There Really Are People Who Dream Of A World Without Jews — Many Call Themselves “Republicans”

Jews know what it’s like to be “tolerated”. It’s not the most comfortable place to sit. The ground beneath is unreliable. It can shift at any second. Black and brown and Asian people in America all know what that’s like, too. That’s why some of us try to assimilate. We want to transition from “tolerated” to “accepted” by the larger, white society. In America, Jews have benefited somewhat from our “white adjacent” status — we look just enough like white people on the outside to get slightly better treatment from them; for one thing, Jews were permitted to accumulate and keep most of the wealth we accumulated here in America. Black people especially have not had that experience. Their wealth has been continually stripped from them. For what it’s worth, if the Jews were still living in the Old Days of Europe? They’d know exactly how Black Americans feel about that, too.

In the Old World, the pattern was “allow the Jews to accumulate wealth while holding the nation’s debt (usury being completely un-Christian) until such a time as the Kingdom seizes all the Jews’ wealth and nullifies any debt legally owed them. That was probably what kept Old Europe from coming to a Final Solution earlier. They were like the guy in the old joke who tells the psychiatrist his crazy brother thinks he’s a chicken. They’d take him to therapy to try and help him but they need the eggs. They might have gone and wiped out all the Jews but then, who’d do the dirty but necessary business of holding their debt?

Every human culture on earth has, within it, the potential for greatness. Every human culture — if given the same chances to learn, imagine, innovate and create would, in time, solve most of our problems because human beings, by their nature, are problem-solvers. While a few of us are a tiny bit smarter than all the rest of us (and a good thing too), most humans, left to their own devices, would, in time, muster the brain power to figure it out. It’ll be that or die. Some cultures have continually excelled at figuring things out while others have figured things out for a brief, golden moment before sinking back into confusion.

In his lecture “Beyond Belief”, given back in the early 2000’s in the aftermath of 9-11, astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse-Tyson made a whole bucket of excellent, interesting points. He talked about “naming rights” after then president George W. Bush insisted that white culture had named the stars. No, actually, a lot of the stars have Arabic names since they were first identified by Arab navigators who were inventing celestial navigation. DeGrasse-Tyson reminds us that between 800 – 1100 AD, Baghdad was the center of world learning, an “open city” where people of every stripe came to trade spices and goods but also ideas.

Algebra was invented then. It’s an Arabic word. Same goes for algorithms. Medicine advanced significantly during that period. And then, as DeGrasse-Tyson tells it, a Muslim cleric named Al-Ghazali shows up and makes the pronouncement that “Mathematics is the language of the Devil”. The man literally demonizes math. Nothing good whatsoever can come of that — and, intellectually speaking, that denial of math would ripple through Arab culture for a thousand years and counting. The dogma of its faith over-rode the greatness of its thinking. This is not the first time that’s happened, is it?

Jews, on the other hand, DeGrasse-Tyson points out, did not succumb to any sort of religion-caused mass hysteria event (like a papal schism or a holy war or a Crusade). They put their minds to solving problems and answering perplexing questions. Plenty of them happily spoke the language of math. They won plenty of Nobel Prizes for their hard work. DeGrasse-Tyson points out that relative to their size relative to the human population as a whole, Jews have won an inordinate number of scientific Nobel Prizes (hundreds) while Arabs (a far larger part of the human family) have won three. DeGrasse-Tyson’s point isn’t to denigrate Arabs and their culture, it’s to point out that thinking scientifically is not alien to them — not at all. That, given the chance, Arabs would almost certainly have represented themselves better than they did.

There are plenty of cultures that value education above almost anything else. They recognize that the best way to give their children the best chance to succeed is to educate them. Americans don’t necessarily agree. Correction — some Americans. While not all cultures fight to make secondary education a part of all Americans’ education, it’s only white people who actively work to to deny secondary education to huge swaths of the population. First, they actively work to keep it expensive (the student loan business is incredibly lucrative). Then they work to keep it exclusive. If you don’t think some Americans would bring slavery back if they could, you’re looking at some other America.

Take Black people out of America, you don’t have America. Though slavery will forever be a blight on the idea of America, we need to celebrate — and learn from — how African Americans reacted to being enslaved here. White America could learn a lot about perseverance and loyalty to an idea. They could learn a lot about what America is really about, too — and what it means to actually BE American. In spite of being treated, well, like slaves, Black Americans have given American life vitality, art, innovation, scientific breakthroughs and all around greatness. So has Latino culture and each of the various Asian cultures. That diversity, in fact, is what makes America “America”. It’s at the heart of American Exceptionalism — a very real thing when allowed to shine.

