Friday, April 29, 2005

Dirtied

My opinion of GESO notwithstanding, the Columbia administration ought to be ashamed of itself.

Bullshit

Friedman's latest atrocity. It never fails to astound me how the New York Times editorial staff specializes in making bizarre, hateful, reactionary, and illogical points sound as if they should be taken as the epitome of common sense. This one's on the education crisis in our country, framed by Friedman, with the help of benevolent capitalist Bill Gates, as the losing of a competitive edge in the job market to China and India. While the basic idea that Americans need to be better educated, and better prepared for changing economic realities is a fine one, it is only a partial idea, and Friedman's piece contains two blindingly problematic moves. The first is directly related to the education issue; the second reveals what an incredible and general wackjob T-Fried is.

The first point I want to make relates to the key theme of the editorial, namely that America's high schools need to better prepare students for the high-tech world of tomorrow. While I am on the same page to the extent that American math and science skills are in an abysmal state in comparison to the rest of the developed world, that both Fried and Gates frame this issue as the "crisis" constitutes a heedless bourgeoisifying of the American educational problem and of our economic world view. While it is true that America needs to produce more of its own scientists and engineers the idea that the failure to do so is the key issue in assessing America's secondary school failure is absurd. First, neither Gates nor Friedman appear to have any idea how one would go about ensuring high schools better prepare kids to be such high-end workers (I am only making the obvious assumption that better math and science skills would be the way to do this). The more egregious gesture that is made by their rhetoric, however, is to pretend that in this high-tech, global, messianic flat world to come, your average high school student, whatever utilitarian improvements one makes, is going to end up in one of these relatively high-end, intellectual production jobs. The unspoken flip-side of this marvelous new flat-fucked era, the side that we are already witnessing in the real world (as opposed to the mythic land of capital-crazed corporate saints that flit in and out of Friedman's fairy head) is that most of the your lower-end jobs, and most of the employment, is going to be in our burgeoning service sector -- and not software-programming service sector, but Wal-Mart service sector. That means no unions, low benefits, little feeling of self-worth or self-value in the sphere of employment. Uber-tech globalization does not mean, as Friedman implies, that everyone is going to be leading marvelously elevated intellectually challenging lives. Rather, most high school students in the areas where there are always going to be relatively worse-off public schools will be looking forward to lives where they use their new-fangled cell-phones not to communicate with their fellow-traveller computer whizzes in Bangalore, but rather to call home from their 8-6 job at the mega-corner store to check up on their kids who are alone, because child care is too expensive, and unsubsidized by the government. I was always deeply critical of Bill Clinton's enchantment with the new world-techno-syndicalist order and his educational solution of putting a computer on every student's desk. That is what Bill Gates would like too. And Friedman. These peope are pyramidal capitalist, gadget obsessed, fascio-dorks. The kids don't need a computer on every desk, though that would be nice. What the kids need are literacy, civics, and a disciplined knowledge of algebra, and a country that does not value human bodies solely for the competitive capital they represent in a hyper-growth-worshiping economy. I fear that what the Gateses of the world are going to do if they get their way is reform public education by turning it into a factory system that churns out relatively elite technocrats, and a brainless population of server drones.

The second point is of another nature entirely. Friedman says at one point in the article:
On foreign policy, President Bush has offered a big idea: the expansion of freedom, particularly in the Arab-Muslim world, where its absence was one of the forces propelling 9/11. That is a big, bold and compelling idea - worthy of a presidency and America's long-term interests.

But on the home front, this team has no big idea - certainly none that relates to the biggest challenge and opportunity facing us today: the flattening of the global economic playing field. . .
Why don't you kill yourself, Tom Friedman. "Big idea"?!?!!? That's what we now value? It's as if Friedman said, "Bush had a great piece of obviously hollow, fascist, hegemonic and idealist rhetoric -- how wonderful!" I really wonder at what point people like Friedman decide to turn off their brains and make the ethical and epistemological decision to ignore the real situation on the ground, and the real results of our foreign policy. Not the projected results, hypothetically back-engineered by empirical illiterates like Donald Kagan and Victor Davis Hanson and Charles Krauthammer who employ analogical models of history based on constricted fact sets and supremacist ideology. Real reporters like Sy Hersh and Mark Danner have been publishing articles in the New York Review of Books and the New Yorker about the constant state of violence, misery, brutality, and image-control that constitutes America's footprint in our poorly chosen zones of action in the years since September 11. But they must be ideologues. They who go places and report on the actual conditions of the Iraqi election, how there were no terrorist attacks ("it went off without a hitch -- those brown-skinners really DO love democracy!) because American troops shut down the entire country for the day, preventing any movement whatsoever. That situation of shutdown, necessary for the aesthetic production of "real elections", is anathema to democracy and to a free society, which is why not even our Army and its leaders can do it all the time, which is why every day another 5 or 10 or 15 civilians are getting killed. But as long as Friedman closes his eyes and licks his cellphone and thinks to himself "expansion of freedom" the world is getting freer and safer and flatter. The evidence, which those of Friedman's ilk have embarked on an apparently coordinated project to destroy, is against his fantasies.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Best Site on the Internet

The U.S. Government helps us prepare for the next terrorist attack: Get ready, kids.

In their ReadyBusiness section, the government tells bosses:
Take care of yourself. Leaders tend to experience added stress after a disaster. Your personal health and recovery is important to your family and your employees.

There Is No War on Terrorism

Link.

something more substantive ,and equally synthetic, to follow, eventually.

Cutting Through The Bullshit

A few days old but still worth a read; Lee Siegel examines EWTN's silent annexation of the news networks. Money quote:
In the new world capital of sacred feeling, the television newspeople deftly began to assimilate, like Method actors studiously researching a character's circumstances and environment. It was not long before all these media sophisticates began to speak about John Paul II's life and death in the manner of Calabrian peasant women. For CBS's Harry Smith, ensconced in this ancient place renowned for its beautiful and sunny days, "it's been a kind of miraculous week in its own way, because it's been beautiful and sunny." Before the pope's dying, death, funeral, and entombment, you can bet your cable subscription that most, if not all, of the talking heads converging on the Eternal City thought that a pectoral cross was something you did at the gym. But they were all Catholics now.

Miracles abounded. With astonishing verisimilitude, the newscasters spoke sentimentally, reverentially, about every single thing, no matter how trivial or dogmatic or cloying or cunning, that the late pope had said or done. Despite the fact that this church had its institutional origins in the Middle Ages, the funeral was, they insisted, unprecedented. For CBS's Allen Pizzey, the sheer number of people gathered in St. Peter's Square was itself a "miracle" that would easily serve as one of the two wonders the pope had to knock out of the park if he was to gain admission to sainthood. For CNN's Anderson Cooper, looking at the crowds lingering in the square after the funeral mass was finished, the experience of being there was so, like, spiritual: "This is the kind of energy, the kind of passion, the kind of love which we have witnessed." Most of the experts who were paraded before the cameras were Catholic priests. All of them turned out to have loved and admired the pope greatly. The complexities of history and philosophy, even the very rudiments of them, were nowhere to be found.

Spring Fling

Pretty much all hype, right? I mean you don't care about OAR, do you? Do you? (To be fair, Rahzel was pretty amazing.)

Anyway, this week and next week are going to be just awful for blogging. I'll do what I can, which may not be much.

Addendum: I need to give a belated thank you to Matt Welch for the shout out here on the D-Horowitz thingie, and while I'm at it recommend his skewering of the conservative media's abdication of skepticism about Pope Ratzinger.

Second Addendum: We're still trying to determine the correct appellation for Josef Ratzinger. Participation so far has been pathetic (although "Benny the Rat" isn't bad, and "Batzo Ratzo" is the best of the write-ins). If you have time to comment on Dan Berger®© farting in the middle of his seminar, you have time to help decide the new pope's title.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Am I a Communist?

I'd like to respond to a number of angry/inquiring emails and voicemails that I have received since my last post about the pope and Frank Rich. The question I have been asked, given my talk of redistribution of wealth and my apparent disdain for the Church, is "Are you a Communist?" Well, look: no, I'm not. Despite my interest in a number of forms of targeted economic redistribution, and while I don't see anything inherently evil in redistribution as such, I recognize the historical problems attendant upon such rhetoric, and I do denounce heartily and with verve Soviet attrocities. Nevertheless, I do find Communism's, and really most leftist movements', relationship with the Church (whatever Church is installed in a position of social power) fascinating. While I don't approve of the tendency to sack churches, murder believers, repress the expression of belief, in fact I denounce such practices, it is interesting to examine the rise of a movement like Communism as being in a dialectic relationship with the continuing presence of some form of "the Church." What I mean by this is, as many usually right-leaning historians and critics have pointed out, the rhetoric and demeanor of anti-theological movements based in leftist ideologies, such as Communism, often reach a rather theological pitch. This has been called by such right-leaning critics as hypocrisy -- "you attack the irrational faith of religion, but yourself pursue your beliefs or ideas in an irrational and religious manner." This has been said even of certain groups of Democrats from time to time. But here's my point. The important thing to notice is not that the Communists were being "hypocritical" but rather that the rise of such an in-the-end irrational, faith-crazed movement may owe its existence in some part to the presence of insitutions like the Church, which are already circulating irrational, faith-based reasoning.

