There was a time when even Jews made a distinction between “cultivated” Westjuden or Jeckes and the less cultivated Ostjuden. From this German Wikipedia entry (which I translated into English using Google, my efforts in high school in German being scarcely better than my failure in Latin):
The complementary term Ostjuden and Westjuden (also: Polacken and Jeckes) was first coined in 1900 by the Jewish journalist Nathan Birnbaum, who thus characterized two social profiles within European Jewry that were shaped by the different living conditions in East and West.
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The distinction between Western and Eastern Jews traditionally refers less to the different geographical origins than to the socio-cultural, religious and linguistic differences between Ashkenazim in Western and Eastern Europe, and above all to the more advanced western assimilation, urbanization and abandonment of (Western) Yiddish Language or its adaptation to the German standard language, to the ghettoization and way of life of the Shtetl, the adherence to the Halacha and the preservation of developed in contact with Slavic languages (East) Yiddish language, which were considered typical of Eastern European Jewry.
In the course of the strong westward migration of Eastern European Jews since the 1880s and the associated social conflicts and problems, the described differences were seen as “East-European” backwardness from a “Western Jewish” point of view, while advocates of Eastern European Judaism are characterized by their cultural independence from the appropriateness and self-sacrifice Western European Jews emphasized. The stereotypes in this inner-Jewish conflict with regard to the Eastern Jews were then further developed in the anti-Semitic propaganda of the Weimar Republic in Germany and the First Republic in Austria as well as under National Socialism and reinterpreted as the idea that in the “Ostjuden” that “inferiority “Manifest in a particularly obvious and unveiled form that marks the” Jewish race “as such in its entirety.
“Allowing the immigration to take place in Europe is a shame,” Trump said. “I think it changed the fabric of Europe and, unless you act very quickly, it’s never going to be what it was and I don’t mean that in a positive way.
“So I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad,” he continued. “I think you are losing your culture. Look around. You go through certain areas that didn’t exist ten or 15 years ago.”
Rather than call out Trump’s bigotry for what it is, Prime Minister Theresa May today pulled her punches on any criticism of Trump’s remarks. When asked whether she agreed that “immigration has damaged the cultural fabric of Europe?” she blandly replied:
The U.K. has a proud history of welcoming people who flee persecution or want to contribute to our economy and society. Over the years, immigration has been good for the U.K. What is important is we have control of our borders and a set of rules to determine who comes into our country.
We know that Republicans in this country won’t challenge Trump on his bigotry. One would think (hope?) that Europeans who have seen this sort of thing at closer range would step up to the plate. Perhaps that’s too much to ask. After all, it was a Jew who first drew a distinction between himself, cultured and sophisticated, and those “lesser” Jews who resisted assimilation.
To cheer you up from a news diet of Trump, a chart from IEEFA of new generating plants in India:
Coal fell off a cliff two years ago. The coal additions in 2017-18 (India uses an April-to-April fiscal year inherited from the Raj) were only 4.2 GW. Coal Plant Tracker still reports 39 GW of coal under construction (with 97 GW suspended and a staggering 476 GW cancelled since 2010), but it’s very likely that much of this is walking dead. IEEFA predicts the real pipeline is 10-20 GW, after which no more will (I infer) ever be needed.
You don’t often see turning points advertised in neon like this. India has had since 2003 a modern split electricity market as in the UK and Texas, with a monopoly national grid, monopoly state distribution companies, and competitive generation. So you got a coal bubble, and a coal crash – far more dramatic than in dirigiste China or quasi-socialist USA. It’s pretty certain that the owners of the few plants coming online are not happy bunnies, and their shiny new assets are born lossmakers. India has large surplus capacity (the power cuts come from the rickety grid), so the average coal capacity factor is below 60% and heading down. New solar can beat existing coal on price by 20%, so it’s only going to get worse.
Indian banks have up to $38 bn of bad loans to power companies (Merrill Lynch). Modi’s government is business-friendly to the point of cronyism, so some sort of bailout will be arranged. It is even more voting-farmer-friendly, so the bailout will not be perfect. Gautam Adani will remain a rich man, but not as rich as he is today.
