October 22, 2004

WORTH THE FIGHTING FOR:

Mixed mediaeval motives: a review of FIGHTING FOR CHRISTENDOM: HOLY WAR AND THE CRUSADES By Christopher Tyerman (Jonathan Sumption, The Spectator)

The crusades have had a bad press lately, for reasons which are not far to seek. They were characterised by the three things that the modern age has found most abhorrent about its own recent past: religious enthusiasm, racism and colonial settlement. More generally, they were inspired by a belief that there is a divine plan for the world, and that some people have been specially charged with executing it. This belief is not widely accepted today, outside the United States and parts of the Islamic Middle East. The 18th-century sceptic David Hume thought that the crusades were ‘the most signal and the most durable monument of human folly that has yet appeared in any age or nation’. Modern Europeans would add that they were wicked as well.

One may wonder why it matters. The crusades, after all, happened more than 500 years ago. Their perpetrators had moral values which were fundamentally different from our own. And anyway they are dead. What is the point of criticising historical events, simply because we would deplore them if they happened now?

There are at least two reasons why it may matter. One is that the modern world believes in collective and inherited guilt. This curious superstition was the basis on which mediaeval Christian societies once justified the persecution of Jews. But how else is one to explain the Pope’s recent decision to apologise for religious wars and persecutions wrought by Christians in past centuries? Secondly, the crusades have perceived analogies with more recent events in the Middle East, which have transformed them from historical curiosities into modern political slogans. A man’s attitude to the 11th-century crusades is one way of telling the 21st century what side he is on.


My favorite book as a kid was a tale of the Crusades and it never made any sense that we should acquiesce to folks who took our Holy Lands by force. What's wrong with fighting for them?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 22, 2004 10:02 PM
Comments

You would do well to read Marc Bloch's work on the Crusades.

It is very tough for me to admire the Crusaders considering that when they took Jerusalem, they killed all the Jews.

Posted by: Bart at October 22, 2004 10:51 PM

Weren't the Crusades a defensive effort to expel Muslim invaders who conquered the Holy Lands?

Trying to impose 21st century morality on 11th century humans is pointless.

Posted by: JackSheet at October 22, 2004 11:12 PM

Jack,

Genocide against Jews is something I take rather personally.

Posted by: Bart at October 22, 2004 11:20 PM

I believe the Crusades matter, but not for the reasons cited: (1) I have no guilt. (2) They have nothing to do with the current mess along the Jordan River. Build the Wall, and have done with it. If West Bank Arabs can't respect the Wall, then send in the New Crusaders.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at October 23, 2004 3:19 AM

Bloody cheeky turning up 300 years later to claim some stolen property.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at October 23, 2004 5:36 AM

The Crusades were not launched to kill jews. A frenzy of killing innocents, utterly reprehensible as it is, does not devalue the whole operation, any more than Dresden nullifies justification for WWII or Abu Ghraib the current war in Iraq. Islam with arms is always Islam on the march, they needed pushing back then just as they do now and, probably, well into the future, until they catch Europe's cold and become postmodern sophisticates.

Posted by: JimGooding at October 23, 2004 8:12 AM

Jim,

They were launched to murder non-Christians wherever they were found, not unlike the current Jihadniks who murder non-Muslims wherever they are found.

That is all that matters.

Posted by: Bart at October 23, 2004 8:16 AM

Bart:

And the streets were ankle deep in blood, blah, blah, blah.... Get a calculator and figure out how many people you'd have to exsanguinate to get that much blood.

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2004 8:50 AM

Ali:

There's no statute of limitations.

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2004 8:55 AM

Bart:

Funny how those wild and crazy Christians would go all the way to the Holy Land in order "to murder non-Christians wherever they were found", while letting so many slip through the net at home. Kind of like a genocidal gang that couldn't shoot straight, wouldn't you say?

Posted by: Peter B at October 23, 2004 9:04 AM

The Crusades were indeed a defensive war, undertaken after centuries of more or less continuous conquests, attacks and harassment by Muslims.

Muslims took over Christian North Africa (see Ba'at Yeor's books), conquered Spain and pushed into France until they were stopped at Poitiers by Charles Martel. They conquered southern Italy, slowly conquered province after province of Eastern Christendom. They harassed shipping through the Mediterranean, frequently making raids in southern Europe to pillage and carry off captives as slaves. They similarly harassed pilgrims and merchants. Jihad is a religious duty for Muslims and they performed it.

For centuries, Christian Europe did very little to counter this threat. Look at the map of Europe before the Crusades began. Islam was doing very well for itself.

At the time the Crusades started, the Islamic goal was to conquer "Rum" i.e. Constantinople. In fact, it was at the request of the Eastern Emperor that the Pope undertook the Crusades, which were the first organized pan-European military response to the Islamic threat.

The Pope had to find a way to unite the extremely warlike and contentious peoples of Europe, and point their military might at Islam. It must have been like herding cats. He apparently thought that the Muslims' "secret weapon" was the concept of jihad (holy war), so he introduced the idea into Europe, a concept totally foreign to Christianity.

