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Author Topic: Evil Fiction
Kent
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No way can this article offend anyone here that believes that Israel has a right to exist. Ignoring the argument of whether Jews committed atrocities or not, I agree with OSC that if you give as the background assumption that a certain class of people is a certain way, the stereotype and prejudice will eventually permeate culture. On a tangent, is anyone else worried that the US will cut off support for Israel?

[ February 28, 2007, 05:21 PM: Message edited by: Kent ]

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Temposs
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It's hard to imagine living in a country the size of New Jersey, being surrounded by hungry wolves on all sides, not to mention within your own country(west bank & gaza strip). Many people want to live in peace in that land, but it is not enough.

It would never work under current conditions, but if Israel(or the United States vicariously) were to systematically raise the standards of living/education in Palestine, rather than letting the Palestinians try to do it themselves, it would take some of the edge off. It's already such a small tract of land, how can Israel be expected to give up any more?

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Temposs
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When the US stops needing oil from the Middle East, then Israel should worry.
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Adam Masterman
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Looks like angry Orson is back again. My favorite part was when he interupted his rant on how evil (his word) the liberal position on Israel/Palestine is, to declare that liberals have no tolerance for conservative views. They must not have irony in North Carolina.


Adam

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kenmeer livermaile
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I think Orson likes hearing us squawk.
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scifibum
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Adam, I think you extrapolated a bit further than OSC intended. I don't see where he calls the "liberal position on Israel/Palestine" evil. He does say the book is evil and he goes into some detail about why - I believe his reasoning is that it portrays history falsely. That the book proposes a set of "facts" that some people are likely to believe, that are not true. I think this is a pretty good argument. Not that we should require all fiction to be set against a set of real facts, but that realistic fiction that is clearly set in the "real world" (as far as a likely reader can tell) ought not to deliberately mislead people.

Alternate histories are usually obvious as such. Historical fiction that ISN'T clearly set in an alternate history should have some respect for the truth. Neh?

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Viking_Longship
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WOuldn't have read the book to begin with but what a weird twist on history. Zionists were being armed by the IRA in 1948 because they were fighting the British. Meanwhile, it was the arabs in Palestine who were killing Jews.

Somehow Roman Catholocism survived "The Da Vinci Code" so perhaps Isreal will survive.

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hobsen
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OSC attacked an actual abuse this time, I think. If this writer had written a book arguing that the United States should work for the destruction of Israel, I should say that he had every right to express his views on foreign policy. However, intentionally or not, he distorted history in a thriller intended to appeal to the historically ignorant and to escape review by historians who would know better. That lowers the level of public discourse at best, and amounts to vicious propaganda at worst.

OSC has done the same himself sometimes, I think, presenting views far removed from reality in his columns. But those are labelled as opinion and, despite the proverb, I think a kettle is fully justified in calling a pot black, if that is the case.

The Da Vinci Code, which I finally got around to reading a couple of months ago, is quite different. It did not attack the Roman Catholic Church as a whole but Opus Dei, a conservative and very controversial organization within the Church involved in several real life scandals. And the villains, as I vaguely remember the plot, turned out not to be the leaders of Opus Dei but a couple of deranged individuals among thirty thousand or so members. Objecting to that is like citizens of Saudi Arabia saying unfavorable remarks about the 9/11 hijackers are an insult to their country. Writers must find villains somewhere, and isolated loonies in a big organization are fair game.

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Lobo
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While reading this I thought of OSC's caricature of "White Murderer Harrison" and just laughed.
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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Adam, I think you extrapolated a bit further than OSC intended.
No, I haven't. Its not like OSC has any first hand information about this history. He wasn't there any more than this author was. Its just a question of which historical narratives one finds convincing. OSC has chosen one in which nearly all of Israels actions are decent and justified. This author, apparently, believes the opposite. In reality, there is plenty of well documented shameful behavior on both sides of this conflict. Anyone who refuses to see that is being willfully blind. But whatever. Card has one view, this guy another. Card, However, can't seem to live with the fact that reasonable people sometimes disagree. No, they are either evil or stupid. Honestly, the man can't seem to accept the basic premise of democratic society, and consequently he spends his days enraged at the massive left wing conspiracy.

