December 27, 2006

Ben Stein hates Borat.

Let's see why. I should say first -- and before reading Stein's comments -- that I saw the movie a few weeks ago. Why didn't I write about it? I started to, actually, but never got past the first sentence. I liked the movie well enough, but I much prefer "Da Ali G Show," with its short Borat segment, mixed with just enough Ali G and Bruno. I'm happier with disjointed sketches than with a long, connected narrative. It must be the blogger in me. Really, I didn't need the narrative frame involving the cross country road trip and Pamela Anderson and so forth (although I took advantage of it in concocting a fact pattern for my Civpro2 exam). As for the little encounters that were stuck in the frame, I've seen many Borat segments on "Da Ali G Show" that were just as funny or funnier.

But let's see what Ben Stein says:
1.) The auteur and star of the movie, Sacha Baron Cohen, is a Jew of high degree in England and now in Hollywood. But much of the movie is viciously anti-Semitic. This includes not just some but many "jokes" about killing Jews, about how Jews are the devil, about how Jews will kill for money, about how Jews are like cockroaches (the last a direct steal from Joachim Goebbels, who compared Jews with breeding rats and insects). This is in a world where we just lived through an anti-Semitic holocaust with the same themes and another is promised by the terrorists in Iran.

These are not funny jokes. These are really just old-fashioned sickening racism disguised as hipness. It's also a smug joke by Sacha Cohen which is basically his endlessly saying, "I hate Jews, too, even though I'm Jewish, and hey, I guess I don't look Jewish because I can say all these horrible Jew hatred things and no one says, 'Hey, what are you doing? You're a Jew.'"

It's repulsive.
Clearly, Cohen means to lampoon anti-Semitism. You could say that it's ineffective, because there really is nothing to force anti-Semites to look critically at themselves and feel chastened. They can sit back and laugh heartily at the anti-Semitism.

I remember the first time I saw Andrew Dice Clay, before I heard all the outrage at his sexism. I thought he was brilliantly lampooning sexism. So I may not the best person to judge.

Back to Ben:
2.) Much of the movie is about Borat making fun of people who have been completely kind to him. This is just infantile and narcissistic oppositional disorder. It's also rude, and it's not very funny. Maybe it is if you are five.
Well, the key question is whether it's funny. But I can see feeling that it's wrong to laugh if he's being rude to people who are trying to be nice to him. But it's awfully straitlaced. All sorts of practical jokes and teasing are sort of mean. You could object to everything going back to "Candid Camera."
3.) Much of the story is mocking and belittling Southerners as a group....
It is a bit cheap to target Southerners.
4.) It has a genuinely nauseating mockery of a woman just because she happens to be black. Why aren't people getting upset about that? It's pure, unadulterated KKK type racism. You have to see it to believe it.
She happens to be a prostitute as well. Actually, I thought the movie got politically correct about the black woman. In the end, Borat goes back to her and marries her. It was more sympathetic than it needed to be. If anything, the movie targeted white men.
5.) Worst of all, it has acute mockery of Christians. There is a long scene mocking Christian fundamentalists, in which Borat makes cruel fun of the idea of Jesus as Savior...
I agree that this was a pretty cheap target. It wasn't so much Christians as rural Southern Christians.
A close friend who saw the movie the same night I did said, "It makes you laugh, but then you want to take a shower after you've seen it."
I think he's being way too prissy about it. What do you think? Is this just a matter of taste or is there a serious moral question here?

44 comments:

Jeff said...

"It is a bit cheap to target Southerners."

...unless one is discussing federalism!

AJ Lynch said...

Ben Stein is a smart, professional writer and he is skilled at arguing his position (like you Ann). I agree with some of what he sai but he is being a little too serious.

However, the supply of comedy-writing talent, especially in movies, must be very scarce. I have not seen Borat yet but did see Meet the Fockers, thought it sucked and wondered how anyone could get paid to write a movie where about seven out of every ten jokes revolved around the name Fockers? I mean how hilarious is that - did they really need that great comedic actor DiNiro with such a great script?

