Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Welcome to Preventative Sterotype land.

Dear Muslims,

Welcome to our fair city, er, town, er, hamlet. We are happy you have chosen Herouxville as your new home. However, before you settle in, we feel you should know we have some ground rules:

- No stoning women.
- No female circumcision
- Women can drive
- Women can write checks
- For a while, "men have been allowed" to be present with their wives at childbirth.
- Women cannot cover their face except in certain situations (Halloween).
- No burning women with acid or lighting them on fire.


- Sikhs may not bring ceremonial daggers to school;
- Children are expected to sing Christmas carols at Christmas-time;
- And you are strongly discouraged from asking about whether meat has been properly slaughtered according to your religious beliefs. The answer is always no, please stop asking.

Please direct any complaints to M. Andre Drouin, but don't expect him to care:

"I think there's too much dialogue...Personally, I have a hard time with rights. I'd rather talk about duties and obligations. Every time you give someone rights, you add another brick to the walls that poison them."

Well I'm glad somebody finally said it. Stupid rights. Who needs em?

Oh, I seem to have gotten hold of a new set of Herouxville rules that will be voted on next week:

- Jews are respectfully asked to not drain children's blood, whether for purposes of consumption or "free expression";

- Irish immigrants should restrain any impulses to blow up our police stations or copulate with our potatoes while intoxicated;

-We would all appreciate it if new Asian residents could avoid eating our pets, mowing us down with their SUVs, or giving us SARs.

- Latinos: we've got our eye on you.

There will be a mandatory get-to-know you brunch next Thursday. Be sure to bring something normal- no ethnic food.

I bet they'll be getting tons of new folks showing up any day.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Patriotic Terrorism and other fun strawmen

Apparently Greg Gutfeld enjoys being a yutz, even more than I do.

Whenever I visit this lovely blog, I usually run into someone - a "leftist," if you will - who finds pleasure in things that make our country or the President look bad. I suppose I could say these angry types are no better than cheerleaders for terrorism. After all, both entities - the left and terrorists - seem to share the same desire: to put the US, humiliatingly, in its place.

Thinking humility (or not actively butt-raping the rest of the world) is a positive quality in a benevolent superpower doesn't make you a terrorist, Greg, any more than enjoying a self-satisfied orgy of (necessarily temporary) military and economic superiority makes you a patriot. It's got to do with what we see as positives and negatives of the United States and what our responses to them are. As long as no one's supporting killing anyone, terrorism has nothing to do with it. You're also totally conflating ideologies here- liberals think America shouldn't treat other countries like dirt, terrorists think America shouldn't treat them like dirt. We can play this game too, Greg. You know who thought Holy War was just spiffy? The Catholic Church! Shall we start printing out copies of Pope Benedict wearing a keffiyah Anti-War Scarf?

But I would be wrong to say such things. Very wrong. Of course, "dissent is patriotic," and the left is only critical of America because it simply loves our country much more than I do.

No, that's an infantile strawman. While you can argue that tough love indicates a stronger level of commitment to a certain set of ideals (presumably by criticizing when an organization, govt., etc deviates from them), saying that either mindless cheerleading or constant carping is indicative of "more love" is a no-winner. By the same token, though, we've heard plenty of suggestions from the right that "my country right or wrong" indicates a stronger degree of patriotism- and you don't seem to be refuting that.

And let's not forget the fact that critique of the US government, policies, or leadership, especially the Commander-in-Chief is far from limited to a single party. Clinton much? Jimmy Carter?

What is a patriotic terrorist?

It is an American who claims to love his or her country while enjoying the enemy's success against said country.

How do you define "enjoy"? How wide is the spectrum between, "give sexual favors to troops" and "give sexual favors to terrorists?" What about someone who thinks we shouldn't be there and hopes we get out soon, or hopes we stop killing innocent civilians? Who are you classifying as the enemy?

It is a person who gets deeply offended if you question their patriotism

Because no right-winger does...

while also appearing to share the same ideals of the more spirited folk who like to blow up innocent people.

Such as? Aside from, "that Bush is a bastard", or "we shouldn't be invading all these countries", or, "what did Saddam have to do with 9/11 again"?

Patriotic terrorists love America so much that they realize it needs an intervention

That's the basic premise of politics today- "you're all stupid, only I have the answer, vote for me and give me money." Sometimes if we're lucky there's a sex tape involved.

- and real terror is the only way to enable that intervention.

When did Rosie O'Donnell or Sean Penn say anything close to that? Oh, and is Jerry Falwell ringing a bell? No?

Hey, I bet you've probably wondered why Al Qaeda hasn't struck in the US since 9/11. They don't have to. It has its own offshoot franchise here at work already. Patriotic Terrorists.

Think about how much both groups have in common!

You're a gigantic idiot, Greg, but I'll play. Um, is the first one "beards"?

-Both patriotic terrorists and Al Qaeda want the US to abandon Iraq, for that reveals Bush and America to be monstrous, laughable failures. It does not matter to either group that the withdrawal from Iraq will make post-Vietnam look like an afternoon at Ikea shopping for a Hoggbo innerspring mattress.

You're trying too hard on these jokes, Greg. Besides, everyone knows it's all about the waterbed or Sealy. You know who liked innerspring? Saddam. He kept one filled with innersprings, and another with baby teeth of Kurds. True story. Anyway the issue is much less cheap political points like whether Bush is laughable (we've already answered that question), and leaving Iraq has no bearing on the monstrosity or lack thereof of the war. Furthermore, at this point there seems to be a strong likelihood that the country is going to explode whether we're there or not. Seeing as how this civil war is looking inevitable, and there doesn't seem to be much that we're presently able (or will be able in future) to keep it restrained, exactly what is being gained from staying there now? The people making political points off this war are the ones attempting to keep it going for reasons unknown, likely even to them. The U.S. govt. getting a wake-up call that war isn't something to be screwed around with is probably a pretty high goal on the anti-war groups' lists, but I think they'd settle for getting our soldiers out of there as soon as possible. Funny, Greg, I'm not seeing the connection to Al Qaeda- maybe it's because none of the Anti-War people are advocating killing people.

-For patriotic terrorists and real terrorists, car bombs going off is music to their ears. It proves that you can't offer democracy to troubled countries, as long as you've got terrorists standing in your way. And that's great news for everyone who believes in checks and balances between the haves and the have nots! (Note: "haves" means the US. "Have nots" means those who hate the US)

No, schmuckles, it's possible to "offer" (impose?) democracy on troubled countries, the issue is how brutal and totalitarian you're willing to be about it. The pipe dream was sold by people like Cheney and Rumsfeld who duped people into thinking this would be an easy process and that the Iraqis wouldn't see us as part of the problem (which we quickly became through our own bumbling). While there may be some vindication in the Anti-War movement in being proven right, you're going to have to try harder to demonstrate that the majority of the Anti-war crowd is pro-terrorism (as opposed to the pro-War crowd, who quite openly celebrates military victories, regardless of how many casualties). And again, we have the counter-argument being offered by your comrades that somehow staying in an occupied country is particularly noble- yeah, let's congratulate ourselves for giving the Iraqis democracy, even if it kills them (and us).

Also, haves and have-nots? When did this become about economics? Nice try sneaking that one in. If you think that the have-nots and the countries that hate the US are one in the same, you should really read more. As far as political checks-and-balances, I don't see what's wrong in the one superpower in the world not using its influence to get away with whatever it wants- including flouting international treaties and laws. The question is whether the US wants to be part of the planet or secede. You seem to be on the secession, might-makes-right-regardless team. I wonder if you'll be as gung-ho about this when we're eclipsed by China, Russia and India.

