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HD: Blood Libel
Posted: 15 January 2011 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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The third one is the most convincing—it’s first person and specific; I consider that real evidence.

As to the first, I wonder about when this happened. It’s also second or third hand and doesn’t say how the speaker found out what the kids believed (did his wife witness the kids talking?). The second is second-hand, and I’ll bet that if you inquired you would discover it was third hand, then fourth hand, then fifth hand, etc. The fourth is an account from overseas and the contention about horns was made in jest, so there is a question whether or not the speakers were serious in the belief.

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Posted: 15 January 2011 02:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Here’s an article about people with actual horns: http://www.aolnews.com/2011/01/10/chinas-huang-yuanfan-sprouts-3-inch-horn-from-head/ It happens to really old people, like 100 years old. (None of the people discussed are Jewish.)

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Posted: 16 January 2011 09:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Horns aside, I cannot understand how Christians imagine Christ was not Jewish or that the Ten Commandments are not Judaic in origin (via Babylonian etc). It must reflect general ignorance all round. I have often recently encountered ‘the Jews murdered Jesus’ argument in print and on TV but only to show how idiotic proponents of such ideas are (eg the KKK in Boardwalk Empire). Christ was born a Christian stuff.

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Posted: 16 January 2011 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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As to the first, I wonder about when this happened. It’s also second or third hand and doesn’t say how the speaker found out what the kids believed (did his wife witness the kids talking?). The second is second-hand, and I’ll bet that if you inquired you would discover it was third hand, then fourth hand, then fifth hand, etc. The fourth is an account from overseas and the contention about horns was made in jest, so there is a question whether or not the speakers were serious in the belief.

If you’re willing to consider the third quote “real evidence” of something that was heard “a number of times in northern TX and rural PA,” you might want to dial back on the attitude of extreme skepticism shown in the passage I’ve quoted above.  That’s appropriate when dealing with a phenomenon you think doesn’t exist, but if you acknowledge that it does exist and is widespread enough that a single person heard it repeatedly in two very different parts of the US, then your prosecutorial attitude towards every quote that doesn’t provide dates and places seems… unfortunate.  Why not just accept that this particular relic of medieval bigotry didn’t die out, as you had thought it did, but is still alive and well?

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Posted: 16 January 2011 07:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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I don’t think it is fair to blame Michelangelo for the “Jews have horns” myth, although here is a picture of his “Moses with horns” sculpture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Moses_San_Pietro_in_Vincoli.jpg.  Not enough people would have gone to Italy and seen the statute to allow the myth to propagate that way. There is, however, a more obvious source: The Vulgate and other Catholic bibles use the “horns” translation. Here is Douay-Rheims: “And when Moses came down from the mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation of the Lord.” (Ex. 34:29)http://drbo.org/x/d?b=drb&bk=2&ch=34&l=29#x In the modern edition, there is a helpful footnote that says, “"Horned"… That is, shining, and sending forth rays of light like horns.” Douay-Rheims is the traditional Catholic translation, equivalent to KJV. The New American Bible, the translation Catholics use nowadays, says, “the skin of his face had become radiant”.

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Posted: 17 January 2011 03:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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I don’t think it is fair to blame Michelangelo for the “Jews have horns” myth

I would have thought that the Michaelangelo sculpture might be seen as evidence that the superstition was already well established and widely accepted, and that M. himself believed it, or at any rate believed that Moses himself had horns

If something’s written in the Bible, many millions of people are going to believe it, after all.

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Posted: 17 January 2011 04:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Sir Thomas Browne, with his usual learning and eloquence, addressed the question of the horns of Moses in his Pseudodoxia Epidemica: or Enquiries into Very Many Received Tenents and Commonly Presumed Truths, 1646.

Chap. IX Of the Picture of Moses with Horns.

I give the opening paragraphs.

IN many pieces, and some of ancient Bibles, Moses is described with horns. The same description we finde in a silver Medal; that is, upon one side Moses horned, and on the reverse the commandment against sculptile Images. Which is conceived to be a coynage of some Jews, in derision of Christians, who first began that Pourtract.