As we know, the results were "mixed" at best.

However, it did get the attention of Muslims who were shocked and outraged that non-Muslims would see a war against them as "holy" and would attack the Dar-al-Islam, etc., etc. It also stopped the Muslim advance into Europe and eventually lead in some areas to reversing it, as in the case of Spain and southern Italy.

In all of these abject apologies to the Islamic world for the Crusades and the various atrocities that were committed by Crusaders, I think it is more than time for the Islamic world apologize to Europe, to Christians and Jews for all of the war, pillaging, tortures, slavery, mutilations, dhimmitude, etc. perpetrated by Muslims in the name of jihad over 1,600 years.

But, that's the whole point of the current conflict, isn't it? Christians gave up holy war centuries ago. They have reflected on their sins, repented and reformed. Jihad to this day is still a Muslim duty in good standing.

Posted by: L. Rogers at October 23, 2004 10:49 AM

Disapproval of the Crusades is part of the Hesperophobic bigotry which takes to position that anything which advances the the West, or Christianity, or Caucasians, is bad, and anything which opposes these things it good. Insanity. There are not a few race-haters and culture-enemies out there whose lust for the downfall of the West is so great that they emrace Islam.
Ponder, for example, how there are some people who imagine that the suppression of human sacrifice and cannibalism in Mexico was a bad thing. Is as though these people think that having your heart cut out of your living body was not too bad compared with being told that you you shouldn't be practicing unnatural vice.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 23, 2004 11:06 AM

Peter B,

You might want to read about Peter the Hermit and Little St. Hugh of Lincoln and their crusades before you make such a totally ignorant comment.

Lou,

I neither hate Christianity nor the West and the Crusades were little more than a genocidal exercise by a bunch of psychotics. There was nothing noble, dignified, worthy etc about them. You might want to read about the 4th Crusade before you make comment.

OJ,

I guess metaphors are not part of your discourse.

Posted by: Bart at October 23, 2004 2:35 PM

Bart:

Not if folks expect them to be taken as historical arguments.

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2004 2:38 PM

You mean we can't use phrases like 'crossing the Rubicon' in a historical argument, unless you actually cross a piddling little river in Northern Italy. No 'alea iacta est' without actually throwing a die. What an empty world!

Posted by: Bart at October 23, 2004 2:57 PM

those are metaphors--ankle deep blood and the murder of every Jew is taken as a historical fact though obvious nonsense.

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2004 2:59 PM

Bart,

You are a Persecution Jew, i.e., your Jewish identity is bound up in remembering past genocides and pogroms against the Jews and worrying about future ones.

Judaism means nothing to you: you are ready to go shopping for an evangelical church.

Every day on Brothersjudd.com you present a new list of people who should be killed for the crime of looking at you funny. A comic genius like Frank J can do that and make people laugh. In your case, it is nothing but sexual frustration seeking an outlet.

In fact, the Jewish religion is the best in the world. No other comes even close. But it is singularly unsuited to unmarried adults. The high point comes not in a house of worship but every Friday when your wife lights the Shabbat candles.

Find a nice woman and get married, Bart.

Posted by: Eugene S. at October 23, 2004 3:33 PM

Eugene, save the pop psychobabble for someone who cares.

First of all, what I admire about my Jewishness has little to do with persecution and everything to do with our attention to detail, our studiousness, our love of our own families, our refusal to separate the secular from the religious, etc. It is a great engine for our advancement in the world. It is more precisely my love of our culture that keeps me Jewish. I think keeping Kashrut and shomer shabbat are silly at best, although I take the High Holy Days and Pesach seriously.

My problems with Reform Judaism are analogous to those many Christians have with mainline Protestantism. Reform is so tied up with the Jewish version of the 'social gospel' that it is rapidly becoming indistinguishable from Unitarianism. However, I have real problems with stricter forms of Judaism which demand me to engage in activities like wearing a funny costume in public on other than Halloween and Packer games or demand that I refrain from eating foods that I like for religious reasons. My faith is colored by the Enlightenment and by my belief in the general positive nature of science.

As for my interest in more conservative forms of Christianity, that results directly from my views on Judaism. It has always seemed to me that our rejection of Christ as the Messiah does not require us to reject his underlying philosophy, that there is some synthesis point between Judaism and Christianity which allows for some rigor in our lives without sacrificing our essential being. I would no more be a Nazarene or Pentecostal than a Hasid.

As for my anger, much of it is hyperbole. My desire to kill off the felons or the mentally defective or allow the terminally ill to commit suicide is simply a desire to allocate scarce resources intelligently for the common good.

Of course I know about our history of being persecuted. When people on this site make comments about history that fly in the face of what happened, it just makes my blood boil. Because there is a Catholic Church-inspired attempt to rewrite the Dark Ages, the Holocaust or any of countless other facts of history in order to whitewash its essentially criminal behavior and fundamentally evil nature over the past 1700 years or so, there is sadly a lot of historical ignorance or intentional falsification on this site. I feel obliged to challenge it.

