-I've been debating with Mr. Athens and Mr. Jerusalem (nah, Alpheus and Withywindle) about the relationship between anti-Semitism and the left in America today. To summarize, and run the risk of conflating what are in fact several different stances - Withywindle and some commenting there are of the anti-Zionism-is-the-new-anti-Semitism school, and thus classify contemporary American anti-Semitism as coming from the left. Another commenter there points out that "Wall Street" and "Coastal Culture" have a history of being heard as code words for "Jews" by certain audiences, and that these views are coming from the right. To which Withywindle, in the comments, counters:
I also think there are substantive reasons to criticize Wall Street bailouts, Coastal Elites, and, indeed, the War on Christmas--and, indeed, I support all these critiques, because I am such a gutte neshumah. So I am very wary of any attempt to avoid the necessity to rebut these critiques by the cheap and nasty resort to, Oo! Oo! You just don't like Jews! I suppose I would keep a weather eye for developments, but in the meantime concentrate on the text, not the possibly Jewish subtext.Without fully summarizing the thread, my response was - and is - that there are also substantive reasons to criticize Israel.... and that this in no way prevents some from using anti-Zionism as a cover for their anti-Semitism.
Now, I'm coming at this from a Zionist as well as an an anti-anti-Coastal perspective. My fury with Wall Street is, practically speaking, mostly limited to its irritating presence in my day-to-day life when in NY. But as I commented there, the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Coastal Elite-ism is that one, if it's secretly about Jews, is - at least initially - secretly about Israeli Jews and their Jewish supporters abroad. The other, meanwhile, is, if it's about Jews at all, about American Jews. Because "coastal elites" is about culture, it hardly matters if a particular Jew actually comes from Minnesota and has never left that state. The person can still be described as "so New York." It's much more of a threat to American Jews if a movement emerges that doubts a Jew can really be American than it is if the folks getting worked up about American aid to Israel got super-mobilized.
-I had written a long post about the following, but it went off in too many directions, so I'll attempt to rein it in here. Basically, I was struck by part of a comment at Flavia's, re: college admissions: "[T]he true test is not if you can do pretty well with every advantage but if you can do even decently having to fight through obstacles the more privileged can't imagine." Struck, that is, by the idea of there being a "true test," and how this relates to "holistic" admissions, as well as the insistence we have in America (in some parts of the country, that is) with matching students up with colleges that match their unique personalities. Struck also with how this contrasts with Isabel Archer's response, in which she asks, "Isn't it simpler and far more attractive to just have admissions officers focus on [...] picking people who will be good college students?" It strikes me that the way to expand opportunity and reward those who do well in college would be to have everyone just go to a nearby public university, one with as close to open admissions and free tuition as possible, and - in the European manner, sniffs this grad student from her Paris dorm room - allow that a certain (large?) percentage of the matriculating class won't graduate. Sure, kids from upper-class families would probably be better-represented among the "pass" contingent, but there wouldn't be the same initial barriers to getting in, namely the near-need for wealthy and-or with-it parents. There should be a way of expanding opportunity that doesn't involve intricate moral judgements of who has overcome precisely how much suffering - this in part because some types of suffering are neither financial nor racial, and are the kinds of things students might prefer not to - or not think to - put in their application packages. And... there's more, but I'll see if there are comments on this, and maybe the side-tracked-ness of my mind on this issue will cease.
-While I have no trouble calling Valentijn de Hingh a woman, and am glad that someone from a very marginalized group has found a way to make a living, I'm not sure what to make of the apparent mini-trend of biologically male women's-fashion models. It seems hand in hand with the popularity of preadolescent (i.e. a young-looking 12, not an emaciated 16) mannequins. The concern, as far as I'm concerned, is not that a MTF woman or a 12-year-old girl is in some way taking the rightful place of a deserving 18-year-old biological-female model, or that it's confronting heterosexual men with images of female beauty that they perhaps wouldn't (or, in the case of young girls, absolutely shouldn't) pursue sexually. Rather, it's that the fact that these demographics are now "in" is merely the obvious result of a beauty standard that equates adult female appearance with ugliness. The born-male and the not-yet-14 don't have a heck of a lot in the way of cellulite.