Monday, January 30, 2006

Hamas and I

As an observant Jew I understand why so many muslims vote to live under religious law. Hamas, the Christian Coallition and I agree that secular American life is vulgar, permissive and materialistic. We agree that it is tolerant of homosexuality and atheism. I think that's a good thing. Given a choice I prefer heresy to boredom but I understand why others would not.

Like men everywhere I respond with Pavlovian salivation to scantilly-clad female bodies but like many of my obserevant Christian and Muslim siblings I prefer the presence of modestly dressed women, particularly when those women are young and related to me.

I too use religious observance as a buffer againt the exesses of what I consider a morally dangerous world. But, Yankee that I am, I'd rather immorality remain a physically safe option for eveyone, even me and my kids.

I also identify with the wish to live in a community that shares my values and habits.

When I go into the observant Jewish section of Chicago, and neighborhood called West Rogers Park, aka the "Chood." Though I know few of them it feels to me like home. I understand their ways, I know why the men have beards and the women have skirts that are long. I even know what they're all reading on any given week. Like everything that's familiar the fellowship of my tribe comforts me.

I am beginning to see the Arab world's embace of political Islam as less a rejection of western modernity than a search for something more wholesome than Madison Avenue or Washington currently offer. In that search I am their ally.

However given our different attitudes about tolerace I'm sure my fundamentalist Christian and Muslims brothers will understand if I join their search for righteousness from a righteously safe distance.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


"Maybe they do some bad things but I trust them and believe that, fundamentally they are on my side." That's how Bush supporters feel about his administration, how Hamas supporters feel about the new Palestinian government and how I feel about Google. Of course the scales of the bad things are different. Google and Hamas have killed far fewer people, but the willingness to give ones champions the benefit of a doubt is the same.

I am, like so many millions, a Googlephile. I see them the way Bush and Hamas supporters see their heroes; as principled champions of what I cherish and more importantly, warriors willing to do righteous battle against my enemies. Bush fights Al Qaeda, Hamas goes after Israel and Google takes on Microsoft. I was disappointed to hear that they would censor their Chinese language searches. Given the height of their rhetoric about not being evil taking China's side against the Dali Lama seemed is a real let down. Just like I assume Bush fans are sad he that terror attacks are up and Palestinians deeply regret the Israeli bombs and missiles that rain upon them in retaliation for Hamas attacks.

All our heroes have principled detractors. It's reasonable to fear the ubiquitous tentacles of an unchecked, ravenous Googlezilla. The foes of Bush and Hamas are far too numerous to list. And like the other fans I acknowledge the reasonableness of the criticism but am just willing to give my team a pass mostly because they're my team.

I understand Hamas and Bush supporters better now that Googles' actions too require my patient understanding and faith. because of what I must forgive I am more sympathetic to what last week, seemed baffling fidelity to the evil. Bush and Hamas supporters are not merely a bunch of deluded simpletons brainwashed by clever marketing. I see them now as, like me, merely people willing to give wide berth to a characters they believe are pursuing ultimate good.

And as such they are, like me, dangerous.