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What Happened: December 6, 2021

Tablet’s afternoon news digest: NYC Vaccine Mandate, Zemmour, Great Power Competiton

by
The Scroll
December 06, 2021

The Big Story

With just weeks left in office, New York City’s lame-duck mayor, Bill de Blasio, is spending the last of his political capital on a sweeping, legally questionable vaccine mandate that impacts children as young as age 5 as well as the city’s entire private sector workforce. The measure, which de Blasio announced Monday, applies to the city’s roughly 184,000 private businesses, requiring the 3.6 million people who work in them to receive a minimum of two vaccine doses and present proof of vaccination as a condition of employment. Additionally, the new initiative requires kids ages 5 to 11, who only recently became eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, to provide proof of vaccination in order to eat at restaurants and participate in other indoor activities. Facing immediate pushback from business owners and business associations, the mayor provided no specifics on how he would enforce his purported “first in the nation” policy and what penalties would apply to employers who broke the rules. “We’ll figure out what makes sense by Dec. 15, when we put out the guidelines,” de Blasio said. The mayor made no mention of the fact that President Biden’s recent attempt to impose a similar but far more expansive nationwide vaccine mandate for private employers was blocked by a federal appeals court. New York’s private business mandate is set to go into effect on Dec. 27—days before de Blasio leaves office. The city’s incoming mayor, Eric Adams, isn’t commenting yet on whether he plans to uphold the policy. “The mayor-elect will evaluate this mandate and other COVID strategies when he is in office and make determinations based on science, efficacy, and the advice of health professionals,” an Adams spokesman said Monday.

Read it here: https://www.nydailynews.com/coronavirus/ny-nyc-covid-de-blasio-issues-vaccination-mandate-on-private-sector-workers-20211206-ykqs2w4eofb45nsej43bwaapcu-story.html

Today’s Back Pages: A Report from Inside the Violent Clashes at France’s Zemmour Rally

The Rest

→Look now and you can almost see a new balance of power working itself out in real time that reflects the end of the era of the United States’ global supremacy. China, the top strategic competitor to the United States, plans to open a military base in the African country of Equatorial Guinea—the first Chinese outpost on the Atlantic Ocean. In a new report Monday, U.S. officials are quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying that the White House is concerned that using the base, “Chinese warships would be able to rearm and refit opposite the East Coast of the U.S.—a threat that is setting off alarm bells at the White House and Pentagon.”
Read it here: https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-seeks-first-military-base-on-africas-atlantic-coast-u-s-intelligence-finds-11638726327

→In another sign of the global realignment, Russian leader Vladimir Putin held a meeting in New Delhi Monday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The meeting with India comes shortly after a Russian security meeting with China and amid a diplomatic standoff with the United States, in which American officials have objected to Moscow’s buildup of military forces on Ukraine’s border but without showing any intention of taking serious action in response to Russia’s actions. One focus for the Russia-India meeting was the “emergence of multipolarity and rebalancing,” according to Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. The talk ushered in a new security cooperation agreement between India, a current U.S. ally that once had close ties with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and Russia that includes Moscow selling New Delhi critical S-400 ground-to-air missile defense systems, over U.S. objections.

→Former U.S. senator, war hero, and three-time Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole died on Sunday. He was 98. Among his legislative legacies, Dole’s contribution to the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act stands out. The senator was himself disabled, his right arm largely immobilized, a token from his service in World War II when, as an infantry lieutenant, he was struck by metal shrapnel while leading an assault on a German machine-gun nest in a village north of Florence, Italy. In remarks after Dole’s passing, President Biden called Dole “an American statesman like few in our history” and “among the greatest of the Greatest Generation.” 

→Fear of the Omicron variant has caused Bitcoin—the leader of decentralized virtual currencies—to tailspin into a bear market, dropping to $42,000 after starting the month around $57,000. Earlier this year some speculated a potential historic run for the asset to reach $100,000, adding to its multitrillion-dollar market capitalization. The case often made for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is that they can be a “hedge” against the volatility in other currencies, and retain value even when the economy hits the skids, but the evidence lately has contradicted that, with Bitcoin mirroring the general performance of the stock market.

→U.S. government officials will boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing to protest China’s human rights abuses—a policy that will not prevent American athletes from participating in the games. “U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can’t do that,” White House spokesman Jen Psaki said Monday in reference to what the U.S. government has called a campaign of genocide aginst the Muslims minority in the western region of Xinjiang. China responded Monday with a vow to take “firm countermeasures” in retaliation for the boycott.

→You do not have to look very closely into the speech codes being implemented on U.S. college campuses to notice that they treat adults like helpless babies—and that this infantilization is the point, since it justifies granting expansive, paternalistic powers to HR bureaucracies. Still, you expect the administrators to at least try to hide this a bit. And yet we have just been introduced to the “Guide to Inclusive Language” put out in April of this year by the University of California Irvine’s Office of Information Technology, which recommends—I wish I were kidding—that students “avoid harmful language” such as the expression kill two birds with one stone, which the commissars suggest should be replaced with the infant-safe alternative feed two birds with one scone. B’tayavon.