Just imagine that you are little 14 year old Lenin, walking through the streets on a lonely Sunday. You've got some pretty interesting ideas about ways to solve social problems, but some of the assumptions they require, and some of the results they seem to entail, are a little wacky. So wacky in fact that you're thinking of dropping the whole thing and maybe of going to skin potatos for the czar. All of a sudden, you walk into a Church and you see this long line of people on their feet waiting for this man in a dress to put little pieces of bread in their mouths. Wouldn't you, young Lenin, say to yourself: "Fuck it. I'm just gonna do me, and rock my own bread lines."

Think about it.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Official Name And Photo

Here is the official headshot of Ratzinger.

Final contenders for his papal title:

1) Pope Ratzinger I

2) Pope Panzerfaust I

3) Pope Obergruppenherrschung I

4-6) All of the above except substitute "Grand Inquisitor" for "Pope"

7) Pope Benedict XVI

8) write-in

Let me know what you think. The highest votegetter wins.

Rich Flubs

Frank Rich, with whom I normally feel pretty alright despite his smarminess, makes a blunder in his mostly-fine article about Frist and the theo-fascist judge-murderers. He starts with a lead-in, in a predictably media-whorish gesture, about the choosing of the next pope. When he clumsily segues into his main story about the conference being held in some church tomorrow (today) where Frist is going to be calling the Democrats bad Christians, he says:
These traditions [the crazy ones Frist et al. will be invoking] have less to do with the earnest practice of religion by an actual church, as we witnessed from Rome, than with the exploitation of religion by political operatives and other cynics with worldly ends.
Uh uh. If we as a society are going to start getting all enthralled with the value, or even the existence, of religions, then we have to accept the implicit relativity that goes along with that. This "no one is valorizing a particular religion, we're just saying religion is pretty earnest and cool in general", which is the infectious subtext of Rich's statement, doesn't actually work. All religions, or at least the historical religions we're usually talking about, have to do with their practitioners having some special and saving relationship with God. Now, there are theological gestures one can make, as many liberal and moderate theologians do, to say "we do our thing, but it's alright if you do your thing," but there is a very heavy burden, especially in some forms of Christianity and Islam, especially as practiced by the new pope, on seeing your own religion as the only one that's going to get the job done. This, to a non-believer or non-adherent to the particular religion under discussion, necessarily licenses a form of relativism in general discourse. What I mean by this is, if you've got a pope who says "I represent the only true religion, ya'll are fucked," then those of us who are non-believers either in his or in any religion, certainly have the right, and some true situationist ballers would say, the responsibility, to respond: "no, you're not the true religion. you're not earnest. you represent an organization in which certain branches have been very effective in pursuing charitable works, but in which many other branches, including your own, have been responsible for things like the Inquisition, and the non-condemnation of Nazism. And now your take on this 'religion', the way you yourself represent it, is that of a bigoted, women-disempowering, child-molesting, condom-denying, AIDS-spreading fascist world order. so fuck your white smoke, and your indulgent, capital-enabled frippery, and i'll do anything i possibily can to take you and your perverted organization down, and redistribute your ill-gotten wealth." Maybe that's what Frank Rich meant to say.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Oh Jesus

David Gelernter is now a columnist for the LA Times. This David Gelernter.

Texas Justice

Don't condemn the whole system because of one tiny mistake.

The Grand Inquisitor's First Inquisition

Spain's parliament is set to pass a bill legalizing a form of gay marriage and gay adoption. Guess whose finely sewn, textured, and lacy Bavarian underthings are in a bunch (via Hit & Run).

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Reactionary Relativism

I haven't posted in ages, so I'm sorry to barge in on Finnegan's excellent posts on Ratzinger with something that will pretty much be more of the same. However, I'm just boiling over with hatred for the Nazi so here goes . . .

Ratzinger WAS a Nazi collaborator. That's what any French, German, or Italian resistance fighter would have called anyone who did anything the Nazis declared "compulsory." That this bizarre historical and moral revisionism, where it's alright to be a Nazi collaborator, is occuring on the scene of a Papacy in commission, presumably an elevated moral theater, seems stunning. Shouldn't the Pope, the sublime agent of God, be held to higher moral standards, or at least the same moral standards, as a normal French, German or Italian citizen during the war? The answer is a resounding NO!

Normal moral standards would say that you can't aid and abett the molestation of children. Normal moral standards would suggest that you not consider women and gays as ipso facto deserving of less power and respect than straight men.
Normal moral standards would suggest that you not oppose "liberation theology," which has been uttered in the media as if it was some strange thing going on in some crazy Southern Hemisphere countries. No, it was an attempt to free the poor and oppressed from their poverty and oppression. Normal moral standards would suggest that you not lend tacit support to vicious tyrants.

It is so interesting that the slew of editorials about the Pope from the center-right to the radical right, especially in the WSJ, has almost universally referred to the greatness of the Catholic Church under these fascists as opposing "moral relativism." These editorials have argued that there must be more than "my truth" and "your truth", there has to be "the truth" to which "we" can all agree. They see cruel, despotic men like Ratzinger as the perfect inforcers of this universal "truth." Now, I actually don't believe, on a theoretical level, in "the truth." But that's not even the issue. The issue is that if there is "the truth," a set of moral facts to which "we" can all agree, then in any sort of heteroglossal, pluralistic society, which is the society we, the inheritors of the Western tradition, must live in, unless we, like Ratzinger decide to support genocide, "the truth" intuitively would condemn the modern Catholic Church and its incredibly elitist, bigoted, and dehumanizing moral stances as being outside "the truth." A band of women-devaluing, gay-bating, child molesters would certainly not be accepted by any version of "the truth" based on any of the individual, progressive rights that the movement of Western democracy, less so in America than elsewhere, seemed to valorize. It is in fact a moral relativism of the right, which in the past few years, has begun to worship a CERTAIN TYPE of religion as an appropriate function of socio-political interchange. This valuation of rather rigid, reactionary forms of Christianity, is much more akin to the celebration of somewhat discomfiting non-Western cultures that went on in the 70's and 80's much to the chagrin of the "universalist" right. The Catholic Church under Ratzinger, and even before, is in direct contradiction to any universalist conception of the Western tradition that would attempt to disengage itself from the twentieth century movements of Nazism, white supremacy, and Stalino-communist collectivity.

The right must either choose relativity and align themselves with bigoted Church-supremacy because it intuitively feels good to them, or they must support a form of despotic, top-down institutionalization of such bigotry, not on universalist or communitarian principles of "truth," but on some more atavistic standard such as divine right.

Moral Equivalence

My sometime interlocutor/antagonist Daniel P. Moloney, whom I know to be a very smart guy, should have thought harder before writing (via Andrew Sullivan):
In this regard, the consumerism and relativism of the West can be just as dangerous as the totalitarianism of the East: It’s just as easy to forget about God while dancing to an iPod as while marching in a Hitler Youth rally. There’s a difference, to be sure, but hardly anyone would contest the observation that in elite Western society, as in totalitarian Germany, the moral vocabulary has been purged of the idea of sin. And if there’s no sense of sin, then there’s no need for a Redeemer, or for the Church.
Forget about the manifest grotesquerie of Moloney's equation (it's really beneath comment). The logic is circular, and the premises are a caricaturish misreading of history. Building this loaded concept of "sin" into all the antecedent claims does remove roadblocks to conclusions about the need for a redeemer, but as a methodology it won't be terribly persuasive to anyone who doesn't already believe in Thomist ethics.

As for the particular examples, neither the Nazis nor our contemporaries lacked schemata of right and wrong. National Socialist advocacy of the extermination of Untermenschen was not the product of a valueless moral outlook; it was defended as a supremely teleological and transcendent good. It pains me to have to say this in the same paragraph, but advocacy of gay civil rights is not a function of nihilism; it's a function of intuition about what justice demands.

Moloney's Ratzingerianism is reducible to this: any conception of right and wrong distinct from the Ratzingerian position is not just incorrect on particular points, but incoherent. I.e., outside a Ratzingerian framework, reference to "right" and "wrong" is like reference to "square circle." This. Is. Bollocks.

And one more thing. Moloney should be ashamed of himself for invoking Pius XII's theology as a solution to Hannah Arendt's investigation of Nazi evil.

The Trial

The peerless Dahlia Lithwick:
The participants in this case now seem to agree on several key points: Even the government concedes that Moussaoui was not meant to be the "20th hijacker." He was probably too unstable even to participate formally in the Sept. 11 plot. (Indeed, the latest military report from Guantanamo lists a detainee there—a Saudi man named Mohamed al-Kahtani—as the "probable 20th 9/11 hijacker".) Still, both sides apparently agree that Moussaoui is a card-carrying Osama Bin Laden fan who would have liked to kill some Americans himself given the chance. Everyone also appears to agree that Moussaoui should be eligible for the death penalty. Even though no one is certain what he's done to earn it. Can they really kill you just for belonging to al-Qaida, if you have no specific ties to any plot or conspiracy? Will the Justice Department and Judge Brinkema simply stuff their fists into their ears to avoid hearing Moussaoui plead guilty to crimes he could not have committed, in light of the story he has told for the past three years—a sort of modified plea bargain in which the government ignores the legal nuance in order to score the execution?

Unless he's about to change his story (again) and cop to having known intimately about Sept. 11, this guilty plea and Moussaoui's willingness to accept being eligible for the death penalty are the outcome of the circular logic that has pervaded the prosecution's case from the outset. Moussaoui must die because this was intended to be the big 9/11 show trial that would end in an execution. Somehow, even if he's the wrong guy being executed for the wrong conspiracy, this case will prove to the world that the American court system really works.

