Thursday, December 20, 2018
Peter Beinart Suggests That A Jewish Cult Of Immigration Could Trigger More Antisemitic Violence Like The Pittsburgh Synagogue
|Pundit Peter Beinart|
From the Forward:
‘The Special Kind of Hate that drove Pittsburgh Shooter---and Trump’
It happened on Parshat Vayera. The worst anti-Semitic attack in American history occurred while Jews around the world were reading the Torah portion that tells the story of Lot, an immigrant.
Lot moves to Sodom, and prospers there. The Midrash says he becomes a judge. His daughters intermarry with the locals. Then one day, while sitting at the gates of the city, the assimilating immigrant sees two strangers approach. He asks them to “spend the night and bathe your feet”— the Midrash says he learned to welcome strangers from his uncle Abraham, the first Jew. Lot “prepares them a feast.”
But in Sodom, the natives hate strangers. “Where are the men who came to you tonight?” they demand. “Bring them out to us.” Lot tries to protect his guests. “I beg you friends,” he implores, “do not commit such a wrong.” For the men of Sodom, however, this just underscores Lot’s foreignness. He hasn’t really assimilated; he isn’t one of them. He’s a threat. “The fellow came here an immigrant and already acts the ruler,” they declare. “Now we will deal worse with you than with them.”
Why did Robert Bowers murder eleven people yesterday at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh? We’re unlikely to ever fully grasp his motives. But he was enraged, it appears, by the fact that synagogues were participating in a program run by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society that dedicated special Shabbat services to the plight of refugees. “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in,” Bowers wrote hours before his attack. In another post, he declared, “Open you Eyes! It’s the filthy EVIL jews Bringing the Filthy EVIL Muslims into the Country!!”
Obviously, America is not Sodom. But Bowers tried to harm Jews, at least in part, for the same reason the men of that ancient city tried to harm Lot: Because Jews were welcoming strangers. Instead of assimilating into a culture suffused with anti-immigrant hatred, HIAS — which was founded to help Jewish immigrants to the United States —now assists immigrants and refugees from across the world.
For several years now, as anti-Semitism has risen in the United States and around the world, American Jews have argued with each other about how best to keep safe.
One camp says the best strategy is to ally with the Trumpian right. Sure, Trump and his supporters scapegoat Latinos and Muslims; they want to shut America’s doors to refugees. But according to polls, they like Jews. Jews, after all, have assimilated. Most speak unaccented English. Most are prosperous. Most are considered white.
Trumpians are thus generally willing to embrace Jews as real Americans so long as they reject any affinity with the newer immigrants who threaten America’s “Western” and “Judeo-Christian” identity. And many prominent Jews are happy to accept that bargain, and display their loyalty to Trump’s America by echoism his bigotry.
Sheldon Adelson — who thinks all terrorists are Muslim — is Trump’s biggest financial backer. Mort Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America — who recently referred to “filthy Arabs” — is thrilled that Trump is trying to keep Muslims out of the United States. Last year, Republican Josh Mandel, who was running for the Senate in Ohio, retweeted a tweet declaring that, “I am so sick and tired of PC idiots worrying about offending Islam. I stand with Israel and my Judeo-Christian culture and I find Islam offensive.” Joel Pollak is senior-editor-at-large of Breitbart, which warns endlessly about the threat Americans face from depraved Muslim and Latino refugees.
There’s a moral argument against this strategy. As Parsha Vayera suggests, welcoming the stranger is among the most fundamental Jewish imperatives. Lot “baked unleavened” bread for the strangers who came to Sodom. The parallel to the exodus from Egypt is clear. Lot and Abraham welcomed strangers; Pharaoh oppressed them. And 36 times in the Torah Jews are reminded to be like Abraham and Lot: To remember the heart of the stranger because were strangers in the land of Egypt.
But putting the moral argument aside, even from the narrowest of self-interest, the Adelson-Klein-Mandel-Pollak calculation is foolish.
Bowers did not ask the Jews he murdered whether they support admitting refugees. He saw that some Jews support admitting refugees and he blamed us all. That’s how anti-Semitism works. No matter how much Trump’s Jews try to prove their loyalty to his racially and religiously exclusive vision of America, others Jews will not — and that will make all Jews vulnerable.
Bigots don’t make fine distinctions. If they don’t distinguish Muslims from ISIS and Latinos from MS-13, they won’t distinguish the congregants at Tree of Life Synagogue from George Soros.
Appeasement will not work. For Jews, the lesson of yesterday’s massacre is very simple and very old: Protecting the strangers among us is not charity. It is self-defense. Every time Jews defend the right of American Muslims to follow sharia, we protect our right to follow halacha. Every time Jews reject politicians who demonize Latinos we make it less likely that those politicians will demonize us. “Hate them, not us” is a losing strategy because once empowered, bigots widen their targets. For people who define America as a white Christian nation, Jews will never be white enough.