-Patriotic terrorists and the more committed terrorists both believe that infractions at Guantanamo Bay are far worse than anything a genocidal dictator could muster, and such horrors possess far more PR potential in denigrating the US than anything involving Ed Begley Jr.

I had to google this guy to figure out who you were talking about. That's how relevant he is to my thought process, Greg. You're really slipping. Anyway, God forbid people be able to multi-task and, you know, condemn multiple things simultaneously. I wonder, if I ask you if the Holocaust was bad OR if stealing your kidney is bad, will your brain self-destruct? And once it does, can I have your kidney? And there's a legitimate argument to be made that abuses made by US or allied troops are morally/ideologically serious, even if not as physically or psychologically harmful as Saddam, because it demonstrates the depth to which our own people can descend, and the degree to which merely being on "our team" doesn't necessarily mean you can't also be a sadistic bastard. You know, really troubling questions like that. But you'd rather make Ed Begley jokes.

-Both patriotic terrorists and Al Qaeda terrorists believe the US desires to control the Middle East, empower evil Israel and expand it's power base at the expense of innocent Arab lives. But both groups also realize that the US is too stupid to achieve these goals - and that makes being a patriotic terrorist loads of fun!

I don't see the conflicts with any of these beliefs. They may not all be entirely factual (you could argue a fair amount of evidence in support though), but there's no contradiction between what you WANT to do and what you're ABLE to do- for instance, take us bringing a stable democracy to Iraq.

If you are intensely critical of the US, while tolerating homicidal enemies who condemn everything you previously claimed you are for - human rights, voting rights, gay rights, women's rights, porn - then you're a patriotic terrorist.

What do you mean by "tolerating"? You mean, "not wanting to invade?" There are people in the US that condemn the things I claim I'm for; simply because they exist and are a potential threat to me doesn't mean I want to kill them all.

If you talk about tolerance constantly - and hilariously tolerate genocide and suicide bombers because those actions undermine your more intimate opposition, the American right - then you're a patriotic terrorist.

Again, the terms- what is "tolerating suicide bombers"? As for genocide, remind me what the administration's done for Darfur lately? And funny, the right seems to be staying pretty quiet on this issue- surely it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that the Left is talking about it, RIGHT? I mean, only political terrorist leftists would be so low as to play politics with people's lives, right Greg? You idiot.

The only difference between a patriotic terrorist and a real one? Real terrorists are simply patriotic terrorists who've taken the extra step - choosing to actually die for their beliefs - rather than simply talking about them at Spago. If Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, Michael Moore, and their ilk had real cojones, they'd all be wearing cute black vests - but stuffed with more than dog-eared copies of Deterring Democracy.

Got that? You can believe strongly about whatever you want, as long as it involves nothing critical about your own country (Jesus, Gandhi, MLK, etc.) As soon as you do that, you're equivalent to a would-be weenie suicide bomber. Man, it sure is lucky Greg's line in the sand is so pristine and clear- how else would we be able to figure out if we should start making suicide belts?

Following Greg's logic we're all a bunch of patriotic terrorists in relation to England. I always knew there was something about Washington I didn't like. Damn sleeper.

Oldie but Goodie

Written several years ago as a creative writing exercise, and posted after perusing more of Anarchistrabbi's stuff.

A Life in Black

Picture a Brooklyn street, cloaked in the orange-purple rays of sunset. The road is crowded, choked, with a living, dark mass of people. All dressed in black. All ages, all sizes. Men, women, little boys with sidecurls and yarmulkes. They are chanting, wailing, pleading. They direct their voices towards a single building, and from there, up to the heavens. The chant consists of only four words:

“We want Moschiach. Now.
We want Moschiach, now.

Moschiach. The Messiah. The anointed one. The redeemer of the world. These people are crying for their dead rabbi, their spiritual leader, their rebbe. Some of them believe that he was actually the Messiah, and they are begging for him to return, and to heal the world.

They are the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidism. Ultra-orthodox Jews who believe they are on a mission from God to spread around the world, bringing assimilated Jews back into the faith, to redeem the world through Jewish practice- to bring the Messiah, whoever he is. By a strange twist of fate, their lives and mine are permanently intertwined.

My grandfather Max belonged to Chabad. I haven’t been able to determine exactly when he joined them, but it probably happened sometime in the early 80s. Religion had dominated his life since he was diagnosed with, then treated for, colon cancer- the same disease which had killed his father. Max, according to my grandmother, had “made a deal” with God. If he survived his surgery and improved, he would become more religious. He lived. Sometimes I wonder if anyone ever pondered that things might have been better had he not.

Max became, as some called him, a “super-Jew”. Nothing was good enough, kosher enough, or religious enough. The dinner table became a regular theological battleground, with Max demanding more and more concessions of his family, particularly my grandmother and his youngest son. He wanted her to start dressing more “modestly” (covering her hair) and wanted him to grow sidecurls. My 15-year old uncle, then in high school, refused and was punished. My grandmother complied.

It was during this point that he fell in with Chabad. The men around him bought into his delusions; fed his madness. Max was an alcoholic and a manic-depressive, with occasional psychotic episodes. To the Hasidism, he was a “holy prophet”. Once my father went to see him in Brooklyn. While there, he spoke to my grandfather’s then-roommate (he was separated from my grandmother), who proudly proclaimed that his father had “holy visions”. “We just called them hallucinations”, my father said.

My grandmother still remembers the day things took a dramatic turn. She and Max were living together again, and he came into the kitchen one morning, very animated. He proclaimed that he had fantastic news. She cautiously inquired what he meant.

“God appeared to me in a dream and spoke to me,” he said, his face illuminated with excitement. She could see he was serious, and it scared her to death. He went on for several minutes, describing his dream in detail and explaining how God had “chosen” him, selected him, to be his messenger. Max was the Messiah. “But,” he said sternly to my grandmother, “You can’t tell anyone. Not a soul.”

My grandmother’s hopes were briefly raised. Maybe a part of Max was still hanging on to reality, maybe he could actually see how crazy this all sounded. “Why?” she asked. “I don’t want my friends to think I’m stuck up”, he replied.

My grandmother stayed with him, all through the madness. She went with him to prayer meetings at ramshackle synagogues, where she was shoved into back rooms with other women and young girls so as not to “distract” the men from their prayers. She had been raised Orthodox, but not like this. This was worlds away from my grandmother’s childhood religion. Her parents had been of the modern world. To her, the Hasidism, complete with their ideas about modesty and gender roles, were ancient relics from a past age.

In the end, it didn’t matter. No one was good enough for Max. He divorced my grandmother and disowned his four children- all for not being “Jewish enough”. He found a new wife, a religious wife. Her name was Regina, and she had been a camp survivor. That was the only thing I ever learned about her, as she and Max were never mentioned in my parents’ home.

I didn’t meet my grandfather until I was three years old. My father had always had a certain bond with him that distinguished him from his siblings- and so when they repeatedly fought with each other, the pain cut deeper. Supposedly, my grandfather and I were “in love” with each other. Not surprising, considering we both loved to talk- and I greatly resembled my father, who in turn was the spitting image of Max. In the years afterwards, my grandfather was an often-present afterthought in my mind. All of my friends either had relationships with their grandparents, or they were dead. No one I spoke to seemed to have a relationship like I did- nonexistence. My grandfather wasn’t there, he was just “gone”. On one occasion, I actually remember asking my mother if my grandfather had died. “Of course not,” she said. “Then why don’t we see him?” I wondered. She replied that he lived all the way in New York. I was unsatisfied with this answer, particularly since we visited New York once every few years.

