Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Holocaust--Just another Postmodern Invention?

Is the Holocaust just another postmodern figment of the West's imagination? Apparently, this is what some prominent Muslim leaders think:

Up until now, it was unnecessary in the West, outside of Germany and Austria, to pay serious attention to those who disputed the historicity of the Holocaust: they constituted a tiny fringe group, and dismissing their views had little political risks or consequences. They could simply be shrugged off as quacks, at best, and crypto-Nazis, at worst. But this recent wave of Holocaust denial is not coming from a statistically insignificant potion of the West; it is coming from Muslim leaders with popular followings, and what is even more troublesome, it is not being challenged by others in the Muslim community. As the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said, "The problem is that so far in the Arab world, very few leaders are willing to tell their own people that they have to understand that the Holocaust did take place” -- a statement that is putting it very mildly, indeed.

Are we dealing here with simply two different but equally legitimate points of view of what happened to the Jews under Nazi Germany; or are we dealing with a new ideological virus, and one that is on the verge of spreading like an epidemic?

We in the West have already rewritten a great deal of history in the name of cultural tolerance and diversity. But are we prepared to deny the truth of the Holocaust in the name of the same principles?

Have you noticed that as time goes on and people start to forget the horror of tragedy that the mind tends to rewrite the past? Perhaps this is human--for example, a family member dies and we rewrite their life to fit into our own scheme of how we feel about our own lives. If Dad was a fairly pleasant guy, we might overstate how cruel he was to keep ourselves from grieving. But on the other hand, if Dad was downright cruel and abusive, we might rewrite history in our minds to make him out to be a good guy. Either way of thinking puts our mind at ease and gives us the opportunity to feel virtuous about ourselves. In the case of these Muslim leaders with dementia times two, we have a case where they use the denial of the Holocaust as a tool for provoking sympathy from the West and anger in their followers in the Mideast. What better way to further their cause. But can we really allow them to use the bodies of six million corpses to make a political point?

Update: Ed Driscoll has more thoughts--be sure and read the information on political science Professor Sindi who has taught in the past at UC Irvine and Cal State Pomona--and who believes in the Holocaust Denial and is teaching American students.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deliberate distortion of history for political purposes has been a popular tactic since the invention of dirt, as has the ready acceptance by sympathizers and the converted. This instance is particularly despicable, but not surprising. And the probability of wholesale renouncement by "moderate" Muslim leaders is, as the mathematically astute would say, vanishingly small.

If there is any "good" news for Israel and the Jews, it's that Islamic radicals hate Christians equally - and I believe one Party in this country realizes that and is willing to act on it.

The very scary part for Israel is the immediacy and relative magnitude of the threat. Practically speaking, it's a rough neighborhood. That immediacy of threat is gradually spreading, and the West in general would do well to realize it before we all wake up one fine day and find fundamentalist mullahs being voted into office - or worse, simply assuming control of dominant local populations of believers and declaring the conflict won.

10:20 AM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

A quote from Pat Buchanan about the Holocaust:

Diesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody.

So, when Pat Buchanan wrote this in 1990, was he part of a "tiny fringe group", or was he a "prominent Muslim leader"?

11:23 AM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


Pat Buchanan is against the war in Iraq just like all the other anti-semitic Holocaust deniers, the difference is, he is not on the verge on getting nuclear weapons like the Iranians.

11:52 AM, January 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of campus leftist types, are also Holocaust denying, Palestinian terrorist-loving fools. Hatred of Jews and the Jewish State is where academic leftists and Islamic hate-mongers converge

12:20 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


I agree--I have heard these leftist academic or journalist types talking freely when they do not know that I am Jewish (Uh, take a look, it's not hard to tell) and they are very anti-semitic in their stance. Apparently, this does not bother many liberal Jews--they seem to deny it themselves or join the self-hatred.

12:35 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Dave said...

Helen--you're Jewish?

Who would have thunk it?! You don't look Jewish...


12:39 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Helen: Pat Buchanan is perfectly capable of choosing the right side of an issue for very bad reasons. He's also against affirmative action, as I would assume you are, but maybe not for the same reason.

My point about Pat Buchanan is that the TCS article is that it downplays American anti-Semitism as an implicit side point to its main thesis. The Klan was not a "tiny fringe group", nor was Pat Buchanan, nor was David Duke, who won 45% of the vote in Louisiana. So the first sentence that you quoted is just wrong. It was not true, "up until now", that American Holocaust revisionism could just be ignored. However, I'll grant that it is roughly correct "now" rather than "up until now". Reagan-style rightism is associated with a sharp decline in anti-Semitism on the right. Buchanan has been pushed out.

I accept the central point of the TCS article that Holocaust denial and wild hatred of Jews is a very serious problem in the Muslim world. I don't agree that it is a "recent wave", but yes, it's serious. And I agree that Iran's nuclear ambitions are a great threat to the region.

Unfortunately, the invasion of Iraq is a great strategic gift to Iran. It's not just that the US Army is maxxed out in Iraq and cannot be redeployed to other crises. It's not just that the civil war in Iraq is a recruiting tool for extremists, as all civil wars are. The invasion effectively re-opened the Iran-Iraq war and handed victory to Iran. It has also suppressed Iraqi oil production, which has led to yet higher world oil prices. The Iranians have been emboldened for all of these reasons.

12:49 PM, January 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Greg Kuperberg's worldview we have more leverage over Iran with Saddam Hussein left in power in neighboring Iraq than we do with our troops on Iran's border.

Only in academia can such views prevail.

Kuperberg's idea that the war encourages recruitment of terrorists is refuted in an article appearing today that shows Hussein actively trained islamist terrorists.


Saddam's Terror Training Camps

at the

weekly standard

1:19 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

Pat Buchanan had a brief popularity during a NH primary -- significantly, when he was downplaying his stance on Israel in order to highlight cultural and economic issues. Putting him in the same category as David Duke and the Klan seems to ignore simple distinctions. And to see Buchanan as any sort of force is absurd. But if one is going to refer to the political power of the Klan -- which was in the 1920's -- then getting worried about a writer who now attracts about 1% of the Republican vote makes sense. But I just don't get it. It seems to me to be worrying about the mice when there's a rhinoceros in the room.

