Monday, June 21, 2010

The Fierce Urgency of ME

On January 4th 2009, about a week into the Gaza operation, I noted on this blog that Andrew Sullivan was moving into the anti-Israel camp. A number of readers took me to task for saying so, but in this line of work we sort of develop a sensitivity for what's plausible criticism of Israeli actions and what's irrational animosity, and Andrew was clearly heading into the irrational camp.

18 months later he admits that was the moment (h/t Judeosphere). Which is alright. There's no law saying people must be rational - though irrational enemies of the Jews need not expect us to take them seriously when they speechify at us about what we may or mayn't do.

What's noteworthy about Andrew's column is how odd his arguments are. First he spells out that Israel really angered him because it didn't have its citizens wait around under a steep increase in Hamas rockets while Obama moved into the White House and fixed the world. He really says this, and apparently sincerely believes it. Then he talks about how the American press is rabidly pro-Israel, but he and his fellow bloggers have now broken the taboos, thus allowing America to free itself from the grip of the neo-cons. Finally he cites the bravery of Peter Beinart as demonstration that America has broken with Israel ("the special US-Israel relationship is now over").

In the past I've noted how the folks at Mondoweiss and Richard Silverstein seem afflicted by severe cases of narcissism: they perceive themselves as heroic figures turning the tide of history, they're eager to don the mantle of the Civil Rights heroes, and they obsessively gaze at their navels to vindicate their greatness, their prescience and of course their shining morality. This means they rarely have time to notice the people living in the conflict, who are at best props for the hubris, and like all props, lack identities, sovereign will, or human depth.

Andrew's column is a fine example of the genre.


Barry Meislin said...

Sick little puppies who seem to believe they're heroes because they, for some reason, enjoy flirting with the grotesque.

Anonymous said...

they are cowards who somewhere along the line have learned how it feels to be the one who's targeted for whatever reason*) and that has so shit-frightened them that they prefer to attack others rather than face up to their fear. If they were original they'd blame aliens but as they lack imagination they blame the same ol'

As with most deluded nuts our friend Fake Ibrahim has recently published his grand theory why the Zionists are evil i.e. they are evil because they are supported by fascists or wannabe fascist, I think his prime example is Berlusconi.

I find it hard to memorize the theory in its entire grandiosity but I thought I give a basic idea here, just in case Andrew Sullivan checks everything that is written about him around the world. Maybe stumbling across something so original will inspire him to climb to new heights of pontificationism.

Sullivan amazing enough still has his column at the London Times but it must be ages since he was highlighted i.e. they must have kept him in somewhere further back where I don't visit. In the Sunday Times he published his "divorce" on June 13, 2010 (apparently the same as in the AU-paper) but got only a meagre 5 comments since then. Usually Israel stuff draws a lot more. Maybe his business is a bit in a slow water - that would explain why he now opts for nuttiness - it sells! or rather he hopes it sells.

*) mild variations may occur if you are the new kid on the block

Sérgio said...

I think blogging feeds this feeling of being the center of the universe, so one feels like the Pontifex Maximus pontificating about everything. It's like having millions or journalists, each more ignorant than the other. Scary, but only if people pay attention, which is a highy demanded commodity these days

justquoting said...

Dave123 said...

While Peter beinart's analysis is mostly made up facts and unsupported conclusions; he admits in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg that there is nothing heroic about criticizing Israel and that it is in fact very commonplace.

I don't know what to say about Sullivan. There is no one more zealous than a convert. He has completely lost the ability to think in a rational way.

By the way the genesis of all his current political views was when Bush came out in favor of the defense of Marriage act. Sullivan went absolutely berserk and anything Bush was for he was against. Since Bush was seen as very pro Israel, Sullivan had to be very anti. Israel. Nevermind that Palestinians hang people for being gay. So his hatred of Israel is just a symptom of him loathing Bush.

Sullivan fancies himself a hero who speaks truth to power, but he is just the opposite. He is a cog in an echo chamber who throws red meat to his adoring Israeal haters. The fact that he can't see it is what makes me pity him.

Gavin said...

Narcissists need an audience of adoring admirers, switching sides gives Sullivan a bevy of brown-noses to tell him how wonderful he is. People like Sullivan are always only fair weather friends, when the price of support gets too high they cut & run. If/when the tide of opinion turns back in Israels favour he'll have another epiphany, his kind are predictable.

I still laugh every time I look at Coles website. 'Informed Comment' How pompous is that. Narcissism is a nice strong word but it still understates their preening pretentiousness.


Andrew said...

I've said for awhile that one of the things that annoys me the most about the modern American Progressive movement is the extent to which it has adopted the Palestinian cause as its own. The more I read of Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald and others like them the more infuriated I get, both as a supporter of Israel and as a proudly self-identifying wacko liberal.

Sullivan isn't terribly interesting. He's not a man who accepts nuance and he never has been. As a neo-con, he hated everyone who didn't share his Crusade lust. Now as a purveyor of standard-issue anti-Israel bromides masquerading as advice from a friend, he hates everyone who doesn't consider Israel the only irritant in the region and world.

No, Greenwald's a more interesting figure, to my mind one of the more fascinating people writing about substantive issues today. He's a man of depth and intelligence, as anyone can see from his posts on American Constitutional questions. He's also an obstinately boring writer, which is one the things I find most intriguing; very few people writing for public consumption are so uninterested in being interesting.

