Thursday, December 27, 2007

Don't you dare!

I am not alone in my assessments of the Left online.
I never thought it would come to this. I was a fan, an admirer, I thought even a friend of Maryscott O'Connor. I was also one of the original posters at My Left Wing. No longer. But it's worse. If it were just a disagreement, I would go quietly. But My Left Wing has embraced the very ugliest edges of the left wing, going so far it meets itself at the other end. My Left Wing is an absolute hotbed of virulent anti-Semitism.
What's interesting is this:
In my own opinion.. it was prophylactic demands "don't call me an anti-Semite" to run cover for hatred.
It was someone making that demand who got me banned from Newsvine. Free speech for bigots, not for Jews. I think it's time we're unequivocal that the notion that Jews stifle debate is antisemitic. It contains within it a powerful mix of anti-Jewish myths and stereotypes and deliberately directs any debate to the character of a Jew, grounding all discussion in an ad hominem attack.

Jews are first seen as whining complainers. Often seems a relatively harmless stereotype, or at least if someone's complaining about the quality of a bagel, but it's the first basis for ignoring the actual content of whatever a Jew says. A more vile form is that Jews are manipulative schemers - or at least the ones involved in the debate are. In my experience, the modest antisemite will begin with the first claim. If I continue in insisting, "yeah, Holocaust Denial like that really is antisemitic," then the second claim comes out. The more insistent I am, the stronger -and more antisemitic- the excuse to ignore me.

Jews are seen as maliciously powerful, controlling the terms of discussion and creating great risks for others who even enter into the debate. Well, sometimes known antisemites should be discriminated against in hiring. Most people would agree that Jean-Marie Le Pen, for example, ought to be discriminated against in hiring for a journalist's position. But here the claim is that a random Jew like me can seriously affect someone's job prospects even when they're not antisemitic or saying anything antisemitic. That "even when" is always left implicit to prevent rebuttal - Le Pen would be allowed the same defense as anyone else.

Or even that a random Jew like me has great power to "criminalize debate" (I've heard that) with someone over in Europe where there are hate speech laws. The emphasis is that I'm the one taking action - never that someone's speech might be antisemitic in the first place, but that I create the situation by pointing that out. That I haven't been to Europe in decades, don't hold a seat in the EU parliament, etc. plays no role in describing my role in "criminalizing debate." That the other person might have said something genuinely antisemitic is beside the point.

In a recent New Yorker article about the antisemitic, French comedian, Dieudonné, a random bigot ("As if on cue") put it this way:
"Gentlemen, I just want to say that for the last hour you have been saying what so many of us feel in our bones but are afraid to say. There is a secret force occupying this land—it’s why I left for Quebec." The man had long, graying hair and was carrying an expensive-looking briefcase. When I asked him his name and profession, he said, "No, no, there are hidden cameras everywhere! They get it on tape and they can sue me, sue you, the new laws." As we left the cafĂ©, Soral said, "Well, who knows who he was. Anyway, he’s gone to Canada—I know a lot of people who are leaving."
These are not a reasoned responses to the reasonable threat of being perceived (perhaps accurately) as a bigot but mendacious claims of Jewish power that lay all responsibility at the feet of Jews. The claim that Jews stifle debate, the righteous outrage of "Don't call me an antisemite," these are no more tangible than the claim of "a secret force occupying this land." This isn't debate, it's an insistence on antisemitic rules of debate that preclude anything at all from being considered antisemitic. These charges that Jews stifle debate seem relatively plain, and might be picked up easily by some who don't mean any harm, but they are plain dangerous.

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