Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
June 8, 2010 - June 1, 2010

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


CONTINUATION. I'm in a curious place these days. I'm determined to mount a new website, even if it kills this one (which I hope it doesn't). My purpose is to help save the Jews in Israel. My chief ally in this wants me to write a mission statement. So here it is.

It's not about the Jews. It's about us. the vast population of civilized ones. My vision is of a website that could never be taken for a variation of the ADL or the JDL. It's about the rest of humankind. We cannot allow the extermination of Israel to happen. Because when it does happen, we all die as civilized men and women, and we're all headed for a dark age our children and grandchildren won't see the end of.

If you've ever wondered what you'd have done in the 1930s when Hitler started passing laws against the Jews, today is the day you can start finding out what you're really made of. 

I know some of you think I'm crazy. I'm not. We are all sitting right here at the brink. In case you didn't know it already, there's no siren that goes off when the world reaches a moral precipice. As I heard a prominent conservative explain in a major address, the day after Obama was elected, his children still went off to school, his wife went to the supermarket, and he went to work as usual. That's the problem. No siren. Except for the one that goes off in our heads.

Do you hear it? You should. Because it's all happening again now. All of it. The boxcars are being loaded, the Warsaw Ghetto is being emptied, the canisters of Zyklon B are being released, and the trains are rolling out and out while the chamber orchestra at Auschwitz plays on.

So what can a website do? A lot if we're smart about it. We can become a force to be reckoned with. A voice that can't be stilled or invalidated by political machinations.  But here are the boundaries we must observe as if they were reinforced by razor wire.

No advertising. No political or group affiliations. We must be civilization's blog, a venue for all who care, a hybrid of news aggregation and deep moral commentary. What should it look like? Don't laugh, but it should look like a page from the Talmud. In the center column, news of the day followed in each case by an assessment of impact.  My colleague laughingly suggested two such commentary streams:  "The Jew" and "The Gentile." Because there are two different audiences. "The Jew" can address all audiences but only he can speak to Jews who are still in denial. "The Gentile" can feel for the Jews but he cannot lecture them. He must confine himself to reasonable outreach to everybody else. He must beat the world drum. Every day.

There must be, as with most blogs, a righthand and a lefthand column. The lefthand column is both topical and eternal. It contains links to historical holocaust sources and contemporary voices, including Facebook pages of those who are committed to the same purpose.The righthand column is for access to the friendly organizations -- Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, secular, and plain news. But friendly is all such organizations can be. We accept no money from them, no sponsorship, and we do no political work on their behalf. Our job is reporting the news, commenting on and questioning the news, and providing the historical and cultural context in which that news has meaning.

Beyond this, we must seek out exclusive interviews and essays from the people who are involved in policy and punditry. We must question them and draw out their knowledge without recourse to any political agenda apart from the salvation of Israel. Which means, for example, that if I should get the opportunity to interview Charles Schumer or Anthony Weiner, I must not use the opportunity to interrogate them about health care or congressional spending. That's not what this blog is about.

We will succeed if, and only if, we come to be seen as a nonpartisan advocate of civilization, as opposed to barbarism. Nothing else. No party, no ideology, no religion rules us. But history and humanity do rule us.

I am open to challenges, revisions, codicils, ordinary comments, criticism, etc. Remember, though, that our primary goal as a website that seeks power on this vital issue is traffic. Our secondary and tertiary goals are traffic. We want to be the go-to website when something that threatens Israel occurs. Have at it.

Did I mention that the website will be called "It's Happening Again"?

Brizoni needs moral
chemical support...

BRIZONIMAIL. The kid's up against it. No joke. For some reason (if that's the right word), he's decided he needs to write a novel in one week. Something about a Nazi in red shorts. I helped out to the best of my ability, writing Chapters 1 and 2 for him last night (uh, not kidding, sad to say), but he still has a long way to go. And he actually thinks my contribution needs editing!? Something about "crap off the top of your head" and "flagrant violation of my vision" or some such garbage (the italics are to ensure a French reading of the word). The nerve of some people.

At any rate, we've established a command center somewhere in Alabama where we're receiving BrizoniAaid: hot towels, cold compresses, cheap whiskey, unfiltered cigarettes, French coffee (well, boiled sneakers will do),  inspiring blondes with huge breasts and long legs, anti-carpal tunnel forearm armor, and black plastic lawn bags. Can't explain what the lawn bags are for, but he insists they're essential.

What we're still trying to arrange is the necessary airlift from Alabama to the Pacific northwestern state (one of them) Brizoni actually lives in. Any pilots out there with free time should call the command center.

In the meantime, we're also soliciting donations of a wide variety of writing tools the poor boy will be needing in his attempt to duplicate the writing speed of Erle Stanley Gardner with far less, uh, experience. Check your closets and hard drives, if you please, for all the superfluous stores you might have of commas, periods, three-syllable adjectives, prepositions, partially conjugated verbs, rude interjections, and (sadly) full paragraphs that haven't already been plagiarized by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Please do NOT send obscenities. He already has an excess of those. (Lawn bags?)

I'd inspire you with the chapters I've already contributed to this superhuman effort, but the kid's been mumbling about lawsuits and machetes since about 10 am. What do lawsuits and machetes have in common? I don't know. Must be part of the creative thingummy. Or whatever.

