Protest march, sponsored by the Jewish Voices for Peace and the Muslim Education Center. Morton Grove, Illinois.
Thoreau was not the only Yankee to be shocked by the naked imperialism of the Mexican War. The Unitarian pastor and abolitionist Edmund Sears wrote the great hymn It came upon the midnight clear in December 1849. I wonâ€™t say it’s my favourite carol â€“ Mary MacDonald gets my vote for her gem-like Celtic lullaby â€“ because, being an inhibited Brit, I am embarrassed to shed tears in public.
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world hath suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.
As a Unitarian, Sears was unconvinced by the paradoxical orthodox view that the redemption has strangely already happened, in the birth, life and legacy of Jesus of Nazareth, and in spite of his failure, martyrdom, and systematic betrayals by his followers up to our own time. Sears places his hope, as much as any Orthodox rabbi, in a remote eschatological future:
For now the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.
But what if we are looking for a more immediate hope today? Savagery continues in Iraq and Syria, the Arctic melts, and another Herod moves into the White House to prepare a larger rerun of the massacre of the innocents, to the complacent plaudits of conservative Pharisees?
I give you an unlikely gold-bearing Mage in the form of investment bankers Lazards. They have been surveying levelized US electricity generating costs for years, and have just published the 10th version. It’s a fat report, but this is the key chart. (Sorry for the poor resolution, go to the report link for a better image.)
All three kindof rock. I like Al Jolson’s the best. But Johnny Mathis is pretty great, too. Plus Mathis has the best acting. Best to all my friends and families for an easy and reflective holiday. I always find the caffeine deprivation the most difficult part.
Over my career as a public commentator, I have always gotten the occasional anti-Semitic email. That was particularly if I wrote about abortion, (rarely) Israel, or some other hot-button issue. When the Journolist scandal broke, I got an especially high volume of hate-mail that focused on my name, appearance, and heritage. Of course I often get rough messages from people who disagree with me in the thrust and parry of presidential politics and the politics of health reform.It wasn’t always pleasant. It comes with the territory.
None of this prepared me for 2016.
I and many others who write for fairly broad audiences are being deluged with antisemitic messages from Trump supporters. They come mostly on Twitter, but on private emails and blogs, too. Many alt-right messages bracket our names like so: (((haroldpollack))), to indicate that we are Jewish. A message from this morning is one of the milder and more printable ones:
I’ve lost count of such missives, and many worse ones. Many include four-letter words and colorful vocabulary that is quite familiar to me from my experience working on public health interventions for high-risk adolescents and adults. I block everyone who sends me these messages. For all I know, there are hundreds more.
Then there was the long rambling email that recently landed in my box, whose highlights include:
….The 1960s feminism were led by jewish Marxists (Betty Freidan, mentally ill Gloria Steinem). Porn and the sexual revolution and anti-American propaganda came directly from the jews in Hollywood and media….
Every single detrimental social movement in the US came from utopian jewish Marxists.
Joe McCarthy and the House Unamerican Committee was absolutely correct. Most of the jewish community should have been shot or imprisoned…
I THINK YOU SHOULD BE [SHOT] AND KILLED BUT THATS JUST AN OPINION NOT A THREAT….
I don’t generally share such missives. Why give hateful and sick people a larger platform? Besides, every commentator with a vaguely Jewish-sounding name is getting the same stuff. This isn’t exactly newsworthy. Yet if you’re not in the public eye, you should know this is going on.
In a strange way, I’m almost–almost–glad that these anti-Semitic messages are out there. They remind many of us on the receiving end of a few basic realities that hang over our contested, pluralist democracy. They should remind us of what many others are facing, who have so very much more to lose if our nation jumps off the political cliff this November.
