauren à cheval, Ralph Lauren sur la plage avec sa femme et ses enfants, Ralph Lauren jouant avec son chien, Ralph Lauren en blouson d’aviateur sur fond de villa atlantique, Ralph Lauren habillé en cow-boy dans son ranch du Colorado, Ralph Lauren en blazer et col roulé dans un intérieur cosy, Ralph Lauren au volant d’un roadster… Ralph Lauren himself, paisible, abouti, comme un emblème de sa réussite et de ses rêves. Un visage taillé pour le cinéma et les publicités des magazines : cheveux très blancs, peau très bronzée, yeux très clairs, paupières lourdes, sourire décontracté… Dans le Bronx déjà, il s’était concocté un style. Un de ses voisins d’alors s’en souvient bien : un dénommé Calvin Klein, né Richer Klein. Il a grandi dans les mêmes rues, à quelques pâtés de maison de la famille Lifschitz. (…) Il ne sait pas dessiner. Mais il a ses rêves en tête. Une certaine idée de l’Amérique, un brassage confus de ses grands mythes, les mêmes qui avaient donné à ses parents la force de s’exiler. Il rêve de la conquête de l’Ouest. Il rêve du chic vestimentaire de la haute société WASP (White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant) – nom américain donné aux premiers arrivés, blancs et protestants -, de ce que raconte le cinéma sur le look des étudiants des campus et l’ambiance des country clubs. Il rêve de ce que lui, l’enfant de la classe moyenne juive du Bronx, ne pouvait espérer posséder. (…) A force d’acheter en série des chemises de chez Brooks Brothers, son magasin préféré, il se fait embaucher dans une boutique de la marque sur Madison Avenue. Il fourmille d’idées, suggère de nouvelles formes, d’autres couleurs. Personne ne l’écoute. Pourquoi prêter attention à ce petit vendeur qui n’y connaît rien et n’a même pas fait d’école de dessin ? Lui voit ses idées sortir chez les autres. Et rumine son obsession : faire des cravates très larges. Il les a bien en tête, entrevues dans de vieux films et de vieilles photos de magazines. Il aime le style des années 1930, 1940, 1950, les vêtements des étudiants de la Ivy League (le peloton des meilleures universités), ce look Preppy de la Nouvelle-Angleterre, la manière dont la jeunesse aisée s’habillait sur les campus. (…) Il en fait fabriquer pour son compte, très larges avec des rayures, et démarche lui-même les grands magasins vêtu d’une veste en jean, ses cravates dans des sacs. Chez Bloomingdale’s, on regarde ça d’un air circonspect. OK pour les diffuser, à condition qu’elles soient plus étroites, et estampillées de leur label à eux. (…) Six mois plus tard, Bloomingdale’s le rappelle et lui prend ses cravates larges à rayures. (…) Ralph Lauren (…) emprunte 50 000 dollars et ouvre une ligne de cravates sous son propre label, Polo. Un succès. Il a 26 ans. Au bout d’un an, il élargit sa collection aux chemises et autres vêtements pour hommes, pas encore aux modèles pour femmes et enfants. Le petit joueur de polo fait son apparition. (…) Il fallait sans doute cela, être né juif dans le Bronx, pour avoir envie du contraire, les tenues décontractées arborées le week-end par les riches WASP, devenues les symboles de l’élite privilégiée, cultivée et raffinée de la Côte est. Il fallait peut-être naître pauvre dans le Bronx pour prendre conscience que les vêtements de sport représentaient une esthétique. Pour admirer ce style au point d’avoir été choisi par le réalisateur Jack Clayton pour habiller Robert Redford et Mia Farrow dans son Gatsby le Magnifique (1974), ou par Woody Allen pour Annie Hall (1977). Mais ce ne sont pas les WASP qui fascinent Ralph Lauren. Ce qu’il cherche depuis ses débuts à Steuben Avenue, c’est un style. « Je n’ai jamais voulu vivre comme un WASP à la Gatsby, explique-t-il, aller de fête en fête comme dans un roman de Francis Scott Fitzgerald. Les clubs de sport ne me faisaient pas spécialement envie, et d’ailleurs je n’ai jamais fait partie d’aucun. Ce n’est pas mon truc. Je ne suis pas un mondain, je n’aime rien autant que la vie de famille. » Le photographe Bruce Weber, chargé des campagnes publicitaires Ralph Lauren depuis plus de quarante ans, renchérit : « On me demande toujours pourquoi les gens qu’il habille sont si « waspy ». On ne pourrait être plus loin de la vérité. Polo a été la première entreprise de mode à habiller un modèle afro-américain pour les magazines. Et il a construit un hôpital à Harlem spécialisé dans le traitement du cancer. » Ralph Lauren vient d’annoncer qu’il serait le mécène unique de la restauration de l’Ecole des beaux-arts à Paris pendant deux ans. Une manière de s’ancrer davantage dans la capitale de la mode pour cet Américain pur jus déjà décoré en 2010 de la Légion d’honneur par le président Nicolas Sarkozy, un fan notoire de ses chemises. Le style Ralph Lauren est à l’image de l’homme : sans artifice, cool et fondamentalement heureux. Quand les créateurs de mode dessinent des vêtements, lui dessine sa vie rêvée, un style de vie inspiré du bonheur. De son enfance à son immense succès, rien n’a jamais semblé compliqué à l’enfant du Bronx. Il n’est pas un artiste, pas un créateur, ne prétend pas l’être : il observe, il détourne, il reproduit. Cela donne des vêtements élégants mais pas compliqués et pour tous publics, du sportswear aux habits de soirée, du décontracté à l’ultra-chic. Sophistiqués mais sans effet de coupes ou de motifs. Du western aux universités de la Ivy League, cela raconte l’histoire d’une Amérique fantasmée, se donne à tout le monde, jamais à la mode. (…) Celui qui ne sait toujours pas dessiner un croquis a sa façon bien à lui de faire du stylisme : en racontant à ses équipes les histoires qu’il imagine. (…) La 122e fortune mondiale sort peu, ne s’échappe de son travail qu’avec sa famille, ses chevaux et ses voitures de collection, dans l’une de ses cinq propriétés : sa villa à la Jamaïque, son manoir dans le Connecticut, sa maison dans les Hamptons, son ranch dans le Colorado, son logement principal du Upper East Side à Manhattan. Il est fier de sa famille : de son fils producteur, de sa fille qui a fondé une boutique de bonbons à Manhattan, de son autre fils, David, son possible successeur à la tête de l’empire. De sa femme Ricky, qu’il avait rencontrée chez son ophtalmologiste en 1964 et qui est « toujours la plus belle », comme il le constate fièrement à voix haute à l’occasion des cérémonies. De ses boeufs dont il exporte les steaks pour son restaurant français, Ralph’s, attenant à la boutique du boulevard Saint-Germain. Les plus chers de Paris. Il y a un mystère Ralph Lauren. Sa vie, à l’exception d’une tumeur au cerveau dont il a réchappé, ressemble à un conte de fées. Son empire, il l’a bâti sans effort apparent. (…)On laisse le Gatsby de la Côte est sur le seuil de son patio aux boiseries vernies. Demain, il sera un autre de ses personnages, avec jeans, bottes et chapeau de cow-boy, dans son ranch du Colorado. Le Monde

Après l’école, Supermanl’humourla fête nationale, Thanksgiving, les droits civiques, les Harlem globetrotters et le panier à trois points, le soft power, l’Amérique, le génocide et même eux-mêmes  et sans parler des chansons de Noël et de la musique pop ou d’Hollywood, la littérature, les poupées Barbie… le look WASP  !

A l’heure où face à la double menace du rouleau compresseur Trump et de la corbynisation de leur propre aile gauche …

Les Démocrates nous refont le coup du Reagan de gauche

Mais en plus jeune et, air du temps politiquement correct oblige, avec juste ce qu’il faut de culpabilité à la fois blanche et chrétienne

Et où, avec le nouveau scandale, nos médias font mine de découvrir le secret de polichinelle …

Du contournement systématique, face à la concurrence des nouveaux juifs d’Asie et derrière les dérives et le dévoiement de l’affirmative action et du système de « legacy », de la méritocracie universitaire par nos élites donneuses de leçon …

Devinez qui …

De ses racines judéo-russes de fils de violoniste devenu peintre en bâtiment …

Et de sa fréquentation assidue du cinéma et des terrains de polo …

A réussi presque à lui tout seul et, même au risque de la saturation, pendant si longtemps …

A incarner à l’instar de son ainée de Hollywood et coreligionnaire du Bronx à qui il empruntera le nom lui aussi emprunté

Ce fameux rêve américain repris en fait du look WASP …

Tant du côté BCBG universitaire dit « preppy » …

Que du côté cowboy avec la version américaine du gentleman-farmer ?

Ralph Lauren, pur produit de l’Amérique

Il aurait voulu être Cary Grant mais a bâti son empire dans la mode. Ce fils d’immigrés juifs russes élevé dans le Bronx a réussi à vendre au monde entier l’image d’une Amérique fantasmée.

Marion Van Renterghem

Le Monde

23 août 2013

L’aventure a commencé là, 3220 Steuben Avenue, en plein cœur du Bronx, dans ce petit immeuble de cinq étages de brique rouge, avec ses escaliers métalliques dégringolant en biais sur la façade. C’est là que Ralph Lifschitz grandit avec sa soeur et ses deux frères après que ses parents, des juifs russes originaires de Pinsk, en Biélorussie, eurent choisi de tout quitter pour débarquer à New York. America ! America ! Le pays de la liberté et de tous les possibles, ils en avaient rêvé comme tant d’autres au point de s’entasser sur un bateau et de se jeter, affamés, dans la cacophonie des immigrés d’Ellis Island. Le père est peintre en bâtiment, artiste peintre à ses heures, le quartier du Bronx est alors ce qu’ils trouvent de mieux pour leurs moyens, avec ses rues calmes et ses grands parcs boisés. Une ambiance tranquille de la middle class américaine, aujourd’hui cernée, quelques pâtés de maison plus loin, par des zones délabrées et des repaires de dealers.

Près d’un siècle plus tard, à 73 ans, Ralph le New-Yorkais est un pur produit de l’Amérique. De l’épopée de ses parents, il se rend compte qu’il ne sait au fond pas grand-chose. Sont-ils partis avant ou après la révolution de 1917 ? Qu’ont-ils fui ? Il l’ignore. Ils n’étaient pas du genre à s’attarder sur le passé. On ne parlait pas yiddish à la maison mais sa mère, pratiquante, veillait au maintien des fêtes juives. « L’Amérique incite à regarder devant soi, pas derrière, constate leur fils. Il y a trop à faire quand on arrive ici. Les gens ne vous demandent jamais d’où vous venez. Mes parents étaient très gentils, peu éduqués, autodidactes, et ils se sont battus pour aller de l’avant. Je suis comme eux : je vis dans le présent, je pense à ce que j’ai à faire ici et maintenant, je ne me retourne pas. »

Même son propre nom ne le retient pas. A l’école qu’il fréquentait, juste à côté de l’appartement de Steuben Avenue, ce patronyme suscitait les moqueries. A la récré, haut-lieu des cruautés collectives, « Lifschitz » se transformait en gros mot, « Lif-shit », à coups de gros rires gras. Ralph Lifschitz a 16 ans quand il décide d’abandonner cette consonance encombrante. Le choix du pseudo lui vient sans peine. Le jeune homme juge plus commode de conserver ses initiales et il admire Lauren Bacall, l’une des incarnations de son rêve américain. Deux bonnes raisons pour décider du sort de sa métamorphose. En un tour de main, Ralph Lifschitz devient Ralph Lauren.

COW-BOY

Il y avait certes de l’ambition chez ce gamin du Bronx qui s’obstinait comme un fou à jouer au baseball et au basket-ball, malgré son 1,68 m. Il adorait le basket. Il courait comme un mille-pattes et compensait son handicap de taille par l’adresse et la stratégie. Il rêvait aussi d’être Joe DiMaggio, le champion de baseball qui avait épousé Marilyn. Ou une star de cinéma comme Cary Grant, son autre idole. « Mais je n’étais pas assez beau », dit-il avec coquetterie en attendant d’être contredit. Bref : sa carrière de sportif n’était pas convaincante, il ne prenait pas la voie d’Hollywood, il n’était pas particulièrement bon à l’école, n’avait rien à voir avec le stylisme, ne savait pas dessiner…

Qui aurait pu deviner que ce nom deviendrait celui de l’une des marques de vêtements les plus célèbres et les plus vendues dans le monde ? Que Ralph Lifschitz serait un jour le créateur de Polo Ralph Lauren, une multinationale cotée en Bourse, employant plus de 26 000 personnes et dont le chiffre d’affaires, 6,7 milliards de dollars (plus de 5 milliards d’euros) en 2013, dépasse celui des autres entreprises de vêtements de luxe, loin devant Giorgio Armani, son premier concurrent ? Que le petit cavalier de polo serait le logo universel des élites et des classes moyennes aisées de toute la planète, jusqu’aux Libanais qui avaient fui la guerre civile et arboraient leurs chemises « RL » en s’autobaptisant « Réfugiés de Luxe » ? S’il y a un mythe Ralph Lauren, il est dans ce chic populaire qui fonde son épopée de self made man. Une histoire si américaine.

Le mythe, en ce jour caniculaire du mois de juillet, porte un costume crème et une cravate noire, des chaussures noires, une chevalière en argent à l’annulaire. « Je suis plus souvent en jeans et en boots, mais il fait si chaud aujourd’hui… », dit-il comme pour s’excuser. La 122e fortune mondiale selon le magazine Forbes (classement 2012), avec une fortune évaluée à 7,5 milliards de dollars, est un homme doux et courtois, cool et raffiné, comme son immense bureau empli d’objets beaux et insolites. Une immense photographie de rodéo prise d’en haut, une bicyclette en chrome et cuir, des fauteuils design conçus par lui, des livres, des avions, tout un monde.

Il nous a conviée au 650 Madison Avenue, plus au sud que le pâté de maisons où sont réunies quelques-unes de ses somptueuses boutiques sur la même avenue de Manhattan. L’entrée est celle d’un banal gratte-ciel new-yorkais jusqu’à ce que l’ascenseur s’ouvre sur une autre planète : un immense patio tout en boiseries vernies et à la lumière tamisée, tel un vieil hôtel anglais, avec fauteuils clubs, canapés en cuir, lustres, peintures anciennes, sculptures d’animaux en bronze, pieds de lampe cuivrés, livres et magazines d’art sur les tables, coupelles de Smarties et autres bonbons colorés. Et des photos de Ralph Lauren, bien sûr.

C’est le péché mignon et le paradoxe de ce petit homme, pourtant curieux des autres et apparemment modeste : rares sont les murs de ses bureaux ou de ses boutiques, ou les pages de ses catalogues, où l’on ne retrouve pas plusieurs portraits géants de lui aux côtés de photos de cow-boys, de légendes d’Hollywood ou de voitures de collection. Ralph Lauren à cheval, Ralph Lauren sur la plage avec sa femme et ses enfants, Ralph Lauren jouant avec son chien, Ralph Lauren en blouson d’aviateur sur fond de villa atlantique, Ralph Lauren habillé en cow-boy dans son ranch du Colorado, Ralph Lauren en blazer et col roulé dans un intérieur cosy, Ralph Lauren au volant d’un roadster… Ralph Lauren himself, paisible, abouti, comme un emblème de sa réussite et de ses rêves. Un visage taillé pour le cinéma et les publicités des magazines : cheveux très blancs, peau très bronzée, yeux très clairs, paupières lourdes, sourire décontracté…

Dans le Bronx déjà, il s’était concocté un style. Un de ses voisins d’alors s’en souvient bien : un dénommé Calvin Klein, né Richer Klein. Il a grandi dans les mêmes rues, à quelques pâtés de maison de la famille Lifschitz. « On n’était pas amis, il avait deux ans de moins que moi, on se disait bonjour mais ce n’est qu’une fois devenus célèbres que nous nous sommes souvenus l’un de l’autre. On s’est toujours soutenus », raconte Ralph Lauren. « Il était plus âgé que moi mais je me souviens très précisément de lui, a rapporté de son côté Calvin Klein à l’occasion d’une conférence en 2011. Il s’habillait toujours de manière originale. Moi, j’étais plus marginal, plus provoc. Je voulais ressembler à un dur, comme James Dean. Ralph, lui, avait l’air de venir d’ailleurs. »

ÊTRE INDÉPENDANT

Ralph Lauren, en effet, ne s’habillait pas comme les autres. Toujours soigné, une façon d’être élégant sans luxe apparent, détournant des uniformes de leur usage premier : les vestes militaires, les polos des équipes locales de baseball et de basket-ball auxquelles il appartenait. « J’adorais les vieux vêtements de l’armée, explique-t-il, j’allais en acheter dans les surplus. J’avais des idées fixes. Par exemple, je voulais une veste indienne avec des franges. Il n’y en avait pas dans les magasins mais c’est ce que je voulais. Comme j’étais très athlétique, je portais aussi des vêtements de sport. J’allais beaucoup au cinéma, j’étais un fan de westerns. J’aimais Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Cary Grant. Les films, les livres, les vitrines des magasins, les gens que je regardais, tout cela était dans ma tête, je fabriquais des histoires sans forcément m’en rendre compte. Peut-être parce que j’ai hérité de mon père peintre le sens du style et des couleurs, ces histoires se traduisaient sous une forme esthétique. Le sport, le western, les ranchers, les ouvriers… J’étais comme « romancé » par différentes vies. Au début, on me disait souvent : « Mais Ralph, tu viens du Bronx, tu te prends pour qui ? Pour un cow-boy, pour un gentleman-farmer anglais ? » Je répondais : « L’Amérique s’est faite avec des rêves. » »

Ralph Lauren a 20 ans quand commence l’explosion des Sixties, il a une trentaine d’années quand se généralise le mouvement hippie. Il a vécu une enfance heureuse dans le Bronx, il traîne désormais à Manhattan sur fond d’explosion des libertés individuelles, d’émancipation des femmes, de reconnaissance des droits civiques, de contestation de la guerre du Vietnam, de l’ordre établi, des élites, de la rigidité morale. Il s’amuse et profite de la vie sans prendre part à l’agitation politique. Au rock d’Elvis et de Jerry Lee Lewis il préfère les mélodies de Frank Sinatra et de Bob Dylan, et les paroles révoltées des Protest Songs ne sont pas sa préoccupation première. Ralph Lauren est déjà ailleurs, dans son monde à lui. « Je suis passé entre les gouttes de ces époques, explique-t-il. A ce moment-là, je formais mon style. Je retrouvais mes copains, on fumait, j’étais bohème, je portais la barbe et des baskets, mais je n’étais pas contestataire, pas hippie. J’avais les cheveux courts. Je n’ai pas fui l’armée, j’ai fait mon service militaire. Les hippies sont venus après moi, quand j’étais trop vieux pour l’être. J’aimais profondément l’Amérique comme je continue à l’aimer. »

Il ne sait pas dessiner. Mais il a ses rêves en tête. Une certaine idée de l’Amérique, un brassage confus de ses grands mythes, les mêmes qui avaient donné à ses parents la force de s’exiler. Il rêve de la conquête de l’Ouest. Il rêve du chic vestimentaire de la haute société WASP (White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant) – nom américain donné aux premiers arrivés, blancs et protestants -, de ce que raconte le cinéma sur le look des étudiants des campus et l’ambiance des country clubs. Il rêve de ce que lui, l’enfant de la classe moyenne juive du Bronx, ne pouvait espérer posséder. « Il ne faut pas non plus exagérer, nuance-t-il. J’ai eu une enfance très heureuse, avec beaucoup d’amis. On n’était pas riches, je me rappelle avoir eu très envie d’un vélo et que mes parents n’avaient pas de quoi me l’offrir, mais je ne me sentais pas pauvre. J’étais juste comme tout le monde, attiré par ce que l’on n’a pas. Les pauvres rêvent de ce qu’ils pourraient s’acheter avec de l’argent. Les Chinois rêvent de s’habiller en Gucci. Et moi, je rêvais d’une veste à franges qui n’existait que dans les films ! »

Il est pressé de travailler, d’être indépendant, de gagner sa vie, de s’acheter une voiture de sport et de porter des vestes en tweed comme au cinéma. Il commence des études de gestion qu’il ne termine pas, fait son service dans un camp d’entraînement de l’armée à Fort Dix (New Jersey) puis, sans aucun diplôme, cumule les petits boulots. Il est animateur pour enfants, vendeur dans des magasins de mode. « J’étais bon vendeur, raconte-t-il. J’étais facilement convaincant car je ne travaillais que dans les magasins que j’aimais, pour vendre les vêtements que j’aimais. Cela a toujours été mon principe dans la vie : ne vendre aux autres que ce que je voulais pour moi-même. »

A force d’acheter en série des chemises de chez Brooks Brothers, son magasin préféré, il se fait embaucher dans une boutique de la marque sur Madison Avenue. Il fourmille d’idées, suggère de nouvelles formes, d’autres couleurs. Personne ne l’écoute. Pourquoi prêter attention à ce petit vendeur qui n’y connaît rien et n’a même pas fait d’école de dessin ? Lui voit ses idées sortir chez les autres. Et rumine son obsession : faire des cravates très larges. Il les a bien en tête, entrevues dans de vieux films et de vieilles photos de magazines. Il aime le style des années 1930, 1940, 1950, les vêtements des étudiants de la Ivy League (le peloton des meilleures universités), ce look Preppy de la Nouvelle-Angleterre, la manière dont la jeunesse aisée s’habillait sur les campus.

SANS ARTIFICE

Les cravates larges. Il est le seul à les vouloir. Il en fait fabriquer pour son compte, très larges avec des rayures, et démarche lui-même les grands magasins vêtu d’une veste en jean, ses cravates dans des sacs. Chez Bloomingdale’s, on regarde ça d’un air circonspect. OK pour les diffuser, à condition qu’elles soient plus étroites, et estampillées de leur label à eux. « J’ai refusé, raconte Ralph Lauren, j’ai refermé mon sac et je suis parti. J’étais content de moi. » Six mois plus tard, Bloomingdale’s le rappelle et lui prend ses cravates larges à rayures.

