Thursday, March 15, 2018

Things People Blame the Jews For, Volume XLIII: Uber Turkey

Where ever Uber goes, so go complaints from the local Taxi industry. I have some sympathy -- really, I do. Uber isn't exactly known for playing by the rules, and it seems reasonable enough to demand that Uber face the same regulations as taxis generally (whether that entails leveling regulations up or down, I'm agnostic to).

But regardless of how you feel about Uber, nobody should be surprised about who's being blamed for its disruptive effect (in Turkey, at least).
The president of the Chamber of Istanbul Taxi Businesses has accused Uber of being a targeted attack on his industry carried out by what he called “the Jewish lobby”, Turkish Jewish newspaper Şalom said
“The global thieving Jewish lobby is carrying out commercial taxi piracy in Turkey,” Eyüp Aksu told a crowd of anti-Uber protesters outside an Istanbul courthouse.
He said the Turkish media were joining in, attacking taxi drivers with biased articles.
For the record, "global thieving Jewish lobby" is offensive and inaccurate. We prefer the term "Guild of Jewish Thieves," which is much cooler.

Anyway, I use Lyft, so presumably I'm exempt from blame here? (Obviously I'm kidding -- the whole point of this series is that there's no escape from blame for anything).

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Post- (and Pre-)National Roundup

No, this isn't about Tillerson (or Goldstein, or McEntee ... goodness, this was a hell of a morning). I delivered the lecture on Nationalism in our Political Theory class today -- which went fine, except that I also have to teach a section on Nationalism tomorrow and now I've used up all my knowledge on the subject. Time for many rounds of my old standbys -- "say more on that", "well, what do you think?", and of course "break off into small groups to discuss."

Anyway, roundup time!

* * *

Advances in turbine technology are making wind power a real player in electricity market -- and not grading on the "renewable energy" curve either.

A powerful story on a UC-Berkeley student living in an unheated trailer with no sewage hookup .... that he's about to be evicted from. This is an extreme story, but it gets to why I get very defensive when Berkeley students are attacked in the media as supposedly epitomizing careless, unserious millennial frivolity. Many of the students here are coming from places and backgrounds where they're well aware of what it means to be attending UC-Berkeley, and are behaving accordingly under conditions that God willing I'll never come close to. When they're lazily stereotyped as aimless hippie stoners, it disrespects them, their work ethic, their talent, and their perseverance.

U. Penn. Law Professor Tobias Barrington Wolff on his colleague, Amy Wax, whom he persuasively argues has converted into the academic equivalent of an Ann Coulter provocateur. This passage is also generally applicable:
What academic freedom does not provide, however, is a free pass entitling faculty who say inflammatory things to escape denunciation or to engage in toxic behavior without consequence. Invoking academic freedom to delegitimize sharp criticism or to claim impunity for improper conduct is a misuse of that principle.
Many people have seen Adam Serwer's excellent commentary on Tamika Mallory's relationship with Louis Farrakhan (a sterling example, incidentally, of how to explain the NoI's appeal to certain segments of the Black community without washing away it's hideously bigoted track record), but Stacey Aviva Flint is another good addition to the list of Black Jews whose opinions you should read on this matter.

Gretchen Rachel Hammond -- the half-Indian Jewish transwoman best known for breaking the story of the Chicago Dyke March expelling Jewish marchers and then being fired from her own newspaper for covering the story -- has a powerful piece detailing her experience and her "divorce" from the trans community in its wake. It is a poignant, cutting, and often very sad piece -- not the least because, for all her fulminations against "intersectionality", the concept in its original manifestation would be very well suited to articulating the sort of marginalization and exclusion Hammond details (one would not be off the mark in summarizing Hammond's experience as one of being "split at the root" -- Adrienne Rich's felicitous phrase which has often been approvingly quoted in the intersectionalist literature).

Monday, March 12, 2018

Trump's Mideast Peace Plan is Going To Be YUGE!

The Trump administration is getting ready to announce its big Mideast Peace Plan. Details are sparse, but we already know a few things which won't be included:
According to the report, the officials said the plan does not have a set of guiding principles.
Also, they said, the plan also does not prescribe whether the outcome should be one states or two states, nor does it call a “fair and just solution” for Palestinian refugees.
The White House must now figure out how to present the plan so that it is not immediately rejected by the Palestinians.
I'll bet.

Things People Blame the Jews For, Volume XLII: Russian Meddling in American Elections

Vladimir Putin wants you to know that it might not be (ethnic) Russians behind the attempts to meddle in the U.S. elections. It might have been Ukrainians. Or Tatars.

Or Jews.

Of course Jews.

And of course, people have thoughts on Putin suggesting maybe all this election interference really traces back to the Jews.

There's a bad piece by David Klion trying to defend Putin from charges of antisemitism, which asks why Putin "singled out" Jews alongside Ukrainians and Tatars (the latter two are maybe easy to explain -- they're the two largest ethnic minorities in Russia. Jews are ... not in third place), answers "it's complicated", and then seems to entirely forget to explain what's "complicated" about it in favor of a stirring ode to the advances Jews have made since the era of the Tsars and a list of all of Putin's good Jewish friends.

There's a better piece by Anshel Pfeffer, which seeks to absolve Putin of personal antisemitism while noting that he has long been willing to tolerate it as a useful vector for stirring up anti-Western resentment.

And then there's the best piece by Talia Lavin, who agrees with Pfeffer that Putin generally "launders" antisemitism through allies or (in this case) trolling, but observes that this doesn't actually provide absolution for promoting antisemitism.

Read them in order, and feel yourself getting smarter.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

One Great Argument Against Anti-BDS Laws? Who Enforces Them

In the abstract, there are solid arguments for or against anti-BDS laws (so long as they're written narrowly and carefully to avoid impinging on constitutional free speech rights).

In practice, anti-BDS laws are enforced by state bureaucrats. And state bureaucrats -- well, state bureaucrats are often the worst.

Hence, putting said bureaucrats in a position to embarrass the anti-BDS cause with boneheaded applications that create PR disasters -- as we've seen in Texas, Kansas, and most recently Arizona State University -- maybe isn't the best tactical move for people who oppose BDS.

Read the full argument in my new column for the Forward.