Professor Bainbridge Is An Ass Who Can't Read

In the midst of an argument that "Andrew Sullivan is an ass," Professor Bainbridge reveals that he likes to shout at mirrors. To wit, Bainbridge offers remarks by and consonant with the views of Grand Inquisitor Ratzinger [it will at least be some time before I'm able to refer to "Pope Benedict XVI"--ed.] as exculpating him of Sullivan's charge of "declar[ing] a war on modernity, liberalism (meaning modern liberal democracy of all stripes) and freedom of thought and conscience." The following, excerpted by Bainbridge, is supposed to be evidence that Ratzinger respects liberal democratic autonomy:
Cardinal Ratzinger’s note underlined the principles involved for the Catholic voter. “A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia,” Cardinal Ratzinger wrote. “When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons,” he said.
Of course, the particular issue at stake was the presidential campaign of John Kerry, and it's true that there were Catholic bishops (also excerpted by Bainbridge) who suggested that a vote for pro-choice politicians (meaning, obviously Kerry) would have been a "grave sin" simpliciter.

Ratzinger's view, which is more nuanced than that, elicits this interpretation (which, since Bainbridge doesn't comment further, I assume he assents to):
In other words, if a Catholic thinks a candidate’s positions on other issues outweigh the difference on abortion, a vote for that candidate would not be considered sinful.
Get out of jail free. Ratzinger says that voting for pro-choice/pro-euthanasia politicians amounted to "cooperation in evil" rendering the voter "unworthy for holy Communion" just in case the voter affirms the candidate's own position. So he makes an allowance for those who would vote for Kerry despite his position on abortion. So what? The point is clear. Dissent from the Ratzinger line on abortion and euthanasia is functional disqualification from membership in the church. And since a candidate must be presumed to agree with his own position on any issue, Ratzinger's view if applied to US politics would have rendered Kerry a non-Catholic. The GI just oozes respect for liberal democracy, does he not? And "freedom of thought and conscience"? Means of formal cooperation in evil, QED.

The Splooge Of Lileks

Not for the first time, James Lileks betrays a lack of education. In the midst of a meandering something or other about how the Catholic church can't change and its position on modernity is preferable to the alternatives, he writes:
Note: every era is the modern era to the people who inhabit it; a “modern” pope in 1937 would have announced that godless collectivism was the wave of the future, and ridden the trains to Auschwitz standing on top, holding gilded reins, whooping like Slim Pickens.
Interesting hypothetical, is it not? Because the most modernist of all popes---the one who convened the council in which the church abandoned anti-Semitism, allowed for mass in local vernaculars, etc., in general took some baby steps towards entering the modern world---also happened to be among the heroic European gentiles of the World War II era. Of course, John XXIII was not pope at the time; his decidedly not-modern predecessor Pius XII was, and though Pius did not exactly work himself into a Slimpickensian euphoria over the extermination of the European Jews, he did absolutely nothing (and he could have done plenty) to at the very least obstruct Nazi designs.

Arrest That Man

Poetic justice as a potentiality.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Metaphor

Majikthise, as usual, is spot-on:
[W]e should judge Ratz on what he's done lately. Like hating gays and apologizing for pedophiles. Ratz' Nazi past is a perfect metaphor for his lifelong authoritarianism. Fascism will be the core brand idea of Ratz' pontificate. He's made that much clear already. (Yes, there will be people who will be appalled that I'm using the word "fascist" in connection with their Holy Father. But seriously, Ratz made a career out of enforcing orthodoxy and compliance at any cost, denying the full humanity of gays and women, subordinating social justice to culture war, and meddling in democracies including America's.)
I'd go even farther. Under John Paul II, the Catholic Church had been inching towards a declaration of war against liberalism in the most broadly understood meaning of the term; Ratzinger is the man to make that declaration official. We liberals---again, broadest possible meaning---aren't in a position to create a state of war, but we had better be damned ready when it is forced upon us.

German Shepherd

I've been thinking about the implications of Joseph Ratzinger's connections to the Hitlerjugend, as well as the excuses offered for it (and they are, thankfully, only excuses and not justifications).

Is it true that service in the Hitler Youth was inescapable? Sort of. It was compulsory. But there are prominent examples of resistance, including among people who were roughly Ratzinger's age and just as devout Catholics as he. My sense is that what's really crucial is to look at how Ratzinger has managed to deal with his experience in the Third Reich---and I say "in" and not "of" because anybody can denounce; not everyone is capable of coming to terms with playing a role, however minor, in the Shoah. Surely he knows that his path during the war was the easiest among others that were available. On that note, something my father wrote to me about this whole business is dead on:
[N]o one can tell someone else to die as a Christian martyr against National Socialist oppression. But there remains the case of Dietrich Bonhöffer - surely a more important theological thinker than Ratzinger at any time in the latter's already long life - and the case of Sophie Scholl and her friends, who are probably not among the righteous Gentiles (I detest that phrase) at Yad Vashem but surely deserve to be.
The reference to Scholl is a reference to the "White Rose" resistance of Bavaria, with which you might already be familiar. If not, the story concerns young Catholic philosophy students in the most Catholic part of Germany, and it is an ineluctable counterexample to the claim that Ratzinger had no choices to make. (Some popes, as we know, acted heroically during WWII, and then again, some did not.) What follows is a translation of a fairly popular account of the White Rose:
When a German medical student and soldier named Jürgen Wittenstein introduced two young men in the fall of 1940, he had no way of knowing his friends would make history and forever be remembered as heroes.

By the summer of 1942, Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell were at the center of a close-knit group of friends who shared the same ideals and interests in medicine, music, art, theology and philosophy. They soon recognized their shared disgust for Adolf Hitler, the Third Reich and the Gestapo. Hans and Alex were soon joined by Christoph Probst (a level-headed, married soldier and father of three who was loved by everyone who knew him) and Willi Graf (another medical student and a devout Catholic who never joined the Hitler Youth and refused to acknowledge those who did). And there was Sophie, Hans Scholl's younger sister who joined Hans and his friends at the University to study biology and philosophy. These friends, sometimes joined by popular philosophy professor Kurt Huber, Jürgen Wittenstein and others, formed the heart of The White Rose.

Hans and Alex acted alone at first, writing and duplicating an editorial leaflet with the heading: "Leaflets of The White Rose". The piece was scathing in its criticism of every-day Germans who sat back and did nothing to combat the Third Reich. The leaflet went on to suggest "passive resistance" as the best way to silently encourage the downfall of the "government". Three more leaflets quickly appeared, all with the same heading: "Leaflets of The White Rose". Each of these documents was more hard-hitting than the last, while more and more friends of Hans and Alex began to contribute. Two final leaflets appeared, one in January 1943 and the last around February 18th. These were headed "Leaflets of the Resistance".

The members of The White Rose worked day and night, cranking a hand-operated duplicating machine thousands of times to create the leaflets which were each stuffed into envelopes, stamped and mailed from various major cities in Southern Germany. Recipients were chosen from telephone directories and were generally scholars, medics and pub-owners (which seemed to puzzle the Gestapo -- but who better to spread the word or post a leaflet!). While Hans and Alex alone drafted the first four leaflets, they counted on Christoph Probst to comment and criticize. Jürgen edited the third and fourth leaflets and traveled to Berlin with the dangerous documents. Willi contributed to the fifth leaflet and did a generous amount of leg-work, getting supplies and trying to recruit support outside of Munich. Sophie worked hard at getting stamps and paper (one couldn't buy too many stamps at one place without arousing suspicion) and also managed the group's funds. Kurt Huber contributed to the fifth leaflet and solely drafted the sixth (and final) leaflet, while Hans was apprehended with a rough-draft of a seventh leaflet written by Christoph Probst. All members traveled throughout Southern Germany (and beyond) to mail stacks of leaflets from undetectable locations. Hundreds of leaflets were also left at the University of Munich, carefully hand-delivered in the middle of the night.

On three nights in February 1943 -- the 3rd, 8th and 15th -- Hans, Alex and Willi conducted the most dangerous of all the White Rose activities. The three men used tar and paint to write slogans on the sides of houses on Ludwigstrasse, a main thoroughfare in Munich near the University. They wrote "Down With Hitler", "Hitler Mass Murderer", "freedom", and drew crossed-out swastikas... this while policemen and other officials patrolled the streets of Munich. It was, by far, the most public, blatant and dangerous of their activities.

It isn't certain why Hans and Sophie Scholl brought a suitcase full of leaflets to the University during the day on Thursday, February 18, 1943. Upon reaching the University, they passed Willi Graf and friend, Traute Lafrenz, who were leaving. They made plans to meet later in the evening, never mentioning the leaflets in the case. Together, Hans and Sophie entered the deserted atrium which, in minutes, would be flooded with students exiting lectures and classes. They worked quickly, dropping stacks of Kurt Huber's leaflets throughout the corridors. With time running out, the brother and sister hurried outside to safety. Then they noticed there were still leaflets left in the suitcase. Deciding it would be silly not to leave the few extra documents, they returned to the atrium, climbed a grand marble staircase to the upper level of the hall and Sophie flung the last of the leaflets high into the air. Sophie herself explained it this way: "It was either high spirits or stupidity that made me throw 80 to 100 leaflets from the third floor of the university into the inner courtyard." The dozens of pieces of paper glided freely, landing in a shower at the feet of students who suddenly poured out of lecture halls into the atrium. And standing somewhere in the crowd was Jakob Schmidt, University handyman and Nazi party member, who saw Hans and Sophie with the leaflets. The police were called, the doors were locked, and Hans and Sophie apprehended and taken into Gestapo custody. By some accounts, Hans and Sophie had plenty of time and could easily have escaped before the Gestapo arrived. Jakob Schmidt became a momentary Nazi hero and was cheered at rallies after the capture of White Rose members.

