The Conformist – I Racconti http://i-racconti.com/ Thu, 13 Jan 2022 10:53:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8 https://i-racconti.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/favicon-150x150.png The Conformist – I Racconti http://i-racconti.com/ 32 32 Amy Wax’s strange campaign to promote bourgeois culture https://i-racconti.com/amy-waxs-strange-campaign-to-promote-bourgeois-culture/ Wed, 12 Jan 2022 16:49:34 +0000 https://i-racconti.com/amy-waxs-strange-campaign-to-promote-bourgeois-culture/ Besides the Eiffel Tower and the foie gras, France is known to have produced an intellectual class which, over the centuries, from Diderot Encyclopedia to Derrida’s critical theory, managed to export its products to the rest of the world. The intellectual history of France demonstrates that alongside traditional social classes, a nation can cultivate what […]]]>

Besides the Eiffel Tower and the foie gras, France is known to have produced an intellectual class which, over the centuries, from Diderot Encyclopedia to Derrida’s critical theory, managed to export its products to the rest of the world.

The intellectual history of France demonstrates that alongside traditional social classes, a nation can cultivate what is called the intellectual class, a loose network of people who collectively produce ideas about society that are no longer limited to categories. traditions of philosophy, science and literature. Eminent intellectuals merge the three in their quest to interpret the complexity of the world and of human history.


Justice in the United States is an art form

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French intellectuals are seen as floating freely in the media landscape. American intellectuals, on the other hand, tend to be attached to universities or think tanks. They publish and sometimes appear in the media, but with a serious disadvantage, having to compete in shaping public discourse with much more influential media figures such as Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson or even Tucker Carlson.

A stale historical cliché compares Europe to ancient Greece and the United States to the Roman Empire. Rome and the United States both produced a vibrant and distinct popular culture, with a taste for gaudy spectacle and superficial entertainment. But in Roman times, plebeian culture coexisted with a patrician culture cultivated by the ruling class of Rome. Modern democracy categorically rejects the very idea of ​​a ruling class. Commercialism turned out to be the great equalizer. Everyone in America is supposed to share the same culture of film, television, and popular music. The same is true of popular ideas, whether political, scientific or economic.

Amy Wax is a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania who doesn’t hesitate to express her ideas, especially her updated version of class differences. She is convinced that what she calls “bourgeois culture” has replaced the patrician culture of Rome in the United States but is in danger of extinction. Wax believes everyone in the United States, including recent immigrants, should share this culture. Anyone who resists must be excluded. She also believes that race and ethnicity are reliable indicators of immigrants’ ability to comply.

As a young woman, Wax walked the halls and absorbed the wisdom that had sprung from lectures at Yale, Oxford, Harvard and Columbia University. Along the way, she has amassed the kind of elite educational experience that identifies her as a distinguished example of the modern intellectual class. With such impeccable credentials, it’s fair to assume that she is not only knowledgeable, but has learned the art of responsible thinking, a quality the media attributes to such luminaries.

Could it therefore be that such a distinguished thinker and prominent member of the intellectual class is now accused of sharing the kind of white supremacist attitude that Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale) famously attributes to the “basket of the deplorable”? The intellectual class in the United States uniformly and loudly rejects all forms of racism. If Wax expresses ideas that echo racist theses, it would indicate that she is betraying her own intellectual class. Rightly, her university acknowledged her betrayal when it condemned her “xenophobic and white supremacist” speech.

In a podcast in late December, Wax went beyond her previously expressed belief that the United States “would be better off with more whites and fewer non-whites.” On that previous occasion, she specifically targeted black people, whom she describes as intellectually inferior. This time it has targeted Asians, whose reputation for academic excellence and scientific achievement most people admire. She justified her attack in these terms: “As long as most Asians support the Democrats and help advance their positions, I think the United States is doing better with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration.”

When the podcast’s host, Professor Glenn Loury, questioned her logic, she spoke of “the danger of the domination of an Asian elite in this country” which could “change the culture”. Wax’s fear of being dominated by an alien race and his defense of white civilization could hardly convince Loury, who is black. Loury replied that Asians Wax wants to exclude “create value” and “animate society”.

“How do we lose from this? ” he asks. In response, Wax posed his own rhetorical question: “Is the spirit of freedom beating in their chest?” “

This week’s devil’s dictionary definition:

Spirit of freedom:

America’s supreme civic virtue of pursuing selfish goals and waging aggressive assaults on anything boring

Contextual note

Wax came up with her own definition of the spirit of freedom, which she identified as the virtue associated with “people who distrust centralized concentrations of authority who have a sort of ‘don’t step on me’ attitude, which focus… on our freedoms, on our freedoms, on some sort of small-scale personal responsibility that is maverick in a good way.

Besides Wax ascribing a cultural attitude to “Asians” (over half of humanity), his idea of ​​freedom reflects feelings associated with aggressive nationalist historical memes (eg, “don’t step on me” ) rather than the kind of political concept one would expect from a serious intellectual. In his 1859 essay “On Liberty”, John Stuart Mill defines it as the “protection against the tyranny of political leaders”, analyzing it in terms of the individual’s relationship with authority, and not as a “spirit.” or an attitude. But Mill was English, and unlike Americans, the English are reluctant to celebrate attitude.

Wax, who is Jewish, paradoxically complained that Jews “have a lot to answer … numerically because of their dominance.” She laughs at their “susceptibility to idealistic and fanciful socialist ideas.” When Loury accuses her of using a stereotype, she objects that there is nothing wrong with having a stereotype when used correctly. Just as Wax approves of nonconformity “in a good way”, she tolerates “correct” stereotypes. She believes herself to be the arbiter of what is good and correct.

Historical Note

Wax shares with Fox News host Tucker Carlson a sense of legitimate dominance over what she calls “the tradition of the inherited population,” identified as the Traditional Anglo-Saxon Protestant Majority (WASP). Wax aligns itself with cultural nationalists like Samuel Huntington, whose book “Who Are We: America’s Great Debate?” – following his famous “Clash of Civilizations: and the Reshaping of the World Order” – preached for the reaffirmation of the political and moral values ​​transmitted by the WASP founders of American culture 400 years ago.

Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs summarizes the components of Puritan culture: “the English language, Protestant values, individualism, religious commitment, and respect for the law.” Admirers of the culture routinely forget that their respect for the law could mean a lack of respect for the law of the indigenous people of the land they have chosen to occupy. Enforcing this respect sometimes results in genocidal campaigns carried out in the name of this law. He also embraced slavery on the basis of racial criteria.

