Link Farm and Open Thread, Walking Woman edition (UPDATE: COMMENTS NOW OPEN!)

OOPS! I originally posted this with comments turned off (not sure how that happened). It’s been fixed now. Thanks to everyone who contacted us to let us know! –Amp

(Picture of Dutch “walk” sign, from Spacing Toronto, via Bean.)

Post what you like, as long as you like, with whomever you like. Self-linking (or any kind of linking) is splendoriferick.

  1. Should we be in a war (or whatever you call it) in Afghanistan? Eric Martin thinks it’s a futile and destructive effort (and I tend to agree), but fairly quotes an intelligent case for the war, as well.
  2. The case for the singular “they”
  3. Israel has agreed to a temporary settlement freeze, which is a great start. I worry about if they’ll really go through with it, but David correctly cautions against making the perfect the enemy of the good.
  4. Press Release: Company Denies its Robots Feed On The Dead
  5. Obama sucks department: There is an independent watchdog over TARP, and the Obama adminstration is working hard at undercutting him, if not shutting him up entirely. Apparently, Obama thinks that actual accountability for big finance is a bad thing.
  6. It would take a long book to describe everything horrifying about Arizona Sheriff Arpaio’s racist police state policies, but Womanist Musings scratches the vile surface, as does this Shakesville post. This post at Feministe is also worth reading. The Unapologetic Mexican has a video of the results of Arpaio’s immigration raids. Arpaio also associates with neo-nazis. And his office has been accused of laxness in investigating rape cases.
  7. Ann at Feministing comments on what I find most frightening about Sheriff Arpaio: His popularity. “Arpaio is popular because he’s hateful. He racially profiles Latinos, his ratings go up. He divides families and goes out of his way to deport peaceful people who are just here to make a living, his ratings go up. He treats jail inmates — some of whom have not even been convicted of a crime — as subhuman, his ratings go up. He sort of functions as a conduit for the worst impulses in our society.”
  8. Pharmacy Refuses To Fill Trans Woman’s Prescription
  9. Isn’t it funny how all powerful women in politics get slammed for having an abrasive personal style? “Doesn’t everyone know that politics is a business in which the only people who get ahead are soft-spoken sweethearts like Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer?”
  10. Jews censoring chilling the speech of Jews department: The controversy over a documentary about Rachel Corrie being shown at a Jewish film festival, as well as over whether or not Cindy Corrie (Rachel’s mother) should be allowed to speak: “this woman has no business attending and speaking at a Jewish event like the film festival.” Disgusting.
  11. On being white and using the N-word.
  12. The court-appointed attorney came to visit. He noted that the household was “comfortable and physically safe for the infant” and the child “seemed to be doing well.” And he filed a motion to order the Department of Health and Human resources to remove her “from physical placement in homosexual home.” (via.)
  13. Probably you’ve already seen the dancing wedding processional video, but if not, and you want to see something adorable… (Via).
  14. Really interesting blog post about rape jokes, and the five ways the author sees of responding to them. (Via).
  15. This John Stewart bit making fun of “birthers” — people who believe, contrary to a mountain of evidence, that President Obama wasn’t born in the USA — really cracked me up.
  16. Does the way we compensate cops make it too difficult to fire or discipline them?
  17. My friend Dylan is selling some swell stickers, to correct the poor punctuation that is all too common in advertisments. Are these stickers really needed? Yes.
  18. Three Myths About the Consumer Financial Product Agency. I know it sounds boring. But if you’re sick of getting bilked by credit cards and banks hiding their gouging rules in six pages of ultra-fine print, then this is an issue you should be paying attention to.
  19. The Swiftboating of Human Rights Watch. But they criticized Israel, so they must deserve it.
  20. Let’s not pretend that taxes on the very very rich are somehow the same as taxes on middle America.”
  21. The grid of shadows created by the new roof of the Great Court of the British Museum is breathtaking. (Via).
  22. Margaret Cho: “And I think that it’s time to take into our own hands this power and to say, “You know what – I’m beautiful – I just am. And that’s my light – I’m just a beautiful woman.” And I am just going to start talking about how beautiful I am, and people will start talking about it after I start talking it.” More at Pursuit of Harpyness.
  23. An analysis of where we’ve seen the trailer for “Whip It” before. (And yet, I’ll probably watch it — it looks like the sort of familiar teen crap that I sometimes enjoy.)
  24. In this study, the participants (psychology students no less), were given a booklet explaining how cognitive biases work that described eight of the most common ones. They were then asked to rate how susceptible they were to each of the biases and then how susceptible the ‘average American’ was. Each rated themselves as less affected by biases than other people, instantly causing an irony loop in the fabric of space and time.” (Via.)
  25. Neat photo gallery of what’s in people’s fridges (thanks Bean).
  26. God does deliver justice, but only on a small scale:

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27 Responses to Link Farm and Open Thread, Walking Woman edition (UPDATE: COMMENTS NOW OPEN!)

