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Saturday, November 20, 2021

WHY I RETREAT INTO ARCHEOLOGICAL ARCANA

A teenage punk skirts the law to get his hands on an AR 15 semiautomatic rifle, crosses state lines, goes to the site of a demonstration, queens it about posing as an EMT, gets into some arguments that he provokes, kills two people and wounds a third, and gets off scot free.  As a result of which he will be offered an internship in the United States House of Representatives.


There are no words ...

136 comments:

Another Anonymous said...

At least no words which are repeatable in polite society.

Howard said...

He played to the crowd with a show of staged emotion just like Kavanaugh who is an older case of Republican anti-social behavior and possibly more consequential- I wonder how would the Rittenhouse trial played out in the mid eighties or early nineties or thereabouts?
Is this rot the fruit of a reactionary drift in the courts and society?

aaall said...

I see that a Fox News crew has been involved for quite a while and that he will be on Tucker's show this coming week. Their very own, still breathing, Horst Wessel.

Perhaps this is apt:

https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/umberto-eco-ur-fascism

Anonymous said...

I imagine you'd agree, aaall, that Horst Wessel was but a small symptom of a much greater, more pervasive disease. As is Rottenhouse.

Another Anonymous said...

Howard,

Whether this is a sign of a deplorable trend in American jurisprudence will depend on the outcome of the Ahmaud Arbury trial in Brunswick, Georgia. That case is more cut and dry than the Rittenhouse case – the claim of self-defense is far more incredible than Rittenhouse’s and the trial judge strikes me as more judicious and level-headed. If all three of the defendants in that case get acquitted, I will be shocked and utterly depressed. I frankly do not see how it is possible.

Fluke decisions like that in the Rittenhouse case occur sporadically in every decade. I have reported in prior comments about my own depressing experience from 1982-1983 seeking justice for the murder of Vincent Chin outside of Detroit. His two assailants, who beat him to death with a baseball bat believing he was a Japanese-American they held responsible for their being laid off as auto-workers, pled nolo contendere to manslaughter, claiming they had acted self-defense. The judge, without the prosecutor being present at the sentencing, gave them probation. I took that case to the Michigan Supreme Court, seeking an order requiring the judge to re-sentence the defendants for having committed a fraud upon the court by their duplicitous representation of self-defense. The Michigan Supreme Court denied my petition, stating that my client, an organization of Asian Americans, did not have standing in a criminal case. The defendants were then tried and convicted in federal court for violating Mr. Chin’s civil rights; that conviction was overturned by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ordered that they be retried in Cincinnati; on their re-trial, they were acquitted. They never spent a day in jail for murdering Vincent Chin. Not a day goes by that I do not think about that travesty of justice. I am sure that the prosecutors of Mr. Rittenhouse will be haunted by how they prosecuted the case, second guessing their strategy, for the rest of their lives.

Another Anonymous said...

aaall and Anonymous,

You can hear a parody of the Horst Wessel song here:

https://flowlez.com/en/songs/horst-wessel-lied-1548730/

Perhaps the parody can serves as the Rittenhouse song.

aaall said...

Anon, somehow I don't believe we will agree on the nature of that pervasive disease.

AA, it's clear the defense in the Arbury case, unlike the defense in the Rittenhouse case, lacked the resources for multiple mock juries and bespoke jury consultants. As cynical as I am and as far down we as a nation have fallen, I also would be surprised if they were acquitted.

Howard, the rot was well established by then. At my age the eighties were only yesterday. Bob Michaels to Newt Gingrich in a cycle was merely a confirmation.

LFC said...

aaall,

Bob Michel (but I knew who (or whom) you meant).

Islander said...

If you had taken your head out of the arcana, you could have realized it is a just verdict.

Another Anonymous said...

God help us. The idiots are multiplying.

LFC said...

I did not follow the Rittenhouse trial at all closely.

I will restrict myself for now to saying this: if AA is right that the judge messed up the jury instructions, that's a serious mistake esp. considering this judge is, I gather, the longest serving state judge in Wisconsin. Given the publicity attending this trial, one would have thought he would have devoted extra attention to making sure all his i's were dotted and t's crossed when it came to basic, important things like jury instructions. If he didn't and he did make a mistake, then there should be consequences, e.g. an investigation by whatever body looks into the fitness and competence of state judges.

Anonymous said...

aaall @5:13: we might surprise each other? I'm surprised that you detected some fundamental differences from my snippet of a comment.

Islander said...

AA sounds more like a political hack than a legal expert. I found this article instructive before the verdict: https://madison.com/wsj/opinion/column/analysis-heres-why-kyle-rittenhouse-is-likely-to-be-acquitted-and-why-the-law-on/article_f1e4edf4-6fd2-5004-ae14-d45b009ab5a9.html

Another Anonymous said...

Islander,

The article you cite does not support your position.

The article was issued on Nov. 19, the date of the verdict. The verdict was issued at approximately 3:00 P.M. If you read it before the verdict was issued, as you claim, then the article was issued prior to 3:00 P.M. Yet, what is conspicuously missing from the superficial article is any discussion of the evidence, in particular the unrebutted testimony by the forensic pathologist that Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum four times, the first two shots striking Rosenbaum in the pelvis and the hand. After these shots, Rosenbaum lay prostate on the ground, at which point Rittenhouse proceeded to shoot Rosenbaum two more times, TO THE HEAD AND THE BACK. So Rosenbaum was lying prostate, face down, defenseless, as Rittenhouse fired the two lethal shots which killed him. This was not self-defense, under any definition. Prof. Gross ignores this evidence. Regarding the alleged defense that the AR-15 was a semi-automatic weapon, which rapidly fired shots in succession, as I point out in my rebuttal to GJ in a prior thread, the fact that the AR-15 fired shots rapidly is not defense to the fact that when Rittenhouse fired those shots, he was not acting in self defense.

Prof. Gross writes:

“We could make self-defense a complete defense to a charge of homicide only when the threat to the person’s safety is obvious and imminent. The law now permits a person to use deadly force If They Reasonably Believed It Was Necessary Even If That Belief Was Mistaken. The law also does not require that a person wait until the last second to use deadly force. Police officers who shoot unarmed people of color often rely on this argument to justify their use of deadly force. They never see the barrel of a gun but claim that Under All The Surrounding Circumstances They Reasonably Believed That Someone Was Armed.” (Capitalization provided for emphasis.)

This defense did not apply to Rittenhouse, because as Rosenbaum lay prostrate, face down, he obviously was unarmed and presented no threat to Rittenhouse’s life. Moreover, as the video showed in the courtroom clearly demonstrated, as Rosenbaum approached Rittenhouse before he was shot, he raised his arms to show that he was unarmed. The only weapon which Rosenbaum had was an empty plastic bag, which he futilely threw at Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse killed Rosenbaum in cold blood, period.

I may be a political hack, as you claim, but I know a hell of a lot more about the law generally, and about criminal law in particular, than you do.

DJL said...

But didn't one of the state's witnesses describe the interaction between Rittenhouse and Rsosenbaum rather differently? See here: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/nov/19/kyle-rittenhouse-trial-key-takeaways

As usual, I find Leiter's comments on the case much more to the point (even if rather brief): https://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2021/11/a-comment-on-the-kyle-rittenhouse-case-in-wisconsin.html

Another Anonymous said...

DJL,

Thank you for your reference to the two articles.

Regarding the Guardian article, nothing in the article refutes my contention that when Rittenhouse fired the last two shots at Rosenbaum, lying prostrate and defenseless on the ground, Rittenhouse was not longer protected by a reasonable belief that he was acting in self-defense.

Regarding the article’s first point, that when the prosecution stated that Rittenhouse was the only person who shot anyone that night, which the defense then twisted into being a claim that Rittenhouse was an active shooter, the statement by the prosecution was accurate. No one else shot anyone else that night, except Rittenhouse. Being the only shooter does not equate to being an active shooter, a person on a killing rampage. I do not believe that the prosecution ever used the term “active shooter.”

Regarding the second point, that the third person shot by Rittenhouse, Gaige Grosskreutz, admitted that he had pointed his weapon at Rittenhouse, and therefore Rittenhouse’s response by shooting him was self-defense, is irrelevant to the question whether Rittenhouse’s shooting of Rosenbaum and Huber was also in self-defense. The article does not discuss the medical evidence indicating that Rosenbaum was shot in the head and back, as he lay prostrate on the ground.

The article’s reference to the testimony by the videographer, Richie McGinness, that Rosenbaum had shouted “fuck you” at Rittenhouse and threatened to kill him is also not relevant to whether Rittenhouse acted in self-defense when he shot Rosenbaum. Obviously, verbal threats are not a basis for shooting and killing someone, even someone who has failed to take their medication, making them aggressive.

Regarding the AR-15 and the fact that it fires in rapid succession, suppose that instead of bringing an AR-15 to the scene, Rittenhouse had only brought a knife. As Rosenbaum lunged at him, Rittenhouse stabs him twice with the knife. Rosenbaum falls to the ground. Under these circumstances, as Rosenbaum lay helpless on the ground, would Rittenhouse have been acting in self-defense if he leaned over Rosenbaum and delivered two lethal stab wounds to Rosenbaum’s head and back? Of course not. Why should the conclusion be any different just because Rittenhouse used a rapid firing AR-15 rather than a knife?

Finally, with all due respect, I disagree with Prof. Leiter’s conclusion that the problem is with our laws regarding the right to carry AR-15’s in public, and with the laws regarding self-defense. The law, as it currently exists in Wisconsin, was sufficient for a guilty verdict, with respect to the murder of Mr. Rosenbaum, at the very least. Had the judge not screwed up the jury instruction for self-defense, I believe the jury would have returned a verdict of guilty as to Rittenhouse’s killing Rosenbaum.

F Lengyel said...

Maybe Rittenhouse will bring his gun to his internships.

DJL said...

I think the point Leiter was making was that the law of self-defence in Wisconsin allowed Rittenshouse 'to use deadly force if they reasonably believe they are in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm', to quote from the link Leiter included, and this in addition to being able to own and carry semi-automatic weapons would in fact suggest that something is wrong with American law. In that very link the law experts that were consulted on the matter were not surprised by the verdict, after all (and by the way, according to Leiter's link Rittenshouse fired four shots within a second at Rosenbaum, so not sure what the relevance of the last two shots is; doesn't seem to change anything).

Another Anonymous said...

