Have We Become Numb to Terrorism? Plus. . .

Ben Kawaller on waking up, Modi blows it, the Real Housewives of the WNBA, lonely hearts, and much more.

On today’s Front Page from The Free Press: a look at how Modi blew it, Ukraine’s musicians on a mission, and why the WNBA needs the drama. Plus: lonely hearts, and much more. 

But first, in our lead story: Peter Savodnik details the scary way in which Islamist violence that once shocked the West is, especially in Europe, increasingly accepted as a fact of life. That is a very dangerous development, argues Peter: 

Last week, a 25-year-old Afghan man went on a stabbing spree in a marketplace in Mannheim, in southwestern Germany, killing a police officer and wounding five other people.

In a video of the attack, the man, whose name has not been released, can be seen repeatedly stabbing several people—including the police officer, in the back of his head and neck—until another police officer shoots the assailant.

All we know about the dead police officer is his name was Rouven L., and he was 29, and he was trying to stop an attack on Michael Stürzenberger, a well-known blogger who has been critical of Islam. (Stürzenberger was wounded, but not critically.) 

It took four days for anyone with a uniform or in office to say publicly what was obvious, which was that this had something to do with Islamism. 

“Islam belongs to Germany, but Islamism does not,” Justice Minister Marco Buschmann tweeted Tuesday. “It is a deadly form of fanaticism. There is now clear evidence of an Islamist motive for the crime in #Mannheim.”

This latest violence is part of a gathering storm of Islamist stabbings, riots, and violent demonstrations engulfing the West, with Europe at the center of the maelstrom. Continue reading for more on how terrorism lost its power to shock.   

Up next, my colleague Ben Kawaller. Last week, Ben got a direct message on Twitter from the Los Angeles chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay GOP advocacy group. A speaker had dropped out at the last minute. Would Ben be willing to step in? Ben said yes, even though, as he explained that night, he has never voted Republican and would describe himself as no more than “right-curious.” But the speech Ben rustled up in just two hours was—at least in our impartial estimation—brilliant. Read Ben explain why “I’ve Woken Up.” 

  1. Behind closed doors, Biden shows signs of slipping. The Wall Street Journal reports that the president isn’t as sharp as he once was in private meetings. The White House, meanwhile, says Biden remains vigorous. Nancy Pelosi has called the story a “hit piece.” But never mind private meetings and insider sources—the signs of Biden’s age are clear in his public appearances. (Wall Street Journal

  2. A new poll suggests RFK Jr. is helping Joe Biden in swing states. The survey shows Trump leading Biden in a hypothetical head-to-head race in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—two of the most important battlegrounds in November. But add Kennedy to the mix and Biden inches ahead of Trump. (The Hill

  3. This month, the Supreme Court will decide on a cluster of cases about the First Amendment. From whether online platforms have the right to moderate content as they see fit to whether public officials can block critical voters on social media, the decisions will “determine the shape of speech online for years to come,” reports former longtime ACLU president Nadine Strossen. (Persuasion)   

  4. Most young people aren’t liberals. While Biden is losing support among under-30s, the media is wrong to frame it as a revolt from the left. In fact, young voters are a lot like older voters, and they are far more worried about the economy than war in the Middle East. Is Generation Z the new Boomers? (Slow Boring)  

  5. “I am 25. These next three years might be the last few years that I work.” So predicts Avital Balwit, who works at buzzy AI start-up Anthropic. With AI putting knowledge workers on the brink of obsolescence, she says it’s time to start searching for meaning in a world without work. I, sadly, still have a long to-do list and bills that ain’t gonna pay themselves. (Palladium

  6. The most downloaded news app in the United States, NewsBreak, writes stories using AI and has ties to China. Seems bad? The Free Press’s journalism, by contrast, is 100 percent organic and Made in America, though not free-range (my cubicle is tiny). (Reuters

  7. “Of all the things I’ve tried in my life, this has had the biggest impact on combating my anorexia.” Evidence is mounting that taking psychedelics is an effective treatment for one of America’s deadliest mental illnesses. In this anonymous account, one sufferer describes her very tentative experiments with MDMA and magic mushrooms—which have been “life changing.” (The Guardian)

