(((Modernistfan)))

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Modernistfan
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(((Modernistfan)))

Post by Modernistfan » Sun Jun 05, 2016 11:38 am

For the first time in my life, I no longer feel safe as a Jew (not all that religious, and certainly not Orthodox, but still clearly Jewish) in America. The last year or so has marked a drastic shift in the Zeitgeist that has made anti-Semitism acceptable in mainstream discourse in America. What is even more unsettling is that even though most of the active anti-Semitism is coming from the right, particularly Trump supporters, there has been no opposition and no pushback from the left.

Of course, anti-Semitism never completely disappeared in America following World War II and the revelations of the Holocaust. There was always a genteel, mostly low-key anti-Semitism that kept Jews out of certain executive positions, exclusive neighborhoods, and prestigious law firms and imposed quotas in some universities. That variety of anti-Semitism has all but disappeared in the United States. There was also, from some quarters, a religiously-based anti-Semitism that continued to blame Jews for the death of Jesus. That also all but vanished following Vatican II; today, even the fundamentalist Protestant denominations and their followers rarely invoke this style of anti-Semitism, although it occasionally surfaces in attempts to convert Jews to Christianity. There was also a gutter-level anti-Semitism that was a feature of the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party and rabble-rousers such as Gerald L.K. Smith. That has not completely gone away, but is really not a significant threat.

What has completely changed this equation is the emergence of a new, essentially academic-based anti-Semitism that blasts Jews as following a group evolutionary strategy to enhance their ability to out-compete non-Jews, especially white non-Jews, for resources. One aspect of this strategy, according to proponents of this version of anti-Semitism, is the overwhelming support by Jews as a group for a non-restrictive immigration policy that would increase diversity in the United States (and here the intersection with Trump supporters becomes clear). The original proponent of those views was Kevin MacDonald, a now retired professor of psychology at California State University of Long Beach. Those views have spread widely in the "Alternative Right," a relatively new, aggressive, and largely internet-based version of right-wing thinking that has become increasingly prominent and outspoken. Nearly all Alternative Right adherents are strong Trump supporters. The Alternative Right places a huge stress on racial differences and, in many cases, differences in intellectual capacity between races. Although not all Alternative Right adherents are anti-Semitic, and there are even a few Jews whose views line up with the Alternative Right, the vast majority of Alternative Right adherents are clearly anti-Semitic; they regard Jews as faux whites who are attempting to undermine the position of whites in America from within, as it were. No, I do not consider Donald Trump to be an anti-Semite himself; he has never expressed anti-Semitic views directly, and his daughter converted to Judaism and is married to a Jewish real estate developer. Nevertheless, Jewish journalists critical of Trump or his family have been the target of internet-based harassment from the Alternative Right, including, in one case, the placing of photographs of the journalist Julia Ioffe in concentration camp uniforms and even death threats (Ioffe made a police report; she had emigrated from the former Soviet Union and has said that she never has encountered such views after leaving Russia.) Trump has refused to condemn this behavior, which is despicable.

Unfortunately, this new vortex of anti-Semitic right-wing thinking has not been met with a coherent response from much of the left. Increasingly, the left, especially the more radical versions of the left prevalent in academia, have downplayed anti-Semitism and regard Jews as the epitome of whiteness imbued with white privilege. There is a hierarchy of groups whose grievances are to be taken seriously, and Jews are on the very bottom. In an atmosphere of safe spaces and microaggressions, even some aggressions that are far more macro than micro, such as the painting of swastikas on Jewish facilities, have been dismissed. Some radicals have even referred to the Holocaust as "white-on-white crime" and not worthy of serious consideration. At the most extreme, you get people such as Joy Karega, a faculty member at Oberlin, who posted conspiracy theories on her Facebook page not dissimilar to the conspiracy theories of Jewish power that are the hallmark of the Alternative Right. The response to such provocations has been tentative, diffident, and halting.

