Posted on | April 19, 2012 | 17 Comments
Ed Schultz and Eric Boehlert on MSNBC
Two weeks ago, Jeff Dunetz took note of M.J. Rosenberg’s departure from Media Matters (which I blogged about April 8 and April 10), and it’s kind of funny how sometimes when you pull a dangling thread, the whole sweater starts to unravel.
Was Dunetz onto something? Was Rosenberg merely the thread dangling from a Media Matters sweater knitted of unsavory views? Ben Shapiro decided to keep tugging at that shoddy fabric:
Senior Fellow Eric Boehlert, one of the faces of the organization, has a dicey record when it comes to Israel and the Jews. . . .
In 2002, he wrote a piece for Salon.com in which he lamented the fate of Professor Sami Al-Arian, former North American head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This is the same Al-Arian who proclaimed, “God cursed those who are sons of Israel … Those people, God made monkeys and pigs … Let us damn America, let us damn Israel, let us damn them and their allies until death.” When Al-Arian was suspended from his teaching post at Florida Atlantic University, Boehlert defended Al-Arian as an “innocent professor.”
As for mainstream media coverage of Israel – which is almost universally skewed against Israel – Boehlert thinks that the media coverage isn’t anti-Israel enough. “I don’t think it’s a surprise to suggest the Middle East conflict is essentially told through the eyes of Israel,” Boehlert said in 2006. . . .
Read the whole thing, and permit me to take the unusual (for me) step of counseling caution here. Anti-Semitism is quite nearly the most deadly accusation one can level in American politics, and ought not be applied haphazardly to every critic of Israel or every critic of U.S. Mideast policy. My own views being sufficiently ultra-Zionist to have earned me second place in Sully’s 2009 “Malkin Awards” competition, I do not insist that everyone of good faith must share my opinions.
Bibi Netanyahu? A squishy moderate!
Both coalition politics and successful governance require us to tolerate a range of opinions on any given issue. If we denounced as Jew-haters every critic of Bush-era foreign policy, we would be required to condemn, inter alia, the late Robert Novak.
Our precocious friend Ben Shapiro correctly says that Boehlert once offered a “drumbeat” of commentary that “the press was too favorable to the Jewish State.” In this, Boehlert echoed a common theme of the anti-war Left during the Bush 43 era.
Was this actual evidence of anti-Semitism? Or was it merely evidence of the amoral opportunism of the Left, which will not hesitate to employ any vile weapon by which to achieve its aims?
Over the years, self-styled “progressives” have often played footsie with fascism, as Jonah Goldberg has amply demonstrated.
The associations of progressive heroes like Margaret Sanger with eugenics, and of Woodrow Wilson with the Ku Klux Klan, are among but a few such examples. The Left plays by its own secret rulebook, which it amends at will and without notice, so that the Left’s enemies can be denounced on Thursday for saying what the Left itself was saying on Wednesday. As I’ve often said, if it weren’t for double standards, liberals would have no standards at all.
Anyone who paid attention to the Left’s rhetoric during the Bush years could see that they were routinely guilty of transgressions that no right-winger could commit without risking the kind of ostracism visited upon Joe Sobran and Pat Buchanan, among others. Russell Kirk was once able to make a sharp jab at neoconservatives (who at times, it seemed “mistook Tel Aviv for the capital of the United States,” he said) and survive, but Kirk was then an icon of long tenure so that he was arguably bulletproof. And Kirk did not make a habit of such remarks.
When we we think we detect a “dog whistle” of anti-Semitism in someone’s rhetoric, we can confirm our suspicion by reference to their previous rhetoric. And we can monitor their future public utterances for further such code-talk. But are we trying to correct a vicious tendency, or are we merely taking scalps in a game of political payback?
Having spent the past decade with a bounty on my head — a man marked for destruction by the Left — it behooves me to urge caution on my allies in their choice of tactics. If you’re going to accuse Boehlert (or anyone else) of anti-Semitism, you had damned well better be able to make the accusation stick. Otherwise you risk undermining your credibility by “crying wolf,” and thus bolster the Left’s ability to get away with it.
Shapiro promises to follow up: “Media Matters is choc-a-bloc with MJ Rosenberg ideological clones. And that’s no coincidence.” This suggests that Shapiro’s item is but the opening salvo in one of those trademark Breitbart barrages, where as soon as the target denies the initial accusation — bam! — some previously unknown bit of evidence reinforces the original charge.
Let’s hope Team Breitbart has its targets zeroed in, and plenty of ammunition in reserve, so that we witness amazing shock-and-awe devastation when the lethal order is given: “Fire for effect.”
RELATED: Rusty at Jawa Report observes:
[Occupy Wall Street] is premised on a conspiracy theory. That theory is that a small cabal of people — those behind the “corporations” — secretly manipulate the government and major institutions to their own advantage.
Sound familiar? Just add the word “Jews” to the mix and that, my friends, is the core belief of modern antisemitism.
“Neocons.” Nudge, nudge.
UPDATE: One of our frequent commenters expressed mystification at the significance of my “nudge, nudge” gesture. I replied in the comments but, just to clarify any possible confusion, I’ll repeat the whole thing up here:
During the Bush years, liberals began to use “neocon” in a dishonestly tendentious way, so as to contextualize the War on Terror as a sort of “Jewish thing,” as if the 9/11 attacks were somehow the fault of Israel or (nuance alert) a U.S. foreign policy that had been captured by certain “interests.”
The more sophisticated liberal spokesmen dropping these “neocon” jabs knew how to insinuate meaning without coming right out and screaming, “JOOOOZZ!”
Thus, such people reminded me of a certain type whom one occasionally meets: You’re talking about economics, politics or the culture wars, and one of these characters sidles up to the periphery of your conversation then starts intruding comments intended as bait, to see if you share his views of “those people.”
This is the nudge, nudge effect that some (not all) lefties intend when they start slinging around the term “neocon” in discussing foreign policy. “Neoconservatism,” properly understood, is something far more complex than foreign policy hawkishness, and is certainly NOT an acceptable synonym for “Republican Jews.”
It’s not my habit to throw people under the bus or to set myself up as an arbiter of “correct” opinion, and I am in favor of a conservative movement that resists the “urge to purge.” But neither can I be expected to stick around and talk with someone who starts blabbering about “international bankers” and the “Israel lobby,” etc.
It’s a free country and I reckon no one can be compelled to like Jews, but one can dislike people without scapegoating them as a sinister force to be blamed for all the world’s woes.