A reader writes:
Just out of curiosity (and, as a Jewish reader of your blog, I'm quite curious), are you accused of anti-Semitism for simply discussing these issues?
Of course, but the more effective tactic is not debating you but just making sure that you don't get paying work (e.g., recall how nice liberal Gregg Easterbrook was fired from ESPN in 2003 to encourage the others).
My co-religionists, amongst themselves, talk about these things all the time (as do members of most ethnic and racial groups) and I would be sorry if they attacked you for simply doing the same. Different groups bring different things to the table, and it just so happens that the past century or so fit in nicely with the skill sets that Jews have developed over the years.
One of the fascinating aspects of Jewish culture, to me, has been the fact that we are everywhere on the ideological spectrum. The most prominent libertarians? Check. The most prominent communists? Check. The biggest neo-conservatives? Check. The biggest anti-war demonstrators? Check. Josh Marshall and Matthew Yglesias [well, both supported the war back in the beginning] are members of the tribe, but so are Kristol and Podhoretz. One of the reasons why it's so easy to come up with preposterous statements about Jews. in general, is that specific Jews can be found propagating almost any point of view imaginable -- and doing it well enough to be seen as a prominent figure in whatever movement they join.
Indeed. Similarly, the most anti-Communist English-language literary giant of the last 40 years, Tom Stoppard, discovered as a middle-aged man that he's 100% Jewish.
For example, here are two fairly honest depictions of two utopian groups that were diametrically opposed in politics but in which Jews played dominant roles: Students for a Democratic Society and the Ayn Randers:
- Mark Rudd of the Columbia sit-in and the Weathermen on "Why Were There So Many Jews in SDS? Or, The Ordeal of Civility" (via Larry Auster)
- Economist Murray Rothbard on "The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult" (Rothbard was expelled by Rand after a year's membership in the cult) (via Lew Rockwell)
One member of the Ayn Rand cult from his late 20s up at least through the age of 42 was Alan Greenspan, the future chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Bill Bradford reported in The American Enterprise:
As I learned in hours of interviews with their associates, Greenspan was a member of Rand’s inner circle during this entire period [the 1950s] and beyond. He lectured on economics for the Nathaniel Branden Institute. He wrote for the first issue of The Objectivist Newsletter, and when Rand broke with Branden [her 25-year younger lover], he signed a public statement condemning the traitor “irrevocably.” [Greenspan was then in his 40s.] When Gerald Ford appointed him to the Council of Economic Advisors, he invited Rand to his swearing-in ceremony, and attended her funeral in 1982.
That somebody as seemingly hard-headed as Greenspan should have spent much of his adult life in the Rand cult is striking.
My reader continues:
Jews, unfortunately, are also likely to have a persecution complex (I know that nearly every one of them -- including me -- that I've ever met has one to some degree). And in most cases they have them for historically valid reasons -- our persecutions have been regular and consistent. Sadly, however, this means that any discussion of the role that Jews have played in the history of the past three centuries is often seen as an attack. If Jews are seen as too influential, the theory goes, it will bring the hammer down like some cosmic game of whack-a-mole.
The obvious question then is whether being shielded from objective analysis in the media is good for the Jews. Unfortunately, getting yourself deemed above criticism is the surest way to lower one's performance.
For Americans as a whole, understanding Jewish tendencies is both more complicated and, perhaps at this point in history, more important than understanding those of any other ethnic group.
In their 1995 book Jews and the New American Scene, the prominent social scientist Seymour Martin Lipset, a Senior Scholar of the Wilstein Institute for Jewish Policy Studies, and Earl Raab, Director of the Perlmutter Institute for Jewish Advocacy at Brandeis University, pointed out:
"During the last three decades, Jews have made up 50% of the top two hundred intellectuals, 40 percent of American Nobel Prize Winners in science and economics, 20 percent of professors at the leading universities, 21 percent of high level civil servants, 40 percent of partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington, 26% of the reporters, editors, and executives of the major print and broadcast media, 59 percent of the directors, writers, and producers of the fifty top-grossing motion pictures from 1965 to 1982, and 58 percent of directors, writers, and producers in two or more primetime television series." [pp 26-27]
The last thing, however, that non-Jews are allowed to do in the U.S. is to objectively discuss the kind of psychological and sociological patterns that help explain why the quality of Jewish political and social decision-making has, on average, not always been as strong as their IQs, work ethic, argumentative skills, interest in public affairs, and self-confidence in their own judgment might suggest. The first President Bush understood this, but the second didn't seem to have learned this lesson before the Iraq Attaq (although he seems to have learned a little in the aftermath, with Feith gone, Wolfowitz kicked upstairs, and Perle out of fashion).