DJL,

It does not matter how long it took for the four shots to be made. The AR-15 is a semi-automatic weapon, which means the shooter has to separately pull the trigger to fire a bullet. Once Rosenblum was incapacitated by the first two shots and on the ground, Rittenhouse could have stopped pulling the trigger. By failing to do so, he relinquished the claim of self-defense. Would it matter if he had had a revolver (or in the example I offer above of a knife) and continued to pull the trigger of the handgun as Rosenbaum laid helpless on the ground? Of course not.

Howie said...

Professor Collins an authority on the sociology of violence writes in his blog on how the situational pressure or rush of the confrontation pushes people in an encounter into violence.
There may be something to it.
Especially for a dork like Rittenhouse.
He sounds like the situation overwhelmed him

Islander said...

Leiter definitely does not sound like an unsuccessful and embittered lawyer who dredges up his personal legal failures and is prone to hysterical shrieks with double exclamation signs: "moral decay in our country ... acquitted of all charges!!", "Disgraceful and pathetic!!", and such. And Leiter is not alone in his assessment but I typically wait 3-6 months for more thorough analyses to come out... But for now, overall, having read legal experts, while not being one, despite numerous emotional outcries from Hollywood and similar highly intellectual venues, the trial and the verdict look fair and just to me...

What's also interesting to me in RPW's post is all the irrelevant stuff that's piled up as if he'd wanted to wind himself up one more time to feel outrage again now that Trump is gone...

TheDudeDiogenes said...

Since Leiter has already been linked above, I will just post this: https://www.persuasion.community/p/the-rittenhouse-verdict-shouldnt

Anonymous said...

“ What's also interesting to me in RPW's post is all the irrelevant stuff that's piled up as if he'd wanted to wind himself up one more time to feel outrage again now that Trump is gone...”

Not to worry, Trump isn’t going anywhere and may be back soon enough after the disastrous performance of this Biden regime ends in a crash and burn.

aaall said...

"For what shall it profit a man..." Rittenhouse is now owned by the Right and this won't end well for him. It now seems likely that there will be civil suits for which he will need yet another million or so. I sense a breakdown in his future.

Leiter is totally on point. Open carry laws and "must issue" provisions with concealed weapons need to end, ditto "stand your ground" laws outside of ones residence. Require a form four for semi-auto rifles capable of holding more then ten rounds and were manufactured before some date in 1986. Do a buy-back on any manufactured after that date.

Time seems critical. If one has a legitimate self-defense claim then multiple shots or stabs in a second or two will fly. Matters simply can't be that fine tuned in the heat of the moment which is why we need to end folks carrying arms in public and cosplaying Rambo.

aaall said...

On a lighter note, it seems the female board members of the Federalist Society's NYU LS chapter just resigned because anti-choice speakers were invited to address the group.

https://www.reddit.com/r/LeopardsAteMyFace/comments/qyksuf/women_members_of_nyu_federalist_society_are/

We are in a weird time line.

LFC, thanks for the correction, I should have checked.

Anonymous said...

“It now seems likely that there will be civil suits for which he will need yet another million or so. I sense a breakdown in his future.”

What on earth are you talking about? Lawyers will be lining up to successfully represent him against the media defamation, working on contingency and probably getting paid quite well. Rittenhouse will be doing quite well.

GJ said...

"It does not matter how long it took for the four shots to be made."

Yes, it does. Let me explain, again, for the benefit of others (you're not going to get it, AA, so disregard). When Rittenhouse spun around and saw Rosenbaum lunging at him, he had a nanosecond to decide what to do. Fearing for his life, he decided, in that moment, to shoot Rosenbaum. He fired four shots. The first two struck Rosenbaum in the hand and pelvis, the other two, fatally, in the neck and head.

If AA is right, then if the first two shots had killed Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse would have acted in self-defence. But since they didn't, he didn't act in self-defence, since they incapacitated Rosenbaum, rendering the fatal shots unnecessary.

But everything depends on how long it took for the event to unfold, which, by all accounts, was about a second. Snap your fingers. It happened too quickly, in any event, for us, with the luxury of hindsight, to conclude that Rittenhouse should have known precisely when Rosenbaum was no longer a threat and stopped pulling the trigger at the moment (though, to be clear, he came damn close, as close as one can expect from someone in that situation). We don’t demand that kind of precision from soldiers and police officers. Why should we now demand it from the likes of Rittenhouse?

That’s the argument, and it has an unmistakable air of reality as an argument from self-defence. Accordingly, the burden shifted to the prosecution. It was now their job to demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Rittenhouse didn’t shoot Rosenbaum in self-defence. They failed to meet their burden.

Anonymous said...

GJ is absolutely correct. If you ever find yourself in such a life or death situation you will know this too.

aaall said...

Anon, I do not believe you understand the meaning of "working on contingency" as Rittenhouse will be the defendant. Of course, if Rudy isn't disbarred by then..., and there's always the clowns who sued over the election.

Another Anonymous said...

I will repeat my quotation from the Wisconsin statute which I quoted in the previous thread, not in any effort to persuade you GJ, who it is quite apparent is incapable of rational thought, but to dissuade the readers of your comment of the potential validity of your sophistry.

The excerpt from the Wisconsin statute states:

Under the express terms of the Wisconsin statute, “Unnecessary defensive force. Death was caused because the actor believed he or she or another was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that the force used was necessary to defend the endangered person, if either belief was unreasonable[.]” Rittenhouse’s belief that Rosenbaum still presented a threat to him as he lay face down on the ground – regardless how long he was laying face down, even if only for a nanosecond – rendered that belief unreasonable beyond a reasonable doubt, and no longer constituted self-defense.

My comments regarding the last two lethal shots as not amenable to a claim of self-defense applies no matter how fast Rittenhouse fired all four shots, since it was he who made the decision to fire each of the shots. The last two shots were clearly not made in self-defense, because Rosenbaum was already defenseless at that point and no one was “in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm” from Rosenbaum. Rittenhouse’s claim that he was in such danger is and was utter nonsense.

But my point regarding the last two shots is in fact superfluous, because AT NO POINT WAS RITTENHOUSE EVER IN IMMINENT DANGER OF DEATH OR GREAT BODILY HARM FROM ROSENBAUM, EVEN AS ROSENBAUM LUNGED AT HIM WITH HIS EMPTY HANDS AND THE AR-15 WAS SECURELY STRAPPED TO RITTENHOUSE’S BODY. THERE WAS NO REASONABLE BELIEF THAT ROSENBAUM COULD HAVE RIPPED THE AR-15 STRAPPED TO RITTENBAUM’S BODY FROM RITTENHOUSE’S BODY, AND TURNED IT ON RITTENHOUSE, AS HE SO DRAMATICALLY TESTIFIED FROM THE STAND, BLUBBERING FAKE AND REHEARSED GRIMACES OF EMOTIONAL PAIN. The argument about the last two shots is intended to reinforce the total vacancy of self-defense, even if one is tempted to believe the utterly false narrative that even the first two shots were fired to prevent Rosenbaum, empty-handed, from inflicting death or GREAT bodily harm – not just bodily harm, mind you, but GREAT bodily harm. The use of the word :”great” is there for a reason, and the jury, misled by the judge’s incompetent jury instructions, ignored it.

It is obvious that the likes of GJ, Anonymous, and Islander are incapable of understanding the above analysis, because they are die-hard Second Amendment zealots, who are determined to defend the right of open carry in Wisconsin and intent on making Rittenhouse the poser boy of their benighted ideology.

GJ said...

You insufferable caterwauling nightmare. I won't rehearse my arguments about the last two shots.

"But my point regarding the last two shots is in fact superfluous, because AT NO POINT WAS RITTENHOUSE EVER IN IMMINENT DANGER OF DEATH OR GREAT BODILY HARM FROM ROSENBAUM, EVEN AS ROSENBAUM LUNGED AT HIM WITH HIS EMPTY HANDS AND THE AR-15 WAS SECURELY STRAPPED TO RITTENHOUSE’S BODY."

Writing in uppercase doesn't make your argument any stronger. It just makes you look like a petulant child. But more to the point, and as I've previously remarked, Rittenhouse was in imminent danger of death. Why? Because Rosenbaum intended to kill him--he said so! And Rittenhouse heard him say so! That's why he was chasing Rittenhouse!

"THERE WAS NO REASONABLE BELIEF THAT ROSENBAUM COULD HAVE RIPPED THE AR-15 STRAPPED TO RITTENBAUM’S BODY FROM RITTENHOUSE’S BODY, AND TURNED IT ON RITTENHOUSE."

See my claim above. The incident occurred quickly, and we don’t expect people to assess their physical capabilities, as against an aggressor’s physical capabilities, in the heat of the moment. For all Rittenhouse knew, Rosenbaum could have easily ripped the gun away from him. But note, too, that Rosenbaum could have killed him with it without taking it from him. Or simply beat him to death.

Incidentally, I'm adamantly opposed to open carry laws and believe the Second Amendment should be repealed. I've also said that Rittenhouse was a fool for being there in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile AA is apparently intent on making Rosenbaum, child rapist and felon aggressor, into the poster boy of poor helpless gun victims. Absolutely pathetic

aaall said...

It would have been interesting if Grosskreutz, who had a Glock, had attempted a citizen's arrest after R shot Huber and wound up shooting and killing Rittenhouse. Perhaps we would have had fundraising for Grosskreutz and the same attorney would have been hired with the same results. Or perhaps the state wouldn't even have charged him. Then what would the folks who are presently all "yea Second Amendment and self-defense" be doing?

aaall said...

Just saw this:

Frank Figliuzzi
@FrankFigliuzzi1
Divide & conquer: A sample of 32,315 pro-Rittenhouse hashtag tweets, Nov 19-20, showed 29,609 with disabled geolocation. Of those, 17,701 were listed as “foreign”, but a deep scrub revealed most of those were in Russia, China, and the EU. @Tara_Writer @TAPSTRIMEDIA #Rittenhouse

https://www.rawstory.com/kyle-rittenhouse-support-tweets-international/

Islander said...

aaall> Leiter is totally on point.

Sort of... As a lawyer, he says:

> the law should not permit civilians to own, let alone carry, military weapons

And for a lawyer, he makes sense: he thinks within the system that sustains the police vs civilian opposition. So, of course, as a lawyer, he proposes to further sustains and strengthen the system that he, on the other side as an anti-capitalist, criticizes and believes should be destroyed...

Fundamentally, citizenry should be allowed to carry any weapons (bazukas included) as long as society is structured thus that they don't have to kill each other to get their way...

Howie said...

Guns play a conspicuous role in public life in Israel; it is common for soldiers and civilians to carry automatic weapons- yet the war on the Palestinians bracketed, it is rare for outbursts of rage type shootings to mar the news.
Why is that? I can think of a few things; gun culture. solidarity in a nation at war- etc
It could be traditional Jewish aversions to violence.
I'd say: guns don't kill people, Republicans kill people

Another Anonymous said...

