November 26, 2008
Satire, Hitchens, Rotbart and fear
I am disgusted at Rob Eshman's opinion piece exposing author Christopher Hitchen's drinking to the public ("A Moderate Proposal" Nov. 21). It's not only disrespectful but irrelevant to the story and serves only to show Eshman's lack of decency and tact -- an irresponsible reporter who doesn't care about the consequences of what he writes.
My proposal would be to apologize.
It Can't Happen Here
Over Shabbat, I read Rob Eshman's column as I do every week and was further infuriated, as I had been for weeks, at the Mormon Church ("It Can't Happen Here," Nov. 14). What the print edition does not point out is that Rob's article is a work of satire, though this is indicated on the Web site edition. There is no indication that this is an opinion piece nor that it is false.
Maybe I wasn't getting the inherent satire, but my fear is that many others did not, as well. My friends and I, and I imagine many people who read the print edition, will take this article at face value as fact and not fiction and perhaps lash out.
An article like this is quite dangerous and plants seeds of hate. Once the rumor feathers have been spread to the wind, it's near impossible to collect them all.
As a regular reader of The Jewish Journal, I would like to apologize to Rob Eshman for all my fellow readers who failed to recognize his Nov. 14 editorial as satire.
Labeling a satire as satire, as some suggest, defeats the purpose of satire, which is to shock, ridicule, denounce or deride social conventions -- conventions such as, say, marriage being permitted only to us heterosexuals.
Was the editorial unfair? Yes. Was it demeaning? Most certainly. Did I cringe?
However, it merely used unfair and demeaning words to expose the unfair and demeaning treatment of human beings that is Proposition 8, an act that, in stripping away a fundamental element of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for a minority group, will join anti-miscegenation and Jim Crow laws as among the low points of American majority rule.
The Internet edition of this column ("It Can't Happen Here," Nov. 14) has the following comment after two lines, which makes it look like a possible afterthought: "Yes, this is satire."
No such proposition is in the works or even a gleam in any group's eye. The Jews have not been singled out for discrimination, just homosexuals. So why worry?
The printed newspaper does not include this comment. The paper was handed around at our Monday night poker game and no one found it funny, nor did anyone assume it was satire.
We live in a crazy world, where there are stories about what is happening in the South and the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan, etc. I was about to contact the American Jewish Committee about this column, as impossible as it seemed and as untrue as it appeared to all of us.
The fact is that people contributed $22 million to the Mormon Church and took a tax deduction, and they are singularly responsible for the passage of Proposition 8, so anything can happen in this crazy country.
Is it satire or is it not?
Harold L. Katz
Apology for the Jewish Vote
I don't think I'll sleep much tonight after reading parts of your Nov. 14 issue ("I Apologize for the Jewish Vote for Obama").
Dean Rotbart frightens me with his tunnel-vision apologies -- no wonder there is so much anti-Semitism.
Do clear-thinking people -- here where we sometimes manage to behave like a democracy -- really believe that Jews and Israel are all that matters?
Frightening, yes, but what an exciting time to be living. I applaud the diversity of your publication.
Rotbart's admonition that voting for Barack Obama is tantamount to voting for nuclear holocaust is sadly analogous to those among the tribe of Ephraim during our slavery in Egypt, who miscalculated the 400 years of exile commencing with the covenant and not the birth of Isaac.
They were just 30 years off the mark, and their intent was pure, albeit misguided. They paid for their miscalculation with their lives, slaughtered by the Egyptians.
Woe to those among us who heed the words of our misguided brethren, making public apologies to the likes of Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity and not having the wisdom to discern that sometimes the multitude gets it right.
Dean Rotbart's screed may be the most outlandish and repulsive article that you have published in The Journal. Who deputized him to speak for any segment of the Jewish population, whether they voted for Barack Obama or John McCain?
Rotbart is quite wrong when he states that he and his like-minded compatriots did not "act soon enough and forcefully enough" to prevent four out of five Jews from voting for Obama. He and his friends did quite enough.
What they did not take into consideration was that Jews would be more aware and informed about the issues they were considering and the gutter hyperbole put forth by Rotbart and his neocon friends would be rejected.
Dean Rotbart, did I miss the memo appointing you to be the official spokesperson for the American Jewish community? If there was no such appointment, then you have unmitigated gall to presume the right to apologize to anyone on my behalf.
If anyone is owed an apology, it is President-elect Barack Obama. You, the McCain/Palin campaign and the Jewish Republican Coalition (or whatever their name is) spread the most vicious lies about him. In fact, your opinion piece is nothing less than a continuation of the McCain/Palin campaign's lashon hara (malicious gossip).
You should be ashamed of yourself.
Andrew C. Sigal
An article in the Nov. 21 Giving Guide ("Weathering the Storm") incorrectly reported that Wilshire Boulevard Temple's historic sanctuary was closed indefinitely last month because it was "structurally unsafe."
In fact, Rabbi Steven Leder said, the damage is cosmetic. An e-mail sent to the congregation after a foot-long piece of plaster fell from the ceiling said the sanctuary was closed voluntarily until "proper testing and mitigation can be completed." Previously scheduled services have been moved to the Koreatown campus' Piness Auditorium.
The Journal regrets the error.