The Middle East, Part III

I googled the quote and there are hundreds of citations of your passage but none of them have a volume or a page number. I would suspect that the passage was made up out of the whole cloth by someone who believed that there was/is a jewish plot. You seem to be intimating that you yourself read the passage in situ and as you say just dont have the reference handy.

I say this because I have been following the Zionist enterprise since Nov 1947 and have read ever so many books on the subject. I have read one or two biographies of Herzl and I thought I knew the man. I confess that I never thought to read his published diaries (I didn’t even know there were any). Nor have I read his novel Altneuland but I looked into it one time at the library and it didn’t seem like it would be an interesting read.

As for the quote, if it is really in his diaries, it therefore presumably expresses his real thoughts. But where does he say it? I am guessing that you yourself didn’t really read it in situ.

If you can’t come up with a volume and page number, then aren’t you maybe duty bound to reexamine your views?

I once asked you in the front of the Public Library on 8th street whether you in any way changed your opinions from before you visited the West Bank to after you visited the West Bank. You replied “Certainly not!” I must say that afterwards I thought that your remark was very telling.

Mike the Eisenstadt

If this Zionist loon represents the present state of Israel, how come so many Israeli Arabs are getting nailed by Kaytushas? How come the Hezbollah PooBah is warning Israeli Arab non-combatants to vacate Haifa so only Israeli Jewish non-combatants will get nailed?

While there is some equality of crazy rhetoric, there is no equality of results.

The Arab lands are cleansed of Jews.

The Jewish lands are not cleased of Arabs.

Maybe it’s an efficiency problem.

Granted that dropping bombs when unintended but foreseeable civilian deaths will result is wrong, there is no moral equivalence.

This continual moral equivalence argument on the left, equating soldiers with terrorists, will not now or ever sell to the public nor should it. And it really chaps my ass that we concede the moral high ground to a pig like Bush because we lack the spine to condemn training young kids to blow themselves up in circumstances intended to cause maximum non-combatant deaths.

If Mohammad Atta had been caught, would he have been a POW?

What did your US miltary training teach you about the status of non-combatants, Alan? Given the timing, I expect the same thing that mine did.

Did all American GIs respect what we were taught? Of course not.

Do all American Gis in Iraq respect what they are still teaching? Of course not.

Does that make us the moral equivalent of the dude who pulls a van up to a day labor center, fills it up with job seekers, and then blows it up?

Just because the Repugs abuse the term does not mean there is no such thing as terrorism.

Just because the rules of war are often honored in the breach does not mean that war has no rules.

What’s so hard about calling scum scum and going on to argue that Bush is also scum?

Steve Russell

With due respect the war started when the Jews took Jericho in 1200 BC or there abouts. Since then there have been many scenarios.

You talk about efficient ways of dealing with the enemy. The Nazi’s took civilians and killed them in mass. Stalin did the same. It is quite probable that if the Israelis didn’t have guns and tanks they would face the same scenario they faced in Europe in 1938 through 1945. They are defending themselves and doing a miserable job it seems.

In the book “Why air Forces Fail” the Israeli Air Force is impotent. The book brings out the various reasons. It mentions the Iraqi, Egyptian, Polish and so forth and the American Air Force of which I was a part of in Nam and how all the bombs and chemicals dropped do not make much difference when you are fighting a third world country.

You can cut off their water and power and they will go on. Cut the power and water of an American City or a European City and they would be devastated until the ingenuity of the people took over. To win you need ground troops.

I will say that when I first went to Nam in 1965 I was part of MACV and motivated. The RVN soldiers and rangers were motivated as well. It was the politicians that took away that youthful vigor and elan. We didn’t think we would win, we knew it. We had the biggest and baddest army in the world. The Russians had the other. So we were very young and very brain washed. I went back again to Thailand and then with the 25th AV to spend another tour but by then the writing was on the wall and I had read a book or two and knew that the ants will always eat the elephant.