Wax’s modern WASP culture, which she prefers to call “bourgeois culture,” no longer requires genocide or slavery to prevail. Her defense of a largely imaginary cultural heritage nonetheless led her to adopt a racist view of humanity. While denouncing the multicultural “wokism” which, according to her, now dominates university culture, she seems to believe 19e-The France of the century rather than the Yankee revolution establishes the standard to be respected.

Wax is right to deplore the very real collapse of American intellectual culture. The fashionable moralizing revival so prevalent in American academia deserves her criticism. His attitude and that of awakened scholars stem from the same Puritan tradition that insists on imposing its understanding of morality on everyone.

The choice of Wax from “bourgeois culture” as a desirable alternative to Wokism seems curious. Bourgeois culture is identified with the mores of an urban upper middle class that emerged in the 19e French century which projected the image of a vulgar version of the aristocracy. It produced a culture unique to France, very different from the democratic culture of the United States at the time.

This highlights another difference. While the French intellectual class, even when it engages in its traditional disputes, tends to agree on the meaning of the terms it makes up, American intellectuals regularly proclaim terms that they never seek to define or define. to understand and use them to punish their enemies. This is what Wax has done with bourgeois culture and in doing so has declared several races and ethnicities its enemies.

*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news. Read more of The Fair Observer Devil’s Dictionary. After four years of daily appearances, Fair Observer’s Daily Devil’s Dictionary moves to a weekly format.]

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Fair Observer.

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War of ideas https://i-racconti.com/war-of-ideas/ Tue, 11 Jan 2022 14:36:51 +0000 https://i-racconti.com/war-of-ideas/ With politics increasingly becoming a carpet of lies, broken promises and mirrors, the 21st century seems to be entering a Dostoevskian paradise. Perhaps Fyodor Dostoyevsky saw it coming when he said, “Don’t cry, life is heaven, but we don’t want to know it. His words were prophetic. He had accurately predicted how Russian revolutionaries would […]]]>

With politics increasingly becoming a carpet of lies, broken promises and mirrors, the 21st century seems to be entering a Dostoevskian paradise. Perhaps Fyodor Dostoyevsky saw it coming when he said, “Don’t cry, life is heaven, but we don’t want to know it. His words were prophetic. He had accurately predicted how Russian revolutionaries would behave once they came to power. Have we become a kind of “piano key or a bit of an organ” as the famous Russian novelist predicted?

It is paradise. But it’s for billionaires. See what happened in the United States. If in the United States, the university is disappearing for the less rich, in India, it lacks funds. In the mid-1990s, Professor Upendra Baxi, then vice-chancellor of the University of Delhi, lamented that universities were on their “deathbed”. Many American universities are on the brink of collapse.

With higher fees, elite universities will become even more elitist. Either way, meritocracy in the United States has become a caste system, and a degree is a mark of wealth. Didn’t Hannah Arendt warn us that “meritocracy contradicts the principle of equality” and that without equality “it is nothing less than any form of oligarchy?

The scourge of Covid-19 has hit American universities hard. With all sectors of higher education experiencing declining enrollment, colleges and universities blow and blow. But that’s only part of the problem. As New York University’s Scott Galloway puts it, the pandemic has “greased the wheels of the entry of big technology into higher education.” The biggest tech companies are all set to partner with universities. “When governments are unable to bail out America,” Galloway adds, “billionaires step in. But it always comes at a price.” It may also be the future of universities in India.

Higher education will soon be beyond the reach of the poor and lower middle classes. In the ranking of the world’s best universities in 2019, eight of the top 10 were American in terms of academic research, academic reputation, international collaboration, publication and citations. But half of the students at America’s top 12 universities come from the richest 10 percent of families. A much more serious crisis is the war of ideas. In the late 1960s and 1970s, the right in the United States won the economic war. But the left has won the culture war. Is the right, backed by corporate power, also trying to win the culture war?

Universities surrender to the culture of cancellation. Hundreds of professors and staff at Princeton University have publicly called for the power to punish professors for research and publications they deem racist. In 2020, a college professor was boycotted for simply attending an auspicious rally. A professor at the University of Chicago has been relieved of important posts for criticizing Black Lives Matter.

Capitalism has turned everything, including intellectual activities, into a consumerist experience. Is the pursuit of truth still the guiding principle of higher education institutions or have they become what Daniel Drezner calls “the industry of ideas?” For capitalism, they are only tentpole marketing instruments. The goal of capitalism is to educate people simply on the scale required by capital. As Pandit Nehru said, a university is synonymous with “the adventure of ideas and the search for truth.” It is a place of critical thinking. The currencies of major American universities testify to such an ideal ~ fiat lux (let there be light), says the University of California. “Veritas” (truth), “the wind of freedom blows” and lux and veritas (light and truth) are the mottos of Harvard University, Stanford University and Yale University, respectively.

Are universities becoming centers of dogmatic orthodoxy? If they become a place of fear and intimidation, free speech will become scarce. The militarization of the culture of cancellation by the right is a disturbing trend that bodes ill for higher education institutions. The left is also to blame. Initially, cancellation was a tool in the hands of marginalized communities. Today, it threatens to undermine freedom of expression and academic excellence. Some say it is to cancel cultural capitalism. Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie calls it “obscene” because it “robs an entire generation of the opportunity to develop their creative talents and flourish as human beings.”

The culture of cancellation would be “the death knell for organizations of learning and reflection”. There is also a frenzy to ban books from libraries as part of a campaign to clean libraries of works considered “unhealthy”. Soon there will be a war against books and ideas. Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University have seen most cases of academic platform attacks and deletion. It is mainly the liberal arts such as political science, law, history, the English language and philosophy that have suffered.

The universities of the 1960s and 1970s fueled intellectual experimentation and the intellectual debate of ideas. Sociologist Avijit Pathak says that a university should be a place where students are intellectually challenged and made uncomfortable. Today, academic conversation is avoided for fear of triggering someone’s feelings. Higher education institutions have now become conformists and censors. Apparently, the golden age of academia that fueled the American Dream is over.

Another worrying trend is the infantilization of higher education. A combination of helicopter parents and social media has held back the development of young people. University administration unwittingly became a mental health counselor. Referring to the practice of University College London, allowing students to leave the classroom if they find historical events “disturbing”, says Professor Frank Furendi, “today you cannot teach the Holocaust without disturbing the students ”. All is of course not lost. More than 80 institutions of higher education have endorsed the “Chicago Principles” which state that “it is not the university’s proper role to try to protect individuals from ideas and opinions which they find unwelcome, unpleasant. or even deeply offensive “.

