....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....
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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