1:37 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Richard Brown: Your comments have numerous fallacies.

First, our troops aren't on Iran's border. They are at the other end of Iraq, busy fighting Iran's Sunni enemies. That's the whole point, that we are acting out 25-year-old Iranian grudges. That does indeed extend their leverage and reduce ours.

But, more importantly, we keep organizing elections that pro-Iranian elements keep winning. That is the biggest strategic benefit to them, that we put their guys in power. The most powerful political party in Iraq is called "The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq". Could they possibly spell out their intentions any more clearly than that? It was formed in Tehran, during the Iran-Iraq war. Now these people are our "allies".

Second, I never said that Saddam Hussein never trained any terrorists. I'm sure that he did some of that. The point is that there is far more terrorist training in Iraq now than before the war. They are learning more about killing Americans than Islamic terrorists ever knew before. It's true that many of them get killed too, but they can still pass on their knowledge before martyrdom.

Third, your conception of academia as an isolated cage of opinions is wrong. My view comes from General William Odom. You could call him an academic, but in his case it's military academies, and he also has a lot of real-world experience. For that matter, the invasion of Iraq was a test of the speculative academic theories of Paul Wolfowitz. (The test failed and Wolfowitz moved on.) So in both directions, there are major links between academia and the real world.

It's true that my own opinions have no bearing on politics, since I'm in a math department. But on the other hand, I don't spend any time talking about Iraq with political groups on campus. I talk some with friends in the department and elsewhere — but some of them are pro-Bush.

2:20 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...


Every now and then, I enjoy reading your posts and watching the response. Apparently you subscribe to Scott Adams' internet rules, especially rule 1:

"If you are new to the Internet, allow me to explain how to debate in this medium. When one person makes any kind of statement, all you need to do is apply one of these methods to make it sound stupid. Then go on the offensive.

1. Turn someone’s generality into an absolute. For example, if someone makes a general statement that Americans celebrate Christmas, point out that some people are Jewish and so anyone who thinks that ALL Americans celebrate Christmas is stupid. (Bonus points for accusing the person of being anti-Semitic.)"

Rules 2-7 are pretty good, too.

2:22 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

AVI: I already said that post-Reagan, classic American anti-Semitism is moot. So I'm not "worrying" about it; I agree that Iran is a more important concern.

I was making a historical point, that the words "until now" were wrong in combination with "tiny fringe group". The Klan wasn't only a political force in the 1920s. They were also part of the resistance to civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s. Their explanation was very simple: They said that racial integration was a plot against the South hatched by Jewish liberals and other similar Yankees. I don't think that the Klan was really out to annihilate the Jews; rather, anti-Semitism was a useful vehicle for them to resist rights for blacks, which is what they really cared about. I note that one of the roots of the refounding of the Klan was the lynching of Leo Strauss.

If you think that this history has nothing to do with Pat Buchanan, whose support do you think that he was after when he downplayed the Holocaust? It's not as if the Klansmen of the 1960s were all dead by 1990. But I concede that Pat Buchanan failed in the end, and you could even say that he was a throwback with no real chance.

2:33 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

DRJ: I challenge you to find a single ad hominem criticism written by me that refers to you.

2:38 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...


An ad hominem argument is one that attacks the messenger rather than the message. My post was making a point about how you frame your messages and it was not an attack on you personally. Therefore, it was not an ad hominem attack.

If I had said you are a whining liberal left coast academic who enjoys making flamboyant statements for effect - that would have been an ad hominem attack. But I didn't say that and, frankly, I don't think that you are. I think you are a principled liberal who follows current events, nurtures his family, and enjoys lively discussions on politics and other topics. As I said in my earlier post, every now and then I enjoy it when you tweak the discussion.

And you have to admit, Dilbert's rules are pretty funny.

2:51 PM, January 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kuperberg isn't above ad hominem attacks, of course. So I feel perfectly right in saying that he is a contrarian elitist academic (repetitious there) who uses a funhouse mirror: judgemental of others, but never applying that vast analytical skill on himself and his own bizarre self-loathing motives.

C'mon, Greg: when have you ever been on the wrong side of a political question? Do tell.

And lay off the "anonymity is cowardly" nonsense. You are smarter than that.

3:07 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Anonymity is the last resort of the brave, but the first refuge of cowards. It's absolutely true.

Anyway, to get back to the core point of the post: It would be nice if we really could challenge menacing Islamic leaders who deny the Holocaust. Unfortunately, because of the illogical war in Iraq, we can't.

3:50 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...


I agree it is a good thing to challenge menacing Islamic leaders who deny the Holocaust. However, I fail to see how the war in Iraq prevents the US from confronting this issue.

The war in Iraq does not prevent our President, State Department, UN Ambassador, or other public officials from publicly criticizing Holocaust deniers, nor does it silence (far from it!) the media and internet bloggers. Don't underestimate the power of grassroots blogger opinions or, as the Instapundit would say, the power of the Army of Davids.

Similarly, we can levy trade sanctions and take other economic actions in support of our public positions against such regimes. Naturally, we've already done this with many of the worst offenders, but the US continues to provide humanitarian aid to those very same offenders - very little of which actually goes to humanitarian needs. And that doesn't even begin to include the vast sums of US money that is wasted by the UN or that directly flows from the UN into the pockets of our enemies.

If you assume that our military is stretched too thin due to the war in Iraq and thus is incapable of taking action in the Middle East, I suggest you think again. Our staging areas and the time it would take to ramp up a response have been made much easier by our presence in Iraq.

I do agree that US domestic support for further military action is problematic in light of the war in Iraq. That's probably why any further action will use covert US forces or with US forces supporting Israeli and/or Iraqi forces. However, I suspect that there is far more reluctance in the US Congress, universities, and media than there is in the rest of America. Most of us would like to see Syria and Iran dealt with sooner rather than later, but I don't think it's clear that the US has to be the military force to do it. Internal pressures toward democracy - and watching the success of democracy in their neighbor Iraq - may still prove fruitful.

Maybe the war in Iraq made some aspects of our Middle East diplomacy and military positions more difficult, but overall I think it made things a whole lot easier - everywhere, that is, except when it comes to domestic support at home. And you know what? I think that would have happened anyway. There is a segment of American society that won't like anything that George W. Bush does, no matter what. Just like I don't like anything that Jimmy Carter did. I guess we can all form a club.

