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Herb Paperman: Bringing conscience and compassion to community "A righteous, learned, man of deeds."

By Beryl Wajsman on August 7, 2017

paperman.JPGThere is a discussion in the Talmud among a number of Rabbis on who we should stand up for when they enter a room. They decided on three types of people. The righteous, the learned and the people of deeds. Yesterday, Montreal lost a man who embodied all three. Herbert Paperman passed away at the age of 92.

Herb, as he was known to everyone, passed away as he had lived. Quietly, with dignity and surrounded by love. He was beloved by all, but it was right and just that his final hours in this vale were warmed by his beloved wife Leila and their family at his side. 

Puzzling over hacking

By David T. Jones on August 2, 2017

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC ~ For an extended period now, Washington and President Trump’s administration have been wrapped around the axle over Russian “hacking” of Democrat-associated e-mails and Moscow’s alleged concurrent effort to assist the Trump campaign win the election.
The effort to “get to the bottom of it” does not seem anywhere near to reaching any bottom.  Indeed, it has metastasized into investigations by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller that appear to be casting their investigatory nets in ever-widening directions, ensnaring President Trump’s son and son-in-law as well as assorted odds-and-ends deal-makers/fixers/lawyers of one nationality or another.

The Kahdr settlement: A bodyguard of lies

By Beryl Wajsman on July 12, 2017

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgFree nations in order to survive in liberty do not negotiate with, pander to or reward terrorists. This has been the keystone of policy among all western countries for decades. The Trudeau government's decision to settle Omar Khadr's legal pursuit against Canada for the alleged violation of his sec.7 Charter rights protecting the "security and liberty of the person" is shameful in principle, distorts the 2010 Supreme Court decision upon which the Prime Minister claims to rely on, opens the door to the compromise of the very Charter protections he seeks to defend and potentially blocks the ability of the widow of the man Khadr killed to obtain redress under the 2012 Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act that allows for the collection of damages from U.S. judgments in Canadian courts.

The Khadr Settlement: An Embarrassment to Canada

By Kevin Budning on July 9, 2017

Budning_Kevin.jpgIf there has ever been a time to question the integrity and moral compass of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government, the time is now. A few days ago, news broke that Omar Khadr had reached a settlement agreement with the Canadian government that entails a formal apology and a $10.5 million payout. Apology and payout for what you may ask?
Well, Khadr - who at age 15 decided to move to Afghanistan to live with his father, a high-ranking Al-Qaeda member - believes he should be compensated for ‘wrongful imprisonment’ at Guantanamo Bay. In 2010, after allegedly being tortured, Khadr pleaded guilty to throwing a grenade that killed U.S. Special Forces medic, Christopher Speer, and for blinding another soldier, Layne Morris. It was this act that landed him in the notorious prison.

"BREXIT" after the British election

By The Hon. David Kilgour on June 26, 2017

Kilgour_David_bw.jpgEmmanuel Macron, president of France, is correct about Britain’s post-election Brexit realities. At a joint news conference with Prime MinisterTheresa May in Paris last week, he said the UK decision to leave the EU could be reversed: “As the negotiations go on, it will be more and more difficult to go backwards...”
May knows she must respect the positions on Brexit of other parties, given her failure to secure a majority and the loss of 13 MPs. She is also under pressure from Brexiters on her own backbenches who could topple her as prime minister if she fails to deliver on their expectations.  The world, however, knows that she and David Cameron - with good reasons -supported "Remain" in last year’s national referendum.

Dare to dream! Passion is not the enemy of reason. Fear is. Commencement 2017

By Beryl Wajsman on June 15, 2017

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgMany people will be graduating this month. They go forth at a time in history of great danger as well as great opportunity. They are surrounded by far too much sham and drudgery, but also by noble acts of selflessness and courage. Here are some thoughts for them, the class of 2017.
You will soon be leaving the comfortable world of academe for the much harder school of life. It’s waiting for you. Just there in the early morning. What you leave you should always remember. Keep these years of study and searching warm in your hearts, and remember the lessons of effort and striving. It is the truth you looked for. Never forget that goal in all your endeavors. It is pre-eminent of purpose.

NATO and the Transatlantic Relationship

By The Hon. David Kilgour on June 11, 2017

Kilgour_David_bw.jpgWhen 12 democratic governments seeking to check Soviet expansion formed NATO by treaty in 1949, it seems unlikely that any of their political leaders thought they would today number 28 and become the most successful defensive military alliance in history.
Post-1952 American President Dwight D. Eisenhower noted at the time, “We are engaged in a war of great ideologies. This is not just a casual argument between slightly different philosophies. This is light against dark, freedom against slavery…”.
The initiative represented a major turning point for the United States. Unprecedented in peacetime, Washington was entering a permanent alliance linking it to Western Europe in both a military and political sense.

THE SIX DAY WAR—ICONIC MILESTONE

By David T. Jones on June 7, 2017

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC ~ Four times in the 75 years of my life, Israel has had to fight its Arab neighbors:  1948, for the creation of the country; 1956, to restore freedom of navigation through the Straits of Tiran and the Suez Canal; 1967, in pre-emptive strikes against Arabs on the verge of their own attacks; and 1973, beating back a surprise Egyptian attack across the Suez Canal that was initially successful.
Each time there was the basic appreciation that Israel could not afford to lose a single war or “never again” would be implemented to catastrophic effect.
It is the 1967 “Six Day War,” now in its 50-year commemoration starting on 5 June, that has proved the most enduring and consequential.

"Masada shall not fall again! Metzadah shuv lo tipol!" The legacy of the bold and the brave

By Beryl Wajsman on June 4, 2017

nation_in_making.jpgThis week we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Israel's victory in 1967's Six Day War. A war pre-meditatively planned and instigated by frontline Arab states whose leaders promised to "drive the Jews into the sea!" It was a victory for the frontline nation in the family of the free, a precursor of the time of terror we live in today, but more than all that, it affirmed President John F. Kennedy's creed that with, "Resolve and courage, the bold and the brave can assure the survival and success of liberty."
In the weeks leading up to the War - a war that took place just 22 years after the liberation of the death camps of the Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews - Arab states flaunted international law and the international community responded with submission and impotent silence.

JFK:Why he matters still

By Beryl Wajsman on May 29, 2017

JFK_2017.jpg“When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy quoted these lines from Romeo and Juliet upon the death of his brother....
Today we commemorate the centenary of the birth of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Think of it. He could very well have still been with us. Think of the difference in this world if he had lived the vigorous and robust life he could have. Just over a half-century after his assassination on that terrible day in Dallas, his hold on our imagination does not wane. It is important to reflect on the reasons why.

CULTURAL APPROPRIATION IS A CROCK

By David T. Jones on May 28, 2017

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - Sometimes one is impressed over the trivial pursuits of injustice collectors.  (One of) the latest “viewings with alarm” has been the contretemps over “cultural appropriation.”
The intimation appears to be that the “culture” of a specific group is itself the equivalent of patent-protected material, and that nobody is permitted to act in a manner that reflects another member/group of society.
It is hard to imagine anything more absurd.  History and society advance by the spread of ideas, inventions, and associated technology.  Culture, not just biology, is constantly evolving.  Otherwise, my Chinese mother-in-law would never have been permitted to read Shakespeare as a child.  Or members of First Nations to use rifles while traveling on snow mobiles.  

Le négationnisme de Marine le Pen et la responsabilité de la France

By Amb. Freddy Eytan on April 28, 2017

Freddy_Eytan.JPGJerusalem - Le président Rivlin a eu raison de condamner le négationnisme de Marine le Pen au moment même où les Français s’apprêtent à voter au deuxième tour de la présidentielle. C’était son devoir d’alerter et de remettre les pendules de l’Histoire à l’heure de la vérité.
Certes, rares sont les déclarations prononcées par un dirigeant officiel israélien contre un candidat à une élection dans un pays étranger, mais comment ne pas sursauter et se révolter contre les tentations de blanchir le gouvernement de Vichy dirigé par Pétain.
Ce maréchal, vainqueur de Verdun, l’homme providentiel de l’époque, et ses collaborateurs,ont agi volontairement et ont offert aux Allemands une aide importante, la plus considérable et la plus précieuse de tous les pays de l’Europe occupée.

Quebec pockets $2.8 billion in Hydro profits and still raises rates

By Debbie Byer, Iocent Crammer, Aissatou Diallo, Maria Ines Garduno on April 23, 2017

generic.jpgApril 1st was a day of unpleasant surprises for many people across Quebec.  On this day Hydro Quebec started cutting electricity to households that have not been able to keep up with their electricity bills.  It was also the day when hydro hiked its rates 0.7 percent for residential consumers.  This increase is not trivial for the dramatically increasing numbers of households that have fallen behind on their bill payments.  While wages and government benefits have stagnated, the prices of food, rent, and other necessities have skyrocketed.  That the cost of electricity, an essential service under the responsibility of a crown corporation, should have also outpaced inflation is outrageous and shameful.    

Two Minutes to Midnight

By Robert Presser on April 23, 2017

Presser_Robert_new.jpgSince 1947, The Chicago-based Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has maintained a Doomsday Clock indicating how close they feel the world is to a global nuclear war.  Now the clock is set to two and a half minutes to midnight, to which it has been creeping closer over the past 26 years since a recent low of 17 minutes, recorded following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.  I think that the clock does not reflect the current danger represented by the twin threats of the Syrian civil war and persistent belligerence from North Korea.  There are more dangerous factors involved than at any other time since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the atomic scientists need to get together and tick the clock 30 seconds closer than their most recent setting of January 26th, 2017.

RUSSIA: SET/RESET/RESET AGAIN

By David T. Jones on April 23, 2017

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - The United States has a “Russia problem.”  (And to be sure, Russia has a “United States problem.”)
This is not “Cold War II”—much as media always in search of a conflict to which they can attach a tag line might prefer.  The “Soviet Red Army” of the 1980s that we feared for a generation would crash through the Fulda Gap headed to the Rhine—where we would have to fight outnumbered and win for the West’s survival—hasn’t existed since 1989.
To be sure, Russia remains the only country whose nuclear strikes could comprehensively destroy the United States--at the cost of its own annihilation.  But despite this disconcerting reality, we “trust the Russians” to continue to act in sane self-control over their forces.

Westmount: For community and for dignity

By Beryl Wajsman on April 6, 2017

westmount.jpgI want to thank the hundreds of you that have expressed your support and confidence as I explore a possible candidacy for the Mayoralty of Westmount. Most of you have been with me in so many of our efforts. The fight against Bill 14, battling the Payette Plan, advocating for seniors rights, helping strengthen our food bank network, protecting minorities from racist authorities, representing the vulnerable against state fiat and championing our Canadian civil rights in the face of institutionalized prejudice.  Without your help I would not been honored with a Martin Luther King, Jr. Award  from Rev. Darryl Gray, nor a Parliamentary Certificate for contributions to Canadian democracy from the Hon. Marc Garneau, nor a Queen's jubilee medal for community service from Sen. Leo Housakos. You've been at the barricades with me.

The dissolution of Mont-Royal riding must not be allowed to stand. We must respond to the "fierce urgency of now!"

By Beryl Wajsman on March 22, 2017

cbc_daybreak_201703.jpgThe decision of the Director-General of Elections to eliminate Mont-Royal riding cannot be allowed to stand. It is about the compromise of our most basic rights as citizens. It is about the disenfranchisement of our suffrage. It is about the second largest population of the economically vulnerable on the island not having a place to turn to. It is about anglophones and allophones losing a voice in our Assembly of law and legislation. It is about natural communities torn asunder with some moved into ridings represented by elected officials with neither the time nor understanding of their particular needs. It is a decision of egregious hypocrisy.

From Russia with Love

By Robert Presser on March 22, 2017

Presser_Robert_new.jpgDid Russian President Vladimir Putin seek to influence the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election?  More seriously, was there collusion between elements of the Trump organization and Russian insiders to shape the campaign, and did those interventions lead to the disclosure of damaging information on Hillary Clinton at critical moments in the closing months?  FBI Director James Comey was summoned before Congress to testify and present evidence, or confirm the lack thereof so that these questions can be settled, at least on an official level.
The only bombshell of information he has provided so far was that the FBI has been investigating since July 2016 into contacts between the Russians and certain Trump campaign officials –clearly this cloud over the Trump presidency will endure for some time.

