My letter to a Liberal Jew
Jewish Russian Telegraph posted a link to a very touching article by Regina Spektor. I’ve never heard of her before, but then, since I am in my 40s, maybe I am too old. Apparently she is quite famous and talented performer. She even merits a Wikipedia entry. Ms. Spektor is obviously yet another example of a successful immigrant and yet another source of pride for the Russian-Jewish community in this country. But back to her article. I don’t see a reason to post an excerpt here: the article is out there, just go and read it.
What struck me about this article is the dichotomy between Regina’s support for Israel and her liberal values on one side, and her desire to support the politicians who are so willing to go for her Option 3 regarding Israel. The politicians she supports are eager to appease violent fanatics who would take away everybody’s Civil Liberties. If those violent fanatics would ever manage to take power, Civil Liberties would not matter for Regina : she and her family would be simply killed. I would have commented on her site, but for some reason Regina decided to disable the comments for this article, so I am commenting here in the form of an open letter. I will attempt to send her an e-mail and sincerely hope that she will read this.
I learned about you and your article from a Jewish Russian Telegraph post. You indeed wrote a great article. You and I have similar backgrounds: I too was born in the former Soviet Union. Although, unlike you, I was in my mid-twenties in 1989, when I left the Soviet Union and came to America. I share your liberal values: I believe in protecting Civil Liberties. I hate Racism and believe in judging people based "on the contents of their character". So, how come, while you are supporting leftist politicians, I find myself firmly on the Right side of political spectrum? Perhaps the answer lies in this attempt to explain my views. In turn, I’d like to ask you a few questions. And, while I’d like you to answer them in the comments here, you are certainly not obligated to do so. But I sincerely hope that at least you’ll think of answers to my questions and try to answer them just for yourself.
Let’s start with your assertion that all media is biased. That may be true, but you can analyze various sources and determine the facts behind reports. Besides, even though all the reporters and commentators are biased in favor of their own views, there are intellectually honest among them. Those, who are intellectually honest, report the facts even if those facts contradict their original views. Misreporting the facts in order to push an agenda would be dishonest. There are dishonest reporters, but please don’t paint them all with such a broad brush. Put yourself in their place: would you misreport the facts in order to push an agenda? So, I would recommend Bill O’Reilly in the middle, Dennis Prager on the Right, Kirsten Powers on the Left. Dennis Prager usually recommends New Republic on the Left. Additionally, you can use your own life experiences, sources, like your family and friends, and logic to decipher the facts. When the facts don’t make sense to you, as reported, then they are probably misreported. A good example of your own analysis of the news is your own views on the news reporting on Israel, as reported by the leftist media. You probably have your own sources in Israel: your friends and relatives. And you use your own logic. So, you instantly see when the facts about Israel get misreported. And it angers you. So, now, as long as we are on the subject of Israel, we come to the first of my questions for you:
1. While here in the States about 77% of American Jews voted for Obama, 76% of American Jews in Israel voted for McCain. Why do you think that is? Could it be this story? Or this? Just to prove this point, here is the Google search result for Chas Freeman, now withdrawn Obama’s nominee to chair the National Intelligence Council.
You state that we were dragged "into a horrible war in Iraq, in the name of oil". First of all, any war is horrible, that is the nature of war, however just it may be. But here is my second question for you:
2. You state that the war in Iraq was "in the name of oil". What do you base this assertion on? Just the fact that Iraq has oil?
Let’s talk about this a bit. Have you ever met anyone who was there? Who saw mass graves created by the Saddam’s regime? Are you going to say that it is not our business? Then it would not be very Liberal of you, would it? Because a true Liberal would want to stop the modern Nazi regime’s atrocities. The media says that WMD were not found in Iraq. Let’s stop and think. Everybody agrees that Saddam did have the WMD: after all, he used them. So, where could they go? There are 3 possible scenarios:
a) He used them all up. Not very likely: he would have to kill pretty much the whole population of his country to do that. Besides, if he had just run out of them, then he would not have to play all those games with UN inspectors, would he?
