Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Nigger Jim and the Devil


Thanks to a discussion thread on BlogCatalog I now know that New South, a publishing house in Montgomery, Alabama, has produced a bowdlerised version of one the great classics of American literature. Huckleberry Finn has been sanitised, or is it whitewashed? Whitewash, how can I use such a racist expression? It has rather been blackwashed, meaning the word 'nigger' has been washed out! Jim is no longer a 'nigger', a word, incidentally, used by both Huck and Tom Sawyer without any kind of malice or derogatory intent. No, he is simply a 'slave'.

What arrogance, what appalling conceit to start removing words, words chosen with care by the author, a particular word chosen by Mark Twain, simply because it does not meet with contemporary standards of good taste or political correctness. In my response I suggested the next step is to start a wholesale process of going through the literature of the world, removing the words and phrases we do not like, as directed, of course, by the Ministry of Truth. Even the titles of books will have to be changed, including The Black Person of the Narcissus though in the States that will doubtless appear as The African-American of the Narcissus! Once you start this where does it end? Those concerned about ageism will also start to demand repackaging. Let's hear it for The Mature Man and the Sea. You don’t like war and rumours of wars? OK, let's have Peace and Peace.

I suppose it’s of some significance that this censored version has appeared in Montgomery of all places, the first capital of the Confederacy, on the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Civil War. I think they doth protest too much, and by their embarrassment over words shall ye know them. New South would seem to be anxious to bury the Old South, to bury history by corrupting literature, by corrupting the message and the meaning behind literature.

The blogger who raised this raised something else - on his own web page - which exercises my intellect and imagination, namely the alleged anti-Semitism of The Merchant of Venice. The author, Ian Thal, an American Jew, writes "...no matter how often nice liberal do-gooders try to pretend that Shakespeare had liberal attitudes towards Jews, we need to confront how many times his heroes compare Shylock to the Devil..." Before proceeding I should make it clear that he is not calling for censorship; no, he is arguing that work, even allegedly anti-Semitic work, should be read and understood in context.

Those who know me will understand that I'm about as far from being 'a nice liberal do-gooder' as a lion is from a polar bear! But words are so important. To use liberal or illiberal, anti-Semitic or pro-Semitic in relation to Shakespeare is, quite frankly, meaningless. On the balance of probability it's highly unlikely that Shakespeare ever met a Jew, officially absent from England from the expulsion of the late thirteenth to the readmission in the mid-seventeenth centuries. So the attitudes, and the words, the comparison of Shylock, and by implication all Jews, with the Devil is merely a reflection of the prejudices and the caricatures of the day, based, most likely, on stock demonic figures drawn from Medieval morality plays.

The other error here is to read any work of literature as biography, or as a mirror of the author's views; that Antonio and his crowd somehow reflect the attitudes and outlook of Shakespeare himself. It's lazy thinking based on no evidence at all. Think of Shylock, think of the subtlety of his character. Yes, he has malevolent and vengeful qualities but he is not unremittingly bad like Marlow's Barabas; he is not an archetype. He is vengeful because he has reason to be vengeful. He has been insulted all his life by the fops around Antonio, who both need him, need his capital, but treat him with condescension and contempt. Who would not be angry in such circumstances? But look how Shakespeare treats him, giving him some of the most eloquent lines in the whole play;

Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means,
warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer
as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us,
do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.
If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility?
Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his
sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge.
The villainy you teach me, I will execute,
and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.


This is not a devil: this is a human being; this is a man. More than that, his appearance on the stage probably marks the first time in history that the English were urged to look at a Jew as a man and not as a demon. Such a defence in the Middle Ages would have been unthinkable. In the end he is also a man betrayed, betrayed even by his own daughter, so far as I am concerned one of the most worthless characters in drama, totally without nobility, compassion or a sense of duty towards her elderly father. This may be my modern sensibilities but I like to think it was not that far from Shakespeare's intention. The Merchant of Venice is a great play, full of complex emotions and characterisation. It deserves to be better understood. It is better understood, and not simply by 'nice liberal do-gooders.'

93 comments:

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  7. Adam, that Disraeli quote is not quite as it seems, something I've written about in the past. It disguises his own racism.

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  9. Thatcherite I may be -though I'm so much more. Horrid I am not! Oh well, there was a little girl who had a little curl.. :-))

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  12. "First they came for Agatha Christie, but I did not protest because I don't read archaic, comfortable middle-class crime fiction. Then they came for Enid Blyton, and I did not protest because I was too old to read Noddy and The Famous Five. Then they came for Huck Finn, and I did not protest because I don't care for uplifting 19th century American fiction . . . "

    You can see where this is going, can't you?

