Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Welcome back Punditarian!

Consider this statement: "School bullies are inadequate people who endeavour to compensate for their own inadequacies by attacking vulnerable fellow-students".

Is there anything wrong with that statement? I don't think there is. But whether it is right or wrong, note what it does. It explains bullying by referring to two things: The characteristics of the bully ("inadequate") and the characteristics of the victim ("vulnerable"). And the entire social science discipline of Victimology does that. It sees victimization as an interaction between the characteristics of the victim and characteristics of the victimizer. And, being myself a social scientist I tend to look at human relations generally that way: as an interaction between different parties in different positions.

But here come the tricky bit: I do that when I speak of Jews too. I am the madman who thinks I am entitled to treat Jews like any other group and expect them to have both strengths and weaknesses. And you will see that I do that even in my side column. On the one hand I speak of Jews as being "the best we've got" and on the other I describe Jews in general as being politically stupid. And when I look at why Jews are persecuted and hated, I take into account vulnerabilities in Jews that might be one side of the explanation for the phenomenon. I think there is no doubt that doing that is good social science but it is of course politically perilous.

Which is where Punditarian comes in. He and I have engaged in dialogue about Jews several times and it has always been a civil and enjoyable exploration of the facts. He is himself one of the NY Ashkenazim so he does well to talk civilly with someone who tends to put him on the defensive. Jews are used to ignorant criticism but fact-based criticism from Goyim is normally beyond their experience. Jewish criticism of one-another is however a torrent. One only has to read the Israeli press to see that. Israelis who do their best to undermine Israel are appallingly common.

I recently put up a post about the role of high drive in both Jewish success and antagonism twoards Jews and Punditarian has just responded to that. I reproduce his comment:
"You are making a very old mistake, of seeking in some feature of the Jew the reasons for his persecution. Jew-hatred comes first, however, and the reasons the Jew-haters give come after.

While it may be true that the Ashkenazi Jews are a couple of standard-deviations [actually about half a standard deviation -- JR] more intelligent than the populations surrounding them, and that they may have an energy or drive that the surrounding populations seem to have lost, the Mizrachi or Eastern Jews in the Arab and Muslim countries were hated by the people around them, despite the fact that they don't test out with such substantially higher IQ results, and were not more prominent in their countries than other members of the middle and merchant classes.

I think my preamble about bullying etc. has adequately answered his first point so I will go straight to his point about the Mizrahim. He is quite right in saying that in IQ and in other characteristics the Mizrahim are not readily distinguishable from the Muslims among who they resided for many centuries. He is also right that they were oppressed by the Muslims. But were they any more oppressed than were the Christians living in Muslim lands? Not notably as far as I know. Muslims oppressed ALL "infidels". Mohammed during his early conquests did slaughter Jewish communities whom he thought stood in the way of his plans so The Koran in fact offered ample warrant for a holocaust against the Jews. But there was no holocaust. So I think that what Mizrahi Jews suffered was because they were kuffars (non-Muslims), not because they were Jews as such.

So I think the experience of the Mizrahim is quite dissimilar to the experience of the Ashkenazim and leaves the fate of the Ashkenazim in need of an explanation which considers just them and their experience. And I try to do that.

I might add that I do NOT go along with the story of a "golden age" for the Jews under the Moorish (Muslim) rulers of Spain. The Moors discriminated against Jews as much as did other Muslims. The grain of truth in the myth is that the Muslims were at least better than the Catholics -- who expelled all Jews from Spain once they had conquered the Moors.

It is always tempting to see deep similarities where there are only superficial similarities. In 1290 a Catholic King of England -- Edward I -- expelled all Jews from England too. That seems like pretty good comparability with Spain but it is not. The Spanish expulsion was motivated by religious fanaticism whereas Edward was mainly aiming at dodging his debts. The superficial similarity is there but the explanation is different.



Evening Newscasts Have Covered Obama More Than Bush & Clinton Combined: "The nonpartisan research group Center for Media and Public Affairs along with California's Chapman University released a study that found the nightly newscasts devoted 27 hours, 44 minutes to Pres. Obama's presidency in his first 50 days. That compares to 7 hours, 42 minutes for Pres. George W. Bush and 15 hours, 2 minutes for Pres. Bill Clinton during the first 50 days of their first terms. Not only has Obama gotten more coverage, but that coverage has been more positive than his predecessors. On the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening newscasts, 58% of all evaluations of the president and his policies have been favorable, while 42% were unfavorable. That compares with 33% positive in the comparable period of Bush's tenure and 44% positive for Pres. Clinton. CBS led the coverage with 365 stories and 10 hours 46 minutes of airtime, followed by NBC with 327 stories and 9 hours 38 minutes, and ABC with 329 stories and 7 hours 20 minutes. But Fox News stands apart from its competitors here - only 13% of comments were considered favorable. On ABC, 57% of the comments were favorable, compared to 58% for CBS and 61% for NBC.

