Quantcast

Web Letters | The Nation

And Now: Anti-Semitism

Brown Beck

Of course Beck is an anti-Semite. Our reactionary right population has a very bad case of the Emperor's New Clothes. Proof: they obviously cannot see his clothing for what it is: a paean in cloth to the SA and his behavior for its lineage: a direct descendant of Goebbels. It is there for any to see, except if you believe in the Emperor's New Clothes, which the reactionaries manifestly do.

And as for the claim that he attends a Christian Church with the highest reverence for Judaism, in order to make that assertion, there has to be some element of disdain for Judaism, otherwise the reverence has no meaningful context. These reactionaries—we have no real conservatives with a voice any more—are so lost in being hate-riots that they forget that Hitler and the Nazis saw themselves as the final culmination of Christianity. Finally, we must all remember that parish Christianity is still stuck in the Middle Ages. The language and liturgy of parish practice, especially with the strong incursions of that Princeton University professor's theology, fundamentalism, still assume a God above the clouds who hands out favors to the nice, goodies to his favorities and hurls down lightning bolts and plagues on all his enemies. That's the same God as the one in 2 Kings, who has a couple bears maul forty-two children who are mocking the prophet Elisha.

The trouble with their Christianity is the trouble with their politics and the source of bad things to come for us all: reduction of reality to fantasy simplicities, which create a world in their minds where they can exercise absolute control. Jesus was supernatural, all the world's woes are created by one evil source, they have the one and only right answer. They must, because, just like the failure of Glenn Beck to achieve sobriety, which means his obvious failure to do the personal work necessary to live life on life's terms and not his ego's, they cannot handle the ambiguity and loose ends of reality. The name for the behavior in which they engage and are now engaging is, correctly put in the article, hysteria. And the name of the inevitable political system which such intrapersonal and spiritual failure creates is authoritarianism. It can be no other.

Of course to justify acting out hysteria, they need some cause: a fall guy, a straw man. They have lots of them: intellectuals (i. e., people who have not closed their minds), liberals (i. e., people who believe that government should be in the business of helping those who cannot help themselves), racial and religious groups (i. e., people who exist just fine outside their mold and therefore pose a threat to their fantasy world) and on an on ad nauseam.

At a deeper level, these authoritarians like Beck have failed to find God and heed the one clarion call of God or whatever you want to call this inevitableness that is the ground of all reality: love one another and help other human beings. That would mean facing some tough stuff, doing some very hard self-examination and fessing up to some dastardly deeds and stinking thoughts. It is a whole lot easier to blame the helpless and then begin to assume the mantle of wisdom: play God. You don't have to be responsible that way. And you get a whole population of people who cannot handle the failures and loose ends of their cherished American and Christian dreams to stand up and turn over all their woes and cares to you in your eloquence. It's a lot easier for them than taking responsibility for living life on life's terms.

That is a mental and spiritual malaise whose shadow is lengthening over our land with vicious intent. Just read the anger and hate in the first letter posted here! Hopefully the bottom we will all have to hit in order to dispel this dark thrall will be easier than it was for the Germans, who have trodden this path already and know the price. But it is not looking hopeful as long as the Glenn Becks/Stalins/Hitlers/McCarthys hold sway and populations cling to fantasies created to absolve them of their own responsibilities—or at least lull them into thinking they can escape themselves and God's categorical moral imperative to love and help, not hate and hurt, buried deep within their own minds and souls.

Gregory Forsythe

Asheville, NC

Dec 19 2010 - 12:59pm

And Now: Anti-Semitism

Your conclusion is ridiculous

Deducing that Glenn Beck has a personal and professional criticism of George Soros's history and intentions, and therefore, because he has such an opinion, Beck is anti-Semite, is directly parallel in cretinic methodology as any whiny lib saying that any correct or fruitfull criticism of Obama is therefore, de facto, racism. Is there no end to your sophistries? Anyone who knows anything about Beck knows he belongs to a Christian Church that has one of the highest reverences for Judaism.

Brent Coles

Park City, UT

Dec 7 2010 - 10:00pm

And Now: Anti-Semitism

Rousing a familiar demon

I am saddened to read this piece but not surprised. The mood sweeping the USA in the wake of the Obama victory has spawned a popular reactionary politics which in turn is prompting racism and anti-Semitism. Yet it seems it was always thus. I said prompting, not creating. This racism was there when the Jews of Eastern Europe first sought refuge in the USA. The blacks of the USA had only warnings to offer, had the Jews listened to them, but they didn't listen, for they were after all blacks. If the USA can host a Lyndon LaRouche it can also host a Glenn Beck. What will be interesting to observe is what these reactionaries make of the US relationship with an Israel becoming equally reactionary and how the Israeli right wing and their new ultra-orthodox partners will respond to a USA which voices a more overt anti-Semitism than before.

