Deconstructing Anti-Semitism

In the last few weeks I have been perusing “free market” libertarian websites and blogs in an effort to get my head around similarities and differences between free market and left libertarians.

The first major stumbling block I have encountered is an alarming tendency by many right wing libertarians to appeal to common popular prejudices that certain groups of people – by virtue of their ethnicity, religion, nationality or other group identifiers – pose an inherent threat to the freedoms or integrity of the American people.

We tend to hear this type of illogical thinking mainly from right wing talk show hosts, such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh – usually in reference to Moslems or immigrants (of either Hispanic or Arabic origin) – or feminists. However Sarah Palin, who as the former governor as Alaska should know better, comes out with a lot of this stuff, too. In fact she persists in portraying Obama as a Muslim Marxist extremist – which is utter nonsense – because she knows it will inflame the passions of some of her right wing supporters.

The Guilt by Association Fallacy

In formal logic, this is referred to as an argumentum ad hominem fallacy. The “guilt by association” diatribes I find most troublesome are the anti-Semitic ones. This surprises me because I naively believed that we closed this ugly chapter of American history – namely the campaign by auto magnate Henry Ford and his followers to stereotype Jews as devious, money grubbing and power hungry – decades ago. I simply cannot fathom that any serious 21st century commentator would argue from the premise that someone’s Jewish background or religion would motivate them to undermine or circumvent the American democratic process to further specific causes or projects.

In the spirit of open mindedness, I am willing to entertain there is a group of Jewish bankers somewhere conspiring against our democratic form of government. What I object to is arguing from the assumption that such a group exists. I would expect all serious commentators to offer proof that there is something innate in a person’s Jewish heritage or religion that makes them do such things – just as I expect to see proof when scientists argue whether or not climate change is genuine.

Deflecting Blame from the Real Culprits

Unfortunately I am finding quite a lot of right wing websites and blogs that blame (without evidence) a faceless elite of international Jewish bankers for plotting to undermine or circumvent American democracy. Once again I believe this is an effort to distract disgruntled Americans from the real culprits – real life banks such as Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and the dozens of others who have just made off with trillions of dollars of taxpayer money – and the federal regulators (who also have names like Geithner, Paulson and Bernanke ) who are directly responsible for the bail-out and a decision not to investigate or prosecute overtly criminal behavior.

A good example is a recent paper on Rense.com about a (mainly Jewish) conspiracy to develop the atomic bomb and deploy it against Japan as part of their 5,000 year desire to rule the entire world. It’s a rather complicated conspiracy. In addition to the Rothchilds and their various banking lackeys, it also involves the Masons (President Truman was a Masonic organizer), Yale’s secretive Skull and Bones group (although all the Skull and Bones alumni I know of are Protestant) and J.P. Morgan and the Rand Corporation (which have no Jewish connections at all that I know of). Even more concerning is that the article has been reprinted on a number of right wing and libertarian websites.

Libertarian bloggers who pander to this kind of superstition and prejudice need to be challenged loudly and regularly. Besides making serious discussion of the real issues impossible, it also gives the pro-Israel lobby license to accuse human rights advocates of anti-Semitism when they try address serious legal and human rights issues connected with the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

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