Robert G. Armstrong.

Occasionally I run across remarkable people who deserve to be better remembered and post about them, and the latest is the anthropologist Robert Armstrong; I was trying to provide more information for his LibraryThing entry, which had only his birth year, and I eventually discovered the Monuments Men Foundation biography:

Anthropologist Robert Gelston Armstrong was born in Danville, Indiana on June 29, 1917. Extraordinarily adept at languages, he was conversant in Latin, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and both Yoruba and Idoma (the official languages of Nigeria). Armstrong studied economics at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he became interested in Marxism. He joined the Communist Party shortly before graduation in 1939. Armstrong then attended the University of Chicago, translating his interest in socioeconomic theories to the study of cultural anthropology. As an active member of the campus antiwar movement, Armstrong served as Chairman of the Peace Action Committee and planning several “peace strikes.” In the fall of 1941 he began a year of field research among the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians sponsored by the University of Oklahoma. Just four months into his assignment, however, Armstrong was called up for service with the U.S. Army. A special dispensation allowed Armstrong to prolong his induction for six weeks in order to write an abbreviated thesis paper. […]

Following the end of hostilities, Armstrong was transferred to the Office of Military Government for Germany as a Russian translator. In September 1945 he joined the MFAA as a Scientific Collections Specialist in Berlin. During the course of his duties, Armstrong worked alongside Monuments Man Capt. Bernard D. Burks to salvage and reconstruct the collections of scientific museums and institutions in Germany. […]

Following his return to the United States in early 1946, Armstrong reenrolled in the University of Chicago and began his dissertation on economic and social organization in Africa. In 1947 he was appointed as assistant professor of anthropology at Atlanta University, where he became involved in the Civil Rights Movement. His efforts included persuading the dean of the Episcopal Cathedral to allow African Americans to attend services, and participating in a conference on the report of President Harry S. Truman’s Committee on Civil Rights. The following year, he secured a leave of absence to teach for one year at the University of Puerto Rico while conducting field research, first with anthropologist Julian Steward, and later on behalf of the British Colonial Social Science Research Council. Armstrong conducted further field work in Ibadan, Nigeria at the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research of the University College (today, the University of Ibadan). He completed his doctoral dissertation, State Formation in Negro Africa in 1952.

The onset of McCarthyism in the early 1950s targeted the faculty of a number of prominent universities. In 1953, during negotiations for a teaching position at the University of Chicago, the FBI informed the university’s dean of Armstrong’s past interest in Communism: negotiations faltered. This disappointment proved to be the first of many instances in which Armstrong was passed over for a teaching position or isolated by former colleagues who feared associating with him. Armstrong did finally receive a five year appointment at Atlanta University, but only after two years of searching for a new position. The FBI continued its investigation into Armstrong’s past, culminating in a surprise interrogation at his home in August 1959.

In an effort to escape his controversial past and build a more promising professional future, Armstrong moved to Nigeria in September 1959. There, he conducted field research on the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria using a grant from the Social Science Research Council. He never returned to the United States.

Robert Armstrong died in Lagos, Nigeria in May 1987.

A good man whose career was destroyed by vile political attacks. I’ve seen the effects of McCarthyism in my own family and in those close to me; I don’t think people today realize how much was lost to its malice and amorality. I hope his last years in Nigeria were enjoyable.

Comments

  1. David Eddyshaw says

    As resident African-languages pedant, I am contractually obliged to say that Yoruba and Idoma are not “the official languages of Nigeria.”

    A man well worth remembering with honour. (He seems unknown to Wikipedia.) And I approve of the anthropology-linguistics axis, as I have perhaps mentioned from time to time.

  2. As resident African-languages pedant, I am contractually obliged to say that Yoruba and Idoma are not “the official languages of Nigeria.”

    Yes, I noticed that, but figured you’d be along to provide an official denial. And I am a fellow approver of the axis (though not the Axis).

  3. AJP Crown says

    Miami University in Oxford, Ohio

    Heh.

  4. SFReader says

    Miami-Illinois language has same feel to it.

  5. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    I’ve seen the effects of McCarthyism in my own family and in those close to me; I don’t think people today realize how much was lost to its malice and amorality.

    I fear that the present occupant of the White House is ding his best to remind us of what malice and amorality can do.

  6. David Marjanović says

    He seems unknown to Wikipedia.

    I think you can change that. 🙂

  7. They’d require more proof of significance than I’ve been able to find.

  8. I mean, they rejected an article about a woman who’d won a Nobel Prize.

  9. David Marjanović says

    Bah, deletionists.

  10. That’s why I don’t try to do much with Wikipedia any more.

  11. John Cowan says

    Well, the Myaamiaki, or Miami nation, did live in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, though most were relocated to Oklahoma in the Usual Way (if you know what I mean, Pooh). The Mayaimi, on the other hand, were apparently named for the lake they lived next to, now known as Lake Okeechobee.

  12. My own Wikipedia anecdote:

    I once had the gratifying surprise of finding an article of mine cited in the Wikipedia entry for Ezra Pound. The next time I looked, though, it was gone. Then it came back again. Then it got lost once more.

    Puzzled, I looked for the first time at Wikipedia’s page for contributors, and there I learned that one of the Pound authorities called himself Truthteller while another ventured forth under an oriflamme blazoned Malleus Fatuorum. But there was also a sincere question from a non-authority. Timidly, this person observed that everyone he’d ever met whose name was Ezra was a Jew. So he wondered: was Pound Jewish?

    You know about the guys with computers who live in their mothers’ basements.

  13. Trying not to laugh out loud so as not to wake my wife…

  14. SFReader says

    Remember reading a novel set in early 20th century where a hero introduces his American wife to his Russian family.

    “Rahil*? Isn’t that a Jewish name?”

    *She was, of course, very ordinary Rachel and as WASP as humanly possible. It’s one of the Biblical female names which never became popular in Russia, so it was thought to be Jewish.

  15. David Marjanović says

    There is a family member who reportedly found my name impossibly Jewish back in 1982.

  16. J.W. Brewer says

    Most “Old Testament” given names only became popular in English-speaking societies after the Reformation, so the situation in countries less Reformation-influenced was otherwise (and even in more Protestant parts of the continent, the onomastic impact was not always the same). There tended to be a few OT names in general use among the Christian population, but not the same ones everywhere and much subject to historical contingency. “David” was popular way way back in both Wales and Georgia, for example, but not necessarily throughout the territory in between where David M.’s ancestors lived. In many/most Orthodox countries Elijah/Elias/Ilya is popular in a way that other OT male names generally aren’t, and maybe there are Just So stories about why that is but I suspect there was a lot of historical contingency and randomness in the process by which that came to be the case.

    Two of my own eight great-great-grandmothers (both WASP’s, one born in 1829 the other in 1844) were named Rachel, FWIW.

  17. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    In my experience David is not usually regarded as an obviously Jewish name. Likewise Ruth. However, when one encounters David and Ruth as the only children in a family the question does seem to arise. I know such a family, and it would never have occurred to me that the parents ( both of whom I know much better than the children) were Jewish if I hadn’t known what names they had given their children.

  18. David Marjanović says

    “David” was popular way way back in both Wales and Georgia, for example

    Yes, because there were saints with that name that were venerated in Wales. They were practically unknown elsewhere, however.

    In many/most Orthodox countries Elijah/Elias/Ilya is popular in a way that other OT male names generally aren’t, and maybe there are Just So stories about why that is

    Somehow the prophet got associated with thunder, and so he became a replacement for the Slavic thunder god.

  19. In Serbia, two traditionally Jewish names have become very common in the last 30 years.
    Sara, which 50 years ago you’d only find in Jewish families AFAIK, became somewhat popular in the 80s, only to become extremely popular in the early to mid 90s.

    And then the same thing seems to have happened to Hana, a decade or so later.

  20. PlasticPaddy says

    @dm
    I was thinking also of Elias/Helios, but the name Heliodorus was so established, it just continued (and there was a saint Heliodorus).

  21. AJP Crown says

    Yes, it would be a mistake in English to assume biblical names like Rachel, Sally, Dave & Danny are Jewish because they occur in the OT.

    There are of course biblical names that aren’t Jewish – although there are different problems with each, Goliath and Nebuchadnezzar should be more often used as first names, imo. It seems odd that only Shadrach has caught on as a name in English, or does anyone know a Meshach or an Abednigo? My great uncle once told me about a dog named Abednigo, but that was in about 1910. Incidentally it’s very easy to hear the pronunciation as Abendigo. I’m not sure which is right.

  22. Amusingly nothing whatsoever about this discussion so far tells me if I should find “Ezra Pound” to be obviously Jewish or obviously not Jewish. (I would remind J. Morse that some of us commenting on blogs, on Wikipedia etc. don’t just live as far away as a basement — we indeed live in Not America.)

    when one encounters David and Ruth as the only children in a family the question does seem to arise

    I know of a family with Aini and Väinö as their children; both assigned with reasonable other motivations, so I plan on politely avoiding the obvious question (maybe at least as long as there is no third child named Jouko).

  23. Jen in Edinburgh says

    David is one of those names I think of as disproportionately Scottish – lurking about in the Bruce and Stewart family trees, like Alexander and Robert, and presumably becoming the equivalents of Edward and Henry and Richard in England.

  24. Amusingly nothing whatsoever about this discussion so far tells me if I should find “Ezra Pound” to be obviously Jewish or obviously not Jewish.

    The name is not obviously anything, but Ezra Pound was notoriously anti-Semitic, which is why the question was funny.

  25. Speaking for myself, I’ve never thought of my name as being particularly Scottish at all. Not like Hamish or Dougal etc. There were many Davids when I was growing up.

    Some time ago I was giving my name to a young woman somewhere for official reasons (can’t remember the context) and she said, oh, David, that’s such a nice name! I was properly flattered, of course, but also taken aback that anyone should think my name was at all notable. I guess it’s not so common these days. I expect there will be a resurgence when people begin to find Liam and Noah* stale and trite.

    *It says here that Liam and Noah and #1 and #2, and that Elijah is #8. David was the most popular boy’s name in America in 1960.

  26. Good lord. I think of David as a very common name and have never known anyone named Liam or Noah. The only post-Biblical Noah that comes immediately to mind is Noah Webster. Once again I have fallen far behind the era I find myself living in.

  27. (Well, there’s Trevor Noah, but that’s different.)

  28. David Eddyshaw says

    I did wonder whether my Czech colleague David might owe his name to some Jewish connection when I first met him (his surname is about as classically Czech as could possibly be.) But his parents just thought it sounded cool. How right they were!

  29. David Marjanović says

    Noah has become bizarrely popular in German-speaking places in the last few years. It was completely nonexistent before that.

  30. J.W. Brewer says

    To AJP’s question, “Cyrus” is a non-Jewish-in-original-context Old Testament name that has been consistently in use, although never super-popular, as a name for boys in the U.S., although I don’t know about use in other English-speaking societies. Over the last 120 years it’s consistently been in the top 1000 boys names in the U.S. but never in the top 250. Cyrus Vance (Secretary of State under Pres. Carter) was the most famous bearer of the name in my own lifetime I could recall w/o checking wikipedia, and his son Cyrus Jr. is now the District Attorney for Manhattan. It’s pretty rare as a surname but Ms. Miley Cyrus is pretty famous in the current century to date.

  31. J.W. Brewer says

    Liam has certainly boomed in absolute terms over the last few decades in the US and I don’t recall ever meeting a bearer close to my own age except maybe someone who was obviously (by accent) not US-born-and-raised. But another thing that’s happened since I was young (and I’m younger than hat) is that the distribution of boys’ names in the US has gotten less concentrated. Liam was #1 in 2018 with only 1.03% of the total, whereas in my year of birth (1965) the #1 name (Michael) had 4.28% of the total and there were 21 other names with “market share” greater than what Liam had in 2018.

    (The British rock musician Liam Gallagher is seven years younger than me but I see from the internet that his legal first name is William and I can’t say I know any 1972-born American Williams who use that particular clipped form.)

  32. David Eddyshaw says

    The Cyrus who occurs to me first (as he should to all Hatters) is Cyrus Gordon.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_H._Gordon

    Sadly, he become more than a little crankish latterly. Still, it’s to him I owe the true apophthegm that you can’t trust Sprachgefühl, not even in your own language. Texts!

  33. PlasticPaddy says

    http://www.leabhair.ie/sob/ainm/index.html
    Líam comes from William but is not a short form as such but the complete name in Irish.

  34. AJP Crown says

    It says here that Liam and Noah and #1 and #2

    The brothers Liam & Noel Gallagher are both in Oasis, a 1990s pop group. I like ‘Liam’ as a shortening of William. Another one like that is Alexander Armstrong, a TV personality, who’s known as ‘Sander’ or ‘Xander’, I think the latter.

    I see that Bernie Sanders is now running neck-and-neck in Google Search with orbital sanders (no relation).

  35. J.W. Brewer says

    I had never heard of John Philip Cohane, an apparent disciple of Cyrus Gordon, who “wrote books on etymology and Ancient astronaut themes.” Two great tastes that taste great together!

  36. David Eddyshaw says

    Etymology rather lends itself to kookiness, at least without sustained effort to remain on the straight and narrow (and readiness, where necessary, to admit that: Alas, We Just Don’t Know.)

    Morphology, less so. Syntax lends itself to kookiness, but you need to work hard at it and found your own school.

