Yesterday in the “philosophy” realm, I discussed Lawrence Auster’s View from the Right, and one of the post’s commentators criticized Auster for his supposed philo-Semitic tendencies. As I had already planned to write about the children of Jacob from time to time, that comment determined the subject of today’s entry.
First, let me briefly discuss language. Obviously, language is for communication. As such, terms need to be shared and understood. However, words matter; each word has a spectrum of meanings and a history of meanings. Each word thus relates to many other words, which in turn color its meaning. That is why I am rather stubborn when it comes to certain vocabulary choices. For instance, I insist that we preserve the original spirit of “liberal,” and I refuse to apply that word to decidedly anti-liberal ideas and to the people who espouse them. For “liberal” pulls with it former connotations to which the new American sense has no right. I also try to handle carefully the word “Catholic,” which is the Church’s word for itself. If you were not a Catholic in ancient Church, you were at best a schismatic. For Orthodox Christians, the Orthodox Church is the Catholic Church. I tell people that I am Catholic, but in order to avoid confusion, depending on the circumstances, I sometimes clarify that I am not “Catholic” in the sense of being in communion with the Pope of Rome. This often presents an opportunity to discuss my faith. So, I often refer to the pope’s folks as the Latins or the Romans. When I feel a bit playful, I throw out a few papists here and there, and when I am feeling generous or lazy, I’ll allow a few Roman Catholics to pass.
For similar reasons, I try to use “Jew” carefully. For the Church is the new Israel, as Christ offers all mankind the new and everlasting covenant. I know that ecumenists get their knickers in knots over such an idea, but it has been the teaching of Christians for millennia. Rather recently, Judaizing Protestants, dispensationalists, millennialists, ecumenists, and other hordes of fly-by-night heretical fad hoppers endlessly chatter their Babel of curious doctrines—replacement theology, rapture this, Megiddo that, one, two, three thousand year reign then, no after, no before . . . it’s maddening. It is no wonder so many folks dismiss religion out of hand as the prattle of mindless zealots. Instability breeds distrust, as it should. Yet, the apostolic message—from Christ and handed down through the centuries to us—teaches that the Church that proclaims the resurrection and the life is Israel. It is a sad historical fact, though, that most of the Jews at the time of Christ did not accept the greatest and final revelation of God to man.
From the Christian perspective, then, the Jews who rejected the gospel do not belong to another religion. They are, rather, departed brethren—heretics, or as those other children of Abraham say, infidels. After the temple cult ended, Jews then were split into two religious groups—Christians and the followers of the rabbis. As such, I try to refer to non-Christian Jews as rabbinical Jews, yet the historical reality of Judaism complicates matters. The children of Jacob were a people . . . a people that lived together, procreated together, and worshiped together. “Jewish” thus has cultural, ethnic, and religious applications to the spiritual and biological heirs of Jacob.
Daniel Boyarin has contributed much scholarly work on the early relationship between the Christian and rabbinical communities. He shows how the leaders of both communities struggled for centuries to demarcate the boundaries between the sibling groups. Hence, we hear the colorful fourth century rhetoric about the synagogues of Satan from bishops’ sermons as well as the Talmudic scholars’ scandalous invectives against the Holy Family. Contemporary folks, bred for hypersensitivity, automaton reflexes of “tolerance,” and relativism, are horrified to find Saint John Chrysostom an “anti-Semite.” Perhaps, they are a wee bit shocked, as well, that the rabbis called the Theotokos a whore and her son a bastard and a sorcerer and that they made fun of Jesus’ torments in hell boiling in dung. However, well educated Christians nowadays only get offended when another religion is mocked or insulted, and they have gotten used to Ashkenazim comedians’ making slurs about their God. It is regular fare on H.B.O., Comedy Central, and the stand-up circuit.
