The agitated Mr. Skripal: Connecting more dots in the Skripal case

In Part 1 of this series, I stated why I believe the official narrative on the Skripal case does not appear to hold water. Firstly, the nerve agent A-234 (Novichok) can and has been produced outside Russia, in a number of places, thus disproving the claim that it must have come from Russia. Secondly, the fact that the effects experienced by the Skripals – four hours of moving freely around Salisbury, followed by no irreparable damage – do not remotely fit what the scientific literature says about that substance – almost instantaneous death or a short life with irreparable damage to the central nervous system -, makes it highly unlikely that they were indeed poisoned by it. Indeed, the burden of proof is on those making the claims to show how and why the scientific literature was wrong. Then in Part 2, I mentioned four aspects of the case, which are undoubtedly significant, but which seem to have been ignored or forgotten. I ended that piece by saying that I hoped to discuss what I consider to be an even bigger aspect of the case; something that may well begin to join some dots together. And this is what I intend to do in this piece. However, before I do, I should start by saying that what I am about to say is speculative. That is not to say that it is not based on facts. It is. It is based on witness testimony that appeared very early on in the case – three days after the poisoning – and which I deem to be credible since it appeared before the case became completely politicised, which is sadly what subsequently happened. I am then using that testimony to construct what I consider to be the best explanation for what the witness described. And so it is very much a theory. One based on facts, but a theory nevertheless. As such it is of course open to challenge.

Read more from Signs of the Times…

It’s Walker Percy Weekend 2018

Greetings from St. Francisville, Louisiana. When I checked into my hotel for Walker Percy Weekend (I live in Baton Rouge, now, 40 miles away), the desk clerk looked at my driver’s license, then said: “You Miss Ruthie’s brother? Lord, everybody loved Miss Ruthie.”

That made me feel so good. Back home. If you want to know why everybody loved Miss Ruthie, here it is.

If you are not a Mars Hill Audio Journal subscriber, well, what’s wrong with you? It’s so, so great. People still stop me to thank me for putting them onto it. Users of iOS can download the Mars Hill app, and listen to some content for free. Ken Myers has produced a special Walker Percy discussion that everyone, not just Journal subscribers, can access on the app. Here’s the script for the introduction:

This is the Friday Feature for June 1st from MARS HILL AUDIO; I’m Ken Myers.

Today is the first day of the fifth annual Walker Percy Weekend in St. Francisville, Louisiana. The website for this unique festival celebrating Walker Percy’s life and work assures potential participants that it will be “intellectually serious but broadly accessible.” We also learn that bourbon will be consumed, although (one hopes) not in quantities comparable to some of Percy’s characters. As I recall, in Love in the Ruins, Dr. Thomas More holed up in a Howard Johnson’s with 15 cases of Early Times.

Love in the Ruins, published in 1971 and a finalist for a National Book Award, bears the subtitle The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World. Percy once commented on the book: “A serious novel about the destruction of the United States and the end of the world should perform the function of prophecy in reverse. The novelist writes about the coming end in order to warn against present ills and so avert the end.” As Ralph Wood has recently written, Percy “doubted the efficacy of a serene Christian humanism. Better to serve as the canary in the coal mine, so as to detect the asphyxiating gas that sickens unto death.”

Ralph Wood has given talks at previous Walker Percy weekends. I’m told he won’t be there this year, but two weeks back, The American Conservative published an article he wrote about Love in the Ruins called “Walker Percy’s Funny and Frightening Prophecy.” Earlier this week, I called Dr. Wood in his office to chat about the article and about Percy more generally. We agreed that Percy’s work is not as well known as it may have been 20 years ago, or at the time of his death in 1990. I asked Wood why he thought Percy has not enjoyed as much attention as another 20th century Southern Catholic writer, Flannery O’Connor.