  37. Forty years ago, in America, the name Liam sounded distinctly Irish. By that point in time, Kevin had completely shrugged off its own once-affectedly-Irish character and become one of the most popular American boys’ names. Kieran might be coming up next in popularity among formerly-Irish-ethnic names. Then again, perhaps not; it has always been around, and I may just notice it more now. I have a brother whose first name is variation of it, despite there being no trace of any Irish in the family (just like I am named Brett, in spite of being not a whit British).

    Noah has also become more common, but it always seemed like a pretty neutral Biblical name, rather like David, except obviously quite a bit less frequent. (I recently discovered that my old friend Noah, who I worked at Boy Scout camp with in Oregon a quarter century ago, now works just blocks away from my office here in South Carolina. Unfortunately, his Facebook page reveals he had become a full-on Trumpist, so I have not tried to reconnect.)

  38. J.W. Brewer says

    I’m I think a bit more than a decade older than Brett and in my cohort “Kevin” was demographically interesting because it had already spread out in the U.S. to be a name given to black kids, Hispanic kids, Asian-American kids etc. but among non-Hispanic whites Kevin still seemed disproportionately paired with Irish surnames. But that may have been a late stage in a transition fully completed by the time Brett’s cohort was born.

  39. Consider also the succession

    20th-century Welsh poet with famously beautiful voice

    >>–> American singer with famously unbeautiful voice

    >>–> onomastic popularity in USA

    >>–> Twin named Dylan Thomas

    https://www.baseballamerica.com/players/100007/dylan-thomas/

  40. Michael Eochaidh says

    Trivia: Miami University was founded in 1809. Florida would be part of Spain until 1821, and the city of Miami wouldn’t be incorporated until 1896.

    As a Miami grad, though, I find it absolutely hilarious that Armstrong became interested in Marxism at Miami. Apparently it wasn’t always a bastion of conservatism (but it certainly was in the eighties when I was there).

    Language Hat covered the revival of the Myaamia language a few years ago.

    http://languagehat.com/reviving-myaamia/

  41. My cousin David (and his much more Jewish wife, although her name is the not-at-all-Jewish Jacqueline*) have a new baby named Dylan.

    * There seem to be fewer common, yet stereotypically Jewish girls’ names than boys’ names. (I mean names that are common overall, yet even more common among Jewish families. There are lots of uncommon Hebrew names for both sexes that are strong signs of Jewish cultural identity.) For girls, the common ones are pretty much Rachel, Deborah, Hannah, Rebecca, or Sarah; yet for boys: David, Daniel, Jacob, Adam, Benjamin (especially if not shortened to Ben), Nathan/Nathaniel, Simon, Seth.

  42. About Nathan/Nathaniel, @Brett, consider also Nathanael. After the ironist Nathanael West changed his name from Nathan Weinstein, he went the rest of the cultural way and also took up hunting, fishing, and reckless driving. He had to cut short a hunting trip to attend the funeral of his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald, but on the way he drove through a stop sign and satisfactorily completed his transition. Dates 1903-1940, and his books of masks behind masks behind masks are A Cool Million and The Day of the Locust.

  43. SFReader says

    Early Seljuk dynasty was very fond of confessionally confusing names. They were nominally Muslim and they chose names which are also Muslim, of course, but the choice of their Muslim names was distinctly suggestive.

    For example, five sons of Seljuq Beg were called Israel(!), Michael, Moses, Joseph and Jonah.

    And Michael’s son Chaghri Beg had first name David (I am so tempted to call him David Mikhailovich).

  44. David Marjanović says

    Simon

    That was quite common here in the 1980s, but likely to blame on Peter the Apostle and perhaps Simon of Cyrene.

    the choice of their Muslim names was distinctly suggestive.

    I had no idea.

  45. SFReader says

    The speculation is that Seljuk in his youth served in the army of the Khazar Khaganate (they lived close to their borders) and picked up some Judaic naming traditions (and maybe something extra).

    Christianity probably can be out ruled – not even Nestorians would have Israel as a first name.

    {considering} Israel as a Christian name is a Protestant thing. Presbyterian perhaps.

  46. David Eddyshaw says

    The only not-explicitly-Jewish “Israel” who comes to mind is Israel Hands.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Hands

    He may, have course, have been a member of the thriving Jewish Pirate community. There’s surely a swashbuckler waiting to be made about that.
    It looks like he might actually have been called Hezekiah. Nothing Jewish about that …

  47. AJP Crown says
  48. AJP Crown says

    (Nothing about him being Christian, just that he’s interesting to read about.)

  49. Stu Clayton says

    Huh:

    # The use of the metaphorical phrase “melting pot” to describe American absorption of immigrants was popularised by Zangwill’s play The Melting Pot,[5] a success in the United States in 1909–10. #

    # Zangwill’s simulation of Yiddish sentence structure in English aroused great interest. He also wrote mystery works, such as The Big Bow Mystery (1892), and social satire such as The King of Schnorrers (1894), a picaresque novel (which became a short-lived musical comedy in 1979). His Dreamers of the Ghetto (1898) includes essays on famous Jews such as Baruch Spinoza, Heinrich Heine and Ferdinand Lassalle. #

  50. @ David Eddyshaw: Herman Melville, Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile (1854-55). About this book, Northwestern University Press writes:

    “Unique among Melville’s works, Israel Potter was the author’s only historical novel, presuming to offer the life history of Revolutionary War figure Israel Potter–based on Potter’s own obscure narrative Life and Remarkable Adventures of Israel R. Potter–and featuring characters such as Benjamin Franklin and Ethan Allen. In offering the manuscript to his publisher, Melville assured him, ‘I engage that the story shall contain nothing of any sort to shock the fastidious. There will be very little reflective writing in it; nothing weighty. It is adventure.’ This came as a relief, for his previous novel, Pierre, had shocked readers and brought down universal castigation.”

    And I’d guess there may have been an Israel or two among the Puritans.

  51. SFReader says

    There was an early Kentucky settler and landowner named, believe it or not, Israel Christian.

  52. I enjoyed Israel Potter a lot when I read it a few years ago; it’s a real page-turner. (Couldn’t get very far into Pierre, philistine that I am.)

  53. J.W. Brewer says

    The 18th-century American gentile Israel Putnam was so prominent as to justify this wikipedia list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_places_named_for_Israel_Putnam.

    The most common not-obviously-crackpot etymology for AmEng “rube” (meaning “rustic yokel, country bumpkin”) is that by some point in the 19th century OT names like “Reuben” had been abandoned by sophisticated and citified American gentiles but remained common among rural American gentiles. My own great-great-grandfather Reuben J. Brown (whose father was also a Reuben, but without a middle name) was born 1819 in the not-very-cosmopolitan Homer, New York (way upstate in Cortland County), thus symbolizing the Hebraic-Hellenistic synthesis that gave rise to Western Civ as we know it.

    Relatedly, Ezra Pound was the son of Homer Pound. That “Homer” as a given name has itself also come to have a vaguely-old-time rustic-yokel vibe (Homer Simpson does not live out in the sticks, but the writers were nonetheless probably trying to evoke a certain lack of cosmopolitan polish with the choice of name) is a further irony.

  54. PlasticPaddy says

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_of_the_Locust
    “It has been assumed that The Simpsons (1989) creator Matt Groening named his most famous character, Homer Simpson, after his own father, but in several interviews given in 1990, Groening reportedly stated that he named the character after the Homer in this novel, although neither explanation is considered definitive.”

  55. I’m going to take a wild guess that it was influenced by both. I doubt he didn’t remember his own father’s name, and I doubt it was kept in a part of his brain entirely disconnected from the part that created the show.

  56. David Eddyshaw says

    Never met a UK Homer.

    Or a UK Hiram, either, come to that. I’ve always imagined that its popularity (such as it is) has something to do with Masonry, but I’ve never met a UK policeman called Hiram either, so the truth must be more complex …

  57. According to Wikipedia, Matt Groening is of Mennonite descent and (speaking of funny-you-don’t-look-Jewish names) his full name is Matthew Abraham Groening.

  58. @SFReader: All of Seljuq’s sons would have been born before he traveled to Jand and converted to Islam. That is one of the reasons to think that he and/or his father may have had a Khazar connection. Seljuq’s conversion definitely had a political component, as he had been driven out of the core of the Oguz Yabgu State, for reasons unknown. When he arrived in Jand, it was a peripheral part of the Oguz empire, and Seljuq supposedly drove off the Tengrist tax collectors in Jand, refusing on behalf of his people and the rest of the largely Muslim inhabitants of the Jand region, to pay tax or tribute to infidels.

  59. J.W. Brewer says

    If Groening took the name from West (f/k/a Weinstein as noted above), that just pushes the question of the naming back a level, and to the extent West’s character (relocated to LA from Iowa) was supposed to be a bit of a hayseed who had trouble fitting into the sophistication-and/or-decadence of the Big City, giving him a country-bumpkin first name would make sense.

    Minor addition to the WASP/Old-Testament naming nexus. My great-great-grandfather named Reuben had an older sister with the pretty rare name Zylpha. I think that’s a variant spelling of the name of the lady in Genesis (handmaid to Leah, mother of Jacob’s sons Gad and Asher and thus matriarch of those two of the Twelve Tribes) who is more often spelled Zilpah in English translations of the Old Testament. But it’s quite rare (among WASP’s and Americans in general, I believe) in that spelling as well. I hypothesize that Protestant discomfort with Old Testament polygamy meant that out of the four mothers of Jacob/Israel’s various sons, only one name (Rachel, as noted above) could be really popular. Leah is much more marked (in the U.S.) as a Jewish name in my anecdotal/impressionistic experience – I guess as the mother of Judah and Levi she’s harder to airbrush out of the picture from the Jewish POV?

  60. David Eddyshaw says

    refusing on behalf of his people and the rest of the largely Muslim inhabitants of the Jand region, to pay tax or tribute to infidels

    In West Africa too, the spread of Islam has often been helped by its stress on social justice (a thing which is easy to miss if you’ve imbibed a reductionist caricature of Islam.)

    As Auden says in a quite different context:

    Instead of saying: “Strange are the whims of the Strong,”
    We say: “Harsh is the Law but it is certain.”

  61. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    I’ve been trying without success to find out if Christian Jacob (French politician, leader of Les Républicains — formerly l’Union pour un Mouvement Populaire, renamed because Nicolas Sarkozy is a great admirer of the Republican Party of the USA (!!), and because the French can never resist renaming things) is Jewish or not, but he seems to be remarkably coy about his origins. “Christian” is not the most obviously Jewish of names, but I’m not sure if the French associate it with chrétien.

  62. David Eddyshaw says

    The only truly odd name in my own family tree (as far as I know) is “Erastus”, allegedly the outcome of picking the first name of appropriate sex at random from the Bible, supposedly a common practice in certain circles at the time.
    On the other hand, maybe that was just a retrospective excuse for the parents’ choice.

    “Mummy, Daddy, why did you call me ‘Erastus’?”
    “It was God’s will, dear.”

  63. PlasticPaddy says

    Christian Jacob is a farmer who identifies strongly with farmers. Hence perhaps his pronounced dislike for the banker Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

  64. David Eddyshaw says

    Googling the bucolic hero led me to the interesting discovery that the slur “bobo” (ignoring the antisemitic dog-whistle) stands for bourgeois-bohème. Sounds good to me; I’ve got the first bit nailed, but I’m not sure if I’m really cut out for the second. Perhaps if I were younger … ah, si jeunesse savait …

  65. AJP Crown says

    Sir Hiram Maxim, inventor of the machine gun, although he was born in America. There are no wrinkled trouser legs in the photos. On a brighter note, apparently he beat the Wright bros to make the first powered flight, ten or twenty years earlier than theirs.

  66. David Eddyshaw says

    His Wikipedia page is fascinating. I see he had an uncle Levi, which raises the ancillary question of how many gentile Levis there are. More than Zebulons and Issachars, I’d have thought, anyway.

  67. @David Eddyshaw: Close, but “bobo” is short for “bourgeois bohemian,”—boheme being a foreign word (not naturalized like bourgeois), it would not have been used by the oleaginous David Brooks, who coined the term (and who identifies as a bobo himself). I was given the book in which he introduced the term, Bobos in Paradise (a work of “comic sociology,” as he mendaciously put it) as a gift by accident.

  68. Ithamar Conkey Sloan (May 9, 1822 – December 24, 1898) was an American politician, lawyer, and educator from Wisconsin. He was the brother of Andrew Scott Sloan.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ithamar_Sloan

  69. If you’re curious, as I was, Ithamar “was the fourth (and the youngest) son of Aaron the High Priest.”

  70. Itamar Assumpção – Pretobrás – Álbum Completo

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdK3mNfoGEo

  71. Rodger C says

    Speaking of early Kentucky settlers, there was Levi Jackson, which is also the name of an African-American actor.

  72. There is also Itamar Franco , a former president of Brazil.

  73. John Cowan says

    My great uncle once told me about a dog named Abednigo, but that was in about 1910. Incidentally it’s very easy to hear the pronunciation as Abendigo. I’m not sure which is right.

    Happy hundredth birthday, AJP!

    It is Abednego, but that in turn is a sanctified typo for Abednebo ‘slave/servant of Nebo/Nabu’, Nebo being an important Assyrian god. The same name appears in Nebuchadnezzar, which is itself a sanctified typo for Nebuchadrezzar ‘may Nabu defend the …’, and then the next word’s meaning is uncertain: ‘boundary’ is traditional, but ‘eldest son’ seems more plausible for a king.

    Aini and Väinö … Jouko

    So explain already!