4:36 PM, January 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Holy crap! It’s absolutely true that anonymity is the last refuge of the brave and the first refuge of cowards? Are you making an appeal to some hidden authority, or is this you declaring yourself the voice of God? Maybe someone has good personal reasons to remain anonymous; perhaps someone writing to a “psych” blog wants the option to discuss personal issues every now and then where anonymity is a reasonable shield. Loosen up and make some room for other points of view here.

Speaking of anonymity. . . I told you I was going to put a thumbnail biography up on the web after I challenged your dead link. The site is up but under construction. The bio isn’t written, but two days tops and it’ll be on the site.

Back to the topic on hand; Re: Your 3:50 PM comment: Why is it you suppose we could reason with these people if we had never gone to war? I find this to be a rather bold proposition. Can you elaborate on your thinking?

4:41 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

I think that if we want to get back to the original topic we should be discussing questions like this:

Why are people willing to become apologists for Holocaust deniers simply because the Holocaust deniers are enemies of American and/or George W. Bush?

4:48 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Jeff and DRJ: It's not a matter of "reasoning" with Ahmadinejad, because the man is only interested in power, not reason. A lot of diplomats already "condemned" his comments about the Holocaust, but it's only what he expected and it doesn't hurt him.

The real issue is to use American power to limit Ahmadinejad's options: military power, economic power, and diplomatic power. The United States can be extremely persuasive without necessarily going to war. For example, it helped force peace between Greece and Turkey by speaking softly and carrying a big stick, and big carrots too. That is where the invasion of Iraq comes into the picture in the worst way. We have dropped our stick in Iraq, and a load of carrots, and we have pulled in a lot of favors from exasperated allies. Iraq is the black hole of American influence. We don't have a spare army to tell the Iranians that we mean business. On the contrary, our army is doing their business in Iraq. The cherry on their cake is that the civil war in Iraq has also reduced the world supply of oil.

5:22 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

DRJ: No, the first question is, are any prominent Westerners apologists for Ahmadinejad? I personally don't know of any.

Your comment about "vast sums" that the US spends on the United Nations also lacks proportion. What the US has already spent on Iraq would cover its UN dues for a century.

Jeff: I made my comment about anonymity carefully. Brave people do resort to anonymity, but only as a last resort. Someone here could be anonymous for some good reason in theory. In practice, it's just been used to cast insults and otherwise to chew the fat more comfortably.

5:31 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I find is scary and disgusting the efforts to write off the Holocaust as myth. But in our multi-cultural frenzy much of what is true and right is getting lost. Mark Steyn wrote a good column on this just the other day.

To start a argument on Pat Buchanan distracts from the seriousness of this problem. I've read books on Treblinka, Dachau, Auschwitz and others. The cruelity and inhumanity of these places was beyond imagination. I read most of these books thirty or more years ago but the images stay forever. This is the reason I get so upset when politicians and others start hurling around "Nazi" accusations, Nothing in our government comes close.

The "Holocaust is a myth" crowd should not be given the slightest hint of legitimacy but rather be recognized completely and fully as the hate driven, anti-Semites they are. Just like apartheid in South Africa was.

Coincidentally, Viktor Frankl, who Helen quotes in her previous post, was a survivor of Nazi concentration camps.

5:32 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Here is the link for Mark Steyn's column which I found via HalfBakered.

5:35 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...


I just can't agree with you the consequences of the war in Iraq.

America hasn't "dropped our stick in Iraq". If anything, Iraq has made our stick even bigger. Instead of a 4-6 month period to ramp up for a theoretical deployment, our military forces are established in the middle of the Middle East with significant battle-proven supplies, equipment and troops. The war in Iraq makes it obvious to the Middle Eastern neighbors that America will actually use its military forces. That coupled with the Israeli military and the developing Iraqi military must make the Iranian mullahs more nervous than ever.

To get back to Dr. Helen's points about the psychology of this whole thing - it seems to me we are hearing more from the Holocaust deniers, particularly in Iran, because they are quite nervous and need to rally public opinion against the West. The myth of the impotent West unfairly targeting harmless Middle Eastern countries is fast being exposed as a lie - not just in the West but across the Middle East.

5:41 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

dadvocate: I do not see how naming Holocaust revisionists distracts from the gravity of Holocaust revisionism. It seems that people here have heard of Pat Buchanan — he's not some nobody who I found on the street corner.

Speaking of Pat Buchanan, it's interesting that Ron Paul, the 1988 Libertarian presidential nominee, supported Buchanan's campaign in 1992. Ron Paul also opposed both Americans wars against Iraq and opposes aid to Israel. Now, is that solely out of libertarian idealism, or does Paul also have another rationale for that?

5:43 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

DRJ: But American troops are not established in Iraq; they're fighting to hold their ground. Why, otherwise, would we spend $60 billion a year on this, more than the GDP of Iraq itself? Eventually the US will get tired of this money hemorrhage and leave. I had been thinking that Bush's successor would be blamed for losing the war in Iraq, especially if it's a Democrat. But since Bush was re-elected, I don't think that he can hold the fort long enough.

They also don't have battle-proven equipment in Iraq. Battle-spent equipment is more like it.

5:53 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

Dadvocate at 5:32 - Well said, and I commend you for pointing out the Mark Steyn article. Steyn says it all, doesn't he?

Greg - Ron Paul is a committed libertarian who votes accordingly. He does not support the war in Iraq because he does not want to spend the money, but don't take too much solace in that. He has long advocated discontinuation of all foreign aid and UN contributions, and that's probably why he is continually re-elected by the conservative Texas constituents in his district.

I think we will get sent to the Playpen if we keep this up, and I don't particularly want to go there. I'd much rather refocus our discussion on the topic of Holocaust deniers - and, please, no more discussion of Pat Buchanan unless you can convince us that Buchanan and his followers (if he has any) pose a clear and present danger to American security.

6:12 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

DRJ: Look, do you want to talk about Holocaust revisionists or don't you? Because Pat Buchanan is one. I agree that he isn't a very big danger to American security — a clear danger, actually, just not a very big one. But Buchanan is at least more prominent than Dr. Abdullah M. Sindi, the Holocaust revisionist who Helen Smith mentions. I never heard of Abdullah M. Sindi before. Should I be worried that he once had temporary positions at Irvine and Pomona? Pat Buchanan has a little more on his resume than that! And why do you ask whether Pat Buchanan has followers? As I said, he had Ron Paul.