America IS exceptional because something happened here that never happened anywhere else on the planet before. Whereas it took French people the better part of a thousand years to slowly transition from a bunch of tribes living in what’s now “France” into “French People” (same goes for every other country in Europe), aside from Native Americans (and if not for European diseases wiping them out, they might still be part of this equation), America had no slowly evolving local culture to call its own. All the nations of Europe actively engaged in exploring the planet saw the potential for profit in America. That’s what they came here in search of — not some democratic ideal or notion of human self-government.

The idealism beneath America’s founding — stripped of its White Guy’s Only worldview — drew every other nation’s people. America represented something revolutionary — the very real potential for self-reinvention (provided one was rich enough or willing to work hard enough). That was the draw — not white guys and their money. The potential do be whatever you want to be — whoever you are.

A few years back we regularly did “Days Without Latinos” to demonstrate to white people what their lives would be like if all the Latino men and women vanished from them. Spoiler alert — it didn’t go so well for the white people. An awful lot of our fruits and vegetables get picked by Latino migrant labor. Alabama learned the hard way a few years back what happens when you’re stupid (racist) enough to stop all that migrant labor from picking your crops: they don’t get picked. Theirs is a job most Americans refuse to do. Alabama lost an entire crop in 2002. The financial hit was brutal. How did Forrest Gump put it? “Stupid is as stupid does”? Yeah — that.

America would be a fourth world dump without the contributions made by Black people. And Latino people. And Asian people and Jewish people. America needs every contribution from every tribe here in order to do what it does and be what it is. The Republican Party would deny every bit of it.

That’s the funniest part of the joke (though it definitely isn’t haha funny) — white supremacy begins with the entirely false premise that white people could be “supreme” — better than all others. Um, no. Sorry, white people — you’re not “supreme”. That’s not to say you, too, haven’t made some very good contributions to humanity and human history. Hey — penicillin? A white guy (English) invented that! The telephone? White guy (Scottish)! The Ponzi Scheme? A white guy (named Charles Ponzi)!

Republicans have it in their heads that “they alone can fix it”. I’d focus in on the word “fix”. What does a Republican mean by “fix it”? “Fix” how and fix “what”?

All of us who aren’t white people look at white people differently from how white people look at us. For starters, we don’t look at white people like they’re cockroaches; that’s a luxury we don’t have. And, unlike white people who imagine a world free of us, we don’t imagine a world free of them. Frankly, it’d be impossible — there’s just to many of them.

But, confession, some of us do contemplate a world less dominated by white people and their racist way of seeing everything. “Jews will not replace us” is a strange chant to begin with. Replace them doing what? I bet, given a shot, most every Jew could replace them — that’s why they’re chanting. Frankly, it would be nice to live in a world where white racism, bigotry and ignorance didn’t feature constantly.

That’s the world the rest of us wish we could experience — if just a little: a world without white people — abusing the rest of us.

Not A Revelation: Magical Thinking Is Stupid, Stupid, STUPID!

Everyone — myself included — is guilty, guilty, guilty of Magical Thinking. I may not have an imaginary friend like some or follow rules plucked from my imagination or my ass, but I have, when Tottenham Hotspur (my footie team) is down two goals late in a game, still thought it was possible for them not to lose.  They lost.

My magical thinking led to personal disappointment — unpleasant but survivable.

If I used that magical thinking though as the basis for a belief system — Spurs lost so therefore a whole host of other things (beyond football) must follow “logically” demanding certain actions and counter-actions — and if that belief system’s impact spread beyond my own disappointment (because my team lost a game) — out into everyone else’s lives — that would be a problem.  I would have taken something based in unrealistic nonsense-thinking out into reality — with unrealistic expectations for it.

Gosh – should I be shocked when more disappointment follows?

Today’s ludicrous Magical Thinking headlines (among others) — Trump’s military transgender ban takes effect & there are still “thoughtful” people walking around who think AG Bill Barr isn’t desperately trying to cover up a massive, explosively far-reaching scandal that will consume and destroy the entire Republican Party.

The basis for the military transgender ban, of course, is pure, unadulterated bullshit.  I would love to put all the Magical Thinkers who base their contemporary lives on the knowledge base of uneducated desert-dwellers who thought everything revolved around the earth onto an airplane large enough to accommodate them all.  Then, as we rolled toward the runway, I’d like to introduce them to their pilot.  He knows nothing about flying planes.  But he “believes” he can do it — so off they all go…

Magical Thinking comes with being a homo sapien.  Until such a time as it evolves out of our brains, it will be hard-wired into us.  It’s the first thought that burps from the miasma of our uncertainty.  Magic: the explanation for this wonder must be Magic.  It ain’t.

I could go on and on — I recommend watching this lecture that Neil deGrasse Tyson gave a few years ago.  His point: even the greatest minds in the history of science — Isaac Newton among them — surrendered to Magical Thinking when they reached the end of their knowledge base.  A little while later, some other thinker solved the problem — no more need for Magical Thinking.

