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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
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"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
A Washington State agriculture official who was touring China a few years ago handed out bright green baseball caps at every stop without noticing that none of the men would put them on or that all the women were giggling.
Finally, a Chinese-American in the delegation took the man aside and informed him that "to wear a green hat" is the Chinese symbol of a cuckold.
Even stabbing chopsticks into a bowl of rice and leaving them there (an act of hostility among Chinese because it signifies death) would be laughed off (nervously) by locals unless it was done with obvious intent.
He recalled that during his days at Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong the firm ordered expensive clocks to give as gifts commemorating the closing of a deal. The firm's local staff caught the mistake: to "give a clock" in Chinese sounds the same as "seeing someone off to his end."
Besides clocks, giving umbrellas is taboo because doing so is homonymous with a phrase that means the person's family will be dispersed. Books, too, are unlucky presents because "giving a book" sounds the same as "delivering defeat."
China's many dialects multiply the risks. Shanghai natives chuckle at Va Bene, an expensive Italian restaurant that recently opened in town, because the Italian name meaning "it goes well" sounds like Shanghainese for "not cheap."
Color is another cue that can send an unintended message. One multinational company giving gifts from Tiffany replaced the white ribbons on the famous jeweler's robin's-egg- blue boxes with red ribbons after the company's Shanghai employees pointed out that white in China signifies death, while red is lucky and is used for celebrations.
Picking numbers for everything from product prices to telephones is also tricky. Avoid four, a homonym for death in Chinese, and load up on eights, a number that is pronounced the same as "making money" in the southern Cantonese dialect.
But even an experienced Sinologist like Mr. Clark was mystified when his Beijing workers objected to pricing a product at 250 yuan. It turned out that in northern China, calling someone "250" is to say the person is nuts. [...] In the south, people tap two fingers on the table to say thanks, but people in the north might think the gesture is just a nervous tic.
One wonders if advice on dealing with Americans is given to Chinese business people: "Avoid picking your nose in front of them; they find it disgusting. Do not spit on them; they do not like it. Do not ask if you may have intercourse with their mothers; they will not take it as a compliment." And so on.
4/30/2002 12:44:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
TOPIC A-S: Useful article on Islamic anti-semitism, its history and how it relates to Islam itself.
Stay in a five-star hotel anywhere from Jordan to Iran, and you can buy the infamous forgery "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Pick up a newspaper in any part of the Arab world and you regularly see a swastika superimposed on the Israeli flag.
Such anti-Semitic imagery is now embedded in the mainstream discourse concerning Jews in much of the Islamic world, in the popular press and in academic journals.
The depictions are not limited to countries that are at war with Israel but can be found in general-interest publications in Egypt and Jordan, the two countries that have signed peace agreements with Israel, as well as in independent religious schools in Pakistan and Southeast Asia.
Arab leaders, for their part, have long rejected the accusation that their state-controlled press, universities and television stations promulgate anti-Semitic views.
ON DESPISING GENRES is a fine piece by Ursula K. Le Guin (pay attention to the spelling and spacing of her name, boys and girls, since apparently only 5% of people manage this complex piece of iteration). Were I more awake, I'd give some counter arguments as to virtues of genrification, since it's not a one-side argument. But I'm not, so read this spiffy piece, which Bill Humphries points us to.
And Sherri Tepper and Margo Adler. Um, anecdotes, murfle, suppress.
STRING 'EM UP, BOYS: In discussing yesterday's murdering of Palestinians by Palestinians, Haaretz casually mentions:
Most of the Palestinians who have been murdered during the intifada due to accusations of collaborating with Israel did not recently work as Shin Bet informers, an Israeli source said yesterday. In most cases, these victims had no connection with Israel's security establishment or with former Israeli collaborators.
Recently, an atmosphere of despair and rage in the territories has encouraged some frustrated organization operatives to search for scapegoats, the source said. The murder of these suspected collaborators, including former collaborators who returned to the territories, are sometimes accompanied by sexual abuse, the source said. Investigations during the first intifada established that just 3 percent of the hundreds of Palestinians murdered as suspected collaborators actually worked for the Shin Bet.
The three Palestinians were brought by about 20 Fatah operatives to Hebron's a-Salam street, where Zaloum had been killed. They were executed in cold blood in front of an angry group of local residents who later desecrated the corpses.
"The gunmen sprayed the collaborators with machinegun fire. Bullets penetrated various parts of their bodies," a witness calling himself Mohammed told Reuters.
"This is what these collaborators deserve. They betrayed the nation and have been eliminated," said one of the gunmen.
WHARTON, Tex., April 28 — For more than a century, Jewish families have gathered in this unlikely spot along the bottomlands of the Colorado River to study Hebrew, master the Torah and celebrate their history as one of the oldest Jewish communities in Texas.
But on Saturday, members of the Shearith Israel Synagogue met for the last time. Their congregation is disbanding, their distinctive star-shaped synagogue is to be sold, and their religious objects will be scattered among Jewish organizations across the state.
"A rich man in New York named Jacob Schiff encouraged us to come to Texas," recalled Mary Meyers Rosenfield, 91, who moved with five other families to Wharton from Minsk, Russia, around 1915. "He said New York was too crowded with Italians and Irish and other Jews, but that there was plenty of room in Texas.
Reportedly some of my relatives came from near Minsk. I do wonder how I would have turned out as a native Texan.
Instead of contemplating anti-semitism, it's comforting to consider this:
"If the Christian community had not nourished the Jewish community here, it could not have survived," he said. "The Jewish community didn't pick Wharton because there was anything special about it; other communities just weren't looking forward to having Jews in their midst, and consequently we didn't flourish there."
Although Wharton is richly endowed with Methodist, Baptist and Lutheran churches, the residents always seemed to welcome the Jewish community, Mr. Wadler said.
"On the Jewish High Holy Days," he said, "most of the shops on Main Street would be closed, and I've heard more than one story of people waiting until the following day to shop out of respect for our religion."
It's a nice change to read this sort of story, and I'm trying to remember to do that.
Incidentally, Wharton is "known primarily as the birthplace of Dan Rather and the playwright Horton Foote."
THE BIG ONE: Britain has revealed some of its formerly top secret plans and estimates for dealing with a nuclear strike during the Fifties and Sixties.
It estimated that a successful Soviet night attack on main population centres using 10 hydrogen bombs, each of 10 megatons, would kill 12 million people and seriously injure or disable 4 million others. "This would mean the loss of nearly one-third of the population."
But the Strath report did conclude that if what was left of the population could get through this initial critical period then it would be possible for Britain to make a slow recovery despite the destruction of half its industrial capacity.
"The standard of living of the reduced population, although substantially lower than at present, would still be well above that of the greater part of the world. The country would be left with sufficient resources for a slow recovery."
WHERE ARE YOUR PRIORITIES, MAN?: Public congrats to Dr. Frank, but this "wedding" thing seems like a pretty flimsy excuse for not blogging. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one!
And you expect us to still be waiting around to read you when you get back, after you've gone off on such a trivial excuse?! Humph! Well, I, for one, just can't be sure. Not posting because of some -- what is the term? -- woman. As if she can please you as much as getting a bunch of links. What's the blogosphere coming to?
GOODBYE, PIGLET: George Alec Effinger has died, I'm very sorry to say. He was a helluva writer, and in our few fleeting exchanges, I always found him terribly nice.
When I was a young fan, at one of my first sf conventions, the 1973 Lunacon, there was a Young Turks panel, to highlight three little-known, just starting, up-and-coming young writers. The moderator was the Guest of Honor of the convention, Harlan Ellison.
The panelists were George Alec Effinger, Gardner Dozois, and Jack Dann. I don't recall if I'd been reading Effinger before that, or not. I think so, but at this point, I couldn't swear it. But for me, he was there more or less at the same time I was finding my way into the sf community, and now another contributor is gone.
IDIOTS: These sort of fools give people with a proper understanding of the Constitution, the First Amendment, and civil rights, a bad name.
Of course kids in school have a right to private prayer, vocal or not, so long as they don't disrupt class or other school activities. Of course a kid can say grace vocally, so long as she's not, like, screaming or acting disruptive, over her food. The widespread lack of understanding of our civil liberties guaranteed by our Constitution in the US is simply shocking. It's particularly shocking when a school board doesn't understand the First Amendment. The ACLU would be happy to explain it to them: you, as agents of the state, can't act to interfere with religious expression, either in one direction, or another.
