Thursday, October 28, 2010

Glenn Beck's Monkey Show: This View of Life

"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its
several powers having been originally breathed
into a few forms or into one; and that whilst this
planet has gone cycling on according to the
fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning
endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful
have been, and are being, evolved."

--Charles Darwin, 1859: On the Origin of Species

In my second entry on the topic of Glenn Beck's misapprehension of the theory of evolution, I discussed the fallacy that he spoke on his radio show; the idea that humans evolved from monkeys, or even from apes. Darwin's theory does not posit this idea at all; rather human beings, as well as the great apes, have descended from some common ancestor that in certain features and functions resembles us both, however remotely. But I am not quite done, because another idea was expressed, later in that same hour of the radio broadcast, that is also fallacious: Glenn Beck's claim that collectivists require Darwin's theory, because they must have a view of human individuals as endlessly malleable and therefore perfectible by other humans or, in the case of socialists and outright communists, by some unspecified "social force" that generally turn out to be a force perpetrated by tyrants.

This idea turns on another common misunderstanding of Darwin's theory, one that became a force in American politics at the end of the 19th century, the idea called "Social Darwinism."
Social Darwinism can be defined as any number of political ideologies that use Darwin's theory to suggest that societies evolve in the biological sense and that certain individuals in society are more "evolved" than others, and that they have an obligation to direct human evolution to specific ends. This ideology has nothing to do with the Darwinian theory of evolution by natural selection, except the usurpation of Darwin's name. And in Darwin's name, a whole host of fallacies have been developed to limit human freedom: the Nazi concept of the Obermenschen (supermen) is one, and so is the American progressive idea that a better citizen can be bred through eugenics.

Social 'Darwinism' includes two fallacies that make the ideology foreign to Darwin's theory. The first is that societies evolve biologically, meaning that society is an entity that natural selection acts upon, and that action changes gene frequencies due to various social pressures. The second is that Darwinian evolution is goal directed, and that natural selection is more than a mechanism, that in some way it is working to a specific, predetermined end.

I think the first fallacy is driven by a complete misunderstanding about how Darwinian evolution is defined, and the second by an equally powerful misapprehension about how natural selection works.

A society is nothing more than a grouping of individuals that are distinguished by location, and perhaps by a shared nationality and culture. There may be numerous social groups in that larger amorphous thing that we call society, and those different subsets may very well have their own unique subcultures and value systems. There is not much that defines a society except the obvious: that members of a society tend to socially interact with one another at some level. A society is not some mystical synergistic whole. It has no self-awareness and no will. If societies evolve, those changes are not biological, and they are not driven by natural selection.

Natural selection acts on the relatively fixed phenotype (the way that genes are expressed) of the individual, producing change over time in biological populations. That evolution--for change over time is what the word evolution means--is measured by the change of gene frequencies in a population over time. Individuals do not evolve, but biological populations do. A biological population is not some random group of individuals that interacts socially. Rather it is a group of individuals that can and do interbreed with one another. That they can interbreed means that they are members of the same species, but being a population means that these individuals have access to one another for the purpose of reproduction. Thus alleles (specific forms of each genes) are spread around that population. There are numerous biological populations of human beings on the earth, separated by geography and by culture and by language, which are but different barriers humans have to reproduction with one another. None of these barriers is perfect, and by migration of individuals from one population to another, novel alleles are introduced to populations, changing the gene frequencies in each population. Thus, evolution is always occurring.

When I said above that natural selection acts on individuals, I meant that the genetic traits of an individual vary in expression, creating as many unique phenotypes as there are individuals. Within a given environment, some expressions of a trait will lead to a robustness that allows an individual to survive and pass on those traits, while other expressions of the same trait may--in that same environment--lead to a weakness that means an individual does not live long enough to reproduce, or reproduces less often. Evolutionary "fitness" is defined as the number of offspring an individual has, thus influencing how many copies of the allele is passed on into the next generation, thus spreading through the population in greater or lesser numbers.

It is environment that effects the fitness of a certain trait. A trait that creates an effect that leads to the allele being passed on in great numbers in one environment, may have no such effect in another environment, or may be deleterious to the individual that carries it in a third environment. For example, the recessive allele that blocks the deposition of pigments in the eye, caused the blue-eyed phenotype, has no effect in northern climates, where the solar angle is low, but in equatorial locations, it results in a much greater risk of cataracts and cancer at a younger age. Thus one might expect to find more of the recessive "blue-eye" alleles in northern populations than in equatorial ones. Since there may be more than one direction of pressure on a trait (or suite of traits) at any given time, the end result is a variety of expression, creating those "endless forms most beautiful" of which Darwin spoke. In any given species in any given environment, not all traits are under selection at any given time. It really depends on the variety of alleles, and upon the rate of environmental change that a species may be experiencing. The point here is that fitness is not some fixed array of parameters that have been ranked by some conscious process of choosing. It is simply what variations on a trait, among those present, are most beneficial to the differential reproduction of the individuals within a population that carry them.

And this brings me to the second fallacy held by the Social "Darwinists": the fallacy that evolution has some direction, some predetermined end. Since natural selection acts on the variations of a trait that happen to be present in a given population at a given time, there can be no "goal" for evolution. If, as Stephen J. Gould used to say, we could rewind the tape of the evolution of life on earth and begin it again, we would not see the same movie. Evolution would likely run a wildly different course.

There is a random element to Darwinian evolution, and this is why species eventually go extinct, ending their contributions to the future of life on earth. Sooner or later, a variation on a trait that would allow a species to get through a certain set of environmental changes will not be present in any of the biological populations of the species; or else there will not be time for a beneficial variation to spread through the population, and the species will die out. Just as death is part of every individual life, extinction is the destiny of every species.

I think that this lack of direction, this randomness that exists in our being here at all, in how species come and go upon the earth, is the most unsettling idea about evolution of all for many people. It certainly changes one's view of one's place in a very large and random universe. And yet, it also magnifies the uniqueness of each individual life on earth, and places a premium on human self-awareness, which is what sets our species apart from the other lives that share our planet.

