To all of my Jewish friends, l’shanah tovah! May this upcoming year of 5780 be a sweet and happy one!
And to all my non-Jewish friends, may the coming lunar year be a sweet and happy one too!
There are reasons for you to be very afraid of the social media crackdown on conservatives (even fringe ones), plus other scary stuff in today’s world.
Democrats prepare for 2020 by silencing conservatives. If I had to identify the scariest news today, it would be Twitter’s purge of conservatives, which follows closely on the heels of Facebook’s purge of conservatives. These social media outlets, which hold power unimagined at any past time, are using that power to silence non-Progressive dissent.
When it came to Facebook’s most recent purge, I won’t argue that Alex Jones is an unpleasant, possibly slightly demented character. Others, though, are merely vocal not-Leftists, such as Paul Joseph Watson, whose platform is Alex Jones’s InfoWars, or provocateurs, such as Milo Yiannopoulos. As a sop to “equality,” Facebook also finally shutdown arch anti-Semite (and Democrat friend) Louis Farrakhan, whom two major Leftist media outlets promptly identified as “right wing.”
Other than Farrakhan, both Twitter and Facebook do not appear to have gone after Left wingers. Most conspicuously, they continued to ignore Left wing “news” sites that, for two years, promoted the biggest hoax in American political history or blue-checked Lefties who revel in fantasies of murdering Trump or slapping around conservatives, including the innocent Covington School boys, whose only crime was to wear MAGA hats. These same social media behemoths have also left alone Hamas sites that advocate for Israel’s destruction and the genocide of her people; and unhinged Leftists sites that screech hysterically about toxic whites, masculinity, straight people, etc., all in the most vile and violent terms.
Moreover, currently both Facebook and Twitter seem comfortable providing a platform for Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims, who proudly posted video of himself verbally harassing an old lady praying outside a Planned Parenthood clinic and then went on to promise to pay anyone who would dox three pro-life teenage girls.
When called on his behavior, the out-and-proud Sims doubled down on the hateful rhetoric, all of which seems to have escaped Twitter’s eagle eye for “hate speech”: [Read more…]
Passover tells us that tyrants fall only when revolution affects them directly and that revolutions are successful only when focused on individual liberty.
Passover, which begins tonight, is about so many things: the Jewish people’s renewed covenant with God; their escape from slavery; the journey that ended with the Ten Commandments and a return to Eretz Israel, the Holy Land of Israel; and — which is the subject of my annual post — the nature of tyranny.
Think about this for a minute: The Passover story, depending upon which Biblical archaeology you’re referencing, places the Passover story sometime between the 16th and 13th centuries B.C. In other words, this is a story that Jews have told and retold for as many as 3,500 years — and it’s a story that is always relevant. Slaves in the South took it as their story in 19th century America. And a couple of decades ago, when I was the only straight person at a gay Passover, the attendees there took it as their story too. The yearning for liberty is a timeless aspect of the human psyche.
It’s worth contemplating for a moment what “liberty” means. In European history, “liberty” invariably means trading one form of tyranny for another form of tyranny — only one in which the revolutionaries will have control. To Europeans, therefore, “liberty” is a gigantic state that will give them, rather than the others, all the goodies government can grab. And if, in exchange, government gets to control what they do, say, and think, well, they’re still “free” if the goodies keep flowing.
Once upon a time, the Americans went in a completely different direction that was more consistent with the original Exodus story. To go back to Exodus for a moment, Exodus might have told how the Jews rose up against Pharaoh, defeated him, took over Egypt, and enslaved their former enemies, at which point everyone who sided with the Jews lived happily ever after . . . right up until the Jews were deemed the tyrants and in turn overthrown.
But Exodus tells a different story: It tells about Jews leaving the old system behind entirely in order to live as a free people, even if that freedom meant the lack of a government safety net. After all, Pharaoh may have been cruel, but he kept them fed and housed. In the desert and in the land of Israel, the Jews were responsible for themselves, for better or worse.
