Antinomies

Although UD‘s fascinated by Autonomies, a dystopian Israeli film, she’ll never watch it. She’s triggered by images of female slave cultures. But what’s amazing about this imagination of an Israel that devolved into bloody secular/religious civil war thirty years ago and is now entirely balkanized between a strict haredi sect territory in and around Jerusalem, and a modern territory in and around Tel Aviv, is that at least one important Israeli intellectual says dystopia shmystopia! It’s a great idea and let’s get going on it!

The series is very clever, with bracing realism (a smuggler makes an excellent living smuggling porn and pork into Haredi Autonomy), but what it’s really about, if you ask ol’ UD, is the horror of surrender to theocracy. Israel has only itself to blame for decades of cynical accommodation to massed ignorant fools who think every offense against liberty and dignity they commit comes stamped with God’s Approval; no wonder Israel’s artist class now depicts the tragicomic walls within walls within walls within walls location that place has become. You don’t reason with the lord’s annointed; they don’t do reason; they’re pre-reason; they’re non-reason; they’re anti-reason. Let them ride roughshod over your democracy and hey look ma no democracy.

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[Israeli media conglomerate] Keshet is also in the early planning stages of an English-language adaptation of the format, set in the United States and using America’s own blue state-red state divide as a substitute for the original Israeli plot.

Oh really? Oh reallllllyyyy? So let me tell you something, Buster. Happy to have you do that; plan away. But the overlay ain’t working for me.

Let’s see. Half of America is dirt poor (the other half is unimaginably rich); no one there has any occupational skills and anyway everyone refuses to work because keening over religious texts will feed their children. So their children are starving. They don’t believe in the germ theory of disease so coronavirus is killing everyone over sixty. Anyone interested in their territory is making a play for it since except for a small group of secular mercenaries no one fights. Daily street riots rage between teenyweeny ultraorthodox sects headed by senile warring rabbis. Women are totally absent from the world. There aren’t any. No one knows where they are; where they went. There aren’t any.

This is totally cool drama-wise for sure. I just don’t think we can manage it. I’m seeing plenty of yahoos waving Confederate flags, yes. Absolutely someone’s breaking into a gender theory class at Oberlin waving an AK-47. I’m not saying our blue-red state divide is without dramatic potential. I’m saying we just totally do not measure up.

But what if tens of millions of people want precisely this?

I mean, they do, don’t they? They voted for it. They will vote for it.

Donald Trump has been the worst president this country has ever had. And I don’t say that hyperbolically. He is. But he is a consequential president. And he has brought this country in three short years to a place of weakness that is simply unimaginable if you were pondering where we are today from the day where Barack Obama left office. And there were a lot of us on that day who were deeply skeptical and very worried about what a Trump presidency would be. But this is a moment of unparalleled national humiliation, of weakness.

When you listen to the President, these are the musings of an imbecile. An idiot. And I don’t use those words to name call. I use them because they are the precise words of the English language to describe his behavior. His comportment. His actions. We’ve never seen a level of incompetence, a level of ineptitude so staggering on a daily basis by anybody in the history of the country who [has] ever been charged with substantial responsibilities.

It’s just astonishing that this man is president of the United States. The man, the con man, from New York City. Many bankruptcies, failed businesses, a reality show, that branded him as something that he never was. A successful businessman. Well, he’s the President of the United States now, and the man who said he would make the country great again. And he’s brought death, suffering, and economic collapse on truly an epic scale. And let’s be clear. This isn’t happening in every country around the world. This place. Our place. Our home. Our country. The United States. We are the epicenter. We are the place where you’re the most likely to die from this disease. We’re the ones with the most shattered economy. And we are because of the fool that sits in the Oval Office behind the Resolute Desk.

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Why do people want barbarians? Read Cavafy’s Waiting for the Barbarians.

… night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.
      And some of our men just in from the border say
      there are no barbarians any longer.

Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
Those people were a kind of solution.

This man is a solution. Like all primitive ideologues he shushes our anxiety about enlightenment and tucks us in to the dark. Around him, in our new America, range viciously authoritarian Harvard law professors and whorishly indifferent attorneys general – a whole pack of barbarians at the very highest levels to take us where we want to go. These people are a kind of solution.

