It was Hannah Arendt who coined the phrase ‘the banality of evil’ in reference Adolf Eichmann, a cog in the machine of the Holocaust. It’s rather a pity in a way because it really should have been invented specifically to describe Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer who killed seventy-seven people in a hate-filled rampage last July
Hate-filled; is that right? Actually I’m not quite sure, not quite sure that this man is capable of any authentic emotion, not quite sure if he is able to understand anything beyond his own shallow and narcissistic fantasies. He was sentenced... Read More
There is something rotten in the state of Russia. It gets more rotten by the day. There is something rotten in the state of Russia and its name is Vladimir Putin. Putrid Putin, I was tempted to write, and I just have! A former KGB operative, he is now the shady president of a country descending into the worst forms of political gangsterism. Actually, it's just descending into gangsterism, period.
So, what brought this on? It was my first angry reaction when I read on Friday about the vindictive jail sentences passed against three members of Pussy Riot, a female punk band that mounted... Read More
Vladimir Putin, Russia’s authoritarian president, does not like Pussy. In fact he dislikes Pussy so much that she’s in prison on a charge of hooliganism, held for months on remand and, if convicted, facing a seven year jail sentence. What has poor Pussy done? Why, just this: she meowed her disapproval of the big dog in the Kremlin.
The Pussy in question is actually three members of Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist punk rock band. Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Ekaterina Samutsevich, all in their twenties, have been in custody since March, arrested for their part in protests... Read More
Those who have seen the movie Poltergeist II: the Other Side will surely remember the scene where the Reverend Kane, the head of a millenarian cult, took his followers underground in anticipation of the end of the world. There they were sealed in and denied permission to leave, even after the predicted date came and went.
I could not help but think of this when I read reports today that seventy members of an Islamist sect were found living in an underground bunker by police near the city of Kazan in the republic of Tartarsan, the biggest Muslim majority area in Russia, some five hundred... Read More
Twitter is for the birds. Some of the birds, as we surely all know, have bird brains. The small-minded, the stupid, the mean-spirited and the down right vicious have always been with us; it’s just that Twitter and other social media give their ugly outpourings added effect. But how far should this be allowed to affect the rest of us; how far should the poison spread by trolls be allowed to impact on free expression?
The question is wholly pertinent, I assure you, because the police in England are now arresting and prosecuting tweeters. Last week a seventeen-year-old was detained... Read More
Oh, to be in London now the Olympics are there. Actually, no. Now the Olympics are in London I’m not! The city is mad enough at the best of times, so I decided to escape during the build-up, first into the countryside and now north into Scotland. I’m in Edinburgh at the moment, on the threshold of a foray into the Highlands. While here I visited the Catherine the Great exhibition recently opened in National Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street, a fantastic experience which I intend to write about soon.
Thinking of Russia and thinking of the Olympics I have an angle that ties in... Read More
It’s October 1944, the dying months of the Second World War. Across what is left of the areas of Europe it controls, Germany is anxious to bolster support. In Hungary the Arrow Cross Party, a local fascist movement, deeply anti-Semitic in tone, is allowed to form a government. The remaining Jews of Budapest, those who managed to survive Adolf Eichmann’s deportations to Auschwitz earlier that year, are once again in grave danger. In nightly raids armed thugs entered the city ghetto. Those they take are shot, their bodies thrown in to the Danube.
It’s the summer of 2012. We are back... Read More
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