Better to remain silent and be thought a fool …

So John Kasich – remember, he’s supposed to be the sane Republican – is getting the horse-laugh for trying to teach Torah to a bunch of haredi Yeshiva students in Borough Park. (The term “goy-splaining” has been used.) I have to say that I’m a little bit distressed.

Now, it’s not that Kasich didn’t make  himself look like a complete doofus. (Watch for yourself, if you can stand it. It’s really rather painful.)  What I don’t like is that this is getting played as “Non-Jew lectures Jews about the Old Testament,” as if the goyim didn’t have an equal claim to that text.

It seems to me that Kasich should be criticized not for crossing an ethnic boundary, but for lecturing experts on their field of expertise, as if he’d gone to CalTech and explained quantum theory to the physics grad students. He also ought to be knocked for displaying a frightening level of confidence in ill-formed judgments (e.g., about the relative significance of Abraham and Moses) and a degree of Biblical ignorance that raises questions about the adequacy of his Christian education.

Of course you wouldn’t expect any of the people making fun of Kasich to understand that yeshiva students know a lot of Talmud, but don’t actually spend much time reading and arguing about the Tanakh. Still, they do probably know the story of Joseph.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

13 thoughts on “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool …”

    1. Wouldn't that have put them on the high road to Mecca? Unless they went past the Red Sea first.

  1. Telling the Hasidim at a matzo factory all about the blood of Jesus was pretty cool too.

  2. Speaking of it being better to remain silent… Lecturing the other party on who their *sane* candidates are, when you're running the Last Stalinist and a woman who needs to be elected President so she can pardon herself?

    1. They have no sane candidates. The Republican Party is institutionally insane.

      And Sanders is no Stalinist. And Hilary is wildly unlikely to even be indicted, even for the murder of Vince Foster.

      1. It's a little-known fact that Stalin killed all those people by fixing them cups of herbal tea and talking them to death.

      2. Byomtov, there is at least as much basis for calling Sanders a Stalinist, as there is for claiming the GOP is insane.

        Raised by Stalinists. Honeymooned in the USSR. Praised Castro *after* he'd revealed himself to be a murderous tyrant. The Kibbutz he stayed at was Sha’ar Ha’amakim, which was run by, yes, Stalinists. Geeze, the guy is even willing to come out and publicly state that one of the problems with the US is that we have too many brands of deodorant.

        You've got a candidate, he'd even get the nomination if the process weren't rigged to coronate the felon, who thinks having a *choice of deodorants* causes poverty, and you've got the nerve to point the insanity finger at the other party? Really?

        1. You believe Sanders will establish gulags in Alaska, and fill them with political opponents, real or imagined, after show trials?

          Insanity? Yes. Repeal Obamacare 65 times or whatever it is. Pass idiotic bathroom bills. Cut taxes as the solution to any and all economic problems. Establish the bible as the state book. Let the US default on its obligations because they don't even understand what the debt ceiling is. Go on the gold standard. Claim thousands of scientists worldwide are deliberately falsifying data in a giant conspiracy. Outlaw dildos. Establish a hereditary tax-free aristocracy in the US. Rely on people like David Barton for advice. Pass laws that set up huge obstacles to women seeking abortions and then tell a lot of lies about your concern for women's health. Pass laws that do nothing but suppress minority votes using a non-existent problem as justification. Claim that the most important thing Congress can do is refuse to pass anything proposed by Obama, regardless of merit.

          Some of it's insane. The rest is stupid and dishonest and scummy.

          1. No, it would mess up the place before he returns it, no charge, to Russia.

            Seriously, Bernie has at least two admitted heroes who said whatever they had to in order to get power, and then ruled as iron fisted tyrants, crushing the idiots who believed him. So I don't see why anything he says now, while he's trying to gain power, should be taken seriously.

            But, still. Obsessed with too many choices of deodorants. And you think he's the sane candidate.

          2. "The" sane candidate? No. I think he and Hillary are both vastly saner than Trump and Cruz.

            You don't believe everything Sanders says? Congratulations. You've figured out that he's a politician.

            And speaking of "no charge" it's Cruz who – seriously – wants to hand over federal territory to the states. I guess he finds the Bundys persuasive.

  3. Yeshiva students may spend most of their time with the Talmud, but I am reasonably confident that their early education involves some quite intensive reading of the Torah (narrowly defined as the Pentateuch).

  4. I thought he was cute. I think his audience thought so to, they looked amused rather than insulted.

    He over-ate in one borough, over talked in another. I eagerly await what he will do in Staten Island.

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