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Culture and anarchy

Hey folks!  You remember The New Criterion, the very serious intellectual journal founded by Hilton Kramer and Samuel Lipman in 1982 as an antidote to the low moral and aesthetic standards associated with liberalism.  It is very serious:

A monthly review of the arts and intellectual life, The New Criterion began as an experiment in critical audacity—a publication devoted to engaging, in Matthew Arnold’s famous phrase, with “the best that has been thought and said.” This also meant engaging with those forces dedicated to traducing genuine cultural and intellectual achievement, whether through obfuscation, politicization, or a commitment to nihilistic absurdity. We are proud that The New Criterion has been in the forefront both of championing what is best and most humanely vital in our cultural inheritance and in exposing what is mendacious, corrosive, and spurious.

So I’m especially pleased to see that The New Criterion is engaging with those forces dedicated to traducing genuine cultural and intellectual achievement by smacking down the obscene wingnuttery and demagoguery surrounding the Park51 project in lower Manhattan.  Finally, a voice of sanity and reason on the right!

Oh, wait.

One of our summertime avocations has been watching the controversy unfold over the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque,” the $100 million, thirteen-story Islamic “community center” avec “prayer space” planned for a spot just around the corner from the crater that once supported the Twin Towers. When we first heard about the plan, early in May, our reaction oscillated between incredulity and outrage: “A mosque? At Ground Zero? The spot where nearly three thousand people were incinerated by Muslim terrorists on 9/11? Surely it’s an unfounded rumor.”

No, it was a report, an accurate report, not a rumor.

Well, no, it was not actually an “accurate” “report,” in the sense that the Ground Zero Mosque is not technically a mosque and is not planned for Ground Zero, or for a spot just around the corner.  But to be fair, I do believe that the first half of the second sentence above is entirely true.

Then there’s some eloquent fulminating about how Obama double-stirred the turbid waters, and a bit about how white male Protestants are discriminated against at Yale, and oh yes, what about a Shinto shrine at Pearl Harbor and what about Muslimic countries are intolerant and what about putting a gay bar next to the mosque, huh?  Huh?  Also what about the name “Cordoba”?  Did you ever think about what that might mean? Did you?

But we digress.  Let’s get to the bottom line.  Pray tell, what is the bottom line?

The bottom line is this: Islam is a proselytizing, intolerant religion. Its aim is to institute Sharia as the “sole reference point for ... ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community . . . and state.” That is the end. The means are multifarious. Steering commercial aircraft into American skyscrapers is only one tactic. Using and abusing liberal democratic freedoms in order to promulgate an ideology that is neither liberal nor democratic is less ostentatious but may in the end be more effective precisely because it is less dramatic. This is the lasting significance of the case of the Ground Zero Mosque. It represents another step on the march to Islamize the West.

Ladies and gentlemen, The New Criterion, the leading intellectual journal of the American right.  Its motto: We Are All Pam Geller Now.

And for extra extra intellectual seriousness, the journal is proud to announce that it is now featuring the work of Andrew C. McCarthy, who champions what is best and most humanely vital in our cultural inheritance and exposes what is mendacious, corrosive, and spurious by revealing how the machinations of Saul Alinsky inform the life and work of You Know Who: “As a young Alinsky acolyte, Barack Obama worked closely with acorn, schooling operatives of an organization now infamous for its Marxist platform, ‘direct action’ tactics, and rampant election fraud.”

Forthcoming in the October issue of The New Criterion: how Malcolm X wrote Dreams From My Father and plotted the FEMA death camps with his illegitimate son Barack.

Posted by on 09/03 at 09:28 AM
  1. Everyone knows now that Matthew Arnold was an inspector of schools for the state, which really means that he favored the Socialist One World State, and liberal fascism.

    I dare anyone to re-read old issues of The New Criterion and find anything that does not, knowing what it has led to, appear just as Serious as the primitive xenophobic hate of the bottom line above.  What’s that phrase that you hi-falutin’ types like?  Always already.  Yes, The New Criterion was always already this from the start.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  11:20 AM
  2. the $100 million, thirteen-story Islamic “community center” avec “prayer space”

    In a just world the writer of this piece would get to spend eternity listening to this bit of urbane jocularity read out loud over and over again.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  11:23 AM
  3. what about a Shinto shrine at Pearl Harbor

    And thank God we stopped the Shintos from buying all of Manhattan in the 80s; there’d now be no hallowed ground on which to patriotize.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  11:48 AM
  4. there’d now be no hallowed ground on which to patriotize

    Or to bury dead generals.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  11:51 AM
  5. Just wondering how far right one can journey in the world of belles lettres or wtf it’s called, before one has arrived in Crankburg. Maybe Joseph Epstein (seems reliably conservative but I haven’t encountered teh crazy from him)? Obviously when you get to Roger Kimball you’re way past the city limits (metaphor not mixed, Crankburg assumed to be an exurban enclave).

    Possibly a future ABF Friday segment?

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  12:10 PM
  6. Yes, The New Criterion was always already this from the start.

    Well, of course I vividly remember Roger Kimball writing that “homosexual themes” were inappropriate topics for a public discussion of literature, because their primary interest was “prurient,” and of course I remember the time they titled a review of a Houston Baker book “Another Sun Person Heard From.” But I don’t think they had the technology for full-scale Gellerization and hysterical Islamophobic Patriotizing until just this summer.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  12:12 PM
  7. Besides steering aircraft into American skyscrapers a proselytizing, intolerant religion was able to launch an unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation. Holy use and abuse of democratic freedoms, BatPerson!!!

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  12:17 PM
  8. Oh, and funny that you should mention Joseph Epstein, kth.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  12:24 PM
  9. "Another Sun Person Heard From.”

    A Teachout joint.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  12:26 PM
  10. Indeed, though I find it hard to believe that Teachout provided that title.  He doesn’t do stupid-and-vicious.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  12:32 PM
  11. Kimball showing some earlier signs of Gellerization:

    The point is that the “openness” that liberal society rightly cherishes is not a vacuous openness to all points of view: it is not “value neutral.” It need not, indeed it cannot, say Yes to all comers, to the Islamofascist who after all has his point of view, just as much as the soccer mom has hers.

    From an 11/2007 essay, “Openness” & “The Closing of the American Mind”—On the role of ideas of “tolerance” in the intellectual decline (I think that’s meant to be your and my intellectual decline).

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  01:08 PM
  12. A vacuous openness. I’ll have to not think on that for a bit.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  01:19 PM
  13. Yep, that’s Kimball making his way from Allan Bloom to Atlas Geller in three steps.  Nice catch! 

    Also, while we’re on this theme, remember the days when bloggers would say that Josh Trevino was a reasonable conservative?

    Posted by Michael  on  09/03  at  01:54 PM
  14. Steering commercial aircraft into American skyscrapers is ‘ostentatious’? Really? I guess it’s not strictly wrong, but it’s like saying being homeless is déclassé (or like saying that the community center is outrageous, obvs.).

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  02:09 PM
  15. Yes, steering commercial aircraft into American skyscrapers is ostentatious.  Also obstreperous, and perhaps tendentious as well.  Remember, this is the New Criterion house style—bring the crazee, Obama Muslimistan Sharia X Gonna Kill Us All Eeeeeee, but do it with a thesaurus.  To wit, and viz.:  “But the tempest that ensued often seemed to compete with the BP oil-leak in oozing tenebrosity.” Tenebrosity!  Good one. Here’s hoping you’re so impressed by the word that you forget to ask whether a tempest can ooze.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  02:18 PM
  16. The New Criterion, the leading intellectual journal of the American right.

    Reads more like a script for the Daily Show (with a link to Colbert’s Word).  I do vaguely recall some bemoaning going on about the demise of the conservative intelligensia.  Were they ever “right” at all?

    note to Rich: if the GOP succeeds this November in taking back the House or Senate, we will have lost this nation to the crazies, the seriously crazies (and you said it first).

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  03:17 PM
  17. It starts with that first taste of vomit in the back of the throat when reading the New Criterion.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  03:19 PM
  18. I’m just gonna throw this out for consideration: 1, 2, 3.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  03:40 PM
  19. Just wondering how far right one can journey in the world of belles lettres or wtf it’s called, before one has arrived in Crankburg.

    It’s relational. Taking, as all Conservatives do, Reagan as our center point, we can determine in the manner of degrees removed from, how many steps it takes to get to a known crank. Seeing as how it takes only 2 degrees of separation to get from Reagan to Judith Miller (via: Donald Rumsfeld>Scooter Libby) I’d say that’s a journey that not so much begins with a first step but ends there was well.

    Posted by Keith  on  09/03  at  04:07 PM
  20. They lost me at “avec,” though I will say the article reminded me of the countless times that two clean-cut Muslims in dark suits with skinny ties have showed up at my door. Oh wait . . .

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  04:21 PM
  21. I think the best thing I ever read in The New Criterion was an article on Nabokov by John Simon.  But the journal has always been crass and partisan.  If you were to name the ten greatest living novelists in 1982, you would most likely have Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nadine Gordimer and Gunter Grass on the list.  And if you were to name the 10 greatest living novelists now, they would still be on the list.  So what’s The New Criterion’s excuse for not running a single review of their work?  It’s not as if they haven’t published anything in the past 28 years.  I strongly suspect the reason Simon, who’s been known to admire Grass, hasn’t been asked to review one of his books is that there is too much risk of him saying something nice about a socialist.  And I suspect that’s the reason the other two are ignored.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  06:27 PM
  22. two clean-cut Muslims in dark suits with skinny ties have showed up at my door

    Young, and they can’t grow beards either (they are out there earning their underwear).  It is really quite something to see all of them at the bus station with their fathers figuring out how to plan their attacks.  There is so much homoerotic testosterone that one might think the men of the New Criterion might swoon.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  07:11 PM
  23. I’m not necessarily opposed to the Mosque “near” Ground Zero, but just have one question. Why does it have to be so big?

    Posted by Allison Beckett  on  09/03  at  07:27 PM
  24. I can’t wait to get to the Big Apple so I can see the new Islamic community center then go to the strip clubs in the neighborhood to celebrate what’s truly great about America.

    Actually I can wait.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  08:53 PM
  25. I was trying to figure out whether “Allison Beckett” above was a wingnut or a parodist when I realized that it was a spambot.  Good god, cyberpunk is coming true, and it’s deadly boring.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  08:54 PM
  26. Why does it have to be so big?

    The better to use and abuse liberal democratic freedoms in order to promulgate an ideology that is neither liberal nor democratic, my dear.

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  09:30 PM
  27. and a bit about how white male Protestants are discriminated against at Yale

    Indeed, these days the lads of Calhoun College have a devil of a time finding papists and coolies to use as footstools.  Let alone Ottomans.

    Also what about the name “Cordoba”?  Did you ever think about what that might mean? Did you?

    Actually, yes.  Lately, I’ve been having this recurring dream where María Rosa Menocal suddenly appears next to someone squawking about the Muslim conquest of Spain, and kicks ver in the head.

    The better to use and abuse liberal democratic freedoms in order to promulgate an ideology that is neither liberal nor democratic, my dear.

    Chicka-Wow Chicka-Wow Wow!

    Posted by  on  09/03  at  10:37 PM
  28. Michael @15 puts very well what I love about Kimball, who I think may be my favorite ‘nut.  I particularly enjoy going to his blog and refraining from politely pointing out the various typos/misspellings and/or minor factual infelicities to be found there.  I find they really put the avec in the je ne sais quoi, especially coming from someone who clearly experiences the most exquisite frissons of correctness when typing such phrases as “he was graduated from Yale” even when pouncing on the merest Internet tidbit that he thinks might make B. Hussein Obambi look bad, at least to people who already refer to the President that way.

    I also recommend his takedowns of various intellectual hooligans, collected in such notable volumes as Experiments Against Reality (did you know that relativism is self-refuting?  It’s true!  Think about it!) and Lives of the Mind (did you know that Hegel had an illegitimate son (= captcha) by his landlady?  Whom (the son) he subsequently mistreated?  It’s true!  OMG no wonder Marxism failed!)

    Posted by Dave Maier  on  09/04  at  12:21 AM
  29. Why does it have to be so big?

    Well, even though relativism is notoriously self-refuting, I have to say that size is relative.  Thirteen stories, on Park Place in downtown Manhattan, isn’t very big.  The Terror Mosque wouldn’t actually loom over anything, let alone Ground Zero.

    As the Wikipedia tubes note, “The facility’s design includes a 500-seat auditorium, theater, performing arts center, fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, childcare area, bookstore, culinary school, art studio, food court, September 11 memorial, and prayer space that could accommodate 1,000–2,000 people.” Housing all that, plus a command center for plotting global domination in the secret seventh-and-a-halfth floor (and yet another swimming pool, this one devoted exclusively to jihad), will require 13 floors.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  10:58 AM
  30. Forthcoming in the October issue of The New Criterion: how Malcolm X wrote Dreams From My Father and plotted the FEMA death camps with his illegitimate son Barack.

    Shouldn’t that be “avec son fils naturel Barack”? Et avec Saul Alinsky, bien entendu!

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/04  at  12:12 PM
  31. plus a command center for plotting global domination in the secret seventh-and-a-halfth floor

    From whence they will have tunnels leading into the consciousness of leading politicians. When Harry Reid takes up puppetry we’ll know we’re toast (Obama’s already on their side so he needs no further possession).

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  12:23 PM
  32. I was all set to make the usual jokes avec Freudianism about the “why so big” comment, but I assumed from the linked URL that it was spam.  Assuming that it is, this is rather a breakthrough, isn’t it?  Usually the bots just copy something from further up the thread to quote.  Have they started to randomly quote wingnuts from other sites, or something?

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  03:05 PM
  33. Thirteen floors because they are clearly supporters and worshipers of Judas Escargot. 

    And Dave Maier has finally demonstrated that Kimball is the author of FoxNews chryons, what with all those question marks applied to factless facts.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  03:06 PM
  34. (and yet another swimming pool, this one devoted exclusively to jihad)

    “Waiter, what’s this Musselman doing in my bouillabaisse?”

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  04:54 PM
  35. “Waiter, what’s this Musselman doing in my bouillabaisse?”

    And the waiter replies, “looks like the backstroke to me.”

    Ah, the classics never age!

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/04  at  05:15 PM
  36. When you live up here phrases take on an all new meaning…

    Annie Marie Musselman photograph of PHOENECIA AT ALKI where Hussein Khazaal runs the show and the bouillabaisse has “All the French elements… but somehow the alchemy is different, and it is completely memorable. I wake up nights sometimes thinking about this bouillabaisse.,” Where is it?

    I feel like I’ve slipped past a secret industrial portal to a Bizarro World community where it’s entirely acceptable to wear flip-flops all the time.

    Sadly, flip-flops are worn with socks up here.
    Posted by  on  09/04  at  05:37 PM
  37. How many houses of worship of any kind, large or small, could avoid the charge that they “promulgate an ideology that is neither liberal nor democratic”?  Shouldn’t people who write for this thing know their history of ideas?

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  05:50 PM
  38. Sadly, flip-flops are worn with socks up here.

    I think you mean avec socks, spyder.

    How many houses of worship of any kind, large or small, could avoid the charge that they “promulgate an ideology that is neither liberal nor democratic”?

    Oh, I think Ross Douthat will remind us of the liberal democraticalness of the Catholic Church any day now.

    Shouldn’t people who write for this thing know their history of ideas?

    What, you’re trying to introduce a new criterion to the staff of The New Criterion?

    And you know, it does seem weird that they decided to focus on the persecution of white Protestant men at Yale, when of course everyone knows that Columbia and Harvard are the Ivies at which the unqualified al-Obama X usurped the place of one of his betters, and Princeton was the joint that rejected Samuel Alito in favor of some wise-ass Latina.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/04  at  06:47 PM
  39. And the waiter replies, “looks like the backstroke to me.”

    Oh, Professor Protevi, sooo close.  It’s “the backstroke of jihad.”

    How many houses of worship of any kind, large or small, could avoid the charge that they “promulgate an ideology that is neither liberal nor democratic”?

    Unitarian Universalist churches?  Friends General Conference meeting houses?  Thunderdome?

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  06:56 PM
  40. Apparently the next Olympic Games are going to feature a race between the backstroke of jihad and the backstroke of the west.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/04  at  07:36 PM
  41. Hallowed ground in downtown Pittsburgh*.

    *I am aware that some patrioticians don’t consider the site of a Burlington Coat Factory consecrated until it is abandoned. They are traducers and should be shunned and disparaged.

    Posted by  on  09/04  at  09:24 PM
  42. Sufis? (Who, after all, are the ones proposing the Islamic Tower of Doom). If one’s ideology is liberal and not undemocratic, can one avoid the charge that one’s ideology is neither liberal nor democratic? I think formal logic says yes.

    Sufis:Al Quaeda::Quakers:_________
    (a) Lord’s Resistance Army
    (b) Army of God
    (c) the Spanish Inquisition

    But, hey, they are secretly all the same underneath.

    Posted by  on  09/05  at  10:23 AM
  43. About Sufis, which some of us were just discussing here, one commenter on that thread, a self-described ex-Muslim, said this:

    “The whole “bad Wahabis vs. good Sufis” narrative is naive at best, misinformation at worst. It’s true that some Salafis, Ikwhannis, etc have a beef with Sufism but you have to remember that they have just as big a beef with other Salafis and Ikwhannis who follow a slightly different interpretation of aqida. One recurring conversation in Islamic circles is Sufis trying to make the case that they’re just as down for jihad as anyone else.”

    Conceding the point, I pointed out in reply that one reason for the “good Sufis” bit is that the only Sufi any of us is likely to have heard of is Richard Thompson, who like totally rules.

    Also, Michael, you have to check out the latest Kimball effusion (expectoration?  micturition?) here.  It’s about “higher” “education”!

    Captcha: fear

    Posted by Dave Maier  on  09/05  at  12:50 PM
  44. The answer to #42 above is C because: “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

    As for the Sufis:  Well they spin, like tops, and spinning like tops is much more preferable to the well being of former coat hangers (and Allah-loving falafel cart merchants peddling out in front of Allah-loving skin house merchants).  Also, their music is way cool.

    Posted by  on  09/05  at  01:43 PM
  45. “One recurring conversation in Islamic circles is Sufis trying to make the case that they’re just as down for jihad as anyone else.”

    Yeah, well, before conceding that point, I would consider a few items:

    (1) What percentage is involved in that “recurring conversation”?  Because if one went by the comment threads at newspaper websites, liberals, Muslims, etc., would already be in concentration camps.  And that’s just Canadian newspapers.

    (2) What definition of jihad are they “down with”?

    (3) “just as big a beef” is not entirely accurate, similar to an assertion that the Roman Catholic Church had just as big a beef with its Erasmian wing as it did with the Waldensians.

    (4) “Ikwhannis”?  Seriously?  Who is this guy, Ergun Caner?

    (5) Richard Thompson does indeed totally rule.

    Posted by  on  09/05  at  04:35 PM
  46. Good questions, mds!  Check the thread I linked, there’s more there, esp. about “jihad.”

    Posted by Dave Maier  on  09/05  at  05:14 PM
  47. Yeah, well, and also, too, Richard Nixon was a Quaker, and some Quakers owned slaves, so.

    Posted by  on  09/05  at  08:03 PM
  48. Kimball actually writes: Glenn Reynolds, a lawyer and genius loci of the Instapundit blog What?? 

    Let’s see, Glenn Greenwald says:

    “The only thing I have seen that competes with this Steyn column for its mix of pure wrongness and gloating self-celebration over being so wrong is this humiliating April, 2003 screed from Glenn Reynolds.”

    Sean Carroll thought there is a real possibility that Prof. Reynolds has discovered a new state of wrongness.”

    But Kimball sees GHR as a genius??

    Posted by  on  09/05  at  09:31 PM
  49. Oh my dear Spyder, old boy, you forgot to wear your bowtie and your monocle whole perusing that jocular tidbit. You remember from your schoolboy days translating the Metamorphoses, of course, that a genius loci is a spirit of a place, and of course when we gentlemen of leisure condescend to engage in website browsing—that vulgar pursuit!—it is only consistent with decorum that we signal our bemused detachment from the enterprise by calling to mind a humorous Classical analogy. Far from bestowing an honorific upon the hayseed law professor, indeed Kimball ironically signals that he is, after all, citing a mere website. Yet is it not from the most humble sources whence true wisdom often springs? Perhaps only Giblets, the famed Oracle of Fafblog, can point the proper way forward at such a juncture in cultural history.

    Posted by  on  09/05  at  11:54 PM
  50. can point the proper way forward at such a juncture in cultural history

    assuming of course that Kimball knew from whence he was quoting, or thesaurasing (eek a predicate gerund from a noun is just so wrong), or some such condescension.  But i shall put upon the bowtie (good gawd that image in the corner is so frightening) and use my monocle to peruse the aforementioned link to ascertain whether the Kimball has complimented the Reynolds or not.

    Posted by  on  09/06  at  03:14 PM
  51. "Forthcoming in the October issue of The New Criterion: how Malcolm X wrote Dreams From My Father and plotted the FEMA death camps with his illegitimate son Barack.”

    Oh come on… everyone knows Malcolm X could not have been Barack Obama’s illegitimate father. That’s because Malcolm X never lived in Indonesia, where Barack was born.

    captcha: peace

    Posted by  on  09/06  at  08:16 PM
  52. Didn’t we have this debate sixty years ago when Sidney Hook wrote “Heresy Yes, Sufism No!” Sounds like the Hilton Kramer Hotel is just regurgitating Hook’s “These are the people the tolerant can’t tolerate” thesis.

    Posted by  on  09/07  at  02:25 AM
  53. off topic comment regarding failure of teh Professor to stop the following from happening (since he is charged with doing so many things at once at the U):

    Penn State’s Nittany Lion mascot was suspended after being found passed out in the bed of a truck and blowing a .187 in a Breathalyzer test the morning after his birthday.

    I suppose i need mention this was his 20th birthday, not that other one.
    Posted by  on  09/07  at  01:46 PM
  54. I suppose i need mention this was his 20th birthday

    Er, the Nittany Lion mascot is 103, though he didn’t appear at games until the 1920s.  You know, when everyone was drunk.

    Posted by  on  09/07  at  03:22 PM
  55. the only Sufi any of us is likely to have heard of is Richard Thompson

    You’d probably have to find a place to download it, but Thompson has a great song he did with Henry Kaiser back in 1991 called “Annihilation in Allah”.(Probably not something playable on the radio today--or alternatively just shows the real motives of those Sufis.)

    The Henry Kaiser compilation it is on also has a fabulous cover of “Ode to Billy Joe”.

    Posted by  on  09/07  at  08:37 PM
  56. The Henry Kaiser compilation it is on also has a fabulous cover of “Ode to Billy Joe”.

    I think we have a new suspect in the Tallahatchie Bridge collapse.

    Posted by  on  09/08  at  08:34 AM
  57. Penn State’s Nittany Lion mascot was suspended after being found passed out in the bed of a truck and blowing a .187 in a Breathalyzer test the morning after his birthday.

    That’s going to teach him to hang out with that Ginsberg guy.

    Posted by  on  09/09  at  09:18 AM
  58. "Using and abusing liberal democratic freedoms in order to promulgate an ideology that is neither liberal nor democratic is less ostentatious but may in the end be more effective precisely because it is less dramatic.”

    I refudiate this journal’s abuse of the word liberal. I’m a liberal. I know lots of liberals. Liberals are good friends of mine. New Criterion, or whatever your name is, you are not Liberal.

    Posted by Bulworth  on  09/10  at  10:06 AM

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