Mailvox: on the Four Horsemen

JK is of two minds:

And… doesn’t he mean the Four Horsemen of the Bukkakelypse?

This is precisely why I find you both an inspiration AND an embarrassment to Christianity and decency. Why does someone like you do this so consistently? I said to someone recently, I am glad that Vox is on our side, but I am glad I don’t know him personally. Like the famed Gurkhas of world war II – they liked the results but turned a blind eye to their methods. C’mon Vox, leave the trash talkin to the heathen – you are a King’s son.

P.S. I am a third through the book and loving it. Good Job.

I have to admit, the bit about being an embarrassment to decency made me laugh. For all that I’m eminently civilized, I’m not always terribly keen on decency. The truth of the matter is that I am the precise opposite of Richard Dawkins. He’s a culturally Christian atheist, while I am a culturally godless Christian. There’s a lot about modern American evangelical culture that gives me the creeps and has since I was a child. One of the benefits of a blog is that it gives the regular reader a series of snapshots of the psyche of the blogger, and although we can successfully disguise ourselves for a while, the true picture tends to emerge over time. It’s not always a pretty one either.

I do not hold myself up as any kind of model. I harbor no ambitions to lead anyone anywhere and my heartfelt desire is to be left alone to pursue my amusements and intellectual activities in peace. What you see may not be the entire picture, but it is a relatively accurate one. Like many, if not most intellectuals, I am an arrogant, cruel and vulgar individual with a few positive attributes that make me tolerable in moderate doses. Age and Jesus Christ have certainly had an ameliorating effect over time, but our relationship with God does not change who we are, it changes what we become. I understand why I tend to put off proper Christians and prissy atheists alike, but I can’t say I regret it much, if at all. We are all sundered beings, called by light and tempted by shadow. One minute we nobly rise above our shallow and fallen natures with the aid of a gracious God, the very next we squeal with the ecstatic delight of rolling like swine in our own shit.

I could try to deny that and pretend that I am better than I am – I do, to a certain extent – but the only person I would fool in the end would be myself. If occasionally the stench of soul-rot is a bit strong hereabouts, well, it serves as a good reminder that no man is worthy of the faith and adoration of his fellows, no man but the one whose Way we attempt, each in our mean and stumbling way, to follow.

Let’s face it, propriety nearly always loses out to personal amusement when adjudicated in my civil court. And in the interest of honesty, I have to point out that as much as I’d like to, I cannot take credit for coming up with the aforementioned appellation, although I am delighted to know that I played some small part in inspiring that flash of brilliant insight. I am a King’s son, to be sure, but keep in mind that for every noble Black Prince there is an exasperating Prince Hal.

Anyhow, I’m glad JK enjoying the book thus far regardless. I think I can assure him that there will be bits that he will like very much indeed, and other bits that will make him cringe. The important thing is to understand that in this particular case, the one truly can’t exist without the other.

Idiots at the blackboard

I once calculated that the average teacher’s IQ is in double-digits. As it turns out, teachers don’t appear to require the use of what little intelligence they’ve got:

John Corcoran graduated from college and taught high school for 17 years without being able to read, write or spell. Corcoran’s life of secrecy started at a young age. He said his teachers moved him up from grade to grade. Often placed in what he calls the “dumb row,” the images of his tribulations in the classroom are still vividly clear….

Corcoran is now an education advocate.

It figures. Kids would be much better off if we burned down the schools, paid bounties on education professionals and let them play XBox 360 and outside games for eight hours a day.

Mailvox: Jews and inquisition

AC take exception and he has a valid point:

In his column, Vox Day misstates the position of the Jewish Encyclopedia regarding the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. He makes the assertion that the forcibly converted Jews of Spain were actively encouraging the Muslim leaders to invade and re-conquer the Iberian Peninsula and that this was the practical reason behind Isabella’s persecution of the them. He states that “…it was known that some Jews were encouraging Muslim leaders to attempt the recapture of al-Andalus.”

As evidence for this he cites the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia which reads… “It remains a fact that the Jews, either directly or through their coreligionists in Africa, encouraged the Mohammedans to conquer Spain.”

If you read the entire entry in the 1906 version of the Jewish Encyclopedia you will find that statement, but Vox Day misattributes it to the period of Ferdinand and Isabella. It is actually a statement regarding the period of the eighth century, following the particularly brutal persecution of the Jewish Community by the Christian Visigoths. In fact, if you go on to read the rest of the entry, it directly addresses the question of the motive of the King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. It reads:

“The reason alleged for this action in the preamble of the edict was the relapse of so many “conversos,” owing to the proximity of unconverted Jews who seduced them from Christianity and kept alive in them the knowledge and practises of Judaism. No other motive is assigned, and there is no doubt that the religious motive was the main one.”

This is a clear case, Vox Day is in error in citing this passage. The Jewish Encyclopedia in no way attributes the expulsion of the Jews in Spain to a conspiracy by the Conversos and the Muslim powers on the Iberian Peninsula. In fact, it directly contradicts the point. Vox Day makes a libelous and slanderous charge against the forcibly converted Jews of Spain. His implication that this charge is backed up by a respected Jewish historical source document is as despicable as it is untrue.