6:26 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

Okay, Greg, I'll bite.

1. We care about Abdullah M. Sindi because he holds or held a position of authority (as a professor, and in my book that's an authority position if you compare it to the students) on at least 2 American college campuses. He was theoretically and probably literally able to spread his denials of the Holocaust to impressionable college students, some of whom were probably convinced or at least confused by his opinions.

2. We don't care about Pat Buchanan as much because he is not an authority figure. I know, he is a former Presidential candidate and influential political adviser, as well as sometime TV personality and journalist. But the reality is that he is not influential now and most people view him for what he really is - a discredited cariacature and yesterday's news.

3. The real issue is, in my opinion, free speech. Do we let people deny the Holocaust or do we impose some kind of content law like they have in England and Canada? For my part, I wouldn't even consider limiting speech on this issue no matter how vile it may seem. The best disinfectant is shining the light of publicity and public opinion on the stupid things people say and do.

So, by all means, let's talk about how ridiculous it is to deny the Holocaust existed. Let's name the world leaders who embrace such revisionism (don't forget Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Prime Minster), and if you really really want to, we can talk about Pat Buchanan. But I for one am far more worried about the Iranian President, the Palestinian Prime Minister, and other Middle Eastern leaders who actually have bombs and planes and such.

6:48 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

And just to make it clear, Greg, I care about Abdullah M. Sindi not only because he spreads his views among impressionable college students but also because he was actually employed by 2 different American colleges. I suspect that those colleges knew or reasonably could have known that Sindi was a Holocaust denier, but they hired him anyway. If it happened there, it's happening other places, too, and I have a big problem with that - just as I would if my company hired a new accountant who didn't believe in generally accepted accounting principles. It demonstrates an intellectual ignorance that we don't want on college campuses.

6:56 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

DRJ: Held is right. Sindi is retired. So your comparison of Sindi and Buchanan boils down to this. Retired academic Abdullah M. Sindi matters because he stood in front of a class of students at Irvine and Pomona (and Cerritos College too), and that carries AUTHORITY. It's not like winning 3 million votes in Republican primaries.

I agree with you that free speech is an issue, although not necessarily "the real issue". It's not an issue that gave me much grief in the case of Abdullah M. Sindi. I let him speak his mind simply by not knowing him from Adam.

I also agree that we should be more worried about Iran. Although as I have been saying, Iraq has been the black hole of worry in Washington. They have little worry left over for Iran, no matter what I choose to worry about.

6:58 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

We're getting to some common ground here, and I always like doing that in my conversations with you.

Sindi may be a former professor, and I guessed as much from the different things I read, but the people who hired him or people like them are probably still in positions of authority. It is a concern to people like me who send their children off to college. I want my children to have their heads filled with new, exciting, controversial ideas. I don't include in that category having a professor who denies the Holocaust occurred, nor would I be happy with any college that let someone like that teach - if even for a while.

The fact that you and I never heard of Abdullah M. Sindi before doesn't matter. That's why we have rules and rights, so that we can have the assurance that procedures work for all of us no matter where we are or who we are. So for me, the real issue is free speech. I can deplore the denials by Sindi at the same time I would protect his right to say such things. The difference is, I hope that institutions like colleges and the media take notice and expose these people and their opinions, rather than accept their views under the guise of tolerance.

7:09 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

First, the use of the word "professor" is premature. I found no documentation of what position Sindi held at Irvine and Pomona, or what he taught, or when. He may have been visiting faculty or a temporary lecturer. He may have been teaching the Israeli-Arab conflict, or Arabic 1, or 11th century Moroccan history. Unless you know more about it, it is guilt by association to lay his Holocaust revisionism at the feet of whoever hired him at Irvine or Pomona.

(If we are doing guilt by association, someone should explain this.)

I can tell you that the world is full of people who once had some toe hold at some university, then claim the authority of that university. I have seen statements like "I was a professor at MIT" that actually mean "I was a sysadmin at MIT and they let me teach a special course."

7:29 PM, January 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I quite agree. There is nothing worse that someone using an university affiliation to claim expertise and status outside of her or his own area.

Right? After all, only academics have opinions that matter.

Anonymity does indeed take many forms. And if Kuperberg can call anonymous posters cowards, then I can maintain that Kuperberg is an insulting twit on this subject. I have been reading his posts for some time and watched him drive people away not because of the excellence of his arguments, let alone his "give and take" fair minded nature...but because of his snobbish vitriol.

Sorry, I felt it had to be said. Someone who wants to convince others should at least be polite to others. Heck, they might even want to engage and discuss different points of view, and be willing to admit their own prejudice or periodic mistakes.

But hey, that is just my cowardly opinion.

More on subject. I am tired of folks who continually try to be apologists for evil people, like Holocaust deniers. Sure, Buchanan has said some idiotic things---less so than Howard Dean. This drumbeat of equivalence is unseemly.

I just want to hear the American Left condemn Holocaust deniers. It would be great to see condemn this maniac of a President in Iran.

I haven't seen such a condemnation from the usual leftist mouthpieces. I would love to be proved wrong.

I may be anonymous, but I at least I am not an elitist snob---and I am willing to admit that I might be wrong or misinformed.

8:02 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

Anonymous @ 5:07 - I, too, would like for the American left to condemn Holocaust deniers.

Greg - I described Sindi as a Professor because he is named as a professor of political science at Ed Driscoll's website (the link provided by Dr. Helen) and prior links. I have no independent knowledge of his status or affiliation, but I also have no reason to doubt the information provided in those links.

8:15 PM, January 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ditto the earlier post. Thanks to the people here who aren't rude to anonymous posters. Folks like us have reasons, and being cowardly ain't one of them.

Most people on this discussion board (except one) have been really nice. Even when I disagreed.

So thanks.

8:22 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

In case anyone is unclear on this point, my university affiliation implies no expertise whatsoever on any topic. My only real claim to expertise is in my actual research in mathematics and my computer software work, and that has nothing to do with politics. It is also certainly not true that only academics have opinions that matter. For example, unfortunately for America, the opinions of Patrick Buchanan really did matter when he ran for President in 1988 and 1992.