Posted by: Bart at October 23, 2004 3:54 PM

scarce resources?

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2004 3:59 PM

Ankle deep in blood is a metaphor.

The 'killing of every Jew' is also. While the Crusaders probably did not kill every Jew in the Holy Land, it was not for lack of trying. As Edward Flannery said in his 'Anguish of the Jews'(p.89),'During the first half of the second millenium, the history of anti-Semitism and the the history of Judaism so converged as almost to coincide.' Another reference would be The Medieval Experience 300-1400, by Jill Claster pp.195-202. I'd have to dig out my copy of Bloch's two volume study of the Crusades in order to cite from that, but it's not worth it.

Posted by: Bart at October 23, 2004 4:04 PM

No, since the Holy Land and Europe obviously maintained thriving Jerwish communities until 1939.

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2004 4:09 PM

"My desire to kill off the felons or the mentally defective or allow the terminally ill to commit suicide is simply a desire to allocate scarce resources intelligently for the common good."

And how is that different from sending off "inferior" races to the gas chambers?

Or shooting dissenters who oppose the will of the State and the People?

That's "secular rationalist" talk.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at October 23, 2004 4:17 PM

Bart:

You seem to think you are the only person who has read any history here, or are somehow uniquely qualified to interpret it. I guess humility isn't a big thing in Mensa. Maybe not civility either. Nobody is denying the awful history of anti-Semitism in medieval Europe (although Chaim Potok has some politically incorrect things to say about the period just before), but it is stupid to haul out a word like genocide when you are talking about Little St. Hugh, unless you are looking for dramatic effect. Please point to any religious or secular LEADER in Europe during the period who called for and attempted to put into effect the murder of all Jews. One of the great problems facing those who argue as you do is how to explain the large swaths of tolerance,civility and accommodation between the pogroms and also the fact that, when they occurred, they would occur here, but not there. The several popes who intervened (with uneven success)to protect Jews don't seem to fit your paradigm too well either.

If you have decided that anyone who speaks of the Catholic Church as anything other than an anti-Semitic death machine is either thick-headed or a Holocaust denier, so be it. I've read my Goldhagen/Carroll too, and also some of the many Jewish scholars that think it is bunk (If you read Commentary, you have too). And, oh yeah, that Catholic plot to rewrite history. Talk about conspiracy theories!! But what makes you so down on the Catholics and so forgiving of the Protestants on subject. I'm Protestant and I thought we shook off that Whore of Babylon stuff decades ago.

Posted by: Peter B at October 23, 2004 5:15 PM

Bart,

our rejection of Christ as the Messiah does not require us to reject his underlying philosophy

What underlying philosophy, Jesus was Jewish. Anything else was tacked on after his death.

There is no need for a synthesis between Judaism and Christianity.

Posted by: Eugene S. at October 23, 2004 5:36 PM

Peter B, if you've ever been to Dachau and seen the way in which the Catholic memorial dominates the scene, you wouldn't ask that question. Given that Hitler, Himmler, Eichmann, Goebbels, Hess, Bormann, Speer, Heydrich, Seyss-Inquart and countless lesser functionaries were all Catholics and that Catholic prelates like Cardinal Faulhaber, Cardinal Innitzer, Msgr. Tiso all were agents of it, the role of the Catholic Church in the murder of the Jews of Europe and just as importantly in enabling perpetrators of the Holocaust to escape justice is clear and beyond dispute. If you knew any German history, you would know that the only parts of Germany where the Holocaust was opposed by significant portions of the citizenry was among the Calvinist Protestant Germans of the Rhineland in cities like Karlsruhe and Mannheim.

Little St. Hugh was the religious figure responsible for our expulsion from England, our being forced to immolate ourselves in the Tower of York, etc. He was no small matter.

I guess that whole Lateran conference just escaped your notice. You know the one where the Pope insisted that we wear yellow stars, live in ghettos, are denied the right to own land, bear arms etc.

And under the Holy Polack, nothing has changed. There are moves to make Pius IX a saint. I guess child kidnapping isn't a crime if the parents are Jews. But then for Catholic clergy, little boys have value only as sex objects. There is a move to make Queen Isabella a saint. Of what? Genocidal maniacs? But I've actually heard Catholics try to argue that the Spanish Inquisition wasn't so bad. 150,000 dead is just a statistic, right?

The 'large swaths of tolerance, civility and accomodation' were the result of economic reality not out of any spirit of generosity. We served an important economic function in European society in areas like credit, tax farming, brokerage, the sale of liquor etc.

Humility isn't one of my strong points, but then as Bum Philips used to say,'If you can do it, it ain't braggin'.'