What are some of these common self-debilitating Jewish tendencies? Off the top of my head, I'd suggest:
- Utopianism: Bombing Iraq into an America-loving democracy is only the latest disastrous project
- Cult-Worship- of- the-All-Knowing-Scholar-Sageism: Marxism, Freudianism, Randism, Straussianism, etc.
- Ethnocentric nostalgiaism: vividly seen in the current immigration debate, where Ellis Island-worship is substituted for facts and logic
- Be-Like-Meism: e.g., the common suggestion by Jewish pundits that all Mexican illegal immigrants have to do is act like the Jewish immigrants of 1906 and everything will turn out fine. Well, swell ...
- Pseudo ethnic Humilityism: few Jews actually believe that Mexicans are just like Jews -- they think Jews are much smarter -- but they don't want anybody else to notice that Jews are smarter so they advocate immigration policies that depend for their success upon Mexicans being just as smart as Jews. That this immigration policy is obviously bad for the country is less important than keeping up the charade that nobody mentions in the press that Jews are smarter than everybody else on average.
- Rube Goldbergism: overly complicated plans and analyses with too many moving parts to work reliably (e.g., the neocon plans for fixing the Middle East through invasion)
- Is-It-Good-for-the-Jewsism: I am a huge fan of enlightened self-interest, so I don't object to this on principle
- Rube Goldbergian Is-It-Good-for-the-Jewsism: This could also be called He-Who-Says-A-Must-Say-B-C-D-E-Q-W-and-Zism. Jewish intellectuals have a tendency that on any topic related to Jews, they tend to think baroquely many steps down the line. Thus, the full panoply of the subjects that have been assumed to be bad-for-the-Jews and therefore ruled out of discussion in polite society is breathtakingly broad -- for example, IQ has been driven out of the media in large part because it is feared that mentioning that Jews have higher average IQs would lead, many steps down the line, to pogroms.
- Missing-Piece-of-the-Puzzleism: One obvious problem with this tendency is that you can't make a Rube Goldberg analysis work in the real world if you've banned the use of crucial moving parts, such as IQ
- Pay-No-Attention-to-that-Man-Behind-the-Curtainism: The biggest unmentionable, as the Mearsheimer-Walt brouhaha demonstrated once again, is also one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle for understanding how the modern world works: the influence of Jews.
- Enemy Nostalgiaism: Difficulty identifying current and future enemies because of emotional obsession with past enemies: e.g., the obsession with "The Passion of the Christ" combined with the inability to identify growing Latin American populism as a future threat due to immigration, etc.
- Faux Sabraism: as Francis Fukuyama pointed out to Charles Krauthammer, American neocon thinking about Iraq was motivated less by hardheaded is-it-good-for-Israel analysis -- Sharon's government was only modestly enthusiastic about the Iraq Attaq -- than by What-Would-the-Israelis-Do emotions. Armchair warriors like Douglas Feith are particular susceptible to this kind of Let's Pretend thinking..
Ironically, Jewish writers themselves are obsessed with Jewish influence, even in fields where Jews have virtually no influence, such as soccer. I'm reading How Soccer Explains the World: An (Unlikely) Theory of Globalization by Marty Peretz's latest young man to edit The New Republic, Franklin Foer. This Jewish soccer fan's book is hilariously obsessed with the Jewish role in soccer, even though that role is almost nonexistent. The great majority of Jews live in America and Israel, two countries that are almost irrelevant to the story of soccer.
Did you know that a Jewish team won the Austrian national championship in 1925? Isn't that the most fascinating thing you've ever heard in your life? Well, Foer seems to think so, as he travels to Vienna to interview elderly Jews about their memories of that amazing team, but it turns out that none of the old Jews in Vienna can remember it or, for that matter, ever had any interest in soccer. But Foer still scrapes together a full 10 pages on this epochal team. Similarly, his chapter on English soccer hooligans is based on the perhaps not quite reliable memories of one middle-aged yobbo who is (surprise!) half-Jewish.
As you'd expect, references to the Jewish Holocaust pop up throughout this book on soccer. On the other hand, Foer's 26-page chapter on soccer in Ukraine never mentions the Ukrainian Holocaust of 1932-33. I wonder why?
Unfortunately, as you might expect from one of Marty Peretz's minions, Foer's writings about Jews and soccer are so hamstrung by powerful emotions and worries about what exactly is good for the Jews to put down in writing about the Jews that they are largely analytically worthless for learning anything directly about Jewish tendencies. You have to read between the lines, and that's not popular these days. Not Safe For Work.
