Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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I would add -

There's a difference between, say, a radical deconstructionist and a postmodernist historisist. (sp?)

I'm a historisist and I believe that context is important (even essential) to understand the meaning of something.

A radical deconstructionist can get very, very, meta- in ways I don't understand. They can get to where all the debate is about images of images, and they forget about the actual original content or facts of the issue.

Fern Sidman



Columbia University students including the College Conservatives and campus Democrats plan to protest a speech Wednesday by a professor who has written that Jewish organizations exploit the Holocaust to deflect criticism of Israel and to extort European banks and governments for compensation.

Norman Finkelstein, an assistant professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago, wrote in his 2000 book "The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering" that some Jews have used the Holocaust as an "extortion racket" to get compensation payments, and he has referred to Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel as the "resident clown" of the "Holocaust circus."

His most recent book, "Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History," is largely an attack on lawyer Alan Dershowitz's "The Case for Israel." In it he argues that Israel uses the outcry over perceived anti-Semitism as a bully weapon to stifle criticism.

In an editorial in Columbia University's student newspaper, The Columbia Spectator, Columbia sophomores, Chris Kulawik and Josh Lipsky write the following: "Those who assume that Finkelstein is just another "controversial" speaker, one of many in Columbia's recent past, fail to grasp the absurdity that is Finkelstein. Taking a job at DePaul University after being fired by New York University for his ludicrous and factually inaccurate book, The Holocaust Industry, this "scholar" makes his living off of absurd statements that garner comfortable speaking engagements. At a recent speech delivered at Yale University, Finkelstein equated the Jewish concern over Holocaust denial with a "level of mental hysteria." Clearly, we must first question his very "professorship." Anyone who so blatantly disregards facts and vehemently supports the murder of innocent children is worthy neither of academia nor of the title of professor.

Well, what precisely is Mr. Finkelstein's crime? It is not that he is a Holocaust revisionist. It is not that he denies the right of the Jewish state to exist. It is not that he cheapened the lives of the millions of innocents lost to the concentration camps by equating their systematic murder to any other large disaster. No, his crime both includes and transcends these radical, depraved stances. Only months after Sept. 11, 2001, Finkelstein asserted his support of terrorism. In that 2001 interview, Finkelstein exclaimed, "Frankly, part of me says—even though everything since Sept. 11 has been a nightmare—'You know what, we deserve the problem on our hands because some things [Osama] bin Laden says are true.'"

It is this sentiment that forces students to take a stand against Finkelstein's unique blend of pure idiocy and potent evil. Columbia attempts to teach its students to respect all opinions, listen to all viewpoints, and embrace the free exchange of ideas. We will listen, but we will not let a petty ploy to incite tension and turmoil go unnoticed."

In defense of Professor Finkelstein, the Columbia Spectator also published the views of Arab students. Maryum Saifee and Athar Abdul-Quader who write, "Finkelstein's critics, most notably Alan Dershowitz, charge Finkelstein with anti-Semitism precisely because of his criticism of Zionism, i.e. criticism of the Israeli occupation and Israeli state-sponsored human rights abuses committed against Palestinians. This isn't the first time that a reputable scholar has been typecast as anti-Semitic for critical views against Israeli policies (see David Horowitz's The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America). Undoubtedly, anti-Semitism is an ugly, appalling form of bigotry that deserves universal condemnation. However, Zionism is a political ideology and must never be confused with the Jewish religion, culture, or population. Contrary to the anti-American label commonly placed on Finkelstein, his critique of political Zionism is precisely the type of controversial political discourse that is characteristically American and is analogous to the College Democrats' stimulating debate on the Bush administration.

Finkelstein is often met with accusations of Holocaust revisionism, generally associated with Holocaust denial. Finkelstein's book The Holocaust Industry is actually a critique of Holocaust revisionist arguments that privilege the Holocaust as exceptional in the historiography of genocide. Far from the Anti-Defamation League's claims that Finkelstein is a Holocaust denier, his proof is an unambiguous affirmation that the Holocaust did occur -- his parents are living proof of its horrors! -- noting that the tragedy of the Holocaust has since been ruthlessly exploited and commercialized into what Finkelstein outlines as an industry to promote Zionist interests."

In Norman Finkelstein's own words, he states, "The problem is when you get to the United States. In the United States among those people who call themselves supporters of Israel, we enter the area of unreason. We enter a twilight zone. American Jewish organizations, they’re not only not up to speed yet with Steven Spielberg, they're still in the Leon Uris exodus version of history: the “this land is mine, God gave this land to me," and anybody who dissents from this, you can call it, lunatic version of history is then immediately branded an anti-Semite, and whenever Israel comes under international pressure to settle the conflict diplomatically, or when it is subjected to a public relations debacle, such as it was with the Second Intifada, a campaign is launched claiming there is a new anti-Semitism afoot in the world."