THE TIMES IS SO BIASED!: This is the sort of article that those convinced the NY Times is left biased will point to, while other articles by Ginger Thompson from Venuzuela will cause those on the left to swear that the Times is the dupe of corporations, the US Embassy, and the right.
It was not just political differences that stirred Ramón Rodríguez to reject the coalition led by business leaders that forced President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela out of power briefly last week. It was the sight of them in the newspaper on Saturday.
"All of them oligarchs," said Mr. Rodríguez, a street vendor, using the term by which the country's poor masses describe the wealthy white minority. "Couldn't they have appointed one person like us?"
Outraged, he went out to join the protesters who poured from the slums and tore through the streets to seize the national palace and put President Chávez back. Within 24 hours, Mr. Chávez resumed his presidency.
"If they rise up again," Mr. Rodríguez said, referring to the elite, "then we will rise again too."
Although this is a country rich in oil and natural resources, some 80 percent of the people live poor.
Yet Mr. Chávez's opposition, while led by business executives, draws on an increasingly mobilized middle class of office workers, unionized laborers, even some military officers. They, too, have grown into a combative force.
Mr. Chávez, with his tan skin and curly dark hair, embodies the racial mixture of Venezuela. Some 67 percent of the people here are mestizos, a mixed race of the whites, blacks and Indians who are the nation's minorities. Economic and political power, however, remains concentrated in the hands of whites.
My most recent idea: the Times should rename itself. The New York Rorschach Blot. In context, I think Thompson's reporting has been on the balanced side. As usual, I see screams from both sides as to how "obviously" terrible her reporting is. This is today's story about trying to find out the truth about the killings, by the way.
4/28/2002 07:56:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
VOULEZ-VOUS, ER, UNION AVEC MOI?: Quebec Plans to Legalize Same-Sex Unions. I had the vague idea that the conservative Catholic culture there would have caused them to hold off on this, but it's nice to see I underestimate the Quebecois. I'm surprised that British Columbia and Ontario are behind the curve on this.
The province of Quebec is planning to give legal status to unions of same-sex couples, Attorney General Paul Bégin said today, but they will not be called marriages.
Quebec will become the second Canadian province to legalize civil unions of same-sex couples. Nova Scotia was the first.
So, two things to remember: in neither case is it marriage, and Nova Scotia smoked salmon isn't lox. Okay, then.
So, like, "marriages" are "uncivil unions," then, right?
CAN YOU MENTION MY NEW BLOG, PLEASE?: My rule of thumb is to ignore these mails. They come too often, and, jeez, who wants to encourage more plaintive requests? Besides, who needs more blogs? We're full, go away.
Okay, just kidding. Let's try a new tack. Howard Owens' new blog is promising, and now I've mentioned it. So, Howard, I'm sure you want to hit my Paypal Button now, right? :-)
Have you ever wanted to come up with a great evil plan, but just never had the time or intelligence? Well your prayers have been answered, because now with the Evil Plan Generator, you can come up with any number of plans in no time at all to wreak havoc upon the world!
PLEASE BE ORDERLY IN THE QUEUE: The line forms here to be the next space tourist to the International Space Station. Shuttlesworth, who is up now, paid about $20 million, reports say. So I only need 3,999,996 more Paypal donations! (Or more, as you can pay whatever lesser amount you like; thanks to Kevin for being the Fourth Contributor Ever this morning.)
Ms. Garver, a former NASA associate administrator for policy and long a space enthusiast, is hoping to get businesses, foundations, educational organizations and others to pay for her ticket.
THE DARK SIDE OF THE FORCE: COPYRIGHT. Updated story on how LucasFilm is dealing with fanfiction in film form. Unsurprisingly, while Lucas Hisself judged a fan film contest, only Star Wars parodies and documentaries allowed; no straight stories set in his universe. Rating five Claudes, fans not altogether with this aspect of Jedi training.
My reaction: yup, I'd like to see looser chosen enforcement of copyright -- but the law makes that problematic -- and I'd like to see the legal restrictions lessened in time-span. On the other hand, encouraging people to make up their own universes has its own positives. Use the Creativity Force, Luke.
HOME SWEET HOME. TO DIE IN. Psychiatric "group homes," in New York, that is. Stomach-turning, outrageous story of the horrific conditions of these places, many of which are larger than most state mental hospitals in other states. Endless paragraph after paragraph of people left to die, and their deaths not even investigated.
Oh, yeah, all the homes are privatised, and the owners are raking in huge profits, while the patients are left to die of heat stroke with no air conditioning, murder each other, and die in countless other uninvestigated ways. This is Willowbrook all over again, on a far larger scale. If someone can explain to me a solution for this that doesn't involve state regulation and enforcement, I'd be interested.
Judge Jonathan Playford, QC, at Reading Crown Court, found there was insufficient grounds and lack of evidence for discrimination, although he did criticise the university’s “flawed” examination procedures. The judge also said that Mr Ahmed and his tutor, the poet and critic Tom Paulin, who backed his claims, had been mischievous in their unfounded claims of racism.
Mr Ahmed felt that his professor, Friedrich Zimmermann, had showed hostility towards him from the outset. The judge said that although Dr Paulin was alleged to have made some 200 phone calls regarding the case, he did not directly approach Dr Zimmermann. Dr Paulin had been “excitable and may have had his own axe to grind regarding Dr Zimmermann,” the judge said. He added that Dr Paulin had left threatening and ambiguous messages with the college proctor.
I bet there's no chance that Dr. Zimmerman is a you-know-what.
A British reader, incidentally, hastened to assure me that Tom Paulin is not British, but Irish. So now you know. He was also recently discussed here. It's great to know that, as my e-mail correspondent tells me:
Paulin is one of the pundits on Newsnight Review most Friday evenings.
BRITISH ANTI-YOU-KNOW: Credit where due: the Telegraph had a smashing piece, with all the right words, last week.
TOM PAULIN tells an Egyptian newspaper that Brooklyn-born Jewish settlers should be shot. Ghazi Algosaibi has a poem published in a London Arabic daily newspaper that praises Palestinian suicide bombers as martyrs who "died to honour God's word". Both the poet and the Saudi ambassador are inciting the murder of Jews. Yet all they have received so far is a verbal reprimand.
BLOGGING, WITHERS, ER, WHITHER?: Jim Henley, another must-read blogger, sagely comments.
In passing -- and I'd never have linked to this post just for this latter point, of course -- Jim gives
a list of the most steadily productive folks in or near political blogdom: Virginia Postrel, Glenn Reynolds, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Gary Farber, Matt Welch, Ken Layne, Mickey Kaus, Andrew Sullivan, Joshua Marshall, James Lileks, Ginger Stampley, Oliver Willis
I must note that flattered as I am to be on this list, that while it's true that Lileks cited me as one of his six chosen editorialists for his Ideal Blog Newspaper, and I get on fine with various of these folks, the only words I've ever had from Mr. Sullivan was a seven-word e-mail, Mr. Reynolds seems to only notice me every third Thursday, and I rather doubt Mssrs. Kaus and Marshall are aware of my existence (I've yet to make Mr. Willis blink, either). So I don't expect to make the regular bar gathering, alas and alack.
But speaking of productivity, I'll be out of the Amygdala office, which is to say, I'll be working away from Internet access through Tuesday for most of the day, so I fear I must warn you that you will be blessed with the sort of low productivity heah that you have recently become accustomed to, anyhoo. But in this case, I'm doing it for really low pay, so it all works out.
WRITER OF FORTUNE: Lots of bloggers announce new permalinks in posts. A fine practice, I just don't happen to do it, as a rule. But I'll make an exception for an old pal:
Bruce Baugh I knew for years on Usenet's science fiction newsgroups. He's a clear writer, and an idiosyncratic and bright thinker. He's just started his blog, but I predict he'll make a spiffy addition to the conversation. Give him a looksee, and a bookmark. He's someone who doesn't need to read How Not To Blog.
THE TRANSMIGRATION OF PHILIP K. DICK: Slate looks at Phil Dick. I can't help grousing a bit about where was all this mainstream attention when Dick was alive?
The writer also gets the story of The Zap Gun garbled: it wasn't written because "the editor wanted a book with that title," but because Dick wanted to write it (and wanted the couple of thousand dollars for delivering another novel ASAP). He submitted it with that title because Don Wollheim, then publisher of Ace, wanted skiffy-sounding titles, as all canny sf publishers of the time did (and still tend to), because that's how readers identified a book as "science fiction." Big whup. So as an in-joke, Dick used the most cliche title he could think of.
