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February 2017

This Is How Free Speech Slowly Dies The government is now subjectively policing the emotional impact of individual e-mails. By David French

Many years ago, when I was a brash young conservative lawyer working in a big law firm, I said something that could have ended my career (and almost certainly would have today). It was March Madness, and I was running one of the firm’s two bracket pools. As a basketball snob, I disliked the traditional pool because it was too dependent on sheer, dumb luck. As I recall, lawyers’ ten-year-old kids had won the previous two years, and I wanted a pool for serious fans only.

So, I created what I called the “conservative bracket,” a pool that put a premium on picking upsets. In a firm-wide e-mail, I said you could join the traditional, “liberal” bracket — where merit was irrelevant to outcome and even the most ignorant fan could win a trophy — or you could join the firm’s Republicans and test yourself against the best.

That wasn’t the offensive part. Just wait.

Once the tournament got rolling, I intended to start each Monday with a fun and highly politicized summary of the weekend’s results. The year was 1995, and the mighty Arizona Wildcats were upset by Miami of Ohio in the first round — a result I predicted. So, in the gleeful opening paragraph of my Monday morning firm-wide e-mail (sent to every lawyer, paralegal, and secretary), I explained at some length that Arizona lost because it played “like a bunch of girls.”

Okay, that was the offensive part.

The chairman of the firm’s management committee was a liberal feminist, and the firm’s female partners were by and large quite feminist. I was a lowly first-year associate. My job was of no consequence, and I immediately heard through the grapevine that the partners were not pleased. I braced myself for the consequences.

The next morning, I came to work and saw that my office door was closed. When I opened the door, my office was empty and the walls were covered with posters of women’s college-basketball teams. I turned around and every woman in the firm was standing behind me, triumphant smirks on their faces. My secretary grabbed my hand and led me down the hall to the women’s restroom, where they’d put my desk and chair and taped “David’s Office” on the door.

They responded to my ham-handed attempt at humor with some humor of their own — humor with a point.

I wasn’t called in to human resources. I wasn’t “counseled.” I didn’t have to attend diversity training. And I certainly wasn’t fined. I kept rolling with my conservative bracket (I came in last), and I kept sending firm-wide e-mails.

Rewriting History at the Met The Metropolitan Museum’s Jerusalem 1000-1400 masked centuries of struggle for power and survival in the Holy Land—and effaced both the presence and the subjugation of its Jews.

Edward Rothstein’s incisive discussion of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven confirms my own impressions of the show, about which I wrote in a piece for the Federalist. Here I want to make even more emphatic Rothstein’s grasp of the issue at stake in an exhibition whose overall tendentiousness began at the starting gate.https://mosaicmagazine.com/response/2017/02/rewriting-history-at-the-met/

An outsized projection of the Dome of the Rock commanded the exhibit’s entrance hall, eclipsing an ensemble of smaller images of other sites. Built at the end of the 7th century in the appropriated style of a Byzantine martyrium, the Dome, then as now, stood as an architectural symbol of Islamic ascendancy.

Starting from that point, and threaded throughout the exhibition and its accompanying catalogue, was further evidence of this assertion of privilege. The museum’s pageant of artifacts, undeniably beautiful, no doubt accounted for the rapturous and almost universal applause that greeted the exhibition. But the Met, after all, has been in show business since its former director Thomas Hoving made the mummies dance 40 years ago, and spectacles are its meat and potatoes. In this case, the aesthetic dimension was in the service of a tutorial.

In the Metropolitan Museum’s telling, medieval Jerusalem was a light to the nations, a showcase of interfaith comity and a multicultural Arcadia that flourished under the open-minded tolerance of Islamic domination. (And by the way, the cuisine was first-rate.) Here was Islamic rule selectively cleansed of its imperialism, brutality, absolutism, and institutionalized subjection of non-Muslims. Shariah with its barbaric punishments disappeared. Gone were the humiliations and burdens of dhimmitude. Gone, too, the debased status of women and the slave market extant in every city of the medieval Islamic world.

