Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bieganski at Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University. Source
In 2006 I read "Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism" a then-new book by the then-Salon writer Michelle Goldberg. The book is a paranoid, hate-mongering lie. I posted a one-star review on Amazon. The full text of that review is below.

Goldberg fans responded negatively, posting nasty messages under my review accusing me of being exactly the kind of scary, evil Christian Michelle Goldberg was warning her readers against.

On August 9, 2010, an Amazon poster identifying himself as Alan Altman responded to my review. His response, cut and pasted, in full:

"Ah yes, Eastern European ( am I guessing correctly, Danusha?), anti semitism is still alive and well in the heartland."

In his Amazon bio, this poster identifies himself as Dr. Alan S. Altman, "Professor of Music, Fine Art, in the Interdisciplinary Arts Program of the Graduate School of Education @ Nova Southeastern University. Former Trumpet student of: Eugene E. Blee, Armando Ghitalla, Gilbert Johnson, Leon Rapier. Former conducting student of: Max Rudolf Professor of Film and Aesthetics."

There's nothing anti-Semitic in my review. The full text is below.

But I have an obviously "Eastern European" name.

So I am an anti-Semite.

Dr. Alan S. Altman is a professor.

Do you think Dr. Altman treated applications to his program from applicants with "Eastern European" names in the same manner as he treated applications from prospective students who did not have "Eastern European" names?

Do you think Dr. Altman treated applications for funding from scholars with "Eastern European" names in the same manner as he treated applicants seeking funding who were not burdened by "Eastern European" names?

How did Dr. Altman decide what constituted an "Eastern European" name? Too many consonants? S-k-i endings?

***

I'm mentioning Dr. Altman's sick bigotry because it came to mind after the July Fourth post. I googled the man with whom I had that encounter. It turns out he is a prominent lawyer employed by the state. His work has been covered in the New York Times.

"Ray" decided that I was an anti-Semite after five seconds. All he knew about me was my name, which I told him when we met at a Fourth of July picnic.

Do you think that "Ray" treats defendants whose "Eastern European" names indicate that their "grandparents beat up" Jews the same as defendants not saddled with "Eastern European" names?

I would not feel comfortable revealing Ray's real name here. I invited him to visit the blog, read the post, and respond to feedback. I have not heard back. But Dr. Altman did reveal his real name. It's sobering. A university professor who uses the presumed ethnicity of last names to decide to judge people he does not know.

***

What is Polonia doing about this? Nothing.

It's time that we got to work on the tasks described in the blog post on the Crisis in Polonian Leadership, Organization, and Vision.

***

Here is the full text of my review of Michelle Goldberg's book:

Michelle Goldberg does not like Christians. Michelle Goldberg thinks that Christians smell bad. Michelle Goldberg gets an icky feeling when she stands next to a Christian, and, later, Michelle Goldberg is sure that Christian cooties crawl up and down her body. Ew. Michelle Goldberg needs to take a long, hot shower.

All is not lost. Michelle Goldberg is a liberal. A progressive. A multiculturalist. Michelle Goldberg celebrates diversity.

So, Michelle Goldberg met with Christians, and they were nice to her. She realized then that her prejudice was incorrect. Christians confided their deepest concerns. Like her, she discovered, Christians want a healthy, happy, safe America, where children thrive, the truth is proclaimed, and freedom and justice prevail. They may disagree on how to achieve these ends, but Michelle Goldberg realized that we all have to live with people with whom we disagree, and that the challenge is to find that way of coexisting with diverse neighbors that makes America great, and our democracy, not only strong, but possible.

The final paragraph, above, is, of course, wishful thinking.

"Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism," is the most hateful book I've ever read, and I study hate and have read classics in the genre. What makes this book so painful is that when other hate mongers were plying their trade, they had some wound that the reader could understand as exacerbating their hatred. What happened in Goldberg's short, privileged life to make her hate so much?

The book jacket, in its colors, fonts, and design, is meant to evoke a propaganda poster of Nazis giving the "sieg heil" salute. This one, hate-mongering lie alone is cheap and malicious enough to render Goldberg radioactive to any ethical person.

In this case, you *can* tell a book by its cover. Goldberg equates or associates Christianity with Nazism throughout her short, mean, ugly text (eg: pp 10, 22, 33, 54, 73, 153, 179, 188). When Goldberg is not equating Christians with Nazis, she is equating Christians with Muslims - not dimple-cheeked, multiculti Muslim poster children, but, specifically, Islamic terrorists (eg: p 22, 31, 39, 207-210).

For good measure, Goldberg compares American malls to Stalinist architecture. As someone who lived in the Soviet empire, I just have to say, in her architectural criticism, no less than in her hate-mongering, Goldberg comes across as a hyperbolic chucklehead. I can just imagine the kind of restaurant reviews this chick would pump out. They'd be a weight lose bonanza.

