Many people thought Dawkins was telling this particular woman what to do and were outraged.
According to the Guardian, Dawkins took to his website to explain and apologize:
He added: “Those who thought I was bossily telling a woman what to do rather than let her choose, of course this was absolutely not my intention and I apologise if brevity made it look that way. My true intention was, as stated at length above, simply to say what I personally would do, based upon my own assessment of the pragmatics of the case, and my own moral philosophy which in turn is based on a desire to increase happiness and reduce suffering.”
Of course, Dawkins is very plainly arguing that “It would be immoral” to bring a Down Syndrome baby into the world “if you have the choice” not to do so. This is based, as he says, on “my own moral philosophy which in turn is based on a desire to increase happiness and reduce suffering.”
This is a fine moral philosophy, but it’s not clear what it has to do with Down Syndrome. Here’s some survey data that Dawkins apparently never heard about:
Among 2,044 parents or guardians surveyed, 79 percent reported their outlook on life was more positive because of their child with Down syndrome….
Skotko also found that among siblings ages 12 and older, 97 percent expressed feelings of pride about their brother or sister with Down syndrome and 88 percent were convinced they were better people because of their sibling with Down syndrome. A third study evaluating how adults with Down syndrome felt about themselves reports 99 percent responded they were happy with their lives, 97 percent liked who they are, and 96 percent liked how they looked.
So, it’s not clear who exactly Dawkins believes is suffering and why it’s so obviously immoral to bring a Down Syndrome baby into the world.
In addition to this issue, it seems other people were outraged because they believed Dawkins was saying that people with Down Syndrone ought to have been aborted or shouldn’t exist now. He apparently address this issue as well:
He also argued: “Those who took offence because they know and love a person with Down’s syndrome, and who thought I was saying that their loved one had no right to exist, I have sympathy for this emotional point, but it is an emotional one not a logical one. It is one of a common family of errors, one that frequently arises in the abortion debate.”
It’s not entirely clear what Dawkins is arguing here, but it sounds like he wants to discourage people from making the “emotional” point that a loved one with Down Syndrone does, in fact, have a right to exist. Instead they should be “logical” and not make what “is one of a common family of errors.” I’d go read his post to see if I could get some more information, but strangely that one page on his website is returning a “404 - Page Not Found” error and has been doing so for hours now.
So, perhaps I’m missing Dawkins’ point, but this seems like an unusual argument and one that doesn’t really fit in a post titled “Abortion & Down Syndrome: Apology for Letting Slip the Dogs of Twitterwar.”
Except, of course, that Dawkins wasn’t really apologizing in his post, as the cheeky title suggests and as his final paragraph makes very clear:
"To conclude, what I was saying simply follows logically from the ordinary pro-choice stance that most of us, I presume, espouse. My phraseology may have been tactlessly vulnerable to misunderstanding, but I can’t help feeling that at least half the problem lies in a wanton eagerness to misunderstand."
You see that last sentence there? That makes it not an apology.
Which is pretty much what Dawkins was aiming for:
I do not for one moment apologise for approaching moral philosophic questions in a logical way. There’s a place for emotion & this isn’t it.
Texas Governor Rick Perry warned a packed DC audience at DC’s Heritage Foundation headquarters Thursday that without swift action, terrorists from groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will “slip across our un-secure border.” In a speech linking the immigration reform debate to the current crisis in Iraq, Perry claimed there is “a very real possibility” that terrorists have already entered the country by crossing the desert from Mexico….
Yet, as Perry himself admitted, there is “no clear evidence” of anyone affiliated with terrorism ever crossing the US/Mexico border. Nearly every attack or failed plot over the past decade has been carried out by a US citizen—like accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev—or those who came on legal visas, like the Al Qaeda operatives on 9/11. And the cross-border terrorist plans that have been discovered have come from our northern border.
Just because nothing even remotely like this has ever happened doesn’t mean it can’t happen, as far as Rick Perry is concerned, so calling it “a very real possibility” isn’t going too far, right?
The two years between this Fall’s midterms and the 2016 presidential election are going to be bonkers.