Today, there are many memorials of the White Rose throughout Munich and their story is known to every German. The White Rose may have been silenced too early but their words echo on...

"Freedom!"
Not to put too fine a point on it, Ratzinger's apologists are simply full of shit. If I believed in corporal punishment I would be for tattooing the White Rose story (in the original German) onto the bodies of the pundit class. And as Eric Muller explains, the Inquisitor can't even get his own story straight about the wartime years.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pope Benedikt

Pius XII was elected pope before he refused to take a stand against fascism. Benedict XVI, on the other hand, was a coward long before his election. And by that, I mean that he joined the Hitler Youth at the age of 14. Here's the relevant article from the Times of London a couple of days ago; I'll include the full text because I can't find a link:
The Sunday Times—World

April 17, 2005

Papal Hopeful Is a Former Hitler Youth
Justin Sparks, Munich, John Follain and Christopher Morgan, Rome

The wartime past of a leading German contender to succeed John Paul II may return to haunt him as cardinals begin voting in the Sistine Chapel tomorrow to choose a new leader for 1 billion Catholics.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, whose strong defence of Catholic orthodoxy has earned him a variety of sobriquets — including “the enforcer”, “the panzer cardinal” and “God’s rottweiler” — is expected to poll around 40 votes in the first ballot as conservatives rally behind him.

Although far short of the requisite two-thirds majority of the 115 votes, this would almost certainly give Ratzinger, 78 yesterday, an early lead in the voting. Liberals have yet to settle on a rival candidate who could come close to his tally.

Unknown to many members of the church, however, Ratzinger’s past includes brief membership of the Hitler Youth movement and wartime service with a German army anti- aircraft unit.

Although there is no suggestion that he was involved in any atrocities, his service may be contrasted by opponents with the attitude of John Paul II, who took part in anti-Nazi theatre performances in his native Poland and in 1986 became the first pope to visit Rome’s synagogue.

“John Paul was hugely appreciated for what he did for and with the Jewish people,” said Lord Janner, head of the Holocaust Education Trust, who is due to attend ceremonies today to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

“If they were to appoint someone who was on the other side in the war, he would start at a disadvantage, although it wouldn’t mean in the long run he wouldn’t be equally understanding of the concerns of the Jewish world.”

The son of a rural Bavarian police officer, Ratzinger was six when Hitler came to power in 1933. His father, also called Joseph, was an anti-Nazi whose attempts to rein in Hitler’s Brown Shirts forced the family to move home several times.

In 1937 Ratzinger’s father retired and the family moved to Traunstein, a staunchly Catholic town in Bavaria close to the Führer’s mountain retreat in Berchtesgaden. He joined the Hitler Youth aged 14, shortly after membership was made compulsory in 1941.

He quickly won a dispensation on account of his training at a seminary. “Ratzinger was only briefly a member of the Hitler Youth and not an enthusiastic one,” concluded John Allen, his biographer.

Two years later Ratzinger was enrolled in an anti-aircraft unit that protected a BMW factory making aircraft engines. The workforce included slaves from Dachau concentration camp.

Ratzinger has insisted he never took part in combat or fired a shot — adding that his gun was not even loaded — because of a badly infected finger. He was sent to Hungary, where he set up tank traps and saw Jews being herded to death camps. He deserted in April 1944 and spent a few weeks in a prisoner of war camp.

He has since said that although he was opposed to the Nazi regime, any open resistance would have been futile — comments echoed this weekend by his elder brother Georg, a retired priest ordained along with the cardinal in 1951.

“Resistance was truly impossible,” Georg Ratzinger said. “Before we were conscripted, one of our teachers said we should fight and become heroic Nazis and another told us not to worry as only one soldier in a thousand was killed. But neither of us ever used a rifle against the enemy.”

Some locals in Traunstein, like Elizabeth Lohner, 84, whose brother-in-law was sent to Dachau as a conscientious objector, dismiss such suggestions. “It was possible to resist, and those people set an example for others,” she said. “The Ratzingers were young and had made a different choice.”

In 1937 another family a few hundred yards away in Traunstein hid Hans Braxenthaler, a local resistance fighter. SS troops repeatedly searched homes in the area looking for the fugitive and his fellow conspirators.

“When he was betrayed and the Nazis came for him, Braxenthaler shot himself because he knew he couldn’t escape,” said Frieda Meyer, 82, Ratzinger’s neighbour and childhood friend. “Even though they had tortured him in Dachau concentration camp he refused to give up his resistance efforts.”

Despite question marks over Ratzinger’s wartime conduct, the main obstacle to his prospects in the conclave — the assembly of cardinals to elect the new pope — is the conservative stance he has adopted as guardian of Catholic orthodoxy since John Paul named him to head the congregation for the doctrine of the faith in 1981.

His condemnations are legion — of women priests, married priests, dissident theologians and homosexuals, whom he has declared to be suffering from an “objective disorder”.

He upset many Jews with a statement in 1987 that Jewish history and scripture reach fulfilment only in Christ — a position denounced by critics as “theological anti-semitism”. He made more enemies among other religions in 2000, when he signed a document, Dominus Jesus, in which he argued: “Only in the Catholic church is there eternal salvation”.

Some of his staunchest critics are in Germany. A recent poll in Der Spiegel, the news magazine, showed opponents of a Ratzinger papacy outnumbered supporters by 36% to 29%.

As one western cardinal who was in two minds about him put it: “He would probably be a great pope, but I have no idea how I would explain his election back home.”

One liberal theologian,when asked what he thought of a Ratzinger papacy, was more direct: “It fills me with horror.”
At least the Germans themselves were against this (by 36-29). The only reason I'm not willing to call Ratzinger an out and out Nazi is that membership in the Hitler Youth had become "compulsory" by the time he joined, as the article notes. Regardless, there were courageous Germans in that period, some of them quite traditionalist and conservative. Ratzinger was not among them.

UPDATE: Er, here's the link.

What's So Terrible About Pope Ratz

Here it is, nutshelled:
"It's not enough to believe in Jesus Christ - we need someone to follow," Rocco Buttiglione, an Italian academic and politician who was friends with John Paul and Cardinal Ratzinger, said in the huge crowd. "He has experienced modernity and he is convinced that modernity is a problem and Jesus Christ is the answer. It's not that Christianity has a problem and modernity is the answer."
Good. "We need someone to follow." Nicely premature surrender to a totalitarian conception of citizenship. "Modernity is a problem and Jesus Christ is the answer." Let's reserve comment on Jesus Christ, but if this is the official position of the Vatican (it's certainly consonant with Ratzinger's views), it amounts to a declaration of war.

Fetus Fetish

Majikthise takes note of some insights into the Cartesian theater of Rick Santorum's mind:
...Gabriel Michael was born prematurely, at 20 weeks, on Oct. 11, 1996, and lived two hours outside the womb.

Upon their son's death, Rick and Karen Santorum opted not to bring his body to a funeral home. Instead, they bundled him in a blanket and drove him to Karen's parents' home in Pittsburgh. There, they spent several hours kissing and cuddling Gabriel with his three siblings, ages 6, 4 and 1 1/2. They took photos, sang lullabies in his ear and held a private Mass.
And there's lots more where that came from. Is this what the "culture of life" means? Because it looks pretty goddamn sick.

Good News For Civilization

The Catholic Church positioning itself as an antagonist of liberal democracy sure sucks, but at least this happened:
Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed.

The Grand Inquisitor

If I were a Catholic like Andrew Sullivan, I'd be in despair:
And so the Catholic church accelerates its turn toward authoritarianism, hostility to modernity, assertion of papal supremacy and quashing of internal debate and dissent. We are back to the nineteenth century. Maybe this is a necessary moment. Maybe pressing this movement to its logical conclusion will clarify things. But those of us who are struggling against what our Church is becoming, and the repressive priorities it is embracing, can only contemplate a form of despair. The Grand Inquisitor, who has essentially run the Church for the last few years, is now the public face. John Paul II will soon be seen as a liberal. The hard right has now cemented its complete control of the Catholic church. And so ... to prayer. What else do we now have?
But Ratzinger and his cohorts have prayer too.

Habemus Malum

Ratzinger is the pope.

UPDATE: I'm not sure if Kieran Healy is laughing or crying.

Instapundit Watch

This is either weird or infuriating---Glenn Reynolds, today:
IN THE MAIL: One Solder's Story: A Memoir, by Bob Dole. Reading just the first few pages, it's easy to see why he got so angry at John Kerry last year.
Can this make any sense without assuming that the fabrications of the Swift Boat Veterans for "Truth" were true? (I'm not getting back into that but this is useful.) Or is Reynolds taking the line that Kerry's testimony at the Winter Soldier hearing was treasonous? Interesting factoid about that: Kerry's testimony was true in almost every particular. Maybe Instapundit is one of those who thinks telling the truth about what (some) American soldiers did in Vietnam is a form of treason.

Whatever the precise means by which Glenn Reynolds does yet more violence to the study of history, I'd like to offer an alternative explanatory model that, and maybe this is just me, does a pretty good job predicting the only datum available, i.e. that Bob Dole did angrily impugn John Kerry's record of military service last year. And that explanation is: Bob Dole is a highly partisan Republican (d'ya know he was once the Republican Senate Leader? No, really) who will do rather a lot to aid in the election of Republican candidates. Not as heartrending a story as the one in which Dole reluctantly decided to get himself entangled in all this only after a bald eagle and a crying Indian came to him in an astral vision and showed him the way, but it does (I hope) have a certain plausibility of its own.