En 1967, un entrepreneur de mode, Norman Hilton, remarque ses cravates. Il lui fait une offre : « Accepteriez-vous de travailler pour moi ? – Non, lui répond le jeune homme, je veux créer ma propre maison. » Ralph Lauren lui emprunte 50 000 dollars et ouvre une ligne de cravates sous son propre label, Polo. Un succès. Il a 26 ans. Au bout d’un an, il élargit sa collection aux chemises et autres vêtements pour hommes, pas encore aux modèles pour femmes et enfants. Le petit joueur de polo fait son apparition. « J’aime le sport, je voulais ce symbole. J’étais fan de baseball mais ça n’aurait pas collé. Je voulais un sport plus stylé. Avec le polo, je pensais au play-boy dominicain Porfirio Rubirosa, collectionneur de femmes illustres, qui nous faisait envie. Je n’avais jamais joué au polo mais l’image de ce sport correspondait à ce qui me faisait rêver. Les chevaux, le côté play-boy, athlétique, esthétique, romantique… »Il fallait sans doute cela, être né juif dans le Bronx, pour avoir envie du contraire, les tenues décontractées arborées le week-end par les riches WASP, devenues les symboles de l’élite privilégiée, cultivée et raffinée de la Côte est. Il fallait peut-être naître pauvre dans le Bronx pour prendre conscience que les vêtements de sport représentaient une esthétique. Pour admirer ce style au point d’avoir été choisi par le réalisateur Jack Clayton pour habiller Robert Redford et Mia Farrow dans son Gatsby le Magnifique (1974), ou par Woody Allen pour Annie Hall (1977).

Mais ce ne sont pas les WASP qui fascinent Ralph Lauren. Ce qu’il cherche depuis ses débuts à Steuben Avenue, c’est un style. « Je n’ai jamais voulu vivre comme un WASP à la Gatsby, explique-t-il, aller de fête en fête comme dans un roman de Francis Scott Fitzgerald. Les clubs de sport ne me faisaient pas spécialement envie, et d’ailleurs je n’ai jamais fait partie d’aucun. Ce n’est pas mon truc. Je ne suis pas un mondain, je n’aime rien autant que la vie de famille. » Le photographe Bruce Weber, chargé des campagnes publicitaires Ralph Lauren depuis plus de quarante ans, renchérit : « On me demande toujours pourquoi les gens qu’il habille sont si « waspy ». On ne pourrait être plus loin de la vérité. Polo a été la première entreprise de mode à habiller un modèle afro-américain pour les magazines. Et il a construit un hôpital à Harlem spécialisé dans le traitement du cancer. » Ralph Lauren vient d’annoncer qu’il serait le mécène unique de la restauration de l’Ecole des beaux-arts à Paris pendant deux ans. Une manière de s’ancrer davantage dans la capitale de la mode pour cet Américain pur jus déjà décoré en 2010 de la Légion d’honneur par le président Nicolas Sarkozy, un fan notoire de ses chemises.

Le style Ralph Lauren est à l’image de l’homme : sans artifice, cool et fondamentalement heureux. Quand les créateurs de mode dessinent des vêtements, lui dessine sa vie rêvée, un style de vie inspiré du bonheur. De son enfance à son immense succès, rien n’a jamais semblé compliqué à l’enfant du Bronx. Il n’est pas un artiste, pas un créateur, ne prétend pas l’être : il observe, il détourne, il reproduit. Cela donne des vêtements élégants mais pas compliqués et pour tous publics, du sportswear aux habits de soirée, du décontracté à l’ultra-chic. Sophistiqués mais sans effet de coupes ou de motifs. Du western aux universités de la Ivy League, cela raconte l’histoire d’une Amérique fantasmée, se donne à tout le monde, jamais à la mode.

« Je fais de l’antimode, explique l’entrepreneur. J’ai mélangé le goût de l’Amérique pour la nouveauté au goût de l’Europe pour ce qui ne se démode pas. La veste en jean simple et bien coupée est un symbole de mon style. Mes vêtements correspondent à ce que je rêvais d’être, or je me rêve en différents personnages. En cow-boy, en athlète, en gentleman-farmer de la campagne anglaise, chacun n’étant pas conforme à la réalité mais à l’idée que je m’en fais. Je vois un gentleman farmer en boots et blouson de moto, il est comme ça dans mon rêve. Le style, c’est un rôle d’acteur, la représentation que vous vous faites de vous-même. Je me vends dans mes rôles, je me vends dans mes rêves. Je vends un idéal. » Selon son fils David, directeur de la communication et du marketing de l’empire, Ralph Lauren était même « très déçu, la première fois qu’il est allé en Angleterre, de constater que les gentlemen-farmers n’étaient pas habillés comme il l’avait imaginé. Mon père, analyse-t-il, est moins un styliste qu’un écrivain ou un cinéaste qui utilise les vêtements pour raconter des histoires ».

Celui qui ne sait toujours pas dessiner un croquis a sa façon bien à lui de faire du stylisme : en racontant à ses équipes les histoires qu’il imagine. « Généralement, je décris un film, un monde, un truc très romanesque. Par exemple, je pense à une fille et je me dis : « elle était riche, elle a perdu son argent. Elle est très séduisante mais n’a plus les moyens de s’habiller. Elle est cool. Elle trouve des fripes et elle les arrange elle-même. » J’explique ça à mon équipe. Ils prennent des notes et ils créent les habits pour cette fille-là. »

122e FORTUNE MONDIALE

Ralph Lauren est content de lui. « Voilà quarante-sept ans que je fais ce métier avec succès. Je me demande comment j’ai été capable de faire tout ça. » La 122e fortune mondiale sort peu, ne s’échappe de son travail qu’avec sa famille, ses chevaux et ses voitures de collection, dans l’une de ses cinq propriétés : sa villa à la Jamaïque, son manoir dans le Connecticut, sa maison dans les Hamptons, son ranch dans le Colorado, son logement principal du Upper East Side à Manhattan. Il est fier de sa famille : de son fils producteur, de sa fille qui a fondé une boutique de bonbons à Manhattan, de son autre fils, David, son possible successeur à la tête de l’empire. De sa femme Ricky, qu’il avait rencontrée chez son ophtalmologiste en 1964 et qui est « toujours la plus belle », comme il le constate fièrement à voix haute à l’occasion des cérémonies. De ses boeufs dont il exporte les steaks pour son restaurant français, Ralph’s, attenant à la boutique du boulevard Saint-Germain. Les plus chers de Paris.

Il y a un mystère Ralph Lauren. Sa vie, à l’exception d’une tumeur au cerveau dont il a réchappé, ressemble à un conte de fées. Son empire, il l’a bâti sans effort apparent. « On dit que le business est un monde de durs, moi je pense qu’on peut réussir sans être une brute », confie-t-il. Tout a l’air facile. Il y a chez lui la fluidité du geste des grands sportifs qu’il rêvait d’être : l’aboutissement d’un travail acharné dont on ne voit pas l’effort. « J’ai eu beaucoup de chance dans la vie. » Que deviendra sa société après lui ? « Je ne sais pas. Je n’ai jamais rien planifié. J’ai pu me construire une carrière sans argent, à partir d’un rêve, en vendant des cravates. ça m’a toujours réussi. » On laisse le Gatsby de la Côte est sur le seuil de son patio aux boiseries vernies. Demain, il sera un autre de ses personnages, avec jeans, bottes et chapeau de cow-boy, dans son ranch du Colorado.

Ces marques emblématiques milieu de gamme du style américain sont aujourd’hui dessinées par des femmes. Une nouvelle vie?
Fabrice Paineau
L’Express styles
05/06/2014

Ils étaient beiges, ils étaient brillants. Les Américains et leur paradoxe. A la fin des années 1970, la mode américaine peut se résumer à ces deux nuances. D’un côté, cette envie WASP qui définit tout un mode de vie propre et distingué -un esprit vain dans un corps sain? De l’autre, la débauche disco et paillettes du Studio 54, avec l’émergence folle de nouveaux créateurs américains. Puis Gap. Le meilleur d’une entreprise d’uniformisation où le jean, le chino et la chemise blanche dessinent une ligne de goût de New York à San Francisco.

C’est dans cette ville de Californie du Nord que naît ce titan du denim pour tous, en 1969, parce que son créateur, Daniel Fisher, ne trouve pas le bon jean adapté à sa morphologie -et à sa taille. Gap comme fossé ou fossé des générations et la réponse la plus juvénile à une Amérique qui s’émancipe dans ses moeurs. De ce géant du textile naîtront d’autres modèles du retailing, qui inspireront les voisins d’en face comme Club Monaco, filiale de Ralph Lauren, ou encore J.Crew.

La mode américaine s’émancipe

Mais il aura fallu plus de soixante-dix ans d’une toujours jeune histoire du textile américain pour que Gap et consorts émergent. Car tout commence avec ce Portrait de Madame X du peintre John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). Elle est belle, son profil est altier, ses épaules sont dénudées et sa silhouette est mince. Voilà peut-être le premier acte d’une mode américaine qui privilégie les courbes, le corps et le confort d’une nation tout entière vouée à l’effort, donc au sport. La mode américaine naît de cette ambition.

L’émergence des titans de l’édition mode apparaît à cette même période: Harper’s Bazaar est créé en 1863 et Condé Nast rachète un petit magazine, en 1908, Vogue, pour en faire la publication de référence de la haute société. Laquelle commence à voyager et converse sur la nouvelle éthique du goût. Edna Woodman Chase devient la rédactrice en chef de Vogue et le photographe Edward Steichen remplace la luxuriance embuée des images de mode du baron de Meyer. La photographie de Steichen rehausse la simplicité graphique de l’Art déco, dans ses décors mais aussi dans le choix des tenues présentées. Si la mode européenne est toujours maîtresse, la crise économique de 1929 incite à un protectionnisme de taille. Les matières premières sont désormais américaines, comme le cuir ou le coton, qui va bientôt dominer le monde.

Les couturiers américains apparaissent. Ils se nomment Mainbocher ou Charles James, d’origine anglaise. A l’ouest, la machine à rêves s’emballe. Hollywood devient le puits sans fond de toutes les images iconiques, et l’empire cinéma impressionne déjà les pages des magazines de mode, embellies par la photographie de Cecil Beaton. Les stars commencent à diffuser leur aura médiatique, et, si « glamour » est un terme anglophone, des figures comme celles de Katharine Hepburn -son indépendance de style très boyish: un pantalon, des chaussures plates- vont condenser en images cette simplicité. Pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, la plupart des maisons françaises stoppent leur activité. L’Amérique en profite pour proposer une garde-robe plus fonctionnelle et adéquate aux femmes impliquées dans l’effort de guerre. Des créatrices comme Claire McCardell ou Claire Potter ne tarderont pas à anticiper cette nouvelle soif de conquête féminine. Un corps sain dans des formes simples.

En 1961, Jackie Bouvier-Kennedy devient la première dame des Etats-Unis et porte les créations de jeune designers comme Arnold Scaasi, Pauline Trigère, Oleg Cassini… Suivront des noms comme ceux de Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Geoffrey Beene. En 1971, Grace Mirabella a remplacé Diana Vreeland à la tête de Vogue. Elle conçoit une mode plus simple, plus dynamique, pleine de conseils pratiques pour répondre à cette attente qui lie le monde domestique à une ère plus technologique. Et la mode s’adapte, plus naturelle, plus casual dans ses propositions. Un certain sens du minimalisme s’impose, et des créateurs comme Calvin Klein ou encore Perry Ellis se chargent de radicaliser la silhouette. Un vêtement pur pour une allure simple.

Le succès de Gap, J.Crew, Club Monaco

La marque Gap arrive à bon port en 1969 pour exprimer toute cette volonté d’exalter les basiques: le charme propre et authentique du jean ou du tee-shirt hérité du vestiaire de James Dean, déjà piqué aux ancêtres les cow-boys. Gap garde dans un premier temps le parfum de l’émancipation hippie des étudiants de Berkeley et des événements bruyants de Woodstock. Plus pour longtemps. L’as du marketing Millard Drexler relooke toute la chaîne des magasins en 1983 et modifie l’attitude Gap. Sharon Stone s’affiche en jupe Vera Wang et chemisier blanc Gap à la cérémonie des Oscars de 1998. Gapinc., le groupe, est avant tout l’empire fondateur d’une mode « low high fashion » qui combine petits prix à une qualité de vêtements construits sur le rêve américain. Elle ouvrira la voie à d’autres modèles du fast retailing comme Club Monaco ou J.Crew, deux sociétés dirigées par des femmes inspirantes et qui s’implanteront bientôt en France.

Rebekka Bay et Gap

Elle est blonde, Rebekka Bay. Elle présente tous les signes d’une Nordique qui privilégie le port de vêtements simples à l’architecture douce comme sa liquette blanche. En 2006, elle est à l’origine du concept COS, pensé par le groupe H&M, où le minimalisme de créateurs peut se concevoir à petits prix. Les innovations techniques sont aussi au rendez-vous. Elle conçoit un style fonctionnel, ultracitadin et des matières nouvelles qui s’adaptent au classicisme de coupes radicales très épurées. Peu d’imprimés chez COS, mais du bleu marine, du noir, du gris. Après des études à la Designskolen Kolding, au Danemark, Rebekka devient conseillère auprès de marques comme Dunhill ou COS. Son leitmotiv depuis son arrivée chez Gap, en 2012: retrouver la force des authentiques et souligner l’intérêt contemporain de tels produits à travers une vision reboostée de l’americana. Rebekka Bay contrôle toutes les lignes, jusqu’au label 1969, implanté à Los Angeles.Et son pari semble réussi pour le printemps-été 2014, avec un grand retour du denim aux coupes plus ajustées. Le traitement des matières joue sur un délavé serein, avec cet esprit eighties aux couleurs tendres. Il y a autant de Céline que de Helmut Lang dans cette nouvelle proposition qui cherche la pièce iconique, pour femme comme pour homme.

Jenna Lyons et J.Crew

Elle est presque une star, Jenna. De par son allure identifiable entre toutes, celle d’une grande fille avec de grandes lunettes à monture noire. Médiatique, Jenna Lyons apparaît lors des Fashion Weeks ou en guest-star dans la série Girls, de Lena Dunham. En 2013, elle figure dans le classement des 100 personnalités les plus influentes du monde du magazine Time. Son parcours est limpide: cette fille de Palos Verdes, en Californie, diplômée de la Parsons School de New York, est entrée directement chez J.Crew en 1990 puis a gravi tous les échelons de l’assistante ultramotivée. Après avoir été nommée directrice de la création en 2007, elle devient présidente en 2010. Deux ans plus tard, le chiffre d’affaires de J.Crew dépasse les 2,2 milliards de dollars.

Son succès? Michelle Obama déclare, en avril 2008, « trouver de jolies choses sur le site de la marque » lors de son apparition à l’émission de télévision The Tonight Show.Le lendemain, le site explose dès dix heures du matin. En outre, J.Crew privilégie et soutient les créateurs maison, proposant des lignes développées en interne, comme celle du responsable du prêt-à-porter homme, Todd Snyder. Pour enrichir cette démarche, J.Crew s’est mis en quête de pièces fortes et intemporelles, de la Stan Smith d’Adidas à d’authentiques chaussures patinées en provenance du Kentucky, qu’elle vend dans son réseau de boutiques. Jenna Lyons est de toutes les attentions car, sous son influence, J.Crew développe une mode différente. Les imprimés comme les basiques se complètent et composent un vestiaire contemporain très new-yorkais. Acheter une pièce J.Crew est aujourd’hui devenu aussi crédible que porter du Proenza Schouler, le tout étant adoubé par des blogueurs reconnus comme Tommy Ton.

Caroline Belhumeur et Club Monaco

Club Monaco est à l’origine une marque canadienne créée par Joe Mimran et Alfred Sung en 1985. Son expansion commence par les Etats-Unis, avec une première implantation sur la côte Ouest, à Los Angeles. En 1999, le groupe Polo Ralph Lauren en fait l’acquisition, mais le label garde son indépendance de ton. Caroline Belhumeur est à la tête du prêt-à-porter féminin depuis 1999. Pour cette Anglaise née à Bristol, la formation s’est faite sur les bancs de la Kensington University, puis elle atterrit chez Calvin Klein et Theory. Les collections de Club Monaco émanent de choix personnels qu’elle désire faire partager à tous: une mode au classicisme évident avec un « twist » créateur et européen. Fan de musique punk mais aussi d’architecture new-yorkaise, Caroline Belhumeur donne une touche unique à des vêtements fonctionnels qui évoquent le charme d’une échappée dans les Hamptons. Pièces clefs: un trench, un pull d’homme en cachemire et une veste en cuir.

Voir encore:

Ralph Lauren’s American Dream

The iconic brand is struggling. How did we get here, and what happens next?

Entering the Rhinelander Mansion on New York’s Upper East Side is like quietly opening a window into Ralph Lauren’s mind. Many describe Lauren’s superpower as his ability to turn his wildest dreams into reality, and inside that mansion, Ralph Lauren’s original flagship location, his dreams are made real in every nook and cranny of the place.


 

Each room presents one lavish scene after the next, and it’s not hard to imagine Lauren himself toiling at the displays to make sure everything sits just right. Spaces are small and illuminated with candles and the softest of lighting, beckoning shoppers to linger. A glass of water arrives on a small silver platter, garnished with a single slice of lemon, just for you.

It’s stunningly clear here, walking slowly up a staircase lined with oil paintings from the company’s collection, that Ralph Lauren is a lifestyle. No detail is left to chance: Ralph Lauren ties are fanned out on a table in front of a bar stacked high with Ralph Lauren shirts, next to a case of monogrammed Ralph Lauren cufflinks. Ralph Lauren briefcases are placed next to Ralph Lauren paperweights on a Ralph Lauren desk topped with Ralph Lauren stationery, positioned underneath a giant, glittering chandelier that can’t possibly — but maybe? — be branded Ralph Lauren. Everything, right down to the 82,000 square feet of mahogany hauled in for the mansion’s renovation in the 1980s, reeks of style and status and money. Old money.

Twenty blocks away, inside the Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue, the dream gets a little murkier. Lauren Ralph Lauren dominates one of the women’s floors, and while the gold-plated signage is shiny and the tan leather couches comfy, the endless sea of khaki dresses belted at the waist are not so much impressive as they are predictable. There are no nooks nor crannies filled with odds and ends from Ralph’s archives; nothing begs a pause. Jammed up in between racks of floral fit ‘n’ flare dresses and rows of athleisure, it’s harder to see Ralph Lauren’s appeal. A similar scene unfolds on the sales floor at the Herald Square Macy’s, a short 10-minute walk away.

Once you leave the giant department stores of New York City and head to the malls of suburbia, Ralph Lauren becomes a few racks of Oxfords, polos, and pleated pants. Reliably found in your local Dillard’s, and just as reliably found on sale.

« The clothes look good in magazines, but look older in stores, » says Christina, a 31-year-old from Long Island, flipping through a rack of button-down shirts at Macy’s. She likens the brand to Michael Kors — oversaturated and devalued. « I would never buy Polo at full price. »

Jan Freemantle, a tourist visiting New York from Sydney, Australia, recalled how her husband used to bring her back Polo shirts picked up on business trips to California before she could find the brand in Sydney. Polo was all she knew about Ralph Lauren until recently, when on a trip to Aspen, she came across a Ralph Lauren store that carried the Purple Label and Collection lines. « It was so nice, but so expensive, » she says.

Most shoppers haven’t encountered the totality of Ralph Lauren’s world. How could they? Since the early 2000s, Ralph Lauren Corporation has owned and operated at least 25 different brands. It’s a staggering list: Polo Ralph Lauren, Polo Jeans, Polo Golf, Pink Pony, Purple Label, Blue Label, Black Label, Ralph by Ralph Lauren, Lauren Ralph Lauren, Lauren for Men, Women’s Collection, RRL, RLX, Rugby, Denim & Supply, Club Monaco, Chaps, Ralph Lauren Childrenswear, Ralph Lauren Watches, Ralph Lauren Fine Jewelry, American Living, Ralph Lauren Home, Lauren Home, Ralph Lauren Paint, and Lauren Spa. Not all are still in operation.

Ralph Lauren is clearly a man who knows how to build an empire, but right now, the empire is in turmoil.

For the shoppers who actually are familiar with the company’s multitude of lines, it’s still exhausting. « The identity of the brand gets lost, » laments Efney Hall, who has been shopping Ralph Lauren for over a decade. She likes it for its classic, elegant appeal, but she’s noticed that lately, the fit of the pants has changed. She finds herself skimming over the brand’s Lauren Ralph Lauren racks. She’s over it.

Ralph Lauren is clearly a man who knows how to build an empire, but right now, the empire is in turmoil. Layoffs have struck the company two years in a row, eliminating 750 jobs in 2015 and another 1,000 this summer. (One former Ralph Lauren designer commented to a colleague on Instagram in June: « Glad you survived the RL Hunger Games this week! »)

Lauren has stepped aside to make way for a new CEO, Stefan Larsson — the first person besides Lauren to ever hold that title in the company’s 50-year history. The company has been in the process of whittling down the brand list and there are plans to refocus on just three main lines: Ralph Lauren (the new umbrella label for Women’s Collection and Purple Label), Polo Ralph Lauren, and Lauren Ralph Lauren.

At the same time that Ralph Lauren is reevaluating its structure and bringing in fresh leadership, it also has to contend with the fact that the specific style of Americana that’s so deeply embedded in every inch of the brand isn’t something shoppers are clamoring to align themselves with now. If the privileged, preppy aesthetic that Lauren built his company around is no longer the height of aspiration, what will the future of Ralph Lauren look like?


Ralph Lauren did not grow up living the lifestyle that would later make him a billionaire. No, Ralph Lauren was born Ralph Lifshitz, a shy Jewish kid who lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment in the Bronx with his parents and three siblings. In Genuine Authentic: The Real Life of Ralph Lauren, writer Michael Gross paints a picture of young Ralph as a dreamer, never one to run with the crowd. « If white bucks were in fashion, he wore saddle shoes, » a former classmate told Gross. « When we wore crew necks, he wore V-necks. He was always a step ahead. »

Lauren’s perception of taste and class was constructed by what he saw around him, according to Gross. His richer friends’ parents drove convertibles, went on European vacations, and had country club memberships. In films, he watched Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, and Fred Astaire glide across the screen, wearing beautiful suits and getting the girls every time.

