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Life Imitates Borat:

Or maybe that should be life imitates Borat imitating life:

During Carnival -or Uzgavenes, as it is known in Lithuania - Catholics from around the world congregate for a feast of foods prohibited during Lent. The festival usually involves a parade or circus, with attendees in masks and costumes. But in Vilnius - commonly known to Jews as Vilna - participants traditionally dress and act "as Jews," a feat that generally calls for masks with grotesque features, beards and visible ear locks and that is often accompanied by peddling and by stereotypically Jewish speech.

Perhaps even more shockingly, the "festivities" extend beyond the parade itself and into a Halloween-style trick-or-treating. When Simonas Gurevicius, the 26-year-old executive director of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, opened the door to his house during last year's Uzgavenes, he was greeted by two children dressed in horns and tails, reciting a song that translates as, "We're the little Lithuanian Jews/We want blintzes and coffee/If you don't have blintzes/Give us some of your money." (It rhymes in Lithuanian.)

Christopher M (mail):
The option to make in-kind payment in blintzes is thoughtful, at least.
2.16.2008 10:46pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
A lot of the things from Borat were just too clever to be original ideas.
2.16.2008 10:53pm
alias:
Wow, that's pretty Borat-y.

The picture is pretty bad.

And this bit isn't so good either:

The Roma do not fare better. Participants who masquerade as "Gypsies" wear gaudy makeup, hold babies and ask bystanders for money.


I hope there's some kind of context that explains this somehow that's missing from the article, but I can't for the life of me imagine what that might be.
2.16.2008 10:54pm
rlb:
The context is that the people think it's funny.

We (or, well, some of us) thought it was funny when a Jew pretended to be a grossly-stereotyped Eastern European. What's the difference?
2.16.2008 11:14pm
Freddy Hill:

The Roma do not fare better. Participants who masquerade as "Gypsies" wear gaudy makeup, hold babies and ask bystanders for money.

I hope there's some kind of context that explains this somehow that's missing from the article, but I can't for the life of me imagine what that might be.


alias, I'll take your puzzlement at face value. It may be that you have never seen in the streets of America gypsies, or people posing as gipsies, holding dirty and emanciated children up to passers by and asking for money. The sight is an everyday experience in Europe. One never knows if the children are theirs or hired by the hour.

I hope that the great majority of the Roma minority would never do this, but enough do it that the stereotype rings too true.
2.16.2008 11:19pm
Cornellian (mail):
What are "blintzes"?
2.16.2008 11:53pm
eyesay:
Wikipedia: Blintz

One wonders how Wiccans feel about the depiction of witches on Halloween.
2.17.2008 12:09am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"But according to Gurevicius, members of the Jewish community do not speak out against the parade, because they wish to avoid conflict with Lithuanians. "For sure, the Jewish people don't like so much the way Jews are shown with the other creatures," he said. But "someone could say we don't understand the humor. People think it's normal."

Funny how tolerant these Jews are of people who choose to ridicule and offend them. In their place the Muslims would riot and throw bombs at the parade. Then the international media would refer to them as "youths," and we would read editorials that "hate speech" is not free speech.
2.17.2008 12:23am
Vinnie (mail):
Sorry, even in this extreme( if it is extreme)tradition should trump PC bullshit. I celebrate diversity everyday by acknowledging that ANY action or inaction that I take will piss somebody off. I am old enough to have made fun of stereotypes. I don't back up from that. Stereotypes are funny, accurate, not so much. If the shoe fits wear it. But my aim was at the stereotype, not the person.

For the record I am a short, middle aged, overweight, balding, white, male, gun owning, smoker. It is still OK to discriminate against me, jokes are about me are the essence of politically correct.
2.17.2008 12:27am
Syd Henderson (mail):
A priest, a rabbi, a minister, and a short, middle aged, overweight, balding, white, male, gun owning smoker walk into a bar. The bar is fined for allowing smoking withib. Holy smoke!
2.17.2008 12:48am
Ken Arromdee:
I think witches on Halloween are different because the idea that Wicca has existed since antiquity isn't true; Wiccans are newcomers who modelled themselves after an already existing concept of witches, so they have no right to demand that those who use that concept change.
2.17.2008 1:35am
Ken Arromdee:
Sorry, even in this extreme( if it is extreme)tradition should trump PC bullshit. I celebrate diversity everyday by acknowledging that ANY action or inaction that I take will piss somebody off. I am old enough to have made fun of stereotypes. I don't back up from that.

This is the equivalent of walking through the streets blackening my skin and asking for fried chicken and watermelon. PC has nothing to do with it.

If the shoe fits wear it.

I'd be more afraid of someone chopping up my foot to fit it in the shoe. Stereotypes don't have to be accurate to do harm.
2.17.2008 1:42am
Thomass (mail):
Cornellian (mail):

"What are "blintzes"?"

It's sorta like a crepe.
2.17.2008 2:03am
Vinnie (mail):
Stereotypes don't have to be accurate to do harm.


They are not accurate. Thats the point.
2.17.2008 2:07am
The Cabbage (mail):
Smoke and a pancake?
2.17.2008 2:18am
A Catholic:
I'm Catholic, or try my best to be. The story told in that article is offensive all the way 'round. The implication is that the participants are practicing Catholics, yet there is no reason to assume that. And the offensive portrayals of Jews are shockingly absurd, not humorous. And some of the above responses that, in some ways, defend or dismiss the actions must have David Bernstein scratching his head.

Among other things, the observance of the period of Lent is not about a list of foods that can't be eaten. Admittedly, the "fat Tuesday" parties such as Mardi Gras officially are because of the period of Lent beginning of the following day, Ash Wednesday. However, think of Mardi Gras in New Orleans: Seriously, how many of the Mardi Gras celebrants drinking and going wild in the streets do you imagine are practicing Catholics?

The only "fat Tuesday" events I've ever been at have been pancake suppers at the church, where there's plenty of whipped cream, sweet toppings for the pancakes, and greasy sausages. And some "Mardi Gras" decorations scattered about for decor.

And the only time I ever heard of Catholic kids "dressing up as Jews" was for Christmas pageants when one kid would be dressed as Mary, another as Joseph, and a few a shepherds.

Whatever that "celebration" in Vilnius is, in all fairness, please let's not try to tie it in with Lent, which is a "Catholic thing."
2.17.2008 2:18am
TerrencePhilip:
This article made me very sad.

But this bit at the end made me laugh- if ruefully. That's the thing about "real" life, you can't make this shit up:


Ethnologist Inga Krisciuniene, who works at the Centre of Ethnic Activity, led the event, explained how she believed that in earlier times, Jews and Gypsies dressed alike. Revelers wore the same mask on Uzgavenes to depict them, so that the characters were distinguishable only by performers' actions. When asked whether it could be seen as offensive to mock these minorities, Krisciuniene replied, "No one has ever complained." The intent, she said, is humorous.

"Besides," she added, "it's true that Gypsies steal."


I challenge Sasha Baron Cohen, or anyone, to top this.
2.17.2008 2:33am
Brn (mail) (www):
Blintzes are what you use to pay hobos to paint fences.
2.17.2008 3:44am
LM (mail):

Krisciuniene replied, "No one has ever complained." The intent, she said, is humorous.

Yeah, and I'm sure that intent isn't lost on those wacky Litvaks. Because you can shoot 'em, you can gas 'em, but the one thing you just can't snuff out is their appreciation of a rip-roaring anti-Semitic canard.
2.17.2008 5:46am
DiverDan (mail):
Cornellian (mail):

"What are "blintzes"?"

A Blintz is a type of crepe, usually filled with something, like cherries, blueberries, a creamy cheese filling, or any of several savory fillings, then rolled. I adore cheese blintzes with a bluberry topping &a dab of sour cream on top. I used to get them at a Jewish Deli before I moved to Texas (Texas has a real shortage of good Jewish Delis, but makes up for it with great Barbecue &Tex-Mex). You can get a reasonable facsimile (though not really as good) at any IHOP. You can even find frozen blitzes of various varieties in any high-end grocery.
2.17.2008 7:33am
Helen:
To "A Catholic"

Many Protestants and Anglicans would be surprised to learn that Lent is exclusively "a Catholic thing."
2.17.2008 7:42am
Tennessean (mail):
@A Catholic: This might seem surprising, but if you were to travel to New Orleans to experience Mardi Gras, you'd realize that many, many of the celebrants are practicing Catholics. New Orleans is a heavily Catholic city in a very religious state. While the celebration certainly attracts plenty of outsiders, more than a handful of those imbibing and parading will be all cleaned up come Wednesday, per tradition.
2.17.2008 7:53am
martinned (mail) (www):
L.S.,

Over here, in the Netherlands, the feast of St. Nicholas (i.e. the original version of Santa Claus) in the day's leading up to December 5, involves the sight of countless white people dressed up as caricatures of 17th century black slaves, acting as the Saint's helpers. That sight has been known to shock foreign visitors, so I think I'll keep quiet about this one.
2.17.2008 9:44am
AnneS (www):
Gee, I don't know Zarkov, maybe the reason that the Jewish community in Lithuania doesn't protest is that they're very small and there's a long and recent history of Lithuanian Christians violently persecuting them. Could it be fear rather than virtuous tolerance?