In the same way, the American Revolutionaries, having concluded that England had become a tyrant by taking their money and dictating their actions without giving them a say in government, opted to create a different system entirely: one in which government played as small a role as possible and in which citizens had the greatest control over their lives . . . a notion both exciting and frightening. Ultimately, with fits and starts, failures and victories, tweaks and intransigence, this liberty-oriented system gave birth, not only to the most powerful nation in the world, but also to a nation that lifted more people out of poverty than any other nation ever had. Poverty is its own form of subjugation, so America spread freedom from want around large parts of the world. Indeed, today, those parts of the world most mired in poverty are nations that have systems antithetical to the American principles of individual liberty, small government, and a free market.
Put more simply, America went the Exodus route and traded enslavement for liberty. America did so because Americans, like the ancient Israelites, believed freedom was worth the scary downsides. And just as the ancient Israelites gave birth to a set of rules that changed the world (by which I mean the Ten Commandments), so too did Americans give birth to a political system that changed the world (by which I mean a system predicated upon limited constitutional government allied with a free market).
Both the Exodus story and the American experiment show that freedom is worth the price.
The eternal timeliness of the Exodus story also matters because it reminds us that tyranny never changes: Different tyrants may use different forms of tyranny, ranging from actual enslavement, as Pharaoh did, to oppressive political systems in which people ostensibly have citizens’ “rights” but lack all actual power over their lives. These modern tyrannies can be religious (think Iran), military (think of every Latin American junta), or ideological. In the latter category are fully socialist nations, such as North Korea pr Venezuela; socialist nations that nevertheless have commerce, such as China; and micromanaged liberal fascist states, of the type embodied in the European Union. In all of them, true freedom is illusory but the state, whether as a loving parent or a cruel, minatory parent, hides this lack of freedom by boasting about how it takes care of its citizens’ needs.
Another thing that never changes about tyranny is that, no matter how tyrants talk about what they do for the people, they hate the people. The only thing that matters to the one(s) atop the tyranny pyramid is that the tyranny remains stable and protected. Which gets me to my annual Passover post which, as always, I’ve edited it to reflect current concerns. [Read more…]
Democrats and Muslims have come together with anti-Semitism because it is their ideological destiny — and Leftist Jews are too indoctrinated to see it.
One of the fascinating things about the world in which we live is the alliance between Leftists and Muslims. At first glance, it seems as if they have nothing in common. Leftists tout women’s rights; Muslims tout women’s burqas. Leftists tout LGBTQ rights; Muslims tout homosexual hangings. Leftists purport to hate slavery; Muslims have slavery as a core doctrine. Leftists hate rape; Muslims have rape as another core doctrine.
Given these profound differences, one way to account for the Leftist/Muslim alliance today is to look to the old Arab adage stating “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” (Or, as Aristotle said first, “a common danger unites even the bitterest enemies.”) Both the Left and Islam are united in a fight against Western civilization. And significantly, the thing they are fighting against most fiercely is what lies at the core of Western civilization: The value of the individual.
Here’s the thing: Despite their superficial differences, Leftists and Muslims have something very profound in common, which is that both are completely totalitarian ideologies. Each envisions complete control over all people around the world. Individualism is anathema to them. It is this common vision that binds them in the short term. In the long term, of course, each assumes that its ideology will be victorious and that, like the Borg, the winning ideology (whether Islam or Leftism) will either assimilate or destroy the losing ideology (whether Leftism or Islam).
Oh, I almost forgot. There’s another thing that binds them and that is their abiding hatred for Jews. (They hate other religions too, don’t get me wrong, as we can see from the murderous purge of Christians across the Muslim world as well as the softer effort to purge Christians in America. But there’s something about the Jews….) [Read more…]
This is brilliant, both as a perfectly performed Queen-inspired song and as a Hanukkah song.
It’s not losing seats that bothers me, it’s the fact that post-election counts and recounts invariably favor Democrats, which is banana republic stuff.
