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Friday, June 24, 2005

Why Hating America and Hating Jews Are Two Sides of the Same Irrational Coin; And Why the MSM Should Take Notice

Paul Johnson, author of the classic "Modern Times" - inescapably the finest history of the epoch that followed the end of World War I - has a must-read essay in the latest issue of Commentary magazine entitled "The Anti-Semitic Disease." This essay is among the most important reading you are likely to experience this year.

Why? Johnson makes two fundamentally important points that cry out for public discussion in this country, but especially in the news media. First, anti-Semitism is not merely a species of racial prejudice, it is a virulent disease of the mind and is indeed utterly irrational:

"What strikes the historian surveying anti-Semitism worldwide over more than two millennia is its fundamental irrationality. It seems to make no sense, any more than malaria or meningitis makes sense.
"In the whole of history, it is hard to point to a single occasion when a wave of anti-Semitism was provoked by a real Jewish threat (as opposed to an imaginary one). In Japan, anti-Semitism was and remains common even though there has never been a Jewish community there of any size."

There is a reason why anti-Semites so often seem to be spittle-sputtering fanatics, Johnson points out:

"Asked to explain why they hate Jews, anti-Semites contradict themselves. Jews are always showing off; they are hermetic and secretive. They will not assimilate; they assimilate only too well. They are too religious; they are too materialistic, and a threat to religion.
"They are uncultured; they have too much culture. They avoid manual work; they work too hard. They are miserly; they are ostentatious spenders. They are inveterate capitalists; they are born Communists. And so on. In all its myriad manifestations, the language of anti-Semitism through the ages is a dictionary of non-sequiturs and antonyms, a thesaurus of illogic and inconsistency."

Tragically, anti-Semites comes from every level of society, including those with multiple PhDs and those who have never set foot in a college classroom. And it is a highly contagious infection:

"Like many physical diseases, anti-Semitism is highly infectious, and can become endemic in certain localities and societies. Though a disease of the mind, it is by no means confined to weak, feeble, or commonplace intellects; as history sadly records, its carriers have included men and women of otherwise powerful and subtle thoughts. Like all mental diseases, it is damaging to reason, and sometimes fatal."

Tragically, anti-Semitism is again spreading in Europe, and not merely because of the influx of obsessively Jew-hating Muslims from the Middle East, Johnson notes. His discussion of the national consequences of anti-Semitism that befell Spain following its brief glory years in the 1,500s, Russia following the reign of Catherine the Great and Germany after Hitler's ascension to power is masterful.

Which brings us to Johnson's second point. Perhaps others have previously made this argument and I simply missed it, but Johnson is the first I'm aware of to document the remarkable similarities between the anti-Semitism evident throughout most of recorded history and the anti-Americanism that poisons so much of the contemporary era's news.

"No less worrying, to my mind, is a related European phenomenon—namely, anti-Americanism. I say 'related' because anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism have proceeded hand in hand in today’s Europe just as they once did in Hitler’s mind (as the unpublished second half of 'Mein Kampf' decisively shows).
"Like hatred of Jews, hatred of Americans can similarly be described as a form of racism or xenophobia, especially in its more vulgar manifestations. But among academics and intellectuals, where it is increasingly prevalent, it has more of the hallmarks of a mental disease, becoming more virulent, widespread, and intractable ever since the United States began to shoulder the duties of the war against international terrorism."

Like anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism is at its roots anti-rational, Johnson argues:

"After all, to hate Americans is against reason. For centuries, and never more so than at present, the U.S. has harbored the poor and persecuted from the entire world, who have found freedom and prospered on its soil. America continues to receive more immigrants than any other country; its most recent arrivals, including the Cubans, the Koreans, the Vietnamese, and the Lebanese, have become some of the richest groups in the country and are enthusiastic supporters of its democratic norms. Indeed, since American society is now a vibrant microcosm of the human race, I would say that to hate Americans is to hate humanity as a whole."

Ponder for just a moment Johnson's list of parallels between these two isms:

"That anti-Americanism shares many structural characteristics with anti-Semitism is plain enough. In France, as we read in a new study, intellectuals muster as many contradictory reasons for attacking the U.S. as for attacking Jews.2 Americans are excessively religious; they are excessively materialistic. They are vulgar money-grubbers; they are vulgar spenders.
"They hate culture; they are pushy in promoting their own culture. They are aggressive and reckless; they are cowardly. They are stupid; they are exceptionally cunning. They are uneducated; they subordinate everything in life to the goal of sending their children to universities. They build soulless megalopolises; they are rural imbeciles."

And as does anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism has its scapegoats who personify the alleged evils of the U.S.:

"As with anti-Semitism, this litany of contradictory complaints is fleshed out with demonic caricatures of particular individuals like George W. Bush. Just as 14th-century Christians once held the Jews responsible for the Black Death, Americans are blamed for all the ills of today’s world, starting with (real or imaginary) global warming. Particularly among French intellectuals, such demonization has become almost a culture, a way of life, in itself."

Interesting, isn't it, that President Clinton made such a big deal of having a national dialogue about racism in America and that so many liberals in the media and elsewhere echoed the former chief executive in citing an allegedly still prevalent racism as among America's chief problems? And continue to do so at every opportunity.

Considering the ongoing conjunction between some elements of the radical Left in America with radical Muslimism - both of whom hate America obsessively and seek its destruction - isn't a discussion of the links between anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism of urgent importance?

Let us see now if the powers-that-be of the MSM have the courage and intellectual honesty to take up Johnson's case and give it the thorough vetting it surely deserves. A good place to start that vetting would be here where Captain's Quarters details the "Ten Euros for the Resistance" campaign. Trust me, the Ten Euros do not go to help orphans in Iraq.

Go here for the full Johnson essay.