    Think how publishers of unexpurgated editions will enjoy the boost in sales.

    The real deal is this: you cannot force people to think or feel. You can only lead by example. Some are very, very, very slow learners. But those are the kind of people we have.

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  14. I'm not apologising to a man who has been dead for well over a hundred years! I do not worship people, past or present, in the way that you do. Disraeli’s remarks, addressed to Daniel O’Connell, drew on the anti-Irish prejudices of his day.

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  18. Adam, yes, I know, but you really should read my blog again, to refresh your memory about the whole context. Whatever else Disraeli was he was a man, not a devil or a god, and a particularly vain man at that, certainly in his early years. It would be astonishing if he had been free of prejudice. As far as general censorship is concerned I would not chose to see words like 'nigger' or 'Paki' thrown around in everyday life.

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  20. That was an excellent riposte to the anonymous blogger (I read his blog post too, and I also felt that he mis-characterized Shylock). The problem is that many members of ethnic and other minorities are overly sensitive to terms used by some people to describe them. Some of these terms are, in my opinion, completely harmless, although I don't use them myself (apart from gweilo, which I apply to myself even though it's intended to be insulting).

    As for re-editing classic literature: not only ridiculous but also insulting to potential readers, who, it is assumed, might fail to recognize the context in which a given word is being used.

    Before the Huckleberry Finn story surfaced, I wrote What's in a Name?, in which I discuss the reasons behind the use of such words.

    P.S. You're not up on the latest in political correctness: it would have been Afro-Caribbean of the Narcissus in the UK.

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  21. @Calvin: The domino theory did not happen.

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  22. At the risk of sounding a bit like David Lodge, I'd argue that Shakespeare could only write that speech because he had no first hand experience of Jews. By that I mean that he was able to project very liberal (small "l") sentiments onto a character in such a way as would now be confined to science-fiction.

    P.S. you have "word verification" (or Captcha) enabled for comments. It's like a field sobriety test.
    (Think Gene Rodenberry and forbidden inter-racial kisses in the Star Trek of the late 60s.)

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  23. Dear Ms. Fitzgerald-Beaumont,

    Thank you for reading my blog. Next time you deign to mention me on your blog, I ask that you show me the courtesy of identifying me as something other than "an American Jew" or at least link to the entry to which you are responding. After all, there are roughly six-million of us and we all have proper names!

    As far as my interpretation of the speech of Shylock's which you quote, I go in far greater detail here. Note that when I refer to "nice liberal do-gooders" I am referring to an American context of politically-correct Shakespeare interpretation (and I dare say, you're far more politically correct in this regard than you think.)

    Now while I agree that Shylock was the most fully human Jewish character on the English stage up until that point (what would one expect with Shakespeare as the author?) you make two very key mistakes that many modern audience members make:

    1.) The "Hath not a Jew eyes?" speech is not a demand for compassion but a build up towards most bloody attempt at vengeance, one that resembles the Medieval "blood libel." Furthermore it plays into the traditional Christian anti-Judaic doctrine that Judaism is the religion of unforgiving law while Christianity is the religion of grace, i.e. the Christian characters (including Jessica the willful convert) never have to receive punishment for their transgressions because, by virtue of being Christians, they are recipients of God's mercy. Shylock must face the threat of execution unless he converts (where upon he receives mercy and becomes, well, "more human".)

    2.) The play borrows its structure from the commedia dell'arte, thus all characters, including the the villain, have a happy ending. To the audience of 1590s London, the villain's forced conversion is a fitting happy ending-- after all, he now has received God's mercy instead of remaining an unsaved Jew. Because the play is also in the style of commedia, the audience sympathies are meant to be with the young lovers, even when they scorn their well-intentioned parents. This is why the fifth act, that often seems pointless to a modern audience, was an absolutely essential denouement for the 16th century audience.

    Sincerely,

    An American Jew

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  24. I heard about that word-substitution on National Public Radio and they talked about the "n-word" and said that NPR reporters had a policy of not saying "nigger". Pathetic.

    On Shylock etc., a minor literary figure I know of (recently deceased) claimed that Shakespeare was a Jew, and uses The Merchant of Venice to help argue his case!

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  25. I think I actually knew a girl like Shylocks daughter once. Dishonest, lusty, wild without limits, naive in the most selfish possible way, distrustful of anyone who would ever require a duty out of her, using a superficial affectation to make herself seem sweet, nice, and selfless when she was none of the above. The worse part is, she believed her own lies, she believed every word of them. Julia barely appears in the play, and receives a tiny bit of official sanctioning to help Shakespeare with his friends, but I think I know how Shakespeare would've rather portrayed Julia. He would've rather portrayed her as the lowest possible stereotype of a teenager: egotistical, recklessly fun-seeking, obsessed with sex, appearence and popularity. That's how I see Julia.