The US is unlikely pogrom territory. You might want to read Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson, etc on Jews and Judaism. We are part of the fabric of this nation and have been since well before independence from the Evil Empire, and religious tolerance is as well. Roger Williams is a central figure in American history. I render no opinion about Canada, but undoubtedly pogroms are far more likely there due to its history than in either the US, Australia or New Zealand.

Peter, as far as the behavior of European leaders of the period, just go to your local library and find any halfway decent book on Jewish history and you'll find more than enough info about persecutions in the medieval period. Philip Augustus and Edward Longshanks are just the tip of the iceberg. Or doesn't 'leave the country without your assets or we'll kill you' count as 'putting into effect the murder of all the Jews?'

You might also want to look into the governance of the Papal States while you're at it. Pay special attention to the occupational restrictions and to the charming custom of Popes spitting on a copy of the Talmud at Easter, before burning it.

Posted by: Bart at October 23, 2004 5:55 PM

Ali,

If you cannot distinguish between a realistic appraisal of humanity and pseudo-scientific nonsense, I can't help you. Race and ethnicity are nonsense concepts almost completely irrelevant to the modern world. Think of the Nazi perspective. If Jews are an inferior race, how come they've won 30% of Nobel Prizes in the sciences? How come about 20% of the Forbes 500 are Jews?

If you have an IQ of 50 or lower, you can't function. It's just that simple. In a world of scarce resources, why keep them around? If you are a murderer or if you are a violent felon who hasn't killed someone only because you've been lucky as to your choice of victim, who needs you? As a society, we need fewer and fewer low IQ people, so why should we have a government policy which encourages the stupid to breed while discouraging the intelligent from doing so?

Posted by: Bart at October 23, 2004 6:03 PM

OJ,

If resources were not scarce, there would be no economic issues. Imagine a world full of Star Trek replicators.

Posted by: Bart at October 23, 2004 6:04 PM

Bart:

They'd not be distributed evenly.

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2004 6:06 PM

What do prizes have to do with the purity of your race?

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2004 6:07 PM

I was going to reply to the first response from Bart, but after the second, I think I'll just go hug my family.

Posted by: Peter B at October 23, 2004 6:07 PM

It's an expulsion, not a genocide, like building a wall.

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2004 6:08 PM

Eugene,

That is merely sloppy. Jesus was influenced by the Essenes who have disappeared from our consciousness. Modern Judaism is descended from Pharisaism. What happened to the Sadducees? Who knows? There is no good reason for intra-Jewish sectarian differences to cause people such pain.

The reason for a synthesis between our faith and Christianity is obvious. Any time any politico talks of our Judeo-Christian heritage, it cries out. It is infinitely easier for all concerned to live peacefully together if we are seen as an offshoot of Christianity, or if Christianity were seen as an offshoot of Judaism, or if both were seen as offshoots of some earlier faith. Our similarities with Christians far outweigh the differences.

Posted by: Bart at October 23, 2004 6:09 PM

Peter:

Keep an eye out for boogie men.

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2004 6:09 PM

OJ,

Since everyone would have all he wanted, whether someone had more would be irrelevant.

Claims of Jewish inferiority make no objective sense. Claims that violent felons or mental defective are inferior do make sense.

Nobody is being forced out of pre-1967 Israel by the building of a wall.

Posted by: Bart at October 23, 2004 6:13 PM

Bart:

Ha! You believe that? It's only ever about who has more.

Jews lived in slums--you think slum dwellers should be murdered too.

One can always justify the expulsions. Jews were obviously not native to Britain.

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2004 6:22 PM

Ok, Bart:

Please accept that,for reasons unknown to me, I have a lifelong interest in, and some measure of knowledge about, the war, the Holocaust, and the thirties. I am also old enough to have witnessed the evolution of popular thinking and advocacy on the Holocaust for about forty years.

Up to the early sixties, the focus of blame was on those who actually committed the horrific crimes--literally: the Gestapo, SS, Nazi High Command etc. From there we went to the Nazi party, the whole German armed forces, the German government and eventually the whole German nation. By the seventies, we (the clerisy) were exorcising Europe, Britain, Churchill and The U.S. High Command (for not bombing the railroads). By the nineties, we had added Holland, Swiss banks and everybody in France. Of late, the Catholic Church and the wartime Pope are all the rage.

I went along with this for years until I began to realize something was very askew here. Perhaps it was the nexus of American tort lawyers and Swiss banks that gave me pause, and I was heartened to see Gabriel Schoenfeld, editor of Commentary, agreed. The whole issue of guilt and responsiblity had shifted from the unspeakable bastards who effected the killing to those who didn't do enough to stop it. Soon we were talking as if every European should have attacked the nearest Nazi with his bear hands, oblivious to the consequences for his family and neighbours. And, if they hadn't, they had to account to somebody, somewhere.

