Saturday, August 06, 2005

Despite a Valient Effort to Portray it Otherwise, This is a Good Point

After seeing the description and excerpt on the 1754 blog, I expected this article to be a perfect example of frothing western supremacism. Happily, I was pleased to find that it makes a perfectly reasonable point:
The Spanish Inquisition, the Thirty-Years-War, John Brown's Pottawatomie Massacre, the terrorist attacks of the Irish Republican Army, the Oklahoma City bombing--these are just a few examples of violence carried out by extremists who found inspiration in their Christian faith.

Jewish radicals have justified violence against Arabs by citing the "holy war" that God commanded Israel to wage against the Canaanites for possession of the Promised Land. As recently as 1994, Baruch Goldstein, a deeply religious Jew, murdered 29 Muslims worshipping in a mosque in Hebron.

The kamikazes of World War II were religiously motivated. And it was members of Aum Shinrikyo, an offshoot of Japanese Buddhism, who released vials of poisonous gas into the Tokyo subway in 1995.

There have been Hindu terrorists (the word "thug" originally referred to those who murdered to honor the Hindu goddess Kali); also Sikh suicide bombers.

So those who think Islam is the only religion that gives rise to extremism and carnage need to think again.

But let's be clear, Islam is not -- as has been repeatedly claimed -- a "religion of peace." Indeed, the idea is absurd, considering that Islam's founding prophet also was a warrior -- among the most successful in history, establishing an empire ranging from Spain to the South Pacific.

Nor did Osama bin Laden "hijack" Islam--any more than Hitler hijacked Germanic culture or Lenin hijacked the Russian ethos. Rather, Hitler and Lenin drew upon the ugliest threads in their nations' fabrics. So, too, has bin Laden invoked Islam's most radically xenophobic doctrines to legitimize a vicious assault against all those who refuse to accept his authority, all those he demonizes as "infidels."
The point is this: As Christian behavior need not be modeled on Torquemada, as Jews needn't emulate the Zealots, as there is nothing in Shinto or Buddhism to prevent Japan from living in peace with its neighbors, so too Muslims need not embrace an interpretation of their religion that is hateful, barbaric and incompatible with freedom, democracy and human rights.

It is not inevitable that Muslims will, as bin Laden predicts, join him in an apocalyptic clash of civilizations, intended to return the world to the 7th Century as fanatics dream it must have been. There is an alternative to a Muslim war against the Free World: Muslims can join the Free World instead.

Neither Islam nor any other great religion has always been peaceful in the past. But it should not take a prophet to see the need for tolerance, pluralism and peaceful coexistence in our future.

Brief factual quibble. Muhammadmed only achieved the unification of the Arabian peninsula before he died. His successors created the North Africa to South Asia empire referred to in the article.

Anyway, if the standard for removal from a "religion (/nation/society) of peace" is drawing the "most radically xenophobic doctrines to legitimize a vicious assault" against the Other, then there is no religion of peace. The article gives examples of Christian and Jewish extremism, both of which draw from the worst aspects of the two faiths. Jewish exclusivity, with the "chosen" people seen as superior, allows such abominations as the Crown Heights incident, where a Jewish ambulance picked up the Jewish victims of a car accident, but left the black victim lying in the street. Christianity's expansionist model, combined with its belief in the supercession of the Hebrew covenant, have justified its colonizing and imperializing tendencies, as well as an ongoing history of vicious anti-Semitism that has not wholly been eradicated. We could play the same game with pretty much any sizable group (the American belief in the manifest destiny and white superiority allowed for the subjugation and near genocide of Native Americans, as well as hundreds of years of racial subordination). This does not mean that every group is evil or a religion of war. It means that all faiths and peoples have elements in their past which, if elevated to the primary, will justify the most horrific of atrocities.

I believe the phrase Christians use is to not focus on the speck in your neighbors eye when you have a log in your own?

At the moment, Islam is regrettably on an extremist kick. This needs to be fought, but to say that it is the Platonic form of Islam is a distortion, just as much as saying that the brutalities of Christian imperialism represents the essential Christianity.

In other words, I join a fight against noxious ideas--one major one which is, at the moment, being held by many Muslims. But I would in an instant reconcile with any Muslim who rejects the way of terror, just as I would with any Christian who rejects the way of anti-Semitism.