[RALPH WOOD QUOTE]

Since this weekend is an occasion for concentrated attention to Walker Percy, at least in St. Francisville, we’ve just released a new Audio Reprint: a reading of an article by John F. Desmond called “Walker Percy and Suicide.” The article compares themes in Percy’s fiction and non-fiction with reflections about selfhood in Camus and Kierkegaard. You can purchase that reading for $2 from our website and listen to it through our app or via any web browser.

Way back in 1993, on volume 3 of the Journal, I talked with Jay Tolson, who had just written Pilgrim in the Ruins: a Life of Walker Percy. In his book, Tolson reported that — before he started writing fiction, he read a number of works by Kafka and Dostoevsky, stories about figures who were outcasts in search of spiritual meaning. I asked Jay Tolson if Percy felt himself to be such a figure.

[TOLSON QUOTE]

Jay Tolson, from volume 3 of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal. Tolson’s Pilgrim in the Ruins: a Life of Walker Percy was the first Percy biography to appear after Percy’s death in 1990. In 1997, Patrick Samway’s book, Walker Percy: A Life, was published. Samway was a guest on volume 27 of the Journal, in a conversation in which we talked about Percy’s relationship with the characters of his books.

[SAMWAY QUOTE]

Patrick Samway, the author of Walker Percy: A Life, from volume 27 of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal.

By the way, we’ve just released volume 139, and if you’re not currently a subscriber, I invite you to take the plunge, sign up today, and enjoy over two hours of listening to something intellectually serious but broadly accessible. Guests include Simon Oliver, Matthew Levering, and Esther Lightcap Meek, and the overarching theme that emerged in the six conversations was how modern culture obscures the nature of Creation.

On next week’s Friday Feature, I’ll be talking with Jeremy Beer about the late Christopher Lasch. For MARS HILL AUDIO, I’m Ken Myers.

I’m off to the Magnolia Cafe now, where Charlie Clark and I will be hosting a back porch conversation about his Fare Forward article, “The Walker Percy Option.” The event is sponsored by The American Conservative, which is picking up the bar tab. Don’t you wish you were here?

Read more from The American Conservative…

Presidential Press Pool Archive Finds Home at University of Maryland

Produced by members of the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA), these short briefs have tracked generations of American presidents while they travel internationally, campaign, and even vacation. UM is working to preserve these records in …

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Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy Ranks #1 Overall for Producing NBA Players

According to a recent study , Oak Hill Academy, located in Mount of Wilson, is the best high school at getting prep stars to the highest level of basketball competition in the world. The school has produced NBA players such as Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rando, Brandon Jennings, along with 25 others since the schools basketball program was began in 1976.

Read more from National Football League…

Leftism = Egalitarianism

As we enter the age where Leftism, having gained supremacy fifty years ago and failed in all of its promises, prepares to pass on into the dust-bin of history, it makes sense to understand what Leftism is.

On this site, we treat politics as a series of philosophies. Philosophies are explanation for how the world works and what we should do about it. At the core, each philosophy possesses a basic statement which summarizes its approach, and this is why they are distinctive.

It has become common — and that word never means anything good — for people to bloviate on about how they are “neither Left or Right,” which forgets that these two things are distinct philosophies, and like many things at a basic level, indicate a necessary fork in the road of human thinking.

Very few realize that the Right is our continuation of what was there before Leftism, and that while it has been misinterpreted and linguistically slaughtered like everything else in our declining society, its basic philosophy still stands: conserve the best of the past while aiming for inner excellence.

Even fewer understand Leftism. What is Leftism? An encylopedia provides us the roots of Leftist philosophy:

Left: In politics, the portion of the political spectrum associated in general with egalitarianism and popular or state control of the major institutions of political and economic life.

Now we can see the basics of the philosophy: it is egalitarianism plus the idea that the State should enforce it. Continuing our exploration, we ask, “What is Egalitarianism?” Fortunately a specialized encyclopedia of philosophy provides an explanation of egalitarianism:

Egalitarians think, firstly, that unfair life prospects should be equalized. Secondly, that equality is the most or one of the most important irreducible intrinsic or constitutive worth(s) of justice. Thirdly, that welfare should be increased. Fourthly, that justice is comparative. Fifthly, that inequalities are just when otherwise advantages are destroyed in the name of justice. Lastly, that there are certain absolute humanitarian principles like autonomy, freedom or human dignity.

