I haven't read Jacob Heilbrunn's book on the neocons yet, but I'm not sure I need to after seeing Philip Weiss's review. Weiss's review makes it clear that Heilbrunn's book corroborates several of the themes in my writing on the neocons and on Jewish intellectual and political movements generally.
First, neoconservatism is a Jewish movement. That should have been clear to everyone by now, but references to the Jewish basis of the movement have been noticeably missing from much of the mainstream media, to the point that Bill Kristol was introduced as a columnist at the New York Times as simply a "conservative." This is critical because the neocons have now become the conservative establishment. When Kristol (or Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity) hold forth at Fox News, most people have no idea that they are tuning into the public face of a fundamentally Jewish movement that elbowed out more traditional conservatives.
Secondly, Jewish neocons not only have a strong Jewish identity, they also have strong Jewish interests. This is obvious from their involvement in pro-Israel activism, their personal relationships with Israeli leaders, and close ties with other Jews and with the wider Jewish community. In fact, I have argued that the neocons are more strongly identified as Jews than the mainstream liberal/left Jews — that the neocons form the vanguard of the Jewish community. After all, neocons were the first segment of the Jewish community to strongly condemn the USSR, both for its domestic anti-Semitism and for its alliances with Arab governments. Prominent neocons like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz began their political careers by making alliances with Cold War hawks like Henry Jackson This was at a time when the Jewish left was prominently involved in defending the USSR, apparently blind to the fact that the status of Jews as an elite in the USSR had changed greatly following World War II.
And the neocons are notorious for their strong ties to the most extreme racialist and nationalist segments of Israeli society — elements that the mainstream liberal/left Jewish community probably wishes would disappear or at least be less visible. (Hence the uproar over Christiane Amanpour's God's Jewish Warriors.) Indeed, the Jewish liberal/left has a huge blind spot, continuing to pursue its leftist multicultural agenda in the U.S. while ignoring the fact that the organized Jewish community is deeply complicit in dispossessing the Palestinians and erecting a racialist, apartheid state in Israel. As Weiss has noted elsewhere, "Steve Rabinowitz, Clinton friend, told me this year that if anyone did a study of how much [Democrat] money comes from Jews, it would fuel conspiracy theories." The Jewish liberal/left lavishly supports Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but makes no attempt to wrest control of the pro-Israel lobby from the hands of what James Petras terms the "reactionary minority of American Jews" who head the major American Jewish organizations.
But more interestingly, Heilbrunn points to the “lifelong antipathy toward the patrician class among the neocons … [that] prompted them to create their own parallel establishment.” In this regard, the neocons are entirely within the American Jewish mainstream. As I noted in a previous blog (also commenting on Philip Weiss), "Jews have become an elite, but an elite that does not identify with its subjects — a hostile, estranged but very wealthy elite that still sees themselves as outsiders." And along with the American Jewish mainstream, the neocons have been vital players in the establishment of a variety of policies opposed to the interests and attitudes of the American majority, most egregiously unrestricted immigration which has successfully altered the ethnic composition of the country. Indeed, neoconservative Ben Wattenberg famously wrote that "The non-Europeanization of America is heartening news of an almost transcendental quality."
This hostility toward the traditional peoples and culture of America among people calling themselves conservatives is striking — the antithesis of normal and natural conservative tendencies. As Sam Francis noted, what the neocons dislike about traditional conservatives is simply that they "are conservative at all":
There are countless stories of how neoconservatives have succeeded in entering conservative institutions, forcing out or demoting traditional conservatives, and changing the positions and philosophy of such institutions in neoconservative directions…. Writers like M. E. Bradford, Joseph Sobran, Pat Buchanan, and Russell Kirk, and institutions like Chronicles, the Rockford Institute, the Philadelphia Society, and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute have been among the most respected and distinguished names in American conservatism. The dedication of their neoconservative enemies to driving them out of the movement they have taken over and demonizing them as marginal and dangerous figures has no legitimate basis in reality. It is clear evidence of the ulterior aspirations of those behind neoconservatism to dominate and subvert American conservatism from its original purposes and agenda and turn it to other purposes…. What neoconservatives really dislike about their “allies” among traditional conservatives is simply the fact that the conservatives are conservatives at all—that they support “this notion of a Christian civilization,” as Midge Decter put it, that they oppose mass immigration, ... that they entertain doubts or strong disagreement over American foreign policy in the Middle East, that they oppose reckless involvement in foreign wars and foreign entanglements, and that, in company with the Founding Fathers of the United States, they reject the concept of a pure democracy and the belief that the United States is or should evolve toward it.
Francis, S. (2004). The neoconservative subversion. In B. Nelson (ed.), “Neoconservatism.” Occasional Papers of the Conservative Citizens’ Foundation, Issue Number Six, 6–12. St. Louis: Conservative Citizens’ Foundation, p. 9.
That the New York Times can call Kristol a conservative without shame or irony is a striking commentary on the death of American conservatism.
There are several other themes highlighted in Weiss's review that are worth mentioning because they are typical of other Jewish intellectual and political movements. Heilbrunn describes neocon "cabals" in the State Department and in academic departments at elite universities. This is a reference to Jewish ethnic networking. In general, all of the important Jewish intellectual and political movements — from psychoanalysis and Boasian anthropology to neoconservatism — have a mutually reinforcing core of Jews centered around charismatic leaders. In the case of the neocons, individuals such as Leo Strauss, Richard Perle, and Norman Podhoretz have played this role. Neoconservative cabals have been largely successful in controlling or at least heavily influencing elite institutions in academia, the government, think tanks, and the media.
And finally, the neocons are prime examples of another important theme of Jewish intellectual life — self-deception. Weiss writes:
The reader is left with the shadowy sense that the neocons have a pro-Israel agenda that they are not upfront about. But it isn’t a conspiracy, Heilbrunn warns. The neocons have convinced themselves that the U.S. and Israel have congruent interests. “They just believe this stuff. They’re not agents,” an anonymous source tells him, speaking of Cheney aide David Wurmser, who is married to an Israeli.
Married to an Israeli. The neocons may believe it, but the rest of us need not be so foolish. For example, Douglas Feith is depicted by Heilbrunn as having published a letter defending the capture of the West Bank while still a teenager. Feith has also been credibly charged with spying for Israel, and was deeply involved in the disinformation used by the U.S. government to justify the invasion of Iraq. He has close ties to the settler movement, and was a participant in the notorious "A Clean Break" paper that advised the Israeli government that removing Saddam Hussein should be an Israeli strategic goal. The authors of this report speak as Jews and Israelis, not as U.S. citizens: “Our claim to the land—to which we have clung for hope for 2000 years—is legitimate and noble.”
European Americans may have a difficult time processing all of this. Their individualism and their own fragile and beleaguered sense of ethnicity make them less likely to attribute ethnic motives to others. And there is an imposing edifice of taboos surrounding even the mention of Jewish influence, much less anything that hints that Israel is the first loyalty of Jewish neocons — an edifice aggressively maintained by the organized Jewish community. But the rather unpleasant facts are staring European Americans in the face, even if the New York Times insists on calling them conservatives.
December 23, 2007
Philip Weiss raises a number of important issues in his comment on my last blog. The one that should be on everyone’s mind is the nature of American elites. He quite rightly points out that the American elite is much more than just Jews. The essential point, however, is that Jews have played a critical role in the American elite, particularly in the construction of culture. This is certainly not surprising. Jews have shown repeatedly that they tend to become an elite. I regard this as more or less inevitable given the characteristics of Jews. But, since Jews in the Diaspora are a small minority, this typically involves making alliances with other elites. This is true throughout Jewish history. Indeed, a common theme of historical anti-Semitism has been that non-Jewish elites — often alien non-Jewish elites — have made alliances with Jews in opposition to the interests of other sectors of the population.
However, given that Jews compose a significant part of the elite in the United States, Jewish issues and concerns have become part of the consensus among elites. Minimally, this has required a repudiation of anti-Semitism, and at least since WWII, the non-Jewish components of the American elite have indeed done so, at least overtly.
The problem arises because, as Weiss acknowledges, the Jewish component of the elite still perceives itself and therefore acts as outsiders. Weiss notes that the WASPs had a sense of noblesse oblige, which is another way of saying that the WASPs identified to a considerable extent with their country as a whole and their countrymen, and they were willing to contribute to public goods. As Frank Salter and Robert Putnam note, individuals are less willing to contribute to public goods in ethnically diverse societies. But this also implies that Jews as outsiders have been less concerned about the interests of the American majority. And not only do Jews see themselves as outsiders, they are outsiders with a long sense of history — an often tragic history in which people very much like the American majority participated in anti-Jewish movements. They are thus not simply indifferent to the interests of the American majority, they form a hostile elite, as they did in the Soviet Union.
In his 1997 Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment, J. J. Goldberg identified several consensus Jewish issues, including Israel and the welfare of other foreign Jewries, immigration and refugee policy, and church-state separation. All of these carry the potential for conflicts of interest with the American majority. Moreover, immigration policy since 1965 and church-state separation can only be understood as anti-majority because they involve the displacement of the traditional culture and ethnic mix of America. There is no question that Jewish influence was decisive in both the area of church-state separation and immigration policy.
To the extent that non-Jewish elites have been major players in these issues (and I have no doubt that they are, especially in the area of immigration policy), it must be seen as an individualist strategy. That is, elite non-Jews may reasonably believe that the cultural and demographic changes resulting from the transformation of the American elite will not hurt them personally because they can retreat to their gated communities, elite schools, and exclusive country clubs.
And it must be said that American individualism had strong strands of universalism that long preceded Jewish influence. This struck me once again in reading a review of a recent book on the history of American transcendentalism. The reviewer points to the universalist, democratic, and egalitarian impulses of this movement originated by descendants of the Puritans. Divine energy “coursed through the natural world, especially the human heart. … The only thing they would not tolerate was intolerance.” No ethnocentrism here. Indeed, the transcendentalists were very involved in the abolitionist movement, including some who funded John Brown’s violent uprising.
