Was there a reason Hitler saluted differently to everyone else?

Was there a reason Hitler saluted differently to everyone else?

When people think of the nazi salute, the hand is generally out in front, around 45° palm down.

Sometimes it would be lower, which I think reinforces that it's a "palm open and down" gesture:

Here, we see many civilians taking a less disciplined, more upright approach, but everyone (except Hitler) still has their palm down or at least forward.

So why did Hitler salute with his palm clearly upwards? I think it makes him look aloof and undisciplined, very different from propaganda photos.

If he wanted to be seen as this:

Why did he salute like this:


My take is that it's a casual, and perhaps older version of the Nazi salute. Hitler talks about the origin of the salute, which he refers to as the "German Salute", which is recorded in Hitler's Table Talk, a collection of notes on his monologues, which is freely available online.

The military salute is not a fortunate gesture. I imposed the German salute for the following reason. I'd given orders, at the beginning, that in the Army I should not be greeted with the German salute. But many people forgot. Fritsch drew his conclusions, and punished all who forgot to give me the military salute, with fourteen days' confinement to barracks. I, in turn, drew my conclusions and introduced the German salute likewise into the Army.

On parades, when mounted officers give the military salute, what a wretched figure they cut! The raised arm of the German salute, that has quite a different style! I made it the salute of the Party long after the Duce had adopted it. I'd read the description of the sitting of the Diet of Worms, in the course of which Luther was greeted with the German salute. It was to show him that he was not being confronted with arms, but with peaceful intentions.

In the days of Frederick the Great, people still saluted with their hats, with pompous gestures. In the Middle Ages the serfs humbly doffed their bonnets, whilst the noblemen gave the German salute. It was in the Ratskeller at Bremen, about the year 1921, that I first saw this style of salute. It must be regarded as a survival of an ancient custom, which originally signified: "See, I have no weapon in my hand!"

I introduced the salute into the Party at our first meeting in Weimar. The SS at once gave it a soldierly style. It's from that moment that our opponents honoured us with the epithet "dogs of Fascists".

Even though it's Hitler talking about something he himself invented, Hitler is not exactly the most reliable of narrators. Still, from this we can tell that the Nazi salute was most likely influenced by the Roman salute as used in Fascist Italy. It differs from the Nazi salute in that the hand is raised higher, with the palm facing forwards:

Wikimedia

You can dismiss Hitler's claim that the salute had German rather than Latin origins. That's just Hitler being Hitler.

So the original Nazi salute may have resembled the Roman salute more closely, but that the SS modified it with "a soldierly style", a crisp yet tiring gesture to hold. Most Germans only had to do the salute once - to Hitler, but Hitler would be obliged to return the salute to everyone greeting him, so it's reasonable to assume that he adopted a lazier version for himself, especially in casual circumstances. He complains of how tiring the normal salute is:

The [Nuremberg] Congress, for me, is a terrible effort, the worst moment of the year. We shall prolong its duration to ten days, so that I may not be obliged to speak continually. It's because of the superhuman effort which that demands of me that I was already obliged to have the opening proclamation read out. I no longer have the strength to speak as long as I used to. So I'll withdraw when I realise I'm no longer capable of giving these festivities the style that suits them. The most difficult effort comes at the march-past, when one has to remain motionless for hours. On several occasions it has happened to me to be seized by dizziness. Can anyone imagine what a torture it is to remain so long standing up, motionless, with the knees pressed together? And, on top ofthat, to salute with outstretched arm? Last time, I was compelled to cheat a little. I also have to make the effort of looking each man in the eyes, for the men marching past are all trying to catch my glance. In future I must be given cover against the sun.

The casual salute that Hitler performs would be easier to do repeatedly, as the arm supports its own weight. Compare this to the British Royal wave, which is also less tiring to do over extended periods of time.

Admittedly, this answer isn't so strongly supported, but I couldn't find a source for the idea that Hitler's salute is "accepting the offering of loyalty".


This is explained in the Wikipedia article. In summary, the Nazi salute by anyone but Hitler symbolized their offering of their loyalty to Hitler. Hitler's salute symbolized his acceptance of that loyalty.


Hitler's salute evolved with his rise to power, and it reveals how he perceived his relationship with the masses.

At first, he was modeling what a dedicated and supporting party member should do. The salute is strong, straight, onward, and upward, so to speak.

As he rose, his arm and palm stayed straight, but dropped to fully horizontal, as if to be showering down his ideals upon the eagerly receptive masses below.

When he peaked, his arm and palm folded over backwards, as if to share the people's desire to salute Hitler. With his inverted gesture, he was actually saluting himself.


Nazism, something that was created to use Jews as scapegoats for the real problems in Germany, should not be treated the same as communism, something that was created to give everyone the same wealth.

And when people say “you can’t just say it’s not real communism” but it’s not. A man living in a mansion vs people starving is NOT the same as everyone having the same stuff. How hard is that?

I’m not even communist - it’s a good idea on paper, but obviously, as we can see from history, it ends badly.

Those two ideologies could not be more different.

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Communism killed far more people.

Because nazism failed in under 10 years lmao

" Nazism, something that was created to use Jews as scapegoats "

OP is saying that there were problems in Germany and Hitler blamed the Jews for them, when in reality the Jews were not to blame. I mean, it's historical fact that this happened.

yeah Hitler blamed most of Germany’s problems on Jews n took their jobs & businesses n gave them to other people

But what do they both have in common? Controlling a unified people. They’re opposing fringes of the political ideological spectrum. Both want to be in your business about how a government should operate. I think the “using Jews as scapegoats” was a response to Zionism as a potential threat to Germanic economic instability.

Zionism as a potential threat to Germanic economic instability.

They both require an authoritarian goverment. A limit on the freedoms of the people. And need instill a feeling of nationalism in the populace. Its not the same but they both suck for similar reasons.

Nazism was primarily created by the aftermath of WW1 and the situation that Germany was in thanks to the treaty of Versailles.

Hitler obviously hated Jews and used them as a scapegoat eventually (or maybe he didnt hate them, maybe he just thought they were an easy scapegoat), but, and correct me if I am wrong here, the anti Jewish policies were brought in a couple of years after the Nazi party took control.

Not defending Nazis here, just wanted to point out that they were not created with the purpose of making Jews scapegoats

Good point but I think I remember learning that one of the things that started Hitler on his path was a right wing meeting that gave him some of his ideas

Yeah, Communism is far left and Fascism (Nazism) is far right. Fascism tends to happen when an economy is on the brink of total collapse and rather than let there be a revolution like Russia had, those in charge allow Fascism to take root because it's better for the elites in power to segregate and kill a particular group than it is to allow for socialism or communism, because that means they still get to keep their power, it is obvious when one looks at Germany, they had a collapse due to war repayments and the treaty of Versailles, then rather than let the political parties of Germany that were focused on fixing the balance of wealth and allowing everyone to live comfortably, the "powers that be" decided to let the Nazi party win, and the increase in privatisation of industry and a focus towards gearing for war alongside the new employment options, because the Nazi's threw people they considered "undesirable" into prison, or killed them, allowed for the german economy to boom. Hitler and the Nazi's may have killed millions, but they did fix a fucked economy, however they did it through the removal of rights and freedom of millions of people, so still extremely fucked up and in no way makes up for the countless atrocities they committed.


A paper bird

Trans activists in Mexico City protesting violence against LGBT people and sex workers, August 13, 2011. Photo: Alfredo Estrella for AFP

In long years of human rights work, I’ve seen plenty of hatred inculcated and discrimination enforced but I can’t think of anyone more fitting the profile of les damnés de la terre than trans people and sex workers. Bearers of those identities (of course they often intersect) risk arrest almost daily across nine-tenths of the globe police, if they don’t throw them in prison, can shake them down or rape them with impunity on streets or in private places violence menaces their bodies constantly the media mocks them, mutes them, fetishizes them, but mostly vilifies them stigma, chasing them through life, bars them from jobs or homes or education they die because health care systems ignore their needs they die because people slaughter them. Why? Why are they hiding their lights under a bushel? For in fact, trans folk and sex workers are probably the most powerful people on the planet. They submit pliantly to these indignities in modesty or masochism, like Clark Kent letting bullies rough him up in front of Lois Lane but with one flex of their superstrength they could blow us all to smithereens. Professors at world-famous universities, columnists in major newspapers, politicians, novelists, heads of NGOs all cower at the wrath of the raging sex worker with her scything fingernails, and tremble like skittish jellyfish at the earthquake clack of a trans woman’s heel. It just shows: things aren’t always what they seem.

This, I’ve learned from the hoopla over a recent letter to the UK Observer: “We cannot allow censorship and silencing.” Signed by dozens of those professors, columnists, and leaders, it says that sex workers (whom it calls “the sex industry”) and trans people (Beatrix Campbell, the screed’s lead author, has termed them “transgender vigilantes”) are behind “a worrying pattern of intimidation and silencing of individuals whose views are deemed ‘transphobic’ or ‘whorephobic.’” They scheme “to prevent the expression of feminist arguments critical of the sex industry and of some demands made by trans activists.”

These tactics [are] illiberal and undemocratic. Universities have a particular responsibility to resist this kind of bullying. We call on universities and other organisations to stand up to attempts at intimidation and affirm their support for the basic principles of democratic political exchange.

What’s most horrifying is: some trans people and sex workers answered. They pointed out that the people behind the letter have their own history of silencing sex workers and trans people. (Just one example: Campbell herself proposes that the UK’s National Union of Students should remove trans women – who practice “cultural conservatism and anatomical violence” — from its women’s sections and services. She’s outraged that the Union’s “solidarity does not extend to women who feel unsettled by the presence of people who used to be men in women-only spaces and services.”) Saying back-at-you like that, of course, censors and silences even more. These vigilantes prove the point! Some of the letter’s signatories had to endure the monstrous indignity of people Tweeting at them. Two days after the letter appeared, the right-wing media giant Breitbart bore the headline:

Persecuted, mind you. Never mind trans people imprisoned or sex workers raped: This is what a victim looks like. The evidence? Tatchell (whom Breitbart called “an unlikely conservative hero … with his views on extremist Islam”) “received ‘100s of hate mails’” for signing the letter. That’s how the worst regimes, Egypt and North Korea and Iran, abuse their most obstreperous dissidents to break them: They send them e-mails. I’m sure Peter Tatchell tried to withstand the torture, but everybody cracks. Lest anyone think Breitbart was exaggerating these brutalities, Tatchell himself tweeted his agreement:

Tatchell says he is a human rights activist, so he must know what persecution is. Now the UN has to amend its international treaties, to ban torture, inhuman treatment, and spamming.

Cyberbullying is real. Yes, some people’s careers or livelihoods have been damaged by Twitter storms. But none of this letter’s signatories have suffered in the slightest. Tweets have not yet forced Peter Tatchell’s employer, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, to dismiss Peter Tatchell. Not everyone lets insults feed their self-pity. (I’ve faced online vitriol too. Last year, for instance, I helped organize a Twitter campaign to support Amnesty International’s emerging stance on sex work a whirlwind of radical-feminist Tweets called me a “pimp.” I was annoyed. I wasn’t “persecuted.”) Most Tweets I’ve seen in this brouhaha were questions or criticisms, not “bullying.” Yet one trans person got attacked for “verbal violence” just for posting this:

As someone else tweeted to Tatchell:

As Sara Ahmed explained in an excellent rumination on the controversy,

The presentation of trans activists as a lobby and as bullies rather than as minorities who are constantly being called upon to defend their right to exist is a mechanism of power. … These dynamics are familiar to me from my work on racist speech acts (racism is so often defended as freedom of speech). Racists present themselves as injured/ under attack/a minority fighting against a powerful anti­racist lobby that is “busy” suppressing their voices. … We need to hear the constant stream of anti­trans statements as a “chip, chip, chip” that has violent wearing effects. Any feminism that participates in this chipping away is not a feminism worthy of that name.

Of course people protested against this letter. It is deeply offensive in so many ways. I protested too: I felt deeply enraged by it. But … those who protest against the letter will be understood as the harassers. Mark my words! The protests against the letter can then even be used to confirm the truth stated by the letter this is what is generative about it that is how it is working.

“All transmisogyny in feminism is a patriarchal tendency.” Brazilian street poster: Photo from madmaria.org/ ?p=198

Is anything about the Observer letter true? Is “free speech” under threat? The letter cited exactly four alleged cases where “transgender vigilantes” and the “sex industry” shut down speech.

FIRST: The most ambiguous incident is “The fate of Kate Smurthwaite’s comedy show, cancelled by Goldsmith’s College in London last month.” Smurthwaite, a stand-up comic, is also a sex-work eradicationist she thinks prostitution should be wiped out. What happened to her Goldsmith’s gig is in no way clear. Smurthwaite says it was stopped by pro-sex-work feminists (or, as she prefers it, pimps and punters). But — I get this from her own blog — she has only one bit of evidence anybody opposed her: a message she saw on the Web, from a feminist student at another university, suggesting a picket. (It proposed a protest, not canceling the show. The moniker’s blacked out by me.)

Evidence adduced by Kate Smurthwaite of threats against her show

In fact, the University’s student Feminist Society had voted 70-30 to co-host her show. There were no threats. The head of the Comedy Society, the student group that was her main sponsor, writes that “One [Feminist Society] member suggested a counter event for those who didn’t want to see Kate. This member assured me it wouldn’t be a picket, but just a different gathering at a different venue.” The dire warnings of disaster came solely from Smurthwaite herself (she “let the organisers know that I thought there was a risk of a protest or of people coming along to the show with the specific aim of disrupting it or arguing with me”). Meanwhile, nobody was buying tickets. The Comedy Society president says, “we were planning to go ahead with the gig until Kate told me 24 hours before that there was likely to be a picket … I couldn’t verify this. Up to this point we had only sold 8 tickets so I decided to pull the plug.” It’s hard to avoid suspicion that Smurthwaite, faced with an underselling show, avoided that embarrassment by arranging her own cancellation. She certainly got free publicity galore, tweeting:

Rupert Myers writes for the Telegraph (in an article quite sympathetic to other censorship claims):

A comedy society was going to hold an event, it received tepid response, and it decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle … “No platform” is a dangerous approach to controversial ideas … but this incident was more like “no interest.”

Smurthwaite: I bet I have more fingers than I do audience members

SECOND: The letter says, “Last month, there were calls for the Cambridge Union to withdraw a speaking invitation to Germaine Greer.” Greer, a writer I’ve found alternately inspiring and infuriating, has strong opinions against trans women: “ghastly parodies,” she’s called them. She regards them as gay men (never mind who they might be attracted to) she’s campaigned to get a trans woman ousted from a Cambridge University women’s fellowship for not being female she allegedly has refused to contribute to anthologies or appear on platforms if certain trans people are represented. Nobody wrote open letters about that.

Greer back then: I like men too, as long as they’re safely cis and don’t borrow my clothes

This time, the Cambridge Union Society invited her in a special snub, they scheduled her speech at the same time as a regular drinks event held for the Union’s LGBT+ group. Students asked the Union to rescind the invitation they declined. The LGBT+ group then set up a counter-event “to celebrate and discuss the history of trans feminism, and think through how feminism can be made more trans-inclusive.” That sounds like just the kind of “democratic political exchange” the letter signatories claim they want. At Greer’s own talk, according to the Cambridge student newspaper, ”there were few signs of protest except for a few LGBT+ representatives handing out leaflets at the door.” Greer had her platform, and urged an end to surgeries and medical treatments for trans people during transition — she denounced them as “unethical.” No one got silenced or censored here.