M-103 threatens freedom of expression

By Kevin Budning on March 18, 2017

bill_103.jpgOttawa - In February, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid introduced Private Member’s Motion M-103, which calls for the end of systematic racism and racial discrimination. The motion, which condemnsIslamophobia, while simultaneously omitting hatred towards all other religions, is inherently flawed. Here is why.
To be clear, the Conservative Party remains fully opposed to all forms of hate speech, racial discrimination, religious intolerance and bigotry. It is for those exact reasons the previous conservative government created the Office of Religious Freedom within the Department of Foreign Affairs. This office was tasked with protecting freedom of religion and belief internationally, as well as to promote Canadian values of tolerance and pluralism. However, in complete juxtaposition of this motion, the Liberal Government decided to shut the office down. 

Secretary Tillerson and he State of State

By David T. Jones on March 18, 2017

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - In recent media stories, there are floods of tears (some of the crocodile nature) regarding the degree to which the U.S. Department of State and Secretary Tillerson have (not) controlled U.S. foreign policy.
To an extent, this observation is accurate.  Secretary Tillerson stands alone atop a bureaucratic pyramid of senior State Department officials of the deputy secretary, under secretary, and assistant secretary ilk that are empty.  Or at least empty of specific designees selected by Tillerson and/or President Trump.  They are filled by “acting” officials, essentially long-term civilian government employees and career Foreign Service Officers.  Their political predecessors were defenestrated or made to feel sufficiently unwelcome that with their backs up against the wall, they read the writing thereon.  

HUMAN DIGNITY, PUTIN AND THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

By The Hon. David Kilgour on March 3, 2017

Kilgour.jpgOttawa - Across the world, in many nations with differing models of governance, it appears that human dignity is under siege.
In Asia, for example, medical agents of the party-state in China are beyond any reasonable doubt removing for commercial purposes an average of 250 organs daily, mostly from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the Falun Gong, Uyghur Muslim, Tibetan Buddhist and house Christian communities.
Among the 54 nations of Africa, we find some of the world’s best-governed states, such as Botswana and Ghana, but also some, such as Zimbabwe and Angola, which are both mismanaged and corrupt and treat their citizens with thinly-veiled contempt.

Are we living in the 2nd or 3rd dimension now?

By Suzanne Reisler Litwin on February 28, 2017

Reisler_Suzanne.jpgThis past weekend I went to a party. It was an amazing celebration for a couple of friends’ birthdays. There was a dj, lights, and a photo booth. There were balloons, fabulous decorations and candies for the loot bag. The party was filled with festive people talking, sharing and celebrating the birthdays. It was a happy time to share with friends.
There were so many people engaged. However, the children at this party were faced downward, unaffected. They were all engaged with their mobile phones. They were messaging, surfing, emailing, instagramming, and snapchatting. What I noticed most is that they were not interacting with their friends. They were not dancing or paying attention to the actual party. They were virtually removed and living in their two dimensional world.

WHAT DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND ABOUT “ILLEGAL”?

By David T. Jones on February 27, 2017

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - Language changes over time.  Try reading Shakespearean plays without constant reference to explanatory commentary.  Words take on new meanings.  “Cute” once meant “short and fat.”  Some words are transient—notably “slang” seldom lasts from one generation to the next (or even one year to the next).
Thus anyone still extant who would respond to “Twenty-three skidoo” is not of the current generation.  Indeed, even the “It’s cool” of the 1950s-60s is long passé.  When “pimp” arrived on the linguistic scene, it had a positive connotation—not a man running a string of whores.
But “illegal” still has a solid basis.  If an action is illegal, it is contrary to the law and subject to official sanction.  Killing is illegal; assault is illegal; theft is illegal.  Trespass is illegal—or is it?

Le nouveau tandem Trump-Netanyahou

By Amb. Freddy Eytan on February 23, 2017

Freddy_Eytan.JPGJerusalem- La rencontre chaleureuse de Netanyahou avec le président Trump à Washington est à la fois symbolique et significative après huit années de tensions et de relations tumultueuses inutiles avec la précédente administration américaine.

C’est ainsi que le président des Etats-Unis devrait toujours accueillir un chef d’Etat ami et un allié fidèle.  Sur ce point, Netanyahou peut en effet se réjouir et être soulagé. Enfin, il est entré à la Maison Blanche décontracté, la tête haute, et avec le sourire. Il est reçu sans contrainte, sans animosité, et obtient naturellement tous les égards.

THE DONALD MEETS THE JUSTIN—NO “BROMANCE”

By David T. Jones on February 11, 2017

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - On Monday, 13 February, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington.
The likelihood of a “bromance” equivalent to that between President Barak Obama and Trudeau is akin to anticipating icebergs in the Potomac.
However, the president and the prime minister have some points in common:  remarkable hair and wives more attractive than they.
Thus, we should not anticipate President Trump offering an official state visit to Trudeau (President Obama covered that base after denying former PM Harper the honor).  Nor should we anticipate that Trudeau will propose Trump visit Ottawa to give an official address to Parliament. 

TWO TO SEE: TRAILER PARK ANTICS AND A WONDERFULLY AWFUL ACT

By Alan Hustak on February 7, 2017

noises_off_small.jpgNicola Cavendish tears up the stage as Maude  Gutman,  the coarse, vulgar but far from stupid  trailer park  tootsie in Stephen  Sach’s two-hander, Bakersfield Mist at the Centaur until February 26.  The thought-provoking play spins on a simple premise:  Maude has paid $3.00 for a large discarded  canvas  at a garage sale which may or may not be a Jackson Pollock drip painting worth millions.

Noises Off, Michael Frayn’s acclaimed sex farce at the Segal until  Feb 19th, isn’t the easiest of plays to pull off.  It’s actually a play-with-in-a-play.


Trump to America: "Did you love my huge, huge, first week?"

By Robert Presser on February 5, 2017

Presser_Robert_new.jpgDear Americans,

I am doing Fantastic, I know you think so.  I feel it, feel it clearly, no matter what the dishonest media is reporting. Spicer did an amazing job, totally amazing, Spicer was, standing up to the White House reporters, telling them that I had the biggest inauguration crowd ever, ever!  Period!  Way to tell’em!  Spicer and I are going to get along great, great guy, Spicer is.
Obamacare is history, I made it so on day one, everyone saw me do it.  I love executive orders, it’s just like running a business, sign the papers and make it so, but Reince tells me it is more complicated than that.  

The Holocaust: On memory and witness

By Beryl Wajsman on January 27, 2017

holocost.jpgToday, January 27th, is the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops. Perhaps for this reason, this date was chosen as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Curiously, and sadly, it took the UN sixty years to give recognition to this most seminal and apocalyptic event in human history. The organization at whose entrance are carved the words of the prophet Isaiah that, “Swords shall be beaten into plowshares and nation shall not make war against nation anymore,” got around to commemorating Holocaust remembrance only in 2005. We are not only still waiting for Isaiah’s prophecy to be realized but also for that day when those other prophetic words “Justice shall roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream…” have life breathed into them.

Quebec's problem with due process and the rule of law

By Beryl Wajsman on January 26, 2017

due_process.jpg"The means are all important. The means by which a society finds guilt or innocence is what determines whether it has a place at the table of civilized nations." ~ Justice William O. Douglas

Attorney-client privilege. Guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Freedom of the press as the fourth estate of government. Confidentiality of journalists' sources. Pretty straight forward stuff right?Any tenth-grader in a civics class gets these. So why is it that so many Quebec prosecutors and judges not get it? 

Marcus Aurelius and his Meditations

By Prof. Peter March on January 15, 2017

marcus_aurelius.jpgIt is difficult to write this little piece. My chest bursts with the desire to weep for sudden memory, uninvited shame, and long regret. Making myself write it, well, that is an exercise Aurelius would have demanded of me. So I will try to be a good Stoic. In his way.