My Readers Rock

In the comments to my latest knock of "Judeo-Christian", NYCModerate was kind enough to say the following:
I was pointed here by The Moderate Voice and while I have nothing intelligent to add, I did want to say that I found both the original post and the comments of the highest quality. Far too often, a thread with more than 3 comments turns into a flame war over even the tiniest disagreement. This discussion of an already interesting idea was civil and added a lot to the original post. Thank you all for that.

I won't comment about the quality of my own postings, but I'll concur entirely that my readers have been universally topnotch. I've been blessed to have a core contingent of commenters who tend to disagree with me, but are respectful and thoughtful, which makes for an excellent blogging experience. So, to my first two big readers, Big Guy Rocks (who regrettably has stopped blogging), and Random Scrub (who doesn't blog nearly enough), thanks for reading when nobody else was--seeing your comments back when my readership consisted solely of my immediate family was a huge thrill. I haven't talked much on Foreign Policy in a while, so Marc Schulman hasn't been around lately, but he was the spark point for one of my favorite posts ever: State-Centrism and The War on Terror. Mark Olsen of Pseudo-Polymath has been terrifically loyal, perhaps my most prolific commenter and linker, and has done wonders in forcing me to flesh out the "anti-Judeo-Christian" argument I love to make--thanks for that. N.S.T. is a friend from home--though you might not know it from some of the exchanges we've had--and unlike all my other "friends" who got bored with the blog rather quickly, he's stuck with it. As for the folks who don't come by as often but I still recognize, like Blue Eyez and Isaac, the comments I get from you have always been to superb. Keep it up--and don't be strangers! And finally, to the trolls and spammers--I've yet to see you around, so thanks for finding other blogs to patronize.

You're the guys who make it worthwhile. Thanks so much for reading, and I look forward to the posts to come.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Gee, I Didn't Realize I Was So Despised

The Radical Centrist asserts, and Ambivablog/The Yellow Line concurs, that centrists take more flack from the left than the right. Is this true? I'm not so sure.

I can only operate off personal narrative here. I'm a centrist-liberal, who resides in a very liberal locale (Bethesda, MD), and attends a very liberal school (Carleton College). The particular centrist positions I take are that I support the war in Iraq, straddle the fence on abortion, and generally believe in an aggressive and hawkish foreign policy (albeit one that stressed democracy). So basically, its not like I'm lacking in ways to piss hardcore liberals off. Yet I've never really felt uncomfortable amongst my liberal peers for holding these positions. Sometimes after mentioning them, I have to inform them that I actually am a Democrat, just a moderate one. But I've yet to meet the reflexive hostility that seems to be what people are talking about when they refer to what the stalwarts supposedly feel about the moderates (for example, I've never been called a traitor).

I think what is obviously true is that the left is more tolerant of rightwingers turned centrist (for example, Andrew Sullivan and John Cole) than they are of liberals who appear to be drifting off to the center (for example, the DLC). For example, I've seen The Daily Kos link approvingly to John Cole on several occasions, while bashing the DLC on, well, more than several occasions (despite the fact that the DLC is probably more liberal than Mr. Cole). The reverse is also true--Republican partisans are far more kind supposed moderate Democrats than they are to moderate Republicans. This makes perfect sense, after all: we like people who seem to be moving in our direction, and are upset with those who appear to be moving away from us. But I don't see any partisan slant to the phenomena.

