Getting it Straight

Shawn Landres wrote in to criticize the piece about media silence in the face of certain Muslim countries’ rejection of Jewish/Israeli aid for tsunami victims. I thought he missed the point, so didn’t post it – but as he seems pretty agitated and commented a second time, I thought I’d throw it up here together with my reaction to see whether people think the truth lies with him, with me, with neither.

Mr. Landres writes:

Apparently I need to repeat myself. It’s not always about the Jews. It’s not always about Israel. Give me a break. This catastrophe was not about the Jews!!! It’s about the 150,000+ victims and countless survivors who are suffering unbelievably.

Why do you need to repeat yourself? You made your point, but it was beside the point of the piece – which, imho, you completely missed.

The world is interconnected – of course the tsunami is the catastrophe, but the point this guy raises in his piece is not about the tsunami. He’s talking about something else. He’s talking about an acute illustration of a chronic problem relating to irrational hostility to Jews – something which is worth mentioning lest it get lost – drowned out by the immensity of the tsunami.

Specifically, he’s talking about mainstream media’s contribution to anti-Semitism by its chronic double standard. In that context, by the way, since you claim to be concerned about victims and survivors and suffering, it is worth noting because Jew-hatred has, in fact, been aided, abetted, promoted by organs of the media and caused millions of victims/survivors/suffering over the years (usually Jews, but many others as well – including, by the way, thousands of tsunami survivors whose suffering might have been lightened) – and modern media bears responsibility for fomenting the attitude that, for example “Israel is the greatest obstacle to peace in the world” and endlessly, credulously (in many cases, disingenuously)bemoaned the fictional Jenin massacre.

Again – do not miss that point. I am not comparing catastrophes – I’m not comparing tsunamis and pogroms – I am connecting the point being made for you to its context because you keep being diverted by your perceived relationship of the issue to the tsunami and the author’s point is not related in any way to the tsunami; it is related solely and entirely to the actions of individuals – the grotesque double standard of the media which countenance even the most egregious and blatant Jew and Israel hatred. You can’t hold a tsunami accountable; but people and cultures must be moral actors and must be held accountable.

Now, you can refute his facts if you wish, and that would be interesting – it’s one of the reasons I posted it – to see if anyone could show that he was wrong; look at the title of the original post – and, indeed, another reason I posted (again, look at the title of the post) was that I thought the tone was more worked up than analytic, which detracted from the author’s essential insight – but your diversion of the discussion from the evidence of outrageous media anti-Semitism in order to criticize Jews for being chronically insensitive to the suffering of others (“Its not always about the Jews”) is detestable. In fact, you’ll pardon the observation, but it seems as though you’re the one who is obsessed with making this all about the Jews.

[Your aside that he, in any case, gets his facts wrong because the UN lists Israeli aid, whether the UN does or not, also is beside the point – which is media silence in the face of blatant and grotesque Jew-hatred exascerbated by the evidence of the incredible moral decency and generosity of the Jewish people and Israel and the relative scandalous heartlessness of the Muslim world in their reactions to this tragedy.]

Stepping out onto a limb a bit, I also think that you might bring lots of baggage in the form of a fairly extreme personal worldview to this issue – correct me if I’m wrong – and I mean it seriously, I want you to correct me if I’m wrong – but aren’t you an advocate of the idea that Jews can and should hold hands with the Muslim countries and leaders of today but eschew those you call the American “Christian Taliban” – a rather disgusting, hateful and bigoted phrase for Christians who, among other things, support Israel and remain skeptical of Muslim intentions? And could it be that your agitated protestation (essentially: silence in the face of evidence that Jew-hatred runs deep throughout the Muslim world ought not be discussed by Jews) might be your agitation over having your fantasy bubble burst? Just wondering.

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4 comments to Getting it Straight

  • Hoo boy. Butting into a Jewish site – where Jews talk to other Jews about Jews, Judaism and Israel -to tell us what’s wrong with doing just that threatens to break the spring on my hutzpah-meter.

    [JB NOTE: SHAWN LANDRES IS JEWISH]

    It’s about the Jews if we say it is. It’s about Israel if we say it is.

    Of course, the actual J’Accuse about Muslim states forbidding Jews from setting foot on their (devastated) soil was neither about Israel or about Jews, but about a certain Muslim obsessive / compulsive phobia (or whatever the proper term might be for looking to Howard Hughes and Adolph Hitler as role-models).