Since evolution has no direction, and since no individuals in a species are "more evolved" than any others, two things are true. One is that there is no perfection awaiting the future of human life on earth. We are what we are, and as human beings we exist within certain parameters that make us human. Although we are all unique, our uniqueness exists as variations on the theme of human being. Individuals do not evolve. Each of us can only play the genes we were dealt. The second truth is that no human beings are wiser than any others in their ability to know how to shape human evolution to certain ends. There are no philosopher-kings who can see outside the cave, and select for certain traits in order to bring the rest of us to what they believe is their level.

The Social "Darwinists", who have arrogantly arrogated to themselves the role of gods and goddesses, do so using a perversion of Darwinian evolution in which selection is anything but natural, and fitness is defined as those traits they most admire in themselves. Traits that may have very little to do with the traits that are actually under selection in different human populations. Unfortunately, there are those--like Glenn Beck--who have so little knowledge and understanding of Darwin's theory, that they equate the unifying theory of modern biology with an ideology that is based on a misunderstanding of evolution by natural selection; an ideology that is as profoundly wrong as are the misperceptions of the creationists. This is what I mean when I say that the leftists and the collectivists are often equally as ignorant of Darwin's theory of evolution as are those on the religious right.

But I believe the collectivists on the left are the more dangerous. The creationists are for the most part reacting to the usurpation of their power to pass their religion on to their children. All of the equal-time debates, all of the legal challenges they make are in response to public education. If creationists were no longer forced by law to pay for their children to be instructed to accept an idea that they believe is against their religion, there would be no debates and no legal battles. But those on the left believe that they have some mandate to act as those who would select out the traits that they believe do not contribute to the perfection of humanity in the next great step of "social evolution." But all such traits originate in the phenotype of individuals, so this means that certain individuals must be selected out. This is what Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, a notorious progressive, understood his role to be when he ruled that a woman could be forcibly sterilized for the good of the State, saying:

"It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for a crime, or let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind." (Buck vs. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927).

Here Holmes imagines himself to be the agent of selection, a selection that is not at all natural. He further implies that there is some direction to evolution, that a certain kind of human being--his kind--has some destiny that is the pinnacle, the perfect end of evolution. An end that would result in a deadly sameness, in which there would be no variation for natural selection to act upon. An end that would result in destruction and death, as it always does. An end that would result in the ultimate extinction of the human species from the face of the earth.

Nothing could be further from the true nature of Darwinian evolution by natural selection. This view of life predicts infinite variation in infinite combinations developing over time from so simple a beginning. There is indeed a grandeur in it, a grandeur that is missed by all of those who misapprehend the beauty of life on earth in all its wonderful variety.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Glenn Beck's Monkey Show: Not Even Wrong

“Even my fellow biologists are unacquainted with the
many lines of evidence for evolution, and most of
my university students,who supposedly learned evolution
in high school, come to my courses knowing almost nothing
of this central organizing theory of biology.”

--Jerry A. Coyne; Why Evolution is True. 2009.

In my last blog entry, I gave an overview of the problems I heard in Glenn Beck's latest attack on the theory of evolution by natural selection. To recap briefly, those problems are errors in knowledge, distractability from the main point and reason for the discussion, and philosophical errors at the level of premises, reasoning and argumentation. The blog entry can be found here.

In this blog entry, I will discuss Glenn Beck's misapprehension of the modern theory of evolution because it is not even wrong. By this I mean that Beck's argument on his show, that evolution cannot be true because he has never seen a half-monkey, half human, is so off the mark that it is not even an argument. It is a straw-man, and does not rise to the level of an argument that can even be discussed. The phrase implies that even an argument that is wrong, would be better than this one.

What I am not going to do is try to convince anyone that the theory of evolution is true. I accept the evidence for evolution, which is so varied, so strong and so convincing that its reality is not even a casual discussion among biologists. However, there is so much evidence, on so many levels and coming from so many fields in the natural and physical sciences that it would take more than one book to recount it all. The interested reader can begin with Jerry Coyne's book, cited above, and continue with many well-written and documented books in the popular scientific literature. There is also another reason, and that is that is useless to argue either major or minor points of the theory, citing evidence, when the real problem is on a different level. That is, most people who refuse to accept the evidence for evolution by natural selection do so not because of this or that point has not been adequately addressed, but because he or she has a religious view of the world that includes biblical literalism, which is incompatible with most of modern science. Argumentation without a general agreement on world view is futile. And I believe that the problem is a political one and not scientific at all, and as a libertarian I do not believe that it is my place to use the force of law to change another's beliefs. I have written my opinion about the issue of evolution and science education here .

Glenn Beck's problem is not that he does not accept the evidence for the theory of evolution by natural selection. Although it is clear that he does not. His problem lies in that he attacked the theory citing a half-baked non-observation as evidence against it, and that indicated to anyone who knows the theory well that he does not know it or understand it in even the most rudimentary sense. This is not uncommon – as Coyne indicates in his book (quoted above). The purpose of this blog entry is not to change anyone's mind about evolution, but to discuss this common error that becomes the logical fallacy commonly called “the straw man argument” with amazing frequency.

The sum total of Glenn Beck's argument against evolution was that it was not likely to be true because , he said, “I haven't seen a half-person, half-monkey, yet.” When this statement came out of Beck's mouth, I shouted “Thank you, Bishop Wilberforce!” at the radio, because this was so reminiscent of the early arguments against evolution. From that time until this, the caricature of a blend of two species is, well, specious. It is a straw man put up in order to mock the opposition and to implant in the minds of listeners (or at least those who are ignorant of the actual theory of evolution) an idea that has never been a part of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. Either Glenn was not paying attention during his high school biology class--a distinct possibility--or he is intentionally making a mockery of the theory in order to woo the most ignorant of his listeners. This second motive is also a possibility, however, it was not well-thought out, for in so doing he probably caused the majority of his listeners (including a NY News Tea Party reporter here) to do a double-take.

For those who have forgotten, or those who have never learned it, here is the theory of evolution by natural selection in a nutshell: The variation that we see among living organisms today arose gradually over time, brought about by a process called natural selection. There are five ideas that are necessary to any explanation of Darwin's theory and they are: evolution, speciation, the common ancestry of all life, natural selection, and gradualism. Evolution means change over time, and according to evolutionary theory, those changes in the genetic code of existing populations that create traits that give certain individuals a reproductive advantage – that is, traits that make it more likely for that individual to survive to reproduce – will become more common in the population over time. This change in the gene-frequencies of a population indicate that it is evolving.

