Monday, February 08, 2010

Monday Quick Hits

So how about the big game this weekend, eh?

* * *

Exonerated accused rapist forms a bond with the woman whose erroneous accusation put him in prison.

I assumed this was a tasteless Onion piece, but it wasn't: soldier waterboards four-year old daughter because she couldn't recite the alphabet. But let's be careful -- we wouldn't want to say something radical and uncivil like calling it "torture" (every little thing the Spanish Inquisitors and Khmer Rouge did....).

The University of Oregon campus and administration reacted with appropriate outrage when the offices of its LGBTQA offices were defaced with swastikas. However, as a gay Jewish-Israeli student noted, there was somewhat more serenity -- and appeals to "free speech" -- when certain other groups were targeted with swastikas.

The judge deciding the Proposition 8 challenge is a gay man. Both sides are being very careful not to make hay over it -- for now (my thoughts on the matter can be accurately deduced from this post).

... Well, some folks are doing their best to tip-toe up to the issue.

It looks like some form of talks between Israel and Palestine are going to restart.

Meanwhile, a Likud minister bluntly told a right-wing caucus that they need to give up their dreams of Greater Israel.

Justice Thomas talks a bit about his clerk-hiring practices (Thomas is known for being the Justice most prone to hiring outside the traditional Ivy strongholds): "I have a preference actually for non-Ivy league law clerks, simply because I think clerks should come from a wide range of backgrounds."

$6 million dollars is but a small price to pay to bring about the likely extinction of the human race.


Rebecca said...

I thought Eitan's comments were interesting. I wonder what he means by "the state." Within the 1967 boundaries, there's still a substantial Jewish majority (about 75%-25%) I doubt that that will flip so quickly in only ten years to arrive at an Arab majority. If he's talking about all of Palestine/Eretz Yisrael, there's probably already a slight Palestinian Arab majority.

PG said...

Which other group was targeted with swastikas? The link describes an incident in which an Arab student association distributed T-shirts with the message "Zionist Nazis" and the image of the Israeli flag next to a swastika. What group did this target? Also, property defacement is a crime; I hope you are not suggesting that wearing a T-shirt with a nasty message should be a crime as well.

Ed Whalen is hitting new lows in either ignorance or intellectual dishonesty:

Take Walker’s failure to decide the case, one way or the other (as other courts have done in similar cases), as a matter of law and his concocting of supposed factual issues to be decided at trial.

Take the incredibly intrusive discovery, grossly underprotective of First Amendment associational rights, that Walker authorized into the internal communications of the Prop 8 sponsors ...

Take Walker’s permitting a parade of anti-Prop 8 witnesses at trial who gave lengthy testimony that had no conceivable bearing on any factual or legal issues in dispute but who provided useful theater for the anti-Prop 8 cause.

Either Whelan doesn't know the first thing about this Prop. 8 challenge, or he's deliberately ignoring what he knows: which is that the entire challenge is premised on the Romer precedent, under which citizen referenda based on animus violate the 14th Amendment. And in Romer, the Denver District Court did not simply rule on the case "as a matter of law," but instead conducted an evidentiary hearing, which included testimony from plaintiffs about the burdens the referendum placed on them.

Incidentally, the Colorado Supreme Court decision in Romer provides a now-timely reminder of the fucked up shit that comes out of the California referendum process:

In Reitman v. Mulkey, 387 U.S. 369 (1967), the Supreme Court invalidated an amendment to the California Constitution which had been passed by the initiative process. "Proposition 14"
protected property owners' right to discriminate, on any grounds, in the sale or rental of their real property. The immediate effect of the amendment was to
repeal existing state prohibitions on racial discrimination in housing and to prohibit the passage of similar measures in the future. The Supreme Court held that Proposition 14 violated the Equal Protection Clause because it rendered "the right to discriminate, including the right to discriminate on racial grounds... immune from legislative, executive, or
judicial regulation at any level of the state government."

joe said...

Rebecca, I don't know about "Greater Israel," but the expected demographics for Israel as we know it today will hold pretty steady as far as the Jewish majority goes. This is largely due to growth of the ultra-Orthodox population.

David Schraub said...

I think popular revulsion at something is not predicated on it being a crime. I don't think the outrage at the defacement of the GLBTQA office is due to the horrors of the redecorating costs; it's due to the message behind the swastikas. If the room was blanketed with swastika flyers, I think the reaction would be close to the same.

The juxtaposition of swastikas next to Israeli flags clearly targets Israeli students, and also arguably Jewish students (while there are arguments that the juxtaposition has nothing to do with the fact that the target is the Jewish state, I simply don't believe them -- I think underlying the Nazi/Israel comparison, consciously or subconsciously, is some form of anti-Jewish animus, and I think at the very least it displays a willful and malicious disregard for the human dignity of Jewish students).

PG said...

I think popular revulsion at something is not predicated on it being a crime.

No, but expecting a state university to take action to punish or prevent something should have some relationship to its legality. The blog you link appears to think the two incidents should be treated the same way because they both involve swastikas.

David Schraub said...

The "reaction" that the swastikas at the LGBTQA office was stated as the following: "Hundreds of students and local community members held a rally to show their support for the organization. Kelsey Jarone, the LGBTQA outreach coordinator, was moved to tears by the event’s turnout: “Seeing the way this community has responded to this event and the feeling of love … I know that, now, for every tear shed in the past couple of days, every time we felt broken, victimized or sad … it was all worth it."

This isn't any official university action -- it's a statement by the community that this sort of behavior is reprehensible and wrong (I take it that if the perpetrators are caught they'll also face criminal charges for defacement, but that is separate). My understanding of what role similar groups to the "Bias Response Team" at Carleton is to coordinate similar reactions -- it isn't to issue suspensions or punishments, but simply to respond to events or actions which enact hateful or marginalizing attitudes towards various student body groups.

PG said...

And what should be the parallel response for the Arab Student Association's distribution of a T-shirt with a hateful message toward Israel?

Hundreds of students and local community members held a rally to show their support for the [nation of Israel].

Spraypainting a swastika in the LGBTQA office is both illegal and an indication of hatred toward queer members of the college community. Wearing a T-shirt with the flag of Israel + swastika + Zionist Nazis is an exercise of core First Amendment rights of political expression and an indication of hatred toward a particular country. They are not the same thing. I would totally agree with your take on it if the T-shirts had a message of hatred toward Jews, because then the college community could rally in support of the group of students being attacked. But that's not what it was, and I think that had something to do with the disparate reactions.

David Schraub said...

Or a rally against anti-Semitism, or a rally against anti-Israel incitement (different from "pro-Israel"), or a rally on behalf of the threatened Israeli and Jewish students on campus.

Nobody is disputing anybody's right to hate Israelis or Israel or Jews or gay people. Obviously, insofar as that hatred violates the law (as in defacement), there is no right to do that, but I maintain the rally here was less a bold defense of upholstery, but a sense of outrage over the message of contempt towards the particular group.

Someone who shares that contempt, or at least, shares it to the degree that they think the Nazi reference is appropriate, wouldn't be expected to partake in the rally -- it is testament to UO students that this doesn't seem to describe many people. Similarly, if someone shares the anti-Israel and de facto (for reasons explained above) anti-Jewish views illustrated by targeting Jewish institutions with swastikas, then one would hope that message would elicit outrage and rallies of solidarity (even among people who aren't fans of every Israeli policy, but who think this sort of extreme incitement is deeply wrongful -- just as one might be opposed to the gay community on many issues, but find Nazi imagery deeply disturbing when targeted against them as well).

PG said...

Similarly, if someone shares the anti-Israel and de facto (for reasons explained above) anti-Jewish views illustrated by targeting Jewish institutions with swastikas

Except no "Jewish institution" on campus was targeted. Again, I would totally get this if the T-shirts had been directed at Hillel or some other actual campus community of Jews, but they weren't. Moreover, if the rally is in opposition to the T-shirts and describes itself as a rally against anti-Semitism, that's accusing every wearer of the T-shirt of being an anti-Semite, which I suspect is a claim that many would strongly dispute.

who think this sort of extreme incitement is deeply wrongful

What is the incitement, exactly? Especially when we are talking about political speech, that word is fairly loaded and goes beyond just "saying very nasty and hateful things." Have Arab students or their friends at the University of Oregon done anything more than talk about their animus toward Israel? Has it been manifested in contemptuous treatment of Jewish or Israeli students?

joe said...

David, like most Nazi analogies this shows a lot of disrespect for victims of the Holocaust (I'd say it's categorically disrespectful regardless of whether the target of the analogy is any group that would be persecuted by the Nazis), but your comments seem to suggest that on some level anti-Israel statements are necessarily anti-Jewish.

That strikes me as a problematic assertion because its logical conclusion is that any criticism of Israel is the product of anti-Jewish animus, but I don't think it's an assertion you mean to make. I do have some difficulty following your logic however, because I don't think "offensive analogy" quite gets you to necessarily antisemitic (in the same way that saying "Obama and his supporters are Stalinists" is obviously stupid and offensive but not necessarily anti-kulak).

David Schraub said...

I don't think "criticism of Israel" is anti-Semitic. I think the Israel = Nazi analogy is per se anti-Jewish because it is at the very least demonstrative of "a willful and malicious disregard for the human dignity of Jewish students", and more likely is specifically designed to hurt Jews qua Jews. That's why the Nazi metaphor is used.

The apartheid analogy, to take a different example, I think is risible and may also be symptomatic of an inability to judge Jewish institutions objectively, but it is not necessarily selected for the express purpose of causing hurt to Jews (though it might be, perhaps often is, in specific circumstances). The objection to "apartheid" analogies is on the merits -- is functionally political -- whereas the objection to "Nazi" stems from what the usage of such metaphors tells us about how much the speaker cares about Jewish history and experience.

It's the difference between saying Barack Obama wishes to impose socialism on America (terrible, perhaps motivated by racism, but still a political dispute), and Barack Obama is an incarnation of Jim Crow or "the slaveowner of the American people" (almost certainly designed to wound him and his supporters as Black people).

joe said...

I don't doubt that a lot of people select a Nazi analogy in this context specifically because Israel is the Jewish state, but I think a blanket statement on intent fails to take into account how sickeningly often that approach is used in political discourse in general. To play off your counterexamples, we all know Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies, but have you ever heard of Godwin's Rule of Apartheid Under South Africa Analogies? Godwin's Law of Jim Crow Comparisons?

Of course, you can still make the case that it's expecially perverse and offensive to ever liken Jews to Nazis regardless of animus, but I think in probably 95% of the times anyone today gets called a Nazi you've gotten so far Out There that quantifying the level of offensiveness is really an exercise in futility.