Where was I? If you want to contribute, please send your Lucky Strikes and bottom shelf whiskey to this address:

Somewhere in Alabama
Yessir, USA [insert zip code]

That ought to about do it.

Monday, June 07, 2010

66 Years Later

MORE MOREMORIAL. I hope some of you followed our suggestion to observe "Military History Week," from Memorial Day last Monday through the 66th anniversary of D-Day yesterday. We aimed you at the old TV series Victory at Sea, which memorably recorded the invasion here, here, and here. Here's the second clip.

It's a long long time ago now, isn't it? Maybe that's why the exact opposite of our suggestion appears to be what has occurred. I looked in vain through the Turner Classic Movies, American Movie Channel, and History Channel  listings for a repeat of their creditable performance on Memorial Day. I was unable to find a showing on any channel of Saving Private Ryan, The Longest Day, or a repeat of the Band of Brothers marathon that ran a week ago. D-Day has been subsumed into Memorial Day -- with only two exceptions. The Military Channel devoted the whole day to the Normandy invasion, and if you rose at 5:00 am like I did yesterday, you got to see two memorable C-Span telecasts that conformed to the idea behind "Military History Week."

I hope you'll spare the time to peruse both. First was a lengthy interview with Sebastian Junger, whose book War (sample text here), about the months he spent embedded with the most remote and embattled U.S. units in Afghanistan, represents a timeless narrative of soldiering that connects us to elemental truths about those who fight and die for our country. I urge you to take in the whole interview. Junger is as matter-of-fact as his story is inspiring. The second C-Span gem was a book-tour talk by Victor Davis Hanson about his recent work Father of Us All, challenging modern conventional wisdom about what war is and what it accomplishes and doesn't -- and why. Buried in the middle is a specific reference to the outstandingly detailed planning and yet near-fatal screw-ups of the D-Day invasion that should give pause to all who want to abandon every military campaign the first time it blunders. (There's also a terrifying analysis of the current Iran-nuke situation no one should miss...) See it here.

The value of the larger perspective is twofold. It's about paying our respects to those who gave everything for our freedom, yes, but it's also about the critical importance of knowing enough about our own history to retain perspective on what the role of our politicians and an engaged citizenry should be.

To use the two examples I've offered, Junger demonstrates that war is always about life and death and duty and courage and loyalty, regardless of the technology or rules of engagement adopted. There may be high-tech drones operating via remote control in Afghanistan, but there are also human troops -- our brothers, fathers, and sons -- living in the field under conditions as harsh as any faced by Washington's army at Valley Forge or the 101st Airborne's in the Battle of the Bulge. Hanson explains that colossal errors will always occur, and the test of a nation at war is not the immaculateness of its planning but the ability to respond to the inevitable unanticipated catastrophes. His exemplary recounting of the 85,000 Allied deaths caused by the failure to foresee the dangers posed by Normandy's off-beach hedgerows, after an entirely successful "Mission Accomplished" landing, is directly analogous to the undemolished fence that crippled Pickett's charge at Gettysburg -- and indirectly analogous to the "scandal" of unarmored humvees in Iraq. Throughout history, victors learn from and overcome their mistakes, and losers fail to understand the costs of quitting because events don't go their way as predictably as rational critics think they ought.

Vitally, we also need to recognize that "paying our respects" and "understanding our history" are frequently not complementary but contradictory needs. Our attempt to honor the personal costs of military sacrifice tends to focus on grieving older veterans who make understandable statements in graveyards about the awfulness and inexcusability of war. All of which are true is some absolutely reductive human sense. But when we try to empathize with someone who has been through what we cannot fathom, we are not actually empathizing. We are projecting in the most simplistic and self-serving of ways. They are lamenting the human condition and the particular personal costs they have paid. They are not speaking, in such moments of intense personal emotion, to the equally relevant issue of why they chose to fight in the first place. They had their reasons, and we'd best pay as much attention to those as we do to their grief-stricken platitudes. When we use their grief to claim that all war casualties die in vain, we are the lowest of pimps, whoring heroes for political gain.

FOR EXAMPLE: Watching documentary Discovery Channel footage of 80-year-old Iwo Jima veterans in tears at the memory of the best who were left behind becomes, in this respect, a kind of voyeurism, almost lewd in its objectification for political and philosophical purposes, of their continuing personal agony. Tears about the horrors of war are not the only important thing about them, not even the most important thing about them.
You see, those Iwo Jima veterans are Marines. They volunteered. They won despite the appalling physical and psychological hurts they endured. If, today, they no longer remember or recite the reasons for their service, it's as much a crime to ignore the younger selves who won a savage fight to the death as it is to exploit the piercing sorrows such men feel in their declining years. What gets overlooked is that they did what they did because first and foremost -- the initial cause if you will -- is that they loved their country, families, and way of life enough to (promise in advance they'd) pay the price they have been paying ever since. Would they trade it away, even now, at this late date? No. Because that would mean not having known or been so close to those they continue to mourn and revere and honor with their tears. They would no longer be themselves, and not coincidentally, we would no longer be the selves they suffered and died to give us the freedom to be.