Most of the time these changes in gene-frequencies occur naturally over time because successful reproducers pass those advantageous traits to their offspring, whereas those individuals who do not successful reproduce have no effect on the future genetic makeup of the population. This is natural selection*. Speciation usually occurs because enough variation occurs between two populations of the same species that they can no longer reproduce with one another. This is usually due to two populations being isolated from one another for some reason. Although speciation is arguably the most spectacular of the phenomena that the theory of evolution by natural selection explains, it is not the only one, or even the most common. But speciation is an effect of natural selection that has occurred many times over the history of life of earth, and that does mean that all species share a common ancestry; that is a link with every other species that is either a close relationship or a distant one, depending on how far back in the history of two species the divergence occurred.

*Although natural selection is by far the most common mechanism for evolutionary change in a population, it is not the only one: others such as gene-flow among populations, and the loss of genetic variation due to population bottlenecks and founder effect do have some influence.

For the purposes of our discussion about Glenn Beck's straw-man, the most important word in the paragraphs above is population. Populations evolve, individuals do not. That is because an individual's phenotype is fixed by the particular genotype he or she inherited. Some changes in gene expression do change over the lifetime, but an individual does not suddenly acquire half a genome from somewhere else. Therefore, one would not expect to ever see an individual that displays half the phenotype of one extant species and half the phenotype of another. Rather, if a biologist predicts that two species are closely related, she then expects to find many common traits between, and some important differences. Those common traits point to an ancestor species that is common to both of the related species. That ancestor species may or may not still be flourishing on earth. Extinction is also an important phenomenon that is predicted by the theory of evolution by natural selection.

With respect to human beings, monkeys do share common ancestry, which is indicated by enough common traits so that both monkeys and human beings are in the same taxonomic order: monkeys and humans are both primates. However, the most closely extant species to which humans are related are the great apes, all of whom are classified in the same taxonomic family – hominidae – which means “human-like”. The closest extant related species to humans is the chimpanzees. However, this does not mean that humans evolved from chimps. Nor does it mean that one should expect to find a half-chimp, half-person in the fossil record. Rather what we do find is that humans and chimps show a greater than 98% commonality in our genomes. We have enough traits in common to know that we had a common ancestor that walked the earth rather recently.

Another facet of Glenn Beck's mistake is that he equates some form of Lamarckism, the idea that evolution occurs by the passing of acquired traits to future generations through the genome, with Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. If this occurred, then one could say that individuals evolve. This is a philosophical mistake that Glenn actually shares with the communists, who promoted the neo-Lamarckian ideology proposed by Lysenko. This fallacy is necessary to the modern collectivists, but the Darwinian theory of evolution is not. Darwinisms is in fact at odds with it. But that discussion is part of the next blog entry on this topic. Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Glenn Beck's Monkey Show: Overview

"A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again."
--Alexander Pope: Essay on Criticism. Part ii. Line 15

If a little learning is dangerous, then no knowlege at all can be positively deadly. Or at least, embarrassing.
Yesterday, Glenn Beck made a fool of himself on his radio program.

As with many bright people, he did so by assuming he understood something that he did not. He did what he tells his audience not to do by making a judgment about a scientific theory on the fly, and it was clear that he had no clue what the modern theory of evolution actually is and what it is not.

For the record, I listen to Beck several times a week, although I have been listening less and less this fall because it is getting harder and harder to actually hear Glenn make his point. This is because in the past year he has brought on a friend from Texas, Pat Gray, who generally distracts Glenn from his more serious points, causing a number of listeners, including me, to reach for the dial. Pat Gray appears to be far less thoughtful than Glenn, and is clearly not as well read. When the banter begins, it devolves quickly and the show becomes frustratingly difficult to follow, and downright silly. I don't have time for that, and clearly from discussions with other thoughtful patriots, neither do they.

That said, it is quite clear that Glenn Beck is not stupid, as many of the leftist blogs claim. The so-called discussions of this issue at places like the Huffington Post come across as equally ignorant and worse, devolve to ad hominen statements. There is a large difference between rational disagreement and the kind of mean-spirited, angry, profanity-driven drivel that the lefties regularly spew out against Beck. However, this does not excuse Glenn from the equally ignorant attack on the theory of evolution that he made during a clearly ADD hour on his show yesterday.

Most laymen do not understand the modern theory of evolution. It is not that it is not understandable or even all that complex, though wading through the plethora of evidence for it takes time and study. It is that it has either been taught badly or not taught at all. This is the fault of the generally poor science teaching that goes on in America's K-12 institutions, private and public. With very few exceptions K-12 science education has treated the discipline as a series of disconnected facts that must be committed to memory and regurgitated, rather than as a method for discovering how the physical universe works using observation through our senses and their extensions. It is also the fault of a political divide that has been handled badly by scientists, creating a hostility towards all science among those who are expected to pay for it all without having the faintest idea of what it actually is. (I will have more to say about this later).

Collectivists and progressives at the extremes of both political parties have seized on this divide, and have used it to their own political advantage. On the right, it has been used to promote a kind of populist know-nothingism that lets those pols manipulate the religious passion of their constituents for Christian dominionism and theocracy. On the left, it has been used to promote an agenda of thinly disguised eugenics in which a scientific theory has been hijacked to bolster a collectivist ideology and a socialist agenda. (I have already said a bit about this here). It is clear that neither left nor right has the intellectual high ground here, nor the moral decency to promote and appreciate thoughtful and intelligent ideation among their constituents. A pox on both their houses!

Glenn Beck's ignorant diatribe betrayed several problems. One is that his notion of the scientific theory of evolution betrays an ignorance not only of the theory itself, but of science in general, and how the work of science is done. It is clear that because he has heard twaddle from equally ignorant others, he believes he knows what it is without having actually studied it. He would not make such statements in regard to areas he actually knows something about. So he has made an error of knowlege compounded by a certain ignorant arrogance, in that he did not question his lack of education in the field of science. Clearly his motto to "question everything" was left behind as he thoughtlessly spewed forth, compounding his embarrassment of ignorance with every sentence.