Much of the anti-Semitism that is the hallmark of some of the left can be, again, traced to a philosophical shift. At the end of World War II, the prevailing philosophy was scientific-oriented logical positivism tied to modernism. This philosophy generally considered race as having no independent reality and being essentially a social construct. However, as modernism gave way to postmodernism, race resumed its significance, and many postmodernists held views that allowed particular groups to hold beliefs that could be justified on an essentialist basis of merely belonging to that group, even if such views were contrary to clearly confirmable facts. (An example is the viewpoint held by some Afrocentric scholars of antiquity that Aristotle stole all of his ideas from Egypt, even stealing books from the library at Alexandria, Egypt and putting his own name on them. This is impossible, because Aristotle died at least 25 years before Alexandria was established; anyway, Aristotle never even visited Egypt. See the books by Mary Lefkowitz for further information about this controversy.) It is no coincidence that one of the major founders of postmodernist thinking was the Belgian philosopher Paul de Man, who was a supporter of the Nazis during the occupation of Belgium. It is even less of a coincidence that one of the forerunners of postmodernism was Martin Heidegger, who rejected modernism in favor of an older, Romantic worship of blood and soil that enabled anti-Semitism. Postmodernism has, for example, undermined the opposition to Holocaust denial, in spite of what are clearly established facts that the Nazis exterminated from 5.5 million to 6.5 million Jews, not to mention political opponents, homosexuals, Roma, and Slavs.

The behavior of Israel has not helped opponents of new anti-Semitism, especially the consequences of the occupation. However, it is possible to criticize Israel, on the same basis that discriminatory or reactionary policies of other countries are criticized, without descending into anti-Semitism. It is definitely anti-Semitism when Jews in America or Britain, for example, are targeted with no reference to their support of or opposition to Israeli policies.

By the way, the three parentheses around my username above is a code used by the Alternative Right to identify Jews and others considered to be "anti-white." This was actually supported by a Google Chrome extension that communicated with a database maintained by the Alternative Right website The Right Stuff until Google took it down following publicity last week.

What can we do? The entire political spectrum must react forcefully against this. The right must make it clear that the views of the Alternative Right are not welcomed in political discourse (this may well happen after Trump gets clobbered in November, as is highly likely). The left must also make it clear that political discourse must be based on facts and that conspiracy-mongering is highly detrimental to the left. True, as my wife says, we have not been directly threatened and we are safe; no one is loading up the cattle cars or firing up gas chambers, but this is still highly scary to me.

Further comments on this topic would be highly welcomed.
Last edited by Modernistfan on Wed Jun 08, 2016 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

lennygoran
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Re: (((Modernistfan)))

Post by lennygoran » Sun Jun 05, 2016 1:52 pm

Modernistfan wrote:
Further comments on this topic would be highly welcomed.
I haven't noticed that even though we live in conservative Warren County NJ but I'll be on the lookout-we spend a lot of time in the NYC area and I haven't spotted anti semitism on the increase there either. Regards, Len

Modernistfan
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Re: (((Modernistfan)))

Post by Modernistfan » Sun Jun 05, 2016 7:35 pm

At this point, this is pretty much an internet phenomenon; no one is being economically or physically threatened in such a manner that the threats would be likely to be carried out. In any event, the purported "group evolutionary strategy" of Jews is not working very well; outside the Orthodox community, the rate of intermarriage now exceeds 60%, and, the greater the education and accomplishment of the individuals involved, the more likely they are to marry outside the Jewish community. Yes, the Orthodox are the exception, but, within the Orthodox portion of the Jewish community, the modern Orthodox are now greatly outnumbered by the ultra-Orthodox, and the only things that the ultra-Orthodox will be able to outcompete anyone for are welfare payments and food stamps.

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Re: (((Modernistfan)))

Post by John F » Mon Jun 06, 2016 12:10 am

If it's an Internet phenomenon - and I haven't seen anything like what you describe in real life - then there's little or nothing that the right-thinking real world can do about it. The "entire political spectrum" has more urgent issues, such as anti-Muslim fear and hatred which is actually being fomented by the Republican presidential nominee. I can understand your anxiety, and I'm not saying it is unjustified, but until the antisemitism you perceive takes a public form against which it's possible to push back in a practical way, maybe it would be best to ignore it. Sorry!
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Re: (((Modernistfan)))

Post by Ricordanza » Mon Jun 06, 2016 5:37 am

Modernistfan wrote:The behavior of Israel has not helped opponents of new anti-Semitism, especially the consequences of the occupation. However, it is possible to criticize Israel, on the same basis that discriminatory or reactionary policies of other countries are criticized, without descending into anti-Semitism. It is definitely anti-Semitism when Jews in America or Britain, for example, are targeted with no reference to their support of or opposition to Israeli policies.
I'll limit my comments for the moment to this paragraph. Essentially, this is a form of blaming the victim. If there was a change in the government of Israel to a center-left coalition, the virulent anti-Israel rhetoric (especially on college campuses) would not go away, nor would the targeting of Jewish students by labeling them "Zionists" end.

