Posted by: quiscus | March 29, 2011

March 29, 2011

1. Ridiculous:

Israel’s Controversial Citizenship Act Passes

Law Will Allow Govt to Revoke Citizenship From Those ‘Harming Israel’s Sovereignty’

The Loyalty Oath bill passed in October, and if combined with the Citizenship Act could be used to revoke citizenship from much of he nation’s Arab minority.

The act is just the latest in a series of draconian acts imposed by the right-far-right coalition government, and comes just a week after the law criminalizing the commemoration of “Nakba,” when many Israeli Arabs remember the mass expulsion of Arabs during the founding of Israel.”

3.  “Obama and American exceptionalism

The pervasiveness of this exceptionalism isn’t really surprising. It’s a common human desire to believe that one is special, unique, better than all others. Few people aspire to ordinariness. We view the world — physically and mentally — from our own personal perspective, and are inherently situated at the center of it. As tribal beings, we naturally believe that our customs and the beliefs with which we were inculcated from childhood are superior to Theirs. Personally, I’ve never understood how the following thought doesn’t obliterate — or at least severely dilute — the conviction of one’s exceptionalism:


The probability that I happened to be born in the greatest country on Earth — or, even more so, the greatest country ever to exist on Earth in all of human history — is minute. Isn’t it far more likely that I believe this because I was taught to, rather than because it’s true?

But the desire to believe something is a powerful force, and this belief is thus extremely widespread.  Still, it’s not a particularly appealing trait for an individual to run around hailing themselves “the greatest in the world,” so it becomes perfectly acceptable — mandatory even — to nationalize this sentiment: “my country, the United States, is the greatest country in the world,” and thus — to use Benen’s description of Obama’s mindset — “the United States isn’t like other countries; ours is a country with unique power, responsibilities, and moral obligations” (This is not a question of whether one finds things to admire in America; just as one can appreciate one’s own strengths without believing one is The Greatest in the World, one can appreciate attributes of American political life — its domestic protections of free speech and press rights, its relatively integrated racial and ethnic diversity, its class mobility (as evidenced by two of the last three Presidents), its social progress — without believing it to be The Greatest).

The fact remains that declaring yourself special, superior and/or exceptional — and believing that to be true, and, especially, acting on that belief — has serious consequences. It can (and usually does) mean that the same standards of judgment aren’t applied to your acts as are applied to everyone else’s (when you do X, it’s justified, but when they do, it isn’t). It means that you’re entitled (or obligated) to do things that nobody else is entitled or obligated to do (does anyone doubt that the self-perceived superiority and self-arrogated entitlements of Wall Street tycoons is what lead them to believe they can act without constraints?). It means that no matter how many bad things you do in the world, it doesn’t ever reflect on who you are, because you’re inherently exceptional and thus driven by good motives. And it probably means — at least as it expresses itself in the American form — that you’ll find yourself in a posture of endless war, because your “unique power, responsibilities, and moral obligations” will always find causes and justifications for new conflicts.”


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