Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Insight. Or Not.

I was born and raised Jewish. Mostly in terms of nucleotide pairs, I'm proud of that. Certain assumptions, an unspoken commonality, apply when I meet people and find they are Jewish. In my case, it has little to do with religious belief (I admit to a certain amount of guilt about that, given the generational struggles to keep passing the torch), but about an unbroken genetic line for as far as the eye can see, and a sense of shared connection to important people and things. (And, as long as I'm being frank, I'll say this: I've met dumb Jews; but not many.)

Nevertheless, it was early in my upbringing that I began to question certain beliefs. "Chosen people" made me uncomfortable. From a young age, I couldn't buy it. More generally, the whole idea of sitting in a temple (a really beautiful one, I might add, with gorgeous stained glass and an impressive organ magnified by wonderful acoustics), reading prayers written by others, mouthing words that didn't make sense to me, began to feel really discordant. More generally still, as can be discerned from my writings here, the idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, all-loving creator stopped making any sense at all, at all levels. And still doesn't.

None of the above is my point.

My point is this: I have no problem criticizing Judaism along with all other religions. Getting even nearer to the point, as much as I was impressed, in my twenties -- thrilled, even -- by the Israeli success against three much bigger Arab countries and various helpers in the Six Day War, I find their actions now, vis a vis Palestinians, abhorrent -- no matter the history behind them. And yet. And yet, when I read some of the opinions out there, not all that different from my own, hackles can be raised. I question motives, and fairness.

And that's really my point: it's one thing to criticize and question people and things that relate to oneself; it's quite another when someone else does. So I wonder: is this a universal dynamic? Does it in any way explain the nature of our politics; the intransigence, the hate, the evident lack of insight and self-awareness?

I think so. On the other hand -- and here's where I have to question myself -- it's my belief (belief? moi?) that, pretty much by definition, liberals are more likely to be self-aware and to question their own assumptions than conservatives. At least as the terms currently apply. At least if one considers the teabaggers and the RWS™ in any way representative of that school of thought. Method of thought. Level of discourse.

When I read various blogs, for example, I see plenty of self-criticism and loud disagreement among liberals; some of it quite dramatic. By contrast, teabaggers and RWS™ appear absolutely refractory to factual input, and seem to have not an iota of ability to recognize points of view different from their own as legitimate, as anything but evil. The same, as is obvious, applies to the small but determined cadre of commenters here.

It's as if there are entirely separate forms of human nature; it almost has to be genetic. It makes me question my initial point.

Which is exactly my point.


  1. SID, finally figured out that MOT thing...
    Now whats "JAP" mean???
    and I don't get it, you liked the 6-day War, where Israel sneak attacked the A-rabs, but you don't like giving the Palestinians there own Country, where they shoot off more rockets than Rednecks in Alabama on the 4th of July...
    umm OK, I don't like givin them there own Country either...
    and I Liked the 6-day War too...OK, I was only 4, but I'm pretty sure I would have liked it, in fact I'd like to see them do it again...

  2. In the US, it seems to me that there are three bulges of population on the political spectrum: the bulk of Republicans in the far right being (to my thinking) crazy, a group of Democrats who are really toeing the line between right and left, and some definately-left Democrats who still fall short of crazy-left.

    In Canada, we seem to have three populations as well, except it's the right that is split between the far-right crazies and the near-right, both in the Progressive Conservative party, of which the latter is currently dominant, and Conservatives are governing. (The left up here seems to me like a continuum centre and not-quite-centre left, but that's not my point.) The parties on the left like to try to scare us about the crazy-righties in the Conservatives, and sometimes, rightly so (they're anti-abortion, pro-ID, and stuff like that), but they seem to be kept firmly in check.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't think there's anything fundamental about the self-consciousness of political stripes, but rather that I think there's a cultural difference in the parties right now in the US. I hope that the Republican culture can shift back soon. In the meantime, I think you'd fit right in in Canada. :)


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