This war in the Middle East is just a precursor to a bigger war. we are doomed to this mess and whether the Arabs are efficient or not matters little. They will kill as many Jews as they can and likewise the Jews will kill as many Arabs as they can. Collateral damage doesn’t matter much to either side. They just want to blow the shit out of each other and if babies get in the way so be it.

Charlie Loving

“We shall try to spirit away the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own country. …expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.”

I havent checked all 60,500 quotes for a page number nor will I but it seems at least possible that there is no such remark in Herzl’s diary and some dishonest knave made it up.

And look at the statement itself. There are some glaring anachronisms which jump to the eye arguing that it is a forgery.

“across the border” – what border? In Herzl’s time, Palestine and the rest of the Middle East was ruled by the Turks and Palestine, if i remember right, was a district of the empire ruled from Syria.

“transit countries” – what could that mean? there were no Middle Eastern countries at that time, all part of the Turkish empire.

“removal of the poor” – is this a euphemism for Arabs? if he meant Arabs, why wouldnt he say it in his private diaries instead of saying “the poor”?

Will Alan come up with the volume and page number? I mean to check back here frequently to see if he does. I really would like to know one way or the other if this is a genuine quote. If so I will check out that volume so I can weigh the context.
If it does exist it may be being misconstrued by the anti Israel choir.

Mike the Eisenstadt

( 1 ) Theodor Herzl, Handwritten Diary entry 12 June 1895, (CZA H ii B i); The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, trans. Harry Zohn, (New York, 1960), (henceforth Herzl Diaries), vol.1, p.88.

Alan Pogue

Mike,
My remark was telling you that actually seeing how badly the Palestinians were treated by the Israeli government went far beyond anything I had thought from merely reading history and current events. Nothing beats being there. I met Rabbi Arik Ascherman in the home of a Palestinian farm family near Hebron. Rabbi Ascherman was willing to be arrested while resisting the destruction of the Jabber home. Jacob Bahar was also there. He was wearing his Peace Now cap. Later some of the Christian Peacemaker Team arrived. It was obvious that all of “Palestine” is a prison camp. I wish everyone could spend a week with a Palestinian family in the West Bank or Gaza. I also stood with the “Women in Black”, European and Arab Jews, in west Jerusalem during one of their weekly demonstrations against the occupation and home demolitions. I met with Peretz Kidron, the leader of Yesh Gvul- Israeli military veterans against the occupation. www.yesh-gvul.org

Alan Pogue

Thanks, Alan, for explaining your remark at the library. Yes, the West Bank is a prison. We just watched Paradise Now last night.

I am now assuming that anti Israelites have mined early Zionist political thought thoroughly and that this genuine passage (I havent read it yet) is the best index of the plot. It is like the note that Lenny Bruce found in the cellar reading “Yes, we did it,” signed cousin Hymie.

Mike Eisenstadt

When I got to Vietnam in 1967 I saw that we were killing Vietnamese people in a totally wanton, gratuitous fashion. I was disgusted and ashamed. I still am. I had been living in the brainwashed false world also. When I returned to “the world” I spent a lot of library time figuring out “we” are imperialists, and have been since before the ink was dry on the Declaration of Independence. Haiti is a good example of that. Our great leaders of democracy have been beating up on Haiti since day one. “Killing Hope” by William Blum is a good book on U.S. sponsored wars since WW11. Steve seems to still have a foot in the land of Camelot, the City on the Hill and all that happy nonsense about the U.S.. My Lai or Abu Ghraib? White phosphorus bombs, cluster bombs, napalm, killing 2 million Iraqi infants,looks like terrorism to me. Agent Orange is still killing in Vietnam. A little depleted uranium for your cereal? Soldiers are terrorists. My drill instructor had no problem with that. I was a terrorist in Vietnam. I had a problem with that. I corrected my behavior and learned how I had been ill used by leaders with a secret agenda. At least it had been secret to me since our public schools can’t get close to the truth and I hadn’t met the Berrigan bothers.