Even sillier are Will Saletan's current articles in Slate on his visit to Germany to see the World Cup, which an impudent editor re-titled "Don't Mention the War" after the addled Basil Fawlty's warning to his hotel staff about their poor German guests in the funniest scene in all of Fawlty Towers (and thus likely the funniest scene in sit-com history):
No Nazi jokes. That's what I told myself when I landed in Frankfurt on Saturday to see the World Cup. The Germans are throwing a very nice party, especially for journalists. They're setting aside tickets, even giving us free train travel. The least we can do is not mention you-know-what. But then you ride a German train, and you sit in a German stadium throbbing to the chants of a nationalist mob, and it all comes back.
The dark humor started last week. I'm on a fellowship in Cambridge with a few Englishmen who haven't forgotten the Hun. The other day, a lecturer showed us a couple of slides fictionally depicting England under Hitler. The idea, which the speaker meant to challenge, was that if this or that hadn't happened, history would have unfolded in a completely different way. That's why Churchill said of the Royal Air Force, "Never has so much been owed by so many to so few." Fortunately, the few on whom Britons are relying this week are just footballers, and the adversary is just Paraguay. But remind me again: What's that South American country to which the you-know-whos disappeared?...
It's a beautiful trip, full of chalet-like villages nestled in valleys. Churches are everywhere. Windmills circle in the breeze. On the train, everyone's friendly. Americans play video games or yap on cell phones; Germans read books. It's such a civilized country. Sitting on that train, listening to reassuring announcements, I tried to imagine how hard it must have been for German Jews to recognize the early days of you-know-what. Maybe that's why they took so long to get out. Good folks can't turn bad, can they? But they did, and they could again, and so could the Brits, and so could we.
But as I was saying, you-know-what is gone. It's been replaced by the new you-know-what, the one that hit us on 9/11 and hit the Brits last year. On the way to Hamburg, I wondered about that. Wasn't the 9/11 plot launched from Hamburg? Is it just coincidence that the home of the old fascism incubated the new fascism?
Well, if it's not a coincidence, it's because people like Will Saletan have browbeaten the modern Germans into not being so insensitively nationalistic as to throw out the Muslim extremists infesting their country.
And here's Saletan's bizarre sermon on why the Serbs, those New Nazis, deserved their loss to the Dutch in the their opening round match:
Maybe the match says something about why so many Dutchmen protected people like me when you-know-what roamed the earth. Maybe it says something about why so many Serbs perpetrated their own ethnic cleansing in the war before the war on terror. Or maybe it's all in my head. All I know is, the man who led that cleansing is dead, and he died in the prison of the international justice system, and that prison is in Holland. And I'm going home with a couple of orange jerseys in my bag.
Uh, actually, not that many Dutch protected people like you, Will. As Franklin Foer points out (inevitably) in his soccer book:
But more than rediscovering this history of resistance, the Dutch fabricated it. As historians have pointed out tirelessly in recent years, the Dutch did a better job collaborating with the Nazis than stopping them. Holland lost a higher percentage of its Jews to the Holocaust than any other country.
As a reader points out, Saletan may be confusing the Dutch and the Danes, who sneaked their Jews out to neutral Sweden (which Saletan probably remembers as Switzerland).
And those Dutch peacekeepers sure distinguished themselves in Bosnia!
Meanwhile, the Serbs fought the Nazis and their Croatian allies for all five years their country was occupied by the German Army. Serbs died by the hundreds of thousands at the hands of the Nazis and Nazi-Wannabes. Gratitude is why Israel backed Serbia for most of the 1990s. And the Serbs ended up as the most ethnically cleansed Balkan nation of the 1990s.
And, anyway, it's just a boring soccer match...
Saletan's essay is a classic example of how much of America's Kosovo policy was based not on facts but on modern Jewish-Americans' psychodramas, most notoriously Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's, about getting revenge on the Nazis by sticking it to the Serbs.
As Chris Caldwell wrote in the New York Times about former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's memoirs: "For her, every conflict is a replay of the Munich conference of 1938..." Albright was born in Czechoslovakia, which was dismantled at the Munich conference when the Great Powers took away its border province of the Sudetenland due to agitation by its German population, so it's hardly surprising she's obsessed with it. Obsession, however, is not precisely what you want in a Secretary of State, as we saw with Albright. The great irony of Albright's life is that when she finally got power in her hands, her lifelong fixation with Munich manifested itself in a hilariously twisted manner. She staged her own Great Power conference (Munich-Rambouillet) to take away from a small Eastern European country (Czechoslovakia-Yugoslavia) its border province (Sudetenland-Kosovo) due to agitation by its disaffected minority ethnicity (Germans-Albanians).