I quibble, however. The story is actually perceptive, reasonably knowledgeable, and on-target.
HOW ODD: I was going to let this pass, but I've now seen three different blogs comment approvingly on this peculiar rant from August J. Pollak. Pollak read this entirely unremarkable story in which Rumsfeld -- I don't think I need to specify which "Rumsfeld," do you? -- is quoted as saying what's completely obvious without it being necessary to say: at no time since 9/11 has the US known the precise location of Mr. bin Laden long enough to drop a bomb directly on his head, or drop a team to snatch him.
As news goes, this isn't news; a child could figure out that if the US had known that Mr. bin Laden were going to, say, be at the Hotel Kandahar for the next twelve hours, or at GPS location X for a day, they would have done the bomb or the snatch thing. This Has Not Been A Secret. I do believe the average twelve-year-old, if asked: "why haven't we caught or killed Mr. bin Laden?," would likely reply to the effect "because we haven't known where he is exactly?"
What is, of course, reported and documented in thousands of news stories, are Mr. Laden's travels in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 and subsequent to then, up to some undetermined point. As the story Pollak, er, reacts to says quite unambiquously:
U.S. intelligence officials said Wednesday that bin Laden probably was at Tora Bora in late November, left in early December after bombing began and escaped south toward the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, cited two pieces of evidence: interviews with prisoners captured in the Tora Bora region and a radio transmission intercepted in early December that U.S. personnel identified as from bin Laden. Officials said other evidence exists but declined to go into detail.
But the intelligence assessment is by no means certain. Prisoners' stories haven't always added up, and the radio transmission could have been relayed from elsewhere as a trick.
To act, the military would have needed to know bin Laden would be at a certain place, at a certain time. The interrogations weren't done until after Tora Bora was attacked, defense officials noted.
When the war started, bin Laden was believed to be in the Jalalabad area, moving between the city and a farming compound where his family lived, according to local officials. He is thought to have moved frequently in a large convoy, before heading south toward Tora Bora. He may have been wounded during the attacks there, although officials have no direct evidence of it.
This seems uncomplex, and clear, yes? Now this could all be a Big Lie, of course, and I have no way of knowing, and no way of proving, otherwise. Or perhaps it all could be a Terrible Mistake, and again, the knowing and proving thing.
But I see no reason to assume it's a Big Lie unless one pretty well assumes that anything Mr. Rumseld, and his evil militarist baby-killing-loving tools of the oil companies ilk say is a Lie To Back Their Evial Plans. In which case the usefulness of any of Mr. Rumsfeld's statements to prove, well, anything, seems dubious.
But August Pollak, well, I won't quote his full rant; you can use the link if you wish, but he has determined that:
The Defense Secretary of the United States- the man who pretty much answers only to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the President himself over the military actions of the country,
I can't tell, incidentally, whether this peculiar statement is Pollak's sarcastic usage describing his personal theory of the military-industrial complex -- that the SecDef "answers to... the Joint Chiefs" -- or is simply that utterly ignorant (if so, one can surmise he's never read any serious analysis of US political/military history of the last fifty years, save, of course, perhaps Howard Zinn, or any political or military memoir, particularly of any of the service Chiefs, which might clarify that Mystery of who jumps when their phone line rings, but that might not be the wildest bet to ever lay).
announced today, without immediately resigning afterwards, that although we bombed an entire country, killed thousands of people, and intervened in specific governmental regime changes because it might have hosted a man from a different country, we didn’t really have enough information to merit doing it.
This doesn't appear to be in the Yahoo story, or in anything August J. Pollak quotes or cites. I can't say if it was beamed into his fillings, but best guess is that he, well, imagined this interpretation which is quite at odds with what the Yahoo story, and countless other press stories uniformly say. Aside from not having read , or more likely, believed, any news story on bin Laden in months, I gather August J. Pollak Pollak either did not read or believe any of the links on the Yahoo story, such as this or this, or this.
One may also take note of Pollak's peculiar phraseologies, suggestive of his thinking: "We bombed an entire country," as if the Air Force randomly hopped, skipped, and jumped about, bombing whatever village they came across that Didn't Look Right, because, y'know, the military just loves to kill people, and aren't, in fact, our next-door neighbors, who may even have given great depth of thinking to the morality of what they do, and may even, perhaps, desire not to kill innocent civilians if they can possibly help it. As if, in fact, targets were not chosen as carefully possible, targets that were Taliban or al Queda military units, who were and are rather unconcerned with pangs of conscience over bombing as many random civilians as they can in our country.
We "intervened in specific governmental regime changes," which was obviously immoral, due to the democratic choice the people of Afghanistan made in picking their fine upstanding, leftist-respecting Taliban government, and whom even now the majority of the Afghani people want back. We didn't actually help any Afghanis in this, and most Afghanis are doing their best to undo our Evil Intervention.
I can’t even attempt to feign some mellow rational tone of voice. I just can’t do it. It’s psychotic nutcase liberal hippie commie tree-hugger go-back-to-Russia screaming time.
This does seem to be an accurate description of effect.
WE EXECUTED A BOMBING CAMPAIGN THAT KILLED A THOUSAND PEOPLE BECAUSE WE WERE TRYING TO CAPTURE SOMEONE, AND NOW… NOW WE’RE BEING TOLD WE DIDN’T HAVE ENOUGH INFORMATION TO MERIT IT?
Well, no. You, um, well, you're imagining that, August Pollak. That information is not in the story, and is contradicted by the story. See above?
Jesus Christ. What the flying FUCK were we doing in Afghanistan after September 11? Scouting for goddamn Olympics sites? I could have sworn some asshole in a suit went before the nation and both houses of Congress and said....
And he goes on in this manner for rather a few more words.
What I don't understand is why his quite odd and emphatic imaginings would be taken seriously by anyone, though my best suspicion is that it's largely done by people who have not followed news of bin Laden at all closely, and who have little notion of how military operations are planned, including the time-span necessary, and other such tactical details.
This suggests an inadquate level of background knowledge to warrant commenting, but, alas, August J. Pollak, as can be seen on his page, rather consistently comments at great length on matters he clearly has little knowledge of and background on, such as in his writings about Israel/Palestine. But I'll leave all that alone. It is, after all, scarcely an uncommon failing, and one could, in fact, tend to divide bloggers into the two categories of those who divide bloggers into two categories, and those who... wait, that's not it. Into the categories of those who tend to actually bother knowing what they're writing about, and those who simply are thrilled at the rush of gifting the world with their sage thoughts.
Pollak concludes, speaking of the Evil Rumsfeld:
He’s not ashamed to say he doesn’t know. So he’s not ashamed to say he didn’t know when we killed a few thousand people.
No, that's not what he said, nor what took place.
Because all that mattered was finding another man who wasn’t ashamed about killing a few thousand people for no particular reason.
NO FUTURE OSLOS: I mean that terribly less metaphorically than you think. I mean simply that any future negotiations between Israel and Palestinians certainly aren't going to be held in Norway, as Haaretzexplains.
...Norway has emerged as one of Israel's harshest critics - even, said one Foreign Ministry official, compared to other Scandinavian countries, all of which are known for their anti-Israel views. [...] A week ago Norway's largest trade union, representing some 800,000 workers, declared a consumer boycott of Israel. It urged its members not to buy Israeli goods and to reject invitations from any Israeli bodies.
Supermarket chains promptly began labeling Israeli produce with special stickers to help the boycott, and truckers refused to transport Israeli goods from the ports. This week, a scheduled concert by a Hasidic band in Oslo was canceled - even though the band members were Swiss Jews, not Israelis.
The academic community has been particularly active. Oslo University has publicly urged its faculty to protest against Israel, and senior lecturers have gone even further, calling for a full-fledged boycott. The boycott call was issued through two open letters published in one of Norway's leading newspapers this month. In one, titled "Professors are abetting war crimes," Professor Edvard Vogt, a lecturer in law at Oslo University, wrote: "Among the Western countries, there is only one, Israel, that is involved in a war of expansion, that annexes and conquers the land of a neighboring people, bombs and destroys the neighboring people's infrastructure, shoots its children and aspires to ethnic cleansing. But most Israeli academics refrain from protest ... An educated Israeli who doesn't take a clear stand against his country's policy is a collaborator. And if we continue to cooperate with Israeli academics without holding them responsible, we are also collaborators... Just as Hitler did in Mein Kampf, Sharon and his partners have made their intentions clear ... There is no doubt that Sharon wants to establish `greater Israel'"
Author Yoram Kaniuk, who has been hosted in Oslo several times in recent years, said that when talk turns to politics, "you discover bottomless hatred. The impression is that suddenly it is permissible to say anything - against Israel and against Jews ... Have you ever heard them talk like that about what the Russians are doing in Chechnya, or about the oppression of 40 million Kurds?"