I began writing to my grandfather. He wrote back enthusiastically, but cautiously- I think he was worried of my father cutting off contact. Max half-heartedly answered my repeat questions as to when we could meet- he said one day, I would understand why we couldn’t see each other. I resolved to write to him often, but an unfortunate side-effect of being seven years old was a miniscule attention span. The letters soon waned, and to this day, I have only been able to find two of them- to my great regret, I can’t remember if there were any more.

At eight, we were planning a visit to New York, and I hit on a genius idea- I wrote to Max, asking him if he would see us. He accepted. I was ecstatic. This man, who to me had been little more than a myth, was finally going to show himself to me.

I have gone over this memory many times in my mind, trying to absorb as many details as possible- and to figure out what I could have done differently. In a way, the meeting had been doomed from the beginning. Max’s apartment was being painted, so they were going to pick us up from our apartment and take us to dinner. They pulled up outside in a dingy and sputtering Volvo. I ran up to the car and peered inside, seeing a strange man curled up behind the wheel. He had a newsie cap on, along with white hair, large glasses, and a gray mustache. Next to him sat a heavily made-up woman- Regina, my grandmother’s “replacement”. I shied away from her.

We piled into the backseat. Max and Regina smoked constantly, and my brother and I spent most of the ride quietly hacking and holding our noses. We stopped in front of a kosher hamburger joint, and the first event of the ill-fated evening began: Regina, in her haste to ingest as much carcinogenic smoke into her lungs as possible, was apparently unaware of the long ash hanging off of her cigarette. My brother and I watched in silence as it fell to her frumpy housedress and started smoldering. My father tried to get her attention, but Max beat him to it. Always quick-thinking- and fast-acting- Max simply turned towards her, thrust his hands out, and shoved her out of the car.

Regina did not take this well. She began shrieking at the top of her lungs, and proceeded to beat my grandfather over the head with her handbag. We all watched from the car as he tried, unsuccessfully, to calm her. It took several minutes. Meanwhile, my father groaned and buried his head in his hands. It was the first time he had seen Max in about six years.

Once inside the restaurant, we all settled down to eat. While looking at the strange writing on the walls (a fast-food menu printed in neon Hebrew lettering), I listened, awestruck, to my grandfather’s stories. He contained amazing repository of family lore; my favorite was about how when he was young and helping his father sell ice, one time he accidentally got his tongue stuck on a block of ice. A bunch of men wound up having to pull him away from it- leaving part of his tongue behind.

At one point, Max excused himself to go to the restroom. I sat back, happy and content. It was then that I made one of the worst mistakes of my life. I calmly turned to Regina and remarked, nonchalantly, “I think it’s sad both of my grandparents can’t be in the same room for my birthday.” It was a statement I had often made to my parents- all I wanted was my father’s two parents- my only living grandparents- to come to my birthday, just once.

Regina looked at me, her face taut. Then she exploded. She jumped out of her chair, and began screaming at me in English and Yiddish. She seemed determined to top her performance earlier on the street. She hurled abuse at me, cursing me for all she was worth. She cried out, “He’d be dead if it weren’t for me! I saved him! He would have died!” Then she just descended into more Yiddish curses. I was horrified. My brother and I, aged five and eight, backed away, shocked and scared. We had never seen anybody go ape-shit before.

Max came running out of the bathroom, and tried to calm Regina down. But, just like before, she was implacable. Instead, she turned her sights on him- and my grandmother. “Go back to her! You always loved her more! All you ever talk about is her, her, her!” Later on, I remember having gotten some satisfaction out of that particular revelation.

After finally calming his wife down, my grandfather drove us back to the apartment building in silence. They dropped us off and sped away. The next time I saw him would be three years later- on his death bed.

I often think about that night. I’ve cursed myself a thousand times for my youthful stupidity. Not only did I pass up the chance of a lifetime to have a written relationship with my grandfather, but then I alienated him in person, too. It’s something I can’t get away from- particularly once I found out how my first visit, as a toddler, had ended.

Max had offered a chance for forgiveness. He wanted to be a family again, he said. But it had to be on his terms. My parents needed to move to New York and put me in a yeshiva. My father the hippie, the avowed agnostic, the free-spirit, categorically refused. And that was that.

But it wasn’t. I keep finding myself thinking back to that fateful ultimatum. I know that my father never would have accepted- but what if he had? What if my father had been less stubborn than he is? I could have been one of them. A Hasid. Every facet of my life would have been different. I wouldn’t be in college; I wouldn’t be writing. I would have spent my childhood learning religious texts and avoiding the outside world. By now, I would probably be working and married, maybe trying to get more Jews to become religious, like me. To bring the Messiah. As much as the idea of this person repels me, it also transfixes me, in a way. I’ve spent years learning about the Hasidism; I’ve watched documentaries and read more books than I can count. In some ways I hate them for taking Max from me, but I can’t seem to get away from them. I’m fascinated by them; forever connected to this other life I might have led- this other me I might have been. This idea, that in some other life, I could have been close with Max, haunts me. What if?

There’s a scene in Annie Hall where Woody Allen sees himself transformed into a Hasidic Jew. Occasionally, in my mind, this happens to me, too. I suddenly sprout sidecurls and a full beard, black shoots up all around me and encircles my body, trapping me in the “uniform” of Ultra-Orthodoxy like a cocoon. Suddenly, I’m the Hasid my grandfather wanted me to be. And it scares the hell out of me, because in some ways, I want to be that person. I want to be the little yeshiva boy he always wanted me to be but which my father never would have consented to. I want him to be the Messiah he knew he could be- that he was- but which no one else could see.

Back to the Lubavitchers; who are still waiting. They want their rebbe back; they’re still waiting for their Messiah to come, and to redeem the world. A world where children and grandchildren don’t have to be Hasidism to be accepted by their parents and grandparents. Where no one has to give up who they are to be loved.

“We want Moschiach now!”

…Me too.

Hmm, maybe I should try more of the composed narrative thing and slightly less of the fisking every sincere-but-misguided-jackass I can find thing. Of course, given the fact that I'm often running low on time, this may prove difficult.

A semi-heartfelt post from somewhere near the semi-heart

Anarchistrabbi had a really good post I enjoyed. It got me thinking about my own family's experiences with war.

The earliest encounter with the military we know about happened in the 1870s- we don't know the details, but apparently one relative, Icyk, was in the Russian army for a while; I don't know if he pissed someone off or what, but apparently his tour took him near Zhitomir where his first kid was born, which, incidentally, was about 500 miles from his home town. Eventually Icyk managed to get himself and his family back to good ol' home base and had some more kids- though for about five years, his occupation was listed as "temporarily discharged soldier". I don't know if that means he was at risk of being recalled (sound familiar?) or couldn't get a job (see previous comment). In the 1890s one of Icyk's nephews got drafted. We don't know if he served or not, but that seems to have been the start of the family immigration. I'm guessing it's around this time my g.grandfather Harry changed his birthday from mid-January 1880 to Dec 31, 1881- I'd bet almost anything this was draft-dodging related (maybe so no one would get suspicious that his brother was born 1882?) In any event, Harry got the hell out of dodge, and the rest of the family followed him. That was in 1901 or so and they kept coming until Ellis Island closed the doors because the WASPs and German Jews were getting uncomfortable what with all those Asiatics hanging around.

