Credit Where Credit is Due

The right-wing voices that elevated George W. Bush to his place in office have had one thing in common: an escalating sense of hysteria, paranoia, and hatefulness. More than any one single political position, that’s the ugliest thing I’ve seen about the modern right: as they grow in power, the more absolute their sense of morality, and the narrower their definition of what “Americans” are. Ann Coulter has built an entire career out of equating dissent with treason, and there is an entire choir singing the notes with her. And because conservatism has become a synonym for “the lunatics running the asylum,” I really have to give credit where credit is due to those who can be conservative, calm, and sane. We on the left certainly aren’t innocent of diving into hysteria, and anyone who can add intellectual integrity to politics and bring a sense of reason into the forum again is to be applauded and treasured.

Lately, I’ve been reading the blog Kesher Talk, by Judith Weiss, a (politically) conservative Jew. So far, I think Weiss is wrong about everything, from Terri Schiavo to the Middle East, but unlike Coulter and her fellow bottom-feeders, her opinions are not only thoughtful but ethical; they display the effort of one who is putting some real thought into trying to investigate the issue of what is right, for themselves as well as others. The best example of this is her writing on the Terri Schiavo case; while nearly all the rhetoric of the Schindlers’’ supporters has been a nauseating mix of character assassination and hagiographic sentimentality, Weiss’’s blog has so far been the only thing I’’ve read to make the case reasonably and rationally, mostly through an examination of Judaic law and rights of the disabled. I still disagree with her, and believe that while both Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers have acted from genuine motives, his decision as guardian should be honored. I am, however, glad to see the opposite case made in a rational manner, rather than with the sickening manipulation of emotion used by Fox, CNN, and Rep. DeLay.

Weiss does tend to see critics of Israel’’s policies as being, by default, anti-semitic and anti-Israel. I spent way too much of my youth listening to my grandfather accuse me of having “anti-American” views to tolerate this kind of bullshit, and I hope that Weiss grows past it (and I hope the wankers of whom it’’s true grow past their shit as well), but there’s still a lot that’’s
interesting in her writing.

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