During aristocratic ages, mans moral center of gravity is the chest — the seat of honor. A gentlemans honor was more than mere probity, and far more than prestige. As late as the 18th century, the lexicon defined honor as a quality that supposes in a gentleman a stronger abhorrence of perfidy, falsehood, or cowardice, and a more elevated and delicate sense of virtue, than are usually found in [ordinary decent men].
A gentlemans honor was therefore his most sacred possession. An insult to such a person, if unanswered, could result in his and his familys ruin. The manly response to offended honor was the duel.
As mankind became less aristocratic and more commercial, dueling, as an affair of honor, was outlawed. The clash of steel was replaced by libel laws, the violation of which might entail monetary loss rather than loss of life.
In the present century, however, with the ascendancy of the consumer society, mans center of gravity has descended from his chest to his abdomen. Laws against defamation of character have lost much of their efficacy, especially now with unrestrained freedom of speech and press, the pride of flatulent democracies.
Indeed, so sacred and secure are the print and electronic media in an era of unfettered freedom of expression, and so prohibitive is the cost of a libel suit, that certain well-placed individuals can engage in character assassination without risking their lives or their fortunes. Enter men without chests.
Men without chests are the product of consumptive as opposed to deliberative democracy. Those who control the political institutions and communications media of an all-consuming democracy do not engage their opponents in honest democratic debate but rather seek to destroy them by verbal voodoo. i.e., by one-word slanders. And they do this while posing sanctimoniously as democrats. In fact, it is precisely in the name of democracy that one can now defame an individual without fear of retribution.
A recent and most notorious victim of this abuse is the late Rabbi Meir Kahane (himself a talented word-monger), who was constantly reviled as a racist and a Nazi. Any Lilliputian can resort to such vilification, and the media, especially in Israel, will gladly purvey the slander, free of all restraints — legal, political, or moral. Never has pusillanimity, now garbed in righteousness, enjoyed such protection by the laws and institutions of society. Honor is the first casualty of abdominal democracy.
More interesting than Kahane is the hysterical hatred he aroused among Israels political and intellectual Yahoos. It were as if this one man and his Kach Party constituted a serious threat to the power, prestige, and privileges of those who have long dominated Israels political, economic, military, educational, and cultural institutions! And so, when Rabbi Kahane was elected to the Knesset, these men without chests hastened up and down the country trying to indoctrinate high school students and soldiers with the fatuous slogans of democracy on the one hand, while slandering Kahane as a racist on the other. (The same sort of hysteria and defamation followed the tragic assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.)
I said that the first casualty of abdominal democracy is honor (so odiously displayed by those who clasped the bloodstained hands of Yasser Arafat). The second casualty is truth, which is why I referred to those who called Kahane a racist or a Nazi as Yahoos. For to use the language of Swifts Houyhynhnms — who have no word for falsehood — Yahoos say the thing which is not, namely, the truth about the militant nature of Islam and the Arabs deeply ingrained hatred of Jews.
I am alluding to Israels anti-racist legislation, which makes it a criminal offense to tell the truth about Israels domestic enemies. Thus, suppose some fully-chested Jew were to recount the well-documented fact that Arab leaders can easily inflame Moslem masses, who add to a religious fanaticism, a latent hatred of Jews. And suppose he reminded people of how 62 percent of Israels Arab citizens openly supported Saddam Hussein during the Persian Gulf War despite his threat to incinerate Israel including themselves. Furthermore, suppose he uttered these truths because he believed — rightly or wrongly — that it would be in the best interest of democracy for the government of Israel not only to prohibit Arab parties that pursue Arab nationalist aims, but to disenfranchise any Arab who, by word or deed, denies Israels right to exist as a sovereign state. That Jew could be imprisoned for five years under the so-called anti-racist, but really anti-Jewish, legislation in question.
To be sure, a government that possessed, along with a modicum of honor, the courage to adopt the policy just mentioned, would surely be committed to making Israel an authentic Jewish State. This would have a profound affect on Israels Arab inhabitants. The more Israel became Jewish, the more Arabs would leave the country, though I dare say many would remain, secure in their personal , civic, economic, and religious rights.
On the other hand, given a government consisting of men without chests, Jews who advocate such a policy will be shamelessly slandered as racists. How strange, when one considers these words of a most famous political Zionist: We shall try to spirit the penniless Arab population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries while denying them any employment in our own country.
The author of this halachically questionable statement is none other than Theodor Herzl, the man whom Israels Declaration of Independence refers to as the spiritual father of the Jewish State! Herzl, it seems, did not belong to the species of men without chests.