Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two more, with nuance. Plus one more

Stephen Kinzer on Leonard Lopate. The most interesting thing I heard was that the inclusion of Islamists in Turkish democracy was the end of Islamism as a threat to Turkish democracy. Less interested in the claim that peace talks are counterproductive with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

I'm a little surprised that I like this Tony Judt piece at the NYTimes. He's wrong in some ways that he ought to find embarrassing. Consider, Israel does not have a Constitution, but he claims it does. (Before people think, "OMG, Israel is evil," England doesn't have a Constitution, either.) And though it's a less simply factual matter, there's another way that he's wrong which is more serious. He's wrong, as he always is, as this is a major point for him, about the Israel lobby. "Why else do an overwhelming majority of congressmen roll over for every pro-Israel motion?" In fact, the so-called Israel lobby loses more often than it wins when the issue is significant. "No more than a handful [of congressmen] show consistent interest in the subject." And the lack of interest in the issue is most certainly not the product of Jewish lobbying! He's right to say, "It is one thing to denounce the excessive leverage of a lobby, quite another to accuse Jews of 'running the country.' " But being significantly wrong about how much power Jews have in America is worthy of denunciation.

And, well, Judt is wrong all over the place. But he says a few good things, too. And overall, the intent of the piece is largely right, when he insists that both sides have a point. I'll leave it at that since I keep seeing more to dislike about the piece.

Plus, bonus content! This interview, on Tell Me More:
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, author of “That’s Revolting: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation,” says gay people should stop fighting to uphold what she considers to be the failed institution of marriage.
The issues raised are fasinating --and I'm always for "resisting assimilation"-- but there's a great deal there that I hate about a great deal of "radicalism." I have no question that marriage equality is a step toward equality, even if we allow that not everyone wants to get married and that universal health care is still an important goal. I have two uncles (one is my uncle by marriage to the other) who have gone back and forth on marriage, between viewing it as a "straight thing" they would want no part of and viewing it as an important matter of equality. So, I know people can have mixed views about what the goals of queer rights movements should be. (And would agree with Sycamore that straight America underestimates the anti-marrigage sentiment among queers.) But in the end, my uncles have gotten married in as many places as they could. It seems to me there was a discussion in queer communities about goals and a decision that marriage equality was worth fighting for. Sycamore, herself, goes back and forth. At one point, the decision to focus on marriage equality was made because it was winnable. But at another point it was imposed by gay elites. When radicalism actually derides the choices made by those it claims to represent (scapegoating them as "elites," no less), it has ceased to be viable. I am all for continuing the fights against conservative cultural values and for universal health care (or universal insurance), but Sycamore is wrong to pit these fights against the fight for marriage equality.

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