In short, veterans are NOT an argument against war, except for those who trivialize them and their contributions as waste, misguided fools who believed some trickery of their betters to a degree the naysayers do not respect but merely pity. These veterans did not risk so much and lose so much for the purpose of being reduced to an easy argument for appeasement and cowardice in the face of nakedly evil threats. That's guaranteed.

It was F. Scott Fitzgerald who said, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."

What did he mean by that? This. War is awful and inexcusable. It is also at times necessary and virtuous. It was necessary and virtuous in 1860. It was necessary and virtuous in 1941. It's been necessary (etc) several times since. It may be necessary and critically virtuous again soon. We can deplore and condemn the need. But we cannot permit ourselves to shrink from meeting the need when it occurs, and we cannot use feigned respect for  past sacrificises as an excuse for not fighting the virtuous fights on which our whole moral tradition depends. Rather, we must use memory to retain our fundamental humanity, as our surviving veterans have, even as we learn from the mistakes and incomparable courage and resolve of our forebears.

We can see that the Iwo Jima survivors are men of deep character and moral sensibility. We can also see that in the hour of their testing, they did not relent in the terrible task of destroying the enemy so that he could not survive to strike again at the innocent. Their words in the cemetery may not make the point clearly. But their deeds did.

That's what we must most fiercely remember. And what it seems we are rapidly forgetting. What is 66 years? Added to the age of a typical soldier, it's just beyond a normal human lifespan. Is that really all it takes for us to forget a miraculous example of unselfish courage, sacrifice, character, and love?

Pity the day.

If you've ever wondered or assumed...

Are you as noble as this? Do you dare to be perfect?
To teachtell  everyone else how to be perfect? Kewl.

FROM BEFORE. At some level, the study of history is a mob exercise in narcissism. The good guys and bad guys are determined after the fact and we all get to share in the glow of righteousness that accompanies the conviction of what side we'd have been on in the great moral confrontations -- after the textbooks have pronounced their judgment. We'd have opposed the Salem witch trials. We'd have stood up for the American Indian tribes when all the treaties were being broken. We'd have been die-hard abolitionists and underground-railroaders in the age of American slavery. We'd have denounced Hitler in the early 1930s and refused to participate in his 1936 Olympics. We'd have opposed FDR's internment of the Japanese in World War II. We'd have stood with Rosa Parks at the front of the bus and died if necessary for Martin Luther King. We'd have marched against the Vietnam War. And we always knew Bush was wrong about everything.

Or some of those things, anyway. And for many, book learning about such things brings a sense of regret. IF ONLY. If only I had been there instead of in the here and the now where nothing is that important or clearcut, I could have made a difference. I could have shown everyone the exquisite moral clarity of my soul. As opposed to now, where everything is only shades of gray, and I'm really too busy just trying to make a fucking living to get involved.

Welcome to the real world. Everyone is always too busy just trying to make a fucking living to get involved. Except... if you're interested... the universe is tossing up one of its endless opportunities... for those who think they're moral heroes.

If you're interested. I know the term has been overused, but I'll use it again because it's so apt. We've reached the point of "perfect storm" for the final annihilation of the Jews.

I mean, if you were looking for the absolutely absolute symptoms of moral disaster before proving your own moral superiority -- you know, the proof that it really is that important to put your own prosperity and life on the line -- the final pieces have been put into place. If no one acts, Israel will die and the Jews will become a hunted race with nowhere to go and no one to defend them. Interested?

Unless, in your heart of hearts, you really do want the Jews to go away for good. (What happened? A Jew made you look bad in class? You lost a lawsuit? A doctor was rude or overcharged you? You don't like the way his wife was dressed or made up at the country club? A Jew made your kid look bad in class? Etc.)

Yes, I know you love all the black people you've never met, and all the Palestinians who haven't lobbed missiles into your child's pre-school, and all the other causes that have nothing to do with the roots of your whole moral system and educational tradition, but the seeker after causes has to make some compromises.

I'm giving you a tip about the next moral cause that won't be identified until it's too late.

The Jews in Israel are about to be exterminated. And the time to do something about it is right now -- not next week, next month, or next year. For all you moral heroes, let me put it in terms you do understand. The Salem witch trials are banging the gavel. John Brown is cornered in his burning barn. Rosa Parks is being kicked foot by foot to the back of the bus. And Leni Riefenstahl (see video above) has just released her latest masterpiece of propaganda:

Meanwhile, an alliance of the U.N., Europe, and middle eastern Islamic states have agreed that it's criminal for Israel to blockade the import of arms from Hamas to Israel's existential enemies in Gaza. The President of the United States can't be bothered to support the right of self-defense for his nation's closest ally and chooses instead to party with one of the world's most famously respected anti-semites at the very moment Israel is most under attack. Then there's the so-called "dean" of the White House Press Corps, whom nobody in any position of authority can quite bring himself to denounce as... well... what do you call them these days? Maybe what this what one out-of-power old-time liberal calls her. Except nobody in power is listening because they all basically agree.

And did we mention Iran? On the verge of nuclear weapons capability, with no meaningful attempt at deterrence from same by anyone. With a brand new declaration to up the ante of provocation by joining the international attempt to bully Israel out of defending itself from Hamas missile supply through the "illegally" blockaded Mediterranean port.

uh. Israel is going to die soon. With the complicity of the United States. And every other supposedly civilized nation on earth. After this. And the consensus of all the peace-loving academics in the western academic world. And all of you who don't have the guts to stand up and fight back when a genuine civilizational crisis of morality announces itself in neon letters.