As a general matter, I'd think that moderates are more welcome in the Democratic party than in the Republican party, and I think that bipartisanship is slightly more common their as well (though in today's environment, it's rare anywhere). For example, while I've seen bona fide liberals praising Bush (for specific policies, of course) on several occasions, I have yet to see any comparable praise from a mainline Republican commentator of a mainline Democrat. The moderate wing of the Democratic party is far more powerful than it's equivalent within the Republicans (DLC stomps Rockefeller Republicans). How else do you explain pro-life Harry Reid (and his predecessor for that matter, Tom Daschle)? Neither of them are all that liberal, objectively. Nancy Pelosi certainly is, but Steny Hoyer isn't. What you have for Democrats seems to be a fair mix between the left and center of the party. The big Republicans in congress, by contrast, are Tom DeLay, Roy Blunt, Rick Santorum, Jon Kyl, and Bill Frist--all toward the right edge of the party, and only Frist even sporadically nodding to the center. Moderate Republicans never even see the light of leadership day--remember how Arlen Specter was humiliated before finally getting the chairmanship of the Judiciary committee (which is just because of seniority, anyway)? The other moderates, like Collins, Snowe, and Chaffee are completely out of the loop (though again, only Voinovich has been labeled a traitor) Finally, I think it is telling that more moderate Republicans appear to be bolting the party (even if only temporarily) than moderate Democrats doing the same. Sullivan, Daniel Drezner, libertarian Jacob Levy, among others, all voted for John Kerry in 2004. Senator Lincoln Chafee refused to say he was voting for Bush, and of course, Jim Jeffords defected precisely because he was fed up with being abused by his own party. With the exception of Zell Miller I have seen almost no similar crossovers from the Democratic party.

So while I think that there is a lot of illwill at the extremes to the center on both sides, I think it is descriptively inaccurate to say that it resides on the left. At best, it is an equal opportunity offender, and at worst it is a problem more acute on the right.

Things That Have Happened Today

Kind of a lazy day for me today. Felt sick this morning, so I took off work. Here a just a few of the fascinating happenstances that have already occurred at the time of this writing.

-The Rodrigo Chronicles, by Richard Delgado, came in the mail. I look forward to yet another chance to bury myself in blissful leftist theory.

-The Washington Post reports that one of my favorite players, Scott Niedermayer, has left the New Jersey Devils (namesake of this blog's URL--David Schraub's a Devil) to play for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. I was depressed for a moment, but then a weird sense of elation came over me. After a moment of confusion, I figured it out--he'll play for the Mighty Ducks, as opposed to being locked out. Man, it's good to have hockey back.

-After resisting for several months, I finally gave in and bought the "Firefly" DVD boxed set after Daniel Drezner made it his "general interest book of the month." Prior to this, I had never once taken up one of Drezner's "reading" suggestions, despite his status as one of my favorite bloggers. So while I'll continue to ignore his viewpoints on economic policy, I'm all ears when it comes to science-fiction. I'm sure he's thrilled.

-Meanwhile, Drezner got profiled on Normblog. His most disliked personal fault is dogmatism. Hey, me too! Wow, I feel like a stalker.

-According to Sitemeter, I continue to get a steady stream of visitors reading my seminal article, How to Legally Hire a Prostitute, with one person labeling it "just brilliant." I feel bad, because Kaimi Wenger really deserves the credit.

-My younger brother just got home from camp, where he won the prestigious "Mando" award for the next Tom Cruise. I'm so proud.

Further bulletins as events warrant.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

How Did I Become a Christian All of the Sudden?

Dennis Prager is at it again. This time, his construction of "Judeo-Christian" values leads him to attack "transgendered" persons, by which he means cross-dressers and other persons who act in a manner contrary to how their gender "should" behave (oddly, he specifically divides out transsexuals, IE, those who've actually gotten a sex change operation. These people he thinks are fine). Feministe does a great job of taking down this particular post, so I'll just concentrate on the generic problems with Mr. Prager's casual combination of "Judeo-Christian."

Mr. Prager is not new to the fallacious grouping of "Judeo" and "Christian". Indeed, his political discourse is predicated on the inseparability of "Judeo-Christian" as a term, and the proposition that the moral values that grow out of said union are critical to the American way of life. As I Jew, I've always found that position objectionable, because I think it cheapens the Jewish experience and perspective to falsely pretend it can be grouped as "just another" form of Christianity. Indeed, a key trait of appeals to the "Judeo-Christian" tradition is that it is almost always a Christian belief being asserted--occasionally, one in which Jews and Christians agree, but not always. Even where the two religions take fundamentally opposite positions, like on abortion (Judaism being traditionally pro-choice, Christianity being traditionally pro-life), that does not stop speakers from asserting that Judeo-Christian ethics mandate the "pro-life" position (IE, mandate the Christian belief as true and the Jewish one as false). Thus we get such peculiarities as this:
With the Judeo-Christian worldview, the unborn is believed to be a special creation by God. This individual is created in His image and has inherent worth and dignity. Worth is not based upon genetic qualities, but on the statements and actions of God. To abort would be to destroy something that God claims has worth. You would be in conflict with the word of God, claiming to be smarter than His wisdom. Thus, abortion is dangerous in the Judeo-Christian view.

