The latest from the intellectual leader of the paleoconservative movement

Paul T. writes:

Re: The continuing decline of Thomas Fleming.

Referring to Dennis Prager, I imagine (“A Yeshiva Boy & Christmas”), Fleming writes:

I am not especially interested in what well-intentioned Jews have to say about how much they like the Christmas season and how much they deplore the Jewish anti-Christianism that is so prevalent in America … This is our holiday … not yours. Stick to Hanukkah—which, by the way, commemorates the killing of Gentiles.

This sounds, of course, like a general statement (“Don’t you know that Jews celebrate the killing of any Gentiles, anywhere? They’re like that, you know”) rather than a reference to the Maccabean revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 167 BC. It’s misleading in the same way that it would be misleading to say that “Easter celebrates the crucifixion of Jews.” So let me see: neoconservatives are evil for wanting to impose American ways on Mideast nations, but the Hellenistic empire is (presumably) worthy of sympathy for wanting to impose their foreign ways on the Jews. Do I have that right?

But the best is yet to come:

Suppose we all began to take Christmas seriously and refused to spend over $50 per person on presents and none on [sic] at any store owned by non-Christians?

So this is what paleoconservatism has come to: Kauft nicht bei Juden. Lovely.

LA replies:

I don’t know that Fleming can continue to decline. Rather, he’s continuing to be what he has been for decades: a mad dog.

- end of initial entry -

Daniel F. writes:

I am not terribly familiar with Fleming’s work, but have read some of his writings with interest and sympathy in the last year or two. That he would come out with something like this is shocking. I myself am often appalled by the nastiness and lack of class demonstrated by the “leaders” of the organized American Jewish community, but Fleming’s comments are beyond the pale. Saying that Chanukah celebrates the killing of gentiles makes no more sense than saying that Independence Day celebrates the killing of the British.

Incidentally, Chanukah (which means dedication) is specifically a celebration of the cleansing and rededication of the Second Temple after its desecration by the Assyrian Greeks. The rabbis of later generations were not fans of the regime to which the Maccabean revolt gave rise, the Hasmonean dynasty, whose rulers soon became corrupt and oppressive. Accordingly, they recast the holiday to stress the role of divine providence and to de-emphasize celebration of the Maccabees. (Similarly, the rabbis excluded the Books of Maccabees from the Jewish biblical canon, and the original Hebrew or Aramaic texts were lost.) In the twentieth century, modern Zionism put the stress back on the Maccabees, for obvious reasons.

LA replies:

I’ve posted various things about Fleming from time to time, but for a full draught of his mad-dogness, see my commentary on his article responding to the September 11 attack.

Here are other VFR references to Fleming.

M. Jose writes:

Good grief.

Doesn’t Fleming know that the guy whose overthrow is celebrated at Chanukah (at least indirectly, depending on whether you see celebrating the re-dedication of the temple as implicitly celebrating the military victory that made it possible) is portrayed in the Bible as a type of the Anti-Christ (specifically in the prophecies of Daniel)?

LA replies:

Are you suggesting that Fleming is not the best-read and most knowledgeable intellectual in America? That would be more wounding to him than the statement that he’s a hate-filled maniac.

December 27

Sam writes:

I am a regular reader of Chronicles, and I have to agree with your assessment of Fleming. Although he is a political co-belligerent of sorts, his intellectual style and mannerisms remind me of no one so much as the detestable Christopher Hitchens.

Both of them write with a style that is at once unhinged, dyspeptic, and bordering upon the misanthropic. Both of them have a penchant for asserting easily refuted nonsense with the boldness and audacity of a supreme intellectual authority. Both of them have violent prejudices that cloud their reasoning faculties and cripple their better judgment. They both like to make a show of their learning by peppering their writings with lots of irrelevant tangents and unexplained references that the reader is left to sort out for himself. Like Hitchens, Fleming is a mile wide and an inch deep.

Fleming is occasionally a good read, and he often makes good points. Nevertheless, his writing is so uneven, so rambling, so saturated with misanthropy, that I usually skip his articles altogether.

Daniel F. writes:

It’s interesting that Sam compares Thomas Fleming to Christopher Hitchens in a thread dealing with Fleming’s disparagement of Chanukah. In this article, Hitchens also disparages Chanukah as a celebration of the Jews’ rejection of the “reason” supposedly represented by Antiochus. He also specifically laments that the success of the Maccabbean revolt ultimately led to the birth of Christianity (to which he ahistorically attributes all subsequent persecution of Jews). Elsewhere, I think he also lamented that another consequence of the Maccabbean revolt was the birth of Islam—well, at least he was evenhanded in his hatred of monotheistic religions.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 26, 2012 08:01 PM | Send

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