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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 their teachers."
-- Socrates


"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?"
-- Cicero


"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue." -- François, duc de La Rochefoucauld


"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).


"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."
-- Lecture IX, John Henry Cardinal Newman


“Nothing is more common than for men to think that because they are familiar with words they understand the ideas they stand for.”
-- John Henry Cardinal Newman


"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
-- James Madison


"Those who are free from common prejudices acquire others."
-- Napolean I of France -- Napoleon I of France


"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)


"American life is a powerful solvent. It seems to neutralize every intellectual element, however tough and alien it may be, and to fuse it in the native good will, complacency, thoughtlessness, and optimism."
-- George Santayana, Character and Opinion in the United States, (1920)


"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."
-- Batman



 

 
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 cute panda. Don't you love pandas?

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And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world


[Blogroll now far below the sea line! Dive, dive, dive!]


You Like Me, You Really Like Me

Gary Farber! Jeez, the guy is practically a blogging legend, and I'm always surprised at the breadth of what he writes about.
-- PZ Meyers, Pharyngula


...Darn: I saw that Gary had commented on this thread, and thought: oh. my. god. Perfect storm. Unstoppable cannonball, immovable object. -- Hilzoy

...I think Gary Farber is a blogging god. -- P.Z. Myers, Pharyngula

...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

‎"Gary Farber is a gentleman, a scholar and one of the gems of the blogosphere." -- Steve Hynd, Newshoggers.com

"Well argued, Gary. I hadn't seen anything that went into as much detail as I found in your blog." -- Gareth Porter

Gary Farber is your one-man internet as always, with posts on every article there is.
-- Fafnir

Guessing that Gary is ignorant of anything that has ever been written down is, in my experience, unwise.
Just saying.

-- Hilzoy

Gary Farber gets it right....
-- James Joyner, Outside The Beltway

Once again, an amazing and illuminating post.
-- Michael Bérubé, Crooked Timber

I read Amygdala...with regularity, as do all sensible websurfers.
-- Jim Henley, Unqualified Offerings

Okay, he is annoying, but he still posts a lot of good stuff.
-- Avedon Carol, The Sideshow

Amygdala - So much stuff it reminds Unqualified Offerings that UO sometimes thinks of Gary Farber as "the liberal Instapundit."
-- Jim Henley

...the thoughtful and highly intelligent Gary Farber... My first reaction was that I definitely need to appease Gary Farber of Amygdala, one of the geniuses of our age.
-- Brad deLong

Gary is a perceptive, intelligent, nice guy. Some of the stuff he comes up with is insightful, witty, and stimulating. And sometimes he manages to make me groan.
-- Charlie Stross

Gary Farber is a straight shooter.
-- John Cole, Balloon Juice

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.
-- Ogged

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.
-- oakhaus.com

One of my favorites....
-- Matt Welch

Favorite....
-- Virginia Postrel

Amygdala continues to have smart commentary on an incredible diversity of interesting links....
-- Judith Weiss

Amygdala has more interesting obscure links to more fascinating stuff that any other blog I read.
-- Judith Weiss, Kesher Talk

Gary's stuff is always good.
-- Meryl Yourish

...the level-headed Amygdala blog....
-- Geitner Simmons

The only trouble with reading Amygdala is that it makes me feel like such a slacker. That Man Farber's a linking, posting, commenting machine, I tell you!
-- John Robinson, Sore Eyes

...the all-knowing Gary Farber....
-- Edward Winkleman, Obsidian Wings

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


GARY FARBER IS MY AROUSAL CENTER. -- Justin Slotman

Gary is certainly a non-idiotarian 'liberal'...
-- Perry deHaviland

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

Gary Farber's great Amygdala blog.
-- Dr. Frank

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

You nailed it... nice job."
-- James Lileks

Gary Farber is a principled liberal....
-- Bill Quick, The Daily Pundit


Archives:
December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 December 2011 January 2013


Blogroll is Always In Progress:

Roger Ailes
Alas, A Blog
AlterNet
The American Street
The Aristocrats
Avedon Carol
Between the Hammer and the Anvil
Lindsay Beyerstein
The Big Con
bjkeefe
CantBlogTooBusy The Center for American Progress
Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Chuckling
Doghouse Riley
Kevin Drum
elementropy
Eschaton
Fables of the Reconstruction
Gall and Gumption
Gin and Tacos
House of Substance
Hullabaloo
The Hunting of the Snark
If I Ran The Zoo
Lawyers, Guns & Money
Lotus: Surviving a Dark Time
Matters of Little Significance
Nancy Nall
Charlie Stross bastard.logic
Daniel Larison
Afro-Netizen
American Conservative
American Footprints
Andrew Sullivan
Angry Bear
Attackerman
Attempts
Balkinization
Balloon Juice
Beautiful Horizons
Bitch Ph.D.
Brad DeLong
Cato-at-liberty
Cogitamus
Crooked Timber
Cunning Realist
Daily Kos
Debate Link
Democracy Arsenal
Edge of the American West
Eschaton
Ezra Klein
Feministe
Glenn Greenwald
Governing.com: 13th Floor
Hit & Run
Hullabaloo
Juan Cole
Kevin Drum
Lawyers, Guns and Money
List Project (Helping Iraqis who worked with us get out)
Marc Lynch
Mark Kleiman
Katha Pollit
Market Square
Matthew Yglesias
Megan McArdle
Metro Green
Mightygodking
Newshoggers
Orcinus
Pam's House Blend
Pandagon
Paul Krugman
Pharyngula
Philosophy, et cetera
Radley Balko
Sadly, No!
Shakesville
slacktivist
Southern Appeal
Stephen Walt
Steve Clemons
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking It Outside
Talking Points Memo
TAPPED
The Poor Man
The Progressive Realist
The Sideshow
TPMCafe
U.S. Intellectual History
Unfogged
Unqualified Offerings
VetVoice
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Monthly
William Easterly
Newsrack Blog
Ortho Bob
Pandagon
Pharyngula
The Poor Man
Prog Gold
Prose Before Hos
Ted Rall
The Raw Story
Elayne Riggs
Sadly, No!
Snarkmarket
TAPped
TBogg
Texas Liberal
Think Progress
3 Weird Sisters
Tristram Shandy
Washington Monthly
Ian Welsh
James Wolcott
World o' Crap
Matthew Yglesias
Buzz Machine
Daniel Larison
Rightwing Film Geek About Last Night
can we all just agree
Comics Curmudgeon
Dum Luk's
Glenn Kenny
Hoarder Museum Juanita Jean
Lance Mannion (Help Lance!
Last Words of the Executed
The Phil Nugent Experience
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
Vanishing New York
a lovely promise
a web undone
alicublog
alt hippo
american street
city of brass
danger west
fact-esque
fierce urgency of now
get fisa right
great concavity
happening here
impeach them!
jensscholz.com
kathryn cramer
notes from the basement
sideshow
talking dog
uncertain principles
unqualified offerings
what do i know
balkinization
crooked timber emptywheel
ezra klein
Fact-esque
The F-Word
glenn greenwald
governmentality
hullabaloo
Lifehacker
schneier on security
ta-nehisi coates
talking points memo
tiny revolution
Roz Kaveney
Dave Ettlin
Henry Jenkins' Confessions of an Aca-Fan
Kathryn Cramer
Monkeys In My Pants
Macadamia
Pagan Prattle
As I Please
Ken MacLeod
Arthur Hlavaty
Kevin Maroney
MK Kare
Jack Heneghan
Dave Langford
Epicycle
Onyx Lynx Atrios
Demosthenes
Rittenhouse Review
Maxspeak
Public Nuisance
Scoobie Davis
MadKane
Nathan Newman
Whiskeyfire
Echidne Of The Snakes
First Draft
Corrente
Rising Hegemon
NTodd
Cab Drollery (Help Diane!
Hullabaloo
Southern Beale
The Kenosha Kid
Culture of Truth
Talk Left
Black Ag=Q< Report
Drug WarRant
Nieman Watchdog
Open Left
Meet the Bloggers
Dispatch from the Trenches
Frameshop
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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.










