Trying to make sense of a meshuga planet

Michael Gerson on antisemitism

An excellent op-ed piece on this difficult subject links together a few important themes: antisemitism as a historical phenomenon, denial & hate in the age of internet, etc. A few excerpts, the emphasis is mine:

Why the Jews? by Michael Gerson (Wash Post)

That day, out of curiosity, I did something I rarely do. I read the comments on my column on a number of Web sites that publish it. In addition to the normal political vituperation, the level of anti-Jewish feeling was appalling. The European genocide, some contended, was exaggerated by Jews for political purposes. Jews were behind the Bolshevik Revolution, the rise of Hitler and the outbreak of World War II. They control the newspapers, radio, television and book publishing. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is right to expose the Holocaust myth, they wrote, and Israel is perpetrating the real holocaust against the Palestinians.

The Internet has helped to create communities of malice.

The anti-Semitic community is varied in background and ideology. It includes both Internet Nazis and campus leftists carrying signs that read, "Jews = Nazis." The Rev. Jeremiah Wright recently blamed "them Jews" for blocking his access to President Obama. A conservative Web site recently included a forum on Holocaust denial (before it was exposed and removed). One posting read: "The same blinded people that believe that the Germans intentionally killed Jews — also believe the myth of the Anne Frank Diary."

But these ideas are not harmless, because they can inspire an angry, obsessed bigot who sets out on a June morning to kill Jews — and murders an African American man who had a wife and young son.

The durability of anti-Semitism is a horrifying marvel of history. Sara Bloomfield, the director of the Holocaust Museum, observes: "Anti-Semitism has existed with and without Christianity. With and without the right wing. With and without the left wing. With and without democracy. With and without economic problems. With and without globalization. With and without a Jewish homeland."

David Berger, the editor of "History and Hate," writes, "We shall never fully understand anti-Semitism. Deep-rooted, complex, endlessly persistent, constantly changing yet remaining the same, it is a phenomenon that stands at the intersection of history, sociology, economics, political science, religion and psychology."

But we do know that anti-Semitism has always been a kind of test — a reliable measure of a nation’s moral and social health. When the rights of Jews are violated, all human rights are insecure. When Jews and Jewish institutions are targeted, all minorities have reason for fear. And by this standard, America has cause for introspection.

Not far from where von Brunn entered the museum, there is a black wall inscribed with a quotation: "All men are created equal . . . they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights . . . among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

This is what anti-Semitism ultimately must deny, and this is the reason anti-Semitism must always and everywhere be confronted.


Deborah E. Lipstadt was there in the USHMM when the shooting took place: Commentary: Witness to history and horror (CNN)

Jeffrey Goldberg’s insightful one-liner: Rev. Wright Clarifies:

He meant "Zionists," not "Jews," he sez. In other words, he regrets speaking plainly instead of deploying a euphemism.


June 12, 2009 Posted by | Anti-Semitism, Antisemitism | , | Leave a comment

Chain-letter calls for internet polls

It seems that we are being inundated again with “important” invitations to “vote” on some little known websites. These chain-letters are making rounds. It may feel good at the moment, but before being sucked in, consider this: at best, these “polls” are a waste of time, at worst they may be harmful.

1. Such websites are often attacked by hacker activists. Even without hackery, the numbers are meaningless because one person can vote a number of times from a number of computers, which are easy to find these days. One thing to keep in mind is that these websites are interested solely in popularity and have no reason to care for accuracy.

2. Even if the numbers were correct, they affect nothing. Do we really need internet polls to know that we have a lot of enemies?

3. Be careful where you click. Here’s one recent example: Online Fraudsters Prey Upon the Media and Public Interest in Current Events to Launch “Cease-Fire Trojan Attack”

So, what to do?
Instead of venting, it is much more effective to write to media editors and public officials

May 4, 2009 Posted by | Security threats | , | Leave a comment

Globalized pathologies

Our Reprimitivized Future by Mark Steyn

As my colleague Andrew McCarthy wrote, “Civilization is not an evolution of mankind but the imposition of human good on human evil. It is not a historical inevitability. It is a battle that has to be fought every day, because evil doesn’t recede willingly before the wheels of progress.” Very true. Somalia, Iran, and North Korea are all less “civilized” than they were a couple of generations ago. And yet in one sense they have made undeniable progress: They have globalized their pathologies. Somali pirates seize vessels the size of aircraft carriers flying the ensigns of the great powers. Iranian proxies run Gaza and much of Lebanon. North Korea’s impoverished prison state provides nuclear technology to Damascus and Tehran. Unlovely as it is, Pyongyang nevertheless has friends on the Security Council. Powerful states protect one-man psycho states. One-man psycho states provide delivery systems to apocalyptic ideological states. Apocalyptic ideological states fund non-state actors around the world. And in Somalia and elsewhere non-state actors are constrained only by their ever increasing capabilities.

Most wealthy nations lack the means to defend themselves. Those few that do, lack the will. Meanwhile, basket-case jurisdictions send out ever-bolder freelance marauders to prey on the civilized world with impunity. Don’t be surprised if “the civilized world” shrivels and retreats in the face of state-of-the-art reprimitivization. From piracy to nukes to the limp response of the hyperpower, this is not a “distraction” but a portent of the future.

The emphasis is mine. While reading the article, I remembered a video “Shift Happens” – unrelated, but also about the future of globalization:

and this seems to be an update:

Makes you think.

April 15, 2009 Posted by | Globalization, Security threats | , , | Leave a comment

Power grid attack: a real scare or a movie plot?

On top of the current U.S. domestic troubles (economy/finances/real estate/job market/environment/health care/social security, etc) and the international situation looking increasingly serious, what else could possibly go bad?

Bruce Schneier discusses the latest scare: U.S. Power Grid Hacked, Everyone Panic!

Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system…The spies came from China, Russia and other countries… The intruders haven’t sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.

This reminds me another recent one: Deadly Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons Going Portable

Are these threats real, or our society is becoming increasingly paranoid? Maybe it’s just a coping mechanism during hard times… In any case, “follow the money” is always a good principle. As Schneier puts it:

I don’t know what’s going on; maybe it’s just budget season and someone is jockeying for a bigger slice.

April 9, 2009 Posted by | Security threats, US | , , | Leave a comment