Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #442 (November 27th, 2007)


Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast That Make You a Good Feminist

1. A mother who works a full-time job and delegates to strangers the raising of her children eight hours a day, five days a week does just as good a job as a mother who hand-rears her children full time.

2. It makes great sense for the government to pay 10 to 15,000 dollars a year to fund a daycare space for a child so its mother - who pays perhaps 2,000 dollars in taxes - can be a contributing member of society.

3. A woman's doctor has more of a valid claim to participate in the decision to abort a fetus than does the father of that fetus.

4. So long as a woman makes a decision after consulting with her doctor, she is incapable of making an unethical choice.

5. A car with two steering wheels, two gas pedals and two brakes drives more efficiently than a car with one steering wheel, one gas pedal and one brake which is why marriage should always be an equal partnership.

6. It is absolutely necessary for women to be allowed to join or participate fully in any gathering place for men, just as it is absolutely necessary that there be women only environments from which men are excluded.

7. Because it involves taking jobs away from men and giving them to women, affirmative action makes for a fairer and more just society.

8. It is important to have lower physical standards for women firepersons and women policepersons so that, one day, half of all firepersons and policepersons will be women, thus more effectively protecting the safety of the public.

9. Affirmative action at colleges and universities needs to be maintained now that more women than men are being enrolled, in order to keep from giving men an unfair advantage academically.

10. Having ensured that there is no environment for men where women don't belong (see no.6) it is important to have zero tolerance of any expression or action which any woman might regard as sexist to ensure greater freedom for everyone.

11. Only in a society which maintains a level of 95% of alimony and child support being paid by men to women can men and women be considered as equals.

12. An airline stewardess who earned $20,000 a year at the time that she married a baseball player earning $6 million a year is entitled, in the event of a divorce, to $3 million for each year of the marriage and probably more.

13. A man's opinions on how to rear and/or raise a child are invalid because he is not the child's mother. However, his financial obligation is greater because no woman gets pregnant by herself.

14. Disagreeing with any of these statements makes you anti-woman and/or a misogynist.

15. Legislature Seats must be allocated to women and women must be allowed to bypass the democratic winnowing process in order to guarantee female representation and, thereby, make democracy fairer.


Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, in answer to the question "Should Jews try to assimilate?":

"We Jews have been too eager to sacrifice our idiosyncrasies in order to conform."

My assessment of this would depend on what he means by "idiosyncrasies" and what the interviewer (whom Einstein evidently misbelieved to be a Jew and who, instead, "proudly traced his lineage to the family of the Kaiser and (who) would later become a Nazi sympathizer") meant by the term "assimilate". I think you can change your mode of dress, as an example, and remain a Good Jew but I also think that surrendering religious observance -- observance as mandated in the Torah -- is a far more serious matter. Of course, I'm strictly a "Scripturalist". Orthodox Jews would disagree with me vehemently on any subject covered in the Talmud. You can't be a Good Jew unless you obey the Torah the way the Talmud tells you to. To me the Talmud are commentaries, like the Hadith in Islam or Paul's Epistles in Christianity. A lot of Germans of the time would see assimilation as naturally including apostasy: you haven't assimilated until you've given up the Synagogue for the Lutheran Church. In fact, the next question seemed to point in that direction.

To what extent are you influenced by Christianity?

As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.

This strikes me as either disordered thinking, an attempt to occupy contradictory positions or (I think more likely) simple Jewish self-preservation in a context where the next Christian pogrom against the Jews was never far away (in this case less than a decade). Einstein did attend a Catholic school (his parents were complete atheists) so presumably what he means is "I received instruction both in the Gospels and the Torah," unless he's being forensically accurate and is using "The Bible" as a way of avoiding a direct answer. As I say, it might be simple self-preservation. To the Christian ear of the time, "in the Bible and in the Talmud" would translate as "the Gospels and the Torah" since the Bible was seen by (and still is seen by) most German Lutherans as consisting of a true New Testament and a false or discredited Old Testament. Just calling it "the Bible" would provide a certain amount of cover if Einstein suspected that his interrogator was a Christian – "I've been influenced by Christianity at least to the extent that I call it the Bible" – and would likewise provide an appropriate nuance if the interrogator was a Jew – "I call it the Bible, but I also studied the sharper intricacies of Mosaic Law in the Talmud".

"Enthralled" could be comparably forensic and euphemistic. You can be equally "in the thrall" of John F. Kennedy or Adolf Hitler. It really just denotes an inescapable charisma or force which the Jews had certainly experienced at the hands of Jesus' successors (the endless Christian pogroms against the Jews, again). "Luminous figure" would translate differently to the Christian and Judaic ear. To the Christian ear, it would come across as a derivation of "I am the way and the light" which would compel the inference that Einstein was a convert to Christianity or was bordering on becoming a convert which was the stock-in-trade of being a Jew at a time when you were always, in one way or another, under a Christian death sentence and how you phrased your assessment of Christianity could mean the difference between life and death. In a Judaic sense, "luminous figure" could denote a marginalized political figure along the lines of the Apocryphal "Sons of Light and sons of Darkness" of later non-scriptural Judaism (such as were being found at Qumran – the Dead Sea Scrolls – around that time). That is, Jesus was probably more of a son of light than a son of darkness, but no big deal except for the way it's worked out for the Jews. Likewise calling him the Nazarene. To the Christian ear it would denote a level of familiarity with the Gospels that would likewise denote interest which they always tend to read as borderline, virtual or actual capitulation to Christianity. To know him is to love him, kind of thing. To the Judaic ear, I don't think much would have changed since Philip inquired regarding the Johannine Jesus "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" That is, Nazareth was about the lowest of the low Judaically speaking and the natural assumption was that anyone coming out of Nazareth was probably a shyster or something similar.

You accept the historical existence of Jesus?

Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.

This would be a DUH question for any Jew who had experienced or heard of Christian treatment of Jews which Einstein would have known intimately. If Jesus hadn't existed, then how do you explain this astronomical level of poisonous animosity directed against Jews by a religion founded on his teachings? If you had studied the Torah and the Talmud and then read the Gospels, it would be pretty clear that this is where the gross Christian hatred of Jews originated from. I experienced it myself having read the entire Torah and Apocrypha before reading the Gospels:

Oh. Christianity is about profound hatred and unthinking malice directed towards Jews. I get it. I certainly don't agree with it, but I get it.

(There's a lot of that in monotheism that I never dreamed existed: A letter writer in the National Post this morning says that the Koran says in three different places that Muhammad changed the Jews into monkeys and pigs. I've read the Koran dozens of times, twice through most recently during Ramadan. I can assure you that it doesn't say anything remotely like that anywhere. Just as the Jews can assure you that virtually everything the Synoptic Jesus says about the Torah is misquoted or quoted out of context. Doesn't do any good when it originates in the emotionalism of profound hatred and unthinking malice.)

Do you believe in God? the interviewer next wants to know.

Tomorrow: Did Einstein believe in God?


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