Anonymous said...

I think he's right.

Jonathan said...

Most good comedy flirts with the line between moral and immoral behavior. That's what makes it good. Would Carlin's seven dirty words skit have been effective if we hadn't placed those words into "forbidden" territory in the first place? I think not. All Borat is doing is what every other effective comedian has done and that is through our inhabitions back in our face.

We laugh because we don't have the guts to say or do the same thing. Political Correctness was the best thing to ever happen to comedy.

Jonathan said...

Oops. That should be "throw" our inhabitons, not "through."

Meade said...

"If anything, the movie targeted white men."

Which, we now understand, can never be racist because white men do not belong to a race. Well... not a race designated as being in need of protection from targeting.

If I tell a racist joke, does it make me racist? Is it morally wrong?

What if I only laugh at a racist joke someone else tells? Quietly. To myself. During a lucid dream.

How about during a lucid dream from which I awake feeling dirty and in need of a shower?

Or is that just being prissy and humorless?

Gerald Hibbs said...

I wonder if Ben Stein would have been as negative toward the film if Cohen's targets had been examples of Blue State culture rather than Red State culture. If Cohen had stayed in New York and used the same techniques would he have been successful or would he have regularly been told off as a racist?

Or, I offer as a possibility, would lots of leftists have used the opportunity to go off on Israel and/or Jews? I've had a number of conversations where leftists became very heated and any Jew in the room would have no choice but to feel uncomfortable at the bile. After all this is a group who had to invent the usage of "neo-con" to avoid constantly talking about Jews. Imagine if he had made the movie in France. Wow, the footage he would have gotten!

I can appreciate a lot of Stein's objections. If the movie were shown in say. . .Iran -- would the Jew haters in the audience realize they were being mocked? Would they even think it was a comedy or would they just think, "Hey, here is a truth teller about the Zionist Jews traveling across America and Americans agree with him."

Having read about the methods used to obtain the footage, my main objection is the fact that he targets people not in the public eye and often used dishonest techniques to make them look bad. The people didn't really understand what was going on, were manipulated, and were tricked into signing release forms. It just seems like a very mercenary and mean-spirited enterprise that had as its victims people who did not deserve targeting. If he had made the movie about leftists I would probably not be very supportive either.

JohnF said...

I'm Jewish and wasn't offended by the "anti-semitism." Does Ben Stein really think any sentient anti-semites were out there saying, "oh, yeah, cockroaches--right!" Cohen was having a bufoon be anti-semitic to show that anti-semitism is bufoonish, not to promote it, for god's sake.

BoneUSA said...

I'm a lifelong New Yorker who has not spent much time in the South or in predominantly evangelical Christian areas, but I came away from the movie feeling like it was not at all clever or profound or revealing of anything about human nature or the U.S. There are 300 million people in this country and it can't be all that hard to find someone willing to say the "shocking" things that Borat elicits in the movie. Add the fact that these statements are being made in response to questions asked in heavily accented English with a video camera in the subject's face, and Borat's accomplishment dwindles even further.

The anti-semitism also makes me uncomfortable, but I'm still struggling to figure why. I definitely laughed at a lot of it, so I must have found it funny for whatever reasons I find things funny. But I immediately felt, and feel, guilty about it and it's not because I've been trained to. I end up thinking about my grandparents and their peers and those before them, and how these "funny" things were said about them, to them, and how people acted on those things in violent and destructive ways. And it feels like a betrayal to laugh at the jokes now. I'm living safe and secure in an enlightened, 21st century U.S., so how can I laugh at those things? How can Cohen make light of it? And I do not accept the notion that he's merely casting light on the lingering threat of anti-semitism. Given what's going on in the world today and what's being said and done in the Middle East, Cohen is providing no service in finding a couple, or a couple dozen, or even a couple hundred people in the U.S. who will agree with his mangled anti-semitic cracks.