Post-election recounts and miscounts and discounts and God alone knows what else. I’m not actually going to blog too much about post-election recounts, despite using them as part of my post title today. The topic is just too depressing. You can kid yourself as much as you want about living in a constitutionally guided democratic republic, but if 27 of the last post-election counts and recounts miraculously favored the Democrats, if Democrats are openly registering illegal aliens, if Democrats coincidentally win in regions with more voters than residents, if the dead are walking and voting, and if many “voters” were alive during the Spanish-American War, you don’t have a constitutionally guided democratic republic; you simply have a banana republic with nice cars and XBoxes.
Look at Arizona: Either there’s voter fraud going on there or Arizona citizens willingly elected a woman who loathes them. Blech! Having said that, Ron Coleman points out that it might not have been a Democrat win so much as a shameless and unnecessary Republican loss:
Consider this before embracing conspiracy. https://t.co/vLrvCHIkiV
— Ron Coleman (@RonColeman) November 13, 2018
Consider the effect of John McCain on the Arizona GOP… and on the makeup of the electorate in that state as a whole.
Bastard got the last laugh after all. https://t.co/8vCoXQuyqE
— Ron Coleman (@RonColeman) November 13, 2018
Can American Jews be more stupid? When I grew up, my parents were so proud of Jewish brains. Einstein? Jewish. Hedy Lamar? Not only a Jewish brain, but gorgeous. A disproportionate number of Nobel Prize winners in the sciences? Jewish. Kissinger? Even if you didn’t like him, he was one smart Jew. Israel? A whole nation that’s smart and Jewish.
I attended an academic high school and, while Asian students were quickly becoming dominant in the school, we still had enough smart Jews for a joke: “If Chinese New Year and Yom Kippur fell on the same day, they’d have to close the school.”
This year, though, as in years past, Jews voted disproportionately for Democrats — 75% is what I heard. If you ask these Jews about their unswerving loyalty to the Democrat party, they’d give two reasons. First, Republicans are evil and Democrats are the party of kindness, empathy, and the lack of all nasty -isms (racism, sexism, etc.). That last, of course, would lead to the second, core Jewish vote issue: Jews insist that Republicans are the party of antisemitism and Democrats are not.
To believe that, Jews have to be stupid. Really, really stupid.
The Republicans are the pro-Israel party. The Republican president’s most beloved child is Jewish, as are her children, and she’s married to one of his chief campaign advisors. One of his closet friends is Jewish and is now ambassador to Israel. Israelis who aren’t marinated in Leftism view him as one of the most pro-Israel politicians ever. Heck, Trump finally acted on past presidents’ promises and moved the American embassy to Jerusalem. [Read more…]
The horrific shooting at the Pittsburgh Synagogue suggests that America, by being a peaceful haven for American Jewry, is actually helping to destroy it.
I haven’t commented about the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. I actually don’t think there’s much to say about the shooting itself. A rabid anti-Semite acted on his rage and did what anti-Semites have done since the Middle Ages: he killed Jews. He’ll face judgment in this life and, I’m quite sure, an infinitely worse judgment in the next. The End.
In this post, I want to blog about something else I noticed. Something everyone must have noticed: All of the congregants who died (may their memories be a blessing) were oldish to really old:
Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland; Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township; Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood; Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill; David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill; Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg; Sylvan Simon, 86, of Wilkinsburg; Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill; Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill, and Irving Youngner, 69, of Mount Washington.
According to reports I read, Saturday morning service was always the synagogue’s busiest day each week and the shooter had 20-30 minutes alone in that room before the police finally entered. (Shades of Parkland School there….) While oldish and really old people are obviously going to be the least agile in scattering and hiding, one would think that a busy service and a gunman with a lot of time on his hands would have resulted in a broader age spectrum of victims. The fact that it didn’t suggests that Tree of Life has an aging congregation. That got me thinking.
I went and looked at the synagogue’s website and saw that it offers two slightly different descriptions of itself. Here’s the first, on the home page:
Tree of Life * Or L’Simcha Congregation is a traditional, progressive and egalitarian congregation based in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
We offer a warm and welcoming environment where even the oldest Jewish traditions become relevant to the way our members live today. From engaging services, social events, family-friendly activities and learning opportunities to support in times of illness or sorrow, we match the old with the new to deliver conservative Jewish tradition that’s accessible, warm and progressive.