Both Thomas Jefferson and Reich-Marshall Hermann Goering agree on this, “… the common people do not want war.” They know there is nothing in war for them but suffering. The leaders have to trick, scare, and force the common people into war. War is an industry and the common people are raw material.

Having met many people in the West Bank, Jordan, Iraq and Pakistan I can not use words like “the Arab world” or any generalizations except this one: human beings are not prone to placing their families in danger nor do they want to upset the normal rhythms of their lives over ideology.

Alan Pogue

It is amazing what a little time and education can do to change you. There are times when I still have nightmares about how out and out evil and stupid things can get with just a snap of a finger.

Charlie Loving

ISRAEL ASKS U.S. TO SHIP ROCKETS WITH WIDE BLAST.
Quick Delivery is Sought.

Washington, Au.10. – Israel has asked the Bush administration to speed delivery of short-range anti-personnel rockets armed with cluster munitions, which it could use to strike Hezbollah missile sites in Lebanon. The request for M-26 artillery rockets, which are fired in barrages and carry hundreds of grenade-like bomblets that scatter and explode over a broad area, is likely to be approved shortly, along with other arms, a senior official said.

But some State Department officials have sought to delay the approval because of concerns over the likelihood of civilian casualties, and the diplomatic repercussions. The rockets, while they would be very effective against hidden missile launchers, are fired by the dozen and could be expected to cause civilian casualties if used against targets in populated
areas. . . .

Posted by David Hamilton

Are they asking for these munitions out of military need? Or because of their innate cruelty and desire to immolate children?

They leaflet areas to be bombed warning civilians to evacuate. They also phone and send text messages. But for the anti Israelites that counts for nothing.

Mike Eisenstadt

Mike,
You wrote, “Are they asking for these munitions out of military need? Or because of their innate cruelty and desire to immolate children?”

Are there any other options?

You also wrote, “They leaflet areas to be bombed warning civilians to evacuate. They also phone and send text messages. But for the anti Israelites that counts for nothing. “

First, why would you tell people who would doubtless tell Hezbollah that they are about to get bombed? Second, I like the term “anti Israelites” to some I’ve been called lately. Otherwise, that counts for something, but not nearly enough. Sort of like giving an unjustly convicted man on death row whatever he wants for his last meal. It also ignores the many Lebanese civilians killed by the Israeli airforce while trying to flee.

But let me see if I’ve got this straight. Cluster bombs – good. Car bombs – bad. F16s – good. Suicide belts – bad. 200+ illegal Israeli nuclear weapons – good. Iran even thinking about one – bad. Religious fundamentalist state in Israel – good. Religious fundamentalist state next to Israel – bad. Am I getting the hang of this moral equivalency thing?

David Hamilton

Mike,
If this weren’t Israel, would you approve of antipersonnel weapons such as this?

Paz–Val Liveoak

David P. Hamilton wrote:

You also wrote, “They leaflet areas to be bombed warning civilians to evacuate. They also phone and send text messages. But for the anti Israelites that counts for nothing.” First, why would you tell people who would doubtless tell Hezbollah that they are about to get bombed?

Are you suggesting that the Israelis don’t leaflet? If you are, you must not be watching television. On network evening news, I have seen footage shot in Lebanon showing the leaflets falling out of the sky as well as footage of Lebanese individuals tearing them up in contempt.

Of course the leaflets also inform Hezbollah fighters of a forthcoming operation, not that the Hezbollah fighters are not generally aware of what’s coming at them. For special ops, like the recent one in Baalbek where their commandos landed by helicopter, obviously they do not leaflet in advance.

You also wrote:

Second, I like the term “anti Israelites” to some I’ve been called lately.

Thanks. I just made it up.

As for the rest of your letter:

Cluster bombs – good. Car bombs – bad. F16s – good. Suicide belts – bad. 200+ illegal Israeli nuclear weapons – good. Iran even thinking about one – bad. Religious fundamentalist state in Israel – good. Religious fundamentalist state next to Israel – bad.

