Friday, January 12, 2007

Administration Limbo

How low can they go?

The bureaucrat in charge of Guantanamo Bay policy tries to start some dark rumors about the law firms assisting in defending the detainees there. He suggests that companies might want to boycott the law firms, and worse, implies they might be funded by terrorists themselves. Because rule of law is a scary, scary concept.

Fortunately, most everybody seems outraged over this. The Washington Post wrote a scathing editorial that describes what, exactly, was said:
MOST AMERICANS understand that legal representation for the accused is one of the core principles of the American way. Not, it seems, Cully Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs. In a repellent interview yesterday with Federal News Radio, Mr. Stimson brought up, unprompted, the number of major U.S. law firms that have helped represent detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

"Actually you know I think the news story that you're really going to start seeing in the next couple of weeks is this: As a result of a FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request through a major news organization, somebody asked, 'Who are the lawyers around this country representing detainees down there,' and you know what, it's shocking," he said.

Mr. Stimson proceeded to reel off the names of these firms, adding, "I think, quite honestly, when corporate CEOs see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those CEOs are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms, and I think that is going to have major play in the next few weeks. And we want to watch that play out."

Asked who was paying the firms, Mr. Stimson hinted of dark doings. "It's not clear, is it?" he said. "Some will maintain that they are doing it out of the goodness of their heart, that they're doing it pro bono, and I suspect they are; others are receiving monies from who knows where, and I'd be curious to have them explain that."

Condemnation has been fast and furious, from a variety of sources. Steve Benen, Michael Froomkin, Lindsay Beyerstein, Kevin Drum and Paul Horwitz aptly represent the liberals. On the right, we have critcism from Eugene Volokh, Andrew Sullivan, and Jonathan Adler.

Adler says that the administration official might just have been shooting from the hip, rather than expressing an official view. Potentially. But as Horwitz points out (via The WSJ Law Blog), another story in the Wall Street Journal also quoted a "senior administration official" making similar noises. That doesn't make it a policy, of course, but it starts to look more like a talking point (of one of the more abhorrent varieties). So while Adler is looking for quick repudiation from the administration, that seems very unlikely.

Other voices on the matter:
Richmond Democrat

Desert Beacon

Gun Toting Liberal

Amazingly, I did not find a single person--left or right--defending Mr. Stimson. Then again, outside the VC contributors and Mr. Sullivan (both relatively moderate and always thoughtful and fair-minded), I didn't see any conservative bloggers talking about it either.

Love the Stranger

For we too, were once strangers in a strange land....

A Samuel Freedman article in the Jerusalem Post says that Jews should do more to develop solidarity with America's Latino population, rather than basking in the past glory of our participation in the Civil Rights struggle. Freedman does not propose that we abandon Black or Black/White race issues. Rather, he claims that
the leading moral cause today among domestic issues is the preservation of the United States as a society open to and embracing of immigration. In practical terms, this means creating a rational route to citizenship for the millions of illegal immigrants. They inhabit a netherworld, holding jobs that Americans cannot or will not take while having to pretend they do not exist. In the 21st century, the successor to Ralph Ellison's invisible man is now a landscaper named Raul or a maid named Flora.

In some ways, I think Freedman is too cavalier in describing the issue of Black civil rights as already having been won. But in general, I think the point is solid--if we are to preserve our culture's value on being allies of the oppressed and in solidarity with the stranger, we have to do more to express our support for the challenges faced by America's Latino population (especially, of course, by condemning the viciously dehumanizing rhetoric associated with undocumented workers).

Moving Up and Out

Publius, of the spectacular Legal Fiction blog, has decided to close his place down and join forces with the crew at Obsidian Wings. I don't know why I'm sad (LF was a great blog, but I read Obsidian Wings just as regularly, so it's not like I'll be missing his writing), but I am. Maybe it's because I suspect the voice of a solo blog writer is different than what that same writer will do on a group blog.

In any event, I look forward to seeing his posts at his new home (Oh, by the way, may be the only site in the running for best slogan and best mascot in the blogosphere. I love the sniper kitten!). And best of luck at becoming a law professor (but don't take my job!).