The suffix “ism” tends to mean a philosophy that advocates using its root term as a means of solving problems and leading the best possible life. For that reason, elitism means those who advocate choosing the elite or quality over quantity; socialism denotes using socialized means of production; egalitarianism indicates those who want to use equality as a universal tool for fixing and enhancing society.

In that definition, we have every aspect of modern Leftism. They want to create a Utopia through progress toward equality. They think this should be done by taking from the successful and giving to the unsuccessful. They believe in using the State to do this through Civil Rights programs.

Through that understanding, we can see that Leftists — liberals, communists, marxists, socialists, anarchists, libertarians — are all degrees of the same thing, namely the idea of equality being both a goal and a method of achieving the best possible civilization and lives, although uniquely they see a “perfect” Utopia as possible.

Let us then revisit the historical portion of the definition of Leftism from above:

The term dates from the 1790s, when in the French revolutionary parliament the socialist representatives sat to the presiding officer’s left. Leftists tend to be hostile to the interests of traditional elites, including the wealthy and members of the aristocracy, and to favour the interests of the working class (see proletariat). They tend to regard social welfare as the most important goal of government. Socialism is the standard leftist ideology in most countries of the world; communism is a more radical leftist ideology.

In this we see how egalitarianism translates into reality: since we cannot make the unsuccessful more competent, we must penalize the successful, and have a strong gangster-style government to take their wealth and give it to the less competent. This creates a Darwinian death spiral but transfers power to the Leftist Regime.

Leftism consists of several sub-philosophies, all of which share a common goal of Utopia through progress of equality, which means that all Leftist philosophies are essentially the same, differing only in degree. On the mild side of Leftism, liberalism, libertarianism, and classical liberalism hide their real goal:

Liberalism, political doctrine that takes protecting and enhancing the freedom of the individual to be the central problem of politics. Liberals typically believe that government is necessary to protect individuals from being harmed by others, but they also recognize that government itself can pose a threat to liberty.

…Liberalism is derived from two related features of Western culture. The first is the West’s preoccupation with individuality, as compared to the emphasis in other civilizations on status, caste, and tradition. Throughout much of history, the individual has been submerged in and subordinate to his clan, tribe, ethnic group, or kingdom. Liberalism is the culmination of developments in Western society that produced a sense of the importance of human individuality, a liberation of the individual from complete subservience to the group, and a relaxation of the tight hold of custom, law, and authority. In this respect, liberalism stands for the emancipation of the individual. See also individualism.

Liberalism also derives from the practice of adversariality in European political and economic life, a process in which institutionalized competition—such as the competition between different political parties in electoral contests, between prosecution and defense in adversary procedure, or between different producers in a market economy (see monopoly and competition)—generates a dynamic social order. Adversarial systems have always been precarious, however, and it took a long time for the belief in adversariality to emerge from the more traditional view, traceable at least to Plato, that the state should be an organic structure, like a beehive, in which the different social classes cooperate by performing distinct yet complementary roles.

Individualism creates egalitarianism because no individual wants to be left behind or restricted in what they can do. As a result, they demand a utilitarian solution: everyone does whatever they want — small exceptions are made for crimes and blatant antisocial behavior — and decisions are made by choosing whatever is most popular.

This comes from the notion of the moral worth of the individual in individualism:

Individualism, political and social philosophy that emphasizes the moral worth of the individual.

If the individual has moral worth, then all individuals must be included and their choices supported, which naturally prohibits the type of cooperation necessary to create civilization. Individualism expresses itself through “rights” by which an individual can reject the need to uphold social standards, customs, and principles.

Although it was called by different terms, individualism arose from the Renaissance, in which “man is the measure of all things” became a replacement for classical ideas of social order. Instead of designing civilization as a structure, it was conceived as a container for individuals which sought to facilitate their desires.