« I grew up playing a lot of basketball, reading, and living at the movies, » Lauren said in an old interview that Gross unearthed for the book. « I guess they influenced my taste level. I liked the good things and the good life. I did not want to be a phony. I just wanted more than I had. »

However, Lauren’s mother had set a strict path for Ralph: he was to be a rabbi. He shuttled between secular public schools and Jewish yeshivas during his youth, eventually convincing his mother to allow him to transfer from Manhattan Talmudical Academy, where he was on the Hebrew teacher-in-training track, to DeWitt Clinton High School, an all-boys public school. In his senior yearbook, listed right below his extra-curricular participation in « Lunch Room Squad » and « Health Ed. Squad, » Lauren declared what he wanted to be when he grew up: a millionaire.

At 19, he and his brother Jerry changed their last name from Lifshitz to Lauren. (As Gross reports it, Ralph polled friends on two alternatives, London or Lauren; he was personally partial to London.) In the official document filed for the name change, the reason listed was confusion over people, both at school and at work, who shared the same last name. In reality, Lifshitz had the word « shit » in it and Ralph’s plans for himself did not include dealing with that for the rest of his life.

College was never a big draw for Lauren, who dropped out of the City College of New York school system after three years. He was drafted into the Army and served for two years, but the military, with all its rules and regulations, wasn’t a good fit either. After the Army, he kicked off his career as a salesman, first for glove companies. Then he got into ties.

« I liked the good things and the good life. I did not want to be a phony. I just wanted more than I had. »

Lauren got his first shot at professional tie design at Rivetz & Co., a high-end neckwear company. It didn’t go over well. « Rivetz was a traditional firm, » David Price, whose father used to own the Rivetz & Co. business, explains. « They were doing all sorts of crazy pinks and oranges and all the Ralph colors, and the industry and the customer base at Rivetz thought it was just atrocious. »

But instead of backing down, Lauren went from Rivetz to Beau Brummell Cravats, where his boss, Ned Brower, let him sell his own ties — colorful, wide, and expensive — out of a drawer in the showroom. Lauren had no professional training in design, but he believed so deeply in his wild ties that other people did too. He caught the attention of Norman Hilton, one of the biggest names in the menswear industry at the time, who eventually became the first investor in Lauren’s business. Polo Fashions, Inc., named after the posh sport (not the shirts Lauren would later become famous for), launched in 1968 and, as Hilton’s son Nick remembers it, his father poured $75,000 into the startup. By the end of his first year running Polo Fashions, Lauren had expanded from ties into full suits that the Daily News Record (a menswear trade publication that was later folded into WWD) featured alongside heavyweights like Bill Blass and Oleg Cassini.

The company was a critical success from the beginning, although according to Nick Hilton, it was always almost bankrupt in its first few years. In 1970, Lauren won his first Coty Award (the predecessor to the CFDA Awards) for menswear, and he launched womenswear after that. In Ralph Lauren: The Man Behind the Mystique, author Jeffrey Trachtenberg describes how the move into womenswear transformed Lauren’s business. It was then that he decided to change the name on his labels from Polo Fashions to Polo by Ralph Lauren, in part to imitate how other designers were using their own names on their womenswear labels. And then, for the launch of women’s button-down shirts, the company added a new design element: a small embroidered polo player. It was an overnight success.

« The polo player became the new status symbol for women, » Raleigh Glassberg, the buyer who purchased Ralph’s first women’s shirts for Bloomingdale’s, told Trachtenberg. The shirts were as pricey as Lauren’s ties, but it didn’t matter. Everybody wanted one. As Lauren’s business grew, buoyed in large part by the ‘80s prep revival, the polo player became an integral part of the women’s and men’s lines, including on the polo shirts that became a signature of the Ralph Lauren look.

Chaps was the first of many extensions that Ralph Lauren would experiment with. Chaps was Lauren’s answer to Polo knockoffs that were flooding the market. He couldn’t stop the knockoffs from being produced, so he created a cheaper line to compete with them.

The company also expanded quickly through a number of licensing partnerships, a relatively easy way to put the Ralph Lauren name on a variety of products without having to deal with manufacturing any of it.

« The bulk of the company’s profits come from royalties on its extremely lucrative licensing agreements, which lend the Ralph Lauren name to manufacturers of eyewear, fragrance, furniture, and a range of apparel, » the New York Times‘ Stephanie Strom reported in the mid-’90s. « Polo Ralph Lauren only manufactures its men’s sportswear, coats, and furnishing lines; all other Ralph Lauren products, ranging from towels and sheets to shoes and sunglasses, are manufactured by others under license. »

The article also noted the voracity with which Lauren launched new lines, started new partnerships, and continually built upon his vision. « The sheer number of new ideas coming out of Mr. Lauren’s head at a time when the fashion industry seems to be satisfied with endlessly regurgitating old looks gives him an edge, » Strom writes. « In the last year alone, he has started RRL, Polo Sport, a line of Polo Sport skin treatments, and the Ralph label. »

As Lauren’s empire grew, the accolades kept coming. According to the CFDA, Lauren is the first and only designer to win four of the CFDA’s top honors: the CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award (1991), the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year Award (1995), the Menswear Designer of the Year Award (1996), and the CFDA Award for Humanitarian Leadership (1998).

Lauren’s vision of America drew heavily from the world of Ivy League preps, but the brand appealed far beyond the country club crowd.

« Insecurity can sometimes make a man do bold things, » Cathy Horyn wrote in a profile of Ralph Lauren for the Washington Post. « It can make him create not one world but many worlds. And it can make him think that what he has done is not only good but better. The upshot has been rather intriguing: a quarter-century of glorious ephemera from a designer who can’t draw so much as a sleeve. Never could. »

In that profile, Lauren couldn’t help but describe his legacy in broad, sweeping strokes. « Did I lift America up a little bit? Did I give it a little bit of quality? Because we were known for polyester. People don’t remember that. You couldn’t buy good things here. America is mass, » he told Horyn.

« And so, as I traveled around and got more sophisticated, I started to see what wasn’t there, and I became more nationalistic. Every year of my life. And I’d think, ‘Why is this country so insecure about what it is?’ So, my thing became more than clothes. It became bigger. It became — America. »

Lauren’s vision of America drew heavily from the world of Ivy League preps, but the brand appealed far beyond the country club crowd.

The Lo Lifes, a Brooklyn gang officially founded in 1988, used to make a show out of shoplifting Ralph Lauren from department stores around New York City back when they first formed; now, it’s more about appreciating the Lifshitz to Lauren, self-made billionaire element of the designer’s story, as well as showing off vast collections of archival pieces. (Vice interviewed a Lo Life member who at one point had over 1,000 items.) However, the Lo Lifes’ influence on Lauren’s brand, specifically its place in hip-hop, isn’t officially recognized by the company.

« All together, it makes for a potent folk history of capitalist sedition, » Jon Caramanica wrote of the group. « In a time when Polo was being made for and marketed to the aspirational white middle class, some of the most rigorously sourced collections were sitting in closets in the Brooklyn housing projects. »

That’s not to say the company totally eschewed diversity. Ralph Lauren is credited with catapulting Tyson Beckford to supermodel status, making him the first black male model to hold that title. Beckford’s Polo ads were lauded when they first appeared, and the Times ran a story on his breakout success. « I believe I’m setting a good example, » Beckford told the paper. « The Polo ad says that I’m not a basketball star or a rap star, but an all-American type. It separates me from those stereotypes, which is good. »

« Lauren built a career by brazenly positioning himself as the quintessential interpreter of the American zeitgeist, » Robin Givhan later wrote in The Washington Post. « More than any designer, he has used America’s mythology — our secular religion — for profit. In doing so, he has displayed a keen understanding of our cultural symbols. He can parse the difference between a pair of blue jeans worn with cowboy boots and those worn with a black leather jacket. He sees the romance in a prairie skirt or a well-worn Native American blanket. He knows what it means in our racially conflicted society to photograph a dark-skinned, athletic black man in his preppiest, old-money brand. And he knows how a bright-eyed blonde feeds our vision of Mayflower blue bloods. And as consumers, we have bought into those symbols and made Lauren an extremely wealthy man. »


Ralph Lauren went public in 1997 and continued to thrive throughout the early 2000s, opening new lines seemingly on a whim. « At Ralph Lauren, there wasn’t that outside perspective, » says a former designer who requested anonymity since he still works in the industry. « We all, including myself, had our heads up our own asses. It was just so great to be there that even if we were doing something that we couldn’t validate based off of the competitive landscape it was like, ‘Well, this is Ralph Lauren. We can do what we want.’ We set the tone. »

By 2012, Ralph Lauren stock was trading at more than $170 per share, having shot up by $100 in five years. There was so much faith in the success of the company. « Everybody was just feeling the effects of the money that was rolling in, and that it was on a steady incline, » says the former designer. The company employed approximately 25,000 people in 2012, and was reporting $6.8 billion in sales and net profits of $681 million.

Then came the slide and Ralph Lauren’s literal and metaphorical stock began to tumble. Shares fell nearly 50 percent from a high point of $192 in May 2013 to $82 in February 2016. Sales were still holding steady, but profits slid drastically.

« I used to feel really good about working for that company, but there was so much uncertainty for so long and the lack of communication from the top down was almost absurd. »

Underlying problems with the company’s organizational structure became more pronounced as the good times gave way to struggling years. « People were just so unhappy, » says the former designer. « I used to feel really good about working for that company, but there was so much uncertainty for so long and the lack of communication from the top down was almost absurd. You didn’t even know what your job was, you didn’t know what your role was. You didn’t know if you were going to have a brand the next day. »

Several former employees pointed to that lack of communication as a real point of frustration within their departments. « It was like nowhere I had ever worked before, » says an employee who worked in materials sourcing for the company’s volume brands. « Everyone worked in silos. Manufacturers had one job that they were specific to and the designers only had to report to other designers and we really were kind of bumping into each other trying to do our own jobs. It was really inefficient. »

Compared to other retail companies where she had worked, the former employee was surprised by how many managers were assigned to each department. « Ralph is a very, very top heavy company, » she explains. « It was a lot of management and not a lot of doers, which is a huge problem. »

The organizational problems had long bled into the company’s dealings with its wholesale accounts. Michael Schumann, the owner of furniture retailer Traditions, eventually cut ties with Ralph Lauren after years of headaches associated with selling Ralph Lauren Home products in his stores.

« It was no longer worth it to put up with the bullshit in order to have the name, which was too bad, » says Schumann. He recalled how Ralph Lauren Home would issue beautiful, hardbound catalogs to stores and then not refresh them for two years since it was too costly to produce the books every six months when new collections would come out.

The rules around where and how to advertise the product were extra strenuous; Ralph Lauren’s logo had to be twice the size of the retailer’s logo, and ads could only be placed in premium locations. Schumann found success selling Lauren Home, a less expensive line, but then Ralph Lauren implemented a rule that Lauren Home and Ralph Lauren Home couldn’t be sold in the same store. « It was just impossible to work with these people, » Schumann says.

Ralph Lauren’s managerial structure was broken, relationships were being severed, the quarterly financial reports got more and more alarming, and Ralph Lauren himself wasn’t the same radical young guy wooing customers to buy into his dream lifestyle. Change was needed.

For years, David Lauren, Ralph’s only child who works at the company, was assumed to be the heir apparent. In 2006, The New York Observer wrote that it was « clear » Lauren would run the company at some point. Fast Company mentioned « industry-wide speculation » that he would take the throne in a 2011 profile. In 2014, Business of Fashion noted that many in the industry pegged the son as the father’s successor.

But when the time came for Ralph Lauren to relinquish his CEO title, David Lauren’s name wasn’t called. Instead, it was Stefan Larsson, a young retail industry darling who built his career at H&M and wowed the industry with a successful three-year stint as the brand president of Old Navy, who would inherit the crown.

When Lauren and Larsson tell the story of how they met, it often includes the tale of a magical first dinner together. Both walked in wondering what the hell they were doing there, both came out knowing that this partnership needed to happen. Larsson is a young star just as Lauren was back in the day, and Larsson has entrepreneurial roots as well — he started his own company to put himself through business school, according to the Financial Times.

Larsson also passed the most crucial test, in Lauren’s eyes. « He understands what dreams are, » Lauren told the Associated Press when Larsson’s new role was announced. (Ralph Lauren declined to make Lauren, Larsson, or any other executives available for comment for this story.)

« In terms of where Stefan is, I saw that he had the background and the excitement and the energy and the knowledge that I don’t have. »

David Lauren still retains his position as a company executive and a member of the board of directors, and if the new dynamic is awkward, it only comes through a little bit. At the company’s inaugural Investor Day presentation in early June, where Larsson laid out his plan for the future of the company, Lauren took the stage for about 20 minutes to talk about the brand history and endorse Larsson.

« I’ve had great people in my company over the years, wonderful people, » Lauren told analysts in the meeting. « But whether someone’s going to carry the CEO flag was a different thing because I’m entrusting my baby to him. And that baby has to grow up. And that baby is in the front row, David on the one hand and uh, Stefan on the other. But in terms of where Stefan is, I saw that he had the background and the excitement and the energy and the knowledge that I don’t have. »

Larsson spent nine months from the point of the initial CEO announcement last September to the Investor Day this summer to take stock of the business and figure out what needed to change.

For those watching the turnaround, there’s a lot of optimism about the possibilities under Larsson’s leadership. « When you look at Stefan and some of his core competences and what he brings to the table, it’s his ability to truly understand and diagnose a weakness within a company and go forth and make the necessary changes, » says Jerry Sheldon, an analyst for IHL Consulting Group.

« He really seems to have an understanding of consumers and is able to articulate that understanding, turn it into a business strategy, and execute on that strategy in a very effective way, » notes Sheldon.

First up, Larsson is assembling a new executive team filled with people from companies like H&M and Amazon. New blood will likely be just what Ralph Lauren needs. In recent years, employees witnessed how the old guard, which had been in their roles for years and years, weren’t cultivating an innovative environment anymore. There was also a sense that Lauren could not be questioned.

« When Ralph has an idea and starts something, nobody ever stands up and says, ‘Hey, this is not right. This is not the way to go,' » notes the former designer. « Everybody just kind of kneels to every word that comes out of his mouth. And when he personally would ask for opinions and direction, people had it and they didn’t voice it until he was out of the room, and that was just the way that it went for years and years. »

« If anything, I see the old management team as being beholden to Ralph and that was probably part of the problem, » says Paul Swinand, a retail analyst for Morningstar. « It wasn’t that he had lost his touch or that he was too old — you might have thought that — but it also might have been that the old management team was not trying to go out and create anything new, they were just trying to get along and finish out their last few years. »

Larsson’s public diagnosis of the company’s problems was unveiled via the aptly-named Way Forward plan. The main points include a new, more hands-off employee structure (eliminating three levels of management), cutting down the time from initial development of a product to getting it on the sales floor to nine months (down from 15), improving communication between departments, and focusing on three core brands while maintaining a smaller stable of secondary ones. The Way Forward also detailed 1,000 job cuts and 50 retail store closures.

« From a nostalgic, brand-loving perspective, I feel sad about the layoffs, and I’m very fearful that this will be like the JCPenney situation from a few years back, » says a former employee in Ralph Lauren’s digital operations, who requested anonymity. « But from the business side, it makes a lot of sense to me. Our department did not need three managers. »

Larsson is also pulling back from outlet stores, a market where Ralph Lauren had previously been expanding, and cutting down on promotional activity to try and retrain customers not to associate discounts with the brand.

« If anything, I see the old management team as being beholden to Ralph and that was probably part of the problem. »

In addition, Ralph Lauren has a huge wholesale business which accounts for nearly half of the company’s overall revenue. Macy’s in particular is a significant Ralph Lauren buyer; that account alone accounts for about 25 percent of the company’s wholesale revenue. But Macy’s reported a terrible financial quarter in May, and it doesn’t look like it will be making a comeback anytime soon.

« The department store channel is losing market share in general, » says John Kernan, an analyst with Cowen & Company, « and Ralph Lauren, the brand, needs to find new channels of distribution like Amazon and other areas where they can grow. »


Ralph Lauren is going through operational struggles during not only a tumultuous period in the retail industry, but also a time that’s seeing a cultural shift away from what the brand stands for. The prep aesthetic has always smacked of privilege, something accessible primarily to white people with trust funds and monogrammed shirtsleeves. Now, the WASP lifestyle that completely captivated Lauren as a young entrepreneur is considered out of touch at best, offensive and oppressive at worst.

Take, for instance, the media’s reaction to the company’s Olympic uniform designs this year. Headlines announcing the kits included: « Ralph Lauren’s Olympic Uniforms Are Straight Out of Prep School Hell« ; « USA’s Olympic Uniforms Are WASPy Bullshit« ; « Team USA’s Official Olympic Uniforms are Peak Vanilla« ; and Racked’s own contribution, « I Need More From Team USA’s Olympic Uniforms« . The Daily Mail rounded up the best tweets from the debacle. The comments on Ralph Lauren’s own Instagram post of the outfits were littered with prep jokes of varying degrees of wit.

« The uniforms couldn’t play more into the world’s most unflattering stereotypes of Americans unless they added cigars dangling out of the athletes’ mouths, Bibles tucked under their arms, and $100 bills falling out of their pockets, » Christina Cauterucci wrote for Slate.

Christian Chensvold, founder of the website Ivy Style and a regular contributor to Ralph Lauren’s RL Magazine, broached the subject in a series of posts last fall that questioned whether the Ivy League look was still politically correct. This included a satirical post that imagined a social justice warrior responding to different aspects of Ivy style (example: « Dinner jacket: Offensive to the underfed »); some readers were not amused.

The spring 2016 Polo Ralph Lauren presentation during New York Fashion Week. Photo: Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images

« I would imagine that some of your readers would certainly find ‘club ties’ exclusive and elitist, » one commenter wrote, referring to a line joking that club ties should be banned for their exclusionary symbolism. Club ties, identified by their repeating motifs, actually did historically denote membership to elite clubs. « I know clothing itself is not elitist; it is the choice behind what we wear that speaks volumes about who were [sic] are. »

Later on, when Chensvold published an April Fools’ post detailing how preppy style had been banned from college campuses due to the classism and racism that it signified, plenty of readers thought it was real news.

Today’s shoppers are interested in more democratic clothing options — options that are casual, practical, and mass. Athleisure is a $97 billion business in the US, accounting for nearly one-third of the entire apparel, footwear, and accessories market. Vetements, the French design collective led by Demna Gvasalia that no one can stop talking about, is making a killing off of what can best be described as incredibly ordinary clothing. Its spring 2017 show, held during haute couture week in Paris, featured collaborations with 18 different brands including Juicy Couture and Carhartt.

« Sometimes, I hear designers from older generations saying, ‘Oh, fashion needs to make women dream,' » Gvasalia told W in an interview earlier this year. « I feel that this is really difficult today. I think it’s dated. Fashion shouldn’t make you dream in 2016. It should just be there, for us to wear. » It’s not hard to imagine Lauren burying his head in his hands over that one.

« It could become a social liability to look really old money and traditional, to wear this kind of stuff. »

« Ten years from now, when fashion is coming back around in its cycle and these young people are now well into their careers — assuming they have careers with the economy and their crippling student loan debt — when they become 35 years old, are they going to be wearing navy blazers and Alden tasseled loafers and striped ties because that epitomizes success and so forth? I don’t know, » says Chensvold.

« Theoretically, it could be a version of what we had in the late 1960s with the counterculture revolution, » he continues. « This is an election year; the country is more polarized than ever. It could become a social liability to look really old money and traditional, to wear this kind of stuff. »

Rebecca Tuite, the author of Seven Sisters Style, a book chronicling the history of the women’s equivalent to Ivy League style before many of the actual Ivies were co-ed, sees what’s happening now as a less vitriolic version of the backlash to ‘80s prep.

The counterculture revolution of the late ‘60s and ‘70s ushered in an era of long hair and bell bottoms as a response to the conservative style of the ‘50s. Then, in the ‘80s, Lauren led a massive preppy revival that other traditional menswear retailers like Brooks Brothers and J.Press also felt the effects of. This aligned with the Reagan era, a time when conservative politics replaced the freewheeling ideals of the previous two decades. When Lisa Birnbaum published The Preppy Handbook in 1980, it was meant to satirize the prep scene that was reemerging, but ended up being regarded as a literal handbook. The Financial Times described Ralph Lauren as the greatest fashion beneficiary of the book, saying he « cashed in as the preppy wannabe’s clothier. »

Then the pendulum swung back away from prepsters in the ‘90s, when grunge became the go-to cool kid look. But in the early aughts, prep was popular yet again. Birnbaum published a sequel to the Handbook called True Prep. Lauren’s business was on an upswing. Abercrombie & Fitch had infiltrated every high school in America.

« For some, the Lauren prep has become cliché, but actually I think that there is so much genius involved in his reinvention of preppy traditions and that is why whenever the preppy trend circles back to the top, it’s Ralph Lauren who is right there, front and center, leading the pack, » Tuite explains in an email. « He offers a closet full of preppy staples that perennially sell well, but can still bring a fresh take on a well-trod fashion path. »

And now, here we are again, back at a place where anti-establishment sentiment runs deep. How does a company like Ralph Lauren react to these cultural ebbs and flows? By giving its take on whatever the look of the moment is. In a roundup of old Ralph Lauren advertisements, Vanity Fair captioned a ‘90s ad featuring a cropped long sleeve top and a denim maxi skirt as: « Ralph Lauren did grunge?! »

Patricia Mears, the deputy director of the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, remembers observing how Lauren’s merchandise morphed to speak to different generations when she was conducting research for a book and exhibition on Ivy style at FIT in 2012.

« When we were looking at images for the book, one of the things that we saw was a more recent photo shoot with young men, handsome, Ralph Lauren-esque. They were wearing certain things like beautiful crested navy blue blazers, but then they also had knitted caps like what you’d see on surfers or skaters, » says Mears. « Ralph was very smart about incorporating things like skate culture into a look that is still going to include the cornerstones of the Ralph Lauren vocabulary. It will still have chino pants or a navy blazer, but the T-shirt and the hat and some of the other accessories are going to be much more cutting-edge and something that a twentysomething today can relate to. »

Recently, some of Ralph Lauren’s lines have a boho feel in accordance with current trends. Carly Heitlinger, the blogger behind The College Prepster, says she doesn’t consider Ralph Lauren a traditional prep brand based on the current women’s merchandise, because it is so fashion-forward.

« A lot of their designs are a little bit trendier, a lot of crochet and knit, » says Heitlinger. « I’m sure you could find a piece or two within each collection that fit into more classic, traditional outfits like the button-downs, but there’s a lot of trendier stuff in there too. I think they really embraced this bohemian look. » She isn’t buying much from the brand these days, but says she would shop it more if it moved back towards its traditional prep roots.

No matter how the brand may change under its new CEO, Lauren’s own effect on fashion will always be far-reaching. So many designers have come up under his tutelage, from Vera Wang to Thom Browne to Tory Burch. His reputation in the industry precedes him.

« I asked Marc Jacobs one day, ‘Who’s your favorite designer?,' » says Mears. « At first when he said Ralph Lauren, I thought that was an interesting choice, but then he elaborated that there’s no person in the world who has done a better job of galvanizing that classical American look and turning it into an empire. When you see a Ralph Lauren piece you really know you’re looking at Ralph Lauren. He said that he’s probably the best designer in the world at that. »

And as the company looks forward, Lauren is adamant that Ralph Lauren will continue to be « a part of life, » as he told analysts at that Investor Day meeting. « This is about creativity, about life, » he said. « It’s not did we make a new shirt, look at us, we made a shirt with three buttons. It’s about living. It’s about dreams. And everyone has a dream. »

Erika Adams is a Racked contributor.

Editor: Julia Rubin


Voir par ailleurs:

Lauren Bacall, légende d’Hollywood, est morte

VIDÉOS – L’héroïne mythique du film noir, qui a formé avec Humphrey Bogart un couple légendaire, est décédée à 89 ans.

Une légende d’Hollywood s’en est allée. Lauren Bacall est décédée mardi à New York à 89 ans. «C’est avec un profond chagrin mais avec beaucoup de gratitude pour sa vie incroyable que nous confirmons le décès de Lauren Bacall», a indiqué mardi soir sa famille. Le site TMZ, spécialisé dans la vie des célébrités, a précisé que l’actrice était décédée chez elle à New York «d’un accident cardio-vasculaire massif». Elle habitait le Dakota, un célèbre immeuble en bordure de Central Park.

Lauren Bacall a envoûté le cinéma hollywoodien par sa voix grave et son regard bleu glacé pendant plus de 60 ans de carrière. Née le 16 septembre 1924 à New York, Betty Joan Perske de son vrai nom est la fille unique d’immigrants juifs roumano-polonais, de la famille de l’ancien président israélien Shimon Peres. Une couverture du Harper’s Bazaar et quelques photos de mode à l’intérieur du magazine ont décidé de son destin, en mars 1943. Elle a dix-neuf ans, se partage entre mannequinat, petit boulot d’ouvreuse et cours d’art dramatique, dans son New York natal. La femme de Howard Hawks remarque ce physique altier, visage aux traits aigus, regard vert perçant sous les arcades sourcilières prononcées. Elle presse son mari d’auditionner la jeune beauté pour son prochain film,Le Port de l’angoisse(To Have and Have Not). Betty dit parfaitement son texte ; mais elle est si intimidée qu’elle baisse le menton tout en levant les yeux vers la caméra. Ainsi naissent les légendes: elle sera «the look», ce fameux regard en dessous, étrangement direct et mystérieux. Il y passe de la sensualité et de l’insolence, du défi et de la distance.

Coup de foudre

La future star dispose encore d’un atout que ne laissaient pas soupçonner les photos: sa voix grave, aux intonations presque rauques, que Hawks lui fait aussitôt travailler. Elle s’appelle encore Betty, mais elle a déjà pris le nom de jeune fille de sa mère: Bacal. De son père, qui les a abandonnées quand elle était enfant, elle ne veut plus entendre parler. Howard Hawks, cinéaste Pygmalion qui la prend sous contrat pour sept films, lui fait ajouter un «l» à Bacal, choisit le prénom de Lauren. Dès sa première apparition à l’écran, la voilà prête à devenir la nouvelle femme fatale des films noirs qui connaissent alors leur âge d’or. Comme Vénus sortant de l’onde, Bacall sort de l’ombre.

Un autre Pygmalion l’attend sur le tournage: son partenaire, Humphrey Bogart, alors au sommet de sa gloire. Il a 44 ans, il est marié à l’actrice Mayo Methot, il boit trop. Le coup de foudre est réciproque, et la passion qui dévore les personnages déborde vite hors champ. Les luttes entre gaullistes et pétainistes dans les eaux de Fort-de-France, qui servent d’intrigue au Port de l’angoisse, ont laissé un souvenir plus obscur que la rencontre éclatante de sensualité et d’insolence du patron de bateau et de l’aventurière. Et la réplique fameuse: «Si vous avez besoin de moi, vous n’avez qu’à siffler. Vous savez siffler, Steve?» Cet aplomb garçonnier, cette distinction un brin voyou, ça on ne l’avait pas encore vu. La manière Bacall de traiter la séduction en bonne camarade est restée inégalée.

Bogart divorce pour épouser Bacall en 1945. L’année suivante, Howard Hawks les réunit de nouveau à l’écran dans Le Grand Sommeil. Une histoire de chantage très embrouillée où l’inspecteur Marlowe s’éprend de la superbe Vivian. Ils tourneront encore deux beaux films noirs ensemble, Les Passagers de la nuit de Delmer Daves (1947) et Key Largo de John Huston (1948). Ils auront deux enfants, Stephen, né en 1949, et Leslie, en 1952. Leur amour conjugal fera rêver l’Amérique, jusqu’à la mort d’Humphrey Bogart, emporté par un cancer en 1957. «Avant de le rencontrer, je pensais tomber sur un type plutôt grossier», a raconté Lauren Bacall, qui aurait préféré tourner avec Cary Grant. «J’ignorais qu’il avait une excellente éducation, lisait beaucoup, parlait bien. C’est une chance extraordinaire d’avoir été formée par un homme de son âge, et les amis de sa génération, comme Gregory Peck, David Niven ou Noel Coward, qui avait un esprit fou».

Dans les années 1950, Lauren Bacall se tourne vers la comédie, où son élégance sûre d’elle-même, sa drôlerie, son côté abrupt, un peu masculin, font merveille. Negulesco lui offre Comment épouser un millionnaire etLes femmes mènent le monde, Minnelli La Femme modèle. Elle y interprète une dessinatrice de mode mondaine, genre d’emploi qu’elle retrouvera plus tard dans Misery de Rob Reiner (1990) etPrêt-à-porter de Robert Altman (1994).

Une personnalité

Après la mort d’Humphrey Bogart, elle revient vivre à New York, et on la retrouve sur scène à Broadway dans Goodbye Charlie, Fleur de cactus, La Femme de l’annéeou Applause, comédie musicale d’après Eve de Mankiewicz, qui lui vaudra un Tony Award en 1970. L’œuvre est diffusée à la télévision où Lauren Bacall fait aussi carrière, jusqu’à la série des Soprano: elle y tient son propre rôle. Elle ne cessera jamais de travailler au cinéma. Mais duCrime de l’Orient-Express, àDogville etManderlay de Lars von Trier, le cinéma ne lui offrira plus de très grands rôles. Elle restera la star auréolée de son passé légendaire, qui donne de l’éclat à un générique. Et qui continue à faire son métier, sans vaine nostalgie. Sa bravoure et sa franchise la font couper court: «Les jours anciens étaient merveilleux, mais ils sont passés. Occupons-nous d’aujourd’hui.»

Pour que les choses soient claires, elle a écrit deux autobiographies, Par moi-même(éditions Stock) etSeule (éditions Michel Lafon), qui en est le complément. Des titres éloquents. Elle y raconte ses origines de fille d’émigrés juifs, roumains, allemands et polonais (elle était la cousine de Shimon Pérès), le brusque départ de son père, qu’elle refusera de revoir quand il ressurgira des années plus tard, les hommes de sa vie: après Bogart, il y a eu Sinatra, qui l’a plaquée goujatement, Jason Robards, épousé en 1961, dont elle divorcera huit ans plus tard à cause de son alcoolisme. «J’ai passé seule la plus grande partie de ma vie», a-t-elle observé. Elle trouvait que les hommes intelligents et spirituels se faisaient rares. Howard Hawks avait sans doute raison de penser que, plus qu’une actrice, Bacall était une personnalité. Un fier tempérament. Elle portait l’indépendance et les volutes de fumée comme personne.


Ses principaux films:

-»To Have and Have not» (Le port de l’angoisse, 1944), Howard Hawks

-»Confidential Agent» (1945), Herman Shumlin

-»The Big Sleep» (Le grand sommeil, 1946), Howard Hawks

-»Dark Passage (Les passagers de la nuit, 1947), Delmer Daves

-»Key Largo» (1948), John Huston

-»Young Man with a Horn» (La femme aux chimères, 1950), Michael Curtiz

-»Bright Leaf» (le roi du tabac, 1950), Michael Curtiz

-»How to marry a millionaire» (1953), Jean Negulesco

-»Woman’s world» (Les femmes mènent le monde, 1954), Jean Negulesco

-»The cobweb» (La toile d’araignée, 1955), Vincente Minnelli

-»Blood Alley» (L’allée sanglante, 1955), William Wellman

-»Written on the wind» (Ecrit sur du vent, 1956), Douglas Sirk

-»Designing woman» (La femme modèle, 1957), Vincente Minnelli

-»The gift of love» (La femme que j’aimais, 1958), Jean Negulesco

-»Shock Treatment» (1964), Denis Sanders

-»Sex and the single girl» (Une vierge sur canapé, 1964), Anthony Quinn

-»Harper» (Détective privé, 1966), Jack Smight

-»Murder on the Orient Express» (Le crime de l’Orient Express, 1974), Sydney Lumet

-»The shootist» (Le dernier des géants, 1976), Don Siegel

-»The fan» (Fanatique, 1981), Edward Bianchi

-»Misery» (1990), Rob Reiner

-»Prêt-à-porter» (1994), Robert Altman

-»Le jour et la nuit» (1997), Bernard-Henri Lévy

-»Dogville» (2003), Lars von Trier

-»Manderlay» (2005), Lars von Trier

-»The Forger» (2012), Lawrence Roeck, son dernier film en tant qu’actrice

Voir de plus:

« The Look »Lauren Bacall: un certain regard Danièle Georget
Paris Match

Avec Bogart, elle formait le couple le plus mythique de Hollywood. Pendant plus de cinquante ans, elle a continué sa route sans lui, avant de s’éteindre à 89 ans.

Elle a tout d’une princesse, mais elle est née d’un représentant de commerce et d’une émigrée juive roumaine du Bronx. Il a l’air d’un dur mais il est fils de bourgeois, cousin d’aristocrates anglais. Dès leur premier film, elle est la lumière et lui, l’ombre. Entre Lauren Bacall et Humphrey Bogart, tout commence par une réplique culte, « Vous n’aurez qu’à me siffler », lancée en 1943 sur le plateau du « Port de l’angoisse », d’une voix rauque, travaillée à la cigarette pendant trois semaines. Ce n’était que le signe extérieur d’un aplomb qui annonçait une ère nouvelle. Mais face au héros tragique, bagarreur de 44 ans qui savait si bien encaisser les vacheries du destin, elle avait, en la prononçant, le menton qui tremblait. Tant pis, elle le regarderait par en dessous pour assurer son équilibre. Une panthère qui surveille sa proie. Ainsi naquit son surnom, « The Look ».

Du fond de son désespoir tranquille, Bogie a deviné la bluffeuse hors pair, qui joue comme si elle avait un brelan d’as… En réalité, elle en est encore à courir après l’ombre de papa, disparu dans la jungle où se perdent les hommes infidèles. Lauren adule sa mère. Elle survit de petits boulots : ouvreuse, mannequin dans les grands magasins, c’est-à-dire portemanteau. Il lui a fallu renoncer à l’école de théâtre, car on n’y donnait pas de bourse aux filles. Un garçon lui a déjà fait du gringue : Kirk Douglas. Mais elle a gardé ses distances. Peut-être a-t-elle deviné que, au fond, elle n’était pas son genre : pas de seins, pas de fesses, trop grands pieds. C’est l’époque où Marilyn se fait refaire le nez, la poitrine, et teindre en blonde. Une gueule de fantasme. Lauren Bacall mise sur la différence. Une jeune vierge au visage de femme fatale qui s’impose dans le style de la copine insolente et affranchie, elle qui connaît si mal les hommes.

Timide, Bogart l’a embrassée sans prévenir

Comme il est timide, Bogart l’a embrassée sans prévenir, après trois semaines de tournage et d’innombrables plaisanteries. Dans sa loge, il lui a pris le menton puis lui a tendu une pochette d’allumettes pour qu’elle y inscrive son numéro de téléphone. Il n’y avait pas de caméra pour filmer la scène. C’est Lauren qui l’a racontée dans ses Mémoires, « Par moi-même » (éd. Stock, 1979).Ce n’était pourtant pas dans les habitudes de Bogie, ces amours de tournage. Lui, quand il aime, il épouse. Souvent. La troisième Mme Bogart est, comme les autres, une actrice. Qu’est-ce qui lui a plu en Mayo Methot ? Ses joues d’écureuil ou sa détermination à ne jamais le laisser boire tout seul ? C’est un vrai pilier de bar, mauvaise comme les habitués des saloons dans les westerns. Mme Bogart a l’habitude de balancer cendrier et bouteille à la tête du gentleman de « Casablanca ». Elle hurle comme un ivrogne. A Lauren, elle lancera : « Petite garce juive, c’est toi qui vas lui laver ses chaussettes ? » Bref, elle donne à Bogie toutes les raisons de boire. Ce dont il lui est reconnaissant. L’alcool est alors un attribut essentiel de la virilité. Ça ne dérange pas Lauren. Et même, elle suit… A Paris Match, en 2005, elle déclare : « J’ai d’abord tenté l’orange blossom, gin-jus d’orange. Pas terrible. Ensuite, l’aquavit on the rocks, qui me rendait malade. Je ne détestais pas le brandy, qui faisait anglais. Je me suis mise au Martini sur glace, très dilué. Puis le Jack Daniel’s… Aujourd’hui, je suis plutôt vodka. Mais, franchement, l’alcool ne me convient pas. » Elle ira jusqu’à l’accompagner sur son bateau où elle a le mal de mer…

Il l’appelle « Slim » (Mince) ou « Baby ». Elle lui dit « Steve », comme dans le film, et reste à son côté quand il joue aux échecs, ou fait des grimaces pour le faire rire. A la sortie des studios, il la rejoint dans sa voiture, comme un lycéen. Et, parfois, quand il est soûl, il l’appelle au milieu de la nuit pour lui donner rendez-vous sur la Route 101 où elle le découvre à 4 heures du matin, un énorme tournesol à la boutonnière. Il la traite en amante autant qu’en copain, et elle, en homme de sa vie. Ce qui n’échappe pas à Howard Hawks, le réalisateur qui lui a donné sa chance après avoir vu sa photo à la une de « Harper’s Bazaar ». Jaloux, il lui fait la morale, critique son jeu, lui affirme qu’elle est en train de tout gâcher pour un type qui, le film terminé, ne se souviendra même plus d’elle… et elle répond d’une voix de petite fille que personne ne lui connaît : « Mais Howard, qu’est-ce qu’on fait quand on a un type dans la peau ? » Howard Hawks n’avait que la mauvaise foi du mauvais perdant. En réalité, il faudra à peine un an pour que Bogart quitte sa femme. Il épouse Lauren en mai 1945. Cela aurait pu être la plus belle noce de Hollywood. Mais il choisit pour la cérémonie une ferme, dans une petite ville de l’Ohio. Devant le juge, ils se tiennent par la main, avec les genoux qui flageolent. Un bonheur de midinette pour des héros de film noir.

Leurs deux enfants passeront toujours après Bogie qui ne supporte pas d’être sans elle

Leur première vraie dispute résonne quand elle lui apprend qu’elle est enceinte : « Il vociféra qu’il ne m’avait pas épousée pour me perdre au profit d’un enfant. Qu’aucun enfant n’allait se mettre entre lui et moi. » Ils en auront deux, Stephen, en 1949, et Leslie, en 1952. Et Lauren respectera sa promesse. Ils passeront toujours après Bogie qui ne supporte pas d’être seul, sans elle : à l’époque de « The African Queen », l’aîné se retrouve près de sa nurse morte, victime d’une crise cardiaque, sur le tarmac de l’aéroport où ils viennent de s’envoler pour New York. Et alors… on lui enverra sa grand-mère. « Il avait longtemps dit : “Je n’ai pas d’enfants parce qu’ils ne boivent pas”, confie Stephen dans un documentaire de Bertrand Tessier (pour OCS). Nous avions juste commencé à être plus proches quand il est tombé malade. »

Bogart a toujours su que le bonheur ne durait pas. Sa grandeur, c’était de montrer que ça ne l’empêchait pas de vivre, qu’il avait les tripes pour affronter le destin. Son destin à lui, ce sera juste avant le tournage de « Plus dure sera la chute », en 1956, un cancer de l’œsophage. L’alcool, le tabac. Entre sa première opération et sa mort, à 57 ans, onze mois vont s’écouler, à souffrir, à ne plus manger, à ne plus pouvoir marcher. Ensemble, ils ne voudront rien savoir de la tumeur, de la bombe au cobalt, de la moutarde à l’azote, ce dérivé du gaz moutarde avec lequel on tente encore l’impossible… Jusqu’à la fin, Bogart ferraille avec les chroniqueurs qui balancent qu’il est incurable : « Comme on dit, je ne me suis jamais si bien porté… Il ne me manque qu’une douzaine de kilos que certains d’entre vous, à coup sûr, pourraient avantageusement me céder. » Quand elle l’emmène à l’hôpital, maintenant c’est elle qui porte la valise, avec, à l’intérieur, la bouteille de scotch et le jeu d’échecs, et elle qui lui dit : « J’aime beaucoup que tu t’appuies sur moi, c’est la première fois en douze ans. » Il est passé aux cigarettes à bout filtre. Et du whisky au Martini, mais, à Noël, elle lui offre un pyjama et une veste d’intérieur. Bogie ne sera plus jamais un homme debout.

Elle a tenté de refaire sa vie mais personne n’avait la carrure

Leur dernière nuit, ils vont la passer ensemble le 12 janvier 1957. Elle a pris l’habitude de dormir dans une alcôve pour ne pas le déranger mais, ce soir-là, il lui demande de rester, il a peur. C’est une nuit sans répit, à lui tenir la main pendant qu’il suffoque. Bogie tombe dans le coma le lendemain pendant qu’elle emmène les enfants « à l’école du dimanche », le catéchisme des protestants. Il lui avait pourtant dit de ne pas s’éloigner… On s’étonnera que, le jour de l’enterrement, elle n’ait pas versé une larme. Elle était pourtant méconnaissable avec ses paupières gonflées sous son petit béret noir. Sans voilette, sans lunettes, toute droite. Qui connaissait Lauren Bacall ? Pour Hollywood, elle est devenue la veuve, celle qui rappelle l’absent et, pire encore, qui montre combien la vie est cruelle, bien plus que l’imaginent les scénaristes. Elle restera néanmoins une star à qui l’on demanda toute sa vie pourquoi elle tenait tant à travailler, ce qu’elle fit jusqu’à 87 ans. « Pour payer mon loyer », répondait-elle en souriant.

Elle avait 33 ans quand Bogie est mort. Pendant plus d’un demi-siècle, elle a porté vaillamment le fantôme écrasant, ça ne l’a pas empêchée d’épouser un autre acteur, Jason Robards, qui disparaissait pendant des nuits entières de beuverie. Elle a eu un troisième enfant, des amants, elle a tenté de refaire sa vie mais personne n’avait la carrure. Elle avait pourtant tourné la page, retrouvé New York, le très chic immeuble Dakota devant lequel John Lennon fut assassiné. Le temps des studios était mort depuis longtemps, il fallait s’habituer à voir Lauren Bacall dans des seconds rôles ou des séries télé. Heureusement, restait le théâtre. Et son plus grand succès, « Applause », à New York et Londres. C’était l’adaptation du film de Mankiewicz « Eve » (1950), avec Bette Davis, la star qu’elle avait tant admirée, enfant, et qui lui confiait, à 15 ans : « Il faut que vous soyez bien sûre de votre vocation… car, voyez-vous, j’ai deux Oscars sur ma cheminée, mais ils ne me tiennent pas chaud par les froides soirées d’hiver. » La solitude, Lauren Bacall l’a apprivoisée, elle qui disait : « J’ai passé bien plus d’années sans Bogart qu’avec lui. Mais après sa mort, je me suis mise à penser et agir comme lui. Je suis un peu devenue lui. »

Voir encore:

Book Reviews
The Very Jewish Love Story Behind Erich Segal’s ‘Love Story’
How the famed writer’s unrequited passion for Janet Sussman led to the era-defining best-seller, and how Segal, who died six years ago this week, never got over her
Paula Young Lee
Tablet

January 14, 2016

“What can you say about a 25-year-old girl who died?” reads the opening line of Erich Segal’s 1970 best-seller Love Story. Well, for starters, Jenny—or the real-life model for Segal’s fictional tragic heroine—didn’t die. Her name is Janet, she’s Jewish, and she’s alive and well and living in New York City.

In 1998, a series of misreported conversations made it sound as if Al Gore had claimed that he and then-wife Tipper had inspired the young couple at the center of Love Story: the preppy Oliver Barrett IV, and working-class ingénue, Jennifer Cavilleri. A woman named Janet Sussman stepped forward as the “real” Jenny, which was a revelation of such proportions that Maureen Dowd wrote about it in her column for the New York Times, People Magazine ran a feature story, Inside Edition interviewed her, and Oprah later followed up with a taped special segment. But these quick takes only scratched the surface of what turns out to be a more revealing—and very Jewish—story, involving a youthful love triangle in Midwood and an author who would transform unrequited love into a book that made him rich and famous.

Janet Sussman grew up in Flatbush, the younger daughter of intellectual Russian-Polish immigrants who came to the United States with the help of Zionist organizations. The family was part of what her older sister Deborah called “the Tribe,” a close-knit social circle dedicated to raising money to help establish a Jewish homeland. That circle included the Gartners, the parents of a boy named Gideon, with whom Janet shared the same piano teacher, Roberta Berlin. From the time they were “eight, nine, ten years old, we were performing together in recitals playing four-hand piano duets,” Janet recalled, when I spoke with her recently.