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Revelation

I could be wrong, but I believe this post was my only major contribution to the whole Carter apartheid book kerfluffle. It was a silly book, even my more leftist friends at Carleton pretty much were of the opinion that he was a hack, and--for all his talk about how true conversation about Israeli policies is impossible in America--he's demonstrated absolutely zero inclination to actually debate the points he's raised. So I felt no particular compunction to deal with the story.

But, via Eugene Volokh, I see that Emory Professor Melvin Konner has seized upon a sentence in Carter's book that probably deserves some explanation:
"It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel." (Pg. 213)

Konner had volunteered to advise Carter and Emory's Carter Center on the controversy over the book, but withdrew after further consideration. There were a variety of reasons for this, among them that
President Carter has proved capable of distorting the truth about such meetings and consultations in public remarks following them.... [and] in television interviews I have seen over the past week, President Carter has revealed himself to be so rigid and inflexible in his views that he seems to me no longer capable of dialogue.

However, this sentence was a major part of his withdrawal. As Konner and Volokh both note, there doesn't seem to be a way to read it that doesn't have it specifically approving of "suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism" until such time as Israel "accepts" (whatever that means) international laws and the Roadmap for Peace (presumably, as interpreted by Carter and said Palestinian groups, as I'd imagine Israel would claim it does this already).

Now, one can believe that Israel is in grave breach of international law. One can even say that they don't care about the peace process (though this strikes me as an empirically far less tenable position). However, my impression was that one of the horizons for respectable discourse on the Israeli/Palestinian issue was that terrorism must be rejected at all points in the process--it is not a bargaining issue, just something that has to happen. Under the most charitable reading of Carter's work, he's rejecting this position to instead say that Palestinian actors won't move against terrorism their demands are met (which, of course, would lead to an indefinite stalemate). Under a less charitable reading, this is not an observation but a threat--terrorism will continue to occur, with our blessing and approval, until Israel capitulates. But since he is not just making a prediction, but specifically asking Palestinian groups to set this as their policy, it's difficult for me to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Either way, this is not peace. These are not words of peace. These are the words of someone who has absolutely no qualms about violence against Israel, violence against the Jewish citizens of Israel, and is perfectly willing to have that continue for the indefinite future without a word of condemnation or concern.

An Israeli First

Kevin Jon Heller reports that Israel will have its first Muslim minister in government, with the appointment of Raleb Majadele to the ministry of culture, science, and sports. Majadele is a member of the center-left Labor party. He is not the first Israeli Arab minister: Salah Tarif was given a cabinet level position by Ariel Sharon in 2002, however, Tarif is Druze, not Muslim.

An excellent and heartening step forward for Israeli democracy. When you think about it, it's rather amazing that the US got its first Muslim congressman at the same time as Israel's first Muslim cabinet member (Israel, of course, has had Muslim representation in the Knesset for decades).

In somewhat less heartening news from the region, Palestinian leaders have decided to name a youth soccer tournament after the dearly departed Saddam Hussein. Hussein was a strong supporter of Palestinian terrorism, giving thousands of dollars to the families of "martyrs" killed while killing Jews. The Fatah Party (President Abbas' party) also announced it was created a joint memorial stone dedicated to Hussein and Yasser Arafat, which is strangely appropriate.

Round and round we go....

Return of the Radio Star

The radio appearance went fine (albeit brief). I said my bit in response to Debbie Schlussel, who argued that we needed far more troops than 20,000 (she said more like 200,000) to make an impact. Basically, I pointed out that a) where are we going to find that many troops, and b) there's no political will to send those troops, and no political will to keep them there. So all we'll see is perhaps a temporary increase in security, and then everything will fall apart again.

What was rather surreal was what happened next. Who do the hosts recruit to respond to my (ever so erudite) comment? None other than Richard Perle, former Assistant Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan, noted neo-conservative, PNACer, and current fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. In other words, a big name, certainly in the neo-con circles that have driven Iraqi policy for this administration.

Kind of flattering when you think about it. To be honest, though, he made pretty weak points I thought. Basically, he thought that if the surge worked (and he wasn't even willing to commit to that), it would show Americans we were winning, restoring our faith in the war effort and thus giving us the space to undertake in more longterm reconstruction projects. The prospect that the escalation will actually restore American confidence in the war such that we would support remaining in country for another half dozen years or so struck me as delusional, but alas, they cut to news before I could say anything.

Still, a whole bunch of fun for me.

Oh, and ironically, I just got an email from the host of the political talk show I do at Carleton. Everyone else is out today, so I'm doing the normally 4-person show solo.

Kaplan on the Surge

Lawrence Kaplan has an interesting piece on TNR on the proposed Iraq "surge". There's a lot in there, but I have trouble getting beyond the conclusion:
What the president did not mention was that, on the only battlefield that matters--the living rooms into which his speech was televised--it's probably too little and too late. An effective counterinsurgency strategy requires time and patience. Americans have run out of both.

To be fair, it's difficult to continue have patience in an administration whose policies in this arena have failed time after time. Even if I felt like the surge might be effective (and I lean towards the view that the situation is beyond hope), it's difficult to fault the American people for no longer having faith in the policies proffered by President Bush.

Video Killed The Radio Star

Good morning, Northfield! Just writing to let you know that I should be making an appearance on the radio show "World Have Your Say," which is broadcast from 18:06 - 19:00 on BBC World Service (that's around 1-2 PM eastern, and 12-1 PM central. All other time zone conversions you have to do yourselves). I gather you can listen to a live stream here, though I'm skeptical that I'm intelligent enough to make it work (but maybe you are!). The topic is on Bush's proposed Iraq "surge" ("escalation", if you prefer).

I say that I'll be on, but I've never done this before, so all I can actually guarantee you is that from 12 - 1 PM, I'll be sitting in my room staring at the phone. Kind of like waiting for a prom date to call, really.

In any event, hope you'll tune in, and wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Friendly Neighborhood Terrorism

We read excerpts from de Tocqueville's Democracy in America in my constitutional law class today (which is focusing on Church/State issues). De Tocqueville is an interesting case, and to me is a clear cut example of why making arguments based on "venerable old guy X believed it" is problematic.

To modern ears, de Tocqueville presents an interesting position. On the one hand, he extols the importance of religion in preserving America's democratic character. He thinks that religion serves several crucial and irreplaceable benefits to the state, and that it must be fostered--the private is public. Furthermore, he says that there is no major disagreement among the (Christian) religions in America on the important issues of religious outlook, and that this checks against strife, makes religion an important unifying force and prevents the ruinous religious warfare seen in Europe. On the other hand, he is equally vocal in giving credit to absolute church/state separation for causing this effect. Somewhat counter-intuitively, he holds that government involvement in religious affairs tends to have detrimental impacts on the positive aspects of religious experience.

So, liberals might use de Tocqueville to show why church/state separation is good. And conservatives might use him to point out that horrible things will happen if the general American belief in God is abandoned.

Two stock responses might immediately present themselves. First, de Tocqueville was far too sanguine about the level of religious unity in America at the time (even excluding non-Christian religious practices like Native American religions and animist religions brought over by African slaves--neither group probably was considered to be real people by de Tocqueville). Right around the time that he was happily writing about how great it was to be a Catholic in America, anti-Catholic bigotry really began to ramp up in the States (the Philadelphia Bible Riots, for example). So even if the consensus was true at the time he was writing (and I'm skeptical), it fractured very quickly. Second, one could simply note that whatever the level of religious pluralism in the 1840s, today we live in a highly diverse society. It is unclear how much his analysis applies to contemporary America, regardless of its aptness 160 years ago.

But even under his own terms, de Tocqueville is significantly more disturbing than we tend to portray him as. In class, I noted that de Tocqueville seemed to ignore the aforementioned anti-Catholic wave that was beginning to hit America at the time of his visit. My Professor responded that, to some extent, this might have been intentional--not because it was an inconvenient fact, but because it was actually encompassed in what de Tocqueville believed. De Tocqueville is quite explicit that the reason for religious consensus in America is because anyone who deviates from the orthodox position is simply afraid to speak up. And if they do assert an alternative position (e.g., atheism), American society will smite them down without blinking. Indeed, it is a bit unnerving how cheery he is at this prospect. If social (not governmental) pressure is de Tocqueville's favored method for ensuring religious unity, then a few friendly neighborhood acts of religious terrorism (to suppress potential fissures) may be exactly what is called for under his paradigm.

We tend to valorize people like de Tocqueville, so when they talk about how wonderful something is (like church/state separation, or religious unity), we think that their conclusion can simply be taken wholesale as a policy without dealing with the underlying analysis. We push under the rug the fact that the analysis might be based on false premises, or that the tactics might be of the sort modern Americans frown upon. But the problem is that his theories don't work without them. All the wonderful benefits that flow from unifying the public religious sphere only occur if we're willing to brutally suppress dissenters. If we're not willing to do that, then it's back to the drawing board.

Shell

I have no doubt that, sometime in the future, we will look back on Jose Padilla and ask: What have we done?

Jose Padilla may be a terrorist. Or he may not be. We really don't know. We seem far less confident that he was particularly dangerous now than back in the days we were accusing him of plotting to set off a dirty bomb. There is a non-trivial chance that he is entirely innocent. Even if he isn't, though, there is little to justify the horrors we, in the name of the red white and blue, visited upon him while in our custody. What lines were we not willing to cross? What simply would have been too much?

In any event, whatever his backstory is, there is little that we can hope to glean from him about terrorism now, several years after his capture. Often times, such detentions are justified by what's known as the "mosaic theory," that good intelligence requires finding as many small bits of information as possible, which can be arranged into a big picture--even though individual holders of information may not have anything to do with its broader significance or even be aware of it.

That's probably solid analysis, as far as it goes. But there is a problem:
[The mosaic theory] also implies that useful information can be obtained even from people who have no idea that they know anything of importance, and are not affiliated with any terrorist group: such individuals might have noticed something whose significance is apparent only "to those within the FBI or the intelligence community who have a broader context within which to consider a questioned item or isolated piece of information."

The mosaic theory makes sense to me: of course counterterrorism agents should try to discover as many little bits of knowledge as possible and try to fit them together into a broader picture. But it is also an invitation to abuse: to incarcerating people who might have done nothing wrong, and holding them indefinitely on the off chance that some tiny useful fact of whose existence they are completely unaware might emerge during the millionth round of questioning. It therefore stands in desperate need of some countervailing restrictions on how long people can be kept on the off chance that they might produce a tiny fragment piece of the mosaic, and whether they can be held at all absent any reason to suspect them of a crime.

The problem, of course, is that there has been no interest, no pressure, and no incentive to create these countervailing restrictions. So long as there is some plausible intelligence justification for holding Padilla (which, to be fair, there is--but scarcely more than that which could justify holding me or you), the administration has apparently concluding it can do anything for any amount of time, and it's all gravy under the President's war powers. This cannot be allowed to stand. And when history looks back on that decision, it will do so with a very critical eye. Of that, I have no doubt.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Pointing Fingers

I'm no expert on the matter, but doesn't this sound like blaming the troops?
We've got lots of soldiers sitting on megabases all over Iraq. They should be out and about, some of them embedded, others just moving around, tracking the terrorists, hunting them down. I don't know how many guys and gals are sitting in air-conditioned quarters and drinking designer coffee, but it's a substantial number. Enough of that.

That's from Michael Ledeen at The National Review.

Clearly, our problem is that our troops are living the cushy life in Baghdad. Why, they might as well be in Boston for all the danger they're facing! Get out there, and gun down some terrorists, lazy ingrates!

Via Publius.

Alive

...For you I'm awake (Godsmack).

Today was not exactly a triumph for awake-kind. I woke up for a late afternoon meeting with two of my professors, ate lunch, and promptly fell right back to sleep for the remainder of the day. Only now am I finally up for the count (I think). Dinner, a meeting, and a debate practice remain. Oh, and all my homework.

Cue The GEICO Commercial

I've noticed that the folks at Powerline have--belatedly--begun to make strides towards reality with regards to Iraq. They aren't there yet, but every once in awhile you see glimmers of recognition: recognizing there is a lot of violence in-country, or that the war just isn't all that popular in America anymore and may just be an albatross for the GOP in the coming elections.

This post, for example, starts off promisingly enough. It cites the Washington Post's report that almost 23,000 Iraqi civilians and policemen (and possibly more) died in 2006, with the vast majority of the deaths occurring in the latter half of the year, according to the Iraqi government.

But they've got some good news!
But here's something you're unlikely to read about in the Post -- Iraq is making substantial economic strides.