  1. 1
    FilthyGrandeur says:

    my analysis of China Mieville’s The City & The City is finally finished. Heavy spoiler warning–if you’re reading it or planning to, don’t read this yet, as I do give away a lot.

    Looking for…: in which I address the accusation that I’m looking too much into something.

    in case you’re under a rock, check out the Simon’s Cat videos

    LOL you’re a feminist: in which I address being ridiculed for my feminism…

  2. 2
    David Schraub says:

    @10: Who is the Jew being censored? The Corries aren’t Jewish, and the documentary was shown. Apparently, pro-Israel commentators at the event were booed and shouted down by International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network attendees, but I don’t think that’s quite what you have mind.

    See also.

  3. 3
    PG says:

    @2 — doesn’t even seem to consider s/he as an option. Same number of characters for tweets, avoids any confusion that one is referring to a plural.

    @10 –

    David, an *actual attempt* to prevent Jews from having even a non-Jew speak would still constitute “censoring Jews.” One’s choice of speaker is itself expressive, and if some Jews chose the non-Jewish Mrs. Corrie, an *actual attempt* to censor her from speaking would constitute censorship of those Jews’ expression as manifested in their choice of speaker.

    However, is the J Weekly *not* supposed to voice their own opinion about the wisdom of Mrs. Corrie’s speaking at the festival? It’s going a bit far to accuse someone of censoring you when that person merely says, “I think that’s a very bad idea.” Indeed, to tell an editorialist that he is “disgusting” for voicing such an opinion seems a bit hypocritical — are you now a censor? Or perhaps we shouldn’t yell “Censorship” every time someone criticizes our expressive activities.

    @11 — I don’t think this is peculiar to being white; I would hope it’s something that anyone who doesn’t have “nigger” used against her would think about it. But I have experienced that nice white liberals, who haven’t had much experience actually thinking about racism other than “It’s bad and WE don’t do it,” get sort of goosed by hearing someone use the “n-word.” I remember when I made a new friend, a couple months after James Byrd was murdered by being dragged to death behind a truck, and she hadn’t really heard about this (I think she was out of the country, or in an area where the story wasn’t covered much; I went to high school with Byrd’s kids) and I was telling her what I knew about it. At some point I was describing something about the murderers and why this would be charged as a hate crime, and quoting one of the defendants who was trying to plead out by turning evidence on the ringleader, and I quoted that defendant’s quote (double hearsay!) of the ringleader referring to Byrd as a “nigger.” Since I was trying to be accurate with the quote, I said the word “nigger” rather than “n-word.” My friend, a young white woman, sort of flinched and looked around us, I guess to make sure no one overheard, and frowned at me. She knew from the context of the conversation that I was quoting someone else, and not because I agreed with that person, but she still had an automatic “you mustn’t say that” reaction to hearing the word.

    And I guess non-black PoC don’t have exactly the same experiences described in the linked post, because our whiteness is relative and situational. About affirmative action, Asian people often will be treated like they’re white, or even super white (“You Asians have it even *worse*, if we look at proportional representation in colleges and universities, because you’re already *disproportionately over-represented* so you should be even angrier about this!”). But I’ve never in person heard someone use the n-word to describe a black person. Racist Asians don’t seem to have picked it up much (there’s plenty of ways and tones to use the word “black” in one’s ethnic language to communicate racist sentiment to people who speak that language, without having it picked up by any nice white liberals whose good opinion one wants to keep), and white people seem to have figured out that for this purpose, Asians aren’t to be treated like they’re white, perhaps because we’d look at someone who says “nigger” about a black person and think, “This person is going to call me Slant Eyes or Dot Head as soon as I do something he doesn’t like.”