Paul Usiskin

Harrow, London, UK

Dec 6 2010 - 7:51pm

And Now: Anti-Semitism

Reflections of an American Jew

When I was growing up in the 1950s my dad used to tell me how he got into fights and was beaten up by a group of kids and was called “Christ killer” when he was a little boy and when I was in elementary school I too was called “Christ killer” many times and it wasn’t until the Vatican Council ended in 1965 that the Catholic Church finally said that it could no longer be taught in Catholic schools that the Jews killed Christ.

Flash forward from the 1950’s to 2004 when Mel Gibson’s The Passion came out and there were talk shows on radios throughout the United States where callers called in saying the present-day Jews had no right to claim the Jews did not kill Christ, because "they definitely did." This sickening lie is repeated over an over to tar and feather an entire people for something that supposedly happened thousands of years ago.

On the right you have people like Pat Buchanan writing books stating that there are too many Jews in our graduate schools of law and medicine and other fields and that their numbers should be limited by college admissions staff.

I grew up constantly hearing about how "all the Jews have money" but could never understand this stereotype either, since my parents, friends and later my own peers were lawyers, doctors, accountants, school teachers, pharmacists, audiologists and speech pathologists, grocery store owners, computer programmers, etc. None of the people I grew up were ever rich and the most some of them ever were was upper middle class. Almost all of them were and are middle class.

Jews were blamed for the horrendous decision to go to Iraq, apparently because two of President Bush’s advisers, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, favored the war and happened to be Jewish; no one ever mentioned that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield and almost all of Bush’s inner coterie were Christians, not Jews, but somehow it was a Jewish plot to send our soldiers to war. Anti-Semitism never seems to end. Last Thursday, in addressing a group, Helen Thomas said, "Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists." This vile, poisonous rhetoric, while condemned by most normal people, is unfortunately believed by a great many people. After all, if the majority of Americans still believed Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 a few years after the war with Iraq began, and they believe Obama is a Muslim, and an astounding 20 percent believe the Holocaust never happened, why should we be surprised that people believe insidious lies about an entire people? How many millions of people believe the utter falsehoods they hear every week from the likes of Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity? Far too many!

As an American Jew who supports Israel but is for a two-state solution and is totally unhappy with the current Israeli government and who believes Obama should have been much tougher with Netanyahu and not caved into him like he has, I nevertheless am tired of hearing all the lies about Zionist control of our foreign policy and the damage the Israeli lobby is causing. The same people who make these accusations apparently have no problem with the gun lobby, the insurance lobby, the pharmaceutical lobby, the tobacco lobby, the trial attorney’s lobby, etc. etc. Hundreds of thousands of people die every year because of policies these lobbies pressure our Congress to uphold, but the hatred seems directed at the Israel lobby and much of the criticism of Israel is bent on deligitimizing Israel’s right to exist. Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians is not benign and it is a stain and disgrace on Judiasm. Most American Jews support a two-state solution and most are ashamed of the current foreign minister, and many are embarassed by the current Israeli government. Legitimate criticism of Israel is fine, but when one crosses the line into conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism it’s time they be called to answer for their comments. Anyone who doubts Israel’s own questioning of its leaders should look at an Israeli media site like Ha'aretz that routinely bashes all of Israel’s leaders, and uses more provocative language in doing so than any of our own leaders.

Anti-Semitism and racism are two of the worst poisons the world has ever experienced. When we resort to denigrating and debasing an entire people with stereotypes and lies, what we truly accomplish in the end is debasing and devaluing ourselves. The god we believe in and/or the color of our skin should never be used to question our loyalty to America or to deny our right to live like anyone else. In the end, we are all the same, and share the same dreams, and want the same things for our families and ourselves, and if the world would someday realize this, then perhaps there would be far less hatred and far less wars, and things such as hatred, bigotry, famine and war would become part of our permanent past. Hatred never filled a hungry person's belly, never made a lame person walk again and never cured any disease. Hatred destroys, and it's long past the time we learn to work together for the good of all mankind.

Mark Jeffery Koch

Cherry Hill, NJ

Dec 6 2010 - 6:27pm

And Now: Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism, impotent Democrats & conservative populism

I think it's a matter of historical fact that at least since the Presidency of John F. Kennedy (and probably FDR), there has been a steady migration of racists from the Democratic Party to the Republican party. That's not to say that there aren't a few racists left in the Democratic ranks. It's just if you are a racist, it has become increasingly difficult to vote Democratic what with all the civil rights legislation, The Great Society, the War on Poverty, the strength of the Congressional Black Caucus etc. etc. If anyone still doubted that migration, the election of President Obama was the exclamation on the point.

