I could have gone and stood with a crowd of hundreds on West Street. Why didn't I? Because I had this issue of the Spectacle to get ready, because I don't like crowds especially in hot weather, and because all too often I would rather (despite everything) have television mediate events for me rather than confront them close-up. Years ago someone memorably told me I have a "television brain" and I'm afraid it is true. Aaron Brown told me what the bells mean, who was marching in the procession, the history and markings of the steel beam which followed the stretcher-bearers on a truck. I am addicted to information. But if I had gone down to West Street the ceremony itself, watched in silence, would have been part of my experience.
I can be reached as always at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi I live in Perth Western Australia and have a number of Jewish friends and acquaintances who have never been to Israel nor do they have a wish to go, though this may change sometime in the future, all of us can and do change our minds on many things for many reasons, I also have made a couple of acquaintances who were born in Israel and now live in Perth and they appear to have a different attitude to separation of Israeli/Jewish discussions and do not always just accept that what Israel does must always be in the right .... in fact they live here because they do not agree with much that the Israeli government does. Over the the years we have had discussions, some heated and animated regarding the history of the founding of the state of Israel ... it never ceases to amaze me that anything that Israel may have cause to be criticized about seem to have been systematically cleansed from the minds of our local Jewish friends and their minds then locked to prevent any reality checks. The fact that many of the founding fathers of Israel were regarded as terrorists by the other side appears completely lost on our local jewish friends. I have long held a belief that it depends whose shoes you are standing in when you write history as to how the history will read. Your article on Deir Yassin is the first I have ever seen that addresses and to some extent supports my view that to criticize the state Israel is not anti-Semitic. Thanks for the article.
Bill Edwards email@example.com
(Hello again.) I continue to enjoy the Ethical Spectacle, very much. I thank you, for your efforts. Irrespectively, I fear you might be "preaching to the converted". Presuming your audience to be North American, in the main, I question not only how numerous might be those with a significant interest in the topic, but also their capacity for comprehension. An expression you have used, "A complete suspension of independent thought.", defines the American intellect, which represents the crux of the problem: the reason by which the situation is at this miserable pass is the unconditional support of Israel by the United States. In turn, the American state is afforded that position by a university-educated electorate which is mostly semi-literate, uncultured and generally ignorant. It is my position that the stupefaction of the American public having risen exponentially from an already critical state of intellectual atrophy -- the election of Bush Jr., to wit -- to expect the conflict to abate would be completely irrational.
Sincerely, Anthony Alexandre AnthonyAlexandre@hotmail.com
I first came to your site via other links since such concepts as "liberty", "Free Speech", and such words as "rights" have always fascinated me. I am originally from Iran and I have to admit that the eastern philosophy does not deal with interactions amongst men but is more concentrated on the individual and his/her freedom from the "wants" of the world. In reality the Eastern philosophies does not engage a man with another man but a man with himself. This is perhaps one of the reasons that you do not find much of the Middle East not to have enjoyed such concepts as "Free Speech" and "liberty" because for the most part they have always looked up to someone else for leadership, therefore the creation of Kings and monarchs as the gate keepers and fathers of the country. A lot can be said on this but in general I hope you see the point. I am part of a group that are helping with the development of an educational series on these concepts for Iranians with the understanding that no one can be liberated if they don't know what liberty means. We hope this undertaking can come live the 2nd part of this year. Have you ever considered writing articles about Iran & how understanding liberty can help a country like Iran? I would be very much interested in hearing your viewpoints and thoughts. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Kami Razvan Kami@ClickandPledge.com
Hi, I found your article on "Breakfast of Scorpions" published in spectacle.org superb and great piece of work... it is right on and well balanced! Let's hope that every citizen of the world sets their mind as yours. Your article well described the bravery, courage, and knowledge that you have contributed to describe the issue of Palestine and Israel. There has been mention of Islamic war and Hamas in your article; however I failed to read mention of Hezbollah and support that they receive from Islamic Regime of Ayatollah and their related interference.
It would be great to read your viewpoint on Islamic Regime of Iran, and relation of other nations such as Brits and European community and their interference in the Middle East issue.
I took the liberty forwarding your article to my list, to the attention of people who are fighting to gain Freedom in topic within the context of liberty and free speech. Looking forward to read more of your writings, I remain;
One thing I have been thinking about vis-a -vis Israel's dealing with Palestinians is that not only do they subscribe to an eye for an eye, they believe they are entitled to an eye, two arms, a lung, liver and leg for an eye. And Sharon has high hope of tearing out the Palestinian heart as well. The Palestinians seem resolute enough to keep their heart safe, however we don't know how intact and functioning it will stay over the long run. So your prediction of 50 more years without resolution and reconciliation may be accurate.
Annette Swierzbinski firstname.lastname@example.org
Sylvie Vogelgesang email@example.com
Please take the time to read all of this. While doing a research project on Auschwitz I came across your site. It was very helpful and gave me a lot of information. However, while reading your link entitled What I learned from Auschwitz, I became very disturbed. You said that Auschwitz showed that God does not exist. You said that even if there is a God, he caused or permitted the destruction of Jews, gypsies and other victims. I believe that God loves us and doesn't want us to and doesn't approve at all of humans hurting, beating or killing any of our fellow humans. We are the literal sons and daughters of God, and what parent doesn't care about and love their kids more than anything in the world? Now if there is no God, then what is the purpose of life? If there is no God, then there is no eternal progression, and once one is dead, they are gone forever. If God doesn't exist, it doesn't really matter what we do, and it doesn't really matter if people are mean or nice or if 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust, because once people are dead, they are gone. However, there is a God, and therefore there is eternal progression. Once we are dead, we aren't gone forever, because there is a life after death. What we do on earth will count for or against us, depending on whether we did good or evil.
Not only does God exist, but he loves us. He loves us so much that he gives us agency and he will not take that away. We have the agency to choose our actions, but God chooses the consequences. In Deuteronomy 30:19 it says, "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live." The scriptures also say "Wherefore men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable unto himself." These scriptures also bring up a few other points. First, God does not inspire evil, Lucifer, the devil, Satan, does. Satan tempts and prompts men to do evil and if men follow those temptations, then God will ultimately punish them. However, no one is perfect and everyone had succumbed to the temptations of the devil many times in their lives. So if no one is perfect and everyone will listen to the devil, and God punishes those who follow the devil, then there is no hope for anyone, right?
However, in John 3:16 it says "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Again, there is says that God loves us and cares enough about us that he made a way that we can repent of our sins (that the devil inspired) and have everlasting life. Notice that the scripture says everlasting life, which means that there is a life after death. And if there is a life after death, then there must be a God. Second, men can choose their actions. God gives us agency, which is the power to choose. God could take that away, but he doesn't because he loves us. Although we can choose our actions, we cannot choose the consequence. Every choice we make will trigger a consequence, whether it is good or bad.
God gave Hitler, Mengele and Hoss agency to choose their actions, and very unfortunately they chose to do evil instead of good. For every choice there is a consequence, and God will punish those who deserve punishments as he sees fit and just. God is a just God, but he is also a merciful God. For instance, take the example of September 11. You might say "where was God when evil men hijacked airplanes that rammed into the WTC, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania?"
Now God gave men their agency, so he didn't strike down the hijackers with a lightning bolt, but he did intervene in his own way.
September 11 was a Tuesday, a normal busy workday at the WTC, where 40,000-50,000 people work. Had all these people been in the building when the plane hit, the results would have been even more disastrous than they are at present. As of now I believe the death count is somewhere around 5,000. 5,000 is very different from 40,000. I have heard numerous survivor stories where a child was sick, and the parent decided to stay home from work to take care of him, and therefore wasn't in the building when it fell. One woman got stuck in traffic. One person stayed home that day for some reason, when they had never missed work before. One person decided to jog to work, and wasn't in the building when the plane hit. People from one particular church had a meeting in the WTC, and every single person invited was somehow delayed. There are many more stories such as these, which show that God cares, and, while he won't take away people's agency, he will prompt people to do things that will be in their benefit.
Your very last sentence is "We are on our own." Nothing could be farther from the truth. God is with us, and so is the Holy Spirit. God and the Holy Spirit are two separate beings. The Spirit is basically what people refer to as our conscience, for it prompts us and gives us guidance. God has given us prophets that he talks to and gives them guidance to give to us. He has also given us the scriptures, from which prophets of old have written down the Lord's teachings, commandments and guidance. The presence of evil in the world does not discount God but rather confirms the reality of the devil. If there was no God then people would not feel compelled to resist evil and there would be no good in it at all. Although there seems to be an increasing trend of evil acts by people it is great to know in the end God and good people everywhere will triumph over the devil and evil. I know that these things which I have said are true. There is a God, who loves and cares about each and every person individually. He knows every single person that ever lived and ever will live and cares about his or her personal lives very much. He gives us agency to make decisions, again because he loves us. I know that He lives. Sincerely Someone Who Believes
Surfed independent thinking, to your site. Washed ashore on the lawyer page. While killing all the lawyers would be a just cause, inflicting what they earned and solve the single greatest social contradiction where lawyers exist, no form of force can achieve any sustainable goal within a species predicated on the human mind, a reasoning device. All contradictions created by humans are promptly resolvable, regardless of the human opposition. One need only learn the design of the human mind, a task not possible for the institutionally altered (power-damaged) mind, leaving it remarkably vulnerable. I wish you the best in all things.
Doug Buchanan firstname.lastname@example.org DougBuchanan.com http://www.think.ws
I am a college student working on a research paper holding that requiring public libraries to use filtering software is unconstitutional. I am looking for the number of websites that are added to the web daily. I have tried searching the net, but haven't located that information. Could you point me in the right direction? I have read and will cite your paper "Purchase of Blocking Software By Public Libraries is Unconstitutional." Thanks for your excellent work. If you have other pointers for me on this subject, in particular, the duties of libraries and librarians and why the thought process for censorship should remain with the librarian, and anything else along those lines, I'd appreciate it. My report will be presented on May 24.
Thank you. Sincerely, Mary Peterson
I am a high school student in Atlanta, Georgia and I am doing a directed study as one of my courses. I am required to use the internet as a resource and since my school uses x-stop, I am banned from websites that have absolutely no controversial material at all on them. My directed study is on the Technical Theatre and My primary source was recently blacklisted by X-stop. I would like to commend you on your efforst to remove the software from public libraries and other government funded libraries. I find it impossible to use the internet at school. Every other website I got to is blocked these days. Thank you for your efforts
Taft Forrest Barnett
I just got finished reading the well-written book, Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally. It sparked my interest, and I decided to jump on line to look up more information about this great man Oskar Schindler. I came across an article, on The Ethical Spectacle, called The Unconscious Hypocrisy of Schindler's List (Vol. I No. 1 January 1995). What I found interesting about this article is that it shows no knowledge that Spielberg's Schindler's List is based on a book, written over 10 years before the movie, which in turn is based on a true story.
Maybe I should let it go. After all, the article is one of the first ones written for the Spectacle. However, the article still remains, and the mission statement of the Spectacle is after all "to shine a lantern." If Spielberg's Schindler's List was my only proof of Schindler and I read the "Hypocrisy" article, I would come to the conclusion that Schindler was a fictional person.
You begin by comparing E.T.: The Extraterrestrial with Schindler's List, which to me seems a stretch, aside from the fact that ET is a fictional story and Schindler's List is a true, autobiographical story: "Has no-one noticed that Schindler's List is a remake of ET, The Extraterrestrial? In both films, a bug-eyed but very endearing alien is rescued from the forces of darkness by a lonely boy (in the case of Schindler's List, a boy-man). In each movie, the loveable alien must face death, then returns and assures the boy (man) of its love before heading off to its own world. If you think about it, the physical resemblance between ET and Ben Kingsley is rather startling (and compare both to Whoopi Goldberg-- The Color Purple was ET with black people.) ET is the only movie Steven Spielberg knows how to make. Schindler's List is a very affecting film (as was ET), but a dishonest view of the Holocaust."
