Dagger in hand

A man of prodigious fortune, coming to add his opinion to some light discussion that was going on casually at his table, began precisely thus: "It can only be a liar or an ignoramus who will say otherwise than," and so on. Pursue that philosophical point, dagger in hand.

--Michel de Montaigne, Of the art of discussion.

Stab back: cmnewman99-at-yahoo.com


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Sunday, February 02, 2003
I don't watch TV news much, even when events are breaking. It always strikes me as 2% news, 20% speculation, and 78% meaningless filler. Actually, you're ahead of the game if the filler is innocuous. This morning I heard a newscaster, don't know who, don't know which station, reporting how all across Southern California churches are holding memorial services for the lost astronauts or including them and their families in their prayers. Then she goes on to add that in local synagogues, prayers are being offered for their fallen hero, the lost Israeli pilot.

Excuse me? Did you mean to report that unlike Christian churchgoers, our local Jewish congregations aren't interested in praying for all the people who suffer tragedy, but only ones who happen to be from Israel? Cuz from where I was sitting, that's kinda what it seemed to imply. The statement was made in passing, and I doubt the woman who mouthed the words even realized she was saying anything remotely strange. Nor, perhaps, did whoever wrote the copy. And what religious leaders, I wonder, did they contact to get this information from? The statement was certainly not accompanied by any on-the-scene reportage interviewing random people as they left services. Jewish services, I mean. Churchgoers, yes. No doubt because they, unlike the templegoers, were sharing in our national tragedy? I don't know why this leapt out at me the way it did. A few years ago I probably wouldn't even have picked up on it, and even now I'm probably reading too much into it. It's just that lately I've been reading stuff about how it's a commonplace in Europe for people to assume that American Jews aren't really American but have their first allegiance to Israel. I usually laugh off idiocy like that with a derisive "spoken like someone who has no idea what he's talking about." But to get that kind of sloppiness from a local news network was kind of a slap in the face. And no, if you happen to be tuning into this blog for the first time, I'm not Jewish. But large numbers of my friends, acquaintances, and colleagues are. And it would never occur to me, in my wildest dreams, to doubt their identity as Americans, their love of this country, or their compassion toward suffering of any denomination. I feel really stupid even having to say this. But I do so, for the benefit of anyone who happens to read this and has no direct experience with American society.

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