The Sunday Post for October 21, 2018

Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.

What the Arab world needs most is free expression

Jamal Khashoggi's last column.

Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate.
Boys to Men

Brendan O’Connor ties together threads after an appearance by Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes turned violent last week. If you've been thinking of the vicious proto-fascist group as a fringe element, this article is an education.

Bound together by violent misogyny and ultranationalism, these groups stand for nothing resembling a conventional political program or platform — but that does not mean they are apolitical. Pragmatically sidestepping the question of race, they now make their proto-fascist appeal in the language of patriotic individualism: pro-America, pro-capitalism, and pro-Trump. (Its effectiveness should not be understated: for years, antifascists in New York City’s soccer supporter scene have been working to alienate Antillon, a frequent attendee of New York City Football Club matches at Yankee Stadium, from friends and fellow fans who don’t have Nazi tattoos—with little success.) Around the country, the Proud Boys have replicated this strategy, appealing primarily to people’s class interests—as small business owners, for example, or as the children of families who fled socialist revolutions—as well as traditionalist gender politics, temporarily deferring the white nationalist project in the interest of swelling their ranks. As it happens, this is the strategy that has also allowed them entry into the Republican mainstream.
Diary: Nico Muhly

Composer Nico Muhly on the process of creating music, which involves much more file structure than you might imagine. His description of the primary task of composition — "to create a piece of art that is better than the same amount of silence" — is delightfully straightforward, and the essay is delightfully full of the details of his craft.

In general, the next step — before involving notes and rhythms — is a period of improvisational research. I begin with a simple idea, such as ‘old broken Gibbons piece reveals itself’, and then start exploring. Soon I find myself engaged in research about the power of relics in Buddhism, which leads to the Lacanian notion of the objet petit a, soon displaced by my delight in Obelix’s dog Dogmatix being called Idéfix in the original French, which leads to the way a single obsessive idea can dominate every aspect of a text, which leads to Gollum, which leads to Tolkien’s use of dead languages to create a set of fictional languages, which leads to old words taking on new meaning, which leads to Wendy Carlos’s interpretation of Bach, and so on. All these articles, pictures and fragments get printed out and digitally saved and put in folders, and the result — for me — is a magical vessel full of information and possibility.

From this, the notes come quickly.

Kathy Hourigan Is Knopf’s Secret Weapon

Steven Kurutz profiles Kathy Hourigan, Knopf Doubleday's vice president, managing editor, and longest-tenured employee at 55 years and counting. Look at that office! A book-lover's lair.

Her career has spanned the discreet era when authors mailed a single typed manuscript along with a carbon copy to be passed around, to today’s convenient but somewhat alarming electronic system where with one keystroke, a book can be widely distributed. She is reminiscent of long-forgotten characters like Harry Ford, a poetry editor with “an unerring ear,” according to his obituary in The New York Times, and Mr. Koshland.

Indeed, Ms. Hourigan would rather talk about them than herself. She gave up her writing ambitions, she said, when “I realized that all the manuscripts coming through the slush pile were written better than I could write.”

When Asian Women Are Harassed for Marrying Non-Asian Men

Celeste Ng has a nuanced and thoughtful response to harassment of Asian-American women who choose a non-Asian partner or have multiracial children. The contrast between her response and the trolls' attacks is ... striking.

There’s a range of behavior from men who engage in this harassment on Reddit, Twitter, and other channels. The problem is that even legitimate concerns end up entwined with these more extreme views. Some of the men on these forums argue that they are overlooked culturally and that Asian women’s activism sidelines them — a point that the Asian community can and should civilly discuss further. However, most speak not about cultural representation and activism, but about what they perceive as a dearth of dating opportunities for Asian men. The most toxic posts come from men who argue for racial purity and refer to Asian women as if they are commodities rather than people. Yet men all along this spectrum of opinions engage in similar harassing behavior, using similar misogynistic language and similar bullying tactics — and placing the blame for the entire array of complaints squarely on Asian women.