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rant on the Middle East crisis
Recently I received an email with the subject line "Dennis Miller's rant on the Middle East crisis". Maybe someone sent it to you. If not, and you're curious, you can read Miller's piece in its entirety
here. If you go, you'll see the author is actually comedian Larry Miller
(a funny comic and by all accounts a nice guy). Maybe whoever started sending this around thought Dennis Miller would get more interest. Or maybe it was an honest mistake. Regardless, I had problems with the article. There are plenty of good arguments against the way Palestinians have handled the current dispute. I saw none in Miller's
A few points:
"There are no Palestinians. It's a made up word."
So was "Indian" as applied to the indigenous people of this country. That doesn't mean they don't exist. Nor does the fact that they didn't have
flags or lines drawn on maps
mean that they weren't wronged by Anglo-Saxons.
"...the Arabs haven't given anything to the world since Algebra..."
What is the relevance of this? What inventions have South African blacks given the world? Some great music, at least, and probably more I'm not aware of. But let's say nothing. Does that mean Apartheid was okay?
The argument is specious and racist. So is painting all Arabs by the actions of the worst of them, which Miller does repeatedly. It's like saying he and I are the same as Igal Amir.
"...just be done with it and kill everything south of the Mediterranean and East of the Jordan. (Hey, wait a minute, that's actually not such a bad id . . . uh, that is, what a horrible thought, yeah, horrible.)"
I don't need to answer this, do I? Just hyperbole, right? Life is pretty cheap when it's far away. And death is easy to laugh at. Especially when you're angry and feel wronged. Which is just how planes come to run into buildings.
I would prefer to fight indiscriminate hatred and violence, not Arabs. It's our instinct to fight people rather than concepts and attitudes. It's a caveman impulse, and I'm not completely immune to it. Like right now I want to call Miller an oaf, dressing up hateful grunts with glibness to make them seem wise. But Miller's not the enemy. Nor are others of his religion or ethnicity or nationality. The enemy is ignorance, lazy thinking, the gut ruling the head. And trampling the heart on its way.
May 15, 2002
The latest false-attribution pro-Israel email (edited) and my reply...
Brian De Palma - Movie Director says:
"There are only two motives that audiences really buy: sex and money. That wise advise [sic] has stayed with me and served me well throughout my screenwriting career. Which brings us to former President Jimmy Carter. Everyone is running around trying to figure why he's spending so much time bashing Israel. ... Well, to clear up the confusion, just cruise on over to the website of the Carter Center and take a look at the list of donors who have contributed more than a million dollars. What a shock, what a rogues gallery: Prince Alaweed bin Talal, the Sultanite of Oman, Sultan Quobos bin Said al Said, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,.... As Jimmy Carter makes the rounds of the various mainstream media news shows I'm waiting for one honest reporter to ask the former President this simple question: "Mr. President, are you a paid agent of Arab jihadist governments?" Yeah, that'll happen."
Only the first sentence of this quote goes to the famous movie director (and supposed neutral third party) Brian De Palma. The rest of the paragraph belongs to screenwriter Robert J. Avrech, who describes himself on his website as "an observant Jew, a religious Zionist, a fierce conservative Republican, and a member of the NRA." There you can find Avrech's blog and the original quote that was misattributed in later email forwards. Someone along the way must have decided their cause was more important than truthfulness, and not considered the plausibility of an Italian-American schlock movie director passionately defending Israel.
Attribution issues aside, this paragraph contains not a single mention of anything Carter has to say about Israel. It is dense with examples of various logical fallacies, including: Appeal to authority (see also therein, "False Authority"), Ad hominem, Association fallacy, and False Dilemma, the last of which makes people like Avrech see the world as a choice between one of two black and white extremes – Zionists/terrorists, supporters of Israel/anti-Semites, good Jews/self-loathing Jews, etc.
To the degree we live in that world, there is no need for reasoned argument and no hope for progress. There is no why or how, only what side am I on, who do I love, and who do I hate? And for the answer to all, we need only check our last names, get in line, and hope there are any of us left when the other side is completely wiped out.
Yours in the nethers,
P.S. On the Carter center site list of supporters, there appear to be as many Jewish names as Arab, which I guess either makes Carter a double-agent, or those Jews hypocritical, sell-out, terrorist-sympathizers. Hey, Ted Turner's on there! I didn't know he was a Jihadist agent!
January 24, 2007
For reasonably objective info on the Mid-East situation, one of the better sites I've found is here.
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