Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Against the eternal mob

posted by Rod Dreher

I would like to offer a postscript to the post earlier this week about why Jews cannot return to Poland, as Helen Thomas suggested they ought to do. As a practical matter, obviously Israel is now the home of the Jews Thomas wants sent away. The meaning of her comment was her belief that Poland was the home of many of those Jews who settled postwar Palestine, and they ought to have stayed at home. The post I put up in response observed that many Jews could not return home, because their Polish neighbors had either collaborated with German occupiers in killing Jews, or threatened to kill them upon return (as did happen to some Jews). I cited the short history by Jan T. Gross, “Neighbors,” about how a Polish village massacred 1,600 Jews — half its population — under the German occupation. They had lived in relative piece before, but once the Germans were there, Catholic Poles turned on Jewish Poles. The killings were unspeakably brutal.
Last night, I took my copy of “Neighbors” off the shelf, and read through it. Not a good idea to do before bedtime, not if you want to avoid nightmares. The pogrom in Jewabdne, which is the focus of “Neighbors,” wasn’t the only one at all. There was a prior one in a nearby town, Radzilow. According to survivor testimony, Jewish leaders could see what was about to happen, and went to the village priest, begging him to stop the mob. He refused, allegedly saying, “It is well known that every Jew, from the youngest to those sixty years old, are communists.” Every other prominent Christian in the town to whom the Jews appealed gave the same answer.
You can imagine what happened next.

They took the hated Jews out, beat them till the Jews fell down bloodied and unconscious. Not even women and children, or mothers with newborn babies, were spared. From time to time they brought Jews from their houses to the square and they beat them there. The screams were unbearable. Around the tortured ones crowds of Polish men, women, and children were standing and laughing at the miserable victims who were falling under the blows of the bandits.

Here’s the thing: There were no Germans present. The Poles did this themselves. The arrival of the Germans back in town saved 18 Jews who had hid during this pogrom. But the work was done: after 500 years of habitation, not a single Jew was left in Radzilow. They were all murdered. By their neighbors.
Later, Gross quotes at length the testimony of Aleksander Wyrzykowski, a Catholic who, with his wife, hid Jews from the Germans, at great personal risk. His wife was beaten to a pulp by fellow Poles for doing so. After the war, the Wyrzkowski family was so stigmatized as protectors of Jews that they had to become refugees in their own land. There’s another story told by a Polish peasant woman, a former maid named Karolcia Sapetowa, who protected two little Jewish children she knew. Sapetowa’s entire village goaded her to turn the children over to the Gestapo. Sapetowa later testified that she would not give the children up, no matter what.

I got a brilliant idea [she said]. I put the children on a cart, and I told everybody that I was taking them out to drown them. I rode around the entire village, and everybody saw me and they beleived, and when the night came I returned with the children. …

Gross adds:

The story has a happy ending: the children survived, and Sapetowa declares with deep emotion that she will follow them anywhere because she loves them more than anything in the world. And we are left with a frightening realization that the population of a little village near Cracow sighed with relief only after its inhabitants were persuaded that one of their neighbors had murdered two small Jewish children.

The point Gross makes several times in his narrative is that it is simply untrue that the Germans stood over the Poles and forced them to kill Jews. Many Poles were pleased to have the opportunity to do so.
The point I want to make here is not anti-Polish. It’s a point about human nature, and the mob. I don’t believe there was anything especially evil about those Polish peasants. I believe they were behaving as most people would have behaved in similar social conditions. Poland is far away, but look, we had lynch mobs in this country within living memory. Pogroms against black Americans were a social occasion throughout the South. Here is a postcard that was mailed from Dallas 100 years ago this very day:
lynching in dallas.jpg
It depicts the mob murder of an elderly black man. The murder did not occur in some clearing in the woods in the middle of the night. It happened in broad daylight, in downtown Dallas, in front of a vast crowd. You can see for yourself. The occasion was memorialized in a picture postcard. Can you imagine? This really happened. See many more photos like this here — including a 1911 postcard showing the people of Durant, Okla., watching a black man being burned to death in his own private holocaust.
This is the mob. This is what mobs do, the world over. Black mobs attacked Korean shopkeepers in L.A. in 1992. Islamic mobs burned down a Danish embassy a few years ago. A mob is a mob is a mob. There is a reason why, in one of the Catholic liturgies of Easter, the entire congregation stands in place of the Jewish mob that called for the murder of Jesus of Nazareth, and says together: “Crucify him!” And that reason is this: the mob is in all of us.
It ought to be unthinkable to all of us that we would ever participate in such a mob action, or stand by when it was taking place. But we shouldn’t flatter ourselves. Do you think that every white person in the South approved of the anti-black pogroms? Certainly not. But how many had the courage to speak out against them? Very few. The cost of having done so would have been enormous. What happened to the Wyrzkowski family — having to go on the run to escaper persecution by their neighbors for having defended Jews — would have happened to Southern whites who dissented. “Ni**er-lovers,” they would have been called. It happened here. And it happens everywhere the mob rules.
History shows that there is no place the Jewish people can be entirely safe from the mob. Modern America is just about the only place, but even this is a relatively recent phenomenon. Nat Hentoff, who became a great friend of the late Cardinal O’Connor, has written about growing up in Boston back in the 1930s, and having lost some teeth to Catholic hooligans who would go through Jewish neighborhoods avenging Our Lord’s death by taking it out on Jewish kids. Times have changed, thank God. But for Jewish refugees from post-Holocaust Europe, America was no promised land.
I fear and loathe the mob. I have written before how one of my most formative memories was being attacked by a mob, of sorts, as a teenager, and abused and humiliated while begging the adult authorities to do something to stop the mob. They had the power to stop the mob, but they refused. I have never, ever forgotten that. Even though it’s absurd to raise high school bullying in the same breath as lynching or the Holocaust, if you’ve ever felt yourself at the hands of a group of people who had the power to do what they wanted to do with you, and you could neither defend yourself nor count on authority to defend you, it makes you particularly empathetic to the malign power of the mob. It’s one thing that drove my passion to write about the clerical sex abuse scandal. It is why I am a conflicted communitarian: I am deeply skeptical of the community, but know that the shared morality of the community is critical to stop a mob before it starts.
But not always. The Jews of Jedwabne were slaughtered by their own neighbors.
My attitude toward the mob — and the shameful historical role people of my faith have played in making up and leading anti-Semitic mobs — has a lot to do with why I support Israel’s right to exist. History shows that the only people Jews can count on to keep them safe from the mob is … themselves.



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Tuck

posted June 10, 2010 at 6:12 pm


Great post.



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Neil D

posted June 10, 2010 at 6:34 pm


The mob is everywhere. It’s in our politics and the politics of every nation in the world. We ignore this at our peril. This is what makes liberals like me afraid of conservatives who advocate torture of terrorists. One always wonders… am I next on the list?
I love America, but sometimes I fear its mob.



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Dante

posted June 10, 2010 at 6:56 pm


I always thought preoccupation with the possibility of pogrom in the U.S. was overblown – oh, given European history, quite understandable for Jews, but objectively unreasonable. Observing the response to the Helen Thomas affair – the outpourings of unmitigated bile, often from people who label themselves to be liberal, anti-colonialist, etc – I think I grossly underestimated the still-remaining levels of anti-Semitism, even in the U.S. It is an eye-opener.



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Rachel

posted June 10, 2010 at 9:10 pm


This is exactly why the call to stigmatize certain groups of people who share a common characteristic is so overwhelmingly disturbing to me. The shared morality of a community may be critical to stopping a mob, but it is also essential to creating a mob.



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Erin Manning

posted June 10, 2010 at 9:35 pm


Neil, not all conservatives condone torture. I don’t. One of the reasons I don’t is because I believe man is fallen, and that his fallen nature will always veer toward irrational cruelty if given half a chance.
[Captcha: wounder the. Captcha needs to work on syntax, but otherwise...]



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John E. - Agn Stoic

posted June 10, 2010 at 9:51 pm


And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why the right to keep and bear arms in defense of oneself and ones family, including concealed handguns and semi-automatic weapons with large capacity magazines, is very, very important.



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Greg

posted June 10, 2010 at 10:07 pm


“[I] know that the shared morality of the community is critical to stop a mob before it starts.” This is interesting. How and why?



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Peter

posted June 10, 2010 at 10:13 pm


History shows that the only people Jews can count on to keep them safe from the mob is … themselves.
But does that innocculate them from international criticism or, God forbid, U.S. criticism for setting up virtual prison camps in the occupied territories, shelling Gaza for days, killing Peace activists bringing humanitarian aid, condoning state-ordered torture, and violating the international human rights of Palestinians?



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steve

posted June 10, 2010 at 10:50 pm


Yes, only the jews will be willing to reliably defend themselves. That is probably true for most groups, but Jews have suffered more than most other groups, especially at the hands of Christians.
The question is whether their current path makes any headway towards that end. By their actions over the last couple of years, they appear to be rejecting a two state solution. Demographics, one of your favorite topics, dictates that they do not maintain a Jewish state without mass exile or apartheid. Both of those options have significant risks, to say nothing of new ethical issues.
“Neil, not all conservatives condone torture.”
True. However it has become a litmus test of sorts for those who want to run for office on the right.
Steve



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Tex Tradd

posted June 10, 2010 at 11:17 pm


Great post Mr. Dreher.
Those who brood over history should remember the classic way that oppression, brutality, and mob violence are rationalized: by reference to previous injustice, persecution, and atrocities.
If I recall, Slobodan Milosevic gained great power in late-Communist era Yugoslavia by speaking aloud words forbidden in the Tito era, to the effect that the Serbs had been oppressed and would not take it anymore. The IRA rationalized killing militants, soldiers, police and some civilians by reference to the ongoing oppression of Catholics in North Ireland. Terrible reports of anti-Catholic atrocities by the Communists and others in the Spanish Civil War made it easier for paranoid Catholics to rationalize allying with the Nazis.
Israeli historian Benny Morris describes atrocities such as rapes and murders of non-combatants committed by Zionists during the 1948 conflict at http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/016585.html. There were of course many acts of violence against non-combatant Jews during this period. In fact, the epic cycles of violence in Israel/Palestine starting in 1948 can be traced to the 1929 Hebron massacre, where Arab mobs turned against Jews and committed ghastly deeds of violent ethnic cleansing against men, women, and children that have brought reprisals and repression for decades.
Violence attacks will be resisted with physical force. But injustice need not be met with violence, when there is another path: the way of Christ, Ghandi, MLK, and others that help us transcend our merely animal reactive nature.



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CAP

posted June 11, 2010 at 12:00 am


aren’t mobs really about the powerful many against the defenseless few?
and isn’t it a cruel irony what has happened in palestine when the jews, for the first time, became the the powerful many.



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Quiddity

posted June 11, 2010 at 12:02 am


Ukrainians were also gung-ho about killing Jews during WW2, even when the Nazis weren’t present.



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hlvanburen

posted June 11, 2010 at 12:15 am


“And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why the right to keep and bear arms in defense of oneself and ones family, including concealed handguns and semi-automatic weapons with large capacity magazines, is very, very important.”
Yes, because when the mob decides to come after you, we want it armed to the teeth.



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thehova

posted June 11, 2010 at 12:16 am


I watched a documentary about a group of Jewish people from the US who went back to Poland to research the life of the Shtetl before World War II. It was truly alarming how hostile the Polish government and people treated them.
I know it’s important to distinguish the criticisms of Israel and antisemitism. But I’m not going to lie. The anger and force of most Europeans outrage of Israel sometimes makes me wonder.



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Charles Cosimano

posted June 11, 2010 at 12:42 am


Our Founders were terrified of the mob and rightly so. The mob of Paris was the true source of terror in the Revolution and it was only brought to heel, in a single afternoon, by Napoleon, who met it with massed cannon and fired round after round of grapeshot into it until the survivors turned and and ran. And as they fled through the streets pursued by Murat and his cavalry lopping off Jacobin heads like so many ripe melons, the mob of Paris disintegrated into nothingness, not to be a threat again until 1830.
And in doing so Napoleon left us a lesson, that you do not reason with a mob. You kill it.



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Random Nickname

posted June 11, 2010 at 12:49 am


This is an interesting coda to the recent dustup over the Civil Rights Act, with many people arguing even today that it was unnecessary, because eventually black people would have become full participants in American society. Granted, it might have been centuries, but opponents to racial freedom were more concerned about their own social- and state-protected dominion over nonwhites.
The Jews serve as a pretty good example of why waiting doesn’t work. 2000 years of getting kicked out of every place in Europe, multiple genocides, forced conversions, and eventually the Holocaust. Even the horrors of WWII and the establishment of Israel didn’t stop the hatred of Jews in the US, and many of them assisted in the Civil Rights movement because they were likewise barred from certain hotels, neighborhoods, and even universities had quotas to prevent too many Jews from attending.
The most relevant modern example would be the gays, who are also repeatedly told to “stay in your place”, “don’t throw your lifestyle in my face”, “I want state and federal laws to forbid you from certain things”, and “I don’t want your kind around my family”. As with the Jews a lot of it has to do with the fact that a certain sin (rejection of Christ, sodomy) should forever brand you as a second class citizen. And yes–hold that delete button for one second Rod–you’ve made it clear that the race=gay argument is forbidden here, but note that Jews always had the opportunity to convert to Christianity (or Islam) to escape millennia of persecution. Some did, either willingly or at the business end of weaponry, and probably suffered a lot for it. Others didn’t and kept up the fight. Today we call them heroes. Someday folks will admire the current civil rights struggles as well.



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Scott Lahti

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:03 am


If I were to summarize what I’ve learned of politics these last 48+ years, I could do worse than to codify it as the crying need in every society for rule by an aristocratic elite armed both with moral authority – an aristocracy of character, the polar opposite of authoritarianism, or the bully syndrome institutionalized (the authority of one man of conscience, however outnumbered can make, er, a moral majority) – and to the teeth, at once ruthless, fearless and selfless in the maintenance of social order and the disciplining of the unruly and unschooled instincts of the mob. Writers as disparate as Mencken and Nisbet have written with liveliness and with penetrating insight on the price we have paid for our inability to form and maintain such an elite. In its place, we have a polity whose reigning ideology is one of militarized corporate liberalism, with a caste formed of mutually-enabling financiers and legislators, and entertainers, none of them of a moral character that would elevate them above the unwashed rabble – often far beneath the latter. Our true aristocracy is at present relatively obscure and unsung – and utterly without authority or power in the public square, save incidentally and by haphazard, patted on the head in ceremonial intervals away from the workaday round of savage collective and tribalist exploitation of the sort on which this tarnished city on a hill was founded.
On the bedrock ethical aspect of armed self-defense, see my friend Jeff Snyder’s classic essay “A Nation of Cowards”, The Public Interest, Fall 1993.
For a classic treatment of the animal mob and itsd blind hatred of the Other in its Polish context, see Jerzy Kosi?ski, The Painted Bird.
after Mr. Magoo:
Captcha, you’ve done it again! – putsch reasons
Putsch Chastity and the Sunned Ant’s Dick



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Neil D

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:32 am


When commenting on this article I said I feared “conservatives who advocate torture.” I tried to choose my words carefully so that it didn’t seem that I feared all conservatives or that I thought all conservatives advocate torture. Perhaps I just should have said “people who advocate torture of terrorists.” It is true that many non-conservatives were bent on revenge after 9/11 too.
The mob always seeks revenge for something. I don’t think the mob is always about the powerful against the defenseless. The mob can take temporary power as in a revolution to overthrow the powerful.
The consitution and the rule of law are defenses against mob rule. So is a shared morality via religion or culture. But when the culture gets a little drunk on power or self-righteousness, things tend to go astray. I think we have to be willing to tolerate some relatively innocuous activity even if we find it objectionable on some moral level. To each his own. Live and let live. Our relgions, laws, and culture can become oppressive if we allow our discomfort to become resentment.
I think the Rwandan genocide is the best modern example of the mob gone wild.