These are powerful currents in Western culture, and they seem to predispose non-Jewish European elites to engage in altruistic punishment against their own people for perceived moral transgressions. Not coincidentally, the Jewish intellectual and political movements I discuss in The Culture of Critique all had strong moral overtones.
Nevertheless, these individualist elites are paying a heavy price in terms of ethnic kinship. The eclipse of European America will certainly result in huge costs for the European majority, but they will be borne mainly by less intelligent and less conscientious whites. Nevertheless, if the transcendentalists tell us anything, European-American elites have done that before. If there is a difference in the current situation, it is perhaps that the transcendentalists may well have implicitly envisioned a morally purified white America rather than the present specter of a non-white America where they themselves are displaced. It is certainly the case that European-American elites are individualistic, but, as noted above, until the rise of the Jewish component of the American elite, there was a sense of noblesse oblige and a connection to the people. That seems to be missing now.
Regarding Weiss’s other points, my comments on contemporary Jewish marriage patterns appear in an earlier blog and Chapter 9 of Separation and Its Discontents. Weiss agrees that Jews tend to be psychologically intense, but seems to think that I mean that all Jews are psychologically intense. Not so. It’s like the bell curve for IQ: There is a higher average IQ among Jews, but there is variation around the mean, with some Jews quite a bit below the mean and even below the white average. In dealing with Jewish issues, one has to be aware of the complexity of the Jewish community. Responsible treatments of Jewish involvement in promoting the Iraq war, including that of Mearsheimer and Walt, are careful to distinguish different elements of the American Jewish community. Indeed, a recent poll once again shows the gap between most American Jews and the organized Jewish community, especially on issues related to Israel and the policies of the Bush administration. There is far less of a gap, if indeed there is any at all, on issues such as immigration or church-state separation. Indeed, as James Petras points out:
Given the high salience of being pro-Israel for the majority of American Jews and the fact that the source of their identity stems more from their loyalty to Israel than to the Talmud or religious myths and rituals, then it is clear that both the ‘progressive, majority of Jews and the reactionary minority who head up all the major American Jewish organizations have a fundamental point of agreement and convergence: Support and identity with Israel and its anti-Arab prejudices, its expansion and the dispossession of Palestine. This overriding convergence allows the reactionary Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations in America to speak for the Jewish community with virtually no opposition from the progressive majority either within or without their organizations.
Weiss dislikes ethnocentrism among Europeans as well as among Jews, but excuses Jewish ethnocentrism because of the Holocaust. But the idea that the Holocaust resulted in Jewish ethnocentrism is demonstrably incorrect. There is ample historical evidence for a deep concern about intermarriage as well as for ethnic networking and ingroup charity among Jews throughout history. One simply can’t read this without coming away with a profound appreciation of the commitment of Jews to their group and their concern about keeping the group’s ethnic integrity. See A People That Shall Dwell Alone. Nevertheless, there is every reason to suppose that Jewish ethnocentrism would be increased as a result of a disaster. This has been noted quite often by Jewish historians and it is consistent with psychological research on people with strong commitment to a group. It is also powerfully woven into the very fabric of the Old Testament where there is a constant drumbeat to the effect that disasters happen because the Jews have strayed from the word of God.
Robert Weissberg is something of unconventional Jew. An emeritus political scientist at the University of Illinois, he has written articles for American Renaissance, Jared Taylor’s publication, and he has spoken at their conferences. His 1999 AmRen article, “In Defense of the Racial Spoils System,” argued that because of the intractable cognitive difference between blacks and whites and the propensity of blacks to resort to violence unless they are provided middle class jobs and a constant stream of government benefits, whites have in effect decided to keep the peace by appeasing them. “Most whites, even those dispensing the benefits, understand that this is little more than extortion but they say nothing. Blacks, by contrast, see it all as legitimate ‘racial fairness.’” The racial spoils system, then, is a form of taxation — the price whites pay to keep the peace.
And in a talk to an AmRen conference, Weissberg stated that in his personal experience Jews had a private fear and dislike of blacks because they perceived them as violent and inept. Jews are the first to move away when blacks move into a neighborhood, and they do not socialize or intermarry with blacks. However, they supported black causes—indeed, they were the backbone of the civil rights movement—because of an even greater fear of white anti-Semitism — a view that is at least partly compatible with mine. He also predicted that more Jews would become white nationalists, but only if white nationalism is free of anti-Semitism. In a news report on an AmRen conference, “Weissberg said that while he likes some folks at the conferences and loathes others, he keeps coming because he finds the open discussion of race so rare and refreshing.” I guess the idea is that Jews and whites should let bygones be bygones in the event that whites eventually develop an identity and a sense of having interests that conflict with other groups.
But, according a recent comment, the real problem that whites have in establishing an identity is that “our side lacks a sufficient number of loud, obnoxious Jews willing to intimidate those who deny reality.”
I spent most of my life in a research university setting where one argued with hard evidence — this study versus that study, my data versus your data, on so on.
When I recently moved to Manhattan, I was amazed at how one "won" arguments. I was equally amazed about how little so-called smart people knew, especially about race. But to listen to the smart alecks talk, they clearly think they have a true grasp on the subject. …
Those who perceive themselves as debate winners reject real science to instead offer a bag of verbal tricks and over the top emotional appeals. If all else fails, they try to destroy tangible evidence by claiming to "be offended" by the truth.
Sadly, these bullying techniques are all very "Jewish". And I say this as a Jew of good standing.
Jewish aggressiveness is also much on display in a recent column by Philip Weiss. I first came across Weiss when he wrote a gutsy article for New York Magazine (January 29):25–32, 1996) entitled “Letting go.” These were my comments on it in a chapter on Jewish self-deception:
Philip Weiss (1996) created a considerable stir when he acknowledged the unreality of the Jewish self-conception as an outsider and several other self-delusionary aspects of being Jewish in late 20th-century America. … Being Jewish is highly salient to him and strains his relationships with gentiles. He pictures his gentile Yale classmates as “blond and slightly dull witted, while the Jewish professor spews out brilliant lines. . . . We held them [gentiles] in a certain contempt. But we were marginalized. We were the outsiders. I’ve carried those lessons around with me all my life as I’ve made my own steady progress in the world. . . . Feelings of marginalization have informed my journalism, my humor, my social navigations” …. (Even the aggressively ethnocentric Alan Dershowitz is quoted by Weiss as saying, “There is in our tradition, understandably but tragically, an anti-Gentile bias that we must root out.”) Indeed, his relationships with gentiles are strained by his “relentlessly defensive Jewish identification,” another way of saying that he is unable to relate to gentiles without invoking … ingroup/outgroup comparisons … .
Jews cherish feelings of exclusion not just because there is wisdom in foreboding but because these feelings are useful. They preserve our position as outsiders, a status that has certain moral and practical advantages. As an outsider you have motivation: to get in. And you get to be demanding without any particular sense of reciprocity: the ADL (which is committed to fighting all forms of bigotry) running its Geiger counter over the goyim while failing to gauge Jewish racism. Perhaps most important, these feelings solidify Jewish identity. (p. 30)
Jews have . . . prevaricated about the question of Jewish influence — whether we have it, how we gain it, what it means. . . . When the NRA exercises political power, it’s a hot-button issue. When Jewish money plays a part, discussing it is anti-Semitic. (p. 32)
I couldn’t agree more. And Weiss adds to the accusation of a Jewish double standard on concerns about racial purity by noting that many of his family’s closest friends emigrated to Israel in order to prevent the marriage of their children to non-Jews.
Which reminds me that the original motivation of many of the early Zionists was that Israel would ensure racial purity. For example, all of the fin-de-siècle Zionist racial scientists studied by John M. Efron, including Elias Auerbach, Aron Sandler, Felix Theilhaber, and Ignaz Zollschan, were motivated by a perceived need to end Jewish intermarriage and preserve Jewish racial purity. For Auerbach, Zionism would return Jews “back into the position they enjoyed before the nineteenth century — politically autonomous, culturally whole, and racially pure.”
In his recent blog, Weiss expands on his point about Jews-as-outsiders. Jews have become an elite, but an elite that does not identify with its subjects — a hostile, estranged but very wealthy elite that still sees themselves as outsiders.
The Republican Party is now losing the money race to the Democratic Party … and meantime the Washington Post reported some years ago that more than half of Democratic presidential giving is coming from Jews, while Steve Rabinowitz, Clinton friend, told me this year that if anyone did a study of how much Dem money comes from Jews, it would fuel conspiracy theories. … Obviously Jewish wealth is playing a huge part in U.S. politics and foreign policy. My theory is that the strength of the Israel lobby is a reflection of class and economic power in American life. … But because Jews still think of themselves as outsiders, there's nothing like the "noblesse-oblige" ethos which characterized the WASP ascendancy of the previous 200 years. The WASPs resigned. Mutilated by the Vietnam War and sensitive to the criticism of their caste as exclusive and snobbish and racist, they calmly decamped and left the scene. Joseph Epstein wrote that there has never been a sociological surrender like that one, without a shot being fired, in history. I'm hoping for a sociological capitulation on my people's part, a return to other values. Yes we are the kings of the information age. But look how disfiguring it is.
Jews won the culture war without a shot being fired and without the losing side seeming to realize that it was a war with real winners and real losers — where the losers have not only given up their cultural preeminence, but have failed to stand up to the ultimate denouement: demographic displacement from lands they had controlled for centuries. The new elite retains its outsider feelings toward their new subjects — a hostile elite in the United States as it was in the Soviet Union.
Unlike Weissberg, then, Weiss seems to feel a twinge of guilt about the role of Jews as victors in the culture war — guilt stemming from his understanding that the new elite has some very glaring moral failings of its own, including its own brand of ethnocentrism that seems far deeper than anything imagined by the WASPs.
The danger for Jews is that non-Jews will come to realize the deep wellsprings of Jewish ethnocentrism and see Jewish involvement in the displacement of European-descended peoples as resulting from ethnic conflict over the construction of culture. Ultimately, Europeans may come to realize that the conflict is really about the ethnic displacement of themselves as a people.