Today, while red states cover most of the heartland, the Democrats hold sway on the edges (California, New York, sometimes Florida, other coastal communities and in urban environments). In other words multiethnic ideas and multiculturalism prevail in those geographies where there are actually people of color and diverse ethnic backgrounds. Across the red state rural heartland, words like "multicultural" are used simply as epithets or as metaphors for things to be feared (and therefore hated)... since the predominant white Protestant population has no experience with blacks or Jews or Catholics or Muslims and so quite predictably fear (and hate) what they do not understand.

US Jewish population centers in New York and Florida and urban areas and the nature of the Democratic Party itself has always meant a strong inclination for Jews to vote Democratic and to contribute to Democratic campaigns. Additionally, centuries of oppression by dominant Christian cultures in Europe and elsewhere have fostered strong threads of avant-garde intellectualism within the Jewish community, providing fertile ground for ideas of social justice. An intellectual person cannot read a Phillip Roth book or watch a Woody Allen movie without a degree of appreciation for some of the intellectual complexities found within Jewish culture. It is no accident that many of the dominant figures within the US labor movement and the Bolshevic Revolution were Jewish. For all these reasons and many more, Jews often relate to the Democratic Party and the Democratic Party relates to Jews.

I tend not to view the world in black-and-white terms or even shades of gray (as Democrats are often criticized for) but rather as a complex spectrum. As I've pondered the state of world affairs (i.e., corporatism, political corruption, the rise of US militarism, pre-emptive war etc.), the Republican Party has not been too difficult to comprehend. They hate what they fear. They fear what they don't understand. The stereotypical cowboy American reaction has been to seek out simple stereotypical explanations and solutions for very real and very complex problems. Fox News and much of the rest of American media has been more than happy to oblige the American public with short, simple, easily digestible soundbites and thus the rise of US conservatism, Republicanism, nationalism, the Tea Party Movement and xenophobia in the homeland (a new term in America and strangely reminiscent of the German "fatherland").

The more perplexing dilemma has been the Democratic Party. I ask myself, "Why has the Democratic Party been so completely impotent during the previous decade?" I find part of the answer within Israeli politics. Unlike a racist who, if they considered Israel at all, would take a simplistic view (like something from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion), I recognize that Israel, even more than the US, is a complex society faced with existential threats and many groups vying for control in an intensely complex political landscape. The Labor Party and the Likud Party and the "fake" Kadima Party and a multitude of others form coalitions within a parliamentary political system more complex than our own. It is not a country simply of Jews but rather a country of good people and bad people who happen to be primarily Jewish along with an Arab underclass of about 1,000,000 in-country Palestinians. The illegally occupied territories represent another complexity for the tenuous existence of this small country and the topic of intense debate within Israel proper (whatever that is).

In Israel, just as in our country, there are hawks and doves, liberals and conservatives, law-abiding citizens and gangsters (in Israel a growing population of Russian immigrants), secularists and religious nuts, capitalists and proponents of social justice. The problem in Israel, just as in the US, is that the hawks, the gangsters, the religious nuts and the capitalists are ascendant, as evidenced by the recent election of Benjamin Netanyahu and functionaries like Avigdor Lieberman.

We often hear (from the American media) the US described as a "center- right" nation, despite the fact that when the American people are polled on individual social issues like abortion or gay rights or global warming or on economic issues such as taxation policy for the top 2 percent of income-earners, actual American views on individual issues coincide with Democratic Party platforms. However, state legislatures and governorships and Congress and the presidency have been dominated in recent decades by the Republican Party. Why is that? In Israel, a country which historically has been leftward-leaning, we are also seeing a steady march to the right.

I theorize the answer is that because the media, who are funded primarily by corporate interests, frame the issues and the debate; they tip the scales towards the interests of their corporate paymasters. The American media today is dominated by six large corporations owned primarily by hedge fund managers in New York and Connecticut. This is a matter of public record. I surmise that if this were not so, a system of taxation in this country that makes it possible via corporate tax loopholes for a captain of international capitalism like Warren Buffett to famously pay a lower effective tax rate than his secretary would not be possible. Examples of this effect can be distinguished and documented across a myriad of issues, including regulation/deregulation, free trade, global warming etc.

Returning to Israel and the Democrats, here is where my theory of the way the world really is gets tricky. If I were to say the world's media is controlled by Jews, I should be rightly criticized as an anti-Semite and spouting no more than the simplistic right-wing jargon of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. On the other hand, if I were to say the American Jewish population (1.6 percent) is over-represented by powerful decision-makers and spokespeople within the American media, I believe it would be a statement of obvious fact.

