Posted on | March 9, 2012 | 61 Comments
John Podhoretz at Commentary on the controversy unleashed by the Breitbart.com video:
Michael Powell of the New York Times reflected conventional opinion in liberal media circles when he tweeted: “Derrick Bell, Radical? We’re to pretend our history cleansed? He fought 4 Civil Rights in Mississippi.”
It is incumbent on Powell and others, if they want to get in on the conversation about Bell, to explain what on earth is mainstream about comments he made in an eye-opening New York Observer interview published on October 10, 1994, that is not available online. Among other remarks, Bell denounced Henry Louis (Skip) Gates for writing a New York Times op-ed condemning black anti-Semitism:
I was furious. Even if everything he said was true, it was inexcusable not to mention what might have motivated blacks to feel this way, and to fail to talk about all the Jewish neoconservative racists who are undermining blacks in every way they can.
Bell went on to say, “Now, that wouldn’t excuse anti-Semitism, which is awful, but it would at least provide a context for this anger…”
UPDATE: Tom Maguire has a well-researched pushback against Soledad O’Brien’s assertion that Joel Pollak misunderstood or misrepresented Professor Bell’s “critical race theory” (CRT). As previously noted, CRT has been described as “an academic tradition in which race plays the same role as class plays in the Marxist paradigm.” Anyone who doesn’t recognize CRT as a dangerous species of radicalism is naive.
UPDATE II: It is important also to note just how much toxic unfairness is embedded in Bell’s phrase “Jewish racist neoconservatives.” The attempt to make “neoconservative” a sort of synonym for “Jewish Republican” — if not indeed “Zionist warmonger” — was one of the dirtiest smears of the post-9/11 Left, and you see in Bell’s 1994 comments the bitter root of this kind of smear.
In point of fact, arguably the two most influential “neoconservatives” were both Irish Catholics, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Bill Bennett, and if being pro-Israel makes one a “neoconservative” then the word loses all meaning, because such a wide swath of American public opinion is pro-Israel.
As to Bell’s suggestion that “Jewish neoconservatives” are “racist,” this is a smear that dates back to the mid-1960s, when Black Power radicals like Stokely Carmichael and Rap Brown took over leadership of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and purged whites from what had been — during the heyday of the civil rights protests — a broad coalition.
This racialist purge at SNCC naturally offended many liberal Jews who had been active supporters of the civil rights movement and who, indeed, counted Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman among Jewish martyrs to the cause of racial equality. Jewish liberals were further offended when the Carmichael/Brown radical axis justified their coup by branded their erstwhile Jewish allies as “racists.”
From this mid-1960s schism can be traced the enduring taint of anti-Semitism that has attached itself to black radicalism. Add in such other elements of political background as the 1967 Ocean Hill-Brownsville crisis over “community control” in New York City schools – when liberals sided with Black Power advocates against the Jewish-led teachers union — and you have the historical subtext for a decades-old enmity.
UPDATE III: Jeff “Outlaw” Goldstein:
Professor Bell’s fidelity to the critical race theory he helped popularize and promote is, historically, beyond dispute. And while the move from the Left now will be to pretend the story has no merit, it is incumbent upon those of us on the right to publicize just who Obama once was (and may very well still be) — if only to allow the American people, rather than a gatekeeper press looking to control the narrative and manufacture a kind of fictional character of “Barack Obama,” to decide who he really is.
Now a Memeorandum thread.
- March 9: Busted by Twitchy: @Soledad_OBrien Loves Her Some ‘Critical Race Theory’
- March 4: David Axelrod’s Red Roots: Obama Adviser’s Communist Ties Exposed