Monday, November 08, 2004


I hate to fisk* the post-denominational frummer yid, but duty calls. When it's my turn, I hope he returns the favor and shows me no mercy.

Ben didn't like Jane Smiley's Slate article. I didn't either, but Ben today attacks her on grounds that can only be described as tendentious.

Here is his post, with my commentary interpolated.

Many of the most outrageous meshugassen of Israel's left have recently been mirrored by the Angry Left in the United States. (Yes, lots of them are Jewish but far from all.) The arrogant portrayal of religious people as country bumpkins,

The right is no better, and Ben knows it. I am religious, like Ben, and I've spent most of my life around religious people. We religious people tend to (rather smugly) portray irreligious people as lustful, immoral, or criminal. I've heard it, and, so has Ben. In fact, the typical religious person's view of the non-religious world could be summed up as follows: Irreligious scientists have agendas. Irreligious politicians are corrupt. Irreligious women are loose. And ordinary irreligious people simply don't know their own mind. Only their yetzer harah (ie: the fog of their lust, love of money or whatever) keeps them from being immediately reconciled to the clear and perfect truths of religion. Does "country bumpkin" still sound so offensive?

the attribution of all forms of self-defense to primitive bloodlust,

Ben says this is how lefty's describe the right. I agree, and it's wrong. But, how does the right describe the left? Don't they favor words like weenie, sissy, un-American, and deluded. If you favor summits, or even a short period of reflection before reaching for the guns, you can expect to be hit with one of these insults.

the insistence of the privileged to speak in the name of the poor -- it's all way too familiar.

I must ask: What is the alternative? Shall we give the poor newspaper columns and television time? If the privileged don't speak for the poor, who will? Wasn't Jeremiah among the privileged? Didn't he speak for the poor? Or was he also presumptuous?

A broader explanation seems to be called for. I do want to get this much off my chest, though: Many of the angriest leftists in both Israel and the U.S. display great love for an abstraction called mankind but great contempt for actual people.

And on the right, Ben, all I see is contempt for actual people, be they poor people, gay people, black people, elderly people, disabled people, irreligious people, or whatever. In my view, the right can't even claim the saving grace of being concerned about humanity. The left, as you've acknowledged - for all it's many fault - has that at least.

(Sharp-eyed readers will see that some of what I wrote about appears in the comment section to Ben Chorin's original post. I wrote those words, so I'm only plagarizing myself. I've calmed down a bit since I wrote those comments, so let me apologize to Ben and his readers for my hyperbole.)

* The verb "to fisk," derived from Robert Fisk, a terrible journalist and hater of Jews, refers to a point-by-point debunking of errors and idiocies.

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