Likewise, if I were to say the world's banks are controlled by Jews, I would be guilty of making a racist comment and simplistic thinking... but... if I were to say America's financial community, headquartered primarily in New York and Connecticut (the city of New York includes as many Jews as the state of Israel), is over-represented (relative to the US Jewish population at large—again, 1.6 percent) by powerful Jewish interests, I think I would also be making a statement of fact. Many people would label me a racist, regardless. I'm sure Abe Foxman of the ADL would label me nothing less than a Nazi. However, I could also posit that the ADL and AIPAC are nothing more than blunt instrument tools of powerful interests in the US and Israel. Furthermore, by labeling me anti-Semitic on these points, they would be in danger of labeling the truth anti-Semitic.

Now if what I say is true, is it surprising that over-representation within the media and banking elite in this country would give an amplified economic (and therefore political) voice to the group that is over represented? So who is over-represented? Jews? Perhaps, but that's mostly irrelevant. What percentage of hedge fund managers do you think are Democrats? For that matter, what percentage of people making more than $250,000 a year are Democrats? How many studio executives or corporate media executives do you think make more than $250K per year? Hedge fund managers? Banking executives? One can despise the despotic tendencies of communism while recognizing a certain number of truisms in the writings of Karl Marx.

So why is the United States and Israel concurrently moving steadily towards militarism and corporatism (and by definition, fascism)? The answer, I believe, is because the interests of the economically and politically powerful are served by the movement. How they are served by that movement can be tabled for a later discussion, but the fact is the US and Israel demonstrably are moving in the direction of corporatism and militarism and that movement can be said to serve the interests of the politically powerful on the face of it simply because the movement is allowed to happen. If it were not so, why would the media/political/financial elite, with their amplified voice, allow it to occur?

Finally, resolution to the dilemma of the ineffectual Democrats despite their populist focus and obvious polling advantages on the policies. The history of the party since WWII has been close alliance with (and major funding from) Jewish interests. Who gives? Poor people, yes, but rich people give more. Imperialism (inevitably supported by militarism) serves the interests of the economically elite in the US and Israel. Because the Democratic Party historically depends more heavily on Jewish interests and political campaign contributions than did the Republican Party (I suspect this is changing), those interests hold more power over the party. In other words the Democrats have been told to sit down and shut up by economic elites in both the US and Israel. I will table a discussion of why an Imperialist US also serves the strategic interests of the State of Israel by providing it a raison d'être for a later discussion as well.

I will finish up my comments with a warning for elite Jewish interests in both the US and Israel. You people are playing with fire. We Democrats are predisposed to multiculturalism and acceptance of ethnic diversity. Racism is anathema to us. The populist game being played by the American media these days is much more dangerous. Conservative populism as promoted by the American media and represented by some elements within the Republican Party and the Tea Party Movement is a different animal all together. It's a bit like keeping a pet grizzly bear. Turn your back for a minute or keep playing with it until you inevitably get in its way, and they will turn on you and tear you to pieces. The "never again" mantra will be like words from a discarded newspaper. The headline will read "Wieder Kristallnacht!"

Jon Tate

Pensacola, FL

Dec 6 2010 - 5:52pm

And Now: Anti-Semitism

Fox: the hate network

Glenn Beck's shocking anti-Semitic conspiratorial nighmarish rant is scary in its own right. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that it was merely one program on the saga that is the Fox 24-Hour Propaganda Scare Channel. Rupert Murdock is intoxicated with the power he now holds over public opinion. He created massive public support enabling George W. Bush to start and conduct an unnecessary war. He has created certainty in the minds of Tea Party members, as Jonathan Schell notes, that global warming is a plot to make Al Gore wealthy. But creating fear and the ensuing prejudicial hatred has long been the propagandist's tool to power.

For two solid months this summer Fox conducted a twenty-four-hour war against aL ower Manhattan Islamic cultural center. The center will do much to promote understanding, peace and good will. Nevertheless, Fox's propaganda attack was vicious, false and relentless; it linked the individuals falsely to terrorism and the project to an insane theory of Muslim conquest. It took Jon Stewart to expose the source of alleged terrorist funding of the "mosque" project: the second-largest individual shareholder in News Corp.

Scariest of all, in the end, some polls showed that 70 percent of Manhattanites are opposed the center. The power of the Fox Scare Network must never be underestimated.

Asher Fried

Croton-on-Hudson, NY

Dec 6 2010 - 12:59pm

Before commenting, please read our Community Guidelines.