Even if it doesn't last, Europeans are showing a sense of continental solidarity at a time when it's badly needed.
French President Sarkozy attends a funeral ceremony for the French soldiers killed by a gunman in incidents thought to be connected to the school shooting / Reuters
French security forces today arrested a man suspected of shooting four people at a Jewish school in Toulouse earlier this week, as well as carrying out earlier shootings of French soldiers. The suspect has claimed affiliation with al-Qaeda. This is a story that doubtless will develop and take on new dimensions in the coming days and weeks. One remarkable aspect of the coverage of the past few days, however, has been the sense of solidarity within Europe as the French police hunted for the killer.
"We are all Americans," ran Le Monde's famous headline on September 12, 2001. Solidarity is a common response to tragedy. But European coverage of the French shootings evinces more than mere sympathy: many outlets are portraying the violence as an attack on European values, and thus a European problem to solve. In a year when the European community has seen more than its fair share of finger-pointing and national stereotyping, this perhaps fleeting sense of collective responsibility and common identity is an interesting moment.
Papers all over Europe picked up French philosopher and public figure Bernard-Henri Lévy's op-ed on the incident. "Stand up, when children are massacred!" ran the German headline in Die Welt over Lévy's piece. Spanish paper El Paísopted for, "After the Toulouse killing: all united against anti-Semitism."
The individual offerings were still more telling."Terrorism in France is an attack on Europe's freedom," argued Michael Stürmer in Die Welt.
Terror is no party, no sect, no army, but a method to spread fear and dread, to cripple the soul and control the public realm. [...] In this discipline Europe still has much to learn, without paranoia and panic [...] No one should think that Germany is immune to such a crime. We have thus far largely been spared. Much has been intercepted in advance. Sometimes we, and especially the authorities, have simply been lucky. There is no guarantee that it will remain that way in the future. Is all this a French concern or something that concerns Europe as a whole, because it threatens the European way of life?
This is similar to the responses in other papers. "Is Europe returning to political violence?" askedEl País, opening up the sensitive question. This particular debate prompt seemed to link the French shootings with other instances of right-wing nationalist violence across Europe: the attack on Senegalese traders in Florence by a member of Italy's far-right, and the case of Anders Breivik in Norway. Now that the suspect has claimed membership in al-Qaeda, the contours of this particular debate seem likely to change.
Yet the sense of common mourning and common problem-solving, as expressed in the past few days, does not seem to have been wholly predicated on a certain conception of the shooter's identity. For one thing, several prominent articles, including one particularly simple and forceful one by Günther Nonnenmacher for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, suggested as early as Monday that this attack seemed likely to be linked to Islamic terrorism -- this theory was hardly unknown as the other articles were being written and published.
"The children who died in the massacre in Toulouse are not 'other' people's children, of another land and another country," wrote Joanne Favro for the Italian La Stampa. "Our children are also victims. Killed by a monster that overruns not only France but also Italy, Europe, and the world." Italian minister of education Francesco Profumo clearly agreed, asking for a minute of silence on Tuesday to "reflect" on "intolerance." This theme, he said, "goes beyond the borders of France and even Europe," but should be examined particularly carefully by "the countries of the E.U." He also noted that schools play "a primary role in the formation of consciences."
The call to action was echoed in an editorial in Austria's prominent Wiener Zeitung as well, though again with some mention of the European far right, which thus far appears to be uninvolved in this case.
The gruesome series of murders in France should awaken Europe as a whole. In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban is serving nationalist circles, and extreme right party Jobbik, resting at 20 percent in the polls, is openly anti-Semitic -- and willing to resort to violence.
In the Netherlands the government depends on a far-right party. In Denmark and France the nationalist parties are extremely strong, and in Austria the FPÖ [Freedom Party of Austria] lies in second place in the polls.
Everywhere in Europe, where ruling parties strive with speeches and actions to pull the voters of such parties to their side and make intolerable concessions, society radicalises.
It remains to be seen whether the vision of France's shootings, as indicative of a broader European problem, will persist as we learn more about the shooter. One thing, however, seems clear. Europe may have its problems, and the E.U. may well show further signs of fracture in the coming months. But what has been appearing in the European media are the unmistakable signs of a common European identity and a sense of common responsibility for social problems and violent intolerance. This sort of language -- particularly at this level of strength and clarity -- was extremely rare only a few decades ago.
The president’s latest comments shouldn’t be surprising—but his deliberate inflammation of tense situations is no less stunning.
During last year’s presidential campaign, I conducted a running feature called the “Trump Time Capsule.” Its purpose was to chronicle the things Donald Trump said or did that were entirely outside the range of previous presidents or major-party nominees. This, in turn, was meant to lay down a record of what was known about this man, as the electorate decided whether to elevate him to presidential power.
By the time the campaign ended, the series had reached installment #152. Who Donald Trump was, and is, was absolutely clear by election day: ignorant, biased, narcissistic, dishonest. As Ta-Nehisi Coates argues in our current issue, everyone who voted for him did so with ample evidence about the kind of person they considered the “better” choice, or even as a minimally acceptable choice for president. Almost nothing Trump has done since taking office should come as a surprise.
Colin Kaepernick and other athletes have a better claim on the United States’s symbols and their meaning.
President Trump apparently slept on it overnight and woke up early on Sunday morning thinking: “Yes, I will fight a cultural war against black athletes.”