The new University of Austin is coming into being with the mission of creating a “fiercely independent” school that offers “an alternative to illiberalism” on college campuses. He plans to launch his first course later this year, titled “Forbidden Courses,” offering a lively discussion of the most provocative issues. The diseases that plague the higher education sector are excessive financialization and the win-win approach. Will billionaires save American universities? American universities are already addicted to billionaires.

Farhad Manjoo writes in the New York Times that when a billionaire calls, “the men in the ivory tower can’t help but lower their golden locks to let the plutocrat get on board.” Billionaires have their own reason for lashing out at universities because the “American idea factories have proven to be sensitive to all their wealth.”

(The writer is director, Institute of Social Sciences, Delhi)

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The story of Jack Raper the “Emperor of Chillicothe” https://i-racconti.com/the-story-of-jack-raper-the-emperor-of-chillicothe/ Sun, 09 Jan 2022 10:37:44 +0000 https://i-racconti.com/the-story-of-jack-raper-the-emperor-of-chillicothe/ Monday evening, January 9, 1922, the New Year was barely a week old when more than 100 members of the Rotary Club and the Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce crowded into the dining room of the Warner Hotel on North Paint Street. The white-lined tables were now cluttered with discarded plates, rolled-up cloth napkins, and half-empty […]]]>

Monday evening, January 9, 1922, the New Year was barely a week old when more than 100 members of the Rotary Club and the Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce crowded into the dining room of the Warner Hotel on North Paint Street. The white-lined tables were now cluttered with discarded plates, rolled-up cloth napkins, and half-empty glasses of iced tea. The after-dinner special speaker was nearing the end of his speech and the men leaned forward in their chairs, clinging to his every word.

By the time he finished, the men leapt from their seats and erupted into thunderous applause and cheers. After the applause finally died down, the smiling members of Rotary and the House unanimously and enthusiastically elected this man “Emperor of Chillicothe!” They were barely kidding. The speaker was the famous columnist, stand-up comedian and “Chillicothe boy done well”, Jack Raper.

John Wolfe Raper – everyone called him Jack – was born on February 20, 1870 in Vinton County, but his family moved to Chillicothe when he was 5 years old. His father, Captain John T. Raper, was a native of Chillicothe, a well-known Civil War veteran and editor of “The Ohio Soldier,” a popular veterans newspaper; he also co-owned the Gazette from 1874 to 1887. Jack got his middle name from his mother, Sarah Frances (Wolfe) Raper.

Growing up on South Walnut Street, young Jack attended Chillicothe schools and has always credited Anna G. McDougal, his favorite high school English teacher, for sparking his interest “in good literature and prompting him to always do your best ”.

Part of an article where Jack Raper attributes the inspiration to a local teacher.  The article appeared in the Chillicothe Gazette.

Thirty-five years later at the sleek Warner Hotel, professor and wearing glasses, Raper began his speech as he usually did, with a heavy dose of self-mockery.

“It’s really useless to try to grow hair again,” said the nearly bald 52-year-old, rubbing the top of his head. “You can’t grow grass on a concrete block. And if anyone was interested in a sure-fire way to tell if a man had reached old age, he suggested he only had to ask two questions: Is the climate changing? And were girls prettier when they were younger? “If he answers yes to both questions,” Raper said with a smirk, “it’s a cinch that he’s old.”


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Launch of the Olympic poster exhibition in the streets of Paris – ATV Today https://i-racconti.com/launch-of-the-olympic-poster-exhibition-in-the-streets-of-paris-atv-today/ Fri, 07 Jan 2022 23:14:45 +0000 https://i-racconti.com/launch-of-the-olympic-poster-exhibition-in-the-streets-of-paris-atv-today/ Classic posters are across town until next month. The City of Paris offers an exhibition along the gates of the Hôtel de Ville, with posters provided by the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage. The exhibition, as part of Paris 2024 Cultural Olympiad, presents 24 officials Summer Olympics posters, as well as a selection of […]]]>

Classic posters are across town until next month.

The City of Paris offers an exhibition along the gates of the Hôtel de Ville, with posters provided by the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage. The exhibition, as part of Paris 2024 Cultural Olympiad, presents 24 officials Summer Olympics posters, as well as a selection of artistic posters that embody the links between art and sport.

Carine Rolland, Deputy Mayor of Paris for Culture:

“This retrospective exhibition, accessible to all, highlights the cultural dimension that the Olympic Games have had throughout history. All the posters exhibited bear witness to the artistic styles and key issues of their time. As such, the exhibition is an integral part of the Cultural Olympiad program, which will take us until 2024. ”

The exhibition includes a range of posters from the 1912 Stockholm Games to Tokyo 2020. For more than a century, Olympic posters have continued to evolve and diversify, exploring the artistic, political and social developments of their time. era. Many posters were created by iconic artists: painters like David Hockney and Pierre Soulages, designers like Otl Aicher and mangakas like Urasawa Naoki, all of whom offered their own artistic vision of the Games.

Parisians and visitors alike can currently admire a wide range of artistic techniques and styles, including lithographs, photos, comic-inspired works, illustrations, paintings, and more.

Pierre Rabadan, Deputy Mayor of Paris for the Olympic and Paralympic Games and Sport:

“Each edition of the Olympic Games has been characterized by sporting and cultural images. Beyond sports and competitions, these posters designed as works of art remain one of the most anticipated components of any Olympiad. This open-air exhibition is the ideal opportunity to present the values ​​of Olympism promoted by sport and culture.

For this exhibition, the OFCH made some of the posters available for the first time.

The historic flags of the Olympic and Paralympic Games handed over to the Mayor of Paris after the Tokyo Games are also on display to the public in the Parisian meeting store. Posters are on view until February 1 and the display is unveiled on January 5.

Angelita Teo, Director of the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage:

“Olympic posters are a visual representation of the history and socio-cultural identity of each edition of the Olympic Games. Many of these non-conformist posters are now part of a remarkable artistic legacy associated with the Olympic Games and have become iconic cultural works in their own right. We are delighted to have collaborated with the City of Paris to present this incredible historical journey on the road to the Paris 2024 Games.


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Not all polarization is bad, but the US could be in trouble | Chroniclers https://i-racconti.com/not-all-polarization-is-bad-but-the-us-could-be-in-trouble-chroniclers/ Thu, 06 Jan 2022 00:30:00 +0000 https://i-racconti.com/not-all-polarization-is-bad-but-the-us-could-be-in-trouble-chroniclers/ ROBERT B. TALISSE Vanderbilt University For the first time, the United States was classified as a “backward democracy” in a comprehensive assessment of democratic societies by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, an intergovernmental research group. One of the main reasons cited by the report is the continued popularity among Republicans of the […]]]>

ROBERT B. TALISSE Vanderbilt University

For the first time, the United States was classified as a “backward democracy” in a comprehensive assessment of democratic societies by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, an intergovernmental research group.

