Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Meanwhile, Back in Northfield...

I had a lovely conversation with some of my students yesterday during office hours. It was quite wide-ranging, but one thing we talked about was the Jewish cultural-shock of moving from (very Jewish) Bethesda, Maryland, to (very not-Jewish) Northfield, Minnesota for college. Northfield was, by and large, a perfectly fine place to be a Jew. Still, it was markedly different from Bethesda if only because there were so much fewer of us. And going from a place where everyone was intimately familiar with Jews (even if not Jewish themselves, they had a year-long crash course in synagogue practices from riding the Bar and Bat Mitzvah circuit), to a place where many people had never met any Jews at all, does change things. For example, I noted that unlike in Bethesda, at Carleton I did have to contend with people who believed that "the Jews killed Christ". Now technically, I heard that once in Bethesda too. Someone said it in 9th grade social studies, and the entire class burst out laughing. But that, to me, emphasizes the difference all the more -- it's not that there is nobody with anti-Semitic beliefs in Bethesda, it's just that the community culture is such that any such views are going to be marginalized and ridiculed. The difference in Northfield is not that I thought any large proportion of Carls thought I was a Christ-killer, but I didn't think that such views would be immediately understood as transparently ludicrous the way that they were back home.

All of this is a segue to my collegiate town reentering the news in the worst way possible. The local watering hole, The Contented Cow, is hosting a series of talks by a prominent conspiracy theorist of the "Holocaust-denial, Israel is responsible for 9/11" sort. Because nothing goes with a pint like a side of HoloHoax1!!11!.

In any event, I am pleased to see that the community has, apparently, risen up in protest (the conspirator in question, James Fetzer, is complaining that Northfield has not accorded him the "powerful, positive response" he is used to). And in a sense there is nothing more that should be said on this. The pub proprietor's response is to change the format from a "lecture" to a "debate", but I agree with my former Professor Louis Newman that there are some ideas that are better off ignored.

Yet, I can't resist one more comment. The pub, you see, wants to make one thing very clear about its Holocaust-denying, 9/11-was-a-Mossad-operation guest. Can you guess what it is?
“Fetzer is critical of the Israeli government. Does that make him an anti-Semite? No."
Like clockwork.

1 comment:

Emmanuel Goldstein said...

1. The act of making an unfounded or unsubstantiated claim.
2. In philosophy, a method of debate or discussion based of the premise of: I think, therefore I am. I think you're wrong. therefore you are.
3. The act of disagreeing by employing rancor, name calling, ad hominem attacks or straw man argument.

Etymology: Fetzering began in earnest in the late 1960's, being implemented by a JFK conspiracy theorist and has since expanded it's use in the 9/11 debate arena.
1. Without evidence your claim is simple fetzering.

2. He should rely on his data instead of fetzering.