Saturday, May 10, 2003

I'd even go further into this dangerous territory — and I emphasize I am speaking strictly for myself here, not for anyone else at NR. We conservatives like to scoff at lefties for their "noble savage" fixation — the way they go all misty-eyed and paternalistic at the thought of the poor helpless victims of capitalism, racism, colonialism, etc. etc. Well, I think I can see some similar strain of condescension in my own outlook. What the heroic worker was to an old-line Marxist, what the suffering Negro was to civil-rights marchers, what the unfulfilled housewife is to Hillary Clinton, the Vietnamese peasant to Jane Fonda, the Palestinian rioter to Edward Said, so the red-state conservative with his Bible, his hunting rifle and his sodomy laws is to me. He is authentic, in a way I am not.

John Derbyshire, in National Review. I confess to much the same relationship with religious Jews. I would never be able ot put on tefillin without turning red with embaressment, and yet I am absolutely convinced that Judaism, and hence my own identity, would collapse without the presence of those that do. I often feel as if I am a border guard, who defends them from the assaults of the outside world so they may continue the regeneration of the faith in their own, private isolation. Illogical, perhaps, but there it is. I have no patience for Jews who think their faith can survive without the Orthodox - we would die out in a generation, maybe two. This is simply reality, Reform Judaism can exist because there is something to reform, an original model with which to tinker. I see no capacity for religious creativity within Reform, but Orthodoxy is startlingly dynamic, despite liberal pretensions otherwise. I imagine almost all secular Jews who haven't turned to self-hatred maintain something like this relationship to the religious, even if only on an unconscious level.


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