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  28. Adam, I have not the least desire to deprive you of the British label. Disraeli was essentially dismissing O'Connell and his ancestors as Irish bog trotters! Sorry, savages in an unknown island (presumably 'known' to the savages), while he linked his own ancestry to altogether more elevated sect, with no grounds, I might add. :-)

    Thanks for those interesting lyrics.

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  29. Interestingly (or perversely) there's another reading of "The Merchant of Venice" (and, quite specifically, the "Hath not a Jew eyes" passage) that I've encountered, which suggests that one of the key elements of what makes Shylock so malelovent (and cunning - and dangerous) is precisely this indistinguishablity from other people (i.e. Christians), and that, as such, this passage, rather than being what the promoters of a "liberal tolerant" reading would like it to be, is rather a warning to Christians to be alert for the menace of the secretly lurking Jew behind a gentile facade!

    While I am far from convinced that this is an accurate reading (and frankly that it tends in the direction of the simplistic and conspiratorial: neither of which that I woudl say aare characteristics immediately or broadly evident in Shakespeare's work in general), I can see that one could draw a parallel with the way that "conversos" were regarded with suspicion (i.e. of remaining true to the Jewish faith while outwardly having appeared to embraced Christianity) in Iberia in the centuries preceding Shakespeare.

    (Sorry I can't give a reference. I did wonder if either Anthony Julius or James Shapiro were responsible. The website on which I saw it discussed habitually deletes comments threads - being paranoid about being sued for libel - after a week or so, so my primary source is lost)


    But yes, boringly, I do more or less agree with you. The road to hell is always paved with good intentions.

    Happy new year!

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  31. Dennis, thanks. I have, as you can see, now named the blogger in question. It's my fault that he appears as 'anonymous'. Look further down for my reply.

    Afro-Caribbean of the Narcissus, yes, of course. :-))

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  32. Suciô, the thing is, in his brilliance, he created a very convincing alien. Is it really? :-))

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  33. Although my favourite instance of word-substitution (in all its preposterouness) remains, a few years back now, of a "reading" of Philip Larkin's "This Be The Verse" on BBC Radio 4, which began "They tuck you up, Your mum and dad"...

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  34. Dear Mr Thal,

    I’m truly sorry that I upset you, though the reference to ‘an American Jew’ was pertinent and in context. I don’t quite understand your sensitivity on the point. I certainly would not have been upset if you had referred to me as ‘an English Christian’, again if the designation had been pertinent and in context. I don’t as a rule link other blogs here (believe it or not I don’t know how!) and I did not refer to you by name because I thought it presumptuous. However, I have no desire to cause gratuitous offence so the post has been amended.

    On you substantive points I do not accept your interpretation. The ‘Hath not a Jew Eyes’ in no way resembles the blood liable, which had nothing at all to do with revenge but perverted notions of Jewish rituals. The speech serves to humanise Shylock, no different from any other person, no different from a Christian in his desire for reparation, for the redress of past wrongs. I doubt very much that a Tudor audience would have the least idea of the finer points of Judaic theology. Antonio and his set do not strike me as being examples of virtue, Christian or not. Shylock’s forced conversion completes his isolation and betrayal, inducing, at lest in some, feelings of sympathy.

    This is my reading. I thank you for your own reading. I also think you, as I did on your blog, for drawing the Huckleberry Finn issue to my attention. Once again my apologies for thinking that ‘an American Jew’ was an acceptable expression.

    Sincerely,

    An English Christian (actually now a pagan witch!)

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  35. @anthony: It turned out to be mahjong.

    The reason the 'domino theory' failed to occur in SE Asia is because 65,000 Americans and Anzacs died making sure that the communists were too impoverished to continue expansion for 30 years. There is a great big myth that Vietnam was a US failure. It wasn't. It cost the Russians so much they had little left to foment rebellion in South and Central America. They had to use Cuba as a proxy in Africa, and that was a stretch. Sadly, their European socialist stooges ensured the post-colonial corruption and destruction of most of Africa . . . but they could have done a lot more damage if their resources had not been so badly stretched supplying the NVA.

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  36. Dominic, did it continue with they were tucked up in their turn? :-)) Happy New Year right back!

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  37. What would we think if the play had been called "The Papist of Greenwich" with an identical plot?