**************

Recall Roger Shattuck’s words about Trump’s dada, Ubu the king.

[Ubu is] the representative of primitive earthy conduct, unrelieved by any insight into his own monstrosity, uncontrollable as an elephant on the rampage… [M]ankind in the shape of Ubu dredges the depths of its nature…


Can we really laugh at Ubu, at his character?  It is doubtful, for he lacks the necessary vulnerability,  the vestiges of original sin.  Not without dread, we mock, rather, his childish innocence and primitive soul and cannot harm him.  He remains a threat because he can destroy at will, and the political horrors of the twentieth century make the lesson disturbingly real… [Alfred] Jarry’s humor [in the play] may be regarded as a psychological refusal to repress distasteful images.  He laughed and invited us to laugh at Ubu’s most monstrous behavior, not because we are immune – we are, in fact, deathly afraid of the ‘truth’ of Ubu  – but because it is a means of domesticating fear and pain… [Humor] demands that we reckon with the realities of human nature and the world without falling into grimness and despair.

The sleep of reason produces monsters, doncha know. Donald Trump is the specifically American monster that happened while we were sleeping.

Chickens in the Fox Coop.

... Lincoln Project ads, carefully targeted to appear during Fox News shows the president watches, have so successfully enraged Mr Trump that his reaction has generated days of news coverage – in turn raising the group millions of dollars in grassroots donations.

“It’s important to understand what the people around the president are thinking,” [Michelle Goldberg recently] wrote. “But if they’re honest about what they’re thinking, it’s usually too disgusting to engage with.”

I dunno. I think what’s most salient about Trumpian thinking is its quality of being simply embarrassing. To betray your titillation at the thought of the big boys rushing in and bashing democratic dissent is to prompt blushes rather than revulsion. To write a love letter to the president, begging his approval of your convictions about deep state and deep church conspiracies, is to inspire us to twist about uncomfortably in our chairs. To try – and fail – to be as sadistic as your master is to humiliate yourself. To “dream of a world in which we will ‘sear the liberal faith with hot irons’ in order ‘to defeat and capture the hearts and minds of liberal agents'” is to reveal the extremely peculiar eroticism at the core of your being — something most people would try to hide.

So it’s not really disgust that we feel at Trump-thought. The feeling is closer to how we feel witnessing a person with middle-functioning autism work his way around a room. His passions clearly control and mark him; and though he does not understand them, he cannot help barking them out.

As today’s demonstration in DC gets underway…

La Kid shows us what it’s like to be there.

Barr Association

A law school doesn’t have to stand for much but it at least has to stand for the rule of law or it’s just $200K and three years of reading Enlightenment fan fiction. Gassing peaceful protesters, illegally bringing National Guard troops into Washington, and hiring… whoever the hell these paramilitary shocktroops are, all safely fall outside the confines of “respecting the rule of law.” Taking away a fake degree — and perhaps the “William P. Barr Dean’s Suite” that graces the school — would seem the very least that the school could do to protect their legacy.

Joe Patrice at Above the Law notes that UD‘s school – GW – has plenty of reasons not to want to be associated with Trump’s militarized attorney general; and, having awarded him a “fake degree” — that is, an honorary one (he also has an actual law degree from GW) — it shouldn’t have much ambivalence about revoking it. Patrice also notes the bs about slippery slopes universities always generate when this very rare event – degree revocation – occurs:

The slippery slope … continues its undefeated reign as the logical fallacy of choice for anyone interested in draping immorality in the faux high-minded vestments of amorality.

As you know if you’ve read this blog for any period of time, a recent GW president lustily and certainly amorally defended Bill Cosby’s right to hold on to his GW honorary degree, despite Cosby’s having drugged and raped all those women. (For UD‘s posts on that revocation story, go here.)

As for the Dean’s Suite, I think they should maintain that, and simply add a dollop of commentary. Post six of these at the entrance. It would only set the school back three hundred bucks.

Wait. Burqas DON’T foster trust and community? Who knew?

The unease associated with a concealed face is not an antique prejudice: Just a few years ago, but in what already feels like a bygone era, many European nations, confronted with the Islamic practice of veiling, prohibited face coverings. In 2014 France successfully argued in the European Court of Human Rights that “the voluntary concealment of the face is … incompatible with the fundamental requirements of living together … [and] the minimum requirement of civility that is necessary for social interaction.” … [But now, under threat of the virus,] we are forced to abandon the physical intimacy and openness that normally foster trust and community

Anti-burqa talk, already accepted and routine in European nations, now becomes something you can read in Slate. Expect more American keening, in these plague times, about the terrible damage done to civic life (And hey: Imagine if world governments currently mandated that masks must be worn only by women.) through masking.

One of the last bastions of unabashed sexism in the western world…

… is its treatment of female terrorists. To read deeply, as UD does, in the literature of ISIS women is to conclude that qua gender we are incapable of understanding ideology, much less committing ourselves to ideologically motivated activity. We certainly can’t breed people excited by the sight of infidels getting beheaded. ISIS women are always innocents led astray by men exploiting their pathetic need for love; they are such damaged traumatized people that they will go with anyone who presents himself as caring even a little bit about them.

Even in obvious cases, like Canada’s hardened veteran Ayan Jama, experts are always being wheeled out to assure us that chicks itching to explode themselves and bystanders in an act of martyrdom are really drifty ethereal lost souls, gentle troubled Amanda Wingfields… We are intended to listen to their bullshit with interest and sympathy…

While she acknowledged wanting martyrdom, she said that did not only mean to die in battle…

To be sure, certain forms of interpretive dance can also be expressions of martyrdom..

So, like, Canada wants her out, has refused to renew her passport, etc., and she’s complaining that not only has this meant the poor woman has “lost marriage proposals,” but she’s a fine upstanding etc etc and the bomb-making stuff government investigators found is just … I mean… who hasn’t experimented, especially during these tedious at-home coronavirus days, with building a bomb?

Straight Talk from a Republican Mayor Voting for Biden.

“I remember thinking this Trump thing is insane, but when it was down to him and Hillary, I kind of said, ‘Well, you are a Republican, and yeah he’s nuts, but maybe he’ll get better and you know he’s going to lower taxes,” Taylor said. “I slowly talked myself into it. ‘He can’t seriously be this deranged once he gets in there,’ and he’s even more deranged now than I thought then. So, I take the blame. I voted for him.”

‘As Netanyahu increasingly catered in recent years to the demands of religious-right-wing coalition partners who squeezed him for funding and favorable policies in exchange for their support, his base has shrunk from a once loose, wide-tent alliance of conservative voters to a smaller clique of true believers.’

And now he’s losing. Maybe Israel can save its democracy. But only if it can keep its religious reactionaries from their work of destruction.

Haredi Women’s Anthem

Yes, I’m Ready

(sing it)

*********************

(Haredi? Yes, haredi. Haredi? Yes, haredi.)

 I don't even know how to fight for the rights
That the law allows me to
But I'm ready (ready), to learn (to learn), yes I'm ready (ready),
To learn (to learn) - to show some guts
To show some guts, to show some guts, for myself
 

I don't want my daughters to be ignorant too
The way the rabbis want me to
So I'm ready (ready), to learn (to learn)
Yes I'm ready (ready) to learn (to learn)
To hold their hands, make them understand, take a stand
right now

I don't even know how to stop taking shit
(Stop taking shit) from a husband like this
But I'm going to learn how to do
All the things I need to do
 Are you ready (yes I'm ready), are you ready
(yes I'm ready),
To show some guts, to show some guts, to show some guts,
right now
Are you ready (yes I'm ready), are you ready
(yes I'm ready),
To be free (yes I'm ready),
To be free (kiss you, love you, hug you, babes...)

Masochism Deficiency Among Ultraorthodox Females: An Emergent Problem

A renegade group of Israel’s haredi women is complaining about breast cancer!

We care deeply about women’s health. The Health Ministry showed that breast cancer mortality is highest among Haredi women, and we tried to understand why. We saw that there were no public service announcements about the need for constant checkups. Women get tested too late. In our society, they don’t even call it breast cancer, but ‘the female affliction.’ … They use a hazy term because they are considered unchaste words. Haredi women have a unique lifestyle: They marry early, they get pregnant young and have many children, which has health effects, good and bad, but no one talks about this issue or allocates funds to address it. In 2014, we convened the Knesset committee for women’s equality to discuss the issue of ultra-Orthodox women’s health, and the Haredi lawmakers were a no-show, even though it concerned their mothers and their grandmothers.

What next? Political representation?

Our problems are the result of living in a democratic state without getting our democratic rights. The state must intervene… The law should be changed so that every party will have to include a certain number of women on its Knesset list… We were at the Knesset the day that Shas and United Torah Judaism submitted their lists. The election committee got two lists of 120 men, and no one batted an eye. What if some party said that they’re anti-Ethiopian? It’s undemocratic. I won’t agree to have my right of representation taken away. Right now, there’s no one representing 51 percent of the Haredi population… At the first stage, they should say: ‘You want a male-only list? No problem, but you’ll get only 50 percent of your election budget.’

And there’s that old chestnut: We do all the work, our husbands are fucking layabouts, and we are silent, invisible, and disenfranchised.

The ultra-Orthodox economy is on our shoulders, but our voices aren’t heard – not in the media, not in politics, not in the religious council or the local council. In other societies, your economic status gives you a certain social status as well, but not in a society whose values revolve around Torah study.

UD is beginning to worry about the viability of ultraorthodox Judaism. If it cannot continue to make its women glory in poverty, overwork, and social contempt, its future is in doubt.

Once again, sexists try to convince us that women are too weak and stupid to be terrorists.

It’s the folks at NPR this time, tut-tutting over Indonesia’s refusal to take back female and as well male ISIS people. The women were not, we are told, “seasoned fighters.” Why? By definition, I guess. Women can’t be seasoned fighters. They just can’t. They’re too frail to be fighters, much less seasoned. Sing it, Leila!

An interviewee assures NPR that ISIS women were merely “jihadi chattel married off to the next militant after their husband was killed,” so don’t worry about bringing them back to live among you! They’re just like Donald Trump and Elizabeth Taylor: serial marriers… Harmless, comic figures, really…

Begum’s Father Begins to Get It.

England really doesn’t want his daughter. She can exhaust every possible appeal, but it’s way unlikely that a British court will take her back. He’s living in Bangladesh where she can try claiming citizenship, and though Bangladesh doesn’t want this dangerous woman any more than England does, it just might let her in.

*****************

The national security argument heard in court was that Begum had aligned with the Islamist group not only by travelling to Syria but by remaining until nearly the last days of the self-styled caliphate, thus showing a high degree of commitment to it.

Security sources have gone further, suggesting Begum was a member of al-Hisba, Isis’s morality police, during which time she carried a Kalashnikov and had a reputation for strictness. Begum also allegedly “stitched suicide bombers into explosive vests”. These are all claims the intelligence community stands by, arguing that women are as capable as men of actively participating in a violent regime.

Does one really have to argue this? Isn’t the correct word “noting,” rather than arguing? Do we have to drag little Irma Ilse Ida Grese and company out yet again? “Legal proceedings, [one of Begum’s lawyers argues], ‘fail to provide swift and practical answers to such acute human predicaments as this’.” You said it babe, and that means that just as there’s no way to confirm intelligence claims that she shouldered a big ol’ gun etc. etc., there’s also no way to confirm claims she warnt so godawful bad as all that … It IS a fucking predicament; but nowhere is it written that an entire citizenry has to shoulder the uncertainty inherent in returning atrociously depraved people to its midst.

******************

In a series of laws in the 00s, Labour allowed government to deprive anyone of citizenship, even if they had been born in Britain, if it was “conducive to the public good” to do so.

Poor Kenan Malik is deprived of his Right Wing Neo-fascists did it argument in yet another lame effort to urge that citizenship is a right that may under no circumstances be taken away. Labour signed off on the law allowing it to be taken away. “In 1870, MPs viewed citizenship as a right that should not be arbitrarily removed by the state.” Ah, the good old days. But of course no one is doing anything arbitrarily. It’s like saying, whenever a child is removed from grossly abusive parents, “parenthood is a right that should not be arbitrarily removed by the state.” I mean, there are justifiable circumstances in these matters, no?

Limerick.

In secular France, it would seem,

We all have the right to blaspheme.

If you’re worried that’s gone

Listen up to Macron:

It’s the heart of what makes France supreme.

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