Thus began a very, shall we say, mixed family tradition. Sure, we had a lot of folks fight in WWII, and one or two in Korea (one uncle was really gung-ho about getting drafted for Vietnam but had fucked his knees playing football so they sent him home- he later told me they should have nuked the place and gotten it over with.)

But Sholom mentioning PTSD made me think about another war...

I had two g.g.uncles fight in WWI. Morris was either a super-Zionist or had a real hard-on for the war because he enlisted in the Jewish Legion before America was even in the fight. I don't know if he ever got to Israel, though. Nathan got drafted into the US army and got PTSD (don't know where).

Morris got sent back to the US on a nice steam liner (guess he wasn't such a Zionist after all), all expenses paid by the Brits; Nathan worked his way back to NYC as ship's cook on some shithole barge from Cuba- God knows how he got from Europe to there.

Morris got a nice little job working in some garment district sweatshop, got married and had kids and lived happily ever after. Nathan couldn't work and lived in a group home for the rest of his life. They let him out for holidays and birthdays.

War's a bitch.

This is partially why I have such distaste for the whole "I'm a veteran, I'm from a military family, you're disqualified from saying anything about anything." That's a load of crap. Most people in this country have some vets in their family if they've been here long enough. And if you try really hard, you can probably drum up some emotion (real or manufactured) about just how bad it must have been for whichever poor bastard of yours or mine or whoever's got stuck manning a gun. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I think the military is automatically bad (I have plenty of critiques with it), nor the people working in it (particularly the lower eschelons of it), and I do have a degree of respect for people who volunteer for a cause they believe in, especially if that cause is anything close to the really altruistic crap fed to you by all those ARMY/Navy/Marine/Coast Guard/Park Ranger ads. I'm happy someone else is fighting over in God-knows-where instead of me, and I'm grateful. At the same time, not every person in the military is a super-patriot; not every grunt decides to join up after a prolonged philosophical introspection on ethics, nationalism, and self-defense. John Kerry's "joke" might have pissed people off, but there's something to the observation that some people end up in the military out of a lack of better options. To claim that everybody in the military must WANT to be there because it's volunteer misses the fact that it's also the intersection point for a lot of different agendas, a bunch of which have much more to do with pragmatism than military appreciation (especially during peace-time).

I'm not suggesting that one guy in Iraq who wants to help people is better than his buddy who's just there for the college money, but I think it's a problem when we start thinking we can assume people's ideology or motivations simply by the fact that they're there. If anything, part of the appeal of a volunteer military is because it implies the existence of a broad cross-section of people in it- including ideology and reasons for being there.

I only know of one relative who died in a war- my great-uncle Bill. He was younger than I am now and, by all accounts, never really gave a shit about much. He could have stayed out of WWII (at least for another year or so) if he had stayed in school, but he simply didn't care. He dropped out and the army got him. He got sent out to the South Pacific and on his first mission, the ship got torpedoed. Supposedly he made it to shore with some of his unit, where he was promptly shot by a Japanese sniper and buried on the beach by his buddies.

For a long time Bill was listed as MIA, and so they kept hoping he was alive somewhere. My grandfather tried to enlist, thinking he'd go "find" his brother. Turns out flat footed, only surviving sons with dependents, Messiah complexes and who have trouble following orders and getting along with others aren't in much demand, even in war time. Grandpa built Liberty Ships during the war instead, pretending like he was helping somehow.

Finally word came in that Bill was dead. His immigrant parents were crushed. They were Yiddish Communists, for crying out loud! I can't imagine what their thoughts about the whole mess were. My g.grandpa, Zaideh, insisted on the body being sent back, even though his daughters begged him to let him stay in peace. Zaideh always got his way.

Bill's body came back- the day before his sister got married. Zaideh figured out a solution: no one told her. She got married and they held the body. The next morning, she went on her honeymoon and the rest of the family went to Staten Island for the funeral and 21-gun salute.

Baba (g.grandma) never saw the body, so she always claimed that he wasn't really dead. Forty years later, she would still do this. It must have just killed them.

And even though they were Communists, they must have felt some attachment to America, otherwise they wouldn't have stayed. And I know they kept all of Bill's war stuff (I have his Purple Heart). So there's some feeling there.

But was Bill a patriot? Was the fact that his Mom became a Gold Star Mom, that she sacrificed a son, did that change her American-ness? (It doesn't seem to have changed her ideology- she was a raving Pinko all through the 50s and 60s, and apparently her kids were scared shitless in the McCarthy days that she was going to get them all deported.) I'm really not sure. What does seem clear is that Bill didn't die for a damn thing- he had no cause. It doesn't sound like he really had any ambitions at all, and that was part of why he didn't care when he got drafted. He was just a kid, and a nonentity at that. Which is what makes it all the more egregious when men like him are retconned to fit someone's idea of what a warrior, or a war hero, should be.

Bill got an American flag, but I don't think he died for it. He probably wasn't even fighting for it. He had just happened to wind up in a shitty situation and was dealing with it. And even though that might not be particularly romantic, I think it's a lot more honest than a lot of the language we get about war in this country.

Everyone's got the right to their opinion. But I wish people would stop speaking for the soldiers when it comes to what they're fighting for and why they're there (and not just because it doesn't have any practical changes; it's not like the Chiefs of Staff are going to give people shorter tours because theyre disillusioned with the insurgency).

We should let the soldiers speak for themselves, and if there are some who can't or won't speak- then we should shut the hell up all the more. Because silence says something, too.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

No Thanks

For me, the money shot of last night's STU speech was when Bush talked about the Civilian Reserve Corps:

A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time.

Pan to the Chiefs of Staff- nothing. Not even a courtesy clap. Turns out the army isn't super keen on the whole mercenary thing. You know, after all those Blackwater horror stories we've been hearing about. And speaking as a civilian, I have to say, I'm not very interested in being part of this particular "defining struggle". Gold Rush, maybe. Iraq, not so much. Thanks, though.

"I do not maintain that there are none but excellent men amongst us"

Preach it, Theo.

So, let's take a look at the Israeli scene this morning. Whadda we got?

Well, there's the Prez. Word is Katsav is going to be charged with rape, sexual harassment, obstruction of justice, fraud and breach of trust. The A.G. said that there are four complainants who have valid cases, a fifth who has "no case", and another five whose statute of limitations have expired (but might still be asked to testify)- so, ten people who've come forward accusing the President of Israel of sexual misconduct of some fashion. Wow.

Some details:

The four women whom Katsav is accused of sexually molesting include three past and present employees of the President's Residence and one who worked under Katsav during his tenure as tourism minister, in 1998-9. Mazuz also plans to charge the president with giving away cups that belonged to the President's Residence at private events, as well as with obstruction of justice and harassing a witness, for trying to pressure one of the President's Residence employees to retract her complaint against him.

The rape charge involves A., the former Tourism Ministry employee. Katsav will also be charged with forcible indecent acts against her.

In the case of a second A., who worked in Katsav's office at the President's Residence in 2003-4, Mazuz decided not to accept the police's recommendation that he indict the president for rape. Instead, Katsav will be charged with exploiting his status as her employer to have sex with her, as well as with indecent acts and sexual harassment.

In the case of the two other President's Residence employees, Katsav will be charged with indecent acts that involved exploiting his status as an employer and sexual harassment.

I don't know why Mazuz feels the need to include "giving away cups" in the indictment, but oh well. I guess he's throwing the whole book at the guy.

