-- A high school student in this West Bank town has been arrested for
"multiplication denial" after repeatedly insisting that a negative number
multiplied by another negative number yields a negative product. A
world-wide consensus of mathematicians determined long ago that two
negative numbers multiplied together produces a POSITIVE product.
obvious," said the 14-year-old student, Rihab Hanafi, as she was led away
in chains by Uzi-toting guards, "multiplication magnifies; therefore two
negative numbers multiplied together necessarily produces a MORE NEGATIVE
Hanafi's repeating her false claims over and over and refusing to
instantly accept the word of others gave her away as a died-in-the-wool
Holocaust Denier right off the bat. "This kind of superficially plausible
reasoning is characteristic of Holocaust Deniers, to which Mathematics
Denial is obviously related," said Abraham Foxman, Director of the
Anti-Defamation League. "But the underlying motive is obviously hatred for
truth and hatred for Jews, the principal bearers of truth."
According to the Anti-Defamation League, Hanafi's antics are just the
latest in a series of anti-math atrocities that are making the world a
perilous place for number theorists. Last year, a Belgian neo-Nazi
announced he had discovered a new whole number that he claimed belonged
between 3 and 4. He was arrested for trivializing the integers. A short
time later a Palestinian detainee claimed that Israel's policy of
reserving 92% of the land for the Jewish people made it mathematically
impossible to achieve equality with the Palestinians. He is now serving a
ten-year sentence for denying the decimals.
Given the growing threat to objective numerical truth, Rihab Hanafi has
been placed in solitary confinement and her website arguing her case has
been removed from the World Wide Web. ADL officials stated yesterday that
thousands of innocent victims around the world have been led astray by her
multiplication deviance over the years. The Hanafi family lawyer responded
that if Enron can proceed on the basis that a negative plus a negative is
a positive then there is no reason his client can't bring "creative
accounting" to the multiplication tables. He will soon be charged with
Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel, reached for comment at an international
conference on Peace Through Guilt, said that the negative numbers fiasco
highlights the terrifying fragility of quantitative truth. "Numbers are
the foundation of civilization. Once we allow them to be questioned, only
disaster can ensue. If Mathematics Denial is left unchecked, buildings
will fall, bridges collapse, cities grind to a halt. Just think where we
would be if Einstein had deliberately miscalculated e=mc2, World War II
might never have ended." Asked for an estimation of how serious the
current situation is, he replied: "Today negative numbers, tomorrow the
extinction of world Jewry. Never again."
A spokesman for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which has spent years
tracking down Nazi war criminals that escaped Allied prosecution at
Nuremberg, added his opinion that, "Denying the properties of negative
numbers is no different than denying that six million Jews died in the
Holocaust. Next thing you know Deniers will argue that Hitler ADDED six
million Jews to Europe with his death camps. Obviously, skepticism in any
form is but a first step towards a repetition of the Holocaust."
In a surprise development, Jews are no longer alone in fighting off
Denial. Political activists the world over are now finding parallels with
their own struggles in the Hanafi case. Randall Berry of "No More Gays," a
pro-family group, says that Procreation Deniers are his biggest challenge.
"They just don't get it. We tell them over and over that same-sex
relations are sterile but they consciously lie and say that any two people
who love each other ought to be left alone. How sick can they get?"
And there are many other examples, including:
Islamofascist Deniers, who argue that the U.S. invasion and occupation of
Iraq is a crime. "None of them will admit that Muslim evil predates 2003,"
observes Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens, "and therefore
is the cause of the current war."
Merit Deniers in the affirmative action movement. "It's incredible," says
UC Regent Ward Connerly, "these people actually think that social
conditions have something to do with one's station in life. It's some kind
of bizarre mystical doctrine that most of them will never overcome."
Free Market Deniers, who insist people have a right to the resources they
need to live a decent life regardless of whether they can prostitute
themselves to the private owners of the economy. "The entitlement
mentality is running amok," warns economist Milton Friedman gloomily.
Fetal Holocaust Deniers, who cannot get it through their thick heads that
a child conceived in rape is just as precious in the eyes of God as any
other. The consequences of their selfish delusions have long since reached
American Dream Deniers, who would substitute the perverse ideal of
bio-diversity for the opportunity to consume without limit. What can they
be thinking of?
Michael K. Smith
is the author of
Portraits of Empire (illustrations by Matt Wuerker),
The Madness of King George, and Rise To Empire
(forthcoming), all from Common Courage Press.
is a satire, in case you were wondering.
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