Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The crazy elephant in the room

Every once in a very long while, the blog's readership spikes a tad. There was that time I debunked Abir, and my various attempts to channel Tom Lehrer/Weird Al, and a few of my Jewish history posts, and my Europe travelogues. It's nice when people take notice, if only because comments are fun and it's interesting to see who's reading. For the most part, however, I tend to be left to my own devices. Which, honestly, isn't that bad.

But apparently DovBear has been on a recent tear against resident lunkhead Tzvi Fishman and someone (I'm looking at you, CA) informed him of my longrunning, ahem, scholarship on the topic. Hence, in the past day, the blog's stats more than doubling its average daily hits. (Hi, everybody!) The fight has now been taken to Twitter and Facebook, incidentally, so if you're so inclined, you can go join in or watch the fun.

DB is apparently quite irked by ol' Tzvi, and has gone so far as to call for the Jewish Press to fire him, thanks in part by my writings. Tzvi, of course, has responded by accusing us of hypocrisy and censorship. Since I am now being roped in with DB on this, let me clarify my position. I have no interest in getting Tzvi fired. I am more than happy to let him have enough ammunition to shoot himself in the foot all he wants.

My position is simple: not only is sunshine the best disinfectant, ridicule is the best revenge. If Tzvi is a nut (or a profoundly misunderstood satirist, as some of his defenders have claimed), then what we need is not to censor him (or as DB puts it, encourage his latest e-home to make better choices about which writers they publish), but to explain precisely why blaming Japanese "idol worship" for deadly earthquakes or writing a bizarre, alcohol-induced fever dream in which he abuses Birthright participants are neither sensible, humane, nor funny. We need to demonstrate that anyone who describes Jewish assimilation in America as Jews "being raped of their Jewish identity" is a jackass who simultaneously insults 6 million Jews, minimizes the horrible act of rape, and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about how to talk to people he supposedly cares about. That's what my Fishman blogging has been about. It's not that I feel a searing hatred for the man. I don't doubt that some of what he says is meant to be humorous or at least exaggerated. And, unlike DB, I suspect that, despite his casual racism and ongoing love affair with Meir Kahane, Tzvi actually isn't all that dangerous (if only because most of his readers don't take him very seriously-- whether this is Tzvi's goal or not, only he can say). But as someone with a platform and readership and who has a history of saying batshit things (sperm robots away!), he's also a fair target of criticism (particularly since, as Marc Tracy notes, he exemplifies everything cringeworthy about religious Zionism today).

So Tzvi, I hope that helps explain things for you. I have no interest in getting you fired. I find you quite entertaining, actually, albeit in the same way I find Fox News and WND entertaining (it's definitely more a "laughing at you" than "with you" kind of thing). I definitely understand the concept of humor, though I'll be honest, I don't think you're terribly good at writing it (to be fair, I probably have readers that would accuse me of the same thing.) There is no conflict between these positions and my card-carrying liberal requirement to love my cherished civil liberties, which, incidentally I think Israel would be far improved by adopting-- including for right-wingers. (In your righteous indignation-gasm, you seem to have overlooked that in the old post of mine that DB culled your political platform from, I explicitly stated that I did not think you should have been jailed for holding a sign and went so far as to call it police harassment. Call me what you like, but at least I'm consistent.) Incidentally, contrary to your blog from today, I am not terribly threatened by the possibility of Orthodox Jews becoming the majority of in Israel, as long as civil liberties and democratic values remain respected. I trust that there are plenty of sane Orthodox Jews in the world, including Israel. Of course, when you advocate putting rabbis in charge of Israeli media or putting "anti-Torah" authors on trial, I am slightly less encouraged about our abilities to coexist. (Though I do like that "quadruple teacher salaries" bit.)

Lastly, Tzvi, I know you take it as a badge of honor that you know as little about the ways of the Gentile world as possible, but come on, a dog? Really? I know Disney is goyish, but this came out in 1973, 11 years before you made aliyah or went BT and decided that you weren't allowed to watch cartoons with non-kosher animals in them (lest you be tempted to eat your TV or something). The Friar is a darn badger and you know it.  

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