    David is one of those names I think of as disproportionately Scottish

    Though there were no King Davids of England, if one comes to the throne in future he will be David III according to the new rules for dynastic numbers. (By the same token, any future James would be James VIII, which will probably bring a few Jacobites out of the woodwork to whom that title belongs to the Old Pretender.)

    One thing about David, as David M has pointed out, is that there is nowhere in Christendom, Jewry, or the Dar al-Islam where the name is unknown. The vowels will differ, of course, but Voltaire’s Second Law of Etymology.

    Cyrus Gordon

    When reading the WP article, I noted that when he was serving in the Near East he was required to learn Modern Persian, as many were, and became fluent, as many did not. Obviously his ancestor the King of Kings was reaching down to inspire his namesake.

    orbital sanders

    Evidently the name of devices for scouring low-Earth orbit of small-scale space junk.

    not-at-all-Jewish Jacqueline

    I have heard of several and WP finds several more, but I don’t know what their Hebrew names may be.

    Jewish pirates

    Josephus tells us that Jewish pirates, exiles from Galilee, operated out of Joppa/Jaffa. Centuries later, Sephardim helped with Muslim piracy in revenge against Iberian Christians. Finally, after the British seized Jamaica from the Spanish, they invited Sephardic settlement, and while these Jews were no pirates, there are 21 Jewish cemeteries on the island even though there are only 200 Jews.

  74. Since the genealogy of the descendants of Eleazar is much better described, priests (such as Eli, who must have been the protagonist of a story that was not included in the eventual Tanach) who were historically probably non-Ahronite are traditionally claimed to have actually been descendants of Ithamar. (Actually, whenever I see Ithmar’s name, my first thought is actually of the city of rat- and shart-worshipping city of Ilthmar in Nehwon, not the Jewish patriarch.)

  75. David Eddyshaw says

    @Brett:

    I meant the French slur: I quoted instead of italicising, out of sheer incompetence. Or perhaps insouciance. Perhaps I’ll get the bohème bit one day after all.

    https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bourgeois-boh%C3%A8me

    “Champagne socialist”, basically. Sounds fun too, except that I really don’t like champagne. But we must all make sacrifices for the Cause.

    I have never read this Brooks person of whom you speak. It sounds like I haven’t missed much.

  76. Ill met in Ilthmar!

  77. AJP Crown says

    David Brooks is a horrible right-wing columnist in the New York Times. I really advise not reading him. Bourgeois no doubt, who isn’t? He’s about as bohemian as a plate of mashed potato.

  78. @John Cowan: There are plenty of Jews with names like Jacqueline, which have no Jewish connotation or particular Jewish history, is all I meant. Of I and my siblings (Brett, Curran, Drew, and Mindy), none of them have first names with any particularly Jewish valance. Two of us have Biblical middle names, but they are very ordinary American boys’ names, David and Michael, although David is actually a family name—after my great-great grandfather. (My Hebrew name is “Barak David.”) I mentioned my cousin David, who is also named after the same great-great grandfather; his father (my youngest uncle), born a couple months before David Sax’s death in 1956, was named “Daniel,” because David was unavailable. (It is traditional among Jews not to name anyone directly after a living relative, although names inspired by living relatives’ names are fine. My father and his brothers, were given middle names of Steven, Paul, and Scott—either starting with “S” or cognate to my grandfather’s name, “Sol.”)

    My two sons both have entirely Jewish first names, “Reuven” and “Benjamin,” and Biblically-derived middle names as well, “James” and “Efraim,” respectively. (The use of James started out as almost a joke. We had picked his first name, but we were unsure about his middle name. Since Reuven is somewhat unusual, at least with that spelling, we wanted to give my a fairly ordinary middle name, which he could use if he chose. My wife’s family has a number of Navy and Coast Guard officers in it, and I jokingly suggest “Reuven James,” after the Woody Guthrie song. Since we could not come up with anything we liked better, we decided to go with that. In contrast Efraim is after my great grandfather—Sol’s father—who went by Frank in America, but whose name in Bobruisk we had recently tracked down.) However, their older sister is “Lillian Marie” (Hebrew name “Yael Miriam,” only partially cognate), which is not characteristically Jewish at all. I encounter a lot of Jewish families like this, with kids having some distinctly Jewish names and some very much otherwise: Alyssa and Hannah, Louis and Daniel, etc.

  79. David Marjanović says

    Bobo was explained to me as bourgeois bohémien and as “most people you think are hipsters are really that”…

    Leah is much more marked (in the U.S.) as a Jewish name in my anecdotal/impressionistic experience –

    That’s another one that has recently become very common over here. (Hannah is another, BTW.) I bet most parents have the “lioness” meaning of the Latin homophone in mind, though.

    Speaking of lions: I went to school with a Leonhard.

    the French can never resist renaming things

    They do this strange thing of dissolving political parties and founding them anew under a new name.

    Sarko is to the right of pretty much the entire European party landscape, the Tories perhaps excepted (as they have now excepted themselves). It’s no wonder he dissolved the previous conservative party and founded a new one, and it’s also no wonder that his descent into obscurity began as soon as he was out of office.

  80. David Eddyshaw says

    He’s about as bohemian as a plate of mashed potato

    That would depend on what you did with the plate of mashed potato.

  81. I was there and I believe he passed when a patient in University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria.

    He was also Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria at the time.

  82. Thanks for the additional information!

  83. Aini and Väinö … Jouko

    So explain already!

    Aini

    A female given name, variant of Aino.
    From aino, a poetic variant of ainoa (“only, sole”), also in the sense “unique”. The name was invented by Elias Lönnrot for the second edition of the Kalevala (1849) by adding an upper case initial to terms like aino tytti, “the only girl”, of the first edition (1835).

    Väinö
    Etymology
    An alternative name for Väinämöinen in the Kalevala. Taken up as a given name in the 19th century.

    Jouko
    Etymology
    Shortened form of Joukahainen, a figure in the Kalevala.

    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Finnish_given_names

  84. Sarko is to the right of pretty much the entire European party landscape

    Unfortunately no. He is not to the left of the current “conservative” parties ruling Austria, Hungary and Poland, nor to the left of much of what passes for conservative in Italy as well.

  85. SFReader says

    Hungary

    Last I’ve heard about politics in Hungary is that they passed a law which dissolves parliament, postpones elections indefinitely, gives government right to rule by decree for duration of coronavirus epidemic and makes it a crime punishable by ten years in jail to protest government measures during emergency.

    Admiral Horthy would be jealous.

  86. Is Rotem ever used outside Israel?

    I take it it refers to this plant:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b1/PikiWiki_Israel_5033_retama_raetam_flowers.jpg

    It features in the Book of Job.

  87. David Marjanović says

    the current “conservative” parties ruling Austria

    Hungary and Poland, OK, but Austria’s conservative party experienced a hostile takeover by Sebastian Kurz and his best friends a few years ago. Not satisfied with adding “new” to the party’s name, he went so far as to change the party’s color (from black to turquoise); and now he’s in a coalition with the Greens, who are very much on the left. There’s not much conservative ideology or tradition left in the New People’s Party; instead, the party runs on personality cult and just enough xenophobia to keep the xenophobic party from resurging after Ibizagate.

    Admiral Horthy would be jealous.

    Following a loud grumbling sound emanating from the European Parliament, Orbán promised yesterday to give his powers back by the end of May. We’ll see what comes of that.

  88. AJP Crown says

    That would depend on what you did with the plate of mashed potato.

    Among the Bohemians Experiments in Living 1900-1939
    By Virginia Nicholson:

    In Bohemia nostalgie de la boue was never far off. Dylan Thomas lived in a pigsty. A nomad in London, he nevertheless possessed a mattress, which he laid on the floor of whoever chanced to lend him a room. For a while he parked this mattress with three painters who lived off the Fulham Road. The flat was a festering repository for their belongings, without so much as a silk dressing gown to redeem it from squalor. One of his flatmates remembered: ‘For yards around me I can see nothing but poems, poems, poems, butter, eggs, mashed potato, mashed among my stories and Janes’ canvasses…’

  89. I like the idea that if you have a silk dressing gown — even one shared among four people — then you can upgrade your living conditions from squalid to louche.

  90. David Eddyshaw says

    A great advertising slogan:

    “Life is never squalid with a silk dressing gown.”

  91. J.W. Brewer says

    It was thought at the time that a certain sort of hipster BoBo-ism was peaking when in 2012 a specialty store selling nothing but “artisanal mayonaisse” opened in Brooklyn. Google claims to be ignorant of the specific string “artisanal mashed potatoes” (no doubt mashed from free-range organic locavore spuds) but one still suspects they may be Out There.

  92. @J. W. Brewer: It was around 2012 that I encountered somebody at farmers’ market, selling allegedly “artisanal heirloom” tomatoes—which was so obviously an oxymoron that I did not know what to say.

  93. David Eddyshaw says

    I imagine it’s nicked from French. Lots of things seem to be artisanal in France these days; though I don’t think it has quite the same precious air: more like “traditional.”

    No doubt traditional tomatoes are greatly superior to the newfangled kind.

  94. Aini / Väinö / Jouko are indeed three Kalevalaic names; the possible question being over them coming from a common early chapter where Joukahainen (in Lönnrot’s version a young upstart tietäjä*) challenges Väinämöinen to a duel over… I guess a traffic accident; he is defeated and pleads Väinämöinen to let him go unscathed on the condition that he may marry Joukahainen’s sister Aino. She will have none of this though and ends up drowning herself to avoid marriage to an old man, no matter if a famous sage. Joukahainen then seeks revenge, putting a number of further events in motion.

    i.e. as I’ve seen it put earlier (paraphrasing): “Tom by itself is a fine name for a son, but if there is already a Jerry in the family, this is likely to raise some suspicions about the naming motivation”.

    * His original mythological counterpart is an ice/winter deity, defeated by Väinämöinen as a water deity in an allegory for the coming of spring.

  95. per incuriam says

    Líam comes from William but is not a short form as such but the complete name in Irish

    Indeed. From the 19th century until very recently it was common practice for Irish given names to be transmuted into English form for the purpose of birth certificates. Sometimes the two forms were close (e.g. Ellen for Eileen), sometimes not so much (e.g. Jeremiah for Diarmaid). Liam Gallagher’s parents were both Irish and were undoubtedly following this convention.

    Other distinguished Irish Liam’s who were legally William:
    Liam Whelan, who played for Manchester Utd in the 1950s (and who died in the Munich air crash), changed his name to Billy after moving to England because the name Liam was too exotic there at the time. That must have changed by the 1970s, when Liam Brady became Arsenal’s star man. Brady was probably the first Liam famous outside Ireland and likely contributed to the name’s international rise in popularity.

  96. per incuriam says

    I’ve been trying without success to find out if Christian Jacob … is Jewish or not, but he seems to be remarkably coy about his origins

    Seriously, if he’s not bothered about it, why would anybody else be? In France of all places.

  97. AJP Crown says

    upgrade your living conditions from squalid to louche.
    Is that something you wrote for AirBnB, David L?

  98. I once knew a guy named Steve Christiansen, who always (at least when I saw him) wore a Magen David necklace. He was not Jewish, but when he was inducted into the U. S. Army, somehow they got the idea he was Jewish, and when the Jewish chaplain came around to introduce himself, both Steve and the rabbi had a good laugh. They became good friends, and the chaplain gave him the necklace as part of their running joke about him being Jewish. (He didn’t actually last very long in the army, though. After less than two years, he was diagnosed with asthma and given a medical discharge, which he had not wanted and was still somewhat sore about when I knew him a decade or so later.)

  99. “Christian Jacob is a farmer who identifies strongly with farmers. Hence perhaps his pronounced dislike for the banker Dominique Strauss-Kahn.”

    Jacob is no more a farmer than Jose Bove is an Enarque. Yes, he is Jewish

  100. David Eddyshaw says

    To be fair, disliking Dominique Strauss-Kahn is not in itself evidence of any very pronounced sociopathy. At least, I hope not …

  101. David Eddyshaw says

    And bobo seems tailor-made for him. But it looks like Jacob went on to say rather more than that.

  102. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    Seriously, if he’s not bothered about it, why would anybody else be? In France of all places.

    Right. No one in France (not the people people I know, anyway) gives a damn what religion, if any, you profess. I was only interested in the context of this discussion, as “Christian” seemed a bit odd as a Jewish name.

    To be fair, disliking Dominique Strauss-Kahn is not in itself evidence of any very pronounced sociopathy. At least, I hope not …

    At one time I thought he might make a good President of the Republic, but that was before I knew about his libertine proclivities.

  103. PlasticPaddy says

    Perhaps I was insufficiently detailed in my characterisation of M. Jacob. He appears to come from a long line of farmers (at the time of Louis XIV they were what we would call “strong” farmers, and they ultimately regained that status after losing it in the revolution). The name Jacob would appear in his case to be a hyper- Latinisation of Jacques, a name perhaps less desirable to a “strong” farmer and perhaps seized on by an ancestor keen to “better” himself.

  104. No one in France (not the people people I know, anyway) gives a damn what religion, if any, you profess.

    Dis donc.

  105. David Eddyshaw says

    Quite.

    You don’t find out whether there is antisemitism by introspection or by talking to people who are similarly enlightened. You find out by asking Jews. Unfortunately I have occasionally had to explain this to people who seem to have no difficulty with the point when other groups of people are the target.

  106. SFReader says

    In my view, antisemitism is hatred of non-Semites aimed against Jews.