Howie,

I’m not so sure about the Jewish aversion to violence. We have had our share of dangerous mobsters – Louie "Lepke" Buchalter, Longy Zwillman, Ben “Bugsy” Siegel, Dutch Schultz, “Kid Twist” Reles, Jacob “Gurrah” Shapiro, and the king of them all, Meyer Lansky, co-founder of Murder Incorporated. Amazon Prime is currently showing “Lansky,” starring Harvey Keitel as Lansky.

Howie said...

And there was Benya Krik of Babel too
Maybe I idealize with a halo around our past.
I'd counter: there are sociological statistics and that it relates to the influence of Jewish tradition which is stronger in Israel where an autonomous Jewish community exists.
You think on what Maimonides wrote against being angry.
In Israel there just aren't many cases of Jews mass murdering other Jews.
Everybody in Israel except the ultra religious knows how to operate a gun and there is crime and there are protests involving rocks and burning barricades and there is oppression of the oyev, the Palestinians- but there is hardly any mass shooting attacks'
Any body who did that would be ostracized and persona non grata

David Zimmerman said...

Speak for yourself, Howie.... The Palestinians are not my enemy... and I think that speak for Professor Wolff as well..

Another Anonymous said...

David,

Nowhere in either of Howie’s two comments did he state that the Palestinians are the enemy of the Jewish people, nor did he claim that simply by virtue of being Jewish, such as yourself, Prof. Wolff, or myself, are the we and the Palestinians enemies. He simply said, in the first comment, that there is an ongoing war between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and this is an accurate statement of the existence of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict which began in 1947 and has been continuing for the ensuing 74 years. He did not say or suggest that this is a war between the Jewish people generally and the Palestinians. And in the second comment, her explicitly stated that there is oppression of the Palestinians, the oyev, by the Israelis. Don’t put words in Howie’s statement which are not there. As a professor of philosophy, where language and its meaning is paramount, you should know better.

s. wallerstein said...

Mass shootings at random seem to be a U.S. phenomenon, as far as I know.

Here in Chile there is gun violence, much too much, but it is always linked to specific crimes or gang wars. There has never been a case of someone walking into a school or mall or anywhere else and shooting at people out of rage or resentment or hatred of the human race.

aaall said...

Way off topic but s.w. may find this interesting:

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html

s. wallerstein said...

aaall,

Thanks. They were talking about the eclipse on the radio when I got up that day just before dawn and suggested that listeners go out to see it, but I was too lazy.

Islander said...

> Here in Chile there is gun violence ... but it is always linked to specific crimes or gang wars.

Curiously, the participants in this thread cant seem to think of violence in any other way than organized violence: state (police) or criminal (gangs). Palestine vs Israel is also an example of organized state-on-state violence.

But Rittenhouse was "disorganized" (no evidence has emerged so far of his ties to any white supremacy organization, beside those photos in a bar when he already was a celebrity). He was a loner.

His attackers were not organized either: Rosenbaum had been mentally disturbed and was looking for trouble all evening that day, and the other two acted on the spur of the moment.

Let's assume (and based on what I've read so far in this thread, it seems a reasonable assumption), we here collectively fear and condemn chaotic violence, while endorsing organized and trained, skillful violence.

We also seem to support democracy as a method of governing.

Then it logically follows that citizens can democratically band together to acquire necessary firearm training, thus reducing chaotic violence while retaining the kind of violence that is necessary for self-governance.

Herewith, exhibit one: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/06/us/trump-daniel-baker-florida-capitol-plot.html

Michael Llenos said...

I believe there exists a Brad Pitt movie called Inglorious Bastards, in which a German Sniper is being honored for killing a lot of Russians on the Eastern Front of WW2. For some weird reason when I first heard the story and when I first saw Kyle Rittenhouse on the internet, I was reminded of that same movie with the German Sniper. I'm not saying that's a good thing, or anything like that, but I'm saying it's hard for my memory to separate Kyle and the German Sniper in the movie.

Another Anonymous said...

Michael,

I believe you are confusing the movie Inglorious Bastards with the movie Enemy At The Gates, which takes place during the Battle of Stalingrad.

David Zimmerman said...

To Another Anonymous:

Look again at Howie's comments about Israel and the "oyev," i.e. Palestinians.... and then brush up on your Hebrew:

"Oyev" means "enemy."

A quick Google search:

biblehub.com › hebrew › oyev_341Hebrew Concordance: ’ō·w·yêḇ -- 39 Occurrences
KJV: into the hand of the enemy. INT: you shall be delivered hands of the enemy. Numbers 35:23 HEB: וְהוּא֙ לֹא־ אוֹיֵ֣ב ל֔וֹ וְלֹ֥א KJV: [it] upon him, that he die, and [was] not his enemy, neither sought INT: he nor his enemy nor seeking. Deuteronomy 32:27 HEB: לוּלֵ֗י כַּ֤עַס אוֹיֵב֙ ...

www.pealim.com › dict › 5002-oyevאויב – enemy – Hebrew conjugation tables
oyevch e m. your m. pl. enemy. אוֹיֶבְכֶן. oyevch e n. your f. pl. enemy. 3rd. אוֹיְבוֹ. oyv o. his / its enemy.
translate.google.comGoogle Translate

www.chaimbentorah.com › 2015 › 01REVISED WORD STUDY – LET YOUR ENEMIES BE SCATTERED יפצו איביכ ...
Jan 16, 2015 · Take a look at this word for enemy, it is oyev. It looks and sounds like the word ahev which means a friend or lover. The word used here is oyev is where the Name Job comes from. Job means one who is persecuted. The sages teach that oyev is a word meaning enemy, but an enemy who masquerades as a friend or lover. Such an enemy is far more dangerous as an antagonist, because you trust in them.

Jim Westrich said...

Well said. It is hard to be a Tigger (optimist) these days.

Another Anonymous said...

David,

Are you an Israeli? The Israeli Law of The Right of Return allows anyone who is Jewish anywhere in the world to claim Israeli citizenship. Have you done so? If not, then I stand by what I wrote. Howie referred to the Palestinians as the oyev of Israelis, not of Jews or the Jewish people. You responded with inappropriate indignation, accusing Howie of claiming that you, and other non-Israeli Jews, such as (I assume) Prof. Wolff, are the enemy of the Palestinians. He did not state that, and you are not big enough to admit your error.

Howard said...

Dear David

I consider myself on the left wing of Israeli politics from afar.
I am in the opposition but not the resistance.
As another anonymous indicated, I do not see the Palestinians as enemies of all Jews or vice versa
If you were paying attention, you'd notice a big gulf opening between Israeli and American Jews.
Our realities are totally different: there, you are part of a Jewish collective and are in a constant state of war; here you feel like being Jewish is just a part of your identity, but you are largely assimilated; you have to worry about what gentiles think but you are not at war with them.
Just as the Jewish world was split between Karaite and Rabbinical and Hasidic and Mitnagdim today the rift is between Israeli and Diaspora.
I am in the amen corner and I scream at them hey man watch out.
They know how to survive better than I do and they will call me a yoram or sabon. I am not going to enable their warlike tendencies. I think the Israelis though great in many ways are a warlike people. They are more similar in some ways to the ancient Hebrews than to me
Since returning to America I've made friends with people who are Muslims. They are just like my Jewish friends and family. They are not just the latest enemy of the Jews. They are not Nazis. They have learned from us and in some ways overtaken us. They are my brothers and sisters just as Christians are (well some)
I think we were desperate from the effects of the Diaspora and due to our historical connection to Palestine and our view of ourselves as the darling and hero of world history and due to how history was in the early twentieth century, maybe like a horde of Mongols we took their/our land
Israel has fulfilled it's historical mission of maintaining Jewish life- but just as in Exodus there came a Pharaoh who knew not joseph, there is a new reality in Israel/Palestine and the world and though I respect Israel, I cannot enable their oppression of the Palestinians
Maybe I should have made this clear, but I didn't want to distract from the main point or write a manifesto.
There is little Jew on Jew gun violence in Israel unlike America and there guns are all over the place
I didn't want to alarm you David

David Zimmerman said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Howie.

Howard said...

David
Though I speak Hebrew with some fluency, I am not a scholar of shorashim.
In the army they spoke of the 'oyev' and I took that to mean the Palestinians and the Syrians, Iranians, Iraqis etc.
The history of the root is interesting, but you are being too much a Talmudist.
I just mean the enemy by 'oyev' the enemy who puts us in a 'matzav' of being under siege
I don't need to know the etymology of 'matzav' to know what it means ditto for 'oyev'

Howard said...

Your welcome

Islander said...

Cherry blossoms bloom.
Sure, it’s beautiful, but is
it good for the Jews?

Discuss.

Ridiculousicculus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ridiculousicculus said...

Frankly, I don't see how anyone who watched the camera footage sees the Rittenhouse killings as anything other than self-defense.

Rittenhouse got rushed by a convicted pedophile who had earlier been caught on camera threatening to kill a group of people - including Rittenhouse - if he caught them alone. The guy found Rittenhouse alone and charged him. Rittenhouse shot the guy and killed him.

Rittenhouse then started running away from the scene and towards the cops. He got chased by a mob, fell on the ground, and got trucked with a skateboard. Rittenhouse shot the guy who trucked him (another known criminal) and killed him. Btw, a third guy with a criminal record pulled a gun on Rittenhouse, and Rittenhouse shot that guy and injured him. It's all in the video.

Where my lefty friends keep seem to get caught up is intent: did Rittenhouse intend to go to Kenosha WI to protect businesses, as he claimed? Or did Rittenhouse intend to go to Kenosha WI to place himself in a position where he could lawfully kill someone "in self defense"? The consensus seems to be that if Rittenhouse intended to go to Kenosha WI to protect businesses, then that would be fine, but since Rittenhouse really went to Kenosha WI to find an excuse to lawfully kill someone, he's a murderer.

Leaving aside the question of the truth of Rittenhouse's intentions in going to Kenosha, WI, armed with his AK-47 etc., I think the intuition that there are millions of Americans sitting at home with weapons just waiting for the opportunity to righteously shoot someone is correct - I grew up with those people, I'll even drink with them, and they're all over the place.

So how do you get rid of a collective pathology that causes millions of Americans to fantasize about righteously killing people and to act out on those fantasies?

Michael said...

The consensus seems to be that if Rittenhouse intended to go to Kenosha WI to protect businesses, then that would be fine...

