In attempting to understand and contextualize contemporary anti-Semitism – particularly its manifestation at the Guardian and Comment is Free – it’s important to understand the often misunderstood connection between what it was (historically) and what it now is.
Walter Russel Mead is one of the few bloggers who can claim the mantle of public intellectual. His blog, at the site of The American Interest, is must reading for those who seek to be informed on current events with the immediacy of a blog, and the erudition of a genuine scholar. Indeed, Mead is recognized as one of America’s leading experts on American foreign policy.
Mead is a Democrat who voted for Barack Obama.
Mead’s latest post, “The Hate That Dares Not Speak It’s Name“, notes, about Mein Kampf:
“The Bible of the Nazi movement was published in July of 1925 [and] you could still buy it at the international airport newstand in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur — along with other classics of anti-Semitism like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the collected rants of Henry Ford in the Dearborn Independent.”
When Hitler wrote, it was still socially OK to be an anti-Semite. In some circles it was mandatory. As a consequence of Hitler’s life’s work, it is now as unfashionable to be an anti-Semite as it is to name your child Adolf.
The truth is that anti-Semitism is alive and well and not even particularly rare; it’s just that many of today’s anti-Semites like to think of themselves as enlightened, modern people and get all huffy and hissy if anyone accuses them of prejudice in any form. Many who in past times would have been open and honest about their anti-Semitism, now try to hide the truth even from themselves.
Mead then continues by listing the various views consistent with modern anti-Semitism:
1. Jews are more clannish than other people and act in concert to support a specifically Jewish agenda.
2. Jews deploy extraordinary wealth with almost superhuman cunning in support of the Jewish agenda.
3. As a religious and national minority, Jews cannot flourish without attacking the traditional values of their host society. In every country Jews seek to weaken national culture, religion, values and cohesion.
4. Jews are not a national group or a people in the way that others are; they do not have the same right to establish a nation-state that other peoples do.
5. Where Jewish interests are concerned, the appearance of open debate in our society and many others is a carefully constructed illusion. In reality, Jews work together to block open debate on issues they care about and those who resist the Jewish agenda are marginalized in public discussion.
Since Hitler’s death, the world has defined anti-Semitism down. Nurturing ancient fantasies of secret Jewish cabals that control the media and play politicians like puppets on a string, and making political judgments based on these fantasies isn’t sort of or almost anti-Semitic. To believe that Jews control public discourse and the media and bend the gentile masses to their sinister agenda is the essence of old-fashioned anti-Semite. In some countries these beliefs are so common that they are no longer recognized as an aggressive and communicable mental disease. These ideas have become so widely accepted that they are seldom questioned or examined;
On the anniversary of Mein Kampf‘s publication people of good will everywhere should remember the need to fight one of the most vicious forms of prejudice that the world has ever known. Prejudice never recognizes itself; anti-Semites honestly think their delusional beliefs about Jews are simple, obvious truths. They are not; all five of those beliefs are demonstrably false.
While, as I’ve noted continually, the Guardian’s biggest anti-Semitic sin is their sin of omission – failing to recognize and report explicit and quite ubiquitous anti-Semitism in the Arab and Muslim world – it is important to note that they are also often guilty of licensing narratives at CiF which advance the argument that Jews “do not have the same right to establish a nation-state that other peoples do” (Mead’s #4), as well as the increasingly banal but no less insidious argument that organized Jewry works in concert (typically described as the “Israel Lobby” or “Jewish Lobby” in a context denoting its injurious influence) “to block open debate on issues they care about and those who resist the Jewish agenda are marginalized in public discussion” (Mead’s #5).
Anti-Semitism is real, it is murderous, and it is very much with us today. Speak the truth and shame the devil. Whatever your religion, your politics, your views about Israeli policy, fighting anti-Semitism is part of what it means to be a decent human being.
Mead’s moral imperative represents, as eloquently as I could ever state, the mission of this blog. »