I beg to differ on the statement that ET is the only movie Spielberg knows how to make, but that is a whole new article. But comparing a fictional movie, dreamt up in the mind of Spielberg himself is much different from depicting a real historical figure. That includes, in my opinion calling the movie "dishonest". But I decided to give the author a chance, I mean just because you compare the movie to ET does not mean that you think Schindler is fictional. But it gets worse:
"No-one, of course, would have gone to see an honest movie about the Holocaust. It would have been in German (or Czech, Polish, French, Dutch, etc.) with subtitles. It might begin with a middle-class Jewish family living comfortably in Germany in 1933. It would have tracked the changes in their life after Hitler's election; the events of Kristallnacht, November 10, 1938, as they are beaten up and their windows broken; their arrest and shipment to a concentration camp; at movie's end, they are gassed at Dachau; the final shot, smoke and ash billowing from incinerator smokestacks at night."
Okay, let us forget about how the plot of the movie would have gone. If you want to make a movie with the plot mentioned here, that is fine. But the plot in Schindler's List was a true story. But as I read on, I find that I have to keep repeating myself. But I try not to come to the conclusion that you actually think Schindler is fictional until last word. But the first sentence of this next paragraph was the proof I needed:
"Schindler's List is dishonest because the number of Schindlers in Germany, or for that matter anywhere in Europe, was so small as to be statistically insignificant."
There you have it. Oskar Schindler is officially rolling over in his grave. You are probably right about the number of Schindlers in the world, but there was one Schindler who happened to be important, especially to the lives of over a thousand Jews. I almost felt embarrassed and that, even though I did not write the article, felt I must apologize to any Schindlerjuden (Schindler Jews) still alive who might come across an article like this. That in mind, I had problems with the rest of the paragraph as well: "But Hollywood cannot tell the story of the everyday or mainstream, not the humdrum ordinary or, apparently, even the horrible ordinary. Hollywood must always be about exceptions. Its films cannot portray everyday work; the employee must defy his boss, quit his job or rob his company at gunpoint. To relate the story of the extermination of six million Jews (and four million others, lets not forget; not only Jews died in the camps), Hollywood must pick the happy story of a man who rescued Jews, even though there were so few who did. (Why not tell the story of the teenage Roman Polanski instead? The family to which his father entrusted him as the Warsaw ghetto was being encircled sent him back--but kept the money they had been paid and all his belongings.)"
This may be a logical complaint. However, the book Schindler's List having been written in the early 80's, a movie based on the story of Schindler has been long overdue. I believe that people rely a lot on movies anymore for both knowledge and entertainment (good or bad thing). With that in mind, it is Hollywood's duty to at least produce something that is informative to the public. The story of Schindler did not appear in any of my history books, so for a lot of people, the book and/or the movie is the only way they know about Schindler: "Steven Spielberg is Jewish, but was incapable of making a story about the Jews; he must adopt a heroic Gentile as the center of his story. Why? He must have felt--lets grant the grace that these were all unconscious choices--that we Jews are still the outsider, the other, even in sympathetic America; that no-one would relate to a Jewish story. Schindler's List is of a piece with those movies about other ethnic groups that set a kindly white person in the foreground. Barbara Hershey in A World Apart; Donald Sutherland in A Dry White Season; Sissy Spacek in A Long Walk Home; Sam Waterston in The Killing Fields; all these examples come to mind, but there are hundreds of others." Okay, but again, since Schindler's List, is a true story, Hollywood has no control over whether or not the hero of the film is white, black, or plaid. This next paragraph proves, at least, that you did not read the book: "There is a very revealing bit of business in Schindler that resembles a similar bit in The Killing Fields. When Schindler, atop the hill with his mistress, watches the clearing of the ghetto, amidst the black and white panorama, we see the sole touch of color in the whole movie: a little girl wearing a red dress. Why has Spielberg engaged in this fantasist touch? So that when the prisoners forced to burn bodies later come upon the little girl's corpse, we can recognize her, amidst the hundreds of other bodies, by the tatters of the red dress. In The Killing Fields, we see a more realistic or veristic scene, a man with a plastic bag on his head being dragged away; later, when Dith Pran passes the man's floating corpse, we recognize it by the bag. What's really going on here: in each case, the director needed a gimmick, a red dress or a plastic bag, to allow us to identify an otherwise anonymous, fungible corpse among the mass of corpses. In each case, its not hard (while acknowledging some real-world problems for the story-teller, to make a corpse noticeable, among so many) to detect a racist subtext: just as the other director may have needed the plastic bag because he feared that, to his audience, all Cambodians look alike, Spielberg may have feared that all his Jews (little girl included) would blend together, while only Schindler, the Gentile, stood out. And for the most part, the Jews in Schindler's List do blend together." "Why has Spielberg engaged in this fantasist touch?" you ask. Well, maybe it is because Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler's List, decided to "engage in this fantasist touch." I assume you are talking about little "Red" Genia. Thomas Keneally talks specifically about Genia's favorite color being red. She wears her little red cap and red coat (red, Keneally points out, being the color of passion). The scene in which Schindler is on the hill watching the commotion in the street is also in the book. Schindler is described as noticing one particular little girl in red, Genia, as she appears to him in such a contrast from everything happening around her. More proof that you did not read the book, or probably were not paying attention to the movie, or just not using logical sense, is in this next paragraph: "It is very hard also to watch the Jews in the movie becoming pets. Schindler appears to be attached to them as if they were so many turtles; again, I am reminded of the children dressing up ET in their mother's clothes, or carrying him around on their bicycles. God bless Oskar Schindler for protecting the Schindlerjuden, whatever his motives; but there are times in the movie when he appears to think of them as if they were so much property."
It may have seemed at times that Schindler thought of the Jews as his property because he had to appear that way. At least, he tried to, but a lot of people around him did suspect his care for the Jews. Schindler was already thrown in jail for giving a friendly peck on the cheek of a Jewish woman. Schindler felt that if the Nazis knew how he really felt about the Jews he would be taken away, and everything he had been doing to save these people would be lost. For in the book, as in my opinion portrayed in the movie, Schindler made it a priority of his to save as many Jews as possible, but he did not want the label of "savior" placed on him for fear that his plans would be halted and he would be sent to Auschwitz himself.
At this point, my letter is probably too long, and I would like to skip ahead: "And it is doubtful that the making of the movie has changed anything. Despite the hype, movies about the Holocaust (and better ones) have been made before. The ability of films to educate us morally, to change our lives, is more latent than potent. Most films, even ones about controversial, political or inspiring topics, are not conceived for this purpose, but rather, its opposite: anesthesia and the final excision of an issue from public debate. Like an oyster coating an impurity to produce a pearl, a Hollywood movie typically encases and suppresses the issue or event it is based on. Put another way, it is the final washing of the hands after history has gone to the bathroom. On May 4, 1970, four students at Kent State, demonstrating against the war, were shot to death by the National Guard. The final hiccup of public attention to these now-forgotten events was a TV miniseries some ten or eleven years later."
I remember going to my history class in high school, and students, me included, would say, "I don't like history class, learning about old guys that did things and are now dead." I remember watching Schindler's List in my class. I remember a few students crying when they saw the scene which "Red" Genia's body is in a pile of bodies in a wheelbarrow, bodies to be included in the mass burnings. I remember that, with my school being an inner city school, a few of the students from the inner city would comment how it is like that where they live. I remember a few of these same students, this also being an arts magnet school, drew black and white pictures, for their art project, depicting their own neighborhood, and then commenting that it was inspired after watching Schindler's List. I also remember the several documentaries on PBS and other networks that were either about the real Schindler or were inspired by the movie.
The problem with history education is that many people find it hard to believe, and maybe that is our fault. Despite what the author says in the "Hypocrisy" article, the way this movie was made (the camera movements, the score, the direction, etc.) was very realistic to me and to several other people who watched it. Even the Schindlerjuden, those still alive today, have expressed how real the movie was for them. In closing I would like to say to you that I do not care if you liked the movie or not, before you write a whole big article on something, do some research. I am not saying that you should go out and the book (although it would not hurt). But at least try to get all the facts straight before comment on something.
Michael Colon email@example.com
Somehow, in my random travels on the ether, I landed on My Twentieth Century.
I quite enjoyed it. Thank you.
leandro asnaghi-nicastro - editor in chief
capital of nasty - http://con.ca/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Just a quick note regarding the article I've just read on Orwell's 1984. I just wanted to say that I'm not entirely convinced you've got the right end of the stick with this book. Having read the majority of his essays, letters and journalism, one can see the germ for 1984 coming through in his writings both during and after the war. Basically, I happen to think that 1984 isn't necessarily a prediction, more a warning. Human beings are generally regarded as shit - I've heard a lot of people say this, and to a certain extent it's true - we are not the heroes we see on television or in books who sacrifice our lives for ideals, that's very very rare, for most people would rather stay alive and would drop their desires or ideals when told to do so by someone holding a gun to their head.
Orwell has said something along the lines of 'to believe you can be mentally free in a totalitarian state is a phallacy', basically he is saying that the body affects the mind (think especially of the torture sequence at the end of the book) and that physical oppression will always win out over attempts of mental liberation - not because the individual stops trying to revolt, but because essentially, the majority of people will tell themselves (even if they are forced to do this) that they'd rather stay alive and that what Big Brother is telling them is true, even if somewhere in their heart they don't believe it.
I don't think Orwell is calling people shit - they already are, what he is saying is in fact that the moderation you talk of in your essay is democratic socialism and that this, coupled with a sense of decency is a decent thing to strive for. What he is also saying is that to believe politics will not affect you and that no matter which regime you can be under you will be free, is totally erronous - one must get involved in politics if we do not want to risk losing our liberty.
It is not an anti-communist book - Animal Farm had adequately done this. In essence, your essay is generally backing up what 1984 stands for, it's only that Orwell's book has a bad ending and that's difficult to come to terms with, but it will be the outcome if extremism is not fought. George Orwell was right.
Oliver Styles O O.Styles@rhul.ac.uk
Your discussion of The Death Penalty Legend in the July  Spectacle was moving and convincing. As must be done if we are going to convince the broad spectrum of capital death supporters that state killing is murder nonetheless, you addressed the issue from many perspectives. The psychology of public murder is complex, and it has yet to be soundly refuted as a legitimate recourse in "civilized" societies in large measure because of the influential hypnosis of authority over individual choice and "morality." You neatly summed up the elements of this issue in your essay, and I recommend all who have not read it to take time out of today and do so as a matter of urgency and social responsibility. The information you offer regarding primed and unfired muskets discovered on the battlefields of the Civil War, as indicators of individual conscience overriding obvious tension with the strong motivation to please authorities--this kind of information is empirical evidence of a morality that challenges collective inculcation into jingoistic group thinking, even under the harshest possible conditions for the survival of an individual conscience. Likewise, you explore the strong drive that compels humans to conform, even to the extent of participation in the legend-formation that permits public murder to be propagandized as if it were a limb of public morality grasping for the perfected social order. This is among the most insightful essays I have read in many years. I highly recommend it to your readers, and suggest its eligibility for broad dissemination as we attempt to define justice in an emerging global "civilization" which is itself too comfortable with marginalizing some lives as viable and important and minimizing others as illegitimate and expendable. Your observations about the true motivations of "civilization" itself deserve keen attention, to which I eagerly direct the attentive reader of The Ethical Spectacle, urging so curious and concerned a reader to contemplation instead of practiced, easy and habitual criticism. There is too much to gain here. It should be read and absorbed, understood and acted on.
Ben G. Price BenGPrice@aol.com
Hi, I just visited your web page, and it's really great. I've been reading up on the holocaust for a few years, and your site taught me even more about it.
Thanks for your time, Elyssa Dull
Thank you for making it a little bit understandable for all evil that has happenend , my family, all 135 persons where killed in Oswiecim, out of pain I was never able to read/ deal with the facts. this is the first time I dared doing so
Thank you Ellen Erwteman email@example.com
Am finding this issue (as always) of The Ethical Spectacle very interesting, and am pleased to have shared my article (re: execution) with your readers. I may be sending others for your consideration. This note is to thank you for the excellent page, An Auschwitz Alphabet. I had read some in that section before, and today, spent much more time there--and will return. Informative, sad and sobering, and with the reporting of other examples of man's inhumanity to man, I am deeply impressed with your motivation to educate through your writings and website. You are to be commended for your devotion to making this website possible...thank you. There are few who courageously express truth--and examine ideas objectively--you do this through your writings and reporting--and through your online magazine as a forum for others to participate--you are rare.
Christine Smith firstname.lastname@example.org