Robert Bowers accused Jews of “bringing” Muslims and refugees to the United States. To him and all the other white nationalists Trump has emboldened, our answer should be: Damn right. We will demand a humane policy for people seeking refuge in the United States and defend those immigrants — no matter their race or faith — who are already here.
Will do so not only because we were once strangers but because we know that, at some level, like Lot, we always will be. Rather than seeking a separate peace with Trumpism, we will look for allies among the despised and abused. And in that way, we will defend not only Jewish ethics, but Jewish lives.
Tens of thousands of stunned, dust-covered office workers surged over the Brooklyn Bridge toward me, the devastated skyline at their backs. It was midmorning, September 11, 2001. The second World Trade Center tower had collapsed 20 minutes before; New York’s two tallest buildings reduced to rubble. I had heard on the radio that as many as six other planes had been hijacked. This later proved untrue. But at that moment, no one knew what might come next.
We passed the Federal Reserve Bank, home to a few billion dollars in U.S. gold reserves. There, the acrid fog was so thick we literally bumped into a phalanx of guards with assault weapons at the ready. The adrenaline level was very high all around.
Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Why Trump's 'Enemy Of The People' Charge Rings Bells For So Many Of 'The People' (The Short Version)
Way too many words have been expended already on the Times’ misbegotten hiring of Sarah Jeong for the prestigious spot on the editorial board dedicated to technology, law and internet policy. Most of the coverage has been focused on the Korean immigrant’s obsessive habit of tweeting out nasty bursts of anti-white racism and other forms of derisive "othering." This seems to have gone on for years during the time Jeong was a Harvard Law School student (JD, 2014), a Yale journalism fellow (2015-16) and a contributor to such publications as Motherboard, the Atlantic, Forbes, the Verge and the New York Times Magazine. Apparently, anti-white racism isn't a disqualification for the California bar either; Jeong was admitted in 2016.
With the hounds baying for her blood almost as soon as the hiring announcement was made, both the Times and Jeong herself attempted to explain that she had long been the target of online harassment from misogynistic, anti-Asian trolls; she'd merely been responding in the idiom of her tormenters. That is to say, she was responding ironically. This is, of course, an explanation that hardly anyone besides the senior managers who hired her, and would look profoundly embarrassed if they fired her, actually believed, or at least pretended hard enough to look like they did. The idea that someone could get away with saying something analogous about any of the so-called protected groups---Blacks, Jews, Latinos, Asians---is absurd, as conservative black activist Candace Owen learned when Twitter suspended her account after Owens took some of Jeong’s tweets and tweeted them out again with the races reversed: black where Jeong had tweeted white. Irony tweets it seems are the object of a decided double standard, both online among flippant millennials and, apparently, on the pages of the serious (or serious-seeming) New York Times.
The best and most incisive treatment of the Sarah Jeong case is actually contained in a single sentence that Caitlin Flanagan wrote earlier this week in an excellent Atlantic essay about the subversive appeal of alt-lite self-help author Jordan Peterson. The single sentence, albeit quite a honker of a single sentence, is actually a two-fer, cutting to the heart of the Times hypocrisy on hiring Jeong at a time when it is hyperventilating about the rising tide of white racism on a daily basis and on issuing portentous warnings about Trump’s threatening use of the term “Enemy of the People.” In fact the two senior figures at the Times who had made the decision to hire Jeong---Opinion editor James Bennet and publisher A. G. Sulzberger, who took over from his father Arthur Sulzberger Jr at the end of last year, journeyed out to Trump’s Bedminster New Jersey golf club last month to relay their concerns mano-a-mano and joined the Boston Globe's effort, along with 300 other newspaper editorial pages, to denounce Trump's anti-press attacks. Flanagan writes:
When the top man at The New York Times publishes a sober statement about a meeting he had with the president in which he describes instructing Trump about the problem of his “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric,” and then three days later the paper announces that it has hired a writer who has tweeted about her hatred of white people, of Republicans, of cops, of the president, of the need to stop certain female writers and journalists from “existing,” and when this new hire will not be a beat reporter, but will sit on the paper’s editorial board—having a hand in shaping the opinions the paper presents to the world—then it is no mystery that a parallel culture of ideas has emerged to replace a corrupted system.
Interestingly, Flanagan used to write for James Bennet when Bennet was editor at the Atlantic, and the current Atlantic editor, Jeffrey Goldberg, was long protected by Bennet from the many many Beltway journalists who were after him for any number of offenses, most of them tied to his Zionist chauvinism and the kind of Israel First journalism that produced his infamous and lethally flawed Saddam Hussein WMD piece from 2003. A bit of a betrayal then, or at the very least sign of significant disappointment in a former boss.
