Michael Levin on Torture, Hitler Economics, Foreskinners &c

By John "Birdman" Bryant


Letter to Michael Levin, August 15, 2001: 

At the following URL


Jewish professor Michael Levin defends torture -- an interesting position
for a lewrockwellcom libertarian -- but my guess is that his REAL interest
is in defending ISRAEL. His basic argument is that if we are confronted
with (say) a terrorist from whom we need to obtain info in order to save
innocent lives, then we are justified in using torture. Levin, however,
does not seem to have thought of the following argument: (1) Cases like
terrorism where Levin argues that torture is justified usually involve men
who are acting MORALLY BY THEIR OWN LIGHTS; (2) the cases where torture is
'justified' are rare; (3) because cases where torture is 'justified' are
rare and often involve acts which are moral from the perpetrator's point of
view, and because of the consideration that torture in rare cases opens the
possibility of torture in MANY cases, it follows that TORTURE IS NOT
JUSTIFIED AFTER ALL. I am inviting Levin to answer this argument on these
pages, but I am pretty sure he won't, since he has not deigned to answer
other devastating critiques of his positions which I have presented him
with. Note: There is in fact an argument in favor of using torture which
is both stronger and weaker than Levin's, to wit, that if your enemy uses
it, then you are justified in doing so. However, in the case of Israel, it
has behaved so badly toward the Pals that we might wonder whether ANYTHING
it does is justified. Yr turn, Mikey.

[Levin responds [typos in original]]:

1) The piece you cite was written during the Carter administration, when
left-liberals postured against our allies but were mum about communists and
communist-supported groups. I wasn't thinking about Israel one way or

2) Legitimate doubts can be raised about the wisdom of institutionalizing
torture. Nonetheless, there are clear cases in which it is permissible.
This sort of case suggests that in the crunch we are all utilitarians of
one sort of another. Hard cases make bad law, but they provoke thinking
about basics.

3) So what if terrrorists think they are justified? We are the ones who
have to decide what to do about them. Many street criminals think they are
justified in robbing their victims by force. That hardly means we shouldn't
resist them by any means at hand.

4) I am unaware of your sending me other critiques, devasting or otherwise.

M. Levin

[Birdman replies:]

You have danced around my argument, but you have not answered it. You
apparently don't really understand it, so -- as a fellow philosopher -- I
will analyze it for you:

The argument is patterned after a well-known argument in logic and
mathematics known as the reductio ad absurdum argument. Such an argument
makes the assumption that something is true, and then shows that such an
assumption results in a contradiction. My argument is not as
straightforward as that, but the same pattern is evident. I assume for the
nonce what you assert -- that there are some cases where torture is
justified -- and then, with additional information -- argue that this
strongly suggests that torture is NOT justified. In arguing against me,
all you have done is to mindlessly repeat what you initially asserted, viz,
that there are a few extreme cases in which torture is justified (I use the
term 'justified', since I am assuming only for the nonce). You ignored my
argument, suggesting that 'you just didn't get it'.

Beyond the above, you make some mistakes that I would not expect to see in
a philosopher. You call torture 'utilitarian', but what you really seem to
mean is 'opportunistic'. Furthermore, you ignore the difference between
act and rule utilitarianism: The 'act utilitarian' evaluates each act on
the ultimate projected utility for society, while the 'rule utilitarian'
holds that behavior should follow rules which generally produce the social
good, even if the results in some cases are un-utilitarian. One might
characterize our disagreement as that between act utilitarianism (you) vs
rule utilitarianism (me), but even this doesn't accurately describe the
matter because my concern is the long-term social effect of stepping over
the line and permitting torture at all. It is the slippery slope, the
camel's nose under the tent, the fine edge of the wedge. And to my mind,
it is a criterion which separates civilization from barbarism.