I realize that this dead horse has taken quite a beating, but I am continually suprised by such vitriol from an otherwise very sensitive and sympathetic author (at least, he used to be). Card and Michael Savage are the two pundits who, I'm fairly certain, would punch me in the face if I ever expressed my opinions to them. The man needs to relax.

Adam

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Blayne Bradley
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no I think OSC is correct this time, Israel is defending its right to exist everything else is secondary.
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Jesse
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Yeah, let's just set aside the fact that Israelis really did murder women and children in 1948, at least in one very well documented incident that a simple web search would have brought up quickly. They lined them up against a wall and gunned them down. Literally.

It boggles the mind that he accuses others of not doing their research.

What's most disturbing is Orsons continuation of one of the primary Big Lies recently advanced regarding the situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories. The claim that Arabs flooded the region because Jewish settlers made it such a wonderfull place for them to live.

The Arab population growth is exactly in line with many other regions at the time.

I wonder why "these Arabs all just moved here" had to wait 50 years to be advanced as an argument?

Why aren't there scores of supporting articles to be found in the Jerusalem Post from back then? Because it simply did not happen.

"These People" collectively choose to be occupied and just enjoy killing Jews because they're Bigots. That must explain all those Arab Muslim on Jew pogroms in the Levant between the Arab conquest and the mid 1800s...oh, right, there weren't any.

No, like the residents of Watts or Harlem, every scrap of Palestinian suffering has been brought about by their own actions.

The rage of Palestinians has nothing the do with settlers in Gaza pumping water until the rest of the area was left with seawater intrusion, or the fact that the Israeli government refuses to issue building permits to Arabs in east Jerusalem, and then knocks down their homes if they build on their own land anyway.

It has nothing to do with being forced into ghettos, or with the fact that Israel has never stopped building new settlements for any length of time. It has nothing to do with individuals being incarcerated for years at a time without trial or charge, or with the fact that Palestinians can't travel even a few miles in their own land without Israeli permits.

No, like the residents of Watts or Harlem, every scrap of Palestinian suffering has been brought about by their own actions.

What is the difference between Arab Israelis and Palestinians? Why do Arab Israelis live peacefully among their neighbors, almost never engaging in any form of violence?

They are the brothers, sisters, cousins, and granchildren of "These People". They are of the same culture. Yet, we are told again that "These People" are culturally bigots, madmen, hate filled murders beyond The Pale who hate Jews for reasons the Israeli government has no potential control over. That Israeli policy has played no part in creating the situation that now exists.

We're told it's still 1948, that slavering hordes of vicious natives surround Israel and would destroy her in a minute if we so much as refrained from shipping one bullet...after all, it's not as if Israel is one of the worlds leading nuclear powers or anything.

If one sees ignorant bigotry in the work of another, I suppose the appropriate response is an ignorant, bigoted tirade based on "research" consisting of watching Fox and Friends.

He's absolutely right that the British did not arm the Israelis. If this author does make that claim, he's nearly as missinformed as Orson.

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Hannibal
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"It's hard to imagine living in a country the size of New Jersey, being surrounded by hungry wolves on all sides,"

its easy when you have nukes and the IAF.

Thats right, we exist because we are/were stronger and smarter then our enemies. and not because historical or religous claims, there is nothing shamefull in admitting that.
that goes the same for any country on earth.

Jesse, black on white, after the UN decision, it was the palestinians who attacked Israel, and after the end of the mandate and the foundation of Israel, it was the arab countries that invaded israel in the hopes of killing everyone here and not the other way around.

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Jesse
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Hannibal, in the immediate aftermath of the UN Mandate, it was a bunch of bloodthirsty @holes who started shooting at each other on both sides. We could break it down and go unique incident by unique incident and I could show you that in many instances it wasn't the Palestinians who fired first, but it wouldn't be all that productive.