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Oeno

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:55 am


Ortega Y Gasset. Nuff said.



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Mont D. Law

posted June 11, 2010 at 3:13 am


I find it amusing that it’s anathema to suggest the Jews relocate but unremarkable to suggest the Palestinians do the same. Israel can’t win the game it’s playing – separate but equal is not sustainable in the modern world. Without a two state solution the levels oppression necessary to subdue the Palestinians will eventually sour even the United States.
But whatever. Larger and more powerful states have chosen the march of folly. They can’t be dissuaded.



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Rombald

posted June 11, 2010 at 4:26 am


I find your argument hard to follow, Rod. You speak of the worldwide tendency for mobs to commit atrocities, such as against Jews in Poland and blacks in the USA. However, it is only with the Jews that you insist that this necessitates special treatment – unconditional support for a racist state. You don’t apply that reasoning to US blacks; you have been hostile to even quite modest pro-black discrimination.
In any case, why did the Palestinians have to suffer for the crimes of the Poles and Germans? If, after WW2, the decision had been taken to depopulate Bavaria, say, and give it to the Jews, there would at least have been some justice there.
I don’t think that US support for Israel has anything to do with this sympathy for a wronged people; I haven’t noticed the US government falling over itself to defend peoples wronged by the USA. I don’t even think it’s due to cynical realpolitik; US interests would have been much better served by Arab client states. I think it has two bases:
(i) The power of the Jewish lobby in the USA.
(ii) The influence of end-of-the-world evangelicals, who believe that Israel must be defended to prepare for the Second Coming.
The moral lesson to be drawn from US support for Israel has nothing to do with opposition to mobs, but is that the Old Testament is an evil book, and people who believe that it offers some sort of moral guide (Evangelicals and religious Jews ) have a toxic effect on the body politic.



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Jon

posted June 11, 2010 at 6:44 am


Does Helen Thomas’ comments remind anyone else of the notion expressed by some racist Americans that we ought send African Americans back to Africa?
As fo the US being the only safe country, I think there’s another right next door, as Canada is not known for its porgroms either.



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AC

posted June 11, 2010 at 7:52 am


At least a few people, including Rombald, seem largely ignorant of Israel’s history- in particular, the history of what would become Israel from about 1900 onward.
First, it’s important to note that there were Jews, in significant numbers, living in Israel CONTINUOUSLY since well before the time of the Roman Empire. And as has been noted many times, Jews worldwide, and especially in Europe, did not have many safe places to go in the early 20th century. So many, millions even, ended up in Israel by the time World War II ended.
It’s assumed by many that after WWII, the UN decided to make a safe place for the Jews, and set aside the land of Israel. This is false (or at least only a small and misinterpreted part of the truth). The Jews were in Israel for pretty much all of recorded history, and enough came to Israel in the early 20th century that they made their OWN land, and the UN recognized it in 1948. By and large, the Palestinians were not expelled (though atrocities did occur, certainly), but many left at the urging of the Arab states when they declared war.



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AC

posted June 11, 2010 at 8:06 am


Before someone corrects me- in 1948, there were a little more than one million Jews living in Israel (so my “millions” is a little high).



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John T

posted June 11, 2010 at 8:10 am


“The moral lesson to be drawn from US support for Israel has nothing to do with opposition to mobs, but is that the Old Testament is an evil book,”
Rather than being an evil book the Bible has proved to be a moral guide providing strength of character that has provided an antidote to the mob.
Consider the example of the ‘Bibelforscher’ [Bible Students] in Nazi Germany. While the mob blindly followed Hitler they stood firm in their convictions and refused to say Heil Hitler or join the Germany army . Even in the concentration camps they were presented with a document which they could sign renouncing their faith and thus be released which very few did.
The book “Values and Violence in Auschwitz,” by Anna Pawe?czy?ska, states: “This group of prisoners was a solid ideological force and they won their battle against Nazism. The German group of this sect had been a tiny island of unflagging resistance existing in the bosom of a terrorized nation, and in that same undismayed spirit they functioned in the camp at Auschwitz. They managed to win the respect of their fellow-prisoners . . . of prisoner-functionaries, and even of the SS officers. Everyone knew that no ‘Bibelforscher’ would perform a command contrary to his religious belief



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John E. - Agn Stoic

posted June 11, 2010 at 8:17 am


hlvanburen:
Yes, because when the mob decides to come after you, we want it armed to the teeth.
Charles Cosimano:
And in doing so Napoleon left us a lesson, that you do not reason with a mob. You kill it.
Charles has the right view. Should one try to reason or beg for mercy from a mob, or meet it with deadly force?



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Brian

posted June 11, 2010 at 8:23 am


If one reads the Old Testament as a whole, they can see its not an evil book. The vast majority of it is a chronicle of the Jewish people. Most of it is a warning to follow God’s commands and to remain faithful to Him.
The New Testament could be considered an evil book if one looks at how it is applied today. I’ve seen plenty of “christians” use it to condemn others, including other Christians, that don’t agree with them.



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Dan O.

posted June 11, 2010 at 8:30 am


“History shows that the only people Jews can count on to keep them safe from the mob is … themselves.”
None of us are safe from a mob – not from the moral danger of being part of one, not from the moral danger of tolerating one, and not from the mortal danger of being the victim of one. This you argue, and it is undoubtedly true. It is doubtlessly true that some of the worst mobs in recent memory were the pogroms and Holocaust. But a large part of that genocide was also an organized, state-run campaign. Not all of it, by any stretch. I’m of Lithuanian-Jewish decent, and to my relatives it didn’t matter much who controlled Lithuania; the pograms were local affairs – whether German or Russian, they were Lithuanian. I’ve been to Berlin and felt comfortable there, especially after seeing a large prime block in Mitte dedicated as a symbolic cemetary. It is a recognition that is so-placed that it can’t be forgotten while it stands. I have no intention ever stepping in Lithuania, where the pogroms are conveniently forgotten.
Situations more similar to Polish and Lithuanian Pogroms occurred much more recently in Rwanda and before that in Bosnia. What can we say about them except much of the same?
So, I just think that the conclusion, quoted above, does not follow, and it claims far too much. If it follows, how could a Tutsi ever live with Hutus? How could a Muslim Bosnian ever live with Serbs? Is it the length of time over which the Pograms/Holocaust occurred – nearly 50 years – that makes the difference? If the Jews are in it alone, how can their state be anything other than essentially for Jews?
I am not an anti-Zionist, and I have no sympathy for what Helen Thomas said. But I believe your conclusion, above, provides justification for those who believe that the establishment and maintenance of an ethnically pure state is a just response. There are two understandings of Israel – one that its essence is as a Jewish state, and another that its essence is as a protectorate for Jews. I wholly support the latter; I turn away from the former. The statements and behavior of the Israeli government’s center-right/right coalition show that they obviously understand Israel as essentially a Jewish state. I can tell you with some authority that many early Israelis (my mother was born in Palestine, 1944, and grew up in in Israel) did not see their country as essentially Jewish. For educated cosmopolitan Jews from Vilnius and other cities, that would have been an incredible view of the world. So,I tend to think the current right-wing view of Israel is a response to the second half of the 20th century, not the first half.



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BC

posted June 11, 2010 at 9:39 am


This is a good post, Rod. I have an allergy to most crowd emotions, including displays of patriotism and religious feeling (even though I’m essentially patriotic and religious). I like to think that I wouldn’t have gotten caught up in Naziism or Southern racism, but I don’t know if I would gone out of my way to be heroic. It’s humbling to hear about people who defied the mob.



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Franklin Evans

posted June 11, 2010 at 9:40 am


John, the rational rebuttal to your position inre personal weapons is simple: Your weapon(s) may save your life from the mob today, but it will not suffice when the mob shows up tomorrow with guns of their own, or after a few days or weeks cuts you off from the basic infrastructures of communal life. That latter, before you jump on it, is made safe for you only if you live so far away from others that there would not be a mob on your doorstep in the first place.
Ironically, the only way you could survive that sort of hostility from your neighbors would be to live in a fortress with its own water source and a self-sustaining agriculture. Good luck doing that for enough people to share your guard shifts during the neverending siege.
Logistics is an unforgiving reality.
The rational solution is to have a society — rule of law, cultural institutions that enable and enforce compliance with the rule of law, etc. — that makes personal weapons unnecessary because you have no need for protection from your neighbors.



