A paleocon finally acknowledges that neocons care more about spreading democracy than protecting Israel; and, is it true that Paul Gottfried has opposed palecon anti-Israelism?

(This entry began as a continuation of a exchange with Paul Gottfried on whether neocons’ care more about spreading Muslim democracy or about protecting Israel’s security. But when Mr. Gottfried, in a subsequent comment, wrote, “And though I have supported paleos on almost all other issues, I have parted company [with them] on Arab-Israeli questions,” that shifted the discussion to the question of Mr. Gottfried’s agreement with paleocons on Israel and Jews. I had had no intention of getting into that subject. He and I had had big arguments on that in the past, most recently just a few months ago, and here we were having a peaceful and useful discussion on a very different subject. But when he claimed to have departed from anti-Semitic paleocons on Israel and Jews, I had no choice but to show that this was not true.)

In response to my disagreement with his argument that the neocons are softening their pro-democracy stand because they realize the danger of an Islamic state in Egypt, Paul Gottfried writes:

What might be more grist for your mills is that David Brooks, John Podhoretz, and the pro-democracy Iranian who writes for the Post have all weighed in on the democracy for all the Muslim side. I agree this represents a significant break from the routine support for Israel that came from the neocon camp until recently. Their Wilsonian fanaticism seems to have won out over the neoconservatives’ Zionist impulses.

I reply:

I’ve been pointing out this phenomenon to you and your fellow paleocons for years, and you and your fellow paleocons never once took it in, because it didn’t fit the paleocons’ anti-Semitic obsession with traitorous Jewish neocons manipulating the U.S. for the sake of Israel. Now that the divergence of views between Israel and the neocons has emerged into the open in the form of a quarrel, you are finally noticing its existence. I’ve been talking about it for seven years, at least as far back as Bush’s shocking betrayal in 2003 of his June 2002 declaration that he would have nothing to do with helping the Palestinians acquire a state until they had dismantled their terror ideology and infrastructure. When Bush, barely a year after his June 2002 statement, started up the “peace” talks again and bossily commanded Israel to make progress toward peace with the Palestinians and a two-state solution, thus betraying his earlier statement, which the neocons had praised wildly at the time, and when the neocons never criticized him for this betrayal, it became evident that the neocons’ loyalty was to Bush and his democracy ideology uber alles, not to Israel’s security.

The paleocons never once noticed this phenomenon, because it didn’t support their anti-Jewish world view.

Paul Gottfried replies:

You may be right on this one. I was overly positive about the neocons’ becoming sensible on the Egyptian mess until I read their columns this morning. They’ve gone back to their usual bilge about democracy for everyone in the solar system. I was especially struck by David Brooks who first insists that democracies are all stable and authoritarian regimes are necessarily unstable, but then tells us: “in the last few years the world has experienced a freedom recession with more governments retreating from democracy than advancing toward it.” Like Walt Whitmann Brooks and his friends are great enough to embrace contradiction.

Paul Gottfried continues:

You can’t accuse me of not recognizing the potential for this split since I mention it in both Conservatism in America and in my autobiographical Encounters. And though I have supported paleos on almost all other issues, I have parted company on Arab-Israeli questions. There are also people, many of whom are Jewish, who are violently anti-neocon but also pro-Israeli. Not all paleos are anti-Israeli. What I have argued is that the fixation on global democracy is derived from an understandable Jewish fear of anti-Semitic nationalism. It resembles Trotskyism, which may have gained popularity among Jewish intellectuals for the same reasons. But Jewish sentiments also lead Jews to embrace Jewish nationalism, which is not the same kettle of fish as the commitment to global democracy. What has to be done to make them compatible is to find common denominators, such as the claim that Israel, like the U.S. and Britain, stands preeminently for the universal values of democracy and equality. Unfortunately for those juggling the balls, the two loyalties do not always mesh und sometimes the neocon has to choose between them.

LA replies:

I don’t agree that you have parted with paleocons on Arab-Israel questions. A more accurate characterization is that whenever you’ve been criticized for your association with anti-Israel and anti-Semitic paleocons, you’ve issued a pro forma statement that you don’t agree with your fellow paleocons on Israel. You never actually criticized them on this issue in any manner that carried any force. To the contrary, you have defended their anti-Semitism, justifying your position on the basis that neocons have been so mean to you, have ruined your career, and so on, while among the paleocons at least you had a home.

LA continues:

For example, here is the entry a couple of years ago where in response to Taki’s statement comparing Israelis to Nazis, you said you had no problem with it.

Here is the Taki article, “The Gaza Massacre.” Taki says that because the Israeli have killed more Palestinians than the Palestians have killed Israels, “[t]hat’s doing much better than the Nazis.” In other words, if Israel is being attacked by terrorists, it should not kill any more of them than they’ve killed of the Israelis. If it does, then Israel is more evil than Nazis.