One of the main reasons cited by the report is the continued popularity among Republicans of the false allegations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

But according to the organization’s secretary general, perhaps the “most worrying” aspect of American democracy is “rampant polarization.” A year after the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill, Americans’ perceptions of that day’s well-documented events are divided along partisan lines.

Polarization looms large in many diagnoses of America’s current political struggles. Some researchers caution against approaching an irreversible “tipping point” of polarization. The suggested remedies are available across the partisan spectrum.

There are two types of polarization, as I say in my book “Sustaining Democracy”. One is not inherently dangerous; the other can be. And together, they can be extremely destructive to democratic societies.

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Political polarization is the ideological distance between opposing parties. If the differences are significant, it can produce dead ends, dead ends, and inflexibility within Congress and state and local governments. While it can be frustrating, political polarization is not necessarily dysfunctional. It can even be beneficial, providing real choices for voters and policy makers. After all, deep disagreement can be healthy for democracy. The clash of opinions can help us find the truth. The clamor of ideological differences between political parties provides citizens with shortcuts to make political choices.

Belief polarization, also known as group polarization, is different. Interacting with other like-minded people turns people into more extreme versions of themselves. These more extreme selves are also overconfident and therefore more prepared to engage in risky behaviors.

The polarization of beliefs also causes people to embrace more intensely negative feelings towards people with different points of view. As they turn to extremism, they come to define themselves and others primarily in terms of partisanship. Ultimately, politics extends beyond political ideas and into entire lifestyles.

But that’s not all. As I explain in my book, as society adopts “liberal” and “conservative” lifestyles, people become more involved in controlling the borders between “us” and “them”. And as popular alliances focus on hostility towards those who disagree, they become more conformist and intolerant of differences between allies.

People become less and less able to deal with disagreements, eventually becoming citizens who believe that democracy is only possible when everyone agrees with them. It is a deeply undemocratic position.

The polarization of beliefs is toxic for relations between citizens. But the large-scale political dysfunction lies in how the political polarization and the polarization of beliefs work together in a mutually reinforcing loop. When citizens are divided into two clans who are obsessed with animosity against each other, politicians are made to amplify hostility towards their opponents, supporters.

And because citizens are divided over life choices rather than political ideas, office holders are freed from the usual electoral pressure to advance a legislative platform. They can be re-elected simply on the basis of their antagonism.

As politicians deepen their divisions, citizens are urged to entrench partisan segregation. This produces an additional polarization of beliefs, which in turn rewards political intransigence. Meanwhile, constructive political processes are overwhelmed by mere symbolism and tribalism, while people’s capacities for responsible democratic citizenship erode.

Cures for polarization tend to focus on how it plagues relationships between citizens. President Joe Biden was surely right to point out in his inaugural speech that Americans must “turn down the heat” and “not see themselves as adversaries, but as neighbors”.

Yet democracy presupposes political disagreement. As James Madison observed, America needs democracy precisely because self-governing citizens will inevitably disagree on politics. The answer to polarization cannot involve calls for unanimity or the abandonment of partisan rivalries. A democracy without political divisions is not a democracy at all.

The task is to make the political differences of the people more civil, to restore the capacity to disagree with respect. But this cannot be accomplished simply by conducting political discussions differently. Research indicates that once people are polarized, exposure to even civilian expressions from the perspective of the other side creates more polarization.

This is a case of the crucial difference between prevention and cure. It is not enough to pretend that polarization has not happened, or to behave as if it is a minor concern. In the current situation, even sincere attempts to engage in a respectful dialogue with the other party often backfires.

Yet Americans remain democratic citizens, partners in the shared self-government project who cannot simply ignore each other.

Polarization is a problem that cannot be solved, it can only be managed. This makes relations between political opponents toxic, but it also harms relations between allies. This intensifies conformity within coalitions, reducing people’s concepts of tolerable levels of disagreement in like-minded groups.

So, managing polarization may involve working to counter compliance by engaging in respectful disagreements with people we see as allies. By taking steps to remember that politics always involve arguments, even between those who vote for the same candidates and affiliates of the same party, Americans can begin to rediscover the ability to respectfully disagree with their opponents.

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Amy Wax, “Racist” Law Professor at Penn Law, Worryingly Says America “Better Off with Fewer Asians” https://i-racconti.com/amy-wax-racist-law-professor-at-penn-law-worryingly-says-america-better-off-with-fewer-asians/ Mon, 03 Jan 2022 23:02:19 +0000 https://i-racconti.com/amy-wax-racist-law-professor-at-penn-law-worryingly-says-america-better-off-with-fewer-asians/ A controversial law professor at the University of Pennsylvania is once again inflamed for her racist comments. This time, Amy Wax was accused of being xenophobic in a recent interview with Glenn Loury, professor of social science at Brown University, and was quick to applaud her critics. But her “defense” only made matters worse, when […]]]>

A controversial law professor at the University of Pennsylvania is once again inflamed for her racist comments.

This time, Amy Wax was accused of being xenophobic in a recent interview with Glenn Loury, professor of social science at Brown University, and was quick to applaud her critics. But her “defense” only made matters worse, when she said directly that because “most” Asian Americans supported Democrats, “the United States is doing better with less money. Asians and less Asian immigration “.

The social media reaction was swift, with former President Donald Trump’s niece Marie trump even ring.

“It helps to explain the situation in which this country finds itself in which an Ivy League university allows moral and intellectual bankrupt racist #AmyWax to teach the next generation of American lawyers.” There should be consequences for this kind of hate rhetoric @pennlaw, ”she wrote.

Penn Law School dean Theodore Ruger addressed the controversy in a statement Monday, calling Wax’s comments “anti-intellectual” and “racist.”

“Like all racist generalizations, Wax’s recent comments do harm by perpetuating stereotypes and imposing differential burdens on Asian students, faculty and staff to bear the brunt of this vitriol and prejudice,” he said. -he declares.

It all started with the December 20 episode of The Glenn Show, in which Wax discussed American immigration, insisting that it’s difficult to welcome people into Western societies if they don’t share. not the same values ​​- an idea she also shared in a recent speech.

“It’s just more difficult to assimilate these people or to have confidence that our way of life will continue if we bring in a lot of people who don’t know it. These are not original ideas on the [political] right, ”Wax told Loury. “It could lead to a change in the racial profile of those who enter. Obviously, we will have fewer people from Africa. We will have fewer people in parts of Asia, and it will be whiter – not a lot of white people want to come to the United States.

