{Empty title} | The Nation

The possible link between anti-abortion forces and anti-Semitism needs to be put in a wider context than one finds here.

Historical conservatism, which began in the eighteenth century in opposition first to the Enlightenment and then to the even more threatening French Revolution, early on picked up anti-Semitism for a variety of reasons. Papal and other church pronouncements against the Enlightenment began to include Jews among enemies of Christianity, along with Freemasons and Protestants. Few remember that Edmund Burke, in his classic attack on the French Revolution, included "Jewish jobbers" among the proponents of revolution. Joseph de Maistre was free of public anti-Semitism, but his colleague Louis de Bonald quickly found Jews to be important among the foes of Christian civilization. From that time on conservatives have either welcomed anti-Semitism or have found it difficult to avoid. Not until William Buckley some years ago excommunicated anti-Semites from his brand of conservatism has conservatism lacked an anti-Semitic core. It has been particularly strong in integrist Catholicism, that form of Catholicism which is traditionalistic and hostile to modernity in all its form. No surprise then that anti-abortion partisans who are also passively or actively anti-Semitic turn up again and again. Anyone who denies that abortion is a form of genocide can expect some sort of anti-Semitic rant sooner or later.

Can conservatism really purge itself of anti-Semitism? Pace William Buckley, the temptation to blame the Jews is too attractive, now that Freemasons and Marxists are a thing of the past.

When a conservative or Republican in America denounces "liberals" you can be sure 85 percent of the time that he means Jews also. Well, perhaps 60 percent of the time.