There is no question that Professor Norman G. Finkelstein is a self hating, viciously anti-Semitic Jew. One of his biggest supporters is David Irving, the Holocaust denier who was recently sentenced to three years in prison by an Austrian court for statements he made denying the veracity of the Holocaust. Despite the fact that Finkelstein in the son of Holocaust survivors, his vituperative and twisted and patently distorted logic is being embraced the world over by legions of devoted Jew haters.

We are told that a person can be honest, decent, moral and ethical without belief in G-d. We know that at the beginning of the 20th century, the false gods of education and culture began to replace the One true G-d of Israel. Jews began to believe that a moral and ethical person was one who was highly educated, one who attended the best of most prestigious universities and institutions of higher learning. We believed that an educated and cultured person was a moral person, who would never even entertain the notion of murder, of dishonesty and engaging in unethical practices.

At the beginning of World War II, that fallacy fell apart at the seams. For it was highly educated and extremely cultured German scientists who invented the gas chambers, who invented techniques to transform Jewish fat into soap and who discovered ways of making Jewish skin into lampshades. It was highly educated and cultured lawyers who devised and created laws that developed a society predicated on racism, fascism and xenophobia.

Let us never be fooled. "Reishis Chochma Yiras AdoShem". The beginning of wisdom is the fear and knowledge of G-d. Without that we have nothing. Without that, even highly educated and cultured people can and do engage in immorality, unethical conduct and become purveyors of lies, hatred, distortions, bigotry and Jew hatred. Professor Finkelstein is the personification of such evil.


"I'm predicting that the "reality-based community" will arrive at something very much like natural law by the process of open-minded observation and reason"

I don't know. Most things are way beyond our ability to understand. I think there is some truth in something that might be called postmodernism.

Kobayashi Maru

"the faith-based are doing exactly what deconstructionists describe and, in a strange way, authorize: creating their own 'reality' out of thoughts and language"

By *definition* it would be impossible for me to convince you with this argument - because it is based on faith (albeit faith cemented by countless intuitive personal observations)... but I'll make it anyway:

What if the reality that we 'faith-based' are buying into is not of our *own* construction but of a higher, eternal order?

I.e., if all things outside of observable, material space are held to a derogatory and dismissable version of what 'faith based' means, then one is trapped in a wholly objectivist reality in which we are all just meat-puppets doomed to rot. Which seems a lot closer to nihilism than faith. :)

The thought processes are similar, yes, but to say that all faiths are alike because they find something outside of these three dimensions is to deny even the *possibility* that at least one of them is... right... and that some of them may be... wrong.



I don't mean to dismiss the reality of a dimension beyond and above the material, AT ALL. On the contrary.

Rather, what I mean is that it is a mystery and that human religions are what might be called "best approximations." Sort of like the blind man and the elephant. The major religions all know more than just the ear or the tail; they know there's something VERY LARGE there. But since it is beyond human encompassing, they use different images, stories, and metaphors for it.

I'm aware that Christians believe theirs is the one true revelation. So do Muslims, alas. In my extremely insignificant opinion, the religions are either going to get over that -- and allow that they are different approaches to the same God, though arguably some are more advanced than others -- or we're probably going to kill ourselves off over it.


(cont'd) Not all objective evidence is physical and material. Jesus said it best -- "By their fruits ye shall know them."

Tom Strong

the faith-based are doing exactly what deconstructionists describe and, in a strange way, authorize: creating their own 'reality' out of thoughts and language

This reminds me of a somewhat famous quote:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."


So here we are, all dreaming dreams within the Dream.


Guess that's what's meant by being created in God's image . . .


Real: there are limits to postmodernism. Our freedom to "create our own reality" operates within stringent limits. Another bit from my book proposal:

[M]orality, in its essentials, is objective. It’s not a matter of “should,” it’s a matter of “is.” Experience has proven, over and over again, the truth of consequences: “If you do x, you get y.” And these reproducible experimental results, which have great predictive power, are summed up in the set of axioms called “wisdom.” For example, just as one of the basic laws of Newtonian physics is “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” one of the basic laws of moral physics is “What goes around comes around.” In the East, that’s known as the Law of Karma; in the West it has been expressed, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for as ye sow, so shall ye reap.” Be not deceived: the universe is not a blank slate for your will to write on. You’re perfectly free to try to bend its laws, but it’s you who will break. You could try living “free from universal truths” like the law of gravity, too: good luck. Only in dreams and in fantasies like “The Matrix” can we fly unaided.


"the religions are either going to get over that -- and allow that they are different approaches to the same God ... -- or we're probably going to kill ourselves off over it."


Religion is just one way for people to differentiate themselves and feel special. Marx thought getting rid of religion would remove a major cause of war and oppression. But of course Marxism itself out-did religion as a source of war and oppression.

If we all agreed on one generic religion, there would be some other difference to fight over.

