Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

No problem here

No problem here
Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Many journalists pretend that receiving abuse from persons on both ends of the political spectrum proves their even-handedness. No, it doesn’t. This column makes no pretense of neutrality, only accuracy. Even so, it’s hard to ignore the irony of being denounced as an agent of the International Zionist Conspiracy one week and an unrepentant anti-Semite the next. Lord knows, the current Middle Eastern catastrophe in the making isn’t about me. Even so, I’m persuaded that these things need to be talked about. Recently, I wrote that right-wing slurs against “liberals,” as promulgated by Ann Coulter and others, “are basically identical to the crimes of the Jews as Hitler saw them.” My point wasn’t that anybody’s planning a pogrom, but that the Coulter/Limbaugh/Hannity message is a kind of homogenized Fascism Lite.

In response, I received several messages from somebody who sounded like Mel Gibson’s spiritual adviser. Jews run the world, but “you don’t dare admit it because you know damn well who schmaltzes your bagel, you condo-pink chicken ****.”

I don’t know what “condo-pink” means, either, but like all adepts of this ancient superstition, my correspondent’s logical skills lacked precision. Can you name three Jewish leftists? OK, that proves the worldwide Jewish/communist conspiracy. Dreary, predictable, stupid stuff.

I agree with Mark Twain: “I am quite sure that... I have no race prejudices,” he wrote in 1898, “and I think I have no color prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. Indeed, I know it. I can stand any society. All that I care to know is that a man is a human being—that is enough for me; he can’t be any worse.”

Next I committed the unpardonable sin: portraying the latest round of reciprocal atrocities in the Middle East as the product of mutual fanaticism.

“Terrorist strikes against Israeli civilians,” I wrote, “are morally abhorrent and politically stupid, engendering contempt and rage.” Massive Israeli reprisals, however, cannot eliminate terrorism, but succeed mainly in “sow [ing ] rage like dragon’s teeth.”

Israel’s reaction to Hezbollah’s provocation struck me as tragic and self-defeating. Writing in American Prospect, Matthew Yglesias explained why: “Israel’s current war in Lebanon is strategically blinkered and morally obtuse. The idea that the United States or American Jews like me should support it out of friendship is akin to the notion that a real friend would lend a car to a drunk buddy after the bartender confiscates his keys.”

Yglesias argues that, while infuriating, Hezbollah’s crimes posed no existential threat to the state of Israel. Possessing no tanks, airplanes, ships or heavy artillery, Hezbollah is incapable of waging an offensive war.

“Israel’s Hezbollah problem is not,” he continued, “fundamentally one amenable to forcible resolution. The issue is less the presence of an armed anti-Israeli militia just north of Israel’s border than the widespread public support just north of Israel’s border for the presence of an armed anti-Israeli militia.”

Complaining that the weak, faction ridden Lebanese government hadn’t disarmed Hezbollah, Israel began what appeared a calculated effort to destroy its authority, even bombing the very Lebanese army it expected to do the disarming. And then what? Short of depopulating Lebanon up to the Litani River, whose waters Israel has long been accused of coveting, a surer means of driving the country into the hands of Islamic extremists can’t be imagined.

Because I read the Israeli press, I know that such thinking is not unusual there. Writing in Yediot Aharonot, the columnist Nahum Barnea questioned Israeli tactics.

“I can understand accidentally harming civilians in the course of combat,” he wrote. “But a blanket directive regarding the entire civilian population of southern Lebanon and the Shiite neighborhoods of Beirut... courts disaster. We saw the outcome of this yesterday, in the bodies of the women and children that were taken out of the bombed house in Qana.”

As expected, my efforts brought a barrage of e-mails accusing me of unrepentant anti-Semitism. Without exception, they accused me of secretly hoping for Israel’s destruction. Also without exception, they told me what all Arabs think. A couple said they didn’t give a damn how many Lebanese civilians died. Most brought up my background, implying that Irish Americans are by definition bigots.

“Sleep tight as you promote the next holocaust,” one woman wrote. Dreary, predictable, stupid stuff. Indeed, I told several of my detractors that they reminded me of Rev. Al Sharpton—making patently bogus charges of bigotry in support of otherwise indefensible positions. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prates about the “birth pangs” of a new Middle East. FYI, she’s talking in code to Christian fundamentalists, alluding to the verse in Matthew in which Jesus tells the Apostles how to recognize the “end times”: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.... All these are the beginning of birth pangs.” Here’s the rest of the scenario: Comes the Apocalypse, all the unconverted Jews get killed. And people think somebody like me is the problem?

Lily Tomlin said it best. "No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up."


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