THIRD: Most absurdly: The letter says “the Green party came under pressure to repudiate the philosophy lecturer Rupert Read after he questioned the arguments put forward by some trans­ activists.” (What Read wrote, and later apologized for, was that trans women are “a sort of ‘opt-in’ version of what it is to be a woman.”). This is duplicitous. Trans activists didn’t react because Read’s a philosopher, but because he is a Green Party candidate for Parliament they pressed the Greens to take a stand. As a politician, Read’s thoughts have implications. How would he and the Green Party vote on revising the UK’s Gender Recognition Act, for instance? Are political parties exempt from explaining to voters what they believe and why? Are demands that they state their positions a form of “censorship”? When a Republican running for the US Senate alleged that women survivors of “legitimate rape” don’t get pregnant, feminists across the country demanded the Republican Party declare whether it agreed. Now the feminists behind the Observer letter are saying that was an assault on poor Todd Akin’s freedom. This is political insanity.

Candidate Rupert Read: If you feel a surge coming on, please go only to the bathroom of your birth gender

FOURTH: Oh, yes, “The feminist activist and writer Julie Bindel has been ‘no­platformed’ by the National Union of Students for several years.” Bear with me. One must draw breath before dealing with Julie Bindel I’ll go there in a moment.

But consider the facts: trying to establish an evil sexworker-trans axis against free speech, Campbell and Tatchell and the rest found virtually nothing. The basis for the letter is BS. What is true is the level of sheer self-contradictory hypocrisy in their claims.

There are ample examples of this hypocrisy, but I’ll just focus on a few. One of the letter’s signatories (gay novelist Paul Burston) and one person it’s about (Julie Bindel) were among 12 gay activists who wrote a statement in 2011 that was a prime case of “no-platforming.” They demanded the East London Mosque “stop allowing its premises to be used to promote gayhate campaigns” by banning a list of speakers they helpfully provided. Peter Tatchell wasn’t party to that statement but had long campaigned against the East London Mosque. In a separate article the next day, he complained the mosque “never apologised for hosting homophobic hate preachers and have never given any assurances that they will not host them again,” though Tatchell had “publicly demanded that they do so.”

This is far severer “censorship” than those elusive proto-protests against Kate Smurthwaite that roused Tatchell’s and Campbell’s ire. These statements didn’t call for cancelling shows or lectures at a university, events where a diverse audience might take offense they intruded on places of worship, sites particular to a community, institutions in no way obligated to represent opposing points of view. This is the kind of thing you can only advocate about Islam, because in the UK it’s known to be a public menace, requiring vigilant surveillance. Feminists complain, rightly, at the Catholic Church’s militance against reproductive rights but imagine the uproar if they insisted that it ban all anti-abortion priests from its altars. With Islam, it’s open season.

Who’s in there? The East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre, Whitechapel

Their rationale for this remarkable demand was the same one the Observer letter mocks when trans people use it: These speakers make us feel unsafe. They opportunistically exploited a moral panic over an alleged burst of homophobic violence in East London, coupled with the trial of a Muslim man for putting up stickers that read “Gay Free Zone.” (Bindel and Burston dubbed his solitary stickering a “homophobic hate campaign.”) The excellent blogger How Upsetting noted that “Homophobic crime has decreased in Hackney.”

And before anyone tells you that this means nothing because it’s a huge figure nonetheless, the 47 homophobic crimes the MET reports to April 2011 in Hackney compares with 317 racist and religious hate crimes, 130 rapes and 5900 cases of “violence against the person.”

No evidence suggested a link between hate crimes, stickers, and the East London Mosque — which had condemned both. The writers virtually admitted banning the speakers would have no effect: “It is doubtful that many gaybashers are regular mosque attendees.” And many of the “hate preachers” were accused on flimsy pretexts. Tatchell’s article condemned one preacher, Uthman Lateef, as “virulently homophobic.” The joint statement gave more detail on Lateef,

who even hosted a gala dinner to highlight the Mosque’s supposed commitment to combatting homophobia earlier this year [but] is on record as saying to students at nearby Queen Mary University of London in 2007: “We don’t accept homosexuality… we hate it because Allah hates it”.

Read that again. Four years ago, he said “We don’t accept homosexuality” but this year, he hosted an anti-homophobia event to make amends. Yet that’s not enough he’s marked for life, and we’re going to get him banned not just from universities, but in his own community. Try doing that to Germaine Greer! This is “illiberal bullying” far beyond anything Tatchell and Burston piously decried in the Observer. Except here, Tatchell and Burston are doing it.

Hate preaching, I: Uthman Lateef

This censoriousness is ubiquitous in the UK, with nary an open letter against it. Earlier in 2011, for instance, Tatchell tried to no-platform “Muslim fundamentalist preachers who advocate the criminalisation of homosexuality”: “The Ibis Hotel group,” which was hosting a Muslim conference, “should not facilitate speakers who promote homophobic discrimination and violence. They should cancel this booking.” The charge of “promoting violence” is elastic. After all, Uthman Lateef’s alleged statement “We don’t accept homosexuality” hardly incites anything specific. Even preachers who endorse the shari’a punishment of death for proven male homosexual acts (very unlikely to be enacted in the UK) are not exactly urging violence on the streets. But you have to wonder. That call is barbarous — but should only homosexuals be exempt from execution? Are we gays so special? Isn’t the death penalty always a barbarous human rights abuse? Shouldn’t Tatchell, a human rights activist, demand all death penalty supporters be barred from speaking, anywhere? That would ban Priti Patel, David Cameron’s Treasury Minister, who wants to bring back hanging. (OK, she’s brown, go ahead and ban her.) It would ban all the other Tory MPs who tabled a bill to the same end. It would ban almost every visiting US politician, from Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton. Tatchell and Burston should get busy writing the open letter that calls for no-platforming these people, so that Burston and Tatchell can then write the open letter that opposes it.

Hate preaching, II. Top: The fascist English Defence League protests the East London Mosque (photo: Jess Hurd/Reportdigital.co.uk). Bottom: English Defence League march in Telford, August 2011 (photo: MirrorImage/Demotix)

Then there’s Tatchell’s own record. Peter dislikes criticism. (He calls it “smears.”) In fact, he thinks criticizing him is censorship. (“The real censorship is by my critics. Some of them are posting entirely false allegations, often on closed lists that do not allow me to post my side of the story.”) When people criticize him, he tries to shut them up by threatening to sue. English libel law, which until revised in 2013 put the full burden of proof on the defendant and was among the most repressive in the world, handed him a potent weapon. In 2009, he threatened to sue a small feminist press (the aptly named Raw Nerve Books) that had published one of the UK’s first anthologies on race and queerness. An article in the book, by three academics of color, criticized Tatchell’s connections with the Islamophobic right. Tatchell forced the press to withdraw the whole anthology. Humiliatingly, he compelled them to publish a pages-long “Apology and Correction to Peter Tatchell,” written by Peter Tatchell, that praised Peter Tatchell’s career in wildly adulatory terms — a weird, narcissistic exhibition. (Tatchell’s paean to Tatchell is now only available on his own site, since the press is out of business.) “A really amazing book is being censored,” another academic wrote: “Meanwhile the authors’ reputations are themselves besmirched.”

The same year, Tatchell went after me. He threatened to sue Routledge, which had published a peer-reviewed and factual article I wrote, critiquing claims he made about Iran. (The article is here.) Then in early 2010, I stupidly sent an email to a third party in which I wrote, offhand, that “Tatchell makes up his own facts when the existing ones don’t suit.” (That’s a paraphrase here in Cairo I don’t have the text in front of me. It’s also the truth.) The recipient inadvertently forwarded these unwise words to Peter. Tatchell leapt on them, and, since I’d sent the offending missive from a work address, threatened to sue Human RIghts Watch. HRW was eventually constrained to sign an apology which Tatchell couched in the most sweeping terms possible, a decision to which I reluctantly assented to keep their UK work free from his legal harassment. Tatchell then used that apology to force Routledge to concede, and pulp not just the article but the entire volume in which it had appeared.

Nor did it stop there. In 2011 I forwarded to an LGBT e-mail listserve, without comment, two blog posts by other people — both mainly about the Middle East but containing critiques of Tatchell’s work. (The e-mail’s here.) The next day, one “Patrick Lyster-Todd, Lieutenant Commander Royal Navy,” who was also “the acting General Manager for the Peter Tatchell Foundation,” wrote to the Dean of Harvard Law School, where I was a Visiting Fellow, with a veiled threat of libel action unless I were fired. Legal threats against smart lawyers are ill-advised, and the school told him (I’m paraphrasing here too) to bugger off. In 2013, Peter wrote to a friend of Hillel Neuer, a pro-Likud propagandist some of whose misrepresentations of Egyptian human rights activists I had detailed. Tatchell urged Neuer to take “legal action” against me. (This time the e-mail was inadvertently forwarded to me. Be careful with those keyboards, people.) Tatchell has an odd, obsessive fixation on me, which is a personal issue. His use of a draconian libel law to shut down speech is not. He now hypocritically claims (in Twitterese) “I defend precious human right of free speech, except 4 violent incites.” But that’s not true. He defends precious human right when it is good 4 him. Criticize, & he will make u sorry 4 it.

1) It’s utterly wrong if trans or sex worker activists no-platform speakers with transphobic or eradicationist opinions.

2) It’s absolutely right if gay activists no-platform speakers with homophobic opinions.

3) It’s wonderful if one particular gay activist uses the law against anybody criticizing his opinions.

Sex wars: Anonymous stencil

But let’s face it, these are only local hypocrisies. The great dishonesty is claiming you’re being “silenced,” while trans and sex worker activists have mostly been the ones repression stifles and gags. This history stretches back to the sex wars in feminism that raged from the 1970s. When Barnard College held a famous, feminist sexualities conference in 1982, other feminists — fulminating at open discussions of porn and sex work — charged it was a coven of child pornography, in a furious push to shut it down. Trans researcher Natacha Kennedy wrote this week:

The so-called “feminists” who wish to initiate a debate about my existence have glossed over the nature and history of this “debate.” This is a debate that has raged since the early 1970s and which quickly became violent. … [Feminist theorist] Janice Raymond publish[ed] a book in which she suggested that people like myself should be “morally mandated out of existence.” She also helped the Reagan government to withhold gender reassignment healthcare from trans people.…

[T]hose transphobic “feminists” who wish to debate my existence are a group that has a long and sordid history of silencing and intimidating trans people. Indeed I invariably attract quite extreme personal abuse online whenever I write something to counter what these transphobic “feminists” have written. They provide no counter-argument, no engagement with the issues I raise, just abuse and occasionally threats. And I count myself lucky, others have been threatened with legal letters from solicitors trying to shut them up, some have had letters written to their employers, trying to get them sacked, in one instance a transphobic “feminist” even tried to intervene in someone’s medical treatment.

Cathy Brennan, a US lawyer, viciously harasses trans women through her website, Gender Identity Watch: in one case, she posted online the court docket information of a person trying to change her legal gender, and urged others to lobby the judge to deny her. Another, even more sadistic radical-feminist site “monitors” and outs trans youth, regularly posting names and photos of “who is transitioning.” Maybe these are marginal maybe not. Their acts are more terrifying to their targets than anything Kate Smurthwaite underwent. Why isn’t Bea Campbell cooking up an open letter?

And sex workers? The harassment they face is endless. Opponents accuse anti-criminalization campaigners of trafficking, or dub them a “pimp lobby.”

This month anti-sex work groups in the UK published a “Guide for Journalists Reporting on the Prostitution and Trafficking of Women,” written by (there you go again!) Julie Bindel. The book aims to discourage journalists from talking to or trusting sex worker activists: “How to identify the pro-prostitution lobby.” A recalcitrant reporter at a Stop Porn Culture conference last year wrote that “radical feminist Julie Bindel’s presentation on ‘the politics of the sex industry'” was “a succession of tabloid-style personal attacks on pro-sex industry activists, academics, escorts, and performers, complete with photos seemingly lifted without permission from their social-media profiles.” It’s a two-pronged media strategy: first, make sex workers invisible if that fails, out them. Either way, you shut them up.

The whole point of the Observer letter is to bury these facts and this history. This controversy has been less about speech than about forgetting. I”m not sure anything can be learned from such an episode of erasures. But as I mulled on it, four thoughts flickered though.

First: Free speech is easy in principle and complicated in practice. It’s an absolute ideal (an ideology, I’d say, if the word weren’t so weighted): something people hold up and value and use to judge acts and situations. But everybody knows that absolute free speech — a cacophonic babel where everyone talks at once and everybody’s heard — doesn’t exist. (Twitter pretends to be that, hence some folks’ passion for it. But the point is precisely that with everyone on Twitter talking, most don’t get heard at all. And just try Tweeting if you live in Egypt and earn two dollars a day.)

There are always limitations, some necessary (climate-change denialists or creation scientists should not be attended to in University departments) and some unjust (why should a gigabyte of WiFi cost a day’s food?). We negotiate what “free speech” means in specific situations. We decide what limit we’ll contest, who we’ll pay attention to, who gets a lecture slot, who sits on a panel. And when we decide, others should be able to argue back. These negotiations always involve power. Power (“privilege” is the trendy term) is also never absolute. There are different kinds, and race, gender, knowledges, class all shape it differently. Everyone has power in some ways and spaces, and people who have a lot can always point to times and places where they have less (or more). It’s absurd to suppose that Germaine Greer has as much power as David Cameron. But it’s ridiculous to pretend that a few students protesting Germaine Greer have as much power as Germaine Greer. It’s demeaning to posit that academics and politicians and NGO heads are helpless victims in the face of street sex workers or trans women whom police freely abuse. It’s insulting to claim “persecution” because you got too many Tweets from people who actually know what persecution is.

Second: Universities are separate and special places for producing truth: unique sites where we negotiate what free speech means. They are not places of “democratic political exchange,” and they never have been (though there may be democratic spaces within them, the freest usually being ones students establish). People in universities spend much of their time and energy deciding who should get to speak, sometimes fine-tuning fairer procedures for decision. Then sometimes other people protest their decisions. These aren’t Platonic paradises where the free-speech ideal effortlessly becomes flesh.

Bernard Lewis as drawn by the Spectator (UK). Turks may notice the resemblance to Süleyman Demirel.

Most obviously, faculties constantly decide what can be taught or not. No decent university will hire someone to spread creation science or Holocaust denial. The second offends a lot of people, the first probably doesn’t rouse real ire except among dinosaurs, but that’s not the criterion. Those opinions won’t get class time because they’re not true. Yet the decision about what’s true does involve power, and there are steady struggles over it. Vast Turkish massacres of Armenians during the First World War — the word “genocide” hadn’t been coined yet — are well-documented. Yet many scholars still minimize or ignore them. Bernard Lewis, the immensely powerful Middle East scholar much beloved of neoconservatives, is a genocide denier. There are probably Armenian right-wingers who would say this discrepancy is because the Jews have power and the Armenians don’t, but they’d be wrong. The problem is, rather, that the Turkish government has power and uses its weight to cover up the killings, while most European states that murdered Jews have, imperfectly, come to terms with their guilt. Many foreign historians working on Turkey succumbed to unsubtle pressure to steer clear of the genocide, because their access to institutions and archives was at stake. All this is shifting — partly because US conservatives are far less fond of Turkey but also because Armenian activists have pushed, pressured, and sometimes protested to get their stories (and their ancestors’ stories) heard. Truth comes from negotiating such contests it doesn’t descend immaculate from on high. Bernard Lewis is almost 100 now, and no one wants to trouble an old man, but if in his heyday Armenian groups had promised to shout him down in public till he changed his claims, I would have applauded. That would have been an opening of debate, not a closure.

Child refugees from massacres by Turkish troops: Photo from the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute in the Republic of Armenia

Then there’s the part of the university not under the faculties’ direct control. Student union “no platform” policies are much fought over. Several things should be clarified. These are policies of student unions, not the university administration. Students vote on them. They identify certain groups or even people whom the union won’t admit to its platforms. Their origins lie in a long tradition of working-class struggles against fascism (UK student unions are unions, after all). The National Union of Students no-platforms the English Defence League and the British National Party, but also several Muslim groups, including Hizb ut-Tahrir. Its LGBT section has voted to no-platform Julie Bindel.