Amygdala
 
Monday, August 16, 2004
 
SOMETHING HAS GONE ROTTEN. Bjørn Stærk, the extraordinarily sensible Norwegian who has been posting since September 11th posted an immensely important post on August 8th.

First he posts a list of reasons "why Islam should be banned in America" that a commenter posted to his blog:
Islam should be banned in America because:
1. Islam is not a religion. It is a political or military organization that is corrupt.
2. It is a corrupt criminal organization subject to the RICO laws...
4. Islam resembles fascist Nazis and totalitarianism - not a religion.
5. Islam is seditious. It advocates the overthrow of the government...
8. The failure of good Muslims to object or organize and stop bad Muslims indicts the whole Islamic movement. ..
11. Islam is always at war...
14. Islam was first at war with America in 1786 (Tripolitan Wars)...
19. The assassin of Robert Kennedy in 1968 read and followed the Quran...
23. Islam is more dangerous and more harmful to Americans than the Mafia, Klu Klux Klan, Arian Nation, or the Nazis...
28. Real religions don't become governments, cause invasions, insurrections, and have under cover operatives world wide.
29. Real religions don't encourage blackmail, hijacking, ransom, extortion, assassination, and wholesale murder...
33. Islam should be banned in America!
Bjørn responds:
This is the kind of writing that is produced when ignorance meets paranoia and anger. I've written before about how belief in an Islamic essence that supercedes the behavior of actual Muslims leads people to making sloppy generalizations about Islam. This process has two steps: First you must believe that this essence exists, and that it is possible to capture it in a few words. Then you go looking for those words. Quotes from the Koran, statements by Islamic thinkers. The research bears fruit, proof is found: Islam is war - or peace, depending on who's looking.

The problem is that you can prove anything this way, and you'll still be no closer to describing the faith of actual Muslims. This kind of work requires nuance and humility in the face of complexity. Yeah I know, it's all supposed to be Good and Evil these days. "Nuance" and "shades of gray" are the words of relativists. But no matter how useful it can be to describe a particular belief or act as Evil, once you leave the area of moral judgments for the descriptive world, nuance is your best friend.

We have to build our moral judgments on a solid foundation. You can't say if terrorism is good or evil without knowing what terrorism is. You can't say if Islam is good or evil without knowing what Islam is. And unfortunately, unlike a political method used by a small number of people, it is very difficult to know what a 1400 year old religion with 1.3 billion believers really "is".

You certainly won't find the answer in a few quotes from the Koran, or in the statements of a few Muslims. To describe something big and complex, you need a big and complex description, supported by a huge number of carefully assembled facts. Impossible? Historians do this all the time. There's an interesting parallel here: Good historians embrace the complexity of their subject. They approach the mountain of evidence they base their work on with humility and a sense of duty towards the truth. And they will be honest with you about the limits of their craft. Bad historians treat the mountain of historical evidence as a catalog they can pick and choose facts from, to back up sensational and simplistic theories.

Conspiracy theories are a subset of bad history. The list above is the religious equivalent of a conspiracy theory. It even uses bad history to back up its claims. Islam, in the form of the Barbary pirates of North Africa, "was first at war with America in 1786". Great Britain was also at war with America in those days. Was that a war with Christianity, or perhaps Europe? Should it guide American foreign policy towards Great Britain today?

The assassin of Robert Kennedy "read and followed the Quran". But Sirhan was a Christian Palestinian.

"Real religions" supposedly don't do a lot of things Christians have done for a long time: "become governments, cause invasions, insurrections". And granted that they've mostly stopped doing it, why should whatever Christians do be the definition of "real religion"?

