Time to Forget

Certain events have a warping effect on the culture long after they have any practical impact. The sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols permanently altered the trajectory of Islam. The English Civil War is another great example of a single event casting a shadow over many subsequent generations. Regular readers will know I reference it often, because it plays such a big part in American history. America would be a much different place if the Mayflower had sunk in the North Atlantic or the Wampanoag had done the right thing and slaughtered the Pilgrims.

The reason we have the word “penumbra” is that every shadow has a limit, beyond which it has no influence. In the history of man, those seminal events that cast the shadows, shrink with the passage of time and their shadow correspondingly shrinks. In time, they cease to exist. We can joke about Genghis Khan because he no longer casts a shadow any of us can feel. One day, people will joke about Hitler in the same way because his deeds will have no impact on the minds of the living.

We are living in an age of receding shadows as the big events that have shaped our present fade from our collective memory along with the people who lived through them. Hitler is an obvious example. Let’s assume the youngest one can remember back is to when they were around five years old. That means the youngest person to remember Hitler is 76 right now. It means the youngest person who could have fought Hitler is pushing 90 right now.

In my lifetime, the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement are the two issues that loomed largest in politics. I don’t remember an election that did not have some racial component to it. The Democrats try to use the race card to turnout the black vote. At the same time, support for Israel has been a defining issue of foreign policy debates. Republicans are so hawkish on defending Israel, they often sound like they are running for Prime Minister of Israel.

For generations, the worst thing you could ever be called was an anti-Semite. A very close second was racist.  One of the things that we see in what we’re now calling the Alt-Right is an indifference to the charge of racism. In fact, many make sport of being called a racist and spend hours on Twitter trolling Lefty in order to elicit the racist charge. The reason is the charge has been so over used that it is laughable. When you get called a racist for quoting FBI crime statistics, the charge has no meaning. It’s simply another way for the mob to scream “witch!”

Vox Day has a recap of a twitter exchange between himself, Jonah Goldberg and Milo Yiannopoulos the other day. A point Milo and others are now making is that the charge of anti-Semitism has gone the way of racist. No one takes it seriously because it has been so overused. There’s also the fact that no one alive has any clear recollections of the Holocaust so it has no emotional impact. That’s why telling jokes about Jews is no more meaningful to young alt-right types than telling Irish jokes.

There’s certainly some truth to their claims. When not spending the $400k salary he pays himself from the magazine his father created, John Podhoretz spends his days calling people anti-Semitic on Twitter. When he gets bored with that, he runs around demanding to see the bar mitzvah pictures of Jews he does not like, so he can accuse them of not being authentically Jewish. There’s only so long that festering carbuncles like John Podhoretz can do this before people no longer take any of it seriously.

The Holocaust has cast a very long shadow over American public life and it may be starting to recede. Like the tide going out, we are now seeing a lot of surprising things that had been covered by the water. One of those is that there is not as much conformity and unanimity within the Jewish community as has been assumed. The blood libel against all gentiles has forced a degree of solidarity on Jews in America, but as that loses its power to scare the goy, it also loses its power to unite the Tribe.

I think that’s what we are seeing with the feud between Bill Kristol and David Horowitz. Solidarity is losing its value so it is beginning to crack and a guy like Horowitz is fine with having a nasty public spat with a fellow Jew.  Yeah, what’s good for Israel is a part of it, but that’s not the defining issue for Jews in America. Evangelicals care more about Israel than most Jews. The core issue in this dispute is patriotism.

The yesterday men on the Right like Podhoretz and Goldberg will cling to the old slurs until the last man, but this is probably a very positive development in America. You can meet Italians who are liberal and you can meet Italians who are libertarians. In other words, blood does not dictate politics for 85% of Americans. The exceptions are blacks and Jews and we may be seeing that fall away for the Jews.

That is probably a very positive development as it means Jews can fully and publicly integrate into American life in the same way the Irish or the Italians have blended into the fabric of American culture. No one ever talks about Irish solidarity in the way we talk about Jewish solidarity or black solidarity. No one worries about offending Italians or Poles. There’s no stigma attached to it. Just as important, the rest of us can stop tip-toeing around the obvious.

By obvious, I mean the fact that Jews have been the most successful ethnic group in America. In fact, no country has been better for Jews than America. Here, the Jewish people have been free to reach their maximum potential. That’s something all Americans should take some pride in, but Jews should be extremely proud. Instead of viewing themselves as oppressed losers, American Jews should be confident winners, celebrating and enforcing that which allows them and everyone else to be a winner, compared to the rest of the world.

David Goldman comes down on the side of Horowitz and I sense he is viewing this as a positive as well. He does not address it head on in his column, but the fact that he chooses sides based on patriotism is a bit of tell, I think. What’s good for America trumps ethnic solidarity. As a Jew you can be pro-Israel, but you have to be pro-American more than anything. That’s the way every other ethnic group is expected to view things. You can cheer for Ireland over England in soccer, if you’re Irish, but you don’t root for Ireland over America.

For as long as I’ve been alive, the key phrase with regards to the Holocaust has always been “never forget.” That’s a wonderful rallying cry for an abused people who feel they have to fight their way inside. It’s self-defeating for a successful people who are already inside and often in positions of authority. Whether guys like John Podhoretz like it or not, people do forget and that’s often a good thing.