Anti-fascist demonstrators at Cambridge University protest outside a speech by French rightist Marine Le Pen, February 2013. Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP

No one — even among the advocates behind the Observer letter — seems to mind no-platforming fascists. Commentators are confused, though, over why fascists can be banned. Sarah Ditum, in an article defending Julie Bindel, claimed no-platform “was traditionally about rejecting the rhetoric of violence.” But surely the objection to fascism was less that it was violent than that it was fascism: racist, exclusionary. (Hizb ut-Tahrir is barred even though it has vowed a commitment to non-violence, and nobody on the right complained about that.)

Nick Cohen similarly contends that only ideas that “incite violence” should ever be no-platformed, anywhere. Yet – as the East London furor shows – very few who think this are willing to stick to any consistent or legal definition of “incitement”: that is, encouraging particular acts against particular people. Somebody saying “I don’t like you” is incitement enough in their minds. After all, Julie BIndel believes pornography, all pornography, incites (or is) violence. They use the incitement argument not as a heuristic tool, to winnow “good” speech from “bad” speech, but as an emotive spur, to whip up fear and anger against speech they don’t like.

In other words, hypocrisy once again riddles these arguments: No-platforming for thee, but not for me. But let’s admit two things. First, these student bans aren’t “censorship.” As trans activist Sarah Brown writes, “No platforming sounds terribly serious. In reality, it basically means, ‘we won’t invite this person to our stuff, and we won’t appear on the same platform as them.'” Having no platform at the student union doesn’t mean having no platform at all. There are other platforms in the university there are platforms outside. Everyone has the right to seek a platform from which to speak that doesn’t mean an absolute right to any platform in particular.

For student groups, no-platforming resolutions are a way of putting some opinions under the shadow of disapproval. I find no-platform distasteful, like most symbolic gestures. It gives people the warm feeling of fighting something, with little effort or impact at all. I think it should stop. But to confuse it with state suppression of opinion, with Iran or North Korea, is to lose all proportion.

Music to my fears: London protest against Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, over his political support for Vladimir Putin, November 2013

Then: in our societies, groups censure or ostracise some opinions all the time. A great victory was won, in many places in the last 50 years, through the valor and vigilance of many movements. Some racist ideas became socially and politically unacceptable: not banned (though their expression is in some countries) but met with such disapproval as to disqualify you from public life. When a US politician shouts a racist slur, his career is over. Now there’s a steady struggle to bring other kinds of prejudice under the same penumbra. And gays and lesbians are at the fore, protesting and reviling. It’s like no-platforming, only played not in student unions but on larger fields. Getting the CEO of Mozilla fired because he fought gay marriage takes away a platform way bigger than Julie Bindel’s wildest dreams. Gay activists in the US, the UK, and elsewhere have militantly patrolled the limits of acceptable language and opinion. To tell trans people and sex workers that they can’t similarly fight back is, from this perspective, like saying gay rights are a settled issue, whereas their rights must stay open to debate. It’s the gays pulling up the drawbridge behind them. You’re surprised folks get angry?

I’m sometimes uneasy, even appalled about these wildfire campaigns (a clicktivist drive to fire a CEO is a diversion from fighting poverty or inequality), but they’re not “censorship.” Free speech is a struggle. Voices left inaudible (the powerless on one hand, the just-plain-wrong on another) are in constant contention with the ones behind the megaphones, to make themselves heard.

Much of the horror over who gives a lecture and who doesn’t draws on a fantasy version of how speech works. You’d think each of Earth’s six billion residents was guaranteed a speaking slot at Oxford each semester, and if one loses it, it’s censorship. It’s not. Each time a speaker is invited somewhere, it’s because somebody decided not to invite someone else. Usually these zero-sum contests are settled behind closed doors. But when a decision becomes public, the public can contest it. No university can hear all voices the more discussion about which ones it will accomodate, the better. These arguments make that discussion open. They aren’t how free speech is suppressed. Often, they’re how it happens.

Third: What is censorship? The Observer letter leaves me hopelessly confused. Is it when you’re not invited to speak? When no one shows up when you speak? When someone protests your speaking? When somebody complains?

Censorship is none of these. Censorship is suppressing speech, usually by punitive or repressive force, with the intent to eliminate it altogether. People need to get their definitions straight. When a government closes a newspaper, jails a journalist, or passes an anti-pornography law, that’s censorship. When a person employs a draconian state law to threaten or silence speech, that’s censorship. (Peter Tatchell, with his exploitation of a grim libel law, is a censor.) If TV networks conspire to ban some opinion from the airwaves altogether, that’s censorship. Violence can be censorship. But protesting a program or demanding it be dropped is not censorship. Neither is picketing a lecture, or writing to a political party, or not being allowed on an e-mail listserve. You’re not being censored if you lose a platform and can find another: if the Guardian won’t publish you and the Independent will. The proliferating pseudo-dictionaries make it impossible to muster indignation against real censors.

Sex workers protest against violence, Vancouver, Canada, 1984

Fourth. The one thing everybody in this controversy says is: they want more speech. Being human, they mostly don’t mean it. They want speech from those on their side, that’s all. But this does foreground the question of how we foster and further speech: how any of us, from polemicists to outside observers, can work so as to ensure that voices often relegated to silence are heard.

There is no easy answer, but I should say the beginning is: listen. And here I return to Tatchell, because what he’s written is instructive. Peter was hurt and indignant that trans people criticized him, because, as he kept saying, he’s fought for them for years. He’s right he has. But as I keep saying to Peter — it’s one of the reasons he doesn’t like me — it’s not enough, and sometimes it’s not right, to fight for people. You have to be an ally, not a leader to fight with them (at times, in all senses of the phrase) and you have to listen.

One reason trans people got angry at Peter in this twitter storm is that his reactions to criticism were infuriating. He patronized trans activists, accusing them of not caring about their own:

He accused trans people of ingratitude:

Many responded by asking what an ally is.

It all culminated with Tatchell claiming that he was simply a better trans activist than trans activists.

One demands gratitude not from equals, but from dependents. Tatchell might want to read yet another open letter: from Hannah Arendt to the French poet Jules Romains, after he claimed — at the height of Hitler’s war, in 1941 — that he had defended the Jews and they were ungrateful. (My thanks to Rahul Rao for pointing to this letter in this context, in his fine book Third World Protest.) Arendt reminded Romains that the Jews’ struggle was not just an adjunct to his own.

You complain in fact very loudly and articulately about the ingratitude of Jews for whom you have done so much…..

What concerns us Jews in all this and what makes us blush again for the hundredth time is our despairing question: Is our alternative truly only between malevolent enemies and condescending friends? Are genuine allies nowhere to be found, allies who understand, not out of either sympathy or bribery, that we were merely the first European nation on whom Hitler declared war? That in this war our freedom and our honor hang in the balance no less than the freedom and honor of the nation to which Jules Romains belongs? And that condescending gestures like the arrogant demand for gratitude from a protector cuts deeper than the open hostility of antisemites?

I want also to think about that BBC radio debate with Bindel.

Tatchell’s proud of the broadcast — he Tweeted about it repeatedly to critics. Hosted by the Royal Society of Medicine in 2007, it featured Bindel arguing that “sex change surgery” should be banned as “unnecessary mutilation.” Four respondents answered her: two well-known trans advocates — Stephen Whittle, a world-renowned expert on gender identity and the law, and Michelle Bridgman, a psychotherapist Kevan Whylie, a clinician and expert on gender reassignment therapies and Tatchell.

Censor me? Julie Bindel: Photo by Elena Heatherwick for the Guardian

At the end, the audience was polled, and Bindel’s perspective lost. But what remains of the debate? A recording formerly at the BBC’s site is gone. Two main accounts survive online: Bindel’s and Tatchell’s. (The two, despite their differences, are friends). Bindel wrote in the Guardian:

It was one of the most challenging and stimulating debates I have taken part in. Not because the panel or the audience conceded much to my arguments, but because I was given a platform for my opinions … I was outvoted at the end of the debate, but I felt I had done my job. All I intended to do was to ask the questions, “Are we right to support sex change surgery, and is it right to apply a surgical solution to what I believe is a psychological problem?

She quotes none of her respondents. Meanwhile, Tatchell’s account is on his website. He quotes Bindel generously, and himself at even more length. Although he refers to the other participants in passing, including the two trans advocates, he mentions nothing that they said. As far as he’s concerned, it’s entirely a debate between himself and Bindel. He headlines his version: “Transsexualism – Bindel condemns, Tatchell defends.”

There you have it. First, that’s why I feel no sorrow when students no-platform Bindel. She has no lack of platforms anyone who has the Guardian and the Royal Society of Medicine will never lack a platform. Second: who actually won? Maybe Tatchell, in his mind, but for trans people it may be more ambiguous he buries them in that comma between “Bindel condemns, Tatchell defends.” Their lives were at issue, but he renders their voices irrelevant, lost. Supporting people starts with hearing them: otherwise, the helping hand can become an occupying force. The storm about “silencing” and “censorship” shouldn’t whirl that lesson to oblivion.

Vanesa Ledesma, a transgender sex worker and activist, tortured to death by police in Cordoba, Argentina in February 2000. The painting by Tom Block is based on photographs of her mutilated corpse.

UPDATE only for those too obsessed by this issue to sleep: Peter Tatchell now says he has “proof” that Kate Smurthwaite was banned from Goldsmith’s.

He doesn’t. This all revolves around what Smurthwaite says on her own blog, which is confused to start with. But here’s the gist.

Smurthwaite posts just a snippet of an online chat with a member of Goldsmith’s Comedy Society, as follows. She doesn’t post the whole chat so we have no idea where this conversation went, but let’s assume this is the best evidence she’s got.

From Kate Smurthwaite’s blog

Now. Here is the safe-space policy of the Student Union at Goldsmith’s. And here’s what it says:

Racism, homophobia, biphobia, sexism, transphobia, disablism or prejudice based on age, ethnicity, nationality, class, gender, gender presentation, language ability, immigration status or religious affiliation is unacceptable and will be challenged.

Well, that’s pretty sweeping, except it doesn’t mean anything. There’s a huge gap between saying something’s “unacceptable” and saying it “will be challenged.” There are neither penalties nor enforcement mechanisms, so evidently these kinds of speech are discouraged, not banned, but neither is there any real obligation to “challenge.” (“We refer to our ‘Safe Space Policy’ as a concept, not as a physical document,” the physical document says.) What’s clear in context is that the main target is things that students say to each other — offhand slurs, for instance. The idea is mainly to get students to be nice to each other. You couldn’t really use this to ban any speaker’s speech: just to ensure they get “challenged,” which could mean anything..

This is a terribly written document (sorry, “concept”). It doesn’t offer a basis for suppressing speech it offers no guidance, period. I hope no other school has anything like it. Still, the exchange above isn’t sinister censorship. It’s comedy. You can see the poor fellow has no idea what the policy is (it neither “kinda” says you “can’t say” things nor mentions sex work). Smurthwaite immediately leaps to the conclusion that it’s a “pro-pimp” Bible, because it’s basically a blank on which she can write her prejudices, hatreds, fears. I have to say that if were a comedy society honcho, and a comic started claiming I wanted a “pro-pimp event,” I might assume this wouldn’t be a funny evening, and pull the plug.

The other bit of evidence seems to be this:

Let’s repeat: The person who told him there would be pickets outside the show was Smurthwaite herself, as she admits. And this was entirely based on a Twitter conversation between two persons that she saw online. Nobody was threatening to close her down, nobody was threatening violence. The threats, by Smurthwaite’s own account, came from Smurthwaite.

I still find the most plausible assumption to be that Smurthwaite inflated the “protests” because she didn’t want to perform with no audience torpedoed her own gig and has been milking the publicity. It’s also possible that the Comedy Society just decided she was a pain in the whatever, and looked for any excuse to cancel. If the Comedy Society didn’t want to pay for security, that’s its decision. But let’s also note that there is a right to peaceful protest, as Tatchell admits:

Or does he mean: “Protest anti-trans feminists unless the host organization might get cold feet”? And if he means that, exactly whose free speech is under threat here?


The Inexplicable Origins of World War III

The day after President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike that killed leading Iranian general Qasem Suleimani, the phrase World War III began to dominate the nation’s social media feeds. Celebrities started tweeting about it. Serious pundits made allusions to it. Historians started sharing stories and anecdotes connecting President Trump’s actions to the beginnings of earlier mass conflicts. Fears over World War III were rooted in the idea of one assassination, committed by a president they saw as blundering and incompetent, starting a domino effect that would lead to global conflict and nuclear annihilation. By using the fears of the 1910s and 1950s, American liberals were creating a new panic perfect for the media ecosystem of the 2020s.

Like everything else on the internet in recent years, it is difficult to tell whether every reference to World War III is serious or not. Comments about the possibility of war have rapidly led to threats of being drafted, with many Americans googling draft requirements. There are, of course, memes. And every day that goes by, Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination sparked the First World War, remains a trending topic. Even if some people joke about the idea of another world war, it would match perfectly the tendency of overreaction and hyperbolic rhetoric that has characterized liberal fears over every action Donald Trump has taken since his inauguration, which many people believed would lead to a nuclear war in his first weeks in office.

Fears about World War III, when they are not jokes, mostly revolve around an outdated view of how wars begin in the modern world. The aforementioned Franz Ferdinand is seen as the archetype for this view. As in 1914, the world is currently bound up in a web of alliances, with numerous countries having massive armies and international interests. The world seems confusing, with shadowy enemies and prominent terrorist organizations conducting operations without respect for borders. It seems like the same world, one in which a single shot could lead to a domino effect that, with the help of nuclear weapons, leads to the destruction of life on earth.

But the world is not the same as it was in 1914. The world is currently in a Pax Americana, a state of peace the likes of which have rarely been seen before in modern history. World War III would require official wars among great powers, a scenario that has not been seen in seven decades. With a few exceptions such as Russia with Crimea, countries do not involuntarily annex territory in the 21st century. They also do not have the sort of belligerent, ironclad alliances that once fueled world wars. In 1914, Serbia would not have defied Austria’s orders to hand over Ferdinand’s assassin without the certainty that Russia would intervene to support it. Japan would not have bombed Pearl Harbor if it could not have counted on German and Italian support. In the 21st century, NATO is the only alliance in the world with such an ironclad guarantee backing its members, and even that promise has been shaken in recent years. There is no guarantee that Russia would not abandon Iran, China, or any one of their regional partners if they believed another arrangement was in their best interest.

The lack of alliances and reluctance to engage in official wars among great powers is compounded by the state of mutually assured destruction that has existed since the 1950s. This tenet is often forgotten by the current generation, which never experienced the nuclear scares of the 1950s, 1960s, and even the 1980s. Nuclear weapons still exist. There are still thousands of them, constantly pointed at global capitals, which can be unleashed at a moment’s notice. It is true that, as critics have noted, these weapons have not stopped dozens of proxy wars from the 1950s up to the present day. They may not stop a smaller war with Iran, but then again such a war would not rise to the level of World War III.

There is a tendency on the American left to consider Donald Trump’s actions as uniquely abhorrent in the worst possible terms. According to this view, Trump is imposing fascism, ignoring the Constitution, and starting massive new military operations. Elements of these criticisms are indeed true, even with regards to the case of Suleimani. But critics of President Trump should not let their strong critique provoke the strongest possible hyperbole, that of another war paralleling two of the deadliest in American history. Trump may start a war with Iran. But unless the world changes in ways that no serious political scientist or historian has predicted, he will not start a third world war.