  4. 4
    Sailorman says:

    I read the link at #19 with interest. I encourage you to also read the threads on volokh.com, which are written, I believe, by one of the authors of the Wall Street Journal article.

    here’s a link to various stuff.
    http://volokh.com/posts/chain_1247622550.shtml

  5. 5
    PG says:

    I find Bernstein to be one of the least useful members of the Volokh Conspiracy, and am particularly doubtful of any subject where he is the *only* Conspirator posting (given that Eugene Volokh and several others are Jewish, Zionist and are vocally opposed to anti-Semitism), so I’m kind of with Whitson: why didn’t Bernstein call HRW to check his facts instead of relying wholly on information from the very regime that he says makes it impossible to ethically fundraise in Saudi Arabia?

  6. 6
    FurryCatHerder says:

    I dunno — that photo looks more like Robin Hood crossing the street. Knee-high boots, tights, jacket, hat with feather in top.

    Definitely Robin Hood.

  7. 7
    Ampersand says:

    David approvingly links (here and on his blog) to this post on Ignoblus. Here is the response I’ve left in the comments there.

    1) The comments were accidentally off; that’s been fixed now.

    2) It’s a little bit odd to claim that “every time I’ve come across the name Rachel Corrie, it’s been about how evil I, personally, am,” while simultaneously linking to an blog post which mentions the name Rachel Corrie without saying a word about how evil, personally, you are.

    I’m confident that you could look at every example of my mentioning Rachel Corrie on “Alas” without once finding me calling “to denounce Jews who support Israel’s existence,” incidentally. Let alone saying how evil, personally, you are.

    3) I select links for the “link farm” posts gradually over the course of a week, and I don’t think the screening had yet taken place at the time I put in that link (or if it had, I definitely didn’t know about it — actually, I only read about that a few minutes ago). Hence my not including that info.

    I do think it’s horrible that pro-Israel speakers were booed at the event. Not because it appears they were censored, but because it’s bad for discourse.

    (BTW, I have to admit my use of the word “censoring” was over-the-top and exaggerated).

    4) Your attack on muzzlewatch and Jewish Voice for Peace is even less conductive to dialog than booing a speaker you disagree with.

    As usual, people accuse Jews who defend Palestinian rights of supporting anti-Semitism, and in your case you compare them to Nazis.

    [Muzzlewatch] is specifically about the issue of criticism of Israel being either censored or subject to silencing pressure. Given the blog’s mandate, it’s unfair to complain that it doesn’t talk about genuine instances of antisemitism.

  8. 8
    XauriEL says:

    I put post up responding to and analyzing a piece on Salon Open that unthinkingly parrots a lot of the standard MRA ‘discrimination against men OMG’ line.

  9. 9
    FurryCatHerder says:

    In re #8 –

    What the short-enough-to-be-a-tweet description completely misses is that the pharmacy would apparently be completely happy filling a prescription for a trans man, because, you know, they are really … women.

    Flipping through the blog Amp referenced for #8, I found this little bit of passing-privilege fueled angst. I have a feeling that any woman who can walk into a high street lingerie store without causing a commotion could also walk into Lu’s and explain why she needs her estrogen refilled after that very unfortunate hysterectomy. Yes, passing privilege can be ugly and hypocritical, too.

  10. 10
    David Schraub says:

    I think it is absurd to say than an analytical, substantive post attacking Muzzlewatch is “less conductive to dialog than booing a speaker you disagree with” (or, in the case we’re dealing with, yelling at him to “get off the stage, you’re not welcome here.”). You can disagree with Matt’s analysis, of course, but it rather clearly contributes to a dialogue in a way that the antics at the screening do not. Or perhaps the exchange “you call yourself a doctor?” “yeah, doctor death!” from the audience displays the sort of cutting engagement that will enlighten us all.

    I also think it is ridiculous to shield Muzzlewatch from critical analysis of how it treats anti-Semitism. MW thinks that anti-Semitism is (sometimes? occasionally? often?) used to stifle (“muzzle”) legitimate discussion of the Israel/Palestine conflict. Presumably, though, it recognizes that sometimes anti-Semitism really is part of the discussion, and does not advocate for including it. That means it’s entire operation is premised off of making critical evaluations of what sorts of activities are anti-Semitic (and should be discouraged) and what sorts are permissible (and are being muzzled when they are called anti-Semitism). That’s a legitimate, indeed necessary, endeavor, but to say we can’t say it is drawing those borders wrong, even dramatically wrong, is to entirely insulate Muzzlewatch from any criticism at all.

