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March 04, 2005

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Wow, Charles, you really can be a class act sometimes. By the way, why are there never any postings about environmental issues on ObWi? Am I the only interested person?

Thanks for the update.

I'm glad that this was not religious in nature, though I feared it might have been.

Thanks for the update. It means a lot.

I'm grateful for the outcome--not only because the murderers were brought to justice, but because of who they are. This country really doesn't need any more religious violence. Anti-Muslim prejudices are already rampant enough in our current social and political climate.

By the way, why are there never any postings about environmental issues on ObWi?

Good question. I've written a few in my time and will likely do so again.

Catsy,

I'm grateful for the outcome--not only because the murderers were brought to justice, but because of who they are.

What did I miss? Did somebody get convicted?

Thank you, Charles, I appreciate that and I apologize if any of my previous comments were taken as an attack on your character or personality. Please don't take this as a backhanded shot, but I would just like to underline the difference between a front page post and comments. My own opinion is that the front page post should 'set the table', and, if discussing a news story or event, should present multiple sources. I think there is more than enough room in the comments to set out one's personal opinion, but the front page is IMHO a special space. I would also suggest (and this is just a suggestion) that if you make a strong assertion based on a breaking news story that you sign up for a Google news alert that would check Google news either as it happens, once a day or once a week to give you stories with the keyword(s) you list.

thanks, BD.

Thanks. And I echo the relief about its not being religiously motivated.

(Digression: look what I saw today: a Northern Lapwing. It normally winters in northern Eurasia, from Britain to Japan, but this one ended up in Creagerstown MD, where it walked up and down the edge of a field, staring very earnestly into the grass and snow, oblivious to the ten or so birders with serious scopes trained on it.)

Thanks, Charles. And look, Lily: environmental issues in the comments, at least! (hilzoy's Northern Lapwing)

Thanks, CB; an honest apology for an erroneous posts is enough of a rarity in the blogosphere, it should get its props.
Just another facet of the high-quality level of the blogging at Obsidian Wings.
;)

Does anyone know of a good environmental blog? One reason I don't post much on environmental issues (on reflection) is that most of my major news sources don't cover it. I have found specialty blogs for a bunch of issues I care about, but not this.

Thanks, BD.

What did I miss? Did somebody get convicted?

Excuse me. For the sake of accuracy: alleged murderers.

Pleased to see you're an advocate of the notion of "innocent until proven guilty". You're one up on the President and our new A.G. there.

well done, sir.

hilzoy, I recommend RealClimate for climate change issues:

http://realclimate.org/

not general enviro per se, but relevant.

Well done indeed.

Thanks--and, whew!

"Does anyone know of a good environmental blog?"

I used to have one, until I began hating my job and lost interest in the earth.

There may be some stuff on the wayback machine, but it's all, like, you know, old. I still check out Worldchanging and Greencar Congress, and Chris Mooney on occassion. Quark Soup is another good one, and Colorado Luis does some of that stuff.

wow, check out the lgf thread. these people are really deranged.

Classy.

It was probably OK to speculate about it, and write about what it might mean if true. You could have made the same underlying points (the undercurrent of such religious violence) without jumping to the conclusion about this case.

A good environmental blog? Stentor Danielson's Debitage. You should have asked earlier. I think I'm like one of twenty regular readers.

these people are really deranged

yikes. some of them seem to think the two suspects were hired by the Islamofascists... never let a good conspiracy theory die.

there's got to be a technical term for the dogged maintainance and upkeep of a conspiracy theory so that it can accommodate new and even contradictory evidence.

i'm surprised they haven't blocked the link yet.

There's some enviroblogs in this Kinja digest. It's not really up to date but it has some good links from environmental blogs from all over the spectrum. Gristmill has a nice list in their blogroll.. same with Crumb Trail.

There's some great enviroblogs out there..

Thanks, and good on you, Charles. My respect for anyone rises whenever they do something like this.

Well done.

(/me mentally adds creditpoints to CB)

Hilzoy--congratulations on the Northern lapwing. I'm always afraid to give myself credit for a rare bird sighting--the Diety of Birdwatching might punish me for cheating--but I am absolutely sure I saw a blackheaded gull two weeks ago. It's about 3500 miles off course and on the wrong coast but no other gull has a black head in February.
Thanks for the site suggestions. I'll check them out.
Isn't it amazing that anvironmental issues aren't in the news? This sort of thing--current political events--will have no where near the kind of impact on our future as the degradation of our planet.

Charles --

You're not eating crow. You're rejoicing in the truth. You gathered the evidence and made a call. That required smarts. You learned more evidence, revised yourself, and apologized. That required honor. Smart and honorable is not a bad way to be.

It wasn't smart to jump to conclusions in the first place. Christians are killed everyday in America. Doesn't mean we have a rampant crime wave of Muslim jihadists, it means that we have a lot of Christians here.

Kudos for doing the right thing and making a public apology. I hope that others on the right side of the blogosphere who pushed this particualr racist accusation way beyond the limits the facts of the case would bear will be equally forthcoming in their retractions.

Michelle Malkin, are you listening?

I hope that others on the right side of the blogosphere who pushed this particualr racist accusation way beyond the limits the facts of the case would bear will be equally forthcoming in their retractions.

Unfortunately, the meme is out there. This article folds in the Armanious family killing despite the fact that they have arrested someone. link

Also, this NYTimes article has already written that despite the fact that the murder was not religiously motivated, the atmosphere has been poisoned. This is the price of passing these false conclusions on.

I think I'm like one of twenty regular readers.

Actually, I think my readership is you, my girlfriend, my ex, and a bunch of people Googling for "utilitarian view of gay marriage." But thanks for the endorsement -- maybe it will get you some company in my comments sections!

Stentor -- I, too, am now one of your regular readers, thanks to Sebastian. (Thanks, to Sebastian!)

Then, of course, there's Hindrocket's response: "Thankfully--I guess--the crime was not religiously motivated."

I love the "I guess," the indication that he would probably have preferred for it to have been a religious attack. Hilzoy, your post on CSL and the urge to hatred becomes more appropriate all the time.

The next line is even better, Andrew: "The killers (there doesn't seem to be any doubt about their guilt) . . . " Well, I guess we can save the cost of the trial, then! This man claims to be an attorney of some sort, no?