This is your moment, kiddies. Ultimate, anti-authority, anti-conventional wisdom, anti-immoral establishment moment. Watcha gonna do, babies?

I know watcha gonna do. What the smugly superior assholes always do. Nothing.

But this time at least, you won't get away with pretending you'd have been on the right side if only you knew what that was. The right side here is obvious. And when your neglect and propaganda kill a million of your betters, I will never let you forget it.

What won't I let you forget? You'd have helped lynch the witches. You'd have written editorials endorsing the Dred Scott decision. You'd have given Leni Riefenstahl an Oscar. Maybe you still will. She was a talented filmmaker, after all.

P.S. Anybody who wants to join the fight, volunteer now. I'm trying to build a new website. I just have to convince a Jewish colleague that anyone cares.

UPDATE. My friend is on board. We're starting a new website called, "It's Happening Again." We need bandwidth, we need contributors, and we need outreach. And money would be huge help too. It cannot be a Jewish Defense League permutation, although we also need Jewish contributors. It's a website representing all the defenders of civilization. It's not conservative, liberal, Democrat, or Republican. It's about staving off catastrophe. My friend wants to focus on current events, day by day, and I want to leaven that with the historical context explaining why the death of Israel would be so catastrophic to all of civilization. (Was it Billy Oblivion who expressed a devotion to "Mila 18," also one of one of my favorite books of all time? Come forward.We need you.) Unlike this site, its mission is traffic, traffic, traffic. We need to become an immediate force on the Internet. Any idea that will promote that is welcome -- petitiions, challenges, interviews, polls, etc. We need the attention of Alan Dershowitz, Joseph Lieberman, Charles Schumer, Diane Feinstein, David Horowitz, Bill Kristol, and any and all Christian advocates of Israel.

We have no idea what we're doing yet. Just that we must become the Resistance. Give us your best ideas.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Laura Ingraham rocks.

TED BAXTER. She's smart and fearless and cool. Who else can crush O'Reilly on his own show and overwhelm Don Imus on his?

Besides which, there's this clip, which is supposed to portray her in a negative light but instead confirms everything I've always known about Fox News. They might mean well, but they have a bunch of idiots on staff, people who can't read, write, edit, or spell worth a damn. Personally, I'm amazed that Laura doesn't shoot somebody in the midst of so much incompetence.

She has the InstaPunk Seal of Approval.

P.S. Hat tip to Hotair. Context.

More context.

And Carville. He's right for once. This isn't about politics. It's about the country, the economy, and a way of life. Like Laura, I also want Obama to come through for us on this one. I just don't think he knows how to. Which will be a tragedy.


HIGHWAYS. What they are most of all is loyal, forgiving, and loving. My dad used to say, "fathers are a sorry lot," but what he meant is that we make mistakes, not that we're to be pitied. Sons are tough to take. So are daughters. But the daughters want to be loved and accepted more than they want to fight.

Just so.

Guy Movie

WOMEN MOSTLY DON'T UNDERSTAND. Okay. I'll go see it. You? But I'm disappointed at the absence of Yun-Fat Chow. Oh well.

But it will be fun anyway.

Sorry, Peter:

The Hobbit Postponed

AWWW. Sad. Pippin Paul had his his heart so set on making this movie. It just wasn't to be. I think the deal breaker was the discovery that hobbits are crazy. And that crazy passes from one generation to the next. Even curly feet can't save you from the keening tone of voice that lets the whole world know you're nuts.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

A History of Non-Violent Violence

OPPOSING THE ATTEMPTED GENOCIDE OF A DARKER GROUP OF PEOPLE AGAINST A LIGHTER GROUP IS RACIST. Yesterday I found the most offensively, repugnantly honest Twitterer on the internet. Shake your tolerant fist at Joshua Treviño:

The rage of the #flotilla fanatics against Barack Obama makes me think good thoughts about him for the first time since 2004.
7:56 PM Jun 1st via TweetDeck

Uh, we have #flotilla folks on tape chanting about the death of Jews: RT @historyscientis Supporting #flotilla is opposing terrorism.
10:33 PM Jun 1st via Twittelator

Dear anyone: Don't elect genocidal Islamists and then complain to me about collective punishment. This is why you can't have nice things.
10:37 PM Jun 1st via Twittelator

Only been to Israel once, in '04. Met a guy wounded in '73. Bled into the Golan earth. Started a farm where his blood claimed the land.
10:44 PM Jun 1st via Twittelator

Just imagine if the #flotilla fanatics put half their energy into improving basic civil society in the Muslim world. Now imagine unicorns.
8:38 AM Jun 2nd via Twittelator

The problem isn't that Gazans are miserable. The problem would be if they were content. Living under a genocidal regime SHOULD be miserable.
about 24 hours ago via Twittelator

QED: RT @D3sdenova: You're f------ delusional. You're not going to propagandize educated irate people.
about 13 hours ago via TweetDeck

As an American, I am outraged my tax dollars go to Israeli defense! I prefer they go to Israeli offense. #flotilla
about 12 hours ago via TweetDeck

As the Twittering kids say, SMH. Clearly, the conservative blogosphere doesn't realize that peace activists-- real peace activists-- have an illustrious history of violence. Clubbing, lynching, and stun grenades are time-honored tools of passive resistance. We've prepared a little slideshow to bring you troglodytes up to speed.