You're right that it was the Arab countries, looking to sieze land for themselves, who invaded Israel using the Palestinians (who they all refused to call Palestinians because they wanted to enlarge their territory, not create an independent State) as a "Justification".

I don't think I or anyone else has been asserting the "rights" of Jordan, Egypt, or Syria to any territory that is now part of or occupied by Israel.

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Everard
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"What's most disturbing is Orsons continuation of one of the primary Big Lies recently advanced regarding the situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories. The claim that Arabs flooded the region because Jewish settlers made it such a wonderfull place for them to live.

The Arab population growth is exactly in line with many other regions at the time."

Thats not really true. When I find the discussion I had with tom curtis on this topic, I'll link you to it. Fact is that the census for the late 1940's shows an increase in the arab population within the israeli portion of the mandate that can only be accounted for by immigration.

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Jesse
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Not conclusively, since we know that the censuses became more accurate as the years went on, and we have take into account that we don't know where the heck those folks "immigrated" from.

The spin of The Big Lie isn't that Arabs moved into the cities for work, which DID happen, it's that hordes of Arabs immigrated into the territory which became Israel from outside of Palestine.

Take a look at the Gaza censuses over the last 40 years, and tell me what can "only" be accounted for by immigration [Wink]

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Everard
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"The spin of The Big Lie isn't that Arabs moved into the cities for work, which DID happen, it's that hordes of Arabs immigrated into the territory which became Israel from outside of Palestine."

Don't know where they came from, but the population increase for arabs within the territory that became israel was certainly in part due to immigration. Conclusively proved? No. Large preponderance of the evidence? Yes.

"Take a look at the Gaza censuses over the last 40 years"

Gaza over the last 40 years much different situation then almost anything else over the last 200.

[ March 04, 2007, 06:35 PM: Message edited by: Everard ]

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HIGPrague
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The simplest way to solve the argument about when the majority of Arabic speaking people came to the area that is now Israel is to go the the UNWRA page http://www.un.org/unrwa/refugees/whois.html which shows that the official definition of the Palestinian refugee is a person who moved to the area of Palesitine in 1946. How can that be since we all know the Arabs lived there from "Time Immemorial"? According to UN workers at the time, it was because there were so many welfare cases crowding into the camps that to accomodate them, the rules had to be changed from the usual 5 years to 2 years. If the Arabs had really been pushed off their ancestral lands, the real definition could have easily been 10 years, huh? Think it is too much to define a Palestenian as a person who lived in the area since 1938? How about 1942?
As to the allegation of Jews lining up people against a wall and shooting them, please provide the easy web site mentioned. I assume the reference is to Dier Yassin, but I would like to see how this "massacre" is presented on the website that the simple search produced and who put this information on the web.

In regard to Mr. Card's post, I have seen may attacks and defenses of Israel on a large number of Blogs and I find his intelligent and well reasoned approach to be among the most even handed and well presented explanations I have encountered. He is correct historically and knows his history quite well.

Let me posit something. Why does the group of Egyptians, Syrians, Lebanese, and even Sudanese who have now formed a "nation" of Palestinians and have lived off the donations of the US and the rest of the world for close to 60 years deserve a state? What have then given the world other than sucide bombers, airplane hijackings and hatred that entitles them to even have the right to be handed a state when they cannot stop killing each other? Jordan was created out of a large majority of the Mandated Palestine, Syria Iraq and Lebanon were carved out of the old Ottoman Empire and made states, these migrant workers could have gone back to where they came from and lived there except for the hatred of the rulers of those states who kept them in abject poverty for 60 years in camps. The offers of the Israeli government to build real houses was turned down as has been the offer to provide medicine to the hospitals which have allegedly run out due to a lack of money. The Palestinian leaders told the Israelis to give them money not medicine, while providing over 210 Million USD annually so that Queen Arafat can live in luxury in Paris. They destroyed the green houses bought for them to provide jobs when the Israelis vacated Gaza and somehow these people deserve a state? Lets discuss theier right to a state instead of the right of Israel to exist.