To squeeze this dormouse into a teapot, the show’s curators, Barbara Boehm and Melanie Holcomb, separated “culture” from its wellsprings in politics. As they write in the catalogue:

Suppose we set aside political history as a means to define cultural history so that we could better explore the variety, richness, interconnectivity of the city, its people, and its arts?

The word interconnectivity signals the curatorial effort to mask what were centuries of struggle for power and civilizational survival—by persecuted Christians under Islam, and by perennially endangered Jews under both Christians and Muslims. All of this was subordinated to a softened, idealized, and anachronistic picture of Islamic order. Catalogue entries recount the past in terms of modern sensibilities, with a narrative that cherry-picks vignettes of atypical elites—poets and scholars on “the flourishing academic scene”—to portray the Holy City as a shrine to interethnic inclusion and “fluid religious identity.” Muslim rulers are depicted as pluralists, and Islamic Jerusalem as offering a striking contrast to “Venice, Rome, Paris—none of [which] tolerated the same degree of religious diversity.” Playing underneath is a revisionist historical subtext: Christians and, especially, Jews hold no greater historical claim to Jerusalem than do Muslims, and may hold a weaker one.

Crucial factual omissions presume an historically insensitive audience. The wall blurbs opened with this: “Beginning about the year 1000, Jerusalem captivated the world’s attention as never before.” True, but omitted was the reason: in 1009-10, the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah ordered the demolition of all synagogues and churches in Palestine, Egypt, and Syria, including Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Decades later, following centuries of Islamic assault on what was then Christian territory, the city’s tattered condition supplied one of the final triggers leading to the Crusades.

The show’s continuing tutorial portrayed Christian Crusaders as unprovoked aggressors who conquered and claimed, while Muslims would later reclaim and retake. That reversal conforms to the tropes of our culture, eliciting assent from the many who identify the totality of the Crusades with unsanctioned—and often anti-Semitic—excesses in a cruel and bloody age. In fact, however, the Crusades, like the reconquista in Spain, began in response to Muslim invasion and subjugation.

The exhibition’s drumbeat of phrases like “Christian warriors” and “Crusader occupation” also played on ignorance of the fact that the Crusades, among the most misunderstood events in Western history, were unsuccessful—and thus, consequently, irrelevant to Muslims until the collapse of the Ottoman empire. As the historian Thomas Madden has written:

[T]he Crusades were virtually unknown in the Muslim world even a century ago. The term for the Crusades, harb al-salib, was only introduced into the Arab language in the mid-19th century. The first Arabic history of the Crusades was not written until 1899. . . . In the grand sweep of Islamic history, the Crusades simply did not matter.

They did not matter, that is, until they became useful to 20th-century Islamists and Arab nationalists who shared a desire to rid the Middle East of “colonialist” European powers. But whatever else they might have been, the Crusader kingdoms themselves were not colonial ventures. Unconnected to any foreign state, they were embattled enclaves within the Muslim world. Today they have been resurrected as weapons with which to bludgeon Israel and the West.

Trump Proposes Cutting State Department Budget by 37% Plan would cut aid given by U.S. Agency for International Development by Felicia Schwartz

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration is proposing deep cuts in U.S. diplomatic and foreign-aid funding while dramatically increasing defense expenditures, a bid to fundamentally shift the emphasis of U.S. foreign policy that has sparked fierce criticism from lawmakers and international-affairs experts.

The White House has proposed a spending cut of 37% to the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development budget said a person familiar with the budget deliberations. Those agencies now receive about $50.1 billion.

At the same time, President Donald Trump is developing a federal budget that officials said would add $54 billion to the base defense budget, funded by cuts elsewhere, including the State Department and its foreign-aid division. The addition would increase military spending to more than $600 billion.

Lawmakers opposed to the cuts say they will unavoidably devastate the State Department. People familiar with the deliberations said the Trump administration is examining the growth in spending by the State Department during the Obama administration, including through the addition of adding special envoys, they said, though that would not cover the proposed cuts.

One U.S. official said that the Trump administration also was eyeing U.S. development assistance to other countries as a significant source for the cuts.

Word of the proposed cuts met with swift objection from Republicans and Democrats, who said it would sharply curtail Washington’s ability to guide world events.