Specifically, Wax was referring to the South Asian elites migrating to the United States, which she differentiated from migrants from Latin America.

“[We] have to distinguish the mass immigration, which we get from Hispanics, south of the border, which I think poses different questions and challenges than the Asian elites we get, ”she said. “That’s not to say that the influx of Asian elites is not a problem. I actually think it’s problematic. … I think it’s because there is this… danger of domination of an Asian elite in this country, and what does that mean? What will this mean to change the culture?

“Is the spirit of freedom beating in their chest?” She continued.

Wax considered the spirit of freedom to be “people who distrust centralized concentrations of authority who have a kind of ‘don’t step on me” attitude, who focus … on our freedoms, on our freedoms, small-scale personal responsibility that are mavericks in a good way.

The law professor noted that the idea of ​​’awakening’ is an elite ideology and that “Asians tend to be more in line with the mainstream ethic. “

Then Wax railed against the Indians who remain in America after complaining that the country is racist.

His comments did not bode well for the audience of Loury.

Loury posted an email he received from Auditor George Lee, who said he generally opposes undocumented immigration and generally agrees with Wax. But his last rant “disturbed” him.

“It’s a bad thing for America to bring in immigrants who oppose America’s core values,” Lee said. “But … race and national origin are very poor indicators of the cultural values ​​that should be kept away from America.”

Lee elaborated on the Asian immigrants who made racial strides in America, “who hammered the curb and hit the airwaves to help stem the tides of racial essentialism and collective judgment in bills, voting initiatives and elections “.

“By many accounts, Asians have been the main marginal contributors to some of these successes,” he said. “Asians contribute to the academic, technological and economic competitiveness of the United States, of which we all share the benefits. “

Wax then issued a rebuttal, saying Lee was “too optimistic about the influence of Asians and Asian immigrants.”

“In the case of Asians in the United States, the overwhelming majority vote Democratic,” Wax explained. “I find Asian support for these policies baffling, because I don’t see how they are in the best interests of Asians. We can speculate (and, yes, generalize) about Asians’ desire to please the elite.

“As long as most Asians support the Democrats and help advance their positions, I think the United States is doing better with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration,” she added.

Wax’s anti-Asian comments quickly went viral on social media.

Ongoing business Editor Nathan Robinson tweeted: “Amy Wax, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who insisted she was not racist despite praising the superiority of ‘European’ culture, now maintains that states United need “less Asians” and we have to ask ourselves “how many Asians are too many. ‘”

“The most ironic part is that Wax complains about the decline of ‘bourgeois values’, but then opposes the group of immigrants (Asians) who put him out of the question when it comes to these values ​​(academic success , entrepreneurship, focus on family, etc.) ”, another Twitter user job.

Writer and Race Relations Specialist in History and Law Brando Simeo Starkey wrote: “I had the bad luck to have dinner with her in a group. She is absolutely racist.

In his statement, Dean Ruger said that while “Wax’s speech may be protected” it does not “allow this law school to ignore the real harm that this speech is causing.”

“Wax’s views are diametrically opposed to the policies and ethics of this institution,” he added. “They serve as a persistent and tangible reminder that racism, sexism and xenophobia are not theoretical abstractions but are real and insidious beliefs in this country and in our building. This reality refines and deepens our commitment to supporting our community as we continue to work to advance equity and inclusion. “

The Washington Post reported that Wax had previously faced backlash for falsely claiming that black students in their classes were rarely among Penn’s most successful students.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black student graduate in the first quarter of the class, and rarely, rarely, in the top half,” she said in a 2017 interview with Loury.

Due to Wax’s comments, Ruger said the professor would no longer teach compulsory classes but only teach elective classes.

“Black students graduated top of the class at Penn Law,” Ruger said. “Contrary to any suggestion to the contrary, black students at Penn Law do extremely well, both inside and outside the classroom, in the workforce, and in their careers.”

In her last conversation with Loury, Wax claimed that former students of color were trying to get her fired.



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Restrictions on Afghan Women https://i-racconti.com/restrictions-on-afghan-women/ Sun, 02 Jan 2022 04:13:08 +0000 https://i-racconti.com/restrictions-on-afghan-women/ According to a recent Associated Press (AP) report, the Taliban government, reversing its previous commitment not to crack down on Afghan women, has imposed restrictions whereby they are not allowed to travel more than 75 kilometers without a male parent. In addition, carriers have been ordered not to allow women who do not wear hijabs […]]]>

According to a recent Associated Press (AP) report, the Taliban government, reversing its previous commitment not to crack down on Afghan women, has imposed restrictions whereby they are not allowed to travel more than 75 kilometers without a male parent. In addition, carriers have been ordered not to allow women who do not wear hijabs on board. It appears that the Taliban regime is reverting to its 1996-2001 restrictions on women, including banning the education of women. Previously, female TV presenters and playwrights were ordered to wear hijabs, and their participation in advertisements was also prohibited.

Since the Taliban took power in August 2021, the frustration and anger of Afghan women has been reflected in their periodic protests against the Taliban. Those who expected a positive change in the Taliban’s state of mind were mistaken because there is absolutely no indication of their flexibility and tolerance in their approach to social issues. Will Afghan women, who make up about 50% of the population, be speechless and powerless again? This type of peace, which the Taliban claim to have brought about, is it real peace? Or should it be called “graveyard peace” based on fear?

The achievements of the Taliban during their 100 days in power – such as controlling corruption and nepotism and relying on domestic resources to formulate a budget – cannot be denied, but their failure to follow a democratic, enlightened and progressive approach on the mode of governance, politics, pluralism and the rights of women and minorities will degenerate the Afghan state and society. How can a country survive the 21st century by pursuing a retrograde and ultra-conservative approach? This means that the Taliban representing the clergy lack the qualities to lead the art of government along pragmatic and modern lines.

The Taliban regime has not obtained recognition from any UN member state because of its rigid and uncompromising mode of governance; their inability to transform their mindset on issues such as women’s freedom; their narrow and parochial interpretation of Sharia law; and their failure to reform democratic institutions and form broad-based government as a first step towards holding elections and transferring power to elected representatives. The Taliban’s argument that the US refusal to release its frozen $ 9.5 billion worth of assets is why it cannot reopen girls’ schools and universities is illogical. It is human and non-financial resources that are essential to reopen the doors to women’s education.

The end result of suppressing women’s freedom and creativity will be the erosion of Afghan society. Banning healthy music, songs and entertainment will increase frustration, anger and antagonism, especially among young people. In turn, the wrong message will be sent to the world that the Afghan people are socially backward and will never be able to lead normal lives. If Afghan society had been enlightened and modern with pragmatic leadership, the country would not have been unemployed and dependent on external resources to meet budgetary needs.

