7.24.06 @ 12:01AM
I hope this little letter reaches you. In light of everything, I am sure everyone is busy these dark days.
There was a time not that long ago when preachers used to say the Lord does not hear the prayer of the Jews. I didn’t believe that then and I don’t believe that now. I am sure your prayers have reached the ears of God and have moved His hands on more than one occasion.
I am just a little man who moves papers from one end of his desk
to the other. There is little chance I will ever meet the great
people you have. Yet I am sure God listens to us both as evil men
work to wipe our respective faiths from the face of the earth. I
confess I am afraid for my family and especially for my sons. (I
cried on 9/11 for all those poor people who lost their lives. But I
also cried because I knew 9/11 meant war and my little sons could
be sucked up into the maelstrom.) In spite of all this, I am sure
God will prevail for us both. Bless be our Lord of Moses and all
the prophets. Blessed be you, Ben Stein.
— Michael Wm. Dooley
Well, a new cliche has attached itself to the throat of political
discourse. “Proportionate” is another manifestation of political
correctness, a sort of “play fair” argument foisted upon the
Israelis by their haters. Apparently even the most vile and
unprovoked attack requires the victim to somehow moderate its
response. It’s kinda like a handicap in golf, allowing me to play
with Tiger Woods as a perceived equal, but kidding no one. The
stupidity of this philosophy allows for a likely more protracted
and costly struggle, resulting in a ritualistic display of a
gladiatorial contest for the amusement of the “statesmen” to get
airtime and seek the next Peace Prize nomination. For those who may
wish to agonize over Israel’s response to aggression, consider the
answers to two questions: 1) Who has nukes? and 2) Who has not used
— William J. Dye, Esq.
Great points, Ben Stein. Israel is showing extreme restraint.
Personally I think they need to go take care of business and the
U.S. and all freedom loving Nations need to assist Israel. The U.S.
needs to remember what Hezbollah has done to us — death of our
Marines to name one instance. Israel has been suffering so long by
these terrorists. Iran is calling for Israel to be wiped off the
face of the earth — thru whom? Hezbollah and Hamas. Hezbollah is
taking over Lebanon — her citizens and surrounding countries will
reap their wrath when they acquire full power. May God bless Israel
and give her leaders His wisdom and strength.
Israel is doing what it takes to protect itself. Israel should be doing whatever it takes to destroy its enemies.
Let’s a say a group of Muslim folks get on a bus in any Israeli city. At the next stop, a group of Jewish kids with over stuffed backpacks get on the same bus. Who’s more likely to have bombs strapped to them? Who is more likely to be relieved that it’s Jewish folks with stuffed backpacks riding on that bus? Both groups of people are.
I seemed to have missed the story about those stockbrokers on the upper-west side hijacking planes and crashing them into mosques protesting the “death tax” or high oil prices? Yet we pat down “Grandma Smith” at our airports.
To call Israel’s response “disproportionate” when defending them selves simply means that people hate rules when they are equally applied. Especially it seems rules of one’s right to exist and one’s right of self-protection! It seems the “nice” world hates it when the 2nd Amendment is applied internationally. Terrorists are pretty brave when shooting rockets from behind the skirts of their women, or when killing those that are bound and defenseless. But they are gutless cowards who can’t defeat a real army, except maybe the French.
I don’t recall the press corps saying during WWII that,
“â€¦for every Nazi or Japanese soldier we killed,
3 more would spring up in its place.” Why are we listening to these
— P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan
Mr. Stein’s column to day contains a viewpoint not much expressed in editorials and opinions in the media. The Palm Beach Pravda runs front page pictures each day of the poor, displaced, Muslims who are victims of “Israel’s disproportionate reaction” to a few decades of having its citizens murdered by brave Muslim warriors who assault school buses and shopping malls. The Pravda propagandizes for Arabs even though it has a large proportion of Jews in its area of circulation. But this reaction should hardly be surprising. Look at how the media reacts to the forcible removal from power of a murderous, genocidal, thug as the ruler of Iraq. Look at how the media cowers before Iran and North Korea. The MSM is the mouthpiece for the democrat party and will always follow their Neville Chamberlain “peace at any cost” path. Democrats have prevailed on this point since Korea. So speaking Arabic is almost certainly in our future.
I think Newt Gingrich was correct when he said World War Three
has begun. I’m teaching my grandson to bow to Mecca and say
“Inshalla.” I’m trying to insure his survival. The Muslim religion
is a guy thing anyway. Women are just sex slaves, and slaves
generally, so in the “new America” he won’t have to worry about
women’s rights at all. Teaching him well. Got to keep the old genes
in the mix, you know, and we do that by survival.