I'd be surprised if your friends thought it might've been fine (rather than crazed, reckless, wildly irresponsible) for Rittenhouse to show up at that business carrying an AK-47. But maybe I'm mixing up ethics and law; do they mean legally fine? Sorry if I'm misunderstanding.

I also don't think it'd be relevant to the self-defense argument whether the people who attacked Rittenhouse had a criminal history. Just seems like something people bring up as a smear.

I'm not an expert, haven't invested a lot in the case, blah blah blah, but so far I'm most inclined to agree with Brian Leiter. Were Rittenhouse's actions legally protected? Probably (I guess). But that just means the law/culture is nuts in this respect. Which we already knew.

Another Anonymous said...

Interesting. Howie makes a comment about the hostility between Israelis and Palestinians, which David Zimmerman immediately misinterprets to be a comment attributing Palestinian hostility to all Jews, and he wants to make clear that he disassociates himself from such unfair hostility. Yet Islander makes an explicitly anti-Semitic remark, asserting that Jews care only about themselves and their fellow Jews, and nary a peep from David, or from any of the other Jews who routinely read Prof. Wolff’s blog.

Anonymous said...

AA
I hesitate to comment on this subject since I am not Jewish. but my partner is Jewish (Ancestry tells her she's 100 percent Ashkenazi), I have a Jewish sister-in-law, and most of my friends are Jewish and I've often heard them say "is it good for the Jews?" in a joking sort of way. Might that have any bearing on islander's remark. Maybe he/she is Jewish and you're mistaking the context from which the remark comes? Just asking.

s. wallerstein said...

Anonymous,

I'm Jewish myself and I can tell you various Jewish jokes, told me by other Jews, that if a non-Jew were to tell them, they would be considered anti-semitic. It's a strange game, but that's the way the rules work. There are certain words that if an African-American says them, it's kosher, but if a white person says them, they're considered racist.

So too the question, is it good for the Jews?, has a certain ironic sense if said by a Jew, which you probably understand having spent so much time around them.

I'd bet that Islander isn't Jewish just as I'd bet that he/she is male. So on this one I'll back Another.

Another Anonymous said...

So, let's ask Islander - Islander, are you Jewish, and if not, what was the intent of your flippant remark?

Anonymous said...

s. w.

I also had in mind the other situation you mentioned. And I agree with what you say. But as AA goes on to say/ask, there’s still the problem of intention. If someone, mirroring, say, what they’ve heard Jews or African Americans say, mistake that they can say it too, is their anti-semitism or racism of the same quality as the anti-semitism or racism of those who deliberately seek to be hurtful, derogatory, etc.? Does it even deserve to be termed anti-semitism or racism?

I tend to think that it isn’t and that the person committing that kind of unintentional assault is possibly reachable via conversation. If I’m right about this, AA’s second response would be preferred to his first, which might, depending upon what islander reveals, turn out to have been an antagonising rush to judgement.

David Zimmerman said...

I hate to dip into this latest bizarre turn in the discussion, for fear of being battered again by Another Anonymous, but here is a bit of context for the sardonic comment "But is it good for the Jews?":

In recent years the vile Alan Dershowitz has moved further and further to the right.... to the point that he is now an unashamed apologist for all things Trumpist. He has also become a pretty unashamed apologist for the Netanyahu rank of Israeli politics, utterly unable to empathize with any suffering that the Israeli government and the "settlers" have inflicted on innocent Palestinian residents.

Sometime in the the middle of his rightward turn, critics of Dershowitz have taken to parody some latest comment of his on pretty much any issue that caught his fancy in this way [which I think is pretty funny].... "Dershowitz says: 'Blah, blah, blah, blah, but is it good for the Jews?'"

Now, the riposte "Is it good for the Jews" may have some anti-semitic intent in the wrong hands.... I don't know.... I have never encountered it anywhere but in the Dershowitz context. But there I really like it.

Another Anonymous said...

David Zimmerman,

I am not here to defend Allan Dershowitz or any other supporter of Israel’s policies, willy nilly. The comment in question was not made by Allan Dershowitz. The comment in question, in the form of a haiku, was made by an unidentified person, who I assume is not Allan Dershowitz, and I believe it was not meant as a parody of Allan Dershowitz, but was a blatantly anti-Semitic remark intended to convey the following: Cherry blossoms are regarded by most people as beautiful and fragrant – except by the Jews. Why? Because the Jews only appreciate things which are “good for the Jews,” i.e., which increase their wealth and/or influence in the media, and/or support Israel. This meaning seems to me rather obvious, and should be obvious to any Jewish person who, like myself, has been the target of anti-Semitic remarks, insults, and conduct. What I found interesting, David, was that you took immediate umbrage at your misinterpretation of Howard’s remark relating to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, in which he referred to the Palestinians as the enemy of Israelis – not, mind you, as enemies of Jews generally - which is how you misinterpreted his comment. You were intent on disassociating yourself from any suggestion that you, as a Jew, harbor any hostility towards the Palestinians. Yet you let slide, without any comment, what I believe was a flagrantly anti-Semitic comment by Islander (who, by the way, has yet to respond to my inquiry whether he is Jewish, and was therefore only making an innocent joke, as Anonymous above has suggested.)

Had Islander made a racist remark about African-Americans, I am quite confident that you, and many other readers of this blog, many of them Jewish, would have immediately submitted comments condemning his racism. And this is what I find disturbing about contemporary American culture, indeed about contemporary European culture. It has become acceptable to engage in anti-Semitic insults and remarks, justified, the speakers claim, by what they regard as the atrocities which they claim Israel is inflicting on the Palestinians. This has been described by many commentators as the new anti-Semitism. And, unfortunately, it is even supported and facilitated by many liberal Jews, who will immediately condemn Israel for the sense of shame they feel because of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, yet do not have the backbone to condemn a blatantly anti-Semitic comment when they see or hear one, who, like you, are willing to give it a pass, and rather than address the comment, divert attention from it by introducing such irrelevant digressions as Alan Dershowitz’s often indefensible defense of Israel’s policies, willy nilly. I assure you that Islander is not a defender of Israel’s policies, but a right-wing anti-Semite, who in prior comments has defended Rittenhouse’s murder of two defenseless protesters, because he was simply exercising his Second Amendment right to self-defense.

David Zimmerman said...

Another Anonymous....

Really... Do you mean to say?-----

To Another anonymous:

You say........."....the atrocities which THEY CLAIM is inflicting on the Palestinians....."

Which THEY CLAIM ... WTF?

Putting it that way says a lot, Sir.

There is no mere CLAIM here, Sir... The Israeli government and their "settler" minions are inflicting plain and simple brutalization upon innocent Palestinians.

The only reason that I use CAPITAL letters id=s that this site does not allow for more demure punctuation.

Another Anonymous said...

David Zimmerman,

I am not going to engage in a lengthy narrative regarding the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Suffice it to say that there have been atrocities and injustices committed by both sides – and continue to be committed by both sides. The Palestinians are not guiltless in this extended history. Even today, in Palestinian schools on the West Bank, the teach young Palestinians to hate Jews and justify their being murdered. See https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/comprehensive-report-reveals-endemic-hate-education-in-palestinian-schools-632057; https://forward.com/opinion/476950/palestinian-textbooks-are-still-teaching-students-to-hate-jews/

No such indoctrination against Palestinians occurs in the Israeli public schools, which, by the way, are also attended by the children of Palestinian Israeli citizens.

But this is another irrelevant digression by you to divert attention from your willingness to overlook an anti-Semitic slur on this blog and the proliferation of anti-Semitic comments, insults and actions in the United States and Europe, which are supposedly justified by virtue of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. On what basis do you, as an academic and philosopher, justify such selective racist treatment of Jews based on what other Jews in another country are doing? Should Syrians living in the United States be subjected to anti-Muslim insults because of what Assad is doing to his people in Syria? Ditto Yemenite immigrants to the United States? So why is it deemed acceptable to insult Jewish Americans for Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians? It is only justifiable in the eyes of a liberal hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

Rushing to judgement—joined, or so it seems to me, to questionable apology on the one hand and demands for punishment on the other—is, again it seems to me, one of the worst features of our present moment. Perhaps it has always been so? But I don’t recall it being this way during most of my 80 + years on this Earth. I’m just trying my little bit to counter that since it seems to contribute to the current climate.

As to islander’s remarks, I attended only to the one to which you responded at 1:28 pm. But I do, however, have a question, AA. Your definition of the ‘new antisemitism” differs quite a bit from what I have seen discussed. I am more accustomed to seeing it defined as taking criticism of israel’s policies and actions to be by definition—by IHRA definition—anti-semitic. As I further understand it, quite a lot of Jews reject the IHRA definition; many of these would, I believe accept the Jerusalem declaration which does not, as I understand it, make criticism of Israel to be anti-semitic in and of itself. Have I got this all hopelessly wrong? And if so, how?

Another Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

The term “new anti-Semitism” refers to using criticisms of Israel and anti-Zionism to mask an underlying hatred of Jews. It involves using a double standard, criticizing Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians, while ignoring even worse violations of human rights by other countries, particularly Arab and/or Muslim countries. For example, claiming that Israel is not a democracy by virtue of its treatment of Palestinians on the West Bank, but ignoring Assad’s massacre of his own people and the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia. You can see a discussion of this trend here:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/new-antisemitism/

The recently deceased Rabbi Sacks offers an excellent discussion of the phenomenon here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIoZvHU3wwg

I, myself, do not claim that criticism of Israel automatically constitutes anti-Semitism. I have been critical of some of Israel’s policies and believe that Netanyahu has been the worst Prime Minister in Israel’s history. But I do recognize that many who are critical of Israel are only critical of Israel because they dislike Jews.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your elucidation, AA. But it strikes me that your explanation suffers a bit from ‘what aboutism,’ in the sense that it requires that criticism of X is only legitimate if it also includes criticism of Y and Z. Surely, logically, it should be possible to criticise X, if X deserves criticism, without criticising anyone else? If, for example, I were to criticise Biden, am I obligated to criticise Trump at the same time? Is criticism so politically embedded that such an enlargement of criticism is obligatory? And if so, where does the extension end. My guess is that if you require extension to other criticisable objects, there is logically—and politically—no end to it. Soon we’ll be back to the flight out of Egypt, or before, and all that has happened since.

Thanks again.

