December 11, 2012

The scandal-free Parsis as the anti-Jews and anti-Chinese

Why are some middleman minorities bitterly despised and others fondly admired? I took a crack at this problem in an earlier post comparing the fates of the Parsis (a commercial and professional elite group of Persians in India) vs. the Ashkenazi Jews and the Chinese. In short, the more charitable the elite minority group is toward its host population, both in spirit and in deed, the more they are valued as a national treasure.

The danger that a host faces in bringing in guests is that they could take advantage of his hospitality. By proving themselves to be altruistic rather than parasitic, the Parsis not only have alleviated those fears, but have given their Indian hosts good reason to indefinitely extend their welcome to their Parsi guests. Indeed they are taking whatever measures they can to keep the Parsis from disappearing due to falling birth rates: "The Indian government is to fund new fertility clinics to help save its dwindling Parsi population which is now under threat of extinction," reads the sub-headline of a recent article.

Can you imagine the government of any Eastern European country investing taxpayer dollars into boosting the fertility of its Ashkenazi Jewish population? Or Southeast Asian governments doing so for their Chinese populations? The Parsis, however, are the targets of an anti-pogrom -- a concerted, collective attempt to send their numbers soaring.

This comparison just goes to show that there's nothing inevitable about an elite-status minority of foreign origin becoming the objects of envy, hate, and violence.

Still, couldn't the Parsis have some major faults, some big cost they impose on their hosts, but that is felt to be outweighed by the even larger benefit they provide to their hosts? If they did, it would show up as some kind of scandal. So I searched google for Parsi scandals -- and found nothing. Neither in India nor in America (where many reside), and neither in the present nor in the past. There has to be something, but it is apparently so rare in frequency and so minor in severity that it does not show up in google searches. Leave a comment if you discover any.

Jeez, even the Anglosphere has its share of scandals, whether in business, politics, religion, or entertainment. And you figure that if such bad behavior had truly taken place among the Parsis, the Indians would've noticed and blown it into a national scandal. The country is riven by all sorts of ethnic faction lines, so people are quick to notice when one of the many Other groups steps out of line -- it only proves how irredeemably wicked they are, how unlike Us they are. If no one has spoken up yet, that must be because the Parsis are close to model citizens.

About the only scandal involving them I can think of is the news that Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, had contracted HIV and soon died from AIDS. Even this was not a scandal of parasitizing his host country, but more of a shocking revelation about what he'd done off-stage.

In contrast, the history of Ashkenazi scandal is too unwieldy to tightly summarize. (The parallel case histories of the Chinese are omitted to save space.) It seems to have gotten worse after Jewish emancipation in Europe in the 19th C., just as blacks became more disdainful and disruptive of mainstream America after they'd won the desegregation and Civil Rights movements of the 1940s through the early '60s. They felt their hosts getting softer, and so felt more emboldened to press their own demands.

The 19th C. timing also reflects the rise of industrialization, which allows Jews to exercise disproportionate influence -- there were suddenly so many industries that reached up to a national or international scale. And that is the quantity that must be measured -- not the number of scandalous figures per capita among Jews, but this probability multiplied by the damage caused by the scandal.

As a brief reminder of this history, in the Victorian era there was Karl Marx, co-founder and arch-propagandist of Communism, to be followed by scores of early-adopter Jews in Communist movements throughout Europe, culminating in Leon Trotsky. In just about any financial scandal, you can expect to find a good number of Jews, right up through Michael Milken, Bernie Madoff, Lloyd Blankfein, et al., of the present day.

Just about all of the atomic spies for the Soviets in the Ozzie and Harriet years were Ashkenazi Jews, including the infamous Rosenbergs. Even worse, the spies were born and raised in America, not recent emigres who might be expected to have low attachment to the country. So much for gratitude toward the hosts of your birth country, eh? The same sorry charade played out decades later once Jews saw Israel as the up-and-coming state to spy for in order to score ideological points, not those has-been Communists. Jonathan Pollard is just the tip of the iceberg.

In addition to individual opportunism and organized subversion, Ashkenazi Jews are also notorious for sex scandals striking their religious communities. They're fortunate not to be a very religious people, or there would be even more. There are repeated such scandals in New York City's Hasidic community, including the recent conviction of Rabbi Nechemya Weberman for molesting a girl he was counseling, starting when she was 12. Nor are such scandals confined to America (link):

Another major Jewish organization in Australia is embroiled in a child sex abuse scandal, adding to the trauma triggered by recent revelations of similar cases involving students at schools in Melbourne run by Chabad-Lubavitch and Adass Israel.

Although not as scandalous as child sex abuse, Ashkenazi Jews have also played a disproportionate role in the American porn industry, both as producers and performers.

Jews may be joined by gentiles in all of these scandals, though not nearly to the same degree. This makes the scandalous activities of Jews harder to ignore and to rationalize away once discovered. The contrast with the Parsis makes this harder still -- why don't the Parsi priests use their influence and trusted positions to molest 12 year-olds? And why don't the Parsi professionals spy on behalf of their co-ethnics back in Iran? And why don't Parsi merchants and captains of industry try to leave others holding the bag after a financial screw-up, or stoop to peddling smut for a living? It's almost as though they held sexual relations sacred, citizenship sacred, even their career sacred, drawing a line that you just don't cross.