    By this definition, there is no antisemitism in France since most attacks against French Jews are from their fellow Semites – Arabic speaking North African Muslims.

  107. David Eddyshaw says

    Read the article Hat linked to, SF. You’re in error on that point.

    Also, the notion that Arabs are Semites and therefore cannot be antisemitic is based (at best) on the etymological fallacy. At worst, on deliberate obfuscation.

    Myself, I was struck by the fact that French Jews, unlike the French public in general, regard the far left as as much a threat as the far right; the more so as, in American terms I almost certainly count as far left myself (though French politics is not nearly as skewed to the right as in the US, of course.) Still, uncomfortable; and not as surprising as I would have liked to be able to maintain.

  108. Not surprising at all.

    And yes, read the article.

  109. As a general rule, you can assume there is antisemitism everywhere. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I found it was widely prevalent among the students I taught in Taiwan in the late ’70s, most of whom had never met a Jew (and my girlfriend frequently told me about antisemitic comments people had made at dinners, meetings, and the like, not realizing she was Jewish). It is almost as universal as misogyny.

  110. J.W. Brewer says

    David E.: Cf. the old claim that “anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools,” apparently dating back to the 1890’s and originally advanced by self-satisfied socialists who for some naive reason thought “fools” and “socialists” to be mutually exclusive categories. FWIW the point of the 19th century coinage Antisemitismus was to refocus on disliking Jews qua ethnicity/”race” regardless of actual religious belief or practice.

  111. David Eddyshaw says
  112. Lars Mathiesen says

    Nice, they have the Queen and the second instar of Prime Minister Rasmussen on there. That’s coming up in the world for the farmer’s boy.

  113. SFReader says

    From the article:

    “French Jews felt more threatened by Islamist violence (45%) and placed antisemitic prejudices second (42%).”

  114. And how exactly does that support your “there is no antisemitism in France”?

  115. David Eddyshaw says

    @SFR: as the Kusaasi say:

    Ba ye balɛrʋg ka fʋ ye zumauk.
    “They say ‘ugly’ and you say ‘squashed-headed.'”

    I believe you said: “By this definition, there is no antisemitism in France.” This strikes me as at random from the truth, vainly express’d. So to speak.

  116. J.W. Brewer says

    I find the content of the Illuminati membership roster linked by David E. only less slightly fascinating than its presentation, which appears to be the result of breaking an alphabetized list in half partway through the K’s and then interleaving the two halves (as if they had been in two parallel vertical columns that got squeezed together), creating a quite remarkable psychological effect in the reader. Is there a name for this approach to list construction?

  117. David Eddyshaw says

    Incompetence.

  118. SFReader says

    Well, it seems that violence against Jews is mostly motivated by Islamism and perpetrated by other Semites (North African Muslim immigrants), so it is not antisemitism (note that the Jews themselves don’t regard it as antisemitism).

    That was the main point I was trying to say.

    Perhaps it was wrong to say that there isn’t traditional French antisemitism. It’s still there, but the main danger to Jews now is from the Islamists.

  119. David Eddyshaw says

    so it is not antisemitism (note that the Jews themselves don’t regard it as antisemitism)

    Both parts of this are incorrect.

  120. I find it strangely reassuring that a significant fraction of the Illuminati membership consists of second- and third-string European royals (as well as some of the A-list, of course). I suppose they have a lot of time on their hands so this is a nice diversion for them. I don’t know what the other Illuminati — the politicians and the international bankers — get out of the presence of all those aristocrats. A wide variety of palaces where they can stay and cook up their nefarious plots, perhaps.

  121. I was struck by the fact that French Jews, unlike the French public in general, regard the far left as as much a threat as the far right

    See also Corbyn, Jeremy.

  122. David Eddyshaw says

    a significant fraction of the Illuminati membership consists of second- and third-string European royals

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaff_(countermeasure)

    (Like the list itself, of course. But you will have realised that …)

  123. so it is not antisemitism (note that the Jews themselves don’t regard it as antisemitism).

    I would like to second David Eddyshaw in saying this is shockingly incorrect.

  124. “French Jews, unlike the French public in general, regard the far left as as much a threat as the far right”

    All due respect but this statement is a neant burger. French Jews, like most people, weigh their self-interest before choosing their political burger-stand.

  125. David Eddyshaw says

    If I didn’t make it clear, I was reporting on what the article says, which I see no reason to disbelieve. I was not expressing any view on whether Jews have reason to fear the far left as much as the far right; you can possibly deduce my feelings about that from what I actually have said. However, I have personal reasons to find what the survey reports plausible; if you follow UK news and know that I am a Labour Party member you’ll be able to join the dots, but I have no wish to go into it here at all.

  126. French Jews, like most people, weigh their self-interest before choosing their political burger-stand.

    I don’t know if you are a French Jew; if you are not, you might not want to speak for them so categorically. I myself am not a French Jew, but I am pretty sure that, like most Jews, they don’t consider antisemitism as just another burger stand. It is an existential threat (as we say these days) that comes before mere politics.

  127. You don’t find out whether there is antisemitism by introspection or by talking to people who are similarly enlightened. You find out by asking Jews.

    Alternately, by talking to / checking up on people you’d expect to embrace it anyway — which is not watertight for disproving antisemitism but is often enough an easy enough source of positive evidence. I wonder if SFR would argue one or both of “there are no neo-nazis in France” or “the neo-nazis of France are not antisemitic”.

    It is almost as universal as misogyny.

    Possibly if we are counting “any stereotyping or prejudice against Jews at all”, though that’s kind of a watered-down definition; by the same metric, anti-Chinese, anti-American, anti-Russian etc. prejudice are also “almost as universal as misogyny”. (For that matter, the vulgar definition of “misogyny” conflating any casual/traditional sexism with literal hatred of women is not a very analytically useful concept either.)

  128. John Cowan says

    Antisemitismus does indeed mean ‘political, as opposed to religious, Antisemitism’, but the textual evidence is clear that it was coined as a euphemism for plain German Judenhass (and then spread to other languages). Arabs may be Semiten, but Juden they are not. (Yes, there are Jews who are culturally Arabs, though they usually don’t apply Arab to themselves.)

    As for Corbyn: The belief that a continuing military occupation violates international law, including human rights law, and that those who resist (even with violence) this occupation are justified in doing so, does not an Antisemite make. Nor does the working definition of Antisemitism and list of examples published by the IHRA thus classify such beliefs.

  129. by the same metric, anti-Chinese, anti-American, anti-Russian etc. prejudice are also “almost as universal as misogyny”

    That’s not in the least true.

    the vulgar definition of “misogyny” conflating any casual/traditional sexism with literal hatred of women is not a very analytically useful concept either

    I don’t know what you mean by “analytically useful,” but I find it a useful term (and I note with distaste your use of the snobbish putdown “vulgar”). By “literal hatred of women” I presume you refer to the literal Greek meaning of the prefix μισο-, which is as irrelevant to English usage as the “Semite” part of antisemitism. To insist on that is to downplay the prevalence of the complex of anti-woman thought patterns and traditions that are, as I say, nearly universal in human history. Men, for obvious reasons, tend to shy away from examining that complex; they would rather point to specific strands of the fabric and say “Well, women got the vote way back when, and there are more and more women in government,” etc. etc., as if those things showed that we have set foot in the promised land. Women are everywhere in terror of stepping out of line, the more so the farther down the economic scale you go; the greatest step one could take toward the general improvement of the human condition would be to give women everywhere the power to determine their own lives without reference to the preferences and fears of men, but this will not happen any sooner than the withering away of violence-based state power (with which misogyny is intimately connected). Feel free to write this off as the ravings of an extremist if that makes you happy.

  130. As for Corbyn: The belief that a continuing military occupation violates international law, including human rights law, and that those who resist (even with violence) this occupation are justified in doing so, does not an Antisemite make.

    No, and I do not think he himself is an antisemite, for what that’s worth. But his segment of the party — the Jeremybro cohort, if you will — is shockingly tolerant of antisemitism.

  131. Austria’s conservative party experienced a hostile takeover by Sebastian Kurz and his best friends a few years ago

    Wasn’t that a takeover from the right though? Seems to me Kurz represents the modern cynical nihilist right, which is more Orban-Trump-Farage aligned (and pro-big business) than traditional European Christian Democrat. His posturing on immigration and the home grown Personenkult that the ÖVP has encouraged has left the FPÖ very little oxygen (and rumor has it Kurz & team were behind the mysterious Russian woman who trapped Strache in the Ibiza affair). Co-opting the Greens hasn’t moved the government noticeably to the left, it seems to have been a political move to destroy that party, leaving a struggling SPÖ as the only viable progressive voice in Austria.

  132. David Eddyshaw says

    Feel free to write this off as the ravings of an extremist

    I was going to say, Preach it, brother, but it seems preferable in this context to say Preach it, sibling!

  133. SFReader says

    I wonder if Israeli Jews who hate Arabs can be described as antisemitic.

    Anyway, this usage of Semite is confusing.

    Are Arabs Semites or not?

    How can a word be used to refer to the language, but not to the people who speak it?

  134. David Eddyshaw says

    How can a word be used to refer to the language, but not to the people who speak it?

    On LH, this question surely counts as trolling.

  135. I wonder if Israeli Jews who hate Arabs can be described as antisemitic.

    No, they can’t. Glad to help. Also, feel free to use a dictionary instead of trying to intuit the meanings of words.

  136. I don’t know enough about Corbyn to say whether he is antisemitic or not. As far I could tell, when pushed about ugly factions of the Labour party, he would say the right things but do little counteract the ugliness or admonish those factions.

    Certainly it’s possible to plead the cause of the Palestinians without being antisemitic. At the same time, some supposedly pro-Palestinian people are antisemitic. With respect to the British left wing, I really don’t know whether sympathy for the Palestinians breeds antisemitism or whether antisemitism generates sympathy for the Palestinians. An inseparable mix of both, I suspect.

  137. I would personally prefer judophobia (I mean, the word, not the thing), but the word seems to be confined to Eastern Europeans who didn’t get the memo that it is very rare in normal English. Then, of course, SFReader would demand what I have against a martial arts sport and why I think anyone in Europe fears Jews. On the other hand, baseless dislike of judo doesn’t seems to exist, which of course, should not prevent us from inventing a word for it.

    Ok, so here’s my suggestion. Make antisemitism a dislike of semi trucks. The hatred of Jews rechristen as antihebrism. People who like neither Jews nor Arabs should be called anti-Abrahamists. And people who hate judo? They don’t even deserve a word.

  138. David Eddyshaw says

    I really don’t know whether sympathy for the Palestinians breeds antisemitism or whether antisemitism generates sympathy for the Palestinians

    The former certainly happens, alas; as for the latter, I doubt whether a classical Western antisemite is likely to be up to sympathising with any group very different from himself. Any such “sympathy” will be a confected means to an end*.

    My own experience within the Party has been that there are antisemites (as Hat implies, how could there not be?), but there is an awful lot more of “a very great clumsiness”, as the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France called Christian Jacob’s remarks about Strauss-Kahn. (I was trying to find out what they actually said in French, and was hoping that the French version of Jacob’s Wikipedia entry might help, but all references to the episode have been expunged there. I presume his staffers are confident that no Frenchman is likely to read the English version.)

    In particular, if you’re going to criticise the current Israeli government’s approach to the Palestinians (and you should, and Jews do), it might be advisable to (a) be just a little bit more aware of the historical background and (b) express your criticisms in such a way that they cannot possibly be construed as antisemitic without gross misrepresentation. And if you can’t do that it might be better to shut up.

    The issue was weaponised by factions within the Party (and, of course, outside) that wanted to get rid of Corbyn for quite other reasons. But that doesn’t in any way excuse the fact that there was a real issue there to be weaponised, nor the extraordinarily inept response. C’est pire qu’une crime, c’est une faute. Alastair Campbell [makes apotropaic gesture] would have killed the story stone dead in a week.

    *Perhaps too simple a view. For example

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Wehr

  139. “incroyable maladresse”

  140. J.W. Brewer says

    I was having a minor bit of disagreement elsewhere on the internet a few weeks ago (with someone I know a bit in real life) who was stuck on the idea that there was a “literal” meaning of anti-Semitism which popular usage had in these decadent last days departed from, when in fact at least in English it seems quite clear that the “literal” (i.e. fully compositional for some normal semantic scope of “Semite”) meaning has never existed back to its first appearance as a loanword from German circa 1880. And on the one hand he had the advantage (you’d think) over SFR of being an L1 Anglophone. But on the other hand you’d think SFR would have the advantage over him of being a habitue of this blog and thus presumably more attuned to the notion that non-compositional meanings of compound words are a thing, and such a common-to-ubiquitous thing that it’s silly to think of them as deviations from some purer form of language.

    And on the third hand I elicited that puzzled-by-non-compositionality reaction by posting a link I had found here (on the OED’s treatment of “anti-Semitism”) in a May 5 post that I guess went in other directions on the comment thread and to be fair hat included it in a misc. roundup post titled “Some Links” and thus had plenty of other directions to go. Another interlocutor to my post (Jewish but not French, FWIW) said “It [i.e. anti-Semitism] has always been a clunky term that should never have caught on. The problem is that nobody ever came up with a better one.”

  141. David Eddyshaw says

    Spot on.

