Friday, December 4, 2009

Hate crimes, anti-Semitic libel, and demonic possession

Greetings.

Jewish date:  17 Kislew 5770 (Parashath Wayyishlaḥ).

Today’s holiday:  Saint Day of John Damascene (Roman Catholicism).

Worthy causes of the day:  “Petition For Jewish Rights In Jerusalem And Judea & Samaria” and “MoveOn.org Political Action: Senator Reid: We're Counting on You”.

Topic 1:  “EXCLUSIVE Analysis: Sorry, Islamophobia Pimps – 67% of US Hate Crimes Against Jews”.  This is genuinely surprising, since anti-Semitic hate crimes in the US do not get a lot of press, but this is FBI data being discussed here.  Considering there are a few million Jews in the US, the chances that any Jew being the victim of a hate crime in any given year is going to be on the order of 0.1% (back-of-the-envelope calculation), which would explain why it is easy to forget about the problem:  most Jews in the US are never going to suffer from it.  On the very bright side, religion-based hate crimes in the US are sufficiently rare (measured in per million), that few of any of us, even groups which complain about bias, ever become victims.  This is a nation which early on decided that religious tolerance was a value, and while there are always jerks out there unwilling to tolerate someone who believes differently, the vast majority of us are successful.

Topic 2:  “Stop the Spread of the Swedish Blood Libel”.  I cannot make up the atrocious quality of reporting documented in this article.  The repeated use of falsehoods frequently presented as truth (“factoids”) is a form of argument from repetition and is fallacious.

Topic 3:  Just to end on a lighter topic, some religious humor:  “MOM!! Call the priest!”:

funny pictures of cats with captions

I have no idea where this business of anyone being possessed levitating comes from, and any information on the topic would be appreciated.  I do know that demonic possession, on the other hand, is mentioned a lot in the Gospels, where the possessed manifest mental illness.

Shabbath shalom.

Aaron