Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Apr 15 2005

Why abortion should be legal?

Abortion is a controversial issue these days. I know that our society is about evenly divided between abortion protagonists and antagonists. However, I think that people generally do not understand what is at stake here. People think it’s just a matter of belief as to when exactly a fetus assumes it’s own individual rights and thus the right to life. That is certainly part of the question but there’s much more than this.

I don’t see any Catholics supporting a law which requires people to attend Mass or perform any other catholic ritual. I don’t see any Jewish politicians supporting a law requiring people to circumcise. We, as Americans, know better. We know that freedom of religion is a fundamental freedom of every American citizen. And this means that not only is one entitled to believe in his own god and perform the rituals which he believes are right or none at all, but one is also entitled to his or her own opinion on just about anything. I am allowed to believe that Hitler was a hero and he was “right” in all the atrocities that he committed and society cannot force me to relinquish this belief. Is there any merit in such belief? Not really! But does it harm anyone else? No! And that’s why it is legal and it is protected by the first amendment.

But let’s go a step further. In the Jewish religion there is a mitzvah (commandment), which -by the way- is theoretically binding on Christians too since they believe in the old testament as well, to annihilate the entire nation of Amalek. This is stated openly in the bible and it is counted as one of the 613 mitzvohs by the Rabbis. Now what happens if a modern Jew is able to prove that a specific person is descendant from Amalek and he is thus convinced that his religion requires him to kill the Amaleki? There is no question that the courts will not allow such thing despite the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion. Why not? Because when we talk about the bill of rights we talk about acts that benefit us AND don’t harm any other people. Freedom of speech does not allow one to yell “fire” in the theater because it does not benefit the person who is exercising his right of free speech but it will potentially harm others.

And this brings us to a general rule to guide us when it comes to society enacting laws that limit people’s freedoms and rights and when it comes to protecting individuals from encroachment by society of their individual freedoms and rights: an individual can do anything and everything as long as it does not significantly interfere with other people’s rights. And there is therefore a very fine balance between a “right” and a violation of someone else’s right. In the previous example of yelling fire in the theater, that act could be perceived as an individual right but the public watching the performance also have a right to watch the performance peacefully. Interrupting the performance by an irresponsible yell of “fire” is a violation of the public’s right. And the public’s right to watch the performance outweighs the individual’s right to yell fire NOT because it’s public versus individual (which by the way is an important consideration too) but because the individual yell of fire interferes with others interests too greatly while not benefiting the perpetrator. Even if there were only two people in the theater and it was simply a matter of inconvenience to the person watching the performance, it would still be unacceptable for the other person to say anything loudly which interferes with watching the performance unless there is a very good reason to do so.

So here’s how it works: every person is born with numerous “natural rights”. A natural right is the right do things that we naturally are inclined to do. Some of these rights have been enumerated by John Locke: Life, liberty and ownership of property. But if these rights interfere too much with the public interest or with anybody else’s rights, then the natural right is no longer guaranteed. Now we have to weigh the benefit to the individual versus the benefit to the public or the other individual. Acts that do not interfere with anybody else’s rights or interests are legal and guaranteed by the bill of rights EVEN if they run contrary to some body else’s belief or even the public’s belief, such as abortion. Since aborting one’s own baby bears no harm at all to anybody else in society except for the baby, we as a society cannot outlaw such act. The only party who can “request” protection of their right versus the act of abortion is the fetus itself and since the fetus is not capable of asking society for such protection, it is therefore forced to fight for itself and we cannot and should not fight for it. Obviously, the fetus is incapable of winning such a fight and it will not survive, but that’s not Society’s problem because it poses no harm to society.