And Vinnie, these stereotypes fueled centuries of oppression and violence against the Jews and Gypsies, culminating in the Holocause, when 95% of Lithuania's Jews were murdered. Tradition is just something people have done for a long time and has no special moral dispensation. Cutting off little girl's clitorisses in an unsanitary and unanesthetized procedure is traditional in some parts of the world. Legally enforced racial segregation and black subordination was traditional in the U.S. for a few centuries. Heck, slavery has been traditional in most cultures for most of human history. Does any of that deserve respect and imunity from "PC" nonsense? In my experience, people who yell the loudest about "PC" are actually just seeking permission to continue to be rude or otherwise behave badly without facing any public disapproval.
2.17.2008 9:51am
velvel in decatur:
Mayhaps these semi-intelligent pagans need to be greeted at the United Nations (which is not accomplishing much useful or courageous these days) Headquarters with Jews bearing gifts: chain saws and signs offering a bris to each member of the Lith diplomatic corps?
2.17.2008 10:07am
just saying:
The actions depicted in the article are obviously offensive to jews and gypsies. They play on gross stereotypes.

The actual article is obviously offensive/ridiculous to anyone with a even a passing understanding Catholicism. The author writes utterly false statements that could have been fact checked in 2 minutes on the internet.

It's not surprising that D. Bernstein wouldn't care. The irony will be if the article was written by a jew, or better, a Muslim.
2.17.2008 11:26am
Tony Tutins (mail):
These caricatures do have some basis in reality, although no Orthodox Jews would ever want to eat trayfs made by a Gentile:

The Gypsy stereotype of begging with babies is pretty true-to-life in Europe, except the women's makeup is not notable. And while Jews may lack horns and tails, pious Jews wore beards and payot, and often earned their living as peddlers, in this country as well as in Europe. (The original Pritzker was a peddler with a pack, as I recall.) In my experience, Italians are the most magnificently nasally endowed ethnic group, however.
2.17.2008 11:38am
frankcross (mail):
Which exact statements were the "utterly false" ones?
2.17.2008 11:42am
dearieme:
"Besides," she added, "it's true that Gypsies steal." Has anyone got an empirical refutation, as distinct from huffing and puffing? Rules: you are not allowed to pretend that you think that she meant that every gypsy who ever existed has been a thief.
2.17.2008 12:03pm
Cornellian (mail):
"Besides," she added, "it's true that Gypsies steal." Has anyone got an empirical refutation

What is there to refute? If all she's saying is that some Gypsies steal, of course that's true as it is for every single ethnic and religious group in history. So what?
2.17.2008 12:26pm
Bender (mail):
Pre-Lenten celebrations like Mardi Gras and Rio's Carnival are a Catholic/Christian tradition. Carnival comes from the Latin carne vale (farewell to meat). Protestants dropped the carnival tradition as part of their reform of Christianity.

I suspect that the original carnival celebrations might very well have involved extremely nasty depictions of Jews. Widespread and severe discrimination against Jews in Europe during the middle ages and after (up until 1he late 19th century in the Papal states) is documented beyond the possibility of denial. Most Catholics have wisely and happily eliminated these nasty aspects of the carnival tradition if and where they existed. The people of Vilnius would be well-advised to do the same, particularly in light of the well-documented participation of Lithuania in the Nazi genocide.

The discrimination against Roma (Gypsies) is currently pervasive across Europe and particularly in Eastern Europe. Despite Nazi efforts to kill them and communist efforts to integrate them, a majority of the Roma remain separate from other local populations. Their customs of dress and grooming and that they do disproportionately engage in petty thievery, beggary, and other criminal activity partly explain, but do not excuse, the widespread prejudice against them.
2.17.2008 12:30pm
neurodoc:
dearieme: "Besides," she added, "it's true that Gypsies steal." Has anyone got an empirical refutation, as distinct from huffing and puffing? Rules: you are not allowed to pretend that you think that she meant that every gypsy who ever existed has been a thief.
Shouldn't ethnologist Inga Krisciuniene have the burden of proof, and so shouldn't she first make a prima facie case before anyone must come forward with "empirical refutation"? Since it is unlikely that we will be hearing from Ms. Krisciuniene, why don't you dearieme make the "Gypsies steal" case for her, if you can. And since surely there are thiefs among all groups, we will expect you to adduce proof that thiefs are more common among Gypsies than other groups, especially similarly disadvantaged ones.
2.17.2008 12:33pm
Frater Plotter:
Regarding Wiccans and Halloween:

All Hallows' Day (and thus All Hallows' Eve) are where they are in the calendar because of the earlier pre-Christian festival of Samhain. Wiccans also celebrate Samhain, however, not really in the same way that ancient pagans did, given that most modern Wiccans don't work in agriculture -- nor have reason to plead with the ancestral spirits that there be enough food stored up for winter.
2.17.2008 12:38pm
Smokey:
"...it's true that Gypsies steal."
Mrs. Smokey is a middle school principal. A few years ago a group of Gypsies enrolled at her school. Overnight, things began to disappear. Books, highlighters, paper, janitorial supplies, computer memories, etc.

Since the parents had paid for a lot of these supplies, they eventually mobilized and put pressure on the Gypsies [AKA: Roma]. When the heat got to be too much, the Gypsies vanished. They hadn't even been at the school for a complete semester. The thefts stopped.

Prior to this incident I knew little about Gypsies. Now, I see that they're thieves. It's in their culture [the parents rarely came to the school]. Gypsy kids are taught to steal.


Of course, being sensitive to diverse cultures, I now understand that being a thief is perfectly OK if you're a member of a discriminated class, since the dominant WASP culture has forced this behavior on these misunderstood victims. Stealing from the oppressors receives the liberal seal of approval, since the discriminating class can afford to pay the reparations in atonement for their past evil, wicked, mean and nasty ways.
/s
2.17.2008 12:41pm
Dave N (mail):
I was going to comment but Ken Arromdee said it better than I could have.
2.17.2008 12:46pm
Smokey:
I started my post after reading Tutins' post above, so I missed the ones after that. It's interesting that some folks posting afterward seem to believe that all cultures are equally good. They are not.

If in doubt, rent a room in your home to a Gypsy. Then report back to us.
2.17.2008 12:50pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Seriously, how many of the Mardi Gras celebrants drinking and going wild in the streets do you imagine are practicing Catholics?'

About half, I'd say, based on my family's residence in New Orleans for over 200 years.

There's a picture, from 1941, of Catholic treatment of Jews in Vilnius. (No link)

Once their inhibitions (never very tight) were loosened by the Germans, a crowd of Catholics gathered. One man beat enough Jews to death with an iron bar to make a sizable pile (about 8-9 feet). He then climbed to the top, planted the Lithuanian flag in the corpses, took out a squeezebox and played the Lithuanian national anthem while the crowd cheered.

'A Catholic' can go to hell.
2.17.2008 1:40pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
AnnS:

"Gee, I don't know Zarkov, maybe the reason that the Jewish community in Lithuania doesn't protest is that they're very small and there's a long and recent history of Lithuanian Christians violently persecuting them."


The long history of Jewish persecution in Lithuania is all the more reason for the Jews there to lodge a protest against this blatantly offensive Carnival. As for being a small minority, that sure doesn't stop the Muslims. Look at what's happening in Denmark, right now. Let's face it; in general people are not physically afraid of Jews. But there're really afraid of Muslims. Even the American media is thoroughly intimidated.
2.17.2008 1:52pm
no name today:
Harry Eagar has told me to go to hell, because of something done in 1941, in Vilnius.

I was not born until several years after 1941. I've never been in Vilnius, and the most recent of my ancestors who was born in a country other than the USA was one great-great grandfather. And, my folks were not much in the way of world travelers. Of all those ancestors born in the USA, the only one ever to have been outside the USA, ever, was my father, who was in the Pacific during WW II, courtesy of the U.S. Army.

Yet Harry Eagar tells me to go to hell because of something done in 1941 in a country I never heard of until I was in college.

Bigotry and ignorant hatred goes both ways, and it is perpetuated by people who would say, "What happened to my group was awful, and it was done by someone in your group. Therefore, I hate you and would condemn you to hell."

Harry Eagar, you're a bigot yourself.
2.17.2008 2:05pm
Doc Rampage (mail) (www):
I didn't see any of you moralizers answer this question from rlb:
We (or, well, some of us) thought it was funny when a Jew pretended to be a grossly-stereotyped Eastern European. What's the difference?
How many of you who are criticizing these Lithuanians criticized Borat? And how many of you criticize stereotypes of people like Vinnie (short, middle aged, overweight, balding, white, male, gun owning, smoker)?

I recently saw Cris Rock on T.V. talk about 9/11 and then say, "I'm not worried about al Qeda, I'm worried about al Cracker". Then he mentioned Oklahoma City and some lesser events that he felt could be blamed on all white people. Black comedians (and black political figures, for that matter) very often stereotype white people as racist, violent, dull, and overly concerned with propriety. Has there any moralizing on this site about that? I don't recall any but I could have missed it.

My point isn't that what the Lithuanians are doing is OK, just that there is nothing unusual about what they are doing and if you are really concerned about the social damage done by unflattering stereotypes, then you should be concerned about all instances of such stereotypes. It is counter-productive to only worry about stereotypes of a few PC-protected groups because all that is going to do is shift the prejudice from one group to another. Is the world going to be a better place when all of the unflattering stereotypes are about Christians, whites, Canadians, and men instead of about Jews, blacks, Mexicans, and women?

If you are really against prejudice, be against prejudice.
2.17.2008 2:09pm
Justin (mail):
That's it. Smokey is officially parody.
2.17.2008 2:12pm
Jay:
What an embarrassing comment thread
2.17.2008 2:46pm
BGates:
Smokey is officially parody.

But you had him beat by years.
2.17.2008 2:49pm
Hotel Coolidge:
I think you have apples and oranges. No one on this thread is implying that anybody ought to be mistreated, discriminated against.. etc and we have a legal right as citizens to the protection of the law and can seek remedies for these ACTS. What I don't think we should do is pass laws restricting speech including nasty childhood ditties or unflattering stereotypes of anybody. You have a perfect right to ask someone to stop using certain words or jokes in front of you. You have a right to deem that person a wanker or dissing word of your choice. What you should not be able to do, in a country that is based on free speech, is get someone arrested for acting like a a-hole. Usual stipulations of fire in theatre incitement to riot etc.....
2.17.2008 3:20pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
C'mon David.
Take a cue from the more sturdier Irish.