Unlike in many other European countries, attitudes in homogeneous Norway are not the product of a large Muslim population. Butenschon explains that after World War II, Norway felt a strong obligation to Israel, which translated both into military and economic aid and emotional attachment. Now, he said, "many Norwegians feel betrayed. Israel disappointed them from a moral standpoint and crossed red lines."
Notes to Us: The key to Jews staying sympathetic is for Jews to remain passive victims. We've just got to get that lesson straight, darn it. Suggestion: next time suicide bomber is seen, all nearby Jews rush towards bomber, so as many victims as possible surround bomb; try to bring babies. Also: work more on control of European press. Master plan is failing; must consult protocols more closely. Q: we're not drinking enough gentile blood? Baking recipe not right? Possibility: don't be suicide bombers, just suicides: go wandering around Jenin wearing blindfolds? Send a couple hundred at time. Wd naked be better? Definitely! .
4/26/2002 12:25:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
Thursday, April 25, 2002
PRESIDENT MCCAIN: You've likely read by now Jonathan Chait's piece on why John McCain should formally declare himself a Democrat, and run for the Democratic nomination, but if you've not, it's excellent, and I recommend it.
In truth, though, McCain's objection to Bush's agenda stems from a genuine difference of belief about the nature of the public good. As I noted in these pages two years ago ("This Man Is Not a Republican," January 31, 2000), McCain's ideological evolution began fitfully and, to some extent, unconsciously. McCain ran for Barry Goldwater's seat in the Senate in 1986, promising voters they'd never know the difference. Yet he gradually developed a maverick streak and, by the late Clinton years, was crusading on behalf of campaign finance reform and restrictions on the tobacco industry. Still, McCain remained a Republican in good standing until his presidential bid, which forced him to formulate positions on domestic issues that, as he explained to me at the time, he had never before spent much time pondering. When he did, he found that his instincts to advance the broader interest over individual entitlement left him in favor of the sort of moderate fiscal conservatism advanced by President Bill Clinton and opposed to the traditional GOP nostrum of upper-bracket tax cuts. It was his tax cut heresy that ultimately rendered McCain a pariah among the party elite.
McCain's domestic agenda increasingly consists of bold reforms that expand the scope of the federal government. During the campaign, McCain paid lip service to anti-government bromides while supporting government intervention in specific instances. In the last year though his ideology has grown coherently progressive. "We have had regulatory agencies always to curb the abuses or potential abuses of the capitalist system," he said earlier this year on CBS's "Face the Nation." "This is not a totally laissez-faire country." McCain, in other words, now believes in progressive government to counteract the excesses of the market and recognizes that the mere fact that business interests complain about such intervention does not by itself make it wrong. There is a term for people who think like this: Democrats.
I'd give serious consideration to voting for him, though this piece doesn't mention the weaknesses critics have previously alleged about McCain: a tendency to shoot from the lip, a flaring temper, the lack of love he engenders in other lawmakers, etc. A three-year-old can think how to spin all these positively, of course: he's endearly frank, he's passionate, he's independent.
So why does McCain remain in the GOP? Aside from sentimental attachment, McCain idolizes Teddy Roosevelt and sees his mission as reshaping the GOP in his hero's image: progressive; crusading; independent from (and frequently at odds with) business; willing to use federal power for the greater good; and representing all economic classes, not just the rich. It's a noble aim. Alas, it isn't working. Under Bush, the GOP has grown more wedded to business interests than at any time since the 1920s.
This following is a vastly underappreciated point:
And it's easy to exaggerate the foreign policy cleavage between the two parties. In recent years the boundaries of the foreign policy debate have grown extremely fluid, with Democrats and Republicans switching back and forth depending in large part upon whose party held the White House. It wasn't long ago, after all, that a Democratic president was urging military intervention (in the Balkans), while Republicans in Congress were appealing to isolationism. The political class in both parties remains oriented around domestic policy.
writes the brilliant Ian Buruma as he begins reviews of two Arundhati Roy books:
The critic and novelist John Berger declares, in his introduction to Arundhati Roy's collection of political essays, that the American war in Afghanistan is an "act of terror against the people of the world." He also states that the nineteen hijackers "gave their lives" on September 11 "as did three hundred and fifty-three Manhattan firemen," as though there were no difference between people who die to commit mass murder and those who die to save lives. And the killings in New York and Washington, Berger informs us, were "the direct result of trying to impose everywhere the new world economic order (the abstract, soaring, groundless market) which insists that man's supreme task is to make profit."
The soaring market in Algeria? The new world economic order in Sudan? Profit-making in Afghanistan? Ah, if only. There were no doubt many reasons for the suicidal murder spree at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but global capitalism surely comes low on the list.
And then he starts in on Roy.
Few intellectual voices have been as ubiquitous as Roy's after September 11, and few quite so shrill.
ROAD TO BIOGRAPHY: Robert Caro is arguably America's greatest living biographer. This can be said without even adding and he's yet to be found to be a plagiarizer! I've read each of his books -- also useful in attacking a burgler, or as free-weights -- so far. When The Power Broker came out, I thought it was the greatest biography I'd ever read. And I'm an inveterate vacuum cleaner towards biographies, always have been.
Each of his volumes so far has won the National Book Critic's Circle Award (that's the Award I was recently informed by a British writer of blog-type news that "no one has ever heard of"; y'know, like that Booker Prize thing).
He's now spent a mere 26 years on Lyndon Johnson, and hasn't yet gotten to Johnson's leaving the Senate. The WaPo has a profile:
Caro has knelt down and buried his hands in the shallow Texas topsoil to see what godforsaken odds the Johnsons were up against as farmers and ranchers; he has slept under the stars in the Texas Hill Country, eaten chicken-fried steak and dropped buckets down wells to see how heavy they were for Hill Country housewives. He has persuaded Sen. Bill Bradley to pose like Lyndon Johnson on the Senate floor because he wanted to see just how a man of his height would loom over his colleagues. He has risen at dawn to watch light dance on the Capitol the way the early-rising Johnson saw it.
He interviewed more than 260 people for this book, some several times, and dove into the 2,082 boxes of Senate papers in the Johnson Library in Austin. There's more to come.
At the recent annual gathering of the Organization of American Historians, Caro uttered this passionate but skew-phrased pronouncement, "Writing matters everything."
BRITISH PAPERS AND ISRAEL, PT. INFINITE: Blogs of War again has relevant pointers, to Ron Rosenbaum's piece which refers to Rod Liddle's piece in yesterday's Guardian.
Rosenbaum quotes famous Israeli man of peace, Amos Oz's Nation article:
"Would an end to occupation terminate the Muslim holy war against Israel?"
This is, of course, the key question that the anti-Israel Euro-idiots don’t get, and here Amos Oz, peace-loving man of letters and friend of many Palestinians, says that "If, despite simplistic vision, the end of occupation will not result in peace," he favors war. "Not a war for our full occupancy of the Holy Land"—he’s against the occupation of the West Bank—"but a war for our right to live … in part of the land. A just war, a no-alternative war. A war we will win."
Remember, this is not Ariel Sharon; this is Amos Oz, Israeli dove. I agree with his pessimism about the prospect of avoiding war, because there is no reason to believe that "the Muslim holy war" against Israel will ever end, or that their ambition to extirpate the Jewish state entirely will ever cease.
I'm less pessimistic than Rosenbaum, who strongly believes a Second Holocaust is possible, as he writes here, and in his April 15th column. I, obviously, fear that as well, but I'm hopeful, while fearful, that said longtime war can be reduced to small numbers of combatants, rather than either flare into full general active Islamic war of annihlation against Israel, or even stay at the present horrendous level.
A bit that strikes home -- entirely literally -- for me:
I thought I had lost my power to be shocked by this sort of European pathology, but I must admit that I found it hard to believe when I read the reports about the Oxford professor and poet Tom Paulin, who called for Jews—particularly American Jews, specifically "Brooklyn-born Jews"—to be "shot" if they were found on the West Bank.