My version: cluster bombs used against civilians – bad. Cluster bombs used against Hezbollah fighters – good. F16s – bad against civilians, good against enemy combatants, 200+ nuclear weapons – good if by the fact of their existence, they deter enemies. Iran with nuclear weapons – who knows what they plan to do with them? religious fundamentalist state in Israel – PREPOSTEROUS all religions are freely and publicly practiced in Israel – Moslem, all the varieties of Christians, Bahai (temple in Jerusalem), Druze, etc. Majority of Jewish Israelis said to be secular religious fundamentalist, presumably Shia, state in Lebanon – bad for Lebanese Christians, Lebanese Sunni, Lebanese Druze, and Israeli civilians being injured and killed by rockets.

Mike Eisenstadt

An antipersonal weapon used to kill combatants is a weapon like any other. An antipersonal weapon used to kill non-combatants is a war crime. What is your point?

Mike Eisenstadt

My point: war is wrong. Maybe at times somewhat less wrong than some other alternatives, but wrong. There are always other and better alternatives.

Hence weapons are wrong, and the more likely to kill and maim more people the more wrong they are.

Paz–Val Liveoak

The exceedingly obvious point is that using a shotgun in a crowded bank will kill more than the bank robbers. Dropping any kind of bomb in a city will kill many people. Calling the place “an enemy stronghold” does not alter the result but only anesthetizes the moral consciousness of the speaker.

When a prisoner in a Texas prison took some hostages a few years ago the prison officials shot him and the hostages because they cared most about their own sense of absolute power over the prison, the hostages be damned. In war there is often only the desire to conquer, to win. Neither the lives of ones own troops nor civilians on either side can be taken into consideration when “winning”( maintaining ones own sense of power) is the only goal. “We” dropped Agent Orange on our own troops as well as on the Vietnamese. “We” used depleted uranium on the Iraqis and if that killed and harmed many of our own troops then the tactic is just to deny the effects. The morally dead think that way.

Alan Pogue

Thoughts on Israel.

Will all supporters of Zionism please tell us the other theocracies you support? And since theocracy is apparently fine with you, would you also approve the US being an officially Christian nation since over 80% of the citizens claim that “faith”, more than the Jewish portion of Palestine? Do you support the separation of church and state or not – or is it maybe? Is it valued everywhere but Israel? Why would one make such a distinction?

I consider myself a deist, but in my humble opinion, all organized religions have a sordid history of violence against “infidels”, especially the Western patriarchal sky-god types like Christianity, Islam and Judaism, which seem to be in a race to see whose record is the most egregious. I say the Christians are well ahead based on the vast scope and longevity of their historical massacres. All these devoteés of miscellaneous mythologies should ideally be laughed out of public life, but unfortunately “man” ever strives to know the unknowable, be relieved of the angst of mortality and find cosmic justifications for his self-interests.

Loving’s history is a rationalization and justification for what he implicitly acknowledges – that since 1948 the Zionists have occupied land where previously Arabs lived, displacing the Arabs in the process – and they didn’t pay for it. But like all histories, his is selective. He somehow fails to mention a few hundred years of European Christian invasions of “the Holy Land” to free it from the clutches of the Muslim infidels, aka, the “Crusades”. Also that those Muslim infidels practiced the best medieval version of religious toleration, especially for the many resident Jews within their domain. The final solution to the problem of the “Moors” in Spain in 1492 was also the first year of the Spanish Inquisition, not a great moment in Jewish history. Loving also doesn’t mention the present, where Arabs are, by definition, second class citizens in the Zionist state and those unfortunate enough to live in Palestinian occupied territories are routinely brutalized in myriad ways.

I prefer the one state solution. It’s the same system I support here or anywhere else; a secular democratic state. One person, one vote, with religious involvement in politics discouraged. To argue that secular democracy is unacceptable because the Zionists would be overwhelmed by a Muslim “demographic wave” is racist. South Africans said the same thing with much more justification.