Next month, we'll have green-painted pigs, and people puking themselves in celebration of a Saint's Day.

Some truth to the stereotype that Irish like their whiskey and pigs, and Jewish sometimes have big noses (pre-surgery) and can peddle you a cheap product for more than it's worth? Sure, a bit.

But you don't see the Irish acting shocked at the unflattering stereotypes. Or making a movie out of it either. They go about their business, and don't let it get to them.

The Jews has the Holocaust, the Irish had their Famine. Look at the two "homelands" today, and see where they're at. Sometimes it really is bet not to make mountains out of molehills, and not to try to change others' silly celebrations. Like it seems they're doing in Vilinius.

And do remember, if it makes it any easier: when they were in need, many Catholics opened their doors and "hid" the Jewish, ultimately saving their lives. It's individuals, not sterotypes we learn to respect.
2.17.2008 3:40pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
I mean, can you imagine in the GLBT population somehow took offense at Purim and tried to influence those gender-mixing traditions?
2.17.2008 3:41pm
dearieme:
Cornellian "If all she's saying is that some Gypsies steal" is an answer based on Let's Pretend. You know perfectly well that that's not what she's saying, so why do you comment in bad faith?
2.17.2008 4:32pm
Toby:
What @Catholic describes as Mardi Gras is actually a fairly traditional Shrove Tuesday. In Britain, people would confess (be shriven) on Shrove Monday, eat pancakes on Tuesday in great numbers, and then fast on Wednesday.

In the French tradition, quite similar, Tuesday was the day to use up all the bacon grease and other fat in the house in cooking delux reipes, as they were forbidden duing Lent, hench Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras).

Warmer climes, perhps those where it wasn't so cold, or those for whom Lent was more opressive extended the same principles well outside of food...
2.17.2008 4:46pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'A Catholic,' if Vilnius in 1941 is nothing to do with you, why did you rush to defend the Vilnius Catholics? Same group, different decades.

By the way, your assumption that 'my group' is the Jews is wrong. I don't have a group, although I was raised Catholic.

I do, however, object to murdering Jews. You might want to switch to a group that also objects. Just a thought.
2.17.2008 5:56pm
Ken Arromdee:
They are not accurate. Thats the point.

"If the shoe fits, wear it" is a way of disingenuously saying "you shouldn't be concerned about a stereotype if you don't really fit the stereotype".

That's only true if the only harm done by the stereotype is to your self-esteem. If the stereotype results in people mistrusting you, mistreating you, and starting pogroms, that's harm which you can't just ignore by saying "I choose not to be offended".
2.17.2008 6:38pm
Catholic:
Eager, there was no attempt at defending Vilnius Catholics.

You'll read above that I wrote only, "The story told in that article is offensive all the way 'round. The implication is that the participants are practicing Catholics, yet there is no reason to assume that."

Indeed, there is no reason to assume that the participants were practicing Catholics.

And, the Vilnius people of 1941 are probably all dead. Whoever the children knocking on doors as mentioned in the article linked, they are not the 1941 Vilnius people.

Eager, I made no assumption about whether you're Jewish, or Catholic, or Mormon, or athiest, or just onr more rude *--hole with internet access. I wrote this: "Bigotry and ignorant hatred goes both ways, and it is perpetuated by people who would say, 'What happened to my group was awful, and it was done by someone in your group. Therefore, I hate you and would condemn you to hell.'"

Sadly, this post began with a link to a story about some ugliness, and it degenerated into its own ugliness, with each of many playing "gotcha!"

And, Eagar, you should not go around telling people to go to hell. But you can take that up with your confessor on your next visit.
2.17.2008 6:40pm
MDJD2B (mail):

The Jews has the Holocaust, the Irish had their Famine. Look at the two "homelands" today, and see where they're at. Sometimes it really is bet not to make mountains out of molehills, and not to try to change others' silly celebrations. Like it seems they're doing in Vilinius.

The Jews and the Irish both did pretty well for themselves, both in their homelands and in the United States. The Jews have done well despite their neighbors trying to wipe out their homelnd, and the Irish republic has managed to stay out of the carnage in Ulster. Both are prosperous, internally peaceful countries with a high degree of democracy, a free press, good education, and impressive technologically sophisticated industries.

Sometimes it really is bet not to make mountains out of molehills...

They shouldn't make movies like Ryan's Daughter? And what about my professor who calls the name of John Doherty (extradited IRA member-- I'm not sure if the spelling is right) every class when he takes attendance? The point, I think, is that Doherty is absent by virtue of having been expelled to stand trial in the UK.

...and not to try to change others' silly celebrations.

Like not object to parades celebrating the Battle of the Boyne?

Nobody is suggesting suppressing the Lithuanian carnival. It is surprising, though, that this sort of thing continued without a pause after the Lithuanians exterminated their sizeable Jewish community (albeit in partnershp with Germany). The tie-in with Catholicism is not the issue. As various people have pointed out, other Catholic countries do not parody Jews on carnival or other times. And the Latvians, who are Lutheran, were just as assiduous in working with the Germans to kill essentially all the Jews who were citizens of, and resident in, Latvia.
2.17.2008 6:44pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
I do, however, object to murdering Jews. You might want to switch to a group that also objects. Just a thought.

Um, I'm not Lithuianian either, but as a neutral observer, I don't see anything in the trick-or-treat activities described in the original post, nor in the Catholic doctrine, that condones "murdering Jews".

Fear not, friend.
2.17.2008 8:52pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Purim is coming up... Jews should dress up as ugly Lithuanians, and call it even.
2.17.2008 8:53pm
Gary Anderson (mail):

The Jews and the Irish both did pretty well for themselves, both in their homelands and in the United States. The Jews have done well despite their neighbors trying to wipe out their homelnd, and the Irish republic has managed to stay out of the carnage in Ulster. Both are prosperous, internally peaceful countries with a high degree of democracy, a free press, good education, and impressive technologically sophisticated industries.


Yeah, thanks for the lecture.
I kinda thought that went without saying.

They shouldn't make movies like Ryan's Daughter?

Wow. You sure do make leaps of logic. Never seen the movie, but if it's American made, you might want to check out that First Amendment.

And what about my professor who calls the name of John Doherty (extradited IRA member-- I'm not sure if the spelling is right) every class when he takes attendance?

Again, First Amendment. Though if you're saying the professor is off target, you're always free to drop, or switch to another class, right?

Like not object to parades celebrating the Battle of the Boyne?

Again, if you're talking Irish Americans, First Amendment again. You can object to anything you like. In Ireland, as I understand it, it's more how shall we say it, the accompanying violence surrounding the parade celebrations that most peace-loving people object to.


It is surprising, though, that this sort of thing continued without a pause after the Lithuanians exterminated their sizeable Jewish community

So express surprise then. But the point is, best not to overreact and take offense at the "tradition" expressed in the original post. Learn to let the little "insults" go, because just as we know every Jew is not a peddler, and every Irishman won't be puking up his guts come mid-March. And every Catholic does not want to kill Jews, in fact, as individuals, they might just risk their own to help you and yours. Get it?
2.17.2008 9:00pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Lol, Tony Tutins.
Now you're thinking!
2.17.2008 9:01pm
whit:
" Does any of that deserve respect and imunity from "PC" nonsense? In my experience, people who yell the loudest about "PC" are actually just seeking permission to continue to be rude or otherwise behave badly without facing any public disapproval."

no.

the problem people have with PC is that what is politically correct is often (if not usually) FACTUALLY INcorrect.

that's the problem. not in THIS case, but in many.

most often, what is PC is either an ignoring of facts that run contrary to dogma, or a refutation of them and putting in their place platitudes that are false (or don't consider conflicting data) but make people (some people) feel better about themselves
2.17.2008 9:26pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Why do I think they are practicing Catholics? Because I know some Kaunas Jews, and I've listened to their stories.
2.17.2008 10:09pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Because I know some Kaunas Jews, and I've listened to their stories.

So tell us then, from your personal insight: Are they big-nosed peddlers, stingy with their blintzes? (Sorry. Couldn't resist ... :-)
2.17.2008 10:51pm
Uthaw:
The Jews has the Holocaust, the Irish had their Famine.

Any equation of these two is fatuous, absurd, and offensive.
2.17.2008 11:13pm
A.C.:
Just out of curiosity, are there any women in this discussion who have NOT dressed up like gypsies for Halloween or a similar occasion? I've done it any number of times. It's a standard choice, like pirate outfits for men. The American interpretation seldom involves begging or stealing, but it can involve excessive make-up and jewelry. Half-assed attempts to tell fortunes with cards are also standard. The portrait isn't usually meant to be negative, though. Just flamboyant and unconventional.

(Aside: I was wearing such a costume on my way to a Halloween party in a midwestern college town with a large population of international students. Somebody said "nice costume," then backpedaled and said "it IS a costume, right?")

I don't know any non-Jewish Americans who have dressed up as Jews, except in staged plays with Jewish characters. I've dressed up as an Arab, though, and I know lots of other people who have. Kimonos, saris, kilts, and assorted Native American clothing are also popular. Blackface is definitely out, but I've seen plenty of rasta hats with fake dreadlocks hanging from them.

