THE LEPERS OF OBJECTIVISM


Barbara Branden

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There are many respects in which the Joan of Arc story is relevant to the modern scene, to Objectivist schisms, to the motivating power of belief systems...

Given your remarks in post #524, Michael, I think that you, and probably others, would find this passage also of interest:

pp. 291-93, Saint Joan of Arc, copyright 1936, 1964 by V. Sackville-West:

[some paragraph breaks added.]

Cauchon and his associates were hardly to be blamed for interpreting Jeanne's attitude towards the Church and its supreme head as subversive and schismatic in the extreme. It was not their fault if they could not attain to the simplified plane of their tired young prisoner, who could still see the wood where they had never been able to see anything but the trees. The foreground of their vision was so bulkily occupied by the Church Militant and by the ordinances essential to its preservation, that the Church Triumphant, as a working factor, was almost entirely blocked from sight. They rendered due homage to it, in its sublime consummation, but in cases such as the present it could scarcely be allowed to play any part in practical politics.

What Jeanne did not, and could not, or would not, realise, was that practical politics entered into such fundamental matters at all. To her, the whole thing was quite logical and simple: one obeyed the Church and observed its rulings in daily life and throughout the Christian year, but in deep matters of the soul the last word lay with God, who knew better than even His Holiness in Rome. Admittedly, she had had the advantage of exceptional direct instruction, and, having enjoyed that advantage, any other instruction must necessarily reach her at second hand.

The Bishop of Beauvais [Cauchon] and his kindred could naturally not be expected to see it from that point of view. For one thing, they perhaps sincerely regarded Jeanne as an instrument of evil, and, even if they did not thus sincerely regard her, they must at least have regarded her as a bad and rebellious daughter of the Church to which she professed to belong. In which case she was striking at the very roots of their delegated authority.

If she was allowed to get away with her contentions, she would be creating a most pernicious precedent. "If the prelates of the Church do not see to it, subversion of the whole authority of the Church may ensue; men and women may arise on every side, pretending to revelations from God or His angels, sowing lies, and errors, as we have experienced many times since this woman arose and began to scandalise Christian people and to promulgate her impostures." [Vol. 1, p. 317, of the trial proceedings]

Of course they were worried. Jeanne's responses, cutting clean through all the safeguards of their orthodoxy, were the responses of a mind they could not deal with, save by the destruction of the body:

Q. Will you submit yourself in all your words and deeds, either good or evil, to the determination of our holy mother, the Church?

A. I love the Church, and would uphold it with all my strength for the Christian faith. It is not I who ought to be prevented from going to church or from hearing Mass!

The question being repeated, she held firm: "I refer myself to God who sent me, to Our Lady, and to all the blessed saints in Paradise. As I see it, God and the Church are one and the same thing, and you ought not to make difficulties over that. Why do you make difficulties about it?"

Q. Would you not consider yourself bound to answer the Pope, Vicar of God, the whole truth on anything you might be asked on matters of faith or touching your conscience?

A. Take me to him, and I will answer anything I ought to answer.

The reservation cannot have pleased them: it meant that Pope or no Pope, she still intended to act according to her private judgment.

In the end, they took to threatening her. She would be burnt, they said, if she persisted in her heresy. She answered - and the clerk wrote the words Superba responsio in the margin of his manuscript - "I will say no more about that. Were I to see the fire, I would still say all that I have said, and would not do otherwise."

It may remain an open question whether they ever seriously considered taking her to Rome or not. Most probably not, even if the English would have allowed them to do so. They had accumulated ample evidence without going to that trouble and expense, and, on the last day of March, they made quite certain that she in no way intended to repudiate her previous undutiful assertions.