Maybe Cohen is making anti-semitism seem buffoonish. But he's cheapening it as well, making it seem like something not to be taken seriously.

Ernie Fazio said...

So you thought Andrew Dice Clay was brilliantly lampooning sexism, huh? How about that. The apogee of sexist drivel, and he is a satirist. Are the Cable Man and Jeff Foxworthy just lampooning southern culture?

Did you discuss your opinion of Andy Clay with any of your friends? Did they think your analysis was witty? Can anyone legitimately take offense at any offensive comments raised to or about them or their ethnicity? When they are raised by their ethnic brothers or sisters? Is there nothing that offends?

Anonymous said...

I thought it was really funny.

Ben Stein should lighten up.

It's a big hit in Israel, where people can actually understand the Hebrew that Cohen is speaking. Perhaps if he understood the Hebrew that would allay his suspicions and help him understand that the anti-semitism is satire not a bizarre attempt at "hipness."

However, humor either appeals or not, so there is no way around that.

I did think though that Cohen pushed things a bit with the church scene at the end. That sequence, while having some funny moments, came off with a bit of a nasty/snide undertone.

Gerald Hibbs said...

It was widely understood at the time that the Dice Man was a character and an attempt to make misogynists seem small. Now the fact that many in the audience didn't necessarily take it that way has nothing to do with Clay's intentions and has more to do with his ability to be very funny simultaneously as opposed to many modern comics who venture into political areas and aren't funny at all. I mean, excruciatingly not funny. COUGHgarofalo/cho/frankin/crossCOUGH

Zeb Quinn said...

One recurring theme I've noticed from the Brits is derision towards the culture of the US south. Many seem to unquestioningly accept the basest of stereotypes, even much worse than what one sees and hears here from northerners about the south. And Cohen does it in spades.

Anonymous said...

I am always very uncomfortable telling someone else to "lighten up". I accept the fact that lots of people don't have the same sense of humor as me, and recognizing that lots of great humor comes at someone else's expense, it seems a little narcissistic to tell someone else when they should and shouldn't be offended. Of course, one of the worst insults you can throw at someone nowadays is that they have no sense of humor. Gotta be cool, gotta be hip, don't want to seem a prude.

hygate said...

Are the Cable Man and Jeff Foxworthy just lampooning southern culture?

Yes.

scottynx said...

Among working class young people in america, a semi-common derogatory phrase used is "that's jewish", in the exact same way far more people use "that's gay". Both are used when something stupid or disappointing happens. Whether he was mocking anti-semitism or not (and he was), Borat has surely made "soft" anti-semitism like this even more acceptable for the less sophisticated among us. Unfortunately, the more sophisticated, who actually may have got the "right" message from Borat, that anti-semitism is retarded, already almost universally thought that way. Even on the far, far right wing this is true. Look at a sophisticated, latte-sipping white nationalist like Jared Tayler. He has been purging anti-semites out of his movement. Needless to say, working class white nationalists usually don't quite agree with Taylor on that point.

On net, Borat did more harm than good.

Gerald Hibbs said...

"Among working class young people in America, a semi-common derogatory phrase used is 'that's jewish', in the exact same way far more people use 'that's gay'."

I did not know that. If true, I'm not doubting just have never experienced that, it is truly unfortunate and frightening that it is going on in America. I'm so used to hearing stories of how well Jews are treated by Christians, especially Evangelicals, that I'm disappointed (too mild a term, really) to hear that we are heading down the path so well tread by France and other European countries.

I cannot imagine the vehement reaction a young person should get from me were I to ever hear that expression. I now have a bit more understanding for the PC police that I have often mocked for over-reacting. While I can't imagine the U.S. ever returning to slavery or Jim Crow and I can't imagine returning to less than equal rights for women it is all too conceivable that we will experience another (nuclear?) Holocaust in our lifetimes.

David said...

Borat and Clay were simply talking dirty in a thinly disguised attempt to be politcally incorrect.