Sunday, August 19, 2018
At the Atlantic, writer Caitlin Flanagan has published a must-read for those who find themselves impatient with liberal sanctimony, p.c. virtue-tripping, transgender pronouns, the “white privilege” theory of any and all racial inequities, and the censuring of twitter, Facebook and Youtube freethinking deplorables such as Gavin McInnes and Jared Taylor. Her piece explores the reasons why the alt-lite's favorite self-help author Jordan Peterson is so popular, especially so with liberal-minded young men, such as her son. These young men, she explains,“graduated from high school and went off to colleges where they were exposed to the kind of policed discourse that dominates American campuses” and now found Peterson’s work, especially his podcasts, absolutely liberating. They'd voted for Hillary, called home in shock when Trump won, talked about flipping the House, and "followed Peterson to other podcasts—to Sam Harris and Dave Rubin and Joe Rogan. "
What they were getting from these lectures and discussions, often lengthy and often on arcane subjects, was perhaps the only sustained argument against identity politics they had heard in their lives.
That might seem like a small thing, but it’s not. With identity politics off the table, it was possible to talk about all kinds of things—religion, philosophy, history, myth—in a different way. They could have a direct experience with ideas, not one mediated by ideology. All of these young people, without quite realizing it, were joining a huge group of American college students who were pursuing a parallel curriculum, right under the noses of the people who were delivering their official educations.
Because all of this was happening silently, called down from satellites and poured in through earbuds—and not on campus free-speech zones where it could be monitored, shouted down, and reported to the appropriate authorities—the left was late in realizing what an enormous problem it was becoming for it. It was like the 1960s, when kids were getting radicalized before their parents realized they’d quit glee club. And it was not just college students. Not by a long shot.
Flanagan contends that “There are plenty of reasons for individual readers to dislike Jordan Peterson, many legitimate reasons to disagree with him on a number of subjects.” But, she continues, there is no coherent reason for what she describes as the left’s “obliterating and irrational hatred” of him. “What, then, accounts for it?” she asks.
Flanagan answers that while the left may seem “currently ascendant in our houses of culture and art,” it has in fact “entered its decadent late phase, and it is deeply vulnerable.”
The left is afraid not of Peterson, but of the ideas he promotes, which are completely inconsistent with identity politics of any kind. When the poetry editors of The Nation virtuously publish an amateurish but super-woke poem, only to discover that the poem stumbled across several trip wires of political correctness; when these editors (one of them a full professor in the Harvard English department) then jointly write a letter oozing bathos and career anxiety and begging forgiveness from their critics; when the poet himself publishes a statement of his own—a missive falling somewhere between an apology, a Hail Mary pass, and a suicide note; and when all of this is accepted in the houses of the holy as one of the regrettable but minor incidents that take place along the path toward greater justice, something is dying.
When the top man at The New York Times publishes a sober statement about a meeting he had with the president in which he describes instructing Trump about the problem of his “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric,” and then three days later the paper announces that it has hired a writer who has tweeted about her hatred of white people, of Republicans, of cops, of the president, of the need to stop certain female writers and journalists from “existing,” and when this new hire will not be a beat reporter, but will sit on the paper’s editorial board—having a hand in shaping the opinions the paper presents to the world—then it is no mystery that a parallel culture of ideas has emerged to replace a corrupted system. When even Barack Obama, the poet laureate of identity politics, is moved to issue a message to the faithful, hinting that that they could be tipping their hand on all of this—saying during a speech he delivered in South Africa that a culture is at a dead end when it decides someone has no “standing to speak” if he is a white man—and when even this mayday is ignored, the doomsday clock ticks ever closer to the end.
In the midst of this death rattle has come a group of thinkers, Peterson foremost among them, offering an alternative means of understanding the world to a very large group of people who have been starved for one. His audience is huge and ever more diverse, but a significant number of his fans are white men. The automatic assumption of the left is that this is therefore a red-pilled army, but the opposite is true. The alt-right venerates identity politics just as fervently as the left, as the title of a recent essay reproduced on the alt-right website Counter-Currents reveals: “Jordan Peterson’s Rejection of Identity Politics Allows White Ethnocide.”
Here’s the larger cultural and political point:
If you think that a backlash to the kind of philosophy that resulted in The Nation’s poetry implosion; the Times’ hire; and Obama’s distress call isn’t at least partly responsible for the election of Donald Trump, you’re dreaming. And if you think the only kind of people who would reject such madness are Republicans, you are similarly deluded. All across the country, there are people as repelled by the current White House as they are by the countless and increasingly baroque expressions of identity politics that dominate so much of the culture. These are people who aren’t looking for an ideology; they are looking for ideas. And many of them are getting much better at discerning the good from the bad. The Democratic Party reviles them at its peril; the Republican Party takes them for granted in folly.
It would be interesting to do a quantitative/qualitative analysis of this Backlash Theory, also called the Theory of Reactance. It makes gut level, intuitive sense. But I'm sure those in denial, otherwise known as Democrats need numbers.