The basic issue is more than Zionist occupation of Arab land. It is Zionism itself, the concept of a theocratic state being inserted where diverse people already live. “A people without a land, a land without a people” this was not. If they had created a Jewish state out of part of Germany, Austria and France in 1945, it might have made sense, but that opportunity has passed. With the “Holy Land” alternative finding resurgent post-WWII favor however, Europe cleverly exported the issue. To an ardent German Nazi, the Exodus would make a pretty good Plan B. This historic mistake has been the midwife to its antithesis, Israel hating Islamic fundamentalists seizing state power all around them, a hostility that has only deepened over the past several decades. Given continued Israeli militarism, we can reasonably expect it to get still worse in the future. Secularists confront a growing two headed monster and are tempted to throw up their hands, got no dog in this fight, except that this conflict also brilliantly illuminates how we are a global community.

If one doesn’t support theocracy, that means not supporting church-state unity, therefore no endorsement of a Jewish state (or Christian or Muslim) and therefore no acceptance of the “existence” of Israel as a Jewish state. This is a slippery logical slope leading to being labeled “anti-Semitic”. But when the Iranian president rails against the “Zionist entity”, is he advocating a unified secular state or lining up all Jews on the shoreline and marching them into the Mediterranean Sea or something in between?

Regardless of these hypothetical considerations, in the here and now, the two state solution is the consensus Plan B. That requires the resolution of the issue of a viable Palestinian state. My reading of the history is that while there have been missteps by all parties, the US and Israel have consistently obstructed the resolution of that issue in the interest of Israel gaining an ever greater hold on the land and water and the US gaining a partner in crime in the Middle East. Israel’s “most generous” offer cut the Palestinian state into four isolated parts, the West Bank entirely surrounded by Israel and left Israel in control of the entire shoreline of the Jordan River. (You can see the map in Chomsky’s “Failed States”, p.180.) That’s way too analogous to South Africa’s creation of Bantustans to deal with the issue of apartheid.

The sovereignty and permanence of Israel is a non-issue, ritually resurrected to justify whatever Israel does. Israel has over 200 armed and ready illegal nuclear weapons and supposedly the fourth or fifth most powerful military in the world. It receives billions every year in free US military hardware as a US taxpayer subsidy to the domestic war industry and their own territorial ambitions. This Goliath claiming to be the threatened little David is the bogeyman nonsense concocted by Zionists victimization specialists.. Besides, every Arab political entity, even Hamas, has explicitly or implicitly acknowledged the Israeli state’s legitimacy by accepting the Arab League proposal of 2002 as a basis of negotiation. The supposed threat of being pushed into the sea is propaganda to be sold to the 80% of Americans who never own a passport. That the Occupation is the central issue is routinely and rigorously denied. Bush, at his press conference on Tuesday, hammered away at his central point: “the central issue is a non-state acting as a state within another state” or some other such blather. Our imperialist leaders must have a cover story for their aggressions. We all grew up with the official state religion of anti-communism. The current preferred ideology of delusion is anti-terrorism on which Bush is here doing a variation. Anyone who says that the central issue in the Middle East is something other than the Occupation is blowing smoke with George.

We supposedly value universality, that the rules that apply to you, also apply to me. This is consistently thrown out the window with regards to Israel. One of today’s examples might be the US attacking Iran and Syria for providing Hezbollah with weapons. Or the US seeking an excuse for aggression by making unsubstantiated claims that Iran is breaking the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that the US is violating flagrantly and much more threateningly. Or advocacy of UN resolutions that demand Hezbollah disarm, but ignoring those that demand Israel relinquish the Arab lands conquered in the 1967 war. Or a UN cease fire resolution that authorizes the ” robust international peace keeping force” to fire on Hezbollah transgressors but not Israeli.