Would she obey the dictates of the Church on earth, they asked her for the last time? Her answers, as before, were unequivocal and clear: she will obey the Church, provided it does not command the impossible. She will never, for anything on earth, revoke the declarations she had made during the course of her trial about her visions and revelations. She will never, for anything on earth, obey the Church in the event of its commanding her to do anything contrary to the commandments which she says God has given her. She will refer always to God, were the Church to describe her revelations as illusory, diabolic, superstitious, or evil. She will submit herself to the Church Militant - that is to say to the Pope, the cardinals, archbishops, bishops and other clergy, but God must come first.

Having received these answers, they retired to consider what now remained to be done about the trial as touching matters of faith.

Ellen

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Addendum to my post #525. The quote I gave there from pp. 275-77, Saint Joan of Arc (copyright 1936, 1964 by V. Sackville-West) ends with:

It must never be forgotten, either - a vital point which I [V. S-W] have left to the end - that the trial of Jeanne as a sorceress really involved an attack on the King who had employed her. [And keep in mind that Cauchon was French, so the politics add still another level of complexity.]

The sentence I added in brackets is murkily stated, and the significance of the trial of Jeanne involving an attack on "the King who had employed her" is probably unknown to most here. In brief, Cauchon, though French, was among the French who were in favor of the English contender to the throne of France. His good fortunes were entwined with the English side in the war. Jeanne had been supported by the other side, that of Charles VII, the French contender to the throne of France. Cauchon would have been aware that his political interests would be served by finding Jeanne guilty of being a heretic and a witch, since if she was guilty as charged, this would reflect badly on her patron, Charles VII. Thus, considering that to have exonerated her would have been against his own political interests, it's even more to his credit that apparently he did want to know the truth of the matter for himself, and genuinely desired (as he saw the issue of her recanting) to save Jeanne d'Arc's soul.

Ellen

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Ellen,

Thank you for all the highly interesting information. I stand corrected on making an oversimplification about Cauchon. He had inner conflicts as you highlighted. However, another highlight from the same material should not be left out:

Where the Bishop of Beauvais and his fellows erred was in the unfairness in their conduct of the trial, not in their conviction that heresy and sorcery must be stamped out, or that Jeanne, as a guilty wretch, if they could not turn her from her wickedness, must be destroyed.

In making parallels between a modern event and an ancient one, there will always be differences and far be it from me to stifle such enthusiastic defense of Cauchon's reputation as you display. He sounds like a fascinating psychological study.

Nevertheless, I would not want to be him and one part of my original comment stands stronger than ever. Joan of Arc, the person who did not bow to the mob and renounce her moral self, has the eternal gratitude of mankind and such fame that most all laymen know her name as a synonym of integrity and courage (even becoming a canonized saint), and Cauchon, her Inquisitor and one of the heads of the "moral" institutional mob, does not. What reputation he does have with the general public (regardless of merit) is more as a toady and backstage power broker than a soul-saver.

Those who wish to be the avenging Angels of Objectivist purity, even those interested in saving the souls of the damned, should reflect on this.

Michael

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Michael, I'd hardly describe myself as having displayed an "enthusiastic defense of Cauchon's reputation." I was merely pointing out to you that he was far more complicated (as you now recognize) than you gave him credit for being. As to your "not want[ing] to be him," neither would I want to be him, or any others of the persons involved -- emphatically including Joan of Arc. That poor girl was dead almost before she had a chance to live.

Btw, re this quote you picked up from the Sackville-West material:

Where the Bishop of Beauvais and his fellows erred was in the unfairness in their conduct of the trial, not in their conviction that heresy and sorcery must be stamped out, or that Jeanne, as a guilty wretch, if they could not turn her from her wickedness, must be destroyed.

Just as stated (sans context), I'd assess the expressed conviction as an error. I think that what Sackville-West is saying is understandable in the context - she means, according to their views about the nature of "heresy and sorcery." One of the many features of the Joan of Arc drama which I find interesting is its highlighting why the Church considered the people classified by the Church as "mystics" to be dangerous: people couldn't be allowed going around interpreting God according to their own conscience, you see; this might threaten the Church's authority (that's how they saw things).