Okay, I've picked on this guy enough. I don't mean to use him as a straw man. This is Islam criticism gone totally rotten, and he goes further than most others. But he's not alone in wanting to ban Islam, and comparing Islam itself to Nazism. When I wrote about the Progress Party politicians in Kristiansand who wanted to ban Islam, which I thought was pretty shocking, I came over a disturbing thread on Little Green Footballs about the same story. I'm not saying these are the views of Charles Johnson, or of a majority of his readers, but a large number of comments went like this:
A Viking funeral for Islam!

..

Right on! These Euros have the Viking spirit, are a breed apart.

..

woah! they can do that?!

..

Wow. I can't see that going over well with the PC crowd, but the more I read the Koran and about Islam, the more I think we need to do the same.

..

Excellent news. If true.

..

Way to go!!! Unfortunately, it'll never happen. I know that Norway has their version of the ACLU, and I am surprised that they haven't responded already!! That place is full of leftists!!

..

I wish the Norwegians lots of luck. They sure are going to need it.

..

This takes freakin guts!! It gives me hope in the Western World that we are waking up!!!

Many replies were of the respectful "this is going a bit far but it's good somebody speaks up against Islam" variety. Only a very few came out firmly against the idea of a European country banning an entire religion.

Let's step back a bit here. The majority of LGF readers are probably Americans, vote Republican, and support the war on terror. These are people who - rightfully - admire the American Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Like many on the left, they probably believe that they're the ones who stand between their political enemies and the Constitution. You'll expect few denounciations of the Bill of Rights as "PC" or "leftist" from this camp. And here they go on record asking for Norway to abandon our equivalent of the first amendment, one of the basic rights of any democracy: Freedom of religion.

Yeah, I know, "Islam isn't a religion, it's an ideology". And criticizing the government isn't "speech", it's sedition. Redefining away a right is easy - just don't come here afterwards and pretend it's still the same right.

What has gone wrong when Norwegians, Americans and other Westerners who rever the enlightenment ideals of reason and freedom of thought more than anything, justify restrictions on thought with bad reasoning and paranoia? It's not just LGF readers. You can read similar views (though fewer of them) at Free Republic, Dhimmi Watch, and Liberty Post - all in reply to the Kristiansand story.

Again, I'm not saying these views are shared by the owners of these websites, or the majority of their readers. But neither do I see many strong, principled objections. Phil says above that "the failure of good Muslims to object or organize and stop bad Muslims indicts the whole Islamic movement", which doesn't justify a ban on Islam, but is true in a sense. We all have a responsibility to speak up clearly against extremists in our own ranks, whether we are Muslims or peace activists or bloggers who criticize Islam and support the war on Islamist terror.

And so it's time to stand up for the basic values of our democracies and confront those in our own ranks who want to abandon those values. Because if we don't, outsiders will be justified in interpreting this as silent approval or apologism.

Something has gone rotten. We can't blame it on the "left", the "relativists", the "PC crowd" or the "multiculturalists", (and don't anybody dare blame it on the Muslims). It's gone rotten here, among people who on 9/11 woke up to the danger of Islamism. The ban Islam meme and all its relatives (Islam is Islamism, Islam is war) must be confronted here, now, before it spreads.

Damn straight.

I recently posted some comments to this "Hatewatch" thread at Winds of Change:
There are a variety of sites on the Web with idiotarian hate. Here's a random example from one guaranteed site:
Probably is a muzzie though.

[...]

If the bastard wasn't a muzzie they would have said so.

[...]

We've already had Islamo-spies in Guantanamo, muzzies blowing up their officers in Kuwait... We also have illegal aliens with fake IDs, and assorted non-citizens (since we accept LPRs). There are several thousand throughout the military. Given the ideology they adhere to, suspicions must be raised far higher.

[...]

A few months ago I would have been very opposed to condemning all Muslims, but now I am at the point that they are going to have to prove that all Islam is not the problem.

[...]

While this is not an incitement to violence, my prediction is we'll see the slims hanging from light poles after the next attack. Their lies aren't going to mean squat to the great unwashed hordes. I'd just be satisfied with covering them with pork chops and putting them in a pit full of rottweillers.

[...]

Has anybody ever done any surveys or studies to determine how disloyal your average muzzie is to their new homeland?

[...]

Your allah (satan) lied to you, fool.

[...]

My grandchildren will wear muslim the fabric without ever being aware there was another definition.

[...]

Allah was the name given an idol to HaBa'al, brought from Assyria, and may indeed be the same false god Ba'al from the Bible.

Mohammad raided camel caravans, broke treaties, tortured and killed prisoners of war, and got hard-ons for six year old girls.
Any questions?

[...]

They whine about rights? Get rid of em. Inhale oxygen within our borders? That's right. Get rid of em. I'ts a disease. Kill it before it kills us.
And it just goes on and on; that's from only about the top five percent of comments on a single post.

I've long, as a Jew, found a highly useful test for distinguishing legitimate commentary from hate; I take the noun of the statement in question, switch it to "Jew," or the adjective to "Jewish," and see how I think it stands up.

One can also switch out, say, one religious figure for another who did things, in a different religious tradition, we now would call horrible and despicable. Enjoy the game! "If the bastard wasn't a Jew they would have said so." "I'd just be satisfied with covering those Jews with pork chops and putting them in a pit full of rottweillers."

Feel free to use "Christian, " or "atheist," or "Hindu," or whatever works best for yourself. lewy14, I thank you for your efforts, and very much hope you'll keep a sharp eye out for, as well, anti-Islamic hatred, which is a very great danger and quite prevalent in our time, and that you'll call it wherever you find it. It's a moral test for all of us today to distinguish between Islamic terrorism and Islam, between terrorists and Muslims, just as we largely failed, in 1941-2, in the U.S., to distinguish between those who served the Japanese empire, and our own loyal citizens of Japanese ethnicity.
I subsequently had the following exchange:
"Don't worry, Gary, when Jews fly planes into skyscrapers I'll be hunting them too."

Yes, I know.
And then my two last comments:
"And so I prefer to consign such repugnant comments on all blogs to a well deserved obscurity."

This is purely my own opinion, of course -- that should be clear, but I want to make it ultra clear -- my own policy is that I believe blogs are responsible for what they publish. Period. That includes comments. I believe blogs should have prominently posted commenting policy as to what are and are not acceptable comments. I believe that posters should be warned that if they violate the guidelines/rules, their offensive comments will be deleted, and if they continue to offend, they will be banned. I believe blogs need to enforce that policy, and if they do not, they are completely responsible for what is posted on their blog. If enforcing such policies is too much work, they should shut down comments, because they are responsible for what is posted on their blog.

To me, that's a matter of individual responsibility. It's a matter of accepting that responsibility.

I believe that sites that are full of hate for white people, for black people, for red people, for yellow people, for Christians, for Jews, for Moslems, for Hindus, for animists, for atheists, for religious people, for short people, for tall people, for whatever kind of people, are hate sites.

I boycott hate sites, regardless of whatever value might be attached to them. Hey, Krupp built great guns, but I wouldn't have contracted with them in the Forties.

Again, that is purely my own personal policy, and I respect the right of all to have their own policy, of course.

But I do have this question. If we delete three words from your statement, do you still stand by it?

"And so I prefer to consign such repugnant comments to a well deserved obscurity."

If so, why, exactly, are you compiling and posting "Hatewatch"?

If blogs are "obscure," why post to them? If comments are obscure, why make them?

What of "leaving you more informed, more aware, and pretty disgusted every month"?

Are blogs so unimportant that we should not be "more informed" and "more aware" of them?

If so, why are you reading this comment?
And, excerpted:
It strikes me that if we are "looking hard at the dark places most mainstream media seem determined to look away from," and we, as bloggers want to see blogs achieve large-scale, mainstreamish, success and recognition, that we can't turn a blind eye to hatred in blogs. Better an early start than having to wait until our soles/souls are held to the fire later and inevitably. (And sooner or later we will read mainstream stories about hate in blogs; mark my words; I'd rather we started policing ourselves first.)