When revulsion is the reaction of the audience the comedian has failed. Be Stein is correct. The only thing Sasha Cohen did was coarsen our dialogue and cheapen our culture.

Pogo said...

I have only seen clips of the movie. It would probably make me laugh and make me mad at the same time.

I have become more intolerant to this stuff over time. It's very sixth-gradey in quality, and no longer shocking because it's no longer a novelty. Jack-Ass, Team America, South Park and others have all done this stuff already. It's just not interesting.

And the ant-Semitic stuff is playing with fire. Is he he serious or lampooning? Who can tell? It makes, me, a non-anti-semite, cringe. Would it simply make an anti-Semite laugh aloud? So what's the point?

Dave said...

Perhaps the targets of his mockery were "cheap" targets, in your words, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be mocked.

scottynx said...

Gerald Hibbs,
Again, the use of "that's jewish" is similiar to the use of "that's gay". It doesn't necessarily denote anti-semitic beliefs, though it is troubling. I have met 1 person who says "that's gay" as a put-down often, yet is otherwise very "liberal" about gays, even believing that gay's should be allowed to be boy-scout leaders. Similiarly, out of the fewer people I've heard use "that's jewish" I haven't heard any espousing other anti-semitic beliefs. Though the starter of the term was most likely an anti-semite, most use it simply out of habit. But still, users of this word (and possibly non-users who are in the same social groups as users) probably would be more susceptible to being swayed toward anti-semitic beliefs. "Hmmm, people use jewish as a put down, and this guy says jews control hollywood, and this guy says the jews bombed the WTC.....maybe the jews are bad."

See the urban dictionary on the phrase:
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=thats+jewish

"1. thats jewish 1 up, 7 down

a term used to describe suckatude, failure. implies incompetnce.
not a antisemetic slur
hey im a jew

by ihatelippy Feb 19, 2005 email it"

Happily, 6 to 1 users of the site have voted thier dissaproval of the term. I hope that cheers you up. -pjgoober

Gerald Hibbs said...

scottynx,

Not really, but thanks for trying! :-)

I imagine your friend who says "That's gay" will have some hot young patchouli wearing chick set him straight (see what I did there?!) soon enough. That's what happened to me, at least. It's amazing how quickly desire for approval from attractive women can cause change among young men.

As for the "That's Jewish" folks: I suppose a great part of my concern is that having never heard of that usage I must presume that it is a fairly recent phenomenon. As such it is troubling that at this time, considering the state of the world, such a phrase has come into being and looks to be gaining traction.

And while the cool thing is to respond to the phrase, "I'm gay." with, "That's awesome! High five!" I doubt the cool kids give a damn about the Jews. In fact, I rather suspect the opposite on many campuses.

George said...

A few weeks ago I rented one of the Saturday Night Live first season DVDs. I was astonished at how, you guessed it, wretchedly unfunny the show was. I couldn't believe it. Hadn't I laughed uproariously way back when?

Chevy Chase won the prize for his repellent preening. His opening-mock-President Ford skits?Sophomoric would be a kind word.

Of course, today we know that Chase ended up a drug addict, if he wasn't already one in 1975. He recently told a newspaper reporter that he ending up becoming "friends" with Pres. Ford but that at the time he thought Ford deserved to be mocked because he, Chase, was a liberal and that because Ford had not been elected, he deserved no respect.

My point?

In 10 years, once Cohen has retired off of his millions, we'll learn about his vile personal problems, and he'll apologize for all the sickening things he did to people back in the old days.

Today's terrorist comedy is bear baiting. The problem is that we're the bears.

Todd and in Charge said...

The idea that the Oxford-educated hipster is only mocking "red staters" just doesn't work. I caught an episode just last night of Ali G, and he mercilessly mocked "tree-hugggers," animal-rights activists, and environmentalists (though Christie Todd Whitman handled him pretty well).

Edgehopper said...

Borat was nothing but a 2 hour Polish joke. The point of satire is to make the target look absurd, not for the comedian to look absurd.