Around the same time, she started attending Camp Kinderwelt (Yiddish for “children’s world”), a sleep-away summer camp for boys and girls aged six to fifteen located in Highland Mills, New York. It operated in tandem with Unser Camp (“our camp”), a resort that attracted Yiddish intellectuals and artists—theater actors, directors, poets, and teachers. Established in the late 1920s, Kinderwelt accommodated about 500 campers and counselors at its height. All that remains of Kinderwelt today is a website run by Suzanne Pulier, who was a camper in the late 1940 and ’50s at the same time as Janet. Suzanne recalls that Janet’s nickname was “Machine-Gun.” Suzanne explains: “Apparently she had a laugh that sounded like that and was very contagious. I know many a boy had a big crush on her!”

Suzanne’s memories concur with those of Marty “Smitty” Smith, who remembers Janet as being “very pretty, part of the ‘with-it’ group,” who sang for Saturday services and Friday night Shabbat. Suzanne clarifies: “We sometimes performed in Yiddish for the Unser Camp adults, we walked through their camp on Shabbat showing off our white clothes for the evening’s religious services and we sang for the adults when they had events in the Literashe Vinkel (the little amphitheater).” Janet also played the piano to accompany the singing.

In 1952, while at camp, 15-year-old Janet received an unexpected love letter from a 17-year-old schoolmate in Brooklyn. It was a seven-page confession that he loved her with all the force a love-struck teenager could muster. He felt compelled to write because he was about to leave for college, and feared he’d lost his chance to go on a date with her. He dreamed they would get married in ten years. He dreamed that she would just write back. He worried that he was foolish to confess, because so many other guys were also in love with her.

***

In the early 1950s, Janet Sussman attended Midwood High School along with Gideon Gartner and Erich Segal. (Allan Konigsberg, class of ’53, was at Midwood with them too. He would later become known as Woody Allen.) Erich was the same age as Janet but a grade ahead of her, and Gideon, who wrote her the seven-page love letter, was two years older but three grades ahead. Inside the social ecology of Midwood High, there was very little overlap between Erich and Gideon, and no points of intersection between Janet and Erich.

Now an undergraduate at M.I.T., Gideon was always calling her, trying to get her to go out with him. When that failed, he began writing her letters. But Janet was not interested in him. “I had work to do!” Janet exclaims in tones of mild indignation. She was too busy with friends, singing, and her studies to bother with a boyfriend. With lifelong best friend Helen Mones, Janet would play guitars once a week; they also sang together in the All-City Chorus, which brought together students from all five boroughs.

So, when Janet began receiving more anonymous valentines, she didn’t think anything of it. “In those days,” she explains, “life was what happened. You didn’t question things. I got letters. I figured that everybody got letters.” The letters started in 1954, when she was 17 years old, and a junior in high school. “And then he started to sign his letters to me,” Janet says. The new letter-writer, Erich Segal, would keep writing her letters for the next 16 years.

Janet knew who Erich was, of course. Everybody knew him as the Mayor of Midwood, the equivalent of the student body president. But she had no idea how she came to his attention. He didn’t hang out by her locker or participate in chorus. She didn’t see him at all during her normal daily routines.

Unbeknownst to Janet at the time, Erich had asked Dick Kolbert to find out about her. Dick was class of ’55, a junior, and into basketball. Erich was class of ’54, a senior, a star of track and field. Dick sat next to Janet in English class and had played Algernon to her Cecily in the student production of Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest. Dick’s secret assignment was to “ask her questions, find out if she had a boyfriend, what she said about him, that sort of thing,” and to report back to Erich what he’d learned. “It became clear that Erich was stuck on Janet,” Dick says crisply, “and Janet did not reciprocate.”

The following year, “Old Kolbert” succeeded Erich as Mayor of Midwood. A dignified man who speaks carefully, Dick doesn’t doubt that Erich based “Jenny” on Janet. There were too many similarities between them. And he believes that Erich’s feelings were sincere. “Teenagers really do experience genuine love,” he muses. “Even if it’s love at a distance. He may have been a little self-dramatizing, but he was genuinely smitten.” Though he wouldn’t reveal any details, Dick confirmed that Erich subsequently wrote “a long letter to him, pouring out his heart” regarding the depths of his feelings for Janet and asked him to burn it after reading. And so he did.

***

Dick Kolbert remembers that Janet was very pretty, but that it was Marge Cama who was voted “Prettiest Girl” in their graduating class at Midwood. The difference was that Janet had, “well … something,” he offered vaguely. “If there was a Geiger counter, she would be towards the top.”

Teenage boys may have been drawn to Janet’s artless good looks, but it was that ineffable quality of being your own person that made them fall in love with her. When Janet’s sister Deborah was 14, she wrote a strangely revealing essay about her then 8-year-old sibling. “Her tiny pug nose and tinkling laugh are two of the factors which gave her the titles, ‘Mis-Chief’ and ‘Machine-Gun,’ ” Deborah wrote of her sister in third grade. “I often wonder how she acts with male friends of her own age, and why they are so attached to her.”

Deborah titled the English-class essay “A Female Casanova” on account of the fact that Janet had a “boyfriend”–another third-grader named Ronald, who briefly became sick and stayed at home, leaving room for “Richard” to move in. Yet Deborah was perplexed. What qualities did Janet possess that made boys become infatuated with her? Nobody I spoke to about Janet’s years at Camp Kinderwelt or Midwood High School described her as a flirt, “boy crazy,” or any variation thereof. Rather, her response to male attention seems consistently to have been amused bafflement, followed by indifference.

In high school, Janet shared Erich’s letters with her other life-long best friend, Diana Stone. Diana lived across the street from the Sussmans’ home in Brooklyn, and she and Janet were as close as sisters. With a note of incredulity in her voice, Janet exclaims: “I think Diana even tried to persuade me to relent, just a little!” To no avail. She wasn’t rude to Erich, Janet stresses. But she never went out with him. Yet Erich’s letters kept coming.

At Barnard, Janet double-majored in music and French. An accomplished pianist, she composed the entrance music to Barnard’s “Greek Games” as well as a second piece for the dance portion, choreographed by Tobi Bernstein (today the distinguished dance critic Tobi Tobias). “This piece became the soundtrack to our childhood,” Janet’s youngest child, Aleba, states, “as it was the one piece she would turn to again and again when playing the piano for pleasure and not for work. We loved it so much—it totally captures her passion. It has very intricate syncopation amid gorgeous melodies.” A serious student, Janet took a composition class with Otto Luening across the street at Columbia University. This very small class included two future winners of the Pulitzer Prize for music composition: John Corigliano, who was also in Janet’s class at Midwood High School; and Charles Wuorinen, who “sat in the back row alone all the time,” Janet elaborates. “We all knew he was the genius of geniuses.”

By fall of 1959, she had graduated from college and finished up a summer at the Cummington School of the Arts in Massachusetts. She then found a job working as an administrative assistant for Columbia Records in New York City. Meanwhile, her older sister Deborah, a protégée of Ray and Charles Eames, had been on a Fulbright year in Ulm, Germany, and had moved on to Paris, where she settled into her new job as a graphic designer for chic department store Galeries Lafayette. Deborah wanted her baby sister to come visit.

It was time for Janet to make a choice. She had a good entry-level job at a business where she might have a future if she stayed—but Paris beckoned. After hemming and hawing, she finally gave notice to her bosses at Columbia Records and joined her sibling for a stint of seven months in Europe. On June 8, 1960, Deborah wrote to their parents:

after five weeks, i cannot imagine being without her. i was amazed and impressed, and so are others, at her insights and awarenesses of people. she has developed very highly intellectually, equaled (need one say?) by her beauty. yet i think that being far from home and her usual routines is the best thing she could do right now, in order to learn a certain independence.
Deborah’s letter made no mention of the man from Midwood High who was planning on delivering himself to their doorstep in the 18th arondissement the very next day, flowers in hand, with plans to take her baby sister out for her birthday, which happened to be close enough to his birthday, too. Erich Segal and Janet were Geminis, the sign of the Twins, born one week apart: June 9 for her, and June 16 for him. Erich had written Janet to let her know of his plans, but he’d not heard from her in two weeks since his last letter, he complained, and had no idea if she would be there when he arrived.

He had reason to fret. If Janet wasn’t exactly avoiding him, she wasn’t waiting breathlessly either. The sisters had driven to South of France, to the French Riviera, taking the routes favored by truck drivers because the food along the way was cheap and good. As for Erich, she says, he was “on his own.” It didn’t help his case that her sister “didn’t think he was important,” Janet relates with a rueful laugh. Ever decisive, Deborah summed Erich up and cut him down in three words: “He’s so short!” Janet concurs that he was short of stature, but with a “magnificent face.” When the three of them eventually ended up having dinner in Paris at the home of Erich’s aunt and uncle, “I was on good behavior,” Janet says lightly. “Deborah—ahem—wasn’t.” The formal meal turned into a scene from Hannah and Her Sisters à la française, with Janet being her charming and effervescent self, and Deborah blurting out caustic remarks in impeccable French.

Deborah, Erich, and Janet on the French Riviera, 1960.
That Janet agreed to dine with Erich’s relatives did not turn her into his girlfriend. “I wasn’t rude,” she exclaimed indignantly. “But he made every effort to see me, and I made none to see him.” Erich flew back to the United States, his love unrequited. And he kept sending her letters. From Cambridge, Massachusetts: a postcard mailed to her in Paris. From New York City: a telegram to her in Paris. From Barrow, Alaska: a letter addressed to her in Brooklyn. From somewhere over the friendly skies: a letter on American Airlines’ stationary, scrawled on a return flight from a Passover visit with his mother and family. From his office at Harvard University, where he’d obtained his undergraduate, Master’s, and doctoral degrees and then joined the faculty: a letter to her in Brooklyn, written in a ruled blue book used for exams. And so on.

Janet still has dozens of letters in her possession. They are full of chatty details of the non-events of the quotidian, using charming terms of endearment, little doodles, and clever puns in Latin, Greek, French, and Hebrew. During Janet’s sojourn in Paris, he visited her parents in Brooklyn. “Erich spoke Russian with my father, Polish to my mother, and Yiddish to my grandmother,” Janet recalls about that visit. Her parents approved of him, and they were thrilled when he told them he would be visiting her. From Paris, Erich sent a letter to Irving and Ruth Sussman to update them on the status of his visit with their daughters, including a description of that interesting supper with his relatives.

Following Erich’s departure from Paris, Janet had remained in France. She was nearing the end of her funds, so she began to look for a job. She found one close by in the 19th arondissement, working with a record company called Etablissements Atlas. Her job was to translate the French information on record labels into English. After two months, her bosses offered her a permanent position in London, where the company was opening a new office. But Janet didn’t take the London job, and she didn’t stay in Paris. Instead, both she and her sister decided to return permanently to the United States, sailing home on a ship called La Liberté. The voyage lasted a week. Upon their arrival, both sisters came back to the family home in Brooklyn, but Deborah immediately began readying to depart for California, where she would resume working for Ray and Charles Eames.

As it turned out, Erich Segal wasn’t the only suitor writing Janet earnest letters. Gideon was sending them too, and he had the home field advantage. “He was one of our own, part of the Rambam club,” Janet explained: “This was one of the arms of the Labor Zionist Federation, with the goal of establishing a nascent Israel. I inherited that fervor from my father.” And if, in high school, Gideon was a typical skinny teenager, Janet recalled, “he came back from college to Brooklyn, transformed.”

***

By October 1960, Janet had started a new job working as the assistant to Geraldine Souvaine, producer of the Metropolitan Opera’s Saturday Afternoon radio broadcasts. When Gideon called and asked her out again, her heart didn’t leap with giddy anticipation. Still, she accepted his invitation—in her mind, a kind of pro forma social ritual, the sort of meetup owed to someone whose parents knew your parents and participated in the same groups. “We’d never before been on a date. When he showed up, he was like a stranger,” Janet says in lingering tones of wonderment. “He was my piano partner but he’d been a boy, then. I came back from Europe and he was a man. I was suddenly romantically attracted to him. I admired his broad shoulders,” Janet laughed, a 78-year-old grandmother suddenly girlish again, “and that was it!” A few months after their first date, he and Janet married.

They’d planned a traditional big wedding in a synagogue, but Janet’s father Irving was hospitalized at Maimonides Hospital with a hip injury and suffering from what would later be diagnosed as the early stages of Parkinson’s. Janet related: “In the Jewish tradition, you don’t postpone the wedding, so we brought the wedding to him. The rabbi came, and the ceremony was held in the hospital. It was very small, just family and close friends. We left the next day for our honeymoon in Puerto Rico.”

It was a marriage between families, joined together inside a community that had supported them since they were small. They’d known each other nearly their entire lives yet had fallen in love as adults. By the time they wed, Janet’s childhood piano partner had pursued her for eight years, and it was the third time she’d resigned her job and walked away from a potential career. She was almost 24 years old.

Erich saw the wedding announcement in the paper and wrote Janet a letter to congratulate her. Still, his letters kept coming.

***

The newlyweds moved to Tel Aviv and lived there for four years. Janet remembered this as a wonderful, emotionally fulfilling period in their lives. Gideon’s extended family in Tel Aviv had embraced her. She learned to speak Hebrew fluently and was thrilled to be having healthy babies—first Perry, then Sabrina—born 16 months apart. For a period of eight months, Gideon was transferred to Paris; then the family returned to Tel Aviv. Perry was too young then to remember specifics, but he recalled that his father was “incredibly ambitious,” displaying the drive that would lead him to found the Gartner Group (now Gartner, Inc.), the first of several successful companies that would establish him as one of the pioneers in the new industry of information technology. Returning to the United States, they eventually settled in Mamaroneck, New York, where their third child, Aleba, was born.

And Janet and Gideon wrote each other love letters. Throughout their marriage, they communicated through music, and regularly exchanged letters—sometimes mailed, often left on each other’s pillows—that paint a complex, profound, private portrait of a marriage. But if one wonders what set Gideon apart from Janet’s other suitors, this simple line may explain it: “To you,” she wrote to Gideon in a letter of 1961, “I’m real.”

Now a married woman with three children, Janet started receiving notes and letters again. She knew who was sending them. Erich had become a professor of Greek and Latin literature at Yale and had also met with success as a Hollywood screenwriter. She figured Erich for a prolific writer who’d simply gotten in the habit of writing down and mailing his thoughts to her. Every once in a while, she responded with a brief note and didn’t ponder the matter any further. Meanwhile, in 1968, her sister Deborah co-founded the pioneering environmental design/graphic arts firm Sussman/Prejza, which became one of the most influential design companies in the country.

In 1969, Janet’s entire young family was sound asleep when the phone rang at 3 a.m. It was Erich Segal. “He was soused,” Janet recalled. “He told me that he’d just written his final love letter to me and that it was over a hundred pages long.” That last, very long letter was Love Story. A shortish novel, it became the best-selling book of 1970 and made Erich an instant millionaire. When the film exploded the following year, Erich invited Janet to accompany him to the Plaza Hotel in New York City, where she dined with him and the film’s stars, Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw, as well as the producer, Robert Evans. Janet recalled: “Gideon said I could go—however, he stipulated that I couldn’t be identified to the press as ‘Jenny’.” She attended the fête as the “mystery woman.”

In the silence, the mystery surrounding Janet’s identity merely thickened, until that fateful conversation in 1998 which transformed Tipper from Tennessee into Jenny from Rhode Island. As result of that story, Erich stated publicly that Oliver Barrett IV had been partly inspired by fellow Harvard student Al Gore, the son of a senator and a WASP product of prep schooling, but he’d given Oliver the personality of Gore’s roommate, Tommy Lee Jones, the poet-cowboy actor from Texas. But what about Jenny?

Though Erich never came out and declared in so many words, “Janet Sussman is Jenny Cavilleri,” he admitted as much in an extensive interview for the May 1971 edition of the Italian magazine Oggi. In addition to describing his changed romantic prospects in the wake of sudden wealth and fame, he confessed his feelings for “Jenny” at length. “When you lose the woman you love,” he said, “it is over for you, whether she leaves you for another man, or she dies. You are still alone. It was at this point that I started thinking about Love Story. That’s why in the book, Jennifer dies, because for me she had died.”

The interview included a photograph of Erich and Janet on the Promenade des Anglais on that trip to France in 1960. The caption, in Italian, identifies Janet as “Jennifer, the muse,” and states plainly that the woman in the photo, Janet, is the inspiration for Love Story. Like “Jenny” as described in Love Story, Janet was: “beautiful. And brilliant … loved Mozart, and Bach. And the Beatles.” Was affectionately called “Four-Eyes,” hated her glasses and removed them at every opportunity. Was a music major, though Janet went to Barnard and also majored in French, whereas “Jenny” attended Radcliffe. Jenny/Janet was an accomplished pianist, an intellectual in the habit of biting her nails, quick with sarcastic retorts, especially with men, and she often used the word “stupid” to express her impatience.

It’s fun to re-read Love Story in light of the history shared by Janet and Erich, as it turns his prose into something far more confessional and intimate. “Either way I don’t come first,” Oliver complains on the very first page, “which for some stupid reason bothers the hell out of me.” “I would like to say a word about our physical relationship,” Oliver begins chapter 5. “For a strangely long while there wasn’t any.” But Jenny is working-class Italian American, and Oliver is a wealthy WASP. Or, as Jenny says, “Ollie, you’re a preppie millionaire, and I’m a social zero.” There is nothing of Jewishness in the novel, which instead celebrates Anglo-American culture and values to the point of pandering. Jewish identity comes up only twice in the book, first when Oliver remarks that the editor of the Harvard Law Review, Joel Fleishman, wasn’t very articulate; and second, when Oliver graduates from law school and is job hunting in New York City. He declares:

I enjoyed one inestimable advantage in competing for the best legal spots. I was the only guy in the top ten who wasn’t Jewish. (And anyone who says it doesn’t matter is full of it). Christ, there are dozens of firms who will kiss the ass of a WASP who can merely pass the bar.

Given that Erich’s father and grandfather were rabbis, this is a curious statement that suggests he envied structural whiteness even as he prided himself on succeeding on his own intellectual merits. In his mind, nonetheless, WASP status seems to have been tied up with better success with women. In the Oggi interview, Erich described one of his final in-person conversations with the “real” Jenny, i.e., Janet, which took place at a restaurant following the book’s release. In it, he not only confirmed to her that she’d inspired the character, but believed that if he’d only been an Oliver in real life, “we would have gotten married”—an assumption that has no basis in Janet Sussman’s subsequent life.

Janet still seems amazed that she had such an impact on Segal and even more confounded that this story would have resonated so strongly with the public. “It was only many years later,” Aleba remarked, “that I realized how difficult it must have been for my mom to be the invisible muse, the real-life healthy living inspiration for this dead heroine in this impossibly huge best-seller and film. She never ever expressed this, but how could she not feel the frustration? They must have had a silent agreement not to make a big deal out of it, in part out of respect to my dad and us three kids.” (After 17 years of marriage, Janet and Gideon divorced, the way couples do once the children are out of the house. Though there have been suitors over the decades since that split, she has not gotten remarried.) Her middle child, Sabrina, clarified: “She had—has, really—no idea how surprising it was that she resisted Erich without thinking much of it. She has a way of doing that, living her life on her own terms, even as others seek to be part of it.”

Voir également:

Maybe Jenny Cavilleri didn’t die of a mysterious disease.

Maybe she got divorced and moved to Greenwich, where she is alive and well and playing the piano in a chamber music trio.

Janet Sussman Gartner loves Beethoven, Bach and the Beatles. She bites her nails. And, at 60, this mother of three still enjoys putting Harvard preppies in their place.

In this case, the preppie is the Vice President. Mrs. Gartner has come forward to say that she, not Tipper Gore, is the model for the saucy but doomed heroine in  »Love Story. »

 »They used to call me the girl with sparkle, » said Mrs. Gartner, who offered as proof pictures of herself with Erich Segal, a copy of the Italian magazine, Oggi, in which Mr. Segal is quoted saying Janet is Jenny, and a bunch of old  »Sweet Suss » love letters signed  »Erich, »  »Segal » and  »the Kosher Liberace. »

 »The whole world kept saying to me, ‘You didn’t die,’  » she says.  »Well, I didn’t marry him, either. »

It may seem odd that people are so eager to associate themselves with the most treacly book and movie in modern times. It may seem odd that I keep writing about the most treacly book and movie in modern times. But then, I live in a city that has gone gaga over a puppy.

First the Vice President, to warm up his image, planted the notion that he and Tipper were the models for Oliver Barrett IV and Jenny Cavilleri. But Mr. Segal reined him in, making it clear that Tommy Lee Jones was the model for the sensitive, studly part of the character, while Al got the neurotic father-fixated part, and Tipper got zip.

That raised the question: Why not Tommy Lee Jones for President? Doesn’t America deserve the cool roommate? (And Will Smith for Vice President!)

Now Mrs. Gartner is laying claim to Jenny. What’s next? Are we getting into Anastasia territory? Will a line of Italian men step forward to say they inspired Phil Cavilleri, Jenny’s saintly dad?

In a 1970 interview with The Times, Mr. Segal said he had used the story of a Yale student whose wife had died, but had based Jenny’s personality on a flame from his Harvard days who did not go to Radcliffe.

Mrs. Gartner says she was good friends with Mr. Segal when they were both at Midwood High School in Brooklyn (along with Woody Allen) and later, when she was at Barnard and he was at Harvard. She said they once traveled through the south of France with her sister, but she did not reciprocate the infatuation of her  »brilliant suitor. »  »I was an idiotic young woman, a pretty girl, I had a million boyfriends and I threw them out like the garbage at the end of every day. »

One night, several years into her marriage to a computer executive, she said, an excited Erich called her at 3 A.M.  »My husband was disturbed. Erich said, ‘I just wrote you a 250-page love letter.’ When the movie opened, it was a heady time. He re-entered my life, and invited me to go out to dinner at Trader Vic’s in New York. We were at a large circular table with Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal sipping out of a common huge drink with long straws. I thought, ‘Life can’t get any better than this. Janet Gartner from Mamaroneck is Jenny.’ Now everyone has forgotten. »

Mr. Segal would not confirm or deny Mrs. Gartner’s claim. He sent a fax from London saying:  »I would be very happy if you did not write this piece. And extremely grateful. » When my assistant reached him by phone and asked if Janet was Jenny, he again avoided a yes or no:  »Can’t you just say that I’d already left the office? »

Mrs. Gartner said Mr. Segal had made her a lower-class Italian to spice up the story with class and religious conflict.  »We both had Jewish immigrant families. He was brought up as an Orthodox Jew, I a Conservative Jew. »

She still cherishes the  »dazzling » love letters with the English-French puns, and a poem about a Passover and a satyr.