Glenn also has a problem organizing his thoughts that was clearly evident here, and in other monologues. His reasoning starts out with a good series of propositions and then his thinking stops at a certain point, and he rarely gets to the logical conclusion of his thought. Often he makes connections that seem to be leading somewhere interesting, and then he veers off, unable to complete the line of reasoning. He stops short and leaves his listeners in confusion or yelling at radio, "finish it, man!" Part of the problem here is the aforementioned Pat Gray, who nit-picks unimportant diction rather than letting the reasoning come to the conclusion of thought before cleaning up the proposition. Another part of the problem is that ADD that I mentioned earlier. Glenn has made no secret of it, as indeed he can't. Glenn distracts himself, going down rabbit-holes, and on snipe-hunts of thought, chasing extraneous thoughts prior to making a conclusion. And being that distractable means that the conclusion is never made.

Finally, Glenn Beck has a philosophical problem, and this is the most important. Although he reasons well up to a point, he often cannot bring the conclusion home, because he cannot or will not take his ideas to the most logical conclusion. This is not limited to his attacks on science, but can also be heard in other topics he discusses. For example, if Beck really believes in the sovereignty of the individual, which is clearly stated in the 9 Principles of his 9-12 project, then he cannot continue to advocate for the social control that is part and parcel of conservative political thought. Although he says that he is libertarian in thought, and that he trusts the American people, he cannot quite match his thought to those words. Lately, as Glenn has become increasingly a preacher in the Great Awakening style of Jonathan Edwards or George Whitfield, I have begun to suspect that this inability to bring home the most logical conclusion to his chain of reasoning may lie in the contradiction between the idea that human beings are fit for liberty, and his religious notion that man is fatally flawed by original sin.

Two of these problems are weighty enough to deserve blog entries of their own, and so I shall go into much more detail about Glenn's fundamental misunderstanding and ignorance with respect to the modern theory of evolution in my second part. In the third, I shall address the philosophical knots he mananged to contort himself into with his claim that those who accept the evidence for evolution by natural selection must deny the inherent nature of the rights of man. The ignorance of the first leads directly to the ignorance of the second. That is, the misunderstanding and misapprehensions that Glenn speaks with regard to what Dennett calls "Darwin's dangerous idea", lead directly to his ignorance of the history of the idea, and the wicked stepchildren it has been distorted to create: Social Darwinism and Lysenkoism. The first, in the hands of the American Progressives, gave us eugenics and forced sterilization, and the second, in the hands of Soviet Communists, gave us the planned famine that killed millions of Kulaks.

These discussions are worth taking a bit of time and blog-space to have, because the issues that Darwinian evolution bring up, and the ignorance of what the theory actually means, is widespread, and not limited to one political pole. If the religious right has used such ignorance to advance their cause of social control, the left has turned a scientific theory into a dogma and ideology to be decided not by the evidence, and not by hypothesis testing, but through the ideology of consensus science, something that never was and never can be. This has grave implications for new and unfounded pseudo-scientific theory that is more akin to religion than it is to science: global warming. The secular, collectivist left is using this idea to advance their own agenda of social control. And the implications are just as totalitarian as anything your hot-farting fundamentalist dominionist can dream up.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Trials and Tribulations of Changing Operating Systems

You think it would be fairly easy to do this stuff. After many trials and tribulations with Windows Vista--problems like automatic shut-downs, frequent error messages, problems with the hard drive--I decided to go to a Linux OS, thinking it would work better with my system and make my life easier.

The first trial was with Mandriva. It seemed good at first, but there were some problems. Like a sound system that sometimes did not let me control the volume, and problems with the way files were stored. It was not logical to me and I was forever looking for files. The Home folder was a complete mystery to me--I didn't know it existed, and therefore couldn't find files. There were other problems. Like pictures. The Mandriva photo manager did not allow me to rotate pictures, so all of my portrait view pictures would load onto Blogger and Facebook sideways and upside down. I couldn't use them.

After a few weeks of this, I was ready to bag Linux altogether, and sent my friend the Techno-Wizard a message saying so. He suggested that we partition the drive and change out from Mandriva to a more logically formatted Linux System. He suggested Ubuntu. I agreed, and he took my machine home to do the deed. I picked it up again last Thursday, and having a deadline to get a Business Plan Questionnaire done, I logged into Ubuntu. I thought I should log into Ubuntu because when the Techno-Wizard came to take my computer, I had been working on that document, and done about two hours worth of work. But no documents existed at Ubuntu.

Oh. The Home folder had been loaded on Windows.
So I logged into Windows.
After some searching, I found that the Home Folder had been loaded there under an abbreviation of my name.
But even after loading Open Office, I could not download the files.
We think its empty. Well actually, the Techno-Wizard does.
Me, I USE computers. And I hate it when they DON"T WORK like I expect.
You've heard of Road Rage?
You've heard of PMS?
Hell hath no fury like this woman confronted with a deadline and confounded by empty files and lost folders.
And upside-down pictures!

But Windows is such a pain, that I am willing to deal with fury in order to get to something better. And better do it now, while I still have some estrogen--albeit it comes in unpredictable flashes-- to protect my heart from the sudden escalation of fight-or-flight.

Patience, they say, is a virtue.

Here is a You Tube video from College Humor that puts this all into perspective:

Ubuntu? I'm going to learn Ubuntu.

Just one question:

Where the heck do they get these names?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sleepers, Awake!

"Why, oh why didn't I take the Blue Pill?"

This tongue-in-cheek lament can be seen on the Facebook walls of a number of people involved one way or another in the R3volution and in the various (dis) organizations that make up the patriot movement. It is a metaphor refering to the first of The Matrix movies. In the Matrix universe, the reality that most of humanity perceives as ordinary is contrived by the machine world; it is a dream that is occuring while humanity is enslaved to provide energy to the machines who rule the earth. The movie begins with the character Neo living inside this reality, unaware. He is recruited by Morpheus, a rebel leader, because he has found clues to the Matrix reality. He is confronted with a choice:

Morpheus: The Matrix . . .is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you to the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you know, you were born into bondage . . . A prison for you mind. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.
You take the blue pill, you wake up in your bed and the story ends. You believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep this rabbit hole goes.
--The Matrix, 1999

The plot requires that Neo take the Red Pill, he stays in Wonderland, and he finds out what the Matrix is. But the movie is not only about what happens when Neo takes the red pill. It also asks the question: Is it better to know the truth, or does it make us happier to live in the dream? Do we really want to know how deep the rabbit hole goes, or are we better off staying on our exercise wheel like a gerbil in a cage?