  142. J.W. Brewer says

    To David E.’s latest, his focus on the “classical Western anti-Semite” may miss the mark because some of the sort of folks in the Corbynista wing we’re talking about are more likely to be, as it were, post-classical and anti-Western. Those sort of folks don’t dislike Jews because they view them as inherently not-Western and thus an Oriental intrusion into the West (the typical late-19th-century framing), they view them as all-too-Western and thus a Western intrusion into the Orient (not the word they use because they romanticize it while accusing others of “orientalism”). They thus see the conflict in the MIddle East through a wicked-Western-colonialism-explains-everything prism in which the Jews are “white” settlers analogous to the Brits in Rhodesia or the French in Algeria and the Palestinians are the “non-white” indigenes. Or that’s at least my armchair analysis, which may be worth what you’ve paid for it.

  143. For SFReader, in memory of Fred Willard:

    https://youtu.be/tCsnTxjRNPA

    And about language: there’s at least one department of English at an American university where the three-letter word “Jew” is ordinarily pronounced either with three syllables (“Zionist”) or with six (“uh Jewish uh person”).

  144. David Eddyshaw says

    @JWB:

    I think it’s not a bad armchair, and I’m sure you’re right: a lot of it is good old-fashioned anti-imperialism (hurrah!)
    I did have that partly in mind when talking about being “more aware of the historical background.” Zionism has a family resemblance to imperialism, and was finally made into a viable project through imperialism, but to equate Zionism with imperialism is ignorance, foolishness or malice.

    As Jonathan Morse has just reminded us, antisemites have been strenuously trying to obliterate the distinction between being Jewish and being Zionist for a long time, frequently violently, to the point where anti-Zionism is now hardly a possible position to hold for anyone except actual antisemites, for all that there is nothing inherently impossible about the contrary position (and indeed there are still Jews who object to Zionism on religious grounds.)

  145. My armchair bit is that a solid majority of non-Israeli Jews are strong supporters of the state of Israel (which doesn’t mean they support every governmental policy). Israel as a state, which is represented to the rest of the world by its government, does something that a lot of people on the left actively dislike. And then “friend of my enemy” becomes “my enemy” pretty easily.

  146. David Eddyshaw says

    That’s not a bad armchair either, D.O. Though (from my own armchair) it’s an explanation, and not an excuse, of course. It’s always distressing when people on one’s own side are stupid.

    Mind you, I don’t think you have to be particularly left-wing to object to some of the policies of the current Israeli government; just somewhere to the left of Donald Trump.

  147. Trond Engen says

    This is a difficult issue to discuss. On one hand, it’s extremely simple: Anti-semitism is bad, and there’s no excuse for it. On the other hand, it’s extremely complex.

    A good starting point here at the Hattery may be that all participants do their very best to be good people and throw light on the issue, but we enter into the discussion with very different cultural and political backgrounds. Some of us aren’t native writers of English, and even the anglographs are of different age, nationality and life experience. We can’t possibly be aware of how the different strains of anti-semitism are intertwined with eachother and with local cultural and political movements elsewhere. Even the words we use for neutral comparison may have completely different connotations in different domains and discourse climates. So how do we talk about this messiness? In the first place by acknowledging it.

    So to go back to where this all started, Athel’s comment that set this off didn’t amount to a claim that there’s no anti-semitism in France, it meant that nobody, at least nobody of Athel’s acquaintance are infected by it, and whether anyone is a Jew isn’t an important issue in French public life or in French voting habits. That may be an over-statement, but it was a reaction to what he saw as questioning of the motive for his interest. Good people, different points of reference.

    Hozo’s statement that “French Jews, like most people, weigh their self-interest before choosing their political burger-stand.” doesn’t mean that they are accepting of anti-semitism but that “French Jews” aren’t any more monolithic than any other group. Each make up their own political mind in a messy landscape, and the degree and forms of anti-semitism among the coalitions is one of the factors to count in. Some lean conservative or social-liberal, others socialist, environmentalist or communist. There are even Jews in Marine Le Pen’s far right. Seeing the far right as less of a threat than the far left makes considerable sense these days when nationalists have found other enemies and “cosmopolitanism” has yielded to “globalism” as the existensial threat. Since the most threatening anti-semitism, the kind that puts Jews at risk of being verbally abused on the street or physically attacked, or even of terrorism, is usually represented by young men of Arab Muslim background, confusing solidarity with Arab Palestine with hate of Jews, a vocally anti-Muslim party may be a more natural ally than one supporting of Palestinians and depending on the votes of Arab Muslims. “My enemy’s enemy” as D.O. says when I press “refresh”. Between the wings, in the traditional center-right and center-left, there are still elements of yet other types of anti-semitism, from establishment Dreyfuss revengists and anti-bolshevists on the right to Rothschild conspiracists on the left. They keep their mouths shut and have no influence qua anti-semites, but they’re part of the broad coalition, having weighed their options in the same messy landscape.

    I think this also is the case in Britain. There are no anti-semitic “factions” in Labour. Neither are tnere in any other of the large parties, but there are different types of personal and cultural baggage that people mostly keep hidden, maybe even from themselves, but once in a while something shows. It’s never part of a strategy and always unwelcome. You can only lose votes on it. Should the parties do more to throw away anti-semitic supporters? I’m not so sure. They certainly shouldn’t try to attract them by anti-semitic dog-whistles, but the mainstream parties already don’t do that, except by sheer clumsiness by someone who didn’t even know it was a whistle but knew the line from somewhere. And they certainly should strike down anyone making anti-semitic statements. But all politcal movements are wide coalitions for the perceived common good. It’s actually a good thing when a politcal movement can build a coalition that gets bigots to down-weight their bigotry and work for good policies for all, or misogynists to support equality between genders. It’s even what in the long run makes people forget and replace the prejudice they once had.

    And I really do think it’s helpful, as is the spirit of J Pystynen’s comment, to keep different levels of bad apart. Some are wrong for the right reasons, others are right for the wrong reasons. Some are prejudiced but keenly aware and trying to overcome. Some hide their true intentions in smooth talk or loud indignation, others have their good intents masked by loud and unsympathetic supporters. People may be wrong-headed without being bad, or bad without being evil, and even evil without being dangerously so. It’s a messy world out there.

  148. David Eddyshaw: “As Jonathan Morse has just reminded us, antisemites have been strenuously trying to obliterate the distinction between being Jewish and being Zionist for a long time,”

    About the length of the time, here’s H. L. Mencken’s “On Being an American” in the text of Prejudices: Third Series (1922),

    “Always, when I contemplate an uplifter at his hopeless business, I recall a scene in an old-time burlesque show, witnessed for hire in my days as a dramatic critic. A chorus girl executed a fall upon the stage, and Rudolph Krausemeyer, the Swiss comedian, rushed to her aid. As he stooped painfully to succor her, Irving Rabinovitz, the Zionist comedian, fetched him a fearful clout across the cofferdam with a slap-stick.”

    If it was a joke by 1922, the equivalence of “Zionist” with “Jew” must go back further than that. I can imagine Rainer Maria Rilke and the Princess von Thurn und Taxis-Hohenlohe having a laugh about it.

  149. per incuriam says

    No one in France (not the people people I know, anyway) gives a damn what religion, if any, you profess

    That has been my experience too. And if you don’t even know who’s what in the first place it’s hard to be anti whatever it is they might be.

    At one time I thought he might make a good President of the Republic, but that was before I knew about his libertine proclivities

    Indeed, he always came across as an exceptionally able public official and a charming fellow too, or so I’m told. Alas it turns out he made a habit of abusing his power and privilege.

    As a general rule, you can assume there is antisemitism everywhere. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I found it was widely prevalent among the students I taught in Taiwan in the late ’70s, most of whom had never met a Jew (and my girlfriend frequently told me about antisemitic comments people had made at dinners, meetings, and the like, not realizing she was Jewish). It is almost as universal as misogyny

    I find all that beyond extraordinary, having never once been privy to a single antisemitic comment, be it in France or anywhere else. No shortage of racism (and sexism) sad to say, a lot of it venomous, but of antisemitism never a hint.

  150. Trond Engen says

    Zionism is a really big bag of ideas and movements, to the point that anyone comfortably declaring themselves “Anti-Zionist” instead of opposed to Israeli policies or certain ideologies among supporters of the state of Israel should consider the thought that they may be one of those anti-semites they are fiercely opposed to.

  151. I find all that beyond extraordinary, having never once been privy to a single antisemitic comment, be it in France or anywhere else.

    T’a de la veine, but I’m sure you’re not suggesting that your personal experience trumps actual reporting (not to mention other people’s personal experience).

  152. John Cowan says

    But we must all make sacrifices for the Cause.

    “Comes the revolution, we’ll all eat strawberries and cream!”

    “But … but … but I don’t like strawberries and cream …?”

    (fiercely) “Comes the revolution, you’ll have to eat strawberries and cream!”

    :eninism in a nutshell, I think.

    David Brooks is a horrible right-wing columnist in the New York Times.

    Compared to horrible right-wing columnists who write for other U.S. outlets, however, …

    “We are gathered here to to celebrate, er, to mourn the passing of our dear brother Bobson Dognutt. Bobson was of course well-known to all here [congregation nods] and his reputation had spread far and wide. In point of fact, he was a liar, a thief, and a murderer … [rumbles of rising discontent] … and he has six brothers, and compared to them, he was an angel [smiles all around].”

    [Finnish name etymologies]

    Thanks. I also appreciate the link to the Wiktionary section, which I didn’t know about (in general, not just for Finnish). But, if you like, let us move from historical linguistics to sociolinguistics for a moment. What does the giving of Kalevalan names imply? I can imagine a whole list of things, from antiquarianism to neopaganism to aggressive Finnish nationalism to a perverse desire to make their children’s lives miserable.

  153. David Eddyshaw says

    of antisemitism never a hint

    I really must endeavour to keep better company. Or something.

    Mind you, I must say I never encountered a trace of antisemitism in West Africa; though the matter didn’t tend to come up much.

    @Trond:

    True.

  154. John Cowan says

    For “:eninism” read “Leninism”. We Anglophones consider, as Tolkien said, the first letter of a word to be an essential part of its identity (unlike those folks to the west of our original borders). “Our English tongue is of small reach – it stretcheth no further than this island of ours, nay not there over all.” —John Wallis, just two years before Sir Walter and company sailed for the New World

    DS-K gives libertinism a bad name.

    But all politcal movements are wide coalitions for the perceived common good.

    It’s odd that this seems to be true at all scales. Even if the party numbers only six people, it will have a left wing, a right wing, and a nervous center.

    the Zionist comedian

    Not a joke, I think, but a euphemism. See the history of Jew as a slur in the late 19C – early 20C U.S.

    widely prevalent among the students I taught in Taiwan in the late ’70s

    I sometimes wonder if it is not a human (near-)universal, when asked “What do you think of Bagginses?” to reply “We hates them!” without the slightest notion what a Baggins may be. (I realize that this example will not fall with due weight on David E.)

    express’d

    Amazing how much emotional content can be convey’d with so little means, as someone said to me when I used 355/113 as an example of a fraction.

    you might not want to speak for them so categorically

    Our Hozo is, as always, driven by Can’t’s categorizing imperative.

    the greatest step one could take toward the general improvement of the human condition would be to give women everywhere the power to determine their own lives without reference to the preferences and fears of men

    I believe it was Norman Spinrad who referred to this state as the Sisterhood of Man.

    I also think that nostalgie de la boue has been replaced by nostalgie de la banlieue.

  155. David Eddyshaw says

    express’d

    My favourite among the Sonnets, at least on some days.

  156. I sometimes wonder if it is not a human (near-)universal, when asked “What do you think of Bagginses?” to reply “We hates them!” without the slightest notion what a Baggins may be.

    Ah, but these students had a clear idea of the traditional tropes (greed, secret control, etc.) and were able to deploy them when asked. It wasn’t just a vague “we hate everybody but us.” In fact, they were very open and generous toward the Other in general (as I have found Chinese to be, by and large).

  157. That was the depiction of the antisemites from Kazakhstan in Borat. They knew all the tropes about perfidious Jews, despite never having encountered them.

    Realistically, I think this may be a consequence of the specific vilification of Jews in the New Testament. Taiwan is only about 4% Christian, but the Taiwanese Christians I met were generally quite serious about Bible study (mostly N. T.), so Paul’s invectives against “the Jews” are not totally unfamiliar in the local culture.

    In Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews: A History, James Carroll points out that in the context of Paul attacking “the Jews,” when Paul himself was unambiguously Jewish, it was merely an assholish debating tactic. However, when his letters were read by the kind of Gentile converts he encouraged (who in no way thought of themselves as Jews), they took on a different and much more sinister valance. Carroll’s book has a lot of insight, although there are also deep problems. He is still unable to move beyond his own soft antisemitism of low expectations,* and he arrogates to himself the right to decide what is or is not meaningfully antisemitic, although he clearly means well and shows a profound interest in reforming the Catholic church.

    * I feel a bit uncomfortable quoting Bill Cosby here, in light of the revelations that he was a serial rapist.

  158. SFReader says

    I really don’t know whether sympathy for the Palestinians breeds antisemitism or whether antisemitism generates sympathy for the Palestinians.

    While Israel has been treating Palestinians awfully and this rightly should cause me to sympathize with Palestinians, I am sorry to say that I actually dislike the entire Palestinian movement – doesn’t matter if it’s revolutionary, nationalist or Islamist variety.

    As for Israel, I believe it’s just an ordinary settler state, doing to Palestinians what white settlers were doing to natives back in 19th century.

    Don’t know how much longer they can continue this anachronism, I suspect it went so long only with US support.

  159. SFReader says

    Anti-Zionist

    Let’s define this one too.