The Peace Corps has a proud tradition of armed humanitarianism. In this 1988
photo, a volunteer spreads .44 caliber justice across Southeast Asia, giving new
meaning to the Obama neologism "corpseman." Oh my twittering tweetifications.

The Rev. Martin Luther King displays his necklace of human teeth at an NAACP
keynote in the early 60s. Dr. King was known for falling upon his enemies like a
terrible thunder and yanking out their teeth with a pair of rusty pliers he carried
in his back pocket. Notable teeth shown here once belonged to Alabama governor
George Wallace, convicted segregationist arsonist J. B. Stoner, and Democratic
U.S. Senator Robert Byrd. Nothing like the mellifluous eloquence of a Klan wizard.

Stories that Gandhi's home was constructed entirely out of the bones of British
loyalists were long belived to be only myth and hagiography, until a fire at the
house-turned-Gandhi Memorial Center proved them correct. Environmentalists
praised Mahatma's forward-thinking sustainability. And his no-briefs sensuality.

A modern-day Mata Hari, Mother Teresa used a combination of kung-fu,
exotic Oriental poisons, and raw sexuality to combat the forces of poverty.

Before his union advocacy gained traction, labor organizer Cesar
Chavez would fight for fair wages one employer at a time. Few
honchos dared to rise to a Chavez challenge to "throw hands."

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

An Old Comment Made New

Not my arm. Or Billy's.

FOLLOW-ON. After a post on anti-semitism, the world falls silent. That's not an editorial remark, just a fact. So I went back to an earlier IP post and discovered a comment that seems curiously relevant today. Billy Oblivion objected to my provocative assertion that we are "all bigots." I meant it, of course, in a satrirical sense, but Billy's reaction and explanation is worth reading again right now.

Billy Oblivion  2009-08-29 05:47:00

To recognize a difference, and to have tastes (as opposed to Taste) is not bigoted.

I don't care for football. In fact almost all professional sports bore me. Partially this is because I don't care for participating in the amateur version of them. Partially it is because the lessons they have to teach I'm either deaf to, or learned long ago. Those who like Football, or fast cars, or vacation cruises are not "other", they are merely people with divergent tastes. For that the term is not bigot but rather snob.

If you wish to call me a snob of sorts, I cannot argue. Drink, Music, food, I've got my preferences and some I'll defend on philosophical grounds (after all, aesthetics is a branch of Philosophy, even if we don't recognize it any more) others are indefensible (there are times I prefer a mass market blended bourbon to a single cask, or even a good scotch. I know, but we all have our foibles).

However bigotry has an implication of superiority. I no longer consider myself superior to others *merely* because they would babble about baseball or hotrods, while *I* prefer to discourse on the relative merits of this firearm or that motorcycle. Some prefer fine German Pilsners, some Red Wine. Others prefer a coca-cola. There's no accounting for taste. Or budget. There was a time, but it's long gone.

Another implication of bigotry is that it is merely the otherness of the person that causes the divide. That the skin color or mode of dress of the Muhammadan, or the name he gives God is the cause of the separation.

I realize this is difficult for those of you on the coasts to realize, but we DO have rather heterogeneous communities out there in Fly Over Country. There were Jews and moslems in my town, even in my classes (though not many of the latter). We had a couple temples, and a mosque--though being raised a Catholic (rather poorly as this was post-Vatican II) I never saw the inside of them.

I am not bigoted against Southern Baptists [responding to an earlier comment], I am ill disposed to *idiot* Southern Baptists. One of my best friends is an utterly brilliant man who is also a fundamentalist southern baptist of one sort or another. He is kinder and more open hearted than almost any man I've ever met.

But he is not an idiot.

If you wish to accuse me of being bigoted towards idiots, then we have a semantic argument on our hands which may take a while.

As to "knowing Jews". I knew kids of Jewish parents. Most were more liberal--aka "non-orthodox" jews. One of the people I keep most constant contact with these days--a good friend of mine, and a Philadelphian is of Jewish decent, though he does not practice the faith (this is the case with many Jews I've met).

To say one "knows" Jews is to say one "knows" Christians--which is to say nothing at all because the faithless son of a west-coast Jewish Mother, neither of which have been to synagogue in a decade is very different from knowing the kind of Jew who would shut down is web E-Commerce site from Friday evening to Saturday evening  Personally I have a HUGE amount of respect for someone who executes their religious convictions with that level of detail.

Do I know every detail of the various and sundry Jewish tribes? The difference between orthodox, reform and the rest didn't stick. No, my mind is more like a hurricane fence than a fine mesh. Lots of stuff blows through before the detritus builds to a sufficient thickness to hold details, and consequently much I could have learn is lost like the c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate.

But the same is true of just about everything I know, think I know, think I don't know, or don't know I don't know. I'm sort of a poly-arithmetic.

I have my prejudices, I'm not claiming otherwise. I have my preferences, opinions and causes. But it's not the color of a mans skin, the tongue of his mother or the name of his god that gives me pause, it IS the content of his character, his relationship with the world and it's diverse peoples that matter.

