October 26, 2010
Letters to the Editor: David Mamet, Loyaty Oath, Leftist paper
A Kipling Query
In David Mamet’s article “How Not to Be a Stranger in a Strange Land” (Oct. 8), he wrote: “My favorite poet was a Jewish man from Krakow, Rudolph Klepsteen. He wrote under the name of Rudyard Kipling.”
I am curious as to where he got this information. According to Wikipedia, Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay. Having grown up in India under British rule, I was always under the impression that he was British.
Editor’s note: Mamet was being facetious.
Loyalty Oath Controversy
Israel’s proposed Loyalty Oath is wrong and dangerous for all the same reasons that loyalty oaths in the United States during the McCarthy era were wrong and dangerous (“A Debate on Israel’s Loyalty Oath,” Oct. 22).
In 1952, concurring in the unanimous Supreme Court opinion in Wieman v. Updegraff, striking down a loyalty oath, Justice Hugo Black wrote that “[h]istory indicates that individual liberty is intermittently subjected to extraordinary perils. Even countries dedicated to government by the people are not free from such cyclical dangers. The first years of our Republic marked such a period. Enforcement of the Alien and Sedition Laws by zealous patriots who feared ideas made it highly dangerous for people to think, speak, or write critically about government, its agents, or its policies, either foreign or domestic. Our constitutional liberties survived the ordeal of this regrettable period because there were influential men and powerful organized groups bold enough to champion the undiluted right of individuals to publish and argue for their beliefs however unorthodox or loathsome.”
Justice Black condemned the Oklahoma loyalty oath as “but one manifestation of a national network of laws aimed at coercing and controlling the minds of men.” Loyalty oaths “are notorious tools of tyranny. When used to shackle the mind, they are, or at least they should be, unspeakably odious to a free people.
“Our own free society should never forget that laws which stigmatize and penalize thought and speech of the unorthodox have a way of reaching, ensnaring and silencing many more people than at first intended. We must have freedom of speech for all or we will, in the long run, have it for none but the cringing and the craven.”
If the Israeli government truly aspires to democracy, not tyranny, it will reject the Loyalty Oath as “unspeakably odious to a free people.”
David Suissa defends the proposed loyalty oath by arguing that Israeli Arabs shouldn’t complain because their lives would be so much worse in other Middle Eastern countries (“Why the Loyalty Oath Is a Good Deal,” Oct. 22). However, he does not present any arguments as to why the oath is a good idea. In my view, such a requirement can only serve to exclude and marginalize one group of citizens. It would be as if the United States demanded that Native Americans and Mexican Americans, who, like the Arabs, were militarily defeated and had their territories annexed, be forced now to recite some special formula of allegiance not required of others. Ethnic minorities have repeatedly sacrificed for America by fighting our enemies, just as Israeli Arabs serve in the IDF; that is their loyalty oath. No democratic nation can legitimately command the support of its citizens without guaranteeing them equal treatment in return.
Peter L. Reich
Professor of Law, Whittier Law School
Leaning to the Left
After reading the Oct. 15 edition of The Jewish Journal, I’m left with no doubts. The Journal has now become an official organ of the left wing of the Democratic Party and rarely a magazine about Jewish affairs. From the ridiculous cover, including a quote from Marty Kaplan, who is as far left as left can go, to Ron Kampeas’ piece warning Jewish officials about a possible scary GOP victory, thereby scaring Jews into voting Democrat, to Raphael Sonenshein’s piece vilifying and demonizing Republicans, it knows no bounds in its Democrat agenda.
Has The Journal not figured out that more Jewish voters are turning away from the Democrats because they see what they are doing to the country? Two years of Democrat rule and the country is passing along billions in debt to our children, allowing voter intimidation, destroying our health care system, and cutting Medicare benefits by $500 billion. This administration is undermining the State of Israel, lukewarm against terrorism, not protecting our borders and interior against illegal immigration, and assaulting an American state, Arizona, that is trying to do the job that the federal government has failed to do. Let’s concentrate on “never again” instead of Democrat propaganda.