I first read Aurelius in Gorsebrook School Elementary when the principal, Mr.Moser read a little journal which I put up on the blackboard each morning before school. That would be in Grade 6 and I was twelve.

YAHYA AND ALI: TWO HEROES WHO MADE ME CRY TODAY

By Beryl Wajsman on January 4, 2017

yahya_03.jpgThis made me cry today. We live in a time when too many cannot bear to confront in themselves the realities of this thing called life. They refuse to reflect on the true purpose of our own fleeting existence, much less our own inevitable mortality. It's too sad for them. The resolve we can demonstrate that defines a life of purpose, is too difficult for them. Most can't be bothered. They hide behind veneers of false illusions and ascribe unwarranted importance to ungracious consumption, childish games and purile entertainment. Rare is there appreciation for true beauty,  thought, love. Rarer still are there examples of personal engagement to bind up the wounds around us. Character, fidelity, caring are too often scorned as weak. A corroding cynicism has pervaded our everyday life and our everyday relationships. 

THE U.N., ISRAEL, OBAMA, AND KERRY

By David T. Jones on January 2, 2017

palestine.jpgWashington, DC -The Thesis: The Second Coming will arrive before peace in the Middle East. The Corollary:  Nobody ever lost money betting against peace.
For close to a generation, ever since the historic Begin-Sadat agreements leading to peace with Egypt and the Rabin-Hussein accords and the peace with Jordan, the peace process has been frozen.  It has not been for lack of trying and, indeed, following the 1994 Oslo peace accord, the ‘90s saw enormous efforts by the most skilled diplomatic professionals to bridge differences between Israelis-Palestinians-Syrians and other Middle East actors.  At times President Clinton almost assumed the role of State Department’s Middle East action officer and seemed to meet the principal players more often than any other foreign officials. 

Leonard: Of poetry and power...

By Beryl Wajsman on November 21, 2016

Cohen3.jpgIt has been written that we love so that we know we are not alone. The outpouring of love for Leonard Cohen this past week has brought all Montrealers together. In our grief, with pain falling drop by drop upon the heart, no one was alone here.
From the hundreds who stood in near freezing temperatures outside his now iconic greystone on rue Marie-Anne to the musicians who appeared - seemingly spontaneously - in various sites singing Cohen's songs to the artists painting canvas tributes. No one was alone. Love was in the air in this time of sadness. A love born in the poetic pathos of the words of this most gifted son of this island.

Remembering Leonard

By Alan Hustak on November 12, 2016

leonard_cohen.jpg"You don’t know me from the wind/you never will, you never did,” Leonard Cohen wrote on the title track of his album, The Future, But that hasn’t stopped people who love his words and his mordant sense of humour from mourning the, poet, author and prince of mordant melancholy who died Monday Nov. 7 at the age of 82, three weeks after the release of his final album, You Want it Darker. His death was not made public until after the U.S. election was over.
Variously praised as “ the finest songwriter in America;” “the Lord Byron of rock'n'roll” , and as a mystic: "one of a tiny visionary company, the handful of rock or blues or folk singers who attempt to sort out the sense of the world with which they started."

Mapplethorpe finally arrives: MMFA mounts first Canadian retroapective

By Robert K. Stephen on November 12, 2016

mapplethorpe.jpgRobert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) is perhaps one of America’s most iconic photographers. This first Mapplethorpe retrospective opened at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on September 10th and runs until January 22, 2017.
You’ll walk away either somewhat disgusted with some of his kinkier nude or semi-nude photographs or view them as an innovative photographic attempt at sculpture. Or you may be in awe at some of his incredible photographs of flowers. As Mapplethorpe said, “I am looking for perfection in form. I do that with portraits. I do it with flowers.”Unlike the equally iconic American photographer Diane Arbus, Mapplethorpe preferred the studio portrait instead of the outdoor “realistic” method favored by Arbus. Does this make Mapplethorpe a traditionalist despite the progressive and innovative crown granted by the artistic community to Mapplethorpe?

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