Sailer on Podhoretz on the Jews

Steve Sailer writing at Vdare has a long review of Norman Podhoretz’s boring- and unimaginative-sounding book, Why Are Jews Liberals? Sailer makes a variety of good points, but the article as a whole is so disorganized and undisciplined that it produces in the reader the intellectual equivalent of car sickness. It is also marred by Sailer’s repeated cheap shots against Israel and those who defend Israel against a world that is either seeking to destroy Israel or facilitating those seeking to destroy it, a campaign the existence of which Sailer never acknowledges.

However, I’m also happy to discover that Sailer now endorses the Lawrence Auster policy on what to do about the Jewish problem. He writes:

My belief is that criticism is good for you. (I’ve personally experienced a lot of it.) In contrast, people who are treated as being above criticism tend to behave more badly over time.

For example, criticism by Jews of Christian anti-Semitism has no doubt greatly improved Christian attitudes and behavior. If our culture were to permit it, criticism by Christians of Jewish anti-Christianism would likely have a similar socially salutary effect.

This is what I’ve said all along. Between anti-Semitism on one side and the ruthless suppression of all criticism of Jews on the other, there is the mean, which is rational criticism of Jews when they deserve it. America’s white gentile majority needs to criticize the Jews as Jews, and even express righteous indignation against them, when they go too far—when, for example, they claim that their Jewishness requires them to promote open borders and support minorities against the majority; or when they speak of white Christian Americans, the most philo Semitic people in history, as though they were all Nazis under the skin and argue that the only way to make Jews safe in America is to reduce white Christians to a minority via Third-World immigration. Jewish intellectuals and spokesmen have gotten away with these vile attitudes for decades, in some cases perhaps not realizing how vile they were, because no one ever criticizes them for them. Let the criticism begin.

But is Sailer, who consistently exhibits a bigoted animus against the Jewish state, in a position to engage in such good faith criticism? And is Vdare, a site that has among its regular contributors America’s leading anti-Semite, Kevin MacDonald, and the lunatic hate-monger Paul Craig Roberts, the place to propose such a program?

At the end of the article, Sailer writes:

Jewish demonization of immigration reform patriots … is the single most important reason that America’s immigration disaster is still above criticism, long after it has become obvious that it is a disaster, and despite the fact that an overwhelming number of Americans are strongly opposed to it.

If this is an example of the salutary “criticism” of Jews that Sailer proposes, then my point about his lack of qualifications for the task is made. To say that the Jews are the primary force that is suppressing the supposed immigration restrictionist sentiment of the overwhelming majority of Americans, to suggest that but for the Jews the non-Jewish majority would have ended America’s mass Third-World immigration policy by now, goes beyond valid criticism. It is a bigoted statement, expressing, and intended to invoke in others, animus against Jews as Jews.

If paleocons are going to make rational criticism of Jews, and not just use the word “criticism” as a cover for their anti-Semitism, they need to remove the anti-Semites from their ranks, and the anti-Semitism from their own minds and hearts.

- end of initial entry -

Michael Hart writes:

I think your piece is excellent.

Bruce B. writes:

You wrote:

“America’s white gentile majority needs to criticize the Jews, and even express righteous indignation against them, when they go too far—when, for example, they claim that their Jewishness requires them to support open borders, or when they say that their Jewishness requires them to support minorities against the majority … …”

I’ve said this to you before. I don’t agree with this idea of yours that the Jewish people have to make explicit declarations to the effect that their actions are part of their Jewishness in order for criticism of them to be non-anti-Semitic. All they would have to do is be careful never to say that they are doing this or that “as Jews” and they’d be above criticism.

LA replies:

As part of my effort to identify situations in which it is unassailably legitimate to criticize Jews as Jews, and not just as generic liberals, I have argued in the past that when Jews specifically identity certain objectionable positions—such as siding with minorities against the majority, such as favoring the diversification of America, such as supporting open borders, abortion, homosexual rights—as Jewish positions, then that is an absolutely clear cut case in which it is legitimate to criticize Jews as Jews. I’m not saying that is the only type of situation in which such criticisms can be made

Bruce B. writes:

Not to nitpick but I just checked and Brimelow publishes MacDonald irregularly (12 times in 6 years at irregular intervals). You’re right about Roberts, he publishes him regularly. Something else that’s related on my mind. Just an idea. The MacDonald-ites say it’s all about sociobiological competition as if Jews don’t really believe liberal ideas. We say it’s all about liberalism/leftism. A third cause had occurred to me based on something I saw in pop culture, specifically, the phenomena of Jews of the past feeling excluded from the mainstream American holidays.