Speaking for myself, it would be difficult for me not to have developed something of a sense of my peoplehood after delving into the 2000-year history of Jews who were intensely concerned about preserving their people and their culture. As I’ve come to realize, preserving one’s people and culture is a virtual human universal. No one would contend that, say, Koreans have a moral obligation to allow millions of other peoples into Korea so that what we would call ethnic Koreans become a minority and their culture would be up for grabs. Certainly, the idea that Israel is a Jewish state is central to its entire self-concept — so much so that the idea that the Palestinians who were basically expelled in 1948 be allowed to return to create a multi-ethnic, pluralistic society is a political impossibility. The idea that European-descended peoples have no right to preserve their peoples and cultures while others do is a glaring double standard.
The fact is that the US did have a sense of being a European, Christian society until very recently. Christianity was an uncontested part of public culture until large-scale Jewish immigration in the early 20th century. The immigration laws were biased in favor of Europeans until 1965 until the long Jewish campaign to change them was successful. Such laws were no different from exactly what Israel continues to do with the strong support of the organized American Jewish community. Nevertheless, my research shows that the organized American Jewish community has led the campaign to make assertions of white identity and interests illegitimate. I see that as hypocritical.
In 2002, Jon Entine interviewed me at my university office for a book he was doing on Jewish genetics. I remember looking forward to the interview because Entine had a reputation as an iconoclastic journalist, unafraid to puncture reigning taboos about race.
I also remember that in the end I didn’t feel that the interview went well. Always trust your feelings.
Entine’s recently published Abraham’s Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People contains a section on me (pp. 323–328) that is really quite appalling. For starters, he begins by quoting me as saying “I’m a scientific racist.” I really can’t imagine that I would express myself this way and really have no idea what such a statement might mean. If it means that I think that it’s reasonable to suppose that there are different races with some genetic distinctiveness and that different racial and ethnic groups have different interests that might conflict, then it’s quite reasonable and I can imagine myself saying something to that effect. Indeed, Entine himself explores the genetic uniqueness of Jews, as he previously examined athletic prowess of Blacks, so he must not dismiss the idea of racial/ethnic distinctiveness. But the word ‘racist’ obviously has very negative connotations, and it’s simply not a word that I use to describe myself, nor do I accept being described this way. So I suspect that he began his treatment by inventing this in order to get his readers upset with me from the beginning.
And one really has to suspect the accuracy of such a quote when there are so many little details that are reported incorrectly. My office has always been on the fourth floor, not the second, and I have never had a “sofa chair” in it. I didn’t receive my Ph. D. at the University of Illinois (that was the post-doc; the Ph. D. was from the U. of Connecticut). Entine says that I went back and finished my undergraduate degree after doing the 1960’s radicalism/jazz musician/Jamaica kumbaya thing for awhile; but the fact is that I got my undergraduate degree and then spent four years as a graduate student in philosophy at the University of Wisconsin before dropping out and then eventually going back to UConn to get my Masters and Ph. D. And I never attended the University of California-Berkeley; this is probably a misunderstanding of my telling him that I took music lessons at the Berklee College of Music in Boston when I was trying to become a musician.
But there are some deeper things wrong with Entine’s account that warrant scrutiny. Entine writes, “MacDonald and a small but growing group of evolutionary psychologists believe that humans will sometimes sacrifice their own self-interest for the greater good of the group. Some proponents of this theory believe this altruistic behavior is reflected in the gene pool of ethnic and racial groups” (p. 324).
I do make an argument to this effect in Chapter 1 of Separation and Its Discontents and elsewhere. But readers should understand that the basic theory of group evolutionary strategies as laid out in Chapter 1 of A People That Shall Dwell Alone is based on an interplay between genetic tendencies toward ethnocentrism and cultural group selection. I do not argue that group evolutionary strategies resulted from genetic selection for altruistic groups.
The idea is that because of human cognitive ability — what psychologists call explicit processing — we are able to form cohesive groups that monitor group members, enforce group goals, and develop ideologies that rationalize all of this to ingroup members. Animals can’t do this, so their groups tend to break down as selfish defectors prosper at the expense of the altruists. My theory is that group evolutionary strategies are possible among humans because there is a complex interplay between genetic tendencies toward ethnocentrism (including altruistic self-sacrifice on behalf of the group) with social controls and ideologies that support the goals of the group.
Think of a military unit. There are often strong controls against defecting or cheating, and there may well be an ideology of self-sacrifice for the good of the group. Successful military groups are able to enforce group goals. This need not be the result of the genetic traits of individuals, but it certainly helps if the soldiers making up the unit are highly group-oriented to start with. In fact, even the most ethnocentric Jewish groups nevertheless maintain strong external controls on individual behavior — a good example being the Syrian Jews discussed in a previous blog. When intermarriage started to occur, they responded with a strong decree that effectively eliminated intermarriage in subsequent generations. Without such controls, the barriers between groups would gradually erode. Individuals would pursue attractive marriages with outgroup members, and over time the genetic differences between groups would blur and eventually disappear entirely.
Entine also writes as follows:
MacDonald’s account of Jewish ‘exceptionality’ and the hubris that can accompany it is often persuasive, but the thesis reads like a genetically updated version of the Protocols of Zion: Jews have an almost diabolical, biologically programmed plan of dominance… The Jewish promotion of multiculturalism is a charade. Even the anthropologist Franz Boas, who initiated the historic shift in anthropology from biology to culture was supposedly motivated by a desire to end the criticism that Jews were a race so they could more easily pursue their strategy of Jewish racial dominance. That’s just the devious nature of Jews, he said. (p. 325)
Devious nature of Jews?? I’d like to see him produce that quote. My claim about Boas — supported by a great deal of evidence — is that he was motivated by a desire to end racial anti-Semitism (which was quite common at the time) and by a desire to demolish developmental theories of culture that implied that contemporary European culture was the epitome of human accomplishment. This latter thrust of Boasian thinking is a typical result of social identity processes in which the outgroup is negatively valued, especially under conditions of between-group hostility. It is consistent with a theme of much of the writing on Jewish intellectual movements, including mine: These movements are often motivated by an attitude of hostility toward Europeans and their culture because of perceived history of irrational persecution.
Regarding the Boasian push toward multiculturalism, here is what I actually wrote:
As Frank (1997, 731) points out, “The preponderance of Jewish intellectuals in the early years of Boasian anthropology and the Jewish identities of anthropologists in subsequent generations has been downplayed in standard histories of the discipline.” Jewish identifications and the pursuit of perceived Jewish interests, particularly in advocating an ideology of cultural pluralism as a model for Western societies, has been the “invisible subject” of American anthropology—invisible because the ethnic identifications and ethnic interests of its advocates have been masked by a language of science in which such identifications and interests were publicly illegitimate. (Ch. 2 of The Culture of Critique. The citation is to Gelya Frank’s article “Jews, multiculturalism, and Boasian anthropology,” American Anthropologist 99:731–745, 1997.)
I never wrote anything like “the devious nature of Jews.” Such a statement would be an outrageous overgeneralization. Rather, I simply stated that Jewish identification and interests among the Boasians were unstated in their public writings and that the movement was couched in the language of science and universalism. These comments apply only to Boasian anthropology and the other Jewish intellectual and political movements discussed in The Culture of Critique, not to all Jews.
Entine goes on to claim that in my view, “the Jews who were killed in ancient Rome, the Crusades, the pogroms, etc., were invariably zealots who all but deserved their fate” (p. 326). Not true. I do try to show that historically important outbreaks of anti-Semitism have tended to occur in a context of perceived resource competition and conflicts of interest. But I never argue that the victims were “invariably zealots.” In fact, pogromists probably selected their victims rather indiscriminately. Nor do I argue that they deserved their fate. Trying to develop a social science of between-group hostility is an attempt to understand the phenomenon, not moralize about it. Presumably, Entine realizes this and, perhaps because of his own Jewish identification, he paints me as a moralist in order to discredit me to his readers.
Entine writes, “MacDonald conjures the ghosts of Nazis past by modestly calling his obsession an ‘effort to develop a Wissenschaft des Judentums — a scientific understanding of Judaism,’ echoing the racist spirit that produced the firestorm of National Socialism” (p. 326). But, as I note in the relevant passage (see the preface to the original hardcover edition of A People That Shall Dwell Alone), Wissenschaft des Judentums was a label used by Jewish thinkers working in Germany in the 19th century who were trying to provide a scientific understanding of Judaism. It was not at all a concoction of the National Socialists.
Entine: “He systematically downplays Jewish scientific success, riffing on the Wagner-Hitler thesis of Jewish cleverness-disguised-as-accomplishment” (p. 327). In fact, my estimate of Ashkenazi Jewish IQ is the highest of anyone who has written on the topic in recent years — higher, for example than found in The Bell Curve, and quite a bit higher than suggested by Richard Lynn. Perhaps more than most other writers I have emphasized high Jewish verbal IQ, as opposed to performance IQ, based on several studies dating back to the 1960s and 1970s. (In his book, Entine also emphasizes the gap between verbal and performance IQ among Jews.)
Relatively high verbal IQ makes Ashkenazi Jews more inclined to become lawyers and writers than engineers. But I certainly don’t minimize or trivialize Jewish success in science or their accomplishment in general. My discussion of the different profiles of Jewish entrepreneurs and non-Jewish entrepreneurs is based not on Wagner or Hitler, but on W. E. Mosse’s Jews in the German Economy: The German-Jewish Economic Élite 1820‑1935. (Oxford, UK: The Clarendon Press, 1987.) And I preface my discussion by noting, “This is a difficult area because a theme of anti‑Semitic writing in Germany was that Jews were not innovators, but only appropriated the inventions of others (Mosse 1987, 166, 404).”
The bottom line is that I do believe that high Jewish IQ is a sine qua non for Jewish success and influence. And I have no doubt that Ashkenazi Jews have a higher than average general intelligence. The entire theory of general intelligence clearly implies that a high g would lead to relatively greater success in all intellectual endeavors involving cognitive complexity.
