In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 7, 2010 / 23 Nissan 5770

The Monster-Victim Mix-up

By Jonah Goldberg

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I've seen "How to Train Your Dragon" twice. My daughter loves it (the lead dragon reminds us of her cat). And I think it's pretty great too. (Note: Some pretty obvious spoilers heading your way.)

Perhaps I'm mellowing in my middle years, but I don't much mind what Entertainment Weekly calls the movie's "layer of age-of-terror allegory about the ignorance bred by jingoism." This refers to the fact that the Vikings in the film have been raised for seven generations to kill dragons: "It's what we do."

But the hero, Hiccup, an alienated, smart-mouthed teen, discovers that dragons are actually inclined to be lovable, sweet-tempered companions, if his fellow Vikings could only get over their own stubborn ignorance and prejudice and give the monsters a chance. It's all been a misunderstanding, and in the end, dragons and Vikings learn to love one another.

My long-standing complaint against this sort of story — aside from it being a complete cliche — is that it teaches kids there's no such thing as monsters. No, I'm not keen on telling kids that there are things that go bump in the night or beasts in their closet — particularly when that means I have to spend half the night with a terrified kid in my bed.

But monsters once served an important purpose. The word's Latin and French roots meant a grave warning or omen. Monster stories once told us that evil exists and that we shouldn't assume all motives are good and kind.

Sure, kids today are taught to yell, "Stranger danger!" or some such when approached at the mall, but you won't find that sort of lesson in popular children's books and cartoons. And, let the record show, some of those strangers really are a horrific, soul-sickening danger and not merely misunderstood.

It was no trivial decision to populate "Sesame Street" with cuddly "monsters." Even Oscar the Grouch is really just a softy. And a few years ago, they even rewrote Cookie Monster's telos; he now says that cookies are merely a "sometimes food," causing some, like Stephen Colbert, to ask whether Cookie Monster had "abandoned the pro-cookie agenda."

Letter from JWR publisher

I'm not so nostalgic as to believe that the world that produced the Grimm fairy tales is preferable to that which gave us "Monsters, Inc." But the improvement didn't come without drawbacks.

Meanness is no longer innate, it's the unfortunate side effect of being misunderstood, the forgivable self-defense mechanism of victims.

For instance, when Hollywood rewrote "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" for the live-action movie with Jim Carrey, the refrain "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch" no longer really applied. Instead of having "termites in his smile" and "garlic in his soul," the Grinch was actually the victim of closed-minded Whovillians. His transformation into Christmas hero isn't so much a powerful transformation as it is a moral victory against the bullies.

Psychological explanations for why there are bad people have their place. What bothers me is that we tend to explain away the objectively evil as merely misunderstood and the misunderstood as objectively evil. We all sympathize with Tony Soprano, even though he's a brutal murderer. Hannibal Lecter, it turns out, was a victim of the Nazis.

In the real world, how many times have we heard the motives of terrorists explained away as the regrettable but rational response of victims?

Meanwhile, merely disagreeing over gay marriage or health-care reform is a damning, self-dehumanizing act. Without trying to keep score in terms of political rhetoric, surely we can all agree that there's a tendency to assume the other side is not only wrong, but has knowingly embraced evil motives.

Back in Hollywood, the least sympathetic people are often not true villains but merely "judgmental" people who refuse to understand the misunderstood on their own terms.

Which brings us back to "How to Train Your Dragon." My daughter would have liked it less, but a refreshing and more realistic ending would have had the Vikings enlisting their new, fire-breathing pets in a massive invasion of Europe, laying waste to all they saw, and bringing the hated Christians to heel. Because that's really what Vikings do.

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