Do we have to give it all up? There does have to be a line somewhere, and it seems to me that this festival crosses it. But where is it, exactly? I'll confess that I don't have a clue, and I doubt there's any really consensus.
2.17.2008 11:43pm
Stash:
Hmmm. The only Roma I know has a fixed place of residence, plays an incredible guitar, not a bad game of chess, loves talking about music and literature, and has been at my place several times and never stolen anything. Based on my anecdotal evidence, they are a fine bunch of folks, each and every one of them!
2.18.2008 12:01am
FC:
If only Americans could be more like Europeans. They are so sophisticated and tolerant.
2.18.2008 12:59am
A Mormon (mail):
A.C.: I'm not sure where the line is. Two stories from my life come to mine.

Story 1
I attended high school in a city where most kids not only had never met a Jew, but were so foreign to Jewish things that they would not even recognize stereotypical, exaggerated Jewish accents or names in movies as pointing to something Jewish. (I know, after years living in New York and LA that it is hard for many to believe such places exists. If you cannot, think about this: most Americans, even New Yorkers, didn't meet many Roma (Pgymies, Hottentots, Inuit, etc.) growing up.)

The Chosen (as well as Schindler's List, the Hiding Place) were part of the state-mandated reading curriculum for high school. Looking back, there seemed to be a book each year that touched on Jewish issues. For many, reading the Chosen in 9th or 10th grade was a first glimpse into a different world.

A notoriously goofy football player who had grown out his hair and beard for months (not for this purpose, of course), cut it all off but earlocks and beard (imitating the Orthodox Jews in the movie The Chosen)--and came to dressed as an Orthodox Jew for Halloween--looking to us, quite authentic.

Appropriate? Offensive? You make the call.

(Would it change if you knew that: His mother "grew up" Jewish--whatever exactly that means--but had converted to Christianity and raised him in that tradition.)

The area certainly wasn't Lithuania, as far as history of anti-Semitism or persecution of Jews. But should his actions be condemned?

"The Jews has the Holocaust, the Irish had their Famine"
(I also was a bit shocked seeing comparison--but rather than knee-jerk vitriol, I readily admit not being an expert on Irish history. Can the author explain how he meant the comparison?)

Story 2
In law school, I attended a party where two gay friends (partners) dressed up as Mormon missionaries. Let me say first: To me, it was all in good fun: sorta ironic and different. Social commentary, perhaps? It wasn't a "tradition": and while the two (and I, as a Mormon for that matter) shared a strong disagreement with the official LDS Church position on homosexuality--I doubt they meant to stir up violence (or dangerous stereotypes). Although, look no further than youtube to see videos of kids assaulting Mormon missionaries in the open or donning missionary outfits for threatening comedy/abuse, etc.

The Halloween party was in a part of the country with a history of violent, murderous persecution of Mormons--of which even many very educated Americans are ignorant. That persecution arose from stereotypes, misinformation (but also, religious prejudice, economics, politics, etc., etc.).

While the scale was not the millions of the Holocaust, nearly a third of then-Mormons (tens of thousands) perished: "exterminated" at the hands of mobs and the state militia of Missouri (after the infamous Extermination Order) or, after having their towns and homes burned, families tarred &feathered, beaten, raped, etc., etc. died of hunger, exposure or exhaustion as they fled across the Plains in the Mormon Exodus from that persecution and attempted extermination.

Unlike the Holocaust, most Americans(including, I imagine my two friends) are unaware of those incidents--or the hatred and public policies that caused them.

So, were my friends' costumes appropriate--judged by the same standard as we judge Vilnius?
1. stereotype,
2. mocking a religious/ethnic minority,
3. historicaly and violently persecuted,
4. in the same place,
5. in recent history
(but not a widespread tradition, of course)

I will reiterate: they didn't bother me. But I think there are plenty of Mormon counterparts to Bernstein who would cry foul.

I'm not sure where the line is -if we can draw one. I think that the Vilnius example is out-of-bounds. But I agree that kilts, kimonos, etc. seem okay as costumes.

And for A Catholic: This year I saw, separately, pregnant nun and pedophile priest costumes--which I also found distasteful.
2.18.2008 1:25am
deenk:
to A. Mormon

To me it is not the political incorrectness or offensiveness of such acts that is unsettling. If you think that your friends masquerading as mormons were vilifying mormons and that their behavior was an expression of the attitudes that led to the slaughter of so many mormons (and might lead to it again under the right circumstances), then you should condemn them.

If it was a harmless, though perhaps offensive, act, then why get upset?

The fact that there are precious few jews left in Vilna to complain, for very good reasons, gives credence to the belief that, in the case of Lithuania, these behaviors may not be so harmless.
2.18.2008 3:01am
A Mormon (mail):
Deenk,

I think you're right. It is probably very close to my subjective thought process, how I acted or would act in simlar situations. Namely, if I think that the act portends harm, I would say something; but mere rudeness/poor taste doesn't necessarily deserve a rebuke (although it may in some circumstances).

But, my (far too long) post meant to ask about a general rule--rather than a subjective one--on where to draw the line. The likelihood of some harm may have something to do with it. But that, of course, may be subjective. One generation of [persecuted group] may be more sensitive about what may give rise to harm than another.

Think you make an excellent about a minority so small or powerless as to be (nearly) voiceless being at greater risk of harm--from derision that, if directed to other groups, might indeed be harmless. Perhaps this could be crafted into a partial response to the "we don't complain when Christians/Catholics/whites/men/Canadian" are. . . " comments above.
2.18.2008 4:16am
LM (mail):

Do we have to give it all up? There does have to be a line somewhere, and it seems to me that this festival crosses it. But where is it, exactly? I'll confess that I don't have a clue, and I doubt there's any really consensus.

What's hard about drawing lines is that most ethnically offensive behavior is such a sloppy proxy for what should be our main concern, i.e., actual attitudes and intentions. If we could read minds, we wouldn't need these tea leaves to tell us what to condemn. We'd presumably welcome jokes at our own expense from anyone who meant us no harm (as I assume most of us already do from those we know well enough to trust, and some of us from others we're willing to gamble on). I suspect we'd also learn that a lot of bigots are too shrewd to give themselves away with antics as obvious as those in this story.

As it is, though, we're left to perform crude calculations of intent on ambiguous evidence. An innocuous comment to one becomes proof of animus to another. At the extremes, it's equally wrong to call an innocent joke teller a hater and to browbeat targets of hatred into stifling their complaints. So as long as that's what's being done by identity activists who hang a label on anyone who uses the wrong word, and by anti-PC police who conflate what's proper and curteous with what's permissible, I wouldn't hold my breath that we'll reach a consensus on the lines that define everything in between any time soon.
2.18.2008 5:17am
Gary Anderson (mail):
*The Jews has the Holocaust, the Irish had their Famine.

Any equation of these two is fatuous, absurd, and offensive.*

No. It's actually a very good example of responding to tragedy, and how you and your descendants fare centuries later.

It doesn't diminish one group's tragedy to acknowledge that indeed, others have suffered mightily too. Good to know your history, and not concentrate of the wailings of one specific group.

To me, that's what America's about: the chance to move past the wailings and acknowledge the fresh slate in a new land with protections like the First Amendment.
2.18.2008 6:18am
Gary Anderson (mail):
"The Jews has the Holocaust, the Irish had their Famine"
(I also was a bit shocked seeing comparison--but rather than knee-jerk vitriol, I readily admit not being an expert on Irish history. Can the author explain how he meant the comparison?)


Maybe learn to think on your own, instead of asking for the answers and conclusions?

Let's just say the Irish-Americans never pushed for mandatory Famine education in every year of American high school or government subsidation of their homeland.

I certainly hope in years to come, those days will pass as Jewish-Americans become more secure and Israel learns the advantages of truly operating independently, as a true democracy for all her citizens.
2.18.2008 6:24am
Gary Anderson (mail):
*The fact that there are precious few jews left in Vilna to complain, for very good reasons, gives credence to the belief that, in the case of Lithuania, these behaviors may not be so harmless.*

Bull hockey.
You don't condemn the fanciful innocent fun of children for the behaviours of the people who used to live there, over 60 years ago... and counting.

As every year passes, despite the museums, mandatory reading, and manufactured outrage, it becomes harder and harder to see true ill or violence spouting from the creative play of children participating in innocuous traditions.
2.18.2008 6:28am
Brian Mac:
"As every year passes, despite the museums, mandatory reading, and manufactured outrage, it becomes harder and harder to see true ill or violence spouting from the creative play of children participating in innocuous traditions."

I'm guessing history isn't your strongsuit...
2.18.2008 6:42am
LM (mail):

As every year passes, despite the museums, mandatory reading, and manufactured outrage, it becomes harder and harder to see true ill or violence spouting from the creative play of children participating in innocuous traditions.

Which outrage, manufactured by whom?
2.18.2008 7:03am
Sam Hall (mail):
Gary Anderson said:
"Let's just say the Irish-Americans never pushed for mandatory Famine education in every year of American high school or government subsidation of their homeland."

Maybe that is because the Irish don't want to be reminded that only their habit of planting only one crop year after year can be blamed for the famine.
2.18.2008 7:53am
Michael B (mail):
I couldn't readily find it via google, but a letter that is both respectful and sufficiently pointed, directed to the proper office in Vilnius (Centre of Ethnic Activity?) would seem appropriate. I very much doubt most the participants are "hateful" in their motives or interests, but this festival reflects more than a minor insensitivity, given the not so distant history and given the official imprimatur upon the festival.
2.18.2008 8:18am
A Mormon (mail):
"Maybe learn to think on your own, instead of asking for the answers and conclusions?"

Wow. Think as I might, it remains impossible to divine or intuit what another person was thinking but not saying. Further, I don't recall asking for a conclusion--just an explanation. While I'm fully capable of "thinking on my own" of many parallels (or perceived parallels) between Famine &Holocaust, or persecution of the Irish and Jews, my speculation would merely threadjack.

Since that is what the rest of your comment does (threadjack), I'll leave it alone, and let you "think on your own."
2.18.2008 8:32am
Gary Anderson (mail):

I'm guessing history isn't your strongsuit...