Entine writes: “When the genetic research on Jewish distinctiveness began coming out in the late 1990s, MacDonald could not have been more pleased. … By his guess, the few converts did not ‘pollute’ the ‘Jewish gene pool’” (p. 327). Again, I have never used phrases like “polluting gene pools,” just as I have never used labels like “scientific racist” and “devious Jews.” Likewise, Entine’s book is about the distinctiveness of the Jewish gene pool, but I rather doubt that he uses a word like ‘pollution’ to describe genetic admixture.
Moreover, research on the distinctiveness of the Jewish gene pool did not originate in the 1990s but in the 1970s. It was already fairly well developed when I reviewed the field in 1994 in Chapter 2 of A People That Shall Dwell Alone. These new developments added to the story, but they didn’t fundamentally change it.
Which brings me to my last point. Entine writes:
As he even admits, his dark ‘science of Jewry’ rests precariously on his belief in a tidy universe of Jews, genetically almost pure since ancient times, relentlessly pursuing their interests in hand-to-hand psychosocial combat against gentiles … [quoting me:] “If it’s true [that most modern Ashkenazi Jews are descended from non-Jewish women and Jewish men] that sort of rocks my foundations…. I’m really in doubt about it. I would be amazed if it was right.” … He now slumped into silence, keenly aware that if the DNA research holds up, his theory is kaput. (pp. 327–328)
This is flat-out wrong. My recollection is that Entine asked me if I was surprised by any developments that had occurred since writing my trilogy on Judaism. I replied that the recent research by David Goldstein and his colleagues (Thomas et al., 2002) on founder populations in different Jewish groups did indeed surprise me. These data suggest that small founding groups of Jewish men married non-Jewish women, after which there was very little intermarriage. This was a complete surprise to me. I had realized that this must have happened with the Lemda in southern Africa. But I did not expect that this may have been the story with Ashkenazi or other important historic Jewish populations.
However, I told Entine that these findings, even if true, did not destroy my theory precisely because my theory does not depend on a strict genetic separation of Jews and non-Jews. If borne out by other data, these results would only change sections of Chapter 2 of A People That Shall Dwell Alone because I would have to make room for this possibility in discussing the population genetic data. But it wouldn’t change anything else of importance:
· It wouldn’t change the importance of the practices of shunning intermarriage and converts that were so common in historical Jewish societies (Ch. 4) and clearly prescribed in the Old Testament (Ch. 3). As Thomas et al. note, “After the establishment of these communities, inward gene flow from the host populations must have been very limited.”
· It wouldn’t change the importance of resource competition between genetically distinct groups (Ch. 5). No one, least of all someone writing a book with a subtitle referring to the “DNA of the Chosen People,” would question the idea that genetic distinctiveness remained.
· It wouldn’t change the material on the regulation of in-group behavior (e.g., in-group charity, regulations governing business dealings with Jews and non-Jews) (Ch. 6).
· It wouldn’t change the discussion on eugenic selection for intelligence and high-investment parenting (Ch. 7).
· It would result in a minor change in the discussion on the origins of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy (Ch. 8). That chapter emphasizes three factors as being important in the origins of Judaism: the development of Jewish Diaspora ideology; the role of the self-interest of Jewish priests (Kohenim); and Judaism as reflecting typical Middle Eastern tendencies toward collectivism. (This section emphasized Harry Triandis’s work on individualism/collectivism.) All of this would remain.
Finally, the new population genetic data would not change anything in Separation and Its Discontents or The Culture of Critique. The main theoretical basis of both of these books is social identity theory. Psychological research on social identity processes finds negative attitudes toward outgroups even when the groups are randomly composed. For example, social identity processes underlie the hostility that can develop in crowds of football fans sporting different team colors: “My team is better (and more moral and more intelligent) than your team.” Genetic differences are certainly not required.
As a result, even if historical populations of Jews and non-Jews were genetically identical, social identity theory would predict positive ingroup biases and negative attitudes toward outgroups. In fact, it’s interesting that population genetic data consistently place Jewish populations closest to their Middle Eastern neighbors, the Palestinians. Being genetically close doesn’t mean that in-group/out-group hostility can’t develop.
Nevertheless, the fact that Jews and non-Jews were genetically different doubtless added to the feelings of alienation and estrangement of each side. This is the clear implication of J. Philippe Rushton’s Genetic Similarity Theory (i.e., the theory that people assort on the basis of genetic similarity) and the theory that humans possess a "human kinds module" (that is, a psychological mechanism that categorizes people from different groups in the same way we categorize biological species — as having essences that can’t be voluntarily changed). I emphasize the importance of both these mechanisms in my writing on ethnocentrism and they certainly are critical to a comprehensive analysis of between-group conflict. Obviously, it’s not a simple story.
The theory stands.
I’ve found that my views on cultural group selection and on the psychological mechanisms underlying group conflict are prone to being misunderstood. People have a stereotype that evolutionary theories are basically about some form of genetic determinism. I certainly do believe that genetically influenced ethnocentrism is part of the story. But cultural processes (e.g., social controls within the group) and mechanisms that are insensitive to the genetic distinctiveness of groups (e.g., social identity processes) are also a big part of any good explanation of group conflict. And they are critical for understanding how groups maintain their cohesion and their genetic distinctiveness.
Entine didn’t get it, but I have the feeling that he wasn’t really trying. His comments on my work read more like character assassination than honest reportage.
December 3, 2007
Several commentators have noted that the rise of Jewish intellectual and political influence was necessarily accompanied by a crisis of confidence in the older order. The culture of critique that resulted from this influence called into question the fundamental moral, political, and economic foundations of Western society. The pillars of the older Protestant intellectual and cultural establishment gave way to variety of complementary and overlapping utopian visions of America, including especially the vision of a multicultural America that has energized the pro-immigration movement from the beginning.
But because utopian visions sooner or later must clash with real-world realities, it was perhaps inevitable that this newer intellectual ethos would itself be subjected to the same scrutiny previously reserved for pre-1965 America and its 21st-century remnants. The Achilles’ heel of the new establishment is Israel and the influence of its supporters in America, particularly the organized Jewish community. Some of the very same organizations, such as the ADL, that have been at the forefront of enforcing and extending the cultural revolution of the 1960s—the revolution that views the eclipse of white America as a moral imperative—have also been at the forefront of promoting Israel and defending it against criticism. But it’s becoming apparent to quite a few observers that the emperor has no clothes.
The crisis of the new order has been precipitated by the publication of Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, and especially by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. Their success is largely because they share two traits that have also characterized successful Jewish intellectual and political movements: First, they originated as an aspect of elite culture—Carter as a former president and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Mearsheimer and Walt as professors of foreign affairs at elite universities. And secondly, at the heart of their critique is a moral indictment. Carter describes “the abominable oppression and persecution in the occupied Palestinian territories, with a rigid system of required passes and strict segregation between Palestine’s citizens and Jewish settlers in the West Bank.” He characterizes the Occupied Territories as an apartheid system, calling attention to the “enormous imprisonment wall … now under construction, snaking through what is left of Palestine to encompass more and more land for Israeli settlers.”
Mearsheimer and Walt devote an entire chapter to the “dwindling moral case” for Israel. They excuse the crimes against the Palestinians that occurred as a result of the 1948 war that established Israel—a more or less normal consequence of state formation. But Israel’s brutality toward the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and its behavior in last year’s war in Lebanon have undermined the moral case for Israel: “In fact, a good case can be made that current U.S. policy conflicts with basic American values and that if the United States were to choose sides on the basis of moral considerations alone, it would back the Palestinians” (p. 80). They call attention to the importance of biological kinship in determining Israeli citizenship and to the refusal of Israel to grant de jure equality to Arabs. They also point out that Israel’s Arab citizens “are de facto treated as second-class citizens,” including having to endure marriage laws that prevent Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens from becoming Israeli citizens or living in Israel. [See "Marriage Wall Pains New Israelis".] They also note that some Israeli leaders and a substantial proportion of the Israeli public have “racist” attitudes toward Palestinians, including a deep concern about Arab fertility. A clear majority favor encouraging Palestinians to emigrate. A prominent politician, Avigdor Lieberman, is quoted as advocating expulsion “so as to make Israel ‘as much as possible’ a homogeneous state” (p. 90).
At the heart of this critique is a rather glaring double standard: “Imagine the outcry that would arise here if a U.S. cabinet official spoke of the benefits of a policy that had reduced the birthrates of African Americans and Hispanics, thereby preserving a white majority” (p. 89). Or, one might suggest, imagine the outcry that would greet a similar comment on immigration policy.
Confronted with the moral critique of America emanating from elite universities and the media, the old Protestant intellectual establishment quickly yielded the high ground. Many of them became avid cheerleaders of the new multicultural zeitgeist that rejected the America and even the Americanism of their ancestors, to the point that the new zeitgeist has become a consensus among elites of all stripes. They accepted their own demographic decline and they gave up their pretensions as cultural leaders and trend setters. And they implicitly paved the way for the eventual loss of political power to other groups, some of which have historically conditioned grudges against them—a dangerous situation to say the least. In doing so, they became the pallbearers for their own people.
One might suppose that the fact that the emperor has been found to be clothed in a massive ethnocentrism of his own while nevertheless working zealously to utterly squelch any murmur of ethnocentrism by American and European majorities would lead to a crisis of confidence among the elites. After all, people who insist on double-standards naturally antagonize other people because they thus repudiate the principle of reciprocity that underlies all enduring moral arrangements in a civil society. But there are several reasons to think that won’t happen.
