Throbert's Theatre of Thinkologizing main page


23 September 2002

Okay, and now the for the chilling conclusion of Zeitgeist: The Legacy, in which spectral child Heather O'Rourke wafts gossamer-like across the ectoplasmic membrane separating this world from the hereafter, spells out P-E-N-I-S with the Ouija planchette, and beckons us to come play with her -- for ever and ever and ever...

Part of the reason it took me so long to post this, incidentally, is that on Friday the bluecollar-beefcake UPS guy delivered a new digital camera from for me to review. It's -- Dear God -- totally fly, possibly the nicest piece of loan equipment I've ever been entrusted with. (I've handled higher-end cameras in a former incarnation as a consumer electronics editor, but only for as long as it took me to pass the loan model on to a freelance writer who actually grokked photography inside and out, like the guy who's now Managing Editor at Pop Photo.)

Anyway. I've got this mofo on my desk right now and it just makes me want to burst out into song like Maxene, Patty, and Laverne: ''Bei mir bist du Schön, it's such an old refrain so once again I'll explain -- 'Bei mir bist du Schön' means you're grand...'' -- it's a Sony, 5-megapixel, 10x optical zoom, manual everything, 32MB Memory stick... ooof, I'm touching myself. Plus, as an added bonus, it's shaped like something a West Village novelties store would be selling in a cardboard box with a naked man on the front.

Anyway, I got distracted by this camera, and was having trouble staying focused on my writing. Comedy's easy -- particularly the sort of derivative lowbrow comedy we serve by the pint here at the Badda Blink. But trenchant socio-political analysis? Not so easy.

So, this is from the NY Times, but to give credit where it's due, it was brought to my attention by Andrew Sullivan. (I really should reciprocate by tipping him off to the Chest Hair Renaissance, a story that also broke this weekend in the Times.)

Harvard president Lawrence H. Summers is drawing attention to the plague of anti-Semitism now spreading at the university in the form of a movement to divest school funds from Israel. Now, as a goy I might be less attuned to these things, but I really don't think that anti-Semitism is the right label for what's going on here.

There's no question that authentic Der Ewige Jude blood-hatred soils much of the discourse on the Israel/Palestine conflict -- parts of Europe are said to be awash in it, whether it's courtesy of doddering Catholic nationalists or immigrant hayseeds from Arabia's illiterate backcountry. And I realize that anti-Semitism occurs in varying degress of hotness, from the habañero salsa of the bomb-happy Palestinian basketcases to the salad bar bell pepper of restricted country clubs. But anti-Semitism, in whatever form it may take, is by definition a hostility towards the Jew as Other.

And what's happening in liberal Harvard, I'm suspecting, is something entirely separate. Not hatred of some despicable other, but a blind, promiscuous affection for the other -- for the outsider, the foreign, the voiceless, at the expense of those who are seen as comfortably similar and able to take care of their own ass. The rule in telling ethnic jokes, according to Miss Manners, is that it's acceptable if you're poking fun at your own people: blacks can make nigger jokes, Asians can do the ''Me put pee-pee in your Coke!'' routine, women can define themselves as life-support systems for pussies. And at Harvard, Jews are assumed to be safe targets for hectoring and glib generalizations precisely because they've long been accepted as full-ranking members in Clubhouse U.S.A.

So: if there's no Jew-bashing motive behind it, why are all these folks at Harvard reflexively siding with the Palestinians and calling for divestment from Israel? It's not like the Israelis haven't suffered at least a little in this endless dispute.

But, geez, anyone can rise up to champion the rights of the strong, handsome, self-confident Nice Guy. Where's the courage -- where's the meaning -- where's the distinction in that? On the other hand, it would take Sister Helen Prejean quantities of moral righteousness to stand in solidarity with a screamy, self-obsessed, belligerent dickhead. And wouldn't we all want to be thought of as having that kind of Oscar-worthy dedication to an ethical ideal?

Thus, several hundred academics at Harvard contemplate a boycott of Israel and sign a petition...

posted by Throbert | 9/23/2002 05:23:00 AM |
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