— Jay W. Molyneaux
The war on terrorism is definitely not being won if all this rubbish about disproportionate responses is any guide. Wars are won by disproportionate responses and always have been — attack me and I will hurt you much more, I will destroy you and everything you hold dear, so don’t try it in the first place if you know what’s good for you. It used to be called “massive retaliation” and military intellectuals and international lawyers were quite enamored with the idea for some considerable time, but that seems to be very much forgotten now. Massive retaliation was the official policy of the U.S. Government during the whole of the Cold War. It worked, so what is the problem? Sherman’s March to the Sea was a classic example of a disproportionate response, and an extremely effective one — ripping the guts out of the Confederacy won a peace that still prevails, 150 years later. Name me the idiot who wants to complain about that! There is nothing in Europe or in Asia that can compare to that achievement, as far as I am aware.
Letting all this nonsense about disproportionate responses get a hold, especially with Israel, where it really can do nothing but bad, is a very unhealthy sign of moral cowardice, retreat and defeat, in my book. 6 million Israelis and 100 million Arabs — instead of requiring a proportionate response from Israel, it would be much more honest to simply tell them to commit suicide. Expecting Jews to stop defending themselves and die is a long standing intellectual and moral tradition in Europe, regardless of the squealing denials, so it is no surprise that proportionate response is being promoted now. Anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel has a lot of ugly faces, and the idea of a requiring a proportionate response by Israel is just a new ugly face in an old, hideous crowd.
Leaving aside the moral issues, which are, or should be show
stoppers all by themselves, the whole idea of proportionate
response is simply too mind numbingly stupid for words - no wonder
the UN, the EU and the media have picked the idea up, they haven’t
got a brain between the lot of them. What exactly should have been
the proportionate response to the secession of the Confederate
States, the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the sinking of the
Lusitania, the Zimmermann Telegram, the bombing of Pearl Harbor,
the invasion of Poland in 1940 and Russia in 1941, to 911 and
unceasing suicide bombings and rocket attacks on civilian targets
in Israel? If you can’t give a clear answer these perfectly simple
questions, and nobody has even tried to my knowledge, then
requiring that military responses be proportionate is false, empty,
legal moralizing and intellectual gobbledygook of the very worst
— Christopher Holland
What exactly is a proportionate response according to these nay
saying commentators? If only these simpletons would quantify it for
us, this nasty business of warfare would be a lot less messy. Let’s
see, two captured soldiers is that equivalent to launching four
missiles, or is it only worth three? I’m sure that these geniuses
can put together a chart for the Israeli military to use that would
ensure that they respond appropriately to unprovoked attacks. It
could even be color-coded to assist the Israelis in determining
when they are approaching a disproportionate level of retaliation
— maybe mark that part in big red letters with a warning message?
What a bunch of morons!
— Rick Arand
Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Were does Ben Stein get off suggesting with any seriousness that the lack of direct attacks on America during WW2 (aside from Pearl Harbor, or course) is somehow comparable to the current situation in Lebanon? I’m sorry, was the United States the only Allied combatant? Did we alone heartlessly slaughter nearly 2.5 million German and Japanese civilians in retaliation for the mere ten thousand innocent Americans killed by those regimes? Well, if that were the case, I’d probably have to say that that was, in fact, “disproportionate.”
But that wasn’t the case, was it? Let me lay out some numbers for you:
Fifty million Allies died during WW2, including 33 million civilians. Only 12 million Axis citizens were killed, including 4 million civilians. Not exactly all that “disproportionate” when you look at the numbers.
Contrarily, in the current conflict, Israel has so far killed 355 Lebanese civilians and 22 military personnel (who are not combatants at this time,) while only 8 Hizbollah militiamen have been confirmed killed. What’s that, like a 47 to 1 ratio? (Wow, even Nazi Germany couldn’t come close to that kind of a spread!) Hizbollah has killed 15 Israeli civilians and 19 soldiers. Are you beginning to understand the use of the term “disproportionate” yet?
Let’s make this very clear, as disgusting as this is to face, Hizbollah are the ones who have killed more miltiary personnel than civilians in this conflict. (Of course, that might have something to do with the fact that they don’t have shiny planes loaded down with thousand pound bombs, but that’s neither here nor there.)