The lobby still exerts massive influence over the political process. Even after Mearsheimer and Walt cogently presented the case within the mainstream media that the lobby was a necessary condition for the war in Iraq, Rep. Jim Moran (Dem., VA) was accused of bigotry and anti-Semitism for saying that the Israel lobby “pushed the war from the beginning.” House Republican Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor couldn’t resist invoking history’s arch-anti-Semite: "Unfortunately, Jim Moran has made it a habit now to lash out to the American Jewish community. I think his remarks are reprehensible, I think his remarks are anachronistic, and hearken back to the day of Adolph Hitler, of the others, Mein Kampf, of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.…”
Despite the high level of critique and the reputations of its authors, there doesn’t seem to be any lessening of Jewish self-confidence or willingness to defend Israel and the lobby. Reviews of Mearsheimer and Walt in the elite mainstream media in the United States (but not Europe) have been uniformly negative. These reviews have mainly been by Jews, prompting Philip Weiss to ask “Do the Goyim Get to Register an Opinion Re Walt/Mearsheimer?” There are the obligatory dark (and intimidating) charges of anti-Semitism. Perhaps the most extreme reaction, presumably aimed at a Jewish audience and intended to keep the funds flowing, is by ADL National Director Abraham Foxman: The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control.
Charges of shoddy scholarship abound, as in Leslie Gelb’s review in The New York Times Book Review. Some of Gelb’s charges might even seem reasonable—if you haven’t read the book. For example, Gelb fails to do justice to Mearsheimer and Walt’s case on the power of the Israel lobby, dwelling only on their quoting various sources attesting to that power, but ignoring long sections of the book recounting numerous actual instances where the lobby has used its power to control Congress, presidents, and American public opinion on Mideast policy. Nor does he adequately portray Mearsheimer and Walt’s exhaustive account of the role of the lobby, the government of Israel, and administration neoconservatives with their strong Jewish identities and powerful ties to Israel in the build-up to the war in Iraq. Gelb states that, contra Mearsheimer and Walt, “Washington has quietly sided with the Palestinians [on the issues of the settlements and a Palestinian state] for a long time” It has indeed been a very quiet support because, as Mearsheimer and Walt show, the lobby has effectively prevented U.S. administrations from pushing Israel in that direction. There is also a complete disconnect between what Gelb says about the influence of the oil lobby and what Mearsheimer and Walt actually write. The same goes for Gelb’s comments on how U.S. arms sales to the Saudis illustrates the weakness of the lobby.
Gelb also subscribes to two of the central pro-Israel myths of the Mideast. He unabashedly claims that “(i)n the closing days of the Clinton administration, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak met almost all Palestinian demands for a negotiated solution and was effectively turned down” without even bothering to cite Mearsheimer and Walt’s refutation of that argument.
Gelb also tries to resurrect the moral case for Israel, noting that “the United States is helping to protect one of the few nations in the world that share American values and interests, a true democracy,” again without bothering to tell his readers that Mearsheimer and Walt devote an entire chapter to the dwindling moral case for Israel. As Philip Weiss notes, if reviewers like Gelb are “right and America, i.e., non-Jews, actually love Israel because of shared interests and democratic values, shouldn’t the editors of America put reviewers to the test [by having non-Jews review the book]?
In making charges of shoddy scholarship, Gelb should look in the mirror.
Some of Gelb’s arguments go beyond shoddy scholarship. For example, he states that “instinctively and without being lobbied, American presidents don’t want to gang up on Israel, since virtually every other state does so.”
When an argument is so silly that even a child could see through it and yet it is put forward by a Harvard Ph.D. in the elite media, you have to ask yourself what is really going on. Mearsheimer and Walt’s mistake may have been to think that they remained in a rational universe of rational actors when in fact they had entered a parallel universe of rationalization, self-deception, and talking points.
Unlike their Protestant forebears, there will be no crisis of confidence among the Jewish proponents of Israel and they will never feel cognitive dissonance for supporting an apartheid ethnostate in Israel while simultaneously being a pillar of support for a utopian vision of a multicultural U.S. Nor should one expect twinges of guilt for the role of the neoconservatives and the organized Jewish community in promoting the war in Iraq, with its thousands of dead and maimed American soldiers, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead, typically dismissed as “collateral damage,” and the hundreds of billions of dollars better spent elsewhere.
One of the things that struck me in reading Jewish history was a pattern, stretching back to the ancient world, in which Jews consistently created rationalizations and apologia intended to present themselves in a positive light and their enemies in a negative light. There was a great deal of evidence that at least some of this involved self-deception. A great many commentators have noticed this pattern, but one of the most accurate and succinct is John Murray Cuddihy’s comment that Jewish apologists developed a theory of their own history
emphasizing Gentile persecution as the root cause of Jewish “degradation.” This ideology . . . was shared in one form or another, by all the ideologists of nineteenth-century Jewry: Reform Jews and Zionists, assimilationists and socialists, Bundists and Communists—all became virtuosos of ethnic suffering. . . . The point is that these Diaspora groups were uninterested in actual history; they were apologists, ideologists, prefabricating a past in order to answer embarrassing questions, to outfit a new identity, and to ground a claim to equal treatment in the modern world.
Social psychologists have long known that powerful commitment to an ingroup results in a variety of cognitive distortions, especially glorifying the ingroup and pathologizing the outgroup. So we can’t expect a real dialog or objective analysis here. The deeply committed Jews who form the backbone of the organized Jewish community in America are simply unable to see Israel as morally flawed and a massive strategic burden to the United States.
Those who question the intensity of ethnic commitment among Jews would do well to watch Christiane Amanpour’s God’s Jewish Warriors. This work has typically been criticized by Jewish activists as not depicting a representative sample of Jews. But the question is not how representative these Jews are of Israeli Jews or their American supporters. The question is how much influence they have had. As I have argued, the settlement movement and the organized Jewish community in America that supports them represent the most psychologically committed and most deeply ethnocentric Jews. From the Maccabees (who led a rebellion against Greek influence in the second century B.C.) down to the present, they are the vanguard of Judaism, and Jews who actively oppose this state of affairs are eventually marginalized. If Jewish history shows anything, it's that the radicals eventually come to dominate the Jewish community. In this case, the radicals and their supporters in the Israeli government and among American Jews have created facts on the ground that make a reasonable settlement to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict a virtual impossibility.
If indeed a majority of Americans and their leaders realize that Israel is fundamentally an expression of the deep wellsprings of Jewish ethnocentrism and that American support for Israel is not at all in the national interest and has resulted in enormous costs and suffering, the predicted reaction is that committed Jews will retreat into a psychological world where once again they will see themselves as victims of irrational hatred—a theme that is already the central response to Mearsheimer and Walt.
For example, Eliot A. Cohen, a prominent neocon writing in the Washington Post on the London Review of Books paper by Mearsheimer and Walt that started the controversy: "Inept, even kooky academic work, ... but is it anti-Semitic? If by anti-Semitism one means obsessive and irrationally hostile beliefs about Jews; if one accuses them of disloyalty, subversion or treachery, of having occult powers and of participating in secret combinations that manipulate institutions and governments; if one systematically selects everything unfair, ugly or wrong about Jews as individuals or a group and equally systematically suppresses any exculpatory information — why, yes, this paper is anti-Semitic."
Or consider the ADL's blurb for Abe Foxman's book, The Deadliest Lies: "In a post-9/11 era of international tension and heightened suspicion, the American Jewish community has found itself having to respond to charges that it stifles free speech, has divided loyalties, and is responsible for pushing the United States into the war in Iraq. The essay by John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard on “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” and the 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid by former President Jimmy Carter have lent an alarming veneer of credibility to these accusations, which are little more than paranoid fantasies that reinforce persistent, anti-Semitic myths."
The whole lachrymose history of Jews as a persecuted but morally superior light unto the nations stretching from the Pharaoh to the Crusaders to the Czar, to Hitler to Ahmadinejad will once again be summoned to confer a sense of psychological affirmation. Only this time, with Israel already a formidable nuclear power, the stakes are raised for the entire planet.
This retreat into a psychological world of ethnic pride and pathologizing their opponents was not an option for the Protestant intellectual and cultural elite displaced by the rise of the culture of critique. Their commitment to individualism and their fragile sense of peoplehood and ethnic identification made them vulnerable to charges of moral failings. It was a vulnerability that was well recognized by Jewish activists: In the debate over the 1924 immigration restriction law, Israel Zangwill noted that “You must make a fight against this bill; tell them they are destroying American ideals. Most fortifications are of cardboard, and if you press against them, they give way.”
But arguments that the Israel lobby is destroying American ideals will fall on deaf ears among Jewish activists. Instead of producing a lack of confidence and a sense of guilt, the result of America turning against the Israel lobby will be the erection of a parallel universe of rationalization and self-deception among the most strongly identified segments of the Jewish community—the backbone of the organized Jewish community.
Turning against the lobby would also produce a political crisis in the United States. Another very clear message of Mearsheimer and Walt is that American political culture is utterly corrupt. The vast majority of American politicians have been only too willing to conform to the wishes of the lobby, and often compete to go beyond what the lobby desires. The good news, perhaps, is that a political crisis over Jewish influence is exactly what the United States needs.
Turkheimer: Is Race Science Good for the Jews?
November 26, 2007
In a recent Cato Unbound piece, Eric Turkheimer makes the surprising claim that questions of race differences are “not empirical, but theoretical and philosophical.” What he means is that “we can recognize a contention that Chinese people are genetically predisposed to be better table tennis players than Africans as silly, and the contention that they are smarter than Africans as ugly, because it is a matter of ethical principle that individual and cultural accomplishment is not tied to the genes in the same way as the appearance of our hair.” Such comparisons “are offensive precisely because they violate our intuition about the balance between innateness and self-determination of the moral and cultural qualities of human beings.”
Indeed, such comparisons remind Turkheimer, who is Jewish, of the Nazis:
If I may address my fellow Jews for a moment, consider this. How would you feel about a line of research into the question of whether Jews have a genetic tendency to be more concerned with money than other groups? Nothing anti-semitic, mind you, just a rational investigation of the scientific evidence. It wouldn’t be difficult to measure interest in money and materialism, and it wouldn’t surprise me if as an empirical matter Jews scored a little higher on the resulting test than other groups. As a behavioral geneticist I can assure you without reservation that the trait would be heritable, and, if anyone bothered to take the time to find out, specific genes would have small associations with it. Of course, this research program has already been carried out, at least to the extent the relevant technology was available in 1939. While we are at it we could open a whole scientific institute for the scientific study of racial stereotypes, and finally pull together the evidence on sneaky Japanese, drunken Irish, unintelligent Poles, overemotional women and lazy Italians.
