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Semites and anti-Semites agree... on certain myths

Michael Chabon, probably best-known as the author of the novels "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" and "Wonder Boys," has an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times called "Chosen, but Not Special" -- about the myths of Jewish exceptionalism that Semites, anti-Semites and Judeophiles all share: the fanciful notion that Jews possess "an inborn, half-legendary agility of intellect, amounting almost to a magical power." Chabon argues we should acknowledge the dangers of this dumb stereotype right now.

The "widespread shock at Israel's blockheadedness in the aftermath of the raid" on the Mavi Marmara should, perhaps, not have been so shocking, Chabon writes:

An honest assessment of Jewish history must conclude that even the collective act that might seem most tellingly to argue in favor of Jewish intelligence -- our survival across millenniums in spite of constant hatred, war, persecution, intolerance and genocide -- is ultimately just the same trick performed by our species as a whole (at least so far).

Movie Answer Man

Brando letter makes the grade

Q: I couldn't let Marlon Brando's passing go by without telling this story. Over 20 years ago when I was just starting out as a teacher in Chicago, I had a student who loved Brando. As a writing assignment, I'd promised to find addresses for the stars the kids liked, so they could write to them and see who answered.