Andrew --

"Thankfully--I guess--the crime was not religiously motivated."

I read this to mean that Hindrocket (obviously) disapproved of the crime, and was "thankful" -- as much as one could be -- that it wasn't religiously motivated. I mean, we're still talking about brutal murders, here; the fact that the motive appears to have been robbery doesn't bring anyone back from the dead. IOW, I don't think your ding against him for this line was justified.

Now, that said, the following line (Noted by Phil) was dingworthy. He's a f_cking idiot for making such a statement.

I do a hell-of-a-lot better with Hindrocket when I pretend he's an utter layperson. If I concentrate too hard on the fact he's a lawyer, it's hard not to get personal.

Oops. A little fun with pronouns in the above. I mean Hindrocket's a f_cking idiot. Not Phil.

The kind of lunatic, racist posting you made is the problem. Maybe you should cease and desist from further postings about Muslims and your inclination to believe that they are evil people presumptively guilty of all manner of crimes.

For reasons explained in the hatred post, I don't do well with Hindrocket under any description. I think he has been corrupted by hatred. And I don't say that lightly. I also think he has approximately no intellectual integrity. Latest installment:

"It's no secret that the left in this country is becoming increasingly desperate. Ann Coulter points to one of the more deplorable manifestation of this desperation -- the "outing" of gay children of conservatives. The New York Times op-ed page serves as a primary vehicle for this practice. As Coulter points out, the left's message is plain --"stop opposing our agenda or your kids will get it."

Reality: here's the NYT article. As Here's">http://hereswhatsleft.typepad.com/home/2005/03/ann_coulter_is_.html">Here's What's Left notes, it refers to four gay relatives of conservatives, three of whom came out themselves and the fourth of whom (Candace Gingrich) was outed by her mother. All four, however, were known to be gay long before the NYT article.

Michael at Here's What's Left emailed Powerline to tell them about the error. You can read the email at the link; it's perfectly polite. No response yet, and no correction.

James: that violates the posting rules.

hilzoy, I think that the Powerline guys are just utter hacks, and are writing strategically.

This case is no concluded.
Everyone is taking the scenario envisioned by the Hudson Cty Prosecutor's office AS THE GOSPEL.
But it's not the gospel truth and the alledged killers who were arrested have plead not guilty.
It seems odd that Mcdonald is such a cool calm collected killer.
So we're to believe that McDonald had the where withall to connoct a scheme to break ambush his downstairs landlord's apt and make off with the man's atm card and pin ?
I'm supposed to accept the scenario that McDonald and his buddy Snachez decided to don ski masks, arm themselves with a semi automatic weapon and then knock on Mrs Armanious' front door and be let in ?
I live near the Armanious' town and there is no way that any woman in her right mind goes to the front door and opens it to anyone. Particularly with ones children at home alone. And especially in Jersey City Heights.
And then we're being told that after killing his landlord and his family in cold blood that Mcdonald continued to casually live upstairs and laconically withdraw money from Mr Armanious' ATM card over the period of a week ?

Sorry but this case doesnt add up yet.

Andrew, Phil,

Then, of course, there's Hindrocket's response: "Thankfully--I guess--the crime was not religiously motivated."

I love the "I guess," the indication that he would probably have preferred for it to have been a religious attack.

Uh, no. The "I guess", probably, stems from the fact that the suspects haven't been convicted yet. Ironically, Phil recognized that fact, yet did not apply his obervation to your post. Hm.

Nice post. ;-)

james, others

The kind of lunatic, racist posting you made is the problem. Maybe you should cease and desist from further postings about Muslims and your inclination to believe that they are evil people presumptively guilty of all manner of crimes.

BD's and mine assumptions about this murder werent' that outlandish. Given that some sources reported that large amount of jewelry remained untouched and the fact that the famly did receieve death threats, our assumptions were quite reasonable. In fact, the victims family and the Coptic community shared our view.

So cut the "racist" crap out.

Maybe you should cease and desist from further postings about Muslims and your inclination to believe that they are evil people presumptively guilty of all manner of crimes.

If I had actually written such postings, you might have had a coherent point, james.

Have to chime in here and say Stan is right about cutting out the "racist" crap. Charles' original post was in no way "racist" that I recall. Alarmist, perhaps ;-ppp...but not "racist."

{comment deleted for violating posting rules}

Ed

silly break...that's supposed to be ;-pppp

Edward,

Let's be fair now. In this post (regarding the murder of Judge Lefkow's family) Charles states The circumstances point to revenge murders by one or more white racists.. I do not see *anybody* on that thread accuse Charles of being racist (anti-white) or alarmist for jumping to that conclusion.

So what's going on? If, when Charles suspects Muslim extremists, he's branded "anti-Muslim" shouldn't he be branded "anti-white" for suspecting neo-Nazis? Hm.

fool,

What a remarkably aptronymic alias you've chosen for yourself.

You have been temporarily banned, by the way. If you wish to appeal this decision, email the kitty and explain why your clear violation of the posting rules here should not make lead to permanent banning. If not, thanks for playing.

The circumstances point to revenge murders by one or more white racists.. I do not see *anybody* on that thread accuse Charles of being racist (anti-white) or alarmist for jumping to that conclusion.

You're stretching that argument into a translucent state there, Stan.

But this does raise one of my favorite debates...can someone actually be "racist" toward a power-holding majority? I've heard arguments pro and con to that one, but still never been convinced either way.

Edward: depends on the definition of racism, of course, but I've always thought so. The difference is, it's less likely to be harmful when directed against powerful majority.

Stan: I don't recall actually jumping on CB for the Armanious post (he's too far away, for one thing), but I think I criticized him for it. If not, I thought critical thoughts involving the phrase 'jumping the gun'. And I didn't on the Lefkow post. So I take myself as an example of someone who had the sort of disparate responses you're criticizing. For me, the difference was that the first seemed way closer to conveying an unwarranted sort of certainty, while the second was hedged appropriately.

The difference between the Armanious and Lefkow posts is that I qualified my statements much more thoroughly on the latter, due in no small part to my not having done it sufficiently enough on the former.

Edward,

can someone actually be "racist" toward a power-holding majority?

So, if David Duke moved to Zimbabwe he'ld no longer be considered a racist?

There's something weird with the site today, and I don't just mean the folks who seem determined to contribute more heat and less light to this discussion. For instance, where's the trackback from Mithas's (rather belligerant) post?