Steve Sailer comments, “hasn’t he just wrecked his credibility as an objective scientist?" Yes, indeed. That was the main theme of The Culture of Critique: A great many Jewish social scientists—including many of those involved in debates about race and IQ a—were strongly influenced by their Jewish identities and their perceptions of Jewish interests. And they did terrible science.
In responding to Turkheimer, James Flynn notes that “are we just to discourage discussions about race that various groups dislike rather than like?”
Good point. When the study by Cochran, Hardy, and Harpending on Ashkenazi IQ came out, it was featured in the media around the world. Shortly thereafter, Charles Murray published an article in Commentary (published by the American Jewish Committee) titled “Jewish Genius.” He noted that “from 1870 to 1950, Jewish representation in literature was four times the number one would expect. In music, five times. In the visual arts, five times. In biology, eight times. In chemistry, six times. In physics, nine times. In mathematics, twelve times. In philosophy, fourteen times.” Recently, Jon Entine has published a book on Jewish DNA (including material on genetics and Jewish intelligence): Abraham's Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People; presently he is busy writing op-eds in the mainstream media promoting his work.
High Jewish IQ is celebrated and considered worthy of learned analyses and commentary in the mainstream media. I don’t recall Turkheimer writing to Commentary complaining that studies showing high Jewish IQ "are offensive precisely because they violate our intuition about the balance between innateness and self-determination of the moral and cultural qualities of human beings."
Flynn goes on to write that “As for my group, Irish-Americans, I welcome a no-holds-barred discussion of the roots of our high rates of alcoholism.” Personally, I would welcome studies of the biological roots of European individualism because, in my opinion, individualism is the key to Western uniqueness while at the same time making Western peoples uniquely vulnerable to invasion by cohesive groups and ideologies of altruistic punishment (i.e., ideologies which highlight the moral shortcomings of Europeans to the point that they are willing to engage in moral crusades against their own interests).
The rub is that such studies might also provide clues on the biological roots of collectivism, and these might be greeted with little enthusiasm by Jews and other groups prone to collectivism. Such studies would start to reveal the genetic underpinnings of endogamy (marrying within the group) and ethnocentrism. Is there a genetic basis for someone like Jakie Kassin, a leader of the Syrian Jewish community in New York, saying that converts should be “push[ed] …away with strong hands from our community. Why? Because we don’t want gentile characteristics.” Wouldn’t it be interesting to understand the genetics of God’s Jewish Warriors? These are people who, as I noted in a previous blog, “don’t seem very democratic… they seem massively ethnocentric. They live in a completely Jewish world where their every thought and perception seem colored by their Jewish identity.” Are there genetic implications to the fact that 80% of the Israeli public describe themselves as traditional [Orthodox] Jews (47%) or hareidi-religious/ religious-Zionist (33%), while only 20% consider themselves secular Jews. And are there genetic differences between the Syrian Jews and the Ostjuden that influence their very different responses to America and its culture?
Actually, I suspect that, if pressed, Turkheimer would agree that there should be no studies at all that examine group differences in cultural accomplishment—even traits like high Jewish IQ. The problem is that even Jewish IQ is prone to becoming part of a world view that I am sure Turkheimer would find anathema. The one thing that Entine, Murray, and Cochran et al. have in common is that they are perfectly willing to discuss high Jewish IQ and achievement, but they pretty much leave it at that. (In a comment that is sure to appeal to Jews, Murray ends his piece by “tak[ing] sanctuary in my remaining hypothesis [for high Jewish IQ], uniquely parsimonious and happily irrefutable. The Jews are God’s chosen people.”)
These writers are willing to link high Jewish IQ to Jewish overrepresentation in the arts and sciences (e.g., >160 Nobel prizes), but they don’t consider how this would also be expected to lead to a high level of cultural influence generally, with all that that entails. Most importantly, they don’t consider how Jews and non-Jews may have conflicts of interest over the construction of culture and on important public policy issues such as immigration and policy toward Israel and the middle east generally. For example, the basic thesis of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s work on the Israel lobby is that the influence of the Israel lobby has often been contrary to the legitimate national interests of America.
Nor do they factor in the powerful ingroup attitudes among Jews—particularly their tendency toward a lachrymose view of Jewish history in which Jews have repeatedly been innocent, passive victims of irrational hatred. Such lachrymose views are doubtless an ingredient in the hostility exhibited by influential groups of Jews and Jewish organizations toward the people and culture of the West—what John Murray Cuddihy termed "punitive objectivity. ... the vindictive objectivity of the marginal nonmember." In my opinion, these attitudes are a huge ingredient in establishing the culture of critique.
Viewed in this way, high Jewish IQ becomes an issue because it because affects Jewish influence, and Jewish influence sometimes conflicts with the legitimate interests of others. The plea to suspend all scientific discussion of genetic influences on group differences is problematic precisely because failure to discuss such differences has real costs. Even in the area of explaining the relatively low achievement of American Blacks and Latinos, there are costs for ignoring the possibility of genetic influences.
For example, in a recent summit in California on the topic, the California Superintendant of Education, Jack O’Connell, “absolutely, positively” rejected the possibility of genetic differences, and he acknowledged that socioeconomic differences could not explain the data He fell back upon the remarkable claim that the less restrained nature of worship in black churches might make it harder for black students to adapt to the restrictive environment of the classroom as developed by the majority culture even though that got him in some trouble. With the genetic and cultural explanations excluded by the activists, the only recourse was to blame the achievement gap on the racism and insensitivity of white teachers. (Somehow Asian students do just fine despite the racism of their white teachers.)
Such explanations constitute a cost for whites because they may lead to firing whites or preferential hiring of non-whites; or they may lead to needless expenditures on what Steve Sailer calls “Maoist-style self-criticism sessions” aimed at making white teachers more culturally sensitive. These theories also represent a cost because they may be used to justify affirmative action programs that discriminate against whites.
However, the costs of banning discussions of group differences are even more apparent in discussions of Jewish influence. Any suggestion that Jews are influential or sometimes pursue interests that diverge from American national interests or the interests of other American groups is sure to bring charges of anti-Semitism — the ultimate silencer of public discussion. Abe Foxman’s recent book on Mearsheimer and Walt says it all: The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control. Keeping discussions of Jewish influence, the traits that make it possible and determine its character out of the mainstream media certainly is in the interests of Jews. But it’s clearly not in the interests of the rest of us. I submit that Turkheimer understands this, and that’s why he thinks that people who try to understand racial differences deserve “vigorous disapprobation”; “they are not entitled to my encouragement or respect.” The feeling is mutual.
November 19, 2007
Ann Coulter probably wishes she had never said “We just want Jews to be perfected” on the Donny Deutsch show. The ADL was first in line to trace such ideas to a theological tradition that is anathema to Jews—the idea that the New Testament supercedes the Old.
But the best defense is a good offense, so Coulter apparently decided that she understands Jewish interests better than even the ADL. Maybe she’s right, but I don’t think she really understands how Jewish organizations like the ADL think about America.
Ann Coulter asks “How Long Before the A.D.L. Kicks Out All its Jews?” Her point is that the ADL is a leftist activist organization that is dangerous for Jews—dangerous because the left is “increasingly dominated by people conniving in the destruction of Israel.” The ADL also opposes public manifestations of Christianity but is in favor of appeasing Muslims in the U.S. by using the Koran to swear in public officials. It also promotes other leftist causes that she imagines are bad for Jews: gun control, gay marriage, illegal immigration — “You know, all the issues that have historically kept the Jews safe.”
Oddly, while she goes after the ADL for condemning critics of Muslim immigration, she can’t bring herself to oppose legal immigration in general. I suppose that even a “conservative” like Ann Coulter would not want to intimate that our present legal immigration policy is bad for anyone, much less Jews. Opposing legal immigration is so far beyond the mainstream that even Coulter can’t bring herself to condemn the ADL for being a major player on the pro-open borders lobby. Coulter seems to think that masses of illegals, mainly Mexicans, are bad for Jews, but there’s no problem importing masses of Africans and Asians as long as they aren’t Muslim.
But if all these peoples are to be allowed to immigrate (legally, of course) en masse to the United States, how does Coulter think that the Christian culture that she seems to think is so desirable can be maintained? Why just go after Muslims? The common sense of it is that our open borders immigration policy puts the entire culture in play. If Christianity is to have any special place at all, it will have to fight for it, and, given the demographic trends, its long term prospects aren’t good.
The fact is that Coulter has found a safe neocon niche that manages to condemn the Muslims without raising any really basic questions on the direction of our culture. She was a prime participant in David Horowitz’s pro-Israel inspired Islamo-fascism Awareness Week. While devoting his life to ethnic activism on behalf of Israel, Horowitz clearly draws the line at European-Americans having any sense of their own ethnic identity and interests. Obviously, that’s a line that Coulter is quite unwilling to cross as well.
But the deeper issue is whether Coulter is right that a rational understanding of Jewish interests would make them foursquare Republicans: “The survival of Israel is inextricably linked to the survival of the Republican Party and its evangelical base.” But the Israel Lobby is entirely bipartisan, and even if they wanted to, presidents since Eisenhower who have tried to influence Israel policy against the wishes of the lobby have been uniformly unsuccessful.
If the first Clinton Administration is any indication, the survival of Israel certainly does not depend on a Republican president. Bill Clinton’s Middle East policy positions were staffed by a long list of activists closely linked to the Israel Lobby, including Dennis Ross of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and former AIPAC official Martin Indyk. Indeed, during the Netanyahu years of Likud rule (1996-1999), "the American government seemed sometimes to be working for the Israeli Prime Minister as it tried to convince (and pressure) the Palestinian side to accept Israeli offers."
Hillary Clinton, the Democrat frontrunner, is a close second among all presidential candidates in support for Israel—trailing only Rudy Giuliani who has recruited a “who’s-who” list of neocon pro-Israel, anti-Iran hawks, including Norman Podhoretz, author of World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism.