    So phooie on youie, Mr. Landres.

    As to the piece itself — yes it was rather screed-y, but that sure beats wonk-y in this case. I felt the anger, and it got me angry, too. Success, good screeder.

    I don’t accept the notion that news editors DELIBERATELY kept the story out of their readers / listeners / viewers ken. I doubt it ever came to their consciousness.

    I don’t know the source of the information that Israel’s per-capita contribution was highest in the world (though I don’t doubt it), but I honestly cannot see a news peg on which to hang it.

    It’s quite interesting to me as a Jew and as a Zionist, but as a former reporter, I can’t imagine what I could have done with it.

  • Yitzchok Adlerstein

    Pardon me, but Shawn Landres IS quite Jewish. Moreover, his tone of discourse is far closer to the tone of some others I have seen in the Comment area lately, and closer to the set of Rules about comments (e.g. lashon hora, ad hominem arguments, etc.) that will soon be released and posted.

    Right, Yaakov?

  • Jeff, I think it’s pretty clear that you and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. I appreciate your having taken the time to respond, but I do have some concerns about your last paragraph, particularly the comments about “extreme personal baggage.” and a “fantasy bubble.” You invited me to correct you if you are wrong. I think you are. To move the debate forward, I have four specific points:

    1. My substantive objection to the original piece was the use of the tsunami as an excuse to compare media attention to Israel as opposed to media attention to Arab/Muslim countries. Perhaps there will be a time for that kind of reflection, but I did not think that the timing was appropriate. I stand by my belief that there are times when “it isn’t about the Jews.” I believe that I wrote something to the effect that such pieces help to perpetuate the image of Jewish narcissism/solipsism — which as you say is easily turned into an antisemitic canard. But contra Eliezer Pennywhistler’s position, there really are times when it’s not about the Jews. We may honestly disagree about that, but my saying as much is not “detestable” and it doesn’t make me an antisemite, or “obsessed” (maybe just frustrated about the way the comments system is set up). [JB NOTE: YOUR QUESTIONING OF THE TIMING CERTAINLY IS REASONABLE, SHAWN, BUT IF THAT IS WHAT YOU MEANT, THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE SAID IT. IF YOU LOOK AT THE TITLE OF MY ORIGINAL POST (“IRATE, BUT ESSENTIALLY ACCURATE, NO?”) , I CLEARLY AM QUESTIONING THE TONE, ETC. AND ASKING WHAT OTHERS THINK OF THE SUBSTANCE OF THE CHARGE AGAINST THE MEDIA. IN ESSENCE, BASED ON WHAT YOU NOW WRITE, YOU SHOULD HAVE AGREED AND BEMOANED THE TIMING, OR DISAGREED AND BEMOANED THE TIMING – INSTEAD, YOU ATTACKED MY HAVING POSTED IT AT ALL – CHARGING BOTH ME AND THE AUTHOR, AND, SEEMINGLY, JEWS IN GENERAL OF GROSS INSENSITIVITY. WHAT YOU ARE SAYING NOW IS SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT AND THE TONE IS FAR MORE REASONABLE. IF YOU ARE RECANTING NOW IN SUBSTANCE OR IN TONE, THEN THAT’S FINE – BUT MY ADJECTIVES TO WHICH YOU OBJECT REFLECT A REACTION TO THE INFLAMMATORY POST YOU WROTE THEN, NOT TO WHAT YOU ARE SAYING NOW.]