In two Sunday morning tweets, Trump urged a boycott of the National Football League until owners punished players who refused to stand for the national anthem, in protest of police brutality and racial injustice—capping a weekend of taunting and trash-talking that began at his Alabama rally Friday night. He’s now created a situation in which it will seem almost unmanly for black athletes, and not only football players, not to take a knee during the anthem. If they stand for the anthem, they will seem to do so at Trump’s command. How can they not resist?
At a game played in London on Sunday afternoon, many of their fellow Ravens and Jaguars took a knee.
Before the Lions met the Falcons in Detroit on Sunday, Rico LaVelle sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” And then he took a knee.
They were replicating the gesture of Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who, starting in 2016, had been kneeling during the pre-game singing of the national anthem. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick explained. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Kaepernick’s 49ers teammates, Eric Reid and Eli Harold, took a knee. The Beaumont Bulls, a high school team, took a knee. Their collective protests, however, had been limited—deviations from the norm.
The foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy.
It is insufficient to statethe obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact. With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness—that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them. Land theft and human plunder cleared the grounds for Trump’s forefathers and barred others from it. Once upon the field, these men became soldiers, statesmen, and scholars; held court in Paris; presided at Princeton; advanced into the Wilderness and then into the White House. Their individual triumphs made this exclusive party seem above America’s founding sins, and it was forgotten that the former was in fact bound to the latter, that all their victories had transpired on cleared grounds. No such elegant detachment can be attributed to Donald Trump—a president who, more than any other, has made the awful inheritance explicit.
More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.
One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.”
Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”
One reason the president cannot resist commenting on every issue in American life is that he seemingly cannot stand the actual work of American politics.
In a flurry of comments historically unsuited to any head of state, yet hardly shocking for the current American president, Donald Trump this weekend targeted the two most popular sports in the country and elicited sharp criticism from some of their most important figures.
On Friday, Trump encouraged franchise owners in the National Football League to fire players who protest during the national anthem. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired,’” the president said at an Alabama rally.
Trump’s comment provoked Roger Goodell, the typically reticent commissioner of the NFL, to issue a strong statement condemning the president’s divisive language. The comment was particularly surprising, since most NFL owners who elect the league commissioner are staunch Republicans. Many of the most prominent owners donated to the Trump campaign.
A new film details the reason the star postponed her recent tour—and will test cultural attitudes about gender, pain, and pop.
“Pain without a cause is pain we can’t trust,” the author Leslie Jamison wrote in 2014. “We assume it’s been chosen or fabricated.”
Jamison’s essay “Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain” unpacked the suffering-woman archetype, which encompasses literature’s broken hearts (Anna Karenina, Miss Havisham) and society’s sad girls—the depressed, the anorexic, and in the 19th century, the tubercular. Wariness about being defined by suffering, she argued, had led many modern women to adopt a new pose. She wrote, “The post-wounded woman conducts herself as if preempting certain accusations: Don’t cry too loud; don’t play victim.” Jamison questioned whether this was an overcorrection. “The possibility of fetishizing pain is no reason to stop representing it,” she wrote. “Pain that gets performed is still pain.”
Thirty minutes. That’s about how long it would take a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched from North Korea to reach Los Angeles. With the powers in Pyongyang working doggedly toward making this possible—building an ICBM and shrinking a nuke to fit on it—analysts now predict that Kim Jong Un will have the capability before Donald Trump completes one four-year term.
About which the president has tweeted, simply, “It won’t happen!”
Though given to reckless oaths, Trump is not in this case saying anything that departs significantly from the past half century of futile American policy toward North Korea. Preventing the Kim dynasty from having a nuclear device was an American priority long before Pyongyang exploded its first nuke, in 2006, during the administration of George W. Bush. The Kim regime detonated four more while Barack Obama was in the White House. In the more than four decades since Richard Nixon held office, the U.S. has tried to control North Korea by issuing threats, conducting military exercises, ratcheting up diplomatic sanctions, leaning on China, and most recently, it seems likely, committing cybersabotage.
Two new books explore America’s changing romantic landscape.
C.S. Lewis’s wife, Joy Davidman, died of bone cancer on July 13, 1960. The next day, the famous author wrote a letter to Peter Bide, the priest who had married them, to tell him the news.
“I’d like to meet,” Lewis writes, suggesting the two grab lunch sometime soon. “For I am—oh God that I were not—very free now. One doesn’t realize in early life that the price of freedom is loneliness. To be happy is to be tied.”
When it comes to romance, Americans are freer than they’ve ever been. Freer to marry, freer to divorce, freer to have sex when and with whom they like with fewer consequences, freer to cohabitate without getting married, freer to remain single, freer to pursue open relationships or polyamory.
Its faith-based 12-step program dominates treatment in the United States. But researchers have debunked central tenets of AA doctrine and found dozens of other treatments more effective.
J.G. is a lawyer in his early 30s. He’s a fast talker and has the lean, sinewy build of a distance runner. His choice of profession seems preordained, as he speaks in fully formed paragraphs, his thoughts organized by topic sentences. He’s also a worrier—a big one—who for years used alcohol to soothe his anxiety.
J.G. started drinking at 15, when he and a friend experimented in his parents’ liquor cabinet. He favored gin and whiskey but drank whatever he thought his parents would miss the least. He discovered beer, too, and loved the earthy, bitter taste on his tongue when he took his first cold sip.
His drinking increased through college and into law school. He could, and occasionally did, pull back, going cold turkey for weeks at a time. But nothing quieted his anxious mind like booze, and when he didn’t drink, he didn’t sleep. After four or six weeks dry, he’d be back at the liquor store.