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Franklin Evans

posted June 11, 2010 at 10:05 am


Tex Tradd and Dan O. cite the recent history of Yugoslavia and the aftermath of its break-up in this context. As the son of immigrants born and raised in pre-Tito Yugoslavia, I have one caution: No leader, however he (or she) came to power, ignores the tools of mass hysteria and propaganda to incite and control the masses. Milosevic was an egregious example (that we have corroboration for… I could tell a family-history horror story or three concerning the civil war that the communist partisans started and won).
Ironically, under Tito there were substantial social and cultural advances. The war over Bosnia destroyed many interfaith and inter-ethnic marriages.



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Scott Lahti

posted June 11, 2010 at 10:09 am


The rational solution is to have a society — rule of law, cultural institutions that enable and enforce compliance with the rule of law, etc. — that makes personal weapons unnecessary because you have no need for protection from your neighbors.
Since, as here, the word rational is a functional equivalent of impossible, I shall keep my guns, and, in any form required, up to and including their lethal discharge, drop those attempting to deprive me of them, starting in this combox and ending in thermonuclear oblivion. The ones making such exchanges necessary are the only madmen on the premises. Those resisting them are merely yeomen householders removing the vermin of the world with the moral equivalent of Black Flag.



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Alicia

posted June 11, 2010 at 10:24 am


This is a great post, Rod. Last night, I had the pleasure of standing for two hours (after a long day at work) at Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C. in a packed room listening to Christopher Hitchens read from his memoir, “Hitch-22.” (And I did get a signed copy afterwards.)
People like you, Hitchens, Andrew Sullivan, and Paul Berman are among the few serious writers I read who actually appear to be capable of moving past the tired old debates (either you are 100% behind Israel, with no nuance or criticism allowed, or you are 100% behind the Palestinians).
An Irish Catholic guy I know who spent some time working in Eastern Europe in the past few years said he heard the common people (such as his landlady) say things about what should be done to immigrants that would curl your hair. It’s human nature and the ugliest part of human nature, and I agree it is in us. And it is heroic to maintain a nuanced stance in a polarized time. Keep the faith, Rod.



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Alicia

posted June 11, 2010 at 10:30 am


One more quick comment: I am allergic to the term “community” because when most people use it, it seems to me that they mean “conformity.” At least, that’s been my experience.



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thomas tucker

posted June 11, 2010 at 11:04 am


Excellent writing, Rod- from the universal to the particular and back again. With illustrations!
You always stimulate me to think.



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Mick

posted June 11, 2010 at 11:21 am


“if you’ve ever felt yourself at the hands of a group of people who had the power to do what they wanted to do with you, and you could neither defend yourself nor count on authority to defend you, it makes you particularly empathetic to the malign power of the mob”
I wonder do you empathize with the Palestinians at all and see them as the bullied? Or are Jews(Israel) the ones you have empathy for? I ask honestly wanting to know because when I read it I instantly thought of the Palestinians being the victim of bullying at the hands of Israel and the U.S. sitting by and doing nothing about it. Not that i’m right and you’re wrong, but just seemed obvious to me and wondered if others saw it the same way.



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Dan O.

posted June 11, 2010 at 11:27 am


Mick -
Whatever one’s evaluation of the occupation and the blockade (I believe the latter is certainly unjust), neither are enforced by mobs, but by the planned actions of a trained military directed by a state. That doesn’t make it right or wrong, but it is different.



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Geoff G.

posted June 11, 2010 at 11:27 am


Great post, Rod. It was certainly an education for me, which leads me to reconsider my comment in the earlier post.
On the other hand, do you think there’s some value in not knuckling under to the racists and to challenging them? Standing up for your right to exist? Perhaps, under certain circumstances (like these, where the defiance is likely to be totally ignored) not. But perhaps, in the modern world, where such ugliness is much more easily exposed, so.
There’s absolutely no question at all that the roots of antisemitism in much of Europe run extraordinarily deep. There’s evidence of it stretching back for centuries. If there is any good at all to be drawn from the Holocaust, it may be the opportunity to eradicate that particular plague once and for all.
I’d also be interested in your thoughts on how this sort of mob action relate to your thoughts on traditional culture. On the surface, at least, Polish culture would be exactly what you’re looking for: strongly rooted in sense of place, deep cultural roots, common religion actively practiced. All in all, quite the conservative place, even “crunchy conservative,” given traditional agriculture.
And yet…this. This deeply rooted hostility to the alien. In fact, (as your lynching example points out) hostility to anything that challenges the social order.
This is what I fear from your conservative utopia. This review of Gross’s book noted:
Poland is a country where abortion and women’s rights to bodily autonomy remain illegal, where institutional homophobia predominates, and contemporary art can lead to criminal charges. Cries of “Fags to the gas!” and “We’ll do to you what Hitler did to Jews!” regularly directed at pride parades, anti-Semitic catcalls at artists and curators, and the slogan “Abortion only for the Jews!” heard at a pro-life demonstrations are all evidence that violent abjection of difference remains deeply entrenched in Polish culture.
Can you have the kind of society that you want without this sort of thing?



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Geoff G.

posted June 11, 2010 at 11:42 am


Jon
As fo the US being the only safe country, I think there’s another right next door, as Canada is not known for its porgroms either.
Interesting story: A few years back, my partner and I went up to Winnipeg to visit my parents. We went to one of the two gay bars there. We’re chatting with some seemingly nice people and the start hearing some pretty racist stuff come out directed at Natives (mostly Chipewyan, Assiniboine and Cree if I know my geography).
I’ve heard stories from my dad that confirm this general thing. In one case, he mentioned the police in Saskatoon picking up an alcoholic Indian and dropping him off ten or fifteen miles outside of town. In January.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ve lived in both Toronto and Vancouver and both tend to be very welcoming to immigrants. The Jewish communities in Canadian cities tend to be quite strong. But no country is immune to this kind of thing.



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Scott Lahti

posted June 11, 2010 at 11:44 am


Black mobs attacked Korean shopkeepers in L.A. in 1992. Islamic mobs burned down a Danish embassy a few years ago.
The fact that the former mobs were not dispersed instanter by Korean submachine-gun fire, and their Koranic Majesties from the latter mob sent to their eternal seventy-virginal reward in Allah’s green-crescent room by Copenhäagen-Dazs Cocktails wielded by stouthearted Sons of Kierkegaard willing and able to turn its votaries into one Swiss-Cheese Danish after another is all we need to know to prophesy the image of the historians of anno domini wondering just how and when western civ came down with its fatal influenza, minutes before realizing that an obscenely and blasphemously unlatitudinarian interpretation of WWJD had for 2000 years de-balled the lists of Christendom from the get-go in its necessary work of civilising its earthly kingdom. “There are more types of peacemakers on earth as it is in heaven, Flatio, than are dreamt of in our theology.” – Scramlet.
Now let’s get out there and kick some major mob booty. It’s what my Jesus would do – and hearing a word against Him is just the sort of thing up with which I will not put.
Armageddon the Hell out of here, while the Armageddon’s good.



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kevin s.

posted June 11, 2010 at 11:56 am


@Rombald
“If, after WW2, the decision had been taken to depopulate Bavaria, say, and give it to the Jews, there would at least have been some justice there.
You are welcome to have strong opinions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the history. The narrative that, post-WW2 the world collectively decided to take a whole country and give it to European Jews is based on anti-Semitic propaganda.
I’m not so certain that America would have been such an outstanding refuge for the Jews. Here in Minnesota, Jews were relegated to the suburbs through the 1980s, largely unwelcome in Lutheran-heavy city neighborhoods.
From a national standpoint, this came only a decade after the infamous Schechter poultry case. How welcome would Jewish businesses have been?



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Franklin Evans

posted June 11, 2010 at 12:20 pm


Mick,
In the interest of avoiding derailing this (or any topic that deals with one side of a complex issue), I would respectfully ask that you help us avoid making this a “but what about the [fill-in-blank]” slugfest. I hasten to add that I am not assuming that as your intent.
I see the Gazans as bullied by the Hamas leadership. I saw the Palestinians as bullied by the Arafat regime. I see the external players — Syria, Iran, the once and future Egypt — as bullies. Indeed, I see them as the contemporary criminals responsible for the deplorable conditions in refugee camps within their boundaries, starting with their adamant refusal to allow any of those refugees to assimilate into their countries. Note, I don’t blame them per se for there being those camps. One thing at a time, eh?
Do some past and current Israeli actions qualify as bullying? Hell YES. Would you be surprised to learn that there are significant numbers of Israeli citizens, most of those Jews, who not only agree with that assessment but speak out against those actions?



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Peter

posted June 11, 2010 at 12:42 pm


Would you be surprised to learn that there are significant numbers of Israeli citizens, most of those Jews, who not only agree with that assessment but speak out against those actions?
I’m not. I know there is disagreement in Israel over the treatment of Gaza. It’s ironic that there is more room for disagreement in Israel over Israel than is allowed in the U.S. when the topic of Israel/Gaza comes up.



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Denis

posted June 11, 2010 at 12:55 pm


But most collaborators with the Soviets in Poland were communists. And they did terrible things to Catholic Poles. So I guess the only way the Poles could be safe was not to be around Jews. That’s the Jewish logic about Poles, at any rate. Yes, there’s Polish anti_semitism, but if you want to hear contempt, get some Jews talking about Poles. That will really curl your hair. There’s a reason why Siberia has a large Polish population–all the deportations, and stuff, and those were the lucky Poles who survived, and many of those responsible for Poles who suffered were Jews. Given what the Soviets and the Jews who cooperated with them did, it’s amazing that there were not more anti_Jewish attacks. And, BTW, it was safer to be a Jew in Communist Poland than it was to be a Catholic Pole. But if you restrict your reading on the history of Poland to one book, youre take on that history is going to be quite myopic.



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Denis

posted June 11, 2010 at 12:57 pm


And, BTW, the comparison with African Americans is just foolish. Jews were not slaves in pre-WWII Poland. On the contrary, they were a privileged group.



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AC

posted June 11, 2010 at 1:11 pm


Denis, the extreme overestimation of Jewish involvement with Communism and Soviet Boshevikism in particular is another conspiracy theory invented in the early 20th century, and was linked closely to the (entirely fictional) Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This is just a modern form of the ever-present Blood Libel.
Look at any objective historical account of communism in Poland (stay away from the blood-curdling Jewwatch.com, which is the second site to come up on Google when searching for “jews and communism in poland”), and you’ll see that only a small fraction of Polish Jews were active in communist organizations, and only a tiny, tiny fraction of the communist organizations themselves were made up of Jews.
It’s quite amazing, actually, to still see people eat up these conspiracy theories about the Jews. Denis- do you believe the Jews control the US or the world’s banking systems? Do you believe that 9/11 was a Jewish conspiracy?



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Dan O.

posted June 11, 2010 at 1:12 pm


Funny, Denis, I’ve never once heard Jews speak about Poles. I guess not all of us received the transmissions in our little black boxes. Maybe I should have checked my secret communist collaborator voice communicator instead.
Assuming that there were Jews who collaborated with the Soviets, which I don’t doubt (I had ancestors in the employ of the Czar, who fled after the revolution), why assume that there’s anything essentially Jewish about that?
I mean, could you be any more transparent?



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Denis

posted June 11, 2010 at 1:25 pm


Most of the high-ranking Communists in Poland at the time were Jewish, starting with Jakub Berman, the head of the State Security. There’s nothing mythological about it. The only “blood libel” being perpetrated is yours, against the Polish people. Anti-Semites believe that there was a Jewish conspiracy in which all Jews were complicit, and that Jews are collectively responsible for Communism. I don’t. I believethat that sort of talk is hateful nonsense. But the fact that Soviet rule in Poland disproportionately involved Poland’s Jews is undeniable.



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AC

posted June 11, 2010 at 1:30 pm


Denis,
Before the Holocaust, Jews were about 10% of Poland’s population. What percentage of Polish communists were Jews?



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David J. White

posted June 11, 2010 at 1:41 pm


The narrative that, post-WW2 the world collectively decided to take a whole country and give it to European Jews is based on anti-Semitic propaganda.
Yes. Jews had already been migrating to Palestine since the late 19th century. There was already a substantial Jewish presence there by the end of WWII.
What exactly did Egypt and Jordan do for the Palestinian refugees between 1948-1967, when they controlled Gaza and the West Bank, respectively? Nothing, because it suited their political purposes to leave them as refugees in camps.



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stari_momak

posted June 11, 2010 at 1:44 pm


Have you guys ever heard the prank call of an Orthodox Jewish family whose daughter says (untruthfully) that she is going out with an ‘Italian’ guy.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKAz0a77Fm0
I submit that the attitude heard there (‘their lips touch pig!’) is precisely the attitude that Jews (all or almost all of whom would have been Orthodox) had towards Poles. Or look at the ‘Polish Joke’ — you think that was invented by WASP comedians? Or how about the phrase ‘goyishe kopf’. Or how about ‘nittel nacht’
http://www.slate.com/id/2238708/
Fact is most shetl Jews heartily detested the people in whose country they lived, and held *themselves* apart. We see vestiges, and sometimes more than vestiges, of this behavior today — such as the practice of creating a symoblic enclosure of a neighborhood were their are a lot of Hassidic Jews. And you know what, you do that, *and* if you are often part of an exploitative system as a middle-man minority (tax farmers, etc) you are gonna have problems.



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AC

posted June 11, 2010 at 1:50 pm


Stari- does your vast personal experience with Jews tell you this about what’s in the hearts of millions of Jews? Perhaps the time you worked in a kibbutz in Israel? Or your time as a teacher at a Temple school in Brooklyn?
I’m sure you are aware that, throughout the middle ages in Europe, Jews were banned from most common business practices and forced into those occupations considered “dirty” by the Christian majority (including money lending).
How am I supposed to take any of your arguments seriously, Stari (and perhaps Denis), when you both ADMIT that you believe my mother’s people have deserved the millenia of violence and libel against them?



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Denis

posted June 11, 2010 at 1:51 pm


Again, the problem is that the Urz?d Bezpiecze?stwa, the State Security apparatus, headed by Jakub Berman, was very Jewish in composition. This gave Soviet rule a Jewish “face” in Poland. How many members of the Communist party in post-WWII Poland were Jewish? I have no idea. But that’s not really the relevant fact.
Yes, I am well aware of the anti-Semites who use the fact that some percentage Jews were notorious Communists in order to justify blood libel against all Jews. That is reprehensible. But the way that many speak about Poles–as mobs thirsty for Jewish blood, from whom the Jews had to flee–is no less reprehensible.
Look, if the Jews really had to leave Poland to get away from the Polish monsters, they could have moved to the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in the Soviet Union. They didn’t. They moved to Israel. Why? Because they felt an affinity for that land, and because there were already many, many Jews living there. It was already just as much a Jewish state as it was an Arab one.
Why is it ridiculous to suggest that they should go back to Poland now? Not because the Poles are thirsty for Jewish blood and would kill them all if the Jews went back. The reason is quite simple: Jews they have every right to stay where they are. That’s where most of them were born, have lived all their lives.
There were many, many large-scale population movements after the war, in Europe, and in the Middle East. Why single out the Jews?



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TTT

posted June 11, 2010 at 1:55 pm


Fact is most shetl Jews heartily detested the people in whose country they lived
And for those thoughts, they deserved to be killed.
Likewise, “Polish jokes” naturally have moral equivalence with the acts of mass-murder described in this thread.
Your logic is clear, Stari: under no circumstances whatsoever may any minority ever, ever, ever, ever have the slightest ungracious thought or attitude towards the majority. If they do, they should be murdered at once and it will be their own fault.