The restrictions on Afghan women, the ban on music and the refusal to reopen educational institutions for women will have three negative consequences, as follows:

First, a critical mass of young people and women has been created over the past 20 years after the dismantling of the Taliban regime in October 2001. Responding to this segment of society will be a major challenge for the Taliban regime. This critical mass knows the value of freedom and will not let a group of people who have usurped power by force destroy their lives by imposing a way of life that will kill their creative and innovative skills. This segment of society also knows that they are leaving their country for better opportunities and that their future will be at stake under the Taliban because of their ultraconservative and backward policies. It seems that most of the Afghan youth, especially the female segment of society, are aware of losing their independence and want to break free from a stifling environment where their skills are rusting every day.

Second, there is concern that once the Taliban regime is able to strengthen its position through international recognition, it will show its true face and attempt to crush dissent with sheer force. Perhaps it is because of the Taliban’s failure to adopt a flexible and tolerant stance towards women and non-conformist groups that the international community has so far refused to recognize Kabul. At the recent OIC meeting held in Islamabad, Pakistan did its best to convince other Muslim countries and other guests like P-5, Germany and Canada to recognize the Taliban regime. , but in vain. This means that there is a serious trust deficit between the Taliban and the rest of the world. India attempted to dilute the impact of the OIC conference by holding its own meeting on Afghanistan in New Delhi, which was attended by foreign ministers from five Central Asian states. New Delhi, along with Washington, is like a “wounded lion” in the wake of the Taliban takeover. India and the United States both use their influence to remind the world that the current Taliban regime is as repressive and orthodox as it was during its previous time in power.

Finally, Pakistan’s flawed policy reflected in its weak corner for the Taliban regime is counterproductive as extremist religious groups are motivated to increase their anti-women and anti-democratic mentality. Instead of looking at the Taliban’s record towards Pakistan when they were in power from 1996 to 2001, Islamabad ignores their refusal to give formal recognition to the Durand line. A few weeks ago, Taliban forces dismantled barbed wire fences on part of the Pakistan-Afghan border, saying they rejected the Pakistani facility. Pakistan’s national security will be compromised if it ignores the Taliban’s true ambitions and their elusive nature to let down their neighbors. If the Taliban regime is not listening to the international community in terms of establishing a broad-based government and flexible policies towards women, Islamabad in this case should not go the extra mile to give them legitimacy.

Posted in The Express Tribune, January 2sd, 2022.

Like Opinion and editorial on Facebook, to follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all of our daily coins.



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Write 2022 with a blade of grass https://i-racconti.com/write-2022-with-a-blade-of-grass/ Fri, 31 Dec 2021 10:36:21 +0000 https://i-racconti.com/write-2022-with-a-blade-of-grass/ Cultural reporting in India must finally see the Old is New cunning of fashion for what it is and be brave, ask uncomfortable questions The reasonable question, “What’s going on in Indian fashion?” makes my mind go blank. Whether it’s fashion apologists who know what’s going on but still wielding a bait or satiricals pointing […]]]>

Cultural reporting in India must finally see the Old is New cunning of fashion for what it is and be brave, ask uncomfortable questions

The reasonable question, “What’s going on in Indian fashion?” makes my mind go blank. Whether it’s fashion apologists who know what’s going on but still wielding a bait or satiricals pointing out the pointlessness of fashion – even philosopher Slavoj Žižek did it last year in an interview – the question arouses perplexity. Because it is pushing back the procession of the bride and groom lehengas looms in the mind to describe with fluidity the experimental, original and risky work that coexists in fashion.

Notice the pride? Lament the increasingly apparent regressive tide in art, culture and comedy, following the course of politics, then get right back to writing on all of these matters, as usual. Complain about the ravages of the pandemic and fashion’s so-called non-essentialism in the face of climate change, then advocate for its growing importance as an interlocutor of our time.

Kriti Sanon in a Manish Malhotra lehenga

Kriti Sanon in a Manish Malhotra lehenga

My New Year’s rehab begins with dodging the influence of visual narratives like “what’s going on in India.” Or Indian style. Especially on social networks. The visuals create a deceptive cocktail of romantic nostalgia. When examined closely, many simply remix old island ideas. For example, the saturated cover of the reign of red lehengas worn by actors Patralekha and Katrina Kaif for their recent weddings have turned into a shindig on “women’s fashion” and all its “issues” that come with it. Those who laughed at their pretty likeness saw celebrity brides following time-worn ideas unwilling to wear individuality. Those who applauded praised the girls for staying true to the tradition. Few have noted that the bride and groom – Rajkummar Rao and Vicky Kaushal in this case – also readily play stereotypical roles in syrupy and botanical appetizers.

Keep silent, keep the peace?

The Old is New demon made us stooges in 2021 (and a year or two before). Sociologists may call it the moral price of an era as the right eclipses the left, but my discord is more mundane. It is the blatant silence of the fashion media when a group of decorated bridesmaids in luxurious palaces wearing silk brocades, twittering over jewelry, are sent as “fashion” in videos on Indian tailoring. When the influencers who unbox new products every day for a fee remind us to pay tribute to our grandmother’s old saris and call themselves sustainability advocates. When a beautiful, young, tall Indian girl is crowned Miss Universe after several rounds of body beauty pageants under the guise of empowerment that we are meant to be applauding in the name of patriotism. Those who oppose are called “swear words” feminists.

Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka Chopra

The pretext of old and new is perhaps not so easy to dodge. He even convinced Priyanka Chopra Jonas, a multi-hyphenated global company, to promote Bulgari Hindu. mangasutra as emblematic of the purchasing power of a financially independent woman. Thus attempting to make one of the oldest symbols of patriarchy a feminist accessory. Then the same Chopra-Jonas broke new ground to beautifully roast her husband Nick Jonas for the Jonas Brothers Family Roast on Netflix. Earlier this month, she slammed a reporter for calling her “Nick Jonas’ wife”.

Now was the time to ask why PC Jonas sold us an enslaving wedding ornament for women in the first place? Or why are we interested in the halwa Katrina Kaif had her first Bahurani barbecue? Why do fashion designers believe consumers will buy into their symbolism for inclusiveness-diversity-handicap-sustainability just because they slip into a constellation of short, dark, gay, tall, and haired models salty?

Many of these questions are not asked in my notes:

Are Banarasi weavings in fashion because tradition is the latest trend or because of new design interventions?

Is the craft biologically sustainable, or is it just a poorly studied correlation?