However, no shock, great or small, is appropriate. The process occurred on both sides for the same reason—to delineate orthodox doctrine from heresy. For the rabbis, Christianity was a messianic aberration that needed to be cast out; what does God’s people have to do with those filthy pagan Romans and Greeks who ruined our lands and destroyed the temple? Why should we listen to the traitorous blasphemer Saul, who wants to have us commune with unclean foreigners and defy the law as it has been handed down to us from Moses? Those people—the Christians—have voluntarily left Abraham’s bosom in their innovating madness. For the Christian bishops, the rabbis taught a dead religion of legalistic ethics. Their ancestors received the king of all, and they rejected him in their pride. Christians should pay no heed to the rabbinical scholars, whose words only lead the faithful astray. Do not celebrate the Pesach in the manner of old, which was only a foreshadowing of the true and glorious Pascha—the perfect, unblemished lamb of God who was slain from the foundation of the world. To attend the study sessions with the blaspheming scholars is to reject Jesus—go not into the synagogues of Satan, where lies and false teachings are spread to the unwary. You cannot trust those interpreters of the law who have rejected its fulfillment.
All of this is quite obvious, but we cannot see the fourth century but through the intervening history. The Holocaust horrified many Christians so much that they cannot look at the relations between Jacob’s disputing parties without knee-jerk self-loathing—we, WE did this, WE have been doing this for ages—the medieval blood libel, the inquisitions, the pogroms, the ghettos, Kristallnacht, Dachau, Auschwitz—how awful WE are! Christians are demons! How we have damned ourselves . . . may the guilt be upon us and upon our children!
Well, Jacob’s children have always been somewhat fanatical in their self-critical extremism. The West in particular has a taste for self-flagellation, and I suspect that the neurotic Leftist hatred of Western civilization is a manifestation of this sort of self-hatred. Western Christians zealously hate the other or they hate themselves, and often they hate everyone at once. Nietzsche was probably right in his analysis of ascetic religion’s strong poison.
Needless to say, I find such hysteria a poor foundation upon which to reinvent one’s religion—“Theologie nach Auschwitz” is for the emotive fools who see no further than the misery of their lives. There has always been evil in the affairs of men, and there has always been difference of interpretation among the heirs of Abraham. The Nazis changed nothing, though they provided the world a vivid reminder for the importance of many old lessons.
As such, I think that it does neither truth nor men any service to ignore reality when we deal with Christian-rabbinical relations. I think that it is condescending to treat rabbinical Jews with plushy gloves as if they were delicate ornaments in our care. If a Steinberg or a Goldfarb is a manipulating, weaselly jerk, he should be called one. If communities of rabbinical Jews act against the interests of Christians or insult Christians, Christians should call them out on it. If the state of Israel should behave unjustly in its actions, it is not a slur against humanity to criticize it. When Zionists behave like the Mohammedan terrorists whom they despise, perhaps we should reveal to the pot its blackness. Wearing a kippah or donating to B’nai Brith does not give one a carte blanche to be an arse.
Having cleared the air of the steaming stench that emits from the dank dark orifice of political correctness, I’ll now complicate matters a bit and likely incur accusations of philo-Semiticism, anti-Semiticism, anti-philo-Semiticism, anti-anti-Semiticism, philo-anti-Semiticism—well, you know how it goes. I’ll settle for philo-Philoism. By the way, this reminds me of my favorite part in The Life of Brian (R rated):
After that bit of comic relief, wholly appropriate when discussing the world’s funniest folks, here is my take on the Hebrews’ descendants. I have been very interested in Jews my whole life, from the Old Testament figures to the Yids of today. My father gave me the family mezuzah when I was child, and I guess that I never heeded that whole stark separation call of which Boyarin writes—I love matzos and macaroons (quit kvetching about how hard you have it during Passover—that stuff tastes good!), I like Hanukkah, I have had a Menorah since I was a tween, and I have taught scores of boys how to play dreidl. I actively seek out synagogues and Jewish cemeteries when I travel abroad, and I am and have always been endlessly entertained by the Jewiness of Jews. Perhaps, it is a recidivism of primordial memory, as in Dune. My ancestry has many ancient and recent Ashkenazim contributions (my father’s mother, for instance), including, it seems, the paternal line itself, though it (the surname line) has been Roman Catholic for as long as we can tell.
