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Thursday, September 17, 2009

 

American Jews, Liberalism, and … hatred of Christians

In line with the ACORN videos, I thought that I would go to a “respected” website and encourage its commenters to reveal themselves. Instead, I found a thread at the Volokh conspiracy that needs no incitement of disdain and hatred.
The essay was by David Bernstein entitled: American Jews, Liberalism, and the Democratic Party


I may make a more detailed contribution to the debate soon, but for now I wanted to point out that Norman Podhoretz and others are conflating two separate issues: the first is why American Jews are generally more liberal than are other Americans, and the second is why American Jews are so attached to the Democratic Party, especially in presidential elections, such that even Jews who are moderate to moderately conservative are presumptive Democratic voters.


These are Liberals and Libertarians speaking to each other.
All comments are cut and pasted, not edited in any way. Please note that these a comments appended to a single essay in a highly respected blog hosted by law professors.

A more telling combination of moral preening and bigotry will be hard to find outside of the Liberal blogosphere. This one is Libertarian.


Jews are overwhelmingly liberal and progressive: Jews are highly educated and highly educated people tend to believe in progressive values (a strong state dedicated to caring for members of society least able to care for themselves; universal health coverage; respecting scientific consensus when it comes to things like global warming and other environmental concerns; and, general protection of minorities and minority rights whether it's homosexuals, Latinos, Blacks, etc.).

Of course, the fact that Jews are progressive must also be due to logical fallacy or irrational ignorance on their part, right, Bernstein? Truly, I am sorry that you are not accepted by the majority of Jewish political-types, but it's your fault, not theirs.
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I would have thought that Jews' concerns about the Christian right as a political force has less to do with anti-semetism and more to do with the Christian right's desire to base government policy, public school curricula, etc. on Christian religious doctrine.
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You're simply making this up. Give us some facts. In my experience, a substantial percentage of evangelical Christains (especially in the Deep South) dislike Jews. Some of them support Israel (for a variety of reasons) but still dislike American Jews. And that percentage is far higher than the percentage of Jew haters among non-evangelical Christians.
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I don't know about anyone else but, as a jew, I would find philo-semetism almost as repulsive as anti-semetism. Anything that essentializes judaisism or jews or thinks about us as a monolith is at best creepy and at worst repugnant.
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Jews are afraid of a strong central government handing "traditional" values down to the people. This tends to lead to scapegoating. And the scapegoats are the Jews.

Thus, Jews shy away from anything that imposes one group's value system on another. For better or worse, that is the Republican party of today.
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I think focusing on the personal anti-semitism of Republicans and their supporters misses the point. As Prof. Bernstein has noted elsewhere, it has more to do with the affiliation between the GOP and people who want prayer in schools, official recognition of the US as a Christian nation, etc. A snarky person might refer to these folks as "objectively anti-semitic" since they seek to promote Christianity to the exclusion of other beliefs.
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You have to realize that in the last couple decades, the GOP has been swallowed by the screaming nutcases we saw on display last Saturday, and moderates, economically conservative Republicans are an endangered, if not nearlly extinct, species. Lincoln Chafee and other former Republicans have talked about this on MSNBC.