The answers to all our questions are out there.  We may not get to them all in our lifetime — but they’re out there once we gain the knowledge or the knowledge to make the instruments we need to “see” the knowledge and the answers they provide.

America has always been fertile territory for Magical Thinking.  Strange, exotic religions (lots of them offshoots of Christianity) have come and gone here.  One of the first groups of Europeans to settle and (more or less) survive — the Pilgrims — were so deep into their offshoot brand of Christianity that none of the other Christians wanted them nearby.  So the Pilgrims came here.  Think about it: one of the foundational European groups to call North America home came here because their brand of ooga-booga was too ooga-booga-y for other believers of the same basic ooga-booga!

It’s not a coincidence that Mormonism and Scientology were American creations.  Jewish mythology is extensive.  By “mythology”, I mean stories that sit squarely outside the provable.  They may have some shadowy echo in the historical record but the echo has been blown up into something it never was.  As it’s the surviving word of these people and their times, we have no way to put these texts into a larger perspective.  We can use our current knowledge base — including our knowledge of germ theory — to figure a guy like Noah could not (and did not) put every animal on the planet on a boat and did not, subsequently, live to some biologically impossible age well into the hundreds.

Magical Thinking allows a person to believe that his foundational texts appeared out of nowhere — the product of divine intervention.  These tenets he lives by — they’re not his idea, their a deity’s.  Therefore they must be the Truth.  Yeah, but — the guy next to you has a whole other mythology in his head — with conflicting details — all based on the very same texts.  Either one of these two has it wrong or their deities are terrible communicators.

Think about that:  Magical Thinking can imagine a deity capable of creating the vastness of EVERYTHING — but can’t put the basics of how & why into a form two people can agree upon.  That’s a deity so flawed, illogical and goofy that only a homo sapien could dream it up.  And then believe that IT created HIM.

Here’s my problem in something larger than a nutshell… If you tell me going in that you’re a person of faith — and you believe in Magical Thinking and its Magical explanations for how and why we’re all here & how and why we need to live together as peacefully as we can — then I’m going to look at you with a shitload of doubt.  I know for a fact because you’ve told me — given a good enough story, you can be made to believe anything.

If you believe in Magical Thinking, your judgment sucks.  I’m simply going along with what you’re telling me.

Sunday Sermon: The Inexplicable Power Of OOGA-BOOGA

I consider myself an aficionado of bullshit. I don’t “like” bullshit — but I do see how pervasive bullshit is. I see (having fallen for it myself to the point of nearly offing myself because of it) — how seductive bullshit is; I see how easily every last one of us can fall under its sway — and become its slaves.

Bullshit captures us and holds us because it appeals to the lazy, irrational, can’t-be-bothered-with-the-Truth lizard brain that epitomizes conservative mind-think. It sees a mystery — and, where the “gaps” are in its knowledge, it puts ooga-booga instead of a simple “I don’t know the answer to that yet”. It assumes magic must be the answer to what it doesn’t know. Ironically — if it waited five minutes (while someone curious went at the answer), they’d LEARN — it isn’t ooga-booga, it’s biology or chemistry or physics or some other natural explanation that simply needed to be stumbled over.

There’s a reason the religions of the world love to educate children — they can break a child’s capacity to think at the get-go and replace analytical thought with acceptance of mythology and ooga-booga. Did Life-As-We-Know-It begin in a singularity — or in the mind of a physically powerful but emotionally fragile deity?

If you don’t have microscopes or telescopes or celestial navigation or calculus or any of the other human innovations that gave us the TOOLS with which to replace ooga-booga explanations with REAL ones — you’ll give in to the ooga-booga because you don’t know any better. “KNOW” is the operative word here.

On this subject — quick side note here — I recommend this remarkable lecture by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Among other things he touches on naming rights (why do so many stars have Arabic names?)

The point of “naming rights” is that it reflects “discovery”. Being the “inventors” of celestial navigation — a human innovation that put a big chunk of ooga-booga to bed — Arabs (having no competition to consider) named the stars they identified — and fixed in the heavens & their mind — in the language they spoke: Arabic. It’s a great lecture — absolutely worth the time to watch. He touches on ooga-booga, too.

As Tyson articulately explains — even the greatest minds in science have given in to that old, (apparently) hard-wired-into-us urge to give in and fill in the gaps in our knowledge with ooga-booga and its bedmate Magical Thinking.

Those of us NOT beholden to ooga-booga must call out the ooga-booga for what it is whenever we see it. Maybe we should use the term “OOGA-BOOGA” to describe it — instead of “bullshit”.

Even calling it “bullshit” gives “ooga-booga” way too much credence.