“That is definitely dead on arrival,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on state and foreign operations, told reporters Tuesday. He said the proposed budget “destroys soft power” and puts diplomats at risk.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said he didn’t believe that a 37% cut would make it through Congress. “The diplomatic portion of the federal budget is very important and you get results a lot cheaper frequently,” than through military spending, he said.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said cutting the State Department budget by more than a third would “have serious and detrimental effects on our national-security posture.”

Trump’s Navy Choice A Secretary who knows Congress would help get to a 350-ship fleet.


President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Navy, investor Philip Bilden, withdrew Sunday over difficulties separating himself from his business interests. This follows the withdrawal of Army nominee Vincent Viola, but the Navy job carries particular significance because the new Administration has promised a major naval buildup.

The last great U.S. Navy Secretary was John Lehman, who used a background in finance and a natural talent for bureaucratic warfare to enact Ronald Reagan’s vision of a 600-ship Navy and help drive the Soviet Union to exhaustion. Today, as the Navy and its industry contractors try to halt a string of acquisitions snafus involving aircraft carriers, surface combatants and fighter aircraft, a veteran businessman such as former Ford CEO Alan Mulally would be a strong choice.

The more obvious pick is former Congressman Randy Forbes. As chair of the House Armed Services subcommittees on readiness and seapower from 2011 through last year, he warned that the Navy is undersized and ill-equipped to address security challenges such as China’s emergence as a rival in the Pacific. Mr. Forbes helped conceive the goal of a 350-ship Navy embraced by Mr. Trump—today’s fleet is 273 deployable ships—and last year he led his House committee in passing a $20.6 billion shipbuilding budget, the largest since the Reagan-Lehman era.

Our sources say Mr. Forbes has backers at the White House, but Pentagon chief Jim Mattis may prefer a nonpolitician. Mr. Mattis shouldn’t hire anyone who doesn’t have his confidence, but many former politicians have served ably as service secretaries. Mr. Forbes has a record of subordinating political considerations to strategic ones, as when he backed the deployment of more U.S. Navy assets to Asia that otherwise could have been based in his home state of Virginia.

Reversing the U.S. Navy’s decline is an urgent strategic priority. A smart service secretary who can navigate the Pentagon bureaucracy and Congressional opponents will be an asset to Mr. Trump, and the country, in pursuing the 350-ship goal. CONTINUE AT SITE

Berlin Bans Muslim Group Accused of Supporting Terrorism Police raid Fussilet 33 mosque that authorities say was attended by suspect in deadly Christmas market attack.By Ruth Bender and Zeke Turner


BERLIN—Local authorities on Tuesday banned a Muslim group accused of supporting terrorism, offering a fresh sign of Germany’s increased efforts to combat Islamist extremists in the wake of December’s deadly Christmas-market attack.

Officials in Berlin, which is governed as a city-state, moved quickly through the arduous legal process of banning the Muslim group Fussilet 33 e.V. They did so after learning that Anis Amri, who attacked the market, was a frequent visitor at the group’s mosque, including on the day he rammed a truck into a Christmas market.

Berlin’s interior ministry said Fussilet 33, which also hosted religious lectures and seminars in the working-class Moabit neighborhood, supported terrorist organizations such as Islamic State and Junud al-Sham by collecting funds and recruiting people to fight in Syria and Iraq. Representatives from Fussilet 33 couldn’t be reached for comment.

The group and its members “hailed the armed jihad and religiously motivated terrorism,” said State Secretary Torsten Akmann.

German authorities face pressure to show they are aggressively fighting radical Islamism at home. They came under criticism for failing to stop Mr. Amri in the months before his attack.

Mr. Amri’s case drew attention to radical Muslim groups that German security authorities say pose an increasing challenge in the fight against violent Islamist ideology and terrorism but that are hard to ban because of laws protecting religious groups. Berlin had considered banning Fussilet 33 in 2015 but abandoned the idea for lack of proof.

“Inflammatory ideologues aren’t welcome in Berlin,” said Andreas Geisel, the city-state’s senator for domestic affairs. “Whoever thinks that they can call for violence or support others (who do) in our city needs to know: We are watching you, and we will take care of you the exact same way we’re taking care of the Fussilet 33 association.”