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Dan O.

posted June 11, 2010 at 1:57 pm


This thread is now ugly. Of course, this evidence is all just grist for Rod’s mill. It shows why the Jews could not have gone home, and why they probably could not even now.
It’s not every day you see moral reasoning as primitive as the old canard that a woman wearing a miniskirt is asking to be raped. But there we had it, twice.



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TTT

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:06 pm


As for the “Nittel Nacht,” yes, this is all playing out according to the usual script. Oh no–the Jews are sitting indoors paying their bills, sewing, playing geography games, and ripping up pieces of toilet paper! SEE, THEY COMMIT A HOLOCAUST TOO, BUT WORSE!



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Alicia

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:08 pm


Mick, you said:
“I wonder do you empathize with the Palestinians at all and see them as the bullied? Or are Jews(Israel) the ones you have empathy for?”
I agree with everything Franklin Evans said in his reply. But, I’d just like to add, that for someone who believes in a two-state solution, I feel the Palestinians threw away their best chance for peace with two hands when Arafat rejected that peace process in 2000 and threw his support behind the Second Intifada instead. After watching this slow motion disaster unfold for years, I concluded that the Palestinians are their own worst enemies, and so it is hard for me to have much sympathy, except for the many innocent lives that are harmed because of the intransigence of Hamas in Gaza and some at least of the West Bank leaders.
Lately, I’ve started to feel that the Israelis are also their own worst enemies, which makes it hard for me to feel much sympathy for them, either, at least for their current government, except for the innocent lives that are harmed by those religious Zionists who believe in returning to a greater Israel that never actually existed (the Bible is a religious text, not a history book, and thus not a blueprint for conquest except in the hands of religious fanatics and lunatics) and who support continuous expansion of the settlements.
It should also be noted that Hamas bullies Palestinians in Gaza who do not adhere to their strict Islamist standards, and that includes secular Palestinians and Christians.
Funny how so much of this seems to come down to religious fanaticism.



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Jim

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:15 pm


Like Rombald, I find this kind of argument difficult to follow. Why does it follow that Jews will be more secure if they have their own State? The history of the area doesn’t bode well for security and stability. Jerusalem was twice destroyed by the Romans, subsequently conquered by Arabs, invaded during the Crusades, and at one point was a British Protectorate; and this is just a light sampling of the tides of conquest in the area. I just don’t see that history supports the idea of a stable homeland for the Jews in this area.
From a larger perspective, all nations are unsafe and unstable, they will all pass away. To think otherwise is to turn the State into a kind of idol. There is only one source of eternal stability and one doesn’t find it among the nations of the Earth.
Sincerely,
Jim



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AC

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:22 pm


Jim,
The argument is that in the last 2000 years, Jews have been the victims of violence on a large scale while living as minorities in countries where Jews had very little political power (between the Khazar Empire in the 10th century and the formation of Israel, I believe there were NO nations that were majority Jewish). Therefore, if they are the majority and have most/all of the political power in a nation, they will be able to protect themselves with police, military, etc.



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Denis

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:34 pm


More about the bloodthirsty Poles, from whom the Jews had to be rescued:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rescue_of_Jews_by_Poles_during_the_Holocaust



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Mick

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:34 pm


Franklin Evans and Alicia, thank you for your responses, my intent was not to derail the topic, but I now see that it could be interpreted that way. I was just wondering about people’s emotional responses to the issue. It is a VERY emotional issue and I should have worded my question more precisely and more delicately. Thank you for your insightful replies.



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AC

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:36 pm


Denis, I don’t think anyone is arguing that the Poles are terrible people who long to kill Jewish children.



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Alicia

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:42 pm


Thanks, Mick. I didn’t mean to derail the topic either, but realize that I did go a bit OT in my comments.



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Franklin Evans

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:46 pm


Mick, you’re very welcome. Precision is to be lauded, but as for delicate, don’t sweat it. No matter how you try to cover the bases, someone is going to find something at which to be offended. I already felt that your question was both legitimate and important, and I wasn’t lecturing you (and do please keep an eye on me, I have that tendency… sorta like this post, eh?) so much as pointing out to others that we didn’t need to go down that rocky path.



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Denis

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:48 pm


AC,
Actually, that was precisely the argument with which this discussion began: Jews can’t go back to Poland because angry Polish mobs would kill them. That was RD’s point in bringing up Jedwabne, etc., in response to Thomas.
Thomas is a fool, and it’s absurd and insulting to suggest that Israeli Jews whould “go back to Poland”, but that has nothing to do with alleged Polish anti-Semitism.



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AC

posted June 11, 2010 at 2:52 pm


Denis,
The argument was that Jews couldn’t go back to Poland shortly after WWII (and, as you said earlier, they have a home now, so why leave it?). Though, from what I’ve read, something like a third of Poles nowadays (according to polling- an inexact science, of course) hold anti-semitic views. This is far better than in the 80s, when it was a majority.



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Dan O.

posted June 11, 2010 at 3:00 pm


“If the Jews really had to leave Poland to get away from the Polish monsters, they could have moved to the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in the Soviet Union. They didn’t. They moved to Israel. Why? Because they felt an affinity for that land, and because there were already many, many Jews living there.”
Alternative explanation: To take *anything*, even a freezing patch of desolate marshland, from Stalin was to forever be at his mercy.
The benefit of this explanation, besides being true, is that it shows how Poles and Jews might agree.



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AnotherBeliever

posted June 11, 2010 at 3:07 pm


I agree with you, Rod, that the mob is a tendency that lies at the very center of all of our so-called civilization. Every people everywhere is capable of it. We are no exceptions.
But I’m not at all convinced that Israel IS a safe place for Jews or anyone else for that matter. Not in the long term – you can’t hold a nation-state together forever regardless of your neighbors, and Israel has some choice ones, demographically and ideologically. The question of the Palestinians remains unsettled and I can’t help but remember that Langston Hughes quote, “What happens to a dream deferred?”
I’m not even sure Israel’s a safe place now. How safe can you be in a country where every man and woman HAS to serve in the Armed Forces for several years just to muster a big enough force for self defense and limited offensive operations? How safe is a country where the residents of Ashkalon and several other border towns face regular rocket barrages? I’ve experienced rocket barrages, and cannot fathom raising my children somewhere where such a thing was not uncommon.
How long can it hold? I’d really like to visit there and see and experience it for myself, though I don’t pretend that a brief trip would give anyone any clear answers.



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AnotherBeliever

posted June 11, 2010 at 3:28 pm


Dan O. I like your differentiation question. Is Israel an essentially Jewish state, or a Jewish protectorate? Makes one think…



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Denis

posted June 11, 2010 at 4:14 pm


AC said: “The argument was that Jews couldn’t go back to Poland shortly after WWII”
Since Poland was occupied by the Soviets after the War, it was even less safe for Poles than it was for Jews. There were plenty of Kielces after the war in Poland, but in most of them the Poles were victims. On average, you were safer being a Jew in post-WWII Poland than you were being a Catholic Pole. In fact, security apparatus of the state was particularly keen to punish “anti-semitism”, usually phantom, and most often code for being a Catholic. Real cases of anti-Jewish violence, like Kielce, were followed with swift and harsh reprisals. Arguably, Jews were safer in Communist Poland than they were in Israel.
All the same, if I were a Jew in post-WWII Poland, I would have gone to Israel, because I would have felt more at home there, in spite of the dangers. European Jews finally had a window of opportunity to return to the land of their ancestors, and it was understandeable that they should want to seize it, in spite of the risks.
Again, Israeli Jews are but one example of the mass migrations that occurred in the 20th century, and many of the others should be more controversial. For example, there are many, many Russians now living in Lithuania. They are children and grandchildren of Russians brought in to replace the Lithuanians who had been shipped to camps in Siberia. Most of those deported Lithuanians died under horrible circumstances, comparable to those of the Nazi death camps.
Should the Russians who now live in Lithuania go back to Russia, because of that tragic Litnuanian past? Absolutely not! They are not responsible for what Stalin’s police did to the Lithuanian population. But, according to Thomas’s logic, Lithuania’s Russians should be sent packing ASAP.