James Roberts in the Washington Times points to an article in the end-of-the-year edition of Newsweek international called "Iraq's Economy is Booming" by Silvia Spring. It notes that real estate prices have gone up several hundred percent since the fall of Saddam Hussein; that Iraqi workers' salaries have increased more than 100 percent during the same period; that the number of cars in Baghdad has grown by 500 percent; that the Iraqi construction, retail and wholesale trade sectors are growing substantially; that the number of registered businesses has increased four fold in three years; that taxes are lower and government revenue higher; that the Kurdish region is booming; that Iraq's GDP grew by 17 percent in 2005, with 2006 growth projected at 13 percent by the Global Insight firm (and 4 percent by the World Bank); and that foreign investment from neighboring countries is pouring in.

We'll pause for the moment, so we can all reflect on the difference between what the Washington Post and the Washington Times feels is important regarding Iraq. There is a reason why one is a real newspaper, and one is cat fodder.
So, taking into account both the level of violence and the economy, is Iraq better off now than it was under Saddam? If you're a Sunni living in a mixed neighborhood in Baghdad, no. If you're a Shiite living in such a neighborhood, probably not. But if you're a Shiite living in the south or a Kurd living in the north, then you're almost certainly much better off now.

So, if you live in the majority of the population centers, including the capital, your life (if you still have it), sucks. Worse than it was under a brutal totalitarian regime, in fact. But all is forgiven, because more Shi'ites down south have imported cars!

Am I the only one who couldn't believe there wasn't an estate-tax repeal reference in that post? I mean, it really seemed like the natural direction to go in. It would "kill two birds with one stone," shall we say. I can't believe they missed it.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Get Out

According to the Washington Post, we're finally starting to hear some conservative outrage at an administration inadequacy that actual deserves protest. Specifically, the manner in which the Bush administration's hideously overbroad anti-terrorism laws are being used to prevent bona fide refugees from getting asylum in America.
The critics say the administration's interpretation of provisions mandating denial of asylum to individuals who give "material support" to terrorist groups is so broad that foreigners who fought alongside U.S. forces in wars such as Vietnam can be denied asylum on the grounds that they provided aid to terrorists.

Advocates for refugees add that people who were forced to aid terrorist fighters at gunpoint could be labeled as supporters and turned away; such cases include a nurse who was abducted and told to treat a guerrilla fighter in Colombia and a woman in Liberia who said her father was killed and she was raped and forced to stand by as rebels occupied her home for several days.

Sick. Bureaucratic inefficiency is probably a governmental constant, but this administration has expressed so little interest in the innocent people caught in its anti-terrorism net that it is impossible to hold them blameless for this policy catastrophe. There's a reason that even the conservatives protesting candidly admit that any change hinges on leadership from the new Democratic Congress.

The problem reaches it's most distressing in Iraq, where it is nearly impossible for people to gain refugee status--even if they've been working for the US. Being seen working for the occupier is close to a death mark in-country. The ever-worsening situation there prompted George Packer, in a much-read TNR article, to argue that we need to "Save Whomever We Can" on our way out. To do otherwise would be to subject those who already have sacrificed so much for the cause of freedom to be brutally slaughtered as the US sits on its hands. Yet the Bush administration, afraid of making a move that would seem to acknowledge our failings in Iraq, has been highly reticent to let fleeing Iraqi into the US. The Baghdad embassy doesn't issue visas (would these be the "diversity visas" Rep. Goode was so angry about?). The number of refugees resettled here is appallingly low--in the low triple-digits. We blame the UN for dragging its feet, but refuse to take independent initiative ourselves.

I believe in preserving American as a beacon of hope for the lowest among us. When we undermine that dream for anyone, we do a disservice to all of us. The fact that our very allies, our brothers and sisters in the battle for democracy, would be abandoned on the field because this administration puts its pride over its principles is simply too much to bear. We can only hope that the new Congress will step in to show leadership where the current President has shown none.

Pointless

I've (probably belatedly) noticed that I very much like ending my posts with a passage going somewhat like this:
The point isn't to say [blah blah blah]. The point is to say that [blah blah blah].

I almost definitely overuse this structure. The goal, I imagine, is to prevent my pieces from being strawmanned, which I despise. I doesn't actually work--I still get strawmanned all the time. But including it does make me significantly more likely to blame the strawmanner for being an idiot, rather than myself for not being sufficiently lucid in my posting.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Nozick and God

From Anarchy, State, and Utopia by the late Robert Nozick:
However, once a person exists, not everything compatible with his overall existence being a net plus can be done, even by those who created him. An existing person has claims, even against those whose purpose in creating him was to violate those claims. (38)

He's not talking about God, and God probably did not create us with the purpose of violating our claims. Nevertheless, we still have claims as humans, and those claims can be pursued, even against our Creator.