    Finally, Matt’s post had nothing to do with MW’s stance on Palestinian rights — as you said, MW focuses not on that topic but on the range of permissible discourse on the I/P conflict, which was Matt’s target too. Matt’s argument was that MW’s attempt to label critique of a foundation as anti-Semitic was silencing and in keeping with extremely vibrant views on the proper role of Jews in public discourse. This is a classic Livingstone (or cleansing) move. Matt’s problem with MW isn’t that it is too “pro-Palestinian” in whatever sense, it’s that it is too quick to tar Jewish voices which have (in his view) legitimate claims of anti-Semitic activity. But because MW is probably “pro-Palestinian” in some normal sense of the word, it gets a shield against “pro-Israel” critics attacking not their stance on Palestine, but their stance on the scope of anti-Semitism — obviously not a wholly unrelated topic, but certainly a distinguishable one.

    In any event, while MW’s mandate doesn’t specifically exempt “muzzling” speech that emanates from Israel’s critics, and the silencing effect that it can have on discourse, I certainly understand that isn’t really its target and it has a more partisan objective (their prerogative). But surely on the outside, we can note that the most silencing thing that happened at this film festival was anti-Zionists shouting down the one pro-Israel voice apparently invited to the event. Everything was just speculation and column ink — this actually happened.

  11. 11
    Ampersand says:

    David:

    1) I guess I don’t see comparing MW (and, by extension, Jews that agree with MW, like me) to Nazis as “substantive” the same way you do.

    2) I think you can fairly attack MZ’s definition of anti-semitism, but that’s different from what Matt did, which was criticize them for not focusing on events that they see as genuinely anti-Semitic.

    3) Regarding labels, labeling the two broad sides of this dispute is always difficult. I don’t agree with the label “pro-Israel” for you and the folks on your side, because it implies that people like me are “anti-Israel.” Since I know that if I say I’m “anti-Zionist” you’ll falsely take that as me saying I think Israel should be wiped out, that term is out.

    Anyhow, until someone suggest terms I like better, I guess I’ll let you folks say “pro-Israel” without me objecting much, and I’ll say “pro-Palestinian” in return, even though I know it’s inaccurate for much the same reasons. I’ll drop calling my side “pro-Palestinian” if you agree that “pro-Israel” is similarly objectionable, however. I’m also interested in hearing other suggestions for terminology.

    4) “MW’s attempt to label critique of a foundation as anti-Semitic ” — MW didn’t do that in the post I linked to. Which MW post did you have in mind, specifically, please?

    5) This event doesn’t stand alone, but as part of a consistent and widespread pattern of Jews pressuring Jews who are strongly critical of Israel and defensive of Palestinian human rights to be marginalized and shut up. Since you’re part of that pattern (such as your recent post dismissing Jews like me, without any evidence at all, as a tiny minority of Jews, or your labeling of Jews like Chomsky as anti-semitic), it’s unsurprising you can’t see it.

  12. 12
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Anyhow, until someone suggest terms I like better, I guess I’ll let you folks say “pro-Israel” without me objecting much, and I’ll say “pro-Palestinian” in return, even though I know it’s inaccurate for much the same reasons. I’ll drop calling my side “pro-Palestinian” if you agree that “pro-Israel” is similarly objectionable, however. I’m also interested in hearing other suggestions for terminology.

    Pro-Peace?

  13. 13
    chingona says:

    Everyone’s “pro-peace.”

  14. 14
    Ampersand says:

    What Chingona said. :-)

  15. 15
    Dianne says:

    I just wanted to say that one thing I like about the Dutch walk sign is that the figure is not a stick figure but is rather round and muscular looking. Like, perhaps, the average Dutch woman? I could have done without the heals, though…

  16. 16
    Dianne says:

    Everyone’s “pro-peace.”

    If everyone’s so “pro-peace” how come they’re still fighting? Everyone’s “pro-peace on my terms”, which is very different.

    I’m pro-Palestine and pro-Israel. In short, annoying to everyone.

  17. 17
    Mandolin says:

    “But I’ve never in person heard someone use the n-word to describe a black person. ”

    I heard it a lot during the short periods I lived in/visited West Virginia. A West Virginian native visiting California is also the only time I’ve heard someone refer to “chinks” in person, too. (As in, when he got to the airport, “I’ve never seen so many chinks in one place.” Hasty “shh! stop it!” ensued.)

    I don’t have a lot of experience outside the west coast, north east, and liberal parts of Iowa — except for the stints in WV — so I suspect this is regional.