Are the evangelicals really all that important? It’s remarkable how little influence evangelical Christians have in any other area of public life. They can’t seem to stem the de-Christianization that Coulter bewails; but then why should anyone believe that they are essential to U.S. support for Israel? As Mearsheimer and Walt show, the evangelicals, although certainly useful to the lobby, have far less impact than other parts of the lobby.
Coulter notes that “the ADL is more concerned with what it calls the ‘neo-Nazis’ and ‘anti-Semites’ in the Minutemen organization than with people who behead Jews whenever they get half a chance. It's only a matter of time before the ADL gets around to global warming.” What’s odd about this is that Coulter seems to think that the ADL’s concern about opposition to open borders is just another mindless irrational liberal exercise and as much a Jewish issue as global warming. But the reality is that Jews have always seen an ethnically and culturally homogeneous America as threatening to Jews. This is the subtext of the The Culture of Critique. As her neocon compatriot Elliott Abrams acknowledges, the mainstream Jewish community “clings to what is at bottom a dark vision of America, as a land permeated with anti-Semitism and always on the verge of anti-Semitic outbursts.” As Lawrence Auster notes "as crazy as it sounds, there is something many American Jews fear more in their heart of hearts than Moslim anti-Semitism, and that's white Christian anti-Semitism." Abrams notes that Jews have taken the lead in secularizing America because of this fear. (My own interpretation is that it has at least as much do with aggressiveness; see also here). Jewish organizations were also the main force on behalf of the 1965 immigration law that put an end to the idea that America had any ethnic basis.
Nevertheless, besides Coulter and Horowtiz, it is certainly true that a growing chorus of Jewish voices have begun to argue that Muslim immigration is bad for Jews. Stephen Steinlight certainly stands out in this regard, stating, for example, “Privately [American Jewish leaders] express grave concern that unregulated immigration will prove ruinous to American Jewry, as it has for French Jewry, and will for Jews throughout Western Europe. There’s particular fear about the impact on Jewish security, as well as American support for Israel, of the rapid growth of the Muslim population. At the conclusion of meetings with national leaders, several told me, ‘You’re 1000 percent right, but I can’t go out and say it yet.’”
In fact, Steinlight even argues that massive immigration in general is bad for Jews: “Massive immigration will obliterate Jewish power by shrinking our percentage of the population — to a fraction of 1% in 20 years.”
Similar warnings by Jews have also surfaced in Europe where, arguably, the situation is much worse for Jews because of the existence of relatively alienated, unassimilated Muslim populations. Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s chief rabbi, warns that multiculturalism “promotes segregation, stifles free speech and threatens liberal democracy.” Britain's politics has been “poisoned by the rise of identity politics, as minorities and aggrieved groups jockeyed first for rights, then for special treatment. The process … began with Jews, before being taken up by blacks, women and gays. … [The effect has been] ‘inexorably divisive.’ ‘A culture of victimhood sets group against group, each claiming that its pain, injury, oppression, humiliation is greater than that of others.’”
But thus far, such warnings have fallen on deaf ears. I suspect that the ADL calculates that Muslim immigration has not impaired the power of the Israel Lobby and there is little reason to think that it will in the foreseeable future. In any case, Jewish attachment to a post-European America is a gut emotion that seems to go beyond rational calculation. As Steinlight notes:
The prospect of breaking with the old [pro-immigration] consensus is so wrenching many are effectively paralyzed by it, but it must concentrate their minds wonderfully to know that upholding it endangers the viability of the community whose protection is their raison d’être. They recognize they risk a harsh rebuke by history as those responsible for "losing America" — just as their predecessors have been pilloried for their failure to do more to save European Jewry in the years leading up to and during the Holocaust. American-Jewish leadership is experiencing profound vertigo as it seeks to chart a course through circumstances that appear logical only to a schizophrenic.
November 6, 2007
Ruth Wisse, a professor of Yiddish at Harvard, first got on my radar screen with her 1982 Commentary article “The Delegitimation of Israel,” described by historian Mark Gerson as “perhaps the best expression” of the neoconservative view that Israel “was a just, democratic state constantly threatened by vicious and aggressive neighbors.” I commented as follows:
The article stands out for its cartoonish view that the history of anti-Jewish attitudes can be explained with broad generalizations according to which the behavior and attitudes of Jews are completely irrelevant for understanding the history of anti-Semitism. The message of the article is that Jews as innocent victims of the irrational hatred of Europeans have a claim for “a respite” from history that Arabs are bound to honor by allowing the dispossession of the Palestinians. The article is also a testimony to the sea change among American Jews in their support for the Likud Party and its expansionist policies in Israel. Since Wisse’s article appeared…, the positive attitudes toward the Likud Party characteristic of the neoconservatives have become the mainstream view of the organized American Jewish community, and the liberal Jewish critics attacked by Wisse have been relegated to the fringe of the American Jewish community.
Things haven’t changed at all for Wisse. In a Washington Post op-ed promoting her recent book, Jews are again portrayed as history’s powerless victims. Wisse summarizes the history of Jewish economic behavior as altruistically providing goods and services to non-Jews at the price of being politically vulnerable. Such a view ignores competition between Jews and non-Jews over the middleman economic niche, and it ignores the common role of Jews in traditional societies as willing agents of oppressive alien elites. It also ignores the emergence of Jews as a hostile elite in European societies and in America beginning in the late 19th century: Yuri Slezkine’s aptly named The Jewish Century could not possibly be remotely factual if Jews were nothing more than politically vulnerable victims. Indeed, an increasingly important theme in my thinking about Jews, and particularly the Ostjuden (Jews deriving Eastern Europe), has been aggressiveness. (See also The SY's and the Ostjuden.)
Wisse’s view of Jews as altruistic middlemen even applies to Israel: “Israel still lived by strategies of accommodation, trying to supply its neighborhood with useful services and goods such as medical, agricultural and technological know-how.”
This is a grotesque gloss on the reality of Israeli aggression against the Palestinians and against its neighbors since the founding of Israel. Since Mearsheimer and Walt are bête noires for Wisse, it is worth pointing to some of the examples they provide: Israel is an expansionist state whose leaders were not satisfied with the original partition of 1948—a time when Jews comprised 35% of the population of Palestine and controlled 7% of the land. Israelis “continued to impose terrible violence and discrimination against the Palestinians for decades” after the founding of the state, including ethnic cleansing after the 1967 war and, according to Israeli historian Benny Morris, an occupation based on “brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers, and daily intimidation, humiliation, and manipulation” (p. 100). Mearsheimer and Walt also point out the horrors of the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the wanton destruction of the bombing of Lebanon in the summer of 2006. They also show how Israel has aggressively promoted regime change throughout the region, using the power of the United States harnessed by the Israel lobby.
Wisse not only sees Israel as too timid, she argues that the Israel lobby in America is also weak. Her basis for this is that Edward Said, a Palestinian critic of Israel, held a position at Columbia University, and his right to speak out on Middle East issues was supported by some Jewish academics. Apparently for Wisse, the existence of even a few marginalized, powerless critics is a sign of the weakness of the lobby — never mind its stranglehold over Congress and presidents.
Despite bewailing the impotence of the lobby, she does see hope because of the intersection of Jewish and American interests: “The Arab war against Israel and radical Islam's war against the United States are in almost perfect alignment, which means that resistance to one supports resistance to the other.” That seems reasonable — except for the fact that, as Mearsheimer and Walt note, “the United States has a terrorism problem in good part because it has long been so supportive of Israel” (p. 64).
Wisse concludes as follows:
It is seductive to hope that by accommodating our enemies, we will be allowed to live in peace. But the strategy of accommodation that historically turned Jews into a no-fail target is the course least likely to stop ongoing acts of aggression against them. Indeed, anti-Jewish politics will end only when those who practice it accept the democratic values of religious pluralism and political choice — or are forced to pay a high enough price for flouting them.
What is most poisonous about this is that Wisse is completely blind to Jewish aggression, both on the part of Israel and on the part of the lobby. (Harnessing the power of the United States to effect regime change of governments that Israel doesn’t like is nothing if not aggressive.) In her view, Jews are surrounded by enemies who desire their destruction simply because of the morally superior qualities of Jews: Jews “function as a lodestar of religious and political freedom: The Jews' attackers oppose such liberties, and their defenders promote them.” She see Jews as altruistic martyrs throughout history who will once again suffer martyrdom unless they eschew their altruism and become aggressive. Accommodation simply leads to more martyrdom, and this rationalizes even more aggression toward their enemies.
If there is anything beyond ethnocentric delusion in all of this, I think that behind Wisse’s aggressive stance is the belief that they can win, where winning is defined as removing the Palestinians from most of the West Bank, enclosing the Palestinians in walled-off Bantustans where conditions are so horrible that many will eventually emigrate, and establishing hegemony in the entire area.
It is hardly ridiculous for Israelis and their American supporters to think this way. After all, Israel is by far the preeminent military power in the region and can easily act to preempt the development of WMD by its enemies, including Iran. And as a nuclear power, it could inflict huge costs on any enemy who even contemplated destroying it. It also has the world’s one remaining military superpower completely at its bidding, so that it’s difficult to envision a worst case scenario in which Israel is decisively defeated.
Why should the Israelis give up anything when victory is in sight? And why give up anything given that the water has been so poisoned by 60 years of aggression and hostility that any concession at all, much less an impossible return to the 1967 borders, will be seen, as Wisse notes, as little more than weakness.
Of course, continuing its aggressive, expansionist policies means that Israel will remain an international pariah. But Israel is quite accustomed to that role, and the lobby has a long and successful track record in dealing with the fallout from charges such as “Zionism is racism,” at least in the West (which is all that really matters).
Unfortunately, the fanaticism and moral blinders of Wisse are not at all atypical among the more extreme elements of Israeli opinion and among their supporters in the lobby. The extremists are in charge and have been so at least since the 1967 war. Any attempt to make a meaningful withdrawal from the West Bank and Jerusalem and to allow a viable Palestinian state would produce a civil war among Israelis and likely provoke a strong response by the lobby on the side of the non-accommodationists like Wisse. The fate of the Oslo peace process, the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and the support by the lobby of the most radical elements within Israel certainly argue that there is little chance of a successful move in this direction. People like Wisse may not be entirely representative of the Jewish community either in Israel or in America. But their numbers are large, and they have created facts on the ground that make any kind of reasonable settlement impossible.