This weekendâ€™s film recommendation, Alejandro AmenÃ¡barâ€™s Agora, is one of those films thatâ€™s so hard to sell to people that Iâ€™ve never successfully persuaded a friend to sink two hours into it. This is a terrible shame, because itâ€™s a wonderful film. Continue Reading…
Good catch by Ben Mathis-Lilley at SLATE:
One of the most effective pieces of oratory at the Democratic National Convention was delivered Thursday night by Khizr Khan, a Pakistan-born immigrant whose son Humayun was killed in Iraq in 2004. (Humayun Khan, an Army captain, was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.) Khan’s speechâ€”which directly condemned Republican nominee Donald Trumpâ€”took place just after 9 p.m. and was aired in its entirety on CNN and MSNBC. As you can see above, Fox News made a different programming choice.
Watch it below. The Pravda-like mission of FOX news continues to impress.
A few months ago, 70,000 Muslim clerics issued a fatwa against ISIS. All very well and good, great to see, important to notice, etc.
But whenever violence is justified by appeal to religion (regardless of which religion it is, see Baruch Goldstein), adherents of that religion have to take proactive steps to ensure that beliefs leading to violence are being rooted out. So here is one that I would be interested in discussing with these 70,000 imams:
How do you interpret Qu’ran 4:34?
That verse describes relations between husbands and wives, and in some interpretations allows husbands to beat their wives. Other interpretations suggest that men are superior to women. And yet other interpretations reject all violence or any suggestion of gender inequality. What do these imams think about that?
Now, one might wonder what that has to do with anything: this fatwa concerned ISIS and Al-Qaeda, not gender. But I believe that the two are linked. In male-dominated traditional societies, women can stand in for the ultimate Other, that which must be controlled and dominated. Hyper-masculinism means great propensity to violence, or as a professor of mine once put it, “when it comes to violent crime, women are just not doing their fair share.” The one thing that virtually all terrorists have in common is not their religion, or their culture, or their class background, but rather their sex.
Put another way, Islamic terror will not cease until women in the Umma are empowered and equal. And this applies to all terror. It may not be a sufficient condition — Communist China early on adopted formal norms of gender equality and Maoist rule might have been the most brutal of the 20th century, which is saying a lot — but it is a necessary one. For my own faith, it is surely no accident that the religious settlers who have committed the worst terror against Palestinians are also the ones who hold the most retrograde views on gender.
So while it is great that we hear condemnations of terrorism from imams, my follow up question is: how are you personally, in your practice and in your work, fighting for gender equality with Islam? What do you tell your followers about Qu’ran 4:34? Because if that answer is a shrug of the shoulders, or an uncomprehending stare, it isn’t good enough.
I was spurred to pick this Weekendâ€™s Film Recommendation by a recent trip to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, which, if you haven’t been, is an exceedingly difficult place to describe. PerhapsÂ youâ€™re built to tolerate the humidity and the sweat that sticks to your neck no matter how fervently you waft the glossy brochure they hand you at the Visitor Centre. If you are, you’ll notice sooner than I did that there arenâ€™t actually any walls surrounding the facility. 6,300 inmates are divided among innumerable clusters, each of which houses anywhere from a dozen to many hundreds of people, scattered across the prisonâ€™s 18,000 acre territory. But aside from the barbed fence surrounding those small clusters, the entire facility has no perimeter fence, no high wall, no barbed wire. â€œYou donâ€™t need â€˜em,â€ the guard informs you, â€œwhen the bushes are filled with animals thatâ€™ll get the job done.â€ Continue Reading…
Sam Wang gives Hillary Clinton a poll-based 70% probability of becoming US President, if the election were held tomorrow, and not after another six months of public exhibition of the ignorance, bigotry, vulgarity and vanity of Donald Trump. Ban Ki-Moon has picked Christina Figueres’ successor to lead the next round of UN climate negotiations: the even tougher Patricia Espinosa of Mexico. The Monstrous Regiment of Women is doing pretty well in many places.
Not everywhere, and especially not in the Vatican. Here is a sobering tale from the Sistine Chapel. Continue Reading…
Like a gentile Curb Your Enthusiasm episode.