Sunday, February 27, 2005

A symptom of the sickness 

In last week's (20 February) Sunday Star-Times (New Zealand's leading Sunday newspaper), published a piece featuring the Bush-Hitler comparisons that have become so common recently among the unthinking "intellectuals" of the left. As I have noted before, it is legitimate to disagree with Bush, his policies, and think he is a flawed individual, and not the best candidate for the US Presidency. But -- comparing him to the genocidal maniac who wiped out a third of the Jewish people, established the most vicious police state the world has ever known, and started a war that killed 80 million people with W is beyond crazy.

But a sorry individual by the name of Nicholas Woods, from Auckland,has decided to go a step further: he thinks the comparison is unfair... to Hitler.

What could be more depressing than this?

The Sunday Star-Times honoured it as letter of the week, and Mr Woods won a Parker pen for his troubles.

In his criticism of George W Bush, Steve Meikle made the hackneyed and tiresome comparison of the American president with Adolf Hitler. A brief examination of the personalities and careers of the two leaders exposes how ridiculous such a comparison is.

One was a self-made man who came from relatively humble origins to become the most powerful man of his era. The other was born into a famous political dynasty which included millionaire businessmen, a senator, and of course a president.

As a young man, one fought for his country, and in the process won the Iron Cross, and received a citation that spoke of his conspicuous bravery. The other provided only token service, thousands of kilometres away from combat. Even then, he appears to have been AWOL for much of the time.

One had a brilliant command of his native language, the other appears to have considerable difficulty composing a sentence in his own language. One was a voracious reader, the other prides himself on the fact that he doesn't even read newspapers.

Clearly a comparison of the two men is palpably unfair, but unfair to whom?

Mr Woods is a sick puppy. But who can be surprised when the media coddle these types?

A new political lexicon 

Sorry, again, for being too busy to care about the people who have made me what I am: the blog-reading public.

More serious posts are on their way (and I will endeavour to get my even lazier blog partners to awake from their slumber).

Anyway, for now, a cute email that has been doing the rounds --

1. Capitalist:
A. Someone who owns capital, and thus would include almost all American workers, who own capital through their pension funds.
B. Someone who understands that capitalism is the only system on earth that can produce wealth or reduce poverty.

2. Liberal:
Before 1960, someone who believes in individual freedom, economic freedom, and opposes discrimination. Since 1970, someone who opposes individual freedom, opposes economic freedom, and supports discrimination.

3. Marxist:
A. An extremely rare form of psychosis and personality disorder.
B. Something someone claims to be to make their Mommy mad.

4. Fidelista: a terminal case of #3.

5. Socialist:
A. Someone who refuses to study economics.
B. Someone practicing recreational compassion.

6. Conservative: see "liberal" for before 1960.

7. Jew - someone born to a Jewish mother or who converted to Judaism.

8. Self-hating Jew: A Jew who supports Arab terrorism and wants Israel destroyed

9. Christian: someone following the teachings of Christ.

10. Zionist: A Jew who is not a self-hating Jew.

11. Anti-Zionist: an Anti-Semite

12. Deconstructionist: a twit with nothing of value to say about anything

13. Progressive: shallow politically-correct liberals and leftists

14. Post-modernist: a Deconstructionist without all that depth in understanding

15. Multiculturalist: someone pretending to be interested in other cultures, as long as no one asks him or her to study a foreign language

16. Humanist: a human speciesist

17. Reconstructionist: see "Deconstructionist"

18. Empowered: a meaningless word PC leftists use to make themselves feel deep.

19. Feminist:
A. Before 1970, someone who wants equality of opportunity for the
B. After 1970, someone who opposes equality of opportunity for the

20. Palestinian self-determination: the destruction of Israel and its

21. Democrat: see "liberal".

22. Moderate Republican: see "Democrat".

23. Caring: what liberals claim to be to make themselves feel good.

24. Egalitarian: someone who opposes equality of opportunity.

25 White: an American person with light complexion generally possessing a
mix of Caucasian, American Indian, and other racial ancestors.

26. Black: an American person with dark complexion generally possessing
a mix of black, Caucasian, American Indian, and other racial ancestors.

27. Hispanic:
A. Anyone speaking Spanish except someone from Spain.
B. Anyone the racist bureaucrats in Washington decide arbitrarily is Hispanic.

28. Asian: someone whose ancestors do not come from Asia west of the Himalaya mountains.

29. Afrocentric: someone who hates white people.

30. Eurocentric: a meaningless adjective attached by PC leftists to everything they do not like.

31. Freedom of speech: something PC leftists want promoted through censorship and speech codes.

32. The media: an Old Boys Club for liberals.

33. Affirmative action: a form of apartheid.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

A modern day auto da fe: Zootorah vs the Haredi establishment 

Rabbi Natan Slifkin is an English educator and zoologist. He is the author of a series of books fusing science, Torah (ie the entire corpus of biblical and rabbinic texts), and the animal kingdom. He is done some fascinating work identifying different species with the traditions as to whether they are kosher or not, and has set up an educational program (read about it at the website www.zootorah.org).

Recently, however, his books received some negative publicity. In his books, R' Slifkin makes reference to different theories for accommodating scientific accounts of biology and evolution with traditional Jewish beliefs of creation; he also notes that the sages of the Talmud did not have perfect scientific knowledge, and made some mistakes in their categorisation of animals (for instance, the opinion that lice are not born from eggs, but generate spontaneously from sweat). He based himself on strong foundations: Maimonides, Nahmandies, R' Hai Gaon, R' Shimshon Rafael Hirsh among others. Yet now, it seems, ultra-Orthodox Judaism will not accept any explanations that are not in line with the most simpistic biblical literalism, and dogmatic faith in the infallibility of the sages.

A large group of "gedolim" (leading sages) have condemned his books in the strongest terms, accusing this pious, learned Jew of the utmost heresy. Indirectly, they condemn as heretics all those who, following the lead of many learned rabbis, accept the insights of empirical science, while staying faithful and true to Torah.

Yet it wasn't like this: a thousand years ago, Maimonides could speculate on the Aristotelean concept of a permanently existing world; Nahmanides could talk of days of creation that weren't 24 hours; sages conceived of hominids existing before Adam. Yet the process of enlightenment seems to have gone backwards!

Opinions that were well within normative Judaism in those days would be condemned as heresy today.

This is a departure from the questioning nature of the Jewish heritage. This is what might be expected from fundamentalist Islam -- it is deeply saddening that this is happening in the Orthodox Jewish world.

(for a good discussion of this topic, go to the wonderful Hirhurim weblog, in the links section to your left).

Borat's scariness exceeds his funniness 

Again, apologies for going the best part of a month without blogging: I intend to make up for it. I have a lot of material...

Anyway, our controversial Kazakh friend Borat went to the "Serengeti ranch" to see what hunting is like in America. The proprietor proceeded to reminisce about how it used to be possible to hunt black people in Africa, and how he'd like to do the same to Jews. Scary. View here.

But, I wonder: if there is so much anti-semitism in heartland America, why it has not manifested itself in a serious anti-Israel movement, like it has in Europe.

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