And here’s the second, which substitutes “conservative” for “traditional”:
Tree of Life Congregation was founded more than 150 years ago, Or L’Simcha about 5 years ago. In 2010, the two Pittsburgh congregations merged to form Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha. As a conservative Jewish congregation, Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha remains true to traditional teachings, yet is also progressive and relevant to the way we live today. From our warm, inviting and intellectually stimulating atmosphere to our fun adult, children and family programs, it’s the perfect environment to grow a strong faith rooted in tradition.
For those of you wondering about the importance of the words “conservative” and “traditional,” let me explain as best as I can. Although I was raised without a synagogue, I’m Jewish enough in orientation to have picked up a few things. [Read more…]
Germany, both past and present, is an object lesson in the way that treating Jews well allows a country to thrive and treating them badly kills a country.
I’ve long said that the most successful countries are those that treat their Jews well. It’s not that Jews work some bizarre magic on those places that let them live and worship freely. It’s simply that individual liberty tends to improve the standard of living within a country. Even if, by modern standards, a country would not be considered liberal today, the fact that it was more liberal than the rest of the countries around it, as evidenced by allowing Jews to live freely, was always enough to power its innovation and, by extension, its economy.
Take England, for example. It started its trajectory to ruling most of the world after 1660, when Cromwell invited Jews back into England. Or take America, in which Jews were always allowed to live freely. No one, no matter how much they dislike America, can deny its economic success.
The flip side, of course, is that countries that particularly loath Jews tend to be economically stagnant, with Poland and Russia as good historic examples. And of course, there’s Germany.
There hasn’t always been a Germany. Indeed, modern Germany is a recent phenomenon. Between Napoleon and 1871, that region now known as Germany it was a loose confederation of Germanic states. Before Napoleon, the region wasn’t even a loose confederation. It was simply a patchwork of duchies and principalities, all blessed with productive land and hard-working people, and all cursed with tyrannical monarchs or aristocrats. Prussia, which morphed into the dominant German kingdom, making it the core of the eventual German nation, was a monarchial and military dictatorship.
Long before there was a German nation, and even long before there were all those ratty or rich little nation states, there were Jews in that part of Europe now known as Germany. They entered the barbaric German forests when the Romans did and stayed.
In the early Middle Ages (before the 12th century or so), German Jews were considered ordinary citizens. A few centuries on, though, Germans had embraced wholeheartedly medieval Christianity’s most ferocious antisemitism. This didn’t just include personal revulsion, a la “I don’t want anything to do with them.” Instead, one petty German state after another enacted laws making it virtually impossible for all but a few “court Jews” to survive at anything above the most minimal subsistence level. And of course there were the mass slaughters, inspired by crusades and plagues, and whatever else the German mind could invent. [Read more…]
Trump’s decision to change the paradigm with North Korea illustrates the precept in my annual Passover post: Tyrannies must be decapitated, not placated.
Starting with Bill Clinton, America fawned over North Korea’s tyrannical rulers, sending them money and promising not to hurt them. In those same years, North Korea’s rulers expanded their concentration/death camps, presided over unnecessary famines, and somehow managed, with every passing year, to find more ways to crack down on a people already starved, terrorized, and denied any rights.
It did not matter one whit to the Kim dynasty that their people experienced incomparable suffering (most of it at the hands of the Kims). The only thing that mattered to the Kims and those closest to them was maintaining their power, prestige, and oh-so-comfortable lifestyle, complete with the finest food (as their people starved), the most luxurious products from around the world and, of course, sex slaves. Lots and lots of sex slaves.
Then something changed. Beginning in January 2017, instead of an American president saying to Kim Jong-un “What can I do to make you happy?” we got a president who said “I’m going to kill you.” He also said to the Chinese, “I’m not very happy with your behavior either, although I’m sure we can resolve our differences when you stop using economic war against America and trying to turn the international waters off of China into your own pond.” Very impolitic. Very mad man. Very undiplomatic. A very big break from more than a quarter century of “diplomacy.”