    2. On Muslim-Jewish relations. I do not believe that anyone should close his/her eyes to reality. That said–and I am far from alone on this (see also Mosaica, though I’m having trouble getting through to the English page)–I am an advocate for (and active participant in) Muslim-Jewish dialogue. In my experience, this does not mean “hold[ing] hands” with “Muslim countries,” though. And I have not experience “silence” on difficult matters: one of the issues that has come up often in the Muslim-Jewish dialogues in which I’ve participated is anti-Judaism in the Muslim world (not to mention Jewish Islamophobia). [JB: MY SPECIFIC POINT WAS A COMMENT ABOUT THE IRRATIONALITY OF THE POLICY POSITION THAT JEWS SIMULTANEOUSLY SHOULD SPURN FRIENDLY CHRISTIAN HELP AND RUN AFTER MUSLIM DIALOGUE. WHAT YOU’VE DONE IS SEPARATE THE TWO COMPONENTS AND CITE THE LEAST OFFENSIVE (AND SO FAR COMPLETELY POWERLESS, INSIGNIFICANT, UNPROVEN – IN FACT, A FANTASY) ELEMENTS OF THE MUSLIM WORLD. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT THERE IS ANY REAL MUSLIM PARTNER OF THE KIND DESCRIBED IN THE (HIGHLY SPECULATIVE) STUDY MENTIONED IN THAT ARTICLE WHICH WOULD BE CAPABLE OF SHIFTING, PLACATING. OVERCOMING THE EXTREMIST THREATS IN THE MUSLIM WORLD. WE ARE UNDER ATTACK. I HAVE NO OBJECTION TO THE PURSUIT OF SUCH PARTNERS AS LONG AS IT IS NOT A SELF-DELUDING DISTRACTION FROM THE BUSINESS OF FIGHTING ISLAMIC EXTREMISM. MOREOVER, EVEN USING THIS NEWLY ARTICULATED CRITERION FOR “MODERATE,” MY POINT AS TO YOUR POSITION STANDS: BASED ON THE ARTICLE TO WHICH YOU LINK AS SUPPORT, YOU DO, IN FACT, ARGUE THAT JEWS SHOULD WORK WITH MUSLIMS “AFFILIATED” WITH ORGANIZATIONS WHO “ACTIVELY ENDORSE VIOLENCE AGAINST NONCOMBATANTS” [I CALL THAT TERRORISM] AND “WHO ARE COMMITTED TO THE DESTRUCTION OF ISRAEL” RATHER THAN WITH DECENT, FRIENDLY CHRISTIANS – SAY, AMERICAN EVANGELICALS – WHO HAVE FOR DECADES DEMONSTRATED NOTHING BUT ACTIVE, ENERGETIC SUPPORT FOR THE JEWISH PEOPLE AND ISRAEL. MORE, BELOW…]

    3. I have serious doubts about American Jewish ties with those evangelical Christians who claim to support Israel on the one hand but target Jews for conversion on the other. There are evangelical Christians — and other Christians, conservative and liberal alike — who do not do this; I have no issues about American Jewish cooperation with them. Perhaps we could have a longer discussion about the relationship between American Jews and evangelical Christians, as you started in your post on the Haaretz article. There is also Reuven Kimelman’s article on Christian-Jewish relations in the latest issue of Edah Journal. All of this, I am on the record as expressing respect for the religion of Christianity and encouraging positive relations between Jews and Christians.[JB: I THINK IT IS ABSURD THAT MILLIONS OF DECENT, MAINSTREAM, PHILO-SEMITIC CHRISTIANS SHOULD BE TOLD THEY HAVE TO GIVE UP A NON-VIOLENT, NON-COERCIVE PILLAR OF THEIR FAITH IN ORDER TO BE ACCEPTABLE POLITICAL ALLIES FOR JEWS. COERCION AND DECEPTION WOULD BE EXCEPTIONS – BUT YOU DON’T SEEM TO DISTINGUISH IN YOUR WRITINGS, AS FAR AS I CAN TELL. IN FACT, IN ANOTHER COMMENT OF YOURS, YOU APPEAR TO OBJECT TO A CHRISTIAN’S PRIVATE PRAYER FOR JEWS TO BE “SAVED.” WHAT IS THAT BESIDES UNJUSTIFIABLE HOSTILITY TO THE FAITH OF ANOTHER (AND ISN’T THAT RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY)? A LONGER DISCUSSION IS WELCOME.]