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HIGPrague
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The simplest way to solve the argument about when the majority of Arabic speaking people came to the area that is now Israel is to go the the UNWRA page http://www.un.org/unrwa/refugees/whois.html which shows that the official definition of the Palestinian refugee is a person who moved to the area of Palesitine in 1946. How can that be since we all know the Arabs lived there from "Time Immemorial"? According to UN workers at the time, it was because there were so many welfare cases crowding into the camps that to accomodate them, the rules had to be changed from the usual 5 years to 2 years. If the Arabs had really been pushed off their ancestral lands, the real definition could have easily been 10 years, huh? Think it is too much to define a Palestenian as a person who lived in the area since 1938? How about 1942?
As to the allegation of Jews lining up people against a wall and shooting them, please provide the easy web site mentioned. I assume the reference is to Dier Yassin, but I would like to see how this "massacre" is presented on the website that the simple search produced and who put this information on the web.

In regard to Mr. Card's post, I have seen may attacks and defenses of Israel on a large number of Blogs and I find his intelligent and well reasoned approach to be among the most even handed and well presented explanations I have encountered. He is correct historically and knows his history quite well.

Let me posit something. Why does the group of Egyptians, Syrians, Lebanese, and even Sudanese who have now formed a "nation" of Palestinians and have lived off the donations of the US and the rest of the world for close to 60 years deserve a state? What have then given the world other than sucide bombers, airplane hijackings and hatred that entitles them to even have the right to be handed a state when they cannot stop killing each other? Jordan was created out of a large majority of the Mandated Palestine, Syria Iraq and Lebanon were carved out of the old Ottoman Empire and made states, these migrant workers could have gone back to where they came from and lived there except for the hatred of the rulers of those states who kept them in abject poverty for 60 years in camps. The offers of the Israeli government to build real houses was turned down as has been the offer to provide medicine to the hospitals which have allegedly run out due to a lack of money. The Palestinian leaders told the Israelis to give them money not medicine, while providing over 210 Million USD annually so that Queen Arafat can live in luxury in Paris. They destroyed the green houses bought for them to provide jobs when the Israelis vacated Gaza and somehow these people deserve a state? Lets discuss theier right to a state instead of the right of Israel to exist.

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pst314
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"Its just a question of which historical narratives one finds convincing."

Not being a fan of post-modernist obfuscation, I prefer facts. One documentable fact is that although there were a few atrocities committed by Jews, they were far from a general policy. And at the same time there were many atrocities committed by Muslims and they were the general policy. Second, it is a matter of historical record that a primary reason for Muslim rage was uppity infidels who didn't know their place.

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Chiefsnark
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I appreciate Adam's open profession of post-modernism. It's just your narrative against mine, he says, and there is no objective truth, evidence means nothing, etc. So your narrative that, say, the Holocaust occurred and mine that it didn't...just pick the one you like.

For the rest of you:

Deir Yassin was a battle that got out of hand. It was not deliberate policy, the Jewish authorities immediately expressed regret and condemnation, and it was one of the factors that led those authorities to disband the Irgun as a military organization. It wasn't ordered by anyone, and there wasn't dancing in the streets when news of it broke. Arab atrocities are deliberate, part of openly expressed policy, and are celebrated when they're effective.

The exact amount of Arab immigration into mandate Palestine cannot be known because much of it was unofficial. That it occurred and those who did it constituted a significant percentage of the Arab Palestinian population in 1947 is indisputable...unless you're a post-modernist in which case, yes, census and other government figures are how I base my narrative.

The idea that education would ameliorate the problem is a pretty idea but unfortunately refuted by history. The fact is that Egypt and Jordan badly neglected the West Bank and Gaza. By all indicia of social well-being the disputed territories made rapid progress under Israeli occupation--literacy, employment, per capita income, life expectancy, and so forth. The Israelis expanded the educational system and opened universities, unlike the Jordanians and Egyptians. The territories in the seventies were becoming cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous.