"She thought there was an intruder. She had no way of knowing the intruder was only her grandson, so I think the decision not to press charges is justified," said Tampa criminal defense lawyer Bryant Camareno, who is not connected to the case. "The fact that she just fired into the darkness, that in and of itself is not a crime."
There was also no crime in leaving a loaded firearm within reach of her grandchildren. In Florida, adults can be charged with culpable negligence for storing a loaded gun near children only if a minor actually gets hold of the firearm and uses it to hurt himself or others.
So … it’s not a crime to randomly fire your gun into the darkness. And it’s not a crime to leave your loaded gun within reach of children … as long as you shoot them before they shoot themselves or others.
“What’s all the stink over the Redskin name? It’s so much [expletive] it’s incredible. We’re going to let the liberals of the world run this world. It was said out of reverence, out of pride to the American Indian. Even though it was called a Redskin, what are you going to call them, a Brownskin? This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope that owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins. That’s the way it is.”
Back when the Washington football team was founded, someone came up to Mike Ditka and said, “Mike, we want to honor the proud traditions of the native peoples of this great land; how should we do it?” Ditka thought for a time and said, “Name the Washington football team after them. Call it the Redskins. This is right and proper, and since it’s the only name by which these people have ever or will ever be known, no one can say that it’s in any way racist.” Those were the good old days, before all the hippies showed up to ruin our country.
My former student Justin Green explains to the GOP in Missouri that they’re doing it wrong:
Here’s a story that will make you shake your head.
Liberal organizers set up a voter registration booth at the site of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo.
The Missouri Republican Party’s executive director proceeded to tell Breitbart News’ Charlie Spiering that the action was “not only disgusting but completely inappropriate.”
What this condemnation resembles instead is the Missouri Republican Party condemning an effort to register black voters in the aftermath of a white police officer shooting a black teenager. That might not be fair, but it’s what it looks like.
So Missouri Republicans should reconsider this approach. They should even send a few staffers to engage with potential voters in Ferguson….
A party that condemns efforts to attract new members, particularly considering the way this example looks, is one that can’t expect to be competitive.
When I first saw the story yesterday about the Republicans condemning a voter registration drive in Ferguson, I was so stunned by it that I saved it to write about today. I mean, there’s really no better way to demonstrate to the black citizens that you don’t want them to vote — for you, for anyone — than to explicitly say, “It’s absolutely disgusting, this effort to encourage more people to vote at a time when they feel they’re represented by people who don’t have their best interests at heart.”
Apart from saying, “Don’t vote, black people; that would be bad for us, the white people.”
I’m glad Justin tackled this the way that he did. He’s exactly right and he’s writing for a conservative-leaning publication so one hopes his thoughts are more likely to be heard by the people who need to hear them.
The idea would be to bring my lunch, find a large table over at the Union for an hour, and invite anyone who’d like to chat about the course or whatever else. Sort of like the Symposium … but with a lot less drinking, since it’ll be 12:30pm and on campus.
Before I do this, though, I wanted to see what people think of the idea. Do you think anyone will come eat lunch with me or will I be the loneliest professor ever?
Here’s the central point of an op-ed in the Washington Post:
Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?
Got that? If you don’t want anything bad to happen to you, just do anything and everything the police tell you to do, immediately, and don’t ask any questions. Otherwise, you’re inviting the police to shoot you, tase you, pepper-spray you, beat you, and/or throw you to the ground.
2014 America, ladies and gentlemen. Land of the free, home of the brave.
Yesterday was 10 weeks since I ruptured my Achilles tendon. I meet with my orthopedist tomorrow morning to see how things are going and, I’m assuming, to get a prescription for physical therapy.
This past week, I unilaterally decided to stop wearing the walking boot I wore for 9 weeks. Due both to muscle atrophy and to three weeks of walking in the boot, my foot and leg had become quite sore. The top of the boot had begun to rub painfully against my calf — a week later, I still have red marks — and the bottom of the boot was causing some bruising to my heel and ankle. I’d been walking around the house without the boot already, at least upstairs where there were no toys littering the floor, but I called my doctor mid-week last week and he agreed that I could wear normal shoes out of the house.