  18. 18
    Ampersand says:

    A couple of points regarding the screening of “Rachel.”

    1) It should be pointed out that the controversy, and the criticism of the festival for daring to show a single film (out of 27, I think) that criticized Israel, was much more significant than David or Matt is allowing. If there was nothing to it but an op-ed in a Jewish weekly, I doubt the President of the film festival would have felt she had to resign his position.

    Notably, from the perspective of chilling speech, the Koret and Taube Foundations pretty clearly implied that they might stop funding the festival if Jewish Voice For Peace is allowed to participate again. Here’s their official statement (source):

    As staunch champions and allies of Israel, the Koret and Taube Foundations do not support any organization that promotes or provokes anti-Israel sentiment; nor do we provide funding to any organization whose mission runs counter to our position. While we have made no decision regarding future funding of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, we take issue in particular with three egregious errors in its upcoming presentation of the film, “Rachel”:

    * It is partnering with Jewish Voice for Peace and the American Friends Service Committee, two virulently anti-Israel, anti-Semitic groups that support boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. Both are closely associated with the International Solidarity Movement and other groups that aid and abet terror against the Jewish State. These groups cross the line for inclusion in the Jewish community.

    * The film festival made a conscious choice to present a film that lays blame for the accidental death of a civilian at the door of the State of Israel. We are deeply saddened by loss of life, most notably the countless Israeli lives lost and interrupted by virtue of service to their country. Presenting the story of a girl who put herself in harm’s way in no way advances our community dialogue. In fact, it threatens our community purposes.

    * Finally, we are appalled at the film festival’s decision to invite Cindy Corrie into our community. This bereaved mother cannot help but have a negative bias toward Israel. Why would a Jewish organization hand her a microphone and a soapbox from which to condemn Israel as Jewish audiences are expected to sit and listen politely? There is no possible counterbalance to a grieving mother.

    Those who cavalierly fling Israel’s future into the grasp of those who would destroy it betray a mainstay of the mainstream Jewish community to support Israel and to counteract anti-Israel propaganda events, speakers and organizations. In this case, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival has aligned itself with the wrong side.

    Is that censorship? No, it’s not. They have every right to do what they want with their money. But you’d be naive to think that this sort of thing doesn’t have a chilling effect on speech, and on what films this festival and other festivals choose to show.

    2) Also, the claim that only the non-Jewish Cindy Corrie’s speech was attacked is simply false. Koret and Taube made it clear that Jewish Voice for Peace was objectionable, because they’re “anti-semitic” (which is their term for “criticizes Israel”). (BTW, it’s not true that AFSC supports the boycott.)

    3) Regarding what happened at the theater, as usual, there are conflicting accounts. The Jewish Weekly, which was extremely critical of the film being shown and of Cindy Corrie speaking, has one view, which David linked to.

    Harris faced a tough audience before the screening. When he called Corrie’s death an accident, a collective hiss was heard from the crowd. A few shouted “lies.” One man said, “Get off the stage, you’re not welcome.”

    A woman yelled back, “Let him speak.”

    Harris spoke about eight other Rachels who also died young — at the hands of Islamic and Palestinian suicide bombers.

    “All of these Rachels, including Rachel Corrie, should be alive today,” Harris said. “As you watch this film, remember the other Rachels, and remember how much context is missing.”

    The people on the other side of the controversy, unsurprisingly, have a different perspective:

    Initially, the audience was quite respectful of Harris comments, and unanimously applauded his assertion that Israeli victims of suicide bombings, along with Rachel Corrie, should all be alive today. It was only when when Harris began attacking the film, the festival, the ISM, and the co-presenters that things got ugly. There certainly were a lot interruptions of booing, as well as more thunderous applause when he mentioned JVP and the AFSC. It should not be said, however, that the audience didn’t let Harris’ speak.

    On more than one occasion, Harris asked us to grieve equally both Rachel Corrie and Israeli victims of terrorism. The entire audience applauded each time. Conspicuously absent from these moments, however, was any mention of Palestinian victims of the conflict.

    What’s clear from both accounts is that Harris was interrupted more than once by comments and booing from the audience, but that Harris did complete his speech.

  19. 19
    Ampersand says:

    Hey, we can watch Harris’ speech (and hear the audience reactions) for ourselves:

    By the end, it seems to me that the aggressive use of applause had become a protest — not censoring the speaker, but disrupting the event. (Not unlike protesters dressed as clowns protesting Iranian president Ahmadinejad — although just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that Harris and Ahmadinejad are in any way similar, only that the tactic of disrupting a speech is similar).

