One of the less widely known truths about political movements is that they are frequently filled with a generous helping of lunatics.
Only such individuals possess the fanatic zeal that endows them with the energy and commitment to achieve results. They are the ones still furiously debating the obscure planks of a political platform at 2am, when all more normal people have long since gone home to sleep or at least to watch I Love Lucy reruns.
Thus, shrewd political leaders are regularly faced with striking a difficult balance between accepting the dangerous package of energy and madness provided by these dedicated activists, or else following the more cautious route of expelling them and instead relying on paid party hacks, who work nine-to-five and would immediately cross the aisle if offered a raise of twenty-five cents an hour by the ideological opposition.
However, although an important aspect of actual politics is thus the art of managing lunacy, political analysts frequently fail to properly appreciate the enormous variety of these different lunacies, many of which occupy such completely orthogonal mental universes that they seldom even recognize each other’s existence.
Consider the circumstances surrounding the recent assassination of Pim Fortuyn, a controversial Dutch political figure running for Prime Minister on an anti-immigration platform.
Given America’s all-encompassing focus on Militant Islam and also the recent political rebirth of the European extreme right, the crude initial headlines—“Dutch Right-Wing Extremist Slain”— virtually wrote themselves, as did the natural assumption that the assassin was one of those radical Muslim immigrants who constituted Fortuyn’s primary targets.
But once journalists began to more closely explore the actual facts of the case, the picture changed considerably. Aside from his economic libertarianism, Fortuyn seems to have possessed almost no traditionally “right wing” views whatsoever, being instead a militant gay activist and strong advocate of prostitution and drugs. As far as can be determined, his fierce opposition to continued Muslim immigration was based less on racial, ethnic, or even religious grounds than on the undeniable fact that fundamentalist Muslim clerics and their followers are strong opponents of the gay rights movement and militant feminism.
As a candidate, Fortuyn seems less like a 1930s German gauleiter and more like a 1970s Greenwich Village Left Democrat, perhaps alarmed that a vast influx of conservative and unassimilable Mormons from Utah would threaten the alternative lifestyles of Lower Manhattan, and might eventually even elect Republicans to office.
Similarly, although Fortuyn in his last moments probably assumed that he had been struck down by an Islamic fundamentalist, perhaps one enraged by Fortuyn’s support for gay marriage, the actual facts were quite different. Fortuyn’s assassin, a native-born Dutchman, seems not to have cared much one way or the other about either gays or Muslims, but was instead an uncompromising animal rights activist. Apparently at one point Fortuyn had suggested (on libertarian grounds) that Holland repeal its absolute prohibition on industrial fur-farming, and that casual remark sealed his fate. Although he certainly was not proposing the establishment of death camps for humans—whether Jew or Muslim—industrial fur farms do undeniably constitute death-camps for the mink and the fox, and at least one determined individual came to believe that only his pistol could block such a cruel Holocaust for our four-legged friends.
Now animal rights lunacy might seem a strange and peculiar cause to inspire terrorists or assassins, but we must objectively admit that this motivation is neither more nor less rational than all the other endless varieties of political lunacy. After all, there are some who place gay rights above the Word of Allah and some who place the Word of Allah above gay rights, and at least a few who place chipmunks above both.
Fifty years ago, Communist activists controlled half the world, Islamic activists were confined to the dry histories of the Abbasid Empire, and gay activists were merely the punch-lines of crude barroom jokes. But today the Communists have mostly gone to meet Marx, while the gays and Muslims battle for control of the Netherlands. Perhaps within another generation or two, it will be the followers of the snail-darter and those of the swamp-toad who are locked in a mighty struggle for control of all Europe.
One of the more ironic aspects of poor Fortuyn’s untimely demise was that if he had indeed been the ardent devotee of Hitler that our gullible media initially implied, the latter’s notorious support for vegetarianism and animal rights might have ruled out any support for fur-farming and hence prevented the assassination.
On a slightly different subject of lunacy and fanaticism, my recent Sacramento Bee piece about the self-destructive policies of the Israeli Sharonists attracted a considerable quantity of responses, both positive and negative. About half the angry replies denounced me for falsely alleging that the Sharonists would never relinquish the West Bank and Gaza in exchange for peace, while the other half said exactly that, and condemned me for daring to question that position. I was also very pleased that the quantity of strongly supportive and thankful notes was far greater, and more importantly, that these positive responses were considerably superior in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and general coherence. Obviously, however, all rules contain major exceptions.
In addition, my piece caught the eye of the editor of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, the leading publication of America’s second largest and most influential Jewish community. He asked for permission to reprint it, which he has now done in Friday’s issue.
Jewish Journal Article
In order to maintain proper balance, he also reprinted a contrasting piece by Morton Klein, the national president of the Zionist Organization of America, one of the most prominent Jewish organizations focused primarily on Israel issues. I think that Klein’s views, provided below, quite effectively present the case for the other side of the current policy debate.
Among other matters, Klein very correctly points out that Judea constituted the heartland of David’s ancient biblical kingdom and that the territory had never historically been ruled by any Palestinian king. Thus, he reasonably concludes that permanent Israeli control over these territories, including Gaza, is absolutely legitimate and even required by sound monarchical and biblical principles.
Certainly, the close juxtaposition of Klein’s powerful and sweeping religious and ideological arguments with my much more crudely practical ones cannot help but make the best possible case for Klein’s position. For example, while Klein suggests a divine imperative requires militant Jewish settlers to extend the reestablished Kingdom of David to the Gaza strip, my only effective response would be to note that 7,000 militant Jews may have considerable difficulty in achieving this result in the midst of over one million militant Muslims, whose population density is already by some measures the highest in the world.
In addition, a recent article in Haaretz, one of Israel’s most prestigious newspapers, highlighted some of the difficult tribulations faced by these idealistic Gaza settlers, whose entire workforce appears to consist of local Palestinians, many of them Islamic militants. Apparently a few days ago, one such Muslim worker decided to bring his pistol to work and kill his Jewish employer for unknown reasons. Haaretz notes that just the previous day, dozens of militant Jewish settlers had demonstrated against the Israeli army, denouncing the latter for its attempt to inspect Palestinian Muslim workers for weapons. The settlers reasonably argued that such weapons inspections wasted Palestinian time and reduced the number of hours that Palestinians could labor each day under Jewish taskmasters in the vital enterprise of expanding Jewish settlements in Gaza.
Finally, the interesting events in Holland discussed previously may provide a further avenue for future Palestinian coalition-building. Although Europe’s growing movement of animal rights zealots certainly has little love for Muslims— after all, the Koran tends to value people more than goats—a shrewd Palestinian strategy might be to publicize the fact that that many of the 50,000- odd Jewish Taliban currently occupying the West Bank are ardent supporters of ritualistic animal sacrifice to Yahweh. Thus, the PLO might perhaps mobilize an international legion of animal rights lunatics willing to sacrifice their own lives to save those of the innocent young heifers of Judea and Samaria. If successful there, this expeditionary force might afterward attempt to stamp out the similar practices of the voodoo priests of Haiti.