So, I’m finally now walking around without the giant boot. At first it felt very strange; my leg felt about five pounds lighter than it had in a couple of months. Now I’m adjusting to the lack of strength in the leg, though this is improving daily as I actually use the muscles. And I’ve got what feels to me like a fairly pronounced limp that I also hope will improve steadily with use and with physical therapy.
If I walk anywhere between 3,000 and 5,000 steps, I feel just fine. Anything approaching 6,000+ steps, though, and my ankle begins to ache. So, one more good use for my UP band; I have a very clear idea of when I need to sit down and take it easy.
Over on Facebook, a bunch of people who are friends of friends or who find my posts because the topics are “trending” have said some decidedly racist things about Mike Brown and the Ferguson situation more generally. I’m always amazed what people are willing to write under their own names … until I realize that these people honestly don’t think they’re being racist, mostly, it seems, because they think of racism as something that happens to white guys like them.
Here’s one example:
Racism? I am growing very weary of hearing this thrown out there anytime a white guy is involved in an incident with someone from another race. If there is racism involved, it is wrong and should not be tolerated. What is also wrong and should not be tolerated is how quickly racism is cited as a person’s motivation. There is no evidence that the police were motivated by race. Have all their decisions in this issue been good ones? Not sure yet. I do know one thing. There is racism involved in this issue. It’s called the New Black Panthers.
In other threads I’ve been seeing demands for more black officers in black areas. I’m wondering just how many black people want to be police officers. With the fairly common gangster rap and “snitches get stitches” mentality you probably have a smaller pool of interested candidates. You can’t force them to be police. You can’t force them to run for city council or mayor in Ferguson.
Babies are being beheaded, men are being crucified, and women are being kidnapped by the dozens and hundreds in Iraq yet this one upstanding guy *possibly* gets murdered and all of a sudden people get worked up into a frenzy about violence. So sorry if I find this guy’s death fairly non shocking for now but sympathy for *possibly* murdered thugs is not my thing.
In the first case, the guy is saying the following: “I’m not yet sure if all the decisions made by police in this case — including shooting an unarmed kid and tear-gassing peaceful protesters — were good ones. But I *do* know that the racism I definitely see in this case is coming from the black people.”
In the second case, well, that’s just overtly racist.
Shame on you!! Racist is a very heavy label. I’ve said nothing (and never will) against another race. The point I was making is that racism can go in all directions, not just white towards black. This country is far too quick to jump to racism as a motivation.
And Guy #2:
WTF are you smoking?? I said I have seen hardcore racism firsthand. I’ve seen it done to and done by different races. A friend did it to a black guy and we are no longer friends because of it. I had it done to me in HS and after I got out of the Army.
So, yeah. People get pretty angry when you tell them that they’ve just written some incredibly racist things. Go figure.
I've been following the situation in Ferguson as closely as possible. It is shocking. I've been wondering: where are all the anti-government pro-gun-rights people? For years, they've been predicting oppression of citizens through police militarization, and now that it's actually happening, they seem silent. Is this straight-up racism? Is this because it's not the federal government (e.g. Obama) being oppressive? Is this because the police aren't coming after them personally?
I’ve been thinking about what I want to say on this topic all day; it’s been discussed to comedic effect on Facebook and Twitter, amongst the people with whom I share similar feelings about the gun rights insurrectionists.
Clearly I don’t want to suggest that the insurrectionists or the open-carry activists are right, that the amassing of private handgun arsenals in order to scare off the police or walking around with guns to show everyone you’ve got ‘em are things that make any kind of sense. It’s not hard to imagine that the situation in Ferguson this week would have been about a million times worse if the protesters had been armed. Considering that this whole thing began with the shooting of an unarmed black kid, a whole bunch of armed black people facing the militarized St. Louis area police would have been a disaster of epic proportions.
A whole bunch of armed white people? Well, my friend Kim Yi Dionne happens to have a piece up at the Monkey Cage that addresses precisely this question using political science research:
… when compared with other groups, African American protesters are more likely to draw police presence and that once police are present they are more likely to make arrests, use force and violence, and use force and violence in combination with arrests at African American protest events.
So maybe those armed insurrectionists would have been just fine if they’d turned up in Ferguson this week. The police might have spoken with them and attempted to calm the whole situation down rather than escalating things by attempting to intimidate and silence them. And that would have thrown a whole wrench in their theory about government tyranny.
“This is not an issue in which you can remain silent any more than you can remain silent during Nazi Germany. That was a moral issue, it was not defined by geography, there was a moral imperative there of the dignity of the human being, you can’t remain silent there and expect no consequences.”—
That’s Mat Staver, the head of Liberty Counsel and dean of the Liberty University School of Law.
And what’s pretty much exactly like staying silent about the horrors of the Holocaust?
Predicting that the Supreme Court would eventually take up the case, he said a ruling in favor of marriage equality would be just as invalid as a court striking down the laws of gravity.
That really says something coming from the dean of a law school.
Now I don’t know a whole lot about the Liberty University School of Law, but my working assumption now is the only kind of law they teach there is biblical law. So if you’re looking to practice law on questions pertaining to how many cubits long something absolutely needs to be or which things are abominations and which aren’t or who exactly should be stoned to death or what kinds of birds are permissible to eat or how many witnesses the rabbinical court requires to pass judgment against someone … then Liberty is the place for you.
Senator Rand Paul published a very good piece for Time earlier today. Here’s just one short snippet:
Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them.
This is part of the anguish we are seeing in the tragic events outside of St. Louis, Missouri. It is what the citizens of Ferguson feel when there is an unfortunate and heartbreaking shooting like the incident with Michael Brown.
Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention. Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.
A fair number of people have been wishing for strong words like these from President Obama and were downright dejected by the seeming blandness of his statement earlier this afternoon.
But considering the histrionics from conservatives every time Obama says anything about race, I really didn’t expect anything like the sort of statement he made in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting.
It’ll be interesting to see if those same conservatives say anything at all about Paul’s comments since they usually seem so certain that racism is well and truly behind us and that it’s Obama and liberals who keep “playing the race card.”
Part of the conservative critique of higher education is that liberal professors indoctrinate students, turning middle-of-the-road students into Young Democrats (or Young Socialists).
But a new study suggests that it’s time to stop blaming professors (of any political leaning) for any leftward tilt that college students may show (and the study acknowledges that many do lean that way over the course of their college years).
The influence is coming from students themselves. In fact, the study says, the more engaged students are with faculty members and academics, the more their views moderate toward the center. But the more students become engaged in student activities, the more the liberals become more committed as liberals and conservatives become more committed as conservatives.
Israel is looking to hire university students to post pro-Israel messages on social media networks — without needing to identify themselves as government-linked, officials said Wednesday.
The Israeli prime minister’s office said in a statement that students on Israeli university campuses would receive full or partial scholarships to combat anti-Semitism and calls to boycott Israel online. It said students’ messages would parallel statements by government officials.
Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), a Christian college student, enrolls in a philosophy class taught by Professor Jeffrey Radisson (Kevin Sorbo), an atheist, who demands that his students sign a declaration that “God is dead” to get a passing grade. Josh is the only student in the class who refuses to sign and is then required by Radisson to debate the topic with him, with the class members deciding who wins.
Radisson gives Josh 20 minutes at the end of the first three lecture sessions to argue that God exists. In the first two debates, Radisson has counter arguments for all of Josh’s points. Josh’s girlfriend Kara (Cassidy Gifford) breaks up with him, fearing that standing up to Radisson will jeopardize their academic future. Ultimately, it comes down to the third and final debate between Radisson and Josh, who again both make compelling points. Josh then halts his line of debate to pose a question to Radisson: “Why do you hate God?” After Josh repeats the question twice more, Radisson explodes in rage, confirming he hates God for his mother’s death that left him alone despite his prayers. Josh then casually asks Radisson how he can hate someone that doesn’t exist. In the end, Martin (Paul Kwo), a foreign exchange student whose father had encouraged him not to convert to Christianity, stands up and says “God’s not dead.” Almost the entire class follows Martin’s lead, causing Radisson to leave the room in defeat.