Nice job using it in a CivPro fact pattern, but I'm giving my patent law prof more credit for both creativity and taste. She used Stranger than Fiction for the fact pattern that made up 75% of the test. "After the trial, Harold Crick heard a voice in his head say, 'Why not patent?'"

Paco Wové said...

"Again, the use of "that's jewish" is similiar to the use of "that's gay". "

Aside from a single person at the URL asserting the existence of this usage, I've neither seen nor heard any evidence of it before. (Note to commenter: you do realize that anybody can write whatever crap they want at Urban Dictionary, right?)

Can anybody provide more reliable evidence that such a usage is common?

Susie said...

I enjoyed Ali G, Bruno, and Borat on "Da Ali G Show," but thought the movie "Borat" was neither clever nor funny.

At one point, I thought about leaving because it was so slow and unenjoyable.

I found it especially mean-spirited and pointless to break the antiques in that one shop.

Anonymous said...

"Is this a matter of taste?"

Yes... bad taste.

rightwingprof said...

I didn't find it even vaguely funny, but I don't find stupidity funny. At all. Ever. It was ethnic Adam Sandler.

Paddy O. said...

I think a movie like this suffers from much the same problem as a lot of contemporary art. The artists of the 60s and 70s were too successful in their challenges of societal taboos. The taboos have mostly fallen, leaving those who want to mock the establishment in a tricky position. Christianity can be mocked, but is that really chic anymore? Everyone does it, even Christians.

Mostly now it's a lot less about some intelligent challenge and more about snickering in the back of the class, along with shows like South Park. It may provoke a laugh, but it's certainly not worth any broader discussion about the underlying message or theme.

Now, if a comedian was really brave there are issues out there which really are taboo, only artists now want to idolize folks like Carlin or Warhol but want to do it within the safety of the boundaries these men broke. They see provoking a mean press release from Falwell or Pat Robertson as censorship and persecution.

We're all the poorer for this loss of real courage and artistic vision. We need artists to be artists.

JackTanner said...

I didn't see him making fun of anybody but himself - he showed Jewish people as kind and warm hearted - he showed southerners as gracious hosts - he showed the feminists as patient - it was him and his buddy who were screwed up - even the fratboys were just dumb kids

dklittl said...

She happens to be a prostitute as well. Actually, I thought the movie got politically correct about the black woman. In the end, Borat goes back to her and marries her. It was more sympathetic than it needed to be.

Huh? Well I'm sorry that Borat wasn't racist enough to black people to amuse you Ann. I'm sure that on the DVD, he can add some watermelon and cotton jokes to make sure that his comedy is up to your personal standards. Sheesh.

Shanna said...

[quote] Are the Cable Man and Jeff Foxworthy just lampooning southern culture? [/quote]

I think you mean the cable “guy”. I have always heard that for something to be funny there has to be a grain of truth and I think that the Cable Guy and Foxworthy’s humor comes from a place of truth and a place of love. They don’t hate the south and they understand it so they can mock it.

Now as for Borat, I haven’t seen the movie because I was annoyed by the guy just from clips! of his media appearances. I couldn’t see watching a whole movie of that. It does sound like he chose his victims with a bit of malice, but as I haven’t seen it I can’t say for sure. I dislike the idea of tricking people who you don’t respect just so you can put them on screen and mock them in front of the world.

Among working class young people in america, a semi-common derogatory phrase used is "that's jewish", in the exact same way far more people use "that's gay".

I have never heard this in my life. I don’t know if I count as “working class” but I don’t think this phrase is at all common in the south at least. I also think “working class” is a stupid phrase. Most everybody has to work now.

misterfed said...

Ben Stein: if you want to make virulent anti-Semitic comments, at least have the common decency to be President that I worked for.

Anonymous said...

Well as a "born and bred" member of the working class let me shed some light on the "that's jewish" question. When I was younger I heard the term jewish and jew used as an insult quite frequently, although most of those using it didn't really have any idea what a jew was (elementary school central valley of calif. WASPs and mexicans only). As I've gotten older I hear it much less frequently and then usually to denote "cheapness" more that anything else. I would say that the term is fading out, not gaining usage.

