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December 10, 2016 / 10 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘outrage’

The Death of Outrage Revisited

Monday, October 10th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Commentary Magazine website}

As the nation reacted to a leaked “Access Hollywood” tape, Donald Trump reminded us that hypocrisy is a bipartisan affliction. Both Democratic outrage and the willingness of Republicans to excuse and rationalize their decision to stand behind him after Trump’s boasts of actions that are indistinguishable from sexual assault are a reflection of the deep cynicism as well as the hyper-partisanship that have done so much damage to our political culture.

The tape didn’t tell us anything about Donald Trump that we didn’t already know. Anyone who has followed his very public career over the last 30 years already knew he was a vile, vulgar man with a history of inappropriate conduct that ought to disqualify him for high office. Despite the shock it has generated, the notion that he was a sexual predator is no more surprising than the latest Russian-inspired leaks about Hillary Clinton that show she is a two-faced liar about trade and “open borders.” What’s interesting about the furor over the tape is that it shows how unprincipled so many of us are when it comes to politics. While Trump’s attempt to change the subject by talking about Bill Clinton’s behavior is no defense of his own conduct, those who raise that subject are right to the extent that it shows that most Democrats are hypocrites. It was only 18 years ago that liberals were telling us to “move on” from any discussion about the 42nd president’s behavior, which included proven instances of sexual harassment, not to mention Juanita Broaddrick’s accusation that Clinton raped her. Democrats told us then that this was “just sex” and an attempt to deflect the country from important issues. The Republican drive to impeach Clinton, which was technically about perjury but perceived by the country as an inquisition of his personal conduct was denounced as sexual prudery by much of the same liberal mainstream media and political establishment that currently wants to burn Trump at the stake. But Democrats aren’t the only hypocrites nor are they the most egregious examples of those who have adjusted their moral compass to suit the needs of their party.

Clinton’s impeachment trial may have been about perjury, but conservative commentary about his scandals was not limited to the question of lying. William Bennett spoke for many if not most conservatives when he wrote in his 1999 book The Death of Outrage: Bill Clinton and the Assault on American Ideals, that something more important was at stake in the debate about Clinton’s indiscretions. Bennett demolished the idea that “private misdeeds” had no impact on a leader’s ability to govern or on society as a whole. To the contrary, he reminded us that toleration of immorality undermined the very fabric of our political system because democracy simply doesn’t work without a belief in virtue.

Yet sadly, Bennett and many others on the right—including those who specifically present themselves to the public as religious conservatives—no longer seem to think virtue is a prerequisite for the presidency. Just as Clinton’s defenders decided that anything he did could be defended no matter how repugnant because the alternative meant granting victory to their Republican foes, conservatives have made the same immoral calculus in sticking with Trump.

They argue, not without some justification, that ditching Trump means abandoning the field to Hillary Clinton with incalculable consequences for the future of religious liberty and other key issues. But the price they are paying for their loyalty to Trump is higher than they seem to realize. The Democrats’ hypocrisy about Clinton and Trump is appalling, but their views were always rooted in the sort of situational ethics and moral relativism that is at the heart of the liberal worldview. Conservatives were supposed to be standing for something bigger than just what’s good for the Republican Party at any given moment. The case for conservatism as not merely arguments about fiscal sanity or foreign policy but also public virtue and constitutional principles is being undermined by the willingness of so many people to toss away their principles because of their abhorrence of Clinton. That many of these same people who spoke about the impact of the death of outrage with regard to Clinton are now willing to rationalize Trump’s egregious behavior makes their hypocrisy even worse than that of their liberal counterparts.

That moral collapse is made all the more egregious because Trump’s already minimal chances of victory in November evaporated in the last two weeks. If they were honest conservatives already knew that Trump is no conservative and likely to break most, if not all of his promises to them. That gave the lie to the urgency of their “Flight 93 election” arguments in which the choice was presented as a flawed billionaire or a liberal apocalypse. But the lesser of two evils talking point is now theoretical rather than reflecting a realistic option. The only things left for conservatives to defend in 2016 are their endangered Congressional majorities and their integrity. It remains to be seen whether enough Republicans can sufficiently distance themselves from Trump to hold on to their seats. But what is certain is that any conservative that sticks with him will be illustrating how the debate about the death of outrage and the assault on American ideals has come full circle with a vengeance.

Jonathan S. Tobin

Exacting Vengeance on the Gentiles?

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Once again we are treated to the sight of very religious looking Jews acting like a street gang. A statue of a cross with a figure of Jesus on it was defaced by a group of Breslover Chasidim in Uman. The cross was recently erected opposite the grave of the founder of this Chasidus, Rav Nachman of Breslov – located in the Ukrainian city of Uman. From JTA:

“To exact vengeance on the gentiles,” reads the message, which was scrawled across the torso of a figure of Jesus. A further inscription on Jesus’ leg reads, “Stop desecrating the name of God.”