That notwithstanding, the blinders he dons whenever Israel is his topic are truly astounding. It's like every stated value he holds goes out the window.

He believes in freedom of speech with an absolute fervor...unless the topic is Israel, in which case a vigorous, often vicious press that is free to harshly castigate government officials is irrelevant.

He hates indefinitely detaining innocent people in awful conditions...until the topic is Hamas, in which case Gilad Shalit is not mentioned.

He believes that homosexuals deserve the full rights and privileges of citizenship and should be treated as equals...but he denounces as brutal and barbarous the only state in the region that actually treats gays and lesbians in such a manner.

Put bluntly, Greenwald's an openly gay Jew who likes to castigate the existing power structure. Those people exist in Israel. They tend not to reach the age of 30 in her enemies.

All of this is not to say that one shouldn't criticize specific Israel actions one finds objectionable. But those sweeping denunciatory statements that are a favorite weapon of Greenwald and Sullivan have no business in this discussion.

Barry Meislin said...

Yes, perversity in all its awesome variety is in full display.

(The problem being, as has been shown in the past, that for all the sheer thrill, self-righteousness and even frisson that such feelings of venom and hatred produce, these things have consequences....)

Anonymous said...

when I feel really mean while reading their hyperboles I quite often start to wonder whether a certain bias isn't based on tender memories (while they conveniently forget how much for example Greeks despise the "pussty")


Anonymous said...

Andrew -

Excellent comment.


4infidels said...

This site has been blocked by my employer lately. Sometimes I can get in through a cached version. No worries, though, Mondoweiss and Misinformed Consent are both still accessible.

What is interesting is that the employer's software blocks Andrew Sullivan's Atlantic blog, but not Jeffrey Goldberg's Atlantic blog!

Yaacov said...

Four -

I once worked at a place where the system blocked access to Guardian articles it thought were about sex or drugs.

It allowed the antisemitism, however.

I no longer work there. Enough was enough.

Anonymous said...

to add to your chest of examples:

If a laywoman wants to learn about the "fog of war" it would be hard to find a better teacher than Max Hastings in his book talks at the Pritzker Military Library - fair and considerate to everybody including the Japanese and the Germans - judging ALL military atrocities by the same frame of criteria.

Now google "max hastings" israel ...

To this day nobody has been able to explain to me why that "oddity" is so common

maybe Hastings has other warped towards the slanderous areas in his thinking, if so I haven't come across them yet


4infidels said...


I no longer work there. Enough was enough.

That's funny!

4infidels said...

I am curious if anyone agrees or disagrees with my comments under the "Never Say the I Word."

I think the use of language is very important. A crucial part of the advance of the Islamist agenda in the West is preventing recognition and discussion of it by controlling the language and pushing for Western self-censorship, which our governments are doing for them.

See more here...


Anonymous said...

I have a problem to overcome that for all kinds of reasons I feel not comfortable with the it's the "I"-thingy language, at least not when it includes the spiritual (for lack of a better word) part.

I have nothing better on offer though and as long as that holds I side more or less with the "I"-language using crowd.

The just extremism language I find totally unsatisfactory. The main source of evil THESE days has to be named. (I'm all with Harry Potter on that). But Islamism (I think) is a bad choice of word because it kind of seems to me to synch with "their" attempt of usurping the religion for (one more time) fuelling conquest by whatever means available.

I haven't read Huntington's "clash"-book but I have read a number of long pieces and couldn't find anything "abhorrent" in his views
in one interview he talked about it that a predominantly catholic society was distinct from a protestant one. I can't put it into my own words but I liked the way he put it and I want to think about getting along with muslim neighbours along that line, i.e. deciding where I am for change, where I am indifferent and where I oppose it and compromise on all of it.

But that is one process and if that should be entangled all the time with the conquer by all means crowd so they can profit from it I very much doubt. The conversation about it tends to throw these things way too much in one pot, only excepting the so-called Islamists

and from there on I am at a loss: I want to oppose ALL forces who intent to conquer and/or dominate.

Decades back when the first Italians came inner city dwellers had a problem with their habit to play the radio loud and clear with open windows. It sorted itself out, talking animatedly in the street became acceptable radio and open window remained no-no. To the best of my knowledge they didn't bring with them a group who had a conquering agenda ...

final to this rant:
I think we need to better define lots of things, as we are writing to eachother why not start with language. We need to become a lot less vague WITHOUT opting for black or white as yet.

I still hope that one of the muses will kiss somebody these days ...

Barry Meislin said...

To the best of my knowledge they didn't bring with them a group who had a conquering agenda ...

Not entirely accurate. German ice cream has never been the same.

Anonymous said...

the same applies to German salad dressings

(at least for the interim period before Krafts etc swamped the market
- now you have to eat out high-end to get served the delights we got bowled over by when they opened the first eaterias)


Anonymous said...

come to think of it again the Italians brought a group intent on conquest with them, at least we are told, that their Mafia guys are active in our midst
- but
- surprise surprise
- on that issue the majority is siding unanimously with Italian businesses who become victims whereupon the Turkish group trying to get a grip on us is excused for all kinds of reasons, religion, identity, authenticity etc. etc.

From all I read however I doubt that the Mafia-group is less devout, identity-conscious or authentic than the Turkish group
- so why do we, the majority, excuse the one group for it and not the other?

Shouldn't the Mafia yell discrimination?

(forcing your sister to stay at home so she remains "pure" is by all accounts not OK by our laws)