DRJ: I don't doubt that Sindi was a professor somewhere, nor that he taught something at Irvine and Pomona. But that doesn't make him a professor at Irvine. I am a professor at Davis, and I taught at Chicago, but I was not a professor at Chicago, I was a temporary instructor.

The "American left" is something of a moving target that can be narrowed down to Noam Chomsky only, or expanded to everyone who voted against George Bush and then some. For the record, Congress unanimously condemned Ahmadinejad's threats against Israel. That means Democrats as well as Republicans. Some of this foot-tapping seems more like a desire to condemn the "American left" than actually wanting anything from it.

8:39 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger pst314 said...

Taught at UC Irvine? I believe I've read of trouble there with radical Muslims.

As for Pat Buchanan, well, yes, he is a nasty little toad, but it's important to remember that his is very much a minority position in America. In contrast, hatred, hate, intolerance and deranged theories and raving paranoia seem to be the norm in the Muslim Middle East. If we're going to allow allow Arabs to immigrate to America and to teach in our schools, I'd prefer that they not be toads.

9:14 PM, January 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Foot tapping"? Oh, puh-leeze. Is it impossible for you to be polite?

9:17 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger gt said...

One problematic holocaust denial meme is that it didn't happen, or has been exagerated by an order of magnitude. Another problematic holocaust denial meme is that it only happened to the jews.
In evaluating these claims, and the social function and memetic fitness of these claims, it helps to have a definition of the terms. What exactly do we mean by the holocaust? Is this a reference solely to the death camps in germany and poland in wwII, in which jews, poles, gypsies, queers, the handicapped, were systematicly exterminated? Or is it a broader term that could include turkish genocide against armenians? ukranians shot in the head at stalin's orders.. ukranians starved to death at stalin's orders, the christian community in nagasaki that became burnt offerings to Roosevelt's (er, Truman's) refusal to accept conditional surrender? Does it include 40 million aborted children? A potential witness in the alito hearings was dropped the other day after flack about his remarks that the killing and burning of millions of farm animals is a holocaust. Reasonable people can disagree about how how they are using the term. I'm seeking clarification of how it's being used here. (I do think the islamist holocaust deniers cited are using it in a narrow sense, so my remarks are slightly offtopic, but that I have a valid point about there being more than one kind of holcaust denial. )
My ex-wife's cousins who died in the camps were not jewish, but that does not mean they should be forgotten.

On another front, anonymity is the norm and the default on the internet. While a billion people can be wrong, in this case they aren't.
- arbitrary aardvark

9:35 PM, January 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greg Kuperberg:

You say

"First, our troops aren't on Iran's border. They are at the other end of Iraq, busy fighting Iran's Sunni enemies."

This is not an honest engagement of ideas. The clear meaning of my statement is that
US troops in Iraq are geographically positioned to support an attack on Iran, a country on Iraq's border of you look at an atlas. You know that is what I mean, but rather than accept or refute this point you launch into an irrelevant observation that the troops are not right on the border facing Iran. This manner of discourse is very irritating and not likely to lead to continued discussion.

"Third, your conception of academia as an isolated cage of opinions is wrong. "

Is that so? Well I have a challenge for you. You deride anonymous posters, but all your posts line up nicely with academic orthodoxy on campus. It's easy to put your name on something that 90% of your fellow academics agree with. How about sharing an opinion with us that is not popular on campus. Are you against gay marriage? Are you against affirmative action? Do you think Larry Summers was right about women in science? Please share with us a thought that shows that you are not just a member of the herd on campus.

9:41 PM, January 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A bit off topic, but maybe not.

Oh, I'll go further on your subject, 9:41 PM. Ask Kuperberg what happens to untenured faculty members who are open and honest Republicans in any department on campus.

Kuperberg appears to have tenure, so he should be willing---just as an experiment to prove the superiority of his world view---to stand up in an university wide meeting and say that he will support the local Student Conservative club as a matter of principle.

I'd respect him a lot for doing so.

Whoops. I forgot that the academic community has already determined that Republicans just aren't as smart as Democrats. Or maybe they are just greedier than Democrats. Silly me.

10:00 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

I don't want to miscontrue your post, gt, but it seems to me that you are raising a semantic point (a la Chomsky?) about the meaning of the world holocaust in the context of an article about Holocaust deniers. Are you actually suggesting that people like the President of Iran should be given a pass because we can't be sure he is talking about the Holocaust (with a capital H) or generally that he means it the same way the Nazis did? As far as I'm concerned, the Iranian President can be referring to killing jews or poles or gypsies or ukrainians or even all of the above. Personally, I think there is a universal understanding of what the Holocaust means, but with revisionists hard at work it may become a quaint notion someday soon - an evolving version of truthiness.

However, I do take issue with your statement that: "A potential witness in the alito hearings was dropped the other day after flack about his remarks that the killing and burning of millions of farm animals is a holocaust. Reasonable people can disagree about how they are using the term."

Here is a link to the Washington Times' article in which the pulled Alito witness, Stephen R. Dujack, is quoted as follows:

"To those who defend the modern-day holocaust of animals by saying that animals are slaughtered for food, and give us sustenance, I remind them, the Nazis used slave labor and made 'useful products' of their victims," he wrote in the Los Angeles Times on April 16, 2003. There is only one little step from killing animals to creating gas chambers a la Hitler and concentration camps a la Stalin."

I think it is clear how Dujack is using the term holocaust. Perhaps he (and you?) think there is a fine line between killing animals for food and killing humans in concentration camps, but I don't. And the "useful products" of which he speaks? Lampshades and other memorabilia made from human skin, many with the concentration camp victims' tatoos prominently displayed.

10:14 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

"Richard Brown" = Anonymous 9:41:

US troops may be "geographically" positioned to support an attack on Iran, but they were before the invasion of Iraq anyway. Afghanistan shares a border with Iran too. But this is irrelevant, because the US is strategically completely unprepared to attack Iran. Not only does the US have its hands full fighting the Sunnis in Iraq, it would also alienate the Iraqi government that it's protecting.