Secondly — and maybe I should have brought this up first — it’s not really entirely about the raw numbers. Hizbollah has killed 15 people with its crude Katyusha Rockets (oddly enough, designed by Russia during WW2). This is a war crime. They are
Israel has killed 355 people. They have bombed food and milk processing plants, electrical stations, broadcasting stations, aid convoys. They have hindered humanitarian goods from being imported into Lebanon. They have made no distinction between the two separate wings of Hizbollah’s organization, targeting the civilian structure — which happens to be dully elected to the Lebanese government, not simply “admitted” as Ben claims — as well as the military wing. These are war crimes. No Hizbollah action can justify such a response.
Maybe Ben isn’t familiar with the Fourth Geneva Convention, which has been in effect since shortly after WW2, but it basically makes those Allied bombings he’s so fond of a prosecutable offense. Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki would all be illegal today, as they were a deliberate targeting of the civilian population, so perhaps drawing parallels isn’t the wisest of things to do.
I know Ben is Jewish, and I do sympathize with the hopes of a
people, any people, to have a homeland, a place to call their own.
I feel much the same about the Kurds, who are currently the largest
ethnic group in the world without their own state. But such
sympathy, and such hope, does not justify the crimes of such a
state’s leaders, and it does not justify becoming a propagandist
for such leaders.
— Svlad Jelly
I’m sorry but war crimes are war crimes are war crimes, whomsoever commits them.
Please stop trying to make yourselves as the only “innocent” victims.
You are just like them, and they are just like us Americans, and
most governments: terrorists all.
— Eric Forat
Yes, Israel’s measures seem just about right.
— Jerry Wilde, Ph.D.
I am more than disturbed by Mr. Stein’s article. Using his circular
logic, one may all too easily justify the attack on New York of
9/11 as a response to our earlier bombings of Qaeda sites, as some
have indeed justified the bombing of Dresden or the destruction of
Nagasaki. Should we then look forward to the hypothetical bombings
of Tel-Aviv or Los Angeles? Mr. Stein is, as they used to say, part
of the problem.
— J.M. Lofficier
Sherman Oaks, California
Thank you Ben Stein, for this commentary. I love your books, your
Yahoo column, and most of all, this commentary.
— Theo Rand
Ben Stein writes, “So, now I see that some commentators are saying that Israel’s bombing of Lebanese Hezbollah strong points and neighborhoods is ‘disproportionate.’ The Israeli campaign, so this story goes, is bullying and terrorizing the Lebanese populace, and this is (so the argument goes) typical Israeli thug behavior.”
Well, no, Mr. Stein. This isn’t “typical Israeli thug behavior.” Typically, Israel has been conservative and well-measured in its response to previous attacks on its sovereignty. I find myself amazed that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has gone against its history and is now blowing out the infrastructure of Lebanon, and is excusing its killing of innocent civilians. This flies in the face of its history, which is replete with measured and deliberate responses to those previous challenges.
Hizbollah has attacked northern Israel with Katyusha and other, longer-range rockets, even hitting Haifa several times. The IDF responded by attacking the Katyusha launchers, and I hope will soon blow them all to shards.
But the IDF made a mistake in taking the fight deep into Lebanon, assuming that Hizbollah spoke for the government of Lebanon, instead as a minority member of that government. It bombed Lebanese army barracks, blew up many bridges and even the runways of the Beirut International Airport, and is now bombing communications facilities all across Lebanon in preparation for a potential invasion. In the process it killed many innocents, and turned many Lebanese enemies of Hizbollah into enemies of Israel.
To quote Forrest Gump’s mother, “Stupid is as stupid does.”
— Steve Jones
Just to nitpick Ben Stein’s otherwise fine column, “Out of Disproportion”:
The Japanese did indeed bomb and shell mainland America, though not precisely our cities. The Japanese sent thousands of balloon bombs aloft to be carried by the jet stream to American forests with the intent of igniting them. Dozens were found, probably hundreds are still hanging undiscovered from trees in remote forests. One killed a group of picnickers, mostly children, who came across it on a hilltop. The bombing campaign failed because they launched their balloons during the wet season in the Northwest.
There were at least two bombing missions by a single Japanese
bomber launched from a submarine off the West Coast, again to
ignite a forest fire. It was undetected and unsuccessful. There was
also a Japanese submarine which, shortly after Pearl Harbor,
surfaced to shell oil tanks near San Diego.
— Steve Gregg
Israel’s “disproportionate response” to kidnappings and thousands
of rockets landing on their territory is nothing more than an
anti-Semitic code phrase for NOT ENOUGH JEWS ARE DIEING!
— Mike Horn, LTC, US Army, ret
Re: Lawrence Henry’s Don’t Give Up the Ship:
Bless his bleeding little heart, but Lawrence Henry is wrong. Nation building is messy, expensive, and problematic. Crippling a terrorist nation’s ability to support terrorism and/or threaten the United States is comparatively cost-effective and clean.
