… Turkish sheep, one of which was earmarked for sacrifice should British P.M. Boris Johnson grace his ancestral village of Kalfat with a visit. “Boris is a real Turk,” one villager, who claims to be a Johnson cousin, told The Times of London. (Johnson’s great-great-grandfather was born in Kalfat in 1815.) The villager continued, “His hair is too messy. He needs to go and see a barber,” presumably referring to the prime minister and not the sheep.
It was a good week for purely physical examinations of the past, as archaeologists in Glencoe, Scotland, discovered what they believe was once a pub among the flattened remnants of the tiny ancient settlement of Achtriochtan, where people lived in thatched and stone huts until the mid–19th century. (That dusty tartan dartboard must have been the tip-off.) In another part of the world, it was learned that the gangster John Dillinger, a resident of Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis since 1934, is to be exhumed and re-interred—same day, same cemetery— because Dillinger’s niece and nephew don’t believe the body is their uncle’s.
Wild boars have overrun Europe this year—more than 10 million, reportedly, particularly in cities like Barcelona, Berlin, and Rome—but it was the more ephemeral Continental heat wave that invaded Greenland this week, causing an alarming ice melt. France instead dealt with an infestation of cyclists: Egan Bernal’s victory in the Tour de France provided a notable trifecta—he was the youngest winner in 110 years (22), the first South American (Colombia), and, with the two runners-up, part of the tightest finish ever (one minute, 31 seconds separated the three).
And in the United States, while the Democratic candidates for president tussled inconclusively through two more debates, the unpleasant specimen they hope to replace had a landmark week. Future historians, sifting grimly through the detritus of the Trump administration, will find nothing remotely as agreeable as, say, faint traces of a Scottish pub. Instead, they’ll need to linger over the few days during which the president called Representative Elijah Cummings of Baltimore a “racist,” adding in a tweet, “Cumming [sic] District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” and that “no human being would want to live there.” He then wheeled on Al Sharpton (“a con man”), told PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor, the reporter he famously accused of asking “such a racist” question, that she was “untruthful,” and called CNN’s Don Lemon “the dumbest man on television.”
Let’s see, what do Cummings, Sharpton, Alcindor, Lemon, and 53 percent of Cummings’s district have in common? Don’t bother answering, because, Donald Trump assures us, “I am the least racist person there is anywhere in the world.” No doubt. Still, he might have had competition from two other presidents. In a just released phone recording from 1971, then governor Ronald Reagan says to President Richard Nixon, “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries, damn them. They are still uncomfortable wearing shoes.” Nixon chuckles appreciatively. Plus ça change. —George Kalogerakis