The ground of this absurdity, was surely a mistake of the Hebrew Text, in the history of Moses when he descended from the Mount;3 upon the affinity of Kæren and Karan, that is, an horn, and to shine, which is one quality of horn: The Vulgar Translation conforming unto the former. Ignorabat quod cornuta esset facies ejus. Qui videbant faciem Moses esse cornutam. But the Chaldee paraphrase, translated by Paulus Fagius, hath otherwise expressed it. Moses nesciebat quod multus esset splendor gloriæ vultus ejus. Et viderunt filii Israel quod multa esset claritas gloriæ faciei Moses. The expression of the Septuagint is as large, δεδόξασται ἡ ὄψις τοῦ χρώματος τοῦ προσώπου, Glorificatus est aspectus cutis, seu coloris faciei.

This whole work by the way is an absolute joy to delve into.

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Posted: 17 January 2011 04:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Why not just accept that this particular relic of medieval bigotry didn’t die out, as you had thought it did, but is still alive and well?

I guess that I just have trouble believing that so many people would believe something that contradicts basic, first-hand understanding of how the world works. Unlike something like young earth creationism, which didn’t occur in anyone’s lifetime and which counters the non-intuitive concept of natural selection, the idea that Jews has horns doesn’t square with the millions of images of Jews from around the world that even the most benighted modern American is exposed to.

I’m prepared to believe that people have faith in all sorts of hateful and incorrect ideas, but this one is just stupidity of the highest order.

I guess given the fact that we (or “you,” at least for now) live in a nation of over 300 million, some are going to be that stupid. But I still question if this is truly a widespread belief, as opposed to a meme that is passed on but not really believed, as in some of the jocular contexts implied in the quotes.

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Posted: 17 January 2011 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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"I guess given the fact that we (or “you,” at least for now) live in a nation of over 300 million, some are going to be that stupid.”

Give Sherri Shepherd a snap quiz on the topic

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbizzLzcpnM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psGLXqW1kUs

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Posted: 17 January 2011 07:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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I guess that I just have trouble believing that so many people would believe something that contradicts basic, first-hand understanding of how the world works.

Dave, Dave, Dave…

Edit: For further elucidation of my outcry, see the following succinct comment from this MetaFilter thread on homeopathy (and the very existence of homeopathy is sufficient refutation of your disbelief):  “I doubt that this will change any minds. People seem to have an infinite capacity to ignore empirical evidence and believe what they want to be true.”

[ Edited: 17 January 2011 11:37 AM by languagehat ]
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Posted: 17 January 2011 10:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Have we discovered anything that would “explain or excuse” use of the phrase “a blood libel” by a goyishekopf politician?  Right-winger Jonah Goldberg, who has the ethno-religious credentials to use the phrase without question, called Palin’s use “not ideal”, but left-winger Alan Dershowitz, who has the same credentials, said he found nothing wrong with it.  I take that to mean there is no real consensus. 

From reading the related “horns” sub-discussion, it’s probable that there are pockets of people in poor rural areas and in urban ghettos where people still believe as fact “the blood libel” tale from the middle ages.  Does the current use of the phrase by a politician who is conceivably revered by the some in the rural segment of that population constitute an “excuse”?  By that I mean we might find benefit in a person waking up one morning to find that a politician they respect thinks “a blood libel”, and by extension the original tale that goes with it, is a bad thing.  Perhpas that’s just more wishful thinking.