    Speaking of Ahmadinejad, near the end of the speech, as part of his indictment of the AFSC, Harris mentions the dinner AFSC hosted which included a speech by Ahmadinejad. The audience applauded, which I’m sure that many people will take as proof that the audience was full of Ahmadinejad fans. I think it’s more likely that they were applauding AFSC’s peach through engagement policy, or that they were simply applauding without much thought, but there’s no way to know for sure.

    I didn’t know that the AFSC had held such a dinner, and my reflex was to be disgusted. After reading their perspective, I think the dinner is defensible.

  20. 20
    Matt says:

    Here’s the response I posted at home (though I don’t know why it’s showing up in bold): (Bold fixed! –Amp)

    Barry, you’re right that I didn’t check to see how you personally stand on Rachel Corrie. I included you in the post, mainly because that’s where I came across the Corrie post at Muzzlewatch. As for my view of you, I disagree with you often [on this issue] and think you need better sources. I apologize, however, for suggesting that you would use Corrie in such a way. The title of my post, btw, should probably be attributed to me being a bad writer — I assumed it was an accident on your end. (Not so for MW.) My experience, however, is exactly as I described it. You’ll notice how Keith [another commenter] writes, “I am however moved by the atrocities that occur in real-life, at the hands of Israel and it’s supporters.” There’s no regard for why I might support Israel’s existence. And somehow it becomes “at the hands” of people like me. As for whether my approach is less conducive to dialogue, I disagree. You write, “As usual, people accuse Jews who defend Palestinian rights of supporting anti-Semitism, and in your case you compare them to Nazis.” I do not accuse them of anything because they defend Palestinian rights. I accuse them of saying exactly what they say. I understand the claim that Jews stifle debate as a typical example of conspiratorial antisemitism, and I have every right to say so.

    Consider the Committee for the Open Discussion of the Holocaust. They make the exact same argument, that accusations of antisemitism stifle real debate. Or, see also here and here. It’s disingenuous to suggest that it is somehow unfair to compare MW to other examples of people saying the same thing.

    Muzzlewatch’s very agenda is defined in terms of that very trope – so yes, it is relevant that actual examples of antisemitism lie outside their purview. Real and continuing antisemitism has a profound effect of silencing Jews – but they’re not interested. And when they argue that people should be careful with how they call out antisemitism, that is the very essence of silencing.

    As for whether you personally are pro- or anti-Israel, I seem to recall that you’ve said you’re agnostic on the one-state solution, Barry? Am I remembering correctly? If so, it seems odd for you to object to the implication, by others calling themselves “pro-Israel,” that you’re “anti-Israel.” I could see others making the same argument, but it seems odd from you.

  21. 21
    Ampersand says:

    And here’s my response to Matt, cross-posted from his blog:

    Thanks for the apology, I appreciate that.

    “I understand the claim that Jews stifle debate as a typical example of conspiratorial antisemitism, and I have every right to say so.”

    No one denies your “right” to say so. You can say whatever fool thing you want.

    I do, however, deny that comparing the Jews on one side of a debate in the Jewish community to Nazis, as you did, is conducive to respectful dialog.

    Nor do I respect trivializing Nazism to score a cheap argumentative point, whether it’s done by folks on my side (as happens too often), or in your post.

    Finally, it should be needless to say, your argument is illogical. It is true that Nazis criticize Jews for controlling the media. It is also true that Muzzlewatch has criticized both specific individual Jews and specific Jewish organizations for chilling debate about Israal. This doesn’t make the comparison of Muzzlewatch to Nazis fair.

    For one thing, there’s a huge difference between criticizing specific Jews for their political views, as Muzzlewatch does, and criticizing the Jews as a race, as the Nazis do.

    For another, it is at least in the realm of possibility that unfair accusations of anti-semitism are sometimes used in a way that chills speech. I don’t accept that it’s impossible to discuss that without being comparable to a Nazi.

  22. 22
    PG says:

    The WaPo’s failure to fact-check its editorial writers is increasingly disturbing to me when it comes to discussing health care reform.

    Economist Martin Feldstein, of whom I’d really expect better than this, claims

    Obama has said that he would favor a British-style “single payer” system in which the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are salaried but that he recognizes that such a shift would be too disruptive to the health-care industry.