I take it there’s a bit more in there. A bunch of people convert to Christianity and a bunch of other people get their comeuppance for being rude to God. That sort of thing. But I guess this whole philosophy class bit is the central plot element, since it was also the central element of that ridiculous email a bunch of people’s grandmothers forwarded to me ten times back in 2011 and 2012.
Now, I’ve never forced my students to disavow their faith — or even to ever say anything about their faith, or lack thereof. I also can’t imagine giving a student a full hour of class time to argue about God; that seems like an odd use of valuable class time and I’d expect the other students to complain about the way I planned my class. But, then, it might be the case that the philosophy professor really wants to be proved wrong, since he’s been mad at God ever since God refused to keep his mother alive forever, as he’d requested. I dunno; maybe I’m the exception.
There’s one thing the movie does get right, though. This is what philosophy professors look like:
The new academic year begins in two weeks and this semester I’ll be teaching Ancient Political Theory. If there’s one thing I hope to teach my students, it’s this:
PoliSci is the correct abbreviation for Political Science; PolySci would be an abbreviation for Many Sciences, as “poly” is derived from the Greek πολύς (polús: many or much). There is no such thing as Polytical Science.
Why guns? Yes, because freedom. That you don’t value that above mere survival is a moral failing of yours, but correct analysis. Because crime and death rates aren’t the issue. Because bearing the weighty power of life and death yourself rather than alienating it to public “servants”, and going down fighting rather than cowering in fear, are more befitting the honor of a free man. Because freedom.
“I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?
"All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape.
"Whoever is the wisest among you is also a mere conflict and cross between plant and ghost. But do I bid you become ghosts or plants?
"Behold, I teach you the overman! The overman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth! I beseech you, my brothers, remain faithful to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes! Poison-mixers are they, whether they know it or not. Despisers of life are they, decaying and poisoned themselves, of whom the earth is weary: so let them go!”
Four years ago this October Jon Stewart, the renowned television comedian and satirist, organized a rally on the federal mall in Washington D.C. that was actually meant to be taken seriously, a short step away from his comedic persona as anchorman of a faux news hour. Frustrated by the relentless and shrill pitch reached by ideologues drumming their insistent polemics from the outer fringes of American politics, Stewart sought to draw upon his considerable popularity among television viewers toward the promotion of a less strident tone in political rhetoric, hoping replace the extremists din, usually sounded through mutual demonization and self-serving hyperbole, with the practices of civil discourse marked by mutual respect and honest discussion. Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” was thus intended to encourage reasonable and sincere conversation about political issues and social concerns, an effort humorously accented by the presence of his Truthiness, walking parody Stephen Colbert, providing counterpoint with his piggy-backed “March to Keep Fear Alive,” thus was delivered the Rally to Restore Sanity/and or Fear.
Those who managed to actually attend the event could not help but notice that the audience was, based on all available evidence, universally left-wing, a noticeable cohort seemingly by all appearances on the ideological extreme, the left extreme, from what could be gathered by placards, banners, signs, buttons and other forms of self-advertising attire. Nevertheless Stewart’s effort has to be appreciated for what it was, an entertaining attempt to remind his national audience that our problems can’t be solved by the solutions of one side winning against the other’s—especially if the two sides view the proposals of the other side as utterly without merit—but through the mutual understanding that can only arise from a patient willingness to consider the possibility that those on the other side of the issue might indeed have at least some valid points, even if they disagree on the larger issue, and may in at least some respects also provide insight into working solutions for our problems. In other words, perhaps the most important message conveyed by Stewart and Colbert is that no one side can provide all the answers, and that there are very few positions, at least in democratic politics that are without any merit whatsoever. Even our political opponents might every now and again be right about at least a few things, and we, flawed human beings that we are, can at times be wrong, and about many things. If we move away from self-involved extremism and toward a more measured approach to political dialogue, we may be able to appreciate the complexities of our lives and the need for a reasonable way to manage our troubles.
In response to my posts about the shooting of John Crawford in an Ohio Wal*Mart a few days ago, a couple of people have commented about the themes of racism, open carry, and the police. So I offer this brief clarification:
But if you only call the police when you see a black man carrying a gun in a store or you think it’s not even remotely necessary to call the police when white guys are having an open-carry event because you are uncomfortable around black people or because you associate black men with violent crime, you shouldn’t be overly surprised if people think you’re a racist.
