Saturday, March 30, 2013


Superman is not a good translation, because it has (or has acquired) a positive connotation. For the Germans, it meant "Superior man", and in plural "superior people". The belief that Germans were THE superior people led them to conquer a good part of Europe (all of Europe, and even the world, was planned) and to endeavour to exterminate "inferior races" -- Jews, Gypsies, Slavs... By the same token, Germanic peoples -- the Scandinavians, the Dutch -- were accorded preferential treatment, as they, too, were "ubermentschen", a part of the "herrenfolk", the master people.

Marek Boym,
Raanana, Israel

This rehash of court history is pretty rich coming from a resident of the Chosen People's (nothing superior about that terminology!) apartheid state, don't you think? Ever ask a Palestinian whether he has his own ideas about "superior people" hell-bent on exterminating "inferior races"? You may get a wildly conflicting account. 

Master people? On the contrary, Germans are untermentschen. You can defame them in polite company with impunity. You just did. 

Anti-German bigotry won't see you banished to re-education camps. No, instead you'll be celebrated for your hip and sophisticated derring-do! You may even be published on A Word A Day!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The U.S.: Most Hated Country on Earth

Meddling! As Fred Reed writes, the United States (followed closely by Israel) is the most hated country in the world because of it. Never mind that the means are violent and results disastrous. Meddling is widely believed "to have been inspired by virtuous motives."

For the record, I don't believe it is inspired by virtuous motives. But, for the sake of argument, so what if it is? Do the ends justify the means? Do we do evil that good may come of it (Romans 3:8)? Do Two Respectable Parties, burqa-liberated women, consumer goods, cable porn and lower golf scores make all the bombing and blockading "worth it" (in Madeline Albright's memorable phrase)?

In what way does U.S. homicidal humanitarianism (H/T: Tom McPherren) differ from garden-variety terrorism? If the 9/11 account is correct, didn't Muslim extremists perpetrate the attacks to advance their version of the Greater Good? That "collateral damage" thing sure looks a lot different staring up the barrel of a gun than down, don't you think?

Catholic Decentralization

Butler Shaffer's quite right. By her own account, the Church of Rome is a centralized, hierarchical and “vertically-structured institution,” to borrow from his terminology. Yet she, too, shows the effects of the emergent spontaneous order.

Then again, the hallmark of liberty—and therefore decentralization—lies in secession. In this respect, the Catholic Church—purported bastion of reaction—compares quite favorably to her enlightened counterparts infesting the sea of politics. For while the faithful are always free to withdraw their allegiance to the Church, the citizenry’s control (such as it is) over democratic leaders begins and ends at the voting booth.  

No doubt the cynics will point to fear of hell as motivating the faithful. They prove too much. If our leaders relied on that fear to ensure tax compliance, we’re keeping our tax dollars and laughing all the way to the bank.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

AWAD: Suffragist

Comedy Central's The Man Show ran a famous skit in which co-hosts Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla set up a booth in a market and asked people to sign a petition to end women's suffrage. Of course, people signed in droves: they thought they were ending women's suffering. 

More suffragist hilarity ensues in this 2012 presidential election video. The man with the microphone asks people in the street, "Is Obama a Keynesian?" They make quick work of the Birther. "No, he's an American!"

The question is not whether women should have the right to vote. The question is whether voting--which H.L. Mencken called an "advance auction of stolen goods"--confers legitimacy to acts we otherwise deem criminal. In this respect at least, I'd say Saudi Arabia and the Vatican are on to something. 

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Orderly Transfer Payments!

"As far as I'm concerned, they could put the kibosh to all the anti-poverty programs tomorrow. The results would be immediate and salutary."

"Give me a break! Those programs help the poor, Tony!"

"For the record, I don't think they do help the poor. But even if they do, the poor are perfectly capable of stealing on their own behalf." 

"Stealing? What are you talking about? Taxes?" 

"Yes, taxes." 

"Oh, for goodness' sake. You need order!"