  8. Thirteen anti-Israel protesters were arrested after breaking into the office of Stanford University’s president Richard Saller on Wednesday. The school said there had been “extensive damage” to the interior and exterior of the building. Protesters also spray-painted “Fuck Amerikka” on a memorial to American veterans on campus. (National Review

  9. As we reported Monday, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences is ending DEI statements for faculty recruitment. FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff and Angel Eduardo welcome the move but say more change is needed to root out the ideological litmus tests that have made campuses across America less free. (The Eternally Radical Idea

  10. Another reason to find yourself a finance bro: it looks like fewer and fewer gents are going to be able to afford engagement rings. One of the premier diamond mining companies, De Beers, has ended a six-year experiment to create lab-grown gems after it was undercut by competitors doing the same in India and China. The company says it is now going back to its roots as a “supplier of high-priced, top-class gems.” (Forbes)

→ How Modi blew it: The result of India’s election has shocked the world. The prime minister of ten years, Narendra Modi, came back to power—but only by the skin of his teeth, after his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), lost its majority.

Less than a week ago, India’s pollsters and the global press were predicting a BJP “landslide.” But despite winning 303 seats in 2019, Modi’s party only managed 240 this time. In India, a party needs 272 seats to form a government—failing that, they must form a coalition. The BJP has managed a coalition, but the whole affair has been a blow to Modi. One commentator said he has lost his “aura of invincibility”—especially because the opposition party fell short of the BJP by only eight seats. 

How did Modi blow it? 

His campaign was triumphalist, focusing on his claim that India will soon become the world’s third largest economy because it has the highest GDP growth rate of any major economy in the world. But this message didn’t resonate with the country’s working and lower-middle classes, who aren’t seeing the benefits of the boom. Unemployment levels are high, as is inflation.

About midway through the long campaign, Modi pivoted, making incendiary speeches targeting India’s Muslim minority, hoping to fire up those who support his Hindu nationalism. The plan backfired. In India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, the BJP lost most of their seats to secular parties that draw support from Muslims and lower-caste Hindus. Here, Modi saw the victory margin in his own parliamentary seat, Varanasi, shrink from half a million votes to about 150,000.

The BJP also lost its seat where a controversial temple stands in the city of Ayodhya. The temple was built, over the last four years, on the site of an ancient mosque. A few months ago, Modi personally inaugurated the temple, with great fanfare, in a move that came to symbolize his efforts to marginalize India’s Muslim minority. 

Indian voters are fed up with Modi’s religious polarization. What they want is a stronger economy—and relief from unemployment and inflation but also debt, hunger, and inequality. But with all the political volatility, Indian stocks have dropped sharply this week. Now, it’s unclear if the BJP has a plan to get themselves—and the country—out of this mess. —Rupa Subramanya 

→ Musicians on a mission: With the Washington Monument gleaming in the background, Ukrainian violinist Olha Rukavishnikova struck the first notes of her nation’s hymn of independence on May 20. It marked the beginning of a cultural mission. Rukavishnikova—wearing a Ukrainian military uniform and black eye patch to cover the latest in a series of battle wounds—has come to America with a small band of musicians, hoping to revive U.S. support for her country’s war against Russia.

They arrived in New York on May 19, visited D.C., and have stops planned in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago this month. At the performance for U.S. veterans at the National WWII Memorial in Washington, Rukavishnikova, 25, was accompanied by Taras Stolyar on a bandura, a traditional Ukrainian instrument resembling a lute. Players of the bandura, often called the “voice and soul of Ukraine,” were persecuted and killed in the Stalinist era when a generation of Russians sought to erase any trace of Ukrainian independence.

The “thank you” tour—organized by Cultural Forces, a Ukrainian nonprofit—arrived weeks after Congress approved a much-delayed $61 billion military aid package for Ukraine. Last month, President Biden cleared the use of American weapons on targets inside Russia. Yet the delay—after two years of sometimes agonizing indecision by the Biden administration over approving certain arms—allowed Russia to press its advantage. In recent weeks, Russia has pummeled Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, and seized more territory. 