My original point in even mentioning Joan of Arc of course was in the context of drawing attention to Rand's enormously overstated claims in Galt's Speech about "the soul of the mystic." I brought up Joan of Arc as a sidelight because of the contradiction between Rand's praising Joan of Arc's enormous courage, while having described "a mystic" as someone "who surrendered [her] mind at its first encounter with the minds of others [and] gave in to so craven a fear of independence that [she] renounced [her] rational faculty."

Ellen

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Ellen reels it in:

My original point in even mentioning Joan of Arc of course was in the context of drawing attention to Rand's enormously overstated claims in Galt's Speech about "the soul of the mystic."

I often wonder if AR even had a rough lock on what a "soul" consists of. That's a controversial, complex issue of its own; I'm suprised she even used the term "soul."

There are no generalized claims one can make about the "soul of the mystic." Give the (your) definition of "soul," and "mystic," ones that aren't broad beyond recognition. That's a load of work right there. After that, maybe conversation could be had.

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Ellen reels it in:
My original point in even mentioning Joan of Arc of course was in the context of drawing attention to Rand's enormously overstated claims in Galt's Speech about "the soul of the mystic."

I often wonder if AR even had a rough lock on what a "soul" consists of. That's a controversial, complex issue of its own; I'm suprised she even used the term "soul."

Oops, sorry; I meant the quote marks as scare quotes not as direct quotes. She doesn't caption the section -- or any of the sections of the speech. The section has been referred to as "the part about the soul of the mystic" in talking about it. I think I've seen that usage referring to it in writing as well, but I don't off-hand know a specific cite. I also think she used the term "soul" -- in casual reference -- various places, but again I don't off-hand remember where. Someplace in the speech I'm just about sure she says that what you call your "soul" is your mind and values. Darn. Haven't time to look for it right now. Any AR CD-ROM possessors reading this?

Ellen

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Thanks Ellen. Now that you mention it...worth finding out but I think you were right with the scare quotes.

The term certainly gets used by others as you say. Generally from what I've seen, in a pretty sarcastic way.

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I don't consider most of the "Americans" in "Atlas" to be Americans as much as Russians.

Brant,

That is one of the most interesting observations I have seen made about Atlas Shrugged in a long, long time.

Thank you for the food for thought.

Michael

Food for thought, only. Doesn't apply to the heroes; mostly the very background characters/culture. To really support this idea would require at least two years of research and writing which might result in a different opinion.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
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Brant,

LOL...

Don't worry. You didn't start anything. But here are some off-topic thoughts for an aside.

Rand not only has a very (superficial) Russian flavor to her characters, she has a host of Hugoesque French-type characters as well.

I disagree about her heroes not having Russian qualities, though. One very strong such quality is making speeches in day-to-day living. Also, the flavor I get from the parties and the behavior of her heroes at them is very Russian (definitely not Hollywood, which is where else she would have had contact with large parties). There are some other things like that, but they are surface qualities.

Interestingly, two of her minor characters from other works come to mind who are specifically American in that sense. One is Roark's construction worker friend, Mike, from The Fountainhead. The other is Kay Gonda's press secretary from Ideal, Mick Watts. I can't imagine these characters being anything but American.

Moving on down South, after personally knowing I don't know how many Argentineans, I can say that Francisco D'Anconia is definitely not Argentinean. He reminds me more of Zorro (seriously).

Michael

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Mike; I agree about Francisco being more like Zorro than an Argentine. I would add Gwen Ives and the Doctor from Reardan's mills as seeming to be American in the way they are potrayed.

Edited by Chris Grieb
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Rand was a professed admirer of the Fairbanks Zorro, and Francisco's double identity seems to come from him or from the Scarlet Pimpernel (which she also enjoyed), so this is a likely surmise.

The suggestion that Rand's characters are Russians is an interesting one. Could somebody expand on this? It could be a dissertation's worth of material.

