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I, too, am a Jew. I feel the need to say this, incidentally, because yet another fellow yid has confused self-righteous indignation with ethical legitimacy. Dave Kline (The Mail, 5/26), a man whose forebears, it seems necessary to mention, were obviously self-hating enough to anglicize the spelling of their—and his—name, has given thinking people around the world, or at least around our nation’s capital, further reason to be anti-Semitic.
Kline claims that Mark Jenkins’ double review of Gladiator and Battlefield Earth (“Clash of the Cretins,” 5/19) smacks of a burn-the-books-poison-the-philosopher-ye-who-say-the-world-is-round-shall-die mentality because of its dismissive critique of Scientology, a pay-for-thought organization that imputes all that is interesting about the human mind—that is, neurosis—to the influence of extraterrestrials. Bracketing for the moment the fact that Kline proudly claims his affiliation with this “religion” and that he unwittingly (I assume) grants Jenkins the authority of Galileo, Copernicus, and Socrates all rolled into one, I must admit that I am saddened to find that once again, someone—a Jew, no less—has chosen to use the Holocaust to make a point that has nothing to do with the Holocaust.
Kline dishonestly invokes the spirit of his father (who was the victim of anti-Semitic ignorance in—surprise, surprise—England before the war) in order to seek some justification for his own insecurity. Let’s be honest: The only “intellectual” debate in which I’ve been on the side of the Scientologists was their dispute with Deutschland over the German state’s unwillingness to recognize Hubbard’s entrepreneurial brain fart as a legitimate religion—and that was only on the basis of my irrational (though historically founded) hatred of Germans, not of any theoretically legitimate argument.
If there’s one thing that pisses me off more than anything else, it’s reactionary earnestness masquerading as ethical thoughtfulness. I would hope that someone who gave Scientology even the briefest consideration, not to mention someone who “appl[ies] the principles of Scientology to [his own] life” and who “find[s] them workable and like countless others ha[s] achieved spiritual expansion through this philosophy” (philosophy!) would have a greater appreciation of the necessity of irony in life. To equate reasoned suspicion—and yes, mockery—of Scientology with the state-sponsored persecution of people of other races, gays and lesbians, Jews, and Christians—with the “marketing of hate,” no less—is to willfully evacuate intellectual inquiry of all its potency. Look, I’ll be the first to suggest that I may be unjust—or at least hasty—in my criticisms of Scientology, but for God’s sake, let’s not equate ironic thoughtfulness with the rationalized, technological, and popularly supported extermination of a people.
Hatred continues today to have the better of thought in so many environments—in tough “crime” legislation in our own country, in ethnicity-based wars in others, in suspicions and misgivings everywhere. Let’s not contribute to the ignorant and reactionary “common sense” that is increasingly exercising its insidious hegemony over us all by clamping down on criticism in the name of self-righteousness.