Thursday, October 30, 2003

Acceptable Prejudice?

It seems the one of the world's oldest prejudices – anti-Semitism - is making a stunning comeback if the cover of U.S News and World Report and an article in Foreign Policy. But, perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this recent trend is where it is coming from. It seems the Birkenstock crowd is ready to don brown shirts and march to the beat of a multiculti hip-hop beat while chanting their Sig Heils.

Of course, this travels under the guise of being "Anti-Israeli" but the mask occasionally slips. Certainly there are serious questions about Israeli policies that are legitimate. However, the far left's fascination for the death worship politics of the Palestinian cause have caused even the most casual observers to wonder how much the lines can blur. It is particularly interesting to see the self-described "progressives" embrace the cause Christopher Hitchens accurately describes as Islamofascism. Mark Strauss in the Foreign Policy gives a brief overview of what is happening throughout the world:

"The year 2002 [had] the highest number of anti-Semitic attacks in 12 years. Not since Kristallnacht, the Nazi-led pogrom against German Jews in 1938, have so many European synagogues and Jewish schools been desecrated. This new anti-Semitism is a kaleidoscope of old hatreds shattered and rearranged into random patterns at once familiar and strange. It is the medieval image of the “Christ-killing” Jew resurrected on the editorial pages of cosmopolitan European newspapers. It is the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement refusing to put the Star of David on their ambulances. It is Zimbabwe and Malaysia—nations nearly bereft of Jews—warning of an international Jewish conspiracy to control the world’s finances. It is neo-Nazis donning checkered Palestinian kaffiyehs and Palestinians lining up to buy copies of Mein Kampf."

Historically, in the United States anyway, anti-Semitism was the province of rightwing cranks and social Neanderthals such as the Ku Klux Klan. However, the "Hacky Sac Intifada" as Christopher Farah calls it, rages on college campuses across the nation allowing trendy, hip white suburban students to shout out slogans reminiscent of Berlin circa 1938.

Even more perplexing is rise of anti-Semitism in the African-American community. Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, a notorious bigot who has described the Jewish faith as a "gutter religion" and an admirer of Adoph Hitler was once an isolated aberration, but no more. Both Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have "Jew" problems and Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones), the New Jersey poet laureate, had a long history of virulent anti-Semitism before last year's controversy surrounding his poem "Somebody Blew Up America," in which he suggested that 4,000 Israelis stayed home from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 because they had advance warning of the attacks. Even here in sleepy Cincinnati, we had an incident last year where a group of knuckle-dragging cretins calling themselves "The Black Fist" paraded around Fountain Square protesting the raising of a menorah during the holidays by carrying swastikas and chanting "death to the Jews."

I can only imagine what Adoph would have thought.


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