Responses by Others to the Birdman's

Mensa Bulletin Essay - March

 

1. Editorial in March 2000 Mensa Bulletin -

"Editorially Speaking" By Julie Olson

....While every issue of the Bulletin includes some things that just must be published, we had a couple of unexpected "must-run"s pop up for this issue. First was the death of Victor Serebriakoff, the man credited with founding American Mensa. Victor is remembered both in the Mensa News section on page 13 and in the International Journal, beginning on page 46.

Second was the significant amount of input from members regarding a member opinion that ran in the January/February '2% Solution" column. While the opinion was extreme, it inspired a fascinating and meaningful range of responses, both philosophical and practical. We have chosen a few representative responses to be included in a special subsection of the Letters section....

 

2. Letters in the March 2000 Mensa Bulletin -

Preface to letters:

Mensa is a group that is very diverse. Our members don't all think alike, but we think a lot. This has been highlighted by the collection of responses received to a letter in the last issue's 2% Solution column.

Thank you, Mensans, for responding. It's good to know that people who think will also stand up for what they believe. --Marie Mayer, AML Communications Officer

Letters:

Was this necessary?

Was it really necessary to publish John Bryant's violently anti-Semitic 
letter? Surely there are loads of lunatic-fringe publications that would 
have loved to print Bryant's poisonous bilge, obviating any need for Mensa 
to provide a forum for the dissemination of this hate-mongering neo-Nazi 
nonsense. In all my years as a member of Mensa, I cannot recall the Mensa 
Bulletin ever publishing a similar attack on any other religious or ethnic 
group. You showed extremely poor judgment. 

Jeffrey A. Shapiro

Blatant hate mail

In The 2% Solution for January/February, Don Million asked what was the 
most controversial issue of the past century and how such issues can be 
resolved. He received 29 responses and printed four of them. One of these, 
by John Bryant, was printed under a statement by Don Million that several 
letters he received were about religion and came down essentially to "my 
god is better than your god." He continued, "Possibly the most 
controversial approach to this controversial issue can be seen in this next 
letter ...." 
      The letter itself-- made up of extreme anti-Semitic statements -- is 
hardly worthy of refutation, but I would like to have answers from Don 
Million to the following questions. 
    1. Where is the subject of religion addressed in this letter? 
    2. Why didn't Don Million suggest to John Bryant that he complete the 
letter by stating how he would resolve the problem? I have a feeling I 
know the answer. 3. Why was this letter printed? Controversial articles are 
stimulating and promote thought and discussion, but this kind of blatant 
hate mail doesn't deserve space in the Mensa Bulletin. 
    I was about to send in my check for renewal of my membership but 
realized I just couldn't do it until I feel differently. I really enjoy 
Mensa, but reading this section affected me to the point where I felt 
physically sick. This is the kind of material that was printed in Germany 
during the Hitler era, the kind of lies that attract anyone with latent 
anti-Semitic feelings. Do I really want to be associated with an 
organization that would include this kind of hate material in its official 
magazine? 

Jean Appel 

Eat it, buddy!

John Bryant nominated as controversy of the century "The Jewish 
Question." What is that? It is, he said, the question of what effect the 
Jews have had on American and Western society and what kind of threat they 
pose, if any. 
    Bryant is troubled by Russian Jews who used New York banks to launder 
illegal funds. I am Jewish, but I disclaim any responsibility. Those who 
accuse groups for actions of individuals have something missing from their 
power of reasoning. After all, if I am to be tainted by the evil deeds of 
Jews "who were expelled from almost every Western country," indicating a 
"seeming incompatibility of Jew and gentile...," I should also be able to 
take credit for the achievements of those of my group who have contributed 
to society. I can claim some tenuous, if imaginary, genetic connection to 
mental giants like Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman .... 
    Though ideas like Bryant's are laughable, I am frightened by the line, 
"The major stumbling block to solving the Jewish Question .... " 
    Solution to the Jewish Question? The Jewish threat to society? Threat? 
Bryant, please refuse your polio shots, developed by Jonas Salk and Albert 
Sabin; be sure that your doctors are not Jewish or have not studied under 
one of those inferior people. Don't read any books before investigating the 
author's ethnicity. 
    Bryant, are you bothered by the choice of Albert Einstein as the Man of 
the Century? A Jew, Bryant! Eat it, buddyJ! 

