Sunday, May 8, 2016

It is bitter to lose a friend to evil, before one loses him to death...

ThePraiseSingerThe title of this note comes from Mary Renault's The Praise Singer.

The novel, which is a good one, covers the politics of ancient Athens, somewhat prior to the start of the Persian Wars.

One of the circumstances it relates – the assassination of Hipparchos (brother of ruler of Athens) by the lovers Harmodios and Aristogeiton over what were (essentially) personal reasons.

This story was later re-written as being the killing the reigning tyrant by a pair of democrats seeking liberty is one of the earliest known examples of conscious, self justified distortion history for political ends (see Thucydides). 

The mention of conscious distortion is poignant, for me at any rate, of feelings I have at the moment.

You see, I find the conscious distortion objectionable, because regardless of the virtue of a political position, historical truth is more important: to disregard is to me evil. That is a small thing, and I only mention it as an example.

Similar actions by people I have known for sometime, people that might be allies to my political goals – albeit on considerably to right of my own positions.

For one example, how should I think of someone who can take joy in
'our' mob closing down a rally by 'their' side (specifically the cancellation of a Trump rally in Vancouver).  Dismissing principals of in the interest of some greater politics: there is the kind of speech that makes a point that this just isn't acceptable.
In another instance, what do one say to a person whose response to criticism of the current president's failures leading up to 2014 elections, is to embrace expediency and the F├╝hrerprinzip: what we've got is pretty good and should only be defended.

I could point out how privileged some people are, to live in regions and situations where they have support, and perhaps even majority political status.

Or I could raise the practical issues: consider the reverse situation. I wonder if they could bring themselves to extend such feelings to the person who refused to provide road side service because they disapproved Sanders for President stickers on the care.

I'd like to write off the behavior of these people I have known for some time as political naivete, but I cannot.

I feel I have lost them to evil, an evil which I see more around me.  And I feel ashamed.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Is it hate speech....

...just because you don't like what is said?

Article critical of transgender movement sets off debate about 'The Antioch Review'

Surprised cudos to the administration of Antioch College for standing behind the Antioch Review and free expression.  A positive change from my days there.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Shoah: Some thoughts from Raul Hilberg

I find Hilberg the most interesting Shoah (Holocaust) historian, and pass on some of his comments on the events and the history:

On how to conduct history...
I have never begun by asking the big questions, because I was always afraid that I would come up with small answers.
As Josephine Tey said, the truth is in account books, not books of accounts.

As to "how it could happen"...
As the Nazi regime developed over the years, the whole structure of decision-making was changed. At first there were laws. Then there were decrees implementing laws. Then a law was made saying, "There shall be no laws." Then there were orders and directives that were written down, but still published in ministerial gazettes. Then there was government by announcement; orders appeared in newspapers. Then there were the quiet orders, the orders that were not published, that were within the bureaucracy, that were oral. Finally, there were no orders at all. Everybody knew what he had to do. [Emphasis added]
As to "why it could happen"...
The missionaries of Christianity had said in effect: You have no right to live among us as Jews. The secular rulers who followed had proclaimed: You have no right to live among us. The German Nazis at last decreed: You have no right to live.
As to how our role in our own destruction in Europe -- such as the actions of the Juenr├Ąte (Jewish Councils) -- was rooted mistake assumption of European Jews:
I had to examine the Jewish tradition of trusting God, princes, laws and contracts... Ultimately I had to ponder the Jewish calculation that the persecutor would not destroy what he could ...exploit. It was precisely this Jewish strategy that dictated accommodation and precluded resistance.
On where the Shoah fits into the world's history:
The 20th century merits the name "The Century of Murder." 1915 Turks slaughtered 2 million Armenians. 1933 to 1954 the Soviet government encompassed the death of 20 to 65 million citizens. 1933 to 1945 Nazi Germany murdered more than 25 million people.... At present times genocidal strife is underway ...

The people of the world have demonstrated themselves to be so capable of forgetting the murderous frenzies in which their fellows have participated that it is essential that one, at least, be remembered and the world be regularly reminded of it.  [Emphasis added]
On forgiveness (summarized from memory):
On existential level, for the survivors, forgiveness may be beneficial.

For the rest of us, it is presumptuous.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Too late, too late.

“Reality denied comes back to haunt.”
Philip K. Dick, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said  

The article,  I lied to myself for years about who my allies were. No more in by Ben Howe (a contributing editor for Red State and right wing media producer), despite its provenance, is not worthless to read.

It attempts to cautionary about the bloody obvious, still:

“It's always too late for sorries, but I appreciate the sentiment.”
Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane