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The good and the ugly – two videos

I am busy reading “Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End” by Daniel Gordis. He is a prolific and thoughtful writer who appeals through his readiness to face uncomfortable truths while retaining a basic balance and humanity. He is an antidote to other writers, such as Ilana Mercer, who delves into those aspects of society which are generally kept out of polite conversation. For her everything is in black and white (often literally); here is a sample of her approach:

Mainstream intelligentsia and media are dishing out dirt, as usual. It is not only festooned with arrogant liars, but, worse: intellectual sloths, bereft of the slightest affinity for reality, much less natural law. Our side can begin to gain a rightful market share in the miasma that is the market place of ideas. But we need to work overtime at supporting and disseminating the truth, while dissociating from the dreck. Out of chaos, some new, not-necessarily bad, order may just emerge.”

Now Ilana Mercer is neither stupid or wrong in the simple factual sense. Many of her articles present uncomfortable facts which are deliberately kept out of Polite Society as defined by the “liberal” media. These are facts that need exposure and debate and hiding them does a disservice to democracy. But her tone is that of the ideologue utterly committed to the view that she is the recipient of the revealed truth and that those who differ are either fools or cowards or both.

My problem with her style (and let me make it clear that I will continue to read her) is that she incorrectly sees the world as a gigantic battlefield with the forces of reason and truth under bitter attack by fanatics, fools and cowards. She lacks the sense that many, not all, such battles are won not only by violent physical or intellectual confrontation but also by more subtle processes of soft power – by the power of example, persuasion, by cultural diffusion and often by time. Failure to understand that turns one into a fanatic and, while fanatics have their place, they cannot be allowed to dominate debate.

Of course, the danger of the “softly, softly” approach is that it becomes an excuse for cowardice and inaction. But Gordis seems to tread the fine line between courageous honesty and fanaticism. Now I must finish reading his book before I say anything more.

Here and here are two videos which depict better than anything I can say the difference between good and bad. Watch them.

Mike Berger



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