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Posted: 19 January 2011 01:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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I can’t recall ever hearing the expression ‘blood libel’ before, but the religious prejudice behind its non-secular meaning is no news in the subcontinent. I have no sides to take in US politics but can’t believe that Palin didn’t know about the anti-semitic overtone behind it. Politicians are often ignorant of those parts of the world and events (and words too) that wouldn’t contribute to their vote bank, but even such politicians, when they have a reasonable level of education, are rarely ignorant of racial slurs that are active in their own domain. Bad blood between two cultures (read races, religions, regions, skin colour, political allegiance and whatever) often lead to potentially libelous views about each other that need not have any factual basis. Blood and gore carry sexual connotations too—children’s blood is no exception—and such a field is ripe for harvesting prejudice; Freud and his followers could tell you better.
Vegetarian Hindi-speakers in the Indian cow belt (disrespect intended) call us machhli(fish) khor (eating) Bengalis and insist that, wherever we go, we carry the reek of rotten fish. (I can’t vehemently deny that, for I do eat fish and all kinds of meat—red/white/intermediate, and it is possible that my body odour is objectionable to many. I can’t recall receiving any unprejudiced complaints so far!) There are far more odious prejudices between Hindus and Muslims that shouldn’t be discussed in mixed (sic) company.
The point, Dave, is that prejudices have no rationale. Intelligent and seemingly liberal people often harbour dark prejudices unbeknownst even to their near ones. The person you shared wine with last night and broke bread, and even your trusted friends, could be secret believers of the ‘blood libel’ tale. When such people believe such patent trash, can the man on the street remain behind? Politicians (and fundamentalists) of all ilk take advantage of the dark nooks in human minds. How else would they survive?

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Posted: 19 January 2011 04:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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I notice that the discussion on blood libel is slowly but surely drifting away from racial prejudice to Michaelangelo and mistranslation of the OT. I’ve no way of judging whether this was induced by some kind of private (and, perhaps, common) shame. I shall be very happy if that’s not so, but shall understand if it is. Prejudices are like the Snark; elusive, no matter with what you seek it. Members of the so-called civil society deplore it in public and are often ashamed in private ("for the Snark is a Boojum, you see"). I have spent six decades and not a mean part of a seventh in that kind of a society. In terms of sociology (not a subject for this forum at all), the older a culture (in situ), the older and that much diverse are its prejudices. Alienation can be argued against but not prevented.
I can already read the denials, vehement or not, and am more than willing to let it be.
What came to my mind (after my last entry) is an old SF novel by AE van Vogt (of Null-A fame), Slan, in which the eponymous race is an evolved form of humanity with superior powers. The theme was not new when it was written (at least 50 years back?). There was blood feud, blood libel and lots more. The handling of the ostracization of Slans by common-or-garden humans had impressed me a lot for something similar was happening at a place where I was deputed to work then. Aborigines were moving ahead (in college education and the lucrative jobs elsewhere that went with that) of the caste brahmins in that backward, agrarian society. Unfortunately I can’t find my copy of the paperback edition that I had bought then from a pavement sale in Ernakulam, or a replacement when I had last looked for it. I did quote from Slan an appropriate passage in a magazine article I had written then about the tacit caste-conflict that was taking place in the plantations of Kerala.

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Posted: 19 January 2011 05:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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I notice that the discussion on blood libel is slowly but surely drifting away from racial prejudice to Michaelangelo and mistranslation of the OT. I’ve no way of judging whether this was induced by some kind of private (and, perhaps, common) shame. I shall be very happy if that’s not so, but shall understand if it is.

What?? Conversations drift here as they do everywhere; that is the nature of conversations.  It is really very rude to imply that we must therefore be ashamed of the racial prejudice you are for some reason imputing to us.

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Posted: 19 January 2011 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Don’t be so quick to take offence. Anirhudda is the product of a very different culture than the Judeo-Christian one which produced most of us at wordorigins.org. I am positive that the last thing he thought of was to be rude.
Anirhudda: this is a relatively enlightened forum, and I think the “blood libel” notion is hateful to all of us, but that’s not going to make us stop discussing it, nor is it going to make any of us feel ashamed. We talk quie freely about most things (in the home page, Dave tells you what we mustn’t talk about, theology, politics etc.). and, as lh says, interesting conversations tend to drift. If you’re not careful I shall tell a non sequitur off-colour story just to prove it.

Now take your foot out of the guano

;-)

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