In our increasingly profane, trivial, and selfish world, it can be no wonder that their hosts are pulling out all the stops to rescue the Parsi community from demographic decline.

20 comments:

  1. When the parsis first landed in Gujarat In western India after they fled the Muslim invasion of Persia, the local Hindu king sent a messenger bearing a vessel filled to the brim with milk. The messenger told the parsis that the land was filled with good, wealthy people (milk)l but there was no room for anymore. The parsis took some sugar, mixed it into the milk, and sent it back to the king. They said they would blend into the population, not displace anyone, and in the process would make life sweeter, just as the sugar made the milk sweeter.

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  2. Let us compare Corzine with Madoff, one known to be a Jew, the other non Jewish, or plausibly passing as non Jewish.

    Madoff bribes the SEC and steals huge amounts of his depositors money. Oh that horrible Jew Madoff. Let us put him in jail to rot. (Somehow, however, no one in the SEC goes into jail to rot.)

    Corzine is a senior financial regulator and also one of the regulated in a spectacular and obvious conflict of interest. He steals his depositors money. Oh, those horrible derivatives. We need more regulation of derivatives, which is to say, more power and wealth for people like Corzine.

    Whenever someone says "derivatives" he means "Oh, we cannot punish, or even blame, senior financiers who steal money if they are too important, powerful, or well connected. "Derivatives" spreads all the guilt around. Everyone is guilty, so no one is guilty - unless he is perhaps a Jew who is using derivatives for some perfectly honest and legitimate purpose.

    So yes, a successful minority can stay out of trouble by being very good like the Parsis, but they have to be very, very good.

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  3. The comparison isn't entirely fair because the Parsis are a smaller group than the Jews have been most places. This makes it easier to enforce the sort of norms which keep them out of trouble. Even if the Jewish community in a particular country *wanted* to be like the Parsis, they'd have a lot more trouble enforcing that norm, unless the community was as small as the Parsi community. The Jews of Iowa might be able to pull it off; the Jews of Boston wouldn't.

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  4. Anonymous3:40 PM

    It's interesting that the group was born in a pogrom, that is religious persecution.

    So if they have special traits, they cannot relate to the founding population (if we are going under the reasoning that pogroms are mostly due to bad behaviour by the minority), but arose endogenously.

    That's interesting as they seem anti-Clarkian if their press is to be believed.

    Can you imagine the government of any Eastern European country investing taxpayer dollars into boosting the fertility of its Ashkenazi Jewish population?

    Hmm... I can imagine the Americans doing it, or the British, although they aren't very tribalist countries and are a lot happier with everyone melding into one another (by comparison, the Indians would probably even try to save the Roma as a people, if they had enough money).

    ...

    Still, I can't see much in the way of scandals either. Though wikipedia states -

    "In 1728 Rustom's eldest son Naoroz (later Naorojee) founded the Bombay Parsi Panchayat (in the sense of an instrument for self-governance and not in the sense of the trust it is today) to assist newly arriving Parsis in religious, social, legal and financial matters. Using their vast resources, the Maneck Seth family gave their time, energy and not inconsiderable financial resources to the Parsi community, with the result that by the mid-18th century, the Panchayat was the accepted means for Parsis to cope with the exigencies of urban life and the recognized instrument for regulating the affairs of the community (Karaka 1884, pp. 215–217). Nonetheless, by 1838 the Panchayat was under attack for impropriety and nepotism. In 1855 the Bombay Times noted that the Panchayat was utterly without the moral or legal authority to enforce its statutes (the Bundobusts or codes of conduct) and the council soon ceased to be considered representative of the community (Dobbin 1970, pp. 150–151)."

    Apparently this institution is still plugging away nepotistically

    -

    http://parsikhabar.net/issues/bombay-parsi-punchayat-may-be-dissolved/1445/

    Some of these parsee panchayats appear to be related to scandals, or at least raised eyebrows, even as they are ostensibly charitable.

    Seems rather thin gruel in comparison to the general corruption and nepotism of South Asians though.

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  5. "So yes, a successful minority can stay out of trouble by being very good like the Parsis, but they have to be very, very good."

    Don't spazz out by pointing to a single example. That's why I listed Michael Milken, Blankfein "et al." Parsis have an outsized role in Indian finance and commerce, but are unknown to these kinds of scandals.

    You also ignored every other type of scandal the Ashkenazim have been involved in.

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  6. Anonymous4:25 PM

    C Northcote Parkinson's books on the East India Company have some stuff about sinister Parsi traders taking advantage of the innocent British Naval procurement system. Maybe they ripped off some innocent British opium traders too. About 1800.

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  7. "The comparison isn't entirely fair because the Parsis are a smaller group than the Jews have been most places. This makes it easier to enforce the sort of norms which keep them out of trouble."

    As you say, when Jews are small, they shouldn't get into much trouble. But most of the child sex abuse scandals in America are among Ultra-Orthodox Hasidics, like the small group in Brooklyn.