That's where you are on the Catholic Church, not just during the war, but throughout history. That is the second big development I've witnesssed. All pre-Holocaust history is now assessed and judged by post-Holocaust morality. You know damn well that the Catholic Nazis you mentioned were not Catholics in any serious sense, just as you know your historical cherry-picking about anti-Semitism in the Church leaves huge gaps and unanswered questions about historical reality. You, as a history buff, also know full well that the Church was never as powerful as modern anti-clericists like to make out to be. You will not brook ambiguity or subltey in your drive to equate Hitler and the Church, and I think you like that. You soldier on, taking this atrocity and that to prove the whole two thousand year venture is rotten, and that its promise of salvation and joy for millions was just some semi-secret plot to control minds, get rich and kill Jews. Look at you, you have even managed to convince yourself that Canada is little different from the Ukraine and sacrificing Jews is just an expression of Canadian national identity. Hey, I'm open to Canadian sins on the big issues, but anti-Semitism and surly service in hotels don't make that grade.

Bart, Two questions: The first is how can someone as bright and well-read as you fall for such modernist claptrap? The second is, what am I, as a Christian trying to face historical realities, to make of a Jew that demands recognition and justice for the Holocaust with all his heart and soul while calling for the state-approved killing of the retarded?

Posted by: Peter B at October 23, 2004 7:39 PM

"..since the Holy Land and Europe obviously maintained thriving Jerwish communities until 1939."

Does that include the thriving Jewish communites in Spain?

I guess "communities" is a metaphor for "ghettoes."

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 23, 2004 7:52 PM

Yes, a ghetto is a community.

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2004 9:31 PM

"Scarce resources" is clap-trap.

There aren't enough severely retarded or otherwise mentally disabled people in America to worry about, resource-wise. Killing all of them wouldn't affect America as much as swapping all unwarrented SUVs for station wagons or minivans would.

How exactly does any government or agency in the US, local, state or Federal, discourage "the intelligent" from breeding ??!
The economic and intellectual elites in America don't have as many kids as hoi polloi, but that's self-selecting, not any imposed agenda.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 24, 2004 4:39 AM

"If you have an IQ of 50 or lower, you can't function. It's just that simple. In a world of scarce resources, why keep them around? If you are a murderer or if you are a violent felon who hasn't killed someone only because you've been lucky as to your choice of victim, who needs you? As a society, we need fewer and fewer low IQ people, so why should we have a government policy which encourages the stupid to breed while discouraging the intelligent from doing so?"

Because life is sacred and should not be extinguished unless dire necessity demands so.

And under your logic wouldn't have many of the poverty-stricken Jews living in ghettoes been justifiably sent off to die back in WW2 since it has been argued that low intelligence is a major factor behind the state of the poor?

This contempt for human life is somewhat disturbing.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at October 24, 2004 5:40 AM

Michael,

Just go to your local public school and look at how much of our money is spent on the mentally defective compared with how much is spent on the rest of the kids. Pay special attention to the number of faculty, the cost of facilities, special transport etc. And for what?

There are tons of ways the government taxes the more intelligent. The most obvious is 'progressive taxation.' As you move up the income scale, you pay more taxes. Do I need to explain the relation between intelligence and income in a free society or can we merely accept that as a given? Since smarter people pay more in taxes as a rule, they have a lesser percentage of their income as disposable. By not imposing mandatory Norplant on welfare recipients and by giving them additional benefits for having children, we encourage the stupid to breed. This is an eugenic nightmare.

Another area is the cost of higher education, where uniquely among First World countries Americans must spend an insane percentage of their income on it. Stanford Medical School is $60,000 between tuition, room and board, books and supplies and living expenses. And these costs are increasing at a rate far in advance of inflation. It costs a ridiculous amount of money to go to a top-tier university. (Do not discuss student loans with me please. Sticking a 22 year old kid with $250000 in debt or a 26 year old medical resident with $450000 in debt is not my idea of opportunity)

I'm not married and don't have any kids and the reason quite simply is I don't make enough money to raise a kid in the way he/she needs to be raised in order to compete in this miserable vale of tears we call a planet, and I'm a few standard deviations above median family income in America. It's not like I spend all my time at the track or the disco, but instead my preference is squirreling away cash and creating opportunities for myself away from my place of employment so that I don't have to be reliant on my job for my income. When I went to college, I had to work to pay tuition and expenses and it sucked. When I was in grad school, I had to teach and tutor to keep my fellowship, and work to stay alive and have a little fun, and it was even worse. Put simply, I don't want my kid to ever have to go through that experience.

Posted by: Bart at October 24, 2004 7:06 AM

Ali,

Again, you are being sloppy. The Jews of the period who were poor were poor because they were under enormous restrictions as to occupation, education, ownership of land etc. Moreover, I'm not talking about 'the poor,' I'm talking about people who cannot function in society on any level. That is a big difference.

When the IQ is less than 50, can it really be human life?

