Sunday, May 14, 2006

Why Jews should find something else to worry about besides The Davinci Code

David Kinghoffer is getting thevapors:

Why Jews Should Worry About ‘The Da Vinci Code’

David Klinghoffer

With the release of the Sony Pictures version of Dan Brown’s mega-selling “The Da Vinci Code” in two weeks, worries continue to mount among traditional Christians about both the book’s and the movie’s impact. Should non-Christians be concerned?

Yes, we should. Jews in particular need to be aware of the gift Brown has given, in all innocence, to anti-Semites.

Klinghoffer's logic is basically this:
  • The story is about a secret society whose beliefs are opposed to that of the Roman Catholic Church and who belive that the Catholic Church suppressed the truth in order to take over the world.
  • The Jews have beliefs that are opposed to the Roman Catholic Church
  • Anti-Semites in the past have used the imagry of a secret society of Jews who want to take over the world. ("Protocols of the Elders of Zion")

Therefore, the Davinci Code will foment anti-semitism.

The flaws in this line of reasoning should be obvious.

In fact, I doubt that Kinghoffer even read the book, which shouldn't be too hard of a task, adter all, it's a simple action-adventure thriller, not some sort of heavy philosophical tome.

Here is a commentary on Mr. Klinghoffer's words:

In both conspiracy theories (i.e the antisemitic "protocols," and Dan Brown's "Priory of Sion"), an ancient world religion turns out to be a massive fraud perpetrated to gain or maintain power.

In the Book, the Priory of Sion is depicted as a very low-profile organization, more interested in keeping its secret than in any sort of world domination.

Meanwhile the Catholic Church plots to suppress forever the truth about the “sacred feminine.” Opus Dei is willing to go to any lengths, including murder, to keep the male church hierarchy in power.
This is not the story!!! Read the f---ing book!


The the story, both the Vatican and the head of Opus Dei are played for suckers by a secular historian, who wants the secret of the Holy Grail revealed, and who thinks that the Priory of Sion is not willing to do so. In fact, the Vatican comes off in Brown's fantasy as being rather progressive -- they want to disassociate themselves from Opus Dei becuase of it's aggressive recruiting, old-fashioned view of the role of women, and it's, shall we say, lax supervision of those undergoing corporeal mortification. The head of the Opus Dei, Bishop Aringarosa, wants to find the Grail and save the Church by destroying its secret, but when he finds out that his mad monk was manipulated (by the secular guy, no less) into killing a bunch of members of the Priory, he is aghast, and ends up giving a whole bunch of money to their survivors.

The real villain is a secular guy, not the Catholic Church, not Opus Dei, not the Priory of Sion.

I really wish someone would point this out, as there's is going to be an increased flow of BS on this matter now that the release of the movie is imminent.

Rather than taking traditional Christian beliefs at face value and arguing against them (as I do in my current book, by the way), Brown portrays the religion itself as resting upon a conscious deception. That excuses him from having to make arguments at all.

Anti-Semites do the same thing. Rather than coming out honestly against Darwinism or Marxism or modernity in general, they concoct a story about Judaism as a lie and a conspiracy.
I don't see how claiming that the Council of Nicaea perpetrated a hoax to rule the world (whether that's really true or not) is the equivalent to claiming that the Jews perpetrated Darwinism or Marxism in order to rule the world (which is definitely not true). The historic record shows that the Catholic church eliminated Gnostic Christians. The historic record also shows that Judaism has nothing to do with Darwinism or Marxism. (Darwin was an ordained Anglican minister and Marx was a Christian of Jewish origin who more of less rejected his Jewish heritiage.)
Yet to the cause of conspiracy theorizing, he has done a wonderful favor, training his readers in the habits of paranoia and gullibility. For people committed to finding the truth through investigation and argumentation, that’s depressing.
Americans don't need Dan Brown to "train" themselves into habits of paranoia and gullibility. Look at the results of the last several elections.
As for Jews, we haven’t fared well when the culture we live in turns to entertaining fantasies and delusions at the expense of an unfashionable religion. The success of Brown’s book, now transformed into a movie blockbuster, is bad news indeed.
Oh, Mr. Klinghoffer, get a life. Since when are either Judaism or Catholicism "unfashionable?" Even a secular apikoris like me fnds value in Jewish observance, and the same goes for most fo the Cotholics I know, who roll their eyes about some of the theological pronouncements of Pope Bennie, but who send their kids to parochial school and are at Mass every sunday.