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AC

posted June 11, 2010 at 4:24 pm


“And, BTW, the comparison with African Americans is just foolish. Jews were not slaves in pre-WWII Poland. On the contrary, they were a privileged group.”
This is wrong in at least two ways. How were they a privileged group (in pre-WWII Poland), when thousands were killed in pogroms and smaller incidents, and political parties actively portrayed the Jews as evil and dangerous?
And slavery? Millions of Jews were enslaved in the Holocaust, many in Poland, and most were murdered. The point was that American Jews disproportionately supported the Civil Rights movement in the 60s, because many had experienced a similar type of violent discrimination in Europe, or were more intimately acquainted with such discrimination than average Americans.



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Richard Chonak

posted June 11, 2010 at 6:02 pm


For the record: although Gross’ account is correct in its outlines, it may contain some mistakes that unjustly blacken the memory of the gentile “neighbors” in Jedwabne and Radzilow.
A few years after Gross’ book was published, an investigation by the Polish official Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) modified some details to the events as Gross had found them.
IPN estimated that the killers were about 40 gentile Poles; it found that dozens of Gestapo and of German police were in the town; also, the number killed was smaller than Gross reported: 340 vs. 1,600.
These details tend to diminish the suggestion that the Catholic community of the town as a whole turned on their Jewish neighbors and did so without German influence.
While I don’t claim any competence to evaluate the historical issues, it is worth nothing that some of Gross’ claims have been disputed.
But in any case, thank you for drawing attention to this tragic crime.
More details of the controversy, with footnotes, are at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedwabne_pogrom#IPN_investigation
A summary of the public prosecutor’s report (2002) is at:
http://books.google.com/books?id=a_49GjK8ovMC&pg=PA344&dq=Jedwabne+ipn+michlic&ei=UOk6SJ-qJIe0yQTN75jMDw&sig=tcQw_D1mXAxsYixvXJFcjBwEI4U#v=onepage&q&f=false



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Jon

posted June 11, 2010 at 6:33 pm


Geoff,
My point was not that Canada is some Shangri-la where never a bigot hath vented his spleen. Only that there is no history of anti-Semitic violence in the country, at least no more so than in the US.



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caroline

posted June 11, 2010 at 7:06 pm


Rod, are you familiar witht the work of Rene Girard. ?



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Indy

posted June 12, 2010 at 8:03 am


Difficult issues. I know we Americans like moral clarity but some of this is complicated, especially in Europe where terrible things happened in countries under the control both of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, before, during, and after World War II.
Scott Lahti, I don’t read all your postings so I don’t know if you are a conservative, a liberal or a moderate. (One need not be a conservative to be a gun owner, I know people who own guns who vote Democratic.) You err tactically in writing that you will obliterate anyone who opposes your particular stand, starting here in the comboxes. That’s not the way we roll here at Rod’s blog. Aside from the fact that the U.S. is a small d democratic nation, where people can and are permitted to take various stands in a public forum, some in opposition to each other, Rod’s blog encourages discourse, not verbal annihilation. The issue you mentioned is one that has been handled in different ways by different country (the U.S. and the United Kingdom, for example). How people view it depends sometimes on whether they live in rural or urban areas and to some extent too by geographic region. Regardless, they’re free to disagree, that’s a bedrock principle of speech in the U.S.
I myself am somewhat ambivalent on the subject of weapons so I listen to both sides, call me persuadable. However, I do think some conservatives hurt and weaken themselves in these discussions, unnecessarily. That’s why people such as Stephen Ducat, author of The Wimp Factor: Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity, write the books that they do.
http://www.amazon.com/Wimp-Factor-Politics-Anxious-Masculinity/dp/0807043443
Whether one agrees with Dr. Ducat’s thesis or not (I think he overdoes it in writing about dudedom), there’s no point in giving him more to laugh at. Not all conservatives are Ducat bait. Contrast Dreher, Wehner, Brooks, Gerson with some of those guys struggling over at National Review. Again, I have no idea whether you’re a conservative or not. If you’re not, you may be unfamiliar with some of the sites that I just mentioned and the mistakes some conservatives make in advocacy. But if you examine some of the pundits I just mentioned, like the rest of us readers here, you’ll be able to pick out who among them is Ducat bait and who is not.



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stari_momak

posted June 12, 2010 at 2:57 pm


Nowhere did I say that Jews ‘deserve’ to get killed. But Jews are hardly the only other ‘middle man’ minority that have faced persecution, expulsion, and murder. Overseas Chinese among the Malay, South Asians in Africa. And of course the slow motion violence, murder and ‘encouragement’ to leave experienced by both Afrikaaners and English-speaking whites in South Africa. This is a regular, predictible, and when it comes down to it understandable (not justifiable, but understandable).
As someone correctly points out, this makes a case for Israel. And I believe that. I wouldn’t be too upset if the Israeli’s expelled their entire Arab population, and pushed the Palestinians out of the West Bank. That’s the morality of group survival, group self-determination.
I do, however, object to Xians, largely fundamentalist, that take Israeli’s side against some of the oldest Christians populations in the world, namely Arab Xians (of whom Helen Thomas is one). I do have an objection to a man who, while his nominal country was at war, chose to serve in an ‘adjunct’ to the Israeli military but was allowed to not only return to the US, but was placed in high position. I do have an objection to heavily Jewish groups like the ACLU and ADL aiding (if not initiating) attacks on any shred of Christianity being manifested the public square — not because I am a practicing Xian but because Christianity is a major historical root of American culture.



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Roger

posted June 12, 2010 at 4:51 pm


Charles Comisano – the mob that General Bonaparte dispersed with his whiff of grapeshot on 13 Vendémiaire were actually Royalists – and he did it to save the Republican Directoire who were at leas in a sense the heirs of the Jacobins and the Terror.
So you couldn’t possibly have chosen a less aposite historical example.



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Roger

posted June 12, 2010 at 5:16 pm


This whole argument also ignores the fact that a majority of modern Israeli Jews are not from Poland at all but are from the Sephardic diaspora in the Middle East and North Africa or more recent immigrants from Russia – many of whom are barely Jewish at all.
Ironically while at least today it would be difficult to imagine Jewish immigrants to Poland falling victim to pogroms and they might even be officially welcomed for their skills and investment, the Sephardim would be literally insane to return to Iraq or Iran or even Lebanon (unless in the latter case they were behind the wheel of a Merkava tank).
The violent expulsion of the Sephardim from the Muslim world is the true untold story and the growing demographic and political dominance of their descendants in Israel is the most important root of their growing intransigence.