There is also something to be said for being known by the company you keep. If the votes in the UN General Assembly a reasonable index, there is a very long history of Israel standing shoulder to shoulder with American imperialism, usually alone or perhaps joined by the Marshall Islands. In Guatemala, when Carter cut off US training and equipment for the Guatemalan military because of its escalating genocidal campaign against Mayans, Israel jumped in to fill the breach, helping the likes of Generals Lucas Garcia and Rios Montt slaughter them with splendid efficiency. Israel has also been involved in advising, training and running intelligence and counter-insurgency operations in the Latin American “dirty war” civil conflicts in Argentina, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, among others.

But now, we are to put all that aside and line up with the war criminal Bush and the protegee of the war criminal Sharon? I don’t think so. This is all tragic for enlightened Jews, among whom I have always found so many of my most seminal influences and greatest inspirations. One was a roommate who recruited me from a Highland Park racist mentality into the civil rights movement in 1962. Another was a girl friend who took me to Latin America for the first time in 1974. Another took me skiing for the first time and was my tennis partner for 25 years. Another, now head of the local Republican Party, hired me to be his graduate student assistant so he could get a check from the FBI. Another is one of my two much loved and admired son-in-laws. At my funeral, they’ll play Gershwin and Dylan and read from Marx and Chomsky. It is a cruel irony that Israel has become the albatross they must carry.

David Hamilton

I think it was Alan who wrote:

There are many forms of delusion, religion being a big one. The idea of the state as an entity is another. Politicians will use whatever delusions that will forward their own.

Yes, more generally, political elites distribute solidary incentives — by appealing to mass constituents’ ethnic, religious, national identity, demonizing their enemies and their enemies’ identities — to overcome the free-rider problem (see here) as they mobilize mass constituents for conflict. They do this because it’s relatively inexpensive, compared to distributing material incentives. Insurgencies typically have no access to material resources, so they almost always distribute solidary incentives. States typically offer a mix of material and solidary incentives.

The big trouble with solidary incentives is that, unlike material incentives, they are difficult to retract. When leaders want to settle conflicts, hardliners in their camps sieze upon their peace overtures as evidence that they have “sold out” or made “a pact with the devil.” Consequently, leaders either refrain from peace-making or they risk losing their incumbency or (like Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin) their lives.

It’s all here: Gavan Duffy and Nicole Lindstrom, “Conflicting Identities: Solidary Incentives in the Serbo-Croatian War.” Journal of Peace Research. 39 (2002): 69-90.

Gavan Duffy

David asks, if I recall, that “supporters of Zionism” state what other theocracies they support. (For some reason, I cannot use the quote function on the website.)

I’m not a supporter of Zionism but I think he probably means me because I do not support the destruction of the Israeli state (although I advocate that the US get some daylight between its foreign policy and Israel’s).

There are about 550 American Indian nations recognized by the US government and over half of them are to some degree theocratic. I support them.

Separation of church and state is important in the US because there is religious pluralism among all three monotheistic patriarchal desert cults. It is, however, a modern idea. If memory serves, nine of the thirteen colonies that ratified the Establishment Clause had established churches. There was no intent to fool with that. The objective was that there be no FEDERAL established religion so people would not be killing each other over which flavor of Christianity should be established. That “wall of separation” quote from Jefferson serves the modern conceit.

What you say about the deadly nature of theocracy is true from the European perspective. However, Native societies did not engage in religious warfare. I know of no Native religion that values converting others except the Ghost Dance, and that is a direct reaction to the colonists.

But the idea that religion lives in one box and government lives in another and art in another and science in another is also a peculiar European conceit. Those are just labels for different ways of looking at the same thing.

I fully support the idea of separation of church and state in the US context, but in the great scheme of things it’s pretty silly that such separation is necessary.

Steve Russell

Steve,
I really did not have you particularly in mind as a supporter of Zionism. I put in the qualification about “patriarchal Western sky god” religions to exclude Buddhism and the Indigenous American religion, my personal favorites, from the critique.