Do Ayurvedic beauty potions sell more because they are marketed in pretty “recyclable” bottles?

Make way for solutions

These ideas particularly troubled me last year. But they also unlock the potential of cultural reporting beyond the Old is New tyrant. Write clean, fresh, with a blade of grass in 2022.

By advocating for hand-weaving as a practical subject for schools. By interviewing brands and designers who qualify their products as sustainable without complying with globally established guidelines that range from supply chain inspections to supply and manufacturing controls to gender parity and pay equity. By calling out to each couturier who perpetuates the golden Maharani culture.

Let us highlight this year the new and emerging designers who create a non-conformist fashion and represent the culture of young people beyond the great Indian wedding. And applaud the real faces of novelty like British diver Tom Daley who was seen knitting between sporting events in Tokyo and knitted himself an Olympic-themed cardigan. Look beyond the selective engagement of mainstream media to highlight less publicized ideas like Shillong-based YouTuber duo CatxLizz, who use upcycled music and fashion to comment on social issues.

Kim Kardashian arrives for the 2021 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Kim Kardashian arrives for the 2021 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dwell on the alluring relationship between publicity and anonymity through Kim Kardashian’s black Balenciaga gown for the Met Gala in October. It completely obscured her famous body and income generating face. Look for the new, the new. Like the recent Sher Bagh collection from Raw Mango founder Sanjay Garg, hand-woven in Banaras and conceptualized with Anjali Singh from SUJAN. Garg reverses the traditional shikargah (hunting lodge) vocabulary in Indian textile design by eliminating the hunter. Thus arguing for the conservation of wildlife.

Sustainability: not an indulgence for white collar workers

Writing 2022 with a blade of grass also calls into question the impression that sustainability is the prerogative of the fashion industry. It’s not. It’s also not an indulgence for white-collar workers, just as recycling isn’t just about buying vintage or repeating an expensive outfit on Instagram. So, unless the goals of conservation, reuse, and reassembly go beyond class issues or elitist tendencies, and fashion becomes humble enough to reach out to other industries for coexistence. , action and awareness crossed, our writing will indeed slip into lamentation. Right now, most cultural reporting is in a state similar to what the greatest gymnast of all time, Simone Biles, has called ‘the twisties’. A mental hiccup that left her unsure like she put it Time magazine, of her whereabouts, while in the air, high above the arch at the Olympics.

As a blade of grass intern, I turn to Rest in Power designer Virgil Abloh, who passed away in November. Louis Vuitton’s artistic director and founder of Off-White attempted to create an egalitarian ecosystem. He also said: “I am not cut out for a podium. But I’m going to design a podium that ushers in systemic change. “

Shefalee Vasudev is editor-in-chief of The Voice of Fashion.


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Admit it as a first step? College administrators recognize lack of freedom of expression https://i-racconti.com/admit-it-as-a-first-step-college-administrators-recognize-lack-of-freedom-of-expression/ Wed, 29 Dec 2021 15:30:07 +0000 https://i-racconti.com/admit-it-as-a-first-step-college-administrators-recognize-lack-of-freedom-of-expression/ College administrators now recognize that they have created environments on their campuses that diminish free speech and stifle intellectual liveliness. For years, the game plan was simply to disown the stifling of free speech on college campuses, while imposing language codes, running ideological orientation programs, and hiring faculty and staff. student affairs that all think […]]]>

College administrators now recognize that they have created environments on their campuses that diminish free speech and stifle intellectual liveliness. For years, the game plan was simply to disown the stifling of free speech on college campuses, while imposing language codes, running ideological orientation programs, and hiring faculty and staff. student affairs that all think alike. This strategy of denial, however, has become impractical as alumni, prospective students, and the general public signal that the game is over.

A report released at the end of the fall semester by the Academic Leaders’ Task Force on Free Speech on Campus, an initiative of the Bipartisan Policy Center, acknowledged that some colleges lack a real commitment to freedom of speech. The report was titled “Campus Free Expression: A New Roadmap. That such a report had to be produced is an admission that the principles of free speech had strayed from many colleges and universities. A new roadmap would not be necessary if college leaders knew their current location and found it appropriate.

The report is a good faith effort, at one level, to tackle a difficult subject. He recognizes the importance of freedom of expression in higher education and notes the need for a diversity of perspectives on campus. Obviously, much discussion and deliberation took place on the report.

The report, however, is long on bureaucrats and short on specific fixes.

It does not address how college administrations have allowed the principles of free speech to dissipate over the past 30 years. He fails to identify the campus influences that have led to the descent of colleges into ideological gulags that lack diversity of viewpoints and where some voices are often stifled.

A key gap is the report’s interest in balancing freedom of speech on campus with ongoing initiatives for diversity, equity and inclusion. A university cannot claim allegiance to free speech and then say “but…” equity and inclusion.

There should be no tension between a commitment to free speech and diversity measures. Freedom of speech philosopher Frederick Schauer wrote that freedom of speech is a fundamental principle of human dignity. It does not need to be hedged against other priorities. Schauer notes that freedom of expression actually promotes inclusion by empowering the widest range of voices. Further, Schauer pointed out that the harms of suppressing free speech outweigh the occasional bad effects of open discussion. But a solid debate on campus will not take place in an environment where students and faculty are constantly concerned about breaking a code of speaking.

Over the years, organizations such as the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), as well as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) have sounded the alarm over the deterioration of freedom of expression on campuses. . FIRE President Greg Lukianoff explained the situation in a recent essay, highlighting the number of colleges that impose restrictive speech codes and the alarming increase in colleges punishing professors for engaging in protected speech. Constitution. He writes: “American higher education has become too expensive, too illiberal and too conformist. A FIRE report last fall said more than 80 percent of students nationwide report self-censorship on their own campuses.

Compliance is inevitable in environments where everyone is expected to think alike, and those who don’t are afraid to speak up. It is dangerous and contrary to everything the colleges once stood for. As the famous socio-political observer Walter Lippmann wrote a century ago, “where everyone thinks the same, no one thinks much”. It seems that thinking the same is not just the effect of a stifled culture, it is the intention.

ACTA President Michael Poliakoff wrote in an email to members that there is a nationwide “alumni revolution”, of alumni who expect their alma mater to protect the freedom of expression. He encouraged alumni to rally for change in their colleges and “make donations conditional on those changes.”

Restoring an environment conducive to intellectual vitality and freedom of expression in higher education will be difficult and sometimes painful. It will take more than political reports and adjustments, as Princeton policy professor Keith Whittington wrote in the Fordham Law Review: “Ultimately, the realization of the principles of free speech on college campuses is as much a matter of culture as it is of politics.