I'd read about this, but not commented before. Hard as it may be to believe, time being limited, I only post on a fraction of the anti-semitic stuff I see. As a Brooklyn-born Jew, you may understand that I'm a wee taken aback that an Oxford professor says I should be shot if I am seen in land that, apparently, must be Judenrein.
Although I think that it is wise policy for Israel to withdraw entirely from most or all of the West Bank, I do think that in a sane world, Jews would be as free to buy land and live there, under any administration, Palestinian or whosever, just as all should be free to buy land in Israel, and live there, just as in a perfect world, we should all have this right everywhere. But we're not in that world, and I'd still like to think that everyone should be free to visit or do business everywhere, and not be shot.
More to the point, such rhetorical, literal, overkill, as Mr. Paulin's statement, says something about what is acceptable discourse, and it's not a pleasant something.
Mr. Paulin made the remarks in an interview with Al-Ahrom Weekly, the semi-official newspaper of the Egyptian government, on April 12. The person who forwarded me the transcript of the interview, a sophisticated—and horrified—writer friend, pointed out that "Paulin is a favorite of U.K. leftist publications [such as] The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent, The New Statesman, The London Review of Books. Last year the Observer’s ‘poem of the week’ written by Paulin spoke of the ‘Zionist SS.’"
This time, in his interview with Al-Ahrom Weekly, he said he "never believed the state of Israel had a right to exist." Al-Ahrom Weekly praised him for "berating Guardian columnist Ian Buruma as a Zionist." And as for the Brooklyn-born settlers, "‘They should be shot dead,’ Paulin says forcefully. ‘I think they are Nazi racists, I feel nothing but hatred for them.’"
And you seem very charming, yourself, Mr. Paulin.
Perhaps more repulsive than this call for the murder of Jews was the response of the chattering classes in Britain: virtually none.
Not to let Americans off the hook, Rosenbaum castigates Nightline:
It was footage of an anti-Israel rally in Berkeley that featured an interview with a young woman holding a sign depicting Ariel Sharon wearing a swastika armband and giving the Hitler salute. We didn’t run that image, the self-congratulatory Nightline reporter told us, because it was anti-Semitic and it would have been anti-Semitic to show it.
Rosenbaum rightfully points out that this isn't anything to be proud of, but is an example of engaging in a cover-up of such ugliness. And, indeed, I've read far better coverage of the brutal anti-semitism and anti-Americanism (as in "Americans should be killed") of the pro-Palestinian rally last Saturday in Washington, in first-hand detailed blog accounts, than in any mainstream publication as yet.
Rosenbaum is eloquent, in a terrible way:
And yet we are told in some quarters (among them a particularly foolish letter writer in The Observer last week) that concern about this situation—the delegitimizing of a nation surrounded by people who want to drive them into the sea or murder them on the ground—is alarmist, unnecessarily raising fears when all that is required is more "education," a deeper study of "Imperialism."
No cause for alarm. This may be the biggest lie of the current crisis: the belief that there is always a solution. The definition of tragedy—or one definition—is a conflict without a solution. This is a tragedy already. It’s going to get worse. What was disturbing about the letter writer who accused those concerned about a Second Holocaust of alarmism was that it precisely mirrored the language of those who claimed in 1938 that there was no cause for alarm. Yes, there were synagogue burnings in Europe (Kristallnacht and all that), and yes, Hitler had declared his determination to drive the Jews out of Europe dead or alive, but it would be "alarmist" to take such facts and statements seriously. Alas, those who listened to such sentiments were murdered for their complacency.
One of the things that strikes you if you spend any time researching the period before the beginning of the first Holocaust is the following syndrome: Time after time, evidence of Hitler’s genocidal intentions would surface, and time after time, useful idiots would say, "Oh, that’s being alarmist—he doesn’t really mean it."
For years now, the Arab press has been filled with Hitlerian exterminationist rhetoric calling for the murder of the Jews. And the people of Israel—many of them children of Holocaust survivors—are supposed to regard any focus on such exterminationist sentiments, on "death to the Jews" marches in Europe, on Jews "should be shot" remarks by Oxford dons, as "alarmist."
Rosenbaum, by the way:
had in the past been of the dovish, Peace Now, Shimon Peres, negotiation-will-bring-peace belief.
Rosenbaum's entire piece is worth reading, as he has other points, and I commend it to you. Rod Liddle seems to be one of the few Britons to speak up about Tom Paulin, and I also commend his piece, which also comments on the British National Party, to your attention.
Reader Rob Hansen also pointed out to me this piece in the Sun, suggesting it and the Mirror were far more representative of the attitudes of the British masses than pieces in the Guardian, Independent, and periodicals of the chattering classes. This is doubtless so, but it also seems to me hardly a reason to not pay attention to the Guardian, Independent, and other non-tabloid papers. Rob was responding to my infelicitous remark about this piece in The New Statesman, and in retrospect, I was intemperate and insulting to all of Britain -- I certainly didn't mean to imply that most, or large numbers, of Britons are anti-semitic -- and I do apologize to all for my phrasing, and such conceivable implication.
BRITISH COVERAGE OF JENIN: Pejman Yousefzadeh has a fascinating analysis of the reports in The Independent, Telegraph, Guardian, and Times, noting that the exact same named poor children and other characters all show up in what are theoretically independent, not pool, reporting, among other curiosities. Well-done.
4/25/2002 10:59:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
HOW CHEAP ARE WE?: If this is basically true, than the US is being unbelievably short-sighted and stupid. I would hope this would be fixed immediately; it's not as if we can't afford to help these poor people, and even if you killed your humanitarian opinions, simply from the point of view of strategy and tactics, it would be insane not to prominently fix this.
It has been four months since the U.S. military bombed a convoy heading from Khost to Kabul for the inauguration of the interim Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai. Even Karzai has called the attack, which killed innocent tribal elders, a mistake. But the Americans turned away the Khost representatives at the gate of the heavily fortified embassy without seeing them.
The seeming indifference has irritated Afghan civilian victims of the war who are now hoping for compensation, or at least recognition, from the United States as it continues to prosecute its battle against terrorism here. In recent weeks, hundreds of Afghans whose relatives were killed or whose homes were inadvertently destroyed by U.S. bombing have presented claims to the embassy, with no response.
"I can assure you that we try our darned best to avoid hitting innocent targets -- that's not what we're about," President Bush's special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said at a news conference at the embassy as victims waited outside the gate. "But mistakes do happen. When charges are made, we investigate. And then we do the right thing to respond to the needs of those who have suffered."
Asked what "the right thing" meant, he gave no specifics. In fact, according to private organizations that monitor the issue, the United States has rarely responded to civilian casualties in Afghanistan with assistance of any kind.
THAT DARNED AL QAEDA: Quite the story out of the WaPo on hitherto unrevealed -- and still unacknowledged by Pakistani authorities -- Special Ops forces fighting al Qaeda forces in Pakistan, as well as new tactics in Afghanistan.
The U.S. forces, which themselves generally work in groups of just three or four people, have been assaulted by small arms fire, a rocket-propelled grenade and, in one incident, a knife. One Afghan ally working with the U.S. forces was attacked with an ax.
The enemy fighters tend to have sophisticated communications equipment and "better survival gear than we have," said one knowledgeable source. Some of the fighters have carried U.S. equipment that apparently was captured during last month's battle in the Shahikot valley.
The al Qaeda members have impressed their American opponents with their military skills, most notably an ability to observe U.S. combat techniques and adjust accordingly. Despite months of bombing and last month's attack by thousands of U.S. and allied fighters, the al Qaeda groups continue to execute well-coordinated operations, officials said. In one instance, enemy fighters are believed to have launched a synchronized multipronged attack within a 10-minute period.
You had 3 out of 10 questions correct. You appear to be suffering from neurotypicality. Sadly, there is no cure, but with training it may be possible for you to become a high-functioning neurotypical (HFNT).
THE WRONG QUOTE: people have written a fair amount about Tom Delay's "only Christianity" speech. I think Delay is utterly wrong, and I'm not happy that a man with his views is in such a position of power, but he's certainly entitled to his views, no matter how asinine. What I've not seen anyone comment on is this bit regarding Bill Clinton:
He continued: "I was totally consumed with holding this man accountable. . . . He was undermining everything that I believe in and everything that I have been working for. And he was standing for the wrong worldview."