In passing, there is an argument against torture which I did not raise in
my initial critique, but which I think is important. This is the fact that
terrorism and other extreme acts for which you would regard torture as
justified are not uncaused, but rather are often rooted in some strongly-
felt injustice such as the Palestinians -- in my view, rightly -- feel.
This, then, suggests that the 'solution' to the 'torture problem' is for
people to behave properly -- then they can reduce to near zero the odds of
being served an arm-and-leg pizza. Call it revenge, call it karma, call it
anything you want; but when you have a whole race of people as mad as
hornets at you -- so mad that they are willing to blow up a pizza parlor
full of people even when the blower is blown up himself -- then you'd
better start re-thinking your morality -- which, after all, is just a set
of rules for getting along well with others (For more on this subject, see
the Morality section of my webpage).

Now if you will excuse a second apostrophe, it should be pointed out that
one of the most unpleasant effects of ZOG -- that's "Zionist Occupation
Government", which is the bigot's phrase for the situation which Pat
Buchanan partially described when he called our Congress "Israeli-occupied
territory" -- is that it has made the entire Islamic world angry at
America, with the result that we are starting to fear the possibility of
something a lot worse than arm-and-leg pizza, namely, chemical and
biological warfare. Specifically, the 1999 book Bioterrorism: Secrets for 
Survival by Duncan Long includes "A Frightening Interview with Former CIA
Microbiologist Larry Harris" (Ch 2) in which Harris divulges that Iraquis
are smuggling vials of anthrax spores into the United States which are to
be unleashed on the population all at once at a predetermined signal, and
that there are more than "100 Iraqui cell teams, with 11 members to each
team, positioned strategically across the United States in various major
cities." (p 16) Is the solution for this problem, then, to start torturing
Iraquis to save ourselves from destruction, or is it to free ourselves from
the Israeli yoke and cease the policies which brought the threat about?

Now as to devastating critiques of which you are so blissfully unaware,
there have been three. One of those has been posted on my website for the
last year, and you can access it from my Net Losses page. The logo reads

Michael Levin - A cold shower for Mikey's getting hot under the choler
about the lavender loveboys

The url is

The remaining two critiques are included below:

December 21, 1998

Michael Levin
Department of Philosophy
City College
New York NY 10031

Dear Prof Levin:

I just finished reading your interesting article "A New Look at the
Holocaust" in the November issue of the Rothbard-Rockwell Report which
arrived today. In my view you are the major bright spot in a journal which
used to be pretty worthwhile, but which has hit the skids for reasons I am
not quite sure of. (I did offer editor Lew Rockwell the benefit of my
contributions, but there is apparently something seriously wrong with me as
he does not deign to so much as answer my letters.)

The basic message of your article was that any group which demands or
accepts affirmative-action-type laws has effectively designated itself as
incompetent as compared with the groups with which it competes. It is
obvious to most anyone who looks carefully at the situation of blacks that
they, as a race, are inferior in most respects to whites -- a fact which
you yourself have courageously pointed out on many public occasions. Your
intent in the article, however, was to make a point against Jew-haters, to
wit, that nazi legal discrimination against often-economically-dominant
Jews was basically affirmative action for gentile Germans, and thus by the
acceptance of such discrimination, Germans were admitting their racial
inferiority in comparison to Jews, at least in some (and probably many)

I accept your basic point, tho the matter of anti-Jewish discrimination may
be more complicated than your analysis entails. This is not, however, a
matter which I wish to discuss at the present time. Instead, my reason for
writing is to point out that your same basic analysis may be used in a way
which you may find embarrassing. To explain, you begin your article by
pointing out how you reject Holocaust revisionism, ie, the thesis that the
"Orthodox Jewish Version" of the Holocaust (OJV) is not historically
correct. Now consider the fact that the revisionists are widely
discriminated against in law -- revisionist writings are illegal in Canada,
Australia, Germany, Israel, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, England,
Switzerland, Spain, France and probably other places. Or in other words,
we have a sort of affirmative-action-type law in all these places for
believers in the OJV -- people such as yourself. So, using your analysis,
what does that mean about the relative superiority of revisionist versus
antirevisionist people/ideas? I'll let your superior Jewish intelligence
draw the obvious conclusion.