Which brings us to "why NYLs [New York Liberals] now think it's okay to hate the Jews".

Understand first that I draw the distinction between a Liberal, who would never hate the Jews, and a Progressive, who has never not [hated the Jews].

I think to the degree that one can conflate hating Israel as a state actor with hating Jews the answer is a long propaganda effort by the progressives. Israel has been put in an impossible position and they are responding just like the last few fighters in Mila 18 did (did I mention that I loved that book?) They have their backs to the sea and are fighting as vicious a fight as their morals will let them. This bothers modern Liberals who really are good hearted souls who believe that there ARE essentially no differences between people (which is clearly untrue).

So more clearly maybe, I don't think that a NYL *does* hate The Jews. I think that if you're talking to a self-described Liberal who hates Jews you ought to ask them which takes primacy, the State or the Individual.

Then you have your answer. For the one thing that the Progressive CANNOT ABIDE is someone who puts something else ahead of the general state (they may not put it thus, they may talk of class unity (communists) or purity of culture (old-school Nazis) or "the community" (communitards) or whatever, but the idea of an allegiance other than to some sort of corporate entity (not like a business corporation, but a group) is bad, but even worse is the allegiance to a group that is NOT theirs. Jews have been a whipping boy for Western Culture (along with Gypsies etc.) for a long time, and they're a useful one since unlike the Gypsies they have CLEARLY uh...damn I hate it when a word won't come. They've profited and grown over the years, largely through their OWN industry, thrift and cleverness proving that one DOES NOT need the state. One CAN take care of oneself, ones family and ones community members w/out the theiving hand of the state.

Either that, or some people are just assholes.

The Mormons will eventually get the same treatment. But unlike the orthodox Jews, they wear the funny clothes on the inside.

Bigotry and prejudice are different things. So are preferences.

I don't know the truth. I suspect it, but people who were demonstrably a LOT smarter than me have argued all sides of various questions, so while I'm absolutely certain that some things--slavery, child abuse, wanton cruelty and body paint and foam fingers at professional sports events are wrong on a deep moral level, other things merely make running a society difficult.

It is the lack of questioning that stagnates cultures. It is the questioning of ideas, especially the profane questioning in the areas of science and philosophy that push our society foward, that have given us what to our Greek or Roman forefathers would seem to be closer to a heaven on earth than they could have imagined. We *have* to tolerate the other because THEY MAY BE RIGHT. We don't know. We think we know, but as Feynman once observed "Nature doesn't care how smart you are. You can still be wrong."


I Like this guy.

Reminds me somehow of another guy.

FOR CIDNIE. Same insistent beat as Johnny Dodge's Country Punk.

Here is the lantern.
2  You are the boy who lighted the lantern.
3  You are the boy who lives in its light. You are the boy who will die in its light, who will die from its light.
4  Lantern light and lantern fire. It burns and spreads and glows like flame, consuming illumination.

Candlelight. Huddled interiors at night, the meek forays of little people’s little words, darting into dark and back, needing escape and fearing the blanks on the map.

Torchlight. Pine knots and smoke and painful flying embers. Sometimes the bearer catches fire and falls, rolling into blackened ruin.
2  All you see is flicker, red shadows, shapes of your deepest fears, roaming round you outside the cone of orange protection.
3  Friends erupt and fall, friends fall and disappear into the field of answers outside the light.

Electric light. Light enough at last and light too much.
2  A human chain of links electrified, pulsed into a stream of bits, harsh river of naked white exposure without shadows to hide in.
3  In too much light there is suspicion, fear that the truth is ugly beyond belief. Are we just this? Pallid pretenders unmasked in our creeping, crawling scavenger hunt?
4  Light alone is beautiful and mocks whatever dares to share its stage. Or:  We are but reflections of the horrors concealed within, the dirty folds inside the bright white mantle of creation.
5  Light of knowing, light of doubt, light of shame, it’s all the same, a bleaching, draining dryness of the mind.

Blue light. Light of movement, the sadness of falling night.
2  We are shifted, playing with time, and traveling inside the crystal facets of the beam.
3  Death and birth await us there, our own, grand and belittled, my blood-stained chain link fence here guards the plains of Troy, where Achaeans roar and whisper rumors of the Metalkort.
4  There, beyond the blue-lighted Coliseum I saw the one who set the tale in motion.
5  He was gleaming, sweaty, radiant, bleeding, blessing and cursing, perfect, shattered, and the armature spun inside his polar hands, feeding the world with sharp blue current.
6  I caught a spark and lost it, or so I thought, but saw that it had borne me all along, bit player in the streaming blue that swept through time to the barren beds of drought in which I’d picked my role.
7  Blue light. Not a shade away from white as I had thought, but whiter than the eye can see, the blue-white whole of divinity.

Red light.
2  Why can’t we have the blue, forever and always?
3  Who took it? Who defiled it? Who screened it from our sight?
4  Raging, screaming, warring light. The rampage and the flood. Destructive creation, like forest fire and eye of hungry vulture.
5  Yes, I am the scavenger. The boy who lighted this cruel cruel light.
6  Forgive me if you can, if I can I will forgive you, but I am past forgetting, past hiding from harsh light.

