May 30, 2005

A long review of Slezkine's "The Jewish Century"

in the New York Review of Books: It's quite complimentary, but the historian reviewing it, Orlando Figes, gets nervous about UC Berkeley historian Slezkine writing about Jewish participation in the Bolshevist regime.

So, Figes wonders whether we can label non-religious Jews as Jews at all. Of course, this line of thought rapidly turns into the old PR spin problem of Trotsky and Einstein: how do you define Jewishness in such a way as to semantically exclude the mass-murdering Trotsky while still including the admirable Einstein? Or Richard Feynman, or any number of other famous non-religious Jews whom most Jews consider, quite reasonably, to be heroic figures of the Jewish people? Maybe it can be done, but it would be a lot simpler just to admit that Jews are human beings like everybody else, among whom are found saints and villains, victims and victimizers.

Then the reviewer goes so far as to drop this dopey depth charge of a question in his attempt to discredit Slezkine: "Is it sensible or acceptable to ascribe common features to an ethnic group at all?" Well, if the members of an ethnic group didn't have common features, then they wouldn't be an ethnic group, now would they?

It's impossible to imagine the New York Review of Books asking such a moronic question in regard to, say, the Northern Irish situation, or any other ethnic subject -- only in a Jewish context does such a self-evidently self-contradictory question get aired.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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