And, one more important thing, let’s not feign surprise at the excessive police response to finding Crawford holding an air rifle and talking on his cell phone in a store. It ought not to be a shock to anyone that the officers who responded to the 911 call almost immediately started shooting at a black man holding a gun, even though he told them it wasn’t a real gun. Police officers shooting black men isn’t something new or unusual … even when they’re unarmed.
When an armed white guy is politely asked by police if he has a permit and he replies, “No, but I don’t need an open-carry permit because of the following two court cases,” and then the police say, “OK, have a nice day,” well, the difference couldn’t possibly be more stark.
I figured that the #1 way to improve the U.S. death penalty was gong to be “End It” and the remaining four ways would be “See #1”
Instead, Robert Blecker — the author of the piece, a professor at New York Law School — advises us to just work hard at killing smarter and killing better. He says things that likely sound reassuring to him, like “Let’s be more certain that they are guilty.” No, really; that’s one of the ways to improve the death penalty system. As in, we might never be completely certain that someone is guilty, but we can maybe try to be a little bit more certain. Or, at the very least, an improvement would be to actively avoid killing innocent people.
Anyhow, Blecker’s whole piece — indeed, his whole moral retributivist schtick — just highlights the ridiculousness of the death penalty enterprise. Rather than searching for the fortitude to say, “You know what? We’re better than this,” supporters of state killing instead keep trying to find ways to package vengeance more palatably.
But no matter how many ways you think we can tweak this system to make it better and more effective, no matter how much you say that the worst of the worst deserve the absolute worst we can give them, we’re still going to find ourselves executing those who are poor, or intellectually disabled, or whose victims are most sympathetic to juries. And whether we hang them, shoot them, gas them, electrocute them, cut off their heads, or pump their veins full of poison, there’s no getting around the fact that their deaths make killers of us all.
The death penalty is racist, classist, and morally bankrupt, and the only way to improve it is to abolish it entirely.
If only he wasn’t waving around a mock weapon in a store and refusing police orders to drop the weapon instead of lawfully carrying a WEAPON in a public place he might not have gotten shot. It’s tragic that someone lost their life because of a air soft gun, but this isn’t about race. Don’t even try to spew that bullcrap.
Here are the key pieces of information, as I see them:
1) Crawford, a black man who was shot to death by police, was holding an unloaded gun sold by the store in an area of the store where these guns are sold; at the time he was shot to death, he was on his cell phone.
2) The police were called by another customer because Crawford was holding a gun in the store and looked like he was going to rob the store or shoot someone. There don’t appear to have been other calls made to the police about Crawford.
3) Crawford told police that the gun “wasn’t real” before they shot him.
Now let’s name some instances in which white guys brought their own loaded rifles into local businesses and no one called the police or complained in any way (and thus the police didn’t arrive and shoot anyone to death).
You see, this is what “lawfully carrying a WEAPON in a public place” looks like:
This guy, however, could not walk around with an unloaded air rifle in a store that sells unloaded air rifles without getting shot to death by police:
Because the freedom to carry around a gun wherever and whenever you want is reserved for white people in this country.
It’s been one full week of having three kids in the house instead of two. As forecasted, adding an additional child has made things much crazier.
The baby is actually very easy. He’s generally quiet, eats pretty well, and sleeps a fair amount (though he was basically up all night the first three nights after he came home from the hospital). I’m sure he’ll become more of a challenge as he gets older but, for the moment, his complete inability to do anything at all is mostly helpful.
The older two kids are a handful. In their own sweet way, they always are, of course, but now their routine has been disrupted to the point of near insanity. The oldest refuses to take a nap until he literally falls asleep sitting up or, if he just skips his nap entirely, he has a complete and total meltdown from 6pm until bedtime. The middle child “plays” with her older brother by taking whatever toy he’s using and throwing it; if it’s a toy that can be broken, she attempts to break it. She also concludes every meal by throwing all of her food on the floor.