    4. I believe that my use of the term “Christian Taliban” in this post is well deserved, as it refers to the folks who run “God Hates Fags.” You’re right; I have nothing but disgust for such people. If someone has a religious belief that Jews, or gays and lesbians, or women who do not cover themselves from head to toe in public, are evil and should be killed, I have no qualms about criticizing that. Yes, I’m bigoted against Nazism, GodHatesFags.com, and the Taliban. So what? (I do try to remind myself of Bruria’s correction of R. Meir from time to time…) [JB: I TAKE ISSUE WITH THE CATEGORIZATION AS BEING SO LIMITED, SHAWN, AND YOUR EXPLANATION SOUNDS REVISIONIST, UNLESS YOU TRULY DID NOT KNOW THE CONNOTATIONS OF THE TERM YOU EMPLOY (WHICH I CERTAINLY WOULD BELIEVE, IF YOU TELL ME). YOU MADE USE OF A DEEPLY OFFENSIVE HATE PHRASE POPULARIZED BY THE SECULAR LEFT WITH FAR BROADER AN APPLICATION THAN “GHF.” A GOOGLE SEARCH RESULTS IN THOUSANDS OF MATCHES FOR THE PHRASE “CHRISTIAN TALIBAN” AND IT IS USED MOST OFTEN TO ATTACK PRESIDENT BUSH, MEMBERS OF HIS ADMINISTRATION, AND MANY OTHER MAINSTREAM DECENT CHRISTIAN FRIENDS OF JEWS WHO DO NOT ESPOUSE THE “KILL THE INFIDEL” BELIEFS YOU ARE CONDEMNING. (INDEED, I NOTE WITH IRONY THAT YOUR DEFINITION SOUNDS FAR MORE APPLICABLE TO VAST SWATHS OF NON-TALIBAN MUSLIMS THAN TO ANY SIGNIFICANT SEGMENT OF CHRISTIANITY “If someone has a religious belief that Jews, or gays and lesbians, or women who do not cover themselves from head to toe in public, are evil and should be killed, I have no qualms about criticizing that.”) YOU DID NOT COIN THE TERM AND YOUR POST DOES NOT LIMIT IT IN THE WAY YOU NOW DESCRIBE. THERE’S NO REASON NOT TO ATTRIBUTE TO YOU THE INTENTION FOR IT TO BE UNDERSTOOD AS HAVING THE COMMON, RATHER DISGUSTING, USAGE – IF THAT IS INACCURATE, THEN IN MY OPINION YOU SHOULDN’T USE THE TERM, OR YOU SHOULD EXPLAIN WHAT YOU MEAN WHEN YOU DO USE IT, FOR YOU CERTAINLY SHOULD EXPECT TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR ITS USE.]

  • JB:
    Shawn, we’ve each had our say – I think the really juicy stuff that remains is all in section 2b/3 – so that’s what I responded to. But I post herewith your comments in full. (Mine are in bold.)

    1. The matter of the original post:

    If you are recanting now in substance or in tone, then that’s fine – but my adjectives to which you object reflect a reaction to the inflammatory post you wrote then, not to what you are saying now.

    I regret if you took the published comment to be a charge against you; I intended it against the piece itself, and the propriety of its general circulation at this time (again, not by you, as you clearly were raising questions about it as well). I believe that its circulation could contribute to the perpetuation of charges not so much of “gross insensitivity” as of self-centeredness. As I am writing this during the long weekend celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr., whose civil rights coalition included prominent Jewish religious and political figures, perhaps I am more sensitive, but I do believe that much American Jewish public advocacy has become more self-centered than it has been in the past. This is not to say that Jews are self-centered; I hope that the distinction is clear. However, that is a different conversation.

    On Muslim-Jewish relations and Christian-Jewish relations, I’m going to split the two positions because they are — at least to me — unrelated.

    2a. Muslim-Jewish dialogue:

    Based on the article to which you link as support, you do, in fact, argue that Jews should work with Muslims “affiliated” with organizations who “actively endorse violence against noncombatants” [I call that terrorism] and “who are committed to the destruction of Israel.”

    The article makes a distinction between “Muslim organizations and their leadership who actively endorse violence against noncombatants to further religious and/or political ends, and who promote international organizations committed to the destruction of Israel; and Muslim individuals or organizations who are or have been affiliated/in contact with the above organizations and individuals. …Ukeles contends that applying the principles to the second group has led to a boycott of a more moderate Muslim through an unfair ‘guilt by association’.” I agree with her, not least because the purpose of dialogue is not to preach to the choir but rather to engage and hopefully win over one’s interlocutors. As Moshe Dayan z”l and Yitzchak Rabin z”l both put it (various versions of the quote are attributed to them), you make peace with your enemies, not your friends. I do not consider Muslims a priori to be my enemies, nor the enemies of the Jews, but I believe this principle can be applied to interreligious dialogue. (For what it’s worth, the individuals and groups with whom I happen to be engaged in dialogue–Muslims and Jews alike–privately and publicly criticize violence against noncombatants and endorse a two-state solution.)

    2b/3. Christian-Jewish dialogue:

    …Rather than with decent, friendly Christians – say, American evangelicals – who have for decades demonstrated nothing but active, energetic support for the Jewish people and Israel. More, below …I think it is absurd that millions of decent, mainstream, philo-semitic Christians should be told they have to give up a non-violent, non-coercive pillar of their faith in order to be acceptable political allies for Jews. Coercion and deception would be exceptions – but you don’t seem to distinguish in your writings, as far as i can tell. …In fact, in another comment of yours, you appear to object to a Christian’s private prayer for Jews to be “saved.” What is that besides unjustifiable hostility to the faith of another (and isn’t that religious bigotry)? a longer discussion is welcome.