On the anticipatory crisis tiff: my hotmail account seems to be working again.

Praktike -- You addressed your comment to Hilzoy, but I'll respond as well. Powerline does indeed attempt to behave strategically. (Witness, for instance, Trunk's pre-emptive rebuttal to the Democrats' hypothetical attack on Bush's hypothetical judgicial nominee of a few weeks back; that's called serving notice.) But no "strategy" explains Hindrocket's sloppiness here. If it turns out that the police made a mistake with these arrests (which, of course, never happens), Hindrocket may very well have opened himself up to a defamation lawsuit. Smart hacks don't do that.

So, if David Duke moved to Zimbabwe he'ld no longer be considered a racist?

Gonna have to agree with Stan LS on this one. There are minorities in America hate whites.

What von said.

Also: I don't have a problem with posting strategically. It was not a mere coincidence that my series of posts on Bush's record on homeland security, loose nukes, etc., went up before rather than after the election. But the crucial thing is: your strategic communications have to be constrained by the truth. Iirc, the preemptive rebuttal von refers to didn't just say 'if the Democrats do X, they'll be silly'; it said something like: looks like the Democrats might do X (link to vague speculation). Are there any depths they won't sink to? Again, iirc, it implied pretty strongly that this was something the Democrats were planning on doing, which I don't know of any reason to believe. And the Ann Coulter post is just plain false.

What I can't really figure out is why they and Hindrocket in particular) don't have more self-respect. But I'm not sure that's something I was meant to understand ;)

Edward:

Can a minority commit a hate crime against a white person in this country (i.e, killing them because they are white)? Clearly the answer is yes; it has to do with the motive for committing the crime. Seems to follow that racism can go both ways.

Stan LS -- clever point re Duke.

One of my favorite threads on hate crime (at Tacitus).

can you be a racist if you're attacking a religion?

inquiring minds want to know.

Hindrocket in particular

I really have better things to do with my time than dwell on Hindrocket, but the man really does mystify me. He's so out there sometimes, so sloppy, so, well, ineffective as a reasoned advocate, I have real difficulty squaring his blog-persona with (what I assume to be) his role as an advisor. I mean, I've worked with people from his firm; I know they've got some decent folks who can make decent arguments. It's very hard for me to see him as their colleague.

More to the point, Hindrocket's what we'd call a "scrappy lawyer." It's not a compliment. It's a way of saying that this guy's playing his heart out in the Bush league.* But he ain't gonna advance, 'cause he don't have what it takes.

Maybe he should expand the pundity gig. The standards are lower.

(Alright, last comment from me on this subject.)

von

*Pun considered .... considered .... considered .... and not intended.

can you be a racist if you're attacking a religion?

If a religion is also a "race," sure. I'd argue that anti-Semitism could be correctly described as "racism."

Note, however, that I've come to the opinion that "race" is a pretty useless word, because it's terribly imprecise and empirically invalid to boot.

My apologies to everyone if I overstepped the bounds of moderating by deleting the trackback. It violated the posting rules and I made an editorial decision.

By the way, the link to the post on Fables of the Recontruction in no way violates the posting rules and can be found here.

So, if David Duke moved to Zimbabwe he'ld no longer be considered a racist?

He'd probably be a dead one! If not, in Zimbabwe he'd have little power.

It's the power that counts, the numbers, the ability to make laws, having control over the police, army and the media. We have the history in Germany, Balkans and Rwanda to see how powerful a movement can become, how ordinary people can quietly watch their neighbors dragged away. The hysteria over muslims is what scares me. Posts detailing supposed muslim crimes are like calls to arms, full of fear and threat which you won't see in posts about white racists. There's an underlying message that we'll all be murdered or taken over, speaking arabic or following the Koran if we don't do something. Do what? It's rarely pointed out except that we must defeat them. It's reds under the beds all over again.

They're the new bogeyman for the west. We must seem a lot scarier to them and with every justification.

Melissa,

If not, in Zimbabwe he'd have little power.

Okay... Now let's go back to the question I actually did ask- So, if David Duke moved to Zimbabwe he'ld no longer be considered a racist?

Posts detailing supposed muslim crimes are like calls to arms, full of fear and threat which you won't see in posts about white racists.

I think that you're projecting. Heavily.

Do you dispute the fact that the murdered Copt family did receive death threats from the Islamic extremists? If not, then why do you find Charles' assumption that those extremists made good on their promise unreasonable?

Edward,

What a nasty place. Ironically he feels free to come to his own conclusions here. Maybe we should gang up on him if he ends up being wrong on that one.

Do you dispute the fact that the murdered Copt family did receive death threats from the Islamic extremists?

Yes. The news report claimed that there was only one computer in the house and that was in the daughters' bedroom. In addition, Armanious' job I don't think involved desk work with a computer linked to the internet. While there was evidence that websites posted information after the fact, they didn't find any evidence of that information before the murder. This doesn't mean that there weren't death threats (chat sessions in which they were allegedly transmitted are not generally recorded) and one can't prove a negative but in light of the new reports, that seems to have been a red herring. This contrasts with the Lefkow case in which Matthew Hale was convicted of making a death threat on Judge Lefkow. As I pointed out earlier, this resulted in a diversion of investigative resources. Hindsight is 20/20, but we now have the possibility that some bright spark of a criminal will have the next murder/robbery mimic a Muslim extremist killing in order to give the perpetrators a head start.

Furthermore, you should go upthread and read what Charles himself wrote, that because of what he learned from posting about Armanious, he was able to couch his discussion of the Lefkow killing in a less objectionable form. If you have problems with Charles' assertions, you should take them up with him, not berate others for doing what you think should be done. Unless you are just using this as a way to attack people on the left. Alternatively, you could volunteer for the defense team of the suspects arrested for the killing and make it clear to the court that the possibility of Muslim radicals killing the Armanious family means that we should give these two the benefit of the doubt.

Stan LS
*Okay... Now let's go back to the question I actually did ask- So, if David Duke moved to Zimbabwe he'ld no longer be considered a racist?*

I did answer...he'd be a dead one, as in a dead racist or a powerless one.