That is true fanatic extremism, and it's not like anything seen on the Democratic side of the Congress. I don't recall any attempts to impeach Reagan or Bush 41, no matter that it took an active act of avoidance to not begin impeachment inquiries over Iran-Contra; the view on the Democratic side was "it would be bad for the country to put them through another impeachment."
That said, the depth of personalized hatred and vilification of politicians from both both people (and bloggers) on both left and right never fails to amaze me. Y'know, sane people might take note that however passionately one might feel various policies are wrong, and will hurt many people, the country has survived every damn President, and likely will continue to do so.
If I turn out to be wrong on this, rest assured you will have the comfort of my full apology.
BRITISH NOT-ANTI-SEMITISM: I've commented a moderate amount about various displays of British anti-semitism -- not because I'm trying to pick on Britain, but because I comment on it wherever I see it, and I read whole lots from and about Britain. I happen, if it's not clear -- and it isn't, to some who have sent me e-mail accusing me of "hating the British" and being an Anglophobe -- to be quite the Anglophile. I love Britain, and would love to visit frequently, for months at a time.
Which is a twisty way of noting that Dr. Frank has a particularly long and detailed comment on the topic, including the New Statesmanpiece I linked to a few days ago.
Blogs of War is one of my favorite, top priority, blogs, meaning that I try to never miss catching up on what Dr. Frank has to say, and you shouldn't, either. It's got a good beat, and you can dance to it.
But anyone who is interested in another American view of anti-semitism and the British left, this time from someone who is engaged to a Briton (and whom it hasn't come to my attention is Jewish), see this entry, along with the rest of Dr. Frank's current stuff.
BUT THE CATHEDRALS ARE SO BEAUTIFUL: You know, I swear I don't go looking for news threatening Jews. I just notice it when it's put in front of me, and since I read a lot of news and blogs, it keeps being put in front of me. The UK Spectator is not exactly a traditional haven of Jew-lovers; historically, quite the reverse, in fact. This article, if even half true, is appalling.
The good, sort of:
‘When I hear “the Jews” used as a term, my blood runs cold — and I’ve been hearing this far too often,’ says Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Wales and a contender for the see of Canterbury. ‘Whenever I print anything sympathetic to Israel, I get deluged with complaints that I am Zionist and racist,’ says Colin Blakely, the editor of the Church of England Newspaper.
Andrew White, canon of Coventry cathedral and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative in the Middle East, is heavily engaged in trying to promote dialogue and peace between Israelis and Palestinians. He says of attitudes in the Church, ‘These go beyond legitimate criticism of Israel into hatred of the Jews. I get hate mail calling me a Jew-lover and saying my work is evil.’
‘Almost all the Churches hold to replacement theology,’ he says.
The catalyst for its re-emergence has been the attempt by Arab Christians to reinterpret Scripture in order to delegitimise the Jews’ claim to the land of Israel. This has had a powerful effect upon the Churches which, through humanitarian work among the Palestinians by agencies such as Christian Aid, have been profoundly influenced by two clerics in particular.
The first is the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, Riah Abu El-Assal, a Palestinian who is intemperate in his attacks on Israel. ‘We interviewed Bishop Riah after some terrorist outrage in Israel,’ says Colin Blakely, ‘and his line was that it was all the fault of the Jews. I was astounded.’
The bishop also has an astounding interpretation of the Old Testament. Last December, he claimed of Palestinian Christians, ‘We are the true Israel ...no one can deny me the right to inherit the promises, and after all the promises were first given to Abraham and Abraham is never spoken of in the Bible as a Jew.... He is the father of the faithful.’
In a lecture last year Andrew White observed that Palestinian politics and Christian theology had become inextricably intertwined. The Palestinians were viewed as oppressed and the Church had to fight their oppressor. ‘Who is the oppressor? The state of Israel. Who is Israel? The Jews. It is they therefore who must be put under pressure so that the oppressed may one day be set free to enter their “Promised Land” which is being denied to them.’
David Ison, canon of Exeter cathedral, took a party of pilgrims to the Holy Land in 2000 at the start of the current intifada. They had a Palestinian guide, visited only Christian sites in Arab east Jerusalem and the West Bank, and talked to virtually no Jews. ‘The Old Testament is a horrifying picture of genocide committed in God’s name,’ he avers. ‘And genocide is now being waged in a long, slow way by Zionists against the Palestinians.’
Asked what he made of Yasser Arafat’s rejection of the offers made by Israel at Camp David and Tabah, he said that he knew nothing about that. Indeed, he said, he knew nothing about Israel beyond what he had read in a book by an advocate of replacement theology, with which he agreed, and what he had been told by the Palestinians on the pilgrimage.
The Bishop of Guildford, who is consistently hostile to Israel, shares the view that the Jews have no particular claim to the Promised Land. Christianity and Islam, he says, can lay equal claim. And although he says that Israel’s existence is a reality that must be accepted, his ideal is very different. A separate Palestinian state would be merely a ‘first step’.
‘Ultimately, one shared land is the vision one would want to pursue, although it’s unlikely that this will come about.’ As for the Churches’ hostility to Israel, his reply is chilling: ‘The problem is that all the power lies with the Israeli state.’ So by implication, Israel would merit sympathy for its casualties only if it had no power to defend itself.
BLOW 'EM ALL UP: Wherever we go, we find plots to blow up synagogues.
One of the five men on trial here for plotting to blow up buildings in Strasbourg, France, admitted his role in the plot today and said he received his military and ideological training in Afghanistan.
In an opening statement read by his lawyer, Aeurobui Beandali described how he had evolved from a party-loving agnostic to an Islamic militant who made bombs, acquired weapons and plotted with his colleagues to blow up a synagogue in Strasbourg.
Interestingly, along with claiming he didn't want to hurt anyone, he alleges that his motive was entirely in reaction to the Algerian government murdering its citizens. How blowing up a French synagogue was a response to that is not explained here.
Government officials, initially reluctant to tie the blast to Islamic militants, now say that the act was planned and orchestrated by a man whom they suspect had links with Islamic militant cells in Canada, Pakistan, France, Italy and Germany. A will that was represented as being from the driver, who died in the blast on April 11, was faxed to Arabic papers from Pakistan.
The London-based dailies Al Quds Al Arabi and Al Hayat said they had received a claim of responsibility from a group calling itself the Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Sites. A group calling itself by the same name claimed responsibility for the 1998 bombings of the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in which more than 200 people were killed and which American authorities blamed on Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network.
Notice that these bombings had nothing whatever to do with Palestinian issues. Notice that if every Jew in Israel voluntarily slit their throat, these folks would still be trying to kill Jews, Americans, whomever. Somehow there aren't a lot of plots to blow up mosques, though.
4/24/2002 01:05:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
SACRE BLUE: See, one can achieve astounding unity in the right circumstances:
The parties of defeated leftist candidates in France's presidential election have called on voters to support incumbent Jacques Chirac in the second round against far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen. The Socialist, Communist and Green parties all officially called on their supporters to back Mr Chirac, a conservative, on 5 May.
Everyone is in a tizzy, and this is understandable, but if one looks at the actual numbers, one sees:
In the first round of voting in France, Le Pen received 16.86 percent of the vote, a bit more than the roughly 15 percent he took in the 1995 presidential election.
So one can also say "big deal, he went up almost 2%." This happens when you have 17 candidates running, and low turnout (see graph). The important thing is that Le Pen won't win. And, gee, look at all the people who voted "to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat," which isn't much less scary than le Pen. Interestingly, if you look at that set of graphs, you'll see that France has candidates of the "left," "right," "far right" and "other." No matter what kind of communist dictatorship you're for -- say, the Revolutionary Communist League -- you're not "far left": the concept simply doesn't exist.
TACTICS: From Al-Ahram Weekly ("published in Cairo since 1875"), an admiring first-hand account of a brave fighter against the Jews:
And what about the explosion and ambush last Tuesday which killed 13 soldiers?
"They were lured there," he says. "We all stopped shooting and the women went out to tell the soldiers that we had run out of bullets and were leaving." The women alerted the fighters as the soldiers reached the booby- trapped area.
"When the senior officers realised what had happened, they shouted through megaphones that they wanted an immediate cease-fire. We let them approach to retrieve the men and then opened fire.