b) He destroyed them. Again, if he did, why would he play all those games with the UN inspectors? Some say that he did that in order to fool Iran into thinking that he still had WMD. Now, let’s look into this logic some more. He got rid of his WMD in order to comply with the UN demands. But he made the UN think that he did not comply in order to fool Iran. Where is the logic in that? If he wanted everybody to think that he still had the stuff, why bother destroying it in the first place? What could be gained by destroying the stuff, if everybody thinks that you still have it?
c) He hid the WMD really well or got them out of the country just before the invasion. Let’s look into this scenario. Saddam rightly calculated that he would not be able to successfully resist US Military on the battlefield. Using the WMD against American troops would bring American WMD onto his head, prove advocates of the invasion right, and he would still lose. However, if no WMD were found in Iraq, if the post-invasion occupation were messy and bloody enough, the American public might get tired of the mess and elect the politicians who would pull the troops out. So, he got the WMD out of Iraq right before the invasion, likely to Syria, and likely with Russia’s help.
It could be obvious from my description that I personally buy scenario (c). But which one of these scenarios makes sense to you? Can you think of any other scenarios? Just give it some thought. Incidentally, Saddam’s calculation was correct, just not in time for him to benefit. As for the profit motive, it is well known that the Russians and the French had long business dealings with Saddam. So, it could be argued that they were opposed to our invasion in order to protect their profits. And while we are on the subject of Iraq, here is what 9/11 Commission has found. Do follow the links, you might find them interesting.
But enough on question #2. Let’s move on. You say you believe in Equality. So, here is my third question:
3. Do you mean "Equality of opportunity and Equality under the Law"? Or, do you mean "Equality of outcome"?
You and I both were born in a country where the Equality of outcome was at least attempted. Incidentally, it never worked out that way: people always found ways around the system. So, there was Party elite, better overall conditions in Moscow at the expense of other areas, people getting rich illegally. But majority of Soviet citizens had equally low standard of living. So, try to answer this question for yourself: which equality do you want? And, by the way, these kinds of equality are mutually excluding, because in order to ensure equality of outcome those who are more successful have to be deprived of their success by the law.
You say you want to end Racism. Very well. Here is question number 4:
4. Do you think not admitting a person into college because of his or her ethnic origin is racist? How about admitting someone into college because of his or her ethnic origin? Isn’t that equally racist? After all, if you admit someone based on race or ethnicity, that means that someone who is of "wrong" race or ethnicity gets denied admission. So, how can you support politicians who support that vile quota system, otherwise known as Affirmative Action? Is it in order to compensate for some past wrongs? Well, for starters for example, there was a time when Jews were not admitted into Harvard. That in fact was the reason why Einstein refused to work there and went instead to Princeton. Is there an Affirmative Action for Jews at Harvard? Also, back in Odessa Jews were often not admitted into colleges. Those who were, had to know somebody, bribe somebody, or be listed as "Russians" in their internal passports. But in places like Tashkent, for example, it was the Russians who were often discriminated against. In fact, you had a better chance to get in, if you were a Jew than if you were a Russian. Am I supposed to feel vindicated because of that anti-Russian discrimination? Or is discrimination always bad, no matter against whom and for whom? I personally like the attitude my kids have about race and ethnicity: they simply don’t care. To them a Black kid is just another kid. That’s how Racism ends once and for all: you raise the next generation to simply not pay attention to race at all.
Moving on. You say you believe in protecting Civil Liberties, but not with guns. So, here is question number 5:
5. How would you protect yourself from that mugger you described in your article? Would you rely on Police to be there to protect you? Usually the Police arrives after the fact. But, let me suggest an even scarier scenario. Suppose, the cops do come in time, but your mugger just tells them: "This is just a Jew I am mugging". And the Police just reply to the mugger: "Ah, OK, let us help you. This Jew needs mugging, beating and perhaps killing". Oh, wait! That has already happened before, roughly 65 years ago. The Jews did not have guns and were murdered en masse. On the other hand, in the instances when the Jews did have guns, they had a descent chance of survival. While we are on the subject of Jews with guns, have you seen the movie "Defiance"? If you haven’t, you should. It is based on true story. You’ll like the movie, you’ll be able to relate to it. Even my wife, who usually does not like war movies, liked it. You might also cry during the movie. My wife did. After you watch it, read this review published by CNN, one of the leftist media organizations. If your blood start boiling after reading that crap, try calming down by reading my review of the review. You see, the Left wants to see the Jews as quiet little victims for whom they can feel sorry. When the Jews start defending themselves with – oh, horror! – guns, that is unacceptable to the Left. And don’t even get me started on anti-Semitism prevalent on the Left these days. You probably never went to any of the so-called "peace" protests. Because if you did, you’d be thoroughly disgusted about vile anti-Semitism found there. I countered a number of those demonstrations, and I saw that with my own eyes.