Wilfred Couzin 

Can never forget

To Mr. Bryant: If it walks, talks and sounds like an anti-Semite, it 
is! There is no Jewish question except as it exists in the minds of bigots 
who are upset by the idea that we are still here and will not convert. You 
are an anti-Semite! If a criminal act is committed by a Protestant or a 
Catholic, would you refer to a Protestant or Catholic mafia, as you did to 
a "Jewish mafia" in mentioning criminal use of New York banks? Calling for 
reparation for theft of personal property by Swiss banks is hardly 
extortion. Such theft is criminal. As to Pat Buchanan's description of 
Congress as Israeli-occupied territory, how would you or he describe the 
farm lobby, the NRA or other lobbies? As to your description of the Anti-
Defamation League, it is despicable. Characterizing Jews as security risks 
merely recapitulates what was done in various European countries when loyal 
citizens who were Jewish suddenly became disenfranchised, and not being 
permitted to own land or to enter professions of various kinds and having 
to live in ghettoes made them "the other." But usury, which was forbidden 
to "good Christians," was reserved for Jews. Blaming the victim for what 
the persecutor does is an old trick. 
    We can never forgive or forget what was done between 1939 and 1945 
because there are still people in this world like you who cannot recognize 
that gas chambers and crematoria were state-sanctioned in the most horrible 
atrocity in the history of mankind. By the way, any rabbi who praised you 
is either insane or not deserving of his title. 
    I could go on, but why bother? You are what you are and dressing you up 
to look nicer is futile. Crawl into your hole! 

Florence Mosner 

Stamp out hatred

If you will read the letter from John Bryant, I believe you will agree 
with me that the writer is sated with hate. Mr. Don Million should never 
have permitted such execration to be printed in a respectable publication 
and by doing so has made his position on anti-Semitism suspect. 
    Bryant (phew) says, "The major stumbling block to solving the Jewish 
Question is that discussion is never allowed .... After all, when words are 
forbidden, deeds may be the only recourse." Is that a threat? Does Bryant 
want to kill six million more Jews? 
    I, for one, will not resign from Mensa despite such filth being spewed 
out, but I will dig in and try to stamp out the hatred that seems to 
persist in so-called smart stupid people. 

Henry Colman 

The true Jewish spirit

Like many other Jews who read John Bryant's article regarding what he 
calls "the Jewish Question," I was dismayed. Many of us have lost relatives 
in Europe to Nazi murderers. Much of the wealth accumulated by our families 
there was taken by Germans and their Swiss banker collaborators. Most of us 
have experienced discrimination and/or disrespect. All of us have been used 
by those who have found they can benefit, if only by drawing attention to 
themselves, by exploiting resentment against us. 
    The best lawyer in the world could not frame an argument that could 
change Mr. Bryant's mind, because his mind is the tool of his heart. Only 
God can change his heart. Since none of us is God, Mr. Bryant is not our 
responsibility. We don't owe him an apology, an explanation or even an 
answer. What we owe is affirmation to one another. 
    He defines himself negatively against us, like a dark planet orbiting 
the Jewish star. But remember the teaching of the ancient fathers: Where 
there is great light, there will also be great darkness. It is our mission 
to continue to be the light, though we know it is sometimes at great 
personal cost. Live your lives to the fullest, my brothers and sisters. 
Work hard and prosper. Live with humor and compassion and dignity. Educate 
your children, take care of your parents and contribute to society. 
Passionately seek meaning and justice. Insist the world can be a better 
place and be willing to work to make it so. 
    That, to me, is the Jewish spirit. To everyone who shares that spirit I 
say, carry on. And know that God loves and blesses you. 

Gary Eisler 

Don Million responds:

In the January/February 2% Solution column I chose to print a letter 
that exhibited what I consider to be religious bigotry against Jews. Many 
people have written about that letter. Some have assumed that I must be 
anti-Semitic, else I wouldn't have printed it. Others felt that its 
publication in this magazine lends credence to such opinions. I debated 
with myself long and hard over printing the letter, and in the end I came 
to three conclusions. First, 2% Solution is about the opinions of Mensans. 
The opinion expressed in that letter may be unpleasant to most of us, but 
it was an honest opinion, it was relevant to the question of the month, and 
the writer is a Mensan. 
    Second, such bigotry does exist within Mensa. That letter doesn't 
express the feelings of the majority of Mensans, but it does express the 
feelings of at least one Mensan. A high IQ is not a magic talisman against 
fear, ignorance and prejudice. I think it's worthwhile for all of us to be 
aware of that. 
    Finally, and most important, I think the opinion speaks for itself. By 
that I mean that such bigotry is its own worst enemy. The fear and 
ignorance that must be festering inside the man who wrote that letter 
practically ooze from every word. Seeing such views in our magazine may 
encourage those who agree with him already, but it will not sway anyone to 
that point of view -- quite the opposite. No one could read that diatribe 
without being disgusted, unless they already hated Jews at least as much as 
the author. Because of that, I believe the best way to discredit this kind 
of bigotry is to expose it, not suppress it. At least, that's the way I 
look at it, and that's why I decided to print the letter. Don Million 
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