I see an essential paradox in liberalism. Liberals are concerned with tolerating different races, ethnic groups, genders, religious preferences, etc. But they see their own tolerance as something that differentiates them from people who are less tolerant -- and the less tolerant are usually those who are less educated and more religious. So liberals are proud of their blue-state mentality, which they feel makes them morally superior.
Now why is it wrong to feel superior to others because of race, gender, ethnicity, etc. but not wrong to feel superior because you are more educated and more tolerant regarding race, gender, ethnicity, etc.?

In other words, people are going to find something to feel superior about. If they give up the old stand-bys of race, ethnicity and gender, they still have education and economic status.

Americans are relatively free of traditional roles and classes, and this is why we have been highly competitive, from the beginning. In traditional class systems, people are resigned to their position. When liberated, we are inspired to compete and prosper, to fulfill our potential.

This leads us to the essential paradox of American society -- liberal tolerance and freedom lead to increased competitiveness, which leads to increased self-differentiation and status-seeking.

We will eternally find new ways to look down on others. Racism was merely one way to accomplish this. So liberals, I believe, are thinking inside a very misleading box.

Now, it could be said that I feel superior to liberals because I don't feel superior to the intolerant religious red-staters, because I consider myself to be outside the box. But that's ok, because I don't claim to be above the natural need to feel superior. Also, since I have the awareness I at least have some control over it. And, like I said, it's a paradox, so there is no solution.


"the universe is not a blank slate for your will to write on. You’re perfectly free to try to bend its laws, but it’s you who will break."


Yes of course I agree. I wouldn't really define postmodernism as saying the universe is a blank slate. My understanding of postmodernism -- and I can't say I (or maybe anyone) understand it well -- is that everything is relative, all "things" are actually relationships. In other words, it reflects some of the ideas of 20th c. physics.
This in no way suggests that an individual can control the common reality with his/her beliefs. We all share in the consensus. And I think our group beliefs are powerful and in some way participate in creation.


Real --

re liberals and tolerance -- well, yes, in that the tolerant are going to have to go to war and kill the intolerant so they don't kill us! There's no escape.


On postmodernism -- the only answer is that the "reality-based" have to have a certain edge of humility and tentativeness even to their "facts." The best we can do at any given time is "a preponderance of the evidence." Look at how scientific "facts" keep changing. The word atom means "a-tomos" -- can't be cut. This is it, the final unit of reality. Ha ha.

Kobayashi Maru

Great thread! I haven't had this much fun since I dated and debated a deconstructionist 25 years ago... until she deconstructed me, that is... long before I began following the dude with the beard who got nailed to a cross. :)

The blind men (and women?) and the elephant parable is one of my all-time favorites. What the moral equivalence meme leaves out however - in saying that all religions are approximations and who are we to think critically about one versus another - is that one of the "eleven blind men" (or two, or six, or ten) may be touching the snake that's wrapped itself around the elephant's leg.

Recognizing full well that this is self-referential, my measure of the accuracy of approximating the elephant is the one in the Christian gospels (e.g., John 15 and other places): by the fruits they bear. There's plenty to argue and flesh out in that small statement, but at a high level, what other measure is there? And is not *failing* make such assessments not a judgment in itself? I.e., that the most depraved and degrading just-invented-ysterday cults are equivalent to a love that surpasses all understanding (and class and sex and color, etc.)?

Just asking. :)


"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

This reminds me of Eco's _The Name of the Rose_.

And when does language fail us? What does it mean that langugage has a finite ability to capture the greatness of all things holy.

If we name God, do we lose him in the moment of our naming?

It seems to me, that is the very moment that he slips out of our grasp. The moment we assume, in our hubris, to understand all of the mysteries of the divine is our downfall.

By limiting God to words - what does that tell us about Babel? Language is such an insufficient way to communicate meaning. (Of course, we haven't much choice.)

Tom Strong


What the moral equivalence meme leaves out however - in saying that all religions are approximations and who are we to think critically about one versus another - is that one of the "eleven blind men" (or two, or six, or ten) may be touching the snake that's wrapped itself around the elephant's leg.

Sure. But there's a whole great range of intellectual possibilities between offering a false equivalence between all philosophies, and offering that only one is the True Way, and everyone has to accept it wholesale. To suggest that these are our only choices is a false dichotomy.

And when you come down to it, that's the problem I have with subscribing fully to any philosophy or religion: they all (but some certainly more than others) rely on the fallacious argument that "if you agree with this, you must therefore agree with the rest of our arguments" - even when the logic between said arguments is not at all linear.

Well, no - the fact is, you don't. The body parts of the elephant, and the snake creeping up the elephants leg, and the ladybug on its ear - they don't represent the different religions nearly as well as they represent memes. Religions and philosophies are themselves separate elephants for the most part, and are quite often less than the sum of their parts.

Which is to say, sometimes the blind men are right. The leg really is a log, the ear really is a fan, and there is no elephant, but there is a living room with a log and a fan and a half dozen blind men entertaining each other.

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