And the Palestinians themselves threw it away, just as after the Gaza withdrawl state of the art greenhouses, costing millions of dollars, were left to the Palestinians. None of them survived the next twenty-four hours. If the Palestinians had accepted the 1947 partition plan the sum total of all Arabs who would have been displaced is: none.

So yes, Jesse, comparisons with Harlem are inapt. From 1937 on the Palestinians have had a number of opportunities to choose peace and their own state and they have rejected them all.

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Bleepless
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I once had an interesting experience regarding those words. I told an Arab that I thought Israel should be able to exist peacefully. He started yelling that I was a Zionist. In view of my comment, I thought that went without saying. It was only later that I realized he was using "Zionist" as a euphemism for "Jew." My Anglo-Italo-Jughead ancestors would have giggled at that.
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hobsen
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HIGPrague provided a useful link in his post, but the definition of a refugee he cites is not complete. The document linked goes on to say that that person must have lost his home or means of livelihood in the ensuing war.

So the definition was intended to distinguish those who deserved help for losses in a particular event from those who did not. Restricting the aid to those who had lived in Palestine for ten years would have been unreasonable, if they had in fact lost their homes or means of livelihood at the time. The definition was not intended to find out how many of those suffering damage had been what one might call historically residents of the area, which is what this thread is citing it for now.

Edited to add: Very funny, Bleepless.

[ March 05, 2007, 01:04 AM: Message edited by: hobsen ]

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Everard
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"So the definition was intended to distinguish those who deserved help for losses in a particular event from those who did not. Restricting the aid to those who had lived in Palestine for ten years would have been unreasonable"

Except that is the definition the UN applies in all cases OTHER then palestinians.

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HIGPrague
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Something thing that seems to be totally forgotten is the 600,000 or so JEWISH refugees who really were thrown out of their homes, burned out, pillaged and left penniless. These people had live in Syria, Iraq etc. from a time before Islam existed as a religion. They lived in camps for up to 12 years and there was no UNRWA for them.
These are not new facts, it is just that there are things that people don't pay attention to. Memories are short and the Hebron slaughter of the entire Jewish community except one child in 1929 will soon be 100 years ago, but in 1948 it was recent history.
The points about policy and intent are quite valid ones. I don't approve of every single the Israeli government does, I know there is corruption and waste. However as a policy the Israelis only want to live in peace, share thier knowledge with their neighbors and be a part of the neighborhood. None of the surrounding states, which are ruled by dictators, want this.
Try looking at MEMRI which translatesinto English what is on Arab TV. This is the pap fed to the masses and and one can understand that without access to a free press the masses actually believe that Jews use the blood of Arab children to make matzah. They are taought this over and over again.

As to the UNWRA definition, two points. One is that it is DIFFERENT from the other definitions to allow for the widest net of the Arab population to be called refugees. Second it says "...who lost both their homes and means of livelihood..." It does not say they had to own their home. It could have been rented, and certainly if they are no longer in Palestine where the jobs were, by definition they lost their livlihood. If not, why do the shoemakers and carpenters, and glazers etc living in the "camps" still get assistance. They may have livlihoods now, but they lost the ones they had 60 years ago.

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The Drake
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Fiction is a funny thing. Sometimes you present facts in the third person, even when it is really the perception of a main character. Now, I'm not sure about this book because I haven't read it.

But I wonder if this "background" isn't meant to be told from the point of view of what appears to be a protagonist, and one who might well have believed all of those statements about the Jewish state.

Card claims: "But the background is assumed to be real. And readers often come out of books like this thinking they now know something about the real world."

I have to hope this isn't true. Who reads a work of fiction and incorporates it into their belief of what life was like? Do we look to Louis L'Amour to define the Westward Expansion? White hats and Black hats, and that's all there is to it?

With any luck, people will be spurred to read real works of history - from both sides of the historical dispute. When I did, I became convinced that this was really a tragic situation, and that people on both sides of the conflict have legitimate claim to sorrow and suffering. I had originally been a blind supporter of Israel - now, I am a supporter of Israel, but with the ability to recognize how they tend to exacerbate their own problem by establishing and expanding settlements and failing to implement UN resolutions.