    If you follow the link Feldstein provided, it’s to an August 2008 WSJ blog post that says,

    Barack Obama said he would consider embracing a single-payer health-care system, beloved by liberals, as his plan for broader coverage evolves over time.

    “If I were designing a system from scratch, I would probably go ahead with a single-payer system,” Obama told some 1,800 people at a town-hall style meeting on the economy.

    A single-payer system would eliminate private insurance companies and put a Medicare-like system into place where the government pays all health-care bills with tax dollars.

    That’s not a system like the British NHS. That’s the “Medicare for All” plan that Richard Cohen suggests, in the same WaPo opinion section, as the easy way to achieve universal coverage. Medicare does not own hospitals or pay doctors’ salaries; it simply insures all senior citizens who have paid into the system over their working lives. It does so either on a fee-for-service model in which it pays providers directly for services rendered, or subcontracts to private sector insurers, paying the insurers based on how many people the insurer signs up.

    Cohen, of course, doesn’t have to sell this to American voters who are too ignorant to realize that their Medicare is provided by the government. Kudos to Rep. Robert Inglis (R-S.C.) for his futile effort to explain that the government already has its hands on Medicare, to a senior citizen deluded otherwise by Inglis’s Republican colleagues. I am so frustrated with seniors who have “got theirs” on government-guaranteed health care and then oppose it for the rest of the population.

    The Republican “death of freedom” rhetoric surrounding health care reform is a page pulled from an old, but failed, playbook. Remember Sarah Palin’s odd closing at the VP debate last year, quoting Reagan?

    It was Ronald Reagan who said that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction. We don’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream; we have to fight for it and protect it, and then hand it to them so that they shall do the same, or we’re going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free.

    That last apocalyptic bit is taken from Reagan’s AMA-funded campaign against the threat that Medicare poses to our liberties.

    I think there were actually some principled arguments against Medicare. Specifically, on a fiscal basis it doesn’t make sense to have a taxpayer-funded program for seniors’ health care that has unlimited spending (as opposed to spending only as much as the seniors had paid into the program over their lifetimes), and that applies to all seniors without means-testing (this also is a problem with Social Security). The latter measure probably was necessary to avoid having Medicare tagged as a “welfare” program and thus an easy target for Republicans, but the former has made Medicare an enormous, never-ending burden on the annual budget.

    But the idea that Medicare has reduced Americans’ freedom is just silly, unless you’re a Republican who measures freedom based on what percentage of your nominal paycheck is take-home pay. By that measure, the FICA taxes that theoretically go to pay for SS and Medicare are a 6.2% reduction in total freedom. People in the highest tax brackets are only 2/3 free — maybe only 1/2 free if they live somewhere with high municipal and state income taxes — while working-class people who pay only FICA taxes are much more free than the pitiable rich.

  23. 23
    Matt says:

    And there’s a longer reply at my blog. (You can read there and respond here.) But for now,

    For another, it is at least in the realm of possibility that unfair accusations of anti-semitism are sometimes used in a way that chills speech.

    Well, yeah. But it’s certainly also true that unfair accusations of racism are sometimes used in a way that chills speech. But few of us here would accept that as an argument because we know it’s at most a tiny part of something much larger in which racism and antisemitism are powerful ideas with long histories that have biased the very grounds for discussion. Except, when it comes to antisemitism, which begins with distorting the power of Jews, such nuance disappears.

  24. 24
    Sailorman says:

    PG Writes:
    July 27th, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    I find Bernstein to be one of the least useful members of the Volokh Conspiracy, and am particularly doubtful of any subject where he is the *only* Conspirator posting (given that Eugene Volokh and several others are Jewish, Zionist and are vocally opposed to anti-Semitism), so I’m kind of with Whitson: why didn’t Bernstein call HRW to check his facts instead of relying wholly on information from the very regime that he says makes it impossible to ethically fundraise in Saudi Arabia?

    I don’t agree with that: I don’t necessarily trust Bernstein’s independent analysis, but then again I don’t trust ANYONE’S independent analysis most of the time. Including HRW.

    I think Bernstein is at his strongest and most accurate when he is making the limited point that he does here:

    That doesn’t mean that HRW is never right when it points out perceived Israeli wrongdoing. It just means that HRW’s reports on Israel should be treated with the same skepticism one would treat them if they came from any other anti-Israel NGO. The “human rights” halo is a false one, and the presumption of good faith unwarranted.