As far as the state of Israel goes, I am a rather staunch supporter, though I find the source of Israeli support among many American Protestants nauseating. See my millenialist rant above. When I hear fundamentalists begin their wild-eyed eschatological spasms, I shudder a bit and then internally and spiritually weep one tiny acidic tear in my cold, cold heart. Maybe I watched Jack van Impe too many times late at night on television as a child to find it worthy of any seriousness. See, I would watch T.B.N. ironically as a kid—in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 sort of way.
Anyway, I support the Israeli state because they have admirably exempted themselves from modern madness in matters of state security. Earlier, I noted that criticism of the state of Israel should not incur the wrath of the anti-anti-Semites, but I generally do not issue that criticism. I had a Straussian professor who said that Israel is the only classical regime left, where their foreign policy is to help their friends and to hurt their enemies. I admire that. What other state today is so unapologetically Machiavellian in its actions? The Israelis know that Hobbes was right about international affairs; nation states exist in the state of nature, and a political community’s primary goal is to survive. Usually, the Israelis have been rather realistic concerning the necessities of such survival. It is not that I do not care about the Palestinian Arab population; they should not be treated like animals. In particular, I am concerned about the Christian population in the occupied territories. Dr. Maria Khoury, the wife of priest David Khoury, has widely publicized the plight of Orthodox Christians in the West Bank since the intifada began. Yet, a people has the right—nay, the duty—to protect themselves. If Palestinian terrorists choose to conduct war dishonorably and if the civilian population gives them cover, I have no significant pity for what becomes of villages that shelter guerrilla fighters.
I also think that Americans should support the state of Israel because they are our allies, and loyalty should matter. I appreciate Lord Palmerston’s axiom that nations have no permanent allies, but only permanent interests. Yet, I am more feudal in my political opinions, I suppose. We should not support allies irrespective of what they do, of course, and we should be mindful of Washington’s warning about entangling alliances. Yet, I think that it behooves Americans to stand with their only real friend in the Middle East. Time will tell if we get others, but there can be no doubt, due mostly to their self-interest, that the state of Israel is on our side. Naturally, they must look out for themselves, as well, and that has made matters difficult for Washington. Yet, I am sympathetic to a modified form of John Derbyshire’s “To Hell with Them Hawks” position where we ruthlessly defend ourselves and respond to aggression with disproportionate overwhelming force but that we otherwise leave folks pretty much alone. We could bring some deserving allies into our mutual support pact (the Anglo world, Israel, some Latin American and Caribbean nations, and the least obnoxious ones of Europe), but then let tyrants be tyrants. If an American ship, base, or civilian target is attacked, flatten some palaces, factories, and bases. It worked for Reagan with Kadafi. We need not waste blood and treasure on nation building when a threat backed up by proven resolve should deter well enough.
So far, I have given many reasons to be called philo-Semitic. Do not let the Anti-Defamation League get its hopes up just yet . . .
I’ll repeat what wrote in my comment response:
Human beings belong to different group sets based on many things—religion, family, clan, ethnicity, class, occupation, political community, political philosophy, hobby interests, pet interests, and so on. Occasionally, these groups’ interests—and the groups’ claims upon their members—conflict. The complicated history of Jacob’s descendants has to do with this simple truth about men. Israel has ever been a peculiar people, and rabbinical Jews, thinking that they are the true Israel and that Christians are but goyim, have set themselves apart wherever they have gone. Being a minority committed to that minority’s interests above all else has often made them unwelcome elements in their semi-adopted societies, and this is the “Jewish Problem.” As you likely know, several solutions have been proposed and attempted, from Spinoza to the Wannsee Conference to Herzl’s Judenstaat. None has been successful in securing a living and peaceful existence for the children of the rabbis.
As rabbinical Jews are a nation apart, due to their own deeply held religious convictions, they are often subversive to the majority population. We like to gloss over this fundamental political problem in our multicultural society because it exposes the root infection of diversity—it destroys unity. Any attempt to secure unity by rendering group membership more superficial slowly unravels the very fabric of society. Liberalism has this problem congenitally, as I wrote in “A Diagnosis of Modern Political Disease.” A community is more than a marketplace where only the bare rules of exchange maintain order. A political community sees itself as one; it has biological, cultural, and religious connections that tie it together. A multicultural society is by nature a dysfunctional society unless it is ruled by a unified political power. That unified power can rule over the society as a dominant person, family, or class, or it can be the hegemonic population, as with the dominant W.A.S.P. culture in America (I deal with related matters in “Genealogical Interest”). Such hegemony displaces the minor cultures and forces them to assimilate or to submit before the dominant culture, and thus, such a society is not really multicultural. Monarchical and oligarchical multicultural empires can exist, but not democratic ones—they unravel through secession or genocide.
Conflict between rabbinical Jews and their host peoples is thus inevitable, and Herzl was right to propose a Jewish state as an answer. The problem therein, of course, lies in the fact that dispossession of land initiates another source of conflict, especially when there are strong cultural and religious attachments to the land. Had the British wiped out or evicted the indigenous population of Uganda and settled the rabbinical Jews in east Africa, or had the Nazis done the same with Madagascar as they had wished, there would have been no Jewish Holocaust or Arab-Israeli conflict, but we would have more dead Africans as a result of the colonial powers. Surely, the world would have been a better place; no one remembers millions of dead Africans, anyway. Mass genocide in Africa happens constantly, and the only people who care, it appears, are some Diaspora studies academics, George Bush, and a few of the protesters at “Save Darfur” rallies (most being, of course, white college kids who want to carry colorful signs, wear hair beads, shout at people, and generally feel important and self-righteous). Madagascar wildlife would be in better shape, too, as would the rabbinical Jews of South Africa, but history is full of roads less traveled . . .
The Jewish Problem is indeed a problem. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a spiteful forgery, but it contained a nasty truth in that a minority population that seeks its own interest sometimes does so at the expense of the majority population. I am not dealing with matters of justice but simply the necessities of human beings’ looking out for their own good. It is not accidental that many secularists since the Enlightenment have come from the rabbinical Jewish tradition. If religion’s importance pushes one to the fringes of society, perhaps one should work to diminish religion. It is true that such folks filled the ranks of radical organizations, such as the Bolsheviks, and played significant roles in overturning traditional European civilization. The Protocols incarnates in fiction what people saw in fact. Am I blaming the Jewish radicals for doing this? I am attributing causality to them, but I also acknowledge their reasons with sympathy. If you were oppressed from being the “other,” it would benefit you and your people to remove the social hostility to your kind. If revolution and the restructuring of society could accomplish this goal, you might see it as a worthy plan to pursue.
The Nazis understood this, and it is the reason for their actions. Teachers do a great disservice to society in not adequately presenting the German perspective. We are taught that the Nazis believed in the racial inferiority of the Jews and, thus, that their eugenics program should rid Europe of them as undesirables. I always found this ludicrous, as Ashkenazim Jews are the most intelligent, most industrious, most creative human group that the world has seen. However, if I understand it correctly, the Nazis did not hold that Jews were inferior in such respects, but morally inferior. They were a danger to German—and Aryan—flourishing. Religiously, they clung to ascetic religion like their cursed Christian fellow misanthropes, and they pursued their own good, even against German interests. For Nietzschean National Socialists, such was morally inferior, and the Nazis were correct in their moral assessment of the Jews, according to their principles—just not right in the moral principles that furnished that assessment.
Am I justifying the Holocaust? No, just as I do not justify the radical Jews who try to destroy their host societies. Yet, I understand their motivations and see how they are correctly rooted in self-interest, at least “horizontally” conceived. Where both are wrong, I believe, is that there are moral limits on our pursuit of material self-interest. I believe in justice and in the Good—and our individual, familial, tribal, national, and cultural interests are limited by these universal realities higher in the hierarchy of goods. As a Christian, I further believe that the human person is sacred, made in the image of God, and that conviction puts certain limits and claims on human interactions.