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Re today's post by Peter Reidy:

“In a sense, I created Francisco in the tradition of the Scarlet Pimpernel – or Zorro… Francisco is the philosophical expression – the concretization in a human character – of what I heard in the operetta music I fell in love with in my childhood.” --Ayn Rand

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Don Deigo is the fop. Zorro's real identity. Don Deigo appears to be a bit efemenate. Francisco has a great sense of fun which he share with Zorro.

Edited by Chris Grieb
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  • 1 month later...

~ Wow! Took me 'days' to read this whole thing through. And the varied topics, all quite relational, yet, on their own, obviously different in their unique concerns. --- Some quick thoughts on only 2...

1) The 'Just War' theory's varied (ARI 'official a-n-d the critiquers) interpretations of 'proper' applications...and/or (if any)...restrictions: --- If one trusts one's military (including the politician-CiC), arguing about 'collateral'-vs-'targeted' civilians/'innocents' is armchair General-izing; if one doesn't, arguing is singing while the Titanic sinks.

LLAP

J:D

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1st Addendum (more later on other mentioned subjects)...

2) Innocents-in-war on 'our' side vs 'their' side(s): What I find most distressing throughout this whole thread is there being absolutely NO use of the term citizens, as in 'ours' vs 'theirs.' Mesuspects that such terminology will bring another set of worms into the can: that of legal-vs-ILlegal immigrants (the former being given very short-shrift, especially those who've tried to become citizens.) Too bad. But, 'innocents'-wise, I'd say that US (or, whatever country/govt one finds worthwhile) citizen-innocents take mucho priority over non-US citizen-innocents...especially if the latter show a decades-long, generational choice to stay in a lethally-threatening-to-others country. Priorities, priorities; context, context; choices, choices.

LLAP

J:D

Edited by John Dailey
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  • 2 months later...
It required more than 3,000 police, the merciless beating of the students, and the killing of several, before the riots and the bloodshed ended.

Are these students and other Iranians like them the people we should be nuking? We shoud be helping them in every way possible, helping them to break free of their tormentors, as we helped so many other courageous rebels in Eastern Europe when they were strugging to to break free of their Communist tormentors.

Barbara

Barbara,

If you can come up with a nifty technique for separating the wheat from the chaff and the sheep from the goats would you let us know what it is?

In the mean time killing lots of folks, many of them mothers and babies is one of the unavoidable infelicities of modern warfare. The Allies killed over 700,000 civilians in air attacks during WW2. But just keep in mind who started the war. In addition, if our enemies ever got wind of our soft feeling they would line their rooftops with their own children. What would you do then?

We are living in hard times, and hard times call for hard actions. If you think it is o.k. to kill the bad guys, just keep in mind that they deliberately live among the not-so-bad guys. So how do you propose to kill the bad guys without killing some of the not-so-bad guys. If you can think of a nifty way, pray do let us know. In the real world we cannot fight Platonic wars. We can only fight by the means and tactics available to us. When Muslim fanatics do another number on New York City (and they will. because that is where the Jews are) I would really like to hear your response to that. Really and truly.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Eem yavoh l'hargechah hashkeem l'hargoh -- If he comes to murder you, rise up early and slay him first.

Babylonian Talmud, San Hedrin 72A. This is the survival manual of a people who have been on everyone's hit list for over 2000 years. We are still here.

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It required more than 3,000 police, the merciless beating of the students, and the killing of several, before the riots and the bloodshed ended.

Are these students and other Iranians like them the people we should be nuking? We shoud be helping them in every way possible, helping them to break free of their tormentors, as we helped so many other courageous rebels in Eastern Europe when they were strugging to to break free of their Communist tormentors.

Barbara

Barbara,

If you can come up with a nifty technique for separating the wheat from the chaff and the sheep from the goats would you let us know what it is?

In the mean time killing lots of folks, many of them mothers and babies is one of the unavoidable infelicities of modern warfare. The Allies killed over 700,000 civilians in air attacks during WW2. But just keep in mind who started the war. In addition, if our enemies ever got wind of our soft feeling they would line their rooftops with their own children. What would you do then?

We are living in hard times, and hard times call for hard actions. If you think it is o.k. to kill the bad guys, just keep in mind that they deliberately live among the not-so-bad guys. So how do you propose to kill the bad guys without killing some of the not-so-bad guys. If you can think of a nifty way, pray do let us know. In the real world we cannot fight Platonic wars. We can only fight by the means and tactics available to us. When Muslim fanatics do another number on New York City (and they will. because that is where the Jews are) I would really like to hear your response to that. Really and truly.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Eem yavoh l'hargechah hashkeem l'hargoh -- If he comes to murder you, rise up early and slay him first.

Babylonian Talmud, San Hedrin 72A. This is the survival manual of a people who have been on everyone's hit list for over 2000 years. We are still here.

There are effective ways to take care of Iran without doing a WWII on Iranians.

--Brant

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There are effective ways to take care of Iran without doing a WWII on Iranians.

--Brant

Really? Do tell us what these ways are. Be very specific, if you please. No generalities, now. Just very specific ways of pulling the fangs out of the Iranian Mullahs.

The Israelis may have had the right idea when they paid a visit to the French build reactor in Iraq back in 1981. These magnificent pilots of the IDF Air Force gave an entirely new meaning to the term: "surgical strike".

Let us know how to make the Iranian Mullahs and politicians stop building A-bombs to kill the Jews and passing their nukes on to the Wahabites, without slaughtering the lot of them.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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There are effective ways to take care of Iran without doing a WWII on Iranians.

--Brant

Really? Do tell us what these ways are. Be very specific, if you please. No generalities, now. Just very specific ways of pulling the fangs out of the Iranian Mullahs.

The Israelis may have had the right idea when they paid a visit to the French build reactor in Iraq back in 1981. These magnificent pilots of the IDF Air Force gave an entirely new meaning to the term: "surgical strike".

Let us know how to make the Iranian Mullahs and politicians stop building A-bombs to kill the Jews and passing their nukes on to the Wahabites, without slaughtering the lot of them.

Ba'al Chatzaf

I decline. I was into this stuff after 9-11 with many Internet postings and discussions. I don't care to revisit it again on this forum. If you are really interested in this material go to Jack Wheelers To The Point Internet site, subscribe for one month and read the scores of articles regarding same.

You're new here so I'll be polite, but please cut out the condenscension. If there's one thing I know it's how to fight a war, from the bottom up or the top down and lots of in between.

--Brant

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You're new here so I'll be polite, but please cut out the condenscension. If there's one thing I know it's how to fight a war, from the bottom up or the top down and lots of in between.

--Brant

Asking for politely for particulars in response to a rather general unspecific assertion is hardly condescension. What it is, is a request for more data. Apparently you are disinclined to elaborate on your assertion. 'Tis a shame. So be it.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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You're new here so I'll be polite, but please cut out the condenscension. If there's one thing I know it's how to fight a war, from the bottom up or the top down and lots of in between.

--Brant

Asking for politely for particulars in response to a rather general unspecific assertion is hardly condescension. What it is, is a request for more data. Apparently you are disinclined to elaborate on your assertion. 'Tis a shame. So be it.

Ba'al Chatzaf

The first sentence in your original reply just reeks with condescension. However, your inquiry per se was legitimate. I in fact implicitly invited it. In regards Iran, the country is filled with large, disparate groups antagonistic toward the rulers. The US can support these groups in various non-military ways to the extent that the central government collapses. Then if necessary the US could act militarily to deal with the nuclear situation surgically without getting bogged down in another Iraqi situation. It would be messier than what Israel did in 1981, but not anything like the total war of WWII.

