Terry Teachout, the great American critic and playwright, died yesterday at the age of sixty-five. As a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Commentary’s critic-at-large, Teachout reviewed books, movies, and plays; he also wrote biographies of Duke Ellington, George Balanchine, and others; a play about Louis Armstrong; and the libretti of multiple operas. If his varied work had one central preoccupation, it was Broadway and the Great American Songbook, which meant that he frequently wrote about Jews. And although not Jewish himself, he described with great sensitivity and insight the ways these figures were informed by their Jewish upbringings. He wrote about Wagner’s anti-Semitism for Mosaic in 2015, and later contributed a moving tribute to the late Charles Krauthammer. (Links to a selection of his essays can be found here.) In this 2004 Commentary essay on Isaac Bashevis Singer—worth reading merely for the line, “irony, like garlic, being a scarce commodity in small midwestern towns”—Teachout reflected on his own encounter with Jews and Jewish literature:
Remembering a Great Critic, and His Reflections on Jews, Art, and Humor
What Palestinians Can Learn from Martin Luther King, Jr.
Last week, Americans celebrated the life and legacy of the great civil-rights leader Martin Luther King. The veteran Palestinian activist Bassam Eid, who has dedicated much of his career to criticizing Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza, reflects on what his own people can learn from this great man: