Friday, March 30, 2007

The Sungenis comparison reminds me ...

... of how I would have reacted to this very odd post by Shea last month. And what would have been the result if I argue like he does.

In it, Shea wonders whether the end of the state of Israel would be such a bad thing for the Jews. After all, he muses, the loss of the Papal States were a boon to the Church (though how would that fit with his "Western Civ has gone to Hell" narrative for the whole century?? ... actually ... forget that ... I should realize who we're dealing with).

Now, Shea himself has often said that one doesn't ask questions randomly -- you ask the questions you think worth answering or grappling with. His precise soundbyte formulations include "some questions are asked to keep from finding out" and "taboo is such a useful word." George Will's formulation was "one does not call a conference called 'Whither Incest?' in order to reaffirm the prohibition." Every formulation expresses the same basic insight -- that merely asking a question betrays ... not an agenda, but certainly one's sense of the possible or discussable issues. For Shea, the end of Israel is one such issue.

Now this is nutty enough (the first response was, rightly, "the Jews tried not having a homeland for 1900 years. It didn't work out so well"). But then in the combox, Shea began fishing in some REALLY interesting waters, suggesting that the Jews could have a state in Montana. No. Really. (Well .... why not offer Montana to the Palestinians on that logic ... because it's not the Palestine they want? ... well, duh. Or offer Wyoming to the Tamil Tigers? Or Sardinia to the Kosovars? Or Siberia to the kulaks? Or Madagascar to the Jews? Or West Germany to the Sudeten Germans? Or Pakistan to the Muslims of Madras?)

But after all, with an abortion rate as high and birthrate as low as they are Israel, the Jews are kinda saying that they don't want the world to continue ... or something like that. Though it should be noted that the U.S. is worse in both respects, as Josiah documented ... so maybe this 'US is illegitimate' madness of his does have a certain method to it.

And if we argued like Shea does, this would get tied to some things he's said about the poor Palestinians, his friendships with certain people (exercising their evil mind rays over him, no doubt), and a few things picked up by skimming his book titles or ellipsed quotations from hostile sources. And voila ... Shea becomes "anti-Semitic loon" (sort of like "torture apologist" or "End to Evil crowd").

Since once one has categorised someone as "anti-Semitic loon" or "End to Evil crowd," there is no actual need to listen to what they may say, because the category then defines everything that we'd hear or listen to. And we'd freely use the category to label, sneer and dismiss anything he might say ("well, of course that's what anti-Semitic loons say" "majoring in minors about precisely how much anti-Semitism-lite we can get away with" ... and the whole rest of the litany.) We would of course, ignore whatever clarifications he may wish as "attempts to polish the apple and put on a tie." Evidence that Shea is not an anti-Semitic loon would not be acknowledged to exist, and we'd continue to call him that because it's an established fact.

Think about it.

In case I'm not clear, Torq and I agree that Shea actually does not have terribly well-thought out positions. In a perverse way, this is a good thing. What he writes about politics is pretty manifestly driven by emotional knee-jerking (hatred for the neocons/Ledeen/Bush/secular-messianists/us ... look at the end of this post, say, where he says the word of the Ahmedinejad regime is as reliable as Tony Blair's). So now he is saying all kinds of crank things (conspiracy of millionaires to kill off the lower classes, the US is a torture state, etc).


Anonymous said...


Anybody -- Mark Shea, Bob Sugenis, my milkman -- anybody who seriously poses the question whether the Jews would be better off without Israel is not worth taking seriously because such a person has no understanding either of history or of human nature.

Furthermore, equating the Papal States with Israel is absurd. The Papal States were a reflection of the Church's temporal and geopolitical power. Besides, God did not promise Holy Mother (Dominatrix) Church a park-sized lot along the Tiber -- let alone a strip of land in Central Italy -- as a homeland, a used car lot or as anything else. God *did,* however, promise a strip of land along the Mediterranean as a perpetual homeland for His chosen people. Whether contemporary Israel is a continuation of that promise is a separate question. The issue of the Israelis' treatment of Palestinians is another question. Regardless, Jewish identity and faith are tied directly and irrevokably to a geographical homeland -- if not by divine promise, then certainly by centuries of persecution in lands that weren't their own. Nobody can even hope to understand Judaism without understanding that point.

Michael Forrest said...

I personally support the existence of the state of Israel, but for more mundane, practical reasons. I'm not convinced that God still owes that land to the Jewish people even now. And I haven't seen evidence in the Early Church Fathers to really support that, either.

But if anyone is going to start questioning a country's right to exist because of less than pristine beginnings (that's not my impression of Shea, btw)...let's give back the southwest to Mexico and most of the rest of the country to Native Americans. Then we can move on to Europe and every other country and restore the land to the rightful owners...assuming they still survive in this day and age at all.

Just my opinion, of course.