*Do you dispute the fact that the murdered Copt family did receive death threats from the Islamic extremists? If not, then why do you find Charles' assumption that those extremists made good on their promise unreasonable?*

I don't know about threats, but no I don't find it unreasonable, anymore than assuming white supremists were responsible for killing the judges family. It's what follows from the assumptions that bothers me. It's entirely possible that in both cases the threats were co-incidental and unrelated to the crime. I make a lot of of assumptions in the privacy of my home but that's different from taking it public and agitating people, stirring their emotions and fears.

On the "sharia vigilantism" post we had emotive talk like: muslim "converts" doing their grisly work, muslims not accepting the nations pluralism, enforcing their sharia penalities and americans brutally murdered for their beliefs (said twice).

Compare that to the post about killing the judge's family which is heavily diluted with details of a completely unrelated crime but puts the killing as a similiar "assault on justice" level. It was stripped of empathy for the judge and the brutality of the crime. That's fine....but in comparison?

I did answer...he'd be a dead one, as in a dead racist

Ok, so we agree. One can be a racist toward a power-holding majority?.

I make a lot of of assumptions in the privacy of my home but that's different from taking it public and agitating people, stirring their emotions and fears.

But that's what blogs are all about. People expressing their "assumptions"/opinions. Charles didn't come out claiming to have some knowledge or facts that the rest of us did not. He talked facts, provided links and then gave his opinion. You didn't have to agree with him, and many did not.

Wow ... now Poweline asks "Clinton and the Mullahs: Soulmates?"

I really friggin' hate those guys.

CB - respect.

von, just to improve my English, could you expand on the meaning of "serving notice" above? Also, if anyone who knows the origin of "state of play", please let me know.

von - I have a quibble with your anti-Semitism = racism remark. A minor quibble, perhaps, but it's a old sore point of mine.

Anti-Semitism is not racism, because despite the literal meaning of the term "Semite," it is rarely, if ever, used to refer to any group but Jews. And Jews aren't a 'race.' There are Sephardic Jews (generally of Mediterranean/Arabic/African etraction) and Ashkenazi Jews (generally of European extraction). Which means there are black Jews (Ethiopians who've been Jewish since forever, as well as more recent black converts), white Jews (of every nationality, from Mediterranean to Nordic pale), and possibly Asian Jews.

Judaism is a religion; it's a culture; it might be considered a nation; it is not a race.

[/quibble]

Judaism is a religion; it's a culture; it might be considered a nation; it is not a race.

It is all of the above, in ways which don't really describe any other religion/race. Remember, Jewish ancestry is considered passed down through the mother; if your mother has Jewish blood, you're Jewish.

It doesn't mean you're practicing, but you're considered a hereditary Jew by anyone who is.

Some very interesting stuff on here... The lgf and powerline links show some pretty kneejerk behavior. I'm not surprised. I am also not surprised by the OP from Charles. Nice words on an important subject.

Re: hate crimes. I don't think there needs to be special laws for those categories. I lack legal training so I use the 'what would heet do if allowed to remake the laws of the land' test. In my world, you'd wouldn't be arrested for motive, but for the actual crime you committed. If for no other reason than its too hard to prove without some rather arbitrary test. Whomever controls the test, controls the justice. Sounds fishy to me.

On that note, check out "Equilibrium", a low-budget scifi flick starring Christian Bale. It deals with a future where 'hatecrimes' have been expanded to include the emotion of 'hate' (and most others). It's a Matrix ripoff but for $20 million, they made a hellava movie. *cough* Bittorrent *cough*

On that note, check out "Equilibrium", a low-budget scifi flick starring Christian Bale. It deals with a future where 'hatecrimes' have been expanded to include the emotion of 'hate' (and most others). It's a Matrix ripoff but for $20 million, they made a hellava movie.

I'm not so sure that's really a fair description of Equilibrium. It has less in common with The Matrix than with Fahrenheit 451 or Gattaca, although some of the combat scenes are certainly Matrix-esque.

Christian Bale is magnificent in it, and it's actually one of my favorite movies. I heartily recommend picking it up in the bargain bin or from Netflix.

Sorry, I meant the acting and action are Matrix 'influenced'. The story is great, though. Check it out.

Remember, Jewish ancestry is considered passed down through the mother; if your mother has Jewish blood, you're Jewish.
It doesn't mean you're practicing, but you're considered a hereditary Jew by anyone who is.

Er . . . there's no such thing as "Jewish blood." The child of a former Gentile woman who was a convert to Judaism is considered to be just as Jewish as anyone else. My father is Jewish, but that doesn't make me "half Jewish" or somesuch. If someone were to run a blood series or DNA test on me, there'd be no way of telling I was related to anyone Jewish.

Having the children of Jewish mothers be considered Jews by the community at large is a rather clever way, especially considering how they have been treated over the centuries, of making sure you don't run out of Jews. Even if the women become apostates, or are raped or otherwise impregnated by non-Jews, their children would still be considered Jews. But it's a tenet of the religion, not a true "hereditariness." There's no "Jew gene" that's carried only by women, and having a religious tenet doesn't make a category into a "race" as people generally understand the word.

heet, I don't believe there's anyplace in the United States where one can be arrested and tried merely for motive rather than for an actual crime. That isn't how hate crime laws work. Just as murdering someone because they were a witness to a prior crime you committed or for profit carries a higher penalty than other murders, hate crime laws are considered special circumstances during the commission of other crimes.

Caveat: I'm not going to get into defending those laws, because I don't agree with a great many of them.

just to improve my English, could you expand on the meaning of "serving notice" above?

Rilkefan, I used the term in slang sense, as indicating that (1) the Republicans are going to fight for this nominee and (2) don't get into the death penalty issue. "Seving notice" also has a specific meaning as a legal term of art, which I didn't mean to reference (you serve a "Notice of Deposition," for instance).

Judaism is a religion; it's a culture; it might be considered a nation; it is not a race.

Casey, keep in mind that the same comment disclaimed any empirical notion of "race." Race is entirely a social construct. That said, within the societal framework, it is possible to talk about a Jewish "race." Not empirically valid; not preferred. Possible.

I think Melissa's take on the larger issues of assumptions is a pretty good one.

Er . . . there's no such thing as "Jewish blood." The child of a former Gentile woman who was a convert to Judaism is considered to be just as Jewish as anyone else. My father is Jewish, but that doesn't make me "half Jewish" or somesuch.

On this note, one of my best friends from childhood (and continuing through this day) had a Jewish father and a Gentile mother -- but the mother didn't convert. I understand that he did face some negative responses in Israel as a "half breed" (the term is in quotes because I understand that it was specifically applied to him). The response was a very much minority response among very conservative Jews, but it was present.

On the other hand, one branch of my family is Jewish -- by both birth and by conversion -- and they very much identify as such. I can't imagine that even the conservative Jews who hassled my friend would consider the fact that I share DNA with my relatives a "taint" upon their Jewish-ness.

BD:

Thanks for this. My objections to the earlier post, particularly in its initial form, were noted early and often, but it's great to see a public correction, particularly in the form of a new post, not just an addendum that 98 percent of the readers wouldn't see, since the post is off the front page.

My father is Jewish, but that doesn't make me "half Jewish" or somesuch.

FWIW you'd probably have been considered Mischlinge of the 2nd degree by the Nazis. Which goes to show, as von noted, that "race" is more a social construct than anything else.

What everyone said--classy. Thanks very much.

By the way, when I talk about how journalistic ethics and standards are separate questions from objectivity/partisanship, this is what I mean: no one would doubt that Charles is partisan (not meant as a criticism, I am too), but IMO this post also shows really first-rate journalistic ethics. Not that I'm an expert on journalistic ethics, but I do know that a lot of journalism profs and ombudsmen think newspapers, TV shows etc. should have a rule that a major correction or update like this should be run with the same prominence as the original story. Few newspapers actually follow this rule. (To be fair, this is one of the few rules of good journalism that it's a lot easier for a blogger to follow than a newspaper; we're not working under the same deadlines and space constraints.) When I say that "X is not a journalist"*, for example, I'm not talking about the lack of salary or a degree or a press credential from CBS, ABC, or wherever, or being a partisan Republican--I'm talking about the lack of a basic commitment to try to find out the truth about something and write about it. It's one thing for your political views to influence your view of the truth; that is to some degree inevitable. (Though you should try to minimize that influence to varying degrees--as much as possible without undercutting your ability to report accurately if you're an AP or news reporter; much less so as a blogger or Op-Ed writer, in the middle if you're a magazine writer.) I mean: if you realize that the facts conflict with your political views, which one wins? If it's never the facts, you're not a journalist in any sense.

*Yes, one possible value of X is "Jeff Gannon", but I don't want to turn this into another back-and-forth on "Gannongate"; that's not the point of what I'm saying.

lj,

If you have problems with Charles' assertions, you should take them up with him, not berate others for doing what you think should be done. Unless you are just using this as a way to attack people on the left.

My "problem" wasn't with Charles' assertion, I was merely contrasting the reactions to those two posts. But you knew that.

Alternatively, you could volunteer for the defense team of the suspects arrested for the killing and make it clear to the court that the possibility of Muslim radicals killing the Armanious family means that we should give these two the benefit of the doubt.

Feel free to post an open letter of apology to the Muslim radicals. Charles being insensitive and all, assumed that they made good on their threat.

Anarch, in response to FWIW you'd probably have been considered Mischlinge of the 2nd degree by the Nazis.

Oh, I'm keenly aware of that, which is part of the reason I hold the notion of "Jewish blood" and the like in disdain. Such a notion is more likely to be misused by people intending to do wrong than for any useful purpose. I'm fine with the idea of a "hereditary" line of Jewishness being determined by the mother, as long as it's understood to be metaphorical and spiritual in nature, rather than a literal hereditariness.

"On this note, one of my best friends from childhood (and continuing through this day) had a Jewish father and a Gentile mother -- but the mother didn't convert. I understand that he did face some negative responses in Israel as a "half breed" (the term is in quotes because I understand that it was specifically applied to him). The response was a very much minority response among very conservative Jews, but it was present."

On the other hand, one branch of my family is Jewish -- by both birth and by conversion -- and they very much identify as such. I can't imagine that even the conservative Jews who hassled my friend would consider the fact that I share DNA with my relatives a "taint" upon their Jewish-ness."

Matrilineal v. patrilineal descsent is a really contentious issue in Judaism. Orthodox and Conservative Judaism do not recognize the children of Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother as Jewish unless either the mother or the child converts. (The parents can decide on conversion on the child's behalf, so infants can be converted.) Reform Judaism, and I believe also Reconstructionist Judaism, take the position that whether the child of an interfaith marriage is considered Jewish depends not on the gender of the Jewish parent, but on the decision to raise the child as exclusively Jewish. The reform position is, if your mother is Jewish and your dad's Catholic and you are baptized and raised Catholic, you are not Jewish. If your father is Jewish and your mom's Catholic and you are raised Jewish (exclusively so--a large majority of Christian and Jewish clergy alike recommend that you raise your child in one faith or another rather than trying to split the difference), you're Jewish.

This generally bothers Conservative rabbis a lot, Orthodox rabbis a lot a lot, and it remains a source of contention even within Reform Judaism. Calling someone a "half breed" though, is not only really offensive, but also really bizarre. For most Conservative and Reform rabbis I don't think it's an issue of "Jewish blood" or racial purity at all. Everyone's heard of "cafeteria Catholics"--I think the conflict over patrilineal descent is more a resistance to "cafeteria Judaism" than anything else. And as someone who's going to be mildly personally inconvenienced by the matrilineal descent rule, and whose knee-jerk inclination is that of course the Reform definition makes more sense, I think the more traditional rabbis have a point in three respects:

1. The "a people as well as a religion" aspect of Judaism is paradoxically actually one of of the reasons I find it so appealing as a religion. I'm of the "faith without works is dead, works without faith is still pretty good" school, and there's a lot of that in Judaism, which means that it can be a source of the sort of strength we seek from religion even if you are having doubts about your faith in God. A Catholic funeral service is often very much about how the deceased is in heaven with Jesus because as a Christian she has been saved. Being told to be happy for someone who has just died because they're in a better place is always difficult at some level, but I assume that for someone certain of heaven the reassurance that their loved one is there and they will be reunited is also a tremendous comfort. But if the mourner is uncertain of her faith in God or Jesus or in heaven, and especially if the deceased his/herself had such doubts, it is not comforting; it can be the opposite of comforting. Whereas in a Jewish funeral, the focus is more on remembering and celebrating the life of the deceased in this world, and really mourning her death and comforting the bereaved. Obviously, prayers are also central, but what's defined as a mitzvah is saying Kaddish more than belief in the literal truth of its words.

Well. The central idea of Reform Judaism is that not all of the commandments (not the big ten, the 613 or whatever the # is mitzvot) are equally binding; that the "ethical commandments" are binding on all Jews but the extent to which one follows the "ritual commandments" and how best to follow all the commandments is left to the individual conscience. Again, this makes sense to me. Of course all forms of Judaism agree that if it's a choice between following some of the more technical requirements and preserving life, you preserve life; but given that it's literally impossible to fulfill all 613 commandments at once, and given the really really stringent demands of the "ritual" commandments....I also don't think it's worth prioritizing the dietary laws over your relationship with your parents (of course, MY disobedience of the dietary laws will have more to do with laziness & food snobbery than anything), or the sexual purity laws over your relationship with your male friends (unmarried men and women are supposed have very limited if any physical contact) or your husband.

So when you combine those things with a departure from the main way of carrying forward the Judaism-as-a-people tradition, I can see being concerned that Judaism will fade into an extremely vague instruction to "do unto others"--Unitarianism with a New York accent, bagel brunches, and a menorah instead of a Christmas tree. Nothing wrong with Unitarianism, but it's VERY different from Judaism as its existed for most of its history.

2. When you have survived as a people and a faith for three thousand years in the face of truly catastrophic persecution, one of the main mechanisms for ensuring that survival (as Phil explained) should not be lightly abandoned. The reform rules mean that the children of Jewish fathers are Jewish if they're raised that way, but they also mean the children of Jewish mothers are NOT if they're not raised Jewish. In a country where Christians outnumber Jews by a large margin, this may not be a good idea. IIRC recently it's become more common for members of interfaith couples to convert into Judaism than out of it, but for a very long time the opposite was true.

(Why not just automatically consider all children of Jewish parents Jewish? I suspect it's, 1) because they want to disincentivize intermarriage and incentivize conversion, and 2) as generations passed the numbers of people who were technically Jewish but had never practiced Judaism in any form at all would increase exponentially to the point where it diluted the meaning of what it meant to be Jewish to a really worrisome degree.)

3. In a world where anti-Semitism is still much too common and still gets people killed, it is very, very important to have all members of the community agree on the definition of who is Jewish, and for one branch of Judaism to unilaterally change the definition is seen as really presumptuous.

(Not only Reform Jews are the source of contention here; Orthodox Jews also refuse to recognize conversions performed by Conservative and Reform rabbis, and Conservative Jews do not automatically recognize conversions performed by Reform rabbis. Since only the Orthodox rabbinate is recognized by the Israeli state to perform conversions, funerals, marriages, etc. this as big legal ramifications. In general since the 1980s Reform and Conservative converts have been recognized as Jewish if they converted outside Israel, but not if they converted inside. But IIRC there was a very serious attempt to pass a bill through the Knesset removing recognition of conversions performed outside Israel for some purposes, which ultimately didn't succeed but came very close. Again, this obviously would have had huge legal ramifications in Israel. I'm not sure if it would have actually made converts (and therefore the children of female Reform and Conservative converts) ineligible for the Law of Return but it may have...I don't think American Reform and Conservative Jews expect to have to seek refuge from persecution in Israel, nor do they expect their children, grandchilren, great children, etc. to. But it has a really strong symbolic importance, which has played a big role in American Jews' sustained and effective political support of Israel. To be more or less told that some of their wives and children would not be welcomed as full citizens or not welcomed at all if the unthinkable happened, because they were only fake Jews converted by fake rabbis, did NOT go over well. I don't know what the current status of all this is--as I understand it, the bill didn't pass, and the Israeli Supreme court has tended to rule in favor of converts but it's usually on technical grounds--Israeli law does not separate church and state.)

In general, the Reform movement is moving towards stronger encouragement of performing more of the "ritual" mitzvot, especially when you're talking about conversions, and encouraging interfaith families of non-Jewish children to have the child, if not the mother, officially converted.

For adult conversion at the extremely politically liberal synagogue I sometimes go to (one rabbi gave the invocation at the DNC; very early and vocal supporters of gay marriage, etc.) the requirements are:
--a formal class
--ongoing discussions with a rabbi
--learning some Hebrew
--some serious experimentation with observing the kashrut and shabbat laws at least in part or in spirit
--going to Israel is strongly encouraged, though this can be waived for financial reasons, health reasons, concerns about terrorism, etc.
--examination before a bet din (three rabbis who ask you questions about Judaism to make sure that you are sincere, understand the nature of the commitment and make it willingly instead of due to family pressure, etc.)
--for women, a mikveh (a ritual bath)
--for men, literal or symbolic (if already circumsised by a doctor as an infant) circumcision. I belief this is waived if there is a serious health risk. However, this might be an additional argument for matrilineal descent: the conversion requirements for women are much less, er, invasive.

I believe this is would be recognized by a Conservative synagogue, which is good as far as both giving you and your kids more options--it's useful if the only synagogue in town or the one with the better rabbi is Conservative, for example. But you can't have an Orthodox conversion without pledging to follow all the laws of Orthodox Judaism. Most current Reform/Conservative converts can't honestly promise to do this--some of their husbands or in-laws would kill them if they did ;)--and it's obviously not an option to make such a promise if you can't do so sincerely. Lying to a rabbi is not exactly starting out on the right foot in your new religion.

Um. Anyway. That wasn't supposed to be half that long, but having written it I might as well post it. Caveats: not Jewish, could have some of this wrong.

Titling a post "Sharia vigilantism in New Jersey?" is really quite poor form. Just what on Earth did you wish to provoke us to think, Charles? Did you wish to scare people about the presence of Muslims in the country? To what purpose? What was the substantive political claim behind your original post? Or was it simply an exercise in cherry-picking news without any ulterior motive? Some soul-searching is in order.

Posted by: liberal japonicus | March 5, 2005 11:48 AM - Japonicus wrote:
- quote
Also, this NYTimes article has already written that despite the fact that the murder was not religiously motivated, the atmosphere has been poisoned. This is the price of passing these false conclusions on.
end quote -

I think the atmosphere was poisoned more than a few times by Islamic terrorists. How about the Cole, U.S. Embassies, Lockerbie, Pizza parlors, Numerous busses, Saddam gassing his own citizens - remember 9-11?

It will be up to Muslims to clean out the religious fanatics that murder innocents. Otherwise the reactions and thoughts will be the same each time tragedies/crimes like this are committed.


It will be up to Muslims to clean out the religious fanatics that murder innocents. Otherwise the reactions and thoughts will be the same each time tragedies/crimes like this are committed.

If that's the case, then it's up to Christians to clean house after the Lefkow murders? If it's different, I hope you can explain how so.

It will be up to Muslims to clean out the religious fanatics that murder innocents.

How? By excommunicating them? If some prominent Muslim in a position of authority came out tomorrow and said, "OK, all Muslims who commit murder or are thinking of it are hereby kicked out," would that pretty much settle it for you?

Otherwise the reactions and thoughts will be the same each time tragedies/crimes like this are committed.

So, every time someone is murdered by some non-Muslims seeking cash to pay back a debt, you're going to think, "Muslim fanatics did this?"

Just what on Earth did you wish to provoke us to think, Charles?

I didn't "wish to provoke" anything, Pedro. The initial point, based on the circumstantial information available at the time, was that this was a Muslim-on-Christian hate crime. Subsequent information came forth that was less determinative, and I updated the original post. When sufficient facts came forth on the motivations for the crimes, I wrote this post.

Did you wish to scare people about the presence of Muslims in the country?

Of course not.

To what purpose?

What I wish to do is bring to light certain forms of Islamic extremism and its violent and terrorist practitioners. This is an ideological war that we're in. The ones who have declared war on us hold certain beliefs, and those beliefs are predominantly of the Wahhabi, Salafi and Qtubist strains. The threat--and I believe it's a serious one--is that the neo-Salafis and their ilk are well financed by Saudis and they have a well-established infrastructure and network for spreading their intolerant and combative belief systems. I have no problem with most forms of Islam and its followers, as this post should have made clear. The problem is that they don't have oil-laden nations subsidizing and promoting their faiths.

What was the substantive political claim behind your original post?

I have no idea what you're talking about.

Or was it simply an exercise in cherry-picking news without any ulterior motive?

What is it with certain liberals and their obsession with trying to find "ulterior motives" to what conservatives write? I suggest reading the actual lines, not what you think is in between.

"What is it with certain liberals and their obsession with trying to find "ulterior motives" to what conservatives write? I suggest reading the actual lines, not what you think is in between."

If you think this is limited to liberals on this site, you are very wrong.

Query for the kitten -- would naming names constitute a posting violation?

pedro,
There has been a long ongoing discussion about the post that prompted this (contained primarily in the thread comments to the post in question as well as the post on Wahhabism which mentions the Armanious family obliquely, both of which are linked in the above post) and Chas has refined and restated his positions. While I don't 100% agree with them (I hesitate to put a percentage on it), it is not fair (nor productive) to go back to the original post and start all over.

"It will be up to Muslims to clean out the religious fanatics that murder innocents. Otherwise the reactions and thoughts will be the same each time tragedies/crimes like this are committed."

Sure, and until there are no sinning Jews, it's appropriate to be anti-Semitic. And until "blacks" clean out the lazy and shiftless ones, the reactions and thoughts to them will be the same. And until "whites" clean out the racists, the reactions and thoughts to them will be the same.

It's always fine to discriminate automatically against someone because of religon, race, gender, sexual preference, nationality, or any other category they fit into, so long as there are numbers of Bad Examples of such people running about. It's an extremely useful and correct way to think! Who could have reasonable cause to think otherwise?

Charles B.: Would it be fair to say then that what prompted you to comment on the speculation in question was your desire to make a point about the troubling ideology of Wahabbism and its variants? I have no problem with you or anyone else discussing that, notwithstanding our collective familiarity with that problem. What isn't kosher in my book is to reproduce damaging rumors, particularly when the "events" in question do not bear any substantive relevance to the argument you wish to put forward. The very fact that you have chosen to apologize for having written what you wrote suggests to me that you are aware that there you did something that wasn't right. Methinks the wrongdoing lied not so much in the falsehood of the information, but in the use of the information to make some sort of argument. Even if the crime had been perpetrated by Muslim extremists, it isn't appropriate to cast it as a symbolic and deeply meaningful instance of a clash of civilizations. How is it that it would be fair to make a substantive judgment on the community of Muslim-Americans (a chunk of which is supposedly "anti-pluralistic"), while it is not appropriate to read a post by a conservative writer as indicative of the irresponsible use of cultural prejudices by the right? (Read this question as trying to discredit both actions, rather than justifying them.)

As for the evils of Islamic extremism, I don't really see where left and right might disagree. I suppose that the institutionalization of Islamic democracy will bring about more disagreements, as it is unlikely that Islamic democracies will embrace the liberal tradition of jurisprudence. The left may be less inclined to make sweeping generalizations about Muslim communities, but it is certainly less inclined to celebrate the marginalization of homosexuals, the merging of Church and State, and the legislation of morality.

The very fact that you have chosen to apologize for having written what you wrote suggests to me that you are aware that there you did something that wasn't right. Methinks the wrongdoing lied not so much in the falsehood of the information, but in the use of the information to make some sort of argument.

The "wrongdoing", as you call it, had to do with making statements and opinions based on an incomplete set of information, and not making appropriate qualifying remarks. The other reason was to make clear that this crime didn't involve Muslims and to fully dissociate any connection which may have been made or construed in such fashion.

Even if the crime had been perpetrated by Muslim extremists, it isn't appropriate to cast it as a symbolic and deeply meaningful instance of a clash of civilizations.

Nor did I intend to. I don't know how many times I have to say this, but I have no objections to most forms of Islam or to the folks who practice those forms. The issue to me are the extremist sects, since that's where the violent and intolerant practitioners are. As I see it, there is no clash between western civilization and the Muslim world. However, moderate Muslims and most of western civilization are in a clash with the hardliners who are little too accepting of terrorism and way too accepting of rigid theocratic rule.

Sir:

I never "jumped to a premature conclusion." If you think I did, please specify with quotations. All I did was report on what numerous Copts told me, and I repeatedly emphasized that I did not know whether or not what they told me was true.

It is true that Copts told me what I reported. I drew no conclusions. If you did, that's your problem, but take the responsibility yourself; it is not mine.