Haters must invent their Other of Choice. Otherwise, they'd see that human beings are all brothers and sisters. Goldberg invents her other of choice in a group that she admits, right up front, that she herself made up: "Christian Nationalists." She provides the manifesto for this group, a document that she, as she readily admits, made up (6-8). In this, Goldberg is very like the authors of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," a book to which this book, for all the right reasons, is frequently compared. (Do the Google search, and get back to me.)

I know I've got only a thousand words here and should not be repeating myself, but did you get that, Gentle Reader? Goldberg, in a book published by a mainstream publishing house, *invented* a *fictitious* group of Christians, and their fictitious manifesto, which she penned *herself.* By her own admission. Is this bugging you as much as it bugged me? Jeez, I hope so.

Let's cut to the chase here. How would you feel about a book that invented a name and a manifesto for a random collection of otherwise unconnected Jews who supported the war in Iraq? And claimed that they were involved in an unproved and unprovable conspiracy to take over the US? A conspiracy so scary that the sane, decent person's only recourse is, as Goldberg insists is the only recourse to "Christian Nationalism," to "keep your passport handy and your bags packed"? (Where is Goldberg planning to go? She doesn't say.) How would you feel if someone grouped together all Homosexuals or all Jehovah's Witnesses or all musical comedy ticket buyers in the US, persons otherwise unconnected, slapped some spooky moniker on them, made a bunch of cheap comparisons between them and the Nazis or the Stalinists or Boris Badenoff and Natasha, used some cut-and- paste "conspiracy theory central" word processing program to create their manifesto and claimed that they were about to take over the country?

Yes, there are Christians who do some of the things Goldberg accuses Christians of doing: they lobby government officials; they attend Town Hall meetings; they publish Op Ed pieces; they join the PTA; they learn debate skills. Goldberg wants us to believe that these very behaviors aren't the backbone of a multicultural democracy, but are some noxious virus that threatens your life. Goldberg has no evidence of Christians doing any of the following: stockpiling weapons, planning to blow up buildings, planning, in fact, to harm anyone.

Yes, many Christians, as Goldberg claims, are uncomfortable with promiscuity among schoolchildren, homosexuality, and abortion. To read this book, you'd think that Christians are the only ones who object to these things. Goldberg is wrong. Atheist Bill Maher couldn't get through a stand-up routine without homophobic "jokes." Demonizing Christians does nothing to help gay people. And plenty of non-Christians have a problem with abortion. Demonizing Christians won't advance women's right to choose, or reconcile that right with the vexing questions abortion entails.

On the East Coast, the West, and in the heartland, I've worked on feminist, gay rights, and peace issues. I've marched, canvassed, and broadcast, often shoulder-to-shoulder with Evangelical Christians. In Red State Indiana, my greatest inspirations and support in gay rights struggles were born again Christians. Just thinking of them, right now, within the context of this vile book, I am, frankly, on the verge of tears.

***

Before posting this blog entry, I googled Goldberg to see what she was up to. Comparing Ann Romney to Hitler, apparently. See story here.

5 comments:

  1. Had Dr. Alan S. Altman guessed someone's ethnicity on the basis of his \ her name ("am I guessing correctly, Danusha?") and proceeded to make a vile comment on the basis of his \ her presumed ethnicity, he would have feared for his job. But Dr. Goska is of Eastern European descent. Oh... that's all right then. She should act like a grown-up and take it with a smile. Dr. Alan S. Altman does not have to fear for his job - he could say something much worse and still get away with it. It is Dr Goska who is in denial of her inferior Eastern European essence.

    Don't believe me? Get in touch with the Fischler School of Education (http://www.fischlerschool.nova.edu/experience-fse/contact or 800.986.3223). See for yourself. If they decide to reply.

    Michelle Goldberg's book - just sad.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Both stories are amazing and saddening. Goldberg's comments regarding Ann Romney's rather innocuous comments on motherhood are even more striking in light of some some recent events in Chicago. Murders have sky rocketed 38% this year from already high numbers. The Chicago mayor, on a national news program, just lashed out at so-called "gangsters" with the question, "who raised you?" as his central theme in combating violence. Follower is right. We are supposed to buck-up and take it because, after all, we are guilty.
    MB

    ReplyDelete
  3. Latest from Chicago: they apparently need the NRA (National Rifle Association) for gang oriented "Youth Shooting" classes. Chicago police are bemoaning the lack of accuracy of gangster's shooting, thus causing too much "collateral damage". A police spokesman said gang fired bullets have a "to whom it may concern" trajectory....Yes, they do seem to need Giuliani.
    MB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. V sad. All those parents losing children in Chicago. A value system run amok.

      Delete

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