PETER WHITTLE:Islam: The Subject Artists Won’t Tackle

Far from being cutting-edge, the British cultural establishment ignores the biggest threat to artistic freedom: radical Islam

Delivering this year’s Reith Lectures — the first contemporary artist to do so — the media-friendly transvestite artist and potter Grayson Perry posited the notion that perhaps art had lost one of its central tenets: its ability to shock.

Sure, there was no shortage of claims being made by both the media and the art world: that Tom was “radical”, Dick was “cutting edge” and Harry was “breaking boundaries”. But all this obscured the truth, which was that art was no longer any of these things, that artist and audience had got well and truly used to each other, and familiarity had bred jadedness.

There’s no denying this but, in keeping with art itself, Perry’s observations were rather behind the times. For art has not shocked, provoked or otherwise challenged for years now. The belief that it does, should or could is almost endearingly quaint when one hears it voiced.

Certainly the words used to describe creative activity, such as those above, are a product of the general hyperbolic drift in many aspects of our everyday language. And, rather like racism, the more the arts diminish in relevance in relation to both our personal and national life, the more overblown and indiscriminate are the claims made of it.

Of course the notion that the arts should shock is a thoroughly modern one in historical terms but, even as it became accepted and then entrenched as a cliché, wider social developments throughout the latter half of the 20th century were working to undermine it. The gradual dismantling of social and moral boundaries left art with less and less room for manoeuvre, if to challenge and provoke was its purpose.

EILEEN TOPLANSKY: DOES OBAMA THINK HE’S LYING? In Michael Agar’s book entitled Language Shock: Understanding the Culture of Conversation, he asks “[h]ow do you speak and act a lie at the same time?” Agar maintains that there are three characteristics of an act that tell … whether a lie occurred or not: I. The sentence is false; 2. The person knows […]


The Communist Party of the USA is providing some very interesting signals lately. Yesterday, I blogged about CPUSA Chairman Sam Webb offering advice on Obamacare that looks eerily familiar to what we have heard from the DPUSA – the Democratic Party. When all else fails, charge racism.

Today, we have the Communist Party, via its associated news outlet People’s World, enthusiastically endorsing the Geneva agreement with Iran, to permit its continued enrichment of uranium through the most difficult stages, up to 5%.

Obama and the ‘Amazon Experience’ The President Could Use a Download from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: Bret Stephens ‘Private sector velocity and effectiveness.” “An Amazon-like shopping experience.” Suddenly Team Obama is talking up capitalist enterprise as the model for how ought to work. After five years of assailing “millionaires and billionaires” and extolling the virtues of “collective action,” this is progress. But it is not enough progress.For an “Amazon-like” experience, it […]


This letter was a response to the warm welcome he received from the grateful Jews of Newport Rhode Island after his visit to affirm his support for the Hebrew Congregation of Newport:


While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.

If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

TOURO SYNAGOGUE IN NEWPORT R.I. DELEBRATES 250 YEARS: PAUL BERGER–with-order-and-decoru/?p=all#ixzz2mNlM5vAQ On December 2, 1763, the first day of Hanukkah, a procession wound through Newport, R.I., carrying three Torah scrolls bound for their new home in a synagogue that would quickly establish its place in American Jewish lore. When the scrolls entered the newly built Touro Synagogue, their arrival was celebrated with music and prayer […]

Prime Minister Stephen Harper Announced Sunday that he Would Make an Official Visit to Israel in January. Harper, a staunch supporter of Israel, made the announcement at a JNF-KKL fundraising event in Toronto held in his honor Sunday evening, where it was also revealed that a bird sanctuary in the Hula Valley would be named after the prime minister. “I am honored by this particular gift…I value it [because] it is […]


“Daniel Gordis, author of a forthcoming biography Menachem Begin: The Battle For Israel’s Soul, summed up Begin’s legacy in a Jerusalem Post article in August 2013, “Menachem Begin: His Legacy, a Century After his Birth” : “That is a legacy infinitely greater than most are able to bequeath. In an era in which many Jews are increasingly dubious about the legitimacy of love for a specific people or devotion to its ancestral homeland, the life and commitments of Begin urge us to look again at what he did and what he stood for, and to imagine – if we dare – the glory of a Jewish people recommitted to the principles that shaped his very being.”

In 1913, in Brest Litovsk, a town in the Russian empire, Menachem Begin was born. When coddling their son, could his parents have dreamed that one day their newborn would be Prime Minister of the State of Israel? Not likely–his parents were confronted with fear of persecution and the perpetual threat of relocation facing Eastern European Jewry.

As a young boy Begin was drawn to Zionism, classical literature and oratorical skills. In his teens he was inspired by Zeev Jabotinsky and joined the Betar movement and later became its head.

After being jailed in a Siberian labor camp, he was fortuitously freed in 1941 and joined the Free Polish Army; his unit was sent to Palestine in 1943. Once there he left the Polish army for the Irgun, becoming its head later in that year. In Europe his family was murdered, which both haunted and inspired him for the rest of his life.

Georgetown’s Interfaith Sham Posted By Ryan Mauro Georgetown University’s Saudi-funded interfaith center is in hot water. A speaking engagement with an Egyptian Nazi was cancelled but Islamists need not worry: Muslim Brotherhood supporters and 9/11 Truthers are still welcome, as is a senior Obama Administration official allied with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. The Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding […]

BRUCE THORNTON: WHY SHOULD WE STUDY WAR? Originally published by Defining Ideas. In the latter years of World War I, Winston Churchill met with the novelist and poet Siegfried Sassoon. Sassoon was a winner of the Military Cross––he single-handedly routed 60 Germans and captured a trench on the Hindenburg Line––and a fierce pacifist. Sassoon’s reminiscences of that meeting reveal how odd […]