“I wish the name Bristol had never appeared” wailed Kathryn Jean Lopez, on National Review’s The Corner rolling blog. And no wonder, with news — if it can be called such, news implying information you didn’t already know — that Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston have cancelled their engagement. There will be no wedding of the couple that the Right improbably tried to spin as an example to the nation — 18-year-olds up-the-duff, committing themselves to lifelong marriage on the basis of a botched attempt at belly-painting.

In those days, the conservatoriat were less reticent about Bristolmania, a search of The Corner revealing 53 entries, most of them crowded around the dates of the Republican convention, when the story hit the wires.

“The anger at Bristol is because she didn’t have an abortion… what if she’s right? Truly this young lady has America in a tizzy” wrote Jay Nordlinger. That was pretty much the tenor of the comments. When Bristol and Johnston’s baby Tripp* was born at the very end of ’08, Corner girl Lisa Schiffren could not contain her joy:

If I were advising the couple, I’d tell them to have a nice little wedding as soon as possible.” [“Soon” being the operative word here.] “if you are smart you will use [money from sale of the wedding photos] to build a solid future. It’s purely a side benefit that that path would annoy the media most.

Yeah, that would have been really annoying, what with it being an example that teen pregnancy wasn’t, like, a fast-track to single-motherhood or something. Instead, Bristol and Levi will have to face the prospect of marrying someone they met in adulthood, not band practice, for love, not some leaden commitment to duty. Quelle horreur. Now Tripp will be raised by the Palin family, as Bristol’s first kid is**.

The Bolter was in full fulminating mode the other day, about the decision of the Social Democratic administration of Malmo, Sweden to ban spectators from a Davis Cup match between Israel and Sweden, due to the threat of radical Muslim protests. “Add mass immigration to Sweden’s far left, and you get a country not safe for Jews”.

Really? According to the US Department of State Report on Global Anti-Semitism, in 2003 (the year studied) there were three incidents of physical attacks on Jews qua Jews in the whole country — one assault, one incident of stone-throwing and one brawl between Muslim and Jewish soccer players (like the old Croatia-Serbia barneys Australian soccer used to have, with an actual game occasionally laid on as a warm-up).

By contrast, France, with ten times the population, had 40 times the number of assaults, at 130. No doubt that all ceased instantly once Sarkozy was elected.

The idea, gaining currency among Islamophobes (Mark Steyn et al), that Sweden, of all places, is “unsafe for Jews” is laughable to anyone who knows the country, which is about the safest place for anyone, anywhere. The barrackers are more hysterical about some of the difficulties associated with a growing immigrant population in Malmo than are most of the Swedish right themselves.

Does it really contribute to the battle against anti-Semitism to portray places as more dangerous than they are? Of course not. The effect is actually to revive the notion of Jews as pariahs in areas where it has all but disappeared. A greater disservice to Jews one could not imagine — but how useful it is in creating division! But of course Bolt’s principal intent is to make some cheap shots at the left-wing political culture of Sweden and ends justify means.

Meanwhile British commentator Melanie Phillips — mad Mel of common parlance — devotes a huge amount of her time and ample column and blog space to denouncing and excoriating what she sees as the habitual anti-Semitism — masquerading as anti-Zionism — of the “elites”.

So you’d think this diatribe would be in the firing line:

Israel (which openly practises apartheid)…..and the US slap the terrorist label on any group they prefer not to negotiate with for other reasons. The term terrorist has now become a proxy for the larger issues that divide America, Israel and the Arab world. The word is a joke among Arabs. Hamas is labelled a terrorist group, whereas Israel, with its actions against unarmed civilians, is not.

The writer in question is Taki Theodorcoupolous (or something), politically conservative and, unlike left anti-Zionists, genuinely anti-Semitic in some of his columns, in an old-style European aristocratic chauvinist style, of the “Jews make great lawyers bad dinner guests” type. Taki appears to have been spared the full Phillipsing because he writes for the Spectator, the magazine to which Phillips is a contributing editor. Indeed barely a dozen pages separate the above rocket, so to speak, from an impenetrable Phillips piece on anti-Semitism in the Anglican church. One has to root them out everywhere — except apparently for in the pages of one’s own publication. Your correspondent is unaware as to whether Taki is nestled between Christian Kerr and Tom Switzer in the pages of the Oz Spectator, but it’s all on the website.

*I have to say that criticism of the Palin family’s naming practices was one of the more elitist aspects of Palin criticism, and most of its perpetrators would have jumped a mile if they’d realised that the practice came from Inuit tradition, of naming a child after the season of birth (Track, for athletic season), a local place (Bristol, for Bristol bay), or a fetish object (Piper, for Piper alpha planes that Alaskans use). Lots of Alaskans do it, not least because more of them are part-Inuit than they will admit. I think it’s kinda cool. As to Tripp, god knows — maybe he was conceived during a shrooming session.

**For the record I do not believe that Sarah Palin’s fifth child, Plough Carburettor, is, in fact, Bristol’s.

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Peter Fray
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