Tuesday, August 01, 2006

WE INTERRUPT OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING . . .

I promised myself a few weeks back I wouldn't post on the current situation in Israel/Lebanon. And I'm sticking to my guns: too emotional, no resolution, no chance for people to see past their ideology; no opportunity for entertainment.

That said, I want to weigh in briefly on something that's been more than bugging me: a creeping, metastacizing anti-semitism in otherwise neutral blogs. Mostly from commenters, but from the authors themselves at times. I'm not talking about criticizing Israel's current policy, and I'm not even talking about writers against Israel in the big picture. I certainly don't mean commentators who question Israel's role in US foreign policy, and I don't overly scrutinize authors who wish to hold Israel to normal levels of accountability.

No. What I'm talking about are folks who need to say "Zionists" or "Jews" in place of "Israelis." Or people who can't stop saying "Neo-Con" when they actually mean "Republican" or "The Administration." Which says nothing about the growing hoards obsessed with the "Jewish make-up" of the "Neo-Cons." You know what I mean; the writers who need to allude at all times to Wolfowitz or Perle, but seem to conveniently forget that "Quayle," "Fukayama," "Rice" and others fit well within the "Neo-Con" group as defined by the PNAC.

Other symptoms of which I speak: obsession with "AIPAC control" of the US government. The over-representation of Jews in the media, among the roll of US billionaires, in the financial world. The way that Jews will ultimately "support Israel over the US," or "send American boys" to do Israel's dirty work in the Middle East. Anyone who frequents the left or right reaches of the blogosphere knows what I'm talking about. For those of you not familiar, let me assure you: while not directly quoting, every phrase I've included so far is a faithful paraphrase of multiple posts I've read. And these sentiments are anything but rare.

I'll admit that beyond massive disappointment (and a small dose of fear), I'm mostly surprised at this. And I feel like an idiot for being surprised. I've long taken pride in my historical perspective on events, for always viewing events through a skeptical (some would say, cynical) lens. I know as well as any Jew the history of anti-semitism, of it's roots, its manifestations, its effects.

And, despite all that, I thought that the United States in 2006 was different. I honestly believed that the European left, the European ultra-right nationalists were capable of discussing what I've been reading. But I thought that in America, our faults notwithstanding, we'd moved beyond the most base forms of ethnic hatred, of racism. That these ugly phenomena had been "Americanized," turned into tools of economics, of marketing, of cultural compartmentalization.

Maybe I was right in that regard. Maybe, like so many otherwise well-intentioned people will tell me, I'm just paranoid.

But maybe I'm not. And I firmly believe that the final line from propaganda-to-action is shorter than that initial road from open mindedness-to-fear. Yes, you're following my point. As said, I harbor a small amount of concern.

Nevertheless, even for those who think that America is just exercizing some well-needed analysis of Israel's role in US policy, I think they need to admit to themselves that an ugly underbelly has been exposed for the first time in a while. First time in my life, and I've been politically/culturally sentient for three decades or so.

Now I know there are those who'll tell me that this element is always there. They've always been there. Just ignore them. They're the lunatic fringe. I hear you, you're right, they've always been there. But what's blowing me away lately is how they've all crawled out from under their rocks, and have started to speak. To yell. To pontificate.

And not only are they rarely called out onto the carpet for this by the rank-and-file in the cyber-community, but they're often encouraged. It's become a rather popular rallying cry among disparate communities of commentators. And it has me stunned.

I'm gonna keep my eyes and ears open. I wish I didn't have to. But, as I said, I know my history, and any Jew who chooses to pretend he doesn't at least recognize what he's seeing is a fool. And any American who chooses to see otherwise is fooling himself as well.

* * *

And with that, I hope to return to our regularly scheduled programming. Thanks for indulging me.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Jorge said...

Mike:

The two simultaneously unsurprising and astounding issues arising from the Lebanese-Hizbollah military action are the unmasking of virulent anti-Semitism in America and the seemingly perpetual American ignorance about the Jewish-Palestinian problem. Unsurprising because in some things Americans are like the Bourbons, learning nothing and forgetting nothing. Astounding because one would think that in an era of mass communication and instant access to information people would be informed, not acting out primitive feelings about religion and history.

I would invite you to go to Joe Bageant's blog and read the last three essays published by him. A lot of answers to the persistent American inability to grasp the nuance of our present global doings is explained there beautifully.

In the meantime, shalom aleichem, good friend.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Strong thoughts, Jorge. I'll check out Bageant when I get the chance.

Meanwhile, one good thing has finally gone down in America: you figured out how to log in and comment. Yeeee-haw!

11:59 AM  
Blogger DED said...

I've noticed it too, Mike.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Thrillhous said...

It's great for folks like me, a mostly lethargic Episcopalian (they really need to cut out all the kneeling), to hear how Jewish folks feel not just about the situation(s) in the Middle East but also their response to the coverage.

Busy day, but maybe I'll ask up a question or two.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Attila said...

Mike, glad to see some concern about this from across the political aisle. My impression is that things have become downright hostile to Jews on the left. We're not free of the crap on my side, but we've pretty successfully marginalized the creeps. I hope you succeed in doing that, too, but I'm not optimistic.

5:17 PM  

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