In your article, “Auster’s Anger,” in which you defended Taki and replied to my criticisms of him, you said that Taki

dared to compare the Israeli attack on Gaza to the Nazis’ assault on the Warsaw Ghetto.

Although my sympathies in the current military confrontation are generally with the Israelis (my son-in-law’s parents, who live near Ashdod, are in Hamas’s missile range), I find nothing appalling about the offending observation.

That was in December 2008. Shortly afterward, in January 2009, you also had no problem with this statement by Taki (for which I called him, for the first time, an anti-Semite):

Israel can now safely be called the Bernie Madoff of countries, at it has lied to the world about its intentions, stolen Palestinian lands continuously since 1948, and managed to do all this with American tax payer’s money. Every American taxpayer, starting with George W. Bush, has Palestinian blood on their hands thanks to the butchers that run Israel.

Then in July 2010 you participated in an anti-Semitic symposium at Alternative Right, in which Taki and Serge Trifkovic took openly and explicitly-Semitic positions, and you took a slightly more moderate anti-Semitic position. Thus Taki wrote:

“Yes, the traditional Right does have some anti-Semitic tinges, as it should …. So why shouldn’t we be anti-Jewish, especially now , with 1.2 million dead following the Iraq disaster that was hatched up by people like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, and cheer-led by the men I just mentioned.” [Italics added.]

So Taki said that we should be anti-Jewish. And how did you reply? “Taki is entirely correct that there is no reason for the traditional Right to feel any affection for most Jews in American public life.” You continued: “[F]or the sake of balance, it may be necessary to add some shading to Srdja’s and Taki’s spirited and courageous assessment.” Taki’s statement was explicitly anti-Semitic, and you praised him for his “spirited and courageous assessment,” and only wanted to add some “shading” to his anti-Semitism.

So you came out in this symposium as a full member of the paleocon anti-Semitic camp, agreeing with and praising the virulent anti-Semite Taki and only disagreeing with him on “shading.”

However, in August 2010, perhaps grasping how you had discredited yourself, you suddenly turned around and, without acknowledging your own participation in an anti-Semitic symposium, substantially (not just pro-forma) criticized the paleocons for their anti-Semitism, and even suggested that on Israel the paleocons were as bad in their own way as the neocons. I said at the time that this was the first time I had seen you take such a position. I also said that your apparent reversal did not represent any stable principled position, but was just part of your usual meandering on the subject.

Paul Gottfried writes (in response to LA’s comment beginning, “I don’t agree that you have parted with paleocons on Arab-Israel questions”):

This is entirely unfair as a characterization of my position. I have openly criticized Buchanan for switching sides on Middle Eastern affairs and I have never agreed with Taki on anything having to do with Israel. The problem is that I agree with the neocons on absolutely nothing, while I agree with the paleos on almost everything except Israel.

LA replies:

This is untrue. As I’ve shown above, you said you had no problem with Taki calling Israelis Nazis. You said you agreed with Taki that the traditional right should be anti-Jewish.

LA to Paul Gottfried:
Since this discussion started on another key, it was unfortunate that you wrote to me, “And though I have supported paleos on almost all other issues, I have parted company on Arab-Israeli questions.”

That forced me to dredge up your statements, previously debated by us at length, in which you defended Taki’s gross anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism.

Paul Gottfried writes:

I never said that I had no problem with Taki’s comparison of the Israeli attack on Gaza to the Nazi attack on Warsaw. [LA replies: With regard to Taki’s comment that Israelis are worse than Nazis, you said, “I find nothing appalling about the offending observation.”] I disagreed with his position but I didn’t break up my relation with him. [LA replies: It’s true that you said, “The Israelis are justified in going after an enemy that broke a cease-fire by showering Israel’s inhabitants with missiles.” But you also said that you found nothing appalling about Taki’s comment that Israelis were worse than Nazis for going after an enemy that showered Israel’s inhabitants with missiles. You can’t claim credit for a statement defending Israel, if you flat out contradict it.] As someone who has been professionally isolated by the neoconservatives (who are no more your friends than mine), I can’t afford to kiss goodbye to every patron. [LA replies: The issue is not whether you must kiss goodbye to every patron. You could have said, “I disagree with Taki on this,” and then said no more. Instead, you repeatedly associated yourself with and approved of his anti-Israel statements.] I agreed with Taki that the traditional Right has no reason to be pleased with the political positions associated with the Jewish media. Indeed they have every right to feel disgust for these positions and for those who advocate them. [LA replies: No. You weren’t just talking about positions held by Jews. In response to Taki’s statement, “[W]hy shouldn’t we be anti-Jewish, especially now…?”, you wrote: “Taki is entirely correct that there is no reason for the traditional Right to feel any affection for most Jews in American public life.” So you were saying that you agreed with Taki’s statement that “we” should be anti-Jewish.]