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  38. Shylock's speech was probably written more for dramatic effect, than out of any social or political conviction. Like Twain's use of the word nigger, it's part of the organic unity of the work. I doubt Shakespeare had any more concern for the plight of the European Jew than for an old pair of boots. I think Twain would find the bowdlerization of his work funny, and maybe we should all have a good laugh along with him.

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  39. Dear Ms. Fitzgerald-Beaumont:

    No great offense was taken. My use of exclamation points were meant to indicate that I found the faux-pas more amusing than egregious. There is nothing unacceptable about "An American Jew" as it was relevant to the discussion. My eyebrows were raised at the lack of a proper name, for example "Ian Thal, an American Jew." If it makes you feel better, I referred to you as "a British Conservative" in a humorous conversation with friends.


    I do believe you misread my previous comment. I did not state that our man from Stratford-on-Avon was informed by Judaism, but rather that he was informed by Christian attitudes towards Judaism.

    The late 16th century, for obvious reasons, was a time of polemics between Catholics and Protestants, where preachers and theologians attacked the other denomination often by comparing the other to Jews. These were not sober, scholarly lectures or essays on comparative religion, but anti-Catholic and anti-Protestant polemics that made explicit built upon anti-Jewish polemics. These polemics inform the theme of vengeance versus mercy that culminates in the trial in Act IV.

    Despite the centuries-long absence of a Jewish community in England, Jews had a folkloric status. The blood-libel, the belief that Jews use Christian blood or flesh for ritual or medicinal purposes, was quite widespread, as was the notion that Jews had an intimate connection with the Devil and the coming Antichrist. This folklore informed the pound-of-flesh subplot as well as the recurring devil-motif throughout the play.

    As to the interpretation that Dominic presented above, in the wake of the Lopez scandal, it certainly seems likely that that would have been how at least some of the audience would have understood the speech that begins with "Hath not a Jew eyes" and ends with a resolution to seek a pound-of-flesh.

    Consequently, I think you read your own modern views on religious tolerance into the play. This is perhaps unavoidable both since you are a modern, and since Shakespeare, being a literary genius, had a tendency to stack layer-upon-layer of irony in nearly everything he wrote. Where the early 21st century audience feels feels sympathy for a man forced to convert under threat of death, the late 16th century audience cheered for an arrogant blasphemer being reluctantly pushed into accepting the true faith and renouncing his blood lust. I simply have serious doubts that Shakespeare would have been able to imagine the 21st century reading for more than a few minutes before dismissing it as a mad-idea.

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  40. @Calvin:Did the Vietnamese really want to expand communism throught SE Asia or just resist foreigh intervention in their country ? The argument that the Nationalist Socialist would eventually exterminate everyone else is a akin to the domino theory . This was not true as they had allies from many diffrent nations and races. The Jews introduced communism to the world to keep other races in conflict and not take notice to their Zionist agendas.

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  41. Ana, in America the use of the word "Nigger" is generally considered derogatory and IMProper in any form by liberals and Blacks. Cultured black people generally dislike this word in any form but lower class Blacks freely adress each other as nigger in conversation and thair rap music . This is generraly just with each other and not from others outside of their race. There is probably the exception of "Wiggers" ( Whites who assimilate into black culture ) so while in America be aware of this.

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  42. Calvin, I think it would have been a lot more political and far less sympatheic. A late Tudor audience would have been a lot less tolerant about Catholics.

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  43. NP, Shakespeare’s brilliance lies in the fact that – when he was at liberty to do so – he created believable and fully rounded characters, free of stereotypes. I agree that there is no reason to suppose that he had any particular sympathy for the plight of the European Jews. Rather he simply wanted to create a believable human being, full of understandable human emotions; a man, as I say, not a devil. Yes, I'll laugh alongside Sam. :-))

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  44. Thanks, Ian. I hope you don’t mind if I drop the formal, epistolary tone. You are at liberty to call me Ana.

    The wonderful thing for me about Shakespeare is that it is possible to read him on so many levels. There is, a lack of consistency, making it impossible to ‘pin down’ the real man. You are right that he would certainly be aware of the religious debates of his age but the question has to be to what extent did these inform his own views? Was he a Christian in the sense of being a believer? You think that an odd question, perhaps? But I’ve argued in the past that, on a reading of Macbeth, that there are strong hints of atheism. Pessimism not quite consistent with a Christian view of life and death also appears elsewhere. His brilliance surely lies in this, that he created multiple possibilities, the possibility of multiple readings, an ambiguity that has allowed for reinterpretations across the ages. Perhaps my reading, my modern reading, is way off beam, as you suggest. I would like to think, though, Shakespeare would not have been displeased. I return to my fundamental point: Shylock is a man, not a devil.

