Had hoped to keep this site as Ghomeshi-free as possible, but I wanted to comment on the #webelievesurvivors hashtag. I really resent the use of the word “survivors” to describe the three women in this case. Even if everything they are saying is true, they weren’t in Auschwitz, or buried under rubble for seven days, or stricken with cancer. It is a little bit like the over-use of the word “brave.” Supermodels who don’t wear makeup are called brave, for example. To me, brave is hiding Anne Frank in your attic.
Monthly Archives: March 2016
This Easter, Be Grateful for the Moneychangers
Terrific column about our failure to understand economics.
Rob Ford, RIP
I feel terribly sad about Rob Ford. Too young, with young kids. I will likely write more later on the subject but for now I will simply leave you with links to two articles I wrote about him. First is here, from the Toronto Star and second is here at HuffPost. My views on these matters have not changed.
Always upsetting to hear of these attacks anywhere, but when it is a place you once called home, more so. I have many friends in Turkey, most of them former students still in Istanbul and the surrounding area, and so many have reached out to me via social media to let me know they are ok. Glad for that, but so sad for what has happened, what is happening and what will continue to happen.
I know Istiklal Caddesi well, for though I lived on the Asian side of Istanbul, I often crossed the Bosphorus to go shopping on the European side.
What I find most creepy is that it looks as though the bomber was eyeing Israeli tourists. So sick.
Frank Sinatra Jr.
On the death of Frank Sinatra Jr., I thought I’d post this very good piece by Tom Junod. It was written over 20 years ago and reposted in 2013. It was not easy being the Chairman’s son, as one can imagine. My Significant Other and I used to listen to Frank Jr. on Siriusly Sinatra and as S.O. once said, “Compared to most people, he is a decent singer. But compared to his father, he’s a disappointment.” Still, Sinatra Jr. seemed to have terrific humour about his unique situation and Junod shows great empathy.
Somewhat a propos, the tribute I wrote to Frank on the 100th anniversary of his birth. In it, you can find links to many great pieces of writing about Sinatra, including Gay Talese’s famous “Frank Sinatra has a cold.”
Trump is not Goldwater or Reagan
If only he were. And yet, many who are anti-Trump are posting the below video from 1964, as though they are making some deep point about what is happening today. They are not. All they are doing is showing us that they don’t know a thing about history.
I do not like Trump and I do not want him to win the Republican nomination (my first choice would have been Rubio and now I am hoping for Cruz) or the presidency. But I also do not like specious comparisons.
This video is an anti-Barry Goldwater ad from 1964. It’s called “Confessions of a Republican” and in it, a Republican voter nervously confesses his fears about Goldwater and a Goldwater presidency and says he is going to vote for Lyndon Johnson. (For the record, though I am an admirer of Goldwater, I also think LBJ did much good and gets a historical bum rap, especially from old hippies.)
One of the things this nervous Republican mentions is the KKK endorsing Goldwater. It is true that they did but it is also true that Goldwater immediately and sincerely denounced them and said he didn’t want their support (something Ronald Reagan also did when he received the same dubious endorsement in 1980). This nervous Republican also mentions fear of nuclear war and the “mistake” his party made at the Republican convention in 1964 (the mistake presumably being giving Goldwater the nomination).
In fact, Goldwater was always a libertarian, a supporter of civil liberties and civil rights and a believer in freedom. (A young Hillary Rodham-later-to-be-Clinton supported him.) He remained so throughout his life, including openly supporting gay rights before that cause became a favourite of “progressives.” I would love it if I thought Trump was anywhere near the kind of man Goldwater was. So yes, this video being used as some sort of point is foolish, unless that point is, “wow, we used to have some great Republicans that we didn’t appreciate, such as Barry Goldwater. Too bad so many had such an hysterical over-reaction to them.”
(I believe the people posting it today think that if Goldwater had won in 1964, terrible, unspeakable things would have happened. We will never know, but I don’t think it’s preposterous to suggest the United States might be in better shape had Goldwater won.)
Now, about the video itself: I love how this guy smokes up a storm during his monologue! Awesome. And note the suit and tie. I wish we all dressed like grown-ups today. (I have to wonder what the selected Republican would look like in such an ad today.) I imagine this would be classified as an “attack ad.” If so, bring on the attack ads. I think this is powerful, though again, I am an admirer of Goldwater.
A(nother) great Nick Cohen Column
The column in question is ostensibly about why we should all become Jews. Of course, Cohen isn’t really suggesting we should, although Significant Other and I often say that we will have to join the Israel Army one of these days…if they would have two middle-aged out of shape folks.
It’s a column about the pathology of anti-Semitism and how far it is spreading, in particular its grip on much of the political left.
But consider how many leftwing activists, institutions or academics would agree with a politer version [of blatant anti-Semitism].
Western governments are the main source of the ills of the world. The “Israel lobby” controls western foreign policy. Israel itself is the “root cause” of all the terrors of the Middle East, from the Iraq war to Islamic State. Polite racism turns the Jews, once again, into demons with the supernatural power to manipulate and destroy nations. Or as the Swedish foreign minister, Margot Wallström, who sees herself as a feminist rather than a racial conspiracist, explained recently, Islamist attacks in Paris were the fault of Israeli occupiers in the West Bank.
(Oh man, I know so many people — some to whom I am related — who buy such nonsense. Depressing. As my late brother used to say, “the ’60s have a lot for which to answer.”)
Cohen writes of his own experiences (his father was Jewish, not his mother) growing up with a Jewish name and in particular of the temptation — which he resisted — to become a self-loathing Jew.
He does suggest one pretend to be Jewish to see how people’s reactions to you change. It’s fascinating, because when I was in Italy in 2014, there was this awful woman who was always very mean to me and I remember one day she asked me if I was Jewish. I just knew that if I answered “yes,” she would have hated me even more, but I thought the fact that she suspected it (as though it were a crime) was revealing.
The Cow Who…
Meant to post this a while back, but stuff (travels, colds, work) got in the way. A few weeks ago, Peter Singer wrote about the New York Times’ use of the word “who” in regards a cow, rather than “that” or “which.” To me, it doesn’t seem odd to use “who” regarding an animal, as animals are not only sentient beings, but individuals. Nor is it odd to Singer, though he points out that the Times‘ decision was not the great step forward some of us might like to see.
It would be premature to conclude that the New York Times article indicates a shift in usage. Rather, it seems to show uncertainty, for the first line of the article refers to “A cow that was captured by police.”
I asked Philip Corbett, the standards editor for the New York Times, if the use of “cow who” reflected a change of policy. He told me that the Times style manual, like that of the Associated Press, suggested using “who” only for a named or personified animal. The manual gives the example “The dog, which was lost, howled” and contrasts this with “Adelaide, who was lost, howled.”
I find this noteworthy, not just because I am an animal rights advocate, but because I had a conflict — not a big one — with an editor years ago when I wrote about a whale for the Christian Science Monitor. I referred to the whale as “he,” first of all, and I also referred to the whale’s uncle. Both of these things bothered the editor with whom I was dealing, although she heard me out and graciously printed the article the way I had wanted (for the most part). Newspapers have their style guidelines, and they have to be heeded to a point. They can change, though, as views change.
In a language like English, which implicitly categorizes animals as things rather than persons, adopting the personal pronoun would embody the same recognition – and remind us who animals really are.
What a wonderful writer. My favourite of his books was “The Water is Wide.”
This is very funny.