But those who prefer to believe that the marshall and the posse are always on the side of justice, well, they are welcome to their fictions.

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Ruskin
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Hi, I'm a fresh new member who just read OSC's column this week and would like to become involved in the discussion of the topic.

My feelings on Card's opinion on this matter are torn. On the one hand, I agree that it is easy for the uneducated masses to take the wrong meaning from this piece of supposed fiction, but on the other hand, I am not surprised.

The American people are not often educated on world history, even in their formal education. Many high schools limit themselves to teaching United States history, and our country's views on historic events. This is a xenophobic behavior, but of course no one seeks to change it. I feel that if students went through one year of 20th century world history, there would be many more adults who were educated on current events and their roots.

Also, fiction is intrinsically propaganda at its core. Whether moral propaganda, political propaganda, or religious propaganda, the author's intent to convey a very important human message through his work is undeniable. Orson of all people understands this. Look at the works of Dickens, Shakespeare, even Tolkien...Shakespeare wrote his "historic" plays using material that was not only plagiarized, but blatant propaganda with a political slant. Even Macbeth, purely the creation of Shakespeare's mind, was an attempt to impress Danish visitors of King James. And Dickens could do little else save for write political commentary.

Fiction and literature have always been "history with a twist"; why choose to harpoon this whale in a whole sea of the same?

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Not being a fan of post-modernist obfuscation, I prefer facts. One documentable fact is that although there were a few atrocities committed by Jews, they were far from a general policy.
[Big Grin]

(in case you are wondering, I am laughing at the statement "one documentable fact", followed by a statement that is, by its very grammatical structure, a statement of opinion).

But in case that sailed by you, lets try some Socratic method.

Were you in Israel during this historical period?

Were you also omnipresent, so that you have direct, first-hand experience of everything that transpired then?

If you answered no to either of those two questions (if not, sorry for bothering you, Jehovah), then you are relying on (say it with me) evidence. If you find that fact uncomfortable, perhaps you should re-examine your worldview. "Just the facts, maam" is a wonderful philosophy, it has nothing to do with reality (which, incidentally, isn't such a bad place. Come visit some time). In the meantime, welcome to Ornery, you are wrong (see another veteran for a translation).

quote:
I appreciate Adam's open profession of post-modernism. It's just your narrative against mine, he says, and there is no objective truth, evidence means nothing, etc. So your narrative that, say, the Holocaust occurred and mine that it didn't...just pick the one you like.
My apologies to anyone here whom I have, at some point in the past, accused of misrepresenting my position. Apparently, you haven't been misrepresented until a benign (and true) expression of relativity becomes Holocaust denial. Pardon me if I offended you with my "fancy book larnin'", lord knows I would hate to make a level headed thinker like yourself question his premises. I'll be back in the corner as soon as I get this red "B" sewn to my chest. [Razz]

Adam

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Ruskin
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quote:
If you answered no to either of those two questions (if not, sorry for bothering you, Jehovah), then you are relying on (say it with me) evidence. If you find that fact uncomfortable, perhaps you should re-examine your worldview. "Just the facts, maam" is a wonderful philosophy, it has nothing to do with reality (which, incidentally, isn't such a bad place. Come visit some time). In the meantime, welcome to Ornery, you are wrong (see another veteran for a translation).Adam
That's another interesting point to make (even though you weren't responding to me directly): if what I'm arguing is that most fiction is propaganda, who is to say that non-fiction is not also propaganda? What we take as "facts" and "history" is only what has been given to us as such. Without evidence, how can we back many of our claims?
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Tim Powers
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Scott, that's an excellent essay. I hope lots of people read it and seriously consider the idea that you might be right!
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Adam Masterman
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The very nature of evidence is subjective. We have reasons for why we find one piece of evidence convincing, and not another, and those reasons are almost always far less rational than we like to imagine. Rational or not, we are still making a judgement that could be wrong. When we are talking about a past event, evidence is all there is, be it memory or material. Events themselves vanish the moment they occur. Its part of the inherent insubstantiality of reality that it is temporal, forever changing and thus never graspable. There is no president Lincoln, there is merely an accumulation of evidence regarding his previous existance. And if you don't understand how potentially unreliable ANY form of evidence is, go watch the matrix.