All communists are evil people.

If I were to say all fascists or National socialists are bad people, that wouldn't be very controversial, but many people seem to disagree with me on communists. They may say communists have good intentions, but I find this hard to believe. They want to reach for that communist utopia that will never exist and do not care about the millions of lives communism has taken. When you ask them about this, they just claim that wasn't real communism and some say that Stalin and Mao were just fascists calling themselves communist. The thing is all their policies were based off of Marxist teachings, such as collectivising farms and industry. Many of these policies caused massive amounts of death, such as the so called "great leap forward". Despite communism's track record of killing millions, modern communists stomp of the graves of millions dead Ukrainians and Chinese saying that this wasn't real communism, sure it wasn't.

My main point however, is that every law and government policy is enforced at the threat of death. For example if you were to assault someone, you would be arrested. If you were to resist arrest constantly, at some point you would be shot. If the law was immoral, wouldn't you have the moral right to resist arrest? Hopefully you believe that, if you don't you probably don't believe in individual rights and are a slave of the state. A communist does not believe in property, so in a communist system, it is legal for the state to confiscate your personal property. If you were to refuse, you would be arrested. As stated before an arrest is backed by the threat of death. Therefore communists are willing to kill in order to confiscate your property.

How can these people possibly be good people if they believe that you should be shot if you refuse to give up all your possessions? They are just thieves willing to murder, but use the power of the state to commit their crimes. They do not believe in the rights of the individual, only the collective, why would we treat them like individuals? Clearly all communists are evil people, if anybody is willing to kill for their own selfish desires, there is no justification for them not being evil. If they wish to treat everyone as a collective, they should be seen as a collective evil. Their intentions don't matter, just their beliefs and actions.


Was there a reason Hitler saluted differently to everyone else? - History

Among all the people on the left who preen their new-found admiration for Reagan – he was so reasonably, you see, unlike these Teepers – it’s always refreshing to come across someone who’s as dunderheaded about the Gipper as old-style Democrats. This article by Bonnie Blodgett, a masterful fugue of disconnected idiocy about the imminence of American fascism, makes an interesting assertion early on:

Roosevelt had a more nuanced understanding of economics than Reagan did. He knew that fascism is capitalism without boundaries, that both fascism and communism (with a small “c”) are apolitical, and that economics trumps politics every time.

Yes, a nuanced understanding of economics. Like, setting the price of gold arbitrarily. Works every time! From cfr.org:

Over the summer of 1933, FDR found himself relying increasingly on someone he was sure would say “yes”—Morgenthau, his timid old Dutchess County neighbor who held a post at the Farm Credit Administration. With the aid of his “yes” man, Roosevelt launched a novel gold purchase program. The plan was to drive up the general price level by buying gold. Each morning, FDR set the gold price target, personally. This in turn was supposed to help farmers, who would get higher prices for commodities.

Theoretically, Roosevelt’s idea of reflating can be defended. More money might mean more growth.

But the exposure to investors that Morgenthau was getting through the gold purchase project of 1933 was already teaching him something. Investors didn’t like the arbitrariness. It took away their confidence. One day Morgenthau asked FDR why the president had chosen to drive up the price of gold by 21 cents. The president cavalierly said he’d done that because 21 was seven times three, and three was a lucky number. “If anyone ever knew how we really set the gold price through a combination of lucky numbers etc., I think they would be frightened,” Morgenthau wrote in his diary. And they were: In the second half of 1933 a powerful stock rally flattened.

Eventually FDR decided people shouldn’t own gold, because, well, because. And he decided that the best way to run the economy was to set prices. It was a case against a chicken seller that made the court declare the NRA unconstitutional, as this PBS site explains:

In reviewing the conviction of a poultry company for breaking the Live Poultry Code, the Court held that the code violated the Constitution’s separation of powers because it was written by agents of the president with no genuine congressional direction.

But that’s okay because FDR was smart. Let’s look at some of the charges brought against the poultry company, and see if there’s a few that stick out to you:

Schechter Poultry Corporation, the defendant in the case, purchased live poultry from commissioners in New York City and Philadelphia and sold slaughtered poultry to retailers and butchers in Brooklyn. Schechter was charged by the U.S. government with violating the poultry code by selling “unfit chickens,” illegally selling chickens on an individual basis, avoiding inspections by local poultry regulators, falsifying records of poultry sold, and selling poultry to nonlicensed purchasers.

There are two things: selling chickens to someone who does not have a license from the state to buy chickens, and selling chickens individually. Because it is the job of the state to regulate the selling of a single chicken. The state has the right to charge you with a crime if you do not conform to the laws regarding the sale of a single chicken.

Ah, but this is getting away from our discussion of fascism, isn’t it. Back to the column, which sums up the mindset Reagan opposed. Do you know why the Soviet Union had control of the Eastern Bloc? Because they deserved it. Heck, they earned it. Discussing the baleful influence of money in politics she writes:

Most Americans in the 1950s paid scant attention to any of this, thanks in part to the sense of security FDR had provided by ending the Depression and winning the war. To them Stalin was the new Hitler. After all, hadn’t Stalin annexed the entire eastern bloc in a brazen, Nazi-style power grab?

Something else FDR understood, having fought with the Soviets and having sat beside their leader at Yalta, was that those countries were the spoils of a war that took 40 million Russian lives.

Isn’t that an interesting standard? If a nation attacks you, and you fight back, everything between his border and you border . . . is yours! Of course they deserved to have Poland. They’d been through so much.

The Berlin Wall speech, as you might imagine, irritated her:

Fast-forward four decades. By the time Reagan imperiously commanded Gorbachev to “tear down that wall,” the evil empire had already imploded. It was in its death throes. The U.S. president relished his opportunity to turn the Russian people’s suffering into a live-action morality tale.

The longer the bread lines in Moscow, the more he mocked the austerity that such images displayed. To Reagan, the lesson could not have been simpler. Get out those credit cards, America, and turn up the thermostat. The Cold War’s over and the good guys won.

Stalin’s appropriation of land to create an empire? Payback. Reagan insisting he let those nations go? Imperious. As for Reagan’s love of Soviet suffering, here’s an excerpt from his famous Berlin speech 25 years ago:

The totalitarian world produces backwardness because it does such violence to the spirit, thwarting the human impulse to create, to enjoy, to worship. The totalitarian world finds even symbols of love and of worship an affront. Years ago, before the East Germans began rebuilding their churches, they erected a secular structure: the television tower at Alexander Platz. Virtually ever since, the authorities have been working to correct what they view as the tower’s one major flaw, treating the glass sphere at the top with paints and chemicals of every kind. Yet even today when the sun strikes that sphere—that sphere that towers over all Berlin—the light makes the sign of the cross. There in Berlin, like the city itself, symbols of love, symbols of worship, cannot be suppressed.

Anyway, we’re going to have fascism now because of corporate money, thanks to Citizens United. Blodgett writes:

it wasn’t socialism that brought Europe to the brink of bankruptcy but American-style capitalism — real-estate deals and other high-risk ventures facilitated by something called the credit default swap that was all the more effective for its inscrutability.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is learning the hard way that inscrutability is fascism’s ultimate weapon. His was the swing vote in the Citizens United case. He wrote the majority opinion granting corporations the same free-speech rights as people.

In the real world, that means unlimited spending on right-wing political causes and candidates . . .

Citizens United, of course, was brought because a private group wanted to distribute a film that was critical of Hillary Clinton. (You wonder if there had been an attempt by the Bush Administration to ban the distribution of “Fahrenheit 911,” also the product of a private group, if this would have been seen as a sign the system was working to the benefit of free speech.) Now the idea that private individuals can spend money to criticize government policy or put contrary policy ideas forward is fascism, which indicates either a complete inversion of the term’s definition, or an authorial inability to grasp its original meaning.

But “Fascism” now means “rule by corporations” in the lazy mind, as if Hitler was just the pawn of IG Farbin, and corporations were free to romp and gambol over Europe in the 40s as untrammeled agents. No. As with the USSR, they were branches of the state, but there was a fictional distinction that kept them as individual entities, even though they had no will. What’s this? An order for our high-quality Zeiss lens, to be used in bombsights? Sorry Adolph, we’re ramping up for Christmas season, and everything has to go for cameras and binoculars.

One last thing: would you prefer the economic performance of Reagan, or the work of his nuanced predecessor? Just a thought.

So they’re all bigots, then?

The news had a picture of an African-American preacher exulting at the results of the North Carolina vote, and it makes you realize what a marvelous opportuniy this represents. The NC vote exposed again the fault lines that run through the various liberal constituencies. In case anyone isn’t clear, there’s a hierarchy: Blacks < Gays < Women. It’s all great and wonderful when African-Americans get up in robes and sway and sing and do that gospel thing, but when it becomes apparent they’re actually serious about believing that stuff, then it’s something else. At that point they instantly shed any racial identification and become “fundamentalists.” But you can’t call them bigots, so you have to shift the focus to all the inbred rednecks who hate them homersegsuls, which is what my Twitter stream suggests.

It needs to be thrown back into the faces of everyone castigating the NC voters: so you hate Black people, then. You are opposed to Black people expressing their views. You do not understand the role of religion in the Black experience, how you are demanding that people change their culture to conform to an overwhelmingly white conception of the way the world should be. This isn’t just racist, it’s cultural imperialism and condescending white privilege at its worst. Right? I mean, using the logic and arguments of the left, that’s the only possible explanation.

What’s needed, then, are Freedom Riders: busloads of whites from eastern cities who will go to the beleaguered South and fight for gay rights against the staunch, entrenched interests in the churches that stand in the way of progress. Norman Rockwell’s modern day equivalent must be called upon to draw a magazine cover of two children of gay parents walking under police escort to a Baptist church. Marxists should be drafted to explain how African-Americans are suffering from a false consciousness, and –

– Of course, this won’t happen. Of course, no one would say any of that people would react like one of those computers Captain Kirk shut down by making them consider contradictory theorems. Nor will Brian Williams or Anderson Cooper or Soledad O’Brien point out how the DNC’s choice of Charlotte for their convention is a dog-whistle call to the bigots, or at least a subtle reminder of the party’s core constituency’s stance, or a Troubling Issue that may haunt the 2012 convention. Whatever African-Americans may think, it doesn’t matter they’re taken for granted. Under the bus is better than the back, right?

Mr. Grant, You Have To Put Some Back

File this under “Our Ideological Opponents are Incapable of Art or Anything Approaching It Because They are Dumb Sex-Hating Suspicious Morons Without Nuance: A writer at the HuffPo doesn’t think there are any funny people on the right. He has theories, too!

Comedy is inherently subversive.

It’s “subversive” only to the extent it believes that soaking strawmen with kerosene and throwing matches is proof of spontaneous combustion. Progressive comedy exists in a tight narrow boxes that proscribe the limits of subject material, according to your membership in various groups. Exemptions are made for people whose misanthropy is all-encompassing, and tend to shout.

Comedy is often a coping mechanism for adverse situations

The “adverse situation” here is living in a big country and realizing that someone in Plano, Texas is laughing at Sasha Cohen’s portrayal of a gay person for all the wrong reasons. He goes on:

You don’t have to look too far or too deep to realize that comedy speaks to unfairness and injustice.

Based on the comedy I hear on my satellite radio channel, this unfairness often involves some woman who does not understand her man’s need for access to a wide variety of females, but I’ll get back to that in a moment.

If you haven’t experienced them, if there’s no struggle, there’s less need to find a redeeming quality to your situation by injecting humor into your life.

When I hear the word “struggle,” I reach for my whoopee cushion. The word “struggle” in its modern sense – screwing up your face with REALLY SERIOUS ANGER as you pound out a comment on HuffPo – has no place in the discussion of comedy, unless you’re talking about funny struggles, like Harold Lloyd struggling to Not Die.

It is easier to sell to the 99% than the 1%...Comedy is part of entertainment, and entertainment is a business. As a numbers game, its flat out more profitable to mock the establishment when the rest of us will be buying tickets to your shows.

As I said, I listen to comedy channels on XM radio. No one mocks the establishment as it currently exists they mock an idea of the establishment, a fantasy of uptight repressed white men in short-sleeved dress shirts whose greatest fear is that women will stop shaving their legs, and what this might do to sales of Tang. The only time modern comics will assault the Establishment is when they’re angry they can’t buy weed at the 7-11.

There are two comedy channels, by the way. There’s RAWDOG, which is for people who cannot express themselves very well, swear a great deal, regard women as hectoring faithless harpies, and recount their witless observations to a room of drunks who hoot and holler every time their own plotless existence is validated with an emphatic profanity. Then there’s the Clean Comedy channel, where you will find actual comics who craft quips – Jeff Foxworthy, for example – or construct elaborate narratives that build and pay off. Bob Newhart is still good. I never laugh at Jerry Clower, a suthin comedian what told tales of his unca Cleetus WHEEEE that man could hunt, but it’s a pleasure to listen to that bygone style. And it’s instructive to hear the audience respond. They had patience.

Tradition…Let’s face it, the tradition of Card-Carrying, Left-leaning, Pinko comics is a great one. A kid aspiring to comedic greatness can look to Charlie Chaplin, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Janeane Garofalo, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Marc Maron, if they care to lean left.

Hmm. Well. Lenny Bruce had his moments, but the influence was toxic people took the wrong lessons. I’ll swear and be brutally honest! No. Carlin is an interesting case I’ve listened to a lot of Carlin. I practically memorized AM / FM when I was in high school. He had a brilliant skill for skewering the sunny uptalk of 60s radio and commercial culture, and when you’re 14 it’s SO BRAVE! It worked because he came out of that industry, knew the tropes and tones. But then he became the Oracle, and the more he came to believe his oracular status, the more tendentious he became. When he fastened on a particular absurdity, he could be brilliant – but towards the end, the concerts were instances of the audience engaged in onanistic self-congratulation, believing that laughing with Carlin somehow insulated them from being the people he was talking about. He hated everyone.

Hicks had his moments, but again: the audience was getting a contact high from a guy who burned with anger that some idiot out there believed in God.

Garafalo: I thought we were talking about comedians.

Bill Maher: So there was a scientific experiment that implanted “Chomsky for Dummies” into the cerebellum of a ferret. Who knew.

Jon Stewart: funny guy I suspect some times he feels a larger social obligation to STIFLE, as Archie Bunker would say, and it gripes him.

Charlie Chaplin: Yes, he was a leftie, and aside from “The Great Dictator” – which you could read as “leftie” in the sense it was anti-fascist – his politics are mostly absent from his greatest work. His speech in “Monsieur Verdoux,” is lefty enough, in the sense that it’s cut from the same dun-hued bolt of fatuous moral equivalence you find by the yard in any sophomore bong-session. If the left remade “City Lights” today, the Tramp would go to Washington to demand Federal funding for stem-cell research to cure the flower-girl’s blindness. “The Kid” would be a brief for national day-care. “The Circus” would protest the cruelty of using monkeys in tight-rope acts.

The truth…it is undeniable that the Right seems to be in a high speed dive towards absurdity so transparently errant, that it makes for simple fodder to those looking to mock. As Rory Albanese of The Daily Show pointed out during our panel,” Santorum is Anti-College! How can you not make fun of that?”

Go ahead have fun. And realize that you’ve just said higher education is off-limits as a subject of comedy. If you can’t find humor in stories about colleges having classes on Zombie Apocalypse Preparation or the kicking out Christian groups for wanting to restrict memberships to Christians, or find the humor in the endless parade of humorless grievances that flutter around like sodden moths in the hothouse of academia, great. Leave that to us.