Fire light.
2  I am the boy who came to Gobb’s and sat at the bar, the boy who played with fire.
3  If you dare explore the blue of night, the night will explore you too.
4  For the heights you steal, the price you pay is loss, and a pain to equal your pride.
5  I am the boy who took the blue oath of loyalty, to the blue king who carried a blood red light.
6  And I watched as they doused him, in envy and fear and hate.
7  I laid him in a shroud, a bright white mirror of our shame, and I rode beside him through the pines to a gray-blue sea, where a ship was waiting for his other journey.
8  Had I been given the choice, I’d have taken his place, but instead I lit the fire.
9  His woman wept, for what and who I never knew, except that the fire soared and singed us all, a cathedral of sorrowing flame, asking one question and demanding an answer.
10  What price for light is worth the light?
11  I am the boy who presumed. I am the boy who lit the light and presumed I could pay the price.
12  But the price is paid by everyone,
13  And the current flows,
14  And the lantern glows,
15  And the fire goes on and on,
16  And the mirror shows us why.

Et cetera.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Week Between

Made me read Nicholas Monserrat's The Cruel Sea.

AMERICAN COMA. This post has a variety of inspirations. Memorial Day is followed within a week or thereabouts by the anniversary of D-Day, which always gets its separate acknowledgment, even though they both share the same taproot, the latter being the epitome of the unselfish heroism of the former. Isn't there an argument, particularly in a time of war, for a span of remembrance about the U.S. military and all who have supported it, from families to citizenry to civilian partners at risk like the merchant marine? We promote and endorse Black History Month. Couldn't we also find a corner in our hearts for Military History Week?

I'd say, too, there's a particular relevance this year, this month, this week, to the heroism of military discipline and the remembrance of just causes. I'm appalled to see the so-called civilized world jump ugly on Israel for allowing its bravest soldiers to defend themselves against a deliberate, calculated ambush, as if civilian lives -- no matter how politically conniving and vicious -- always matter more than the lives of those whose mission is to observe the rules of engagement they've been given. I cannot describe the nausea I feel at the worldwide conspiracy to adjudge Israel guilty for defending itself from exactly the same hatred, from exactly the same quarters (plus the American hard left), that sought to exterminate Jews in the war even liberal Americans continue to insist they were proud to fight.

There's also, for me, a blending of the personal and national this year for multiple reasons, including this. And I was moved by Brizoni's 'moremoir,' in which he describes a kind of coming of age, which caused me to remember my own, a precipitating event analogous to his viewing of We Were Soldiers.

I've written before about my personal touchstones to World War II (my dad) and the Holocaust (my friend Julian). I grew up in the culture of World War II -- big band music, stoic (childhood and) manhood, pride in national icons like the S.S. United States, etc. But it wasn't till I got to college that I had the moment Brizoni describes in his Memorial Day post. My freshman roommate at Harvard (well, pan-college roommate) was another son of a WWII pilot -- bomber, not fighter -- and he introduced me to a show that was running on a Boston UHF station at the time: Victory at Sea. It was old even then, dating back to the year of my birth, but my roommate, who was several years older, had watched it as a child and was so delighted at its return that the whole world stopped when it was on.

So there we were. In the darkest days of our nation's Vietnam retreat and withdrawal, we watched the actual footage of World War II and the inspiring music that bound it together in one of the most inimical environments then extant for its message of patriotism, courage, and perseverance. He went on to join the Marines immediately after graduation and served as a lieutenant in Okinawa. I went on to read every book I could get my hands on about that war. (Best one: Goodbye Darkness.) I thought about joining up, too, (his example was inspiring and tempting) but Vietnam was done and I was more amped up for war against the radicals who hated America from inside. When we compared notes later, he was disappointed in the post-war military (boring), and I was equally disappointed that I had accomplished nothing in the interim (abject failure). I thought he was going to be president someday. He thought I was going to write the Great American Novel. Something about youth, ideals, and the lessons of real life. We figured in each other's weddings, but all these years later we have lost touch. He's a banker as far as I know, and I'm, well, at fault. I'm the recluse. As the site's resident harpoon would say, I'm just pondering.

Personally, of course, I hope that what I do here is more than pondering. No matter what course you choose, as long as you give your best, you're bound to have your moments of joy and triumph and defeat and hurt and loss and enlightenment and recompense and atonement and vindication and shattering heartbreak. I've had all of those, in spades. Nobody escapes the great grinding wheel of life. I keep thinking that if I tell you the truth as I see it, you might find it helpful.

The truth, as I see it today, is that the best thing you can do today -- and maybe for the rest of this week, till D-Day -- is catch up on Victory at Sea. And accomplish the time machine feat of watching it in the context of this, this, this, this, this, and this.

Feats of imagination are now the province of interconnecting Internet minds. Don't ever forget it.


Why Do People Hate the Jews?

Dirty little rats...

REAL FRIENDSHIP. I asked my closest Jewish friend to share the experience of anti-semitism. He usually blows it off. No big deal. But I said, "No. Really." He said, "Forget it." I said, "No, really." He said, "Fuck you." And I said, "Please." Here's what he gave me:

It has been said that the history of Jewish holidays can be summed up this way: "They wanted to kill us; we won. Let's eat." Why has anti-Semitism been so pervasive in so many countries, in so many time periods and for so many reasons? (One begins to wonder. Perhaps there is something wrong with the Jews and Judaism? After all, there is an old Yiddish saying -- "If one person calls you a donkey, ignore him; if two people call you a donkey, buy a saddle.")