All of this would be perfectly run-of-the-mill stuff if either my wife or I was able to stand on two feet or walk around for longer than a few minutes without discomfort. We’re both doing better every day, but we’re not improving nearly fast enough to deal with everything that’s going on around here. With three kids, there is no sitting down; something always needs to be done and someone always needs something.
Happily, we’ve had a lot of help over the past week. My mother and both of my in-laws came to visit for more than a week, and my dad, my grandmother, my sister, and my niece came out for a few days as well. Having everyone here was fun and an amazing help; they did the vast majority of the cooking and the cleaning while I hobbled around in a bleary-eyed daze.
Now that everyone’s mostly gone back home (my father-in-law is here for a couple more days), we’re going to have to get down to the business of figuring things out for ourselves. I know we’ll get a workable routine established before long, but at the moment it doesn’t feel possible. For example:
Today, my wife put the baby down for a nap and then went to take a nap too. I gave the other kids their lunches, then put our daughter down for her nap, and then got our oldest ready for his. As soon as my daughter had fallen asleep, I’d finished telling my son a story, and headed back downstairs, the door to my son’s room opened and he began complaining that he wasn’t tired. I explained, quietly, that he should just rest for a little while, and not worry about sleeping. He complained louder, but went back into his room. I sat down. Then, apparently, he left his room, went into his sister’s room, and woke her up. She started screaming hysterically. The baby woke up, my wife went into his room and fed him; I put my oldest back in his room, where he screamed and yelled at the top of his lungs, and then I went into my daughter’s room to calm her down. She calmed down and almost fell back to sleep but if I moved to leave the room she started screaming again. In the meantime, the baby went back to sleep, my wife went into our oldest’s room to calm him down, and then came into our daughter’s room to help me. As long as one of us stayed in there, she didn’t cry but she also wouldn’t sleep, despite being exhausted. Both boys are now sleeping; my daughter is still crying.
I’m sure it won’t always be like this. But at the moment it kind of feels like it.
Yesterday, the New York Times published an interesting op-ed by Shmuel Rosner that’s gotten a good deal of attention. It echoes what a whole bunch of people have told me over the past few weeks, namely that, as an American Jew, I should shut my mouth and stop saying anything negative about Israel. If I want to criticize Benjamin Netanyahu for something he says or condemn a right-wing extremist who occasionally calls for ethnic cleansing, I’d better move to Israel. Unless I’m willing to live there, I don’t have a say in what goes on.
Here’s Rosner’s conclusion:
Clearly, these critics of Israel’s behavior believe that Israelis themselves would be safer if the country adopted their prescribed liberal policies. That might be true, but it makes no difference.
On matters of life and death, war and peace, Israelis are going to make their own decisions. If they lose the support of some liberal Jews over it, that would be regrettable, but so be it.
Israel will have to learn to survive without that support, and I’m certain it will.
The most fascinating part, I think, is Rosner’s assertion that people like me might be right about actions Israel might take to make itself safer … but that it doesn’t matter. All that matters is a) that liberal Americans Jews should either support Israel in doing what we believe is wrong-headed or shut up and b) that Israelis make their own decisions, whether right or wrong.
Here’s the thing, though:
When I offer a critique of Israel, I do it because I want things to get better for Israelis. I want for them to live in peace with their neighbors and to feel safe; I also want them to be a country that isn’t constantly at the receiving end of the most hyperbolic negative rhetoric. Even though I don’t live there and I almost certainly never will, it’s a country to which I feel a strong connection. I’ve studied its history and its politics. My family lives there, literally. I don’t, for example, criticize the expansion of settlements under the Netanyahu government because I oppose Israel; I do it because I think the expansion of settlements is bad for Israel in the long run and I want good things for Israel in the long run.
I don’t have any doubt that Israelis will make their own political decisions, just as I’m sure Israelis know that Americans will make their own political decisions. But you’d better believe that Israelis have opinions on American elections. How could they not? I don’t have to listen to them when I go to into the voting booth, but I could if I wanted to and if thought they had my best interests in mind when they offered their opinion.