I have been reflecting on two traditional habits of our media that have become not only dysfunctional but actively destructive. First, reporting on Trump as though he is a basically serious person. The press is, slowly, getting better about nailing Trump for lying, and using the word. Old habits die hard, and the habit of treating the discourse of a US president as being considerable, and assuming conventional links among utterance, belief, and intention is one of those. But it’s not working, because those links are broken in Trump’s case.
When someone says something, in any serious context, we take the utterance as some sort of forecast of behavior. “Drive me around in my car and I’ll pay you $X” is a commitment, maybe enforceable in court; “I love you” uttered by anyone not a complete cad isn’t as firm an assurance of future behavior, but normal people take it as at least not meaning “I don’t care about you” or “Actually I love someone else”, and normal people say it, or don’t, knowing that. People can change their minds, but the general rule applies, especially for public figures and leaders: what you say is and is seen to be predictive of your future behavior. A colleague of mine said what it means to a Jew to be Bar Mitzvah is that you are now responsible to what you say.
Accordingly, presidential discourse has always been reportable as spoken: data that is predictive (not perfectly) of consequential actions. However flacks and commentators spin it, we have taken presidents’ words as considerable. It’s time to stop what has become a mechanistic charade: we have a president whose speech, whether about values, beliefs, or promised action, only predicts his behavior accidentally. He reneges on flat commitments like promises to give to veterans’ causes, to invest in infrastructure, and ‘deals’ like the one last fall about immigration. He is relentlessly, doggedly ignorant about absolutely everything, so his statements of fact are not even hopes and wishes, but short-run chum for his most hateful base, whatever he thinks a rally audience wants to hear. When Trump’s rallies, tweets, and press events are broadcast the way a normal president’s events used to be, and when his environmental policies are presented as though the fact assertions they rest on are on this side of the line between knowledge and witchcraft, they are flatly misrepresented. “Trump said X today” is simply not the same kind of report as it would be regarding the utterance of a responsible adult; tradition is a poor guide now. “Trump said X” means “the last person (or rally crowd) who flattered Trump in his presence, or his latest instructions from Putin, told him to say X” and little more.
Imran Khan is a cricket player who has gone into philanthropy and then politics in Pakistan, and until now is the leading candidate for prime minister in the upcoming elections (despite a #metoo problem a decade old). He has, however, committed blasphemy, which is a very big deal in Pakistan, so it will be interesting to see how events unfold.
Khan’s offense is to claim, implicitly but incontrovertibly , that the teachings of Mohammed are so unpersuasive, and his person so unprepossessing, that Islam needs the protection of a murderous regime of capital punishment and vigilante justice. This regime is a matter of national law (article 295c of the constitution), and Khan just came out in support of it. The killing is not only judicial: in Pakistan, people are also lynched if they say something a tinpot local vigilante, or just a small-time religious nut, or for that matter a guy who thinks you looked at his sister funny, wish to view as disrespectful to the prophet, and the body count is not trivial. Along the way, this savagery devalues all professions of genuine faith, as who can tell whether they are sincere or just fearful?
Remarkable in the extreme that a national figure can show such disrespect for the prophet, adherents, and doctrines of his own faith, especially as Islam has a pretty good record (independently of episodes of conversion by the sword), attracting adherents by teaching and preaching its intrinsic merits, over 14 centuries. It’s hard to imagine a more abject surrender of the high ground than “actually, I got nothin’ but this gun to shoot you with.” I have no special case for Khan either way, but I hope he at least survives this suicidal episode.
It always does; never perfectly but well enough to teach us something. At the end of The Lord of the Rings (the book, but not the movie), the evil wizard Saruman and his nasty, slinking sidekick Wormtongue
Cohen arrive in the hobbits’ peaceable shire and spread ruin, fear, and mistrust. Along the way they cut down trees, destroying nature, and try to make an industrial wasteland out of it. Eventually they are overcome, and in a final squabble resulting from Saruman disrespecting Wormtongue and betraying him to the hobbits, Wormtongue kills Saruman.
For some reason I am remembering this episode lately.
Simon Sobeloff is a revered historic figure in the Baltimore Jewish community, most particularly within the legal community. The state-wide Jewish law society is even named after him. In addition to stints in private practice, Sobeloff held a variety of significant public posts: Deputy Baltimore City Solicitor, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, U.S. Solicitor General, and, ultimately, judge and then Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Since he died right before I began law school, I did not have the opportunity to meet him or to hear him speak. However, I am aware of two incidents in his life which have relevance today.