The usual talking heads amongst the chattering class promised Armageddon. Interestingly, something entirely different happened: With the threat brought directly home to him, Kim Jong-un changed his behavior. He sent athletes and sex slaves to the Olympics. He reached out to South Korea. And of course, most importantly, he scuttled off to China and, rather than admitting the truth — namely, that he feared the “crazy” guy in the White House — announced that the wise Chinese had persuaded him to abandon his nuclear dreams. Even if Kim and the Chinese won’t admit it, you and I know where the credit goes for this announcement.
Watching Trump’s conduct and its outcome, I had to ask myself, has he been reading my annual Passover post or, perhaps, talking to one of Ivanka’s rabbis? Or maybe he’s just had a chance to think about things as he’s attended family Seders over the years.
Did I just hear someone say “What annual Passover post?” Well, this one. As I do every year, I’ve edited it to reflect current concerns. [Read more…]
The events commemorated in the Purim celebration may have occurred more than 2,500 years ago, but the message to honor God not man remains relevant today.
Tonight is Purim — a holiday I’ve never celebrated because I was raised outside of traditional Jewish circles. The fact that I don’t celebrate Purim, though, does not mean that I’m unaware of it nor, more importantly, does it mean I’m unaware of the important messages it conveys.
Thankfully for all of you, you don’t have to listen to me as I try to waffle my way through to an intelligible analysis. Two of my favorite people in the blogosphere have written stunning posts discussing Purim and its relevance to today — not just to Jews, but to all people who value liberty.
The first post comes from Robert Avrech. In Purim: The Deeply Anti-Progressive Jewish Holiday, we first learn how assimilated Jews had become during their exile in 5th century B.C.E. Persian exile. Assimilation can be pleasant until your host realizes you have not been perfectly assimilated (a la the Borg), at which point relationships turn sour:
But there’s a Jew named Mordechai, a descendant of King Saul and King David. He’s old school; so pious and proud that unlike the compliant, liberal Jews of the kingdom, he refuses to bow down to the Grand Vizier Haman. Mordechai understands that the cult of personality is idolatry, paganism designed to replace G-d.
Mordechai only bows down to G-d.
And to the contempt and derision of the liberal Persian Jews, Mordechai actually takes Haman seriously.
Because Mordechai knows Jewish history. He knows the primary rule of Jewish history: when someone announces they plan on killing the Jews—believe them.
Mordechai did not graduate from an elite Persian university with a degree in Conflict Resolution. He studies Torah. He has common sense.
He knows that history is frequently a simple calculation: kill or be killed.
Am I overreacting to think that BYU’s online government class slipped in a gratuitous, classically antisemitic trope about Jews controlling foreign policy?
I’ve written before about BYU’s online high school government class and, frankly, didn’t have much nice to say about it. It’s poorly written, poorly structured, and poorly informed. Thinking about it, that probably makes it the equivalent of an average high school government class.
Today, though, while keeping my Bookworm company, I read language that struck me not just as below average but as wrong. Really wrong.
You guys are my reality checkers. Does the language I’ve highlighted in the following passage from the course’s section on religious diversity constitute important information, random information, or the unnecessary insertion of a classic antisemitic trope?
The so-called “Black Church” (churches comprised primarily of African Americans) has contributed significantly not only to the religious and cultural richness of the United States, but it has also played a central role in the political sphere. Numerous black religious leaders, including the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., have been and continue to be hugely important in numerous civil rights and public policy causes. Meanwhile, Jewish Americans have had significant influence on the United States’ policies in the Middle East, and millions of other religious and nonreligious Americans influence politics and public policy every day in elective office, through participation in the political process and through civic activities in their neighborhoods and communities.