And I'm guessing you're a carrier of the "fear gene". :-)

Maybe that is because the Irish don't want to be reminded that only their habit of planting only one crop year after year can be blamed for the famine.

Eh, even without "mandatory" education required for all Americans, some of us know our history. And we don't have need to fear the future. Sturdy like that...

I very much doubt most the participants are "hateful" in their motives or interests, but this festival reflects more than a minor insensitivity, given the not so distant history and given the official imprimatur upon the festival.

Yeah, maybe you could make mandatory Holocaust reading a requirement for graduating high school, or offer up annual field trips to a Holocaust museum or something. Or take a cue from that "Catholic" leader in France, make each 5th grade student adopt a Holocaust victim to make their own, or something. (Yes, I'm being facetious).

Think as I might, it remains impossible to divine or intuit what another person was thinking but not saying.

Visit your local library? Do some non-mandatory reading and research of your own? I don't think the Irish are one to digest your food for you and puke it up into your mouths is what I meant. They like freedom, not "mandatory education" of others. No much for whining, wailing and fearing either.

or persecution of the Irish and Jews, my speculation would merely threadjack.

Um, go back and read when the first reference to the Irish famine was made. It wasn't there to solicit pity or speak of "persecution". Just a brief mention that many groups have suffered tragedies, and managed to get back up on their own feet, and not let the past define their futures.

But I can't feed it to you, or do your work for you. When you're ready, you can educate yourself if you're so inclined. And maybe then you'll not look askance at the simple traditions of innocent children.
2.18.2008 9:22am
Gary Anderson (mail):
Or you can always sit around watching children's videos like Dora Snorah, basking in victimhood and reinforcing your fears rather than visiting a public library and looking beyond your own suffering. ;-)

(Show me your underpants, "A Mormon". Something tells me they're not the authentic thing...)
2.18.2008 9:25am
Gary Anderson (mail):
I'll reprint the comment, maybe you'll catch on a bit in the second re-reading. Seems pretty clear to me...

C'mon David.
Take a cue from the more sturdier Irish.

Next month, we'll have green-painted pigs, and people puking themselves in celebration of a Saint's Day.

Some truth to the stereotype that Irish like their whiskey and pigs, and Jewish sometimes have big noses (pre-surgery) and can peddle you a cheap product for more than it's worth? Sure, a bit.

But you don't see the Irish acting shocked at the unflattering stereotypes. Or making a movie out of it either. They go about their business, and don't let it get to them.

The Jews has the Holocaust, the Irish had their Famine. Look at the two "homelands" today, and see where they're at. Sometimes it really is bet not to make mountains out of molehills, and not to try to change others' silly celebrations. Like it seems they're doing in Vilinius.

And do remember, if it makes it any easier: when they were in need, many Catholics opened their doors and "hid" the Jewish, ultimately saving their lives. It's individuals, not sterotypes we learn to respect.
2.18.2008 9:28am
Gary Anderson (mail):
Oh, and I won't even stoop to making a similar comment to the one-crop crack about learning the lesson of self defense in the face of true threats to one's family (hint: the blintz rhyme is not it), and not just swallowing diamonds, dressing the family up, and passively boarding the trains apparently with the thoughts that your kind had been selected by the German elite for an all-expenses paid holiday for the whole family!

Sheesh -- done plenty of reading, mandatory and otherwise, and still can't understand the stupidity of not at least trying to defend your family and going down fighting. Now in Palestine with American-financed technology, they're all tigers and see threats everywhere... A bit too late for those Holocaust victims though, sadly enough.
2.18.2008 9:34am
Gary Anderson (mail):
Maybe that is because the Irish don't want to be reminded that only their habit of planting only one crop year after year can be blamed for the famine.

Again, I suggest it's more something in the makeup about not expecting others to fight their battles for them... and not wanting the pity of others, or play the "biggest victim" role in history. Who would want their kids to inherit that? ("Everybody's out to get us -- boogedy boogedy -- so we've got to hate, sometimes kill, them and their kids first!") Lol, 'tis a pity, boy.
2.18.2008 9:37am
MDJD2B (mail):
Gary Anderson,

I cited those Irish examples not to object to them, but to point out that Irish can be as chauvanistic as Jews, and have reacted violently in Ulster to these Battle of the Boyne parades.

The parades are crass, as are the Lithuanian carnival celebrations. Nobody is trying to suppress either (except the IRA, I suppose). But it is reasonable in both cases for the targeted groups to take offense.

You should rent Ryan's Daugter. It's a great flick.
2.18.2008 9:44am
DG:
Gary, why the maintainers of this blog haven't banned you, I don't know. Plenty of Jewish holocaust victims went down fighting, but things like gun confiscations didn't help.

Its not that you dislike Jews, Gary, you just dislike everything they do and make others do. Oh, wait...
2.18.2008 9:55am
MDJD2B (mail):

Do we have to give it all up? There does have to be a line somewhere, and it seems to me that this festival crosses it. But where is it, exactly? I'll confess that I don't have a clue, and I doubt there's any really consensus.

As others have said, it comes down to balancing:

1. Intent.

2. If there is no intent, the effect on the object, once the actor is informed of this

3. The character of the act; a book by a Lithuanian theologian on why Judaism is theologically invalid is different from the carnival stuff

4. The context; For example, if you read the Hornblower books they are filled with epithets directed against the French. That was reasonable in the British Navy during the Napoleonic war, but would not be reasonable in a political speech in Maine. It seems reasonable for actual enemies to hate each other and to reflect this in their speech.

And, finally, we are talking about what sorts of behaviior should be socially acceptable. We are not talking about suppression, regardless of how trolls in this thread construe it. Prof. Bernstein was not talking about suppression of the carnival.
2.18.2008 9:59am
Ping Pong (mail):

As for being a small minority, that sure doesn't stop the Muslims. Look at what's happening in Denmark, right now. Let's face it; in general people are not physically afraid of Jews. But there're really afraid of Muslims. Even the American media is thoroughly intimidated.


3... 2... 1.... cue the Muslim card.

In a VC discussion centered on the offensive manner of Lent celebrations in Vilnuis, denigrating Jews and Gypsies, its of course natural that someone should beat up... Muslims.
2.18.2008 10:06am
Ken Arromdee:
So, were my friends' costumes appropriate--judged by the same standard as we judge Vilnius?
1. stereotype,
2. mocking a religious/ethnic minority,
3. historicaly and violently persecuted,
4. in the same place,
5. in recent history


Historical persecution of Mormons didn't have anything whatsoever to do with Mormon opposition to homosexuality. Moreover, anti-gay Mormon beliefs both really exist and are entirely chosen by Mormons; they weren't forced into it because of poverty or persecution. And criticizing Mormons for this is substantive criticism of actual Mormon beliefs and of how Mormons treat other people (including other Mormons); Jewish beards and accents are not similarly subjects of criticism.
2.18.2008 10:12am
Brian Mac:
I'm a bit bewildered by your logic, Gary. I'm pretty sure you know of plenty of times in history where ethnic/religious minorities have been demonised so that they can function as lightning rods for the grievances of the majority, and that fun-filled carnivals don't always lie at the end of such paths. You don't need to think that the Lithuanians are planning another genocide to realise that "creative" and "innocuous" are probably not the best adjectives to use for this particular tradition.
2.18.2008 10:16am
Gary Anderson (mail):
You don't need to think that the Lithuanians are planning another genocide to realise that "creative" and "innocuous" are probably not the best adjectives to use for this particular tradition.

Why not?
Do you really see a "threat" in children dressing up and mocking sterotypes in a Halloween like atmosphere? Is taking offense all these years later, or "fearing" children's play really a healthy use of time?

Do you think next month Irish-Americans should shield their children from those puking it up at the sides of parades just because that's how some interpret the saint's day?

I'm sorry, innocuous is exactly what these traditions are at this point in time. Nothing to do with the Holocaust, nothing to do with potential violence. Maybe the stingy non-blintz givers — Jews or not— will have their trees covered with toilet paper.

See in failing to distinguish between "true" threats and innocuous child's play, you make others shake their heads at your own lack of distinction. Taking offense at everything, cowering at every gust of wind that rattles the windows only makes it more likely that you'll overreact on the minor things, and not have enough energy left to fight back when you do confront a "real" threat.

Are you serious in seeing something sinister behind this children's tradition? If so, how sad...

I'm pretty sure you know of plenty of times in history where ethnic/religious minorities have been demonised so that they can function as lightning rods for the grievances of the majority, and that fun-filled carnivals don't always lie at the end of such paths.


Plenty of Jewish holocaust victims went down fighting, but things like gun confiscations didn't help.

And plenty didn't. Enough said.

Its not that you dislike Jews, Gary, you just dislike everything they do and make others do.

It's just I think non-mandatory education is much more valuable, and encourages more learning. There are plenty of tragedies in history — but you don't see anyone here in America lobbying for making mandatory history lessons of our Native American treatment, do you? Or land use history in Ireland, for example. Both groups suffered tremendous losses, and their consequences still reflect in the descendant's today. But we trust local school districts to teach children how to learn; we don't force feed them requirements that other parents think their own children should know. We reserve that for encouraging such learning in the home, or when the child is ready to know more and pursue it themselves. Many parents now choose to home school because of all the "mandatory" requirements now crowding out the basics of education, that we once took for granted.

I think there are plenty of Jewish people who would agree that lobbying for certain topics or "moral lessons" to be mandatorily taught in local or state schools is a slippery slope. Let the local educators decide — that's what educators in France are saying about the recent plan, and I'm sure many Jews agree with them.

