I have been following some of the conversations on the Cross Currents blog with some interest. Much of it grabs me and some of it just irks me. In particular I was disturbed to read about an exchange in which Conservative and Reform Judaism was referred to as Judaism’s Naqba.
The particular post I just linked to spoke about the problem this creates, but it didn’t really hit a number of key points.
There is power in words and some terms should not be bandied about without regard for the impact that they hold. These words evoke meaning, emotion and passion and when they are used with regularity they begin to lose their power and their ability to make the listener sit up straight and pay attention.
If Naqba is indeed the term that this person thought would be appropriate I am very disappointed in him. It is offensive, arrogant, misguided and I have little respect for someone who would make comments like this because he shows no respect for myself or others.
When PETA used “Holocaust” as part of an ad campaign they tried to present their cause of promoting animal welfare as being morally equivalent to human life. Animals are important and I am against animal abuse, but they are not morally equivalent to humans. They are not as important and never will be.
It would be wrong to allow the term to be co-opted by PETA or other organizations for something that is less than what it has come to represent. What happened in Rwanda or Kosovo is something merits being associated with Holocaust.
Going back to the topic, Naqba is a poor description because in essence it suggests that an entire set of philosophy is not just flawed, but horrifically wrong. And I cannot help but wonder what the intent of such a statement is. What is the end goal of such comments.
If you hope to create more BTs such commentary is not real likely to do it, or at least from my perspective it is not likely to bring the cream of the crop.
I was raised in a Conservative shul but I wouldn’t consider myself Conservative. I don’t claim to be a part of the Reform and I am not what you can call MO, Chassidic or anything else. At the moment I am an Independent. If I had to guess where I might end up I would say that it is not hard to see myself as becoming MO, but that is a ways off and who knows what can happen in between.
In any case one of the complaints/criticisms that are leveled at the more observant is that they are not free thinkers, that they have no independence and cannot move away from their selected dogma.
I want to be a part of a group that fosters community, but I want to be a part of something that treasures independent thought as well.