Posted by: Bart at October 24, 2004 7:10 AM

Peter,

I have about the same view of the Holocaust industry as you do. Suing IBM for punch cards, that's just loony. OTOH, when Generali was stiffing people who held life insurance policies on people murdered in the Holocaust or when Swiss banks were keeping relatives of depositers who were murdered in the Holocaust from getting the money, the situation is quite different. Swiss banks and Italian insurance companies should not get windfalls and more than Jewish organizations, Israel or trial lawyers should. I'm even willing to give German companies a free pass on the use of slave labor, because they were in a command economy. Nor do I expect that every European nation should have behaved like Denmark and Bulgaria, or that the High Command should have made any decision about the Holocaust separate from doing what they had to do to defeat Hitler. I do not think it is unreasonable to ask the question why Hitler found so many willing accomplices in the murder of the Jews of Europe from among subject peoples.

What is the one common thread that unites Western anti-semitism? Why is it that the American experience is so bereft of anything resembling serious anti-semitism? Americans were certainly not averse to treating members of different racial groups very badly. The same America that had no problem with enslaving Blacks and murdering Indians, didn't put Jews in ghettos, force them to wear distinctive clothing etc? Why is that? The difference is that in Colonial America there was no Catholic Church.

My hostility to the Catholic Church is not limited to its anti-semitism, but its attempts to throttle commerce, science, political freedom wherever it rears its head. I have the same view of Christian Reconstruction and the Israeli Ultra-Orthodox in this regard. Why did the US develop and Latin America did not?

My views on the retarded are colored by simple cost/benefit analysis. If they are going to be a burden on society, why should I as a taxpayer be interested in keeping them around? Where is the benefit to me?

Prisons are supposed to keep people who would otherwise kill or rob me off the streets, the benefit is obvious. Schools are supposed to take children and give them enough vocational skills so they can contribute to the economy, pay taxes, serve in the military, subsidize our retirement etc.(Let us for purposes of this argument leave aside the question of whether they actually succeed at this) By contrast, the mentally defective will never be in a position to contribute.

Posted by: Bart at October 24, 2004 7:37 AM

OJ,

That resources weren't distributed evenly would not matter, if they were unlimited. It would change life into a Chinese buffet. If you have one plate of shrimp in lobster sauce while the tubbo at the neighboring table has 5 plates, if your one plate is enough to fill you up to bursting and you can get up at any time to get as many plates as you want, why should how many plates the other guy has bother you in the slightest? The fact that he has more than you doesn't affect your ability to get more.

As for your other comments, see my other answers.

Posted by: Bart at October 24, 2004 8:13 AM

Holy Roquefort, Bart.

You certainly have a made a good choice not to have children.
Good for the rest of us, I mean.

As they say on Loveline, "I'm begging ya, don't have kids."

There are many, many arguments I could make to refute your specific positions, but it boils down to this: You, (as expressed in your posts), are totally and completely self-centered.
Not necessarily selfish, you may do much to help your relatives or community, but self-centered.

In fact, I believe that you've said as much before, although I took it as ironic self-deprecation.
More fool me.

However, there are three areas you've addressed that aren't dependent on worldview.

The first is that you apparently assume that the children of people of average, (or even sub-average), intelligence will themselves necessarily be of average intelligence. That is false, for both genetic and environmental reasons.
Further, even for the 66% (or so) of children for whom it is true, what's wrong with being of average intelligence ?
90% or more of Americans aren't as intelligent as you are, nor as educated, but they get by, and in fact, I suspect that you aren't as happy as the average dim-witted American.

Secondly, the tuition for UCLA is currently about $ 6,000/yr for Cali residents, add $ 2,000/yr for non-residents. Even if one were to attend from out of state, and pay for the whole thing with loans, tuition, books, shelter, living expenses, and miscellaneous expenses ought not come to more than $ 80,000 for four years. That's hardly a crushing burden, IF one has majored in something useful. And if one isn't going to major in something useful, why go to University ?
The same knowledge is available free of charge over the Internet, and in public libraries.
It doesn't take an expensive degree in Elizabethan English studies to get a job making lattes at Starbucks.

Third, although money makes a good family better, the foundation for happy children isn't financial.
Once the parents have enough to keep a roof over their childrens' heads, and for rice & beans, the rest is gravy.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 24, 2004 8:38 AM

Where have I said that there is something wrong with being average? You shouldn't settle for being average if you can do better and the means of doing better are in your control. But I have nothing against the average, nor against the merely stupid but functional.

As for your discussion of IQ, you are close but no cigar. Human intelligence is the product of genetic and environmental factors, as is any other phenotype. Intelligent people will be more likely to have intelligent genes, but just as importantly in child rearing will be less inclined to plop the kid in front of the boob tube and will fill his/her life with books, zoos, music, museums, art, science, etc. Thus, the positive effect of the genes will be dramatically enhanced by the environment in which the kid is raised. Watch the behavior of the children of lawyers or mathematicians and see how they replicate their parents. It's truly remarkable. Naturally, there are exceptions but we're talking generalities here.