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  45. Anthony, yes I understand. One of my favourite TV shows when I was growing up was NYPD Blue. I learned a lot from this about the kind of terms that were and were not acceptable. Did you ever watch it? If so, do you remember the episode where Detective Sipowitz got in to trouble for using the n-word, though he was really only throwing it back at the black man, sorry, African American he was addressing in conversation? The word ‘cracker; appeared in the same episode, which I take to be a derogatory term for a certain type of white person, though it caused a lot less fuss!

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  46. Me, I read too much to read too much into.
    And I'm glad you had a great holiday!
    :-)

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  47. @NP: I've heard a theory though that Shakespeare may have meant Shylock the Jew, representing a group of people largely irrelevant in England, to be a politically correct stand-in for the English Catholic at a moment when many were reconsidering their feelings towards the Jew and his highly commercial, property-neutral way of living, which was rapidly becoming the way of living of all of Europe in the age of towns, merchants and gold-seeking adventurers (including those that Antonio ironically hires and then is let down by.)

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  48. @NP, again: Also, Shakespeare as we see in both "Romeo and Juliet" and "Taming of the Shrew" clearly has a very strong social psyche, being naturally highly aware of other peoples and their struggles. He's the most far-reaching kind of extravert, and might well have thought about how Jews in Italy live.

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  49. Calvin (and others),

    re. the Papist of Greenwich

    One odd thing:
    a formerly notorious figure on the British "far right" - Joe/Joseph Pearce, a street-fighter but also intellectual/ideologist of the National Front in the 1980s - having converted to Catholicism whilst in prison (for inciting racial hatred, I think in Northern Ireland) - has gone on to reinvent himself as a Prof of English Literature, somewhere in the States. In that role (and he has thoroughly renounced his dubious past) one of his areas of research has been on the connections of Shakespeare to Catholicism (even going so far as to posit that he was himself a secret Catholic).

    His first book on the topic (which deals with his life and associations, in Stratford, London, and elsewhere) was published a couple of years ago, and while I feel that he perhaps at times overeggs the pudding a little, there is quite some (properly referenced and sourced) food for thought there.

    I believe he is currently working on a book concerning explicit references to Catholicism (or that are deemed to be sympathetic or supportive of the Catholic position) in Shakespeare's plays. (the ghost in Hamlet being one obvious one that has been discussed elsewhere)

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  50. Dominic, thanks for that fascinating piece of information. I must look him up.

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  51. Drama is not autobiography. What Shakespeare's personal views are about life and the universe are impossible to ascertain from the words spoken by his characters. His plays are full of contradictory statements, which is as it should be, since one doesn't expect Macbeth and Falstaff to have the same outlook on life.

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  52. @ anthony: communism is evangelical; I think we can assume its adherents will always seek to extend its influence. But I was speaking more about the international ambitions of the USSR which supplied North Vietnam with weapons and supplies throughout the long conflict from its beginnings after WW2 until the fall of Saigon. It is not often recognized that North Vietnam fielded the fourth largest army in the world, backed by the second largest during that war. Its weaponry was the most sophisticated the Soviet Union could supply, barring nuclear weapons. Russians flew many of the aircraft, and Russian advisors aided the NVA with tactics and strategy. It was not, as sometimes portrayed, a duel between the world's most technologically sophisticated military and farmers in pyjamas, but a duel between superpowers in which one side fought openly while the other fought by proxy.

    @ Dominic: That is most interesting. I shall have to look for that book.

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  53. @NP: I'm not disagreeing with that, but the content of the plotlines and variety of such things would seem to indicate a very xenophilic man, and the proper understanding of them seems to indicate yet more.

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  56. Ana, my formal tone was in jest.

    Certainly Shakespeare did not regard Jews in general or Shylock specifically as diabolic in the literary sense as some of the folklore of his time would indicate-- but some of his audience did and thus, it laces the dialogue of his characters. However, to the extent that Shakespeare saw his character as a man, it was as a wicked man who (despite some redeeming qualities, such as his loyalty to his deceased wife) needed to be reconciled to Christianity for there to be a happy ending (remember that we are dealing with a play that contemporaries viewed as a comedy.) This would have also matched the general attitude of Christians as the time be they Protestant or Catholic.

    While I do think there is some grounds to the hypothesis to Shakespeare was at least sympathetic to Catholicism (he certainly seems familiar with the rituals and theology-- but so would many English Protestants of the era) I think the interpretation of Shylock's humiliation at the end as a call for tolerance for English Catholics is ahistorical and represents attempting to attribute modern, and I dare say, liberal attitudes about religious tolerance to a man of the 16th and 17th centuries. When Jews figured in anti-Catholic (or anti-Protestant) polemics it was always to say that Catholics (or Protestants) are apostates, much like the Jews, and possibly even worse apostates.