The French Revolutionaries stated as much when they placed the individual at the center of their society, and made it the goal of that society to serve all individuals.

This inverts social order. Instead of having standards and rewarding those who meet them, we make people the standard, and assume that they can be motivated with external carrot/stick combinations like money and the threat of not having money. Over time this breaks down, and so societies turn toward socialism in order to keep their ideology intact.

We fight a war of ideas. The West adopted individualism, then egalitarianism, and implemented them in Leftism because as the most successful society on Earth, it had the wealth and power to take on a crazy notion and not have it fail immediately. Over the past centuries and especially past fifty years however, we have seen that it fails anyway.

For us to displace Leftism from the West, and nothing else will save us, we must get to the root of this dysfunction and remove the moldy old Renaissance™ and Enlightenment™ notions of equality from our thinking. This requires that we get over ourselves, but we have surmounted greater challenges in the past.

Read more from Amerika…

Secret Courts Guarantee Abuse

Michael Ledeen is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

I testified against the Patriot Act because I feared the abuse of secret tribunals.  I’m usually far off in my predictions, but it was obvious from the get-go that the FISA courts would be abused by the Intelligence Community, and indeed those secret courts have almost always done what the FBI and CIA asked, even when—as in the case of General Michael Flynn—the IC had to ask several times, and even when the “evidence” consisted of an unverified “dossier” produced by a political campaign.

The Intelligence Community has long considered itself a state within the American state, dating from its creation just after World War II.  Most of the time, the IC has used its power to support presidential policies—the CIA snooped on the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2014, and on the McGovern campaign, and the FBI spied on the Goldwater campaign– but when a president acted against the IC’s convictions, the spooks advanced their own interests and beliefs.

No sooner had President Truman recognized the state of Israel, than the CIA swung into (illegal) action, secretly creating the American Friends of the Middle East, which brought Middle Easterners to America, published their views, and lobbied Congress, all against Israel.  In the words of Hudson’s Michael Doran, 

AFME was a remarkable instance of a CIA-confected front organization designed to counter official government policy, in this case by seeking to delegitimize Zionism in domestic American politics.

Truman quickly understood what was at stake.  “It’s become a government all of its own and all secret.  They don’t have to account to anybody.”.

It was, Truman recognized, part of a broader problem: bureaucrats who saw themselves, not mere elected officials, as the only legitimate policy makers.  “The civil servant, the general or admiral, the foreign service officer,” Truman insisted, “has no authority to make policy. They act only as servants of the government, and therefore they must remain in line with the government policy that is established by those who have been chosen by the people to set that policy.”

This enraged the president, who was also furious at the State Department’s opposition to his Middle East policies.  Yet bureaucratic action against presidential policies remained common.  As Truman discovered, the IC used “intelligence” to undermine presidential policies and advance its own.  This was demonstrated in the 1970s, when a private-sector group of analysts known as “Team B”—led by the recently-departed Professor Richard Pipes of Harvard–successfully challenged the CIA’s view of Soviet military strength, and the CIA’s conviction that we had very little to fear from the Kremlin.

Back in the Truman years, the president was able to appreciate Soviet intentions better than the IC, ironically thanks in no small part to his own intelligence operation in cahoots with Israel.  Ironically, Truman opened a secret back channel to Tel Aviv at the same time the CIA was sabotaging American cooperation with the Jewish state, via the legendary spook James Jesus Angleton, whose point of contact in Israel was Ben-Gurion’s personal secretary, Teddy Kolleck.  The two worked closely with Israel’s domestic security service, the Shin Bet, debriefing Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Empire.  Angleton, like most CIA officials, suspected the Israelis of collusion with the Soviet Union, but in time he realized this was not true.  Angleton subsequently received the text of Khrushchev’s speech about Stalin’s crimes…from the Israelis.  He was subsequently outed by CIA chief William Colby, with whom he had had many disagreements.