Here’s my take: Jews make up only 2% of the American population. To the extent there used to be unanimous support for Israel across both political parties, that wasn’t driven by this 2%. Instead, it came from (a) anticommunism during the Cold War, because Israel sided with America against the Soviet Union, which backed the Arab states; (b) respect for a beleaguered liberal democracy in a sea of totalitarian theocracies and thugocracies; and (c) an American prophetic Christian belief that Israel is the Jewish land and Jews need to return to that land to initiate the Second Coming. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that America’s conservative Christian community currently loves Israel more and fears Islam more than America’s predominantly Progressive Jewish community does.
My view is that ti’s antisemites, such as Walt and Mearsheimer, who argue that a cabal of evil Jews is directing America’s Middle Eastern foreign policy. For BYU to slip in what I see as a gratuitous remark about Jewish control over foreign policy is a bow to the antisemitic world of Walt and Mearsheimer, and all the others who trail in their wake.
What’s your take? Again, a reality check is always welcome. I’m willing to concede that I’m hypersensitive, but it seems to me that BYU is either careless or worse.
UPDATE: I’m getting a lot of different and interesting opinions — thank you! I should say here something that I should have said in the first place: I have no hostility to Mormons, a group of people I greatly respect. While their faith doesn’t attract me, they live honorable and patriotic lives and that’s always going to appeal to me.
I am, however, deeply suspicious of academics. After all, we know that academia trumps values. That’s why Jesuit colleges encourage abortion and Brandeis supports antisemitic academics. One of the hardest Left students I knew in law school was a BYU grad (he’d followed a girl there). Thus, even though BYU is mostly Mormon and in Utah, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything when measured against the fact that it’s an American university.
My main problem was that the statement seemed utterly out of place. One can definitely praise (or damn) Jews for their impact on American culture (movies, songs, television), but their control over America’s foreign policy strikes me as less obvious. Random statements always seem a bit suspicious.
Incidentally, in the spirit of equality, let me point you to an article in the Forward, a hard Left Jewish online magazine, saying that the NRA is antisemitic. The article basically says that Wayne LaPierre gave a speech attacking Leftists for undermining traditional American institutions.
To the article’s author, the speech’s topic, in and of itself, is an antisemitic dog whistle. I strongly disagree. Leftists of all races, nations of origin, and faiths are proudly attacking America’s institutions — they hate capitalism and the free market, they hate the Second Amendment and other constitutional rights, and they use American institutions (Hollywood, the media, academia, etc.) to spread that hate. In other words, they’re Marxists and they hate what America stands for. That’s not a Jewish thing; that’s a Marxist thing.
Ironically, Marxists throughout the 20th and into the 21st century have been fanatically antisemitic, ever since Marx, a self-hating first generation Jewish convert tied together Jews and capitalism. That’s why socialist nations such as Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia aggressively slaughtered Jews. And that’s why the harder Left a college campus is, the more likely it is to support the BDS movement and otherwise be hostile to Jews. So, no, there is no dog whistle there.
The article also points out that LaPierre singled out Jews in his speech: Soros, Schumer, and Steyer, among others. Yes, they’re all genetically Jewish, and Schumer and Steyer associate themselves with the Jewish community. First and foremost they’re all hardcore Leftists.
Soros is dismissive of his Jewish past, Schumer is the leader of the Senate Democrats, and Steyer has noisily devoted himself to advocating Leftist causes. That is, yes, they are Jewish, but their malevolence towards American institutions is unrelated to being Jews (and certainly none of them are truly religious).
The people LaPierre names are what Evan Sayet calls “plopping” Jews — they plopped out of a Jewish woman’s body and either abandoned Judaism entirely or opted for Reform Judaism, which is more of a social thing, with a form of worship indistinguishable from an amalgam of hard-Left Unitarianism and the Democrat Party platform. I suspect that were LaPierre to speak of Bibi Netanyahu, he’d have nice things to say.
Without Western Civilization, we veer dangerously close to reverting to our pagan roots — roots watered with the blood of human sacrifice.
For millennia, Jews have forbidden human sacrifice. Although there are myriad more sophisticated interpretations examining the Biblical narrative about the Binding of Isaac, the most basic interpretation was that God created this dramatic scenario to impress upon Jews that he did not crave human flesh and blood. This is hardly unexpected, given that man is made in God’s image. One doesn’t deliberately despoil His creation.