    Yes, Shakespeare was by the standards of his era a humanist, and he did not a pessimist like Marlowe, but the extent of his humanism needs to be placed in historical context as well as the structures of his plays.

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  57. Anthony, this statement of yours:

    "The Jews introduced communism to the world to keep other races in conflict and not take notice to their Zionist agendas."

    is such a vulgar expression of antisemitism that I do hope you mean that in sarcasm. It's often difficult to distinguish facetiousness from sincerity in these sorts of threads. It's the sort of thing I would expect from either the British National Party or from a reader of The Guardian.

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  58. Ian, yes, I'm sure, but it's possible to push a jest too far. :-)

    Everything you say makes perfect sense, and I would certainly not wish to abstract the man from the age in which he lived.

    All I will say is that the 'reconciliation' surely could have been accomplished without humiliation, allowing for the perfect happy ending. The fact that Shylock was humiliated, compounded by the most wounding betrayal, leaves a continuing ambiguity. It's this that allows for endless speculation, a measure of Shakespeare's genius.

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  59. As to the Americanism, "cracker." Historically speaking it originated as a derogatory term for poor southern whites. It retains that connotation, but it is more often used to refer to a southern white racist (usually working class) sometimes it is used to refer to any white racist no matter the socio-economic class or region of origin.

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  62. Ian,

    I'm somewhat puzzled at the comparison you draw between the BNP and "Guardian readers"; while I am generally not in agreement with either (although I read the Guardian from time to time, along with many other serious and reputable papers from various countries and in several languages), it is patently obvious to anyone acquainted at first hand with people who fall into these categories that two more different groups of people you could not hope to find, and, more to the point, that the latter would not tend to demean themselves by making statements akin to that of Anthony's which you reproduce, or holding the beliefs that such a statement implies!

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  63. @Ian:I should have stated that in a more accurate manner. Extremism is bad in all forms as with fundamentalist christians, Muslim extremists, etc. Zionism is no exception as all Zionist are Jewish but not all Jews are Zionist and you can not blame an entire race of people for a group of extremists. Israel is not without its faults and shortcomings as are all nations,as even moderate Jews speak out against some Israeli actions and policy. But Zionists do have a global agenda by whatever means necessary.

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  64. Anthony,

    "Karl Marx?"

    There was no verb there, but given the context, I presume you are using Karl Marx as an example of your previous statement:

    "The Jews introduced communism to the world to keep other races in conflict and not take notice to their Zionist agendas."

    Not that this will do much to rehabilitate Marx in the mind of someone who subscribes to racialist theories, but Marx' parents were both converts to Lutheranism, raised their son as a Lutheran and an anti-Semite. His essay, "On the Jewish Question," if anything, should demonstrate you and he have a similar opinion on Jews and Judaism.

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  65. Mister Garrie,

    I am well aware of antisemitism's existence on the left as well as on the right (in fact, I probably spend more time criticizing left-wing antisemitism.) The hatred is so rooted in pre-modern atavism that it can live anywhere on the political spectrum if one is not vigilant.

    As far as my off-handed remark regarding The Guardian and its readers, I am using the working definition of antisemitism used by European Union's Agency for Fundamental Rights. The most common infraction is the editorial board's consistent "[application] of double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation" as well as "denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination." There are other such markers in The Guardian's reporting and opinion pages.

    While I also agree with you that peace in the Levant will require a dropping of hatred, you will find anti-Semitic hatred more often, more unambiguously, and more strongly expressed amongst those who claim to be "pro-Palestinian" (while not actually doing anything that benefits the people of Palestine) than any anti-Arab sentiment found in pro-Zionist camps.

    Based on what little I have read about the EDL, I suspect that their philosemitism is for the most part a superficial affectation cynically chosen to antagonize British Muslims during street demonstrations.

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  66. Anthony, this statement of yours:

    "The Jews introduced communism to the world to keep other races in conflict and not take notice to their Zionist agendas."

    moves me ask why do you hold this opinion?

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  67. Anthony,

    You start with the sort of vulgar historically unsupportable conspiracy theories that only an extremist would espouse and then when someone calls you on it, you present yourself as an opponent of extremism. You convince no one but those who are already your ideological fellow travelers.

    "Zionism" is the proposition that the Jewish people have the right to self-determination in the historic Jewish homeland. That is zionism's only agenda. There is no global agenda beyond what every similarly sized country must do to maintain the security of its citizens.

