Who are the Jews ? What do they do ?

Photo by Werner Cohn

“Jews are a famously accomplished group. They make up 0.2 percent of the world population, but 54 percent of the world chess champions, 27 percent of the Nobel physics laureates and 31 percent of the medicine laureates.

Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, but 21 percent of the Ivy League student bodies, 26 percent of the Kennedy Center honorees, 37 percent of the Academy Award-winning directors, 38 percent of those on a recent Business Week list of leading philanthropists, 51 percent of the Pulitzer Prize winners for nonfiction.” — David Brooks, NY Times, Jan. 11, 2010

Coptic Christians in New York Protest Persecutions by Muslims

Photo by Werner Cohn

January 19, 2010: demonstration in front of the UN. The crowd, mostly Coptic Christians, protested the killing of their fellow Copts in the Egyptian town of Nagaa Hammadi on January 6, just as the community prepared for the celebration of their Christmas. There are more pictures here.

But the Copts won’t get much attention. After all, they are Christians. What “progressives” worry about the survival of a Christian church or, for that matter, of pious Christian lives? — Marty Peretz

"You’re a Reactionary Fraud, Alex"

Rancor, hate, resentment. Like the poor, they are always with us, but, praise be to God, they do not dominate all of our lives.

Unless … unless we are members of a group dedicated to the celebration and perpetuation of these emotions. Examples, unfortunately, easily come to mind. The terrorist groups that train suicide bombers and killers of all kinds are the most obvious. But there are also groups that are less violent (and less well-known) that cultivate such emotions, and, the democracy that we are, they ply their trade close to us. The interesting thing is that more often than not the participants in these groups direct their rancor less upon the outside world than at their own close comrades in arms.

This rancor-turned-inward has long been known and described for religious groups such as the Exlusive Brethren. And now we have a remarkable description in the New York Times of January 16 concerning a Marxist band of (self-described) revolutionaries that operate the government-regulated radio station WBAI in New York. These comrades get their regular kicks from bitter, vicious (and often comical) denunciation of one another. Nominally they are committed to denouncing the capitalist and imperialist enemy, of course; some wear Chilean sweaters and Palestinian scarves to attest to that. But their most most fervent hatreds, it seems, are directed to the people sitting next to them at WBAI board meetings.

[For many of these rancor groups, there are bodies of ex-members and dissident members, eager to expose and tell all. For the Exclusive Brethren, for example, see peebs.net]

Dostoevsky, describing the Nineteenth Century Russian terrorists (“The Devils”), knew about the hatreds for one another among such people. It seems to be one of the unwritten laws of all extremist movements. And obviously, this tendency to self-destruct among the crazies is something for which must be grateful.