There's also apparently an interesting wiretapping angle, which, though apparently not ordered by the President, did allow him to listen in on any calls to the residence. (You also have to wonder if at some point Katsav's knowledge and possible use of this equipment doesn't also indicate tacit approval.)

Shmuel Rosner
has a good column this week analyzing the situation. Rosner notes that, ironically, one of the reasons Katsav was elected President was the feeling that he would be a good guy for the position- that is, bland and uncontroversial. There goes that plan. Rosner also points out that this latest debacle only further undermines the already irrelevant office:

Why does a country with a parliamentary system need a president at all? The argument so far was that a country as divided and troubled by conflicts as Israel needs a unifying, non-partisan, figure. A symbol. But if scandals will keep coming from the President's Residence, the number of people calling for the dismantling of this office will grow. Katsav, I wrote in the past, "is not the one to be blamed for it - presidents before him were the center of more controversies - but rather the man who was supposed to stop it from happening." Apart from the criminal acts he is accused of - but not yet convicted - in this mission he has already failed miserably.

My thoughts? The less politicians the better, and the less ineffectual government positions the better. Nix the President position and turn the residence into a day-care center or something productive. There's also the point that in Israel, more so than probably a lot of countries, it's well night impossible to have a non-partisan politician. If that's what the job is actually supposed to be, you might want to rethink the process by which the position is filled- for instance, maybe it shouldn't only be open to career politicians on their last legs. (News flash to Shimon Peres- no, you don't need to be President. Better to retire and write another book.)

Oh, and Katsav apparently doesn't know his European history. That's fair, though, I bet there are plenty of Ashkenazi MKs who don't know about Sephardi history- but maybe they have the sense to keep their mouths shut.

What else?

- The criminal probe of Olmert for selling Bank Leumi is still going on.

- MK Hanegbi's spoil-system web is spreading ever outward, like a fragile, innocent snowflake. Only it's giving political cancer to everyone it touches. The charges are fraud, bribery and perjury, and Hanegbi has defended himself in the press by saying "political appointments are normative". I don't think that's going to fly, Mr. Tweed. Got any more sound-bites?

- Avraham Hirschson is being investigated for connections to an embezzlement scam that occured under his watch as a union leader.

- Oh, and there's allegations that Peretz got votes illegally. Score.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Morons know no party

- Religious right scientist: Slaves were "lucky" to go to U.S.

A prominent member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) is under fire for publishing an essay in which he argues that Africans were fortunate to have been sold into slavery, and that the civil rights movement was "irrational."

"There is another way, or other ways, to look at the race issue in America," writes Gerald Schoenewolf, a member of NARTH's Science Advisory Committee. "Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle.... Life there was savage... and those brought to America, and other countries, were in many ways better off."....

I think I've heard this joke before. The punchline involved not getting eaten by a lion.

- Weirdo former-lefty-crackpot: Anti-Semitism (and Anti-Irish-ism) "sometimes justified".

In an interview profile for the magazine Watson asks rhetorically, "Should you be allowed to make an anti-Semitic remark?" He answered: "Yes, because some anti-Semitism is justified. Just like some anti-Irish feeling is justified. If you can't be criticized, that's very dangerous. You lose the concept of a free society."

More from Esquire (who seem to have heavily edited that earlier section):

I've wondered why people aren't more intelligent. Why isn't everyone as intelligent as Ashkenazi Jews? And it may be societies work best when there's a mixture of abilities—the bright people would never be an army. Or has our intelligence been limited by leaders killing off any potential competitors? I suspect time is not a factor. The Ashkenazi Jews have a thousand years. So these are the sorts of things we'll find out—how many mutations would you need to be more intelligent?

Exactly how did this even come up in the interview? Did the guy just throw darts with various caricatures tied to them to a board and say, "go"? Also, Israel has Ashkenazi Jews- AND a universal draft. Que the fuck, dude?

The dear doctor adds that he left the left because they were trying to harsh his eugenics buzz, and now identifies as a libertarian.

And this isn't the first time this guy has wigged out.

Witnesses were flabbergasted when the 72-year-old discoverer of the double helix suggested there was a biochemical link between exposure to sunlight and sexual urges. ``That's why you have Latin lovers,'' Watson said. ``You've never heard of an English lover. Only an English patient.''

In a lecture hall jammed with more than 200 Berkeley students and faculty members, Watson showed a slide of sad-faced model Kate Moss to support his contention that thin people are unhappy and therefore more ambitious.

``Whenever you interview fat people, you feel bad, because you know you're not going to hire them,'' Watson said.

Even those who chalked up Watson's remarks to his penchant for deliberately stirring things up were concerned that hearing such views expressed by a Nobel laureate would fuel irresponsible speculation about how genes might influence behavior.

...Watson, who has a reputation as an engaging lecturer, started off describing an experiment by scientists at the University of Arizona, who injected male patients with an extract of melanin. They intended to test whether they could chemically darken the men's skin as a skin cancer protection, only to observe an unusual side effect -- the men developed sustained and unprovoked erections.

``He said this (melanin injection) is even better than Viagra because you don't even have to think about sex,'' Tegen recalled.

``Then he launched into this whole thing about the sun and sexual drive,'' added Berkeley graduate student Jill Fuss. She said Watson showed slides of women in bikinis and contrasted them to veiled Muslim women, to suggest that controlling exposure to sun may suppress sexual desire and vice versa.

Watson reportedly went on to suggest that people who live in northern climates drink more alcohol to compensate for the unhappiness they suffer because of sunlight deprivation. Then he delved into what he presented as the bad news, good news aspects of being fat, the students said. The bad news, said Watson, is that thin people are more ambitious and therefore make better workers. On the other hand, fat people may be more sexual, Watson told the assembly, because their bloodstreams contain higher levels of leptin, one of the hormones derived from pom-C. He used a slide of a Reubens painting to illustrate the assertion.

...``Sometimes, Nobel laureates are asked to give their opinions on areas where they should keep their mouths shut,'' Kane said. ``Unfortunately, Jim just likes to talk.''

Hmm. Kind of reminds me of Ward Churchill. I wonder if he was this weird back when he got the Nobel. Anyway, yeah, let's hear it for jerks that are at best anti-social wingnuts and at worst anti-Semitic apologists and sexist, racist dungbats. Kudos, Jimbo.

Hey Michigan- Get your nose out of my pants


If you're unfaithful to your spouse in Michigan, you could land in prison for life.

"It's a lot of time for somebody to be put away for a mistake they might have made," Brenda DeLaCruz of Lansing said.

"Our court system has gotten into the family life," said Bob Utrup, who lives in Delta Township. "And sometimes, it doesn't know how to get back out."

The decision came from the Michigan Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel ruled that adultery can be considered criminal sexual conduct. That's because adultery is already a felony, and certain sex acts committed while a felony is taking place amount to first degree criminal sexual conduct.

A conviction on that charge includes a maximum penalty of life in prison.

...Now an associate professor at Cooley Law School, Flores says Michigan has plenty of outdated laws.

"There's one, seduction of an unmarried woman, which would be quite the felony to prosecute," he said.

So why don't we overturn some?

WingnutDaily, the revenge

First, take a look at a Roy Moore column from a few weeks ago. I should have expected whose side Roy would take in the Ellison debate.

Muslim Ellison should not sit in Congress

Short and sweet, eh? How about "Catholic Kennedy Shouldn't be President?" Or "Jew Brandeis Shouldn't be on Supreme Court?"

Can a true believer in the Islamic doctrine found in the Quran swear allegiance to our Constitution? Those who profess a sincere belief in Allah say "no!"