She says Mr. Segal never told her who inspired Oliver. But she’s ready to get on my  »Tommy Lee Jones for President » bandwagon.  »He’s the most irresistible man on the earth, » she says.

Voir encore:

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT—well, it was dark anyway—when Janet Sussman Gartner learned she was the inspiration for high school classmate Erich Segal’s first novel. Gartner, her husband and three children were sound asleep in their Ma-maroneck, N.Y., home in 1969, when the telephone practically exploded at 3 a.m. “Hey, Sussy” crooned a seductive voice. “I just wrote you a 258-page love letter.” It was Segal, then a Yale professor, freshly stoked on completing the manuscript the world would soon know as Love Story. He had taken the essence of Gartner, her razor-sharp wit, playful sexiness and love of music, and created Radcliffe student Jenny Cavilleri, the leukemia-stricken heroine of his bittersweet weeper about an Ivy League romance that ends in Jenny’s death. The novel became the best-selling book of 1970 and a 1970 box office smash starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal. “I remember feeling like a jolt of electricity went through me,” recalls Gartner. “I didn’t sleep the rest of the night. I was too overcome with what I realized I meant to him.”

Gartner, 60, kept mum about being Segal’s inspiration, but, she says, Al Gore’s clumsy assertion last month that he and wife Tipper were the models for the book’s couple proved too much to bear in silence. (Gore has since declared it all a misunderstanding.) The idea that Tipper Gore was Jenny, Gartner says, “is the most preposterous thing I ever heard.”

Segal, 60, now married and living in England, isn’t talking. But in a 1971 article on the author, the Italian magazine Oggi identified Gartner in a photo (with Segal in France in 1960) as the woman who had inspired Jenny—without naming her. And, Gartner says, Segal took her to dinner with actress MacGraw in New York City just after the film’s release. Segal recently said that he never met Tipper but that the character of Oliver Barrett was based both on Gore and actor Tommy Lee Jones, Gore’s Harvard roommate.

All these years, Gartner shared her secret only with family and friends. “I grew up knowing that my mother was Jenny,” says daughter Aleba, 31, a publicist. “It was kind of legend in our house.” But Gartner says that she and her husband, Gideon, 62 and CEO of Giga Information Group in Cambridge, Mass., kept quiet because “it seemed a little bit awkward to have my identity known” while she was married and Segal was single.

Though they never dated, Gartner and Segal were close friends from their days at Brooklyn’s Midwood High School in the 1950s. Raised by intellectual immigrants from Poland and Russia, Janet Sussman was quick-witted and outspoken. Like the fictional Jenny, she played piano and, like her own mother, spoke three languages. “I’m not a shrinking violet,” she says. “Someone once coined me ‘the girl with the sparkle’.”

In 1954 the smitten Segal enrolled at Harvard, from whence he filled Gartner’s Brooklyn mailbox with dozens of letters, which she still treasures. “Darling Suss, sweeter than halvah,” he wrote. But Gartner did not return his affection. “He was a very great friend, and my admiration for him was boundless, but I did not share his emotions,” Gartner recalls.

She entered Barnard College in 1955, and in 1960, a year after graduating, she joined her older sister Deborah in Paris for a seven-month sojourn. Segal followed, Gartner says, with intentions of winning her over. The romance never blossomed, and in 1961 she married Gideon Gartner, another high school pal. Though Segal continued corresponding—and he never had to say he was sorry—his tone changed from lovelorn to friendly. Eventually the two fell out of touch. End of story?

Not quite. Gartner, now divorced and living in a Greenwich, Conn., apartment, supports herself as a pianist and music coach. She believes Jenny’s death was a metaphor for Segal’s failing to win her in real life. Indeed, Segal told Oggi that losing the woman you love is the same “whether she’s left you for another or whether she’s died.” Gartner admits she sometimes wonders what might have been had she married Segal. For one thing, he might not have created the greatest hankie wringer in modern literature. “If I had dated him and everything had been fine, I’m not going to say he never would have written Love Story,” muses the muse. “But the need to write it may have been less.”

SOPHFRONIA SCOTT GREGORY

JENNIFER LONGLEY in Connecticut

Voir enfin:

The Rise And Fall Of The Ivy League Look

On October 1st something began bubbling in my subconscious. Ivy Style had reached its four-year anniversary, the MFIT exhibit had recently opened, and the accompanying book had been published.

I found that after four years of trying to look at this topic as objectively as possible, and talking to the men who were actually there during the heyday — Richard Press, Bruce Boyer, Charlie Davidson and Paul Winston — something unanswered remained.

I started thinking about Brooks Brothers and the college campus, which was chosen as the focal point of the MFIT exhibit, wondering about the connection between these two things. I soon found myself asking the most fundamental question: How do we explain how the Ivy League Look came about?

It’s easy to make generalizations, but hard to precisely articulate.

I next began thinking about the interplay between clothiers and their customers, focusing on the why as much as the what. Buttondown oxfords, plain-front trousers with cuffs, rep and knit ties — these are the whats, but what are the whys behind them? The answer couldn’t be simply “because that’s what Brooks Brothers sold,” when Brooks Brothers sold so much more that never became part of the Ivy League Look.

I telephoned Charlie Davidson and told him I was working on a piece though wasn’t sure where it was going. I started by asking him, “What portion of the Ivy League Look comes from Brooks Brothers, and what comes from the culture of young men on campus?” When Charlie, who’s been selling these clothes since 1948, responded, “That’s a good question,” I knew I was on to something.

The following essay is the result of my investigation. What began as an attempt to articulate Ivy’s origins grew into an overview about the whole broad arc of Ivy, how it codified and how it shattered into the complex “post-Ivy” era we’re in today.

In it I will argue:

• The Ivy League Look was as much about styling as the ingredients. And while the ingredients were relatively fixed and admitted new items slowly, the styling came from the campus and was always in a state of flux.

• It was the casual nature of the college environment and the importance of dressing down that led men in the 1930s to prefer rougher, casual fabrics — oxford cloth shirts, brushed Shetland sweaters, Harris Tweed jackets, flannel trousers — that has been the standard of good, understated taste for men on the East Coast ever since.

• The Ivy League Look included clothes for every occasion, from resort to formalwear, from city to country. However, the country element influenced the city far more than the other way around, and remains the most lasting influence of the genre.

• The Ivy League Look can be said to go through the stages of birth, maturity and decline, corresponding to specific points on a timeline.

• Once the look in its original, purist form ceased to be fashionable on campus, it ceased to be fashionable in society as a whole.

This lengthy piece will be presented throughout the week in five parts. New installments will be added at the bottom to preserve one cohesive post and comment thread.  — CC

• • •

The Rise And Fall Of The Ivy League Look
Christian Chensvold

Part One: The Rise

In the late 1930s a new shoe became an instant hit on the Yale campus. First seen in Palm Beach in 1936, the “Weejun” penny loafer by GH Bass & Co. was immediately embraced by the students of New Haven. By 1940, the shoe store Barrie Limited was advertising its Horween penny loafers in the Yale Daily News, saying the shoe had “taken the university by storm.”

From the moment it appeared the penny loafer was an “instant classic” for wearers of the Ivy League Look, according to Charlie Davidson, 86-year-old proprietor of The Andover Shop in Harvard Square. Yet how do we explain the shoe’s overnight success, when so many shoes had come before and so many more would come later? For a genre of clothing that was slow to develop, that is characterized by its conservatism and supposed resistance to fads, this love-at-first-sight seems odd. Stranger still, the penny loafer was no temporary trend like the raccoon coat of the ’20s or the buckle-back chino of the mid-‘50s. Its place in the genre of clothing called the Ivy League Look remains to this day. It literally was an instant classic, embraced wholeheartedly and never relinquished.

Those Yalies who first donned the penny loafer in the late ’30s must have seen something special in the shoe, an inherent attractiveness and a harmony with the clothes they got next door at J. Press. “Casual slip-on shoes of the moccasin type are by far the most popular with students,” syndicated fashion columnist Bert Bacharach would later write in his 1955 book “Right Dress,” suggesting it was the penny loafer’s casualness of design — moccasin-style with no brogueing, laces, tassels, wings, nor anything else associated with a business shoe — that accounted for its instant appeal.

One thing’s for certain, however: No manufacturer could have anticipated or dictated the Weejun’s instant success. Something more mysterious and elusive was at work, the process of taste-driven natural selection by the closed culture of Eastern Establishment students of the 1930s. Young men and their peers, not clothing brands or magazine editors, decided what was fashionable.

Though it later achieved and lost mainstream popularity, the penny loafer remains available today at a wide range of prices, supported by both lifelong wearers and a steady supply of new converts. Typically paired with argyle socks in the 1930s, penny loafers were worn with white athletic socks in the ’50s and then sockless in the ’60s, the same item worn differently with each new decade.

The Ivy League Look is not simply a tailoring style accompanied by a specific group of furnishings and accessories. It consists of much more than just sack jackets, buttondown oxfords and penny loafers. It also consists of the taste-driven ethos that led some items to be accepted into the genre while others were rejected, and of a certain way of wearing the items that developed in the various upper-middle-class communities of the East Coast in the first half of the 20th century, chief among them the college campus.

“People made things a classic, not manufacturers,” says Davidson. “It’s people who made some things accepted and not others, otherwise how do we account for all the things that failed?”

Brooks Brothers And Ivy’s Big Bang

The Ivy League Look did not appear suddenly, but developed over time. “It was 30 or 40 years in the making without anyone knowing it would one day be called the Ivy League Look,” says Davidson. Although the clothing genre codified gradually, and while the lines that form the genre’s perimeters are debatable, there was something akin to an Ivy Big Bang, an instigating act that gave birth to this style of dress. And that is the introduction in 1895 of Brooks Brothers’ No. 1 Sack Suit.

Just as the jacket is the foundation of tailored clothing, this single item — natural shoulders, three button (after 1918, according to the Brooks Brothers book “Generations of Style,” by John William Cooke), dartless, with no waist suppression and paired with straight unpleated trousers — formed the blueprint for what would eventually become the Ivy League Look. And throughout the first half of the 20th century Brooks Brothers would continue to introduce a host of English items  — the buttondown oxford, Shetland sweater, polo coat, rep ties, argyle socks — that became staples of the Ivy genre.

But Brooks Brothers also offered countless other items — yachting and hunting regalia, double-breasted tapered suits, and other overtly English items less easily Americanized — that were never embraced into the Ivy League Look. Why? For the simple reason that they would have been out of place in a campus environment, the fertile ground where the style would codify and flourish, and where, as we’ll see, an air of casualness and nonchalance was paramount.

So while Brooks Brothers offered everything within the genre, it also offered much more. The Ivy League Look is narrower than the Brooks Brothers catalog (catalog here referring to what the company offered from roughly 1920-1970), and for this reason one could argue that Brooks Brothers’ smaller rival J. Press was a purer Ivy retailer, in that it offered a broader selection (such as in campus-oriented tweeds) within narrower perimeters. Brooks Brothers was Ivy and much more; J. Press was strictly Ivy.

England provided Brooks Brothers with many overcoats to sell to the gentlemen of America. But starting around 1910, one came to dominate the Ivy League Look above all others: the polo coat, another example of taste-driven natural selection at work.

According to Esquire’s Encyclopedia of Men’s Fashion, which draws heavily on historic articles from Apparel Arts and Men’s Wear, camel hair coats were noted for their dominance at the Yale-Princeton football game of 1929, having usurped the powerful but short-lived raccoon coat trend. Cooke writes, “This sporty camel hair garment… becomes the rage on college campuses during the Roaring Twenties.” Decades later, Bacharach would note, “Camel’s-hair polo coats are still the favorite type of outer wear among college men.”

The collegiate popularity of the raccoon coat in the 1920s, which fashion historian Deirdre Clemente has traced to Princeton, is a perfect example of a huge trend that was nevertheless selected for extinction, while the polo coat survived, indeed still available from retailers such as Brooks Brothers, J. Press, Ralph Lauren and O’Connell’s. The coat’s longevity is surely due to its sporting associations and easy ability to style informally — all things that would resonate with young men. It certainly looks more at home on the sidelines of a football field, as coach Vince Lombardi demonstrated throughout his career, and as dramatized in the movie “School Ties,” where polo coats are worn at a tailgate party for a prep school football game. Somehow a Chesterfield just wouldn’t look the same.

With the pink oxford, which rose to prominence in 1955 (the “year for pink” according to LIFE Magazine), Brooks Brothers once again introduced a new item into the Ivy genre. But it could never have anticipated the pairing a pink oxford with evening dress, as Chipp’s Paul Winston has recounted wearing, and which is, for lack of a better expression, a very Ivy thing to do (Charlie Davidson also recalls wearing a buttondown oxford with black tie, albeit a white one, which illustrates Chipp’s penchant for the “go-to-hell” look). Winston’s gesture serves as a perfect example of the styling side of things: Brooks provided the item, and the people found innovative ways of wearing it.

In summary, we can say that Brooks Brothers was the primary provider of the Ivy League Look’s raw ingredients, while the culture — meaning the world of young men competing and conforming sartorially in their WASPy East Coast environment — provided the styling. With each new decade Brooks Brothers showed what to wear, while young men, who drive fashion, showed how the items could be worn. As a wholly arbitrary fractional breakdown, we could say that 2/3 of the Ivy League Look was raw materials, which were relatively fixed and admitted new items slowly, while 1/3 was styling, which was in a constant state of flux.

Town And Country, Or Wall Street And Campus

As the Ivy League Look developed, references to Brooks Brothers increasingly focused on two specific realms: the college campus and the world of finance. In his essay on Brooks Brothers collected in the book “Elegance,” G. Bruce Boyer succinctly notes, “The Brooks Brothers suit seemed to peg a man somewhere between Wall Street and his country house, by way of the Ivy League.”

In a 1932 article, the New Yorker mentions the same two worlds: “Of course, Brooks still have their tables piled with the good old soft-roll, high-lapel sack coats that have been the accepted college and bond-salesman uniform for so long.” Presumably those bond salesmen, like Yalie Nick Carraway in “The Great Gatsby,” picked up the taste for Ivy while at school. “The novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald, for example,” writes Cooke, “are peopled with earnest heroes who hailed from the Midwest but who came to play in the racy world of New York via Princeton or Yale.”

This 1929 ad for Wallach Brothers also mentions the connection between the world of finance and the style-setting universities of Princeton and Yale:

As young men graduated from school to take their place in the world, including the financial industry, their clothing would change from country to town. Writing on Ivy League students in her 1939 book “Men Can Take It,” Elizabeth Hawes notes:

The conventional costume for all the right people is a pair of flannel or tweed trousers and a coat that does not match. When I asked them whether they were going to dress in their quite comfortable tweed for work when they left college, they responded firmly “no.” They were absolutely clear on that issue. They said they were training themselves — or being trained — to take their places in the world, and the required costume would be a neat business suit.

Although it was based in New York, Brooks Brothers specifically merchandised for the college man and sold to him via an army of traveling salesmen who frequented the prep schools and colleges of the Northeast. An 1898 Princeton football program includes an advertisement from Brooks Brothers, with copy reading, “Our stock for the present season continues, we believe, to show improvement, and will be found complete in all the little particulars that go to make the well-dressed man.”

This Brooks Brothers ad appeared in the University of Pennsylvania’s 1926 yearbook:

Brooks Brothers continuously revamped its youth-targeted line throughout the 20th century, adding its University Shop in 1957 and replacing that with Brooksgate in 1974. It’s current Flatiron shop is merely the latest incarnation of a century-long catering to young men as well as their fathers.

The Ivy League Look was for both town and country, Wall Street and campus, but, as we’ll learn, the campus element proved to be the more lasting influence of the two.

The New Guard

Although Charlie Davidson is the oldest-living, still-working purveyor of the genre, he doesn’t consider himself old guard. The Ivy League Look was in full bloom in the 1930s, he notes, well before his founding of The Andover Shop in 1948. At the time Davidson considered himself to be offering clothing within an already established genre, yet targeted at the local geography. This sentiment is echoed by Richard Press, who says that J. Press’ locations outside of New York were meant to provide Brooks Brothers items in areas with an Ivy League campus (Cambridge, Princeton), but no Brooks; only Columbia had that.

As George Frazier put it in 1960, “Around the turn of the century, Arthur Rosenberg, then the foremost tailor in New Haven, began to exploit this [Brooks Brothers] style among Yale undergraduates, and, not long afterwards, J. Press, also of New Haven, fell into line.”

These smaller retailers outside New York took the Brooks Brothers template and focused more on the country side of the genre rather than town. And yet all these other players who used the ingredients that Brooks Brothers had provided felt that taste and small differences distinguished them. “We all thought our taste was better than our competitors,” says Davidson. “Norman Hilton, for example, had exquisite taste, and when you get to the commercialization of the Ivy League Look, he’s at the forefront.”

The most important and lasting clothier providing Brooks-based style for college towns was J. Press. Press’ difference from Brooks is summed up by Episcopal Archbishop of New York Paul Moore, Jr., who writes that Jacobi Press’ “tweeds were a little softer and flashier than Brooks Brothers tweed, his ties a little brighter.”

Richard Press, former J. Press president and grandson of the founder, has also stressed Press’ emphasis on country rather than town. “I think that one of the major differences between Brooks Brothers and J. Press,” he states in his 2011 Q&A with Ivy-Style.com, “beyond the obvious size, was that we were known as a campus store, whereas Brooks Brothers was much more urban.” Indeed, the merchandise for J. Press’ New York store was less purist than its campus shops. “If you look at our brochures,” says Press, “you’ll see that the two-button darted suit was sold only in the New York store, and it probably represented 40 percent of our suit sales there.”

While Brooks Brothers, originator of the Ivy League Look’s ingredients, was based in New York, New Haven is the top candidate for Ivy’s spiritual home. In a 2004 article entitled “The Yale Man,” the New York Times writes, “‘Natural shoulder’ was what men’s magazines called the Yale look, and for decades the clothing stores near campus at Elm and York Streets in New Haven were the natural-shoulder capital of the universe.”

Style setting also thrived in New Haven. “Students and their professors enunciated a new style,” says Press, “with their dirty white bucks, horn rimmed glasses, Owl Shop pipes, raccoon coats, J. Press snap brim hats, stuff that was too informal and sporty for Brooks. Big difference between city and campus wear and Brooks pushed the former, the rest the latter.”

Finally there was the issue of price: “Perhaps most important issue for the proliferation of Ivy,” says Press, “Brooks was too expensive. J. Press and competitors adapted to the more restricted allowances of the campus population and worked below Brooks price points.”

Although these new-guard clothiers used the template created by Brooks Brothers, they did so in the cultural environment where the Ivy League Look’s styling was at its most fertile: the campus. And because these clothiers and the student body were part of the same community, they had a close, symbiotic relationship. Students needed the clothiers to get what they wanted (and to want things they’d never seen before), and clothiers needed to find out what was popular. As a result, Ivy clothiers never left their eye off college men. In 1962, Sports Illustrated notes, “Representatives of the New Haven tailoring establishments—J. Press, Fenn-Feinstein, Chipp, Arthur Rosenberg, et al.—entrain for Cambridge to render biennial obeisance and to see what the young gentlemen are wearing.”

Earlier, in a 1938 article entitled “Princeton Boys Dress In Uniform,” LIFE Magazine writes, “The fact of the matter is that tailors and haberdashers watch Princeton students closely [and] admit they are style leaders.”

Clothiers also made sure college men knew they cared deeply about student tastes. This ad by Irv Lewis, a clothier serving Cornell, explicitly elucidates the relationship:

“The key element of successful campus shops,” Richard Press summarizes, “was their ability to establish personal relationships with students, faculty, coaches and administration. Brooks Brothers in New York and Boston was too diffused, and while each top customer had his clothing man, it changed from floor to floor, from furnishings to shoe department.”

College Students, “The Best-Dressed Men To Be Found Anywhere”

Bert Bachrach states that before World War II many clothing experts considered college students “the best-dressed men to be found anywhere.” The following passage, from a 1933 Apparel Arts article entitled “Clothes For College,” is a prewar reference to this very thing:

Today the college man is looked upon as a leader of fashion, a man who dresses inconspicuously and correctly for all occasions, thanks to the leadership of smart Eastern Universities, which have a metropolitan feeling, or at least are near enough to metropolitan areas for the students to feel all the influences of sophisticated living. We can thank the present-day “collegiate” element for the return to popularity of the tail coat, for the white buckskin shoes, for the gray flannel slacks with odd jackets, and for various other smart fashions which are typical of university men today.

For on-campus wear there is a general acceptance of country clothes in the typical British manner, such as odd slacks and tweed jackets, country brogues and felt hats. This is the way the undergraduates at smart Universities and prep schools dress today during classes.

Another Apparel Arts article from the same year shows that the Eastern Establishment virtues of being dressed down from a formal perspective and dressed up from a casual one most likely have their origin in the collegiate approach to dress that reached fruition in the ’30s. The article includes the quote “a perfect example of the studied negligence that is taken as the standard of good taste among college men,” and goes on to say:

The American University man is justly famed for representing, as a class, a high standard of excellence in personal appearance. Much of the secret of this distinction lies in the fact that the first thing the freshman learns is the importance of never looking “dressed up,” while always looking well dressed. Recently the tendency toward an effect of “careful carelessness” has been emphasized through the trend toward rough, almost shaggy, fabrics for town and campus wear.

The Ivy League Look’s emphasis on rough, hearty fabrics comes from students’ penchant for rustic, country clothes over more starched and pressed town clothes:

There’s a trend toward rougher suitings on all the eastern campuses. Early last fall fashion observers reported the growing popularity, particularly at Princeton and Yale, of rough tweedy type fabrics for all general knock-about campus wear — in fact for all except strictly town purposes. Worn smartly with either flannel, gabardine or other type of slacks, these rough fabrics of the Shetland or Harris variety showed a considerably increased acceptance on the part of the fashion leaders during the Palm Beach season.

Writing in the Saturday Evening Post in the 1930s, Arthur van Vlissingen states that trends aren’t dictated by manufacturers, who couldn’t afford to gamble on a fad that may fail, and that men only embraced a new item once they saw other men wearing it. These style setters were often found “at the places where the country’s leisured and socially prominent loaf, such places as Palm Beach and Newport” (coincidentally Brooks Brothers’ first two locations outside New York), and the college campus. “The fashions in clothing worn by our male population, between the ages of 14 and perhaps 25,” he writes, “usually get their start at Princeton.”