    In my view, being anti-Zionist means to be in opposition to the Jewish settler state project in Palestine (since that’s what Zionism is all about).

    It can be reasonably construed to mean that the state of Israel should be dismantled and non-Arab Israelis should go back to Europe.

  160. John Cowan on “Irving Rabinovitz, the Zionist comedian” as “Not a joke, I think, but a euphemism”:

    Would you accept “a joke about a euphemism”? Consider the register of the rest of the passage:

    — “witnessed for hire, in my days as a dramatic critic” for a silly show in a no doubt sleazy venue (and with the comma to add weight to the gravitas);

    — “executed a fall upon the stage,” with the literary “upon”;

    — the tragic word “succor,” the euphemism “cofferdam,” and the elevated “comedian” for “clown.”

    It’s mock-heroic, in a characteristic Mencken way. Start with the pious title of another of his Prejudices, “The Husbandman,” and then enjoy the ride from there to the two masterly parenthetical clauses in

    “Let the farmer, so far as I am concerned, be damned forevermore! To hell with him, and bad luck to him! He is, unless I err, no hero at all, and no priest, and no altruist, but simply a tedious fraud and ignoramus, a cheap rogue and hypocrite, the eternal Jack of the human pack.”

  161. They knew all the tropes about perfidious Jews, despite never having encountered them.

    Except that joke works on numerous levels. Sasha Baron-Cohen’s “Kazakhstan” is transparently a country more like Romania/Moldova than the actual Kazakhstan. My Romanian cleaning lady in Vienna would sometimes spontaneously make remarks about Jews that sounded like she had walked out of the film. So you can assume there were once Jews in Borat’s country but there are no longer because Borat and his people are not as cute as they seem on the surface.

    (My Romanian cleaning lady ended up emigrating to the USA, where she and her Romanian-born husband became enthusiastic Trump supporters.)

  162. I find all that beyond extraordinary, having never once been privy to a single antisemitic comment, be it in France or anywhere else

    You are welcome to come to Poland. It won’t take long. In Austria people are more circumspect on their thoughts about world Judaism until they know you, or are very drunk.

    For that matter, if you spend more than 5 minutes at a bar in South Boston you will soon hear all sorts of “facts” about Jews you didn’t know.

    As a white nominal Catholic in the business world I have been “privy” to antisemitic comments from people of all colors and creeds. To the point where I now think some low level of anti Semitism is probably the default setting outside the US. And lately I am losing confidence in the latter.

  163. I feel a bit uncomfortable quoting Bill Cosby here, in light of the revelations that he was a serial rapist.

    Bill Cosby?! The phrase “the soft bigotry of low expectations” was coined by Michael Gerson and made famous by George W. Bush, for whom he was a speechwriter (he was also responsible for “Axis of Evil”).

    As a white nominal Catholic in the business world I have been “privy” to antisemitic comments from people of all colors and creeds. To the point where I now think some low level of anti Semitism is probably the default setting outside the US. And lately I am losing confidence in the latter.

    To the extent that “the US” (if it makes sense to generalize over hundreds of millions of people) was ever better than the pack in that respect, I’m afraid it’s reverting to the norm (although I suspect that, as with other measures of primitive brutality, it’s more a matter of the log being pushed aside and the creepy-crawlies coming out into daylight). Aus so krummen Holze, als woraus der Mensch gemacht ist, kann nichts ganz Gerades gezimmert werden.

  164. AJP Crown says

    Brett: soft antisemitism of low expectations,*
    * I feel a bit uncomfortable quoting Bill Cosby here, in light of the revelations that he was a serial rapist.

    I hadn’t heard this phrase, so I looked it up and the soft bigotry of low expectations (assuming that’s the origin) is attributed to George Bush Jr in 2000 – or actually to Bush’s speechwriter & so-called White House Director of Speechwriting, Michael Gerson. I can’t find Bill Cosby’s having said anything like it, only that it’s occasionally been attributed instead to the late Sen. Pat Moynihan.

  165. AJP Crown says

    Bugger.

  166. Ha ha! Foiled you again!

  167. AJP Crown says

    I’ll be back!!

  168. But, if you like, let us move from historical linguistics to sociolinguistics for a moment. What does the giving of Kalevalan names imply?

    Approximately nothing whatsoever by itself. The handful of these names that ended up sticking from the national awakening period have since then been in regular rotation for the last century-and-change. I believe many people would by now think that they’ve been in use all along and Kalevala just happens to have characters named something to the effect of Richardus, Steverino and Kate.

    I got the impression the David and Ruth comment was supposed to refer not just to these being biblical names but to their originals sharing slightly more of a connection. Perhaps not, though.

  169. David Marjanović says

    Antisemitismus does indeed mean ‘political, as opposed to religious, Antisemitism’

    Well, it kind of has to, because religious antisemitism is pretty much extinct in these parts. Maybe if you get a few Opus Dei members drunk, you’ll find religious antisemitism, but other than that…

    This is in stark contrast to the US, where most of the Nazis believe in Satan and the Antichrist and all that jazz. It was quite an eye-opening experience for me to encounter the antisemitic synthesis.

    Austria’s conservative party experienced a hostile takeover by Sebastian Kurz and his best friends a few years ago

    Wasn’t that a takeover from the right though?

    From the right insofar as conservatives and xenophobes are both on the right. The party is now more xenophobic but less conservative than before.

    Seems to me Kurz represents the modern cynical nihilist right, which is more Orban-Trump-Farage aligned (and pro-big business) than traditional European Christian Democrat. His posturing on immigration and the home grown Personenkult that the ÖVP has encouraged has left the FPÖ very little oxygen

    Yes.

    (and rumor has it Kurz & team were behind the mysterious Russian woman who trapped Strache in the Ibiza affair).

    Would not be surprising. He was definitely relieved he finally didn’t need that coalition partner anymore, see below.

    Co-opting the Greens hasn’t moved the government noticeably to the left,

    Nope.

    it seems to have been a political move to destroy that party,

    That looks like it’s becoming a welcome side-effect, but there wasn’t really any other potential coalition partner available.

    leaving a struggling SPÖ as the only viable progressive voice in Austria.

    Well, “progressive”… to entertain the etymological fallacy for a bit, I don’t know if the SPÖ actually wants to go anywhere. Like the SPD next door, it had achieved pretty much everything of what it wanted by the 1990s, lost its raison d’être, and doesn’t know what to do while its achievements are being eroded – a process which the SPÖ, the SPD and many other such parties started themselves by trying to imitate Bill Clinton, leading to internal ideology struggles that are still ongoing (and have helped create Germany’s Left Party).

    In Austria people are more circumspect on their thoughts about world Judaism until they know you, or are very drunk.

    Or you just wait for the next “singular incident” in or around the FPÖ; most of those involve antisemitism. Incidents that you did Nazi coming are common enough in that party that Kurz mentioned die immer wiederkehrenden Einzelfälle “the ever-recurrent singular incidents” without further explanation in his speech about abandoning the coalition after Ibizagate, which was a completely unrelated affair.

    Richardus, Steverino and Kate

    Day saved.

  170. per incuriam says

    T’a de la veine, but I’m sure you’re not suggesting that your personal experience trumps actual reporting (not to mention other people’s personal experience)

    Au contraire, that report seems to show my personal experience to be pretty typical (p. 17f.).

    @David Marjanović
    Incidents that you did Nazi coming

    Thread won?

  171. Yes, that was a triumph.

  172. David Marjanović says

    “I did Nazi that coming” is an Internet tradition I am familiar with; I did not invent it – and am not father/bother-merged myself, so it wouldn’t occur to me easily.

    Before I even launch the search, Google suggests that I complete it with “gif”, “copypasta”, “achievement” or “trophy”. The number of hits is 89.900, including pictures, videos, and a Reddit thread (in German!) about what happens to people who comment “I did Nazi that coming”.

    To use actual Nazi terminology, I’m a culture-bearer, not a culture-creator.

  173. Huh, I’d never run into it before. I clearly lead a restricted life.

  174. John Cowan says

    that was a triumph

    Well, in American English only.

    David and Ruth […] sharing slightly more of a connection

    That never even occurred to me. I do like the Tom and Jerry example, though: as my uncle is said to have said when I was born, “John?? Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is named John!” Not original with him, of course.

    although I suspect that, as with other measures of primitive brutality, it’s more a matter of the log being pushed aside and the creepy-crawlies coming out into daylight

    Yes. I believe it was in the 2000s that I posted (somewhere that Dr. Google can’t find) that there would be a considerable amount of Antisemitism in the U.S. “if all hearts were laid bare.” We are closer to that state now.

    religious antisemitism is pretty much extinct in these parts […] antisemitic synthesis

    Historically the other way about. Pre-19C Antisemitism was a mixture of religious and ethnic bigotry. Converts like Disraeli (per Daniel O’Connell) were still socially dubious, with only the churches fully okay with them, but the children of converts were usually just like everyone else. The Nazis considered this kind of Antisemitism “unscientific” and despised it.

  175. @ John Cowan: about the converted Jew Disraeli, the Catholic converts Coventry Patmore and Gerard Manley Hopkins conducted a strange correspondence which I discuss at

    https://jonathanmorse.blog/2015/06/26/two-poets-say-jew-to-each-other-2/

    Summary: the priest Hopkins is, as you say, fully okay. The layman Patmore isn’t even partly okay.

    And @ those of you who think they haven’t been exposed to antisemitism, here’s a radio program note.

    https://forward.com/culture/446622/rush-limbaugh-says-philip-roth-is-the-favorite-author-of-the-uber-left

    Forward is a Jewish newspaper, so the answer to the question about Philip Roth and Stephen Sondheim is built into the context.

  176. David Eddyshaw says

    Kʋsaas ye: Awiak sɛong zi’ sinnɛ.

    “The Kusaasi say: The bird which hatched in the rainy season doesn’t know hawks.”

  177. J.W. Brewer says

    That’s some excellent writing by G.M. Hopkins. I especially like the line “His Christianity was a shadowy thing, I know, but so is that of thousands.”

    Separately, I fear Mr. Limbaugh’s understanding of literary fame and fortune amongst the “uber-left-wing literary salons and circles in Manhattan” is several decades out of date. Or more likely was just feigned for the purposes of the moment, because otherwise Limbaugh would have been reduced to saying “hey so there’s this writer dude who died a couple years ago and who most of you probably haven’t heard of, but it turns out that according to some new book he really didn’t like my radio show,” which sounds a bit petty unless you really puff up the importance of the dead non-fan. Had things fallen out a bit differently one can easily imagine Limbaugh or someone in his general line of work seeing some randomly headline about Roth being criticized by some “uber-left-wing” person (and such criticisms are of course dime-a-dozen) and turning it into an easy lazy story about “here’s this super-famous and critically-acclaimed novelist, used to be the talk of the town back in the sixties when liberals said they were for free expression and against censorship, but now the feminist/politically-correct/etc enforcers have turned against him because liberals just aren’t like that anymore blah blah blah.”

    If you were for some reason looking for an uber-left-wing Coventry Patmore in 20th century American poetry, there is of course Roth’s childhood neighbor (ok maybe not in the same neighborhood strictly speaking, but they were born and raised in the same city and were only a year apart in age) Amiri Baraka f/k/a LeRoi Jones. Although some of Baraka’s writing on jazz is well-regarded (I haven’t been that bowled over by the little I’ve read but maybe I haven’t read enough) and I’m going to speculate that Patmore never wrote anything interesting on that topic.

  178. John Cowan says

    Patmore was Blake’s stock example of a poet who wasn’t worth studying.

  179. But look at his portrait by John Singer Sargent,

    https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw04897/Coventry-Kersey-Deighton-Patmore

    and imagine how Karl Lagerfeld would have reacted to that collar.

  180. Rodger C says

    Surely Patmore is best known nowadays for Virginia Woolf’s takedown of him in “Careers for Women”? Assuming that Woolf is known nowadays.

  181. Woolf is surely better known nowadays than most early-20th-century writers; she’s been placed firmly in the canon (and a good thing too).

  182. David Eddyshaw says

    Patmore was Blake’s stock example of a poet who wasn’t worth studying.

    Blake who? (Or, Who Blake?)

  183. Robert Blake, surely. Poetry was Baretta’s secret vice.

  184. Woolf’s oeuvre is more expansive than I had previously appreciated. Yesterday, a copy of a textbook I had ordered arrived. The cover title was Quantum Field Theory in Curved Spacetime, but the interior identified itself as “Famous Works by Virginia Woolf.”

  185. David Eddyshaw says

    Woolf’s oeuvre is more expansive than I had previously appreciated

    Evidently practicing what she preached in extending the reach of women’s writing.

    The Angel in the House is one of those books one used to see all the time on the shelves of second-hand bookshops, when there still were any. I was never once tempted to look at it, being naturally repelled by the title; but it seems that – in its own terms – it’s actually pretty good. Perhaps a valuable exercise for the reader in venturing into an alien thought-world, like the Tale of Genji.

    [Just had a go: I lacked the fortitude to persevere after a bit]

  186. AJP Crown says

    Robert Blake wrote about Coventry Patmore? Who knew, but there’s no equal to his Disraeli biography.

    I’m always surprised that there are so many conservative poets; for every William Blake or Hopkins there’s a Coleridge or Eliot.

    And the author of this for some peculiar reason (a joke?) he doesn’t mention has a chapter (I think it’s Ch.14) on Leonard & Virginia, “The Woolves”.

