The editor of The American Thinker accuses me of anti-Semitism

Thomas Lifson, editor of The American Thinker, who published an article of mine in August, has cut me off because in an article submission to him I used the word “neoconservative,” which, he told me, he considers an anti-Semitic code word. I replied that leading Jewish neoconservatives such as Irving Kristol and Charles Krauthammer use “neoconservative” in exactly the same way I had used it, to describe President Bush’s “spread-democracy” policy and the people who support that policy, namely themselves; and I asked him to explain how my usage of “neoconservative” could be anti-Semitic if theirs wasn’t:

Neoconservative has been a term of political discussion for the last 30 years. Is it now banned? The neoconservatives themselves write innumerable articles about neoconservatism. Krauthammer has a big article out in the July/August Commentary called “The Neoconservative Convergence,” talking about how the neoconservative view of foreign policy has now finally gained complete power in the national government. In this article, the word “neoconservatives” appears scores of times. Is he using neoconservative as a code for Jews? Irving Kristol had an article two years ago this month in the Weekly Standard called “The Neoconservative Persuasion,” which I commented on critically at length. Was Kristol using neoconservative as a code for Jews? Was I?

What you are saying is that neoconservatives can write articles about neoconservatism, but critics of neoconservatives cannot!!

Do you regard that as a sustainable position?

He said he didn’t see what the term added. I then explained the meaning of neoconservative and gave quotes of leading neocons using the term themselves (see e-mail quoted below). He did not write back. I then wrote to him:

To my surprise, you haven’t replied to my follow-ups on the question of whether it’s legitimate to use the word neoconservative critically. The only reason I can think of is that you really believe that anyone who criticizes neoconservatives is really carrying out an anti-Semitic agenda. In other words, you regard me as anti-Semitic.
He didn’t reply to that either, leaving the implication hanging in the air that he did regard me as anti-Semitic. I was stunned, and, not knowing what to do next, put the matter aside for a while. But I knew the issue was not closed, and a few weeks later I wrote to him again picking up the discussion and trying to get satisfaction from him. He wrote back saying that he had “no time to debate” with me. I told him that was not sufficient, and he wrote:

I consider the word anti-Semitic, and that is my judgment. I am editor, and my judgments control what is published.

Meanwhile, in a parallel e-mail, he persisted in acting as though I was challenging his editorial power to reject my article, whereas, as I had already explained to him repeatedly, I was not protesting his rejection of my article, but his characterization of my language as anti-Semitic, and his refusal to respond to my defense of myself. I wrote to him:

For the THIRD time, I am not protesting your rejection of that article.

This is not about your having a debate with me. This is about your taking responsibility for having accused me, out of the blue, of using an anti-semitic code word, and then refusing to reply to my question asking you how my usage of the word could be seen as anti-Semitic, and then simply cutting me off.

So, here, once again is the passage that includes “neoconservative.” How is my usage of “neoconservative” any different from Charles Krauthammer’s whom I quoted in an earlier e-mail, which is copied further down in this e-mail?

He wrote back:

And I have told you for the third time that I don’t want to debate the matter. I made my judgment.

This is the last email you will receive from me.

And that was it.

I have sometimes had editors deal with me in very irresponsible and treacherous ways, but this was the worst behavior I have ever encountered from an editor, or indeed from any intellectual in a responsible position, in my life. “American Thinker” is not exactly the way I would describe a person who, in his capacity as editor of a publication, accuses a contributor to his publication of using anti-Semitic language, and then, when challenged, falls back on his authority as editor, refuses to reply on the substance, and ends all communication.

Below is the passage from my article containing the two instances of the word that Lifson considered anti-Semitic. Below that is my note to him explaining the meaning of neoconservative and quoting Charles Krauthammer using the word.

Here is the passage from my article submission:

The same is happening with our democracy-spreading efforts. President Bush and his neoconservative supporters justified spreading democracy to Iraq on the basis that all people are the same, all people want the same individual freedoms that we want, and therefore all people are ready and able to adopt liberal democracy based on universal individual rights. But the people to whom Bush was spreading this democracy were not universalist individuals, they were members of a very particular religion, a religion that makes the imposition of the totalitarian and anti-egalitarian sharia law a primary goal. So, as soon as Bush gave the Iraqis individual-rights democracy, they elected a national assembly that adopted a constitution in which sharia is the ultimate authority. But Bush and his supporters, having already committed themselves to Iraqi democracy, and thus having to accept whatever was chosen by the elected representatives of the Iraqi people, felt they had no choice but to turn around and support this sharia-based constitution. Thus the Bush/neocon crusade to spread individual-rights democracy has instantly morphed into a multicultural endorsement of Islamic sharia, without its promoters acknowledging that the former has led directly to the latter, and that they are getting the exact opposite of what they had thought they were getting, and that this is a catastrophe for our civilization, since we are now in the business of waging foreign wars and occupying foreign countries in order to set up sharia governments which are commanded by Allah to wage jihad against us.

Here is my note to Lifson where I explained the meaning of neoconservative and quoted Krauthammer’s use of the word:

LA to Thomas Lifson:

The neoconservative ideology [is] a specific, well-known set of ideas, arguments, slogans about America, its role in the world, and human nature. I explain this ideology in condensed form in the article, in reference to the parallel issues of democratization and immigration. In both cases there is the assumption of universal human sameness which is easily assimilable to American ways and values, whether in the form of immigration and assimilation of non-European peoples, or in the form of the democratization of Muslim countries.

Now, I just looked at my article again and the word “neoconservative” appears in it once and “neocon” once. That is hardly throwing the word around. Both usages appear in the second of the two paragraphs, in the context of the ideology of global democratism of which, as everyone knows, the neocons are the primary articulators and supporters.

Please explain how there is anything in my usage of the word that is not appropriate to the actual meaning of the word “neoconservative” or that even remotely could be seen as a code for Jews.

Now here are some examples of Charles Krauthammer using “neoconservative” in his Commentary article, specifically in reference to the idea that neoconservatism has become the ideology of President Bush:

The post-cold-war era has seen a remarkable ideological experiment: over the last fifteen years, each of the three major American schools of foreign policy—realism, liberal internationalism, and neoconservatism—has taken its turn at running things.

By a fluke or a miracle, depending on your point of view, because of the confusion of a few disoriented voters in Palm Beach, Florida, this has been the decade of neoconservatism.

The remarkable fact that the Bush Doctrine is, essentially, a synonym for neoconservative foreign policy marks neoconservatism’s own transition from a position of dissidence, which it occupied during the first Bush administration and the Clinton years, to governance. Neoconservative foreign policy, one might say, has reached maturity.

In short, the Bush administration—if you like, neoconservatism in power—has been far more inclined to pursue democratic realism and to consign democratic globalism to the realm of aspiration.

Is Krauthammer throwing around the word “neoconservatism”? Is he using it as a code for Jews? Yet I’m using it in the same context that Krauthammer is, of President Bush’s ideology to spread democracy.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 04, 2005 03:08 PM | Send

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