Ilana Mercer's 'Blame the Jews'

I wrote an article, Thinking about Neoconservatism (VDARE, September 18, 2003. Ilana Mercer responded to this article in a World Net Daily (Sept. 26, 2003) titled Blame the Jews. This is my response to her:


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WND Exclusive Commentary
Comment on Ilana Mercer's 'Blame the Jews'

Posted: September 29, 2003
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Kevin MacDonald

WorldNetDaily columnist Jon Dougherty, in a notably wise and judicious article on Friday, deplored the fact that:

In 2003 America, in order to silence their critics an increasing number of people no longer feel it's necessary to debate with facts to prove their point. Instead, they choose to shout down detractors with infantile rhetoric, name-calling and insults ...

And Dougherty had the considerable courage to name the leaders in this trend: Abraham Foxman and the Anti-Defamation League. As I noted in my commentary in, the ADL has had no hesitation in pinning the label of "anti-Semite" on anyone who notices the Jewish backgrounds, the long history of pro-Israel activism, and close personal and professional relationships among the neocon cabal in the Bush administration.

Ironically, a classic example of this "infantile rhetoric" appeared on WND the same day: Ilana Mercer's column denouncing as "anti-Semitism" my discussion of neoconservatism on Mercer provides an absurd caricature of my views on neoconservatism and other Jewish intellectual and political movements. She says that I depict the "gullible gentiles" in these movements as "marionettes" manipulated by wily Jews.

Where do I say anything resembling that? In fact, I think that the motives of these non-Jews are a complicated mix of genuine belief and personal ambition. (The attractions of the neocon infrastructure in the media, politics and academe are obvious enough.) But my point remains: The founders and the core members of the movement are Jews who see their involvement as furthering Jewish interests.

There is nothing inherently implausible about hypothesizing that minority activist movements like neoconservatism would be willing to recruit some majority group members. It makes excellent marketing sense to have at least some spokespeople who resemble the target audience. I have found numerous other examples in my work.

Mercer also argues that the elected and senior appointed Bush administration officials, in the main not Jewish, ought to be held responsible for the "administration's blunders." This is true, but it does not in the least delegitimize consideration of what motivated the administration's neoconservative members and friends who generally are Jewish.

Revealingly, Mercer places the term "Jewish ethnic interests" in quotes as if to question that there is such a thing as Jewish interests at all. This is the core of the problem.

We all accept that African-American leaders like Jesse Jackson are pursuing their perceived ethnic interests. No one would deny that the Mexican-American pro-immigration activists advocating open borders are pursuing their ethnic interests. But Jews are somehow exempted from anything so base as even having ethnic interests.

For instance, Jewish pressure for U.S. support of Israel must be because Israel is a shining beacon of democracy never mind the reality that Israel is (and is, arguably, perfectly entitled to be) an expansionist ethnostate. And Jewish support for mass immigration must be because they are liberals bent on "promoting justice." But I believe I have demonstrated that the pro-immigration elements in American public life have, for over a century, been largely led, funded, energized and organized by the Jewish community as part of a conscious strategy to lessen U.S. ethnic and cultural homogeneity, a development Jewish leaders are on record saying is in their interests. My view of the critical role of Jewish organizations in altering U.S. immigration policy is a mainstream scholarly opinion (see, e.g., Hugh Davis Graham's "Collision Course: The Strange Convergence of Affirmative Action and Immigration Policy in America"; New York, Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 5657).

Mercer may be right that it is a poor long-term strategy for Jews to allow the immigration of large numbers of Muslims. Some isolated Jews have worried about this, most notably Stephen Steinlight, a senior fellow at the American Jewish Committee. But to date, Jewish organizations have not abandoned their pro-immigration policies.

Mercer, in an amazing gap in logic, accuses me of having a "messy habit of mind" for ignoring that "on issues of race and immigration, neocons are not that different from liberals."

But of course, that is exactly my point: Liberal immigration policy has been supported by the overwhelming majority of Jews across the Jewish political spectrum, and this is quite the opposite of traditional conservative attitudes. This is one reason why I believe the neoconservative preferences for mass immigration prove they are an ethnic, rather than an ideological grouping.

I am a professional academic. My work has focused on the influence of the Jewish identity on intellectual, social and political life. Others laboring in parallel rows in the same vineyard chose to consider other ethnic groups. They are never attacked.

Ilana Mercer reminds us that Freud said "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." Why is not scholarship sometimes only scholarship?

Kevin MacDonald is a professor in the Department of Psychology at California State University at Long Beach.

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