I wrestle constantly with how to respond to the various haters who post comments here. The majority of them find my embrace of Israeli-Palestinian peace based on principles of a two state solution detestable, especially as I am Jewish. But I’ve also received hate comments from a Lieutenant in the armed forces who thought that my opposition to the Iraq war “aided and abetted Al Qaeda.” Recently, I had a ‘delightful’ correspondence with James King–what was his problem? My posts about the politics of the tsunami and relief efforts in which I was highly sympathetic to victims and highly unsympathetic to governments like those of Indonesia and the U.S. King is so twisted with hate that he believes the victims (all of which he maintains are Muslim) ‘got what they deserved.’ Too bad the tsunami didn’t get them all, etc. You get the picture.
Sometimes I argue with these folk in the comment threads. Sometimes I ignore them. But what I’ve decided to do here as a test case is to put the words of the most egregious haters right up front in my blog–in a post of their own. Hate doesn’t much like the light of day. Bigots love to taunt and harass others via the internet in the anonymity of their own homes (or dens or warrens or wherever people like this live). But they don’t much like to reveal the extent of their racism to the general public. So I say if they’ve got balls enough to spew this filth, then I’m going to let the world see them for what they are.
Today, a new hater has creeped out of the cesspool. Mel Birnstein took umbrage with my sympathetic (but critical) posts about Tariq Ramadan in which I explored his views of Israel and anti-Semitism and also covered the bizarre case in which his visa to teach at Notre Dame University was revoked by DHS at the last minute and with next to no reason provided. Mel reminds me that I’m a total idiot if I think I understand Ramadan’s true philosophy since I don’t speak French and have never lived in France (as good old Mel has done). And make no mistake, Ramadan (for anti-Semite Mel) is like all those perfidious, but clever figures who speak well publicly, but conceal a detestable hidden agenda that they only reveal to their closest adherents. Apparently, no one has the right to comment on Tariq Ramadan unless you speak French and live there. Well, there goes much of the world’s arts and cultural criticism.
Here are some of his more memorable lines:
Ramadan is part of the arcane ways of anti-semitism, which in it’s contemporary form is that the eternal “Jewish Secret Control of the World” is now Israel controlling the United States.
Ramadan’s [is] clearly on the side of the terrorists. And your comments put you clearly on the side of the apologists for the terrorists.
You are truly an idiot and a Jewish anti-semite!
I know the difference between a Muslim and an Islamic fascist … Do you?
I know people out in those French suburbs who would still slice that Jew throat of yours open in spite of your kind thoughts on Islam
“Islamism” in the French context basically means, Islamic fascism … You know, Sharia law, lapidation … Hatred of Jews …
Obviously, as far as France and Islam goes, you’re just talking plain, uninformed, ignorant shit … Really, Richard, people like you are pathetic …
Don’t ever want to get caught out there with some real “Islamists” … They won’t buy your liberal hogwash … You [sic] just another kike …
You know, I’m certainly afraid of any Muslims who might wish me ill, but haters from within my own people worry me no less. The bullet can come from anywhere even from within–witness Yitzchak Rabin and Emil Grunzweig’s assassinations (at the hands of fellow Israelis).
The word anti-Semite is very interesting because it not only alludes to Jew hatred, but also to hatred of the other Semitic people–the Arabs. So Mel is a Jew who is an anti-Semite! Also interesting that he calls me a Jewish anti-Semite because to his mind I hate my own people. Anyone who reads this blog knows of my commitment and devotion to my people. What people like Mel really hate is someone from within their own tribe who disagrees with their views. Dissent is impermissible in Mel’s rather stunted version of Judaism. We all walk in lock step or not at all. I am so proud that I belong to a religion which categorically rejects Mel’s certitude, arrogance and hate. Judaism encourages a thousand flowers to bloom. Though not every flower is as worthy as another, the search for the true Jewish path is the most important part of the journey. People like Mel hate that. How did we ever get to be members of the same religion?
D Steffy says
RE: Ramadan Haters and Other Anti-Semites
Just warning you, I’m an atheist, but also an animal lover and vegan. My response ia to your posting “Ramadan Haters and Other Anti-Semites”, which I somehow came across by “googling” President Bush’s Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling.
You are intelligent. It was enjoyable reading your posting. Thank you for standing up to idiotic anti-semites.
However, I mean the following off-the-cuff reaction to your posting in the most sincere way: please stop deluding yourself about your own “religion”. It’s all a bunch of bull – like all religions. Your desire for world peace and your understanding and sympathy toward unnecessary suffering, which you’ve addressed in your posting, is much more valuable than your devotion to your religion. You are a wonderful being who obviously understands some of the world’s inherent problems and wants better for their children. Please discard your lame-ass, unsupportable religion, and instead, devote your power (and your position in the Google search engine) toward improving the world, and not in arguing for your religion, which will hurdle more of the world further into the ensuing dark age. Muslims have the same problem. Anti-semites have the same problem. You are on to something, in that people should not hate other people. But people should also not “buy into” religions that have no concrete evidence to support them.
Judging from your picture, you’re too old to change. But seriously, abandon your stupid lame ass religion. So much useful energy and intelligence, and you’ve directed it towards supporting a religion just as stupid as the last.
I am vegan and despise my racism whenever it surfaces and despise my dismissal of good, honest, compassionate people who are trying to make the world better for thier children by the power of 100 who actually care about clearing the way for their children and grandchildren to have an easier life when they live theirs. But please – STOP PERPETUATING BELIEFS WITHOUT EVIDENCE = RELGION = JUDAISM = ALL OTHER RELGION.
Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org org or email@example.com.
Thanks for taking the time to read my response.
Richard Silverstein says
D Steffy: Thank you for the positive things you said about me and my values.
But as to the negative…your e mail address is hosted by Stanford alumni which indicates you had a first-class education. I’m sorry that education didn’t teach you a little more tolerance and a lot less know-it-allness.
Did it ever occur to you that my commitments to peace, love & justice may come directly fr. my religious tradition? Did it ever occur to you that w/o such a tradition I might’ve turned into a much diff. person? Maybe not as good as the one I am, maybe far worse than that. I can no more divorce my moral or political values fr. my religion than I can separate my body from the atmosphere through which it moves.
I have no problem with you believing in no God or religion. Why do you insist on such mean-spirited intemperateness toward my own beliefs when I have done you no ill?
If you despise yourself for hating my beliefs despite my good values, then perhaps you ought to examine those harsh feelings lurking inside you. For someone who does not believe in harming animals, it’s curious that you don’t see some of yr fellow believing human beings in the same way.
Another facet of Judaism you do not understand is that there are all sorts of gradations of practice & belief among Jews. Some are atheist but uphold secular Jewish traditions. Some are devout Orthodox. And some of us are somewhere in between. I tend toward a more secular view of my religion but have great empathy for Jewish spirituality.
Your vitriolic diatribe did nothing to convince me of the error of my ways.