This kind of thing would not surprise me if it were being done by extremists from a community that embraces an isolationist lifestyle. But although they are hardcore Chasidim who dress and look much the same as Satmar Chasidim – Breslovers do a lot of outreach. I would expect them to know how to behave in a more civilized manner. They must have had a socialization process that taught them that or they could not do outreach. And yet here they have acted in a completely uncivilized way.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise that a Christian symbol near their venerated Rebbe’s grave site was desecrated with graffiti. I guess their socialization process goes just so far. A statue of Jesus so close to their Rebbe’s grave site was too much to handle.

I don’t know why the Ukrainian Government chose that site for its statue. I don’t think it was a wise decision. But at the same time, I don’t think it was necessarily meant to ‘stick it’ to the Breslovers either. It was probably just not a well thought out plan.

I can understand why these Chasidim felt outrage. They consider the Breslover Rebbe’s gravesite to be so holy that make annual pilgrimages to it. Tens of thousands of Jews (mostly Breslover Chasidim) from all over the world visit it during Rosh Hashanah – one of the holiest times of the year. It is almost as though they were making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem’s Holy Temple. Seeing the sight of Jesus on a cross must have made them feel like they were seeing Avodah Zara in the Beis HaMikdash.

The outrage is understandable. But their expression of it is inexcusable. It is the kind of behavior that can bring tragedy upon the Jewish people. Uman is not Jerusalem. R. Nachman’s gravesite is not the Beis HaMikdash. The citizens of Uman are their hosts. Breslovers are guests. And the guests have just defaced the image of the god their hosts worship.

The more responsible Breslover leadership has apologized. Sort of. From JTA:

“We respect other religions, and don’t wish to damage symbols of other religions. But, unfortunately, not all of our coreligionists understand this. They could break or destroy the cross. That would lead to a genuine war between hasidim and Christians. We cannot allow that, so we request that the cross be moved to a different location,” said Shimon Busquila, a representative of the Rabbi Nachman International Fund…

It may have been a legitimate request. But it was made too late. If made at all it should have been made politely before the statue was vandalized. Nonetheless the deputy mayor of Uman agreed with it.

On the other hand the citizens of Uman were so outraged by the vandalism – that they will have no part of moving the statue. They promised retaliation against Rav Nachman’s grave if it is moved. I can’t say that I blame them.

I think the point to be made here is contained in the response made by Shimon Busquila: ‘…not all of our coreligionists understand this’.

That is exactly the problem. Why don’t they understand this? It is not enough for a leader to simply say that some of their co-religionists do not understand the consequences of being uncivilized – thereby damaging the property of their hosts.  Especially their religious symbols. No matter how upsetting it is to them.

The Chasidim who did this are taught to hate non Jewish religious symbols much more than they are taught to behave in civilized ways when encountering them. So when they get upset at the sight of one of those hated symbols, they react in ways that bring ill repute upon – and ill will against – our people. They do so without thinking or perhaps even caring about the consequences.

Harry Maryles

Feminist German Minister Retooling the Creator’s Gender

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Germany’s Christian Democratic party member and Family Minister Kristina Schröder caused quite a bit of rage, followed by a contentious debate over the proper way of addressing God’s gender, according to Der Spiegel.

It began with discussion of gender roles in children’s literature, during an interview Schröder gave the weekly Die Zeit. Next, Schröder also took on God’s gender, to the chagrin of fellow Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union.

The German language has three definite articles to indicate the gender nouns: der (masculine), die (feminine) and das (neuter). The noun der Gott, or God, is masculine. Schröder told Die Zeit that the article for God “doesn’t mean anything.” It could just as easily be the gender-neutral das Gott, she said.

Actually, that’s consistent with one of Maimonides’ 13 principles that suggests “God does not have a body nor the shape of a body.”

To many Germans Christians, however, especially within Schröder’s party, such a suggestion was an outrage.

“This overly cerebral nonsense leaves me speechless,” Bavarian Social Minister and CSU member Christine Haderthauer told the popular daily Bild. “I find it sad when our children, due to blatant insecurity and political correctness, have the strong images that are so important to their imaginations taken away.”

The CSU’s party whip in the federal parliament, Stefan Müller, also expressed his annoyance over the idea of God who does not show up in a proper, masculine attire. “Independent of the fact that it’s Christmastime, I find it improper and am a bit astonished,” he said.

Norbert Geis, also a CSU member of Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, also demanded pants and boots for the deity. “God is revealed to us as the father of Christ, and it ought to stay that way,” he said.

Besides God’s gender, Schröder also criticized the sexist gender roles in classic children’s books. The fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, which last week celebrated the 200th anniversary of their original publication, “are often sexist,” she said. “There are seldom positive female figures there.”

Boo hoo to you, Snow White, Cinderella, and Goldilocks..

Schröder, who’s been criticized plenty for her gender-related policies as family minister, also criticized racist content in children’s literature as well. If she were to read one of Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking books, called “Pippi in Taka Tuka Land” in German, she would avoid the word “negro” in the text when reading aloud, “to protect my child from taking on such expressions,” she said.

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/yoris-news-clips/feminist-german-minister-retooling-the-creators-gender/2013/01/02/

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