A more general statement of your thesis is that whoever or whatever asks
for help acknowledges inferiority. For years revisionists have been making
this point in noting that (historical) truth does not need the support of
law, and that those who wish to suppress or censor -- as the
antirevisionists do -- obviously have something to hide. And while the war
against revisionism has been fought over historical facts -- and
particularly on the Internet by means of such websites as Ingrid Rimland's
Zundelsite and Bradley Smith's CODOH site, the argument in favor of
revisionism is really much simpler than the multiple megabytes of documents
these sites contain: The simple argument is that the supporters of the OJV
are trying to suppress the revisionists, and this can mean only one thing,
to wit, that antirevisionists are frightened -- not of revisionist lies or
errors (if there are any), which can be refuted and used to make the
revisionists look bad -- but of revisionist truths, which make the
antirevisionists look bad.

But the importance of the Holocaust controversy is far more than a heated
historical debate or a matter concerning censorship. Its greater
importance is first, as an illustration of both the enormity and the ill-
effect of worldwide Jewish power (By virtue of whose influence, do you
suppose, have most nations of the West outlawed revisionism?), and second,
to stand as a major instance of a continuing train of abuses of the gentile
population stretching back some 200 years or more. I do not make this
latter charge lightly -- I have investigated it in depth, and I have
recorded my findings in a forthcoming short book, A New Perspective on the 
Jewish Question (A temporary edition is available for your inspection upon
request.) [Poted on this website as "The Case Against the Jews".]

The Jewish Question -- ie, the questions relating to both the ontology
("is") and deontology ("ought") of Jewish behavior -- is one of the most
difficult which human society has to face. It is difficult because it
involves ancient religious and racial prejudices. It is difficult because
it challenges the zeitgeist of political correctness and egalitarian
thinking. It is difficult because it involves questions of group qualities
such as average intelligence and propensity toward certain behaviors whose
discussion is embarrassing to Jew and gentile alike. It is difficult
because it involves Hatfield-McCoy-type feedback loops of hatred and
revenge whose damping-out is difficult in those whose memories are long and
whose philosophy is "An eye for an eye" and "Never forgive, never forget".
It is difficult because it involves a war whose stakes are enormous, and
yet one which is so subtle in most of its dimensions that almost no one
knows it is going on. It is difficult because taboos and censorship and
media bias make it impossible for most people to have a good grasp of the
facts -- or even a poor one. But most of all it is difficult because it
involves the problem of distinguishing the behavior of individuals from
that of the race, and of deciding whether it is a group, or only
individuals, who are responsible for the abuses which have been wrought.

My interest in the Jewish Question is both personal and philosophical. It
is personal because I have always been close to Jews and find myself very
much like them in many ways. And it is philosophical because it raises so
many difficult questions about social and interpersonal relationships.
These include free speech (Should we censor "hate"?; What is the proper
balance between being nice and being truthful?; Where does tolerance cease
to be a virtue?), genetics (If Jews are superior, should they rule us -- or
do inferiors have the right to self-determination?), groups (What are the
limits of group rights?; Is democracy compatible with power-wielding
groups?), ethics (Does group loyalty trump general ethical principles?),
politics (Are individual rights compatible with group rights?), evolution
(Can groups compete fairly when one dominates the media of communication?),
culture (Does a nation have a right to expel aliens?) and psychology (Why
are censors willing to engage in a behavior which makes it obvious that
they are concealing the truth?).

But the Jewish Question also attracts me for several other reasons. First
it is taboo, and thus presents a challenge of a rather different sort --
what might be called the challenge of being a nigger. Second, it attracts
me because I am deeply angry about Holocaustomania and similar lies
emanating from the liberal/left end of the spectrum, and I want to see
these liars receive what they so richly deserve. Third, I have a natural
protective instinct for my white gentile brethren -- a group which has been
under assault by another group -- liberals -- whose predominant leadership
and one of whose major population segments is Jewish. Or to put it another
way, the Jewish Question is at the cutting edge of modern intellectual,
political and cultural life, and represents one of the greatest challenges
-- and battles -- of modern times. Accordingly, even if most others don't
have the courage or motive join this battle, I want to be able to say I was
there. And that I was on the right side.