Taxachusetts still in business: "House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo today plans to push a 1.25 percent sales tax increase, which would bring the state’s 5 percent sales tax to 6.25 percent, and bring in an estimated $900 million in new revenue. He wants to dedicate about $275 million to transportation — a maneuver designed to avoid increasing the state’s gas tax, as Governor Deval Patrick has proposed, according to a State House source briefed on the plan and a briefing document obtained by the Globe. Patrick has proposed a 19-cent increase in the gas tax, which would raise nearly double the amount for transportation that DeLeo’s plan would. DeLeo also wants to dedicate $200 million to restoring cuts in local aid.”

DC: Driveways now a no parking zone: “Beverly Anderson is mad as hell. She just started to get tickets for parking in her own driveway. That’s right. The District of Columbia is ticketing people who park their cars in their own driveways. ‘This is clearly an attempt by the city to extort money out of property owners,’ Anderson tells WTOP. Anderson has received two of the $20 tickets in the past month. Anderson has owned the Capitol Hill house (and the driveway, so she thought) for more than ten years and has never gotten a ticket. And she’s not alone. It seems Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has also been breaking the law in the eyes of the D.C. Department of Public Works.”

The victory of the emotions: “While I agreed with many of their positions, in retrospect the anti-Bush movement was poisonous to the level of discourse in this country. At the time, I thought it was healthy for citizens to be vocal and active critics of the powerful. But millions of people, most of them my generational and cultural peers, became accustomed to viewing their political opponents as evil idiots. The battle lines drawn, they are incapable of thinking through a policy issue for themselves, adopting valid ideas from political movements other than their own, or perceiving a debate with a viewpoint uncolored by rank partisanship. Their politics reside at an unfortunate intersection of boring group-think and dangerous, assertive self-righteousness. Moreover, the fanaticism of the anti-Bush movement fueled the emotional, messianic campaign of Barack Obama, whose Presidency has wiped out any remaining impulse to be critical of power.”

Is Pelosi a war criminal?: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — then the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence — was briefed on CIA interrogation techniques including waterboarding when they were begun in 2002. She was among the ‘Big Eight’ present at the briefings — the Senate and House leaders and chairmen and ranking members on both intelligence committees. … what if Pelosi and the other Democrats had objected? [US Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO)] told me in a Friday interview that, ‘We know that when we object to planned activities by the CIA, they don’t do it.’”

Continuing attacks on the Georgian leadership: "The already embattled Georgian President Mikheil ‘Misha’ Saakashvili’s ill-fortunes don’t seem to be improving. In late March, Der Spiegel published a damning account of the yet-unreleased findings of the EU inquiry into the brief August war between Georgia and Russia. In short, the article places blame for the conflict most heavily upon the Georgian leadership, particularly Saakashvili. Paired with the PR blow of the New York Times‘ open questioning of the Georgian account in early November, there is a shifting consensus of the narrative. However, like the Times article, the circumstances of the Spiegel piece provide context for doubt and showcases more framed innuendo than evidence.”

Washington to regulate your bake sale: “Informal production and distribution, from small farms and homes, were once not only common, but the backbone of everyday life. Today, there’s a revival of much of this, as people begin to realize that corporate practices have increasingly relied upon putting additives in foods and plastics in other products. I have sad news for locavores and other health food fans hoping to buck the trend of corporate practice: H.R. 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009. This new bill, now worming its way through the corridors of Capitol Hill, would require anyone who stores or sells any food products to any third party to register with the federal government and keep extensive records about every product bought, produced, modified, or sold.”


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


1 comment:

Punditarian said...

Dear JR,

Thank you for highlighting my hasty comments. I regret that the press of other activities crowded out any further commentary at my own site.

I had intended to comment on Martin Goodman's very interesting book, "Rome and Jerusalem," in which he shows that the original purpose of the campaign against Jerusalem by Vespasian and Titus (with an Alexandrian Jew as their chief adjutant, by the way) was originally intended to force the Jews to resume sacrificing in the Temple on behalf of the Roman Emperor; that the Temple was burned almost by mistake; that the Flavians, however, seized upon this victory to lend their dynasty the historical military credibility required by Roman political culture; thus beginning the originally Roman but later Christian custom of singling out the Jews from all of the other nations in the Empire. But more on that later.

Tonight I write to indicate that you have not convinced me to believe that the Western European Jews brought about the Holocaust by being too successful at integrating themselves into the cultural, scientific, and financial elite of Europe, even though such assimilation and success was probably more notable in Wilhelmine and Weimar Germany than in any other Western European country.

The 20th century Nazi-led Holocaust was certainly an event far different from anything visited upon Jews in the Ummah, and also quite different from any previous persecutory movement against the Jews in Christendom.

I think its particularly horrifying features are to be sought in aspects of Western European history, and not in any particular aspect of Jewish activity. That is, the industrialized, rationalized, totalitarian features of 20th century leftism.

Until the advent of industrial leftism, anti-Jewish attacks in Christendom were sporadic, and even if pervasive, local, and did not seek the extermination of Jews as a nation or a race. Even the expulsions from England and from Spain were not exterminations.

The closest thing to the Holocaust in European history may be the Holodomor, and I think it would be difficult to argue that the Bolsheviks' hatred of the Ukrainian peasantry was motivated by their excessive drive and success. Although I will grant you that you might consider the nonpareil Mikhail Bulgakov Ukrainian to at least a certain extent.