Cordially
Robert Spencer
Director, Jihad Watch

For those interested,
Here are links to your site for the posts concerning this
The original is here
The main "retraction" is here (there are several ongoing stories before this)

Some questions for Mr. Spencer. You say you drew no conclusions, but wouldn't you admit that this 16 Jan posting be considered rather leading? I would also note that this is a mere 2 days after the killings.

Was this family brutally murdered because they provoked Muslims in a chatroom? Were they slain because of the Islamic legal imperative to kill those who are deemed blasphemers? Note also that Sylvia's throat was slit, in line with Qur'an 47:4. "'Islamic Hate' Eyed in Slays," from the New York Post, with thanks to decknxf:

You can claim that these are simply questions, but they are rhetorical in nature, presuming a conclusion.

Furthermore, in the 20 Jan post (6 days after the killing) that Chas referenced, you make no separation between what was told to you and what you are inferring. Did your source discuss the Koranic verses that you cite or the concept of taqiyya?

In your 3 March post, you write:

Let me be completely clear: I am not claiming that the information I have is necessarily accurate. It is a lead that should be followed. And in terms of the motive and the method of killing, it makes more sense of the case than any other theory. But that still doesn't mean it is accurate.

But why the double talk? Why did DeFazio deny receiving names and numbers, when I gave them to his office a month ago, and then suddenly remember? Why was this information apparently discounted without a serious investigation? And why did DeFazio get so testy when questioned about it?

Maybe there is nothing behind this more than a prosecutor who is forgetful and bereft of social skills. But he keeps managing to raise more questions than he answers.

In hindsight, isn't it as likely that DeFazio did not, indeed, could not rule out the possibility because a negative answer might have tipped off the suspects, but an affirmative answer would not only be a lie to you, but would cause even more friction?

You reported that the coptic tattoos were defaced when that was not the case, you reported that the throats and eyes were slit when they were not, you reported that your source vouched for computer threats, but one article said that there was only one computer at the residence, in the daughters' bedroom.

By encouraging others to raise questions about the investigation, you may have impeded police from investigating more traditional leads (such as financial records). The investigation was ongoing as is shown by this link

Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said Monday that more information linking McDonald to Sanchez, gleaned from surveillance after the slayings, should be available in the coming days.(emph mine)

As I noted above, justice delayed is justice weakened.

In Jihadwatch's latest post on this, Advisory Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald suggests that the suspects had links to Muslim from their time in prison and further adds

If these murders end up being the work of people who seemed not to be Muslims, that still does not rule out a Muslim connection.

There is no way to prove a negative, so claiming this is akin to clinical paranoia. He also claims

Islamic websites contained no outpouring of sympathy but rather glee. If Muslims had believed that no Muslims could have committed such acts, then they would have been vocal, up and down the land, denouncing suspicion. But they did not, and that is because they knew such a thing was hardly out of the question, given the attitudes that Islam inculcates.

However, local Muslim organizations were vocal as is shown here

More disturbing is the use of the WorldNetDaily article about the the Armanious family at their press conference said this

The relatives of a slain Jersey City, N.J., family came together at a press conference to call for an end to the rumors surrounding the deaths of their sister, brother-in-law and two children.
However, the WND article you posted quotes a Rev. Dr. Keith Roderick, who apparently was not at the press conference. According to the article, Dr. Roderick is affiliated with Secretary General of the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights which is "An International Civil Rights Movement for the Victims of Jihad and Islamization" as well as the Washington Representative of Solidarity International, which this article claims has lost its NGO status , in large part due to a Canadian goverment report debunking their slave redemption programs

Also, at the press conference, ths report has the following, which was unreported in the WND article

Emile Garas, the uncle of the slain family, told AIM that the New York Post had asked him if the family had fled persecution. "Not true," Garas told the Post reporter, who he said then published the theory anyway. The family is encouraging media to contact them directly with their questions. “We want the media to get their information right,” said Garas. Family members also said they had no knowledge of any Internet threats against the family, until they read about it in the press.


Finally, the family said this

“As we grieve the loss of our loved ones,” the family said, “we continue to demand and pray that justice be served. We respectfully request that such justice be rendered swiftly. As long as the murderers roam free, our streets are unsafe, and so we implore any person with information regarding the details of these brutal crimes to contact the appropriate authorities.”

I would suggest that your postings helped prolong the suffering of the family

Sir:

You are speaking about that which you know not. I am not going to take the time to unpack all your inaccurate and unfair assertions. Just a few examples:

1) You overlook the fact that even in what you quote above, I explicitly say that I don't know if this information is true.

2) I was never told anything by my sources about "eyes" being stabbed, and never reported anything to that effect.

3) Roderick was indeed at the press conference.

4) You have no idea of the relationship of my sources to the family, and I am not going to disclose it here, but I will say this: your assertion that my reporting on what my Coptic sources said prolonged the grief of the family is as inaccurate as it is offensive.

Cordially
Robert Spencer

In regard to your points

1. I can only go by what you have written, and looking at the post where you site the Coptic friend of the Armanious, I cannot tell where his words end and yours begin. Perhaps this is my failing, but I simply note it and hope others could tell me if I am right or wrong.

2. You are right, my apologies, I misread the 16 March post

3. I'm hoping you could provide a citation for Roderick's presence, the WND article is rather strangely worded on that part. I'm also wondering why Dr. Roderick, based in Washington(?) would travel up to Jersey for the press conference.

4. I respect the fact that you want to protect your sources and I did not demand that you reveal them. I am not sure how you can be so positive that you did not prolong the suffering, I certainly am not positive, hence the use of 'I would suggest...'

I also should apologize to WND as their article had all of the details, rather, it was your post which omitted parts of the press conference, something you did without indicating where you made the elisions. Why did you do this?

My apologies, but it will be about 6-7 hours before I return to the computer.

You wrote: "I also should apologize to WND as their article had all of the details, rather, it was your post which omitted parts of the press conference, something you did without indicating where you made the elisions. Why did you do this?"

This puzzled me, since I never reprint full articles for copyright reasons, but I always indicate where I omit sections. So I looked back at my post and the WND article and I saw that they are not the same. It looks as if WND revised the article at some point after I posted (I am not suggesting that their revision had anything to do with my post).

Cordially
Robert Spencer

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