Since you are a Jew, the Jewish Question should be of interest to you. But
it should also be of interest because the subjects you touched on in your
article -- affirmative action, antisemitism and the Holocaust debate -- are
imbedded in the much larger context of the Jewish Question, and in fact
cannot be properly understood except as part of that larger context. But
just as blacks are often offended by the "Black Question" -- ie, the nature
of black-white differences and the role of blacks in society in light of
these differences -- so too do Jews generally take the Jewish Question as
offensive; and yet both raise the same basic issue, and you yourself have
made a professional reputation investigating the Black Question. So the
issue here is, if it is proper and important for whites -- whether gentile
or Jew -- to investigate the Black Question, is it not also proper for them
to investigate the Jewish Question? I believe the answer is self-evident.

But even if Jews are offended that their race or ethnic group should be the
subject of scrutiny by others, there is a perfectly practical reason why
they should welcome such an enquiry: While it may be more pleasant in the
short term to ignore the Jewish Question and suppose that resentment of
Jews by gentiles is all due to the latter's immutable prejudice and
inability to appreciate the Self-Chosen who serve as "a light unto the
nations", the interest of Jews in the long term is to live amicably with
gentiles, if for no other reason than to avoid such small embarrassments as
diasporas, pogroms, ghettoization, pales, concentration camps, final
solutions and expulsions, all of which fill the history books of the Jewish
people in such profusion as to raise the question of "Why do the same
things keep happening wherever Jews go?" The early zionists, of course,
such as Theodor Hertzl, had the obvious answer: Their belief was that
antisemitism sprung from the basic incompatability of Jew and gentile, and
thus the best "final solution" to the problem is simply for Jews to have a
lebensraum of their own. It is not for me to say the early zionists were
right or wrong. But my point is that it is profitable in the long run for
Jews to consider -- "in the bowels of Christ", so to speak -- what it is in
them that seems to make the answer to the Jewish Question a universal
negative almost everywhere, and to give some thought to changing themselves
if, after due deliberation, they still consider the stupid goyim too
intractable to be changed.

I think the point I am getting at is that the Jewish Question needs the
attention not only of brave gentiles who can stand up to the smear words,
the ADL intimidation, the financial pressures and other strongarm tactics
so frequently employed by the Sons of Abraham, but also brave Jews such as
yourself who have a reputation for candor on matters with which you differ
from most of your Jewish brethren. In fact, what the Jews seem to need in
the present day is a new Moses who will lead them out of the wilderness of
goyim-hating civilization-subversion before the Gentile Giant, who created
Western civilization before he fell into his present stuporous condition,
wakes up and figures out that a bunch of Lilliputians are trying to tie him
down, and goes berserk doing the Stomp.

I realize that you may not be one of the brave Jews to take up the Jewish
Question -- after all, when I asked you several years ago to review my book
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Jews But Were Afraid to Ask 
Because You Thought You'd Be Called "Antisemitic", you would not respond to
my several letters, even tho we had previously corresponded in a friendly
manner. Perhaps you regret your decision now that two of your fellow Jews
have reviewed my book and liked it, at least one of whom (Prof Paul
Gottfried) is a friend of yours. But whatever your response, the fact
remains that the Jewish Question affects us all in a significant way and
must be dealt with. It has certainly affected me personally -- indeed, I
have written an entire book about just one incident in my life (Political 
Correctness, Censorship and Liberal-Jewish Strongarm Tactics in High-IQ/Low 
Morals Mensa). But however distasteful you may find the subject, I would
urge you to keep in mind one of the great lessons of life that very few
ever seem to learn: It is better to deal with unpleasant things before they 
become more than unpleasant. 


