"to The Ovens"

by Martin Peretz | January 1, 2009

On Christmas Eve, my long-time colleague John Judis urged us all to read Karl Marx to understand the financial crisis of 2008. Das Kapital, no less, but leaving volumes 2 and 3 on the shelf. Only volume 1, thank God, almost 880 pages before the bibliography which starts roughly with Aristotle and ends with Xenophon. My favorite and perhaps most illuminating passage in volume 1 is this:

One half, or 60/125 of the industrial labour categories investigated, had absolutely no beer, 28% no milk. The weekly average of the liquid means of nourishment in the families varied from seven ounces in the needle-women to 24 3/4 ounces in the stocking makers. The majority of those who did not obtain milk were needle-women in London. The quantity of bread-stuffs consumed weekly varied from 7 3/4 lbs. for the needle-women to 11-1/2  lbs for the shoemakers, and gave a total average of 9.9. lbs. per adult weekly...

Frankly, I find the chapter in volume 3 of Capital, "On the Realm of Necessity and the Realm of Freedom," much more provocative than all of volume 1. No matter. The collapse of Lehman Brothers will not revive Karl Marx. Nor will it revive Monopoly Capital by Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy, names I'd never expected to read again though Judis honors them as the font of his education in economics. Perhaps they can be his excuse for why he doesn't understand the contemporary world. Fair enough. I was a student of Herbert Marcuse and I allowed him to twist my mind for quite awhile.

But they can't be Judis' pretext for why he fails utterly to grasp the reality of the Islamic jihad which, textually obliged in the Koran, is now again exploding throughout the world. On December 30, Judis wrote essentially to assert, approving of an article I had inferentially criticized, that there was no jihad and no jihadists in America. Oh, my. Doesn't he read the newspapers? Ever since September 11, there has been a substantial record built in our courts of pockets of Muslim immigrants around the country conspiring to commit terrorist acts. 

As late as last week, on December 22, according to an article by John von Zielbauer in the New York Times, for example, a jury in the federal district court in Camden, New Jersey found five Muslim immigrants (three of them brothers, all illegals) guilty of jihad, that is, conspiring to attack the U.S. army base in Fort Dix, New Jersey. In this, perhaps, they were trying to fulfill the ambition of Bill Ayers and his comrades (frustrated by a deadly explosion in a Greenwich Village mansion) also to bomb a Fort Dix dance and kill new recruits and their girlfriends. 

As it happens, jihadism has less deadly manifestations than murder. As the Ku Klux Klan had less deadly manifestations than lynching. This morning I watched a frightening episode in the public life of America. It was a demonstration by, say, 200 Muslim immigrants in Fort Lauderdale against the Israeli air strikes over Gaza. Now, the first amendment protects such demos, and I would not for a moment want to curb them. But I ask each of you to pay attention to the details of what was being shouted. Especially by the young women screaming, "Jews to the ovens." No jihad in America, huh? Do we want such immigrants in our country? Well, John, do we?

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-spine/quotto-the-ovensquot