  187. Good lord, I didn’t even realize there was a biographer of that name. Too many Robert Blakes! (I like “Woolves.”)

  188. AJP Crown says

    I think they’ve pretty much covered the Robert Blakes:
    Robert Blake (dentist) (1772–1822), Irish dentist.

    Also, to make things REALLY confusing:
    Robert Blake (detective), character created by Dinendra Kumar Roy.

    I suppose it’s only luck that he wasn’t played on TV by Robert Blake.

  189. John Cowan says

    Sorry about that (post in haste, trigger a side conversation!)

    I meant Frye. Northrop. That one.

    Obviously I conflated Frye with the poet he thought supremely worth studying.

  190. January First-of-May says

    I’m surprised that the discussion about the definition (and origins) of antisemitism managed to last so long without quoting Vysotsky:

    Решил я, и значит кому-то быть битым,
    Но надо ж узнать, кто такие семиты,
    А вдруг это очень приличные люди,
    А вдруг из-за них мне чего-нибудь будет?

    (Much of the rest of that song is also relevant.)

    I believe many people would by now think that they’ve been in use all along and Kalevala just happens to have characters named something to the effect of Richardus, Steverino and Kate.

    This happened to Svetlana – the name was specifically made up for a particular poem [technically, it was previously made up for another poem, which was obscure even at the time but happened to be seen by the second poem’s author], but modern readers of the [second] poem (which is still sufficiently well known to be taught in school) probably don’t realize that the name of the main character was supposed to be in any way peculiar.

  191. Perhaps my post comes too late to make a difference, but after reading the comments here, I found it unfortunate that some misleading (at best) claims went unchallenged:

    David Eddyshaw: “antisemites have been strenuously trying to obliterate the distinction between being Jewish and being Zionist for a long time, frequently violently, to the point where anti-Zionism is now hardly a possible position to hold for anyone except actual antisemites”
    Trond Engen: “Zionism is a really big bag of ideas and movements, to the point that anyone comfortably declaring themselves “Anti-Zionist” instead of opposed to Israeli policies or certain ideologies among supporters of the state of Israel should consider the thought that they may be one of those anti-semites they are fiercely opposed to.”

    Zionists have been trying to erase the same distinction between being Jewish and being Zionist for even longer and no less fervently. There are a great many Jews who oppose Zionism on secular grounds (whether outside of Israel, like Jewish Voice for Peace, or inside, like Matspen or Boycott From Within) in addition to those who oppose it for religious reasons. Wikipedia lists several more of them. You can feel however you like about Zionism or anti-Zionism, but it’s simply not accurate to say only anti-Semites identify as anti-Zionists. There are many well-written essays (penned by people proud to be Jewish) debunking that.[1][2][3][4] (And yes, you can find just as many essays by Zionists arguing that all anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, and some even arguing that all criticism of Israeli policies are anti-Semitic. But this is a clearly disingenuous argument.)

    Jonathan Morse: “If it was a joke by 1922, the equivalence of “Zionist” with “Jew” must go back further than that.”

    John Cowan already pointed out how you’ve misunderstood what’s going on here, but it’s also worth mentioning that there was no equivalence of Zionist with Jew in the 1920s. Zionism was a minority position among European and North American Jews until after the Holocaust, and in many cases later–in the US, Jewish organizations like the American Council for Judaism and the American Jewish Committee were both opposed to Zionism until 1967, which was the year when majority opinion among US Jews first started to sway in favor of Zionism.

  192. David Eddyshaw says

    @E:

    You’re basically right, of course.
    But I think we’re talking past each other.

    I think the trouble is that “anti-Zionism” can mean anything from “regret that the state of Israel came into being, but acceptance that it nevertheless now has a right to exist so long as as the rights of Palestinians are fully respected” to “all Jews must leave Palestine, and if necessary should be violently forced to.”

    The first position is indeed held by many, both Jews, and gentiles who cannot reasonably be described as antisemitic. Unfortunately the “anti-Zionism” of many more people taps into archetypal antisemitic tropes, and it is in practice extremely difficult (for gentiles especially) to stand firm on the first position, because of deliberate efforts by both Zionists (as you rightly say) and antisemites to blur the line. In a better world, this would not be the case, but in reality, it is so. I’ve seen this dynamic in action.

    I did put in “hardly” for a reason. I should have made myself clearer.

    It is of course perfectly possible to be antisemitic and Zionist; and the “Christian Zionism” so evident in the US and so detrimental to current US policy basically just sees Jews as part of its own peculiar eschatology: as a means to an end.

  193. E, you’re making me feel my age. Perhaps alone among the membership of this list, I was alive and conscious in 1967, when Israel committed the faux pas of winning a war it was supposed to lose.

    Shortly thereafter, college students all over the United States began decorating their rooms with posters of Leila Khaled and her Kalashnikov, and the term “Zionist” became the swear word it has been ever since. A paradigm case might be the case of Robert Lowell. Lowell was (IIRC) one-eighth Jewish, and in Life Studies (1959) he depicted his Jewish great-grandfather as a merely boring exotic: a successful businessman but by the standards of the Lowell family a nothing, an embarrassment. Shortly thereafter, though, Lowell began saying his one drop of Jewish blood was his saving grace. But then came 1967, and (as Calvin Trillin wrote at the time in a funny short story) America’s Christian liberals, those who read Harry Golden and took Jews to lunch during the era 1946-1967, realized with a sigh of relief that they no longer had to try to say things like “Those poor shvartzes in Alabama.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgASBVMyVFI

    But if you want detail about literary language and its ironic possibilities as of 1922, I’ll refer you to the “Calypso” episode of Ulysses, where Poldy meditates about Judaism and Zion after he has picked up a Zionist tract in the pork butcher’s.

  194. Perhaps alone among the membership of this list, I was alive and conscious in 1967

    Oh, you’re quite wrong about that; I was soon to head off for college that year (and moving rapidly leftward), and I know there are a number of Hatters older than I.

  195. I feel less Ancient Marinoid! Thanks!

    And as long as I’m back in the comment box, let me just agree with David Eddyshaw’s italicized “I’ve seen this dynamic in action.” For myself I’ve experienced (not in any dangerous way) both traditional Christian bigotry against Jews and Marxist “anti-Zionism,” and the only major difference has been that the Christians have better manners. It’s the difference between ignorance, on the one hand, and bad faith on the other.

  196. J.W. Brewer says

    The Six-Day War transpired less than a month before my second birthday. I was alive and presumably conscious (not unconscious, certainly) but not yet paying any attention to Middle Eastern conflicts. I definitely have contemporaneous memories of the Yom Kippur War (by which time I was 8) but maybe that’s less iconic because it confirmed rather than changed the status quo? In between 1967 and 1973, however, the yard of the one Jewish family on my suburban block was a key bit of strategic territory in the various conflicts (with no obvious ethnic or ideological causes or stakes) that raged among the young boys of the neighborhood because it held a crabapple tree that was, in season, a key source of munitions.

  197. PlasticPaddy says

    Without wishing to cast aspersions on anyone, I would observe that followers of the pro-Palestinian movement outside the middle east often exhibit a strong self-identification with Palestinians and their plight, resulting in a more passionate and less rational/”objective” view of their “oppressors”. I do not remember this being such a feature of previous movements, such as anti-apartheid.

  198. I think you’re right about that, and I’m afraid the likely reason is just what we’ve been discussing.

  199. AJP Crown says

    I have 5, count’em, crabapple trees (ok, three are little more than bushes). What munitions?

  200. John Cowan says

    I am the baby among the elders, having been only nine in that year, Still, I wasn’t ignorant: 1967 was some considerable time after I asked my father if he was left-wing or right-wing. “Left, of course,” he said.

    The thing that really irritates me about Patmore’s poem is his footnote. Because the working class is enfranchised, the middle and upper classes are disfranchised? Because the former group gained their rights, the liberties of the latter group were destroyed? The only liberty in question was the liberty to oppress.

  201. And that is of course the same reaction white people are having today to the very thought of enfranchised (in the wider sense) people of color.

  202. Because the working class is enfranchised, the middle and upper classes are disfranchised? Because the former group gained their rights, the liberties of the latter group were destroyed?

    As I understand, he was worried that now greatly outnumbered upper classes would be at the mercy of much more numerous working class and only the latter vote would matter.

    But then the tabloids, television and football came to the rescue and working class vote stopped to matter.

  203. David Eddyshaw says

    Self-described “libertarians” generally seem to be under the impression that the only sort of liberty of any significance is freedom from direct government control; they generally do seem to think that the government has an entirely legitimate role in protecting their own privileges, by violence if need be. It helps the reasoning process behind this to be profoundly incurious about the origin of those privileges. (And of course, only nasty Marxists and people of that sort would maintain that significant unfreedom can result from all manner of things other than bad laws.)

  204. When my wife asked me about the difference between libertarians and anarchists, I said the short version was that libertarians are worried about governments taxing people, anarchists are worried about governments killing people.

  205. The idea that empowering the lower classes impairs “liberty” is at least as old as Tacitus. When discussing Augustus’s reform of the law courts (so that plebeians could win suits against patricians), Tacitus acknowledged that the new system was more fair, but that “liberty” [of the propertied classes] suffered.

  206. David Eddyshaw says

    There weren’t very many patricians actually left by the end of the Republic (Augustus himself busily set about creating some more.) The obscenely rich Crassus was a plebeian, as were by far the most of the nobility (such as Pompey.) Augustus himself was an actual patrician, by virtue of his posthumous adoption by Julius the Dictator.

  207. Lars Mathiesen says

    Confer “straight pride.”

  208. I don’t think that’s quite the same thing, because gay people were not a visible group to be scorned and disenfranchised (like the underclass and people of color) but a largely invisible group to be ignored as much as possible (though of course treated badly when visible). There was no such thing as “straight identity” until the gay liberation movement, and the worldly success of straight people did not depend on the disenfranchisement of gay people.

  209. David Eddyshaw says

    “Pride” in this particular technical meaning only makes sense in the context of persecution, and using it in that way implies a claim that one is persecuted or at least seriously disadvantaged, or at any rate that this could easily happen. This is, of course, exactly the falsehood that “straight pride” is intended to convey.

    (The term “Human Pride” will only become a thing once the Martians start binning humans’ job applications unread.)

  210. David Eddyshaw says

    In fairness to the Martians (and I should say that some of my best friends are Martians), it is an objective handicap to human employability that they all only speak one and the same language (as one of their own thinkers, Noam Chomsky, has admitted.) This is bound to limit job opportunities in a galactic context.

  211. John Cowan says

    AJP: I conjecture that the weaponized crabapple trees were feral apple trees with hard, large fruit (maybe half the size of cultivated apples), and that your crabapple trees bear much smaller fruits.

  212. AJP Crown says

    Crabapples, John? Let me tell you about crabapples. My crabapples just recently have had many, many enormous blossoms–really tremendous. Anyone will tell you, they are massive. They’re very big, big league and some of the hardest blossoms on Earth, so I know a lot about crabapples.

  213. David Marjanović says

    Self-described “libertarians” generally seem to be under the impression that the only sort of liberty of any significance is freedom from direct government control

    Yeah. Freedom from direct corporate control? Who needs that? Are corporations even a thing?

    There was no such thing as “straight identity” until the gay liberation movement, and the worldly success of straight people did not depend on the disenfranchisement of gay people.

    That did not stop an astonishing amount of people in the US from complaining, lo these halfscore years ago, that their marriages would be worthless if everyone could have one.

  214. Sure, but that was so self-evidently desperate flailing for some kind of rationale that it was essentially laughed out of court. I’m pretty sure none of those people gave a thought to the vulnerability of their marriages to the Lavender Menace until they became frightened by the onrush of gay liberation and needed to find some way to stop the tide. This is in stark contrast to men, white people, and the upper class, who have always been viscerally aware that their positions depended on the subjugation of (bzw.) women, people of color, and the underclass, and brutally suppressed any and all attempts to escape such subjugation. Whining about the vulnerability of straight marriages doesn’t even register as a blip by comparison.

  215. (Obviously I’m not minimizing the brutality of straight mens’ behavior to gay people, just saying that that has been caused by panic/revulsion based on whatever underlying fears motivate it, not worries about their position in life. Nobody was ever afraid of gay people taking their jobs.)

  216. David Eddyshaw says

    nobody was ever afraid of gay people taking their jobs

    I know of an eye hospital where at one time being homosexual was well known to be particularly unlikely to impair your career progression; still, μία χελιδὼν ἔαρ οὐ ποιεῖ.

    I think that the mainspring of the anti-gay-marriage thing is a perfectly genuine fear that it represents an attempt by evil liberals to undermine not one’s own marriage, but the God-given institution of heterosexual monogamy, by dilution; it’s not sensible, even given the premises, but it’s not necessarily hypocritical. It’s all part of the paranoid we-are-persecuted delusion which makes white US evangelicals so loveable.

    What is a giveaway is the very different attitude among the noisiest groups of protesters between their attitude to homosexuality and to (heterosexual) adultery. I agree with Matthew Parris: there seems to be every reason to suppose, if you accept the Bible as authoritative, that God has at least as much of a down on adultery as on homosexuality, and probably more so. Curiously, this does not seem to be a particularly salient issue for Trump-supporting types, however devout.

  217. @David Marjanović: As Mitt Romney said, “Corporations are people: my friends.”

    On the subject of gay marriage devaluing “traditional” marriage, Adam Felber’s deadpan but totally over the top discussion of the issues demonstrates that “self-evidently desperate flailing” very clearly. (Ironically, while I was first listening to it, my wife walked past, heard just a bit of it, did not recognize Felber’s voice, and thought he was dead serious—Poe’s Law in action.)