Mr. Amri also had ties to another known radical group in Germany affiliated with prominent radical preacher Abu Walaa, who was arrested last year on suspicion of recruiting fighters for Islamic State, prompting intelligence officials to monitor him. But his connection to Fussilet 33 only emerged after the attack, sparking calls for a sharper monitoring of known meeting spots for radicals.

Berlin’s interior ministry said Tuesday that prominent Fussilet 33 members have been convicted or are facing trial for supporting a foreign terror organization or planning an attack. Its assets have been seized and the association is now barred from any activity, including online or reorganizing under a new name. CONTINUE AT SITE

U.S. and Russia Clash at U.N. Over Syria Sanctions Envoy Haley berates Moscow, Beijing for vetoing measures against Assad regime over alleged use of chemical weapons By Farnaz Fassihi


UNITED NATIONS—Russia and the U.S. clashed openly at the Security Council over a Syria sanctions resolution, a confrontation signaling Washington and Moscow don’t see eye to eye on some of the world’s top security crises.

The U.S. on Tuesday accused Russia of covering for Syria’s use of chemical weapons, and Russia accused the U.S. of using false pretenses to impose sanctions to try to topple Syria’s government.

The tense exchange mirrored those between Russia and previous U.S. administrations, offering a telling look at deep divisions that remain even as President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, have vowed to improve ties.

New U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who arrived in late January, has held close to core American policies when it comes to differences with Russia on Ukraine and Syria. On two previous occasions, in early February and last week, Ms. Haley assailed Russia at the Security Council for what she called its “aggressive actions” and “destabilizing” role in Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Ms. Haley went a step further, directly confronting Russia and China over their positions, saying they were taking an indefensible stance by putting the protection of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime ahead of global security.

“It is a sad day on the Security Council when member states start making excuses for other member states killing their own people,” Ms. Haley said. She added the vote signaled to the world that allies of Russia and China would be protected even if they kill their own people.

U.S. allies at the U.N. welcomed the comments, having feared that even the smallest U.S. policy shift toward Russia would have significant impact on issues such as Syria, Europe, counterterrorism and Iran.

But it further dimmed any likelihood of an early rapprochement between Moscow and Washington. The U.S. on Tuesday also countered a Russian assertion that a summit is being planned between Messrs. Trump and Putin, amid growing questions in Washington about contacts between associates of the president and the Kremlin.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said practical preparations have started for a meeting between the two leaders, but added there was “no agreement yet as to the time and place,” Russian news agencies reported.

A senior U.S. official, however, said no preparations are under way.

Mr. Trump’s election had raised hopes in Moscow that the U.S. government would move to roll back sanctions imposed after the Russian government annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014 and gave support to separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Mr. Putin said in a congratulatory note he hoped Russia and the U.S. could work as equals following years of strained ties with President Barack Obama’s White House. Mr. Trump—who has long expressed admiration for the Russian leader—enjoyed overwhelmingly positive coverage on Russian state-controlled television. CONTINUE AT SITE

Must-See TV Markets are hoping Trump can produce a new reality show. By James Freeman

Turns out the last full quarter of the Obama economy was just as lousy as we thought. This morning the government reported that GDP grew at the same sluggish 1.9% rate in the fourth quarter as previously estimated. Business investment was even worse than expected, and this news comes on the heels of Monday’s disappointing report on durable goods orders for January. This raises the hope that at least we won’t have to hear any more about the allegedly beautiful economy that President Obama has bequeathed to his successor. But it underlines the need for President Trump to show tonight that he’s going to deliver on his promises of economic growth.

Markets have been on a tear since Election Night, with the Dow up nearly 14% through Tuesday’s close. This is based on Mr. Trump’s promises to reduce the burden of taxes and rules imposed by Washington. For years prior to his election, markets were rising thanks in large part to historically low interest rates engineered by the Federal Reserve. But investors and businesspeople didn’t really believe Washington could manufacture prosperity. So big companies borrowed at low rates and then used the money to buy other companies or buy back their own stock or just sat on cash instead of investing in new equipment. This lack of investment meant we never got the productivity gains that make us all richer. Mr. Trump has made business operators more optimistic but it’s not clear he’s yet changed their behavior.