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Scott Lahti

posted June 13, 2010 at 5:25 am


Indy: Scott Lahti, I don’t read all your postings
Not the least of your virtues. To do otherwise is to set to blazing the bonfire of your sanities.
so I don’t know if you are a conservative, a liberal or a moderate.
I am, like Leszek Kolakowski and Daniel Bell, a conservative-liberal socialist; a cultural historian immersed in the lowest of today’s lowbrow; a fading star of stand-up tragedy; a mid-Reagan essayist for NR whose back-of-the-book efforts were between-the-lines double agents for the left; a grim-lipped militant nihilist in service to the laughter of the innocent; a New Critic after Bob Dylan in echoing his deflection of demands to define his politics programmatically with the reply, “It’s all there in the music.”
(One need not be a conservative to be a gun owner, I know people who own guns who vote Democratic.)
I know Republicans who, in speaking to me, are utterly disarmed.
You err tactically in writing that you will obliterate anyone who opposes your particular stand, starting here in the comboxes.
I bullseyed strategically in provoking that.
That’s not the way we roll here at Rod’s blog.
You rock. I’ll get back to you after reviewing my three years commenting at Rodblog 1.0, as a Crunchy Con carny and, as here, its resident Ezra Pound.
Aside from the fact that the U.S. is a small d democratic nation, where people can and are permitted to take various stands in a public forum, some in opposition to each other, Rod’s blog encourages discourse, not verbal annihilation.
Rod’s blog is above all else my food, my foil, and my straight woman. When she assumes human and adult form, her ring finger is mine, assuming sh’s still straight.
The issue you mentioned is one that has been handled in different ways by different country (the U.S. and the United Kingdom, for example).
That the UK has effectively disarmed the innocent and amplified the murderous is written all over the face of its collective constabulary.
How people view it depends sometimes on whether they live in rural or urban areas and to some extent too by geographic region.
Your right to defend your life with lethal force depends upon your ZIP code, density of population, and distance from the nearest interchange on I-95.
Regardless, they’re free to disagree, that’s a bedrock principle of speech in the U.S.
Forty-eight years on, and still I learn new Fun Facts to Know and Tell, after the old Wrigley feature in the Sunday comics, About the Constitution.
I myself am somewhat ambivalent on the subject of weapons so I listen to both sides, call me persuadable.
Two wolves and a sheep “debated” the merits of the film Who’s Becoming Our Dinner?
However, I do think some conservatives hurt and weaken themselves in these discussions, unnecessarily.
They acknowledge the existence of their critics.
That’s why people such as Stephen Ducat, author of The Wimp Factor: Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity, write the books that they do.
In which armchair psychosocial probings of motive do duty for empirical analysis of the daylit case before the court.
Whether one agrees with Dr. Ducat’s thesis or not (I think he overdoes it in writing about dudedom),
No one can dudedom like you, Dude. “Let the small head rock her.” – Great White. “No smaller than the one on your shoulders, dude.” – Robert Christgau.
there’s no point in giving him more to laugh at. Not all conservatives are Ducat bait.
No, just the ones Ducat dragged in.
Contrast Dreher, Wehner, Brooks, Gerson with some of those guys struggling over at National Review.
I’m torn between producing my play about my onetime venue as tragedy or farce: Herr Marx, please pick up the red courtesy sickle, and watch your ears.
Again, I have no idea whether you’re a conservative or not.
Only when the room is empty of conservatives, and filled instead with those who hate them.
If you’re not, you may be unfamiliar with some of the sites that I just mentioned and the mistakes some conservatives make in advocacy.
I should live so long, and pray nightly for the sainthood that is my due after the self-torture entailed.
But if you examine some of the pundits I just mentioned, like the rest of us readers here, you’ll be able to pick out who among them is Ducat bait and who is not.
Like Goethe, let them all be buried in the ducal crypt at Weimar, where democrats and Republics alike go to die…



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Indy

posted June 13, 2010 at 8:54 am


Scott Lahti, well, whatever. We’re just ordinary dudes talking here, it’s not as if any of us, you and I included, are running political campaigns or trying to get people to vote for politicians who represent a particular viewpoint on anything. Or reaching out to a significant readership as political advocates. Fortunately, given our amateur status, we’re all incapable of seriously harming or helping the Big Dudes, the people who make decisions that do affect our country. We vote, we debate among our small friendship circles, and that’s fine. No one calls on us for help with advocacy, we’re not pros at that.
If this were the Daily Kos or National Review site, or Olberman’s show or Limbaugh’s, and you were content provider for any of those sites, I’d spend more time debating how not to weaken or undermine one’s side. There the flaws and foibles in advocacy matter, just a little. (I personally think all those guys way overestimate their influence, given the fact that most voters are moderates and aren’t needy in terms of yearning for pundit-dads to tell them what to think.) At Rod’s site, we’re just people yakking. Interesting to observe who’s a good advocate and who is not, but inconsequential in the long run since political advocacy has no part in our day jobs.



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Indy

posted June 13, 2010 at 9:05 am


Wait, Scott Lahti, re-read your response to me after posting just now. Did you say you once wrote for NR? Seriously? When? I must have missed that. Print or online? Must have been print if you mentioned Reagan. I occasionally read it in the past but haven’t taken it seriously for a long time now, it’s gone downhill in my view. Too much of the writing drips with anxiety, with the resulting bluster to mask it, for my taste. All that chatter at The Corner about 24 — a teevee show — a year or two ago? Eyerolling. I like confidence, not arrogance, at the NR blog confidence doesn’t show in most of the writing. The writers don’t sound as if they have practical experience in the managerial world, which may explain why everything seems pitched to the adoring choir and misses the mark with the rest of us. Too dispiriting to watch the posturing that masks what is missing, posturing which tells readers, “I got nothin.’” I much prefer Dreher, Wehner on some issues, Gerson, and Brooks. Thoughtful guys, sometimes even unfraid in what they tackle.



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Scott Lahti

posted June 13, 2010 at 9:30 am


I personally think all those guys way overestimate their influence, given the fact that most voters are moderates and aren’t needy in terms of yearning for pundit-dads to tell them what to think.) At Rod’s site, we’re just people yakking. Interesting to observe who’s a good advocate and who is not, but inconsequential in the long run since political advocacy has no part in our day jobs.
An echo of the stirring final lines of my comment from 9:03 pm, June 3, 2010, in the thread “Tradition, faux and true.” Encomia higher can scarce be imagined.
Wait, Scott Lahti, re-read your response to me after posting just now. Did you say you once wrote for NR? Seriously? When? I must have missed that. Print or online? Must have been print if you mentioned Reagan.
July 26, 1985, December 31, 1986.



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Indy

posted June 13, 2010 at 11:22 am


Thanks, I appreciate the response. Mid-1980s, huh? Yeah, NR might have been worth reading back then. I looked at it from time to time during the 1990s but largely abandoned it after The Corner came to be the web face of National Review.
I actually think conservatism has some worthwhile bedrock principles. But it has been terribly served by its advocates of late. Why? Too many of them approach public discourse from the premise, “we don’t belong at the table here in America.” Once you do that, voters like me start wondering if you’re going to melt down in the face of a mob. Or punish people who aren’t like you. You might say, “no way, conservatives speak from the heart of America.” In the real world many do. In punditry, rarely. Think about how genuinely confident dudes act – the ones who are at ease with their place in America — and think about people you know who are posturing or anxious. Very few conservative pundits project the former, too many project the latter.
I don’t think it used to be that way, although I haven’t studied conservatism closely. I have read biographies of Ronald Reagan, Whittaker Chambers and people of that ilk. I read about Republicans and Democrats alike, I’m interested in leadership, management of diverse people in a workforce, how to get people to put their trust in you. Right now, for all their association in the public mind with the business world and production, conservative pundits largely have lost sight of the fact that to be a player, you have to understand victories and losses. And strategize accordingly.
Can’t put my finger on it. But in recent years, something happened that led too many conservative pundits to start relying way too heavily on blame games, on painting conservatives (in the public sphere and among voters) as victims. The over emphasize on “elites.” The whole “MSM” thing. The refusal to criticize weak links or missteps on their own side. What I call the “yes, but” syndrome, where any question about one’s side is deflected with “Yes, but look at what x, y or z are doing or did.” I don’t want people who primarily view themselves as victims taking charge of anything, I’m leery of giving them power. Especially in these troubled times.
In the business world, you don’t blame your customers and your competitors if your product isn’t selling (although you do keep an eye on competitors’ tactics and moves). Facing adversity? You gather your team and brainstorm about why the public isn’t buying and how you need to tweak the product. It’s all about improvement, improvement, improvement. (Something which I never saw at The Corner when I still looked in on it.) You even abandon lines that don’t sell. You don’t scream that it is the fault of anyone, everyone, but yourself. The guys at NR/The Corner don’t get that.
Thanks again for responding, interesting.



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Scott Lahti

posted June 13, 2010 at 2:15 pm


You leave me with so few grounds for dispute that I am forced, in defiance of my default position in these precincts of defiance, to default on the loan of satire granted me by the most jealous of gods in declaring myself jealous in turn, of the loss of my prerogative in mocking those you have so ably diagnosed above. You may omit to bow, as your audience of one prepares to do likewise in a Platonic inversion of the old Pee Wee Herman taunt: You know I am, but what are you?



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Josh Musgrove

posted April 14, 2014 at 12:04 am


Let that nigger to continue to hang in Dallas!



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