But with respect to what is happening to our country--what has been done to enslave our minds, to convince us that we have no rights, and to take our liberty, there is no unitary truth. Our enslavement has not been carried out by a unitary evil that cannot be understood fully by us. To some extent, what has happened to us has been done to us; our enslavement has been planned and executed over a very long period of time by those who believe that human freedom gets in the way of the collective progress of humanity. But to another extent, what has happened to us has been done by us; it is far easier to not be responsible for ourselves and for what we do, but to let others, portrayed as those who are wiser and better, and who are willing to sacrificially shoulder responsibility, to live for us.

And unlike Neo in the Matrix, taking the red pill and learning the truth is not a once and for all awakening. Rather, it seems, we take the red pill in stages, deciding whether to swallow, whether to retch, and then we live straddling two realities: the everyday reality of work and bills and taxes, and the reality that as we live this way, our politicians and so-called world leaders are every so surely, and somewhat blindly, leading us into the narrow places with the comcommitant loss of liberty and personal responsibility.

Lately, there has been some consternation among those who have been at this fight for liberty for a while.

Last year, we had patriots boiling out into the streets, protesting. They were forming a myriad of committees, groups and organizations. There was a great deal of energy. But the number of such groups, each focused on a different part of the problem, while broad, was not very deep. Now the recent sleepers seem to be focused on the upcoming election alone, and firmly denying the reality that both major parties, and nearly all of the politicians, remain uninterested in liberty and are far more focused on their own power and prestige. Elections are about money and lies and winning. They are not about hope and change and liberty. No matter how convincing the ads on TV may be.

And those who have been trying to educate the nascent awakeners, those who have been working at developing in the Tea Party and other patriot groups a depth of understanding about the nature of Liberty, are seeing our efforts rebuffed. "Why spend the time and money to learn about the Constitution?" the newly-awakened ones seem to be saying. "Why do the hard work, when we can enjoy the bread and circuses of elections, and perhaps we can go back to sleep when the easy way works, and we can go back to our dream?"
To put it bluntly, at this point they don't want to know how deep the rabbit hole goes. It is a lot easier to think it is a matter of who sits in Congress and in the White House.

And so it becomes easy to imagine that the time has come to admit defeat, to dissolve our groups and committees and Tea Parties. To acquiesce to the loss of our liberty. It is a dangerous moment, for the freedom and liberty endowed to us and to our children is at stake. And at the risk of sounding like the conspiracists that I have critiqued: That's what the ubiquitous "they" want us to believe.

Today I wrote to someone discouraged and angry that NMPA had to cancel a Constitution class with a national speaker. A class that would have brought some depth to the shallow awakenings that need nuturing. "We know," one of the NMPA leaders said, "That the people need this knowledge to sustain their passion. But they don't seem to know it."
And that is so discouraging that one of our members suggested that we are talking about dismantling the NMPA altogether.

And I have my moments like that, too.
But I think there are real enemies of liberty who have control of our government. And they have a dream of a great collective of humanity marching in lockstep into the bright and conformist future. And there will be no room for the outliers and the misfits that love liberty in that world. And in the meantime, those who have taken the red pill, and put it in their mouths, and swallowed enough reality to understand what we face, and what it will take to return America to the path of liberty and individual rights, really wonder whether we should have taken the blue pill instead.

This is a natural part of letting go of a dream, of a way of life that was easy and good and fun. It is grief that we are dealing with, as we realize that we are now living in a country that is far different than the one into which we were born, and we are confronting a future that is far different from that which we were promised. And now the work is becoming harder, and we have disappointments as the people that we have been counting on to finally join us and make the return to liberty real turn their backs on what we know is needed to bring depth and principle to the awakening passion.

At this point we find ourselves saying: "Why, oh why didn't I take the blue pill?

But we know that there are a number of reasons for these disappointing setbacks: lack of organization and publicity efforts on our part, the focus most people have on the
upcoming election and their belief that the Pols on the R side will save us,
and the economic situation that has people scared enough to jump from one
thing to another in search of the easy answers that don't exist. We forget,
those of us who have been at this for a while and/or those of us who have
taken the red pill and can't go back, that the majority of the people who
have woken up don't have a coherent picture of what the problem is, how
intractable it is, and what it is actually going to take to restore the
Constitution and rebuild our government based on that document.

One example: The situation with our monetary system and the economy is so
bad, and the United States is in the muck so deep, that the whole thing is
going to have collapse and be rebuilt. It is hard to imagine this for those
of us who have been thinking about it for a while, and it is nigh unto
impossible to get even a reasonable minority of the people who are certain
that there is something wrong to understand that the only way to liberty is
through the storm that is coming, and that this storm is going to crush the
hopes and dreams of several generations who's focus has been on keeping things the
way they are. The thing is not sustainable. It violates the laws of
thermodynamics by which energy operates. Most people do not get that money
is like a form of energy--the money is man-made, but what it represents is

But think of this again: this crisis is going to crush the hopes and dreams
of several generations who's focus has been on keeping things the way they are. To
come out the other side with our liberty intact--or actually
reconstructed--will require a great deal of courage to face the pain of
letting go of those old hopes and dreams and creating new ones in their
places. The people who are waking up must go through the process of letting
go, just as we all are doing to one extent or another as reality keeps
hitting us like waves of cold water.

The stages of mourning are relevant here: we come out Denial, the first
stage, when we wake up and take the red pill. Then comes the second stage,
Anger, which is incredibly energizing. The wakened sleepers spent last
summer and fall in Anger, I think, believing that if they let their
government know their feelings, everything would change. The transition to
stage three happened when Obamacare was passed. At that time, the wind was
taken out of the sails of the nascent patriot anger. I think most of the Tea
Party people and the 9-12 movement have moved into stage three, Bargaining.
They believe that if only we elect more people with R's next to their name
in November, then we can just skip this Crisis. That all will be well, and we
can then hit the snooze button, pick up the remote and roll over for a well
deserved nap after all that hard work of calling Congress and protesting and
expressing righteous indignation.