Of course you don't have to wait for me personally to share unpopular opinions. For example, Greg Mankiw is one of several outspoken Republican faculty at Harvard. He took time off from Harvard to serve as Bush's chief economic advisor, and now he's back at Harvard. Some of his views on tax policies are deeply unpopular among Democrats, but the man has his academic freedom.

Asking me to separate myself from the "herd" on campus is a loaded question, because I don't see any "herd" around me. I can believe that there is such a herd in humanities departments or even in psychology department, but in most math departments people can have whatever political alignment they want. We once offered a job to one guy who was an ultraconservative Orthodox Christian — he was anti-abortion, thought of feminism as a threat to the family, you name it. He turned us down because he had two other offers.

But if you really want a view in the other direction from me, for example I completely support the privatization of the US Postal Service. I also think that Reagan was essentially correct when he labelled the Soviet Union as the "evil empire". So there.

10:46 PM, January 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greg cited, "For example, unfortunately for America, the opinions of Patrick Buchanan really did matter when he ran for President in 1988 and 1992."

Damn, first I missed the Goldwater presidency and now the Buchanan one as well -- I must have been a rabbit hole somewhere...

11:07 PM, January 07, 2006  
Blogger DRJ said...

Anonymous 11:07: "Damn, first I missed the Goldwater presidency and now the Buchanan one as well -- I must have been a rabbit hole somewhere..."

In one sentence you managed to include Ted Kennedy, Pat Buchanan via our own Greg K, and Saddam Hussein. Isn't this some kind of trifecta?

11:14 PM, January 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DRJ, You give me more credit than I deserve!

But your insight makes me notice that I missed the [in] before "a rabbit hole" where I was thinking in terms of "Alice," but I should have used "rat hole" in retrospect...

11:21 PM, January 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm delighted that Greg admits that the Soviet Union was an Evil Empire and that---gasp---Ronald Reagan was correct in that judgement. But then, Greg's personal background gave him special knowledge that most Americans don't have---his family knew all about the *real* Soviet Union.

And Greg knows very well that the Soviet Union is not potrayed as an "Evil Empire" in academia...except when, side by side, its excesses are made equivalent to things that America has done.

Still, I doubt that Greg would stand in a faculty meeting and say "Ronald Reagan was right: the Soviet Union was an Evil Empire."

There are some things academia cannot tolerate. Mostly, divergence from groupthink.

As for his "some of my best friends" argument regarding politics-blind hiring in his department...well, I have more years in academia than Greg does. I don't believe he is telling the whole truth there.

Now, I could be wrong. I'll be willing to give Davis' math department the possibility, but I have too many friends at Davis who buy into the "Republicans = Evil" meme...and I have seen it harm both hiring and tenure processes.

Greg may claim differently. That is his right...but he does have tenure, as well as a contrarian attitude. Bully for him on both counts. The demographics speak for themselves.

Tell you what: why shouldn't Greg write an editorial for the Davis student paper this coming term, outlining his own views of the Soviet Union as an Evil Empire? No reason to add his Left of center bona fides. Just focus on the Soviet Union---it's history of intolerance, institutionalized murder, and human rights violations. Again, no comparisons to "Amerikkka" or other MoveOn friendly nonsense. Just sticking to the topic of the Soviet Union.

Number one, that would be a brave act in academia today, regardless of the land of one's birth. But if there weren't howls of outrages and flame wars and angry letters to Greg from other faculty...well, then I would believe his supposedly politics free estimation of UC Davis!

I would be wrong...and what a great thing that would be, to learn that Davis really is so very tolerant of other ways of thinking! Maybe it is.

But it ain't where I would bet my money...or more to the point, my career.

11:54 PM, January 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Following up on 11:54 PM...

GK wrote:

"...but in most math departments people can have whatever political alignment they want. We once offered a job to one guy who was an ultraconservative Orthodox Christian — he was anti-abortion, thought of feminism as a threat to the family, you name it. He turned us down because he had two other offers."


1. What is the breakdown of Republican to Democrat registered voters among faculty with tenure? One can say that it doesn't matter...but if we change those terms to "black" and "white" the differential would be found extremely suspicious. I'm always worried when people in a group are extremely similar---be it in terms of politics or in terms of race. After all, isn't "diversity" all the rage these days in academics? Or do we mean only some forms of diversity?

2. I thought that, during faculty hiring, all issues pertaining to the personal life of the applicant were off limits? I don't see how abortion rights would come up during an interview with a math faculty position candidate easily.

I'm certain GK means every word he wrote. How about the other faculty?

There are other academics on this list. What do you think?

12:11 AM, January 08, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Some comments from some anonymous person:

What is the breakdown of Republican to Democrat registered voters among faculty with tenure? One can say that it doesn't matter...but if we change those terms to "black" and "white" the differential would be found extremely suspicious. I'm always worried when people in a group are extremely similar---be it in terms of politics or in terms of race. After all, isn't "diversity" all the rage these days in academics? Or do we mean only some forms of diversity?

I have to say that I really don't like ex post facto quotas in hiring, not for race or gender, nor for political opinions. If the question is hiring in a math department, then the only real diversity that matters is diversity of mathematical research. I wouldn't care if every last member of some math department were a Republican, as long as they were hired on the basis of merit and they were expert in enough different areas of mathematics.

If you want to play this ex post facto politics game, then the way that competitive mathematics departments really stand out is that they have very few Christians. Even most of the Republicans are atheists. Are we supposed to have a quota for that, for the sake of "diversity"? Brr...

As for the conservative Christian who we recruited, he brought up his views on family planning himself at the recruitment dinner. He just didn't mind talking about politics, since it had nothing to do with hiring. I said that Israel and Iran had lower birth rates than the rest of the Middle East, and he responded that he didn't think of a low birth rate as a mark of progress. In his view, population control is nihilistic and anti-family.

What was off limits was changing the professional evaluation on the basis of politics opinions. So of course we didn't. We gave him a good offer, but he turned us down.

12:43 AM, January 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Asking me to separate myself from the "herd" on campus is a loaded question, because I don't see any "herd" around me. I can believe that there is such a herd in humanities departments or even in psychology department, but in most math departments people can have whatever political alignment they want.