Bureaucratic arrogance is an ongoing problem, nowhere more than the Intelligence Community.  The problem is more grave today, with the advances in electronic snooping, the courts’ willingness to let the intelligence agencies pry into all manner of communications, and the zeal with which the media report improper leaks.  As Lee Smith recently tweeted:

They (the IC) ran a counterintelligence investigation of a former rival spy chief, Mike Flynn, a retired 3-star General. Abuse. Then they leaked intercept of his conversation with Russian ambassador. Crime. Now our 3d world press hires our 3d world spy chiefs.

Secret tribunals guarantee this sort of corruption.  Yes, there are cases where decisions on spying on Americans must be secret, but we pay a terrible price for them.  And as things stand, the snoopers have all the cards.  The game is totally rigged.

Read more from Front Page Magazine…

MSNBC host Joy Reid apologizes for old blog posts pushing 9/11 conspiracies

Getty/Dave Kotinsky

Getty/Dave Kotinsky

Joy Reid, host of AM Joy on MSNBC, issued an apology on Friday regarding controversial statements that resurfaced from blog posts she wrote in the mid-aughts. The remarks ranged from 9/11 conspiracy theories to posting an illustration of Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) head on the body of the Virginia Tech shooter.

"While I published my blog, starting in 2005, I wrote thousands of posts in real time on the issues of the day," Reid said in a statement. "There are things I deeply regret and am embarrassed by, things I would have said differently and issues where my position has changed. Today I'm sincerely apologizing again."

"I'm sorry for the collateral damage and pain this is causing individuals and communities caught in the crossfire," she added.

Reid specifically addressed the blog post regarding Sen. McCain.

"To be clear, I have the highest respect for Sen. McCain as a public servant and patriot and wish him and his family the best. I have reached out to Meghan McCain and will continue to do so," Reid said. "She is a former on-air colleague and I feel deeply for her and her family.

She also clarified that she does not agree with the ideology supported in the 9/11 conspiracy film, "Loose Change”—a film co-produced by Infowars’ Alex Jones—which she reportedly promoted on her now-defunct blog, according to a BuzzFeed report this week.

"I've also spoken openly about my evolution on many issues and know that I'm a better person today than I was over a decade ago," she said. "I am the daughter of immigrants and have worked to be a strong ally of these communities. There is no question in my mind that Al Qaeda perpetrated the 9/11 attacks or about Israel's right to its sovereignty."

"I believe the totality of my work attests to my ideals and I continue to grow every day," Reid added.

MSNBC released its own statement standing by Reid.

"Some of the things written by Joy on her old blog are obviously hateful and hurtful," the network said. "They are not reflective of the colleague and friend we have known at MSNBC for the past seven years. Joy has apologized publicly and privately and said she has grown and evolved in the many years since, and we know this to be true."

What both statements failed to address were the homophobic remarks that surfaced on her now-defunct blog in April — the ones she claimed hackers actually made.

"Many of you have seen these blog posts circulating online and on social media. Many of them are homophobic, discriminatory and outright weird and hateful," she said in April. "I spent a lot of time trying to make sense of these posts. I hired cybersecurity experts to see if somebody had manipulated my words or my former blog, and the reality is they have not been able to prove it."

"I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things because they are completely alien to me,” she added. “But I can definitely understand based on things I have tweeted and have written in the past why some people don't believe me."

 

Read more from Salon.com…

The Plug Must Be Pulled On Google’s Plan For Thought Control

In contrast to those who claim that Star Trek’s heroes were early Social Justice Warriors, it strikes me that the original Star Trek series produced a pointed parody of the SJWs — and of the technological enforcement of their creed — in the 1967 …

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The Open Era

You see where the line is between a good tennis player and an Immortal in the first round match between former No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Rogerio Dutra-Silva on the Philippe-Chatrier Stade at Paris’s Roland Garros the other day.

The Brazilian, a veteran player ranked in the top 100 won some excellent points and broke the 2016 champion to even the score at 4-4 in the third set, his last chance to make a serious stand in the first round of this year’s Internationaux de France, aka French Open. Djokovic broke right back, then held serve at 15 and that was that, three sets to nought.