Monday, April 18, 2005

David Milch Democrats

Is that girl paying attention? It's an answer to the South Park Republicans. Matt Welch explains.

Worst Of The Worst

If you saw cable news at all earlier this afternoon, you would have noticed round the clock coverage of a chimney over the Sistine chapel. All three networks were settled in to watching for smoke to come out, the signal that the cardinalic conclave has adjourned (black smoke = no new pope, white smoke = new pope). Could someone please tell me when we became an officially Catholic country.

Oh, but there was something even more depressing on tv today. And it was on C-Span. The chaplin for the US House of Representatives gave a prayer in which, and this is not a joke, he asked for God's aid and guidance in delivering Americans from the temptations of "materialism" and "moral relativism." So I'll be on suicide watch tonight.

Fisking Hatemail

Party Time:
I normally find your opinion pieces in the YDN insightful and well written.
Hmm, I don't want to accuse someone of not telling the truth about his own mental states, but while he just might find my stuff well-written, can someone of his political beliefs really find it to be "insightful"? Let's give the benefit of the doubt.
Unfortunately that was not the case for your piece on the Pope John Paul II's legacy. Your accusations and assertions are uninformed, incomplete, and clichéd.
"Uninformed" I'll get back to, "cliched" I think is plainly false, but "incomplete"? What exactly does that mean? Say what you will about my accusations and assertions, they were complete accusations and assertions.
Your logic is also rather flawed.
This is a case of whoever smelt it dealt it. But watch.
According to you, while His holiness can not be given credit for things he did not solely accomplish, he can be assigned full fault for any misdeeds he had any part in.
No, not quite. I think the pope (spare the his Holiness nonsense, yeah?) deserves partial credit for things he partially accomplished---so much so that I wrote "the late pope does deserve praise for playing a catalyzing role in the dissolution of the Eastern bloc in its twilight years"---and I think he deserves partial blame whenever he was partially to blame. Though he did rather less to topple the Soviet Union than the teeming masses of Eastern Europe, he certainly did more than Ronald Reagan. Conversely, the child molestation scandal is entirely the fault of a) individual priests and b) the Catholic hierarchy. Of the latter, the head of the hierarchy obviously bears the greatest responsibility.
Your insinuation that church teaching on female priests and cleric [sic] celibacy had a role in creating the horrid molestations, is neither documented nor supported by by any studies.
Let's say I'm skeptical about this claim on several levels. First, I'm skeptical that it is, as they say, true. But if in fact there are no adequate studies on the relationship between celibacy and the church's medieval attitude towards women on the one hand and violation of children on the other, I think I can venture a guess as to which rigidly secretive and authoritarian institution that believes it stands above human law is blocking the conduct of such studies. But, whatever the causal relationship between celibacy etc. and child molestation, the point within my article hadn't the slightest thing to do with it. What I find shocking about the church's teaching on sexual matters is that it adopts a zero-tolerance policy for everything that isn't procreative vaginal intercourse between husband and wife, except for touching altar boys.
In fact studies of protestant ministers show that married male ministers are as likely to molest as unmarried.
Maybe true, likely not, certainly unproven since we've already established that there isn't adequate data on priestly abuses, but in any case totally irrelevant. What's relevant is that protestant ecclesiastical authorities have not, as far as anyone knows, precipitated a coverup of a system of rape and abuse rivalled in scope only by the American prison establishment and targeted at the absolutely defenseless among us.
Furthermore, your insinuation that John Paul's effort to canonize Pius XII because of his silence on genocide and fascism is unfounded, in fact John Paul has done more toward reconciliation between Catholics and Jews than any other Pope.
This isn't quite grammatical, but I assume the first point is that he interprets me as claiming that JPII wanted to canonize Pius XII because he refused to stand up to the Nazis. Now that would be callous. The outrage is that JPII was for some reason willing to overlook Pius XII's cowardice in his bizarre zeal to canonize the worm. The second point I flatly deny, because, well,
Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli...during World War II forged documents, issued false baptismal papers and made personal protests to save European Jews from extermination. Later, as Pope John XXIII, Roncalli convened the Second Vatican Council, which, among other things, finally acquitted the Jews of Christ-killing.
Moving along.
Your downright defamation of Bernard Cardinal Law is so clichéd and ignorant of the facts that it is not even worth refuting, and your further insinuation that John Paul's lack of disciplinary action against him, makes him as responsible in these scandals is outrageous.
Now I'm really hurt by the "cliched" remark because as far as I know, I'm the first person to refer to Law as the "Archlizard of Boston" in print. But seriously folks, he should be in jail for the rest of his life, and anyone else in any secular office, or indeed anyone in an ecclesiastical office outside the Catholic church or lower down in its hierarchy would be in prison. Law shielded child molestors from justice and enabled them to molest again. John Paul II protected the enabler of molestors. Which is not as bad, but still terrible.
While a discussion of how good a man's legacy (especially a man of his stature) is worthwhile, your method is mean-spirited, inaccurate, and downright offensive to the Catholic and non-Catholic admirers of this Great man.
Here, and for the rest of the letter, we depart fact-based argumentation and settle for an alchemy of simpering right-wing political correctness and treacly idolatry. Nice touch capitalizing the "g" in "Great man," no? The fact that he was a Great man should settle everything, perhaps.
Your last two sentences in particular are what made me write this note to you. "This outcome is what John Paul II's papacy has wrought. His jubilant adorers, so eager to construct an idol of him, have failed to notice that the only material available for that construction is papier-mache."
Well, good, I inspired him.
I sincerely suggest that you issue an apology at the very least for these lines, as even you can acknowledge that John Paul II was an incredible man who did a lot of good for mankind throughout his entire life, even if not every aspect of his papacy was perfect.
I owe no apology to anyone. If the next pope does nothing but apologize for all the church's past wrongs, he'll spend his entire papal reign simply apologizing---that's something John Paul II discovered for himself. No, I don't acknowledge that John Paul II was an incredible man, and certainly not that he did "a lot of good for mankind throughout his entire life." Towards the end, he quite clearly was doing a lot of ill for mankind.

Pope Reax

One from each bin. First, from the "how dare you" lot:
Dan,

I normally find your opinion pieces in the YDN insightful and well written. Unfortunately that was not the case for your piece on the Pope John Paul II's legacy. Your accusations and assertions are uninformed, incomplete, and clichéd. Your logic is also rather flawed. According to you, while His holiness can not be given credit for things he did not solely accomplish, he can be assigned full fault for any misdeeds he had any part in. Your insinuation that church teaching on female priests and cleric celibacy had a role in creating the horrid molestations, is neither documented nor supported by by any studies. In fact studies of protestant ministers show that married male ministers are as likely to molest as unmarried. Furthermore, your insinuation that John Paul's effort to canonize Pius XII because of his silence on genocide and fascism is unfounded, in fact John Paul has done more toward reconciliation between Catholics and Jews than any other Pope. Your downright defamation of Bernard Cardinal Law is so clichéd and ignorant of the facts that it is not even worth refuting, and your further insinuation that John Paul's lack of disciplinary action against him, makes him as responsible in these scandals is outrageous. While a discussion of how good a man's legacy (especially a man of his stature) is worthwhile, your method is mean-spirited, inaccurate, and downright offensive to the Catholic and non-Catholic admirers of this Great man. Your last two sentences in particular are what made me write this note to you. "This outcome is what John Paul II's papacy has wrought. His jubilant adorers, so eager to construct an idol of him, have failed to notice that the only material available for that construction is papier-mache." I sincerely suggest that you issue an apology at the very least for these lines, as even you can acknowledge that John Paul II was an incredible man who did a lot of good for mankind throughout his entire life, even if not every aspect of his papacy was perfect.

Sincerely,
[name withheld]
The letter writer, who is so sincere as to twice advise me of his sincerity, manages to get every last detail of my column wrong. I'm going to fisk this in the next post, mostly because I'll get a kick out of it. In the meantime, here's proof that somebody likes what I'm doing:
Daniel,

Your YDN editorial was a refreshing counterpoint to the last few days' worth of saccharine pro-papal media saturation - from which an extraterrestrial might assume a universally-loved and utterly infallible planetary leader had died.

Then again, I suppose this is how he really was viewed - despite the mass (no pun intended) of evidence to the contrary.

I recall studying my sophomore year the great European upheaval centered around lay investiture and the Vatican's desire to shield its officers from secular power. How depressing that nearly a millennium later nothing has changed. How depressing that Cardinal Law will remain part of seeing that this has an opportunity to continue indefinitely.

Thanks again for the iconoclasm.

[name withheld] '04
Well, that's what I was going for.

What's So Terrible About D-Ho? (Lots)

Matt Welch responds to a Cathy Seipp column in which she argues that the not-right-of-center's feelings about David Horowitz are a product of Horowitz's no-bullshit incisiveness.

D-Ho, as we all know, is stuffed full of no-bullshit bullshit. Here's Matt:
Speaking only for myself, I find Horowitz comically awful because he's hyberbolic, inaccurate, predictable, and off-puttingly obsessed with the many bad choices he made as a young adult. I also firmly believe that Trotskyites rarely change their warped mental and rhetorical habits -- they only switch teams. And bad writers don't magically become good just because they suddenly vote for the same gang you do.

How bizarre and distasteful is it, that the same people who -- unlike almost all of my liberal friends -- actually *did* believe in Marxism and apologize for dictators, are the most vocal in their blanket condemnations of people who never did any such thing? If I had ever been a Trotskyite, I'd spend one hell of a long time dwelling privately on my own character defects and terrible judgment, instead of immediately joining some other troupe & screeching out the same old insults to an appreciative (and forgetful) new audience.
He goes on to explain what insufferable pains-in-the-ass professional team switchers tend to be (regardless of what teams they switched to and from).

The only issue I'd take here stems from a point of personal pride, and the result of it is in fact to make Matt's case against Horowitz even stronger (more in a moment). And that is: about the "Trotskyite" thing. Trotskyists were never "Trostkyites"; they were always "Trotskyists." The former appellation, moreover, though it may have once been a derogatory term specifically for supporters of Leon Trotsky and fellow-travelers of the Fourth International, became an all purpose term for the denunciation of leftists. So while "Trotskyist" retains its connection to the man and the movement it was named for, "Trotskyite" might bear faint echoes of the original meaning but is closer to the all-purpose "commie" or "pinko." The evolution of terms, I think, is a function of the identity of the people using them. Speakers of the "Trotskyist " language were generally supporters of the (anti-Soviet) left, and were not only cognizant of the many fractures and mutual excommunications amongst leftist factions, but understood the substance of their disagreements. Speakers of the "Trotskyite" language, and this is not necessarily a knock against them," might have had some awareness of the fanatical sectarianism among the old left, but by and large could not have picked out one sect from another in a blind taste test. So while a true believer would only ever say "Trostkyist," those who say "Trotskyite" (again, not necessarily a knock) could not have been counted on to explain why a member of the Socialist Workers Party and a member of the Communist Party would have been blood-enemies.

I raise all this because, to my knowledge, David Horowitz was never associated with any Trotskyist party or movement. He was a through-and-through Communist. What’s the difference? Both engaged in anti-moral apologetics for the horrors of the Russian Revolution, the Civil War, the Kronstadt repression, etc., both were attitudinally incapable of making a political utterance free of god-awful Comspeak, and both believed in an ultimate victory of some sort of communism (though the Communists gradually exchanged a sincere belief in that victory for a sublimely cynical one). But for the Trotskyists, the apologetics stopped somewhere in the mid-1920s (when their man was ousted from power). Following Trotsky---who was perhaps the first major historical figure to denounce Stalin for the right reasons---i.e., not because he (Stalin) represented godlessness or the overturning of tradition, but because his depredations were of a kind that transcends both political theory and placement in a stage of economo-historical development---the Trotskyists attacked Stalin and his supporters not (only) on the basis of derivations from "scientific socialism," but for their suborning, commission, and whitewashing of genocide.

So there is still a scrap of honor to be preserved in having been a Trotskyist, especially in light of the fact that very few political movements of the right or left come out of the 1930s looking spotless---though if one had to choose a prominent figure of the old anti-Communist left as a model of decency, Rosa Luxemburg is infinitely preferable to Trotsky (and pretty much all the other candidates).

That scrap is not one to which David Horowitz is entitled. His left was the one that chased Trotsky to the ends of the earth and slaughtered him, that justified "necessary murder" (Auden's term, which he later despised so much that he had it expunged from his collected poems) in the name of leftist solidarity, that defended the most profound system of persecution ever devised by man as an expression of the progress of history.

Whatever motivated Horowitz to jump ship was most certainly not the pangs of a guilty conscience. There is nothing redemptive about a transformation from Stalinoid (if not Stalinist) to McCarthyite; in fact the tools of each trade are roughly equivalent: accusations of treason so abstract as to be unfalsifiable, clinically paranoid conspiracy envisioning, rampant indulgence in genetic fallacy (the notion that one's opponents' arguments can be dismissed not ad se but on the basis of their character traits), and of course, the development of an anti-linguistic vocabulary that justifies ambominations in the name of the ideals which they negate.

Matt was more right than he knew, and Horowitz really could use some time alone to dwell on his past terrible judgements.

GESO

Make it stop.

MacDworkinism

This Cathy Young post at Hit & Run makes me feel rather more confident about my earlier remarks re: Andrea Dworkin.

To give a rough precis of the blogospheric debate over Dworkin: her critics say she was anti-sex and anti-male, her (left-ish) feminist supporters say she was neither, and her (probably unsought) supporters on the right appreciate her anti-sex views.

Now then, the clarifying context that is supposed to dissolve the notion that Dworkin hated men or sex is that her various claims to the effect that heterosexual sex is intrinsically degrading to women are only true within a patriarchal system. Well, fine. So it's not an eternal truth. Still, I do wonder just how long our own civilization has been a Dworkinian patriarchy. Pretty much the whole thing, right? So to Rad Geek and Ampersand et al.: Isn't the onus on you guys to explain how, according to the Dworkinian theory of sex, every living male who has had sex with a woman (which includes me, most of my friends, you guys if you're straight, surely some of your friends, and quite of few other decent folks as well) isn't guilty multiple instances of coercion and degradation, if not rape?

Is anything really gained when we learn that Dworkin's view of heterosexual intercourse as "the pure, sterile, formal expression of men's contempt for women" is only supposed to apply to intercourse in a patriarchal system? (I guess that means that while I have mistaken love/lust for gender-contempt at least I-won't-say-how-many-times, I can blame that contempt on the larger social system---or maybe it's my fault as an individual as well.) Seriously, who the fuck is Dworkin to make preemptive declarations about the emotional status of a sexual relationship, knowing (as is obvious) nothing about the individuals involved but armed with an explanatory framework that (of course!) trumps the dynamics of their relationship? These sorts of cringe-making historical (and ahistorical) theories, from Marxism to Objectivism to crass Invisible-handism to MacDworkinism are linked to one another by their absolute indifference to individual autonomy and their commodification of individuals as gears in some cosmic or historical machine.

Like G.E. Moore knowing the skeptics were wrong because he knew "here's a hand," I know that sex---and that includes regular vanilla heterosexual man + woman penetrative intercourse---can be fun, mutual, consensual, free of degradation or coercion, and yes, loving, even if the glass ceiling on women's pay remains (unjustly) in place. I know further that I'd much rather live in a society like ours that sustains a Dworkinian patriarchy than one in which Dworkin's transformation of sexuality is realized:
For men I suspect that this transformation begins in the place they most dread -- that is, in a limp penis. I think that men will have to give up their precious erections and begin to make love as women do together.
Forget castration. This is a depiction of the bizarro-world Handmaid's Tale.

And last a utilitarian point. As Young writes:
[O]ne of the curious aspects of Dworkin's "legacy" is the extent to which appropriating her language helped social conservatives attack freedom and equality for women without appearing anti-woman. I recall Terry Jeffrey of Human Events, a few years ago, saying on the late, unlamented Crossfire that the sexual revolution was "violence against women." And just the other day at the blog of the Independent Women's Forum, Charlotte Hays referred to women being wounded in combat in Iraq as "state-sanctioned violence against women." In a way, it makes sense. The MacDworkinite focus on violent male abuse of women completely obscured the fact that at least in Western history, patriarchy far more commonly took the form of paternalism and special protections for women. Thus, it played straight into the hands of the neo-paternalists.
If Dworkin and (especially) MacKinnon wanted to distinguish themselves from the paternalist right, they could have avoided teaming with it to write anti-porn legislation. So tell me how exactly Dworkin "achievements" weren't a huge net minus for the cause of female freedom.

John Paul II's Not Golden Legacy

New YDN piece today, on one of my very favorite things to talk about. Something tells me there are going to be some letters for this:
Among the small group of priests performing rosaries on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica last week was none other than Bernard Law, the Archlizard of Boston, who should be serving the first of several life sentences for active facilitation of the rape of children. But because the majesty and mystery of the Church remains unassailable, and because he curried the favor of the late pope, Law is instead shielded from merely secular justice and will be voting in the election of the next pope. This outcome is what John Paul II's papacy has wrought. His jubilant adorers, so eager to construct an idol of him, have failed to notice that the only material available for that construction is papier-mache.
In fact, I've got one pricelessly written e-mail already. More later.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Ithaca Restroom Sex

I was at Cornell over the weekend (I'll try to be a better blogger next week), and apparently someone had the bright idea of inviting the (wo)manchildren of the Real World and Road Rules to give speeches about God-knows-whatever must be their area of expertise. So...Saturday night, at Dino's (the Cornell version of Toad's, sort-of), who orders a drink next to me at the bar but Ruthie, the famous(ly) alcoholic lesbian of the Real World Hawaii. Bar gossip later that evening indicated that she was having drunk sex with some lucky lady in the lady's room, but it went unconfirmed.

Ah, brushing shoulders with royalty.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Odds 'N Ends (And Insertions)

I think Dan Munz might be misinterpreting me. I said, in re: boob jobs, "Obviously, as a libertarian, I think people should be free to insert anything they want into their bodies." He writes:
Okay, if the original ban was bogus, than I’m glad to see it undone. But is he really suggesting that banning these products is an infringement on our freedoms in any meaningful way? The FDA did not say, “No putting damaging substances in your body.” What they did do is make it illegal for companies to pass off damaging substances as non-damaging ones. The reason they did this, of course, is that we’re not all scientists, and we don’t have the time to be. We have to rely on someone to interpret the innovations of modern science, and the government, being a neutral third party with a vested interest in the general welfare of the citizenry, seems like as good a choice as any. Is this a cession of autonomy, in some sense? Sure, in the sense that “freedom” includes the freedom to be lied to. But that’s no way to run a society.
Not in spite of my libertarianism, nor because of it, but completely independently of it, I don't think that companies should not be able to defraud the public and/or pass off products they know to be harmful without disclosing potential risks of use. I do think though, that on general principle, provided that consumers are fully informed (and responsibility for that is divided between consumers and producers) there should be essentially no restrictions on the transactions they can enter into.