This isn’t to say the Left isn’t funny. Tom Lehrer still makes me laugh. He’s a brilliant lyricist and master of genre parody, and there’s a bright, crystalline intelligence that delights even as it appalls. Ricky Gervais is a tiresome atheist who’s probably dependent on his writing partner to make his ideas gel and breath, but I’ve split my sides over the radio shows and podcasts he did with his team. I’ll bet everyone who wrote and acted in the Mary Tyler Moore show “Veal Prince Orloff” episode voted for Carter doesn’t stop it from being eye-wateringly hilarious.

But why? Was it subversive? Yes: it played against the idea that a confident, capable career woman could manage a small dinner party. Was it a coping mechanism for adverse circumstances? Absolutely: there was the unexpected guest Rhoda brought, and then Mr. Grant took half the veal. Mister Grant you have to put some back. Was it easier to sell to the 99% than the 1%? Of course: we’ve all had a party that went awry, because we couldn’t hire pros and had to rely on a friend with her own agenda. Was there Tradition in the vein of old leftist comedians? Sure: at any moment, Phyllis Lindstrom might flounce into the room and complain that Lars had cut up her credit cards. (Phyllis was a liberal all the way, but the good kind. The rich kind. The useful kind.)

In short, absolutely everyone involved in this scene would have voted for nationalized health care and a unilateral nuclear disarmament. And this is still funny, because you can’t tell that from this.

Note: Ted Baxter was the idiot, of course, the empty suit, the miser, the buffoon. You never knew how he voted, except, well, you knew. But when the show ended, what did we have? Unlike Mary, Ted got married unlike Murray, he wasn’t tempted by another woman unlike Lou, his wife didn’t leave him to “find herself” when the kids were gone. Ted adopted a Vietnamese child, had another with his wife, and kept his job.

That last point was intended as the bitter, ironic punchline: all the good people got fired. The idiot stuck around. But when I was doing the TV news show for our paper’s online video, I would describe myself as playing Ted Baxter, and people who got the reference would nod: you poor man.

And I’d smile: yes. If you think so.

(PS: When I did a mockumentary on the opening credits of the Mary Tyler Moore show for public TV many years ago, we reenacted as much as we could. We found the original car Mary Tyler Moore was washing, and I washed it. It belonged to a local politician, who was the first – and, I believe, only – transgendered person elected to the City Council. Trust me when I say I don’t intend this to be insulting. But isn’t that . . . funny?)

On Banning Dante

Gherush 92, a human rights organisation which acts as a consultant to UN bodies on racism and discrimination. Dante’s epic is “offensive and discriminatory” and has no place in a modern classroom, said Valentina Sereni, the group’s president.

Divided into three parts – Hell, Purgatory and Heaven – the poem consists of 100 cantos, of which half a dozen were marked out for particular criticism by the group. It represents Islam as a heresy and Mohammed as a schismatic and refers to Jews as greedy, scheming moneylenders and traitors, Miss Sereni told the Adnkronos news agency. “The Prophet Mohammed was subjected to a horrific punishment – his body was split from end to end so that his entrails dangled out, an image that offends Islamic culture,” she said.

Like I say, shocking: I had no idea the book was assigned in any classroom. I cannot imagine a public school curriculum would make anyone read Dante, let along drag them all the way through Paradise. But apparently the work is taught in colleges as well. The full horror is described thus:

Schoolchildren and university students who studied the work lacked “the filters” to appreciate its historical context and were being fed a poisonous diet of anti-Semitism and racism, the group said.

It called for the Divine Comedy to be removed from schools and universities or at least have its more offensive sections fully explained.

Yes, a university student has insufficient filters, and cannot understand that a particular work of art is a product of a time and a culture. They must either be shielded from the work itself, lest they be exposed to something that offends someone else, or someone must take the tender dears aside, dry their tears, and explain that the mean man with the prominent nose was a bad man who wrote bad things about bad thoughts, and sometimes – I know this is tough – sometimes it’s necessary to expose one’s self to those bad thoughts, voluntarily even, and understand why they’re bad.

The Telegraph said this nonsense came from Gherush92, a “human rights organization” affiliated with the UN. Well, it is, inasmuch as it’s one of ten specifically useless NGOs advising the generally useless UN Human Rights committee. (Members this session include China and Cuba.) I wouldn’t put much stock in it, and if the organization ever came up in conversation I would say “gesundheit.” But it is indicative of a certain mindset. Six out of a 100 cantos were deemed offensive and discriminatory, and that’s enough to boot the whole book? Of course: they poison every syllable, you know. The presence of discrimination – which is to say, the literary expression of an intellectual and cultural preference – is unacceptable.

“The Divine Comedy is the pillar of Italian literature and a cornerstone of Italian literature and the educational formation of the country’s students,”

Oh, wait – that’s a quote from Valentina Serini, the intellectual lint-trap running the ban campaign. Those are the very reasons it should be banned, can’t you see? That such a wretched work should be a pillar, AND a cornerstone – well, you cannot remake the next generation when such miserable examples are the basis by which students gain an understanding of their cultural tradition. There are no cultural traditions worth preserving, in the end. They’re all impediments – except for the cultural traditions of other people, which are generally wonderful, certainly more wonderful than ours, which led to imperialism and colonialism and racism, which was never practiced by any other culture in the world at any time. Class dismissed!

One more thing about Andrew.

it seems we’ve forgotten Andrew’s great omission. Constant listeners to Hugh’s show may recall how our host checked the preface of Breitbart’s book, looking for his name among the innumerable luminaries the author thanked. It’s natural! Everyone in the media world does it, if they think there’s a chance they might be listed.

But Hugh’s name wasn’t in the list. You might recall the show where he brought this fact to Andrew’s attention, and did so with the usual playful cheer he normally reserves for tormenting Duane. Breitbart was mortified. He felt horrible. You might think: well, a guy gets called out on a radio show for a faux pas like that, he’s going to work up all the contrition he can muster, salve the host’s tender ego, then hang up the phone and think “Dude. Really? Okay, next book, whatever.”

After the interview my phone rang it was Andrew. He started to explain why he was calling, and I had to cut him off: look, pal, you do that to my friend Hugh, you got no business coming around here. He laughed, said okay, you heard: now what can I do to make it right?

He wanted to know Hugh’s hobbies or tastes or side interests so he could do something to apologize. So Hugh, if you’re reading this – that explains the strippergram at the office. Mystery solved, eh?

I don’t know what he did, but it was typical. He was a generous man in every sense that matters, I suspect – generous to family, to friends, allies, and even to his enemies, inasmuch as he gave them so many reasons to amp up their hate and feel better about himself. Whether the generosity extended to himself, I can’t say – but it seems as if he lived his life in broadcast mode, a tall tower shooting out rays in all directions, wires taut and quivering. And finally they snapped.

According to a story about his last hours, he was talking with a liberal in a bar – someone he’d just met and befriended. Not yelling or telling him he was an idiot, but talking. There’s the big grand stage events that grab headlines, and there’s the small moments when you can insert a sliver of doubt into someone’s ideas, or at least make them realize that the other side isn’t a bunch of lemon-sucking old prudes.

It’s not enough to confront. You have to convince. The left may have disliked him for the first one. They hated his power to do the second.

Attack of the Six-Step Process

E.J. Dionne said something revealing on the Wednesday’s show: Obama couldn’t be anti-Catholic he had worked for them as a community organizer, and they’d paid his way. As if this translates to anything. As if there’s any gratitude given to an employer for any reason. That’s what they’re supposed to do: give people money, right? But if he think this means that Obama has some deep appreciation for the church because they gave him money, it explains why liberals think people’s opinions aren’t the result of study and consideration of the issues, but because they work for a company that once had a contract to buy paper towels from the Koch Brothers.

Speaking of the Post: got a tweet from a Washington Post columnist. He’s a very funny and talented writer. But.

This is so true. Watch: Next, they’ll resurrect the flag-burning threat. http://t.co/RIqZYmVp

Why Republicans are Crawling Into Women’s Vaginas

More good news: jobless claims are down again. Here’s a graph of jobless claims from Steve B (click to embiggen) that explains why the Republican Party is ginning up the culture war—it’s easier than acknowledging that the economy is getting better.

It’s all a ploy to distract the masses, and it arose only because desperate conservatives are looking for an issue. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t have been a big deal. But now that the economy is booming again, fizzy with exuberance, they have to puff up something completely unobjectionable to distract the lowing masses. Hence this BIZARRE kerfluffle over making Catholic organizations pay for “women’s health,” the fuzzy cover-all euphemism for everything from mammograms to ninth-month abortions. It’s not like they’re forcing anyone to use it. Right? What could possibly be the problem?

Don’t tell me it’s abridgment of religious liberty. It’s hatred of women and the desire to see them all get sick and die. (Conservatives are awful misogynists.) This is not an opinion, but settled fact. And they’re control-freak theocrats to boot! From the New Republic:

. . . the fight that the church’s defenders thought was about protecting Catholic Charities and St. Mary’s school down the street from purchasing health plans that violate their leaders’ conscience is now, as the Church sees it, also about protecting the right of all employers — including, apparently, fast food franchises — to deny contraception coverage to their employees.

Horrors. In a just and decent world the owner of a restaurant must assist his employees to pay for contraception. He must, if so requested by the fry cook, go to the store and buy a box of condoms, if the fry cook intends to get busy when the shift’s over. The owner of the restaurant is not permitted to say “buy your own, or don’t have sex,” because there should be no impediment to recreational frottage. Another blogger at free weekly in Minneapolis noted the injustice of allowing employers – any employers! – to impose their religious conceptions of, well, conception on its employees.

Not paying for something is equivalent to denying it. Makes sense.

This backs up my theory about any change in social mores: it’s a six-step sequence. First you have to tolerate the new idea, because tolerance is good (except when the object has been branded an unacceptable impediment to the nifty new progressive world just over the horizon.) Tolerance might mask an uncomplimentary opinion, though, and even though it’s held and private and never expressed, it’s not enough. So the next step is Acceptance. You have to accept something. This is swiftly followed by Approval, lest the people who embody the new mores feel bad about your lack of approval next the change must be seen as the equal of the previous standard, and shortly thereafter it must be admitted that in some ways it is superior. The last step: you have to pay for it.

We seem to be moving through these steps faster and faster these days. Each one wears down the sandpaper that kept ideas from swift adoption. In the end, what do you get? A world in which all of a sudden a married lesbian can have an abortion against her spouse’s wishes, and demand that it be paid for by someone against their own convictions. To the progressives, that’s all good. That’s a sign we’re doing it right.

By the way: The Think Progress comments on the matter are as delightful as you’d expect, full of the roiling anti-religious hatred that abounds on these sites.

Lets make a deal. Catholic bishops can have a say in how our government works when they decide to pay their taxes for the privilege. Until then, stay in your churches and STFU!

Rejecting a law that requires you to violate your beliefs = having a say in how government works. Got it. The next one:

Catholic Bishops…. KEEP YOUR GRUBBY HANDS OFF MY GOVERNMENT!

It’s as revealing as Dionne’s remarks, and in both cases, the speakers don’t seem to understand the implications. MY government? Not ours? No. Not ours.

Government belongs to them. Society conforms to the dictates of government. Individuals confirm to the dictates of society. The only personal freedom you have is the only one that matters: sexual freedom. Any questions? Enjoy!

More expert analysis on North Korea

Kim Jong-Il is dead, and boo-hoo-hoo. Everyone’s passing around the Official Weeping Interval video today. This hellish ululation is either genuine, or it’s not. Either option is unnerving.

If it’s genuine, then you see the end result of a few generations of socialization and isolation: automatons whose depthless grief is matched only by their fear of a future without Dear Leader’s hand on the till. Or the locomotive throttle. Or the golf cart steering wheel, or the movie camera’s focus control, or the agricultural biology lab’s special microscope he used to cure wheat smut, or any of the other things in which he excelled. But surely all is not lost if he was the greatest at absolutely everything, then he was Top Best Sperm Man of All-Time, and his son will be just as smart. Certainly has his looks and charisma.

On the other hand: c’mon. What a bunch of fakers! Round up all the people who work in the local offices, the ones who aren’t starving and have probably had real coffee and a piece of meat in the last couple weeks. Line ‘em up and shout “express your grief” and give everyone a close-up, so you can study the tape later and see who didn’t seem consumed with despondency.

Who knows? Well, I do. Last summer I read “A Corpse in the Koryo,” a murder mystery set in North Korea, and that makes me an expert on the place. The author wrote under a pseudonym of James Church, because he was a real secret intelligence officer, or because he wasn’t and wanted to make you think he was. The hero, Inspector O, floats through a mirror-palace world of corruption and suspicion everything is broken, no one has everything, the black market thrives, the army is the mob, and so on. I’m not sure if it had a plot, or what it was, or who died at the end, but there was a sequel, so I’m pretty sure the hero survived. If there’s one thing I learned from the book, it’s that no one in Pyongyang believes in any of that Juche drivel. The entire state is performance art. Nothing will change as long as the regime is enabled by the outside world.

And that’s my expert opinion! Only slightly less useful than the rest of the speculation we’ll get this week.

No one knows what will happen, but we all know what didn’t happen. Ten years after President Bush named the Axis of Evil, the regime is still around. Still building Nork-nukes still trying to figure out a way to sell a few to keep the top brass in cognac and imported Russian hookers for another year or two. In 2001 we figured they’d be toast within the next few years, once the world got serious about dealing with the threat, but no. We’ve been kicking the can down the road for a decade, even though we know it’ll be filled one day with nitroglycerine. Expect more of the same for Kim Jung-D’oh, or whatever Number Three Son is called. There’s no good end for this story the only question is whose innocents eventually pay: theirs, or ours.

What we could have done differently

Everyone’s spending the day on recollections and remembrances, and I’ve said enough of that. Started wondering: What should we have done differently? In no particular order of importance, some thoughts.

Nomenclature. The Department of Homeland Security: hated the term then, hate it just as much now. It’s a tin-eared appellation with overtones of paternalistic daddy-states. Couldn’t say Motherland Russia has the copyright on that. Can’t say “Fatherland,” for obvious reasons. How about Yankeeland? No, insults the south. Doodleland, then? An amusement park. Office of Domestic Security? No, too totalitarian . . . except it’s not, really. It’s just blunt. It’s true. If there’d been a Bogart movie in WW2 where he worked for the Office of Domestic Security, smashing Nazi spy-rings, the term would feel right, and would connote diligence and competence and authority. But the language has changed we’ve been trained by movies and TV and the rest of the popular culture to believe that every such agency is really an apparatus for doing something horrible to Americans at the behest of the Shadowy Forces who use national paranoia for their own dark purposes. So we have the DHS, and no one knows what it does. Beyond that: “homeland” is different from “nation.” People don’t think of America as a “homeland,” which sounds pre-national, rooted in place and tribe, not an idea. Americans don’t set foot in Hawaii and think “ah, the homeland.” They think of the ideas and values that make this place familiar.

Likewise: The War on Terror. This was the first sign of careful locutions intended to reassure the world we weren’t going to go all Crusader on everyone. “War on Evil” would have sounded ridiculous, of course, and impractical so many fronts. “The Axis of Evil” was derided as the sort of term you’d find in an old movie serial, and who’s to say what’s evil, anyway? One man’s evil is another man’s shining sweet goodness with sprinkles on top. Can’t say on “War on Islamists” because that would insult everyone was Muslim, even though we were constantly told that Islamists weren’t really acting in the name of Islam, and were horrified by Islamists, and by-gosh would expunge them from civil society, except there were only about six or seven, so it wasn’t worth the bother.

World War Four would have been an apt name, but since no one really named the Cold War for what it was – number three – it would seem like we’d skipped an episode. My daughter once said she was scared of thinking about World War Three, and I said we already had it. We won. Now we’re having Number Four. This seemed a relief, somehow.