But after the bargaining does not work, what then? That is when the
transition to the most dangerous stage of grief happens. Depression. The
more attached people have been to what they are losing, the longer and
deeper this stage becomes. And this is where NMPA, Libertarians, the
Constitution Party, and other people who have been through the grief that
comes in the aftermath of swallowing the red pill are so important.
Depression is so dangerous, because that is when people give up. They have
tried by force of Denial, Anger and Bargaining to change reality. And they
couldn't. Depression is when the knowledge that going back to before is
impossible. But during this stage it is also easy to allow others to begin
to control one's destiny. In our case, to be very blunt, it is easy to
acquiesce to slavery. And in some important way that I cannot yet
articulate, I believe that NMPA, among others, was created for the work of
bringing all of us to the Acceptance of what must happen and what hard work
we must take on in order to come through this Crisis as a free people.

It is going to take a hard labor to bring forth a new birth of freedom for
ourselves and our children. Through organizations, NMPA and others, we have the opportunity to be midwives for that renewal of our liberty.

But this we know for sure, after taking the red pill, it is impossible to see the world the same again. We cannot go back. We cannot unknow what we have learned. We are no longer innocent. And this is not necessarily bad news. For each day brings new promise, especially in the midst of a great Crisis.

"Sleepers, awake! Unpack your dreams and carry them forth! This is the day the Lord has made! My soul rejoices in the sun's slanted rays!"--Rabbi Shefa Gold

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Resignation from Campaign for Liberty Albuquerque

I am beating this horse long after it has expired, but I want a record of this letter on my blog. If you are "tired of people running to defend Israel all the time" as one of my correspondents complained, then skip this entry. I truly wish I did not have to write this Letter of Resignation. Unfortunately, the people in question could not admit that accusing Israel of stealing organs, and accusing American Jews of dual loyalty is not exactly calculated to win them friends and influence. So after a week of futile discussion, I sent them this:

Dear Members of Campaign for Liberty Albuquerque,

I have decided based on the e-mails that I have received in the past few weeks, e-mails which were also available on the world-wide web at the Albuquerque Campaign for Liberty Meet-Up, that I do not wish to be associated with Campaign for Liberty Albuquerque and will therefore be severing my relationship and support of Campaign for Liberty. I have stated my concerns to the membership of Campaign for Liberty, and have seen little evidence that they will be addressed. I have therefore decided to end my association with the group. This is entirely a personal decision based on my my experience that one or a few members of the group have an unreasonable attachment to attacking the state of Israel using some very old anti-Semitic accusations that will in the end deter the group from the goals originally stated.

I have said that ant-Semitic accusations have been sent out to the group through the official e-mail list. My concerns have been met with the statement that these e-mails are merely criticism of Israel and that I am advocating censorship and theocracy (?) by stating my concerns. Therefore, I do want to address the issue of anti-Semitism as opposed to criticism of Israel before I end my association.

Criticism of the State of Israel with respect to specific policies is not anti-Semitic, nor is criticism of the government of Israel or of specific politicians who develop and implement policy. All of this is behavior normal to polite and reasoned discourse. It is common to see such criticism within the newspapers published in Israel as well as in the United States. Neither is criticism of the role of the United States in providing support for or reaction against Israeli policy anti-Semitism. It is certainly not anti-Semitic to say--as I have said a great many times in many different forums--that the United States ought to withdraw all foreign aid, including aid to Israel.

However, the stuff that one individual put up on the Campaign for Liberty forum is not criticism of Israel. Rather it is the stuff of old European anti-Semitism as featured in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and predating that forgery, it goes back to the ancient and medieval periods in Europe. For example, the member in question accuses the State of Israel of stealing the organs of Palestinian corpses as a matter of policy. This is the blood libel. The only difference in this formulation, is that it is Israel that stand in by proxy for the Jewish people. The source of much of such accusations is the propaganda of Hamas, Hezbollah and other Islamist terrorist organizations, and goes back to the alliance of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem with Nazi Germany. In the Arabic press, those sources do not differentiate between Israel and Jews, and indeed accuse the Jewish people as a whole of this updated version of the blood libel. In the English versions they simply replace the word for Jew with the word for Israel. In this new form of anti-Semitism, Israel stands in as a proxy for Jews. This kind of unreasoned accusation against the Jewish people as Jews has a long historical record; one that the member is likely ignorant of though he accepts it without question when the accusation supports his prejudices.

The statement that support of Israel is treason to the United States comes from an accusation of Jewish dual loyalty that goes back into European history to long before the United States existed. It was made by the Nazis and their ally the Grand Mufti. It is the same accusation made in the Dreyfuss Affair, and it was the reason that Jews in Russia were deprived of their rights and interred in the Pale of Settlement. In medieval times, it was the reason that Jews were kept in ghettos, and were forced outside the regular medieval hierarchy of peasant-landed gentry-noble-king. The accusation goes back further to the Christian Code of Justinian, and before that to the various conquerers of the ancient world. For those of you who read the Bible, this same notion goes back to Exodus:

"Now a new king arose in Egypt who did not know Joseph. He said to his people: Behold! The people of the sons of Israel are mightier and more numerous than we. Come let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and join themselves with those that hate us, and fight against us . . ." (Exodus 1:8-10)

Both accusations leveled on the e-mail list and at the forum are very old anti-Semitic tropes that have been recast as the same kind of blanket accusations against the Jewish State and its citizens. They are part of a larger effort to delegitimize the State of Israel, which is demonized by anti-Semites in the same way that they once demonized the Jewish people as a whole. The purpose of these accusations is to make the case that Israel should not exist and should be destroyed because it is the Jewish State. No other country has its very existence threatened in this way, even those that burn widows alive on the funeral pyres of their deceased husbands or those that stone women accused of adultery. Those are the predictable actions of real theocracies. Israel, which is imperfect as is any human institution, is not a theocracy. It is a democracy with a demonstrated record of law that supports the rights of its citizens. Oddly enough the states from which such accusations arise are theocracies, or wish to become one.

That this is not criticism of policy is obvious from the fact that no evidence is presented to the truth of these accusations, and that no reputable journalist has ever published any such story duly backed up with evidence in a well-referenced article, even in those publications that are generally critical of Israel.

Criticism of policy does not include blanket statements such as "support for Israel is treason to the United States", which automatically makes traitors of nearly every American Jew, regardless of his or her stance on specific issues. Legitimate critical concern about policy does not include "big lies" that are repeated over and over in order to get people to believe them. Criticism ends where reflexive blame of Israel for everything bad that happens in the world begins. That is not criticism it is demonization. And the very form that this demonization takes comes from the same untrue and sensational accusations made against Jews from time immemorial. It is a far greater insult than criticism to deny Israel the same right to self-defense as it routinely understood to be the right of every other country.