Another Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

I do not agree with your assertion, "Surely, logically, it should be possible to criticise X, if X deserves criticism, without criticising anyone else?" Logic has nothing to wo with it. Such selective criticism, where there are other individuals or nations which engage in the same conduct for which you criticize x, demonstrates anti-x bias. Moreover, it also depends on what one believes should be the consequences of x engaging in such conduct. If x is an individual, and the consequences are that x should be incarcerated, but you do not recommend incarceration for the others who also engage in the conduct for which you condemn x, that is unjust. Similarly, if x is a nation, and you claim that because x has engaged in certain conduct has no right to exist as a nation, but ignore the comparable - or worse - conduct by other nations and do not say that those nations also do not have a right to exist, then your condemnation of x alone is unjust.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid we're fated to disagree on this, AA. One may, after all, know quite a lot about X and much less or even nothing about Y and Z. Besides, we live in a time and place where the criticisms of, say, Assad, to go to your example, is unmitigatingly criticised by the mainstream media and the government and most of the countries politicians, most of whom say little or nothing about Israel's failings. Do you regularly accuse them of being anti-Muslim? As i understand your position, wouldn't you be obligated to do that? And wouldn't you be obligated to mention Israel's failings every time you mentioned Assad's? Maybe you do actually do that? In which casde my apologies.

Another Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

To whom are you referring by your question, "Do you regularly accuse them of being anti-Muslim?" If you are referring to the Israelis, you are mistaken. Israel is the only country which has protected the religious rights of all its citizens, and has preserved the religious sites of each religion from desecration. The dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians is primarily a dispute over property and the right to own property by individuals of different religions. Moreover, if you know quite a bit about X and much less or even nothing about Y and Z, then you have an obligation to learn more about Y and Z before you reach conclusions regarding what the fate of X should be, as compared to Y and Z. And I am as critical of Assad as I have been of Netanyahu - but Netanyahu, indeed no Israeli leader, ever exposed the Palestinians to massive attacks using poison gas.

Islander said...

To the morons who see antisemitism even where there isnt any...

*
A poem should be equal to:
Not true.

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—

A poem should not mean
But be.

Another Anonymous said...

Yep, that certainly clears it up.

F Lengyel said...

I don't know about you surveyors of endless multidimensional cognitive vistas, but if I see a kid on the street with an AR-15, I'm booking.

Another Anonymous said...

A better poem by Archibald Macleish, about ambiguity and alternative meanings:

Water is heavy silver over stone.
Water is heavy silver over stone’s
Refusal. It does not fall. It fills. It flows
Every crevice, every fault of the stone,
Every hollow. River does not run.
River presses its heavy silver self
Down into stone and stone refuses.

What runs,
Swirling and leaping into sun, is stone’s
Refusal of the river, not the river.

Anonymous said...

The "you" in my question was you yourself, AA. I was enquiring whether you regularly followed your own strictures.

Another Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

My question was who the "them" is. I understood that the "you" referred to me. And the answer is No, because the Israelis are not anti-Muslim. And whether I criticize Israel "every time" I am critical of Assad, the bilateral criticism do not have to occur contemporaneously, as long as such bilateral criticism and evaluation does occur. And I have been even-handed in my criticism. I have, for example, been vigorously opposed to the expansion of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and this is one of the reasons I regard Netanyahu as the worst Prime Minister in Israel's history.

Anonymous said...

I see, AA. By "them" I was referring to all those in this country who quite regularly--and legitimately--criticise Assad, etc. but who by and large do not ever get around to criticising Israel. As I understand you, you would find such one-sidedness repugnant, or at least unjust. And you would accuse them of being anti-Muslim?

By the way (though I have no wish to extend this discussion which is a long way away from RPW's intiial posting) as I understand recent history, the settlement project long ante-dated Netanyahu and has shown no signs of a let up following his departure. It's kind of like blaming Trump for all the ills of this country, though many of them ante-dated him and it looks like many of them will continue to plague us on into the Trumpless future. (Sorry about that rant.)

Another Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

I am sorry, but I do not understand your logic. If there are two nations, or two world leaders, A and B, and A routinely mistreats, harasses, and even kills and tortures certain segments of the population, far more than B, I see no reason to say, “Well, if you are going to criticize A, you should also criticize B.” In this analogy, it makes sense to criticize the far more brutal of the two leaders/nations, while not criticizing the significantly less brutal leader/nation. There is no objective comparison between Assad’s mistreatment of the Syrian people, and Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians, in which the two can be said to be equivalent, or even nearly equivalent, so why require that, in order to criticize Assad you must also criticize Israel? Palestinians living in Israel serve in the Israeli Knesset, have equal access to Israeli educational institutions, own businesses in Israel. Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank has no comparison to Assad’s treatment of his own people. That is not to say that none of Israel’s policies deserve being criticized, and that such criticism does not per se constitute anti-Semitism, but if one only criticizes Israel, and does not criticize Assad for his mistreatment of his own people; or Saudi Arabia for its misogynistic treatment of women; or China for its persecution of the Uyghurs or occupation of Tibet, or …., then I strongly suspect that you are part of the new anti-Semitism, using your criticism of Israel to mask an underlying hatred of Jews. I suggest you watch the video of Rabbi Sacks’ discussion of the subject, for which I provided the link in a previous comment.

Regarding the history of the settlement movement, I do not know how much you know of the history of the numerous efforts by Israel to reach a peace settlement with the Palestinians. There have been at least six such efforts, and in each case the Palestinian leadership has found a reason to reject the settlement offer. The first such effort occurred in 1947, when the UN announced the partition. Had the Palestinians accepted the partition, they would have had an independent country with far more land than they can possibly obtain now, even if a two-state solution was still feasible. They rejected the proposed partition and instead attacked the nascent Jewish state, vowing to drive the Jews into the sea. They failed. They failed again in 1967, when the armies of five Arab nations attacked Israel. As a result of that loss, Israel acquired the West Bank and Gaza. Israel continued to engage in repeated efforts to reach a peace settlement with the Palestinians; each effort rejected by the Palestinians. So, what is Israel supposed to do with the land it acquired by having prevailed in a war it did not start? Just give it up without any reciprocal pledge by the Palestinians not to continue to attack Israel? Israel withdrew from Gaza, acquired during the 1967 war, and left the greenhouses for the Palestinians to raise food. What did they do? They deliberately destroyed the greenhouses out of spite, and then started launching rockets into Israel (obtained using funds provided by the international community intended to be used to build the infrastructure in Gaza). Although I would have preferred that Israel had not started the settlement process in the West Bank, I can understand why they did it. At this point, I oppose expanding the settlements because it has become counter-productive to the two-state solution.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving (assuming you live in the U.S.)

s. wallerstein said...

I can imagine few activities more sadly moralistic than to sit around and decide which government we're going to blame more today.

On that level for sure Assad is worse than Bennett (current Israeli prime minister), but I never expected much from Assad or from Iran or from the Saudis.

As a Jew, I once expected a bit more from Israel and still do. I expect Israel to stop attacking Gaza, to withdraw from the West Bank and from East Jerusalem, to the boundaries pre-1967 War (as various UN resolutions require) and to sit down and seriously negotiate a peace agreement with the Palestians with the support of the U.S. and other international powers.

Growing up as a Jew, I learned a bit of Jewish history in my Saturday Jewish education and our history, suprise, contained no conquerors, no generals, no emperors, no cowboys, but rather a list of sages, philosophers and scientists. For me as a child a Jewish hero was Einstein or Dr. Sabin who developed the polio vaccine and refused to profit from it. So I learned to expect a bit more from the Jews than I expect from Assad or even from the USA with its history of imperialist expansion.

I continue to expect a bit more from the Jews; I expect a Jewish state to function with the same level of civilization (a loaded word, I know, sorry) as, say, Switzerland or Denmark or Holland or Uruguay. Is that asking too much? I hope not.

I write as a Jew, not from some fictional impartial standpoint of moral judgment (a la Kant) and as a Jew, I strive to get my own house in order first. Or as Chomsky says, look in the mirror first.

Islander said...

> A better poem

Says the guy who just jumped from a haiku to antisemitism in one giantly idiotic leap... So he's now a drama critic, I guess, in addition to being a drama queen...

Another Anonymous said...

s. wallerstein,

Thank you for your thoughtful contribution to this discussion.

Let me ask, however, why should Israel withdraw from the West Bank before it has a peace settlement with the Palestinians and a commitment by the Palestinian leadership not to continue its opposition to the right of Israel to exist, without rockets being launched into Israel from the West Bank, as is sporadically being done from Gaza? No country, having been threatened by a population that lives directly on its border, with the history Israel has had with the Palestinians, would voluntarily withdraw from an occupied territory, obtained by having prevailed in a war that was launched by those who live in that occupied territory, without first having received a reciprocal agreement not to attack the withdrawing nation, and certainly no country the size of Israel could take such a risk.

Your comparison to Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands is inapposite. They are not surrounded by numerous nations that have continuously denied their right to exist and have in fact engaged in military efforts to destroy them.

I, too, am proud of our Jewish heritage, of the tenets and ethical principles embodied in the Torah and the Talmud. But, if one accepts the initial premise that Israel has a right to exist – whatever its borders – and therefore a right to defend itself against its adversaries, then I believe it is simplistic and unjust to criticize Israel given its numerous efforts to reach a peace settlement with the Palestinians, all for nought. Under these circumstances, I do not believe that any other population, or any other nation, would voluntarily do what you are asking Israel to do, without first having obtained a reciprocal commitment from the other side to desist from attacking it.

s. wallerstein said...

Another,

You say that you do not believe that any other population or nation would voluntary do what I ask Israel to do. Maybe not.

However, as I said, I expect more from the Jews just as I expect more from myself than I do from my neighbors, from whom I don't expect a hell of a lot.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, AA, but to me your responses reek of special pleading and double standards. I've nothing more to say.

s. wallerstein said...

Another,

One more point which I should have included above.

I don't expect anyone to commit suicide. Israel has by far the best army in the Middle East, well-trained and with a technological advantage of many years over its potential enemies in the region. Just the other day Mossad assassinated an Iranian scientist with a robot machine gun without touching his wife who sat beside him in the car. It seems in the development of military artificial intelligence the Israelis are ahead of the U.S., which generally murders the whole family and all the neighbors in such a situation.

This isn't Munich. Iran isn't Nazi Germany and even if they'd like to be Nazi Germany (which I doubt), they just don't have the military might to blitzkreig Israel. So given their military and technological advantage, Israel can take risks in the search for peace.

Another Anonymous said...

s. Wallerstien,

Your response sounds like what Gandhi said about the Holocaust - that the Jews should have willingly gone into the gas chambers, with no resistance, in order to demonstrate to the Nazis the error of their ways.