The unexpected consequence of our Kosovo war and the campaign of anti-Serbism was growing anti-Israel sentiment among Europeans, who then saw Israel's West Bank occupation as the equivalent of Serbia's Kosovo occupation. This analogy was a natural one to everybody outside the sphere of influence of the U.S. media, but since American Jews are the most intense consumers as well as producers of American media, they got blindsided by this analogy.
In summary, the crucial question for Jews is:
Is it good for the Jews to obsess over "Was it good for the Jews?" Or should they, when thinking about immigration and foreign policies, ask, "Will it be good for the Jews?"
And for Americans as a whole, the crucial question is: Is it good for America if a powerful group is free from all outside analysis, no matter how objective?
A reader responds:
You state that keeping the fact of high Jewish IQ’s on the down low is the reason for public ixnay on the IQ alktay in ublicpay. Hmm, I could swear that the big factor is fear of noting that blacks had low IQ’s was the big mover. What has swayed US domestic policy more, the PC need to see non-whites as virtuous, talented victims held back by WE, the man, or all that Jewish stuff?
I thought the obvious public lens on the Balkan damn fool thing was that the Kosovo muslims were BLACK, and the Serbs were Klansmen just as much as the Kosovos were Jews and the Serbs Nazis.
Heck, I’d say the whole Euro American divide re: Isreal is as much about European white guilt as American Jew-guilt, yah? Europeans aren’t nearly so guilty about what they did to blacks as to the beige and brown, Arabs largely among them, and the Isrealis are seen as Europeans doing some nasty colonial thing to the Arabs, yah? But Americans don’t automatically see Arabs as minority victims, where we do recognize Jews as historical victims needing to defend themselves.
Euros feel bad about colonialism, and guilt compensate by taking the Arab side in what they see as a colonial land grab. Americans have no guilt regarding Jews or Arabs, but they do feel good about being Holocaust liberators, so they take the Jewish side in what they see as the Jews surrounded on all sides, fighting off the Huns.
In fact, couldn’t this be seen as the Euros doing that liberal intra-white status game of who’s more beastly to the minorities? The Euros establish moral superiority by being more tolerant of the Arabs than their fellow westerners, the Isrealis? And the Isrealis are helpfully just different enough –they’re Jews, and their problems don’t really directly touch Europe, except as riling their own problem urban minorities?
Couldn’t one say Euro superiority to Isrealis, and concern for rioting domestic Arabs, is like NE libs and their superiority over Red State rednecks, especially those in high black population southern states who must actually deal with the issue, and their simultaneous concern for rioting blacks in Harlem?
Another reader writes:
One Jewish characteristic which may considerably underlie several of the others might be a tendency to religious fanaticism. In Antiquity, Jews were certainly not regarded as being especially smart or good at business; instead it was their extreme religious fanaticism that attracted attention. And one might argue that during a couple of millenia of living as religious minorities in Europe and elsewhere, the less fanatic Jews might probably have tended to convert for pragmatic reasons and merge into the larger Gentile population.
I suspect that one reason this plausible Jewish characteristic attracts relatively little attention is the extreme secularism of modern Jews, probably about the least religious ethic group in most countries. But I would suggest that the same underlying psychological tendency easily manifests itself in lots of "secular religions," which helps to explain why Jews are so prominent in almost every conflicting ideological movement, ranging from Marxism/Communism to libertarianism, liberalism, multiculturalism, neo-conservatism, environmentalism, pro-Israelism (and anti-Israelism), and everything else.
And Hans Gruber looks at the flip side of the coin:
One possible explanation for the Utopian tendency is that Jews are much more secular than the general population. Religion is a human universal. It's possible that religion satisfies inherent desires for purpose, for meaning, and for immortality. Secular peoples, lacking the fulfillment religion provides, might then seek a sort of substitute from political ideology and creating paradise here, today (therefore ensuring their immortality as well). Religious peoples, however, tend to accept the imperfection of this world for the promise of paradise in the next, staving off Utopian impulses.
You also mention reverence for the "all-knowing-scholar-sage." This is also consistent with the secular explanation because this is essentially the replacement of a religious priesthood with a secular priesthood. The priest or rabbi gives us guidance on how to live our lives, and so too does the secular priesthood of "all-knowing-scholar-sages."