The root of Henry misunderstand can be found in this closing. He
says, “…we cannot simply exercise what John Derbyshire fondly
calls ‘gunboat diplomacy’ against states that threaten us, and then
leave. We owe the world better.” Why not? And besides, America owes
the world nothing; it is the world which owes us.
— Peter Skurkiss
There are good points in Mr. Henry’s piece, but one fatal flaw. He admirably notes the following — usually not remarked on out of either ignorance or design (the latter by delusional neo-con democracy warriors bent on a pax-Americana on so-called Islamofascism in the Middle East) — in his money paragraph:
“It’s worthwhile here to remember that, while Iran is the worst of the terror sponsors, to some extent they all do it. They all do it — that is, Middle Eastern states all exercise power through cat’s-paw terrorist surrogates of one kind or another. Sometimes they share such groups, one with another. But they all do it. That relationship goes back to the 1960s, when Egypt created the PLO. And we can’t let that continue.”
In other words, we are dealing with states (even secular states like Syria, a point where Mr. Babbin errs while conflating that country with those ruled by religious demagogues). States can be dealt with — persuaded, purchased, pressured, or decapitated — whereas focusing on religious zealots is pointless.
But Mr. Henry neglects to mention Iraq is not a country in any real sense of the word. It is a collection of mutually-hostile tribes.
While partition — the only apparent avenue to his desired “self determination” by each of the Kurd/Shia/Sunni peoples — may seem impossible due to the who-gets-the-oil-revenue problem, it really is a far better goal than what our confused State/CIA operatives, including the White House’s clueless Meghan O’Sullivan vetting policy for the President, are fiddling with while the country burns.
I recommend to the President and his advisors the
Spectator’s Angelo Codevilla’s new translation of, and
splendid introduction to, Machiavelli’s The Prince (Yale
University Press, paperback), as a pathway to realpolitik…
— Jameson Campaigne
ROUND ‘EM UP
Re: Hal G.P. Colebatch’s Losing Scotland:
Over the years of my young adulthood, I got some first-hand experience with Italians … including port calls to Napoli. I observed that “If you can’t get along with an Italian, you can’t get along with anybody.” Later in life, I became interested in my own Scot heritage … and discovered why I act like I do. A companion saying about the Scots followed: “If you can’t get along with a Scotsman, don’t worry about it. Nobody else can either.”
Marrying a mostly Swedish woman (Malmstrom), did not dilute the “Scotch Blessing” on my children. Of my four, three are redheads. The first of my beloved daughters I nicknamed “The Queen of Scotland.” She was only about four, but became visibly irritated when I added the caveat: “…but I am the Regent.” Elizabeth Tudor would have needed extra doses of God’s help had Genevieve Anne Pyper been in Mary’s place!
The problem, apparently, with today’s Scotsmen is that they need
to get into a real nasty, bloody, legitimate war. I’m for rounding
the bunch of rowdies up, and sending them to a boot camp run by
U.S. and British Marines (including liberal applications of
corporal “discipline”). Once their attention has been properly
developed, on to Advanced Infantry Training, then off to Iraq,
Afghanistan, or better yet Israel. Put the bagpipes and drums
behind them, and drive them into the crucible. The survivors would
be obnoxious, potent, and generally ungovernable yes, but who
knows, maybe they will have gotten religion.
— Carl Gordon Pyper, Clan Murray
Scotland has an inferiority complex with England. Decades of trade
unionism work ethic combined with nanny state nurturing have
combined to make her the basket case of the British Isles. This
economic and social regression combined with the victimhood
espoused by Scottish Nationalists has created the atmosphere
described by Mr. Colebatch. The irony is England displays this same
inferiority complex with the United States. Some may blame this on
the Bush/Blair relationship, but the economic and social decline of
England from world power to also ran is the real cause. What
aggravates this inferiority complex is the ascendancy of the United
States in social and economic matters by succeeding with the exact
opposite policy positions (low taxes, effective law enforcement
etc.) than those espoused by England.
— Donald Parnell
The thoughts of a Scot in Scotland might be instructive; in
Grinch Who Stole Scotland,” “A Failed State called Scotland,” “The Sad State of Scotland,” “An Open Letter to Nicola Sturgeon MSP,”
Open Letter to Brian Monteith MSP,” “The Confession of a Faulty Unionist Pro-Lifer,”
“The McConnell Paradox,” “The Salmond Dilemma,” and “Death to the Saxonist Entity!”