More concretely, I think we should be wary of attempts by the FDA, especially when governed by a theocrat-symp administration, to ban pharmaceutical products for the good of the public. This is the same rationale that's keeping EC and birth control pills on a prescription-only.

Also via Dan Munz, in my opinion as a philosopher, Tom Delay is an absolute shithead.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Freedom Of Association (With Large Breasts)

What can I say, I've been busy. Anyway, the FDA has approved a new form of silicone breast implants. Now, I'm not one to be unskeptical about the "facts" asserted in National Review articles about "science," but Sally Satel actually is a reputable conservative physician, and according to her, the original ban on silicone breast implants was much ado about nothing.

Obviously, as a libertarian, I think people should be free to insert anything they want into their bodies.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Inartful

Tom Delay's take on his own threats to judges:
Sometimes I get a little more passionate, and particularly during the moment, and the day that Terri Schiavo was starved to death, emotions were flowing. I probably said — I did, I didn't probably — I said something in an inartful way, and I shouldn't have said it that way, and I apologize for saying it that way.

Follow The Money

From Jamie Kirchick's column today:
And GESO's "strike" next week will not be a real strike, because, after all, GESO is not a real union. For unlike actual workers, GESO members do not pay union dues. Who then, is funding the color posters plastered around campus and the full-page ads? When I asked Reynolds, she said UNITE-HERE, the umbrella union for locals 34 and 35. From 1998 to 2000, HERE contributed a total of $393,395 to GESO. This means that the real workers of Yale University -- the dining hall workers, the janitors, the administrative assistants and their working-class colleagues across the country -- are subsidizing everything related to GESO via union dues.
Assuming this is true, it's a shocking indictment, no?

Pope Ratzinger?

John Paul II's legacy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Tread Carefully

At the risk of getting Majikthise or Ampersand mad at me, I have to say I agree with Andrew Sullivan's take on Andrea Dworkin (and David Frum). There's no point in pretending that I've read much (any) Dworkin, but I don't see how it would be possible for the devotion of so much of one's professional and political energy to attacking pornography to be anything other than the expression of a fundamental disdain for personal liberty.

There is a Nagelian bridge law to be found, somewhere, connecting the puritanical right and left, and when (if) it is found, it will be possible to effect a reduction. Here's hoping.

UPDATE: Okay, quickly, to Rad Geek: My point has nothing to do with passing any sort of judgement on Dworkin's scholarship, which I'm not in a position to do. I have no doubt that, as many of her defenders claim, lots of what she said was taken out of context. However, it doesn't take exhaustive reading of her books to know, as Pinko Feminist Hellcat (a name that does indicate feminist sympathies, no?) summarized it:
Dworkin became even more reviled when she teamed up with feminist lawyer Katherine MacKinnon to draft a proposal for a law that defined pornography as a civil rights violation against women, and allowed women to sue the producers and distributors of pornography in a civil court for damages.
This is just a publicly available fact. And I think it justifies the conclusion I drew.

This Just In

Well I found out tonight why the name "Daily Kos" is funny...and it is pretty funny. Anyway, the Mahbod theory of blogging seems to be that it reflects the bloggers' personalities (surprise!). So as it turns out: Finnegans Wake is exhaustive and boring, I am justice is depressing, Actual God is balding, and I can't remember the classification of Kingspawn.

Alexander, Tamburlaine, Gregory, Charles, Alfred, Elizabeth

John Quiggin explains why John Paul II can't be John Paul the Great---and why, if he could, that wouldn't be an admirable quality.

Seriously

John Bolton had some hearings today. As much as I think Bolton is a fascist, xenophobe, and an awful choice to be the new U.S. - U.N. go-between, his explanation for his statement that the U.N. "does not exist" makes me want to root for him. While we all know that Bolton really dislikes the U.N. because it represents non-Americans, especially brown folks, and because he is a fascist, his argument that he was disputing the ontological validity of the world body as an example of "the fallacy of false concreteness" makes my heart beat quickly and my palms sweat. The Times reports that he used the phrase -- "the fallacy of false concreteness" -- repeatedly throughout the hearings. That shit is deep.

As the former national poet laureate Mark Strand was fond of saying:

"The poem that has stolen these words from my mouth
may not be this poem."

Monday, April 11, 2005

Even Briefer

Nice to see Dan Munz up and at 'em again, but I have to disagree with his distinction between John Bolton and Alberto Gonzales. Gonzales is not fit to be attorney general. An attorney general is not the president's personal ambulance-chaser, which is precisely the relationship vis-a-vis George W. Bush that Gonzales has spent the last decade cultivating.

Broken Eggs

I'm still nose-deep in supervenience theory, so this will be brief.

The far-right wants to destroy the judiciary. Literally:
Not to be outdone, lawyer-author Edwin Vieira told the gathering that [Supreme Court Justice Anthony] Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law."

Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his "bottom line" for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. "He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: 'no man, no problem,'" Vieira said.
Dana Milbank, probably in an effort to construe the events he was reporting on as somehow less indicative of psychopathy than they appear at first blush, includes the following unsupportable claim:
Presumably, Vieira had in mind something less extreme than Stalin did and was not actually advocating violence.
Really? I don't see an atom of a reason for presuming anything.

And for the record, the event at which Vieira "was not actually advocating violence" (appearances to the contrary) was not a fringe happening. It was attended by such luminaries as:
two House members; aides to two senators; representatives from the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America; conservative activists Alan Keyes and Morton C. Blackwell; the lawyer for Terri Schiavo's parents; Alabama's "Ten Commandments" judge, Roy Moore
and also Phyllis Schlafly; and Tom Delay was supposed to be there but skipped town in order to attend the pope's funeral. [He was there in spirit--ed.]

UPDATE: Eric Muller thinks Vieira should be investigated. And he's got sound legal reasons, too.

But did they come from the Bible? No? Then not in Edwin Vieira's America, my friend.

Socialized Medicine...

...brings Swedish bloggers back from the dead. Johan returns.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

While No Fan Of The Pope...

I'm not sure that Enlightenment-era Protestant resentment of Catholics is the best grounds for expressing distaste for him.

On the other hand, Kingspawn is too easy on JPII. He was not better than his predecessors, because his predecessors include John XXIII.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Productivity

I was going to write a new YDN column today, and prepare a presentation on supervenience relations for a seminar. Instead, I played a lot of EA Sports Rubgy 2005. Anyway, read this.

Well, That's Gruesome

Pope or Pharaoh? Which one subjects his deceased internal organs to more idolatrous veneration?

Occam's Blunt Instrument

As Josh Marshall points out, the new Powerline-line on the Schiavo/Martinez/Darling memo is that despite its having been written as a talking points memo, i.e. as the sort of thing whose contents are spread about and repeated, the memo was nevertheless not distributed to Republicans (and hence Mike Allen's job ought to be forfeit) because no Republicans have come forward on the record to say they received it. Interesting how the folks who brought you Rathergate are now willing to believe that a Republican-drafted talking points memo wound up in the posession of Tom Harkin and no one else outside the Martinez staff. And if Mike Allen claims that an anonymous Martinez staffer told him that the memo went out to other Republicans (forget about the problem of anonymice for now), well we already know that Mike Allen is a liar---Mike Allen falsely claimed that the memo was written by a Republican. Remember?

Not you either? Is what you remember more like this:
"The memo 'does not sound like something written by a conservative; it sounds like a liberal fantasy of how conservatives talk. What conservative would write that the case of a woman condemned to death by starvation is 'a great political issue'? Maybe such a person exists, but I doubt it.'" - Powerline

Vagueness Cont'd.

Matt Yglesias gets to the heart of the matter:
Vague predicates are still useful and legitimate.

Friday, April 08, 2005

But Will They Rescind The Purple Heart?

A decorated soldier, who is gay, wants to stay in the army. Good luck to him. (Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

Feel free to e-mail me as soon as you come across some blogospheric troll penning a thigh-slapper about a "pink heart."

Dangerous

FWIW, FW is apparently the Boardwalk of Yale Blogopoly. It must be because of Jeremy.

I'd trade it to be #1 in the squash rankings.

No, Seriously

I don't know if it's blogger, or my blog, or my computer, but something is seriously awry. Will post when able.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Unacceptable

Two reasons for the slowing down in content: 1) I've spent a lot of the week figuring out where I'll be living next year and what I'll be doing over the summer (more on the latter next week, when I'm officially allowed to talk about it); 2) Blogger has been sucking even harder than usual lately, so hard that I'm inching pretty close to junking it in favor of typepad.

Taking Responsibility For One's Actions

Well, if you've been following the non-story of the non-forged Republican memo advising that turning the occasion of Terri Schiavo's death into an Aztec death carnival would be a "winner" politically, bite your nails no longer. The memo was authentic, originating in the staff of Republican Senator Mel Martinez of Florida. Now, Kevin Drum has a simple request:
Martinez has fired the errant staffer, calling the memo "stupid." With that, I hope that Power Line and Hugh Hewitt and Michelle Malkin and the rest of the crew trying to relive the glory days of Rathergate will take his lead and just STFU. Enough.
Will they comply? Let's find out. Poweline's Hindrocket:
So, if the current AP story is correct, it confirms that ABC and the Post mis-reported the story--in the Post's case, in an article that was picked up by dozens of other newspapers off the paper's wire service.

