Tuesday, July 25, 2006

From Whom It Comes

My husband was on the phone with an old friend last night while I finished some iPod playlists. I turned off the computer as he ended his conversation.

"You know how the Left has this paranoid thing where they say that America and Israel did 9-11 to make the Arabs look bad? B___'s friend K___ said that Dennis Kucinich said it on his Web site!"

Whaaa? I turned the computer back on. I Google'd. I searched.

"Okay, here's his official Web site and this is the only thing about Israel, or the United States and Israel."

"The lack of proportionality of Israel's response to the kidnapping of the soldier compounds a human rights disaster which has been building in the Palestinian territories and could set the stage for reigniting a cycle of extreme violence.

"The world community, led by the United States and Israel, must see the humanitarian imperative of relieving the suffering of innocent people in Palestine who are without the most basic of human necessities such as food, water, electricity, health care, housing, and economic security, in part because they exercised their right to self determination.

Okay, they exercised it by electing a bunch of thugs, but this is still a far cry from "America and Israel did 9-11." In fact, the whole thing is actually your basic even-handed razz-ma-tazz echoed by thousands of politicians the past couple of weeks.

"K___ lived in Israel for 20 years," Jim pointed out.

"So maybe she went crazy from the heat. Maybe they've got Bill O'Reilly over there in a skullcap. Who knows."

Then this morning getting ready for work I said, "You know, Ted Kennedy sucks the breath out of newborn babies."

"Okay, okay, Goddamn it! I didn't say I believed it, I said that she did! I thought it sounded weird to me."

"Well, before the Internet I would have believed you, the way I believed you when you told me Walt Disney was an anti-Semite!"

"That's what I'd heard! Maybe he wasn't. He was anti-black, though. He wouldn't let blacks into Disneyland." I'd heard that, too.

On the way to work, I realized the real issue wasn't ol' Walt, or Kucinich, who's too wimpazoid for my tastes anyway, or even the Middle East. It was how everyone automatically reacts to everything according to whatever "ism" is the Big Deal with them.

With my husband it's anti-Semitism, with racism a close second. With me it's feminism, or more specifically, the way I used to automatically believe:

1. Any adult man;

2. Anyone who spoke confidently;

3. Anyone who didn't have my picture on their driver's license.

K___ lived in Israel, a tiny country surrounded by hostile neighbors. Kucinich is a politician who attracts a lot of disaffected Lefties. K___ heard something somewhere and through the filter of her "ism", it was believable.

Sometimes, I feel like a tiny country surrounded by hostile neighbors. So that will affect my reactions. And while there were many advantages to growing up as the offspring of an interfaith marriage, the disadvantage was feeling that the "whole" Jewish or "whole" Catholic kids had more cred when it came to Jewish or Catholic matters.

I also see my former self as part of The Enemy, too: An approval-seeking little sheep who will gambol off a cliff and take me along with her. So before I go over the edge, I look for the facts. I may not always like what I find, but it's better than following Wile E. Coyote off the nearest precipice.

Of course, there's always the chance that K___ saw this Web site and mistook it for the real one, which just means she's not Internet-savvy.

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