I do not wish to be associated with an organization that tolerates such behavior. There is a difference between censorship (of which I have been accused) and the censure of a statement that not only detracts from the purpose of the organization, that bespeaks a terrible prejudice, and that supports the notion of collective responsibility, but which is also entirely a lie.

I do not believe that Ron Paul sanctions such notions, and I do not think he knows of this cancer eating away at the heart of the organizations that support him.There is a great difference between the principled libertarian stance that opposes the confiscation of money from the citizens of the United States for purposes other than those outlined in the Constitution, as opposed to casting all blame on Israel for all problems created by foreign aid to multiple countries by way of the decisions made by the Congress and tolerated by Americans. There is a difference between imagining how an interventionist foreign policy might create conditions for the 9-11 murder of American civilians, and excusing the murderers by blaming the victims. However, so long as such behavior is tolerated on forums dedicated to Dr. Paul's presidential campaign, I believe that he will not have a snowball's chance in hell of even getting into the debates, let alone getting his name on the general election ballot. He will inevitably be inaccurately tarred with the same brush that accurately describes some of his supporters.

For these reasons, I choose not to put my time and effort into a group that has, with the exception of a few individuals, acquiesced to the statement of an ideology marked by the demonization of Israel, and has tolerated anti-Semitism by proxy through that demonization. I cannot imagine supporting a candidate for president whose followers support such statements. Accordingly, in order to protect my name from association with these ideas tolerated on the New Mexico Campaign for Liberty, I have made my stance clear on my web-log, and I am informing my other friends and associates in the various liberty organizations of my decision and the reasons for it by including them in the address lines of this e-mail. I have also sent an inquiry to the national Campaign for Liberty asking whether they, as a matter of policy, support such statements in order to determine whether to further support the organization at the level. I have also sent such a question to the Ron Paul people, for the same reason.

Elisheva Levin

Questions? Concerns? Complaints? Comments are open.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Irrational Patriotism and the Freedom of Association: The Case Against New Mexico Campaign for Liberty

Being libertarian and Jewish while being active in the Patriot Movement is interesting and sometimes maddening. Most of the people I encounter within it are conservative, and although we disagree on certain fundamental principles, they are rational in their approach to news and events. We may understand them differently, and often I find myself taking the more radical stand. For example, they oppose illegal immigration and support the Arizona law, whereas I oppose the welfare state and the war on drugs that make free movement across the border a problem. In this case, we both know that there is an invasion going on across our southern border, and we both know that the lives, liberty and property of Americans living near the border are threatened, but we respond to that knowledge from somewhat different perspectives. As a libertarian, I see the source of the problem differently, precisely because I do not accept the notion that the government has any business regulating drugs or "spreading the wealth around." However, we can talk with one another, attempt to bridge differences, and work together on our mutual goal: to restore the Constitution of the United States.

But just as there is a wing nut fringe on the left--those who tell us that Mao is a philosopher and equal to Mother Teresa in charity and those who believe that Hugo Chavez is a statesman--so there are wing nuts operating on the fringe of the patriot movement. They are far from the majority, and unlike the wing-nuts on the left who seem to surround the president of the United States these days, they have no power, except that of chasing reasonable people away from patriot groups. They are often the people who end up creating the conditions for small groups to engage in infighting and to finally fall apart from lack of participation.

My latest experience in this regard:

I have supported Campaign for Liberty for over a year, and I have supported Ron Paul as one of the few principled members of Congress, and for his primarily constitutional stances on many issues. However, I do reserve the right to disagree, as we all should, based on differences with respect to issues. In that time I have noticed the acceptance of a kind of post-modernism among many of Ron Paul's young followers, that is combined with what appears to be a deliberate illiteracy and a terrible ignorance of history and the values of Western culture. This leads to an uncritical acceptance without reason of whatever new conspiracy theory* happens to hit the internet. Sometimes these theories have a kernel of truth, but have been generalized to such an extent that they become meaningless.

* NOTE: I am using the term "conspiracy theory" in the neutral sense rather than the pejorative sense. That is, I accept that there are conspiracies in the world, and that people really do gather together to secretly plan and accomplish illegal and immoral actions. However, a conspiracy theory is a claim, not a fact, until it is substantiated with evidence. Although conspiracies do happen, and at every level, every bad thing that happens in the world is not necessarily a conspiracy, there is room for human error and folly in history.

Further, this generalization leads to a stance of powerlessness in the face of this conspiracy theorizing that is a type of conspiracism, which is the tendency to accept that everything bad that happens in the world has been engineered by the ubiquitous "they" who have god-like powers and have so brainwashed humanity that they control every decision made by every person on earth. Thus, it becomes acceptable to sit and complain, but it also becomes unnecessary to actually develop solutions or to do anything about the problem--whatever it is--because "they" are in control.

Twisting together threads involving an international banking conspiracy (which has a basis in truth but has been over-generalized), and the old myth of a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world (which has no truth), some of Ron Paul's young supporters have uncritically bought into a particularly ugly form of anti-Semitism that hails from the left. They have learned that making anti-Semitic statements outright is frowned upon by most Americans, but that by couching their anti-Semitic sentiments as criticism of Israel, they can claim the moral high ground, and turn and accuse those who point out that the demonization and delegitimation of Israel is anti-Semitic of "censoring" their "criticism" of Israel.

Sometimes I think that these young Ron Paul supporters are not only illiterate with respect to history, but that they are also illiterate with respect to vocabulary, and mistake the term "censor" for the term "censure". There is a difference. But more to the point, without any sense of time or history--which was robbed from them by their post-modernist education--these young people are cannon fodder for any demagogue that begins by claiming to be a champion of liberty and freedom. Ron Paul is a legitimate champion of liberty. He is not a demagogue. But when an historically innocent young person enters the heady waters of the Ron Paul pages, message boards, blogs and discussion groups, his uncritical desire to appear smart in the new milieu is ripe for the demagogic sharks that inhabit the dark waters at the edge of the reef. It is a kind of modern gnosticism.