The latest story also confirms how absurd it was for ABC, the Post, and other news outlets to label the anonymous memo a "GOP talking points memo." We have no idea who the unidentified Martinez staffer is, but he apparently was not authorized to speak for his boss, and most certainly was not empowered to speak for the leadership of the Republican party. We'll try to track him down and get his story, but in the meantime, this story serves as an object lesson in how the mainstream media can take a dopey, one-page memo by an unknown staffer and use it to discredit the entire Republican party.
Interesting take. For the record...well, take it away Michelle:
Brian Darling...is the author of the so-called GOP/Schiavo Talking Points Memo
Does that sound like a retraction from Malkin? It's not:
Well, now we know the truth. Thanks to the Associated Press, with the Washington Post bringing up the rear. And, gee, it only took 18 days to nail down a story that differs in key respects from what Snow and Allen reported on March 19 without adequate substantiation.
And last, Magister Parens himself, Hugh Hewitt:
Hats off to Powerline for exposing the Post's/ABC's ridiculous reliance on this memo, and for announcing prominently that the memo was in fact written by a staffer for Senator Mel Martinez....
Let's just rewind the tape a bit. It won't due for the 101st keyboard division to claim ex post facto that all along their beef was with the Post/ABC potentially exaggerated (potentially unexaggerated) account of the wide-spreadedness of the memo; they thought they had another forged memo scandal on their hands, and they were after blood. Now that it all turns out to have been a snipe hunt, they act like whining adolescents. Whither the grown-up Republicans?

Oversight

I should have added Lindsay Beyerstein (Majikthise) to the blogroll a long time ago.

Why Bother?

Against my better judgement, I'm not going to let Mike Slater's YDN column from yesterday go without comment. Slater's ostensible point, if in fact he has one, is that Howard Dean is guilty of hypocrisy because Dean accuses Republicans of nasty campaigning and then goes ahead and campaigns nastily himself. Snore. No doubt someone out there considers Slater a hypocrite for thusly criticizing Dean while making unkind remarks himself. And so the life-cycle of the pundit continues.

Nothing new there. What's new, or at least original, is writing like this:
Last week, Howard Dean told the Democratic faithful at a meeting in Toronto that Republicans are "brain dead." Although many conservative feelings were hurt, I'm holding my breath for the ACLU to file suit for infliction of emotional distress. While I'm here asphyxiating -- and for the sake of the lamebrained among us -- let's review why Dean is even speaking anywhere at all.
I mean, Jesus Christ. Waiting for the ACLU to file suit for emotional assault? Slater can't even get his dumb, fifth-hand National Review Online taunts straight. The ACLU is the organization that's in league with al-Qaeda. It's the professional PC lobby that sues conservatives for their insensitivity. Let's get our "facts" straight, okay?

But wait there's more. Skipping through Slater's really unnecessarily proffered opinion of the Democrats' decision-making process in selecting Dean as DNC chairman, we get to the real meat of Slater's indictment:
Dr. Dean is making the case to kick Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum out of office because, gasp, Santorum wanted Terri Schiavo to stay alive. In Philadelphia last week, Dean said he will do "anything" to defeat Santorum in 2006. Using the time-honored negative campaigns the Dems so loathe, Dean is more focused on trashing Santorum than promoting anyone else. He is throwing his support to the next best thing, Robert P. Casey Jr. -- a strange endorsement considering Casey is anti-abortion and anti-gun control, but he's a faithful yellow dog to the Pennsylvania Deaniacs.
Is that really Dean's sole reason for wishing to evict Santorum from office? I suppose I missed the headlines about Dean also trying to oust Tom Harkin. But why even attempt to retain a single thread of a coherent narrative when:
In a February stop in Kansas, Dean said, "This is a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good." I try not to read too much into politicians' comments, but unless the Dems are now campaigning against Darth Maul and the Lord of the Sith, I think he's saying that Republicans are evil...If we have to focus on the cons of Santorum's re-election, let's shy away from adjectives such as "evil" and "brain dead."
Never mind the asinine Star Wars witticism (the full column is even more gimmicky than these excerpts), unless Howard Dean is clairvoyant, it's somewhat unlikely that remarks he made in February---and which Slater himself associates with Dean's anti-Santorum cause---could have had the slightest thing to do with the not-yet-taken-place Schiavo spectacle. So maybe Dean had and has other reasons for opposing Santorum's re-election. Mike Slater, can you think of any?
I'm not here to support Santorum's re-election bid. He should lose a lot of votes because of his thoughtless comments on homosexuality, but he would lose more if Dean weren't approaching the election like a raging bull.
Hmm, interesting. If you get the sense that Slater's nested concern is really for the hurt feelings of Rick Santorum, you may be on to something. How else to explain this tacked-on appeal to new age feel-good let's-be-positive-about-everything-and-everyone-ism:
Instead of only highlighting Santorum's faults, Dean should focus on Casey and talk about his strengths. Here's a great opportunity for the Democrats to prove that Republicans can be out of step with the morals of America, and to prove that a positive campaign can work.
Let's all hold hands now, no?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

More Puritanism

I can't hope to improve on Nick Gillespie's take, so I'll just endorse it:
When Cleavage Is a Crime...

...only outlaws will show cleavage. Or something like that.

In recent comments at the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. conference in San Francisco, Rep. F. James Sensebrenner III (Prig, Wis.), underscores that the numerals trailing his name are an indication of I.Q. as much as breeding. Fulminating against indecency on the boob tube, the Badger State blowhard suggests that small-screen swearing, cleavage, and god knows what else should be a crime:
"People who are in flagrant disregard should face a criminal process rather than a regulator process," Sensenbrenner said. "That is the way to go. Aim the cannon specifically at the people committing the offenses, rather than the blunderbuss approach that gets the good actors.

"The people who are trying to do the right thing end up being penalized the same way as the people who are doing the wrong thing."
Is there any way to overreact to this? Sensenbrenner is literally calling for the criminalization of speech.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

R.I.P.

Saul Bellow.

Of the recent casualties of the 11th plague (slaying of celebrities) [is the pope a celebrity?--ed.], Bellow, Hunter S. Thompson, and Mitch Hedburg are the ones I'm truly sad about.

Outrage That Is Not Contrived

Beginning, I think, with this Josh Marshall post, the left blogosphere has been buzzing about Senator John Cornyn's musings on whether or not judicial activism is the root cause of the recent spate of courthouse violence. Now, as Josh says, with everybody getting outraged, outraged, over everything these days, the punditry's white noise makes it difficult to distinguish cases that mean nothing from cases that are really worth getting worked up about.

However, contrary to what some liberal bloggers are saying, the answer is not to pressure Cornyn into resigning. I say this because of a general conviction against the "he must resign" impulse, at least when it comes to elected officials (in terms of private citizens disgracing themselves, that is sometimes the only available recourse). Resignation is, simply, a cop out. By resigning, Cornyn shields himself from the public opprobrium he so richly deserves. And by so doing, in a final outrage, he would transform himself from national embarrassment into martyr of the right's ongoing effort to overcome liberal PC oppression. (Appearances to the contrary, the right is still officially opposed to political correctness.) That cannot be allowed to happen. The just outcome would be for Cornyn to be run out of office by his constituents. Failing that, there would be something inversely just about his constituents imposing another term for him on themselves. Unless he has committed a crime, democratic principle insists that he can only be forced to leave office via democratic processes. And yes, he should be hounded mercilessly about these remarks every day until he is no longer a senator.

Fisking Myself

I was looking through old e-mails I've written when I came across the following gem. I just want to make it clear, finally (the statute of limitations ran out on this shit, right?), that I meant not a word of it. Specifically, when I wrote, "I think you're all remarkably talented and I wish you the best," what I actually intended to communicate was, "I think you're all remarkably less talented than the backside of a syphillitc ostrich and I wish you the best medical care available in Swaziland when (with any luck) you all come down with necrotizing fasciitis." So, anyway, feast your eyes:
Dear Classmates:

It's been brought to my attention that my behavior in class today might have offended some people. If this is the case, then I would sincerely like to apologize for the way I acted. There is no excuse for insulting anyone, and I'm entirely at fault for having done so. I do want to say thought, that I did not intend to hurt anyone's feelings, and that whatever vocal or bodily gestures I made were a reflection of my own personal frustrations with the New Testament. I found your interpretations of it to be entirely accurate, and I would be more than happy to discuss with anyone why it seems to me implied in the doctrines of the Gospels and particularly the letters of St. Paul that this faith is life-denying rather than life-affirming; I have no inherent bias against Christianity any more than against any other monotheistic religion, certainly including the 'faith' that I was brought up in. The especially troublesome aspects of Christian faith to me are tied into its concurrent strands in Platonism, in which, again, I feel that it denies life and humanity. I'm truly very sorry if I gave the impression that I have some visceral dislike of Christianity or Christians or anyone in class; I think you're all remarkably talented and I wish you the best. When we begin Dante next week, I'll be sure to be my usually engaged and energetic self.

Cheers then,
Dan
No point pretending I'm not a terrible person, but whatever. Double-points to anybody who can piece together what brought all this about.

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