Card Me

A post by Ampersand on feminist anti-transsexual arguments reminds of something I've been kind of curious about: "Cards." Not as in playing cards, or even Magic Cards (though both are very interesting), but as in "you're playing the X Card," where X is usually some identity group or ism (race card, anti-Semitism card, etc..). Sometimes it is expressed directly as such, but generally it comes in the form of a whine: "Even the mildest criticism of [targeted group] gets labeled as [prejudice against that group]. I'm being silenced!" Amp cites to a quote found here on trans-issues that exemplifies:
Here, my experience, again, is, if someone offers a differing view of transgender issues than the one you hold...then that person gets immediately labeled "transphobic." At that point, the discussion really ends. There's nothing more to be said.

I've also noticed this same dynamic occurring regarding Jewish issues as well. This Matthew Yglesias post set off a flurry of commenters talking about how, despite not being anti-Semitic at all!, their perfectly rational and mild criticisms of Israel got them labeled as the next coming of the Inquisition. Stop playing the anti-Semite card, I'm trying to have a serious conversation here!

I'm mildly intrigued by such conversations, mostly because I find the race parallel fascinating. I think the original manifestation of all such "card" analysis is the "race card." I'm going to push the trans-issue to the side for now (because I don't know enough about the internal fissures in feminism here), but what's interesting about the "race card" versus the "anti-Semite card" is that it is mostly conservatives who complain about the former, and liberals who complain about the latter.

Since the race card discussion has been around longer, the conversation has gotten more sophisticated, and liberals now have a few stock answers to the "race card" complaint. But before we get into them, I want to observe that the card complaint does have a grain of truth to it. As a society, we have not yet mapped out the terrain by which one can simultaneously be in solidarity with and criticize a historically marginalized group (Jews, Blacks, gays, whomever). That isn't to say it's impossible, or every critique is immediately met with a hail of "isms." It just means that, in my estimation, most people are unclear about what will set off a landmine, and in that sense do feel quite constrained in their discussions on the matter. This is problematic, and something that needs to addressed.

That being said, I still believe that illegitimate applications of the "race card" (claiming racism to stifle legitimate criticism) pale in comparison to illegitimate cries of the "race card card" (saying someone is playing the race card to subvert real analysis of possible racist undertones or tropes in the original statement). The race card card typically trumps the race card. Liberals would argue that those who are so quick to disclaim they are not a racist ("I'm not a racist, but....") may need to look a little bit more carefully at what and how they are argument. A bit of self-reflection goes a long way here.

Surprising nobody, I'm completely onboard with the liberal position here. We can concede that you're not secretly pining for the reinstitution of slavery, while still trying to inform you that their might be racist undertones to an argument--one's you might not even be aware of. Furthermore, we'd argue that the bare fact that most Blacks perceive a given line of attack as racist or hostile to their people is powerful (not controlling, but powerful) evidence that it is--or at least that you have to consider the prospect, rather than dismiss it out of hand.

In other words, I believe that when it comes to race, people need to be a bit more humble when someone points out that many in the targeted group would perceive a given line as racist. Great. I think many liberals are onboard with me so far. But what about anti-Semitism? Why isn't the same standard applied? Rather than retreating into a defensive shell and loudly proclaiming how not anti-Semitic you are (to be clear, I don't think most liberal voices critiquing are plotting the next Holocaust in a dark room), why not take a step back and ask yourselves why the critique is being made? If your answer is, "because the Zionists have taken over and dominate public discussion of Israel," perhaps its time to re-read that sentence and blink at what you're saying. The point isn't to deny that we're still somewhat feeling out how to have these discussions. The point is to demonstrate that liberals probably should be a bit leery that--to many Jewish ears--they sound precisely like Ann Coulter on Affirmative Action when the subject turns to anti-Semitism in Israel/Palestine debates.

Liberals have done stellar work in deconstucting the manner in which identity cards are played in the public discourse. I just wish that they would apply their lessons to my people as well.