Ann Althouse said...

drkittl: "Huh? Well I'm sorry that Borat wasn't racist enough to black people to amuse you Ann. I'm sure that on the DVD, he can add some watermelon and cotton jokes to make sure that his comedy is up to your personal standards. Sheesh."

How deliberately obtuse do you need to be to write that? The whole post is about how rude he was to white people. He treated the black woman with greater kindness than other people, rather than with equal disrespect. Shame on you for writing that.

Cedarford said...

I somewhat agree with Ben Stein. Cohen is a negative.

The reason is that no matter what his spoofery, the real bottom line is that he is a self-touting highly intelligent Jew given to betraying people that extend hospitality and give him their trust. His departing subliminal message boils down to "Ha! Look at how I, a clever Oxford-educated Jew, outwitted you and made you all look like idiots!"

He decides to antagonize groups critical to Israel's support like Evangelicals and Southerners by smearing depicting them as not just stupid fools, but stupid anti-Semitic fools. And mock a nation of moderate Muslims as backward anti-Semites when Kazakhstan is far, far from the bottom of the list in either anti-Semitism and failing to progress.

Or making vicious attacks on Christmas - something that other Jews that have waged war on Christian culture find doesn't exactly endear them to towns, schools, people being sued.

Perhaps there is an underlying value to victimizing people and making them the butt of jokes....even justifying it by Cohen's saying it goes past his just wanting to make tens of millions to - to showing how a clever, rich Jew from London's uppercrust can fight anti-Semitism by tricking and manipulating ordinary people into saying anti-Semitic things (exposing their "buried biases")....but I don't see it. Maybe fellow Elitists see the "genius" of it, but I venture to say the message is lost on the "rubes".

I see Sasha Cohen creating anti-Semitism where none existed before. Objects of cruel, unprovoked ridicule hardly respond favorably to a tormentor or feel inclined to suddenly supporting whatever his supposed "cause", may be.

That he sought to deliberately exempt black people as objects of scorn or manipulation does not speak of solicitude & compassion, but snotty Oxfordian condescension. Blacks, of course, have handicaps not their fault, thus don't deserve the picked-on treatment "rednecks, stupid Muslims in developing lands, sappy headed environmentalists from 3rd tier colleges", do.

Watching him, what surprises me most is the number of people that begin to "get" they are being played as suckers by Cohen with the purpose of embarassing them....and yet do not wrap a chair over his head. I expect it when Cohen does his schtick, because I have seen nice people turn very violent when they realize they are being mocked, silently laughed at, and played as fools.

Shanna said...

He decides to antagonize groups critical to Israel's support like Evangelicals and Southerners by smearing depicting them as not just stupid fools, but stupid anti-Semitic fools.

In what world are Southerners and Evangelicals the most critical of Israel's support??? With the exception of Jimmy Carters, Evangelicals in this country have a history of loyalty to Israel and Southerners for the most part don't really care about Jews and are more supportive of Israel then alot of groups.

Did he happen to go to an Mosque's or Arab groups and try to provoke anti-semitism?

Derve said...

"Critical to", Shanna, not "critical of".

Meaning Southern and evangelical support of American policies that are friendly to Israel (to fulfill the biblical prophecy of one united Israel in the final days). See Tom DeLay.

Grim said...

"It is a bit cheap to target Southerners."

Speaking as a proud Georgian -- why do you say so? Merely because there is no social penalty to pay among the elite of Hollywood/Washington/London? Or is there another reason?

I haven't seen the movie, or any of Cohen's stuff in any medium. I do recall when he came to a rodeo in Virginia, however, and barely got out alive. It seems to me that it's very cheap to scoff at the South from London; it's deadly serious to do so in person.