Changing cultures takes time, but time is running out.

Nearly a generation of students have come to the world without realizing how much freedom of speech empowers them and society as a whole. A polarized nation reflects this lack of understanding.

Jeffrey McCall is a media critic and professor of communications at DePauw University. He has worked as a radio news director, journalist and political media consultant. Follow him on twitter @Prof_McCall.



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Cinema classics for a queer Christmas https://i-racconti.com/cinema-classics-for-a-queer-christmas/ Mon, 27 Dec 2021 15:14:00 +0000 https://i-racconti.com/cinema-classics-for-a-queer-christmas/ If you had any reservations about the news that Steven Spielberg was remaking “West Side Story,” you’re not alone. After all, with Hollywood’s track record of producing ghastly remakes of classic movies, it’s probably wise to be skeptical when a new one arrives. Having said that, you can now be assured that your skepticism is […]]]>

If you had any reservations about the news that Steven Spielberg was remaking “West Side Story,” you’re not alone. After all, with Hollywood’s track record of producing ghastly remakes of classic movies, it’s probably wise to be skeptical when a new one arrives.

Having said that, you can now be assured that your skepticism is unfounded.

From its very first shot, in which Spielberg pays a shameless tribute to the opening moments of “Citizen Kane” while establishing almost everything we need to know about the setting for the story we’ll see, “West Side Story” dispels immediately any concern. on the master director’s ability to deliver the blend of theatrical and cinematic art he deserves. With an unparalleled mastery of the visual language of storytelling, he brings us vividly into the conflict between the Jets and the Sharks – two teenage street gangs, white and Puerto Rican respectively, at war over the territory of a Manhattan slum – and sets the stage for a tale of “Romeo and Juliet” by Shakespeare in which a family feud is traded for racism as the basis of a young love story thwarted by old hatred.

For those unfamiliar with it, the plot centers around the romance of Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Maria (Rachel Zegler) – which is a problem as Tony is the best friend of Jets chief Riff (Mike Faist). , and Maria is the sister of Bernardo (David Alvarez), leader of the Sharks. Despite the concerns of those around them – including Bernardo’s shrewd and willful girlfriend Anita (Ariana DeBose) – the couple’s forbidden love endures even as rival gangs plan to wipe each other out once and for all. , triggering a tragic chain of events that will shock the entire community.

Spielberg’s respectful reworking of the classic musical drama – conceived for Broadway in 1957 and first translated in theaters in an Oscar-winning classic directed by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise – achieves what skeptics thought was impossible: a new rendering that succeeds in bringing depth, a more contemporary sensitivity to the material while leaving it essentially unchanged. Much of the credit goes to Pulitzer winner Tony Kushner, whose literate and perfect adaptation of Arthur Laurents’ screenplay fills some of the blanks in the story and expands its reach to illuminate the complex economic and social issues that lie ahead. find in his heart.

The characters are fleshed out by more detailed stories which give them a greater dimension and humanity; Tony, for example, is on parole after being in jail for nearly killing a rival gang member in a fight, and we find out that Riff’s father was as much of a thug as he was. Additionally, the minor role of “Anybodys,” a female Jet originally described as a “tomboy” who is ridiculed and shut out by her gang mates for being a girl, here receives an embellished presence, who, aided by a powerful performance by Iris Menas, leaves little doubt that she grapples with gender identity in a time when there were no words for such things.

In a similar expansion, we find the neighborhood set to be demolished ahead of the construction of Lincoln Center and the opulent housing that surrounds it, permanently planting the film in the same time frame as the original work while pushing forward. the impact of urban upheaval and gentrification on the low-income and marginalized communities they continually displace.

With flourishes like these, Kushner’s screenplay brings “West Side Story” into the present without removing it from the world that gave birth to it, highlighting the connections and parallels between the two eras and reminding us of just how much this American classic continues to be relevant. .

Likewise, the hugely talented cast is instrumental in reframing the story for a more evolved age – and not just because all of the Latino roles are played by Latino performers this time around. Each of the young stars gives a performance of heartbreaking authenticity, with DeBose’s Anita, a special star who commands the screen in every scene she’s in (as she should!), And Zegler, a newcomer to the scene. ‘screen, providing a Maria as daring and self-possessed as she is so luminous and delicate. But perhaps the film’s most magnificent performance comes from Rita Moreno, the Anita from the original film, who here plays the rewritten (and re-gendered) role of a neighborhood shopkeeper who serves as Tony’s surrogate parent; She imbues the character with a combination of warmth and hard-earned wisdom, and her presence brings an element of having come full circle, a touch of nostalgia that ties the film to its heritage and lingers with us long after the credits roll. .

The same can be said of the much revered score by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim (RIP, genius), which is here preserved and performed almost entirely intact. Some songs are rearranged in the story, and some songs are performed by different characters than we are used to, but arranger David Newman and conductor Gustavo Dudamel manage to deliver a catchy and passionate rendering of the music. classic of the show. – enhanced by the exceptional voice of its cast, none of which required the type of dubbing that was standard practice when “West Side Story” first appeared on screen.

As for Spielberg, it’s hard to imagine another director who could pull off this. He draws from his vast sea of ​​cinematic influences to create a larger-than-life, skillfully constructed work of visual art that handles the spectacular and the intimate with equal skill and engages our emotions on all levels. He frequently references the classic films he loves, weaving them into a tapestry that acknowledges his debt to the great filmmakers who came before him while firmly asserting his own mastery of the medium. He even asserts his self-confidence by recalling fond memories of the classic 1961 version, the subtle but unmistakable emulation of its color palette and lighting choices in key scenes with the most obvious echoes of the original choreography of Jerome Robbins in the dance – brilliantly staged. by Spielberg and choreographer Justin Peck in a style that mimics the athletic movement of the original’s dance sequences while jumping to heights all of its own.

Yet for all this deference to the past, Spielberg’s take on “West Side Story” excels and excites because she feels so firmly grounded in the here and now. His intention is to learn from the past, not dwell on it, and he challenges us every moment to see history with a contemporary – and sometimes uncomfortable – perspective. Most provocative, perhaps, is his choice not to use subtitles when the characters speak Spanish; with that simple twist he aims straight at the heart of the turmoil dividing our culture today, thus using a 64-year-old musical written by three gay men as it was always meant to be used – as a powerful condemnation. fanaticism and hatred in a world that has seen enough murder.

Spielberg’s vision honors, even celebrates the beloved original film, but simultaneously reiterates it into something exciting and new. Even the most rigid purist can’t ask for a more faithful adaptation than this.


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