Second, I don't know much about UCLA but it's second-rate like Rutgers, where I went.(One of my best friends is a prof at UCSB) Rutgers costs about $18000/yr if you want to live on campus, in its decrepit, fetid, unsafe dorms and eat the diseased food of its 'dining' halls. As someone who scrupulously avoids debt, $72000 seems to me like a crushing burden especially when it's for second-rate, and your analogue at the Sorbonne or Heidelberg is paying nada. If you want first-rate in America, you're talking Stanford, Harvard etc and that is now $50000/yr for an undergraduate. 200 G's is a crushing burden. It all boils down I guess to how you deal with debt. I hate it. I have none. I don't sleep well now and I wouldn't sleep at all if I had debt.

As for your comment about money and families, that may or may not be true in general, but it is definitely not true for me, and given the low birth rate of our middle class, I suspect a lot of people feel the same way. How much do you think the fact that the single income family is a rarity today has to do with the low birth rate? And don't both spouses work because they have to just to get by? I refer you to the low savings rate of Americans.

Let me go back to education again. It is the only weapon our kids really have to compete in the world. If we limit them to second-rate or worse, how can they compete with the kids who have first-rate the whole way, let alone the kids who have first-rate plus trust funds, inheritances, etc. We hobble our kids at the start. Is that being fair?

I'm not that unhappy, because I accept the world as it is, not as I wish it to be. Since I expect nothing, I'm never disappointed. Hobbes said 'Life is nasty, poor, brutish and short.' All that has changed in the intervening 350 years is that medical science has made life longer.

Posted by: Bart at October 24, 2004 9:21 AM

Bart;

Of course it would matter--why does Bill Gates hate Netscape?

Posted by: oj at October 24, 2004 9:34 AM

Bart:

In Darwinian terms any people who can be genocided are inferior.

Posted by: oj at October 24, 2004 9:43 AM

"Again, you are being sloppy. The Jews of the period who were poor were poor because they were under enormous restrictions as to occupation, education, ownership of land etc. Moreover, I'm not talking about 'the poor,' I'm talking about people who cannot function in society on any level. That is a big difference."

And is the cost of caring for all those you wish to eliminate really all that burdensome on society as opposed to all the entitlements, subsidies and welfare provided to the able-bodied and reasonably intelligent?

And I understand the distinction you're making vis a vis Jews. Unfortunately schemes for such "improvements" to society tend to have far more to do with unreasoning prejudice and hatred and skewed takes on scientific rationalism rather than pure logic.

And like I said before, life is sacred.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at October 24, 2004 11:13 AM

Ali:

To the libertarian only his own life is sacred.

Posted by: oj at October 24, 2004 11:15 AM

Bart:

The thing is, for the vast majority of people, second-rate is good enough.

Most people won't even benefit from being exposed to first-rate instruction. An engineer need not attend MIT to be competent and capable. America would actually benefit if fewer people went to college, and more to technical or trade schools.

Further, why would you assume that non-Americans are getting first-rate educations, by your standards ?

The evidence suggests that they're not. They're merely capable, which is what America's second and third-rate institutions churn out.

Assuming debt is certainly a personal decision, but although your way may work for you, it doesn't for most people.
Since I became self-employed, my debt has always been far higher than my net worth, but after servicing the debt, I still end up in a much better position than I would have been in had I forgone the debt, and the equipment it purchased.

No debt, no entrepreneurs, which is one of the Muslim world's problems.

Also, most people go into debt to purchase homes and vehicles, both of which generally worth doing.

Posted by: Michael "Borrowing Boy" Herdegen at October 24, 2004 12:11 PM

Bart:

Some advice:

A) Borrow twenty thousand dollars. Quit your job (so you have no idea how you will repay it) and spend the money on a three month tour of the cathedrals and monasteries of Italy. Eat and drink well.

B)Come back and join a serious synagogue--one that doesn't fool around about the Commandments;

C) Do a year's volunteer work in a home for the mentally deficient. Ask specifically to be put on toilet duty.

D) Find a strong-willed woman to marry and put her in complete charge of all financial decisions and how many children you will have. You play the adoring, hard-working servant.

A hundred bucks says your sleep problems will be cured.

Posted by: Peter B at October 24, 2004 12:12 PM

OJ, why does it matter to me whether Bill Gates owns Netscape? Like the glutton on his 20th egg roll at the Chinese buffet, Gates feels a need to acquire more computer companies. I don't feel the pinch, I'm not envious. More power to him.

Posted by: Bart at October 24, 2004 1:34 PM

Doesn't. It matters to you that your neighbor has more.

Posted by: oj at October 24, 2004 1:43 PM

Michael,

The point I was making was that for first-rate European higher education, there is essentially no cost to the students, as compared with the staggering costs Americans bear. Hence, my comparison with Heidelberg and the Sorbonne, not with, say, Ulm and Besancon. At no time was I saying that Euros get better educations as a rule than we do, they most emphatically do not, especially on the graduate level.