Post-war Iraq. There’s either the school that says “leave after Saddam was toppled, and let the brutes sort it out” but we would have got Al-Qaeda or some such indistinguishable band of medieval totalitarians. Another school said “install an SOB who’ll keep the lid on, and leave,” and that has a certain appeal – but it went against the Bush approach to draining the swamp and planting the flower of democracy in the stony earth of the Middle East. Hindsight, 20-20, etc., but it’s clear that the post-occupation clusterbungle sapped the United States of every atom of momentum we had. Speaking of which:

Iran. Recall a cover of the Weekly Standard after the fall of Baghdad? “On to Iran!” We’ll probably never know what the US and its allies have been doing to Iran in the last decade, but if they go nuclear and use them, history will look back at a country that was flanked on two sides by a powerful adversary that stayed its hand when it could have struck. History will be scratching its head over that one.

Likewise, North Korea: it’s not as if we couldn’t take them out. As a member in good standing of the Axis of Evil, as the nation voted Most Likely To Sell a Nuke for a Case of Hennessey, they need to go. But the necessary steps – flattening Pyongyang, sowing the border with daisy-cutters, giving the Chinese a wink if they decide to gun down anyone who tries to cross the border – were always unacceptable, unthinkable, inhumane, and will continue to be so right up until the moment they discover that the nuke that took our an American city came from Kim Il-Jong. Then it’ll seem like the right thing to do. But not until. We have to wait for the “until” part.

Reconstruction. The new World Trade Center is an underwhelming, mediocre, undistinguished group of buildings that could be built anywhere – except that it took them ten years, which means it could only be built in New York. The architecture is rootless and universal, divorced from our own vocabulary the monuments are pits that speak of sadness without anger, remembrance without a nod to a future where the struggle is won. It was unthinkable that they would build the towers again, because –

. . . well, why, exactly? Can you think of a better rebuke, a better response? The towers weren’t great architecture in the first place, but as Paul Goldberger of the NYT said, the fact that there were two banal towers instead of one transformed them into abstract sculpture, and he’s right. Over time they became an icon, a symbol of New York as powerful as the Empire State Building, and replacing them with a tower that twists as if it’s been slapped, and another that looks as if its top has been sheared by a giant’s angry scythe is a lost opportunity.

For all that, we did so many things right, and we’ll never know most of them. We weren’t hit again. Everyone thought we’d be hit again.

Most everyone still does. It will be different our reaction will be confused, unsure how to reply. But one thing will be the same, at least for the left.

A Modest Proposal

. . . which is what writers say when they want to be ridiculous. Well then:

A little-known, unforseen consequence of Obamacare – don’t worry, there can’t be more than one or two – is discussed here, at Commentary. New restaurant nutritional signage requirements. Domino’s Pizza is hit particularly hard, since A) there are an almost infinite number of permutations, and B) hardly anyone goes to the store to see the sign anyway. You can get all the information online, and apparently by phone as well. Doesn’t matter: people who go to the store to pick up a meat-laden pizza may be unaware that they are exceeding their caloric intake for the meal, and that makes Michelle Obama cry, so stores – which average $40K in profits – have to spend almost $5K to put in the signs. And again when they add an item.

So profits go down, or prices go up, which means profits will probably go down. Or the manager can get the staff together, and ask them who voted for Obama. The rest can leave. The manager tells them he’s going to have to fire one of them because of Obama’s regulations, and he’s choosing the driver who makes the most, because he should pay his fair share. Since the owner’s not cold-hearted, he announces he will subtract ten percent from everyone salary to give to the fired driver, and if the driver doesn’t find another job, this will be extended, and extended again, until the driver gets another job.

Any questions? Have a nice day.

Any minute now

The President, about to speak on jobs. It’s apparent the Teleprompter is running Mac OS 7, and takes a while to boot up. Too many extensions!


I know i'm not perfect. but i believe i was meant to be.

One and one made two together. Yet there was nothing simple about the equation that made up their family. Malcolm would learn as he grew older than his father liked to pretend he was a simple number, a unit that stood well on it's own and worked perfectly and neatly in responce to others. Because this fit what he wanted from life - from himself, from others. But age had a way of pulling back curtains, of making pages out of life you could flick through fast enough to reveal the motion picture that lays beneath words that once seemed so set in stone. Behind his father stood endless decimals of shadows, one more warped than the last and even if the outline of him seemed decent enough, all that filled him lead to too many complications when interacting with the rest.

His mother wasn't like that. It's not that she didn't vary, didn't react to her surroundings and carry her own skirt of oddities that brushed past things here and there. It was just that it was all there to be seen and appreciated. Michelle didn't hate the hardships that built her up, didn't mind the wear and tear of being made of bricks you were forced by life to make yourself from dirt and nothing. Maybe there were days in his youth he doesn't remember, where his mother loved the simple neatness his father had to offer. Where the two options were shake and aftermath of calm. And maybe that's how he came to being - born of juxtaposition that so badly wanted to meld into one.

Malcolm knows he's been different since the get go. An amalgamation of all things that come together and somehow make a one. And also sometimes a two, a three, a lot more than most people can keep track of. But he's always Malcolm, always him tieing it all up together not necessarily neatly but definitely himself. He saw and understood so well the lines his father so cherished but saw them as starting lines to charge from and outwards towards a world still so uncharted. His curiosity was constant, family too busy to force their hand over his when painting the world at the start of his life which meant he got to layer colors and designs over life in an attempt to figure out what fit. Not just what fit but why, but how, but could it be better? Cooler? Funner? Where was the light and how could you make a rainbow out of it, a kaleidescope out of it? If you tried hard enough could you push past the paper and reveal the story underneath paintings made?

Life was story and game alike - just like the music he so often heard in days he was forced to spend in the walls of the store that is now watercolor fading in his memory. The memory of music remains though, one of the strongest senses to him.

Being poor and mixed meant life had plans to be ruthless from the get go. But Malcolm had plans to be better than the worst things that could be said about him. To be louder than the voices that wanted to press the world down flat and stack the cards against him. He had seen his siblings survive in their own way and he knew he had all the strength and ability to do it himself, his own way. Charm came easy with a sincere heart and a tongue turned paintbrush by a mind that craved to make honest stories of every heartfelt moment. And everything was so heartfelt. So he won enough people over to avoid loneliness and fear of rejection where he could. Learning their honesty and how it could meet his own. Not always a thing that went smoothly but always a thing that afforded him some sort of learning through navigating narratives.

Both of his parents took note that Malcolm was always looking for more and finding trouble in places he honestly saw no trouble at all. Dragging Jennie along despite being younger, and they just couldn't have that. So Taekwondo classes were paid for, an on weekends he would be allowed to walk to a church just to learn to play the piano for enough hours that they knew he was safe. His mother wanted better paths for him than explosion while his father wanted to build a dam to stop it all. The middle ground was seeing if there was something that could shape their son in being more tangible than a consistent big bang. Malcolm learnt ways to weild his personality through the years, clumsy and at times ineffective but always growing and learning in ways no would ever knew to expect. School was an odd thing he either excelled or failed at with no inbetweens but friends were always found in the unlikeliest places. Music clubs were expected but sports, drama, science, history, teachers, anyone who was willing to talk to him for any length of time - from people who once stood against him to complete strangers alike.

Malcolm started to gather the lumber of truth people gave to him and used them as planks of wood to construct something that looked better than all the option set before him. His own truth, his own knowing that could shrink and expand to whatever could be needed.

Moving to America came with new truths, new sets of learning. Charm didn't work as well when words fit his mouth foreign and everything about him was built too strange for immediate understanding. A new same old. Difficulties that this time, his siblings could not help him through or him them. It saw the whole of the world around him moving too fast and nearly unintelligble and decided to slow down for once. Not him finding music but music reminding him it had always been there - in everything he held dear and always present in every single person, moment and thing he had ever known to cherish. With clarity came focus, like all along he had just been winds caught going from room to room and finally, a window, finally, the world.

He had found the church by chance, wandering around the neighborhood further than he knew he should but boredom and curiosity and a need to connect was too powerful of a thing to turn down or shut off. For the first few days he sat outside, then inside, then grew closer until someone spoke to him first. Malcolm was not confident in his speaking, in the rough of his accent that too many acted like was too heavy to try to navigate. Yet no one here did. No one in those walls knew anything but welcome. Days became weeks, playing piano became getting caught singing and forced into joining a choir which was a whole new set of learning.

It was there he met Cassian. A boy he later found out lived very close to him, understood as much Korean as he did English, and loved piano and music just as much as he did - it seemed. And nothing about that was a problem. Nothing between them was a problem. Not then, and not ever. Malcolm didn't know at the time but he had found a friend, his first friend in America (a very special thing) but also a friend for life (arguably, even more special). As they grew up, they kept on playing the piano together. Cassian would see every single choir recital, performance, and even stay after school with him at times. They stayed connected in each other, picking up one another's interests, seemingly a part of each other's families with how much time they spent at one another's house. In Cassian he found support before he sought it elsewhere, and he gave it as ardently as he could.

Picking music was never an issue to his mother, not like he thought it'd be. She worried for him, his future when she knew he wouldn't leave this for the world - because Malcolm never left anything that he wasn't pryed and locked away from. It was his father who disagreed, who spat out the absurdity of still living in a kingdom of your own making lost drifting in the sky this far into life. One day it would crash and he along with it. Couldn't he see the concrete all around him, cemented down to the floor? That roads were already paved? The world had no room for creation. It was all more fights filed away to be picked up at a later date, that constant shuffling of papers in pink slips and red writing that screamed in hushed stern tones that had gotten more frequent in his household.

Music felt like a field that redefined the word open. Everyday after school become an opportunity to dip down and see the world from above, understand how it all connected from panoramic clouds that let him track every weaving story. Soon enough Malcolm became both magnet and compass alike, bringing all he could into the world with him to share through sound heard or played together. He started to get a handle of the language better - between a need to understand Cassian and speak to him more, and with the help of his siblings. Through music, friendship became an easier thing. A song could bring people together like nothing else, a fact he had learnt in basements and could apply now every day. He met people outside of Cassian through song and keys. Malcolm learnt how to be both breeze and steady current, to step in and try to hold up those around him.

But as some things came together, others fell apart. The rupture of the household happened in an unnaturally quiet way. Like the culmination of all things awful could only be silence. It wasn't messy, it wasn't torn tatters that screeched as they tore at the seams. Some part of Malcolm thought life could resume to something it was always meant to be. Their house but happier, but warmer, but more free. Instead it meant his mother working at a constant, Damon and Jennie and himself all working, pushing their dreams back one day at a time. Malcolm did what he could, working odd jobs to cover his own expenses so he never had to ask and never had to bother - knowing that his help would only add to the weight of them both.

What most would expect was for him to grow up in a way that meant letting dreams down where they had fallen and pick up the weight left behind. But Malcolm still held belief that the world could never just be one thing that was dead end final. For years he didn't know rest - knew side jobs and clubs and choir and piano practice and a whole lot of love. Even as multitudes of doors swung closed and leaves were stripped off trees by winds that held no welcome - there was love. Love always knew how to make clear sky out of patches. Love in his family, in his friends, in a girlfriend who knew how to support him when everything seemed to be fading out of his grasp. Malcolm perservered. Attended festivals and concerts, stood on small stages in and out of school, did his best to stand by everyone who had ever come to matter and do right by them.

Leaving to LA was no easy thing but he knew it was his only option. Malcolm could not betray his dreams the same way he could not betray his family. A year, he had promised himself, a year to transfigure dirt to gold and if not he'd return and do better differently. Everyone who had stayed by his side his whole life, or the most important parts of it, sent him off with well wishes and bittersweet tears. Malcolm knew they would achieve what he was setting out to do, in their own ways, down their own paths. He knew it. He piled all he owned into a car, with too little money to make it and headed out to a city that nourished dreams like crops to feed on. Malcolm left home after convincing his mother to help his siblings through all their studies and not worry about him. The last part was an impossible request but Michelle knew her son had a road before him that did not include San Francisco and rationality forever. That her children would chase their dreams no matter the road block or lack of road before them both. So he went with champagne blessings.

The first year there were many sweet hardships. It was living in a shack that kept the rain out the rare times it managed to happen. It was eating like this war he was to win meant rations for life. It was sweet because it felt like everyone he met was somehow in it with him. It was sweet because this had been dream drifting on a faraway skyline for so long he could barely believe it real. But it was, it was in a way he would savor even after hard shifts of gruelling exhaustion in restaurant after restaurant.

His usual night included a short set of songs, at times only a few to a handful. So when he was invited to fill up the stage until twilight and buzz filled the air alongside his honeyed voice and make true magic once more, Malcolm took it. Took it and recorded it with pride to share with the world because this was what he was chasing, this is what he had spent years talking to every person he knew about. A road that was a dozen roads at once and almost none of them what he expected them to be - almost none but singing.

What he had definitely not expected was an email from Jin one morning inviting him over to his studios. Didn't expect the way his narrow view of the horizon could suddenly be opened up to include the world at large. Malcolm saw how that single shift of energy meant that every door that stood shut and distant suddenly opened up and meant there was nothing holding him back anymore. New people meant new stories which meant new music which meant so much more than the seeds his dreams had begun as.

A year after moving to LA, Malcolm was no longer working in restaurants - no longer sharing his dreams like would-be's one day and was currently living them. Each day was spent in recording studios with Jin and Jackie, creation at a constant high. Nights were usual performances, and often lingering after at parties or clubs to talk to everyone who had gathered around to listen. It's then he met Kiana, a fellow singer with smirking admiration and girl so otherwise quiet that it was a surprise the two could talk so much.

Things only knew growing, knew upwards and outwards as songs started to get released and more work became something. His own work started to take shape the more time he spent with bonds he knew he would carry with him forever now. His friendship with Kiana soon became so much more and music poured out of that easily. A contract signed, an album released, success found him in ways that made every coin he had ever dropped into the wishing well of the sky now turn to endless fortune. Malcolm was in love more than ever - with life in every aspect.

It's only natural that's when trouble would start. First with the world and then with the person meant to stand beside him. The succession of worldwide attacks followed by Jin's passing were no easy blows to take. Somewhere through grief, Kiana could no longer bear the distance of what she named his own creation. The rupture was just another crack in a facade that seemed illustrious for so long. Malcolm lost no love for the work he did, kept loving memories alive through it and didn't stop work - kept himself up thanks to Jackie, his family and so many around him. He put what he could in lyrics and the rest, well, it had other ways of coming out.

The later half 2018 was months of trying to cope with loss, himself in the world and what more he could do within it. It's then he started to hear of Cazerns - a chance to do more with all his too much that hadn't helped as much as he had wanted it to. Malcolm approached T.E.A.R.S which in turn lead him towards behind closed doors interviews, down a rabbit hole that would end in secret missions under a name no one knew him by but everyone would learn to know. A hero without the glory, just the honor of knowing that what he was doing was the right thing to do, the most he could do outside of saving who he could through his music. It made him sleep easier the nights he got to sleep at all. The loss waxed and waned and his ability to deal with it and love the world that remained grew with it.

It was never easy - the double life that didn't help needs that had to be met. Kiana started being there again and then also, not at all. Life was an amalgamation of unthinkable wonders and then the jarring full stop in the oddest of times. This carried on until it didn't. Until so many times back at the same spot became ending. Malcolm had to come to a point of admitting love was a thing that could only exist in the yearning of his heart that could only share it with the world through music and music alone. There was so little clarity in it all - even learning Kiana had been unfaithful through so much of her deflecting towards him, through fights and nights spent so far out of himself he wasn't sure he'd ever return. But at least he knew, at least there was some truth he had finally been afforded. There were facts now: Kiana would never enter his life again. He could give his all to his family, his friends, his music, the people who needed him most.

That truth gave way to a new beginning. Malcolm stepped into the smooth role of a playboy with almost professional ease, a word people would use for him rather than him ever for himself. People had always been something he was drawn to, an endless fascination he could not set aside andwith his insatiable need for affection. So he lived - he loved those around him and the work he did and the rest, well, the rest just was as it should be.