The second critique is from the First Introduction to my book Everything 
You Always Wanted To Know About Jews But Were Afraid to Ask Because You 
Thought You'd Be Called Antisemitic, subtitled "Uninhibited Essays For
Which The Jewish Establishment Thinks the Nazis Had The Right Idea:
Bookburning", and whose introductory quote is

The Jews are a great people, and because they are great, they are great in
everything, especially their faults. --JBR Yant, Mortal Words, v. 5

First Introduction: On Being Politically Incorrect

Political correctness is the belief that sensitivity to people's
feelings must take precedence over freedom of discussion in the areas of
race, ethnicity, gender, and similar group qualities; while political
incorrectness is the belief that freedom of discussion is a higher priority
than sensitivity. The present book is very politically incorrect, but it
is far more than this, for it treats a topic -- Jews -- which is largely
taboo among even those who consider themselves politically incorrect. The
reason for this taboo is undoubtedly in part because Jews -- even if not
always liked -- are universally respected (and perhaps feared) for their
wealth, power and other very real accomplishments, and thus criticism of
Jews can easily suggest some sort of unsophisticated bias or prejudice
which is found only among the lowest elements of society. But there is
another reason, too: Jews occupy many of the most influential positions in
the mass media, and therefore exert a significant influence over the news
and other information put out by these media. This, of course, is
testament to Jewish acumen and intelligence; but it is also an
acknowledgement that information which is unfavorable to Jews has a much-
less-than-even chance of getting any significant exposure.

I admit to being very uncomfortable with writing this book. In part this
is because -- for better or for worse -- I happen to like Jews, and I would
prefer to avoid the inevitable misunderstandings to the contrary, to say
nothing of the inevitable calumnies which will be heaped upon me as a
result of these misunderstandings ("Nazi", "anti-semite", etc, etc, etc).
But in a sense it is precisely because of these inevitable
misunderstandings and their associated calumnies that I feel compelled to
speak out: The fear of condemnation keeps most people from saying things
about Jews that need to be said, and thereby creates an atmosphere of
oppression which can only be dispelled by others willing to speak out in
spite of this oppression, and to continue speaking out until the oppression
disappears. But beyond this, as a committed iconoclast and warrior against
political correctness, I cannot in good conscience criticize blacks, women
and the other favorite groups of the politically correct without also
criticizing Jews, for to do so would be not only dishonest, but cowardly.

When I first began to assemble this book, I decided to ask Michael Levin, a
professor of philosophy at CUNY, if he would write an introduction. My
reasons for selecting Prof Levin were fourfold: He is Jewish, he is one of
the most prominent men of the anti-political correctness movement, he and I
had exchanged correspondence a couple of times on the subject of PC, and I
have a great deal of respect for both his academic work and his courage in
opposing PC in the very-PC environment of the academy. In making my
request I sent him a couple of essays as examples of what I was writing
about. When I didn't hear from him, I wrote him a second time, enclosing
yet another essay which I wrote to clarify a point in my first letter that
I felt might be a source of misunderstanding. But I still did not hear
from him, so I can only assume that he was offended by what I wrote.
Naturally, there are some who would say that I should have never been so
insensitive as to write him -- after all, they might say, how would I feel
if someone asked me to introduce a book criticizing white males? But
while I can see the justice in this position, I hasten to point out that the
anti-PC movement, of which Prof Levin and I are both members, is dedicated
precisely to the premise of refusing to allow sensitivity to take 
precedence over freedom of discussion; so if Prof Levin counts me as
"insensitive", then he can do so only at the expense of abandoning his own
anti-PC principles. But then perhaps the real fault here is not so much
that Prof Levin cannot put himself above something in which he has a deep
personal involvement as it is that we expect our heroes to be gods when
they are only human.

[Levin never responded, tho somewhat later in another context he requested
that I remove his name from my mailing list. Small wonder.]


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