Nonetheless, I have an interest in the continued existence of Christendom, and I get frustrated when I witness rabbinical Jews qua rabbinical Jews attempt to erode my society for their own benefit. Evidence shows that some significant rabbinical Jewish forces today have an anti-Christian animus. I would rather think that these folks are simply Leftists or secularists who happen to be rabbinical Jews. Yet, I fear that the old “Jewish Problem” remains at work, as it always will, given human nature. Many rabbinical Jews who wish to safeguard their own religious identity and the religious integrity of their communities are enthusiastic to render the broader Christian culture secular, lest they feel excluded or left out. The so-called “War on Christmas” sadly demonstrates this every year. Not content to live among philo-Semitic Christians who respect their customs and protect their freedom to live and to worship as they like, these anti-Christian people want to force Christians to recant their religion—to remove it from public life altogether—so as not to think that they are “other” when it does not suit them to be “other,” though being “other” is a dominant component of their own chosen identity. Rabbinical bigotry surfaces in other areas, too. We saw it with their grotesque reaction to Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, and you can see therein how their actions reflected that ancient concern about the pogroms of stirred Christians beating down their doors with charges of deicide. Eventually, these folks will finally succeed in cultivating previously non-existent anti-Semiticism once the goyim realize the extent of anti-Christian bigotry among rabbinical Jews. Rabbi Daniel Lapin, for one, understands the problem and calls it out in his “Protesting Passion.” The most egregious anti-Christian activity, though, is the Jewish campaign to modify Christian doctrine because non-Christian Jews do not like it. See, for example, “Leading German Rabbi Condemns Pope’s Good Friday Prayer” in Der Spiegel. No neo-Nazi group could achieve as much success in the initiating of Christians into their anti-Semitic attitudes as the rabbinical Jews do themselves. What are they thinking? Unfortunately, many debased modernist Western Christians fall for this affront to decency, but it is at quite a cost. Strategically, rabbinical Jews would be wise to hearken unto Rabbi Lapin’s counsel.
Moreover, I object to the tendency of rabbinical Jews in America to hasten along the destruction of the common culture while fastidiously caring for their own. Perhaps, this is not done with “Jewish intent,” by which I mean actions by rabbinical Jews qua rabbinical Jews with a view to group interest. It could simply be that Leftists have better judgments in personal matters than in societal ones. For the rabbinical elite stresses in their own community education, self-reliance, responsibility, hard work, high culture, a stringent moral code, family, and the rest of the basic foundations of a healthy civilization. By contrast, their public work appears to aim at the unraveling of those pillars in the society at large—poisoning the cultural well of the society, so to speak. I find it perplexing, and I do not know if there is any element of bringing down the culture for the sake of the group in it. I just cannot see how sanity and madness can so easily coexist in such intelligent and learned minds. Perhaps, these are the seeds for anti-Semitic paranoia. I am just wondering about a puzzle, whereas others take those pieces and put together a world view wherein the all powerful enemy of all that is right is the scheming, beady-eyed Jew (you know, when it is not the pope, or Bush, or the military industrial complex, or the British royal family, or the Freemasons, or the . . . ).
Now, I suspect that the A.D.L. is adding me to their index, and this last complaint returns me to my initial diatribe about the thin-skinned hypocritical hypersensitive vengefulness of the rabbinical Jewish community. Spare me the excuses of oppression. As Adam once said, “How damn long are they going to keep on bitching about the Holocaust?” I have to love Adam’s sheer bullish frankness. Terrible things happen, and evil is a constant presence in this fallen world. What happened to you, or your family, or your distant tribal kin does not give you the everlasting keys to perpetual victimization’s tormentedly comfortable tower. Other people suffer besides Jews; other people deserve to live besides Jews. Rabbinical Jews may think that they are God’s special little pets and that the nations are simply the Lord’s providential bowling pins, as the Hebrew scriptures seem to suggest, but they should acknowledge that other folks do not hold the same view and are not likely to act kindly in being manipulated to act as if they did hold it.
Thus, I end this tome on my Semitic kin. I love them, but they do piss me off at times.