Monday, September 25, 2006

If you have not been following the case of Cory Maye, Radley Balko's article in Reason is good reading.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Fact of the day: in 2004, 46% of the public did not know which party controlled Congress.

See historical data here.

"Anti-zionism" as a political phenomenon is puzzling to me. There are no comparative movements with respect to other countries - one does not hear critics of the Iraq war bring up 1776 to say that the American rebellion was unjustified, the revolution should not have happened, etc. Mostly everyone is fairly content to take the existence of America as a given in these debates and proceed from there; and yet with Israel there is the peculiar tendency to go back to 1948 and reargue the merits of the Israeli war for independence.

I should clarify that I'm talking here about anti-zionism in its practical sense, i.e. what people who have said they are anti-zionist have went on to say in their conversations with me. So I want to side step the issue of what anti-zionism is intellectually and whether its intellectual core actually implies anything like the first paragraph above. For practical purposes, I feel that my description is fair: all the people I have met who declared themselves to be against zionism went on, in the next few minutes, to argue against the propriety or wisdom of Israel's existence.

In fact, what I wrote in the first paragraph is not entirely accurate. There are movements against the existence of Transistria in Moldova; against the existence of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan; against the existence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia. There are a number of such examples associated with breakaway and semi-autonomous states all over the world. What all these movements have in common, though, is that they are more or less limited to the countries that want to capture back what they see as their territory, i.e. Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia in these instance. By contrast, anti-zionism seems to have a steady base of support in the United States and throughout the western world.

There is another difference - the above examples are all associated with recent conflicts whereas Israel has existed for close to 60 years now. As far as I'm aware, there is not a single other state which has existed for that long that still has a significant body of critics of its existence throughout the western world.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Some more on religion, by Eric Rauchway.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Jacob T. Levy has some interesting comments on the controversy over the Pope's recent statements.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Times has an interesting piece today:
Using her own name and her personal e-mail address, an editor ordered three English literature papers from three different sites on standard, often-assigned topics: one comparing and contrasting Huxley’s “Brave New World” and Orwell’s “1984”; one discussing the nature of Ophelia’s madness in “Hamlet”; and one exploring the theme of colonialism in Conrad’s “Lord Jim.”
The punchline:
Stephen Greenblatt, a Shakespeare scholar at Harvard and a confessed “soft touch,” said the grade he would give this paper “would depend, at least to some extent, on whether I thought I was reading the work of a green freshman — in which case I would probably give it a D+ and refer the student to the writing lab for counseling — or an English major, in which case I would simply fail it.”
As they say, read the whole thing.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

There is an interesting article in the New Yorker about the Duke lacrosse scandal (via KC Johnson).