What's all the more troubling (and emblematic of how "Judeo-Christian" is nearly exclusively "Christian") is how the terms "Christian" and "Judeo-Christian" are used nearly interchangeably. The author in this piece, a University of Pennsylvania Professor, stated at the start that his goal was to "contrast the Naturalist worldview with the Christian worldview" regarding genetic testing. Apparently "Judeo-Christian" is a subset (if not the synonym) of Christian, not, as would seem logical, the other way around. The subtext is that within the broad category of "Christian", we have our several groups--Protestants, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and oh yeah, those whack second cousins, the Jews. Eventually, they'll come around, but in the mean time we'll humor/kill/slander/absorb them. The choice is different, but the metatheory remains the same: Judaism, as an independent religion with an independent tradition, ceases to exist.

Furthermore, since "Judeo-Christian" is blatantly a constructed category, it is particularly vulnerable to being pigeon-holed to fit particular political agendas (such as Mr. Prager's). Consider the following passage:
[The general opposition to combining what God made separate] helps to explain one of the least known and most enigmatic laws of the Torah, the ban on wearing linen and wool together in the same piece of clothing (sha'atnez). Linen represents plant life, and wool represents animal life. The two are distinct realms in God's creation.

And that is why the Torah bans men from wearing women's clothing.

Now, considering that Mr. Prager has yet to write an article asserting that society can/should ban clothing made of combined fabrics, what we have hear is Mr. Prager ignoring what the Torah says while elevating what it doesn't say to divine status. I, for one, will give the Torah's text the higher weight, and give Mr. Prager's "interpretation" as much as I'd give to any other interpretation of Jewish law that is not Halakah and does not command the respect of even a significant portion of the Jewish community--very little (FYI: Interpretations of Jewish law are generally considered "right" or "wrong" based on the view of the majority of the religious community. Minority perspectives are considered equally holy to the majority, though--after all, the minority may one day become the majority. In certain cases, both minority and majority views can be considered "legitimate" for the purposes of law, although such cases are rare. See Suzanne Last Stone, In Pursuit of the Counter-Text: The Turn to the Jewish Legal Model In Contemporary American Legal Theory, 106 Harv. L. Rev. 813, 838-39 (1993).).

At root, Jews and Christians have different worldviews. That's why even religious Jews have tended to be more liberal than religious Christians. That's why Jews and Christians continue to have significant theological differences. That's why they're different religions. Although Mr. Prager is an exception, generally it is Christians who talk of "Judeo-Christian" traditions, and Jews who object. This makes perfect sense. For Christians, adding "Judeo" or other similar terms of inclusiveness ("people of faith") turns what would be an overt display of parochialism into a defense of common values. No longer trying to promote Christianity to the detriment of other faiths, the implication is that these Christian groups are fighting for everybody (regardless of whether the other religions want to join the cause or not). For Jews, by contrast, being grouped in with Christians means being drafted to fight wars they never signed on to, and often ones where the objective is one positively detrimental to Judaism (for example, prayer in school). Worse yet, since Christians, being the dominant religion, have far more access to media and other forums to assert their message than Jews have to disassociate from it, the risk is very high that Jews will become seen as popular accomplices to unjust policies. Having been "spoken for," nobody will bother to hear them actually speak.

The false incorporation of "Jew" as a form of "Christian" can only come to negative consequences. Christians should feel free to advocate their positions and beliefs. But Jews shouldn't have to be dragged into it--and they certainly shouldn't commit sectacide (is that a word?) by pretending that their issues and our issues are one and the same.