Between the years 250 BC and 1948 AD - a period of 1,700 years - Jews experienced more than eighty expulsions from various countries in Europe - -an average of nearly one expulsion every 21 years. Jews were thrown out of England, France, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Bohemia, Moravia and 71 other countries. Historians have classified six explanations as to why people hate the Jews:

Economic -- "We hate Jews because they possess too much wealth and power."

Chosen People -- "We hate Jews because they arrogantly claim that they are the chosen people."

Scapegoat -- "Jews are a convenient group to single out and blame for our troubles."

Deicide -- "We hate Jews because they killed Jesus."

Outsiders, -- "We hate Jews because they are different than us." (The dislike of the unlike.)

Racial Theory -- "We hate Jews because they are an inferior race."

As we examine the explanations, we must ask -- Are they the causes for anti-Semitism or excuses for Anti-Semitism? The difference? If one takes away the cause, then anti-Semitism should no longer exist. If one can show a contradiction to the explanation, it demonstrates that the "cause" is not a reason, it is just an excuse. Let's look at some contradictions:Economic -- The Jews of 17th- 20th century Poland and Russia were dirt poor, had no influence and yet they were hated.

Chosen People -- a) In the late 19th century, the Jews of Germany denied "Chosenness." And then they worked on assimilation. Yet, the holocaust started there. b) Christians and Moslems profess to being the "Chosen people," yet, the world and the anti-Semites tolerate them.

Scapegoat -- Any group must already be hated to be an effective scapegoat. The Scapegoat Theory does not then cause anti-Semitism. Rather, anti-Semitism is what makes the Jews a convenient scapegoat target. Hitler's ranting and ravings would not be taken seriously if he said, "It's the bicycle riders and the midgets who are destroying our society."

Deicide -- a) the Christian Bible says the Romans killed Jesus, though Jews are mentioned as accomplices (claims that Jews killed Jesus came several hundred years later). How come the accomplices are persecuted and there isn't an anti-Roman movement through history? b) Jesus himself said, "Forgive them [i.e., the Jews], for they know not what they do." The Second Vatican Council in 1963 officially exonerated the Jews as the killers of Jesus. Neither statement of Christian belief lessened anti-Semitism.

Outsiders -- With the Enlightenment in the late 18th century, many Jews rushed to assimilate. Anti-Semitism should have stopped. Instead, for example, with the Nazis came the cry, in essence: "We hate you, not because you're different, but because you're trying to become like us! We cannot allow you to infect the Aryan race with your inferior genes."

Racial Theory -- The overriding problem with this theory is that it is self-contradictory: Jews are not a race. Anyone can become a Jew -- and members of every race, creed and color in the world have done so at one time or another.

Every other hated group is hated for a relatively defined reason. We Jews, however, are hated in paradoxes: Jews are hated for being a lazy and inferior race -- but also for dominating the economy and taking over the world. We are hated for stubbornly maintaining our separateness -- and, when we do assimilate -- for posing a threat to racial purity through intermarriages. We are seen as pacifists and as warmongers; as capitalist exploiters and as revolutionary communists; possessed of a Chosen-People mentality, as well as of an inferiority complex. It seems we just can't win. Now we know what are NOT the reasons for anti-Semitism.

Now it's my turn. Jews aren't loyal to their host nations, except when they consistently are. They're smarter in class. They go to law school and medical school, and they still buy Mercedes Benzes.


My problem with them. And my friend's, too, if he'd admit it. Which he does when I ask in a humble voice. He's mad, too. He doesn't think Jews should own Mercedes Benzes. He hates the German motherfuckers who build them. Like I do. Yes, he'll drive one to impress a client in a business deal, but at heart he feels like a man reciting Yeats to an Ulsterman.

But he's not comfortable with my idea, either: The Jewish-Celtic Kill the Arabs League. Dot com. I can't convince him it make sense. Irish and Scots have nearly as much tribal history as the Jews do. And we've killed nearly a hundred times as many people in our experience. In fact, there's nothing we like more than killing people, notably English, Nordic, and German people.

Sigh. Jews continue to be reasonable. Why the world keeps taking advantage of them. As a Scot, and an American, I can't begin to understand it. When I'm pissed off, I go for the throat, invariably, unhesitatingiy, and always effectively. Ask Brizoni.

Here's what I know. If you or your opinions cause the Jews in Israel to die, I promise I'll kill you. Even if you're a Jew. Don't forget it. Not because I'm a Jew. Because I'm a bloody fucking asshole take-no-prisoners Scot.

Now my Jewish friend can take credit for what I said. We have a deal. He makes the profit and I take my cut. Jews are smart. Scots are relentless.

Relentless. Remember that. As opposed to him. Who is, uh, final.

I'd never say a good word about him. Or he me. Tribes. The only thing we have in common other than friendship. They dance around with shawls while pretending to give us a hard time about skirts.

And if you or anyone else comes for the Jews on behalf of the Palestinians, I promise I'll kill you all to the last man, woman, and child.

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