→A good reminder that these absurd language codes have to be jammed down the throats of the designated “marginalized” groups they claim to protect.* 

A new nationwide poll of Hispanics published in Politico this morning finds:

Just 2% of Latinos use “Latinx”

40% find it offensive

30% say they won’t vote for a candidate who uses it, including 1/4 of Democrats https://t.co/Jng21Xchnh

— Giancarlo Sopo (@GiancarloSopo) December 6, 2021

*Is jam down the throat too violent a phrase? Please substitute jammed on a scone if that feels less harmful to you.

→Philadelphia is now at 521 killings for the year, 21 more homicides than the city’s previous record year in 1991. As ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis points out, that’s *more than double* the city’s tally for each year between 2013 and 2016.
Read it here: https://twitter.com/AlecMacGillis/status/1467890271526522885
And see Scroll editor Sean Cooper’s dispatch from Dec. 2 on “Philadelphia’s Spiral into Violence.”
https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/the-scroll/articles/the-scroll-today-afternoon-news-digest-daily-211202

→Edward Shames toasted a l’chaim at his son’s bar mitzvah with cognac he took from Hitler’s stash in the Führer’s “Eagle’s Nest” hideaway in Berchtesgaden, Germany—a small reward for Shames’ role in liberating Europe. Shames, who was the last surviving officer from Easy Company, the unit from the 101st Airborne Division that was featured in the HBO show Band of Brothers for its exploits in World War II, died Friday. He was 99. At 19, Shames forged his mother’s signature to enlist in the Army in 1942. Shames parachuted into France during the bloody D-Day invasion at Normandy. “You could hear the shrapnel hitting against the side of the plane, and when we jumped out, you could hear the bullets coming through the parachutes,” he later said. He was among the first Americans in Dachau and helped liberate the concentration camp.

CORRECTION: Friday’s edition of The Scroll referred to Ukraine as a “NATO member.” That was incorrect. Ukraine is backed by NATO allies, including the United States, but is not itself a member of the treaty alliance. Thank you to readers for pointing out the error.

The Back Pages

backpages A Report from Inside the Violent Clashes at France’s Zemmour Rally

Tablet’s European correspondent Vladislav Davidzon reports on the ground from a rally for Eric Zemmour, the divisive right-wing firebrand running to be the next president of France.

Yesterday, the television journalist, far-right provocateur, and now candidate in France’s presidential election, Eric Zemmour, kicked off his campaign in the Exposition Parc conference hall in Paris. Zemmour had just launched his campaign some days earlier with a splashy, over-the-top campaign video in which he addressed the nation à la famed French leader Charles de Gaulle’s speech from London calling on the French to rise up against Nazi occupation. Except that Zemmour denounced immigrants who refuse to assimilate while delivering a rousing, reactionary battle cry for the French to reclaim their culture. “If I win, it will be the start of winning back the most beautiful country in the world,” Zemmour told the audience. Organizers had changed the location of the rally at the last moment to accommodate a promised 20,000 attendees, but only roughly half of that number showed up. But they did arrive with force, and perhaps all too predictably, the rally both began and concluded with serious displays of violence.

The attendees at the rally were more ethnically diverse than one might have expected, with numerous African and even more Asian faces in the crowd, and one Frenchman of African descent positioned conspicuously behind Zemmour on the podium. The crowd was surprisingly young: I would estimate that more than half of attendees were of college age or younger. It was a rally filled with ordinary-looking people, overwhelmingly middle class or petit bourgeoise and presentably dressed. I saw no obvious signs indicating members of the far right in attendance.

Zemmour arrived at the rally roughly two and a half hours late and was promptly attacked as he marched to the stage. A protestor standing by the edge of the crowd jumped up and grabbed him by the neck before he was tackled by security guards and prostrated on the ground. The rough young men who were there as Zemmour’s security enforcers were a recognizable Parisian working class type: very clean cut, muscular, and wearing slim-cut trousers and form-fitting jackets and hoodies.

Almost immediately afterward, some of the anti-racist counter demonstrators from an organization called SOS Racisme stood up on their chairs to protest as Zemmour launched into his signature attacks on the media and mass immigration. They were quickly surrounded and attacked with chairs and fists and bundled out the back exit next to the press stand. The young Zemmour security men proceeded to form a human wall, clasping each other by the back and moving in unison against the cameras so as to cover what was happening outside. They yelled “Advance!” in unison as they pushed the evening news cameramen out of the way. My friends and I decided to leave with some minutes to spare before the end of the speech, and we ran straight into three bloodied activists being walked out under police escort.

A group of several dozen young men, Zemmour supporters, resembling European paramilitary soccer hooligans formed into a spontaneous column—I had only seen thuggish behavior such as this in Eastern European political rallies previously—and began to follow the bloodied anti-racism activists out before the French riot police formed a cordon between them and the retreating activists.

There were reports of left-wing Antifa protestors—self-described anti-fascist activists associated with anarchist politics—arriving to fight and being stopped by the riot police, but I did not personally observe this. The French police were not in charge of security inside the hall and only maintained a presence outside. News reports indicate that 62 people at the rally were arrested on a variety of charges, and dozens were injured.

The rally was noteworthy for something other than violence and mayhem: Zemmour rolled out the new name of his political party: Reconquête, or “Reconquest.” As in the 15th-century Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from Muslims.

Send your tips, comments, questions, and suggestions to [email protected].

Tablet’s afternoon newsletter edited by Jacob Siegel and Park MacDougald.

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