A few times a month, I get an e-mail soliciting my opinion on Israel or on Antisemitism. Often, these queries are in the context of a question about one facet of the ideological landscape. “Why do you think Jews support liberals, even though liberals hate Israel?” I have not tabulated the results, but my guess is I get more questions about Israel than any single topic, despite the fact I never write about Israel. I’d have to check, but I don’t think I have ever posted about Israel. If I have, it would most certainly be in the context of the Arab world.
My limited interest in the Jewish people is purely biological and cultural. By that I mean I find it interesting that the Ashkenazim have wildly out-performed their numbers in the United States. Jews are about 1% of the US population, but they dominate the law, academics, entertainment and finance. When 1% of the population is 30% of the richest people in the country, that’s phenomenal. There’s also the fact that you really cannot understand the world without understanding religion and that means understanding the role of Judaism and Christianity, particularity how the former made the latter.
The preceding is just a little background for the new readers who may not be as familiar with my work as others. That way I can talk a little about this segment on John Derbyshire’s latest broadcast.
I’m not an anti-Semite; I never have been; and I don’t have much time for anti-Semites. I’ve written a couple of million words of opinion commentary this past thirty years, all of it archived on my website, and I defy you to find any evidence of anti-Semitism in it anywhere.
However, I’ve turned against the word “philosemite,” for reasons I’ve explained elsewhere. Basically, it’s patronizing. If pressed on the issue, I call myself an anti-anti-Semite. I cherish my Jewish friends, and I have publicly—and again, I think, more than once—expressed gratitude in print for the positive contribution Jews have made to our civilization, way out of proportion to their numbers.
I have been reading and listening to John for decades and I think he captures his, as well as most people’s attitude, perfectly. I’m not fond of rank anti-Semitism, any more than I’m a fan of racism, but my definitions are more narrow and specific than they are today so maybe John is correct to say he is an anti-anti-Semite. I don’t know a word for being an anti-racist that does not imply lunacy, but maybe there is one. My view is people are tribal and they will have tribal prejudices. There’s no hectoring that away.
The whole segment is best listened to rather than read, as John’s intonations convey additional meaning to the words. The reason for my interest here is what he has to say at the bottom regarding the anti-Trump phenomenon.
All four debaters were Bigfoot American journalists. Both sides of the debate were anti-Trump; the debate was over whose fault it was that Trump had gotten the GOP nomination. For the motion, arguing that it was the fault of the elites, were Ben Domenech and Timothy Carney, both Gentiles. Against the motion, arguing that it was not the fault of the elites, wereJennifer Rubin [email her]and Bret Stephens both Jewish.
That tells you something by itself. That atavistic style of Jewish paranoia that I spoke about, when it hears the word “elites,” at once flies to the thought:They’re talking about US! … and the hoofbeats of the Cossacks are heard drumming in the distance.
At some mental level Rubin and Stephens read the title of the debate as: “Blame the Jews for the Trump Phenomenon.” That’s why they’re arguingagainst the motion. No, no, it’s not our fault—it’s those damn peasants!
As someone without much of an interest in Semitism or Antisemitism, this struck a nerve. I too have noticed that the people opposing Trump most viciously all have familiar last names. Lots of gold and silver in the #nevertrump clown car. This has always struck me as illogical. Trump is our most Jewish presidential candidate in my lifetime. He has always been a big supporter of Israel and he is more than a bit famous for socializing and doing business with the Jewish business community in America.
It is a good reminder that there is always a portion of every population that has a death wish. They agitate for things that are against the interests of their ethnic group and they are more concerned with strangers than their own family. Jews are no exception. Progressivism is increasingly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. Trump and his voters are very much the opposite. Yet, that causes the Jennifer Rubins of the world to hate him even more intensely than one would consider rational. Self-loathing is a powerful drug.
There is a temptation to assume there is an anti-Christian vibe to what we are seeing from people like Brett Stephens and Jennifer Rubin. That’s not the case as they reserve special hatred for orthodox and ultra-orthodox Jews. This is where the self-loathing becomes more clear, These people sneer at the guys in the black hats and tzitzit hanging out. If there is any anti-Christian sense to this, it stems from the fact that American Christians are enthusiastic supporters of Israel and virulent anti-anti-Semites.
The point here is that John is correct that these people are haunted by the hoof beats, but they also wish they would return. The longing for death, the death of their people, is what makes them tick. There’s some element of this in all people. It’s just that Jews have been wildly successful in America so their death wish gets played out on TV, while the self-loathing Poles have to nurse their death wish in private. Luckily for all of us, most Jews are not crazy and the smart ones understand which way the wind is blowing.