    Jews made up a decent fraction of those working on the nuclear program, but not of the cities / states in the Southwest in general. Like the "Jews in Iowa" case. Except there they were most of the atomic spies for the Soviets, like David Greenglass, the sister of Ethel Rosenberg.

    The greater ability of smaller groups to enforce norms cuts both ways -- it could be used to hush up the victims of abuse, as with the Hasidic perverts who insist on taking care of the problem internally (with no success).

    What separates the two groups, then, is not the ability to enforce norms but what those norms are.

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  8. Don't spazz out by pointing to a single example. That's why I listed Michael Milken, Blankfein "et al."

    My point was that crimes committed by members of successful minorities receive disproportionate attention.

    Jews are over represented among criminal intellectuals and criminal financiers only because they are overrepresented among intellectuals and financiers.

    Financiers and intellectuals have committed numerous enormous crimes. Financiers and intellectuals tend to be disproportionately Jewish.

    Karl Marx, Lenin, and Pol Pot were intellectuals. So something like one third of the biggest intellectual criminals were Jewish. Something like one third of the top intellectuals are Jewish.

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  9. Anonymous11:07 PM

    How can jews be neurotic and screwed up, but running the world at the same time?

    -Curtis

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  10. kabir8:35 AM

    Perhaps an illustrative data point for your case:

    Ratan Tata [probably the most well known contemporary parsi businessman] beats PM, Pope & the Queen in reputation

    http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-09-23/news/30185112_1_ratan-tata-russian-premier-study

    Since, you asked for pointers to any scandals perpetrated by Parsis, I did note there is a section on controversies in Tata group's wiki, though I am not sure if any of these would qualify as "scandals" in your sense of the term. There was a more recent 2010 telecom scam Tata was involved in, but that doesn't seem to have really had an effect on the company's reputation like some had speculated.

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  11. At the Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital (“Compassionate Quality Healthcare”), a check-up for headaches costs Rs2,850.
    At the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (“Every Life Matters”), the wellness check-up costs Rs5,000.

    wheras, for the Parsi Tata group, there is more charity


    At the Tata Memorial Hospital, which treats cancer, healthcare is free.

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  12. At the Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital (“Compassionate Quality Healthcare”), a check-up for headaches costs Rs2,850.
    At the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (“Every Life Matters”), the wellness check-up costs Rs5,000.

    whereas for the Parsi Tata charity,


    At the Tata Memorial Hospital, which treats cancer, healthcare is free.

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  13. There is a charity hospital in Tehran that's run by Persian Jews, although it serves everybody. It is only 1 of 4 Jewish charity hospitals in the world.

    That leaves at most 3 charity hospitals in the whole world run by Ashkenazi Jews. Perhaps fewer. Obviously not for want of money or status, but simply because they don't have a very charitable nature.

    Persian Jews did not go through the same selective pressures that turned the Ashkenazim into ruthless money-men, and the Persian Jews have been co-evolving with their host population for millennia. Both factors make them much more humanistic than their Ashkenazi relatives.

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  14. Anonymous9:03 PM

    The Parsi have facial features associated with pastoralist peoples. Morphologically, many Iranians are similar to Swedes and northern Germans.

    I don't think all Jews are ruthless moneymakers. Just the ones that look stereotypically Jewish.

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  15. Anonymous1:48 AM

    That leaves at most 3 charity hospitals in the whole world run by Ashkenazi Jews. Perhaps fewer. Obviously not for want of money or status, but simply because they don't have a very charitable nature.

    The West is not really a very "Ashkenazi Jews hang out together and fight health problems!" place.

    Sidney Farber was still who he was.

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  16. Anonymous2:12 AM

    >most of the child sex abuse scandals in America are among Ultra-Orthodox Hasidics, like the small group in Brooklyn.

    Agnostic, where'd you pull this factoid from? And can you back it up? How exactly do you make this calculation? I'd like to use it IRL but not without firm supporting evidence.

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  17. Anonymous11:28 AM

    Yes, that claim about the ultra-Orthodox (not the same as Hasidic, who are a subset of the ultra-Orthodox) requires supporting evidence, especially in light of the many similar scandals in the Catholic church.

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  18. About 0.4% of Iranians are non-Muslims. And that's divided up among Bahá'ís, Mandeans, Hindus, Yarsanis, Zoroastrians, Jews, and Christians.

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  19. Anonymous10:12 PM

    You know, Jews had a very pleasant stay in India. Miles ahead of their situation in Christendom or Dar al-Islam. So there might be something about Indians that makes them okay with Jews and Parsis. Hinduism and Buddhism are very different from Christianity and Islam, after all.

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  20. Anonymous2:54 AM

    Much of this factor of Indian culture rather than Parsi generosity.

    Here are the important issues from an Indian perspective:

    1) Parsis are endogamous
    2) Parsis don't prostelyze their religion
    3) They are no threat to the nation state.

    Within Indian society, they basically functioned as their own caste, and fit in well within the Indian social milleau.

    There were Arab Jews in India as well, though most have since left for Israel. They weren't persecuted either for the similar reasons.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_India

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