    In my view, your position implies a kind of deep relativism.

    JB:
    I must’ve missed it. I’m not making any trade-offs to work with them. Please explain.

    If a Christian is praying – publicly or privately – for the spiritual eradication of the Jewish religion – and at the Kotel no less – I do not consider it “unjustifiable hostility” to be critical of such a desire. That said, I respect the right of a person to hold such a belief, even if I may act to counter any actions s/he may undertake in support of that belief.

    JB:
    I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying when you say you respect the right of a person to hold such a belief – I mean, isn’t that sophistry? Are there beliefs you think a person has no right to hold because you disagree with them? And what could you do about it anyway? Outlaw beliefs that offend you?

    I find that the less affiliated Jewish movements are, the more bent out of shape they get about this issue. Barring deception or coercion, why should I care that this guy – or even 40 million just like him – wants me to accept his religious doctrine? Why does it bug you so much? I find it delightful – he is, from my perspective, utterly deluded about G-d, but he’s well-meaning; he cares about me. What a nice fellow.

    Does it bug you that I would really like Reform Jews to observe Shabbos and kashrus and tefillin and mezuza? Am I evil because I think they really are supposed to be doing these things; that it would be better for their souls? I love them even if they don’t. I have no intention of forcing them or tricking them – but is it okay if I daven for them?

    But please allow me to state my position: I have a very nuanced position here. I do not believe that American Jewish religious leaders should make common cause with Christians who target Jews for evangelism. However, I am less convinced that Israelis should reject such aid. You may believe that this is splitting hairs, but it’s actually based on real-life conversations with Israelis and American Jews.

    JB:
    It is not a question of splitting hairs – it just is a revelation that you actually may be the relativist here.

    The difference is that the Israelis seek and receive this aid from Christians for political reasons – the preservation of the state of which they are citizens – whereas American Jews (at least those who are not dual citizens) seek and receive this aid from Christian on religious/cultural grounds based in the American compact of freedom of religion and interreligious respect.

    JB:
    Wow. I guess I don’t understand – are you arguing that American Jews should have less of an interest than Jews in Israel in the safety of Jews in Israel? If my motivation is the preservation of even one Jewish life – what is the difference what passport I carry? What Jewish principle or moral rule guides you to this conclusion?

    Frankly, I have far less interest in preserving some secular democracy in the Middle East than I do in preserving Jewish lives; I work to help the former only insofar as it is a means to accomplish the latter.

    I find that while there may be deep political commonalities between certain Jews and certain Christians (it’s by no means universal) on support for Israel – and different coalitions support Israel in different ways – the support for Israel by many dispensationalist evangelical Protestants (note that I am referring to a specific theological/political subgroup of evangelicals) is based on a deep _disrespect_ for the religion of Judaism and in fact a sincere commitment to the spiritual triumph of Christianity via the elimination of religious Judaism.

    JB:
    There are indeed those who advocate taking Christian help for Israel and eschewing all other forms of allegiance. I find that position dishonest, insulting to Christians and demeaning to Jews. I am far more interested in working to preserve Judeo-Christian morality with all those who share a commitment to that cause. I think you may not fully understand what motivates the alliances which exist on the right in domestic policy. Yes, we are appreciative, more so these past few years than ever, for the support of religious conservatives for Jews in Israel; we recognize that it is part and parcel of their core decency and morality and not, as the political pragmatists of the Left would have it – an arrangement of strange bedfellows. But our real connection runs to core issues – defense against the immoral enthusiasms of mainstream media, protection of the family from those who would destroy all norms, protection from encroachment on religious freedoms. The government has grown intrusive, judges have too often ignored the Constitutions limits, and the wall of separation casts far too long a shadow on American religious life.

    As far as your limitation to a specific subgroup – I suggest that your sense even of their motivations is not reflective of the truth beyond a small minority of evangelicals. There are internal polls within the evangelical community (conducted by evangelicals for political purposes) specifically to determine their views on Jews and Israel – the vast majority (90%) support Israel and the Jews for reasons other than eschatology/replacement theology. I have seen them and I probably can get them for you, if you are interested.