I think many Jews historically did admire Anglo-Saxon America. I’m thinking of things like the Jewish contributions to the older, healthy American pop-culture that I think you’ve written about. Also, what about how they named their children? So many hyper Anglo-Saxon names such as Howard, Harvey, Harold, Henry, Arthur, Lawrence etc. You don’t name your children after the enemy if you’re part of a hostile “culture of critique.” I’ve only a vague sense of this but is it possible that some of their leftism was caused by old fashioned envy? What I mean by this is perhaps they always admired the majority culture but never felt entirely like they were part of it. I don’t think this is an anti-Semitic explanation as it would be a very human phenomena (envy). This is only an idea for which I have no proof and I’m may be full of it. But have you ever considered this?

LA replies:

Up through the 1950s, American Jews gave their children ordinary American names. Then in the Sixties, with the rise of ethnic consciousness, and the attack on, and internal collapse of, the majority culture, they began giving them distinctively Jewish names.

I’ve never thought about envy as a factor driving Jewish anti-majoritarianism. I think more than anything else it’s a matter of identity. Up until the Sixties, Jews identified much more with the majority culture, and from that point on, much less.

On the subject of names, once in the early ’90s I was having dinner with Sam (Samuel ) Francis and Jared (Samuel Jared) Taylor, and pointed out the irony that my Jewish parents had named me (Lawrence Matthew) after Christian saints, while their Christian parents had given them Hebrew names.

N. writes:

Apropos of the article by Steve Sailer on Norman Podhoretz’s book, and the fact that it is not possible in the modern USA for anyone to criticize Jewish people no matter how obnoxious they are, I bring to your attention this latest example of the boffo humor of Larry David. Har. Har. Har.

Two thoughts came to mind as I read it. First and most obvious, when will daring and transgressive humor such as Larry David displays involve Islam? We all know the answer. But that doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t ask the question, loudly, of these “daring” and “bold” humorists, just so their squirming non- answer can be recorded for the future.

Second of all, it seems to me that Larry David is just flaunting his special social status as a Jew in a liberal society. “Look at me”, he’s saying, “I can piss on Christ if I want to, and no one will gainsay my actions. See, see, my Jewishness is more powerful than Christianity.” This sort of thing can and will encourage anti-Semitism, and frankly I believe that would please Larry David quite a bit, because it would reinforce his own prejudices.

:LA replies:

You write:

” … and the fact that it is not possible in the modern USA for anyone to criticize Jewish people no matter how obnoxious they are,”

That’s simply untrue. It’s this false belief that it’s impossible to criticize Jews that leads to and is used to justify anti-Semitism. If you have legitimate criticisms of Jews to make, make them. And if someone calls you anti-Semitic, show that he’s wrong. And you will win the argument. And also please don’t accept the idea that only Jews can criticize Jews.

At the same time, a major problem is that anti-Semites call their anti-Semitism “criticism,” and then whine incessantly about how if they “criticize” Israel or Jews, they are called anti-Semitic. To put it more precisely, they endlessly say things like, “If you don’t genuflect before Israel, you’re called an anti-Semite.” The anti-Semites are never honest about the nature of their statements that lead others to consider them anti-Semites.

You write:

“Look at me”, he’s saying, “I can piss on Christ if I want to, and no one will gainsay my actions. See, see, my Jewishness is more powerful than Christianity.”

Yes, he is saying that. And it’s not true that people can’t hold him to account for it. You could do it. Start a letter writing campaign against his network and advertisers. And criticizie him specifically as a Jew who is expressing bigotry against Christianity. Push back against his despicable attitudes, which he thinks he can get away with because gentiles have been too cowed to say anything. The answer is, stop being cowed. Please don’t let the wearisome, predictable, by-the-numbers protests of Bill Donahue to be the only voice raised in defense of Christian America.

Boris S. writes:

If I hadn’t already known Sailer to be an obsessive anti-Semite, I would have drawn that conclusion on the basis of that VDare article alone. When he thinks of Jews (and he does a great deal of thinking about Jews), he invariably imagines not flesh and blood human beings, but sinister intellectuals, high-ranking Goldman-Sachs employees, Forbes 400 CEOs and influential pundits. Altogether absent from the awareness of Sailer and his ilk is the great mass of Jews, who are ordinary, down-to-earth people. What I got out of his article is that, (1) “The Jews” are to be held responsible for America’s, if not indeed the world’s problems, and (2) Jews lamentably have it too good in America regardless of the party in power. Some of the logic he uses in the article, e.g., “it does not matter to Jews which party is in power because Goldman-Sachs has done well under both,” is worthy of an intellectual sub-normal. Or consider his equal part sinister and equal part laughable mischaracterization of Leon Trotsky as a “mass murderer” (if Trotsky is simply a murderer, then so are Napoleon and Cromwell—as a concise depiction this is so tendentious and so off the mark that it is, as Lee Smolin said of string theory, “not even wrong”). His claims regarding Israel likewise tend to be as stupid as they are bigoted, such as his statement that Israel’s security was “assured” after the Six-Day War. Perhaps he forgot that Israel was nearly destroyed just six years and four months later. Sailer is quite mistaken when he thinks that he has the right to use the word “complicit” and be taken seriously when talking about “the Jews” and the pre-war Soviet Union. In short, everything about his article, every paragraph, nearly every sentence is filled with drivel. Sailer certainly didn’t disappoint.

EK writes:

THE AMERICAN JEW HAS LONG DISAPPEARED VIA ASSIMILATION. Intermarriage is in itself a form and a result of liberalism. Liberalism in its original form was formerly called socialism in which assimilated JEWS WERE ALSO VERY ACTIVE. It has nothing in common with original unhomogenized Judaism.

As for myself, let me say in as few words as possible:



Even shorter, I would sooner work with a Goy who thinks like a Jew than with a Jew who thinks like a Goy (the term Goy is not pejorative).

LA replies:

EK’s comment fits with my idea that Christianity, unlike traditional Judaism and Islam, does not provide and require a particular way of life and social organization, and therefore for Christianity to be sustainable and practicable in this world, it needs to be connected—and it always has been connected—with one or another non-Christian (or to be more precise, extra-New Testament), this-worldly tradition or organization, such as the Jewish tradition, the Roman law, the Roman Catholic Church, the Germanic tribe, the Frankish kingdom and empire, the feudal order, the Renaissance Italian city-state, the Puritan community of the elect, the modern nation-state, modern democracy and so on. The first such this-worldly partner with Christianity was the Jewish tradition. From the beginning,—in Jesus’ frequent quoting of the Jewish scripture, in the idea that Jesus had fulfilled various Old Testament prophecies, and in the fact that the first Christians were practicing Jews and members of the Jewish community—Christianity was profoundly rooted in the Jewish tradition, which, above all else, is the tradition and way of life of a people under God, living in this world, but in relation to God and under God’s law. The Jewish, this-worldly aspect balanced and held in check the pure New Testament aspect which, by itself, can become a rejection of life in this world or an expectation that this world is about to be changed into a wholly spiritual world, as is famously expressed, for example, in certain passages of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. From time to time throughout the history of Christianity, various Christian sects have thought that the world was literally about to come to an end, and it didn’t.

This is not a criticism of Christ’s teaching for its unworldly aspect. Jesus didn’t come to organize a political/cultural society; that wasn’t his job. He simply assumed the existence and functioning of such a society and went on from there, teaching the kingdom of heaven which lies within—a teaching that can be realized in a variety of external forms of society (something that is not true of Islam, for example, since for Islam to realize itself it requires a society governed in all its particulars by the Islamic law). Nevertheless it remains the case that Christianity must be connected with a this-worldly tradition and organizing principle or it will tend to become otherworldly, gnostic, or suicidally liberal. And I think that EK is referring to such suicidal liberalism when he says that Israel is currently being destroyed by Jews who think like Christians.

October 30

William V. writes:

I’m curious as to why you let this incredibly vile comment by Boris S. through moderation and posted it without refutation:

Or consider his equal part sinister and equal part laughable mischaracterization of Leon Trotsky as a “mass murderer” (if Trotsky is simply a murderer, then so are Napoleon and Cromwell—as a concise depiction this is so tendentious and so off the mark that it is, as Lee Smolin said of string theory, ‘not even wrong’

No sane person doubts that Trotsky was a mass murderer. Yet, Boris treats the identities of this scum as a mass murderer not only as false, but as “so tendentious and so off the mark that it is … not even wrong.”

LA replies:

Yes, I remember being confused as to the meaning of that comment, but not stopping to do anything about it. The statement makes no sense to me at all. Surely Trotsky as one of the three top leaders of the mass murdering Soviet Communist state in its early years was a mass murderer. Also, he was the head of the Red Army, which I’m sure killed many civilians during the Civil War, though I don’t remember specifics. To put the classification of Trotsky as a mass murderer in the same category as string theory, a theory that relates to a phenomenon the existence of which is not even known, is bizarre. I agree that Boris’s comment is objectionable and I should not have posted it without further explanation by him.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 28, 2009 11:31 AM | Send

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