“I’m not happy about the news we are receiving from the front lines,” said opera singer Yurii Ivaskevych, 51, a tenor who belted the U.S. national anthem at the WWII Memorial. “Since I’ve left, many of my comrades, they have fallen.” 

Ivaskevych volunteered to fight the day after Russia’s invasion in February 2022. Leaving behind his wife and son, Ivaskevych joined the 110th Brigade of the Zaporizhzhia Territorial Defense Force. His call sign was “Pavarotti.” On a combat mission last July, he stepped on a landmine that blew off part of his left leg. That meant the war was over for him.

“They wanted to write me off, but I insisted that I wanted to stay on,” he said. “They were surprised by that.” 

Rukavishnikova also volunteered right after Russia invaded. As an infantry soldier in the 112th Brigade, the former child prodigy with a black belt in karate fought in Kiev. She has been injured five times and lost an eye amid hellish warfare in the Serebryansky Forest. Rukavishnikova also plans to keep fighting until the war ends. But for now, her violin serves as rehabilitation.

“This music is about emotions,” she said. “It translates the conditions that the soldiers go through every day.” —Fredrick Kunkle

→ A final D-Day salute: For many of the 24 U.S. veterans who traveled to Normandy for the 80th anniversary of D-Day today, this year’s pilgrimage will be their last. Major commemorations take place every five years, and the youngest in their number is now 96. The oldest is 104. 

Joe Biden, alongside other world leaders, will today honor these men of the Greatest Generation at an official ceremony at Omaha Beach where, in 1944, Allied soldiers assaulted heavily fortified German positions. It was the beginning of the ground offensive that liberated continental Europe from Nazi rule. A total of 4,414 Allied troops were killed on D-Day itself, including 2,501 Americans. 

Among the veterans in attendance is Jake Larson, who was 21 years old when he landed on Omaha Beach in 1944. Running under heavy machine-gun fire, Larson made it to the cliffs unscathed. He returns as a 101-year-old TikTok star with 800,000 followers. 

“I stormed Omaha Beach and I didn’t get a scratch,” he said in a post for his TikTok that he filmed en route to France in a private jet. “Eighty years ago, I landed on Omaha Beach; now here I am sitting talking to you.

“I’m going back to honor all those who gave their life so that I could be here,” he posted. “They were kids just like I was a kid. I made it because they gave their life. I’ll never forget that.” Ben Clerkin

For more on D-Day, read A.J. Liebling’s classic account of the Normandy landings in The New Yorker, “Cross-Channel Trip.” 

→ Real Housewives of the WNBA: Last weekend, I filed into the Barclays Center along with 17,000 fans to watch the New York Liberty take on the Indiana Fever. I’m one of those fans. I’d never seen a WNBA game before—and I was really only there to watch first-year phenom Caitlin Clark.

Clark scored only three points that night, and her team lost by nearly 40 points, but it didn’t matter. Before tip-off, the arena went black, and thousands of fans shined their phone flashlights down onto the floor in unison. At halftime, a group of funky flash-mobbers took center court. The basketball was good, but the night was awesome.

As any sports fan knows, what happens on the court is only half the story and the fun; it’s also the petty rivalries and the trash talk that keep us hooked. The latest is that last week, Chicago Sky’s Chennedy Carter had knocked Clark to the ground in a flagrant foul. Carter’s teammate is Angel Reese, the former LSU player who has been feuding with Clark since the National Championship. 

After the game where Carter struck Clark, Reese failed to appear at the postgame press conference, sending the media into a gossiping frenzy. NBA analyst Steven A. Smith said that “there are girls—young ladies—in the WNBA who are jealous” of this “white girl”; NBA legend Charles Barkley said “You women out there. . . y’all petty, man.” Podcaster Pat McAfee declared that the players were fuming over the “white bitch” taking over the league. Many called this commentary misogynistic, and even racist. CNN’s Cari Champion said the coverage made her “blood boil.”

But I disagree. No, Carter shouldn’t have slammed Clark. Yes, these athletes deserve to be seen as more than catty “housewives.” But the drama between Clark and Reese and Carter is good for the game. 

Sports gets more interesting when there’s an antihero: Michael Jordan’s Bulls needed the Bad Boy Pistons to give his legacy an extra flare. Draymond Green of the Warriors couldn’t seem to keep his knee out of other people’s crotches for five straight NBA Finals. 

We need a little bit of mess to keep us watching. And even players like Reese know it. 

“I’ll look back in 20 years and be like the reason why we’re watching women’s basketball is not just because of one person. It’s because of me, too,” she said. “I’ll take that role. I’ll take the bad guy role.” She wears it well. —Evan Gardner 

Single readers, it’s that time of the week again! Welcome back to another installment of TFP Lonely Hearts. If you want to see your name in lights, drop us a line! (And if any former lonely hearts entrants have had success thanks to us, we want to hear about that too.) Here are two more Free Pressers looking for love. 

Sophie Wenet, 30, New York City

My name is Sophie Wenet, I am 30, and while my hometown is Seattle, I live in New York. I love trying new restaurants, skiing, spending time with my family, and cooking. I work in fashion and have transformed many wardrobes, so if your mom still shops for you or you’re still wearing skinny jeans, let’s talk. 

I’d love to meet a man who is driven, communicative, playful, honest, well-read, Jewish, a Zionist, and who loves to travel. In an ideal world, said man is handsome and at least a Jewish six feet (5′10″). I hope he values thoughtful discussions and intelligence just as much as laughter and rotting on the couch watching an Adam Sandler movie.

I was a little hesitant about putting my dating life into the hands of The Free Press team, but hey, the apps aren’t working. If you think we’d be a good match, email me!

Lauren Roach, 29, Minneapolis

My name is Lauren, and I am a 29-year-old Wisconsinite living in Minneapolis. I manage a small, private practice OB/GYN clinic that focuses on restorative reproductive medicine. Recent life obsessions include playing pickup basketball at the park, jumping in lakes, and the fierce and funny debates at the film club my friends and I host. 

I’m looking for compassion, cheerfulness, ambition, athleticism, and a healthy dose of humor in a significant other. My Catholic faith is my sure foundation in this crazy, wonderful life, and ultimately sacramental marriage in the church is my goal. If you share this dream and are looking to build a life rich with family, sports, and adventures, let me know any books or sports games that you’ve been slightly obsessed with lately. Email me:

Oliver Wiseman is a writer and editor for The Free Press. Follow him on X @ollywiseman

To support The Free Press, become a paid subscriber today: 

Subscribe now

And if you’re enjoying The Front Page, consider forwarding it to someone else you think might like it. 

our Comments

Use common sense here: disagree, debate, but don't be a .

the fp logo
comment bg

Welcome to The FP Community!

Our comments are an editorial product for our readers to have smart, thoughtful conversations and debates — the sort we need more of in America today. The sort of debate we love.   

We have standards in our comments section just as we do in our journalism. If you’re being a jerk, we might delete that one. And if you’re being a jerk for a long time, we might remove you from the comments section. 

Common Sense was our original name, so please use some when posting. Here are some guidelines:

  • We have a simple rule for all Free Press staff: act online the way you act in real life. We think that’s a good rule for everyone.
  • We drop an occasional F-bomb ourselves, but try to keep your profanities in check. We’re proud to have Free Press readers of every age, and we want to model good behavior for them. (Hello to Intern Julia!)
  • Speaking of obscenities, don’t hurl them at each other. Harassment, threats, and derogatory comments that derail productive conversation are a hard no.
  • Criticizing and wrestling with what you read here is great. Our rule of thumb is that smart people debate ideas, dumb people debate identity. So keep it classy. 
  • Don’t spam, solicit, or advertise here. Submit your recommendations to if you really think our audience needs to hear about it.
Close Guidelines