I shouldn't complain, of course. This devolution of the Republican party may well make for a generation lost to "conservatism" if not more. But the spectacle is -- at times -- enough to produce projectile emesis of the popcorn we're munching.
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The fact that I'm vociferous about this is that it is an opinion based on my experience. You state in your post that "in your experience" evangelical Christians are not more anti-Semitic than other Christians. My experience is otherwise. I dont have a surname usually associated with being Jewish (it sounds vaguely Irish) and don't have stereotypical Semitic features. As a result, when I am with a group of Christians it is often assumed I am one of them. I therefore often hear the casual slurs - "he tried to Jew me down" and "those Jews sure do stick together" - as well as the more vicious attacks. Its rare that I hear those type of comments when I'm with a group of Lutherans or Catholics. It's much more common to hear those type of comments when I'm with evangelicals.
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On the other hand, the anti-semitism of Bill Buckley was foundational to his conservative worldview of WASP supremacy.
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Non-evangelicals who might blanch at hearing "jew him down" are perfectly comfortable with using "talmudic" or "pharisee" as an insult.
I said that in my personal experience a greater percentage of evangelical Christians than non-evangelical Christians express anti-Semitic views. Not all evangelical Christians express those views, of course, and I never said otherwise. But based on personal experience, the percentage who do is not insubstantial.
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Say, which political party was it that ran a Creationist sympathizer for Vice President in 2008? Biblical-literalist Creationism doesn't come from the Jewish (or Roman Catholic) way of reading Genesis and bringing it into the public schools is about as clear an example of propagandizing evangelical belief where it doesn't belong as you could ask for. After that, I don't think many Jews (even conservatives) care much whether an individual Creationist likes wildcat settlements in the West Bank and eschews vulgar epithets for Jews.
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Is Dangermouse a real person or an elaborate parody?
I think that, as with Sarah Palin, this question can only be answered with "yes".
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1) The whole "America is a Christian Nation" thing is the fastest way to get Jews to vote for someone else. Inquisition-era Spain was very focused on being a "Christian nation" as well. Not to say that James Inhofe is bringing back the rack, but the phrase causes gut-level discomfort.

2) War on Christmas. A lot of conservative Republicans think that if you don't say "Merry Christmas" or have a nativity scene in front of City Hall, it's some sort of godless commie conspiracy. Not that most Jews get all worked up by one little manger, but the language tends toward extreme paranoia.
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I myself am turned off by Jews for Jesus because they seek through lies and misrepresentation to evangelize young impressionable Jews. They are Intelligent Designers suggesting evolution and religion are somehow compatible in ways they are not.
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I am turned off by evangelicals because my friends are usually gathering the popcorn to watch me and my family die in the holy war.
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I am for legal abortion (within limits) because I dislike ANY government telling me what I can do with my body, a dangerous slippery slope. I am for legal abortion because of coat hanger stories. Safe, legal, rare.
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Republicans were perceived by my family to have been behind the exclusionary immigration laws that kept Jews out of the United States during the 1920's and 1930's. I'm having trouble linking, but it's easy to find links to the Immigration Act of 1924, for example. Yes, many Democrats, especially Southern Democrats supported immigration. So did Samuel Gompers, a Jew. But this was largely a Republican program.
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It is mind boggling that any intelligent educated Jew can still vote for the repiblican party of the last 8-10 years even if they were loyal republicans before 2001.

War hysteria and propaganda ,
nasty lies,
racism,
Utopian Ayn Randism for teenagers which almost brought this country down on it's knees economically.
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Look at belligerent ignorance espoused and promoted by the GOP.
And many many more reasons.
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I know, I know, some will argue that just because the evangelicals believe (or at least claim to believe) that all Jews are damned to eternal hell for failure to accept the story of Jesus Christ as the exclusive path to salvation, and therefore believe that Jews' religious beliefs will damn them forever (with a side of 'we'll nonetheless support you temporarily because that will mean it's time for the Rapture that will condemn Jews to perpetual suffering'), that just because of that, some Jews perceive anti-Semitism in evangelical thought.
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Day to day, there's a big difference between anti-Israel sentiment, however nasty, and the sort of antisemitism one might see in your daily life. In terms of the latter, I have a whole lot less to fear from Matt Yglesias (Jewish) or Kos than from some guy who thinks we're living in a "Christian Nation" and wants my kid to recite their prayers in schools I pay for in part.
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This is actually what I find strange. Perfectly normal, law-abiding lawyers and bankers of my acquaintance start talking about how they would like to "kill" the members of Jews for Jesus. In contrast, no one I know ever expresses anything but mild disdain for Scientologists, or Hare Krishna members, or whatever. It's really weird for a group to arouse such hostility among otherwise cultured, urbane, pacific people.
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Historically, Jews who convert have been at the forefront of turning back around and literally killing those who don't. Often armed with the theological claim that Christianity is the true fulfillment of Judaism, making the rest of us "false Jews." The foundations for this go back to the New Testament and it keeps leading to Jewish bloodshed one way or another.

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