"Some of the soldiers were so shocked and frightened that they mistakenly ran towards us."
Cease-fire-shmease-fire. The paper, by the way, had five sections: Egypt, International, Economy, Culture, Letters, and "Invasion."
But in America, it is the Mojave desert when one comes to intelligent debate on the Middle East.
Whenever one hears a lonely voice, it becomes a breath of fresh air. One of these voices is Lyndon Larouche, several-times presidential candidate, and always ready to speak his mind.
[Larouche:] I have a report -- I don't know how accurate it is, but I think it's accurate as to a general impression, that there are just 11 members from the over-400 total members of the House of Representatives who are not, to one degree or another, under control of the so- called Zionist Lobby.
IN THE LOOKING GLASS: A view of American commentary from Arab News is interesting. Right and left are combined against Palestinians, he says. His placement of American commentators might be a tad unusual. After labeling Sean Hannity a "right-wing extremist," which seems not too unfair, he goes on to "On the left, there is Charles Krauthammer," which seems rather more, uh, special.
We eventually get to:
Far from considering America’s support for Israel for the Sept. 11 attacks, or fearing that further support will bring more attacks, Americans are now spasmodically hardened to the Palestinians.
That first clause seems opaque, but taken in context with the second clause, he clearly believes that September 11th was a lesson that should have taught America to reconsider support for Israel, else, obviously, more attacks on America may follow. This is not an unfamiliar line of reasoning, but it is also one many of us rightfully reject. The very next lines get even more special:
It took a masterful coordinated campaign by both the conservatives and the liberals to make this happen. When the president and the Republicans were seeking to deflect the attention off the intelligence community for the failure to stop 9/11, the liberals, particularly those in the media, sprang to the rescue, giving the “War on Terror” two thumbs up and even took to elevating the absurd “with us or against us” mantra to the mantle of a doctrine.
You all knew that conservatives and liberals coordinate, right? And that "with us or against us" is a liberal mantra? A couple of lines later:
Contrary to popular belief, Bush is not dumb. He knows that his father got slung out for trying to push the Israelis too hard. Bush also realized that the same persuasive and seductive liberal media tactics that propelled his barely elected and mandateless presidency to unprecedented popularity could turn on him in no time at all.
This seems difficult to decode until you use the key: "liberals" means "Jews." Y'know, the Jews control the American media, the media is liberal, therefore. Thus, analysis that Bush 41 lost because he didn't back Israel strongly enough. We're now, of course, into looney-tune country, but it's important to understand this sort of Arab thinking. (Thanks to reader Joel Rosenberg for the pointer.)
4/24/2002 10:34:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
Tuesday, April 23, 2002
FLAME PRODUCES LIGHT: Patrick Nielsen Hayden has been producing nigh-endless bursts of brilliance and insight, and you must go read it all, if you've already not. It's almost impossible to pick out bits above the rest, but, for instance, this on Germany's advice to Jews and particularly this, from which one can connect dots to my entry below.
That Lileks guy is as impressive as ever. But I don't need to keep telling you these things, do I? Or: how often?
FALL OF THE EMPIRE, AND WESTERN CIV: Stephen Kotkin takes a very long look at the countries of the former Soviet Union, how they've survived, how they've mostly failed, what seems to have worked and not worked, and why, more than ten years after the seismic event.
I can only recommend the very long article in a mixed and lukewarm way: I can't put my finger on it, but I find his authoritative conclusions suspect, and possibly some of his assumptions and possibly more. But it's a highly useful survey, since while most people may know the facts of some of these countries, possibly in greater depth, few are apt to know all of them. So that made it interesting, and his arguments seem at least worth hearing out.
But I found it far more interesting in context of reading Ian Buruma's The Blood Lust of Identity. I've previously mentioned being quite fascinated by topics of identity, and how we choose our identities and what motivates the differences. I've also several times recommended as a must-read Buruma and Avishai Margalit's Occidentalism.
I've become quite the fan of Buruma; not only is he articulate and insightful, but his subjects are universally of great interest to me.
"The Blood Lust of Identity" is, like most New York Review of Books pieces, long, smart, and difficult to quote from or discuss without writing an equally long commentary. But the point Buruma begins with is:
Identity is a bloody business. [...] But "identity" is what gets the blood boiling, what makes people do unspeakable things to their neighbors.
And that's the kind and quality of identity he focuses on here, which ties in deeply with Kotkin's piece, which is deeply about the national identities of the countries of the former SU, which were, of course, largely creatures of Lenin and Stalin and company; previously existing national identities were taken and stewed together for seventy years, with added Ingredient Communism, designed to produce Soviet Man, and which did indeed produce, to be tautological, very Soviet societies; a point Kotkin hits on is how very "Soviet" almost all of the post-Soviet societies are, with the closest exception being Estonia, of which he discusses why.
Buruma's piece is half review of Amin Maalouf's In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong, and half a thorough trashing of Tom Hayden's Irish on the Inside: In Search of the Soul of Irish America. He's full of interesting points and examples:
But he is right that we are all made up of a mixture of loyalties and identifications, regional, linguistic, religious, ethnic, national, social, or professional. The ingredients in these mixes can shift with time. Sometimes they disappear altogether, or reappear in grotesque forms. At a literary gathering in San Francisco, I met a distinguished writer from Yugoslavia. In an attempt to break the ice, I asked her whether she was Serb or Croat. She answered me courteously, but with a hint of impatience at my crass ignorance: "I am a Yugoslav. In Yugoslavia, we don't think in those categories anymore." This was in 1990.
Along the way, he retouches on some of the points of "Occidentalism," some of which some others have made, such as Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis, about the degrees of discomfort Western civilization has provoked in other cultures, and why.
I talk a lot about the problems of the left, because I come out of the left, such as I have political roots. A critical problem is that many leftists have carried multi-culturalism -- admirable, important, and absolutely called for, in proportional doses -- to such an absolutist and mind-stultifyingly absurd point that they can't rationally conclude this: one can say in short that a major reason that Western Civilization provokes such resentment, fear, anger, and hatred, is that it is in many, though of course not all, ways, more successful than other cultures.
Indeed, many people seem not to conceive that such a thing is measurable. It makes their head spin, and they fall back to "but how can we judge such a thing?"
And the answer, of course, is that we can judge by such measures as that Western civilization produces wealth more efficiently, produces scientific progress more efficiently, and produces more freedom for more people, overall. It also has the side effect of producing military power more efficiently.
These measures are, of course, scarcely the be-all and end-all of what we desire from every civilization, and I'm not sure I'd be bold enough to argue that Western civilization produces art more efficiently or of higher quality than any other civilization, though demonstrably it produces far more art that people come as close to universally wanting to see as there is on our planet. The point, of course, is not that Western civ does everything better; obviously it doesn't; the point is that it does enough better so as to provoke perhaps insoluable resentment.
So a point Buruma discusses is:
Modernization in the non-Western world has come to mean Westernization. [...] Maalouf recognizes this: "Secularism without democracy is a disaster for democracy and secularism alike."
Buruma is European.
The furnace of antiglobalism is actually not in the so-called third world, but in Europe. This, too, has something to do with the lack of representation. We live in democracies. But to many citizens, European institutions and multinational corporations appear to be wielding more power than elected national governments.
In a way, non-Americans are in the position of Germans at the time of Napoleon's greatest victories. France was dominant not only in arts and culture, but in military affairs. What was most annoying to German poets and thinkers was France's claim to universality. French values were universal values. Similar claims are being made for America today. There are several ways outsiders can react. They can follow alternative forms of universalism, such as communism or Islamism. They can retreat into romantic nativism, celebrating the national soul, and so on. Or they can boost their confidence by expanding their political freedoms, and taking more responsibility for themselves. There are instances of all three in recent history.
And thus a segue into Tom Hayden, whom, indeed, he makes out a compelling case for voluntarily seeking out and adopting approvingly the worst form of identity politics: that which justifies murder, and even mass murder. In Hayden's case, Irish full-blown blood-and-soil nationalism. And here's how we're back to Kotkin again:
Now, why would a successful American wish to become an Irish fanatic? Or, put in another way, why would an activist of the New Left adopt all the romantic clichés of the Old Right? Perhaps there is a parallel here with the collapse of the Soviet Empire.
