Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hitler was not a liberal

Reprint of Clobbering Cross Currents
Original post date: Friday, April 29, 2005

One of the things that has fascinated me about Cross Currents is its occasional capacity to rise above the routine moral callousness of hack conservative punditry and attain a level of exquisite depravity normally reserved for villains in James Bond movies.

To wit, the claim by Yaakov Mencken that liberalism begat Hitler: "And none of [these societies and leaders from the past who persecuted Jews], not one, managed to create an era as bloody as the one created by that pinnacle of modern, sophisticated, democratic, liberal life—Germany, circa 1940."

Pretty sneaky, isn't he? If all you read was Cross Currents, your [nasty remark self-edited] and you'd think that Hitler was a good liberal, a direct result of German liberalism. Why you might even think that Germany, circa 1940, was the "pinnacle of modern, sophisticated, democratic, liberal life" and not a place where people were frequently shot on the street for no reason.

Unfortunately for Mencken and his anti-liberal slurs, Hitler wasn't a product of "modern, sophisticated, democratic, liberal life." Nor was his Germany, circa 1940, the pinnacle of anything, save thuggery, murder and supression.

Hitler wasn't liberal or the product of liberalism. He was a backlash against it. True, the world might have avoided Hitler if the German progressives had been stopped (as conservatives of the time may have wished) from transforming corrupt, monarchist Germany into a modern, liberal state, but the rise of Hitler isn't an argument against liberalism anymore than the rise of Islamic terrorism is an argument against Zionism or capitilism.

Anyway, who ultimately buried Hitler? The liberal democracies, of course.

Notable Comment: On the original post Moishe Potemkin wrote: "I'm also not quite sure why-if mistaken ideology isn't such a big deal-the Cross Currents staff is so in love with Roman Catholics, and so vitriolically opposed to Reform Judaism. Other than validating their bigotry against, well, you know who."

Riding Yakov Menken

Reprint of: Riding Yaakov Menken
Original post date: Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Cross-Currents: Riding with the Amish

Says Yakov Menken: I was a bit disappointed to learn that the “New Order Amish,” of which our driver is a member, drive cars—just because it is another sign of people losing their attachment to traditions"

Disappointed? What selfish nerve.

Yakov Menken, presumably, agrees that no law of God demands that cars be relinquished. In fact, Yakov Menken, presumably, owns a car, and presumably, he'd find it very difficult to go without one.

So why is Yakov Menken "disappointed" to discover that New Order Amish have cast off a
burden he does not accept upon himself?

Why is he "disappointed' to learn that some Amish no longer choose to endure the very real inconviniences of 19th century travel?

Is the good rabbi really asking the Amish to suffer simply so that you and I can enjoy the slight pleasure of smiling contentedly (or is it condecendingly) in the general direction of some poor Amish fellow during our annual chol hamoed trip to Lancaster? That's close to monstrous.

In fact, I think I finally understand Bellow's famous question: "Would you ask them to labor and go hungry while you yourself enjoyed Old-Fashioned Values?"

If you're Yakov Menken I guess the answer is "yes."

Notable comments: On the original post, Orthomom wrote: "I would have to agree with the Bear. Meaning well is not good enough. The piece really does reek of condescension. I would love to see the Jewish reaction if a similar article was written about an author's disappointment that Hasidic Jews have started to allow their wives out of the house, or some such stupidity. The Amish do not exist as a benchmark for tradition for Menken's purposes, or anyone else's." Also, Gil wrote several comments urging me to leave Yaakov Menken alone, and to "use [my] obvious talents to harrass FrumTeens instead.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?