Yup, That's Me

So I'm looking at my Blogpulse profile, and I see a list of "keywords" that they see often in my writing. So, here they are:
defending, abstract, homosexuals, remedy, blogosphere, centrist, overt, biased, perkins, principled

It's funny, because I really think that would actually give a pretty good overview of both who I am and how I write. We have topics that I blog on relatively frequently (homosexuality, Tony Perkins, the mechanics of the blogosphere), phrases I know I overuse (overt, abstract), and characteristics and actions I find important (defending, remedy, centrist, biased, principled). I wonder though, would I appear to be conservative from this description? Aside from the centrism part, of course (which gives away the whole game), I think it is conservatives more than liberals who talk about bias and "defending principles" (and not knowing anything else, the casual reader could see that list and think that I like Tony Perkins' ideas on homosexuals). It's funny, because according to my friends I "look" like a conservative (don't ask).

So aside from the possible conservatism, that's me in a Blogpulse nutshell!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

We Want Wilkie

I was a big WWII buff when I was younger. I thought it was just the coolest subject in the world. I read articles and books like it was nobody's business, could rattle off generals and battles like the back of my hand. The centerpiece of my collection of WWII material was a giant LIFE coffeetable book, full of masterful pictures and writings on the whole war.

One thing I remembered from it was a particular description of Wendell Wilkie, the 1940 Republican candidate for President. Wilkie is a relatively forgotten figure in American history--indeed, if not for this passage, I probably would have forgotten him too. I don't remember the exact wording, but the book noted something about how President Roosevelt had to take some unpopular action to gird America against the Nazis, that, if he wanted to Wilkie could have made enormous political hay out of. But "Wilkie saw eye-to-eye with President" on the Nazi threat, and supported him the whole way.

At the time, I wasn't very politically inclined, so my thought was pretty much "that was nice of him," and I moved on. But as I grew older, Wilkie's decision to forgo political gain for the good of the country became more and more amazing. Let's put all the cards on the table here--had Wilkie pushed Roosevelt on this issue, he probably could have won the election in 1940. But the cost would have been the possibly fatal weakening of Great Britain, a decisive Nazi advantage, and oh, probably the murder of several million more Jews.

How many politicians today would make that choice? Maybe if they knew the stakes I laid out, they'd do it. But Wilkie chose his path without the benefit of hindsight.

What I want is for politicians able to transcend politics, to steel themselves against popular pressures and stand for what is right and necessary, to say "no" to advisors salivating over an incumbent or challenger forced into a tough but necessary position, to, in short, behave like a statesman and not like a machine boss. I noted a few before election 2004--although obviously the stakes in their case were much smaller. But they are the inspiring exception to a wholly depressing rule.

So while I wait for the next generation of Wilkie's, I direct you this amazing Washington Monthly article on the courage and fortitude of Mr. Wilkie. Truly, this man was an American hero.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

How To Legally Hire a Prostitute

Kaimi Wenger gives us this indispensable information. Further discussion by Christine Hurt at The Conglomerate, as well as elsewhere on PrawfsBlawg.

The story which sparked the discussion can be found here. It comes in the wake of a New York court ruling that seeks to differentiate prostitution (basically, paying someone to have sex with you) and pornography (paying someone to have sex with someone else on film). Our noble pursuers of truth and wisdom wisely have noted that it would be incredibly easy to take your run-of-the-mill contract with a prostitute (illegal) and turn it into a pornography deal (legal). All you'd need to do, in theory, is have a buddy solicit the deal ("hey, want to be in a movie with my friend for $X dollars?") and record it somehow. Easy as pie.

And for the record, I agree with Ms. Hurt. While cases like this certainly provide ammo for feminist cases against legal pornography, I think it does just as good a job showing the irrationality of prostitution laws. To wit:
To continue to say that two people having sex with money changing hands is something to be criminalized but fifty people having sex in one room is freedom of association is quite a stretch. Not to mention two or three or four people on salary having sex in front of a camera is a first amendment right.

God Bless America!

On The Way To Lunch, I Thought of a Rant

I was walking to lunch today in downtown DC over to the California Tortilla near Chinatown (I had a coupon...mmm...). Anyway, as I'm walking, I pass a building which, for whatever reason, caught my eye. I look at the door frame, and inscribed in stone I can make out these words:

"Faith, Family, Freedom."

With a chill, I realized I was standing in front of the office of my absolute least favorite group in American politics: The Family Research Council.

Tried to convince friends that the FRC was, to quote "Office Space", emblematic of "all that is soulless and wrong." I don't think I succeeded.