Hayden claims that non-WASPs who aspire to become mainstream Americans are self-hating and in deep denial about their "stolen identities," like colonial subjects trying to be like their white masters. Much of the book is about his own efforts to shed the "trauma" of assimilation, and to convince himself and his readers that to be Irish is to be nonwhite. Already by page twelve, Hayden has yoked the fate of the Irish to those of the Jews and African-Americans. They had the Holocaust and slavery. The Irish had the Famine. Hayden lobbied to get the Famine included in Californian social science textbooks, for then "our trauma would be recognized alongside those of African Americans, the Jews, the Armenians, and others who had demanded a place in classroom texts."
The history of the Famine should be among the subjects taught in school, but this jockeying for a place in the charts of victimhood is not only unseemly but also deeply narcissistic.
I have to agree, and here's where we're back to my wonderings about why we choose our identities, and what we get out of it, and Buruma has some clues to offer. And that brings me to both wonder on a personal level about my own choices and justifications, and on a global level, about when violence is justified, and when is nationalism, if ever, worth fighting, worth killing, for?
Some would answer clearly: never. Perhaps so. But it also becomes tangled when one's nationality is attacked, and when one's people are gravely threatened, and so it becomes a matter of weighing the use of violence in self-defense, on a large scale.
The examples in the world for all this that one could point to would make a very large list, and I -- in the chorus of the bloggers -- Have Already Gone On Too Long. Anyway, at least go read this Buruma piece, if it sounds at all of interest to you; the slice and dice on Tom Hayden's ugly turn are worth it, alone. You'll probably want to read the Kotkin as well only if you're interested in settling in for a comfy evening; together, the two pieces make a short book.
I do find that one of my problems blogging is not having the time to be short, given how many interesting articles can provoke Big Long Thoughts. Which is why, of course, it's so much easier to just give a cite, but then, I'd Just Be Another Voice In The Crowd. And what identity would I get out of that?
Did you know, by the way, that "Hayden" is from "Ó hAodain," which means "the person of the flame"? Oh, of course you did.
NO CIGAR FOR FOX: Strains between Castro, and the Mexican government, indeed. And the human rights situation in Cuba bears criticism, as it is appalling, which leftists tend to gloss over, just as critics tend to gloss the medical services. This and this bear reading in full by anyone who thinks Cuba isn't such a bad place, really.
Neighbors Haiti and the Dominican Republic, crapholes that they are, for instance, don't subject you to re-education and sensory deprivation, along with the torture, in prison. The health service in Cuba isn't so good, either:
The Government regularly violated prisoners' rights by failing to provide adequate nutrition and medical attention, and a number of prisoners died during the year due to lack of medical attention. In 1997 the IACHR described the nutritional and hygienic situation in the prisons, together with the deficiencies in medical care, as "alarming." Both the IACHR and the former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Cuba, as well as other human rights monitoring organizations, have reported the widespread incidence in prisons of tuberculosis, scabies, hepatitis, parasitic infections, and malnutrition.
I think the US sanctions should be dropped, as their main function is to give defenders of the Castro regime something to point to, rather than pay attention to what Cubans are subjected to by their government. Many also have failed to note that US sanctions no longer block purchases of food and medicinefrom the US: it's the Castro regime that does that. And, of course, the rest of the world has free trade with Cuba; it's Cuba that doesn't allow its citizens free trade with the world.
It's easy to make excuses for Cuba, but not so easy when the place is looked at closely, as the totalitarian aspects are so unnecessary, save to protect the regime from democracy. And there shouldn't be any excuse for that for anyone.
THE REAL DEAL: While the gossip focuses on Robert Blake, whose alleged crime affects only a handful of people, if you don't count columnists, slipping by is the alleged crime of Brian P. Regan.
A lawyer for Mr. Regan called the statement an outrage in view of lesser sentences sought in spy cases with defendants accused of providing foreign governments with information that led to agents' deaths.
Reading between the lines here, what seems obvious is that Regan, so far, unlike most spies, is not cooperating, is not talking about what he did and whom he talked to, and when you don't walk back the dog, you get hit with the Big Threat.
There are other intriguing bits:
He added that Mr. Regan intended to give Iraq detailed information about United States reconnaissance satellites, which would make it easier to shoot down American planes.
NO ONE WILL SAY but I love both Art Widner and Damon Knight (the latter of whom spent tens of thousands of words insisting no one should use capitals, due to their ineffieciency, especially when referring to him; regarding Art, check out spelling reform), co-founded the National Fantasy Fan Federation, which has always been an organization stupid enough that I decline to link to it, nice as its goals are. The more major organization Damon founded was the Science Fiction Writers of America. SFWA gave birth to FWA, Fan Writers of America.
I still feel guilty for never having written up an entry for Cele Lalli, but you can look up that great editor, who bought the first writings of Ursula Le Guin, Roger Zelazny, and so many others.
THINGS THAT FRUSTRATE ME include bloggers who forget that some of us still have old 14 inch screens, who also happen to be middle age, so that when you use small absolutely sized type, hey!, we can't tell what the hell you're saying, because it's written in tiny ant tracks, and we hate to resize our browsers just to look at a single page, and therefore resize if we go to a link. Hint: not everyone reading a blog is in college and using a nice expensive recent huge screen. Crank, crank, crank.
4/17/2002 09:45:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
THE NEW YORK TIMES is the Big Target, endlessly villified by both left and right, endlessly declared to be the tool of the corporations, the liberals, the rulers, the deluded wimps, and blah, blah, blah, blah. Frankly, I think it's as typically idiotic as the similar attacks on the characters of Presidents and candidates, that the Bushs, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Al Gore, whomever, are all inherently obviously completely personally evil, their character defiled and despicable, their policies all derived from pandering and idiocy, and that they all deserve to be despised unto death.
I think it's all mostly nonsense, and it demonstrates how people have problems with nuance and balance, but instead choose absolutist terms. Frankly, the idea that people have to declare political leaders EVIL, and then mock them like mad, I find, well, evidence that the people who do that are far more absolutist and lacking in study of detail than the politicians in question. But that's doubtless more evidence of my lack of sense of history and nuance than that of those who do it, to be sure.
Far better is to rant and rave about the evils of That Person and That Party in a fourteen or thirty words. That's, like, true blogger wisdom.
All of which is an exclamation I'll follow up in due time, but which was meant to be a short preliminary to saying that I was moved by this.I wrote a bunch more, but I'm cutting it here, and will evaluate and rewrite later. La. Wow, nice day out here today.
BOOKKEEPING: If you've sent mail to me since Tuesday morning, it appears that I may not have received it. I'm working on a fix, but if you've tried since then, please try resending to "firstname.lastname@example.org," and that might or might not work meanwhile. Thanks, and sorry for the bother.
4/17/2002 03:06:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
WIGGED OUT: The mind -- okay, my mind -- spins considering the cross-cultural implications of the pros and cons of the wig worn in post-British countries by lawyers and judges.
Sure, it's a colonial symbol. That's a good argument for rejecting it, absolutely. But, wait, are there positive symbologies, laws, philosophies, rules, customs, and ideas, derivable from British rule? What, precisely, does wearing skins, cough, signify? Uh-oh. Crap, grey areas emerge amongst white horsehair. But, wait! The symbology of "black" and "white," upon deconstruction, reveal... sheesh, it's windy out here today.
...if I were a betting man I'd bet that Osama was in Iran, not Pakistan. And I'd bet that he crossed into Iran relatively early in the war in Afghanistan, wearing a burka, and accompanied by about 125-150 of his family and cohorts. And I'd bet that he got medical treatment for a while, that he met with some fellow terrorists (like Hezbollah's Imad Mughniyah, the most dangerous terrorist leader in the world) and is now in southeastern Iran on R&R.
FRONT PAGE KNIGHT: Damon Knight's deathmade the front page of the online NY Times.
Although "To Serve Man" was obviously Damon's most famous story, even having been remade as one of The Simpsons's Halloween Tales, I don't know that I'd call it representative; it was an early work, and a simple twist-ending tale; neither it nor "Not With A Bang" had remotely the sophistication, power, and control of his mature work. The obit barely mentioned Damon's seminal work as editor of the Orbit series of anthologies, which was one of the most influential set of anthologies ever done, having far more effect on the careers of many writers, I would argue, than the splashier and more ballyhooed Dangerous Visions, as important in their own way as they were.
It also makes me feel unexpectedly old to see a Twilight Zone episode of 1962 referred to as "one of early television's classic moments."
The obit could have been much worse, though, and it is nice to see Damon recognized on the front of the online Times.