  218. AJP Crown says

    Nobody was ever afraid of gay people taking their jobs.

    Clearly you’ve never tried to open a restaurant in Provincetown, Mass., a hairdressers in the Castro in San Francisco or a pet shop in Key West. There’s lots of professional jealousy towards gay & lesbian people in the visual & performing arts & in the fashion business. I’m not saying it’s a huge problem but neither am I going to say it’s no problem at all, when I’m not gay-lez-trans myself.

  219. Adam Felber’s deadpan but totally over the top discussion of the issues demonstrates that “self-evidently desperate flailing” very clearly.

    Wow, that was from 2004. What a long strange trip it’s been.

  220. Clearly you’ve never tried to open a restaurant in Provincetown, Mass., a hairdressers in the Castro in San Francisco or a pet shop in Key West.

    …Have you?

    I mean, I take your point, but surely you’re not claiming that those very restricted counterexamples have much to do with the issue. I doubt many people who have tried to open a restaurant in Provincetown have resorted to gay-bashing in their frustration, and I doubt even more whether many gay-bashers have tried to do any of those things you list.

  221. John Cowan says

    My wife some years back put flowers into the rifle of a National Guardsman: not apple flowers, perhaps, but the principle is the same. In any case, enormous flowers do not always make for yuge fruits, whether of the human sort or otherwise.

    WP on the homosexual/lavender/gay Mafia, also known in various places as the Homintern and the Gaystapo. Not to be confused with actual QUILTBAG mobsters.

  222. Quick! Read Frank O’Hara’s “Biotherm,” particularly the section beginning

    then, too, the other day I was walking through a train
    with my suitcase and I overheard someone say “speaking of faggots”
    now isn’t life difficult enough without that

    It’s a long poem and I haven’t found it online, but make the trip to the library.

  223. J.W. Brewer says

    Yes, the crabapples across the street were small hard and undesired-for-human-consumption fruits that could fit into the hands of fairly small boys and be thrown, typically creating a satisfying splat wherever they landed. We were probably engaging in those small-boy crabapple wars contemporaneously with the Stonewall riots 100 miles away but were blissfully unaware of them.

  224. AJP Crown says

    a satisfying splat

    Ok, thanks, I’ll try it in the autumn (we have new neighbours).

    I doubt many people who have tried to open a restaurant in Provincetown have resorted to gay-bashing
    I haven’t been there for nearly thirty years, but in the old days there was a certain rivalry and resentment between the Portuguese family-run restaurants and other misc. purveyors of linguiça and kale-soup, and the gay establishments selling frothy coffee, ice-cream and cocktails. All I mean is, don’t say that you speak for another group and they have no problem with x because someone is bound to prove you wrong and how dare you etc. Hell, I daren’t even speak for pensioned WASP male gardeners.

  225. O’Hara commercial, with especial LH respect to the Russian dictionary:

    https://ronnowpoetry.com/contents/ohara/TrueAccount.html

  226. All I mean is, don’t say that you speak for another group and they have no problem with x because someone is bound to prove you wrong and how dare you etc.

    I have no idea what you’re referring to, but I hope it wasn’t something I said.

  227. O’Hara commercial, with especial LH respect to the Russian dictionary

    Ha! I started reading:

    The Sun woke me this morning loud
    and clear, saying “Hey! I’ve been
    trying to wake you up for fifteen
    minutes. Don’t be so rude, you are
    only the second poet I’ve ever chosen
    to speak to personally […]

    And I thought “That reminds me of Mayakovsky,” and then I got to:

    “When I woke up Mayakovsky he was
    a lot more prompt” the Sun said
    petulantly.

  228. David Eddyshaw says

    I expect the Sun was pissed off with poets after being comprehensively dissed by John Donne.

    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44129/the-sun-rising

    He’s pretty touchy, as we know only too well in the UK.

  229. David Marjanović says

    I think that the mainspring of the anti-gay-marriage thing is a perfectly genuine fear that it represents an attempt by evil liberals to undermine not one’s own marriage, but the God-given institution of heterosexual monogamy, by dilution

    That’s a factor, and note the very American confusion of religious and secular marriage that imbues a bureaucratic act with sanctity.

    But probably more important is that secular marriage equality means the state officially acknowledges that gay people exist and aren’t going to just go away. This is something that particular strain of homophobes very much wanted to remain in denial about.

    It’s all part of the paranoid we-are-persecuted delusion which makes white US evangelicals so loveable.

    It is written that the Christians will be persecuted. It follows nearly logically that if you’re not being persecuted, you’re not going to heaven – so you better convince yourself you’re being persecuted!

    Wow, that was from 2004. What a long strange trip it’s been.

    Well, yes. The Overton Window has practically fallen out of itself.

  230. Lars Mathiesen says

    Seen from here, US opinion has moved very fast indeed on gay issues.

    But the wheel of karma always turns, within the LGBT+ community at large (not only in the hotbeds of identity politics) there is a discussion about how many traditional gay males (successfully employed and now happily married) are starting to take over the role of the oppressor, denying the relevance of other, less successful identities.

  231. Stu Clayton says

    there is a discussion about how many traditional gay males (successfully employed and now happily married) are starting to take over the role of the oppressor, denying the relevance of other, less successful identities.

    Well, what a surprise !!! Only just now noticing that, duckies ? [Full disclosure: I am denying the relevance of other, more successful identities. More successful at promoting and nurturing identity relevance, that is.]

    “Relevance” has got to be one of the vaguest notions people have ever seized on to bicker over.

    Die Psychologie des Ressentiments.

  232. AJP Crown says

    I have no idea what you’re referring to

    “Nobody was ever afraid of gay people taking their jobs” – i.e. unlike the portrayal of immigrants by the right gay people haven’t ever been seen as an employment threat to others – might be construed as speaking for the gay community, but it’s probably not worth discussing any further unless you want me to apologise for misstating your position, or, indeed, for anything else, which I do unreservedly.

    This apology being valid additionally for any future transgression of any kind, I remain, etc.

  233. Stu Clayton says

    You tell ’em, Crown ! We’re not afraid of underdogs or Oberaffen.

  234. “Nobody was ever afraid of gay people taking their jobs” – i.e. unlike the portrayal of immigrants by the right gay people haven’t ever been seen as an employment threat to others – might be construed as speaking for the gay community

    Good Christ. I suppose anything can be seen as anything if you squint enough. No need to apologize, but you might want to try reading my comments with less of a prosecutorial eye. Why on earth would I try to speak for the gay community?

  235. I don’t even speak for the straight community, if there is such a thing. I speak only for myself.

  236. SFReader says

    On behalf of the right-handed community, I would like to deny relevance of other, less successful identities – the left-handed and ambidextrous.

    Right-handed people are responsible for 90% of human achievement.

  237. Lars Mathiesen says

    Denying relevance — it’s usually stated in more forceful terms, but Stu has probably seen the rhetoric I’m referring to in the original. I’m just reporting from the front here.

  238. SFReader says

    Ilf and Petrov mastered this identity/ressentiment thing century ago.

    You have to be nice to pedestrians.

    Pedestrians comprise the greater part of humanity. Moreover, its better part. Pedestrians created the world. They built cities, erected tall buildings, laid out sewers and waterlines, paved the streets and lit them with electricity. They spread civilization throughout the world, invented the printing press and gunpowder, flung bridges across rivers, deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs, introduced the safety razor, abolished the slave trade, and established that no less than 114 tasty, nutritious dishes can be made from soybeans.

    And just when everything was ready, when our native planet had become relatively comfortable, the motorists appeared.

    It should be noted that the automobile was also invented by pedestrians. But, somehow, the motorists quickly forgot about this. They started running over the mild-mannered and intelligent pedestrians. The streets—laid out by pedestrians—were taken over by the motorists. The roads became twice as wide, while the sidewalks shrunk to the size of a postage stamp. The frightened pedestrians were pushed up against the walls of the buildings.

    In a big city, pedestrians live like martyrs. They’ve been forced into a kind of traffic ghetto. They are only allowed to cross the streets at the intersections, that is, exactly where the traffic is heaviest—where the thread by which a pedestrian’s life hangs is most easily snapped.

    In our expansive country, the common automobile—intended by the pedestrians to peacefully transport people and things—has assumed the sinister role of a fratricidal weapon. It puts entire cohorts of union members and their loved ones out of commission. And if on occasion a pedestrian manages to dart out from under a silver grille, he is fined by the police for violating the traffic laws.

    In general, the pedestrians’ standing is not what it used to be. They, who gave the world such outstanding figures as Horace, Boyle, Mariotte, Lobachevsky, Gutenberg, and Anatole France, have been forced to jump through ridiculous hoops just to remind others of their existence. Lord, oh Lord (who, frankly, doesn’t exist), how low you (who don’t really exist) have let the pedestrian stoop!

  239. John Cowan says

    But the wheel of karma always turns, within the LGBT+ community at large (not only in the hotbeds of identity politics) there is a discussion about how many traditional gay males (successfully employed and now happily married) are starting to take over the role of the oppressor, denying the relevance of other, less successful identities.

    Obviously people who find this unexpected need to talk to a lesbian of a certain age about how it was for women in the Gay Liberation Movement of the 1970s. Or for that matter any woman of the (as yet undifferentiated) Movement about how it was in the 1960s.

  240. AJP Crown says

    Why on earth would I try to speak for the gay community?

    Vegans speak for cows, Trump speaks for America, GM speaks for electrically powered automobiles, Vanessa Redgrave spoke for the PLO and the poor (actors speak for just about anyone) – speaking on behalf of others happens all the time, see the Twitter.

    Thinking as a prosecutor is more-or-less virtue signalling; so no, it wasn’t that. I was pointing out, perhaps to myself that it (speaking for others) is an easy trap to fall into.

  241. AJP Crown says

    The ambidextrous, giving with one hand and taking away with the other.

  242. On behalf of the right-handed community, I would like to deny relevance of other, less successful identities – the left-handed and ambidextrous.
    Right-handed people are responsible for 90% of human achievement.

    In Saint-Exupéry’s book Citadelle, there is a section I don’t remember very well that goes something like this.

    A leader of a country tells one of his subordinates to find every person in the country having some superficial physical characteristic (I think it may have been handedness). The man objects to this, saying that the trait is so non-obvious that it would be impossible to recognize people who have it. The leader replies that if one starts a campaign to persecute them, they will band together, making them easy to find.

    Obviously people who find this unexpected need to talk to a lesbian of a certain age about how it was for women in the Gay Liberation Movement of the 1970s.

    I found this to be an interesting garden path sentence.

  243. David Eddyshaw says

    I have often remarked to my left-handed daughter that this characteristic clearly marks her out as a witch. Curiously, this doesn’t seem to disturb her particularly. Comes of being a witch, I suppose.

  244. PlasticPaddy says

    No one has challenged the link 90% of population => 90% of achievement for righthanders. I thought in particular lefties were more important in the arts than their overall numbers would imply.

  245. They’re very important in baseball.

  246. @languagehat: Baseball, tennis, water polo, even, to a lesser extent, basketball. Any sport where having a slightly different way of propelling the ball makes a difference is likely to have a disproportionate presence of lefties.

    Of course, the lefty-righty difference in baseball has historically been overestimated. With the growing importance of sabremetrics in this century, it has been revealed that a lot of switch hitters* really do better just batting on their stronger side.

    * I once saw an at-bat faceoff between a switch hitters and a rare switch pitcher. (I think the pitcher was mostly a position player, who learned to pitch from both sides to give himself extra usefulness as a specialist reliever.) They both kept wanting to switch sides, and the announcers were scrambling to find and explain the rules for how frequently each of them could switch.

  247. AJP Crown says

    Pat Venditte regularly pitches with both arms. [Interesting mental image.] Venditte was drafted by the New York Yankees, played for the Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies, Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Dodgers and now plays for the San Francisco Giants. While with the Staten Island Yankees, the Yankees’ Single-A affiliate, when he opposed switch hitter Ralph Henriquez, Venditte switched his modified glove to his left arm. (Hitters traditionally derive advantages from batting from the opposite side of the plate to the pitcher’s throwing arm.) Henriquez then switched to batting left-handed, and a series of changes continued for several minutes. This prompted the Professional Baseball Umpires Corporation to issue a new rule. In short, switch-pitchers must indicate to the umpire, batter, and any runners the hand they will use to pitch. The pitcher must continue using this hand for the duration of the at bat, with some exceptions for injury and the use of pinch hitters. Following this choice, batters can then select with which hand they will bat.

    My great aunt was at school with Michael and Eric Switch-Pitcher, both tennis players, long dead, scions of the old Wiltshire Switch and Pitcher families (no connection with baseball).

  248. John Cowan says

    I found this to be an interesting garden path sentence.

    I’m sure it is, but being the author and all, I can’t see it. Can someone explicate?

  249. AJP Crown says

    It only has a meaning in the context you had it. Fancua means that it processes in a surprising and scenic way, with a narrative like a winding path in a well-designed modern and informal garden, before reaching its target, kerpow, the f̶r̶o̶n̶t̶ ̶d̶o̶o̶r̶ gay-lib movement of the 1970s.

    I liked it a lot! And well said.

  250. ktschwarz says

    I didn’t see the garden path until Fancua pointed it out, but then it was obvious: “need” as a noun, “this unexpected need to talk” as the object of “find”. That’s not ruled out until the end of the sentence.

  251. Precisely.

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