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This obsession with victimhood lies at the heart of why Zionism is dying among America’s secular Jewish young. It simply bears no relationship to their lived experience, or what they have seen of Israel’s. Yes, Israel faces threats from Hezbollah and Hamas. Yes, Israelis understandably worry about a nuclear Iran. But the dilemmas you face when you possess dozens or hundreds of nuclear weapons, and your adversary, however despicable, may acquire one, are not the dilemmas of the Warsaw Ghetto. The year 2010 is not, as Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed, 1938. The drama of Jewish victimhood—a drama that feels natural to many Jews who lived through 1938, 1948, or even 1967—strikes most of today’s young American Jews as farce. –“The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment,” Peter Beinart, The New York Review of Books
The undercards were less than thrilling. The HBO announcers did their stand-up intro. The BBC reporters jostled in the back row of the press section. An incredible number of Brits (what with the recession and the volcano and all) were on hand, waving “Khan’s Army” banners that sported dual British and Pakistani flags, which you just knew were bound to set off the Long Islanders, sooner or later. (The crowd fights broke out in the sixth round, FYI). The place exploded when Malignaggi made his entrance, blasting what sounded like a mix tape intro complete with a sample of Denzel in Training Day declaring, “King Kong ain’t got nothing on me!” We got to hear the dapper announcer Michael Buffer say the words “Brooklyn in the house,” as well as “in the blue corner, wearing leopard trunks…” This could only be a Paulie Malignaggi fight. –“Douchebag as Role Model: The Case of Paulie Malignaggi,” Hamilton Nolan, The Awl
This sort of fifth-person approach to writing means The Watchtower can read like a textbook rendering of the Bible; big on plague and pestilence but short on the simple, beatific prose that marks its source. Former Witness Kyria Abrahams describes the magazine she read growing up in a Kingdom Hall in Pawtucket, R.I., as “extremely boring.” “They were pretty much all on the same theme,” she says today. “‘Why does God allow blah blah blah?’ ‘Is blank okay?’ And you know that it isn’t. For the most part, it was written at a fifth grade level.” –“The Most Widely Read Magazine in the World,” Joel Meares, The New York Review of Magazines
More from Rafe Bartholomew:
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”