US added to list of ‘backsliding’ democracies for first time

Saarinen House at Cranbrook, the educational campus north of Detroit, went through a similar process beginning in 2018. Designed by architect Eliel Saarinen in the late 1920s, the house served as the home and studio of Eliel, first head of Cranbrook’s architecture department, and Loja Saarinen, first head of the weaving department. Tours had long focused on the architecture of Eliel. But over time, as the curation staff explored the work of Loja, they came to see that she was as integral a part of the property’s story.

“She is not really a weaver, she didn’t sit at the loom and knot, she was an entrepreneur,” says Kevin Adkisson, curator at the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research. When Saarinen House was invited to join the National Trust’s Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios program, staff were able to “confidently argue that this was her home and studio as an artist and designer,” Adkisson said.

  • Toek Tik was part of a genocidal regime in Cambodia and helped loot art for foreigners (because, he says, he was offered hard currency unlike other things he could sell). Now, he’s supposedly trying to help return the objects he helped steal (um, how about being held accountable for genocide? Though he sounds remorseful, but don’t they all when they’re called out.). Anyway, Tom Mashberg of the New York Times has the story:

In the two decades he was active, ending in the late 1990s, Toek Tik, who goes by the nickname Lion, estimates he plundered more than 1,000 artifacts, many of them considered the finest masterpieces of Khmer culture, such as huge sandstone sculptures of deities and their attendants.

So far, he has identified more than 100 as being in the collections of museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Others he has spotted in respected private collections.

His testimony, and that of others who worked for him, has become the centerpiece of a global effort by Cambodia to claw back its fabled heritage as it challenges the museums and collectors who have long defended their acquisitions as fully documented and unquestionably lawful.

But for all that abundance, something is missing. A lot of things, really, but mostly a strong idea and a credible reason for existing. The true story of how the Gucci family lost control of the company that still bears its name — and of how its scion, Maurizio Gucci, lost his life to a hit man’s bullets — could have inspired Bernardo Bertolucci to heights of decadent spectacle, Luchino Visconti to flights of dialectical extravagance or Lina Wertmuller to feats of perverse ideological analysis. The raw material plays as tragedy and farce at the same time.

  • Kevin Birmingham’s new book The Sinner and the Saint explains the demons that drove Fyodor Dostoevsky to write Crime and Punishment. Steven G. Kellman, of the LA Times, reviews the book (thanks to reader TW for pointing out the link was previously incorrect):

Dostoevsky struggled to craft an account by Raskolnikov, a brooding law school dropout, of how he killed a pawnbroker and her half sister with an ax. At a crucial point, he grew disgusted with what he had written, discarded it all and started from scratch. What enabled him to find traction was his decision to switch from first-person narration to an intimate third-person perspective, a vantage point that would, he said, be “invisible but omniscient.” As Birmingham asks, “Why not peer over Raskolnikov’s shoulder while he’s face-to-face with the stupid, deaf, sick, greedy pawnbroker, waiting for his moment?”

Birmingham himself applies this approach to Dostoevsky, peering over the Russian master’s shoulder as he peers over Raskolnikov’s. The result is a book about a book, an inside look at literary creation. The reader becomes a spectator to the construction of “Crime and Punishment” while learning a great deal along the way about the criminal justice system in 19th-century Russia, temporal lobe epilepsy, promissory notes, phrenology, gold mining, nihilism and much else.

“A man would turn over half a library to make one book,” claimed Samuel Johnson. The principle is no less true for those who write one book about one other book. Michael Gorra’s “Portrait of a Novel” (2012) and Rebecca Mead’s “My Life in Middlemarch” (2014) both benefit from their authors’ extensive acquaintance with more than just “The Portrait of a Lady” and “Middlemarch,” respectively. John Livingston Lowes filled more than 600 pages of “The Road to Xanadu” (1927) while documenting the books Samuel Taylor Coleridge read before writing two poems.

These types of laws are not restricted to states in which fundamentalist Christians hold sway. In 2016, California passed a law requiring large contractors working with a state agency to certify that they will not discriminate against Israel, and Andrew Cuomo, as governor of New York, signed an executive order that compels state entities to divest money and assets from a list of organizations regarded by the state as participating in the boycott. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York proposed national anti-boycott legislation.

Let’s be clear, states are trading their citizens’ First Amendment rights for what looks like unconditional support for a foreign government.

When our case reached the Federal District Court in 2019, the state argued that boycotting was not political speech but rather an economic exercise and therefore subject to state regulation. We found that argument absurd. After all, our nation’s founding mythology includes the boycott of tea. Since then, boycotts have repeatedly been used as a tool of political speech and protest, from the Montgomery bus boycott to end segregation to the Delano grape strike protesting exploitation of farmworkers. University students throughout the country engaged in anti-apartheid boycotts of and divestment from South Africa. In 1982, the right to boycott as a method of collective political speech was upheld by a unanimous Supreme Court ruling in N.A.A.C.P. v. Claiborne Hardware Company.

It suggests that Asians on screen often serve as the punchline or the butt of the joke, the study says.

Long Duk Dong, an Asian foreign exchange student in the 1984 movie “Sixteen Candles,” is a character that experts say was an early watershed example of APIs being mocked on screen.

“Anything he said was something that you laughed at, not with,” sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen told NBC Asian America. “He kind of defined Asian characters for decades.”

The survey also gauged the opinions of 329 Asian Americans in the entertainment industry, revealing that over 93 percent agree that API representation on screen is inadequate, and 95 percent feel that representation behind the scenes is inadequate. Of the films studied, only 4.5 percent of main cast members were API. But even when in the main title cast, three-fourths of Asian characters are in supporting roles.

Many other prestigious outlets published a barrage of similarly flawed articles. These include the report by Peter Stone and Greg Gordon of McClatchy that the Mueller team obtained evidence that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen had visited Prague in 2016; Jane Mayer’s fawning March 2018 profile of Steele in the New Yorker; the report by Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier of BuzzFeed that President Trump instructed Cohen to lie to Congress — explicitly denied by Mueller at the time; and Luke Harding of The Guardian‘s bizarre and evidence-free allegation that Julian Assange and Paul Manafort met in London’s Ecuadorian embassy.

McClatchy and BuzzFeed have added editors’ notes to their stories but have not retracted them. 

In this article, RealClearInvestigations has collected five instances of stories containing false or misleading claims, and thereby due for retraction or correction, that were either among the Post and Times’ Pulitzer-winning entries, or other work of reporters who shared that prize. Significantly, this analysis is not based on newly discovered information, but documents and other material long in the public domain. Remarkably, some of the material that should spark corrections has instead been held up by the Post and Times as vindication of their work.

RCI sent detailed queries about these stories to the Post, the Times, and the journalists involved. The Post‘s response has been incorporated into the relevant portion of this article. The Times did not respond to RCI’s queries by the time of publication.


Apartment of the future 🤯 The Ori Cloud Bed is the best part from @ori_living and is now available in NYC. #effortlesstransformation

♬ Sunny Day – Ted Fresco

Required Reading is published every Thursday afternoon, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.