    If zionists engage in advocacy in other abroad it is to make a case that Israel's right to exist and ability to defend that right be maintained in a world where many nations do not recognize that right, as well as to foster good relations between Israel and the country where they are citizens.

    Criticism of Israeli policy, just like criticism of British policy, just like criticism of American policy, when conducted in a fair minded manner, with a concern for truth and justice, is nothing of which to be frightened as Israel, like Britain, like the United States, is a democracy. Citizens of democracies routinely criticize their governments. However, again, making reference to the European Union's working definition of antisemitism: the "[application] of double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation" and "denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination" is antisemitism, and much of what is called "criticism" does rely heavily on double standards, or in your case, Anthony, misinformation.

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  68. @Canary Islander : Not all Jews as some practice no religion at all but Zionists do have agendas. They have a powerful lobby in America ,Apac and have a great influence in American foreign policy.They drain The American taxpayer of much money ( about 10 million a day ) and blood as the US fights proxy wars for Isreal. They have majority controll of Mass media, The American medical assosiation, The entertainment industry , The Federal Reserve which is a private not public entity and are the majority of the international bankers.The American people are enslaved to the Zionists.

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  69. @Ian: There are indeed conspiracies and hidden agendas in politics , why would Zionists be exempt from this ? . As for the historical homeland of the Hebrews , the illegal state of Isreal was taken by force from the Palistinian people." The land of milk and honey" was already inhabited and the occupants killed and enslaved, all by God's chosen, what God would this be?

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  70. On Marx, a sprinkle of water?

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  72. This kind of extreme form of political correctness rose its ugly head during the Blair regime. Only Fools & Horses, for example, was recently issued with all the 'Paki''nigger' 'black man's pinch' gaffs cut (I have the original cuts!) I can't imagine how or why someone could be offended by them and not find them funny. Pork was banned from at least one school dinners menu in case it offended Muslims (why did they not think of offending Jews)! Jesus would be black or a girl (for fear of being labelled sexist) and hymns were banned, which I grew up singing and which taught me all about Noah and Jesus.

    Shock waves of indignation ran across the Muslim world following the recent publication of offensive and crude caricatures of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in some parts of Europe. The un-informed, as ever, misled by the fanatics, gave into public display of rage and rampant chaos ensued. Midst this confusion of an undeniably distressing time for all Muslims, spoke the voice of reason, calm and peace, precisely in line with the teachings of the 'prince of peace' himself - the Holy Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the voice of His Holiness Khalifatul Masih V. It unfolded the reality of the Islamic ways and means to respond to injustice; calling for peace, reasoning, endeavour to enlighten the world with the power of the pen and ultimately to always put one's trust in sincere prayers. He delivered a series of 5 faith inspiring and enlightening Friday Sermons on the subject of The Blessed Model of the Holy Prophet Muhammad & the Caricatures they are a beacon of light for everyone in this often perplexing world that we live in. The published version of these sermons can be read at: http://www.alislam.org/library/books/TheBlessedModelAndCaricatures.pdf

    On a lighter note, here is the wonderful Omid Djalili speaking on whether religion should be off-limits when it comes to comedy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1Cq2GR-7pQ

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  73. Rehan, you for me will always be the voice of reason. Thank you for those links.

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  74. Sorry Anthony, but zionists are pretty up front about their agenda. Your need to attribute an additional hidden conspiracy shows more your desperate need for an all-powerful enemy.

    You raise the spectre of AIPAC, but if you were remotely familiar with AIPAC (which you aren't, otherwise you would have spelt the initials properly) you would know that AIPAC endorses Palestinian statehood within the framework of a two-state solution, as does every major zionist organization world-wide.

    Furthermore, as you talk about AIPAC, you, like many who warn us of the danger of "zionists" ignore that this is one of many different lobbies in American politics. For instance, while AIPAC operates in the open, having public meetings, the Saudi government, often acting as leader of the Arab League also lobbies Congress and the White House, regarding their security concerns, geo-political aims, offering campaign donations along the way. Indeed, there are many such organizations whose whole raison d'êtré is promoting good relations between the United States and another foreign country. I suspect that one finds this in any democratic nation with ethnic minorities whose ancestors hail from different parts of the world.

    As to your claim that Israel's existence is illegal: it was mandated by the United Nations in 1948 from a former colonial holding of the British Empire. Again, the controversy arises because Israel successfully defended itself from foreign invaders in a war that was entirely unnecessary but not of its own choosing.