Vlissingen proceeds with the following sartorial breakdown of the Ivy League’s Big Three:

Harvard is a very large university, in a great city which influences the students’ styles heavily. [But] it holds to a tradition of careless dress—well-made clothes seldom dry-cleaned and never pressed. Yale is more compact and more finicky, but New Haven is also a large city. Princeton is in a smaller town, off by itself where it can incubate a style effectively. Practically every Princeton student is well dressed, whereas only one-third or so of the Yale men can qualify by our standards.

As these passages illustrate, if college men of the 1930s — the fortunate few able to afford school in the midst of the Great Depression — were among the nation’s best dressed, they achieved this status despite an insistence on never looking too dressed up by the standards of their time. Elements of the Ivy League Look, such as the penny loafer and polo coat, were embraced into the genre because compared to other footwear and outerwear options they were relatively casual. This certainly holds true for the buttondown shirt, which Bachrach calls the shirt of choice for college men because “the construction of the shirt, which allows the collar to roll rather than lie flat, provides the casual touch which young men like.”

In regards to tailored clothing, Bachrach suggests that the prized Ivy color of charcoal was embraced for its ability to take a beating without looking dirty:

The most important style set by the colleges in recent years has been suits and slacks in charcoal, a gray so dark in tone that it approaches black. This color has become almost a uniform at Harvard, Yale and Princeton. It is practical for a suit since it rarely shows dirt or signs of wear.

If men at Ivy’s Big Three were style setters for the whole nation, that can hardly be said of Columbia, the most interesting sartorial case among the Ancient Eight. For despite its location in the city of Brooks Brothers, Columbia is seldom if ever mentioned for style reasons. As a commuter school, Columbia’s student body differed from the other schools, but one can also conclude that a certain amount of distance from the metropolis was necessary for the styling side of the Ivy League Look to flourish.

This passage from Tobias Wolff’s novel “Old School,” set at a prep school in 1960, serves as a dramatization of how Columbia was viewed compared to the other Ivies:

I wanted out. That was partly why I’d chosen Columbia. I liked how the city seethed up against the school, mocking its theoretical seclusion with hustle and noise, the din of people going and getting and making. Things that mattered at Princeton or Yale couldn’t possibly withstand this battering of raw, unironic life. You didn’t go to eating clubs at Columbia, you went to jazz clubs. You had a girlfriend — no, a lover — with psychiatric problems, and friends with foreign accents. You read newspapers on the subway and looked at tourists with a cool, anthropological gaze. You said cross town express. You said the Village. You ate weird food. No other boy in my class would be going there.

In contrast, “Princeton was especially isolated and characterized by a particularly fervent and insular culture,” writes Patricia Mears in “Ivy Style: Radical Conformists.” Princeton also had the most affluent student body, with 80 percent coming from private schools during the inter-war years. “Although it lay part way between New York City and Philadelphia, Princeton was more geographically isolated than its rivals Harvard and Yale. Its campus was situated in a rural environment, surrounded by acres of bucolic farmland. As such, Princeton relied more intensely on its internally crafted society. The blend of wealth, manners, and aristocratic social construct proved to be the breeding ground for the creation of the elegant Ivy style.”

The Way You Wear Your Hat

The popular term employed during its heyday, the Ivy League Look, is interesting for its inclusion of the word “look.” While there are references to “an Ivy League suit” from the period, the popular term was “look,” not “tailoring” or “clothes.” This broader term suggests that there is more than just clothing involved, but also a proper haircut, and if not a particular social context, then at least all-American good looks. In the 1964 film “Ride The Wild Surf,” Barbara Eden’s character refers to her love interest as “Mr. Ivy League” for his handsomeness, poise and “scrubbed” appearance as much as his conservative clothing.

“Look” is also broad enough to encapsulate how the items are worn, since that is as much a part of dressing in a certain style as the components themselves. This illustration from a 1926 Vanity Fair article on collegiate dress includes a caption stating that Harvard men had their own way of pushing their hats “into a shape never conceived by hat manufacturers”:

Hawes includes several passages attesting to Harvard men’s predilection for an affected Old Money look:

At Harvard they have something called “white-shoe boys.” I gather it is okay to be one if you feel that way. It appears to be the Harvard idea carried to its furthest extreme. These are the sloppiest and worst-dressed of all the Harvard men, I was told. They wear dirty black and white shoes which turn up at the toes, black or white socks and gray flannels, very unpressed, tweed coats — and collars and ties, of course… The thing that distinguishes a “white-shoe boy” is his shoes — and the fact he has the guts to wear them and still feel okay socially.

In 1869 Harvard challenged Oxford to the first of its boat races, and it’s possible that the English influence on Harvard goes back to these sporting competitions. Hawes continues:

The coat should have leather pads on the elbows. These are often put right onto new coats. This is because the country gentlemen of old England have a habit of preserving their tweed coats for generations, mending them from time to time with leather pads and what not. The Harvard boys, not to be outdone by old English exponents of the finer things in life, are going them one better.

After noting that Yale students are much better dressed, Hawes adds, “I think the superiority complex of Harvard probably led them originally into the oldest clothes as a form of snobbishness.” Nevertheless, “I might add that the [men’s wear] trade does not consider Harvard as any source of style ideas at all.”

Russell Lynes’ 1953 Esquire article on the “shoe hierarchy” at Yale further emphasizes how much of the Ivy League Look came down to the elusive qualities of attitude:

… the social smoothies — butterflies in button-down collars — short haired, unbespectacled and with unextinguishable but slightly bored smiles. They wear the current college uniform, Ivy League version, but they wear it with an air of studied casualness, as though they would be at home and socially acceptable anywhere in whatever they had on. The uniform, of course, is the familiar khaki pants, white bucks, or possibly dirty white sneakers, a slightly frayed blue or white button-down Oxford shirt, no necktie, and a grey sweater which the wearer expects you to assume was knitted for him by a girl. On occasions that demand a gesture of formality, dark grey flannels without pleats supplant the khaki pants, a necktie (either regimental stripes or club tie) is worn, and so is a tweed jacket with vent, pocket flaps, ticket pocket, and three buttons. For bucks substitute well-shined cordovan in season. For city wear the uniform is a dark grey flannel suit; the haberdashery stays much the same.

Charlie Davidson also stresses what he calls the “attitude” long associated with wearers of the Ivy League Look, which he describes as a nonchalant approach to dress combined with poise and an air of self-assurance. Whether this poise is real or feigned is up for debate. “The Ivy League Look was a way of life more than anyone has been able to put a finger on,” he says. “In the beginning it was a very closed kind of thing, and so much of it was the attitude of not caring too much and being very assured of their station — and of having the right clothes.”

From the codifying period of the ’30s to the heyday of the ’50s and ’60s, the styling component of the Ivy League Look was constantly changing with each new group of classmen. For a young man to be considered well dressed by his peers in the ’30s or cool in the ’50s, it wasn’t enough just to choose the right items. They also had to be worn in the way that was then fashionable. And what was fashionable was always shifting, and emanated from campus culture.

For example, on page 59 of the 1965 book “Take Ivy,” a student strolls the Princeton campus wearing olive-colored shorts, penny loafers with no socks, and a buttondown oxford with the sleeves down, all topped by the neat haircut that epitomizes the era. He has used the ingredients the genre but put them together in a way that expresses both his personal whims as well as the style of his era, and nothing in the image suggests that a retailer, manufacturer or fashion editor told him to put together his outfit this way.

For a cinematic dramatization, the 1956 film “Tea And Sympathy” shows students styled uniformly in a combination of buckle-back khakis, white canvas sneakers, blue oxford shirts and gray crewneck sweatshirts. For that group of students in that particular location at that particular time, the juxtaposition of a dress shirt with a piece of athletic wear was evidently a style imperative.

This leads us to yet one more inexplicable preference in the Ivy clothing genre worth mentioning: The crewneck sweater. While V-necks and cardigans were always offered by Ivy clothiers, somehow the crewneck became the standard cut, even when worn with a necktie, as the Yale student below demonstrates:

It was something the youngsters picked up early; this outfit is also notable for how the components are put together as much as the items themselves:

It should come as no surprise that the preference for the crewneck can also be traced to style setting at Princeton, where a freshman orientation guide, for reasons unexplained, admonished the younglings not to wear V-neck sweaters. Much later, in his 1983 book “Class,” Paul Fussell would wryly explain why the crewneck is upper middle and the V-neck merely middle.

The Ivy League Look should not be thought of as merely a collection of ingredients. Equally important are the cultural forces that led certain ingredients to be embraced into the genre over others, even though this importance is difficult to trace, clouded as it is in the mists of fashion. Then there’s the element of how the items were worn, an equally vital element of the Ivy League Look. All the elements are a reflection of the tastes and cultural values of the Eastern Establishment, and the tastes and values, specifically, of college men during the interwar years.

The Legacy Of The Heyday

The 1959 movie “The Young Philadelphians” provides a helpful dramatic illustration of one character’s transition from country to town, or from campus to law firm, while still dressing within the confines of the Ivy League Look.

In campus scenes the protagonist, played by Paul Newman, wears a boxy corduroy sack jacket, slim flood-length khakis, white socks and penny loafers. Once he becomes a practicing lawyer, he dons a conservative gray suit, rep tie, pinned-collar shirt and lace-up shoes. While both jackets are undarted and natural shoulder, and all his clothes could have come from the same place, stylistically — in the simplest terms — he’s gone from the campus side of the genre to the Brooks Brothers side, or more from the styling-driven side to the product-driven side, or from an emphasis on how to wear the items correctly to how to select them correctly.

The book “Generations Of Style” includes a Brooks Brothers timeline, and while the listing for 1961 is oversimplified, it nevertheless makes the point that the campus-oriented side of the genre is the more lasting and influential: “A new style of casual, conservative dress defines the country: khakis, Shetland crewnecks, and button-down shirts set the tone… Campus style predominates, with the corporate ‘Man in the Gray Flannel Suit’ now being replaced by the more casual dress: penny loafers, Argyle socks, and tartan plaid sportcoats and shirts.”

Today, when a man passes you today on Madison Avenue and you notice how “Ivy/preppy/trad/whatever” he looks, he’s probably wearing loafers, flannels, a three-button sportcoat, buttondown oxford, and conservative necktie. You’re far more likely to see a man dressed this way than in the far more anachronistic business ensemble of worsted gray sack suit, white pinned club collar and longwings, and if you did, you’d be more likely to say “how IBM” or “how ‘Mad Men’” than “how Ivy League.”

The association of the Ivy League Look with the campus is so strong that even in the downfall year of 1967 an arch-sybarite like Hugh Hefner would remind his biographer of a dapper undergrad:

Black-haired, intense, slightly under six feet, he looks, in his often-photographed costume of white button-down shirt, orange cardigan sweater, slacks, loafers and pipe, like a college senior on his way to class.

Men who wear this genre of clothing today — by whatever name they call it — owe an equal debt to the illustrious firm of Brooks Brothers for introducing so many of the raw elements, and to the countless anonymous college men from the first half of the 20th century who codified the components of the Ivy League Look for future generations.

Part Two: The Fall

From Young Men’s Clothes To Old Men’s

In “Decline of the West,” Oswald Spengler argues that all cultural expressions go through the organic stages of birth, maturity and decadence. The Ivy League Look is certainly an expression of culture, and for it I’d suggest a birth of 1895, a golden age in the 1930s when the style was limited and aristocratic, a democratic silver age during the ‘50s and ‘60s when it was popular, and an end to the silver age in 1967, followed by a gradual decline into our present postmodern era.

This decline was expressed in a variety of ways, and the legacy of the genre is characterized by a range of conflicting manifestations, from the irrelevance of contemporary J. Press and the sack suit, to the generic “timelessness” of blazers, khakis, buttondowns and striped ties available from retailers as mundane as Lands’ End, and to fashion industry pastiche exemplified by some of the more outré items by Thom Browne, Ralph Lauren Rugby, and various neo-prep brands.

If the Ivy League Look didn’t die, then certainly a kind of descent into decadence occurred, which is attested by the mere fact that Brooks Brothers, instigators of Ivy’s big bang with its No. 1 Sack Suit, no longer offers the very item that gave birth to the entire genre, but instead sells a fashion novelty version called the Cambridge.

Furthermore, Brooks Brothers and J. Press long ago changed owners and merchandising strategies and can no longer be counted on to reliably provide what were once genre-distinguishing traits such as natural shoulder and collar roll.

But the death of Ivy can’t be blamed entirely on manufacturers, who simply cater to the needs of the culture as expressed in the marketplace. The Ivy League Look was once a vibrant, dynamic style that was an expression of the values of the Eastern Establishment. Later it was good, smart, current taste for a larger portion of the population. If Ivy is no longer available today in its original form, it is because fashion, which reflects society, has changed. The inversion of values that took place during the cultural revolution of the late ’60s, a topic that has been explored exhaustively by cultural historians and which is too big to discuss here, created a new cultural engine that drove fashion from the bottom up rather than top down.

While in the ’50s and early ’60s many actors and pop singers wore the Ivy League Look as a smart and current style, this was no longer the case after the upheaval of the late ’60s. When pop singers did take up a version of the look, as Dexys Midnight Runners did in 1985, it was the preppier version of the look then current. It was also the temporary costume of entertainers who had radically different looks before and after. In the 1950s and ’60s, pop icons could wear white bucks, buttondowns, neckties and soft-shouldered jackets and come across as sharp and with it. But with contemporary music groups such as Vampire Weekend, or in the films of Wes Anderson, Ivy staples come across as irony.

A glance through “Take 8 Ivy,” the sequel to “Take Ivy,” shows Ivy League students of the 1970s wearing the same plebeian sneakers, jeans and t-shirts worn by every other young person in America.

In assigning an arbitrary date for the end of Ivy, I suggest the year 1967. The change that occurred that year — the year of the infamous “Summer of Love” — is summed up tersely and dramatically in the following passage from “The Final Club” by Geoffrey Wolff (Princeton, ’59). The year 1967 witnessed a sartorial dismantling that was complete by 1968, when a new era was in full flower-child bloom:

Lining the second-floor hall were group portraits of Ivy members, and Nathaniel paused to examine them. Till 1967 the club sections were photographed indoors, in the billiard room; dress was uniform — dark suits, white shirts, Ivy ties. In 1967 a white suit was added here, an open collar there. In 1968 the insolent, smirking group moved outside, and was tricked out in zippered paramilitary kit, paratroop boots, tie-dye shirts, shoulder-length locks, and not a necktie in view.

Although the broader culture was changing rapidly and the hippie movement was spreading, the new open admissions standards at elite universities were changing the student body. Style-setting schools such as Princeton and Yale were no longer populated predominantly by kids who had gone to prep school, where they were forced to wear a jacket and tie every day and maintain a neat haircut. Schools were also dropping their jacket-and-tie dining hall dress codes. It’s impossible to underestimate the pace of social change in the late ’60s; the Ivy League Look, in its original guise, was slated for extinction, and the name attached to it during its popular silver age would fall into almost immediate archaism.

But what’s most important here is that once the Ivy League Look ceased to be fashionable on campus, it ceased to be fashionable period. More specifically, one could argue that once guys at Princeton stopped wearing it, it was over. The campus had always been the stronghold of the look, the place where it flourished for six decades, and was necessary for the look’s broader cultural relevance. Smart young men from the middle class and above had wanted to dress this way for 50 years. Originally it was a small number; later it was larger. Now suddenly no young people wanted to dress this way.

Other symbolically interesting things also occurred in 1967. Brooks Brothers’ president left the company after serving 21 years, all throughout the Ivy heyday, and Ralph Lauren goes into business. These two events are like two sides of the same coin. The man who helmed Brooks Brothers throughout its glorious postwar heyday retires, while Ralph Lauren launches his career. It’s an eerie foreshadowing of the role reversal that would happen over the ensuing decades, during which so much of Lauren’s merchandise would be closer in spirit, style and quality to classic Brooks Brothers than Brooks Brothers’ contemporary merchandise.

Within a few years of 1967 the UPI was calling the look dead, as in this story from 1971:

The Ivy League look as it used to be called died in the recent fashion revolution and the slope-shouldered, three-button jacket is almost a thing of the past. The suits and sports jackets being worn are strictly for special occasions.

Once it was no longer fashionable, the Ivy League Look, to return to the big bang metaphor, experienced a kind of supernova that shattered it into parts, which varied depending on wearer and context.

J. Press and Brooks Brothers continued, yet their clientele would gradually grow older as the look ossified from being young and current to being old and stodgy. J. Press stayed truer to the look, but as society changed rapidly around it, J. Press experienced a complete inversion in its relation to the broader culture, becoming what most would consider a provider of old men’s clothes, when from its founding in 1902 until 1967 it catered largely to young men.

The Twilight Of Ivy And Dawn Of Preppy

Some young people did continue to shop at the same clothiers and wear much of the genre’s items, but fashion was changing rapidly and the new version of youthful, Eastern Establishment style came to be known as preppy. The new generation had a much more casual approach to dress, reflecting changes in society as a whole. This passage from Alison Lurie’s “The Language Of Clothes” from 1979 shows how many of the Ivy League Look’s sportier items were being worn with a new attitude:

What distinguished the Preppie Look from the country-club styles of the 1950s was the range of its wearers. These casual garments were now being worn not only by adolescents in boarding schools and Ivy League colleges, but by people in their thirties and forties, many of whom would have considered such styles dreary rather than chic a few years earlier. Moreover, the Preppie Look was now visible in places and on occasions that in the 1950s would have demanded more formal clothing. Preppies of both sexes in madras check shirts and chino pants and Shetland sweaters could be seen eating lunch in elegant restaurants, in the offices of large corporations and at evening parties-as well as in class and on the tennis courts.

During the preppy ’70s, just as it had been previously, styling and the items themselves were equally important. Lurie notes that the preppy look was distinguished as much by its items as by their combinations, which included novel layering tricks such as jersey turtlenecks or polo shirts worn under oxford buttondowns, accented by a sweater draped around the neck.

As WASPs were gradually losing their stranglehold on power and influence, becoming shameful reminders of the old boys’ club elitism, their taste and lifestyle was beginning to be fetishized and marketed. In 1980 Lisa Birnbach released her detailed look into the culture of the preppy Northeastern upper-middle class, “The Official Preppy Handbook,” and the book so fascinated the nation it became a best-seller. At the same time the rise continued for Ralph Lauren, the doppelganger figure who can be seen as both saving the Ivy League Look from extinction by keeping alive the taste for it, albeit repackaged as fashion, and as commodifying totems of what were once expressions of culture. In “Taste: The Secret Meaning Of Things,” Stephen Bayley suggests that some kind of cultural line had been crossed following the fall of the Ivy League Look and the advent of postmodern, post-Ivy consumerism:

Ralph Lauren was after what Brooks Brothers once had, but packaged it more effectively so as to anticipate, appeal to and satisfy hitherto unrecognized longings among consumers. Interestingly, his critics (easily outnumbered by his happy customers) invoke arguments against him which echo the sumptuary laws of Renaissance Florence and England: “How does a working-class Jew from Mosholu Parkway dare pass off the tribal costumes of the Ivy League as if he owned them?”

Each fall season Ralph Lauren continues to pay tribute to the Ivy heyday with a few retro replicas. These typically tweed sportcoats come with such distinguishing Ivy details as natural shoulders, 3/2 rolls, patch pockets, swelled edges and lapped seams. However, they differ considerably from the kind of quotidian mufti once available at the Yale Co-op in that they have darted chests and carry a $1,300 price tag.

The other fragments that resulted from Ivy’s supernova are the category of vintage clothing anachronism, in which guys with hip sensibilities seek out heyday specimens prized for their authenticity, and the postmodern parody category, in which fashion designers (not haberdashers or merchandisers, the previous creators of the products) take the classic grey sack suit and turn it into a cartoonish gimmick, as in the case of Thom Browne.

Ivy-Style.com’s readership reflects this broad range of motivations for wearing the style, from the J. Press-clad fuddy duddy to the updated traditionalist in Ralph Lauren tweeds and flannels, and from the prep-with-a-twist fashion guy in Gant to the midcentury retro-eccentric dressed head to toe in vintage. It’s a perfectly postmodern incohesive mishmash of taste, temperament and social background all able to find in this genre of clothing something that resonates.

A Rose By Any Other Name

As the Ivy League Look fell into its death throes of cultural relevance, its name became immediately old fashioned. Originally it doesn’t seem to have had a name. “Natural shoulder” seems to have been the closest actually used by clothiers and their customers. The assiduous reporting by the media in the 1930s of what guys at Princeton were wearing is noteworthy for the detailed descriptions of the clothing combined with the complete lack of any attempt to give the style a name. “University fashions” was a typical headline for Apparel Arts, or “campus wear.”

The term “Ivy League Look” came into popularity in the ’50s, perhaps entering the popular lexicon as the result of LIFE Magazine’s 1954 story “The Ivy Look Heads Across US.” After 1967, once the clothes ceased to be fashionable, the term certainly became archaic. Fortunately a new word — for the broader culture — arrived at at just the right time to describe the latest version of the youthful Northeastern upper-middle-class look. “Preppy,” which entered the popular vocabulary in 1970 via the hit film “Love Story,” had a fresh ring to it.

Since its fashion moment in the ’80s, the term “preppy” has become gradually watered down to the point of meaninglessness, with almost no connection to the style and values of the people it described in 1970. Yet despite the efforts of the MFIT’s “Ivy Style” book and exhibit, not to mention Ivy-Style.com, preppy remains closer to the tongue, however bitter it tastes, than “Ivy League” when describing this genre of clothing. If you see someone walking down the street dressed head to toe in J. Press, says Charlie Davidson, “you wouldn’t even say he looks very Ivy, you’d say he looks very preppy, or something like that.”

The struggle for just what to call the post-Ivy remnants of the genre in a way that doesn’t sound girly, as preppy does today, or archaic and elitist, as does the Ivy League Look, accounts for the adoption in certain quarters of the term “trad.” On the surface trad sounds like a snappy and contemporary replacement, but with no historical tradition behind the term, trad quickly became a futile exercise on Internet message boards with endless debates about what qualified as trad and what didn’t, and with each opinion more subjective than the last.

It’s worth noting that in Japan and England, where the clothes were not an expression of their own dynamic and changing cultures, the clothes continued to be called “Ivy,” and much of the styling remained frozen in its heyday form.