America would certainly benefit if more people went to trade schools and fewer went to college. What do communications majors actually do? And don't even get me going on the panoply of ethnic studies?

My position on debt is completely irrational, and probably counterproductive. It is a matter of personal preference, not unlike my love of polka music or pontillism. I definitely prefer to be the lender to being the borrower.

Peter B, the only women I date with any seriousness are high-powered and strong-willed, I couldn't live with a wallflower or a bimbette.


Posted by: Bart at October 24, 2004 1:52 PM

OJ, if I'm suffering no deprivation as a result, not in the slightest. 'Keeping up with the Joneses' has never been an issue for me.

Posted by: Bart at October 24, 2004 1:56 PM

Orrin, if expulsion isn't genocide, why are you so upset about Darfur?

If expulsion is OK because Jews were not native to England, why not expel the Normans who expelled them? They weren't either.

If being native is a proof against expulsion, then why do you advocate expulsion of the Maronites from Lebanon? They have been there at least 10,000 years.

Pope Pius XII was an active murderer of Jews, through his agent Pavelic. That was recent enough, that the Catholic Church can be fairly regarded as an institution devoted to Jew-murder.

That does not preclude it from having other interests, the same way that the Mafia is alleged to invest in legitimate mozzarella factories.

To go back to the original question, in the 10th century the Mediterranean world was a grouping of military aristocracies. They fought each other. Holy Places was no stupider a reason than any other.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 24, 2004 3:17 PM

Bart:

High-powered? There is your problem right there. You know, I hold that high-powered people cause us endless grief and should all be killed, but that darn objective morality keeps me from doing anything about it.

Harry:

Nice trick. Someone says A is to be preferred to B and you hear B is ok.

Just wanted to make that point. You can go back to your fevered conspiracy haunts now.

Posted by: Peter B at October 24, 2004 5:15 PM

Harry:

I'm pro-expulsion.

Posted by: oj at October 24, 2004 5:38 PM

Bart:

That's another common trait of the libertarian, denial of human nature, especially their own.

Posted by: oj at October 24, 2004 5:55 PM

OJ:

You first.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 24, 2004 8:16 PM

Jeff:

I'm a conformist. Societies are perfectly within their rights to expel those who refuse to conform. Such is ideological. Genocides, on the other hand, are biological and folks can't change their races.

Posted by: oj at October 24, 2004 8:21 PM

Orrin,

What if the people on your block decide that despite your protestations, you are insufficiently conformist?

When they come after you to drive you out, are they perfectly within their rights?

Posted by: Eugene S. at October 24, 2004 9:46 PM

Sure--we've a family looking to move out now because they don't fit in.

Posted by: oj at October 24, 2004 11:40 PM

Orrin,

And if they decide they'll stay instead, will you throw rocks in their windows? Shoot their dog?

Posted by: Eugene S. at October 24, 2004 11:54 PM

Maybe. Their cat has been disappeared and they threatened the kids next door.

Posted by: oj at October 25, 2004 12:02 AM

You don't seem to be pro-expulsion in Darfur.

Peter, I don't know which A and B you're talking about.

You absolved the Church of Jew-murder. That's false.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 25, 2004 1:05 AM

oj,

Speak for yourself. What my neighbor has or doesn't have has no impact on me. They don't do what I do for a living or work for my company or use what my company does in any significant way. Cars get me from point A to point B, and I prefer buying used 3 year old Saturns for cash to leasing a Mercedes, which I could easily do.

What Bill Gates has doesn't bother me and the more Warren Buffett has the happier I am, as a Berkshire Hathaway stockholder.(1 share)

Now don't misunderstand. I am certainly unashamedly greedy. It's just that what I buy has to make sense, like my $20 corkscrew.

Posted by: Bart at October 25, 2004 6:38 AM

In Darfur Arabs are raping blacks to Arabize them, not expelling ideological misfits.

Posted by: oj at October 25, 2004 7:37 AM

Bart:

Yes, we know--you, as a libertarian, are uniquely free of normal human nature. The fact you want to murder most of the rest of the citizens of the world reveals nothing.

Posted by: oj at October 25, 2004 8:38 AM

So Jews are ideological misfits?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 25, 2004 8:09 PM

Yes, they refiused to accept the Savior. The way you can distinguish that the Inquisition was racial, not ideological, is that they went after converted Jews who had accepted Him.

Posted by: oj at October 25, 2004 8:14 PM

So they failed to prefer your fairy tale to theirs. Big deal.

The way you can tell the Inquisition was theological was all the heretic hunting and book banning.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 26, 2004 9:31 PM

Yes, the absence of both proves the point.

Posted by: oj at October 26, 2004 10:41 PM

Wasn't it Phillip II who said: "I don't care how many thousands are put to the torch, so long as we are hunting heretics."

You have put yourself in the company of Holocaust deniers.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 27, 2004 7:11 PM

Said it. Didn't do it.

Posted by: oj at October 27, 2004 10:18 PM
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