So, here is my question number 6:
6. How can you be on the same side politically with those anti-Semites?
You say that the Government has a duty to help people with education and health care etc. I actually agree that the Government should serve as a safety net. As Winston Churchill said (not an exact quote), the Government should encourage competition, but mitigate the consequences of a failure. But how to help people effectively is also important. So, on the subject of education, here is a question number 7:
7. What is wrong with tying the money to a kid, rather than to a school? You give a kid a voucher and pay whichever school the kid attends. That way the schools have to compete for kids and parents. This system is apparently successful in countries like Belgium. But the leftist politicians are against it. Why?
Moving on to the subject of health care and Government involvement in it. Here is the question number 8:
8. Have you heard a phrase (I am using translit because I am not sure if you can read in Russian) "Lechit’sya darom – eto darom lechit’sya"? Since this is an open letter, for those who do not speak Russian, this phrase can be roughly translated as "You get treated for nothing, and your treatment is nothing", i. e. "The health care is free, and you get what you paid". If you haven’t heard it, you might want to ask your parents. They might be able to describe the joys of the Soviet free health care for you. Oh, and by the way, here is a story from Canada, reported by another fellow Jew from the old Soviet Union. Read it in full: the punch line, or rather the punch paragraph, is at the end.
Moving on. You say you support abortion rights. I actually happen to agree that the Government should stay out of this issue: it is too often a purely medical decision in which no government bureaucrat should have any say. However, I do think that abortions for convenience are immoral and, in fact, kill babies. I came to this conclusion after seeing an ultrasound picture of my older daughter over 8 years ago. So, here is my question number 9:
9. Where do you draw the line for abortions for convenience: 1st trimester, exit out of the womb? Why not later? For example, Peter Singer argues that it should be OK to kill infants. What do you think of his argument? Or how about this scenario: a late term abortion was performed, but the baby (or the fetus, if you will) survived and has been removed from the womb alive. Should such baby be given medical care? Obama said: "No". But what do you think? You see, here is a good way to test whether you want to support a certain policy: if you can support a policy taken to its logical conclusion, then you can support it. Or, if you think you can support support a policy up to a point, you should know where that point is, and why. Think about it.
You say you don’t believe in good and evil. OK, here my question number 10:
10. Were the Nazis evil? I will even re-phrase: is the Nazi ideology evil? How about modern day Nazis of Hamas and Hezbollah?
You say you love everybody. Question number 11:
11. Do you love people who want to murder you and your family and everybody you love? Would you love a young SS soldier, who in his indignation against the enemies of the Reich, however misguided, took Jewish babies by their feet and smashed their heads against cobblestones somewhere in Warsaw? Because that was how the SS murdered Jewish babies in order to save bullets. You see, a proper reaction to the actions of SS by any normal human being, let alone a Jew, is not love, but hate toward the SS and overwhelming desire to kill the bastards. Think about this one.
12. Does this cult of personality give you pause? Does it scare you, just a little bit, especially coming from the former Soviet Union? What do your parents say about it?
As for Mother Russia, I’ll just leave you with the words of Evgeny Kliachkin, who called the old country not a mother, but a step-mother, and a wicked one at that. Again, if you were too young when you left that country, I’ll refer you to your parents. Ask them.
I hope I did not offend you. I meant no disrespect. I just wanted you to stop and think. I bet our views are very similar: after all, I call myself a true Liberal. Best wishes and have a wonderful Purim.
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