We don't all share the German's Holocaust guilt, for good reason. And sadly, often when the survivors do come into the classrooms to "teach", their views are skewed. Trying to make Americans or worse yet, children, complicit or somehow guilty for the crimes of the Nazis and the stand-by and do-nothing German people is not my idea of honest education. Just as reducing the famine to "one crop" failure misses the complexities that taking it upon oneself to learn more would teach you.

You can't force feed your agenda; it tends to backfire on you in terms of dumbed-down educational systems where children never learn how to question and learn for themselves. I for one certainly don't want to see that continue to happen in this nation.

I cited those Irish examples not to object to them, but to point out that Irish can be as chauvanistic as Jews, and have reacted violently in Ulster to these Battle of the Boyne parades.

The parades are crass, as are the Lithuanian carnival celebrations. Nobody is trying to suppress either (except the IRA, I suppose). But it is reasonable in both cases for the targeted groups to take offense.

You should rent Ryan's Daugter. It's a great flick.


I'm not much of a "movie" person, preferring my history from books, not sanitized Hollywood versions. But thanks for the recommendation. Haven't missed it because I never heard of it, just don't think such films worth my time.

You might read up a bit more on those innocuous parades. When they become violent and damaging property — and I don't think that can be pinned on the Catholics as you're doing here; think self/property defense; just a smidgeon of knowledge is a dangerous thing is what you're demonstrating — then there is a reason to protest, and wish them curtailed. Let me know when violence starts erupting in Vilunius because children knock on random doors reciting a little poem akin to Trick-or-Treat. Then, you may have a point about curtailing such activities too, or taking "offense".

I cited those Irish examples not to object to them, but to point out that Irish can be as chauvanistic as Jews

No. Don't make such simplistic lumping comparisons. The histories and circumstances are quite distinct, as are the temperments and attitudes toward the past, and the future. Maybe it's basic religious differences, the value of forgiveness, and the traditions we annually celebrate. But it's not the same by any stroke of the pen.

I cited the Saint Patrick's Day example in the first place to demonstrate how the groups differ. The Irish are not as fearful of little things as many on this thread who seem to take offense at little things years later, and are filled with fear of what might be. Pride is one thing; forcing it upon others and attempting to make them "guilty" for your past tragedies quite another. Look again at Ireland and Israel today, if you need further proof of the benefits of working toward tomorrow, not wallowing in the victimhood of the past.


Oh, and for all those calling for deletions because you don't like what I've written and somehow find it too offensive to permit to stand, thank you for proving the point. Surely it won't be the first time, but I find it's a common response when the hosts are hearing a different perspective for the first time perhaps, and learning their are other schools of thought outside what their own comfort zone.
2.18.2008 10:52am
Gary Anderson (mail):
We are not talking about suppression, regardless of how trolls in this thread construe it. Prof. Bernstein was not talking about suppression of the carnival.

Read the whole thread, friend, and consider what often happens when one power or another takes offense and is unable to tolerate such innocuous practices?

I won't draw any conclusions for you, but trust you can see how publicizing such things, and permitting others to make it a bigger thing than it is (mountains from molehills) often leads to hatred of other "groups" rather than seeing with clear eyes people as individuals.

I especially found it humorous the anti-Catholic comments that somehow came up, along with the misinformation spewed, from what appears to be the innocent original post. This is why I strongly believe you teach American schoolchildren to think, to recognize patterns, rather than forcefeeding them facts about this group's tragedy or that. Then they're more likely to have the abstract ability to recognize similar situations only with different characters involved.
2.18.2008 10:58am
DG:
Mandatory education? Gary, what planet are you on? In an American public school, I learned about the Irish famine and (in depth) our mistreatment of Native Americans. The holocaust was not actually taught that much, although it was discussed.

The value of teaching things like our treatment of native americans and the holocaust, not to mention the killing fields and Stalin's purges, are to teach kids that genocide is a real thing and an impact of mass political movements. Only by understanding such can people try to stop them, or ensure they don't happen. That we have situations like Darfur, where millions of people aren't in the streets demanding action, says we aren't doing enough education.

At my synagogue, there is a big sign out front about Darfur. Strangely enough, there isn't any sign about the holocaust. Not because we don't care, but there's something we can do right now about one, but certainly not the other.

As far as the Irish Famine - I can't think of something less comparable to the holocaust historically. The Ethiopian famine situation in the 1980s has some parallels, both political and agricultural.

Gary, why do you assume all Jews (or even a substantial number) wallow in victimhood or the Holocaust? Many of us dislike bringing it up to gentiles because such educational efforts are a) not effective and b) make us look weak. Weakness is not a good thing in this world - thats the lesson many Jews learned from the 1930s and 1940s. Of course, now you can call us bullies and say we control the media and banks. Carry on.
2.18.2008 11:02am
Brian Mac:
"Are you serious in seeing something sinister behind this children's tradition?"

I answered that question before you asked it:

"I'm pretty sure you know of plenty of times in history where ethnic/religious minorities have been demonised so that they can function as lightning rods for the grievances of the majority, and that fun-filled carnivals don't always lie at the end of such paths."

It's not all that subtle a point: the demonisation of minorities is a bad - dare I say, sinister - thing in and of itself, and on top of that, often leads to pretty nasty outcomes. I'd say more, but the world's media and financial centres don't run themselves you know.
2.18.2008 11:10am
AnneS:
Gary - I've read the whole thread. No one suggests or implies that the dolts who participate - or induce their children to participate - in this reprehensible tradition should be made to stop through physical force or government coercion. No one. Not once. What we do suggest is that they should face the disapproval and disgust of right thinking people everywhere until they do stop. That's not a threat of violence - that's an exercise of OUR free speech rights to condemn speech we find offensive.

Their behavior is disgusting and vile. It has it's roots in centuries of anti-semitism that fueled repeated violent persecutions of the Jews, the most egregious of which was the Holocaust. The "harmless" stereotypes these dolts are using their children to perpetuate helped to fuel these centuries of antisemitism and for centuries, such traditions contained a not-so-veiled threat against the Jews not to step out of line. It is at the very least rude and at most racist to continue this tradition in this form. The Lithuanians are free to do so as part of their Lenten traditions, of course, and the rest of us are free to mock and condemn them for doing so.
2.18.2008 11:13am
Tony Tutins (mail):
In the not-so-innocent-children's edition of the Outrage Olympics, I'd like to cite the anti-Catholic English tradition of children going door-to-door with their effigy of Catholic freedom fighter Guy Fawkes, asking for a small donation using the term "Penny For The Guy", before tossing it and other effigies, including that of the Pope, on a bonfire.

Regarding the Famine in Ireland, consider that Ireland was a net exporter of food throughout the famine. The proximate cause was that absentee English landowners charged rents too high for families to feed themselves on the remainder of the produce they could grow. Potatoes and emigration offered the only hope of preventing starvation. But only between 10 and 20 percent of the Irish population starved to death, unlike the 90% of Europe's Jews.
2.18.2008 11:27am
Brian Mac:
"I'd like to cite the anti-Catholic English tradition of children going door-to-door with their effigy of Catholic freedom fighter Guy Fawkes."

I'm not sure which part to laugh at more. Your idea that the tradition is anti-Catholic, or your description of him as a freedom fighter. While I'm deciding, please tell us more about the potato famine...
2.18.2008 11:35am
Smallholder (mail) (www):
Point of order:

In Maryland one of the world history standards requires teaching of three "genocide exemplars:" the holocaust; the Armeninan genocidde; and the Irish potato famine. So in at least one state with a heavily Irish Catholic legislature, there is a mandated history teaching point on the Irish "genocide."

That said, Maryland is ridiculous. The planned extermination of a people using industrial methodology backed by the full power of the state is morally different from the English not caring about the impact of a plant disease. Should the English government be comndemned for its indifferance? Sure. But to lump the English government of the 1830s together with the German government of the 1930s is morally repugnant.

As morally repugnant as drawing that analogy in a comment thread.
2.18.2008 11:47am
A Mormon (mail):
Ken,

Your point is well taken--as you see from my post, I'm not in favor of the status quo LDS Church position on the matter.

However, the stereotype that my friends reinforced had nothing to do with the Church's official stance. Rather, like beards and funny accents, the costume reinforces widespread stereotypes about Mormons generally. For example, not all Mormons wear white shirts and nametags or go on missions--the caricature of Mormons is just as much a caricature as a beard or accent. Some have both beards and funny accents.

How harmful or harmless certain stereotypes are is worth discussing. But, as the original poster and the article point out--historically widespread stereotypes have led to worse--even if the stereotypes begin with funny accents or big noses. My point is--where's the line?

You appear to say that quirks associated with affirmative belief are okay to poke fun of--yet isn't the decision to wear a beard also rooted in an affirmative belief? You appear to contradict yourself.
2.18.2008 12:14pm
A Mormon (mail):
Last comment: "Some have both " --> "Some have both . . ."

[In fact, they used be stereotyped as such. Interestingly enough--now the stereotype is clean-cut, clean-shaven and whitebread American. 100+ years will do a lot to some stereotypes.]
2.18.2008 12:21pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'But, my (far too long) post meant to ask about a general rule--rather than a subjective one--on where to draw the line.'

It was a good post and it's a good question, although, given history, I don't have any problem knowing where Lithuanians ought to draw the line.

I live in Hawaii -- called by the historian Gavan Daws the most successful multiethnic society in the world, which I think is correct -- and there is a very strong tradition here of jesting about ethnic stereotypes. Everybody does it, at least if they were born here.

Malihini (newcomers) might be advised to watch and learn before they try it themselves.

It's the old case of 'smile when you say that, pardner.'
2.18.2008 12:32pm
Ken Arromdee:
You appear to say that quirks associated with affirmative belief are okay to poke fun of--yet isn't the decision to wear a beard also rooted in an affirmative belief?

The decision to wear a beard is a belief, but it's not a belief about the world or about other people, it's a personal decision which affects only the beard-wearer. If Jews begin to shun family members who refuse to wear beards, require that public schools teach "beard science", or base laws around the belief that a lack of beards is causing the moral decay of society, then goyim should be able to make fun of Jewish beards.
2.18.2008 1:06pm
Yankev (mail):

The decision to wear a beard is a belief, but it's not a belief about the world

Yes and no. For traditional Jews, it represents a belief that the Torah, which says that G-d does not want Jews shaving their beards, is true, was indeed given by G-d, and does contain mandatory prescriptions and proscriptions as to what Jews must and must not do, along with a more limited list of prescriptions and proscriptions addressed to non-Jews.

Now, as to those kids in Lithuania and their jolly, merry carefree parents, who are having such harmless fun by so playfully making fun of stereotypes -- remind me where the Jewish belief to sport horns and a tail comes from.

And before Gary or anyone else points a straw finger at me, no, I am not saying that their celebration should be banned.
2.18.2008 1:23pm
Ken Arromdee:
For traditional Jews, it represents a belief that the Torah, which says that G-d does not want Jews shaving their beards, is true, was indeed given by G-d, and does contain mandatory prescriptions and proscriptions as to what Jews must and must not do, along with a more limited list of prescriptions and proscriptions addressed to non-Jews.

I suppose it would be fair to mock Jews for making non-Jews obey the Noachide Laws, but I can't imagine it being much of an issue in practice. It would also be fair to mock Jews for forcing other Jews to wear beards, but I can't imagine that being much of an issue in practice either.

I'd expect that most mockery of Jewish beards has to do with "these people are Not Like Us" than it has to do with criticising the non-personal aspects of beard wearing.
2.18.2008 3:03pm
Yankev (mail):

It would also be fair to mock Jews for forcing other Jews to wear beards, but I can't imagine that being much of an issue in practice either.
Nor would I, given that there are ways to remove the beard without violating the prohibition.

I'd expect that most mockery of Jewish beards has to do with "these people are Not Like Us" than it has to do with criticising the non-personal aspects of beard wearing.
I'd exepect you'd be right.
2.18.2008 3:37pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Gary, what planet are you on? In an American public school, I learned about the Irish famine and (in depth) our mistreatment of Native Americans. The holocaust was not actually taught that much, although it was discussed.

Just curious, what state required mandatory Famine education? Or mandatory Native American education? Every year? If indeed it was mandatory, what decade was that?

I have nothing against teaching about history -- with a variety of subject matter.

It's this "mandatory" business I'm strongly against, other than ensuring the children leave school with the basic grounding in the 3 R's. All else should be locally determined.
2.18.2008 3:57pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
As far as the Irish Famine - I can't think of something less comparable to the holocaust historically.

Listen, I'm not going to reprint my original comment comparing taking offense to the trick-o-treating to the Irish taking offense to those celebrations in March.

But some of you perhaps need to work on reading comprehension more than you need "mandatory" education on other topics. Just sayin'

Gary, why do you assume all Jews (or even a substantial number) wallow in victimhood or the Holocaust?

Probably because of all the "mandatory eduction" lobbying that is overkill in ensuring all American children understand the Jews were the biggest victims in history. That's unfortunately what happens when you push something over all other topics to the point of legislating it in certain states.

Many of us dislike bringing it up to gentiles because such educational efforts are a) not effective and b) make us look weak. Weakness is not a good thing in this world - thats the lesson many Jews learned from the 1930s and 1940s. Of course, now you can call us bullies and say we control the media and banks.

Agree with the first part. As far as the last sentence -- who exactly do you think was responsible for pushing for the "mandatory education" legislation? The Irish and Lithuanians? :-)
2.18.2008 4:03pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Their behavior is disgusting and vile. It has it's roots in centuries of anti-semitism that fueled repeated violent persecutions of the Jews, the most egregious of which was the Holocaust. The "harmless" stereotypes these dolts are using their children to perpetuate helped to fuel these centuries of antisemitism and for centuries, such traditions contained a not-so-veiled threat against the Jews not to step out of line. It is at the very least rude and at most racist to continue this tradition in this form.

So I trust you'll be out on the streets come March 17 protesting the vile stereotypes associated with Irish Catholics that can lead to violence and discriminatory attitudes as well? Lighten up people, and call me when the kids start killing for those blintzes.
2.18.2008 4:05pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
The planned extermination of a people using industrial methodology backed by the full power of the state is morally different from the English not caring about the impact of a plant disease. Should the English government be comndemned for its indifferance?

You ought to learn a bit more about property law before you go spouting and letting the English off the hook so quickly.

And let's not talk percentages, but the millions killed by those land policies. Just as many Native America tribes were completely wiped out, and cultures destroyed via forced forced African slavery policies, it's not a competition to see who had it worse. I think that's why so many are resentful of forcing their children to learn about one people's tragedies over the other examples that could serve just as well. Learning, yes. Mandatory, no.
2.18.2008 4:12pm
AnneS:
I don't know how mandatory curricula got pulled into this, but I will point out that in most American schools these days the atrocities committed against Native Americans actually are a mandatory part of the curriculum. It's kind of a big thing in American history and would leave really big hole if it was left out - on par with leaving out the Articles of Confederation. The Holocaust is also a mandatory part of most curriculums, not because of pressure by whiny Jewish groups, but because it was a major event in world history during the 20th century and closely connected to this minor episode known as World War II. It would be kind of hard to teach American or 20th century Western history without addressing the Holocaust. The Irish potato famine just doesn't measure up to either event in terms of (a) magnitude or (b) tight connection to the development of our country.
2.18.2008 4:42pm
LHR:
For goodness sake Mr Anderson, can you not tell the difference between a celebration driven predominantly by the Irish themselves and one organized by non-Jewish Lithuanians stereotyping the worst quality of Jews?

Full disclosure: I lost a number of members of my family in Lithuania to the Holocaust and I find a festival of this type to be quite obscene. And if the British were to hold an annual festival mocking the Irish, I would find it equally repulsive.
2.18.2008 5:08pm
Yankev (mail):

who exactly do you think was responsible for pushing for the "mandatory education" legislation? The Irish and Lithuanians? :-)
Maybe it was the bicyle riders.
2.18.2008 5:16pm
LM (mail):

Some truth to the stereotype that Irish like their whiskey and pigs, and Jewish sometimes have big noses (pre-surgery) and can peddle you a cheap product for more than it's worth? Sure, a bit.

But you don't see the Irish acting shocked at the unflattering stereotypes. Or making a movie out of it either. They go about their business, and don't let it get to them.

So, why can't Jews be more like the Irish? Well, before I even try, I have to decide if I really prefer preening superiority (and I'm assuming here that you're Irish -- do correct me if I'm wrong) to playing the victim.

Oh, and I won't even stoop to making a similar comment to the one-crop crack about learning the lesson of self defense in the face of true threats to one's family (hint: the blintz rhyme is not it), and not just swallowing diamonds, dressing the family up, and passively boarding the trains apparently with the thoughts that your kind had been selected by the German elite for an all-expenses paid holiday for the whole family!

So I'll know for next time, how would it have looked if you actually had stooped to make that comment?
2.18.2008 6:16pm
MDJD2B (mail):

I suppose it would be fair to mock Jews for making non-Jews obey the Noachide Laws, but I can't imagine it being much of an issue in practice.

FWIW, most of the Noachide laws are pretty much a part of every society's ethos. And Judaism does not seek to impose them on anyone.

They are:
Prohibition of Idolatry: You shall not have any idols before God.
Prohibition of Murder: You shall not murder.
Prohibition of Theft: You shall not steal.
Prohibition of Sexual Promiscuity: You shall not commit adultery.
Prohibition of Blasphemy: You shall not blaspheme God's name.
Prohibition of Cruelty to Animals: Do not eat flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive.
Requirement to have just Laws: You shall set up an effective judiciary to fairly judge observance of the preceding six laws.
2.18.2008 7:03pm
Randy Rourke (mail):

"Harry Egar

Why do I think they are practicing Catholics? Because I know some Kaunas Jews, and I've listened to their stories."


I wonder if any of these survivors discussed the following

"Mass deportations from Lithuania into the USSR took place in the last week before the Soviet-German war broke out. The deportations began during the night of 13-14 June 1941 and lasted until 20 June 1941. According to estimates, during that time some 40,000 people were deported, including 10,000 each from Wilno and Kowno [Kaunas]. People of all social strata and nationality were deported, and it is hard to speculate about the general principle underlying these deportations. The war started on 22 June, and from that day on it was impossible to confirm either the extent of deportations or the names of those deported. The victims were generally those regarded as 'socially harmful or undesirable.' For several months preceding the deportations, the NKVD employees were engaged in composing the lists of people to be deported. Later, it became clear that these lists were composed haphazardly and were based on apparently unconfirmed denunciations. From Wilno, the following people were deported: well-to-do merchants, industrialists, real estate owners, former Polish military men, Polish white collar workers, Roman Catholic priests, monks and nuns, Jewish rabbis and rabbinical school students (so-called yeshibotniks); but also quite a few manual laborers, small traders, persons suspected of speculation, homeless and prostitutes. Those refugees [from Nazi-occupied Poland] who took Lithuanian citizenship and had jobs found themselves deported more often than not, but so did those who did not take the citizenship and did not plan to go further abroad. It is interesting to note that, contrary to rumors, those refugees who registered themselves as intending to leave for the West generally were NOT deported. A few of those were deported, e.g., a former Polish officer."

For those who are interested in more information

http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~sarmatia/498/remembered.html

The reason I posted this is that during my research of the Holocaust, I have read over two hundred titles trying to understand the hows and the whys. Different historians have different outlooks for sure.