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  75. Mister Garrie-

    As mentioned, I judge The Guardian by EU standards. The bias is too consistently rooted in double-standards and too consistently based on disinformation, for me to any longer view their positions as that of a dissenting opinion from someone of good will, but as genuine animus.

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  76. The EDL are not philosemitic in the sense of having any particular appreciation or support for Jewish philosophy or religion; converselyas far as I can tell they are quite sincerely pro-Israeli (and of, well, to be frank, thuggish, elements on the "right" or "far right" of Israeli politics that re their approximate analogue there)

    And as to the question of whether the Guardian is an antisemitic newspaper (I have read deluded fools elsewhere - who I suspect have seldom if ever actually picked up a copy of hte thing they defame - compare it to "Der Sturmer", so have quite lost patience arguing on this point: but in short I am quite sure that it is nothing of the sort) I'm afraid I am not prepared to outsource my sense of conscience or good judgement to an agency of the European Union!

    The Guardian certainly has its flaws, and indeed can be frustratingly one-sided and deluded in its coverage of all manner of disputes (domestic as well as international), but to slander it as antisemitic really is quite unacceptable and wide of the mark.

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  78. @ Ian: As for Saudi Arabia they really do not like America, they just use us for security and we drain their oil reserves. Most all the middle east monarchy states are scared shitless of the Islamic extremists. The monarchs want to keep their status as the extremists would turn their countries into Islamic republics. As for AIPAC Israel is a foreign nation and not in Americas best interest. The munitions are in position for an attack on the Iranian nuclear projects but the consequences for this will be on us, Mitterand was correct on his assesment.There is a ray of hope as after the impending polar shift the state of Isreal is proposed to be under water.

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  79. I'm adding the following comment on behalf of Ike Jakson.

    Ike wrote;

    Anastasia

    Thanks for an informative Post.

    From my perspectives I would also have considered the headline ‘Liberalism gone awry’ for the Post.

    To understand this I must give you a few very short details of my background. I was born in South Africa in 1940 [thus long before Verwoerd and Apartheid and all that] and our basic home education was respect for the aged and God.

    In 1960 when Kennedy was running for the Presidency in America I realized that he appealed to me more than Nixon but when I said that the young Afrikaners thought I was a very strange person.

    Remember this is short. My strangeness grew and the year I turned 30 I went over to liberal politics, left the Afrikaans Church and started advocating integration amongst all people and a South Africa free of racial bias. When the children came I put them in English private schools which were mixed and our son occasionally brought a pupil of color home for the weekend. The Dutch [Afrikaans] translation for the American N word [it’s a K in Dutch] was forbidden in our house.

    I had become a pariah in my language group and in the family and was often called a “pink liberal communist” and that was too much for the wife. We were divorced because of that and Television [serious] but it left me free to pursue my political dreams. I voted for the ANC in 1994 and put Mandela’s pictures on my walls and his Long Walk plus the Time Magazine commemorative Edition with his photo as Man of the Year on my coffee table.

    However, my honeymoon lasted only 4 years until 1998 by which time I realized the truth about the man. Clinton was then in the White House when I walked out into the political wilderness for the second time in my life. If people ask me what had cured me of “Liberalism gone awry” I say “Clinton and Mandela, and Mandela finally set me free.”

    Back to the subject of the Post then; this absurd notion of political correctness will ultimately fail, as it sure must if we want to save the World from self destruction.

    May I leave a note for Adam please?

    Adam, we have not often had the occasion to address one another but you must have read my mind when you wrote at 16:19 yesterday. I think it was long overdue and high time for someone to say it; hence I ditto:
    “I rather like the censorship of sex in public; I think it has no place in an open sphere. I would never advocate legislation to censor this kind of filth, but I would hope that people could be British enough not to allow such things to infect our public sphere. Do what you like at home, but outside let's just all be mild, tolerant, charitable people and nothing more.”
    And let us all shrug at what others call us. As long as it is not profane or willfully intended to damage, let’s laugh it off. Must I tell you what I am called these days?

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  80. Ike, I absolutely agree. Thanks for that interesting background information.

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  83. Ike says;

    Adam

    Thanks for your remarks about the pornographic issue. Somebody has to remind the Media and I am please that you did.

    On you longer comment about South Africa and the matter of race or color I agree but I must then point out that where you say that “The seeds of the current troubles in South Africa were sown not in 1994 but in 1948; not because of who was elected, but because of who wasn't.” becomes invalid in present day South Africa [on this day Thursday, January 20, 2011] because the race clash has started, the same color black on black but different races. And that has nothing to do with 1994 or 1948. That goes back to centuries ago before white color set foot out here.

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