[...]

Ten thousand words would be far too much. But it occurs to me that, in fact, a reasonably (a thousand or two, words, perhaps; perhaps even less, just a naming of blogs with a couple of sample comments each) sized monthly (or so) round-up of the most significant sites spewing hatred in comments -- whatever the form or target of the hatred -- would be a useful way to point a spotlight at these much-read blogs, and perhaps -- just perhaps -- give them a nudge towards being shamed, and cleaning up their act. (And I include, myself, sites that spew political hatred, as well as ethnic hatred.)
Anti-Muslim hate is hate. And hate in blogs is hate.

Both need to be fought. Neither should be tolerated.

Read The Rest Scale: 0 out of 5.

Readers are encouraged to look up, up, up, at the top of this blog, and act accordingly, if you feel so kind. Thanks.

ADDENDUM: Giblets has comments and advice for me.

FURTHER ADDENDUM: Bjørn Stærk comments here:
Gary: Quote as much as you like from my post. And thanks for picking up on this - I was beginning to worry it would be ignored. One thing I've begun to notice is how much easier it is to get links by taking another cheap shot at left-wing idiots than by criticizing people on your own side. (Bush, right-wing bloggers.) Here's another example of an important story many people don't want to hear. This was how much of the left went rotten. It wasn't because they started out with fully rotten ideas, but because they didn't protect those ideas from corruption and didn't work hard enough to keep them alive. Everyone should learn from that, and don't be afraid of taking shots in both directions, wherever we stand.

I think what bothers me most here is seeing all these right-wing Islam critics fall into exactly the same logical fallacies many of us bloggers have been targetting on the far left for three years. A lot of people should ask themselves: Are we for a particular, rational method of thinking, which we'll follow wherever it leads us, or are we for a particular point of view, which we'll use any argument to support? Is it okay to use a bad argument in a good cause, or should the cause follow the good arguments, whatever they are?

I agree with your point about similarities to antisemitism. In the 90's I once debated a neo-nazi at a Norwegian BBS. He could present all this evidence that the Jews were evil and powerful - secret quotes from Jewish scriptures, examples of evil Jews had done. This wasn't a vague fear, it was concrete and detailed, with lots of "evidence" to back it up. The main difference between him and the Islamophobes is that his examples were usually false, (the Islamists actually exist), but there's a similarity in style, in willingness to believe the worst, to overgeneralize, and to think selectively.

Hope more bloggers pick up on this trend. It's early enough to kill it, but it won't happen if everybody gives these people the benefit of the doubt, or tolerate them as over-zealous but harmless and well-intended Islam critics. Not suggesting anyone should moderate away these views, of course, the point is to stop implicitly approving of them by saying nothing.
Michael J. Totten has also weighed in. I get ignored by Crooked Timber again. (Belle Waring later updates to mention me here; Ted Barlow briefly comments here.) :-( Avedon links.

Sgt. Styker has typically insightful and amusing comments:
Ah, the irony of American extremists reacting virulently to an American moderate, while at the same time wondering why Muslim moderates don't speak out against Muslim extemists.

You know, the recognition and appreciation of irony is one of those things that extremists everywhere seem to lack. Arabs [....]
Go read the rest.

Norman Geras has eight words. Eugene Volokh is entirely right. BertramOnline.

Bjørn Stærk has a major followup here, which includes a response from Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs.

Find yet more posts linking this here.

Much commenting continues here. Feel free to add your two cents, please.

8/16/2004 11:37:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

1 Comments:

Thank you, Gary. Fafblog linked to you. I hope that brings this many many readers. You are correct, although the sites we visit express their repugnance, this is still too tolerated. Cause it may get very dangerous, very quickly

By Blogger bob mcmanus, at Monday, August 16, 2004 9:57:00 PM  

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