When he addresses a Joint Session of Congress tonight, job creators need to see Mr. Trump’s best-ever reality show—a plan to move from the unreality of Washington economic management to a real market where stocks rise because of robust growth in sales and profits. CONTINUE AT SITE

The Forgotten Treachery of Obama’s State Department Obama’s reward for Castro regime spies who helped murder Americans. Humberto Fontova

We all know about the Obama administration’s lies and treachery regarding Benghazi. But how many of you know about the Obama administration’s lies and treachery against the American families of the Americans ambushed and murdered on the orders of Raul Castro?

Thought so … Well, please read on:

You see, amigos: This week 21 years ago three U.S. citizens and one legal U.S. resident who belonged to a humanitarian volunteer organization known as “Brothers to the Rescue” were busy at their volunteer humanitarian jobs when Raul Castro (then head of Cuba’s military) gave orders for his air force to ambush and murder them. Raul Castro himself boasted about these orders.

These American volunteer workers were tangibly saving more innocent lives (countless men, women and children) than most Peace Corp workers or “community-organizers” could ever show for their work, despite all the media hype.

You see, amigos: Twenty times as many people (men, women, children) have died trying to escape Castro’s Cuba as died trying to escape East Germany. So during the mid-1990s a volunteer outfit known as Brothers to the Rescue based in south Florida flew unarmed Cessnas over the Florida Straits alerting the U.S. Coast Guard to the location of these desperate escapees from Stalinism and keeping many from joining the terrible tally of death by drowning, dehydration or getting ripped apart and eaten alive by sharks. By 1996 these American humanitarian volunteers had flown 1,800 missions and helped rescue 4,200 men, women and children.

Considering how prior to Castroism Cuba was swamped with more immigrants per-capita (mostly from Europe) than was the U.S.–considering how people once clamored to enter Cuba–the exodus from Castroite Cuba and the rescue flights were viewed by Castro (and his innumerable U.S. agents-of influence) as very bad publicity for the Stalinist regime.

So in preparation to murder Brothers to the Rescue (the historic Castroite remedy for this type of thing) Castro infiltrated a KGB-trained spy named Gerardo Hernandez into south Florida and into the humanitarian group. On Feb, 24, 1996, Hernandez passed to Castro the flight plan for one of the Brothers’ humanitarian flights over the straits.

With this info in hand, Castro’s MIGS ambushed and blasted apart (in international air space) the lumbering and utterly defenseless Cessnas, murdering the four humanitarian volunteers. Three of these murdered men were U.S. citizens, one was a Marine who volunteered for two tours in Vietnam.

The murdered Armando Alejandre Jr. came to the U.S. at age ten in 1960. His first order of business when he reached the age of 18 was fulfilling his dream of becoming a U.S. citizen. His next was joining the United States Marine corps and volunteering for service in Vietnam. He returned with several decorations. As a member of Brothers to the Rescue he often dropped flowers over the sea, in memory of the thousands they’d been unable to rescue in time.

A man with a weapon or with both hands free to fight has always palsied the Castros with fright. The notion of Raul Castro facing a United States Marine in combat mode is simply laughable, in a pathetic sort of way. So Castro waited for Alejandro and his brothers to be carrying flowers–and made his move, ambushing and murdering them in cold blood. Migs against Cessnas, cannon and rockets against flowers.

The Terrorist Leader of the ‘Women’s Strike’ From helping to kill Israeli students to advocating militant resistance in the streets of the U.S.A.Joseph Klein

The call from the Left is to “resist” a “Fascist America,” which is supposedly the direction the United States is taking under President Trump. Among other things, leftists regularly accuse President Trump and members of his administration of anti-Semitism. Yet one of the leaders of the “resistance” movement, and a co-organizer of the next women’s protest on March 8th is Rasmea Yousef Odeh, a convicted Palestinian terrorist. Odeh had participated in bombings in Israel nearly 50 years ago, one of which resulted in the killing of two Israeli students. Now she is advocating militant resistance in the streets of the United States. For Palestinians, “resistance” is often used as a rationalization for acts of terrorism. Odeh has not explicitly advocated the use of violence – at least not yet. However, Odeh and her co-organizers have called for the March 8th protest to include blocking roads, bridges, and squares. We have seen such uncivil acts of disobedience lead to violence in the past.