Whats interesting about this point is that it is rarely rejected on rational grounds. People hate the idea that reality is subjective, but I've yet to see anyone effectively challenge it logically. Instead, you get appeals to consensus: "hey, this guy doesn't believe in anything. What a fruitcake!" The premises of the idea never get addressed.

Adam

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pst314
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Adam, the historical record includes numerous documents and recordings--many produced by Muslims themselves--showing that they were fighting to maintain a system in which non-Muslims would remained subservient to Muslims, and that genocide was an instrument of that policy. (And please note that massacres of Jews were perpetrated decades before the Partition.) You can talk about "competing narratives" but the Muslim narrative is mostly lies.
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Ruskin
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pst, I think Adam's (and my, associatively) point is that when a government organization sets its mind to it, any event can be falsified, even with documents and recordings. Signatures can be forged, recordings and images can be doctored, even eye-witness testimony can be coerced or removed. There's a great movie that demonstrates that point, called Wag the Dog. Anyway, I think Adam and I are straying from the topic to suggest the more general concept that what we know is not necessarily what happened. How will the Iraq War be written into the history books, do you suppose? That's a whole different discussion, I know, and way off topic.
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Westerner
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This is a response to Scott's original essay.

As always, discussions of evil beg the question of whether there is really an independent thing such as evil, or is it like darkness, just an absence of light/goodness.

Scott discusses a novel he began but didn't finish because he concluded it was evil when it became clear that the premise was that the State of Israel is a dangerous and murderous entity leading him to conclude that ". . . this book . . . will move us closer to a future in which our society permits or even approves of the murder of Jews and the destruction of the state of Israel."

I thought his distinction between being "about evil," "evil porn" and plain evil was interesting, although I'm not sure the distinction between the latter two is one with much of a difference.

His point is premised, I think, on the concept of evil as an active force, as opposed to mere absence of virtue. As I listen to discussions on talk radio, I often wonder how many of the show hosts believe in the Devil. I don't believe in the cartoon Devil, with the red skin, horns and pointed tail, but I do find some people so full of hatred, misery and viciousness that it goes beyond mere absence of positive desires and goodness, and actually consists of opposition and a desire to destroy the object of its hatred.

I think that the feeling some people have about Jews and Israel is like that, just as some people have a similar attitude toward America, Christianity, and religion in general. I've never felt that way about anybody I can think of, but I'm convinced that there are a lot of people who feel that way about George Bush, Dick Cheney.

I'm not saying that liberalism is evil or that the Democrat Party is evil. I'm sure there are some on the right who have evil feelings against people like Ted Kennedy or the other poster children of liberalism, but true evil leaves the realm of mere politics and occupies one that is neither left nor right, but merely hostile. That's where I pigeonhole people like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Saddam Hussein (and his sons) and so on. Some people succumb to evil, and some actually become evil.

I was a public defender for 13 years and had over a thousand clients, but I only met a couple I would describe as evil. Most of the people I represented were just drifting, never having had any real aim for their lives or sense of why obeying the law was important. They had a values deficit. But one guy had intended to shoot another man in the face when his gun jammed and so he proceeded to pistol whip him and, when I met him, seemed only to regret that the gun had jammed.

I happened on Scott's post at a time when Ann Coulter is being castigated for associating John Edwards with the word "faggot," just after the Huffington Post removed a lot of comments to the story about a suicide bombing in Afghanistan which seemed to have been an attempt on Dick Cheney's life. Today Mr. Cheney was in the news again because doctors had found a blood clot in his leg and were treating him for it. No comments were allowed on the HP about that.

This phenomenon isn't mere incivility. Some of it is just puerile gas bagging, but some of it is an expression of something much worse. If Senator Kennedy or Hillary Clinton were to suffer a sudden stroke or accident, would I be overjoyed, gloat, or wish it were worse? I can't imagine that feeling. I might feel detached from the tragedy, because these people aren't ones I know personally and are in most ways mere symbols of ideas I disagree with. However, I would be as shocked and repelled by comments like "he should have died," as I was by such sentiments toward the President or Vice-President.

