Thursday, May 10, 2007

Israel, the Palestinians, and the Cyber-Donks (Part One)

Yesterday Charles Johnson linked to a Daily Kos diary in which the diarist – an Israeli - calls it quits, with one of the best door-slammer endings ever: “I came to this site with Leftist Zionist Environmentalist Pro-Peace ideology (Meretz style). I leave it with a heavy doubt of the entire ‘Progressive’ ideology, morals and goals.”

I briefly skimmed the comments to this diary and something caught my eye. I don’t usually read the comments at Kos, partly because the signature lines tend to be longer than the comments and it is very annoying to be subjected to the same tag-line slogan over and over. But what caught my eye was this:

“Israel/Palestine is not a germane topic for this site to begin with. The Kos himself has said so many times, and I agree with him. … It's been said here many times - it is a THIRD RAIL that blogsites touch at their peril. Kos blocks diaries that try to bring this topic up … Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestinian arguments HAVE NO PLACE HERE. Most people here, frankly, are not interested in discussing this chronically intractable subject.”

It’s a stunning admission for “progressives” who claim to speak credibly on world events to say that they are not interested in talking about Israel and the Palestinians. Besides being a salient feature of the international landscape, it is a very important part of American political culture – the culture that the progs are trying to harness and ride for a saddle-pony. The comment claims that “The Kos himself” tries to steer Kos away from such discussion, even to the point of deletion. And I found that very strange.

I already knew, as most people who read the blogs know, that one does not turn to the left for detailed discussion of Israel and the Palestinians. As the departing Kos diarist noted, there are an unnerving number of people over there who seem to assume that Noam Chomsky has said the last word on the subject. Still, the left has articulated lots of pro-Israeli - and even pro-Zionist - opinion in the past. For many decades there has been a lot of left and center-left interest in a positive future for Israel, so why does it suddenly and emphatically HAVE NO PLACE HERE? And above all, SAYS WHO?

More to come.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Second Dialogue on Liberalism

SOCRATES: In our last dialogue, we discovered the first fundamental principle of Liberalism: “Liberals never shop at Walmart.” Where shall our pursuit of wisdom lead us next?

GLEN: I think we might have more luck if we started with the origins of Liberalism, and explored the Classical Liberal answers to all forms of political, cultural, and economic authoritarianism. You would especially benefit from that discussion, Socrates.

SOCRATES: Then let us not keep our insatiable mistress Philosophy waiting another instant. Phaedo is boycotting our dialogues, because he says they undermine the revolutionary consciousness of the masses. But Crito is here –

CRITO: Death to Walmart.

SOCRATES: And Alcibiades wants to participate, but only if he can play Julia Roberts.

GLEN: No, no, no. No way. Julia Roberts doesn’t even count as a real Liberal.

CRITO: Says who?

ALCIBIADES: Yeah, who made you the big Liberal Pope, anyway? I’ve been working on this costume all day.

GLEN: I’m not having any of that in this house. You guys can go to a bar if you want to do that stuff. No Julia Roberts, or no dialogue. That’s it.

ALCIBIADES: A curse on Liberals and their stupid sexist rules! I guess this is what the glass ceiling looks like, right? Here’s you guys way up here, and a girl can’t even get her foot in the door.

CRITO: How did you get your feet into those shoes?

SOCRATES: Now, we’re wasting arguing time that could be spent to advance Philosophy. Let’s begin, shall we?

CRITO: I need a drink first. What do Liberals drink?

GLEN: Ethanol, I think. In extreme cases, domestic white wine.

CRITO: Domestic white wine? Apollo’s Balls, I knew this was a bad idea! I knew I never should have let Socrates talk me into this!

ALCIBIADES: What’s the matter, Crito? You scared?

CRITO: Shut up! Screw you guys. You can laugh at me all you want, but I’ve heard terrible stories about people who turn into Liberals. It started out just like this, too. It was like, “I’ll just do a little bit of it at a party, and it’ll be no big deal.” Then they wind up like Euthyphro.

SOCRATES: What happened to Euthyphro?

CRITO: He started reading The American Prospect. Just now and then, no big deal, right? Well, he got himself so worked up over health care issues that he sued his own father, because his father wouldn’t pay for one of his slaves to have a sex-change operation. But the court capped the emotional suffering damages, so Euthyphro decides to vote for John Kerry, because Kerry is against tort reform. Well, once he did that, it was one long downward spiral. Last I heard, he had to go see Hippocrates because he had a broken bottle of Naomi Campbell nail polish in his ass.

ALCIBIADES: How did he get a broken bottle of nail polish in his ass?

CRITO: He can’t buy things at Walmart now, so he has to shop-lift. He was coming out of Walmart, and some neoconservative punks started pushing him around because of his Dixie Chicks tee-shirt. Then the police came, and they started beating Euthyphro too, because of the Patriot Act. They threw him down on the cement so hard that the bottle of nail polish in his ass broke.

SOCRATES: Yeah, right. He probably fell down, from drinking too much ethanol.

GLEN: Get the hell out of here. That never happened.

ALCIBIADES: Yeah, voting for John Kerry? That’s pretty far out. Euthyphro is so full of crap.

CRITO: Well, now he’s full of Naomi Campbell nail polish, too, and that’s not going to happen to me.

ALCIBIADES: You know, maybe this whole Liberal thing isn’t such a good idea. I mean, why take a chance like that?

SOCRATES: Don’t be absurd. I don’t believe a word of it.

GLEN: Neither do I. I mean, The American Prospect sucks, but it isn’t that bad.

SOCRATES: The American Prospect isn’t that bad.” We’ve discovered another fundamental principle of Liberalism!

CRITO: Okay, fine –

GLEN: Wow, they’re falling like ripe apples.

CRITO: Okay, good, good. Let’s just stop right now, okay? Let’s just stop.