The first occurred in 1930. Maryland Senator Goldsborough recommended to the U.S. Attorney General that Sobeloff be appointed as the U.S. Attorney to replace the incumbent who was leaving to become the Federal Director of Prohibition. While there was wide support for Sobeloff among the leaders of the Bar, the junior federal judge, William C. Coleman, declared his opposition. He refused to state his reasons publicly, remarking only that he opposed the candidate along “general lines.” In a letter to the Attorney General, he stated the specific grounds for his objection. He believed it inappropriate for a Jew to hold the office of District Attorney because the “job called for a person of some social standing, otherwise he could not attract the right kind of assistants,” and besides, there were so many Jewish bootleggers in Baltimore, that he thought it “unwise to appoint a Jew.” See here.
Coleman was saying about Sobeloff then pretty much what Donald Trump said in 2016 about Federal District Judge Gonzalo Curiel: Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the litigation given that he is “of Mexican heritage” and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association. (Actually, not exactly what Trump was saying: Coleman claimed that Sobeloff would be biased in favor of his co-religionists. Trump’s position was that Curiel would be biased against him because of, well, Trump’s demagoguery directed against persons of Mexican heritage.)
In 1944, Coleman blocked the petitions for naturalization brought by five individuals who were refugees from Germany. The following facts are drawn from the opinion in the case brought in the Fourth Circuit by Sobeloff, then in private practice, on behalf of these individuals to force Coleman to grant their petitions. See Schwab v. Coleman, 145 F.2d 672 (1944).
All five individuals were natives of Germany who left that country after Hitler came to power. Coleman:
refused to pass upon their applications and continued the hearings thereon because of a policy which he has adopted not to grant citizenship during the war to German enemy aliens who have left Germany since the beginning of the Nazi regime, except in the case of members of our armed forces.
The individuals were:
[A] Rabbi of a Hebrew Synagogue in Baltimore. Two of the others [were] a noted ophthalmologist, attached to the Wilmer Clinic of Johns Hopkins Hospital, and his wife. Another is a woman whose father [was] dead, whose mother [was] in a German concentration camp, who [had] no relatives in foreign military service, who [had] three cousins in the armed forces of the United States and who [desired] citizenship in order that she herself [could] join the Women’s Army Corps. The remaining applicant [was] a trained nurse, the wife of an officer in the United States Army.
In a written opinion, Coleman gave as a reason for refusing to allow naturalization the concept that:
unless it can be ascertained beyond all serious doubt that [their] attachment [to the United States] is complete and not divided, then, in time of war, it is best to postpone final action in cases of those who are nationals of a country with which we are at war, until the war is ended.
Needless to say, the Court of Appeals was flabbergasted. While it did not actually issue the writ of mandamus, it gave Judge Coleman a gentlemanly hint:
[W]e are of opinion that Judge Coleman should proceed forthwith to pass upon the petitions for naturalization and that petitioners are entitled to the writ of mandamus prayed. It is clear, however, that the learned judge has refused to act upon the petitions merely because of an erroneous view of the law applicable; and we assume that it will not be necessary that the writ of mandamus actually issue requiring him to act, now that this court has passed upon the questions of law involved. Order will accordingly be entered that petitioners are entitled to the writ but the writ will not issue until further order.
Judge Coleman took the hint and allowed the naturalizations to proceed.
Of course, blatant discrimination by a bigoted judge was not the only impediment faced by those seeking asylum in this country. There was also resistance in the executive branch to those seeking asylum. Just this week we learned that:
Attempts by Anne Frank’s father to escape the Nazis in Europe and travel to the United States were complicated by tight American restrictions on immigration at the time, one of a series of roadblocks that narrowed the Frank family’s options and thrust them into hiding.
Yet, today, we again have an administration imposing tight restrictions on those seeking asylum. The Attorney General has issued a ruling making it difficult for those facing brutal domestic violence to find asylum here. The Justice Department has announced that, in order to observe a court order limiting the period of time that minor children could be interned separately from their families, it would henceforth simply intern entire families. And, of course, we have the President of the United States, now supported by the Supreme Court, inveighing against, well, against anyone who can be viewed, as Jews were in 1944, as “the Other.”