It was a fine match, even as seen on TV, but nothing to write home about. Anyway we would not be writing home because due to certain circumstances involving the law firm of Jauvert & Jauvert, TAS can only provide some long-distance analysis this year, but never mind the details. The question here is: is the great Serb ace back?

The question is pertinent because every tennis commentator queried by Tennis, the voice of the American tennis establishment, says defending champion Rafael Nadal will repeat, on the rational theory no one can beat him. A non-scientific survey of the international sporting press offers the same consensus. Djokovic, one of the few able to beat Nadal, has been in a prolonged slump worsened by an elbow injury requiring surgery as the season began.

With the loss in five sets by 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka to a stubborn and solid Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Nadal has last year’s finalist out of the way. He is leading a tough and able Simone Bolelli by two sets when play is adjourned on Chatrier due to rain. The Italian is up 3-0 in the third, but these rain delays usually favor the champ, who uses them to recharge is fierce competitive drive.

And with the defection due to injury of Australia’s bad boy tennis genius Nick Kyrgios, he has one less of the up-and-coming young men to worry over. He has been in fantastic form, taking titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Rome to prepare his title defense. Like LeBron James on the basketball court, like Mike Trout (Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, you know what I mean) on the mound, Rafa Nadal is the King. At least on clay. In tennis, surfaces matter; the maestro, Roger Federer, has only one Coupe des Mousquetaires among his 20 Slam trophies.

Moreover, Federer, the Stan-da-Man of tennis in our era, is following last year’s strategy of sitting out the clay season the fresher to be on grass and during the North American summer hard-courts. (He won at Wimbledon, not at Flushing Meadows.) And Andy Murray is out, recovering from injuries that he hopes will be gone in time for the All-England in early July.

Injuries, age; recovery, youth. The beauty of this sport derives from the way it brings out the basics of life in stark simplicity. An individual sport, in which you are upfront and alone: you step up or you do not and there is no team to back you up — or a single star like LeBron James to bail out the team. It is, pace Andre Agassi’s famous quip, not like boxing; you do have to run and you cannot hide.

It is Nadal’s to lose this year, making it likely he will get an unprecedented 11th trophy in a single major tournament. His lean and hungry challengers have fallen short in the endurance tests that are unique to the Slam circuit, or succumbed under Nadal’s clay power game, designed, and perfected for the conditions produced by this surface (limestone and crushed brick, if you ever wondered).

So, not too much suspense here, though y’never know. American men have not done very well on clay in recent years, but Jared Donaldson won his first round match in five sets, showing good form, while Frances Tiafoe and Sam Querrey both have shots at reaching the second week; unfortunately they square off in the first round so only one will (maybe) do it. (Update: it goes to Querrey in three sets; Isner, before the rain, was up two against Tiafoe’s contemporary, Noah Rubin.)

On the women’s side, Venus Williams went down in the first round and her sister goes into action on Tuesday. They have two doubles titles here, Venus has never won the Coupe Lenglen, but Serena has done it three times. The defending champ, Jelena Ostapenko, lost her first round match on an injured foot. Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys easily got through to round two. They are best friends, there was a touching scene when Miss S. beat Miss K. at the final of the U.S. Open last September, real friendship. But still it is a lonely sport.

Ken Rosewall and Rod Laver returned to Roland-Garros 50 years ago, in the inaugural major of the Open era; “Muscles” prevailed over “Rocket” in the finals. He also took the doubles with his compatriot Fred Stolle. Outside the tournament, France was in some turmoil as the cultural revolt known as the May Events continued.

These have been the subject of rather dull retrospectives and remembrances for the past months; for all their charm, you have to admit the French have a predilection for editing their own history rather in the direction of fashion, which is annoying. The fashion is that in the grand scheme of things, the May Events were a Good Thing. As far as I can tell, their main effect was that the French stopped saying “vous” and also gave up on wearing ties and hats. For the past few years, they have been destroying their own grammar, abolishing the gender declensions that charmed (and tortured) students of their language.