The trouble with most math and sciences guys is that smart people tend to assume that they know politics. Lots of lively discussion in anything related to their expertise, but outside their focus they would dismiss whole issues with political bromides, especially (as academics are wont to) explaining away large inconsistencies by saying that people are sheep or by appealing to the zero-sum game.

Anonymity is the last resort of the brave, but the first refuge of cowards. It's absolutely true.

Honestly, Greg, that is nonsense.

In all the debates you've been in, I'll bet you've never received a phone call to verify who you are. Sure, we could track you down, but we don't. You are effectively anonymous.

I've used the same pseudonym (spelled one way or another) on a number of sites, most of which aren't around anymore, except Slashdot, and I was one of the first people to post on, back when she first became famous in the Lewinsky scandal. (Not sure if they stored comments that far back, though.)

Over the years, I've boiled it down to one question: does it benefit the debate?

On the one hand, forcing self-identification reduces trolling and adds a certain authenticity to debates. On the other hand, because it's hard to verify credentials, and because there are plenty of shameless liars on the web, it doesn't really work. What we want is the kind of authenticity of a face to face debate. What we get is names on a webpage and posts that can be deleted at the whim of the webmaster.

The greatest benefit of anonymity is that it allows arguments to rest on their own. If I'm discussing something I have a background in, I'm forced to craft my argument in such a way that it doesn't rely on my experience. I guarantee you, it makes for a better argument. Moreover, it does entice some people who are hesitant to join in the conversation.

Now my email is my name: ben -AT- samuel -DOT- net. Drop me a line and I'll verify my identity, if you feel you must. (Don't expect this to happen right away, mind you, I've got a day job.)

12:59 AM, January 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ask yourself what anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial indicates?

IMHO it is the canary in the coal mine for dangerous ideas and impulses. Among the elite and leaders of say, Mali it is regrettable but of no danger to the US and Israel or Europe. Held by much of the Muslim world and particularly nuclear or near nuclear Iran it is the indicator of DANGER.

Anti-Semitism is something no half-way educated, Western oriented person can hold. Ahmadinejad's anti-Semitism indicates he is NOT like us. He is NOT reasonable NOT Western NOT someone who can be cajoled, threatened, influenced, bought, or otherwise persuaded without recourse to mass violence.

Ahmadinejad will attack us with nuclear weapons as soon as he can until we kill him. And his regime. It's that simple.

The issue in the US is the willful denial of reality. Of course we are in grave danger, and won't act until we lose a city or three. This is where Dems and their fundamental inability to see the world as it is have left us. When the Democratic Leader in the Senate (Harry Reid) objects to a Senate Resolution objecting to Ahmadinejad's calls to "wipe Israel off the map" and Holocaust Denial then we have a problem, a major one, in domestic politics as well. Refusal to name and identify evil because your party hates Bush more than the enemy of all civilized peoples is a sickness all of it's own. Or perhaps it is so multi-cultural that Democrats cannot condemn evil in any other guise than middle class white guys (who are in Democratic beliefs "evil in and of themselves.") Either possibility is truly frightening for our nation.

[Greg K -- it is my belief that only after it became public did Reid change course. Dem leaders forced Republicans to take out language calling for a new free and internationally observed election in Iran, indicating that otherwise they would not vote for the measure. BDS or simply multi-culti PC with a good dose of anti-Semitism thrown in, take your choice. Jim Moran, Cynthia McKinney, Cindy Sheehan, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, have all made loathesome anti-Semitic statements. Joe Wilson believes that "the Israelis" manipulated Bush to "make Israel safe" by invading Iraq]

Addendum: UCI has a long history of radical Muslims celebrating Jihad openly on campus and harassing Jewish students. Anti-Semitism is the only "respectable" racism that the Left allows, and a HUGE issue in the Universities. Worst at the most liberal/leftist like Berkeley. Also very bad in Columbia.

Jim Rockford
whiskey_199 at yahoo dot -com

3:07 AM, January 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Notice that GK didn't answer the question about political affliliation in his department? He just said it didn't matter to him.

Brave words, and I am hopeful that he meant them. If GK really means that his department did not alter its decision to offer a fundamentlist Christian anti-feminist a position (once they learned his political and social beliefs), he is part of an extremely rare department.

My own experiences are quite different. How about the other academics around here?

But again, if the politics were reversed---the Ivory Tower mostly Republican instead of Democrat---do you all honestly think that it still "wouldn't matter"?

The anonymous poster's challenge to GK to stand up and "speak truth to power" regarding the USSR comes to mind. GK would be foolish to do that---he would be attacked and pilloried mercilessly because that political opinion. And not just by sociologists, either.

Here is an interesting set of posts on this general subject.

Mind you, I can't think of a good solution. If everyone in academics acted like GK claims to act, it would be a solution.

But if we say we value "diversity," why then, we should value diversity. And "academic political monoculture" is a very, very disturbing sign.

Also: great comment about science types thinking that they know politics. And I am a science type!

10:08 AM, January 08, 2006  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

The Saudis have a lot of money and, flush with oil money, are using it to corrupt our educational system. The message is clear: if you take the anti-Jewish, anti-democratic, pro-Saudi line, you too can have the nicest of offices, an endowed chair, enter academia with tenure, a generous salary with a retirement fund, or even a "non-profit" foundation.

It took Saudis a while to discover how to successfully bribe Americans, but they are doing so full blast.

10:10 AM, January 08, 2006  
Blogger DADvocate said...

DrJ pretty muched summed it up regarding Pat Buchanan. While literally millions of anti-Semitics in the Mid-East would already have killed every Jew that they could get their hands on except for Western support for Isreal, you want to talk about Pat Buchanan's opinion on the emmissions of diesel engines. And, I say opinion because I'm sure Pat Buchanan knows little about engines. Additionally, cyanide compounds were used in some camps. Here's another related link that shows more were killed by cyanide than carbon monoxide.

11:12 AM, January 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Scooby:

Thanks for your comments regarding anonymity. But, to be fair to Greg Kuperberg, it is possible to find out a great deal about him from his name and affiliation---ranging from his research interests to student comments from his classes regarding his personal style.

As you say, background should not matter when discussing many, many issues in fora such as this one. So anonmymity is obviously fine with me, though Greg Kuperberg has several times referred to people who do so as being "cowards." This doesn't advance the argument, as again you note.