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Re: (((Modernistfan)))

Post by Donald Isler » Mon Jun 06, 2016 10:27 am

Although one should be able to criticize the government of Israel, like any other government

1) Being anti-Israel is bigotry, like being anti-Chinese (and what a delightful government they have?!) or anti-any other nation,

2) Being anti-Israel is becoming almost the same thing as anti-Semitism,

3) Jewish students in America who are pro-Israel have been treated badly on American campuses, and

4) The environment around Trump makes everything worse, because he's against the hated "other," whoever that is, who, he thinks, is holding "real Americans" back. Don't expect it to get better, or for him to condemn this. He feeds on it.
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Modernistfan
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Re: (((Modernistfan)))

Post by Modernistfan » Mon Jun 06, 2016 12:21 pm

I completely agree with Ricordanza. If Israel were to toss out Netanyahu and replace him with a center-left government that was serious about a two-state solution, took concrete steps to end the occupation, and took steps to eliminate discrimination against Arabs in Israel itself, this might mute some of the specific criticism from the left regarding specific Israeli policies, but would not really change the reluctance of the harder left to criticize anti-Semitism because Jews would be still seen as white and at the bottom of the hierarchy of victimization. (Interestingly, despite the pro-feminist and pro-gay stance of nearly all the left, much of the left has also refused to criticize anti-feminist and anti-gay rhetoric emanating from Muslim fundamentalists; Jeremy Corbyn in England has taken severe criticism for this, completely apart from the issue of anti-Semitism). As far as the American Alternative Right, the installation of a center-left government led by Labor would make absolutely no difference, as the anti-Semitism of the Alternative Right is largely not even based on opposition to Israeli policies. Indeed, it might even make matters worse, as they would be attacked as socialists (the Labor Party and the more leftist Meretz, who might go into a center-left government are both members of the Socialist International along with Labour in the United Kingdom and the German Social Democrats).

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Re: (((Modernistfan)))

Post by John F » Mon Jun 06, 2016 1:54 pm

Donald Isler wrote:Being anti-Israel is bigotry, like being anti-Chinese (and what a delightful government they have?!) or anti-any other nation
The word "bigotry" does not properly apply to attitudes toward nations, which may be entirely rational and justified, but rather to irrational and unjustified attitudes toward other kinds of groups such as religious or racial. Many were anti-Soviet during the Cold War, and whatever you might want to call them, they weren't bigots.
Donald Isler wrote:Being anti-Israel is becoming almost the same thing as anti-Semitism
Surely not, any more than being anti-ISIL is the same thing as being anti-Islam. (Donald Trump is trying to blur that crucial difference; we shouldn't do likewise.) Israel is subject to the same kinds of judgments and the same kinds of praise and censure as any other nation, with no reference to the religious faith of its citizens. At least that's how most Americans view the relation between church and state. In Israel they may view the issue differently, but we aren't there, we're here.
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Re: (((Modernistfan)))

Post by Donald Isler » Mon Jun 06, 2016 4:15 pm

Disagree, John.

Being anti-Soviet was being against a government. The people weren't Soviet. They were Russian or Ukranian or whatever else. I was never anti - these nationalities.

When you say Israel is subject to the same norms as other nations, then it should not the object of constant United Nations resolutions against it, while other countries with much worse human rights records are not treated the same. But this is what happens. For instance:

"GENEVA, November 25 – The U.N. General Assembly’s 2015 session is adopting 20 resolutions singling out Israel for criticism — and only 3 resolutions on the rest of the world combined.

All but one of the texts have already been adopted by the plenary yesterday, or have been approved at the initial committee vote. See texts and votes below.

The three that do not concern Israel are: one on Syria, a regime that has murdered more than 200,000 of its own people, one on Iran, and one on North Korea.

Not a single UNGA resolution this year (70th session) is expected to be adopted on gross and systematic abuses committed by China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Yemen, Zimbabwe, or on dozens of other perpetrators of gross and systematic human rights violations."
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Re: (((Modernistfan)))

Post by Ricordanza » Fri Jun 10, 2016 6:02 am

As noted in other comments, there may not be an increase in anti-Semitism in this country, but there is certainly an increase in the visibility of this sentiment, thanks to the internet. Targets of this hate may have little chance of being subjected to physical harm, but that's slight comfort to those who are specifically singled out. Here's a recent example--a young female candidate for Congress who was subjected to vicious attacks on the internet:

http://forward.com/news/breaking-news/3 ... ns-online/

I Googled her name this morning, and one of the top entries was an anti-Semitic post celebrating the fact that she lost the primary election.

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Re: (((Modernistfan)))

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Jun 10, 2016 8:17 pm

i see a lot of very nasty anti-semitism on Twitter, people I follow in the NATSEC area have posted many times recently about it.
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