Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Why Argue?

BTW I'm blogging over at DB this week so blogging will be a little slow. I'm also getting married on Sunday so preps are taking some time also.

Lakewood Yid, on GH's blog, argued that Jews are internally superior to non-Jews. In the comments he got bashed as someone who is skewing the sources to show we don't have to respect non-Jews behind their backs.

GH correctly pointed out (in my experience) that Yid's argument is normative Chareidi ideology. So if that's true, can we disagree with him?

Maybe, but only on our assumptions. As Richard Posner persuasively argues, our moral views are heavily influenced by our intuitions, which are in turn reflective our upbringing, experiences, study, etc. Most moral arguments are merely justifications for those beliefs and many people do not have common ground to make arguments.

So Lakewood Yid, like most of the Chareidi world, lives a sheltered existence and are imbued with the racism of our ancestors (who justifiably didn't like their non-Jewish persecutors). The children are raised in this atmosphere. Those of us who are more worldly know way too many good non-Jews to be racist. We raise our children that way.

So what it comes down to is that our moral views influence how we interpret the text. Sure, the texts could be read in support or opposition or Jewish superiority (or even neutral), but how we interpret that text is going to affected by our intuitions. As DB likes to say, interpretation is an act of bias (he takes this argument too far, but that's a post for JAJC).

Lakewood Yid is going to read the text the way he wants to, and we're going to read it the way we want it to be interpreted. So why waste our time arguing with him? Sure some random guy might stumble across his statement and start hating Jews, but that's pretty unlikely. And even if that might happen, a simple statement disagreeing with his position would suffice to negate any negative effects. So why do people waste their time arguing?

I think it has to do with a lack of religious self-confidence. Lakewood Yid knows he's right and we're wrong. Most of the Chareidi world never spends any time at all focusing on Modern Orthodox arguments (unless they want to bash them) because they are sure they are faulty and contrary to "Torah True" Judaism. The Modern Orthodox world always seems to feel the need to show it's as good as Chareidi Judaism. We need to stop wasting our time focusing on the Chareidi world and start showing why Modern Orthodoxy is not just a "be'dieved," but is an equally viable strain of Orthodoxy.

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