We as a culture ought to know the difference between disliking someone's views and wishing him harm, and I'm worried that some of us have lost that understanding.

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RickyB
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It's easy to come off as the picture of reason when attacking something totally inane in its falsehoods. If this book OSC was reading really claims that "the British" were arming the nascent forces of Israel in 1948, then it's simply talking out of its ass and is of no relevance to informed discussion. The Israeli forces were better armed for much of the war, true, but we got our arms from various sources, almost none of which was British (what we did get from them was indirect - stuff they left behind when they left here).
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pst314
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"pst, I think Adam's (and my, associatively) point is that when a government organization sets its mind to it, any event can be falsified, even with documents and recordings."

That sounds like the usual post-modern excuse to believe whichever "narrative" is more pleasing.

Besides, the allegation is false. It's very difficult to falsify the historical record, at least in open societies like ours. It's easier to do so (and has been done with varying success) in closed and totalitarian societies like the Soviet Union and China and dar al Islam. On the other hand, the idea that the historical record of the experience of Jews and Christians in the Middle East has been falsified by anti-Muslim Westerners is utterly absurd.

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Whats interesting about this point is that it is rarely rejected on rational grounds.
Case in point:

quote:

That sounds like the usual post-modern excuse to believe whichever "narrative" is more pleasing.

I usually steer clear of Israel/Palestine debates becuase they strike me as having a very high ratio of irrational vitriol to actual substance (see above, for instance). So I just sort of sit on the sidelines and hear, alternately, that its all the Palestinian's fault, or that its all Israel's fault (funny, there never seems to be a center in this debate). The one time I actually bothered to get into it with someone was reagrding the 67 war, and whether or not it was a defensive war. I was assured ahead of time that it was purely defensive, with absolutely no ambiguity. I was also assured that it was nothing but a land grab. Both parties agreed, however, that it was anything but ambiguous ( [Wink] ). And yet, as far as I could tell, thats EXACTLY what it was. Everard is probably the most informed defender of Israel on the board, and (as I remember) he had no rebuttal for the first hand accounts (by Israelis) of how the settlers were used to provoke attacks by Syria, in order to justify an Israeli military response. That was an account by an Israeli general. And on the other side, it was pretty clear that Egypt and Jordan, at best, were stirring up the hornets nest in a way that any rational person could see was going to lead to war. The conflict was the result of hundreds of actions and reactions taken by both sides, and I'm honestly amazed that otherwise rational people can conclude that EITHER side was entirely blameless.

Since then, I've seen nothing that would lead me to believe that this conflict has absolute good guys and bad guys. I believe Israel has a right to exist, and to defend themselves; I believe that Palestinians have a right to a state and, in many cases, land they were driven off of. I've heard documented, accurate accounts of atrocity on both sides, as well as examples of decency and courage.

And what I hear MOST is Americans who claim that

1. They know who the good guys are

and

2. Anyone who disagrees with them is evil/stupid/corrupt/ take your pick.

Whenever I hear this view, from either side (the proportions seem about equal) I tend to mentally file the speaker under the heading "moronic blowhard." If you want to disagree, go right ahead. But when someone tells me that their opinions are "FACTS, dammit", well, we're back to that same heading. [DOH]

Adam

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Lobo
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Why do you refer to OSC as "Scott"? I understand that in personal life he goes by that name, but to use it in this setting it seems a little pretentious.

Are you trying to convince us that you know the man and are on a first name basis with him?

[/end rant]

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TomDavidson
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I'm fairly sure that Tim Powers does know "Scott" on a first name basis. [Wink]
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TomDavidson
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quote:
We as a culture ought to know the difference between disliking someone's views and wishing him harm, and I'm worried that some of us have lost that understanding.
Amen to that. I recall Coulter wishing that the terrorists had struck the New York Times building instead, for example.
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