In that case, why not let the Congressman do what he wants, since he clearly doesn't agree with those folks?

Our Constitution states, "Each House [of Congress] shall be the judge ... of the qualifications of its own members." Enough evidence exists for Congress to question Ellison's qualifications to be a member of Congress as well as his commitment to the Constitution in view of his apparent determination to embrace the Quran and an Islamic philosophy directly contrary to the principles of the Constitution. But common sense alone dictates that in the midst of a war with Islamic terrorists we should not place someone in a position of great power who shares their doctrine. In 1943, we would never have allowed a member of Congress to take their oath on "Mein Kampf," or someone in the 1950s to swear allegiance to the "Communist Manifesto." Congress has the authority and should act to prohibit Ellison from taking the congressional oath today!

Hey Jackass Lake! Make room!

Also, Burt Prelutsky almost makes a good point. Almost.

If a black person tells the truth – namely, that in 2007, 99 percent of black problems are self-inflicted – he is, like Bill Cosby and Thomas Sowell, dismissed as an Uncle Tom. If a white person tells the truth – namely, that with a 70 percent illegitimacy rate, no amount of government handouts will do anything but provide the cancer victim with a very expensive band-aid – he's condemned as a racist.

Excuse my poor liberal brain, but what does illegitimacy have to do with anything? Alexander Hamilton was an interracial bastard, and he turned out pretty well. And no, people shouldn't be condemned for telling the truth, but neither should these complex problems be reduced to simplistic answers- presumably, some combination of government and self/community assistance would work best. I'm not convinced shaming black parents for letting their kids wear baggy pants is particularly effective.

When blacks say they wish to have a dialogue with whites, it only means that they want a forum at which to bash whites, while their victims provide a Greek chorus of mea culpas, provide the coffee and Danish, and drop a little something in the collection plate on their way out.

There is such a thing as white prejudice. No doubt about it. But it has nothing to do with race and everything to do with character, culture and values. What blacks refuse to acknowledge is that whites are intolerant of crime and the creeps who commit it, be they black thugs or white trash.

Hey, let's oversimplify SOME MORE! All blacks want are handouts and accolades, and all whites want are for blacks to stop speaking ebonics. Man, Burt, I don't know why you started this column with that caveat; this race stuff actually sounds pretty easy!

But if a person such as Bill Cosby says he's ashamed of the promiscuity, drug use and illiteracy that plague the black underclass, he's called names. The real shame should be that millions of black kids are fatherless; that their taste in music is for anything that's crude, lewd and loud; that their role models are too often basketball players who make more babies than baskets; whose language skills are embarrassingly abysmal; and that, although most of the street punks are peddling drugs for roughly the minimum wage, they regard it as a worthier, more manly pursuit than working at a 7/11 or, God forbid, going to church, school or a library.

I don't know of anyone who denies that serious problems exist in the black communities of America. The question is what the root causes are and, more importantly, what are the best ways to fix them. Frankly, some of your explanations sound downright moronic. Blaming rap music for being "lewd and loud"? Are you serious? Lewd music is the least of the problems here. As far as role models- maybe basketball players aren't great, but I'd argue they're a lot better than the local drug hustler. Who were your role models growing up?

Actually, what most whites are is cowardly. When we see black kids with the top of their baggy pants drooping somewhere south of their butts, annoying people with their ear-splitting boom boxes, saying "they be" when they mean "they are," and we pretend that theirs is a different but equally fine culture as our own, we're no better than those enablers who give money to drug addicts or booze to alcoholics.

Music is relative. Fashion is relative. I can name tons of white fashions, contemporary and earlier, that I believe were and are godamn idiotic. Baggy pants and loud boomboxes are not the reason that black kids are getting arrested and not getting educations. Stop focusing on unimportant bullcrap. Yes, cultural relativism can be a slippery slope, but ultimately, this doesn't have much to do with the real problems facing American blacks. Or, to invert the question- what effect will cranky white people bitching at black teenagers on the bus to turn their boomboxes down really have?

When we finally stop patronizing loafers, louts and criminals, stop encouraging people who were born 120 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, 20 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, to pretend that their sloth and ignorance are the fault of whites, only then will blacks come one step closer to having that colorblind society they claim they want.

I agree that problems should not all be laid at the feet of white society, but there are legitimate obstacles standing in black youths' way today, and suggesting that they should just "get over it" hardly seems useful. To say nothing of conflating all the elements of black culture that personally "bug" you with actual criminal behavior. If you don't like baggy pants and loud music, just be honest about it, Burt. Don't give us this BS about "when you don't tell them to get a haircut, you enable criminals." Putz.

A quick day in stupidity

Top outgoing Israeli diplomat honored by right-wing Christian Zionists; toes the BS Judeo-Christian line.

And Pastor Hagee observed in a video message that Ayalon has been a leader who understands and appreciates the special affinity that Christian Zionists have for the state of Israel. The ambassador affirmed this, saying he does feel a special bond with pro-Israel evangelicals like Bauer and Hagee.

"We just love them and adore them," Ayalon remarked. "I think that the Jewish-Christian alliance and friendship is so important, not just to commemorate our Judeo-Christian heritage but also to ensure our future and strengthen our faith. We so much appreciate it."

Uh huh. Take a look at your favorite pastor sometime, Ambassador.

Youth Group Paints over Graffiti in Public School. Problem is they included Bible verses. Not so kosher. Superintendent ordered them removed, now Conservatives are screaming discrimination. Hey, it's not like the rules have changed recently- religion doesn't get to hang out in public schools, guys. Sorry. If anything, it sounds like this youth group misled the superintendent.

The Scriptures were painted during the recent winter break by middle school volunteers. Over three days they replaced vulgar images and profanity with upbeat art and inspirational messages.

One of the renderings quoted Psalms 45:11, which reads, "So the King will greatly desire your beauty; because He is your Lord, worship Him."

The school's principal, Larry Cavanah, granted permission to the teachers and students to undertake the project because he understood it simply to be an attempt at school beautification.

Forget psalms, guys, check out the 9th Commandment.

Michael Savage is trying to help a Gold Star Mom bash CNN because she thinks their coverage is slanted. That's fine, she's entitled to her opinions, but check out the talking-points lifted right from Rush and O'Reilly:

Upon his preparing to leave, although we knew the answer, my husband ask the reporter, Bob Franken, why more negative than positive was shouted by the media (which is causing lack of understanding to the public of why we must win this war)...Franken, standing near our son's folded flag and Silver Star said " Where no house is on fire, there is no news, Where it bleeds it leads."

And when I replied to the reporter, "you mean you're willing to report negativity that feeds the insurgency which emboldens them and causes death to our troops and can cause death to us"

That's right, negative reporting makes terrorist feel better, leads to more terror attacks. Positive reporting, on the other hand, demoralizes terrorists and causes... what? Camp-outs and s'mores? Brilliant. Clearly a much better system would be blatant propaganda like Baghdad Bob, right? Sheesh. The mother continues by hoping that when all these biased reporters die they get their asses kicked in Heaven by the dead troops.

I hope if Franken and all media persons who "feed death" are ever allowed into heaven, Patrick and all our other fallen give them all a good "... kicking" since it is the soldier that gives the media rights they take carelessly to the danger zone. And all the negative that is reported is adding enormous weight to the grief our military families carry.