I did screw up and the quote is certainly misleading, albeit unintentionally, and yet my case remains the same. I had originally thought that the quote – which I first saw on Wikipedia – applied to the proposed re-capture of Spain and wrote the paragraph accordingly, but upon checking the encyclopedia to verify it later, I learned that it actually applied to the initial Moorish invasion. Unfortunately, I forgot to go back and fix the sentence. I’ve already added the corrected sentence to the errata as well as a clarified footnote, both of which should be in the third printing. “[I]t was known that some Jews were encouraging Muslim leaders to attempt the recapture of al-Andalus…. The conquered cities Cordova, Malaga, Granada, Seville, and Toledo were placed in charge of the Jewish inhabitants, who had been armed by the Arabs.” That, along with the clarified sentence, should make it perfectly clear that I’m referring to the actual eighth-century invasion and not the feared fifteenth-century one.

However, AC is incorrect to rely upon the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia’s errant insistence upon a solely religious motive behind the expulsions. Compare its conclusions with those of Henry Kamen, the Jewish historian whose seminal work published in 1997 is my primary source on the subject:

Jewish Encyclopedia: “The reason alleged for this action in the preamble of the edict was the relapse of so many “conversos,” owing to the proximity of unconverted Jews who seduced them from Christianity and kept alive in them the knowledge and practises of Judaism. No other motive is assigned, and there is no doubt that the religious motive was the main one.”

Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision: “No less mistaken is the claim that the crown’s purpose was to achieve unity of faith. The king and queen were neither personally nor in their politics anti-Jewish. They had always protected and favored Jews and conversos. They might be accused of many things, but not of anti-semitism.” p. 26

Jewish Encyclopedia: “The number of those who were thus driven from Spain has been differently estimated by various observers and historians. Mariana, in his history of Spain, claims as many as 800,000. Isidore Loeb, in a special study of the subject in the “Revue des Etudes Juives” (xiv. 162-183), reduces the actual number of emigrants to 165,000. Bernaldez gives details of about 100,000 who went from Spain to Portugal: 3,000 from Benevente to Braganza; 30,000 from Zamora to Miranda; 35,000 from Ciudad Rodrigo to Villar; 15,000 from Miranda de Alcantara to Marbao; and 10,000 from Badajoz to Yelves. According to the same observer, there were altogether 160,000 Jews in Aragon and Castile. Abraham Zacuto reckons those who went to Portugal at 120,000. Lindo asserts that 1,500 families of Jewish Moriscos from the kingdom of Granada were the first to leave the country…. These estimates must be regarded as a minimum; it is probable that at least 200,000 fled the country, leaving behind them their dead and a large number of relatives who had been forced by circumstances to conceal their religion and to adopt the dominant creed.”

Henry Kamen: “In total, then, the Jews of Spain on the eve of the expulsion of 1492 numbered just over eighty thousand souls, a far cry from the totals offered by their own leaders or by most subsequent scholars…. Between those who converted and those who returned, the total of those who left Spain for ever was relatively small, possibly no more than forty thousand. The figures place many of the historical issues in perspective.” pp. 23-25

Now, I admit that Kamen only suggests that the expulsions were “in part motivated by the fear of Jewish collaboration with the Muslim kingdom of Granada, then under attack by Ferdinand’s forces”, and he believes the role of the Inquisition was paramount. But, as I showed in TIA, Kamen failed to notice the obvious link between the bloody fall of Ferdinand’s city of Otranto to the Turks on August 11, 1480, and his sudden naming of the inquisition’s first inquisitors less than seven weeks later, after two years of total inactivity on that front. Given Kamen’s convincing demonstration of the absence of both an anti-semitic motive as well any royal profit motive, plus the military motivation that is generally accepted as the reason for the later expulsion of the moriscos, the only logical conclusion is that the primary motivation underlying both the Jewish expulsion and the Spanish Inquisition that followed was the reasonable fear of a second successful Jewish-Muslim alliance against the newly united Christian crowns of Spain, as I described in both TIA and yesterday’s column.

What is with Hollywood?

The movie industry has got to be one of the most shady businesses this side of drug trafficking and sex slavery. What on Earth can New Line be thinking, first trying to stiff Peter Jackson and now refusing to pay the Tolkein estate?

The estate of “Lord of the Rings” creator J.R.R. Tolkien is suing the film studio that released the trilogy based on his books, claiming the company failed to pay a cut of gross profits for the blockbuster films. The writer’s estate, a British charity dubbed The Tolkien Trust, and original “Lord of the Rings” publisher HarperCollins filed the lawsuit against New Line Cinema on Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court….

“The Tolkien trustees do not file lawsuits lightly, and have tried unsuccessfully to resolve their claims out of court,” Steven Maier, an attorney for the Tolkien estate based in Britain, said in a statement. “New Line has not paid the plaintiffs even one penny of its contractual share of gross receipts despite the billions of dollars of gross revenue generated by these wildly successful motion pictures.”

Maier also claims the film studio has blocked the Tolkien estate and the other plaintiffs from auditing the receipts of the last two films.

Yeah, that’s the way to treat the very architects of your greatest success. How incredibly insane! I’ve been contacted five or six times to have one or another of my properties optioned for film, and New Line’s latest debacle is only one of the many reasons that I don’t even bother responding. Even if the project achieves the rare success, most of the benefit isn’t yours anyhow. Film is an expensive, outdated, and moribund industry anyhow so I’d much rather give a machinema company permission to do something with my stuff than waste any mental bandwidth on the freakshow that is Hollywood.