6. Look Sharp, Be Sharp, Go Army! (1950 to early 70’s)

This slogan was plastered on billboards around the country. But during the draft, the second slogan was kind of…mean: “Your future, your decision…choose ARMY.”

Not really your decision if you’re drafted, huh?

Maybe this was meant to be a warning before the draft chose for you?


Get A Copy


Big Business Wants You, To Be Broke.

There are a couple experiments going on today as far as economy is concerned. One is the more Democratic experiment, the raise in minimum wage to an incredible 15 dollars an hour in Seatac, Washington, which has been the suggested wage for the federal wage by 2017. Personally I never thought $15 was even a consideration, I believe minimum wage does need pushed up, but in the area of $10.50 would be more moderate and likely to get republicans on board. So far however the $15 dollar hike isn’t bringing disastorous ruin, as predicted. Instead it’s actually stimulating some growth in some areas.

The Seattle Times writes “recipients of the mandatory pay raise say they’re enjoying the freedom of having extra money to spend or save.” It does go on to caution though that many changes so far are merely anecdotal.

Addictinginfo.com has a far more optimistic outlook, quoting several business owners that promised they would have to eliminate jobs, instead, they’re expanding and hiring more.

Many articles stating the ‘failure’ of the minimum wage raises point out parking lot fees that were enacted in order to recoup some of the money spent on the minimum wage increase. Both of the preceding articles however do point this out, the fee a whopping .50 – .99.

Critics of the wage hike also cite a conversation with ‘some unhappy workers.’ I’ve read as many as I could and they all quote the same exact conversation. You can read it here, here, and here. This conversation someone I’ve never heard of talked to two people, TWO, only two people in the entire city about the minimum wage, they supposedly lost their �k, health insurance, paid holiday, and vacation” as well as “free food” from the hotel. I’m not certain about this hotel exactly, but every single job I’ve worked, many minimum wage, already didn’t offer any of these to begin with and many that did would keep your hours at 36 hours a week to disqualify you from those benefits, keep in mind this didn’t only happen under Obama, as far as I’m aware its fairly standard business practice to make sure you don’t qualify for benefits going back for as long as I’ve worked. As far as I can see the criticism of the minimum wage raise is dubious at best.

Now lets look at the conservative experiment, championed by none other conservative governor of Kansas Sam Brownback. That glorious ‘trickle-down’ effect that many on the right believe is the panacea for all economic problems. To prove a point, every word in this sentence is a link to how disastrous Mr. Brownback’s massive tax cuts to businesses have been. In this one calls out the awful state Kansas is in and, in spite of tax hikes, California’s economy is doing quite well. To clarify how severe Sam Brownback is failing, he was almost dethroned by democrat, heaven forbid, something that has not happened for 84 years, ALMOST.

I won’t go into debate about opinion, but clearly there is cause for discussion about minimum wage increase and how the money can get back into the hands of the people. Straight up tax cuts on the wealthy simply don’t work.


The Liberal Dilemma

Having been a liberal for my entire life, I was plunged into confusion by the world response to the situation in Israel.

"An airplane needs two wings to fly," a friend of mine is fond of saying, referring to the split between the liberal and conservative worldviews. The conservative worldview tends to emphasize law and order, authority, accountability, duty and conformity, while the liberal worldview tends to stress compassion, understanding, individuality and rights.

"Which is better?" is the wrong question both are needed. Our question should be: "Which is appropriate in a given situation?"

Having been a liberal for my entire life, a protester of Vietnam and a lifelong rebel, I was plunged into confusion by the world response to the situation in Israel, which plays like a bad version of The Emperor's New Clothes. Can there be any defense for a people who rise up against their neighbors, deliberately murdering civilians in an attempt to destroy the country? Could anyone condemn a country for attempting to defend itself against unprovoked attacks? For me this was a no-brainer, but many people in the world community disagreed. My confusion was only increased when some of my liberal friends chose to sympathize with the perpetrators of the horrendous terrorist attacks which have occurred both in Israel and in our own country.

Each worldview represents a fundamental trait exemplified by our patriarchs. Chesed , loving kindness, was exemplified by our forefather, Abraham, who devoted his life to spreading the idea of one God. There are many potent images of chesed in his life: Abraham, still in pain from his self-administered bris standing by the four open doors of his tent in the heat of the day, watching for wayfarers so he could offer them refreshment realizing that his greatest student and nephew, Lot, was drifting from Torah and sending him away with kind words.

I salute liberals, whose ideal is chesed . They would understand our enemies and grant them forgiveness.

The second trait is gevurah , which means discipline and strength. It is exemplified by Isaac, who stood firm, like a tree, straight and tall and quiet. He walked to the mountain top, joined in his heart and will with his father and with God, where he requested that he be bound so an involuntary flinch would not mar the sacrifice. Isaac, firmly rooted in the Promised Land, the only patriarch who never left the Land of Israel and who quietly carried on the work begun by his father. Isaac, who had the strength of character to shed tears of joy and sorrow that he had been stopped from bestowing a great blessing upon an unworthy son.

I salute conservatives, whose ideal is gevurah . Conservatives serve in and support the armed forces and pledge to uproot the entire terrorist network.

The liberal dilemma can be stated as follows: We are good people, we see the spark of God in all but the worst specimen of humanity, we are compassionate. How, then, can we condemn entire groups of people, like the disenfranchised "Palestinians"? How can we, who have always upheld the freedom of religion, speak out against Muslims? Surely there is a reason why these people hate us somehow, we must deserve it.

This dilemma is present on all levels in our lives. Take this personal example: I hire a man to work on my house. At first the work goes well then one day he fails to show up. Since I am determined to be "nice," I do nothing. Three weeks later when he still has not put in an appearance, I judge him for the good: after all, he might be sick. In the fourth week, keenly aware that this man might judge all Jews by his experience with me, I still take no action. When he still has not reappeared by the fifth week, I begin to wonder if being "good" means being a victim.

Eventually I am able to get hold of him, and find out that he has indeed been sick and has been working mandatory overtime at his regular job. So what am I to do? Should I insist on getting my money's worth out of a man in ill health? Or should I just do nothing and hope the work is finished sometime before spring?

Am I to be Simon Legree or Charlie Brown?

The answer comes in the third trait called tiferet , harmony, where we avoid choosing one principle at the expense of the other and achieve synthesis. In tiferet , we are compassionate, we empathize, we hate the sin and not the sinner. But we do not let this compassion turn us into doormats. We act.

To be effective, chesed , loving kindness must contain elements of gevurah , strength. Abraham, the embodiment of chesed , acted. He defeated the kings who took his nephew captive, and he raised his arm to sacrifice his son.

Equally so, to be effective, gevurah must contain elements of chesed . It was an excess of chesed which caused Isaac to overlook the faults of his older son, and it was due to chesed that he accepted without recrimination the deceit that had been perpetrated upon him by Rebecca and Jacob.

Without the tempering influence and boundaries set by gevurah, chesed can run amok, as any parent who has a hard time saying "no" to a child readily understands.

Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Parshischo said that every person should have two slips of paper in his pocket.

On one should be written: "The world was created for me." (Chesed)

On the other should be written: "I am but dust and ashes." (Gevurah)

The trick is to have the wisdom to know which slip of paper to read at the right time.* (Tiferet)

In the case of my contractor, I eventually realized that he was as miserable as I was at his difficulties in honoring his commitments. By letting him slide, I was doing him a disservice. The sooner he finished the work at my house, the better off he would be. However, I could not force him to finish at my house if he was too ill to work, so I brought him chicken soup and supplements to help him get well. And then I called him every day and politely asked if he would be coming over to work that evening. This is compassion and accountability.

So, too, with the world situation. We must strive to understand the factors which have produced societies that support terrorism. We can feel compassion for the Arabs in Israel who have allowed themselves to be used as sacrifices for the profit of people who could not care less if they live or die. And, armed with compassion and understanding, we must do our best to prevent them from achieving their anarchistic goals.

Compassion must be tempered with boundaries if we are to be just, righteous, and moral, and alive.

*From Rabbi Pliskin's Daily Lift #436

Israel's Response

Banning Israel from World Football

Jordan’s “Disproportionate Response”

Israel's Gift to a Terrorized World

I Moved to Israel, Alone, When I was 15

The Tulsa Race Massacre and Oklahoma’s Jews

Louis Armstrong and the Jewish Family

Rescuing Daughter from Church Orphanage

Comments (29)

(28) Jay Grossman, April 22, 2004 12:00 AM

My response to Palestinian (or any other) terrorism

"Whatever the cause being defended, it will always be dishonored by the blind slaughter of an innocent crowd when the killer knows in advance that he will strike down women and children" Albert Camus

(27) Howard, April 18, 2004 12:00 AM

Bush's middle east policy- A disaster

Can it get worse, can American policy be any more maladept, can we redicalize Islam further, can we unite extreme Arab elements any more. One foreign policy disaster follows another, as we proceed to another World War, satisfying only extreme Arabs, and evangelical Christians who believe bloodshed in a Jewish state presages the return of Christ. Where did we go wrong- a short list:

1. From 1968-2000, the US was actively engaged in mideast diplomacy, favoring Israel, but presenting a global viewpoint. Kissinger, Vance, Baker, presidents too, Carter, Clinton, went to the mideast, solicited each side's views, and mediated, using both the stick threats of decreased aid, trade sanctions, and the carrot, increased aid, better relations, personal entreaties. If the mideast problem was not solved, acrimony was reduced as people proceeded to a solution Jerushalem in 1984 and 1994 was probably safer than New York, in 2004 many are terried in the holy city.
Only George II (whom history would give the moniker George the simple-minded) said there is simply right and wrong, and why should the US involve itself in other people's problems.

2. Arafat played a role in negotiation and maintained credibility, notwithstanding his vast corruption and incompetence from 1994-2000 in operating the Palestine Authority. Ariel Sharon, the gregarious leader decided there would be no need for discussion with Arafat, for Israel should have a role in selecting the Arab leader. With typical keen perception, Sharon had two years before compared Bush to Neville Chamberlain.

3. Sharon decides to leave part of the occupied territories, combining the withdrawal with targeted killings. Though the danger to Israelis was 100 times the amount in 2003 as compared with 1998 five years before, Sharon trumpeted days of peace explaining to those that would listen how his get tough policy was working. George the simple-minded acquires a mentor (Sharon) to help mediate and deal with people. While many suggests to Bush that cultivating close ties with moderate Arab leaders would reduce tensions, and help facilitate the establishment of moderate Arab states in Iraq and Afghanistan, George instead listens to Sharon who explains that the other thing Arabs respect is force and power.

(26) Jarret Peritzman, March 27, 2004 12:00 AM

American-liberal & Israeli-conservative

Liberals who are not religious will, by far and large, side with the Arabs. But Jewish liberals who side with Israel are still American-Liberals, but can actually be Israeli-Conservative, meaning that they think Israel should defend itself without giving in to terrorist-state demands. This is hypocritical but some people won't and can't change. Most of the people here reading this are more apt to change because they are reading a opinion page.
Please remember that the ultimate Democratic president, JFK would actually be considered a conservative today. He was for lowering taxes and thus helping the poor get jobs and not just giving them handouts. The definitions of liberal and conservative changes each generation and if we were smart, we would evaluate ourselves, not just our political affiliations, with it.

Anonymous, July 20, 2014 6:04 PM

Navigating the straits

I'm a liberal and a Democrat. I believe in compassion and governmental support for the poor, the immigrant, and the sick through social safety nets and intelligent reforms. And yet I stand with Bill Maher, Hillary Clinton, and Charles Schumer in absolute support for Israel.

Gone are the days where Israel needs to cave in to terrorism or fragile world opinion. Let them do what needs to be done and eliminate Hamas thoroughly. Then we can move on to helping Gaza become a partner in peace.

(25) Anonymous, February 12, 2004 12:00 AM

abraham had chessed. isaac had gevurah. and jacob had emes - truth. this is what we need. we need to see the truth behind what the democrats say they stand for, and what they really stand for b/c these are two different things.

(24) Phil Kruse, February 12, 2004 12:00 AM

Be true to your principles!!

May I be so bold, as a non-Jew, non-American and a "liberal", to comment on this article. Yes, "liberals" (to use an American term people in Australia or G.B might call them "people of the left") do seek to exhibit those attributes of compassion and concern as outlined by the author. So what to do in the current environment in the Middle East, if you're a "liberal"? It's very easy. You support the victim against the aggressor, the democrat against the demagogue, the rational against the irrational, the right against the wrong. You support reason and civilised values against a culture of suicide and destruction. In other words - you support Israel against the viciousness and evil which has been launched against her. It's not rocket science. Any "liberal" who supports a culture of death and violence, and open anti-Semitism, is not being true to the values which he/she supposedly respects and cherishes. Support of Israel is an affirmation of liberal values, not a denial.

(23) Blaise, February 11, 2004 12:00 AM

I don't even want to begin responding to the conservatives who felt like giving their bit, so I won't. What I would like to say though is that this new wave of anti-semetism is especially frightening. I live in San Francisco and right across the bay in Oakland on Yom Kipur at a synagogue, pamphlets were put on all the cars discussing how Israel was an evil, murderous machine and that Jews were using the blood of gentile children in ceremonies. How liberals can ignore the offenses most of the middle east inflicts on their own people(i.e. stoning to death women who have committed adultury), but focus so intensely on Israels actions of defense dumbfounds me. The future is a very frightening thing to ponder with such anti-semetism coming from even the liberals.

(22) Elliot, February 11, 2004 12:00 AM

Go Rachel Glyn!

I think you are way off topic, but I loved your comments anyway.

(21) heather, February 10, 2004 12:00 AM

Are We All Reading With An Open Mind?

Some of these comments have little to do with the article itself and more to do with the personal opinions of the reader.
I think this article has displayed a wonderful point. Neither liberal nor conservtives are good or bad but together should form a balance to help run a country.
It is unfortunate that this is not so. Party line seems to dictate responses to each bill that comes to a table. It is rare for a congress(person) to vote based on the actual bill anymore (in my opinion respectfully).
I would have loved to see people respond to the article itself and not to his or her own beliefs on liberals and convervatives. If the opinions held and written are so strong than by all means write an article and send it in.
Spouting rhetoric based on personal situations makes the comments page seem more like the front of a war zone rather than a place to either agree or disagree with the articles statements itself.
I of course would love to argue some of the comment writer's points but that is fairly inappropriate for this forum. A government chatroom is a better alternative and perhaps I will go there to discuss it.

(20) Jean S, February 10, 2004 12:00 AM

The politics of the situation

I, too have been a Liberal my entire adult life. I too marched against the VNWar chanting Peace Now. But the Palestinian/Israeli conflict has made me see that the Liberal bias in favor of the underdog over critical review of the facts, now threaten to become a condemnation of Israel because it defends itself against the "Poor Palestineans" as prototypical victims. It used to be the "Poor Jews" This prolivity to throw out harsh truth to blindly embrace the latest emotional underdog is what we are facing. The world must now see beyond the "We must have done something to deserve this" to the "We've got to straighten this out in people's heads and hearts with indisputable and unemotional facts." The facts can be emotional: that a people deserve a national homeland that we share human pain and suffering and above all that Life is precious, and those who advocate throwing yours away by blowing yourself up in order to kill others are never justified.

(19) anonymous, February 10, 2004 12:00 AM

re: anonymous's "well written, but it doesnt go far enough in specifics. "

Regarding the thought that, perhaps, if Isaac had treated Essau differently, he would have come out differently: everyone is responsible for their own actions. While each person has different areas of in which they struggle, the bottom line decision, even in that area, is still their choice. This is because we have free choice. If this were not so, how could we receive reward or punishment for our actions? Additionally, regarding Isaac himself: Isaac was chosen by G-d to be one of our forefathers. He was obviously deemed someone worth emulating.