Both Chrstianity and Judaism have an element of BS, and people have been pointing that out for at least a couple hundred years. And, in balance, the Jews have been doing quite well, thank you. And, after all, the "unfashionable relgions" themselves entertain lots of "delusions and fantasies" interspersed among the valuable ethical teachings and powerful mythos.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Jews are starting to see through the GOP

That is, the Jewish machers (big-shots), who believe that we needed to kowtow to the right wing becuase they were "good for Israel." That was debatable from the beginning, but now, since the GOP and the wingnuts are brazenly trying to use the "good for Israel" meme to lauch a second ill-advised crazy war. it's totally obvious that the right wing (whether American or Israeli) is not only bad for Israel, it's bad for American Jews:

Republican chairman booed at AJCommittee event

The chairman of the Republican Party was booed at an American Jewish Committee event over comments on Iraq.

Ken Mehlman, who is Jewish, said Iraq posed less of a challenge now than under Saddam Hussein.

Mehlman was otherwise politely received when he spoke Tuesday at the AJCommittee’s 100th anniversary celebrations in Washington, and he got warm applause when he said the Bush administration would not tolerate an Iranian nuclear bomb and always would stand by Israel.

Mehlman's shameless pander was obvious. Bust so was the smackdown:

The room burst into applause, however, when AJCommittee board member Edith Everett asked Mehlman to “take a message” to President Bush to stop linking Israel and Iran.

“It does not help Israel and it does not help American Jews to appear to be stimulators of any action against Iran,” Everett said.

She added that “it’s easy to understand why Iran is not worried about us” because Iraq is consuming so many U.S. resources.

Mehlman replied by acknowledging that Iraq was a “challenge,” but claimed it’s “less of a challenge than when Saddam Hussein was in power.”

The room filled with boos and hisses.

My comments:

This is the sort of thing (the fact that ruling party big-shots feel the need to pander, and that the Jewish machers warmly accept such pandering) that makes people think that the "Israel Lobby" or even "The Jooz" control Washington and don't allow for rational discourse about Middle East issues. I'm glad to see at least this first attempt at a mild smackdown. BTW, I can't see how Iran having a few primitive atomic bombs, or even a bunch of more sophisticated ones, is any more and exisential threat to Israel than China having the bomb was an exisential threat to the US in the 1970's. So pairing the Iranian bomb problem with "standing by Israel" was such an obvious pander that it was quickly shot down by the intended audience.

It would have been nice if Ms. Everett could have said with a straight face that American Jewish organizations, **were NOT** "stimulating action against Iran. Unfortunately, a lot of the junk mail I've been getting from these same Jewish organizations (I don't think the AJCommittee was one of them) indicates that the Jewish organizations are getting the vapors (in public, at least) over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rantings, which certainly doesn't help calm things down. I wonder who in the American Jewish Establishment is setting up this idiotic Party Line.

Personally, I think Mahmoud's rantings are calculated, designed to goad either the US or Israel into attacking him, the better to get his foes involved in a serious quagmire. This is a tactic, pioneered by the boxer Mohammad Ali, called "Rope-a-Dope." Anyway, Mahmoud is not the sole source of power in Iran, I doubt that Iran is going to try to liquidate Israel any time soon, and using the Bomb to do so would only result in Iran becoming a radioactive slag heap. So everyone shouldn't lose sleep over Mahmoud. Now, Dubya, on the other hand, it's OK to lose sleep over him. I know I do.

I also would like to point out the obvious dangers to the American Jewish community if the general American public ever gets the idea that "the Jews" pushed Bush into an Iran quagmire that is only doomed to fail and may signal the end of the United States as a world power. This would be expecially ironic, considering that most American Jews oppose both the Iraq war and an Iranian adventure. Heck, even the Israelis think Bush and his neocon crew are nuts. But I shudder to think how Bush and Rove will lash out and blame others when this goes sour. Better to be on record right from the start as opposing this idiocy.