It’s unhelpful at best to suggest that no one should ever offer constructive criticism to anyone else or that every Jew must fall in line behind whichever government happens to be in power in Israel. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the whole notion that the best friend Israel has is the American Jew who just shuts his mouth and writes a check is pretty offensive.
Hiding in Foursquare’s revamped mobile app is a feature some users might find creepy: It tracks your every movement, even when the app is closed.
Starting today, users who download or update the Foursquare app will automatically let the company track their GPS coordinates any time their phone is powered on. Foursquare previously required users to give the app permission to turn on location-tracking. Now users must change a setting within the app to opt out.
Until two weeks ago, Steven Salaita was heading to a job at the University of Illinois as a professor of American Indian Studies. He had already resigned from his position at Virginia Tech; everything seemed sewn up. Now the chancellor of the University of Illinois has overturned Salaita’s appointment and rescinded the offer. Because of Israel.
Corey Robin has done an excellent job, both at his blog and at Crooked Timber, detailed the nonsensical unhiring/firing of Steven Salaita due, apparently, to a series of tweets about the recent Israeli incursion in Gaza.
I tweeted a bit with Robin and William Adler about this issue yesterday, and Adler’s thoughts on the matter sum things up quite well:
@kohenari@CoreyRobin Lord knows I find Salaita’s views abhorrent, but this is unacceptable, no matter what your perspective.
In looking through Salaita’s tweets, it’s clear that he sometimes retweets things that I consider over-the-top and objectionable, and that his manner of expressing things would probably strike many people as odious. I wouldn’t write the things he writes, partly because I disagree with him and partly because I don’t use such strident language.
But the notion that someone’s job might be taken from him for taking a political position on Twitter that offends his colleagues is far more troubling than what Salaita has written. Let’s be clear: Salaita doesn’t seem to have been writing racist or anti-Semitic screeds or inciting people to violence. He seems only to be expressing his opposition to the Israeli government and its policy of occupation. HIs firing would be like firing someone who brashly opposes the Obama administration’s policy of drone strikes or who was stridently critical of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq or use of waterboarding.
I’ve been known to write strongly worded criticisms of elected officials, for example, because of their position on the death penalty, on immigration, or even on university budgetary matters. And I’ve occasionally disagreed with colleagues in online discussions, sometimes quite vigorously, on a wide variety of topics. But I don’t imagine for a moment that any of us would want the university to weigh in on those discussions to tell us who is in the right and who’d better watch what he says.
“They’re threatening to slit our throats; they’re chanting ‘Palestine’ and they’re going crazy about Palestine — ‘must kill the Jews’ and ‘heil Hitler.’”—
That’s the mother of three young children who were threatened on a school bus in New South Wales:
New South Wales state police said five juveniles were arrested early Thursday over the incident on Wednesday afternoon. They were questioned at a police station but were later released without charge into the custody of their parents pending further investigations, a police statement said.
The bus carrying about 30 children aged 5 to 12 years from three Jewish schools were subjected to “physical and racial threats” by a group of eight male teenagers, aged 15 to 17, who boarded at a bus stop in the wealthy eastern suburb of Randwick, police said. No one was injured.
Nothing says, “I’m very concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people” like threatening to murder Jewish children and shouting “Heil Hitler” on a school bus in Australia.
“The pictures of the destruction are great proof of the defeat of the IDF and its failure to contend with the brave resistance.”—
That’s Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza, last night.
This line of reasoning literally makes no sense and I’m not sure who would be convinced by it. Say what you will about the IDF, it’s pretty clear that it wasn’t defeated in this month-long conflict in Gaza. The destruction and the devastation is proof of the destructive power of the IDF and the inability of militants to contend with its overwhelming military superiority.
I suppose Haniyeh has to say something bizarre like this because he can’t simply say, “This went badly for us and for the people we claim to represent; we should probably try something different next time because the pictures of the destruction are great proof of Israel’s willingness to destroy a whole lot of infrastructure and lives to get at our tunnels and rockets.”
With the conflict seemingly at an end now, it will be fascinating to see what Hamas “gets” out of the negotiations in Cairo. With quotes like these from Haniyeh, it seems like some within the Hamas leadership are concerned it won’t be getting much.