Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hey: Jews Can Engage in Anti-Semitism Too

Obviously, it is really important for any community to have room for a vigorous internal debate on the issues of the day. So if some Jews want to dissent from the consensus of the majority regarding guns, that's their right. But to do so in this way, by calling your opponents "bagel brain Jews" and placing them inside Nazi uniforms, is simply a case of Jews utilizing anti-Semitic tropes. The fact that your organization includes a (non-Jewish) Holocaust denier doesn't help things.

The group also is targeting Black politicians who support gun control, arguing that it is inconsistent with a civil rights paradigm. It has to be said that there is some history of gun control laws being used by racist Southern governments as a tool of control against the Black population, and it is also true that the availability of guns was seen as critical by many civil rights leaders to defend their homes against KKK vigilantes (see, for example, Radio Free Dixie). That being said, the Black community today is perfectly within its rights to conclude that the risks to its community's safety from widespread gun proliferation into the hands of criminals outweighs the benefits of freer gun sales to be used as self-defense. Folks can argue that's the wrong decision, but it ultimately ought to be theirs to make.

Corporations are People Too!

It might be a sign of just how outside the mainstream the Citizens United decision was that the Washington Post just published a quasi-serious article on the quasi-serious effort of Murray Hill, Inc., a Public Relations firm, to get on the ballot as a Republican in the 8th District of Maryland.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Reinhardt Dissent

Orin Kerr notices the dissent's shot at Sarah Palin, but for me, it was the first link to the 9th Circuit's opinion upholding "under God" in the pledge. Judge Reinhardt, author of the original 9th Circuit panel decision striking the words down as unconstitutional, wrote an epic, 133 page dissent that essentially calls the majority lawless cowards bowing to pervasive political pressure.

To which I say: duh. It's cases like this that disabused me of the notion that legal formalism has any bite when push comes to shove, because under any straightforward reading of the doctrine this isn't a hard case. It's hard because there is massive political pressure in its favor, not because it represents some sort of tough, borderline issue.

I was going to say that I'm no longer even cynical about this sort of thing anymore -- I've just accepted that its part of law, and we have to go and do it anyway. But on reflection, that's just cynicism taken to the most extreme degree possible, right?

Taking on the Army

Matt Yglesias believes that Glenn Beck's targeting of social justice churches is going to turn out like when McCarthy decided to take on the army. Normally, I'd dismiss anything that relies on the media acknowledging the existence of progressive faith traditions, but Jim Wallis' challenge to Beck currently has front page billing on CNN, so maybe my cynicism is unwarranted.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jewish Refugees To Be Part of the Picture

The Knesset has approved a proposal which would require that any peace talks the Israeli government enter into advance the compensation claims of the 856,000 Jews who were forced out of their Arab homelands in the wake of Israel's independence. This is a linkage I've long felt appropriate, though some are raising alarms that it adds in another variable to an already complicated equation, and one that isn't traceable to Palestinian action to boot.

Nonetheless, I think it is a perfectly sensible and just addition, for three reasons (aside from the obvious one, which is that these people were wronged and deserve compensation). First, the proposal is specifically attached to the Saudi Peace Initiative, which does take the idea of peace to be comprehensive. Second, nobody seriously thinks that a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine will actually occur absent some broader regional settlement -- particularly given that on the Israeli side the security threat posed by groups like Hamas is simply a subspecies of a broader fear that all their neighbors want to wipe them out. And third, I think bringing to the fore the history and experience of the Jewish refugees is part of the politics of recognition approach that I think is critical to resolving the conflict. The more nuance we add to the history, the more we can break from simplified notions of "oppressor" and "victim", "native" and "colonizer", and other binaries that both sides use to nurture the moral foundation for maximalist and counter-productive policies.

Jewish Community Has Harsh Words for Israeli Settlement Announcement

The announcement by the Israeli Interior Ministry that it was planning new settlements in East Jerusalem, during Vice President Biden's trip to Israel to promote the restart of talks between Israel and Palestine, was a disaster all around. The government is apologizing for embarrassing the United States, and trying to claim the move won't stop the reemergence of peace talks. I'm somewhat skeptical -- this was such a blatantly stupid and offensive blunder that I predict it will set back talks for the indefinite future.

But nobody cares about my thoughts. More interesting has been the reaction of the broader American Jewish community, which by and large has been openly critical of the Israeli government as well. Obviously, groups like J Street joined Biden's denunciation. But more centrist and cautious organizations joined the chorus as well. Kenneth Bandler of the American Jewish Committee wrote a post entitled "Taking the US for Granted" that flamed Israel for its decision, warning that "Israel’s leaders will need to decide which is more important," continued settlement construction, or its relationship with the United States. Abe Foxman also had harsh words, though he urged that this setback not be used to drive a permanent rift between Israel and the United States.

Foxman's post, unsurprisingly, drew another Jews and their spurious anti-Semitism talk remark from Matt Yglesias. Astute observers might note that the word "anti-Semitism" doesn't appear anywhere in Foxman's article, but that is rapidly ceasing to be a relevant data point for the truism that anti-Semitism allegations run wild and unchecked. In any event, Yglesias' effort to paint it otherwise notwithstanding, these are welcome indications that the American Jewish community does not, in fact, simply rubberstamp the Israeli policy d'jour, but instead thinks critically and speaks openly about what it takes to be the best practices for securing the future of Israel and the peace process.

The Payoff Pitch

That Corporations Exam was rather nasty. By which I mean, I'm calling it as my worst grade to date in law school.

The week hasn't been a total loss though. I beat Tie Fighter, and have made excellent progress in Super Mario World.

The preceding two paragraphs are, of course, wholly unrelated to one another.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Finals Week

In case you've been wondering about my absence, it's finals week. One down, two to go.

Also: Lawyers, Guns, and Money has a new home. I'm sad -- it was one of the last of the blogs I read to maintain its blogspot address. I'm feeling a bit lonely here.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Sins of the Mother

A Catholic school is refusing to enroll a student because her parents are lesbians.

It's not that there is zero rationale for this within a Catholic framework that views homosexuality as immoral. And I admit I have a hard time putting myself in the shoes of those who view homosexuality as contrary to God's law. But it still strikes me as deeply wrong, what the school is doing. To effectively banish the child from your community, because one disapproves of her parents, seems like a corruption of Christianity to me. I could be wrong, and I'm not Christian or Catholic, so it's not ultimately up to me how they interpret their doctrines. But this does offend me even a step further than "normal" anti-gay prejudice does. The corruption of blood angle seems to push it that extra mile.

UPDATE: The Daily Camera has more, including a rather stunning statement by Rev. William Breslin arguing that the community has "ample love" but "a scarcity of discipleship" (hence his decision to, in his words, "be on the side of what was lacking"). I should note that I don't really buy the argument that because the parents are becoming part of the community of the school, the decision is really one against the parents. Obviously, the child is the one experiencing the deprivation, hence, I think it is perfectly fair to characterize the act as being against the child.