In 2016, Jews voted overwhelmingly against Donald Trump. I do not doubt that their personal memories of bigotry and demagoguery directed against them, their parents, or their grandparents was a significant factor.
I would hope that a few of them, at least, may have cast their vote because they recalled the example of Simon Sobeloff.
This evening, Judge Dolly M. Gee of the U.S.D.C. C.D.Cal. held that there was no basis to amend a longstanding court decision that forces the government to avoid holding migrant children for longer than 20 days, turning aside the motion made by the Justice Department and referenced above.
Everything I’ve learned about crime over 40 years, in 60 minutes.
It’s a mix of theoretical principles and practical suggestions.
“We massively over-punish
and haven’t gotten much in the way of results.
That doesn’t prove that punishment doesn’t work.
It just means we’re doing it wrong.”
Talk starts about 4 minutes in.
A great gathering, with about 60,000 people. We who oppose mistreating immigrants are mainstream America. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Sports are peculiar institutions. The rules of the games have to come from somewhere and big network externalities encourage everyone to follow them. But the competitive/collaborative associations of profit-making enterprises (teams), players, and leagues have to improvise their governance, often across international legal jurisdictions, and it doesn’t always work right.
Rules sometimes change, for good or ill. Tennis players used to be obliged to wear white; now anything goes. Technology keeps motor racing and sailing rules in flux. Baseball tried to increase scoring and home runs for fan appeal by (ill-conceived) ideas like lowering the pitcher’s mound and the designated hitter, and (better) ideas like speeding up the game by limiting mound visits. The three-point field goal changed basketball so historical statistics are hard to compare to today’s, but the game is no worse for it, in my inexpert view actually better. Games with tradition properly have a big flywheel on rule changes, but (i) making the games more fun to watch, (ii) player safety, and, importantly, (iii) high correlation between playing better and winning, are legitimate grounds for tuneups and innovation. [On (ii); college football was substantially revamped a century ago because players were getting killed, and the implications of what we’re learning about concussion risk in football and soccer are still unfolding.]
Now, soccer (outside the US, football). For people who might want to watch the World Cup matches, here is a quick guide, soccer for dummies: twenty players kick a ball down a large field with lots of passing and possession changes, and many one-to-one duels; eventually one player kicks the ball over, or to the side of the goal (or doesn’t), and everyone runs the other way. Repeat this sequence to the point of stupefaction…except that once during the game (typically) the ball goes in one of the nets. If it’s not a complete mismatch, this occurs when some cosmic roulette ball lands on a secret number, and has nothing to do with the quality of play overall.
Today, Russia 1-1 Spain, wins by one penalty kick. Croatia 1-1 Denmark, ditto. Four hours of actual play could not establish any team’s superiority on the day by scoring, and all the marbles went to coin-flips (do I jump left or right? Could we just play scissors/paper/rock instead?) each between 0.9% of each team.
The World Cup results to now are full of 1-0 games and ties. There’s even a famous song (1919) about a 1-0 game https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLAh6-nxtk4 . What we have here is an athletically and strategically excellent, pure, simple, game, played and loved by millions–ruined for serious competition (including medium-to-high-level amateur play) by not enough scoring, a deficiency that could be easily remedied by adding about a yard (maybe two) to the width of the goal.
Fixing this can’t be a matter of evolution or coaching, and confronts a minor installed-base problem (all the physical goals all over the world needing to be replaced or modified) plus the aforementioned flywheel (“we’ve always done it this way, all our skills are based on the current goal, etc.”). It also requires a functional governance structure, and what that would be for a game played from tot to geezer levels, in dozens of countries, with a multi-billion-dollar pro business is very hard to see. The Swedes switched from left-side to right-side driving, but Sweden is a country with one government. Maybe the fix could start with US colleges, which at least have an NCAA; maybe one of the European leagues could take the plunge. It doesn’t put existing soccer skills at risk of obsolescence, and it would sure improve the game; how you play for an hour and a half ought to have something to do with whether you win. [minor edits and corrections 1/VII/18]