When Jews took this principled, doctrinal stand against human sacrifice, they were outliers. The book of Genesis, in which the Binding of Isaac appears, probably dates back to around the latter half of the 15th century BC (that is, about 1450-1410 BC). Everywhere else in the known world human sacrifice was normative. In a world controlled completely by animistic polytheism, the notion of mere animal sacrifice, which kept from the Gods the tastiest, most important offerings, was ludicrous.
Eventually, both Greece and Rome turned against human sacrifice, but they still remained dedicated to animal sacrifices. These rituals often involved slitting an animal’s belly open and “reading” its entrails while the animal still lived.
Moreover, when it came to humans, neither Greece nor Rome was known for its humanist impulses towards life. Indeed, both Greece and Rome heartily approved of infanticide, rape, torture, and blood sports. Meanwhile, outside of these nations and their first, dainty steps towards modern Western Civilization, the Celts and the Germanic tribes continued with gusto to placate capricious gods with human blood and flesh.
The genius of Christianity was that, over the centuries, it successfully convinced pagans, from Rome to Britain to Norway, that Christ was the ultimate human sacrifice. Through the ritual of transubstantiation, worshipers would receive the eternal benefit of that voluntary sacrifice without having to destroy another human being to placate the Gods. Throughout Europe, these newly created Christians joined with Jews in their understand that man is unique in that he is created in God’s image; one doesn’t mutilate that image and throw it back in God’s face.
The fact that both the Jews and the Christians eschewed human sacrifice didn’t instantly turn them into vegans. In Biblical times, the Jews continued to wage bloody war long after the binding of Isaac and the Christians did the same long after the crucifixion. The Christians also maintained torture and blood sports. Nevertheless, this humanist seed, once planted and cultivated, burst forth in the Enlightenment with all sorts of interesting ideas:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Those words, and the ideas and practical consequences behind them, changed the world. War did not end, but it lessened. Men did not eschew violence, but societies under the umbrella of Western Civilization continued the long slow process of becoming less violent. (For more on the genetic reality that Westerners are less violent, I recommend Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History, an honest science book that got its author banned from the New York Times.)
These revolutionary ideas about mankind’s worth would have been incomprehensible to pre-Christian pagans. To them, man was a plaything of the gods, and the gods were the embodiment of the cruel, irrational, omnipresent natural world surrounding the pagans. These hungry, angry, capricious figures needed to be placated and human blood was their favorite food. [Read more…]
A recent attack against Harvey Weinstein in a Jewish publication reminds us that, when it comes to antisemitism, America’s Jews are overachievers.
Almost three years ago, I wrote a post entitled Some of America’s ugliest antisemitism comes from young Hollywood Jews (language warning). I wrote after I had watched a comedy roast of James Franco and was appalled by the way in which the other guests slung about gross insults, all of which reeked of antisemitism. It’s no exaggeration to say that they tied into the worst kind of anti-Jewish propaganda, whether emanating from the Tsar or the Nazis.
As I noted in my post, the insults weren’t the pointed, but still loving, insults that so enrich the Yiddish language and Jewish jokes. Certainly Jews have never been under any illusions about certain cultural features that arose in ghetto and shtetl, but there is no self-loathing in these jokes or in the rich Yiddish words. Instead, they wittily acknowledge the human condition without dehumanizing the human. There is no antisemitism in this traditional Jewish self-analysis.
The same cannot be said for what came out of such well-known Hollywood Jews as Sarah Silverman, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Andy Samberg, and James Franco. Their jokes were hideous, oozing self-referential antisemitism. Here are some examples of those jokes, along with my comments about what they reveal (language warning):
King of Hollywood: [about The Guilt Trip] Listen, if I wanted to watch two ugly Jews weaving through traffic, I’d watch Seinfeld’s web series.
Nick Kroll: Many of you might not know that Seth has a writing and directing partner named Evan Goldberg. What does this other guy look like that you’re the face of the operation? I assume he’s like a sweaty Orthodox Jew eating a pastrami sandwich, and he said [scrunching up his face and using a thick Yiddish accent] “I did nine dick jokes on page four, and I was thinking that the guys are friends, and then they’re not friends, and at the end of the movie, they’re friends again.”