LA continues to Paul Gottfried:

Paul, you should really stop commenting publicly about your supposed disagreements with anti-Semitic paleocons on Israel and Jews. You evidently do not remember, or have blocked out, your own many statements agreeing with anti-Semitic paleocons on Israel and Jews, and so you are damaging yourself. I have no particular wish to damage you further. We’ve aired these matters at length before, and I had no desire to return to them. But when you write to my site proclaiming that you have disagreed with paleocons about Israel and Jews, then, given the debates we’ve had in the past about this and the many quotations of you I have at hand, I have no choice but to reply and show how your claim of innocence is false.

Paul Gottfried replies:
I think you are quoting me out of context. I said that in view of his positions on the Middle East I found nothing appalling (I should have said astonishing) about Taki’s views on Gaza. I don’t know whether you have an actual quotation from my essay, in which I did express disagreement with Taki on Middle Eastern questions. I in fact said in that essay that I could understand why paleos were pissed off with American Jews. But I then went on to argue that Israelis should not be held accountable for the celebrities who defend them in the US and Europe, celebrities who are almost without exception repulsive. I’m sorry I can’t treat my patrons and my enemies with equal severity. For all his silliness I’ll take Taki as a flawed friend over Norman, who made an unsolicited call to Catholic University 27 years ago to attack me as an evil person. At the time my wife was fatally ill and I needed the academic job at Catholic to stay in the DC area. What is more, Taki has no influence on this country and its politics. The neocons are a toxic influence which reaches hundreds of millions of people. Let’s have some sense of proportion and context when we talk about these issues.

Paul T. writes:

Paul Gottfried writes: “As someone who has been professionally isolated by the neoconservatives (who are no more your friends than mine), I can’t afford to kiss goodbye to every patron”.

I don’t get it—isn’t Prof. G. a tenured academic? (at Elizabethtown College, if memory serves). If he has tenure, he is in one of the most secure positions it’s possible to imagine—why the timidity about ‘kiss[ing] goodbye to every patron”? If a tenured prof can’t take the risk, who can?

LA replies:
Well, he’s also speaking of finding places to be published.

February 3

John McNeil writes:

Paul Gottfried writes: “What is more, Taki has no influence on this country and its politics. The neocons are a toxic influence which reaches hundreds of millions of people. Let’s have some sense of proportion and context when we talk about these issues.”

Professor Gottfried, I can see where you are coming from, and sympathize with your situation. However, I beseech you to see the big picture. Yes, Taki and his paleocon friends may be powerless now, but we can’t say that will always remain the same. While I am not optimistic about a paleocon/nationalist movement ever really successfully taking off the ground, it is still possible; at the very least, it could become a more organized and prominent faction. There are more and more conservatives who are slowly seeing things from a racial/ethnic/nationalist perspective, I can detect such vibes on places like FreeRepublic. I am seeing a trend of formerly mainstream conservatives like John Derbyshire interacting with open white nationalists like Matt Parrott. Again, I’m skeptical of this ever taking shape, but we could see a true resurrection of an Old Right committed to both non-intervention and nationalism.

And it’s imperative that we shape it to be something that remains within the confines of Judaeo-Christian morality; the morality that has shaped our civilization for almost two millenia. The problem with paleocons and their white nationalist/race realist fellow travelers is that their beliefs are largely fueled by resentment. Resentment against Jews for supposedly engineering the destruction of their civilization as well as resentment against minorities for being growing demographically and displacing their own people. They see everything in a black-and-white, Lord of the Rings-esque struggle, not understanding (or refusing to accept) the role that white gentiles have played in sabotaging their own race and civilization.

Resentment and animosity aimed at collective groups is not the morally correct way, or the most strategically wise approach. What is sorely needed is a positive identity, something that I know you have tried to do in deconstructing anti-white (and particular, anti-German) propaganda. I respect your work, and we need to do more in shaping European-American identity and pride, but the paleocon way will not take us there. The content on paleocon sites is often negative, depressing, bemoaning the withering away of WASP society, along with rants about Jews being responsible for our downfall, black people are “stupid” and are all raping white women, etc. Mix in a little moral nihilism (the endorsement of suicide over at Alternative Right or the celebration of sexual promiscuity at Takimag), and you do not have the makings for a solid movement, rather something that is brooding and bitter, and is aiming its thirst for revenge at Israel.

I’m not saying you should cut off all ties with the paleocon movement. That’s a choice I chose to make, and same for Lawrence Auster. But I think it’s great if you can find outlets for publishing your views. But I humbly ask you to be mindful that something new needs to arise; something that embraces nationalism and identity while not eschewing universal morality. A movement that has not forsaken the moral order that has been a intricate part of our civilization.

LA replies:

There is much that is good in this response to Paul Gottfried, but I would add another thing that is objectionable in Mr. Gottfried’s comment: the moral relativism of saying that it’s ok to take an evil position, if that position currently has no power.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 02, 2011 03:11 PM | Send

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