Sorry, lady, but none of this should affect reporting. No shit, democracy is possible because of the military. So what? It's got nothing to do with what's happening on the ground. It's one thing if things are being misreported or slanted beyond all recognition, but it sounds like you're asking for special favors because soldiers are important. Ditto for the enormous weight stuff. Your loss is terrible, but it's downright stupid to suggest that the media should only report things like how many Iraqi kids are getting to school as opposed to, say, the spiraling Civil War. I'm sorry, people's hurt feelings shouldn't determine news content. My great-great-uncle got PTSD from WWI. Should his family have demanded only happy news following Gallipoli , Verdun or the Spring Offensive? Get real. We can talk about biased reporting, but asking for censorship is positively nuts. And if Cindy Sheehan has been "brainwashed by the left", clearly this Mom's her right-wing counterpart.

Lastly, Judge Roy Moore has a few thoughts following Saddam's execution, and he's only too happy to share them. First, anyone who got freaked out at how S.H. died is lumped together with anti-death penalty protesters (like George Bush? Interesting). Next he defends capital punishment by arguing that it's an old institution- it's been in America since before we were a country. Because we all know that anything old is automatically good. Oh yeah, he brings up the Torah.

Some death penalty opponents will cite the Sixth Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," as an argument against capital punishment. But such an argument is not properly based on the original Hebrew text. The Hebrew word translated as "kill" in the King James Bible is "ratsach," which means to unlawfully kill or murder. Modern translations therefore read "Thou shall not murder," which does not include killings in self-defense or for capital punishment, and more accurately reflects the true commandment of God.

Now, this is a fine and totally fair point- except that Moore follows it up with a non-sequiteur on abortion which most certainly is NOT the traditional Jewish P.O.V.

What should turn our stomachs is the merciless slaughter of millions of unborn babies – lives taken by dismemberment, poisoning and "partial-birth" abortion where the skull is punctured and the brain extracted with a suction device before the baby is removed completely from the birth canal. Isn't it ironic that those who feel sympathy for a cruel dictator because he is taunted before his execution shed no tear for an innocent baby who suffers the painful death of a partial-birth abortion?

This upcoming week we commemorate the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, when the United States Supreme Court legalized the murder of unborn Americans without a trial or any pretense of due process. Saddam Hussein had his chance at life and in the end got what he deserved. But those killed by abortion never get a chance at life outside the womb, and certainly don't deserve to die. Abortion violates both our law and God's law – it's a death penalty we should all oppose!

Hey Moore, go read your Rashi: a fetus doesn't become a person (gets a soul) until its alive outside the womb. Most M.O. halakha on the subject says the fetus isn't a person until it can survive on its own outside the womb. Furthermore, AFAIK, the rule of thumb with the Orthodox movement is that if there's any threat to the mother's life, an abortion isn't just permitted, it's required. At best, frummies would agree that late-term abortions aren't kosher, and that "abortion for convenience" (another great buzzword) isn't cool. That still doesn't add up to "God forbids abortion". Not that you really care about what the Torah says as long as you can conveniently co-opt it, of course.

Note to Ayalon- this is what real Judeo-Christian civilization means- soundbiting our texts to validate THEIR civilization. At least Reform Jews are honest about doing this; the JC-civs pretend that God passed this crap on to Moses (and Jesus) at Sinai.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Dumbasses Daniel and Dinesh

Daniel Lapin has a warning for you, O suffering Christians of our mighty nation. Beware! The progressives are out to get you.

First, did you know that various people tried to warn Europeans about HITLER? I know, I'm as surprised as you are. But apparently they did, but the British didn't listen (they didn't listen about Auschwitz, either, but never mind that). And there were ALSO people who warned about Communism and the Domino Effect! And no one listened to them... you know, besides that whole Cold War thing. Oh, and the Domino Effect totally happened, right?

Luckily, Rabbi Lapin is at least smart enough to point out that "what is happening now is on the same scale as the examples I cite above". Give the man a hand (or a finger, if you're a cheap Jew).

a serious war is being waged against a group of Americans. I am certain that if we lose this war, the consequences for American civilization will be dire.

"We", huh? Informative.

Phase one of this war I describe is a propaganda blitzkrieg that is eerily reminiscent of how effectively the Goebbels propaganda machine softened up the German people for what was to come.

Got that? Effective propaganda now equals Goebbels. Godwin aside, answer me this- exactly what do you call you shilling for the Darwin-hating Coral Ridge ministries and their wacko movies, "Rabbi"?

There is no better term than propaganda blitzkrieg to describe what has been unleashed against Christian conservatives recently.

Was this guy hiding under a rock for the past few years? Marriage amendment, anyone? How about Terri Schiavo? Doesn't ring a bell, huh? Maybe you and Abramoff were too busy fleecing Indians. It's understandable.

Consider the long list of anti-Christian books that have been published in recent months. Here are just a few samples of more than 30 similar titles, all from mainstream publishers:

"American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America"

"The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right's Plans for the Rest of Us"

"The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason"

"Piety & Politics: The Right-wing Assault on Religious Freedom"

"Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism"

"Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America"

"Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right"

What is truly alarming is that there are more of these books for sale at your local large book store warning against the perils of fervent Christianity than those warning against the perils of fervent Islam. Does anyone seriously think America is more seriously jeopardized by Christian conservatives than by Islamic zealots? I fear that many Americans believe just that in the same way that many pre-World War II Westerners considered Churchill a bigger threat than Hitler.

Pot. Kettle. Hypocrite. Shut up.

Some may say that today's proliferation of anti-Christian print propaganda is nothing to become worried about. To them I ask two questions:

First, would you be so sanguine if the target of this loathsome library were Jewish? Just try changing the titles in some of the books I mention above to reflect anti-Semitism instead of rampant anti-Christianism and you'll see what I mean.

Hey Rabbi, a lot of the targets of the Conservative movement ARE Jews. Secular Jews. And some of their rhetoric sometimes DOES cross the line into antisemitism. Where are you then? Oh, that's right, you're appeasing the right, even when they're beating up on Jews (Seattle rabbi), and then blaming the whole thing on seculars. Because they're the ones sending him hate mail, I'm sure.

Second, major movements that changed the way Americans felt and acted came about through books, often only one book. Think of Rachel Carson's 1962 error-filled "Silent Spring" that resulted in the pointless banning of the insecticide DDT and many unnecessary deaths. Other books that caused upheavals in our nation were Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," many of Ayn Rand's books and of course "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

Yeah, all those books sucked! Banning DDT, keeping fingers out of our sausage and humanizing black people- and don't get me started on all the evils of Ayn Rand. Damn you, American literacy!

No, I would advise you not to underestimate the power of books to alter the behavior of the American public, and I fear for an America influenced to detest Christianity by this hate-filled catalog.

I see you've never read Ann Coulter. Bitchy titles aside, I'm pretty sure none of the liberal books you mentioned advocate killing liberals- and while I'd never argue that this guy is at all representative of conservatives, I will note I haven't heard of any liberal counterparts. Besides, rabbi, not to put too fine a point on it, but you guys are the ones with the guns (and the troops, don't forget). The only way our books can hurt you is if we launch them out of catapults, possibly after infecting them with malaria we caught because we banned DDT.

It is not just books but popular entertainment also that beams the most lurid anti-Christian propaganda into the hearts and minds of viewers.

Left. Behind. Video Game. Moron.

One need only think of who the real targets of the recent hit movie "Borat" are. The brilliant Jewish moviemaker Sacha Baron Cohen, as his title character, using borderline dishonest wiles, lures some innocent but unsophisticated country folk, obviously Christians, to join him in his outrageously anti-Semitic antics. Cohen then triumphantly claims to have exposed anti-Semitism. In fact, he has revealed nothing other than the latent anti-Christianism of America's social, economic and academic secular elites.