Islander said...

s. wallerstein> I continue to expect a bit more from the Jews

I used to, but no more... Our gracious host is in many regards a pinnacle of high intelligence. Still, he writes that Rittenhouse is a "punk" (he is merely a teenager who aspires to be a policeman), that he "skirted the law" (he didn't - he "got his hands on an AR 15" in a legal manner and he is innocent of murder as determined by a jury of his peers). Bringing up "crossing state lines" is ridiculous, considering his family and friends live in Kenosha 20 miles away. And he didn't "get into some arguments that he provoked" - he was provoked by Rosenbaum and chased down by Grosskreutz and Huber (the later is particularly clear in various videos and photos).

Regardless of whether someone agrees or disagrees with the verdict, why would a person with highly trained brains (Jewish or not) keep perpetuating the idiotic narrative? And our host is not even paid to do this. He is doing it our of his own volition and persuasion. Which is, considering his undeniably high intelligence, is utterly astounding to me.

And it doesn't fucking matter to me whether he is a Jew or not.

John Rapko said...

I'm sorry to read the name-calling and hostility in these comments, and accordingly do not wish to comment except to raise a point in possible defense of the professor's use of the word 'provoke'. A chief point, strenuously argued for and against by Another Anonymous and Islander, is whether what Rittenhouse did was illegal. Perhaps (I really don't know) it's not illegal; and if so that indicates a pressing need to change some laws. But surely the professor was not primarily using the term 'provoke' in a narrowly legal sense. Consider some examples: a group of neo-Nazis 'legally' march to a synagogue and chant 'Heil Hitler'; during marching season in Northern Ireland an Ulster defense unit 'legally' marches through an overwhelmingly Catholic neighborhood and stops for an hour in front of a public mural memorializing Bobby Sands; etc. Surely these are provocations? And if people are indeed provoked and respond violently, what then? I take it that Rittenhouse's actions were not 'provocative' in so obvious a way as these examples, but isn't bringing a large, semi-automatic rifle to a legal protest on a highly topical and inflamed issue a kind of (in the extra-legal sense) provocation, and intentionally so?

GJ said...

Mr. Rapko,

Rittenhouse's actions were "provocative," perhaps, but not sufficiently provocative, IMHO, to justify trying to kill him (which is what his assailants arguably wanted to do). He did nothing illegal by bringing his AR-15 to the protest. Many others, right alongside him, were open-carrying that night.

The evidence suggests that Rosenbaum was provoked, not by the fact that Rittenhouse was carrying an AR-15, but by the fact that Rittenhouse helped put out an arson fire that Rosenbaum and others were trying to push toward police squad cars.

It usually goes unmentioned that Rittenhouse's actions that day were, by and large, the opposite of objectionable. He helped clean graffiti earlier in the day, he asked people if they wanted medical attention, and he moved a dumpster off the street (despite objections from protestors, one of whom yelled, "That's not your job!"). While he was running from Rosenbaum, he shouted, "Friendly! Friendly! Friendly!"

F Lengyel said...

I'm waiting for universal open carry of nuclear weapons. The country wouldn't survive the first two minutes.

John Rapko said...

GJ, Thanks for the very interesting and informative response. I do wonder about the openly carrying folks. Wouldn't it be better that (a) such weapons were banned from the vicinity of large gatherings, and (b) that individuals who wish to help maintain order (like Rittenhouse?) (i) disarm themselves and get training in techniques of de-escalation and non-confrontation, and (ii) organize themselves into groups for collective efforts and mutual aid and security? As you describe the scenario (I have no reason to doubt anything you say), part of the cause of the tragedy was Rittenhouse's isolation.--Pretty much every large demonstration I've ever been a part of (quite a few over 40 years, mostly in San Francisco) has had, along with say 5-20,000 protesters, a small number (perhaps 10-100) of young fellows running about, overturning trashcans and smashing windows. These youngsters are widely despised but mostly ignored. I don't think anyone would want untrained teenagers wielding deadly force against the vandals.

GJ said...
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GJ said...

I agree wholeheartedly, John, with both your points (a) and (b). The fact that people are legally permitted to brandish assault rifles like AR-15s in such gatherings (or, indeed, any gatherings at all) represents systemic failures on multiple levels. But for Wisconsin's ludicrous gun laws, the tragedy may not have occurred.

But Rittenhouse didn't write those laws, and the fact-free smears against him (blithely repeated here by RPW) are dispiriting.

His critics typically admit, begrudgingly, that he acted in self-defence, at least per Wisconsin law, but then proclaim that he must be guilty of something. After all, he went to "hunt people" (a philosopher with some 900 followers on Facebook said this after the verdict was announced) and "was looking to take some people out" (the same clown said this). None of this is based in evidence.

Rittenhouse supports the BLM movement, regrets ever having gone to Kenosha that day, and suffers from PTSD because of the incident. All of that is ignored, of course. He's the progressives' new boogeyman: a racist, gun-loving punk who provoked arguments and happily shot people.

s. wallerstein said...

GJ,

I see that Rittenhouse just met with Trump, which makes it unlikely that he is really a BLM supporter. Now it may be that he is just a confused kid who does not know who is who in the U.S. political landscape or it may be that his mother told him to see Trump because talking to the president would look good on his college application, as my mother might have.

I realize that there are liberal lynch mob which single out those who have strayed from the boundaries of political correction and that they may have picked Rittenhouse as the victim of the week or even of the month, but still the fact that he met with Trump does make me doubt that he's the kind of kid who I'd want my grand-daughter to go out with.

Another Anonymous said...

GJ,

I do not know where you receive your information from. I hardly think that an individual who seeks to meet with Trump is a BLM supporter. https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/23/politics/trump-kyle-rittenhouse-mar-a-lago-visit/index.html

Rittenhouse will say anything to ingratiate himself with anyone. He is a punk.

I stand by what I have written in this space before. When the medical evidence indicates, as the forensic pathologist called by the prosecution testified – testimony which was unrebutted by the defense – the deceased was shot in the back, that shot could not have been made in self-defense, under any definition of self-defense, including the definition included in the Wisconsin statute. You will deny this until you are blue in the face, but you will still be wrong.

Moreover, whether Rittenhouse legally possessed the AR-15 is still subject to dispute, because it has not been definitively determined whether the weapon was already present in Wisconsin when he traveled to Wisconsin, or whether he brought it with him from Illinois. If the latter, then he violated Illinois law. See https://giffords.org/lawcenter/state-laws/minimum-age-to-purchase-possess-in-illinois/

GJ said...

Rittenhouse stated in an interview (with whom I can't remember at the moment) that he "supports the BLM movement."

You stand by what you said? You don't say.

GJ said...

SW,

I'll take him at his word. He seemed sincere when he said it.

Another Anonymous said...

"He seemed sincere when he said it." That is the talent of a pathological liar.

s. wallerstein said...

I realize that at age 18 (and older) people can be very confused, especially given the quantity of contradictory social media many consume. We just had general elections here (Chile) last Sunday and according to analysts, some people who voted for the extreme left in last May's elections for the Constitutional Convention now voted for the extreme right because they're both "against the system". For those who don't follow Chilean politics, on December 19 we'll have a run-off between Gabriel Boric (about as radical as Bernie Sanders, which is still within the system here) and Jose Antonio Kast, ultra-rightwing, a less vulgar version of Trump.

GJ said...

People are susceptible to all manner of deeply motivated distortions. There's no evidence that Rittenhouse is a pathological liar, or a punk, or that he went to Kenosha to hunt people, or whatever--indeed, there's evidence to the contrary--but people who normally extol the virtues of proportioning one's beliefs to the evidence are now proclaiming all those things.

Rittenhouse was a fool for being there in the first place, as I've said previously. He's probably not very bright, and he's far from morally praiseworthy, but, by all appearances, he wasn't mal-intended.

GJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GJ said...

Apropos some comments upthread, instead of addressing his criticisms of Israeli policy, Norman Finkelstein's critics often dismiss them outright on the alleged ground that he's an anti-Semite (he's not). Since he's Jewish, they label him a self-hating Jew. Finkelstein's response is apt: "Let's assume I am self-hating Jew. Now that that's settled, let's focus on my criticisms of Israeli policy."

Islander said...

GJ> People are susceptible to all manner of deeply motivated distortions.

That was the point of the haiku: to show with a small example how it works in a predictable way. Some Jews who habitually look for antisemitism everywhere are totally blinded by their preconceptions of how antisemitism reveals itself. They cant even read a poem without injecting their prejudices and jumping to conclusions lacking in evidence.

For example:

Another Anonymous> Cherry blossoms are regarded by most people as beautiful and fragrant – except by the Jews. Why? Because the Jews only appreciate things which are “good for the Jews,” i.e., which increase their wealth and/or influence in the media, and/or support Israel.

But what does the speaker say in the haiku? She says: "Sure, it's beautiful". So, she does appreciate that "cherry blossoms are regarded by most people as beautiful and fragrant". And that's why the haiku is a joke (the author btw is David Bader), not an antisemitic remark. And nowhere does she say that the Jews are only concerned with increasing their wealth, influence, etc. That's all AA, projecting Rabbi Sacks and similar bullshitters.

What AA and some others have written here is full of those "deeply motivated distortions"...

The haiku is just a miniature mirror... And boy, o, boy, are some of the writers here ugly!

s. wallerstein said...

Islander,

You're great at poetry, but you're a bit weak on empathy.

Put yourself in the place of the Jews. Just a few generations ago (some survivors are still alive) the Nazis exterminated 6 million of us while the world stood by. If that had happened to your people (almost all of us lost most of our families), I imagine that you too would be a little "over-sensitive" about signs of anti-semitism just as African-Americans tend to be a bit "over-sensitive" about signs of racism after suffering slavery, lynching and Jim Crow. Walk a mile in my shoes, as the song says.

As for being ugly, no, we're not pretty people.

Another Anonymous said...

Islander,

“And that's why the haiku is a joke (the author btw is David Bader), not an antisemitic remark. And nowhere does she say that the Jews are only concerned with increasing their wealth, influence, etc. That's all AA, projecting Rabbi Sacks and similar bullshitters.”

More b.s. from Islander. Among the other haikus from which Islander selected the cherry blossom haiku are the following:

The shivah visit [mourning a death]:
So sorry about your loss.
Now back to my problems.

Wet moss on the old
stone path; flat on my back, I
ponder whom to sue.

The first of the above states that all Jews are self-centered, even at a funeral.

The second states that Jews are greedy and try to make money out of any situation.

The fact that the haikus, which are intended to repeat and reinforce stereotypes about how despicable Jews are, may have been written by a Jew does not ameliorate their anti-Semitic message. Like Larry David’s repugnant joke, while hosting SNL about a dating service at Auschwitz.
The entire series can be found at http://www.sumware.com/jewHaiku.htm

Islander, whoever you are, you are a detestable anti-Semite, and anti-Semitic haikus intended to perpetuate anti-Semitic stereotypes are not “jokes.” They have been used to persecute and execute Jews for centuries, like the blood libel “joke.”