I’ve long had the opinion that different Indigenous American groups all shared related religious concepts, for example, concerning humanity’s relationship with nature. Wondering if you agree.

Perhaps it is a recent arrival in human political evolution, but I think it would be reasonable to argue that separation of church and state will be an essential element in future human survival, given the record of the major dominant cults in inspiring wars.

David Hamilton

— David asks, if I recall, that “supporters of Zionism” state what other theocracies they support. (For some reason, I cannot use the quote function on the website.)

I’m not a supporter of Zionism but I think he probably means me because I do not support the destruction of the Israeli state (although I advocate that the US get some daylight between its foreign policy and Israel’s). —

If you are not a supporter of Zionism then you would support a democratic Israel that would let the demographic chips fall where they may. Palestinians would have the same universal right of return as Kosovans or anyone else displaced by war.

— There are about 550 American Indian nations recognized by the US government and over half of them are to some degree theocratic. I support them. —

Should they all have seats in the U.N.? I support the right of the First Baptist Church to run their place by their own rules. Maybe no human sacrifice.

— Separation of church and state is important in the US because there is religious pluralism among all three monotheistic patriarchal desert cults. It is, however, a modern idea. —

Is it a good idea? Antibiotics are modern also. I like ’em. Such odd rhetorical dodges you use.

— If memory serves, nine of the thirteen colonies that ratified the Establishment Clause had established churches. There was no intent to fool with that. The objective was that there be no FEDERAL established religion so people would not be killing each other over which flavor of Christianity should be established. That “wall of separation” quote from Jefferson serves the modern conceit. —

And one we have grown into and like. I hope there is a “we” here.

— What you say about the deadly nature of theocracy is true from the European perspective. However, Native societies did not engage in religious warfare. I know of no Native religion that values converting others except the Ghost Dance, and that is a direct reaction to the colonists. —

They were not nation states. Religious wars are really about property, as all wars.

— But the idea that religion lives in one box and government lives in another and art in another and science in another is also a peculiar European conceit. Those are just labels for different ways of looking at the same thing. —

There has to something there to be seen in order to look at it. Some “ways” are simply nonsense ( not available to the senses, unknowable, baseless conjecture, anthropomorphism, projections of psychological needs into the “sky”).

— I fully support the idea of separation of church and state in the US context, but in the great scheme of things it’s pretty silly that such separation is necessary. —

“The great scheme of things”, the world we live now or in some other place and time? Theistic religions are silly, and dangerous.

Can you come to decision? In what country in this world at this historical moment do you or do you not support theocracy over democracy? Do you support “one person, one vote” as a universal concept or not?

Alan Pogue

— Can you come to decision? In what country in this world at this historical moment do you or do you not support theocracy over democracy? Do you support “one person, one vote” as a universal concept or not? —

Pardon, but I consider Indian nations to be nations.

And, no, I do not support one person, one vote as a universal. I support it in republican situations where elections are held.

If you want what I would prefer in term of government, see John Rawls, A Theory of Justice. Rawls would support one person, one vote in the context of elections, as I generally do.

If I perceive a disadvantage to some group, my attitude toward that disadvantage is formed by the attitude of the persons affected. For example, I personally despise the patrilineal citizenship standards of the Santa Clara Pueblo, but Santa Clara women, as a group, do not want the Indian Civil Rights Act amended to ban sex discrimination. That would not be my choice but it’s not up to me to value their rights over their sovereignty — neither value “belongs” to me.

In many tribes there is a real government that is a theocracy co-existing with an Indian Reorganization Act government populated by the hang-around-the-fort crowd and recognized by the US. In that instance, I support the real government.

Steve Russell

Steve sez:
If you want what I would prefer in term of government, see John Rawls, A Theory of Justice. Rawls would support one person, one vote in the context of elections, as I generally do.

If I perceive a disadvantage to some group, my attitude toward that disadvantage is formed by the attitude of the persons affected.