This is exactly what is happening with the local Ron Paul group, called Campaign for Liberty New Mexico. One person has gotten control of the message boards at the New Mexico Campaign for Liberty Meet-Up group. He has done so by re-posting lurid, over-the-top "criticism" of Israel, much of which would set off the alarm bells of a critical reader. These re-posts come from the kinds of internet sources that have replaced the yellow journalism and propaganda rags of the first Progressive Era in the early 1900's.

For example, a few weeks ago he re-posted an article that claimed that Israel has been caught red-handed stealing organs from Palestinian corpses for the purpose of selling them in the illegal organ trade. That this is irrational from a medical standpoint is the least of it; the article supports a clearly modern form of the blood libel, and can be traced to the standard Palestinian blood libel claim that Jews are ritually murdering Palestinian children to put their blood in the Passover Matzot. (Never mind that the only ritual murders that are proven have been done by Islamists who have slit the throats of Jews like Danny Pearl in some sort of bizarre human sacrifice while shouting "Allahu akbar!" for the You Tube cameras. I guess the point of demonization is to accuse your enemy of your own darkest acts).

At that point, I wrote to this young man asking to be removed from his e-mail list. I had received the post by e-mail and had not realized that the 'announcements' were going out via the Meet-Up Group.

A week or so later, I received another post from this young man, entitled "Support for Israel is Treason!!!!" (multiple exclamation points in the original). Again linking to some Alex-Jones-type breathlessly yellow journalism, he wrote a page-long one paragraph screed complete with the capitalization, multiple exclamation points, bad-grammar and misspelled words that I have come to expect from these young and illiterate intellectual wanna-be's.

Unfortunately, I took the bait and tried to appeal to the reasonable people who might be reading this stuff. I wrote the usual rational arguments and was promptly accused of attempting the censor ideas on the website. This was clearly false since there was barely an idea present in the mishmash of unfounded rumor and over-the-top emotionalism in the post and in the response to my response. When I saw that on the e-mail responses, this young man was being lauded by a few supporters as a visionary patriot, I did some further research. I checked out the on-line message board at the Campaign for Liberty New Mexico Meet-up site. And there I saw that there were some healthy discussions about other topics posted by other members. However, this young man's posts rarely had any responses--it's hard to respond to such irrationality effectively--and that further his new topics were almost all intended to demonize Israel.

What had happened was that this young man had effectively stopped any censure of his views and stopped any argument or any censure of the nature of his posts by effectively using the argument that he was being "censored" for criticizing Israel. Those who lauded him responded, and everyone else apparently did not want to even be associated with such arguments. Further, this young man has put himself up as the next leader of the group through an emotional campaign of screeds against the current group leader, and is likely to become the leader of the group. Whereby he will continue the kind of ranting and emotional demagoguery until the group becomes an ineffective splinter, unable to campaign effectively for Ron Paul because it has become associated with irrational attacks on anyone who doesn't buy the latest conspiracy theory, or who refuses to be associated with demonization of Israel--this guy's pet theory.

I am certainly among those who refuses to be associated with this back-door anti-Semitism. I am well aware of what it is and where it will lead. I have--like the naive scholar that I am--futilely tried to point out the inevitable splintering and the inevitable end that will follow, as this young man and his few followers become more and more isolated until there is nothing left of the original group or its mission. Of course, I have played right into the hands of the demagogue, who has in turn accused me of being part of the world-wide Jewish conspiracy that is trying to silence him because he has the rare truth that Israel is the point of that conspiracy. There is no reason in it, and a rational person will do what I have done. I have disassociated myself with this group not only because I am a Jew, but because I do not want my good name ruined by association with such irrationality.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing drives the splintering of patriot groups often enough that the whole of the movement can be easily tarred with the same brush, rendering the vast majority of patriot positions invisible. It is a problem. It allows the same kind of demonization of the patriots out there that has been done against Israel. It can be used by the progressives and the left to divide and conquer, should we allow such people as the young man I described above to speak for us. And we will be admonished to do so by people who worship at the altar of unity. But unity for the sake of unity is a false god; it has no power. The power to accomplish our goal comes from the Principles of Liberty.

Those of us who want to be successful in the restoration of the Constitution must focus on these principles. That all men are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights. That among them are the rights to life, liberty and property. That governments are instituted by the individuals in order to protect those rights.

Those of us who want to be successful must also disassociate ourselves with anyone who promotes unfounded conspiracies, and who participates in the demonization of any person or group. Such behavior takes us off the path and promotes endless internal debate that does not rise to the level of reasoned argument. It can't, being essentially irrational in its very nature. The danger of this particular time is to be carried off track and to fall spectacularly from the heights of principle to the depths of populism and demagoguery. We must not do it. We cannot stop it happening at the fringes, but we cannot buy into it or allow it to destroy the essence of the cause of liberty.

What will happen to the Ron Paul R3volution itself is not our concern. I think elections, although important to slowing down the destruction of our liberty, are not the fundamental answer to the problem. Further, Ron Paul sparked the enthusiasm of many young people for liberty. He cured the apathy of many libertarians, like me, who had given up on seeing liberty restored in our own day. But he also inspired true believers who, in their their terrible ignorance and adulation will do what true believers tend to do, and accept any claim associated with him uncritically. And they will turn on him when he disappoints their sanctification of a mere mortal by acting rationally. Indeed, many have done so already, disappointed that he ended his 2008 campaign when it became clear that he was not going to even place in the primaries.

For myself, the way is clear. I cannot be associated with Campaign for Liberty New Mexico. And I need to do a little research to see where Campaign for Liberty national stands on these questions. If there is any hint of anti-Semitism by proxy, or the uncritical support of other such demonization, then I cannot be associated with it either. I will withdraw my support, no matter how good the strategy or how strong the group appears to be.

My grandma Fran used to say to me: "Show me your friends, I'll show you your future." And as an adult I appreciated her down-to-earth wisdom. I have applied it to examining the associations of politicians, and that is ultimately why I do not trust the current President of the United States to support my liberty. He surrounds himself with outright communists and revolutionaries, with admirers of murderers like Mao.

I cannot be friends with anti-Semites--even those who substitute Israel in order to prevaricate upon their actual sentiments. And I understand now what it means to say so. Although I value the right of anyone to have his say, I do not value indiscriminate acceptance of what he says. I simply cannot be associated with unreason that is likely to lead nowhere good. I cannot befriend anti-Semites. To do so would be a suicidal denial of the value of my own identity and being.

"Choose life," we are commanded. "That you and your children might live."