The remembrance that came to my mind, perhaps by unconscious association with our Memorial Day weekend when we honor those who gave all for our freedom, was one that no one, to my knowledge, mentions in all the yak-yak. I had in mind a man named Maurice Grimaud. He was the police prefect of Paris, in effect the man responsible for security, and he was heavily handicapped by the fact that his forces were overwhelmingly outnumbered by the thousands of kids who had nothing better to do than skip class, block the entrances to the university so those who wanted to learn could not get in, and instead tear up the cobble stones of the old streets of the Latin Quarter and throw them at the cops, who exercised admirable restraint.

Grimaud, who died ten years ago after a long and distinguished career as a high civil servant, had put out the word that there was to be as little rough stuff as possible, which is why the “revolutionaries” had a field day and for the next half century have been able to compare themselves to the men women and children whom you see in Les Misérables, and who were mowed down by cannon and musket when protesting for actual real reasons, such as having nought to eat. In 1968, the enactors were bourgeois kids, playing at historical drama.

Detachments of CRS and gendarmes (police under military discipline but in this case under Grimaud’s authority) reinforced the Paris uniforms. These were for the most part working class and farm-region boys, young men who had served their country in the last years of the colonial wars and were not exactly impressed with tweed-wearing students who had avoided those bitter wars and had not grown up in the poverty that was still common in those years, yet had the gall to claim they spoke for the wretched of the earth. The young men working overtime to keep the city safe while others spouted verses from Mao and Trotsky must have wondered what future elites the country was going to have, but they kept their cool and, no doubt, had a sense of humor sorely lacking in the feverish brains of bourgeois Stalinists.

In one of the “iconic” photos of the time, the student leader Dany Cohn-Bendit is seen offering a mischievous grin to a stern looking gendarme (who on closer inspection is repressing a sly smile); this has gone down in history as a symbol of the “whole” “liberation” “movement” of the ’60s.

Cohn-Bendit was, in fact, one of the less ridiculous soixante-huitards (in English: hippies, or San Francisco Democrats). He was ferociously anti-communist; the Stalinists and Trotskyists hated him. They piggy-backed the protests he and his anarchist pals started against dorm restrictions on the university campus. But he himself knew he was using sex stuff to kick start the reverse potty training he gleefully wanted to spread all over society. This is why Charles de Gaulle, who was president at the time, referred to the events aschien-lit, dog s….

Dany said they were in it to oppose “imperialism” as well as dorm restrictions, meaning the Vietnam war. What did he know about the Vietnam war? He knew enough to admit, 50 years later, that even then he knew that in Vietnam, he would have ended before a firing squad. Instead, he has a seat in the European Parliament at Strasbourg. It is not clear what they do there, but they get nice perks.

As we know, the year 1968 began with a communist rampage in Vietnam. Known as the Tet offensive, it had as its objectives to shock public opinion in the U.S. and convince our “elites” the war was unwinnable; to hold territory long enough, in such provincial capitals as Hue, to mass-murder civic and intellectual leaders, as well as policemen, who might form the backbone of resistance to their imperialism; and to destroy the Viet Cong cadres in the South, whom the Northern Stalinists did not trust. Although American and South Vietnamese forces, despite taking terrible casualties, threw back the onslaught, these objectives were achieved.

Some commemoration. Better to remember that first Open tournament on the far west side of Paris, on a street named for Gordon Bennett, an American newspaper tycoon and, no doubt, a Yankee imperialist!

The post The Open Era appeared first on The American Spectator.

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The Voice Isn’t Making Its Alumni Stars, But It Still Matters – Here’s Why

Often I’ve read in the comments that follow TVLine’s recaps of The Voice that the show has never produced a star on the same level as American Idol . And I can’t argue that NBC’s sing-off has started any success stories on par with those of Carrie Underwood or Adam Lambert.

Read more from Kelly Clarkson…