LFC said...

Prob a mistake to even enter this discussion, but there is a long tradition, if I'm not mistaken, of Jewish humor, some of which doubtless includes Jews poking fun at themselves, which can actually be a way of disarming stereotypes rather than perpetuating them. I would be inclined to see the haikus reproduced here in that light. That's just my take -- these things are subjective, and other interpretations are possible.

s. wallerstein said...

LFC,

Sure, I mention that above on November 23 at 2:48 PM as does Anonymous on the same date.

Here's one told by my great-uncle Julian.

Why is September 25 such such a Holy day for the Jews?

Silence. We all think of Rosh Hashanh, but wonder whether Julian is aware that Jewish holidays are based on a lunar calendar and thus, do not fall on the same day every year.

Julian breaks the silence. That's the day the new model Cadillac comes out.

Julian, by the way, drives, yes, a Cadillac.

That's Jews laughing at themselves on several levels. However, so far there is no evidence that Islander is Jewish or identifies with them at all.

LFC said...

But the author of the haikus is Jewish, which wd seem the more relevant point. As you yourself sort of acknowledged upthread,the cherry blossom haiku is quite funny to someone who, when growing up, heard a relative or relatives say "is it good for the Jews?" in a half-joking, half-serious way. That said, I can't read Islander's mind to determine why he decided to quote the haiku. Ok I think this is my last comment on this.

Another Anonymous said...

LFC,

Yes, there is a long tradition of Jewish comedians poking fun that at themselves – and others – e.g., Hennie Youngman, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, … But they did not rely on anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews in order to get their laughs. The haikus in question are largely anti-Semitic and not funny. They reinforce reasons for non-Jews to dislike Jews. I, personally, do not like jokes that use stereotypes to make fun of other religions or ethnicities, including Polish jokes and African-American jokes. Those who likewise find such “jokes” distasteful should not be making bogus excuses for anti-Semitic jokes.

I have sent an email to the Jewish administrator of the website. She acknowledged that many Jews have reacted hostilely to the website, she apologized, and indicated that she is taking the website down.

John Rapko said...

The philosopher Ted Cohen (who was Jewish) published a little book called On Jokes twenty years ago, and which I read then. As I recall he argued, in his typical seemingly off-handed but deeply thought out way, that a primary function or effect of jokes is the exploration of human intimacy. I'm sure there is material in the book relevant to thinking about the issue of Jewish comedians poking fun at themselves, but it's been too long since I read it for me to say. In any case, I especially remember what he said was the one joke that EVERYONE found funny, which is helpfully reproduced at the beginning of the Amazon summary of the book: 'Abe and his friend Sol are out for a walk together in a part of town they haven't been in before. Passing a Christian church, they notice a curious sign in front that says "$1,000 to anyone who will convert." "I wonder what that's about," says Abe. "I think I'll go in and have a look. I'll be back in a minute; just wait for me."
Sol sits on the sidewalk bench and waits patiently for nearly half an hour. Finally, Abe reappears."Well," asks Sol, "what are they up to? Who are they trying to convert? Why do they care? Did you get the $1,000?" Indignantly Abe replies, "Money. That's all you people care about."'

Another Anonymous said...

John,

That's a funny joke. It is not reinforcing a stereotype. It is making fun of a stereotype. There's a difference.

s. wallerstein said...

How about this analogy?

A group which includes a lot of African-Americans is discussing current politics in a blog.
I who am not African-American comment citing Glenn Loury, who is an African-American conservative and/or contrarian. Some of the African-Americans feel that remark is offensive, maybe not coming from Glenn Loury, but from a white person. My intention was not to offend, but that is the result.

What do I do? Do insist with more comments from Loury? No, I apologize because I recognize the right of someone coming from a group which has been oppressed, enslaved, lynched and discriminated against to be sensitive to remarks which he or she takes to belittle his or her group, when they come from outsiders, especially outsiders who come from groups who in the past and in the present have oppressed his or her group.

So using that analogy, while Islander may not have intended to offend Jews, objectively he did so and the simplest thing for him to do would be to apologize instead of insisting.

Michael Llenos said...

Spot on analogy, s. wallerstein!!! But I wonder if maybe socially overstepping the line goes a little more deeper than just racism & past foreign oppression?--since it is a part of our human nature to show benevolence to one another socially at the basic level of our social existence. If I make fun of myself because I am a slow reader of the written word, then that's one thing harmless because it shows humility on my part. If I make fun of someone else because they're a slow reader, then that is a case of pure arrogance instead & a total lack of humility on my part. In fact, if insulting another race who also has some sort of suffering they went through in the past, it really is also adding more insult to an already unforgivable injury.

s. wallerstein said...

Michael LLenos,

Thanks for the kind words.

I don't know if it's human nature since humans can be very cruel to those who are weaker than they are, but I myself tend to respect the sensitivities of those who have been historically oppressed more than of those who have not.

If a woman says that something I've said or done is sexist (which used to happen more than it does now as I've grown more aware of what women may see as sexist), I apologize and try not to repeat what I did or said.

On the other hand, if I say something which offends a rightwing billionaire and they are offended, I would tend not to apologize in many cases, maybe in some I would. I can't see apologizing to Jeff Bezos for something I've said, but just the other day I gave a homeless person some spare change (I habitually give him some coins), said something stupid and thoughtless to him which he corrected and I apologized.

Michael Llenos said...

S. Wallerstein,

I believe putting the poor & oppressed before the wealthy & powerful is something many people would agree with.

Confucius says:

"I have heard that the wise man succours the needy; he does not add to the rich." --The Analects 6:4

However, I know that if I ever did win some lottery, I might become more sympathetic towards all rich people no matter how many billions of dollars are in their accounts. Imagine someone becoming a millionaire & not having almost unconditional empathy for their rich neighbors? It would take a person truly fixed in their principles to do that.

s. wallerstein said...

Michael Llenos,

Sure, as all of us become more wealthy, we develop a certain class consciousness and class solidarity.

When I rented an apartment, I felt less sympathy for those who own property than I do now when I own my apartment. If I owned a lot of property, I'd probably have more fellow feeling with others who own a lot of property too.

Michael Llenos said...

S. Wallerstein,

Myself being a very poor person--I neither rent nor own an apartment or house--I had to wait many years before I extended my empathy to most people including the filthy rich. Although this is all stuff that is very embarrassing to talk about it wasn't till many years after college that I came to feel empathy for so called normal society--especially about the rich and their gazillions of dollars. I believe everyone has feelings, but I've also realized that if you get too sensitive that you can really lose it too. Does that ant I'm about to step on have a soul or feelings? Will that stray cat I forgot to feed again curse his life if he goes hungry again? I feel that the reason many human beings play insane social games-of-superiority with one another is that if they don't do that they will truly go crazy, & they won't know what to do, & they don't want to spend any part of their life thinking about change. The Stoics of old believed apathy was the way to inner peace. But that never worked for me. Empathy is the only solution that ever worked for me. Although I do get selfish many times each day.

s. wallerstein said...

Michael Llenos,

You might be interested in this book by Yale psychology professor Paul Bloom, Against Empathy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uF3EsdhasN0&t=1171s

Another Anonymous said...

I believe that true empathy does not require that one actually have experienced the misfortune or disappointment of those for whom one should have empathy. You should be able to have empathy for the poor, the rich, the healthy, the ill, the famous, the not so famous. The vagaries of life affect us all, in different ways. One should be able to empathize with the refugees from Belarus, the double amputee from Iraq, the victims of rape, and those who can afford an apartment, but not own their own home, without having experienced what they have experienced. Everyone has suffered some disappointment, some illness in the family, the death of a loved one, the missed opportunity, rejection, unrequited love, etc. As Heming way wrote:

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

The only individuals for whom one need not empathize are those who demonstrate that they lack empathy for others. Their lack of compassion disqualifies them as candidates for empathy. The question is, can one claim to have empathy, and the means to demonstrate that empathy in concrete ways – e.g., the financial means to have a positive effect on the lives of those less fortunate – but not do so. Does lip service alone suffice to demonstrate empathy? Can Jeff Bezos, who has spent millions of dollars on his space exploration endeavors, claim to have empathy for the millions of suffering Haitians living in poverty? What acts of philanthropy has Bezos, or Musk contributed to? I do not begrudge them their extravagances, and can empathize with their personal disappointments, as long as they themselves have demonstrated empathy in some fashion via their own philanthropy.

I will close with two movie recommendations, which I viewed over the Thanksgiving holiday. First, the movie Dark Waters, which recounts an actual lawsuit which transpired over a period of 10 years in West Virginia. The movie recounts the story of a defense lawyer who decided to sue E. I. Dupont on behalf of people living in Parkersburg, W. Virginia, whose water supply had been contaminated by DuPont’s dumping a chemical used to make Teflon in a land fill. The lawyer, played by Mark Ruffalo, showed extraordinary commitment and tenacity pursuing DuPont. The epilogue of the movie states that the chemical, abbreviated PFOA, can be found in the bloodstream in virtually every human being on Earth, in varying amounts.

The second is Greyhound, which can be seen on Apple plus. It stars Tom Hanks as a commander of a destroyer during the war of the Atlantic in WWII. The destroyer escors merchant ships delivering supplies to Great Britain. The convoy is attacked by a “wolf pack” of German U-boats. Tom Hanks performance, as usual, is outstanding, and the cgi effects showing the U-boat attacks and the destroyer’s defense against them are quite amazing.

Michael Llenos said...

Thank you for the link, S. Wallerstein.

AA,
I like WW2 movies. But there is one thing about modern movies and tv shows that take place in WW2 that bug me. The actors break the 3rd commandment over and over again. AA, if you tell me Greyhound doesn't have any of that then I'll probably try to watch it. Thanks for the recommendations BTW.

Another Anonymous said...

Michael,

To the best of my recollection, nobody in Greyhound takes the Lord's name in vain. In fact, Tom Hanks, as is typical of the characters he portrays, plays a naval captain who is very religious and prays from the Bible every evening. HIs performance is of a very honorable and dedicated naval captain. The movie is historically informative and well done. It re-creates the danger of being on a naval vessel during WWII in the middle of the Atlantic remarkably well. The movie is based on the book The Good Shepherd, written by C. S. Forrester, who also wrote the Horatio Hornblower novels, and The African Queen.

Michael Llenos said...

AA,

I'll check it out then. Sounds good. Thank you.

