Monday, June 14, 2010


Jeet Heer writes here about paternalistic racism.
In one sentence we get the two faces of paternalism: the smiling face that claims to have a special knowledge and affection (“I have deep love for our colored people” combined with the scowling desire to maintain power (“I know where they should be kept”).
He continues:
Smith’s two-faced take on race relations seemed very familiar to me. Don’t we see the same two-faces in the way neo-conservatives talk about Arabs? On the one hand there is the smile of condescension (we need to bring democracy to the Arabs) which quickly becomes the scowl of contempt (if they reject what is good for them, we’ll have to use the only language they understand which is force). The psychodynamics of racial paternalism deserve a deeper look from scholars.
Yes, we do see a lot of paternalistic racism directed toward Arabs. Also, a lot of paternalistic racism directed toward Jews. From people who have great love for Jews but fear that Israel will increase antisemitism. Or people who have great love for the Jews but fear that our constant "crying wolf" will keep them (somehow, I don't know how) from helping us when the time comes that we need their support. People who have great love for the Jews, so long as we are stateless, weak, and dependent on their protection.

I can't help but think of this, from George Galloway (apologies, but if you open the page, it will try to print; just hit "cancel"):
I cannot accept that the accusation of anti-semitism is part of the badinage of political debate. It’s a most serious allegation and hurling it at critics of Israel and its policies does nothing other than belittle victims of genuine anti-semitism down the decades, who are numbered in their millions.
He positions himself as the one who really has reverence for the victims of the Shoah. He said that after suing to shut down a Jewish radio station, which had dared to mock him for his support of the genocidal Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah. Not only did he say, "We are all Hezbollah, now," but also, "I am here to glorify the Lebanese resistance, Hezbollah, and to glorify the resistance leader, Hassan Nasrallah." He quite likes a bit of badinage, doesn't he, when he's the one speaking? He has a great deal of love and respect for Jews, so long as we let him do all the talking.

Paternalistic racism sure gets around.

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