(18) Scott Weisman, February 9, 2004 12:00 AM

you lost me in the first paragraph

As someone who was brought up in a liberal milieu, but has become increasingly "right-wing" for 15 years now, I grow increasingly weary of quotes like this:

"liberal worldview tends to stress compassion, understanding, individuality and rights."

The not so subtle implication is that conservatives do not believe in, or at best, emphasize these things. Sorry, it's just plain wrong.

The best way to distinguish between liberals and conservatives is this:

Liberals believe rights come from government, while conservatives believe they come from G-d.

This is why a liberal can say he (or she) believes people have a "right" to health care, affordable housing, good jobs, etc. These so-called rights are at the expense of others, who must pay for it.

Conservatives, on the other hand, believe in rights that are not at the expense of others. For example, as delineated in the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution: people have inalienable (that is that cannot be given nor taken away) rights to life, liberty, property, the *pursuit* of happiness.

Of course conservatives believe in being compassionate and understanding. We just don't think we should *force* everyone else to act or think similarly (ie through supporting programs that don't work or we don't agree with through forced taxation).

What is true compassion? Is it giving of your own time and money to causes you believe, or forcing others to do so?

What is the end result of the liberal view of rights? This is painful, but necesary. Once you decide that government is the source of rights, the conclusion is inevitable and inescapable.

In Nazi Germany, the government declared that Jews were subhuman and didn't have the right to exist, and proceeded to murder 6 million, along with millions of other undesirables.

In Soviet Russia, the government decided that those who disagreed with them didn't have the right to exist and proceeded to murder approximately *30* million of its own citizens. In China, the number is even *higher*.

(17) Tammy Berman, February 9, 2004 12:00 AM

I wish every major network in the USA would read this and report it on the air

Thank you for laying out the situation so eloquently. May all who read it say a prayer for Eretz Israeland her people's safety.

(16) Rachel Glyn, February 9, 2004 12:00 AM

Liberalism Is NOT Compassion

Liberalism is NOT based upon compassion it is based upon a lot of erroneous assumptions. It assumes that certain favored groups are victims, and that other groups should pay the cost of righting the wrongs that have been done against the favored "victims". That is why they favor making Israel bear more and more concessions to Arab terrorists. They think that if Israel doesn't retaliate against mass murderers, then we'll show 'em that they can't destroy the "peace process" or "road map" or whatever they want to call it.
They also believe that if you are financially comfortable you must not be paying your "fair share" of taxes, and they wish to raise your taxes with everything you do, so they can redistribute it to constituents whom they trust will reward them with their votes.
That is why they favor giving positions in colleges and in jobs to less qualified minorities. (It is also racism, as they assume that blacks and other favored minorities aren't capable of earning the same SAT scores and class rank.) If you are a high school senior who gets rejected from your favorite college so that a less qualified member of a favored group can be admitted, it doesn't feel compassionate to you.
Liberals certainly don't show any compassion toward unborn babies. They vehemently oppose any legislation that would put the brakes on abortions at any time for any reason. Do you think they would ever agree to a law requiring ultrasound to demonstrate that a baby isn't yet viable in order for the mother to abort it? Yet even Roe vs. Wade said that the state had an interest in protecting the fetus when it becomes viable.
Liberals show no compassion for children who are stuck in the failing schools of the inner cities. They are opposed to vouchers, charter schools or any other proposal, other than raising the taxes on the "rich" (ie middle class +) and throwing yet more money into the hands of the teachers' unions.
What about the war on terrorism? It angers and disgusts me that liberals express such vitriolic hatred against President Bush, the one man who has put Saddam Hussein in a prison cell, has Bin Laden on the run, has isolated Yassir Arafat, and is the first president to fight the terrorists in their territory. These liberals truly hate Pres. Bush more than Mohammed Atta! Now they seem to regret that Iraq isn't still in the hands of the Baathist party. I guess their compassion doesn't extend to all of Saddam's victims and the people who would have been his future victims.
Their compassion didn't extend to my husband's law firm. When a disgruntled female associate was told she'd have to switch departments and wait one more year to make partner, she quit and sued for sex discrimination. Although the law firm eventually won the case, which was appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court, about 40 liberal groups, including Natl Org for Women, who didn't know or care anything about the facts, filed briefs on behalf of the woman. All the liberal radio talk show hosts and TV programs took her side, and ignored the fact that plenty of male associates never make partner at all (and don't get to try again next year).
Liberals think it is "compassion" to take the money out of the hands of people who are trying to educate their children and pay their mortgages and car loans, and out of the hands of business owners, who are trying to stay in business, and use it to pay for prescription drugs for older people, who will surely vote Democratic. Trying to earn more money so that your kid can go to college? Good Luck - as soon as your bracket goes up, you'll be expected to pay for health benefits for people who had their whole lives to save. Meanwhile, if you need to pay uninsured medical expenses, you won't be able to deduct them until they reach over 7.5% of your AGI.
The Democrats no longer have anybody of the caliber of Hubert Humphrey, Scoop Jackson, or Harry Truman, people of integrity, who sought to make a more fair and just society. They are the party of Hillary and of Terry McAullife, a party that can't tolerate the dissenting voice of the late Pa. Gov. Bob Casey, or of Sen. Zell Miller. They are the party of Maxine Waters, Robert (KKK) Byrd, Fritz Hollings, John Dingell, and Jesse Jackson, Jr., all Israel-haters. Although there are some friends of Israel in the Democrat Party, their influence is not great. For the most part, the Democrat party these days stands for a far left agenda. It is time for American Jews to see the truth about the Democrat Party and stop living in the days of Harry Turman. Israel's best friends these days are in the Republican Party, in President Bush, and Congressmen such as my own, Jim Saxton, and in Senators such as Jim Inhofe.
And let's face it, if a politician isn't compassionate toward Israel, he/she won't be compassionate to the American people.

(15) Adam Leventhal, February 9, 2004 12:00 AM

There is nothing Jewish about liberalism

I first read this piece in the Intermountain Jewish News and I strongly disagree with the author's understanding of liberalism vs. conservatism in terms of chessed vs. gevurah. I refer the author to the words of Rabbi Daniel Lapin, a talmid of many gedolei-Torah such as R'Avigdor Miller zt"l and R'Simcha Wasserman zt"l, in his book America's Real War: "Jewish groups have redefined Judaism to mean liberalism. This is not only intellectually dishonest, it is utterly reprehensible. Promoting a destructive liberal agenda in the name of Judaism is heinous.." Elsewhere in this work it is argued that the ultimate principle rejected by the liberal left is none other than the Ribbono Shel Oilam Himself. Liberal ideology, with all its morally confused core and misplaced compassion, is destructive and fundamentally imcompatible with Torah.

(14) Anonymous, February 9, 2004 12:00 AM

no tiferah and chesed when dancing with the devil.

Should we Jews have shown chesed and tiferah to Hitlers policy. no, no and no. the only answer is strength , defence, and strategy and acumen to stay alive. that is what Israel needs to stay alive. the entity Israel is dealing with is akin to the Devil. as evidenced gy the slaughter of innocent civilians. the entity is unnaccountable and a mass terrorost.

(13) Alyssa A. Lappen, February 9, 2004 12:00 AM

He who is kind to the cruel by definition is cruel to the kind, in this case, both Jewish and Arab.

(12) Aliza Bulow, February 8, 2004 12:00 AM

What a beautiful summary and examination of the liberal and conservative points of view, and so insightfully connected to chesed and gevurah. I appreciate your thought process and the resolution you offer. I have struggled with how to frame the compassion I feel for suffering individual Arabs who live in the environs of Israel while at the same time feeling outraged and indignant toward the collective “Palestinian” culture, their education/indoctrination and how they behave. It is a struggle to achieve emotional balance when we back Israel so strongly and the world is so blind and yet not every “Palestinian” is complicit or even capable of behaving differently if they wanted to.
May we all seek and achieve balance, and may Hashem bless us with peace and send Moshiach soon so that the whole world can live together, granting nachas to our Creator.

(11) Doris Snyder, February 8, 2004 12:00 AM

Liberal No More

I have been a Democrat (liberal) for most of my long life. This year I made the change. I will now support the Republican party (conservative) in my country, the USA. We are seeing the results of liberalism gone wrong..attempts to secularize our society, taking God out of it in any way possible, letting criminals go free to continue murdering children, objections to any effort of our country to protect itself against terrorism, and yes, being against Israel for attempting to protect itself. My sorrow is compounded by the fact that in ths country, most Jews are liberals. I refuse to go along with the trend. I am now a Conservative.

(10) Anonymous, February 8, 2004 12:00 AM

Very smartly written and cogent analysis. But, what's the bottom line?

(9) Gary Selikow, February 8, 2004 12:00 AM

I disagree with the writer that the ideal of the left is chesed or compassion. The left show no compassion for the people of Israel , who have been subjected to a war of terror , with the aim being total genocide of 5 million Jews in Israel.They show themselves as being very cruel by siding with the Palestinazis whose sole aim is the genocide of the Jewish people of Israel.
They have no compassion , for anyone , whose cause it is not politically correct to take up.
They have lots of compassion for Palestinians, Communists and homosexuals , but none for Israelis, Christian Lebanese , Tibetans , South Sudanese , Kurds or dissidents in Syria, Libya , Iran , China , North Korea, Cuba , Venezuela , Zimbabwe or Namibia.
I have a true compassion for the underdog which is why I fight for the rights of the people of Israel (especially the Jews of YESHA) , Zulus and Afrikaaners in South Africa, , Christian Lebanese , Tibetans , South Sudanese , Kurds or dissidents in Syria, Libya , Iran , China , North Korea, Cuba , Venezuela , Zimbabwe or Namibia. People who are forgotten by the UN, and the left establishment which controlos the media and the universities. That makes me a true rebel and champion of the underdog. Not one who supports the excesses of tyranny and terror.
Are leftists really guided by comapssion or by selective compassion?

(8) Anonymous, February 8, 2004 12:00 AM

well written, but it doesnt go far enough in specifics.

. if Tiferet is Harmony, a balance of Compassion and Empathy (NOT sympathy), then it stands to reason that Chesed will only be achieved THROUGH the achievement of Discipline and Strength. However, if Isaac could have had excess Chesed then, definitely Gevurah - Discipline & Strength, and I may add compassion & empathy, must be exercised 100% of the time in order for Chesed not to be excessive & in order for people to benefit from Chesed. "Discipline" more than any other trait seems to be one of our biggest weaknesses, probably followed by "integrity" I wonder if Essau would have made different choices if Isaac or Essau himself had exercised Discipline differently? But Isaac exercised self Discipline (once again) WHEN he gave Jacob "THE" blessing - with the help of Rivka. All this could have been done "begrudgingly" or "with loving kindness" - the Liberals two most exercised traits: do it my way and I'll love you - otherwise I'll find a way to anihilate you!
That's why I compound Compassion and Empathy to Discipline and Strength = Gevurah: when I exercise these traits (even somewhat out of balance) the end result was AUTOMATICALLY. CHESED!
AND THEREFORE. TIFERET-HARMONY!
Abraham had more Discipline, Strength, Compassion and Empathy than we give him credit for. that's why we attribute Chesed to him.
Conservative it IS!

(7) Malkah, February 8, 2004 12:00 AM

Thank you, we need more Emet - Truth.

Where can I find sources of the truth that a public barraged with false ca find available on a large scale? The false history regarding "Palestine" and the establishment of Israel (so that some Jewish-American friends have become anti-Israel, yet know nothing about the Balfour Agreement, as one example. Why do the "big" newspapers slant so far away from Israel? This is a propaganda war on a global scale with global consequences. Where I live there is so much anti-Semitism. Perhaps it's time for Israel and Pro-Israel people to step forward and be counted and en masse.

(6) R, February 8, 2004 12:00 AM

I disagree with the writer that we should "understand" the Arabs and have compassion. They simply "hate" the Jews and want us killed and the state of Israel demolished. They do not want their own state. They could never run their own state. They are "moochers" and are jealous of Jewish people. I am so angry that you could feel the way you do that we Jews have been so terrible to the arabs. If Israel were not there, they would be fighting each other. Shame on you for forwarding such a ridiculous commentary.

(5) Andrew Gelbman, February 8, 2004 12:00 AM

Gevurah IS Chesed

People mistakenly see Gevurah and Chesed as distinct, indeed, as mutually exclusive ideals. Such, however, is not the case. The Alter Rebbe explains this at length in the Tanya. All of G-d's attributes find their unity in Him. Gevurah and Chesed are not opposites. It is only because we are not fully able to perceive all the connections that we see them as such. G-d made the world with Gevurah, but this is in fact a Chesed. Because the world has immutable laws, we can have science, technology, medicine, law, and order to our lives. That is an act of Chesed. What would the world be like if it had no order or discernable pattern. Could we survive in a state of anarchy? Would we want to live in a world with no predictability, no laws to rely on, no absolutes?

It is the same in the moral realm. In His Chesed, G-d made the moral world with Gevurah. There are Laws, there are moral absolutes. Compassion for terrorists is misplaced. It is immoral to give encouragement to those doing evil. For example, no one would argue that the Germans are not human, but providing "humanitarian" support to the SS was to be an accessory to genocide. By the same token, no one can say the Ishmaelites aren't people with legitimate rights. However, murdering Jews and trying to usurp the Land that G-d gave to the Children of Israel isn't one of those "rights". Any one who provides "humanitarian" aid or political cover to the Arabists is not just "misguided". they are actively evil. The problem with the "leftists" isn't that they idealize Chesed to the exclusion of Gevurah. Anyone who understands these concepts knows you can't have one without the other. The problem with the "left" is that it is evil.

That's not to say that what we often call the "right" is always good. While free societies, capitalist economies, and free governments has a checkered moral record (the will of the people isn't always "good") BUT the record of the socialists (both the internationalist and nationalist variety) is an unblemished record of wrong-doing. The "liberals" have never been friendly to the Jews. At best they have been amoral and neutral, at worst, immoral and evil.

It is time for the Jewish people to have done with the philosophies of the gentile world. We have the Truth, it is found in Torah and the sooner we return to that Truth and only that Truth, the better for everyone.

(4) bob reid, February 8, 2004 12:00 AM

wait till you are wounded before taking action?

Geeze, as soon as the guy didn't show up to finish the work action should have been taken.. were all the phones broken? was there not time to write a postcard?
same with other liberal thought processes. Don't wait until 6 million people are dead or held hostage.. do something now, if each action is not followed by an immediate reaction bad things will follow, sticking your head in the sand is a sign of weakness.. the threat is there, take immediate action or be a victim.

(3) Reg Kenzie, February 8, 2004 12:00 AM

Only Israeli law and order can bring peace to Israel, no one else has demonstrated any ability to do this! Israel must be Israel from the river to the sea and from the Eilat to the Golan including Gaza. Also no legitimate Arab must ever be disinherited or dispossesed. Don't do to them what the Saudi's did to the Jews!

(2) Michael Felgin, February 8, 2004 12:00 AM

1. Your contractor MUST have called you to let you know that he could not come.

This is called PROFESSIONALISM. And you MUST have demanded oyur money back from this person. He failed you.

2. You must not kiss up to anyone to make them love Jews. They'll hate you anyway:

Resume: let somebody else to cook his chicken soup

and go on with your life - find a new contractor.

Love your own people, that's the best you can do.

(1) Anonymous, February 8, 2004 12:00 AM

Great article

This is so true! We need to learn how to harmonize kindness and strength

In my opinoin, it's mind boggling how somebody can feel compassion for people who blow up others around the world.

However, I agree that this world should have a balance of kindness and strength