But seriously, I honestly believe that the FRC does a stunning job of embodying all of the worst aspects of American political life.

Start with the Orwellian motto: "Faith, family and freedom." Who are they kidding? They defend one faith (Christianity) while displaying no sensitivity (and barely playing lip service to respect) for anybody else's. What of my faith? It has no place in the supremacist worldview of the FRC. Family? The only time I've seen the FRC get involved with family is when they try and break them up. The FRC is fans of certain families to be sure--middle class heterosexual conservative Christian ones. But the vast majority of the FRC's agenda is spent trying to wreak as much havoc upon homosexual families as they possibly can. Worse, once the issue gets beyond heterosexual hegemony, the FRC barely even pretends to support "the family." They've supported economic policies blatantly slanted toward the richest Americans--neglecting the families most in need of aid. They urge that congress weaken Social Security--a safety net for millions of vulnerable retirees. Basically, they are hacks for the right wing of the Republican party--regardless of whether they're "helping families" or delivering massive amounts of largesse to the corporate trough. And freedom is the most ludicrous claim of all. The FRC is a posterchild for government intervention in every facet of American life. From censoring television and radio, to making the most intimate of family decisions subject to state stamps of approval, to the interjection of divisive messages of sectarianism in our public affairs, the FRC has consistently come down against liberty and in favor of a heavily ideological and activist state. Aside from their wildly overblown claims about lost religious liberty (liberty appears to be defined as "the liberty of state officials to indoctrinate captive audiences on religious concerns," since there has yet to be a single case where citizens could not continue to believe and practice as they wish in the private sphere), I have yet to see the FRC ever assert an interest in leaving a matter free from government meddling. So to start, they're misrepresentative.

Second, they are masters of the politics of the soundbite. The FRC appears to find rational argumentation to be a quaint relic of bygone eras. Instead, they appeal to fears and prejudices, throwing ad hominems and non sequitors together with reckless abandon. To cite just one example, they love to say "like counterfeit money, counterfeit marriage will reduce the value of the real thing." Presumably, they are oblivious to the blindingly obvious fact that whereas money gets its value from scarcity, marriage gets its value from being a shared and communal experience by which two persons bound together in the eyes of each other and the surrounding society. But perhaps, I'm wrong, and the FRC's ideal marital model is one where marriage is a commodity viciously competed over, with some people "getting it" and others not, and the ultimate objective, of course, is to accumulate as much as possible ("hey buddy! Got only one marriage? Well I'm pulling in six!").

Third, the FRC seems to be philosophically opposed to consensus. They go out of their way to pick fights with Democrats and categorically reject overtures from liberals to work toward common goals. The FRC was completely dismissive of Hillary Clinton's plea for pro-life and pro-choice activists to work together to reduce abortions, despite this being an issue that everyone appears to agree on. Instead, the FRC seems enamored with the constant attack politics currently in the vogue with congressional leaders--which may explain why they are proud defenders of that most Christian of Congressmen: Tom DeLay.

Fourth and finally (I could go on, but y'all deserve a break), they are partisan hacks, pure and simple. This isn't just a case of me and them disagreeing on particular policy positions--though I do, as it so happens, find their desire to (among other things) marginalize my religion and subjugate homosexuals to be repugnant. No, what bothers me is that they seem completely unconcerned with maintaining the principles they claim to uphold. They have become a wholly owned subsidiary of the farthest right reaches of the GOP--DeLay says jump, they say how high. Occasionally they will critique Republicans from the right, but they will never, ever say "okay, this time you went too far." Even if the issue has absolutely nothing to do with "faith, family or freedom," they'll still reflexively back whatever the GOP talking point is. Misleading intelligence about Iraq? Liberals want to coddle terrorists. Tom DeLay is the most corrupt politician since S&L? Liberal smear campaign. And when it is the issue they care about, consistency is the first casualty of their flippant and faux-principled statements. Massachusetts Supreme Court refuses to defer to democratic branches and allows citizens the right to make private sexual decisions? Let the legislature decide! Legislature decides to extend equal benefits to gay and straight unions? Let the people decide! The people of San Francisco (via a mayor who had overwhelming popular support on the issue) decide to allow gay marriages? To the Courts, quick!

