Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Neutral pronouns

I doubt that anyone would claim that neutral pronouns will eliminate sexism. However, the simple fact is that it is grammatically unjust – grammatically demeaning - that a male noun or pronoun may signify both men and women, but the corresponding female noun or pronoun may not. If man, men, and mankind can signify both men and women, then why shouldn't woman, women, and womankind signify both women and men? If he can signify either a man or a woman, then why shouldn't she signify either a woman or a man? Justice is an absolute principle that demands strictness. There might be some practical delays in the achievement of justice, but there can be no exceptions in respect to recipients and modes.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Netanyahu vs Obama

No doubt Netanyahu gave a rousing speech. But will the speech have as much impact on the prospective nuclear deal with Iran as it will have on US-Israel relations? And will it ultimately help or hurt Netanyahu's re-election bid?

No one questioned Netanyahu's right or even responsibility to comment on the deal. The only thing questioned was the time and place of his remarks. It was a good speech. Who knows... Netanyahu might even be right that this deal is not wise. (Until a world government is established, we will go on walking through the minefield that is internationalism.) But no matter how things turn out, there will be no way to prove one way or the other that the world would have been better off with no deal rather than a bad deal.

A few days from now, Netanyahu's speech before the US Congress will be largely forgotten. In the meantime, Netanyahu returns home to a country with upcoming elections and pressing domestic issues (housing shortage, economic slowdown, and deteriorating medical services). On top of that, conditions with Israel's most reliable ally have now taken a turn for the worse.

Will Israelis welcome Netanyahu home as a hero and re-install him as their prime minister, or will they usher him into political retirement? To the extent that this even matters, we will know the answer in a few weeks. But while this almost certainly was Netanyahu's primary concern while standing before the US Congress, it probably makes little difference for Israelis as a whole or the people of the world collectively. Political democracy is all smoke and mirrors. At the end of the day, the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer – elephants romp, and the grass gets trampled.