17 thoughts on “Time to Forget

  1. “There’s only so long that a festering carbuncle like John Podhoretz can do this…”

    You may be more right than you realize. Very few journals of opinion can support themselves just by subscription revenue. They almost always require some group of financial angels to support them, especially when paying $400k to the editor. Commentary is not one of the exceptions. And credible people have told me that the mean age of Commentary subscribers (25,000 of them, at most) and angels is something like 75.

    I strongly suspect that the checks they are writing now are due to the residual respect for pere rather than fils.

    BTW, I share your positive opinion of “Spengler.”

  2. John Podhoretz is his father’s kid. Here’s Norman:

    Today Commentary regularly publishes essays that sound, in Balint’s apt words, “like speeches intended to buck up the troops or self-congratulatory sermons to the faithful.” As for Podhoretz himself, he has grown so intolerant of criticism and dissent, so terrified of impending doom at the hands of militant Muslims, and so furious with his fellow Jews that his intemperate rantings are dismissed by all but his neoconservative progeny. The Brownsville wunderkind has ended up an embittered, paranoid crank, standing by and for himself alone.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/books/review/Linker-t.html?_r=0

  3. Sinking the Mayflower: A Northern woman said to my wife at a gathering in our FL retirement community: “I’ve noticed that Southern people don’t know who they are.” My wife replied that she knew who she was, she was Texan. “That’s not what I mean,” said the other woman. “I’m Italian. Annie there is Italian.” Where she was from, she said, “Italians live in Italian neighborhoods, Poles live with Poles.” Ah, yes. The Northeast, where everyone is born with a hyphen. Way too European for us simple Southern folk.

    • The American South is almost unique in that it represents a place and culture that Jews managed to completely integrate into. My understanding is that these particular Jews were almost entirely Sephardic which probably has something to do with it.

  4. “America would be a much different place if the Mayflower had sunk in the North Atlantic or the Wampanoag had done the right thing and slaughtered the Pilgrims.”

    Have to disagree strongly. North America had been subject to English colonization for a hundred years by 1620. Another ship, and then another would have surely followed. The Pilgrim Mayflower was certainly not unique, except maybe in their stupidity in initially adopting socialism as their way of life. By doing so, they made themselves extremely weak and could have been eliminated by the natives at their leisure. Thing is, the natives wanted the strange foreigners as allies in their fights against other native tribes.

    Indeed, if it wasn’t for the European colonists’ interventions, those natives remaining after the unintentional pandemic brought about by incidental contact with European diseases, would likely have killed each other off, while the colonists struggled to survive.

  5. I once sat down and tried to tabulate all of the various slaughters my ancestors survived. Christ, just on the Mexican side, 90% died from disease and mistreatment in the years after the conquest. On the European side, I had to account for various English, Viking, and Roman cullings of the Scots; the 30-years war and the Roman massacres of the Germans; the Frisian diaspora… you could go on forever, right? If you add that all up, it is about the same as what the Tribe has been through these past 3,000 years.

    The difference between me and a member of the Tribe, is that the Hebrews roll all that killing up in one big narrative of persecution. The reality is that given our shared bloody and violent past, everyone has more or less the same amount of cruelty, pestilence, and plague in their family woodpile. Most of us have just never run the tally.

    • “The Jew cries out in pain when he reaches out to strike you.” — Kevin MacDonald

      That’s pretty much everything you need to know about the “holocaust”, right there.

    • I’ve traced some of my ancestors back to the late middle ages. They all seem to have moved out when the local tyrant got too mean. Huguenots -> Switzerland, Scotch Presbyterians-> Ulster etc. Could be why when it’s fight or flee time, I usually flee.

  6. “no country has been better for Jews than America”

    So it would be nice if they stopped treating it like a rental and acted like they owned it.

    • Every place the Jews settle, they’re renters, not owners. History taught them well, in that regard.

  7. I’ll never forget how offended I was when Celia Cruz died. She fled Castro’s Cuba and became an American citizen and had a great career. But at her funeral, her casket was draped with the Cuban flag. She (or her heirs) didn’t even tip a hat to the Country which saved her.

  8. In my fairly extensive experience of college kids, “Hitler” and “Holocaust” are functionally the same thing as “McCarthy” and “Red Scare” — a very bad guy, who did a very bad thing, because he was a right-winger. That’s really all there is. Even history majors have to be told what the Treaty of Versailles was. Eugenics? Never heard of it. Stalin? I think he was the enemy in Goldeneye…..As far as the population at large goes, we might as well be talking about vector calculus or Wittgenstein. Trying to make political hay off the Holocaust today is like trying to pull the Irish vote by going on about the Corn Laws…. especially coming from a guy like Goldberg, with his unique brand of fart joke “conservatism.”

  9. “No one ever talks about Irish solidarity in the way we talk about Jewish solidarity or black solidarity.” I take it you don’t live in Massachusetts?

    • Lived in Boston for a long time. I was not thinking about the Beacon Hill pols. Solidarity for them is the way to survive federal prison.

  10. I’ve been a skeptic of the mantra “never again” for over fifty years. Left wing politics guarantee the same thing will happen over and over again. Just as bad, their strategy in politics is argumentative but in self-defense it is surrender,. typical left wing politics below the level of Bolshevik. Kristol, Goldberg–Goldman, Horowitz. I know whose side I’d pick in a fight.

    • In a fight, I want Horowitz on my side. Goldberg is useless and Kristol is a weasel. I like David Goldman, but I’m not sure he is much of a fighter. Horowitz shows up with with brass knuckles, a spiked club, a length of chain and a few guns. That’s not a guy you want as an enemy.

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