This is a defensible position, but it’s not compatible with Rawls. Rawls would sanction only those relative disadvantages that do not disadvantage the worst-off members of society in absolute terms. For instance, he would allow income disparities only insofar as they create incentives that enhance the incomes of the poorest members of society.

The attitude of the poor toward their disadvantage wouldn’t matter for Rawls, although he clearly wants to arrange inequalities this way in order to diminish the likelihood that the least fortunate would revolt against the regime. Rawls, in other words, was a liberal theorist and his project was the justification of the liberal state. He was certainly the most prominent 20th century liberal theorist — up there with Mill in the 19th and Locke in the 18th — but a liberal nonetheless.

Also, one-person one-vote is a fine idea in the abstract, but it doesn’t produce democratic outcomes in certain electoral contexts. In particular, the winner-take-all plurality elections in the US systematically disadvantage third parties and interests that diverge from the center. If you want democracy, you need proportional representation. Supreme Court justices can rail all day about one-person one-vote. Until they’re ready to see that the structure of US elections contradicts this conception, however, all their bluster rings rather hollow.

Gavan Duffy

Steve –
You wrote: “And it really chaps my ass that we concede the moral high ground to a pig like Bush because we lack the spine to condemn training young kids to blow themselves up in circumstances intended to cause maximum non-combatant deaths.”

Granted that this post is old-news by now, I would still like to follow the thread for a bit longer. If I may, I’d like to put aside the “moral equivalence” question for a moment and discuss effect. My position is that there is no difference in effect between that of the suicide bomber and the high-altitude bomber. The effect is bits and pieces of morbid human flesh, songs unsung, potential plowshares wasted, labor lost, and hatred reinvested. Frankly, that’s all that I need to know.

My sense of several of your remarks above is that there is “moral equivalence” at the level of the leaderships of the various factions/nations: Bush and his minions = the trainer/handler/manipulators of the suicide bombers. Am I correct? My guess is that almost no former Rag staffer will disagree with that. I think that the sticking point for you is at the grunt level, and you do seem to want to draw a distinction there. I can’t follow you there, unless you want to proclaim both the suicide bomber and the soldier equally innocent. If so, I’ll help you defend them against anyone who wants to blame the victim – and you and Alan both know that the soldier is a victim.

As you implied, there is a threshold for criminal behavior for soldiers. Of course, it’s damn hard to prove intent in an environment of mass murder. As to the suicide bomber, I agree with you and Mike that this is overt criminal behavior; but I think that you have to agree that most pay the ultimate penalty, even if they think that paradise awaits.

Back to effect for a moment – Mike says of the peace activists in Israel, quoted by David, “Unfortunately the arguments from the few remaining Peace Activists are at this point mere wishful thinking.” No doubt he is correct in the short run. The dogs of war are unleashed, and the excitement of the chase – not to mention the kill – is high. The main point of the peace activists, however, is that, on the day after tomorrow, there will be unpleasant repercussions. Let the circle be unbroken, to quote the old Christian song. And sure enough ….

Mike says that the Jews ruled that area of the world for 2,000 years before the Diaspora. I think that it might be better to say that they populated that part of the world for almost that long. At various times they ruled various parts; at other times they were largely removed to Egypt or to Babylon. Mostly, they were trading land and hostages with the other local (often semitic) peoples as a result of frequent hostilities. At one juncture they split into two rival Hebrew states – which one would you have supported, Mike?

Then they were largely gone from the area for 2,000 years. For an historical homeland, that’s an awfully big gap. And, as was sometimes pointed out in the not-too-distant past, on average a European Jew is about as semitic as an African-American is african. In both cases most are as closely related to you and I, as to any modern-day member of their other ancestry.

For us common folks ends don’t justify means, because means are ends in and of themselves. In the unstoppable dialectical movement of history, ends will propagate more ends. All of our anger, frustration, vengefulness – not to mention hope for the future – should be focussed on disinheriting the true enemies of the peoples of the world, largely made up of those persons who would lead us to war.

Paul Spencer

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