Odeh has joined with several other militants as co-authors of a manifesto for a new, more radical form of feminism. Odeh’s co-authors include Angela Davis, who supported the Black Panthers and was a former leader of the Communist Party USA, and Tithi Bhattacharya, a Maoist supporter. The manifesto heralded what its authors called an international “anti-capitalist” feminist movement that is “at once anti-racist, anti-imperialist, anti-heterosexist and anti-neoliberal.” So-called “lean-in” or “other variants of corporate feminism” are not “feminism for the 99%,” according to the manifesto’s co-authors.

Move over, Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren. Leftists have found new radical feminist heroines to embrace. According to Workers’ World, “Progressive women in the U.S. eagerly responded to the call. Posted on womenstrikeus.org is the strike platform: ‘In a spirit of solidarity and internationalism, in the United States, March 8 will be a day of action organized by and for women who have been marginalized and silenced by decades of neoliberalism directed toward working women, women of color, Native women, disabled women, immigrant women, Muslim women, lesbian, queer and trans women. … [We are organizing] resistance not just against Trump and his misogynist policies, but also against the conditions that produced Trump, namely the decades-long economic inequality, racial and sexual violence, and imperial wars abroad.’” In other words, a whole potpourri of favorite leftwing causes.

Rasmea Yousef Odeh is particularly beloved in Muslim and leftwing circles. “She’s an icon, actually, across the country amongst Arab and Muslim organizations, around civil liberties organizations, among women’s empowerment organizations,” said Hatem Abudayyeh, a member of Chicago’s Arab-American community where Odeh was active as an organizer.

Angela Davis participated in an event in 2015 with Odeh, co-organized by the Chicago chapter of Black Lives Matter, entitled “Freedom Beyond Occupation & Incarceration – An Afternoon with Angela Davis and Rasmea Odeh.” According to a report in Ebony, “Davis and Odeh discussed the importance of Black-Palestinian solidarity, political imprisonment in the US and Israel, as well as the need for the abolition of prisons and ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

Guess which important person got the middle finger at Fashion Week By Eileen F. Toplansky


Apparently, it is Fashion Week, and Julie Tong relates that “Italian favorites from Gucci to Prada filled their collections with opulent color, excess, and maximalist style. While at Versace, powerful words like ‘unity,’ ‘courage,’ and ‘love’ were emblazoned on hats and sleeves and more.”

And, of course, “we can’t forget New York Fashion Week’s highly anticipated Raf Simons runway debut at Calvin Klein or the plethora of body-positive movements and political statements that took center stage on the runways.”

Those “political statements” included constant rebukes of President Trump in the Ashish shirt that nods to Trump’s comments in a leaked Access Hollywood tape, in which he boasted that a rich celebrity can “grab” enthusiastic women enamored of his wealth and status.

Then there was Prabal Gurung, whose shirt read “3 Million,” referencing “the number by which Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, despite President Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud.”

Not to be outdone, “[d]esigners Ramon Martin and Ryan Lobo pose with models from their show wearing Women’s March and Planned Parenthood T-shirts. On the runway, models wore Planned Parenthood pins.”

But I thought I would save the best for last: “aside from all the memorable moments and prettiest dresses, we want to make sure you are equally caught up on all the best shoes spotted on the catwalk thus far.”

One of the “best shoes” on display is called the “Jesus Printed Knee-High Boots, Jeremy Scott, Fall/Winter 2017.”

Would the fashion world depict the picture of Mohammad on a pair of boots? Would they make a statement about the lack of color worn by women in the Muslim world, whose native costumes have all but disappeared as they suffer under the lash of sharia law and dress codes?

Will the Christian world erupt with furious rage and start burning things? Or was I confusing that rage with visual depictions of another religion’s icon?

Just asking.

Jesus Printed Knee-High Boots, Jeremy Scott Fall/Winter 2017 Photo: ImaxTree