    Let me make myself plain, even perhaps shockingly so. When American Jewish leaders and organizations make common cause with groups that target Jews for conversion, they strengthen groups whose ultimate agenda is the end of American Judaism (in their vision, all Jews return to the Holy Land) and indeed the end of Judaism as a religion (all Jews who survive the apocalypse convert to Christianity). No matter how pro-Israel they claim to be, organizations that fund or support groups like Jews for Jesus and Chosen People Ministries are no friends of Judaism.

    JB:
    But, honestly, Shawn, don’t you understand that this is how adherents to (so-called “Orthodox”) Judaism feel about the group which (I believe, correct me if I am wrong) you represent? People who call themselves “rabbi” and their creeds “Judaism” to ensnare Jews but do not conform to authentic Judaism – how are Reform and Conservative different from Jews for Jesus or any other deceptive missionary group? Sure, they believe their faith is Jewish – so do J4J. Fine, they don’t believe in the Christian bible – but that is of little comfort, since they don’t believe in the Jewish one, either. They may like it and even study it – but they do not believe in it. That is as least as great a danger to American Judaism as some pathetic misfit Jews for Jesus.

    In their search for Christian allies to stand with Israel, I’m worried that some American Jewish leaders have forgotten about standing up for Judaism. Now, the shocker: Judaism survived for 2,000 years without a State of Israel. Heaven forbid it, but Judaism can survive without the State of Israel. But the reverse is not the case. Medinat Yisrael, if it is to be reishit tzmichat geulateinu, cannot survive without Judaism. I am unwilling to sacrifice our Covenant to save a political nation-state.

    JB:
    Nothing shocking about it at all. You forget – I (and, I daresay, a majority of the bloggers on C-C) do not assume that the State of Israel is reishit tzmichat anything; maybe most of us would like it to be, but we surely don’t assume it. What we see is a liberal secular democracy run for now mostly (but not exclusively or necessarily) by Jews, most of whom have little connection to Judaism. Sure, we are in love with our access to our Holy Land and are frightened to lose that access. But Jews did not daven for a return to Yerushalayim or die al Kiddush Hashem for the past 2000 years so that there would one day be a “Jewish State” that would host an International Gay Pride gathering in Yerushalayim, like the one planned for this summer or that there one day would be a “Jewish State” so in love with itself as a liberal democracy that it would allow itself to be used to assault Judaism through its Supreme Court, etc.

    But, in any case, I’ll see yours and raise it: – better not only Medinat Yisrael cease to exist, but better Klal Yisrael cease to exist than be the cause of Chilul Hashem. (That is to say, from our perspective. The Merciful One clearly can bear our sin, if He chooses, but what is the justification for keeping the servant who publicly humiliates and degrades the Master?) Why should we think we deserve continued existence? If we were loyal and caring and had fear of G-d, we’d never allow ourselves to be the instruments of Chilul Hashem. And making common cause with those who would destroy the family – destroy the morality G-d taught the world through us – to align ourselves in any political way for any purpose with those who are trying to weaken marriage, promote deviant lifestyles (including now openly in universities, pedophilia and incest), that is the Covenant I am unwilling to sacrifice.

    4. Potentially offensive terminology:

    Unless you truly did not know the connotations of the term you employ (which I certainly would believe, if you tell me) … If that is inaccurate, then in my opinion you shouldn’t use the term, or you should explain what you mean when you do use it, for you certainly should expect to be held accountable for its use.

    Honestly, I did not know the connotations of the term I employed, and if you or others were offended by it, I apologize for not making my usage clear. Let me do that now. The original post referred to a progressive Muslim’s ironic comment that she expected Osama Bin Laden to issue an opinion on the tsunami. The OBL reference inspired a search for “Talibanesque” tsunami commentary elsewhere on the internet, and I discovered a reference to the GHF people. So I made the connection, somewhat sarcastically. Perhaps the term was infelicitous, as clearly it has been put to hostile use by others who intended to advance an agenda very different from mine. My point was to highlight the uneducated misuse of religious teachings for violently intolerant ends. Some other famous examples of this include the Fallwell-Robertson comments on 9/11, though Falwell later apologized, as the link notes; more recently a spokesman for the Kabbalah Learning Centre in London “suggested that Jews killed in the Holocaust brought their downfall upon themselves” because “they didn’t use Kabbalah.” ?Perhaps it is unfair to the Taliban to make them the epitome of this distasteful habit