— Martin Kelly
Re: Bill Dillard’s Capitalism, Socialism, and Race:
I would like to thank you for your excellent article. It is clear that, in a free economy, the fundamental motivation of self-interest leaves no room for racism. I find it odd, then, that you say “Anti-discrimination laws” must be imposed in order to permit “Every person to realize his inherent economic worth?” Isn’t the whole point of your article that the market itself is the best form of protection against racial discrimination? I don’t think any intelligent business owner would choose to base his decisions on something as irrelevant as race. Efficiency and merit and the standards by which potential candidates for a job in a free economy; there is no need for legislation to ensure that people are treated fairly.
In my opinion, governmental interference in the market place is
socialism (or at least a step in that direction). Laws that dictate
how individuals can and can’t make their own decisions are
contradictory to the spirit of capitalism and liberty that you seem
to be championing.
— Scott Bennett
Re: Mark Goldblatt’s Two Crises and One Obscenity:
If the current Democrats had been in office during WWII, we would have lost. What has happened to the backbone of the Dems, it is hard to believe they had a Truman. At least the Republicans have a half cooked noodle for a backbone.
If people are willing to let terrorist live in their neighborhoods then they get what they are asking for when the bombs start to fall.
If America is going to put our soldiers at risk then by all
means WIN THE DAMN WAR. Stop playing around.
— Elaine Kyle
I suppose it could be said that, in Iraq, we decided to “perform
surgery” and correct the problem rather than “spray for bugs” and
eliminate the problem altogether. If our enemies have drawn the
wrong conclusion about our will to “spray for bugs,” they might
someday be surprised…
— Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida
JUDGE AND JURY
Re: Christopher Orlet’s The Real Suzanne Swift:
In his article “The Real Suzanne Swift,” Christopher Orlet
writes, “Let’s hope truth and justice prevail.” Well, Orlet and I
can agree on that much at least. As Orlet would have it, we must
assume that Swift is lying about the harassment —otherwise it
might set a precedent for others to exploit. Thank God that the
mighty have Orlet to protect their interests.
— Philip Callas
Re: David Gonzalez’s letter (under “Sheer Genius”) in Reader Mail’s Reflecting on Genuflection:
David Gonzalez’ Mensa discovery — priceless!
The letter I wrote earlier saying that I was leaving indicated that it was temporary. I would be delighted to leave permanently, but I don’t like being attacked and letting people who are in the wrong have the last word.
David Gonzalez’s research is a good case in point about Mensa. I was in fact a member for several years and will send him my old membership card if he likes, since I have no further use for it. I let my membership expire but continued subscribing to Mensa Bulletin because that was much less expensive than full membership. Obviously Mensa has trouble keeping accurate records, but they did move offices from Brooklyn to Texas while I belonged. During the late '80s and early '90s, membership was on the decline — I don’t know what the current situation is. One of the striking facts to me was that Mensa accepted the top 2% on IQ tests, but with only about 60,000 U.S. members was closer to .02% of the population: in theory, nearly 5,000,000 potential members didn’t belong.
Mensa was founded in Oxford, England, and the original test wasn’t calibrated correctly. As I recall, it was supposed to be much more exclusive than the top 2% (top .1%?), but the test was flawed and they went with 2% anyway. Over the years, they’ve promoted various luminary members such as Isaac Asimov, Buckminster Fuller and Geena Davis, for publicity (Asimov later expressed regret for having joined). In recent decades, interest in IQ has declined considerably. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, Robert Sternberg’s triarchic theory, and other theories have largely supplanted IQ in explaining exceptional human performance. There are cases of sub-Mensa Nobel Prize recipients (e.g. Richard Feynman in Physics), and it is not uncommon for those with exceptionally high IQ’s to be completely maladjusted socially (e.g. Unabomber Ted Kaczynski). However, IQ is not to be dismissed entirely, since a low IQ still means that you may have difficulty excelling academically. Tests is tests.
On that note, I’ll just say that if you play nice, I promise to
leave your midst forever. Ben Stein’s weepy articles are an
embarrassment to read, and the good sports among you seem to be
— Paul Dorell
Highland Park, Illinois
P.S. I just confirmed my previous membership with Mensa:
We were able to locate proof of your membership. Your account has been updated to reflect your lapsed membership.
It will take 24 hours and you should be able to access and renew your membership online.
Laura Kaufman, Executive Assistant
American Mensa, Ltd.
1229 Corporate Drive West
Arlington, Texas 76006
(817) 607-0060 x111
(817) 649-5232 FAX
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