Another Anonymous said...

s. wallerstein,

I watched your youtube link to a discussion of empathy and compassion between Robert Wright and Paul Bloom. At one point, Prof. Bloom expresses agreement with and support of the views of Australian philosopher Peter Singer. Prof. Singer has expressed views in support of the infanticide of children born with disabilities and defended a woman who was convicted of aggravated sexual assault against a man who suffered from severe physical and mental disabilities on the ground that, “it seems reasonable to assume that the experience was pleasurable to him[.]” I think that anyone who expresses praise for the views of Prof. Singer is hardly in a position to provide anything meaningful about the nature of empathy and compassion.

Islander said...

In his own words...

There remains one major objection to the argument I have advanced in favour of abortion. We have already seen that the strength of the conservative position lies in the difficulty liberals have in pointing to a morally significant line of demarcation between an embryo and a newborn baby. The standard liberal position needs to be able to point to some such line, because liberals usually hold that it is permissible to kill an embryo or fetus but not a baby. I have argued that the life of a fetus (and even more plainly, of an embryo) is of no greater value than the life of a nonhuman animal at a similar level of rationality, self-awareness, capacity to feel and so on, and that because no fetus is a person, no fetus has the same claim to life as a person. Now we have to face the fact that these arguments apply to the newborn baby as much as to the fetus. A week-old baby is not a rational and self-aware being, and there are many nonhuman animals whose rationality, self-awareness, capacity to feel and so on, exceed that of a human baby a week or a month old. If, for the reasons I have given, the fetus does not have the same claim to life as a person, it appears that the newborn baby does not either. Thus, although my position on the status of fetal life may be acceptable to many, the implications of this position for the status of newborn life are at odds with the virtually unchallenged assumption that the life of a newborn baby is as sacrosanct as that of an adult. Indeed, some people seem to think that the life of a baby is more precious than that of an adult. Lurid tales of German soldiers bayoneting Belgian babies figured prominently in the wave of anti-German propaganda that accompanied Britain's entry into the First World War, and it seemed to be tacitly assumed that this was a greater atrocity than the murder of adults.

Another Anonymous said...

islander,

Amazingly, we agree on something.

Prof. Singer's views are repugnant. It us astounding where purported rational analysis by some intellectuals can lead them to.

Islander said...

Darn, AA, I'm amazed at how speedily you jump to false conclusions! I merely used this opportune turn of the conversation to remind those who are still reading this thread and may have forgotten about how tough ethical issues are dealt with by a philosopher who does not bury his head in archeological arcana...

Another Anonymous said...

Oh, so you agree with Prof. Singer that it is ethically acceptable to kill children who have disabilities, and that murdering children with a bayonet is no worse than murdering adults with a bayonet. Ok, I got it wrong. You are as irrational and insensitive as Prof. Singer. At least you are consistent.

Islander said...

Good grief... Have you no sense of logic?

Singer again: "If these conclusions seem too shocking to take seriously, it may be worth remembering that our present absolute protection of the lives of infants is a distinctively Christian attitude rather than a universal ethical value."

Michael said...

I'm willing to defend Singer, up to a point.

I think he's a largely decent and courageous person whose philosophy sometimes badly suffers from over-rigidity and lack of nuance and humility, and is sometimes pretty screwed up and badly expressed. In a way, his work is like the utilitarian counterpart to that essay of Kant's in which he (Kant) argues that it's morally wrong to tell a lie even if its purpose is to protect a person in hiding from someone who intends to murder them. The argumentation might be tight and logical, but it still brings to mind the phrase "foolish consistency."

It's still of course very possible to derive stimulation and insight from the Kantian and utilitarian traditions; and it wouldn't be fair to Kant or to Singer to say he's simply a fool. Consistency is a virtue; and we can hardly assure ourselves in advance that an ethical life won't be burdened at times by extreme discomfort and unclarity, which I think is (partly) why Singer tends to seem unmoved when people say his views are deeply offensive. (Possibly he's also obtuse.)

I'm not as familiar with Singer on abortion/infanticide and disability rights as I am with his work on animal ethics and charitable giving (e.g. "Famine, Affluence, and Morality"). I credit him with inspiring me to go vegetarian and to be a little less selfish with my disposable income, and I am far from alone on those points.

I don't want to go into the sexual assault case. I honestly don't know anything about it, but it wouldn't shock me to find that Singer made some highly buffoonish and highly insensitive claims and made an ass of himself there. I'll just leave it at that.

As for his views on the killing of children with disabilities, I probably haven't heard all he has to say there, but the one discussion I can pretty well remember concerns some parents making the tragic decision whether to prolong the life of their newborn, who had a rare condition (I don't remember what) that reduced his life expectancy to just a few months while severely diminishing his quality of life. (The father was reported to say, "It's pure suffering. Is there any point?") For the most part, I thought that Singer's purpose there was recognizable to any good pro-choicer - to argue that it's seriously wrongheaded and presumptuous to advance blanket condemnations (if not blanket prohibitions) of mothers' decisions to terminate, even at stages that seem "obviously" too late. He seemed to get that these are decisions that women don't make lightly.

As I remember it, Singer strenuously objected (as he characteristically does) to the traditional (e.g. conservative Catholic) "sanctity-of-human-life" view in ethics, which has it that the parents of this child - simply and solely qua enablers of human killing - would clearly be in the wrong if they arranged for the termination of his life, rather than allowing him to die naturally (i.e., to experience a few additional months of helpless agony, and then die). If I'm not mistaken, Singer wouldn't shy away from speaking in addition of a moral obligation to end a life in such situations - at least as a theoretical possibility, which must in some way have entered the minds of these parents. ("Might it actually be wrong for us not to end our child's life?")

Singer's underlying principle - i.e., that what counts is to minimize avoidable suffering, irrespective of anyone's age, sex, location, species-membership, etc. - is one that I find compelling. But his work, IMO, illustrates just how demanding and unfeasible it would be to realize this principle in practice without self-indulgence and without arbitrary exceptions; and it's a troubling thing to consider, precisely because it's such a compelling principle.

Anyway, Singer's not all bad - just my $0.02, sorry for the long post.

s. wallerstein said...

Michael,

Right, there's something very rigid about Singer just as there is about Kant. For example, Singer doesn't just urge philanthropy (which seems like a good idea), but specifies that your money "should" go the world's poorest, not to, say, support a debating group among high school students in your local community. In the real world, if you've ever worked at fundraising for good causes, you know it's hard enough to get people to give money for any good cause and we should cheer those who do without criticizing them, as Singer does, because they're not giving money to the "best" cause

On the other hand, one of the jobs of a philosopher is to take ideas to their limits and Singer does that courageously,and consistently in clear well-written prose, which is to his credit as a philosopher, even if he does not the best guide for daily life in the real world.

Like you, I'm a vegetarian, not a vegan as Singer urges. I didn't become a vegetarian because of reading Singer, but what he has to say on the subject has certainly fortified my conviction to remain one.

Michael Llenos said...

BTW, I'm not arguing with anyone here, but for information value the Catholic Church is not the only historical institution that didn't believe in either killing or murdering or abortion:

"I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture. To hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; to make him partner in my livelihood; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they want to learn it, without fee or indenture; to impart precept, oral instruction, and all other instruction to my own sons, the sons of my teacher, and to indentured pupils who have taken the physician’s oath, but to nobody else. I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art." --Hippocratic Oath 5th Century BC

Michael said...

s.w. -

I'm curious why you've decided on vegetarianism rather than veganism.

I tried veganism for a year, and the physical benefits were great, but it proved too difficult for me to maintain as I transitioned to a different work and living arrangement, which meant eating out more regularly, and preparing meals for someone who's neither vegan nor vegetarian. (Plus I hated to be the one guy among friends at the steakhouse or burger joint requesting a vegan menu. I guess the "relapse" to vegetarianism had been building up.)

Not that I'm proud to say so, but I admittedly cut myself slack in the ethics department for a couple reasons. One, I sensed I was becoming a judgmental, sanctimonious shithead - getting in pointless, stressful, time-consuming arguments with people on Facebook or at family meals or whatever; after a while, I just didn't like this exhausting, alienating, self-imposed "duty" to judge and lecture and be prepared to argue and refute on a moment's notice.

But also, I've reevaluated the arguments and come to sympathize a lot more with the view that veganism is basically another example of the individual consumer assuming personal responsibility for larger, systemic evils and injustices; so, my outlook on veganism is the same as my outlook on any ethically motivated boycott. It's a good thing to do, at least symbolically, but as far as I can tell, there's so little actually at stake in terms of lived, concrete, real-world differences, that it'd be an exaggeration to call it a pressing moral imperative, IMO.

One person (or a hundred) refusing to buy meat, or refusing to shop at Walmart, etc., will surely not suffice to abolish factory farming, or halt climate change, or overthrow capitalism... The chances are quite good that my being vegetarian for the rest of my life will not appreciably affect the well-being of any one, actual animal or human (besides myself); the system will keep churning out mass suffering either way. But I like to be a vegetarian anyway (it simplifies things, I'm accustomed to it at this point, and I like what it represents), without being "too serious" about it.

s. wallerstein said...

Michael,

Nothing so thoughtful on my part.

I've never been a big meat eater. When I was living with my son now almost 25 years ago, I bought meat daily because I thought it was important that he, as a growing child, eat meat. When he went back to living with his mother, I simply stopped buying meat because I don't particularly like it (I was forced to eat more meat than I wanted to during my childhood, family meal-times were not always pleasant and in fact, my sister is also a vegetarian) and because in the supermarket they sell meat in huge portions that I, as one person, could never consume before it spoiled. So since I was living alone and I don't go out much, I was a de facto vegetarian and at one point, more than twenty years ago, I simply decided to declare myself a vegetarian.

I really hadn't read anything about factory farming at the time, although I've read it since. I don't eat many products of animal origins, I even use soy milk, but I eat a couple of yogurts every day to make sure I get enough calcium, etc. Otherwise, I get my proteins from vegetable sources.

I never lecture anyone on the subject. At times people treat me as a little weird and there are some people who used to invite me to eat and stopped doing so. But I didn't enjoy their long meals with too much wine and hard liquor and increasingly cliche-ridden leftie conversation anyway.

That is, I'm a vegetarian because I have no desire to eat meat. But I am a loner.

Michael said...

Interesting. Thanks for the explanation.

"...cliche-ridden leftie conversation" - sounds like you would've enjoyed the Vegan Meetup group I attended a few times. ;)

s. wallerstein said...

Michael,

There's nothing worse than a group of people discussing the fact that "we're good, they're bad".