I don't have any interest in being a consumer of his comedy, but I do respect a man who will take his life in his hands to make a point. He said that he wanted to draw attention to the fact that Americans didn't care to raise an alarm over anti-Semitism. There's probably a point to be made there. It's true, as some have said, that Evangelicals in the South are good friends to Israel. It's also true that the average Southerner cares as little about Jews, apart from "Israel," as about Malaysians -- which is to say, they don't care at all.

I don't know that this qualifies as anti-Semitism. If Israel is interested in survival, however, it's a point to which they need to turn their attention. If even their best friends aren't that interested in Jews-as-such, being not hostile but disinterested, they are in more danger than may be apparent.

Again, as a proud Southerner, I'm not offended. There are lives on the line, and not merely his own -- though he has risked that too. I've no interest in seeing his movie. I'm ready to consider his questions, however. He has paid for the right to ask them.

Derve said...

He treated the black woman with greater kindness than other people, rather than with equal disrespect.

But I thought you said he married her? Is that some prize for the black woman prostitute then, being married by Borat the foreigner?

I wonder if the black women see it that way, but then I really doubt they're going to see this movie in any big numbers. I hear he runs around naked too -- sounds not attractive.

Derve said...

As to Ploopus, this is the same person who posts under the name Mary and Derve and I forget what else. She's a former student of mine.

10:01 PM, December 28, 2006
--------------------

THIS IS A LIE.
ANN ALTHOUSE LIES ABOUT HER FORMER STUDENTS, MAKES THREATS HERSELF, AND FALSELY SMEARS FORMER STUDENTS WITHOUT ANY PROOF.

CHEAP ENTERTAINMENT OR REPUTABLE EDUCATOR? CAN YOU REALLY HAVE IT BOTH WAYS?

Daryl Herbert said...

Meaning Southern and evangelical support of American policies that are friendly to Israel (to fulfill the biblical prophecy of one united Israel in the final days).

That's not a very sophisticated look at things (but only the left accuses itself of sophistication).

How about: the same radical Muslims who cheer on terror attacks in America, cheer on terror attacks in Israel? And fund efforts to carry out attacks, and train the people who carry out the attacks...

How about: once people side with Israel (for any reason), they start to take Israel's side on any number of other arguments. Even if their support for Israel initially came about for reasons related to Biblical prophecy, their views on other issues (the legitimacy of the wall, whether Israel is justified in taking self-defense measures, whether Israel has made a good faith effort at peace) will change as well.

How about: the fact that evangelical Christians are fundamentally decent people with a decent values system, and naturally that's going to put them in agreement with the Israelis. It's hard to see how someone with right-wing evangelical values could side against Israel unless they were anti-Semitic. Being pro-terrorist is incompatible with the basic values of conservatism.

How about: Israelis are more like us. They're basically the same race as the Palestinians (the difference between Jew and Arab is not so great), and yet. And yet they look like us. They have a culture like ours. They have industry and technology and social institutions much like ours. They have annoying gay rights activists--just like us!--they have Muslim terrorists--just like us!--they have a race relations problem--just like us! Americans who feel good about America are going to look at that and reflexively want to side with Israel (America-haters here will reflexively side with the Palestinians).

Insulting someone's religion is cheap and easy. When their prophecy merely calls for them to support Israel until God decides to bring about the End Times, that's hardly a noxious prophecy. The fact that the End Times include massive destruction on earth is irrelevant because that destruction is brought about entirely by God. All that the believing Christians (believing in that prophecy) are called to do is back a legitimate Western government. And you make them out as demonic. That's just lame.

Anonymous said...

What I want to know is why were animals chained up for the amusement of humans? And why was Pamela Anderson involved with such a project? She publicly advocates for the "ethical" treatment of animals and yet she participated in this film which involved a chained bear, a chicken that is shoved in a bag, and various rodeo animals.

This movie was not appalling to me because of its emotional content regarding the human ego. Instead, it was appalling because it inflicted a very real suffering, one free of human egoistic suffering, on nonhuman sentient creatures.