    In other words: Sure, Bernstein is biased. You’d be a fool to treat his writings as objective, coming as they do from his relatively one-sided perspective.

    But his commentary and posts (and cites) do seem to support a conclusion that HRW is, at the least, not quite as wonderfully neutral as it seems to be implying. That doesn’t make it a bad or antisemitic organization, just arguably one which shouldn’t be treated in the same way as a neutral organization.

  25. 25
    Jake Squid says:

    “But I’ve never in person heard someone use the n-word to describe a black person. ”

    I heard it a lot during the short periods I lived in/visited West Virginia. A West Virginian native visiting California is also the only time I’ve heard someone refer to “chinks” in person, too.

    Different experiences for different people. I’ve heard the n-word used in every place I have lived or spent significant time. That includes the Northeast, New England, Florida and the Pacific Northwest. I haven’t heard “chinks” in more than 20 years, but my grandmother used that word regularly.

    … (there’s plenty of ways and tones to use the word “black” in one’s ethnic language to communicate racist sentiment to people who speak that language, without having it picked up by any nice white liberals whose good opinion one wants to keep)…

    I’ve certainly seen that to be true wrt Yiddish.

  26. 26
    David Schraub says:

    Don’t you hate it when you drop a word and it completely changes the sentence meaning? “MW’s attempt to label critique of a foundation as anti-Semitic [improper] was silencing and in keeping with extremely vibrant views on the proper role of Jews in public discourse.”

    Anyway, there’s a pattern here, but it isn’t about “Jews pressuring Jews who are strongly critical of Israel and defensive of Palestinian human rights to be marginalized and shut up.” Indeed, in the present context this is somewhat of a bizarre claim — not only has there been no substantive dispute on this thread about anything related to Palestinian human rights, but our respective views on policy matters related to the conflict (e.g., on settlements, necessity of a two-state solution, legitimacy of terrorism, roadblocks etc.), our positions aren’t that far off. Not identical, obviously, but not wildly divergent. Indeed, I would hope I wouldn’t group you in the “tiny fringe” I was indicting as being over-promoted. Recent polls from 2006 indicate that between 70 percent (under 35 yrs old) and 95 percent (over 65) of Jews identify as “pro-Israel” (the poll didn’t aggregate, but eyeballing it I’d put the overall average in the mid 80s). Now, I agree that labels like “pro-Israel” are pretty problematic, but trust me when I say that the authors in question here would not have identified with the term in any which way. Sub-20% support is reasonably fringe-y, I think. But again, I don’t think it’s a group you’d actually label yourself in agreement with.

    So the problem isn’t that I harbor some desire to suppress your substantive views on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, which would be pretty counterproductive given that we agree there more than we disagree. Where we differ isn’t on the question of Palestinian rights; it’s on the reaction to allegations of anti-Semitism, where it is fair to say that I stake out a far more aggressive position. And thus the pattern — which I’ve seen all over the place and which you’ve bought into time and again — is pivoting from that (latter) dispute and recharacterizing it as the former, generally by pulling a Livingstone. It is a fact of life for entities whose stated substantive positions on the conflict are unimpeachably “left”, but nonetheless aggressively target anti-Semitism as a serious problem. It happens to me, it happens to Engage, and it happens to TULIP — recently alleged to be a front group for pro-Israel organizations on no evidence. Hell, it happened to Steve Cohen while he was denouncing Zionism, because he had the temerity to attack anti-Semitism in the anti-Zionist movement along with it.

    It’s a pattern you don’t see, because you’re part of the pattern. Criticizing Israel isn’t anti-Semitic. Criticizing anti-Semitism isn’t anti-Palestinian.

  27. 27
    PG says:

    An interesting op-ed about the problems created in capital markets by everyone’s having the same algorithms do all the work, at the speed of light.

    (What’s that? You thought we’d learned our lesson just last year from the models that said this recession was of a once in a million years likelihood? Oh, grasshopper, do you really believe the finance industry learns from its mistakes?)

    Buying stocks used to be about long-term value, doing your research and finding the company that you thought had good prospects. Maybe it had a product that you liked the look of, or perhaps a solid management team. Increasingly such real value is becoming irrelevant. The contest is now between the machines — and they’re playing games with real businesses and real people.

    The idea of buy-and-hold has always been what I thought made publicly-held corporations meaningful at all. If I don’t anticipate holding a stock long enough to care what the directors and management are doing with the corporation in the long run, who is going to bother engage in shareholder democracy, much less activism?