During world war II, the US maintained its independence even though it strongly disliked Nazi Germany and had SOME interest in Germany’s defeat. They maintained independence because the US knew that they only ought to actively counter Germany if it significantly interfered with US interests and since that was not the case until we were attacked at Pearl Harbor, the US correctly stayed out of the war, even though it “disagreed” with Germany, because mere disagreement does NOT justify war. As a Jew it saddens me to say this but it’s the truth and so I will: The US CORRECTLY did not bomb the railroad tracks leading to Auschwitz where millions of Jews were exterminated, even after they knew what was going on in Auschwitz and they knew that thousands of innocent people were dying every day. Why is it correct for the US not to bomb the railroad? The answer is: we must ask the questions the opposite way: Why is it correct for the US to bomb the railroad? The US had no interest at all in whether these people remained alive or not. The Jews of Eastern Europe were not US citizens and they were thus not protected by US law or civil rights. The US opposed Nazi Germany for economic and political reasons but not for their “final solution about the Jews” program which had no bearing on US interest. The Jews of Eastern Europe are therefore just like the unborn fetus. We really feel for you but since your issue has no bearing on us, we cannot interfere with a sovereign nation on your behalf.

Oskar Schindler


Question: is Oskar Schindler a hero?

Answer: even though he was of major help to the Jewish community in the Plaszow concentration camp, his intentions were not as noble as they seem.

He started out as an opportunist. He came to Krakow soon after it was conquered by the Germans and was looking to profit from the war effort. Specifically, he was looking to purchase a Jewish business fir a bargain since Jews were prohibited from owning businesses. Sure enough, he found what he was looking for in a pot and pan business which he bought from the owners at a bargain price. He then hired Jewish laborers because they were much cheaper than poles. Jewish labor was supplied by the Germans and their wages were paid to the German state. So far his actions are typical of what any Nazi industrial opportunist would do given the chance to profit from the war.

What distinguished him is what happened next. The Nazi party generally treated Jews like chattel. They maximized exploitation of their labor as long as it was readily available and then “disposed” of them if and when they were no longer capable of labor. Schindler, however, who interacted with his employees on a daily basis, naturally developed feelings towards them. When it came the time do dispose of them he insisted that they were “his” employees and the state cannot take them away from him. He often claimed that they were “skilled workers” and crucial to the war effort but that was obviously not true. His major insistence was that “his” employees remain with him and that he not be forced to accept a new work force periodically. This insistence was, ironically, counterproductive to the war effort since it retained workers who were not as productive as those that could have been selected from new arrivals.

In other words, he wasn’t saving “Jews” per se; he was saving “his” Jews. The Jews that he saved certainly are indebted to him for their life but if he hadn’t saved them, other Jews likely would have been saved instead. As far as collective Jewry is concerned, then, he did not save “Jews”. In fact, while he did save a few thousand of them, that was an unintentional upshot of his desire to exploit them.

Lebensraum in Nazi Germany


Question: Was Hitler right in claiming that the German race was superior to other races and that it was entitled to lebensraum by conquering inferior-race territories?

Answer: He was partly right and partly wrong. He was right in his premise that the German race is historically superior to most other eastern European races. This is amply supported by history. The Pollack’s, for example, are generally not as sophisticated culturally and economically as the Germans. His big mistake was rather the conclusion that he drew from this premise. History has shown that whenever that is a dichotomy within civilization between have’s and have-not’s, as such dichotomy becomes more acute, conflict and “restructuring” invariably results and the have-not’s ultimately come out ahead when the dust of war settles. Hence, it is in the best interest of the have’s not to press their edge too strongly. In order for them to remain in power they must continually make concessions to the have-not's in proportion to their prosperity. Another manifestation of this phenomenon can be observed in the current (2008-?) recession and the Great Depression. Many economists believe that these recessions are ultimately caused by the polarization between the wealthy and the poor. As more and more of the “poker chips” wind up in the stacks of a select few, there are fewer and fewer chips left for the losing players and the game comes to an end. Thus, as long as there exists a socio-economic relationship among several classes within society, the gap between the rich and poor must be kept to a minimum in order to prevent an insurgency and revolution on the part of the disadvantaged.

Hitler’s objective was to excessively acuminate the edge of the German race over others to the point of intolerance even by nations that were socioeconomically on a par with Germany (namely France, England and the United States) and had themselves embarked on a similar course in the form of amassing colonies abroad. Another big mistake he made was to be blunt about his intentions and race superiority claims. Those matters generally should not be pronounced by the ruling class if they are looking to sustain their position of power. It’s a matter of political discreetness. Like my dad always says in the name of his Rebbe “you shall not lie; but you don’t have to always tell the truth either”.