Thanks to you for being understanding on this issue, and not resorting to sophomoric insults.

12:07 PM, January 08, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Hi everyone,

Interesting discussion--just let me interject briefly to say that I welcome anonymous posters on this blog. I know what it is like to experience academic exclusion and repercussions for one's views when they are unpopular. This is one of the reasons I have set up this blog--to allow those of us with different and perhaps, unpopular points of view an open forum for discussion without fear of repercussions in our place of work or school. Please do not call people names for posting anonymously--this hurts the purpose of my blog--it also takes away from the discussion at hand and focuses instead on personal attacks on others. I realize that people become annoyed and upset with others as a result of open discussions but do try to keep it as civil as possible--thanks.

12:40 PM, January 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to our hostess, as usual.

Maybe we are wandering too far afield from the original topic. We got into manners and academic monopartisanship.

Why not back to Holocaust deniers? I would love to hear more from folks about how to clean up both Democrats and Republicans into denouncing that pernicious nonsense. It is especially important, given the nutjob currently running Iran.

Given the man's statements, I have no trouble writing "nutjob." Sorry if that is offensive.

1:05 PM, January 08, 2006  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I support people being able to post anonymously. In effect, I post anonymously and do this to minimize complications in my business life and personal life. Were I able to financially support myself via writing or blogging, I would gladly divulge my full identity. But by using the same pseudonym, others can track my thoughts as coming from the same person.

I respect that Greg reveals his identity although I find his tendency to be somewhat tangental aggravating.

1:47 PM, January 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that GK thinks he is injecting "fairness" into the discussions by taking an opposite point of view. GK doesn't seem so concerned about internal consistency.

Watch his posts and you will see what I mean.

I remember the poster who asked GK when he had been wrong, or why he seemed unconcerned about that possibility...maybe that is connected to what I wrote above.

So long as GK doesn't insult people, so what? If a post (even mine) doesn't interest other people, it just goes away uncommented!

As for me, I learn a lot from people in and of this blog.

1:54 PM, January 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it ironic that anonymous is demonstrating to Greg by bad example a very good reason for anonymity. Anonymous repeatedly harps on Greg's profession as a college professor as if his employment status all by itself discredits Greg's assertions. If Greg was anonymous, anonymous would be denied this avenue of ad hominem. You can't attack the person if you don't know anything about them - if all you have to work with are their assertions and supporting evidence, then you're forced to address that.

There is one problem with the use of a generic label of 'anonymous' - inevitably, more than one person posts this way, and it's difficult to keep them straight. If you're going to post anonymously, have the courtesy to choose a unique pseudonym, and use it consistently, just so people can follow the discussion.

2:20 PM, January 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous" linked to a time would work. But Dweeb makes a good point. After all, couldn't an anonymous poster just give themselves an anonymous name?

Good point about the background issue of various posters. With anonymity, we don't know who anyone that discussions are based on what is said, rather than what is inferred about a specific poster's background.

2:32 PM, January 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be even fairer, GK has often spoken of his background and profession. Clearly---based on his insults---he has no wish to be anonymous!

I don't think GK's background discredits him. I think his supercilious manner does that all by itself. But we aren't supposed to talk this way, right?

2:34 PM, January 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While this discussion on ad hominem attacks is intriguing, I'd like to point out something in Dr. Helen's post:

Six million Jews died in the Holocaust. About five million other people died as well. Grand death total for the Third Reich was eleven million people.

Corrollary: People target Jews because Jews make easy scapegoating targets. They're a small group, they have a history of being suspected for all sorts of heinous and untrue things, and follow a minority religion which is insular and ancient.

But groups that start out targeting Jews almost never stop there; they just move on to other scapegoats, just as the Nazis moved on to Roma, Poles, and Africans, not to mention others.

Trust me. Islamists won't be satisfied with slaking their wrath upon Israel. Anyone not "Muslim" enough will do-- just ask the Shi'a Muslims of Iraq.

Also, I have to say, Dr. Helen, you don't look "Jewish" to me. But then again, my best friend from grade school was Jewish, and she had blonde hair, hazel eyes, and a snub nose. So there you go.

5:25 PM, January 09, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...


Good points!

6:02 PM, January 09, 2006  
Blogger Bill Dalasio said...

Greg Kuperberg,

You've made a rather pointed claim in arguing that our presence in Iraq undermines our ability to respond militarily to Iran. I'll pose a simple yes or no question to you then: Absent US troop presnence in Iraq, would you presently advocate military action against Iran? Please make your response brief and direct. I'm really not interested in the whys and wherefores of your opinion, just the net result.

6:42 PM, January 09, 2006  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Bill Dalasio: Your question is illogical in yes-no form. I advocate military contingencies against Iran. Committing to a military attack ahead of time doesn't make any sense. It's like committing to shooting a personal adversary when he could still back off. Diplomacy is all about offering carrots and brandishing sticks. It doesn't usually come to clobbering the other side with the sticks.

The US has probably accomplished more this way, at least after World War II, than by actual military action. For example, Greece and Turkey were kept at peace with external incentives. It wasn't simply yes we invade Turkey (or Greece?), or no we don't.

8:27 PM, January 09, 2006  
Blogger Bill Dalasio said...

Greg Kuperberg,

In short, then, no you wouldn't. Demands for a contingency you wouldn't be prepared to follow though on is called "bluffing". Long-winded defenses aside, it doesn't work.

4:01 PM, January 11, 2006  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Perhaps there is a reason why the Islamics want to change the subject when it comes to the holocaust.

Palestinian Role in the Holocaust

6:58 AM, January 28, 2006  
Blogger Serket said...

A year later, in 2007, and this is still in the news, with the Iranian Holocaust conference.

Greg said: "For example, Greg Mankiw is one of several outspoken Republican faculty at Harvard. He took time off from Harvard to serve as Bush's chief economic advisor, and now he's back at Harvard. Some of his views on tax policies are deeply unpopular among Democrats, but the man has his academic freedom."
I have a bachelor's degree in Economics and for one of the classes we read Macroeconomics, the orange copy, by Mankiw. He is very good at explaining economic concepts clearly. You can check out his blog at:

I discovered a Wikipedia article on Greg's mother:

6:48 PM, January 31, 2007  
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