Was Lithuanian civilian participation in the murder of Jews a result of centuries of Christian anti-semitism or two years of brutal occupation of their homeland by the Soviets, in which Jews were stereotypes as NKVD cooperatives, and sadly some where? Pehaps a deadly mixure of both?

Of course there is no justification, only a striving to understand.
2.18.2008 9:22pm
A Mormon (mail):
Ken:
"I'd expect that most mockery of Jewish beards has to do with "these people are Not Like Us" than it has to do with criticising the non-personal aspects of beard wearing."

It's also very clear that mockery and abuse of Mormons has largely to do with the "these people are Not Like Us."

But even people with, say, sophisticated theological disagreements which they might articulate with Jews/Mormons aren't justified in donning horns and tail and poking fun at the "Not Like Us" aspects.
2.18.2008 10:01pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Why, yes, Randy, they did. As did my half-Esthonian daughter-in-law relate to me her grandfather's experiences as a victim of both Germans and Russians.

As for whether the 'cause' was centuries of Catholic persecution of Jews or two years of Soviet persecution of everybody, we can safely say it was Catholicism.

At least, the Croatian Catholics managed to kill about 5% of the Jews killed in the Holocaust -- impressive efficiency considering they commanded much less than 5% of the physical resources that the Germans did -- and they weren't being harassed by the Soviets at the same time.

The church has a lot to answer for but, of course, never will.

As for Gary Anderson's idiosyncratic history of Ireland, he should read Woodham-Smith's 'The Great Hunger,' where he will learn than Ireland exported food (wheat, beef, butter, all produced by Irish peasants) all during the Famine.

It exported more food than was imported by rescue agencies.

The Irish Catholic tenantry raised potatoes to feed their families, wheat, cheese and beef to pay their English Protestant landlords. The landlords were asked to remit rent during the crisis but refused.
2.19.2008 1:50am
A.C.:
As far as the potato famine goes, I don't rank it as high on the scale of atrocities as the Holocaust, but I also doubt it should be minimized as some people here attempt to do.

For me, the Big Four atrocities are the Holocaust, the Atlantic slave trade, genocide against Native Americans, and mass killings under Communism. (Note that I am careful to include both atrocities of the Left and those that Americans were directly involved in.)

The next tier is still extremely serious, though. It includes the Armenian genocide, Rwanda, and quite possibly Dafur. And yes, the potato famine.

I would also say that it's impossible to understand American history without a knowledge of that event and the migration it set in motion. I'm not Irish myself, but the Irish are the second biggest ethnic group in this country (per the 2000 census). If you don't pay attention to them, you miss a big part of the story.
2.19.2008 8:50am
Yankev (mail):

Was Lithuanian civilian participation in the murder of Jews a result of centuries of Christian anti-semitism or two years of brutal occupation of their homeland by the Soviets, in which Jews were stereotypes as NKVD cooperatives, and sadly some where? Pehaps a deadly mixure of both?
Randy, the NKVD had no use for Rabbis, yeshivah students, or religious Jews (or religious Christians, for that matter). To argue that the yeshivah students and Rabbis were rounded up because they were NKVD spies is absurd.

Lithuanian anti-semitism pre-dated the Soviet occupation by centuries. It is difficult to swallow the proposition that Jews would have fared just fine but for the 2 years of Soviet occupation turning the populace against them.

Fomr time to time I have seen the argument that the Christian populace of Europe resented the Jews because the Jews were prominent in the communist movement. I have never seen the argument advanced by a reliable source, although of course the Nazi propaganda machine was fond of the charge that the world Jewish banking conspiracy secretly created and controlled the communist movement.
2.19.2008 10:10am
Ken Arromdee:
It's also very clear that mockery and abuse of Mormons has largely to do with the "these people are Not Like Us."

I do not believe that homosexuals mocking Mormons for anti-homosexual attitudes, which was the example given, are "these people are Not Like Us" rather than objection to Mormon beliefs and practices.
2.19.2008 11:28am
Tony Tutins (mail):
Because I grew up in a white neighborhood where anti-black racism was widespread and even unconscious, but never broke out into anti-black violence, I conclude that there is a world of difference between being antipathetic, dismissive, mocking, or even contemptuous of another ethnic group, and working towards their annihilation. To give an example, by the way she talked, Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott could have been the mother of any of my boyhood friends. I have to think some outside force accelerated traditional anti-Semites into mass murderers. Could an American Hitler have exterminated black people here?
2.19.2008 1:17pm
Yankev (mail):
Tony,


I have to think some outside force accelerated traditional anti-Semites into mass murderers.
What was that force in Kishinev in 1903? York, England and Bury St. Edmonds, both in 1190? The wiping out of Jews by the citiful in the Rhineland during the Crusades? How do you account for periodic (and sometimes frequent) anti-Jewish riots and murder throughout Europe, pre-dating the Crusades and continuing into the 20th Century? By the 19th Century, the actual mass murder was primarily in Eastern and Central Europe, but it was certainly not an innovation of the Holocaust. The innovation of the Holocaust was organizing the means and resources of an entire modern industrial state to carry out an activity -- the mass murder of Jews -- that had occurred in every part of Europe at one time or another.

With all due respect to your boyhood experiences (and I knew similar folks when I was growing up), Europe is not America.
2.19.2008 1:30pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Of course. If you were to go back and read American newspapers of the late 19th c., you would soon find disgusted reports about pogroms, not only in the Pale of Settlement but in Poland, the Baltic republics -- wherever, in fact, the civil authorities let up pressure on the local Catholics and Orthodox to allow them to pursue their national sport, which was beating up Jews.

No doubt in my mind that if the militia stood aside, they'd go at it again.
2.19.2008 3:03pm
Randy Rourke (mail):
To quote Yankev:

"Randy, the NKVD had no use for Rabbis, yeshivah students, or religious Jews (or religious Christians, for that matter). To argue that the yeshivah students and Rabbis were rounded up because they were NKVD spies is absurd"

First I never suggested that Rabbis and yesihivah students were NKVD spies in any way shaspe or form. In fact if you had bothered to even read the link I refered to you would have understood that. Don't misquote me and then call me absurd, your credibily is less than zero. Yes for sure, Rabbis, yesivah students, and religious Jews were all victims of Soviet oppression, as were Catholic Priests and Nuns,Teachers,Lawyers,Doctors and the "bourgeois" class in general. But also, it has been proven beyond any doubt that some Jews (secular) collaborated with the NKVD. Don't deny it. Learn how to undetand that it impacted the horrors of the Holocaust.


To quote Harry Eagar:

"Why, yes, Randy, they did. As did my half-Esthonian daughter-in-law relate to me her grandfather's experiences as a victim of both Germans and Russians.

As for whether the 'cause' was centuries of Catholic persecution of Jews or two years of Soviet persecution of everybody, we can safely say it was Catholicism."

Try reading Yehuda Bauer or Stephen Katz on the subeject. Unless of course you have some type of knowledge that superceeds a former director of Yad Vashim.
2.19.2008 10:11pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I cited my evidence already. Pogroms weren't invented in 1940.

It's interesting, isn't it, how Catholics (and Orthodox, though we haven't seen any here) refuse to acknowledge or apologize (or, especially, pay compensation) for their centuries of persecution of Jews.
2.19.2008 10:54pm
Randy Rourke (mail):
Harry

"I cited my evidence already."

You are living in denial. Nothing to say about the respected historians and authors that refute your brand of bigotry.

Centruires of anti-semitism did for sure exist, and in no way shape our form do I deny it. Yet life is a two way street. And yes I know about 1919 too..Try reading rather than frothing at the mouth.
2.19.2008 11:19pm
A Mormon (mail):
Ken,

You misunderstood the example then. Perhaps you could go re-read it.

A legitimate gripe against Group X should not justify promoting stereotypes that have nothing to do with the original gripe.

Thus, if, even for very good reason, you don't like my X [e.g. political affiliation], that is no excuse for poking fun at my Y [e.g. race/gender].

For example, as a feminist, I may have objections to the patriarchy of, e.g., Orthodox Judaism, but that wouldn't justify trick-or-treating in the Vilna costumes.

[Maybe, in interest of brevity, I did not give enough detail in Story 1 above for you to understand: my friends costumes/actions were not limited to social commentary on LGBT issues--but clearly emphasized general negative stereotypes.]
2.20.2008 1:20am
A Mormon (mail):
A.C.,

Thanks for the thoughtful post. Being one who claimed not to know enough about the potato famine qua genocide to weigh in, I appreciate it.

Both in college and high school, my history courses seemed to adopt a very America-centric viewpoint: Typically, both book and professor would cite the potato blight as causing mass Irish migration to the US, but then focus on the persecution / roles in society of Irish immigrans (e.g. NINA, paddy wagons, civil service) and then . . . not really mention anything else Irish until JFK.

The same books and professors, of course, would also say something about Chinese immigrants in early California, but not say much about the cause for their immigration.

I'm not sure how settled the point is re: English culpability for the famine (as discussed above), but it's certainly an idea I've seen before. I'm not quite willing to put it up there with the Holocaust or Killing Fields--but maybe with after some more reading, I could be convinced otherwise.
2.20.2008 1:31am
Harry Eagar (mail):
OK, Randy, Catholics murdered 300,000 Jews in Croatia. Priests led the procession of murderers and murderees, with crosses, singing hymns to the Virgin.

There wasn't a commissar within 500 miles.

Manstein, in is autobiography, spends quite a few pages relating what a proud Christian he was, such a morally purposeful gentleman.

Of course, he killed millions of Jews.

Want to blame that on commissars, too?

There's a common element to Jew-murder, and only the wilfully blind fail to see it.
2.20.2008 2:08pm