With the Ivy League Look reaching full fruition in the 1930s and ending as a current and relevant fashion in 1967, its full flowering spans just three decades. Indeed, there are more years that have passed since the end of the heyday than the years from codification to heyday’s end.

The golden age was the 1930s, when the look was only available from a small number of clothiers and worn by a relatively small number of men. By 1957, in the middle of the silver age of widespread popularity, the look was already considered to be in decline by the old guard. In the April 7, 1957 edition of Town Topics, Princeton’s community newspaper, Princeton-based clothiers lamented a slide in formality among the student body. “You’ve got more of a cross section now,” concluded Joseph Cox of Douglas MacDaid, “not so many rich kids.”

The mass popularity of Ivy during heyday, with all of the department store knock-offs that Richard Press likes to dismiss as “Main Street Ivy,” actually holds within it the seeds of the look’s demise. For fashion is fickle, and Ivy fell from mainstream popularity into irrelevance practically overnight. While it’s true that the establishment was abandoning the look, at least among the younger members, it’s also the case that the middle class no longer had the desire to ape the establishment, at least not overtly. Brooks Brothers and J. Press stuck to their guns as much as possible and for as long as possible, watching their clientele slowly ossify, and Main Street clothiers quickly changed with the winds of fashion.

However, the silver age also cemented Ivy’s legacy in the “classic” and “timeless” sense. It continues — by whatever name and in iterations that conform with contemporary style — to be worn by anyone with the taste for it. And good taste should be available to anyone with the sensibility to appreciate it.
 Natural-shouldered tweed jackets, grey flannel trousers, oxford-cloth buttondowns, rep and knit ties, argyle socks, tassel and penny loafers, polo coats, Shetland sweaters, side-parted haircuts and horn-rimmed glasses still carry all the baggage, good and bad, that this Northeastern, upper-middle-class, “Ivy/preppy/trad/whatever” look will always have.

The farther you go into postmodern parody, of course, the less baggage the look carries, because in this case it’s just fashion, which is another way of saying it doesn’t mean much. But the straight-up wearer of the Ivy League Look, who projects his natural shoulder and rolled collar with utmost

Voir enfin:

Thirty years ago, The Official Preppy Handbook cracked the Wasp code-and went on to become a huge best-seller. In an excerpt from the update, True Prep, the author, along with designer Chip Kidd, covers the inevitable changes that are piercing blissful bubbles from Deer Isle to Jackson Hole.

We wear sportswear. This makes it easier to go from sporting events to social events.
PREPPY FASHION RULE NO. 1 We wear sportswear. This makes it easier to go from sporting events to social events.

Wake up, Muffy, we’re back.

O.K., now where were we?

Oh yes. It was 1980, and Ronald Reagan was heading to his improbable victory over Jimmy Carter. We wondered whether joining a club before your 30th birthday made you into a young fuddy-duddy, we considered the importance of owning a dress watch—one thing led to another, and before the year was over, our project became … The Official Preppy Handbook. Yes. That was us. We enjoyed every minute that we still remember, but we seemed to have misplaced a number of brain cells in the process.

Though we maintained that this world has changed little since 1635, when the Boston Latin School was founded, you knew we were exaggerating slightly. And as our world spins faster and faster and we use up more natural resources, and scientists keep finding more sugar substitutes, we have to think about how life in the 21st century affects our safe and lovely bubble.

The New Preppy: Let these 22 style icons teach you the new rules.

Muffy van Winkle, you’ve napped long enough. It’s been 30 years! It doesn’t seem possible, does it? Despite changes and crises, the maid quitting, running out of vodka, your NetJets account being yanked, and the Internet, it’s still nice to be prep.

And as we have gotten a bit older and a teensy bit wiser, the world has become much smaller. We are all interconnected, intermarried, inter-everything’d. The great-looking couple in the matching tweed blazers and wide-wale orange corduroy trousers are speaking … Italian. On Melrose Avenue! Whereas once upon a time it was unlikely Europeans would be attracted to our aesthetic, now they’ve adapted it and made it their own. (They’re the women with no hips, in case you were wondering.)

Let’s begin at the beginning of the year. Here are our resolutions. You’ll catch on.

No drinking at lunch.

Call Grandmother once a week.

Get Belgian shoes re-soled (thinnest Cat’s Paw rubber).

Sign up for tennis team at the club.

Actually go to team practices.

Have gravy boat re-engraved.

Find Animal House and return to Netflix.

Send in donation for class gift this year.

And send in write-up for class notes.

Finally use Scully & Scully credit—maybe Pierpont’s next wedding?

Drive mother to cemetery at least once this year.

Order new stationery before supply runs out. (Find die!)

Luggage tags!

Download phone numbers into the thingy.

New Facebook picture?

Work on goals.

Work on topspin.

Get Katharine to do community service somehow.

Clean gutters or get someone to do them.

Repair hinge on broken shutter. Or else!

Finally hire portrait artist for Whimsy. (She’s 84 in dog years; not much time left.)

Who We Are Now

Formerly Wasp. Failing that, white and heterosexual. One day we became curious or bored and wanted to branch out, and before you knew it, we were all mixed up.

Well, that’s the way we like it, even if Grandmother did disapprove and didn’t go to the wedding ceremony. (Did she ever stop talking about the “barefoot and pregnant bride”? Ever?) And now one of our nieces, MacKenzie, is a researcher at the C.D.C. in Atlanta and is engaged to marry the loveliest man … Rajeem, a pediatrician who went to Duke. And Kelly is at Smith, and you know what that means. And our son Cal is married to Rachel, and her father the cantor married them in a lovely ceremony. Katie, our daughter, is a decorative artist living in Philadelphia with Otis, who is a professor of African-American studies at Swarthmore. And then there’s Bailey, our handsome little nephew. Somehow, all he wants to do is ski, meet girls, and drink bee

Well, there’s one out of five.

Fashion Rules

We know that many of you understand the principles of preppy style. But just to be sure, let’s review them again.

We wear sportswear. This makes it easier to go from sporting events to social events (not that there is much difference) without changing.

We generally underdress. We prefer it to overdressing.

Your underwear must not show. Wear a nude-colored strapless bra. Pull up your pants. Wear a belt. Do something. Use a tie!

We do not display our wit through T-shirt slogans.

Every single one of us—no matter the age or gender or sexual preference—owns a blue blazer.

We take care of our clothes, but we’re not obsessive. A tiny hole in a sweater, a teensy stain on the knee of our trousers, doesn’t throw us. (We are the people who brought you duct-taped Blucher moccasins.)

We do, however, wear a lot of white in the summer, and it must be spotless.

Don’t knock seersucker till you’ve tried it. (Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, unless you live in Palm Beach or Southern California, or the southern Mediterranean, please.)

Bags and shoes need not match.

Jewelry should not match, though metals should.

On the other hand, your watch doesn’t have to be the same metal as your jewelry.

And you can wear gold with a platinum wedding band and/or engagement ring.

Men’s jewelry should be restricted to a handsome watch, a wedding band if he is American and married, and nothing else. If he has a family-crest ring, it may be worn as well. For black-tie, of course, shirt studs and matching cuff links are de rigueur.

Nose rings are never preppy.

Neither (shudder) are belly-button piercings.

Nor are (two shudders) tongue studs.

And that goes for ankle bracelets.

Tattoos: Men who have been in a war have them, and that’s one thing. (Gang wars don’t count.) Anyone else looks like she is trying hard to be cool. Since the body ages, if you must tattoo, find a spot that won’t stretch too much. One day you will want to wear a halter-necked backless gown. Will you want everyone at the party to know you once loved John Krasinski?

Sneakers (a.k.a. tennis shoes, running shoes, trainers) are not worn with skirts.

Men may wear sneakers with linen or cotton trousers to casual summer parties.

Women over the age of 15 may wear a simple black dress. Women over the age of 21 must have several in rotation.

High-heel rule: You must be able to run in them—on cobblestones, on a dock, in case of a spontaneous foot race.

Clothes can cost any amount, but they must fit. Many a preppy has an item from a vintage shop or a lost-and-found bin at the club that was tailored and looks incredibly chic.

Do not fret if cashmere is too pricey. Preppies love cotton and merino-wool sweaters.

We do not wear our cell phones or BlackBerrys suspended from our belts. (That includes you, President Obama.)

Real suspenders are attached with buttons. We do not wear the clip versions.

Learn how to tie your bow tie. Do not invest in clip-ons.

Preppies are considerate about dressing our age. It is for you, not for us.

Men, if you made the mistake of buying Tevas or leather sandals, please give them to Goodwill.

You may, however, wear flip-flops to the beach if your toes are presentable. Be vigilant!

Pareos (sarongs) are for the beach, not for the mall. (Even if it’s near the beach.)

Riding boots may be worn by non-riders; cowboy boots may be worn by those who have never been on a horse. However, cowboy hats may not be worn by anyone who isn’t technically a cowboy or a cowgirl.

You may wear a Harvard sweatshirt if: you attended Harvard, your spouse attended Harvard, or your children attend Harvard. Otherwise, you are inviting an uncomfortable question.

If your best friend is a designer (clothes, accessories, jewelry), you should wear a piece from his or her collection. If his or her taste and yours don’t coincide, buy a piece or two to show your loyal support—but don’t wear them.

Every preppy woman has a friend who is a jewelry designer.

No man bags.

Preppies don’t perm their hair.

Preppy men do not believe that comb-overs disguise anything.

You can never go wrong with a trench coat.

Sweat suits are for sweating. You can try to get away with wearing sweats to carpool, to pick up the newspaper, or to drive to the dump, but last time you were at the dump, the drop-dead-attractive widower from Maple Lane was there, too.

And finally:

The best fashion statement is no fashion statement.

Logology

Sometime in the 1980s the cart began leading the horse. Don’t look at us; preppies were certainly not to blame. Fashion followers mistakenly thought the logo was the point. (This is the place at which we would write “LOL,” except we loathe “LOL.”)

But wearing a logo-laden outfit or accessory points to the wearer’s painful insecurity. If you think you are being ironic, think again.

Here’s the rule of thumb: The first logo that preppies loved was the Lacoste crocodile. It belonged to the French tennis star René Lacoste, whose nickname was Le Crocodile. It was an authentic, since he himself wore la chemise in 1927, after having been the top tennis player in the world in 1926 and 1927. (He won seven grand-slam singles titles in France, Britain, and the U.S. In 1961 he also invented the first metal tennis racket, which was sold in this country as the Wilson T2000.)

The shirts, made by La Société Chemise Lacoste, became an international sensation in 1933. Initially they had long tails, crocodiles of 2.8 centimeters in width, and embroidered labels with the size in French: Patron, Grand Patron, etc. There was no need (not then nor now) to change the size of the beast.

Fred Perry, the British tennis champion of the 1930s, put his laurel-wreath logo in blue on white polo shirts in 1952 (a few years after inventing the sweatband). Fred Perry shirts were successful immediately.

Brooks Brothers introduced its golden-fleece logo as the company symbol in 1850, but, for casual sport shirts, they sold the Chemise Lacoste until the 1960s. Then they stopped selling Lacostes and segued into men’s polo-style shirts with the golden fleece embroidered. Until 1969, the sheep suspended by golden ribbons was made only in men’s sizes.

Ralph Lauren was already making men’s wear when, in 1971, he embroidered a little man astride a polo pony on the cuff of some women’s shirts. The ponies, 1 1/4 inches high, moved onto his many colored cotton polo shirts in 1972. The logo, now one of the world’s best known, somehow grows up to five inches high (“BIG PONY”) though sometimes stays small.

Vineyard Vines’ little pink whale appeared in 1998, and so far the whale has shown admirable restraint in staying 1.05 inches wide by 0.43 inches high (as per the universal style guide).

When labels began to understand the strong appeal their logos offered, they went wild. Gone were the subtle stripes, woven ribbons, tiny metal trademarks, and interior decoration that had been prized. Now the logos took growth hormones, and there seemed nothing too big or too crass to sell. Today’s customer is more discerning and somewhat disgusted. Removing logos has become something of a hobby for purists.

When Juicy Couture arrived, emblazoning bottoms with the word “juicy” on its pricey sweatpants, we were dismayed when our daughters thought they wanted them. We steered them back to sanity. We believe that the Juicy Couture tracksuit phenomenon signals the end of civilization as we know it. Nothing less.

The Biggest Change in 30 Years

If, in 1980, you had whispered to friends that within the next few decades America would elect a thin, black, preppy, basketball-playing lawyer to be president, they would have laughed at you and exhaled in your face, inside the restaurant or club where you were sitting. And, if you predicted that one day all our children would have little portable phones stuck in their pockets so that they could not answer us when we called them from our little phones, we would have again exhaled in your face—indoors—and said you were talking science fiction.

Still, to our minds nothing is more sci-fi than the fact that preppies in the 21st century all wear the unnatural fibers we collectively refer to as “fleece.” We always thought our reliance on natural “guaranteed to wrinkle” fibers was our right and our trademark. If it’s hot or humid, we’d just roll up our all-cotton long-sleeved shirts. But now we wear polyester fleece, and its offspring, recycled water bottles.

The revolution began in 1981, at a company then called Malden Mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts, manufacturers of textiles including the wool for uniforms in World War II. A place like Malden Mills is populated by textile engineers who spitball, “mess around with fabrics,” and then refine, according to spokesman Nate Simmons. They work collaboratively with clothing manufacturers, as they did in this case with Patagonia. What came off the looms in the early 80s was pure synthetic, soft, quick-wicking, quick-drying, and machine-washable. It did not fade, and changed the wardrobes of athletes forever. Its Malden name was Polarfleece; its Patagonia name was Synchilla.

Frugal Dos and Frugal Don’ts

Do keep repairing old appliances to try to extend their lives. Don’t store them on your front porch or driveway. Invest in great-fitting, well-made shoes. (Italian-made shoes are nice.) Your feet will thank you. Keep re-soling them. Subscribe to a concert, opera, or ballet series. Buy season tickets to basketball. Pairs of tickets you can’t use make great no-occasion gifts. Some nonprofit institutions accept them as tax-deductible donations. Buy very cheap plane tickets to Europe on discount Web sites. Stay at your friend’s grand villa for three weeks. Oh, make it four. Buy him a house gift and pay for dinner a couple of times. Let him win one tennis match every now and then. Complain about the heat.

Have your trustee dump an allowance in your checking account every month. Walk seven blocks out of your way (or drive, if necessary) to the A.T.M. of your bank, so you are not charged that extra $1.95–$3.00 withdrawal fee. Leave the office a little early to take the off-peak commuter train. (Even though you live in one of the 10 most affluent Zip Codes in the United States.)

Travel

We travel, and we’re rather good at it. Some of us have traveled from a very early age, even if it’s been just back and forth from Princeton and Newport. We may travel to see relatives, to take a semester away, or to go to rehab. We go to Europe because it’s there, and there is so very much to learn from Europeans.

In Europe, we learn how to kiss people on both cheeks, how to do math when we convert the dollar into the euro, and how to make ourselves understood in adverse conditions. We get to practice the little bits of foreign languages we’ve retained from school, and to see that Italian men can carry off the sweater-around-their-shoulders look easily

  • Thou shalt not fly first-class.
  • Thou shalt use thy frequent-flier miles whenever possible.
  • Thou mayest fly business class if thy destination is more than five hours away.
  • On board, the wine will not be fine; therefore drinkest beer or spirits.
  • Naturellement, thou never wearest shorts, sweatpants, or flip-flops on an airplane, and thou shalt attempt not to sit next to a miscreant in such garments.
  • If thou takest a sleeping pill, thou must try not to snore, Pookie.
  • Thou must not complain about jet lag.
  • Thou must take loads of photographs.
  • Thou art encouraged to rent cars in strange places and get into colorful misunderstandings with local drivers.
  • If there is a Harry’s Bar at thy destination, thou shalt eat there. (Try the carpaccio and the cannelloni.)
  • Exotic locations are to be encouraged.
  • Thou must not try to lose thy passport, but, indeed, it could happen, and will provide dinner-table fodder for many happy years to come.
  • Although thou art traveling in order to “broaden thy horizons” and meet different kinds of people, thou will prefer looking up friends of friends who are also traveling.
  • Thou shalt tryest the tonic water in other lands, as it tastes different from thy domestic tonic water.
  • Thou will always have (had) a wonderful time.

Our private economic code is useful when on the road. As stated before, we do not waste money on first-class travel. Unless McKinsey or Aunt Toot is footing the bill, we fly coach. (On the other hand, it would be rude to turn down a no-expense upgrade.) It is consistent with everything we’ve been talking about. First class lasts several hours but costs a fortune. On the other hand, we have been known to splurge on luxury hotels. Wouldn’t it be better to apply those savings to a wonderful room in a wonderful hotel? (Or, at the very least, a small room facing a wall in a wonderful hotel?)

If you cannot stay at the wonderful hotel with the famous bar, you must at least drink at the famous bar. Lunch is also lovely there. During holiday, we always drink at lunch, and, of course, we “walk it off.” Lunchtime drinking is not an obligation, but, well, yes it is. You’re on vacation, the ultimate in prep experiences!

Prep Careers for the New Millennium

Preppies realize society’s need for enterprise. They go to college with the idea of a career—or, should we say, their parents’ idea of a career—planted firmly in their minds. This is why so many of them attend law school. They also understand their need for income. One gets a bad reputation if one is derelict with one’s club dues. As the 21st century unfurls, herewith a vital list of jobs that help preppies maintain their rightful positions in their world:

Alumni director. For the good of your school.

Development officer. Ditto.

Dog-walker entrepreneur. Accommodates Lake Forest, Rollins, and dropouts.

Party planner/publicist. The perfect job for girls who won’t be working after they get engaged.

Nursery-school assistant teacher. But not over the age of 30.

Contributing editor, Vogue. Consuela’s mother works for Anna.

Senator. For policy wonks.

Entrepreneur (Serial. One day one of your ideas will take off.)

Ne’er-do-well. Uncle Tony.

Caterer. Use Mummy’s recipe for chicken potpies as your signature.

Decorator. Who doesn’t love chintz?

Residential-real-estate broker. Sell Bradford a lovely house; marry Bradford, and decorate your new house.

Golf pro. Self-evident.

Art restorer. Very good for part-time artists.

Divorcée. ‘Nuff said.

Anchorman or -woman. Remember to remove your makeup when you meet friends after work for drinks.

Curator. Requires many trips to EuropeAu pair. How Princess Diana got her start.

President. Good perks, bad hours.

Vineyard owner. Ultimate career move.

Tennis pro. Will keep you fit through your 30s and 40s.

C.I.A. operative. Yalies in particular.

Decorative painter. Learn how to make anything faux bois.

Ski bum. Self-evident.

Former Careers We Won’t Be Seeing Again Soon

Assistant editor. It’s called the recession, Greer.

Media escort. No more book tours; there-fore, no more escorts.

Fund-raising. Should rebound by 2015.

Investment-banker trainee. Might rebound by 2020.

Travel agent. Expedia.

Preps Need Not Apply

Doctor. Presumes caring about strangers. Exception: Orthopedic surgeon.

Research doctor. Atrophies your God-given social skills.

Computer scientist. No.

C.P.A. Really no.

Missionary. See “Doctor.”

Sex worker. See “When pigs fly.”

Any job requiring the question “Fries with that?” Only at the club during the summer before junior year—of high school.

Governor. Possibility of a sex scandal too great.

Engineer. Choo-choo or the other kind.

Fact-checker. Facts, shmacts.

Manny. N.O.K.D.

Meteorologist. Too science-y.

Excerpted fromTrue Prep,by Lisa Birnbach with Chip Kidd, to be published this month by Knopf; © 2010 by Island of Mommy Inc. and Charles Kidd.


Barbie/60e: Les sionistes ont même inventé les poupées Barbie ! (From high-end German call girl to America’s iconic Barbie doll, sexist and anorexic scourge of the feminists or shameful Jewish symbol of decadence of the perverted West)

9 mars, 2019
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Ruth and Elliot Handler, both raised in Colorado, pose with an early version of Barbie. Photo courtesy of Mattel
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A création 1959, poupée Barbie coûtait 3$. Aujourd’hui faut débourser, moyenne, dollars.
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Barbie (Andy Warhol, 1985)
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Checking out the barbies in Prague (Aug. 2013)Les poupées Barbie juives, avec leurs vêtements révélateurs, leurs postures, accessoires et outils honteux sont un symbole de la décadence de l’Occident perverti. Prenons garde à ces dangers et faisons très attention. Comité saoudien pour la promotion de la vertu et la prévention du vice
It is no problem that little girls play with dolls. But these dolls should not have the developed body of a woman and wear revealing clothes. These revealing clothes will be imprinted in their minds and they will refuse to wear the clothes we are used to as Muslims. Sheik Abdulla al-Merdas (Riyadh mosque preacher)
Saudi Arabia’s religious police have declared Barbie dolls a threat to morality, complaining that the revealing clothes of the « Jewish » toy — already banned in the kingdom — are offensive to Islam. The Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, as the religious police are officially known, lists the dolls on a section of its Web site devoted to items deemed offensive to the conservative Saudi interpretation of Islam. « Jewish Barbie dolls, with their revealing clothes and shameful postures, accessories and tools are a symbol of decadence to the perverted West. Let us beware of her dangers and be careful, » said a message posted on the site. A spokesman for the Committee said the campaign against Barbie — banned for more than 10 years — coincides with the start of the school year to remind children and their parents of the doll’s negative qualities. Speaking to The Associated Press by telephone from the holy city of Medina, he claimed that Barbie was modeled after a real-life Jewish woman. Although illegal, Barbies are found on the black market, where a contraband doll could cost $27 or more. Sheik Abdulla al-Merdas, a preacher in a Riyadh mosque, said the muttawa, the committee’s enforcers, take their anti-Barbie campaign to the shops, confiscating dolls from sellers and imposing a fine. Fox news
Born a busty, bathing suit-clad  »teen-age fashion model » in the 1959 Mattel catalogue, Barbie in the book is shown dressed for success as  »Campus Belle, »  »Career Girl » and  »Student Teacher » in the mid-1960’s; as a nurse and a doctor by 1973, and, most recently, as a silver-gilded astronaut and glitter rock star. (…) While her critics may say she is no more than a mannequin, Billy Boy refers to Barbie as a  »life style. »  »Every woman has a Barbie quality about her, » he said. Marilyn Motz, a professor of popular culture at Bowling Green State, has a different view.  »The whole point of the Barbie doll is that she owns things and buys things, » said Professor Motz, who published a study of Barbie in 1983. S