Sarah Silverman: I can’t tell if this is the dais or the line to suck Judd Apatow’s balls. This dais is so Jewey. What is this, the Comedy Central audit of James Franco?
Sarah Silverman: Jonah is such a Jewy dick, you have to watch his movies through a hole in a sheet.
Nick Kroll: “James Franco is truly our generation’s James Dean. So handsome that you forget he’s only been in two good movies. Dean, of course, died at the tender age of 24 sparing himself the embarrassment of writing self-indulgent short stories and getting roasted by a bunch of jealous Jew monsters.
Nick Kroll: “Seth Rogen is so Jewish.”
Crowd: “How Jewish is he?”
Nick Kroll: “Seth Rogen is so f***ing Jewish… Anyway, it’s great to be here.”
These awful “jokes” are just the ones that internet publications deemed amongst the funniest things the assembled “comedians” said. There were more, and they were all in the same vein, saying horrible things about Jews. None of them gently laugh at the human condition. None offer insight into human foibles or human decency. All play into the most vile stereotypes about Jews: Jews are ugly, Jews sweat and stink, Jews are obsessed with sex, Jews are eaten by jealousy, and Jews are simply “f***ing.”
These jokes are a primer in self-loathing. They perfectly reflect the Stockholm Syndrome that has overtaken America’s Progressives Jews. These young Jews — who are amongst the most recognizable people in America, and have become power brokers in Hollywood — have internalized all of the worst stereotypes about Jews. They believe this of themselves.
Moreover, as is often the case with people who perceive themselves as defective, they’re trying desperately to be the first to insult themselves, relieving the “normal” person with nothing left to say. (Sarah Silverman’s stories of her horrific childhood bear out this theory about beating yourself first, before someone else does it.)
Did the Holocaust’s shadow give Progressive Jews such a fear of dying that they cling to a political ideology promising (but not delivering) peaceful death?
A theory that popped into my mind yesterday that may help explain the mystery of the Progressive Jew, a person who clings desperately to the Democrat party despite the party’s escalating hostility to Jews and Israel. I wonder if it’s all tied into the way in which the Holocaust weighs on Jews of my generation.
I got started on this line of thinking because an old, although not terribly close, friend of mine died yesterday. When I say “old,” I don’t mean chronologically old. He was my age — mid-50s — which I consider to be on the slightly younger side of middle-age. (Perhaps that’s wishful thinking.) His death was also not entirely unexpected, because it was a recurrence of a problem he’d had before and was fighting for years.
My friend is not the first of the increasingly frequent brushes with mortality that are intertwining with my life. The older generation — parents, relatives, colleagues, all in their 80s and 90s — are passing away with relentless frequency. That’s to be expected. What’s more disturbing for me is the number of people, such as my deceased friend, who are my age and succumbing to cancer, heart disease, the effects of substance abuse, and other ills that start chasing us as we age.
What I’ve noticed is that my religious friends face death differently than my non-religious friends. They’re not resigned, which indicates a lack of hope, but they’re philosophical and that philosophy melds with the hope, allowing them to focus on the treatment process without too much fear. They see themselves as part of a greater plan, with God as their partner. If this plan denies them recovery, Christians look to the promise of Heaven; Jews put their faith in the final resurrection.
In contrast, my atheist friends have nothing to hang on to. The Grim Reaper is threatening them without rhyme or reason and then, at the end, there’s nothing.
I think, though, that there’s an added twist for many contemporary secular Jews when they consider death. By the way, when I say “secular,” I’m including non-Orthodox Jews who follow the outward form of worship in reform and “lite” conservative synagogues. They belong to a Temple, they attend on the High Holy days, and they probably send their kids to Sunday school . . . but they don’t believe in God. For them, these are rituals that tie them to their childhood communities, that fulfill a long for tradition, and that are a strong part of their Jewish identity. [Read more…]