Since we have so little market news to report to you, we will take our quest for truth and beauty to other areas: global warming and the children of Israel for example. Both are touchy issues. In Europe, if you say you are skeptical of global warming, they look at you like a lion at a Christian. In America, you can say almost any nasty thing you want against Arabs…but if you are planning to run for public office, don’t dare to criticize Israel.
We begin by telling a story that a Jewish colleague told us yesterday.
“You really have to be careful to maintain good relations with your neighbours. That’s something my family discovered in WWII. My father was just a little boy in Paris when the war broke out…and then the French surrendered. You know, France was divided in two…there was the zone occupied by the Nazis and there was the unoccupied zone to the South. Since they were Jewish, they figured they’d sneak across the line and once they got to the unoccupied zone, they would just keep a low profile, not mention to anyone that they were Jews, and they would be safe. But my father was only a kid. And when they put him in the local school, in the little town they were staying in, the first thing he did was tell everyone that he was a Jew. So everyone knew why they were there. And then, when the Germans took over all of France anyone in the village could have denounced them and get them sent to a concentration camp. But no one did.”
This recalled another story. A disagreeable French woman, then in her ’70s, once told us that during the war she had been the directress of a boarding school for little children. It was a Catholic boarding school. But it was wartime and a few of the children were Jewish, sent there by their parents in the hopes that they would be safe.
“When the Germans came to Lyon, they came around to the school. They demanded that we send out the Jewish children. The truth is, I don’t like Jews. But I disliked the Nazis even more. I had already changed the school’s records so the Jewish names didn’t show up anywhere. So, I told the lieutenant that we only had Catholic children. And I showed him the list. If he had wanted to pursue the matter, he probably would have found the Jewish kids and then sent them and me to the camps. But maybe he didn’t really want to find them…you never knew; it was a strange time.”
Well, times are always strange, we guess. And we find our little bits of courage and grace here and there…in odd places…and generally in the shadows. In the harsh light of the public eye, these civilized little acts of kindness and courage wilt like wildflowers…or get run over by a campaign bus.
When a presidential candidate discovers that a former friend or supporter has become a liability, for example, he is “thrown under the bus.” Jeremiah Wright has the tire tracks to prove it – since he was thrown under the bus of the Obama campaign. The Obama group also sacrificed Robert Malley, an advisor on the Middle East, after it was revealed that he had met with Hamas officials. As every American knows, the Hamas fellows are bad hombres, and anyone who meets with them is no friend of Israel. Since being a friend of Israel, like wearing a flag on the lapel, is a requirement for America’s top office, Obama had to push Malley off the team and then run him over with the bus.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor, said he thought the Jewish lobby has become too powerful and is showing a “McCarthyite tendency…by slandering, vilifying, demonizing. They very promptly wheel out anti-Semitism…”
So far, Mr. Brzezinski hasn’t been dropped under the bus, but he should probably check his ticket.
Over on the McCain bus, another man of faith has been tossed beneath the treads. The Rev. John Hagee has views worthy of a man with great faith. According to Gideon Rachman’s Blog in the FT , he believes the European Union is headed by the Antichrist. In his mind, the EU is a prelude to Apocalypse. And who are we to say he is wrong? There’s no mention of it in the EU charter, but who knows what they’re up to?
If Mr. Hagee had stopped there, he probably would have been all right, since most Americans agree that there is something ungodly about Europe. But then he goes further…and says that the Jews were murdered in WWII for a good reason – to drive them to Israel. It’s all part of God’s plan, he says; God made Hitler so the Jews would move to Israel, so the Apocalypse would come, followed by the second coming. How he knows God’s plans in such detail, we can’t imagine, but that’s the beauty of faith; you can believe anything you want…until you put it to the test.
Rev. Hagee is a McCain supporter. But McCain is no longer a Hagee supporter; the reverend had to go “under the bus.”
Under the bus, too, is where skepticism regarding global warming is going. George W. Bush fairly recently got on board, agreeing that the earth’s climate is changing and the humans are to blame for it. And now all three candidates not only favor doing something about it – all endorse the idea of “cap and trade” as a palliative measure.
Here too, faith conquers wit. No one really knows what direction the earth’s mean temperature is going…or why. There are only hypotheses.
“But if you really want to know what it’s like to be a 16th-century heretic, try saying you’re a bit skeptical about man-made global warming,” writes Harry Mount in the Daily Telegraph .
In the middle ages, the Catholic Church made money by offering sinners a way to buy their way out of Hell – with an indulgence. In today’s secular world, you will have to buy your way out of the sin of using too much fossil fuel, by buying “carbon rights.”
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