Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Anti-Semitism, on the Right, 15 yards, first down

Occasionally I've seen conservatives, either viciously or stupidly, misinterpret left-wing attacks on "neocons" as attacks on Jews. If we on the left were clever and vicious, maybe we could've spun right-wing attacks on "liberals" as veiled attacks on Jews, defanged a favorite conservative attack term, and discredited people who use it against us. Shouldn't have been too hard -- liberal and Jewish stereotypes are fairly similar (overeducated, bloodless blue-state nerds). Sadly, we didn't and it's probably too late to do so.

If anyone wants to get started, though, they can begin by pointing to a conservative who attacks the ACLU in the course of an explicitly anti-Semitic post, which was linked by Yglesias:

I'd never understood how the medieval kings found it so easy to get the common people to hate the Jews in their midst. But if those medieval Jewish leaders were anything like the idiots running the ADL, the ACLU and the Council of Jews, one can see where the idea of persecuting them would have held some appeal.

Insane dude has a weekly column on WorldNetDaily, by the way, so he's more than some random yahoo with a blog.


Blue said...

So many comments... feel free to respond to just one of them, or all.

1. Mmm, it doesn't help that the most flagrant American user of the term neocon is Pat Buchanan, who DOES use it in a crypto-racist way. Also, many liberals do seem outspoken about the neo-con agenda on the most "jewish" of it's issues, which is "blind support of Israel".

2. I think you're hurting yourself spending too much time on LGF or similar. I don't think "a liberal saying neocon is anti-jewish" has penetrated American culture that much. Similar stereotypes of bigotry work in liberal's favor as well (such as Trent Lott being labelled a racist for his remarks about Strom Thurmond), we may feel these stereotypes are more justified, but to a media trying to find the fittest meme and spread it, it's all the same.

3. Much of the "right calling the left anti-jewish" lately (besides being based on polarizing the issue of Israel in the US) seems to be along the lines of calling Europe anti-semitic. This tends to be rather effective since A) European countries tend to be outspoken against Israel, B) everyone remembers the holocaust, C) many muslim and nationalist groups in Europe are being rather anti-semitic and meeting tolerance for their multicultural views from the government. I feel this is absurd, and parts of Europe have had much friendlier histories with Jews (a few have even had Jewish heads of government, unthinkable here). Clearly Central Europe has even overcompensated in the government's attitude towards Jewish culture. And however much sometimes Christianity and the government of Israel might have similar goals, more secularism in Europe in the long term will favor the religious minorities contrasted to in the US. But in the meantime, it's a pretty effective slime against "have you noticed the world hates our foreign policy?" -> "well by the world you mean Europe, and they just hate the jews in Israel and the Pentagon". I know liberal New York jews who even believe it.

4. We disagree on who the neocons are exactly though (the term is somewhat vague). Their roots are traced back to a consequentialist domestic libertarianism that doesn't think the government can ever operate these social programs well, but a desire for "American greatness" to be enacted in many other ways, such as spreading democracy and capitalism throughout the world. In the 2000 election, they almost all backed McCain, and many did for Gore, in view of Bush's isolationism. Bush (and rummy and cheney) did an about face on 911, and his agenda is now in line with the neocons. But I often feel it's a relationship of convenience, a bunch of old school establishment republicans (such as rummy and cheney) using the neocons now that it's politically convenient, but not sharing the same intellectual approach or other qualities that make it anything more than an easy way to get oil and votes. I personally expect as things get worse in Iraq over the next 4 years, to see these guys dropped like a hot potato.

5. And sadly, some of the American liberals have not acted entirely responsibly when it comes to discussing neocons. I always bristle when Republicans dismiss well researched studies or factually backed up policies as just from liberal eggheads who have some sort of evil academic/intellectual agenda or are out of touch with the world and so their studies have no relevance. I find far too many liberals will to make similar simplistic summaries and dismissals of the rather intellectual based neocon movement.

Robin said...

Vox Day is probably my favorite WND columnist, Neil. Don't dis him--he's in Mensa, he writes science fiction, and look at that hair! And what a name!

For genuine WND insanity, check out Mychal Massie's best column ever:

Neil Sinhababu said...

1. Mmm, it doesn't help that the most flagrant American user of the term neocon is Pat Buchanan, who DOES use it in a crypto-racist way. Also, many liberals do seem outspoken about the neo-con agenda on the most "jewish" of it's issues, which is "blind support of Israel".

2. That's right, it's mostly committed right-wingers who do this thing. I don't read LGF, since I prefer to firefight on minor right-wing blogs, but that's where I see it.

3. Yeah, okay. BTW, Joe Lieberman was 600 Florida votes and a heart attack away from the presidency, so I don't know how unthinkable Jewish heads of state are here.

4. I agree with your history of the neocons. Is Rummy really an old-fashioned conservative, though? His vision of a light fast US Army that can serially invade everything dovetails with the neocon vision too well. I always took him as the paradigmatic neocon.

5. As populist politics, such dismissals may be the thing to do. As part of a genuine discussion about how to improve things, the anti-intellectual thing has no place.

Neil Sinhababu said...

oops... trying to get around the blogger comment system, which prevents you from seeing other people's comments when you post, caused me to repaste Tony's 1.

Yeah, Robin, I noticed the Vox-hair, and the SFWA thing.

While I'm thinking political strategy, I wish that the Republican party could be more associated in voters' minds with guys like Day and Massey.

Blue said...

2. I more meant that it’s only the hard-core right wingers who listen to this or believe this. Jews still support dems about 79%, and other cultural indicators don’t seem to

3. Eh, being almost in line to succeed is pretty far from being directly appointed the prime minister (yes, for a time in the nineteenth century the most powerful person in the world was Jewish. Weird). But I think we agree, Europe is far better on semitism than here (in general at least, averaging the midwest and the coast. New York I’ll admit is probably the best place to be jewish in the world).

4. The transformation of the military is a good question, but I think there are many ways that Rummy has not been doing it with the neocon eye. I think there’s widespread misunderstanding about what’s going on here. A lot of what Rumsfield has done has been to replace the traditionally democratic parts of the military (such as the army) with republican parts (airforce, navy, special forces) such as appointing an air force chief as the new chief of staff for the army. The neo cons may be fine with this, but certainly not their goal. I should probably do more reading on the subject.

5. Okay, so I won’t find you saying silly things like “Rummy and Wolfowitz have never served in uniform, who are they to put our troops in harms way for their silly theories!”?

Neil Sinhababu said...

5. Not my style. I attack the theories.