This is all I have time for. To get much more specific I'd have to do a weeks' worth of research and writing to no good effect for this forum, audience or US policy. That is why I gave the Wheeler reference. He actually does have some influence and he actually goes out into the field.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
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Barbara,

We are living in hard times, and hard times call for hard actions. If you think it is o.k. to kill the bad guys, just keep in mind that they deliberately live among the not-so-bad guys. So how do you propose to kill the bad guys without killing some of the not-so-bad guys. If you can think of a nifty way, pray do let us know. In the real world we cannot fight Platonic wars. We can only fight by the means and tactics available to us. When Muslim fanatics do another number on New York City (and they will. because that is where the Jews are) I would really like to hear your response to that. Really and truly.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Eem yavoh l'hargechah hashkeem l'hargoh -- If he comes to murder you, rise up early and slay him first.

Ba'al, you are objecting to something I didn't say and don't think, as I have repeatedly explained. In my second post on this thread, I wrote: "I know that collateral damage is inevitable in wartime, whether the war is fought with spears or atom bombs. And I believe that when it occurs, it is not the moral responsibility of those who are defending themselves against aggression; it is the moral responsibility of the aggressors."

I am well aware thar the "bad guys" often deliberately live among the "not-so-bad guys" and that often there is no way to separate them. As I wriote earlier, if, as happened recently in Lebanon, terrorists hide among civilian populations, then we may have no alternative but to bomb those populations.

And as Roger Bissell remarked in this thread: "It's one thing to incur civilian deaths as collateral damage in wartime, but it's quite another to deliberately aim at them because they are teaching or learning the ideas that some carry out in violent, rights-violating action. There is no such thing as a thought crime--and thus no such thing as deserving punishment for holding the wrong ideas. I thought Objectivists all understood this."

And I wrote: "Apparently Objectivist Living members are agreed that in wartime -- particularly in modern war, which is fought with weapons more destructive than have ever been known before – civilian casualties are inevitable. We are agreed that there are two major goals to be achieved by war: victory – which means the destruction of the enemy’s capacity to continue its aggression – and the expenditure of the fewest possible American lives in the process of achieving that victory. We are agreed that there is no value, per se, in killing civilians; such actions are justified only as a necessary means to achieving victory as swiftly and decisively as possible. And we are agreed that civilians in the enemy country should never be protected at the cost of American lives.

"Where do we disagree with ARI/Solo?...They maintain that war can and should be waged against the civilian population of an enemy country, because that population is complicit in the aggression of its government, and that it is of no relevance that a great many of the citizens disagree with their government, attempt to rebel against it, and suffer and die at its hands. They maintain that war should be waged, not only in the form of argument and propaganda, but with guns and bombs, against the enemy’s ideas – that we must destroy not only the enemy’s military-industrial complex and other targets, such as terrorist camps, deemed necessary to achieve victory swiftly and with the least possible loss of American lives, but we must also destroy the enemy country’s intellectual, educational, and religious centers, its mosques and universities and schools and all those who attend them. "

And by the way, I fully agree that "If he comes to murder you, rise up early and slay him first."

I meant to respond earliler to the following post by Dan Edge:

"There was a question contained in my last post that I would like to see addressed by MSK, Pross, Engle, Branden, and those who share their views:

"*If* targeting civilians were the best way to end a war quickly and cheaply, and *if* doing so were the best way to preserve the long term freedom of our country's citizens, *then* would you support it?

"Yes or no?

"This is a question to stand up and be counted for. I'm guessing that MSK, Pross, Engle, and Branden would all answer "no" to this question. Or more likely not give a straight answer at all. As would most Libertarians and most of the TOC crowd. The ARI speakers are the only ones with the moral courage to take the proper stance on this issue."

Yes.

Barbara

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  • 3 months later...
Eem yavoh l'hargechah hashkeem l'hargoh -- If he comes to murder you, rise up early and slay him first.

Babylonian Talmud, San Hedrin 72A. This is the survival manual of a people who have been on everyone's hit list for over 2000 years. We are still here.

The trouble is you can't know for sure he is coming to murder you until he does. If you are wrong you could start a war.

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