From what I understand, Borat ridiculed idiots, not Christians (the arguable exception being his visit to a weird-ass church. Then again, I really don't think any of these Benny Hinn wannabes need any defending from anyone. If they feel threatened, they can always just hide in their misbegotten-money-forts).

The war is against those who regard the Bible to be God's revelation to humanity and the Ten Commandments to be His set of rules for all time. Phase one in this war is to make Christianity, well, sort of socially unacceptable. Something only foolish, poor and ugly people could turn to.

You must have been on crack when that one atheist tried to change the pledge of Allegiance. Talk about acceptable smearing (and incidentally, Rav Danny-boy, all this Christian-bashing doesn't seem to be affecting the fact that atheists are the least-electable candidates for President). Funny, huh?

Lapin wraps up this idiocy by pointing out that sometimes ad campaigns are effective- Drunk Driving and Smoking, for instance. Lest anyone wonder what his position on the latter is, he tosses out this gem:

Tyranny comes when citizens are seduced into trading freedom for the promise of safety and security.

No word on whether Lapin will be fighting for your right to drive drunk sometime soon.


Considerably more intellectual energy is being pumped into the propaganda campaign against Christianity than was ever delivered to the anti-smoking or anti-drunk-driving campaigns. Fervent zealots of secularism are flinging themselves into this anti-Christian war with enormous fanaticism.

If they succeed, Christianity will be driven underground, and its benign influence on the character of America will be lost. In its place we shall see a sinister secularism that menaces Bible believers of all faiths. Once the voice of the Bible has been silenced, the war on Western Civilization can begin and we shall see a long night of barbarism descend on the West.

Without a vibrant and vital Christianity, America is doomed, and without America, the West is doomed.

I bet a lot of Deist Founding Fathers would have had a bone to pick with you over this, Rabbi. Of course, they also wouldn't have allowed you into most of the colonies, either. Then again, I'm sure you would have defended that, too: "Look, guys, Mr. Stuyvesant doesn't have anything against us, all right? It's just that our giant noses offend him. To be fair, we are kind of sucking up more than our share of the Gentiles' air. They were here first, after all."

Speaking of spending intellectual energy on wars against things, Dinesh D'Souza has decided he hates porn. See, radical Muslims don't like porn, and they perceive Americans as being pro-porn. Now, Dinesh is at least honest enough to note that

I don’t think American culture as a whole is guilty of the charge of moral depravity. But there is a segment of our culture that is perverse and pornographic, and perhaps this part of American culture is the one that foreigners see. Wrongly, they identify one face of America with the whole of America. When they protest what they see as the glamorization of pornography and vice, however, it’s hard to deny that they have a point.

Hey, let's try replacing "porn and vice" with warmongering and imperialism. I bet they aren't fond of that, either. Of course, if liberals ever brought this up, you'd accuse them of capitulating to terrorists. Since when do we let Al Qaeda determine what our values should be, Dinesh?

Dinesh's anti-porn rant is related to his new book, which claims,

the terrorism behind 9/11 and other tragedies was caused by “a decadent and depraved American culture that angers and repulses other societies,” especially Muslims. This cultural movement is fostered by the American cultural left and its allies in Congress, the liberal media, Hollywood and the academic community. D’Souza writes, “In order to defeat the Islamic radicals abroad, we must defeat the enemy at home.”

So... stop American porn, and we stop the Taliban? How does that work, exactly? If anything, we should make more porn, and ship it over there to them to shock, horrify, demoralize and confuse them. After all, isn't that what we did in Guantanamo?

Pornography has become big business in the United States. You no longer have to go places to find it; it now finds you. Once confined to “dirty old men” and seedy areas of town, pornography has now penetrated the hotel room and home. The Internet and cell phone have made pornography accessible everywhere, all the time.

Hey, you know what else has become big business? Government corruption and political cronyism. But hey, that's the price we pay to live in a lobbyist and favoritism-choked democracy, right? Besides, if you're against bribes, you're probably a Commie.

The spread of porn is not surprising, and neither is its popularity. It is not the appeal of sex, but the appeal of voyeurism. After all, the actors in porn films seek to gratify not themselves but the viewer. The spectator finds himself in an unnatural position of being witness to a sexual act which is conducted fully for his benefit. It’s hard to deny that there is something degrading in the continuous exposure to increasingly hard-core pornography.

Um... why would that be, exactly? If being self-centered or pampered is unnatural, then you should be campaigning against health spas and casinos with High Roller suites- apparently complimentary massages are degrading (someone tell Abramoff!)

In a manner that the older generation of Americans finds scandalous, porn has become socially acceptable and lost its moral stigma.

Nothing like stereotyping everybody over 40, eh Dinesh?

A good example of this cultural cache is that today a porn star like Jenna Jameson appears on billboards and on the cover of magazines like Vanity Fair.

As opposed to a shameless numskull l like Bill Frist trying to exploit his medical credentials to increase his standing on political issues he knows nothing about, and continuing to be supported by his party? Or, you know, that whole Tom DeLay thing? Scooter Libby? No?

The liberal defense of obscenity and pornography began many decades ago as a defense of great works of literature and of free speech. It began as a defense of books like James Joyce’s Ulysses, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover. But now some liberal advocates insist that all forms of sexual explicitness are equally deserving of legal protection and that no restriction of obscenity or pornography should be allowed.

...Groups like the ACLU have taken the approach that pornography rights, like the rights of accused criminals, are best protected at their outermost extreme. This means is that the more foul the obscenity, the harder liberals must fight to allow it. By protecting expression at its farthest reach, these activists believe they are fully securing the free speech rights of the rest of us.

I suppose that's a fair assessment, but I don't see what's wrong with the game-plan here.

...It is a long way, for instance, from James Joyce to a loathsome character like Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler magazine.

Yeah, one has a cool accent and beard and weird Diaspora issues, and the other's in a wheelchair. And gets chicks.

There would seem to be an obvious distinction between fighting to include James Joyce in a high school library and insisting that the same library maintain its subscription to Hustler.

Man, I've been going to all the wrong libraries. Oh wait, that's just happening in Dinesh's dirty, sexy mind.

For the ACLU, however, the two causes are part of the same free speech crusade. In a sense, the ACLU considers the campaign for Hustler a more worthy cause because if Hustler is permitted, anything is permitted, and therefore free speech has been more vigorously defended.

Worthiness might be the wrong word here. Fighting to keep the definition of protected speech as broad as possible doesn't mean you have to have a hard-on for Nazis or Snuff films (or both).

In recent years, leading liberals have gone from defending Flynt as a despicable man who nevertheless has First Amendment rights, to defending Flynt as a delightful man who is valiantly fighting against the forces of darkness and repression. “What I find refreshing about Larry Flynt is that he doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a scumbag,” Frank Rich writes in the New York Times. “At least Flynt’s honest about what he’s doing.”

See, again, calling someone a scumbag usually indicates you DON'T find them delightful.

If we confine ourselves to liberal culture and its apologists, my Muslim interlocutors would seem to have a justified complaint. The liberal defense of pornography is even more perverted than the pornography itself.

Maybe one day Dinesh will explain why porn is actually harmful.

Hey, Dinesh is on TV right now!

"If we show the terrorists some more of Red America, they won't think we're nothing but T&A and Fear Factor."

That's right, Dinesh. Because there's nothing the terrorists will like more than televangelists. I've got a good feeling about this one.