To state what should be obvious by this point--I detest this group and everything they "stand" for.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Terror Is Terror Is...Terror?

While I'm on the subject of disgusting responses to terrorism, I can add Judy Shalom, wife of the Israeli Foreign Minister, who had this message for London terror victims:
Judy [Shalom, wife of the Israeli foreign minister], speaking on a television show about the recent bombings in London: "As long as I hold no official position, I can say it's not all bad for the English to find out what it's like."

Your "official" position at the moment, Ms. Shalom, is that of human being. A position which you apparently are utterly unqualified for. While I suppose in theory there are "benefits," per se, of having other people experience the death and destruction Israel has to deal with on a daily basis, it defies any basic moral standard to ask other people to under go death and mutilation to increase one's geopolitical status. I condemn this in the fullest of terms.

While I'm on the subject of condemnations (and risking the charge that I won't condemn an Israeli without an accompanying condemnation of anti-Israeli forces--a charge I admit this opens me to and can only say is, at least in this case, a pure coincidence of what I happened to be reading), I also think that this Guardian article is textbook in its anti-Israel bias. This is the passage that really gets my ire up:
Israel has repeatedly demanded that other governments recognise Palestinian attacks as part of an international Islamist campaign against western democracy, therefore implicitly not connected to its own actions in the occupied territories.

Man oh man, where to begin? Of the myriad problems I could find in this statement, I can distill it down to a simple observation that appears to elude Guardian writers: Israel is asking for moral equivalency between acts of terrorism against itself, and acts of terrorism against other western democracy--and correspondingly, that commentators not equate the defense of its national sovereignty against these acts with the acts themselves. This divides the issue from its actions in the territories, of course, but not in the sense of making them "not connected." Rather, it means that we evaluate the actions on similar moral scales. To assert that acts of terrorism against Israel are "not connected" to the happenings in the territories is asinine and, to my knowledge, has never been asserted by anyone. Similarly, even an Iraq war supporter such as myself (and indeed, anyone with half a brain) would agree that acts of terror against American troops in Iraq are "connected" to the invasion. Some of us (myself included) might also agree that some of these attacks are related to moral and strategic failings of the US in the region--for example, tepid support of true democratization, failure to stabilize the country in the aftermath of the invasion, or torture at Abu Gharib (and some Israelis would make similar concessions that missteps in the territories have at least partial blame for some terrorist attacks). At the same time, I'm skeptical that if we left Iraq, all terror against the US would end (after all, 9/11 happened with nary a US foot on Iraqi soil), and similarly, a basic glance at Palestinian terror organizations demonstrates that they will continue their assault on Israel regardless of whether or not Jews continue to live in "their" lands. Furthermore, even though I do feel that these "connections" between our(/Israeli) actions and terror against us(/Israel) are real, what I reject is that this in any way establishes the moral framework by which our mistakes, missteps, and moral failings are rendering equal to their policy of deliberate murder. It is that framework, adopted by the Vatican in it's vile response to anti-Israel terror and often taken by anti-Israel forces in the media (such as the Guardian) that I find unconscionable.


Terror is terror, regardless of where it happens. And terror is terror, not whatever military action we feel like objecting to on a given day. There is equal wrong in treating unlikes alike as in treating likes unalike.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Must-See TV

UPDATE: 8/1 @ 7:40 PM
Jesus' first stop after the return:
GRAHAM: My hope is in the lord, Jesus Christ. And guess what, Bill? He's going to come back one day. And the Bible says — listen, here's...

O'REILLY: I hope he comes on "The Factor."

Somehow I think he'll have better things to do.
H/T: Is That Legal?

UPDATE: It occurs to me that would really would be great would be The Apprentice: Jesus Edition, with fifteen or so televangelists competing to sit on Jesus' right hand. Each day, another televangelist is "kicked off," by which I mean sent to eternal damnation. Christ could come up with a witty catch-phrase to, er, dismiss them, or alternatively they could just fall through a trap door into flames (ala Dr. Evil). Then finally, on the last show, the "winner" gets to--join his buddies at the eternal barbecue. Because I really dislike televangelists.

Yeah, I'd watch that.