The SY's and the Ostjuden: Comparing Two Very Different Jewish Groups
October 30, 2007
Zev Chafets’s description of the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn fits almost perfectly with the theory and data in A People That Shall Dwell Alone. The SY's (pronounced ess-why), as they call themselves, are a hermetically sealed community that is deeply concerned with preserving its ethnic purity. They immigrated from Syria early in the 20th century and found themselves in a society that tended to break down the walls of separation.
Socializing with outgroup members or marrying them was not really an option in the Middle East where the norm is to form self-segregating groups that marry only among themselves. Disturbed at an increasing tendency to socialize with other Jews and even non-Jews, in 1935 the rabbis created “an iron wall of self-separation around the community.” At the heart of the wall was an edict against intermarriage: “No male or female member of our community has the right to intermarry with non-Jews; this law covers conversion, which we consider to be fictitious and valueless.”
This effectively cut out the conversion loophole. It reminds us that even though conversion was always a theoretical option in Judaism, it was not really a practical possibility in the Middle Eastern societies where Judaism originated. Social segregation into endogamous groups has always been the norm in the Middle East. As noted in a previous blog, conversion for the Orthodox who control Israeli practices is a grueling process.
The SY's are quite candid on the function of the edict. Jakie Kassin, a community leader, summarized it as follows: “Never accept a convert or a child born of a convert. … Push them away with strong hands from our community. Why? Because we don’t want gentile characteristics.”
It’s refreshing to see such unabashed concern with preserving his own ethnic characteristics from a respected community leader in this day and age. This is the sort of thing that can get a European-American ostracized and probably unemployed, especially if he or she has a publically visible role in the media. It’s the sort of thing that The New York Times could be expected to be especially exercised about if such sentiments came from someone like me. But it appears here in The New York Times Magazine as barely more noteworthy than the fact that the SY’s live in Brooklyn.
Even other Jews are not accepted as kosher until their genealogy has been intensely scrutinized: “Any outsider who wants to marry into a Syrian family — even a fellow Jew — is subject to thorough genealogical investigation. That means producing proof, going back at least three generations and attested to by an Orthodox rabbi, of the candidates’ kosher bona fides. This disqualifies the vast majority of American Jews, who have no such proof.” Finding a non-Jew anywhere in the family tree is enough to prevent the marriage.
The SY community is also very collectivist. Businesses are family affairs, and children live close to their parents. Secular education is de-emphasized because it might lead the young away from the community. A young man who returned to the community after going to college notes, “It’s a magical place. … You come home from school and there are 10 women in the kitchen, your mother and aunts and cousins, cooking special Syrian delicacies. Every celebration is large, full of relatives.” And when he eventually leaves the community by marrying a non-Jew, his parents are unforgiving. He complains “My parents have sacrificed their relationship with me for the sake of the community.” It’s a “warm and loving community — if you follow the rules.”
Like all collectivist communities, there is a high level of social support and charity to the less prosperous: “Being an SY means never having to say you are hungry.” Social status comes partly by competing to contribute to SY charity. And with collectivism goes high fertility. SY’s “have large families, five or six children. And only a tiny fraction of our kids leave.”
So I certainly could have included the SY in several chapters of A People That Shall Dwell Alone. But I didn’t find anything that would be useful for The Culture of Critique. In fact, it's striking that "traditionally, the SY’s haven’t voted much, largely because of an aversion to showing up on government registries." Say what??? This runs quite contrary to the general Ashkenazi pattern of high rates of political participation. As John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt note in attempting to understand the power of the Israel Lobby, "American Jews are relatively prosperous and well-educated, and have an admirable philanthropic tradition. They give generously to political parties and have very high rates of political participation" (p. 140).
The SY's have become wealthy but they haven't entered into the power centers of American society. They eschew higher education, and have no role in the elite media. They are not involved in the legal profession, politics, or academic departments of social sciences or humanities. Although they tend to be hawkish on matters related to Israel, they have not been involved in creating the edifice that is the Israel Lobby.
One gets the impression that they want to make money and stay under the radar. This is probably how they survived for centuries in the Middle East. In fact, Jews in traditional societies often hid their wealth and controlled the behavior of other Jews so as not to arouse hostility from the surrounding peoples (see Separation and Its Discontents, Ch. 6). (The SY's are still peeved about an article appearing last year in The New York Times that disclosed the wealth of the community and its very heady property values.)
In other words, unlike the Ashkenazim, they have not developed an adversarial, competitive stance toward the people and culture of America. One can't imagine them becoming a hostile elite, as Ashkenazi Jews became in the Soviet Union. They have shown no tendencies toward developing a culture of critique that subjected Western culture to what John Murray Cuddihy termed "punitive objectivity. ... the vindictive objectivity of the marginal nonmember." Unlike their Ashkenazi brethren, they had no impact on Western societies in the 20th century. In this regard, they are much more like the Overseas Chinese than their Jewish brothers from Europe.
The Sephardim in Spain also showed signs of developing a hostile, aggressive and adversarial stance toward the traditional people and culture of Spain before and during the Inquisition. So it's not that this tendency is unique to the Ashkenazim among the Jews. And it is important that even within the Ashkenazim, there is a major distinction between the Ostjuden from Eastern Europe and the Jews of Western Europe and America prior to the massive migration of the Ostjuden to the West beginning in the late nineteenth century.
To understand the origins and the power of the culture of critique, one has to understand this particular Jewish group—the font and origo of two of the most potent and aggressive 20th-century movements: political radicalism and Zionism. (Pop Quiz: What do political radicalism, Zionism, and neoconservatism have in common? Answer below.) It is not that the Ostjuden are particularly ethnocentric compared to other Jews. They are, if anything, less ethnocentric than the SY's with their obsessions of blood purity and hyper-xenophobia. Indeed, it is obvious that the Ostjuden could never have been so successful in altering the culture and demography of the West had they remained as a hermetically sealed community, shut off from the power centers of the society.
The Ostjuden, unlike the SY's, have been highly aggressive toward the people and cultures they live among — a trait that is now perhaps most clearly seen in the behavior of Israel vis-á-vis its neighbors and the dispossessed Palestinians. It is a trait that is at the heart of the culture of critique — most egregiously perhaps in the long and successful Jewish campaign to alter the ethnic balance of the United States and other Western societies. It is a trait without which Yuri Slezkine's appropriately named The Jewish Century never would have happened.
Pop Quiz: What do political radicalism, Zionism, and neoconservatism have in common? Regime change applied to cultures and political orders seen as not conforming to Jewish interests. In other words, the common denominator involves an aggressive, hostile stance toward other peoples and their cultures.
October 24, 2007
James Watson’s embrace of racial differences in intelligence once again shows the undiminished power of the left to control public discourse on critical issues related to diversity and multiculturalism. When Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray published The Bell Curve in 1994, it was greeted with a great sense of anticipation in some circles that at last issues related to race and IQ could be discussed openly and honestly. Finally, a book had been published by a mainstream publisher that dared to argue that not only were there racial differences in intelligence, but also that it was reasonable to suppose that these differences were partly due to inheritance.
But it never happened. One has to look long and hard to find mainstream media accounts of race differences in academic success that even propose genetic differences as a reasonable hypothesis. For example, recent state reports on school success have emphasized that economic differences do not explain the racial gap in school success. One would think that the failure of the favorite explanation of the cultural left would prompt reasonable people to at least suggest at least the possibility that genetic differences are involved. But that explanation is utterly taboo in the mainstream media.
Below the surface, however, in the labyrinths of academia, The Bell Curve has had an impact. Many new researchers are now studying general intelligence. Even the US military and much work in industrial-organizational psychology is taking the importance of “g,” the general factor of mental ability, into account.
Admittedly, the topic of race differences is still highly controversial. Nonetheless, even here there are real signs of progress. For example, an entire issue of the top-drawer American Psychological Association journal Psychology, Public Policy, and Law was devoted to a review of Black-White IQ differences by J. Philippe Rushton and Arthur Jensen. Their paper (in 2005) entitled “Thirty years of research on race differences in cognitive ability” concluded that Black-White differences were between 50 and 80 percent heritable. Most recently, Rushton and his colleagues published two studies in a paper in the July 2007 Proceedings of the Royal Society of London showing that the East Asian-European-South Asian-Colored-Black differences, mainly in South Africa, were substantially heritable.
However, these positive indications have not yet percolated up into the mainstream media. Watson was in some ways an ideal person to express his views on the topic and bring this material into the light of day. At 79 years old, he has little tangible to lose. He is a world-renowned figure with the sort of stature that can only come from making one of the central discoveries of 20th-century science. He is also a biologist with a professional understanding of genetic influences on behavior. Gene/behavior linkages are a major research interest of the Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory that he led until being suspended because of his comments on African intelligence. Watson also has a deep personal interest in genetic influences on behavior because his son has schizophrenia.
Of course, the egalitarians are free to have as much of their say as they like, no matter how nonsensical. A good example is Steven Rose, an old-time warrior in the IQ wars. He not only condemns Watson for expressing his opinion, but is quite happy to see that his life has been upended, stating that “the repercussions are to be welcomed.” At least that far-left ideologue was honest enough to say he didn’t believe in free speech for scientists. Perhaps Watson deserves a long prison term in a psychiatric hospital.
It’s noteworthy that Watson has not caved in on the general point that natural selection may result in differences between human groups. He has defended himself by rejecting any implication that the entire continent of Africa is “genetically inferior” while nevertheless writing
We do not yet adequately understand the way in which the different environments in the world have selected over time the genes which determine our capacity to do different things. The overwhelming desire of society today is to assume that equal powers of reason are a universal heritage of humanity. It may well be. But simply wanting this to be the case is not enough. This is not science.
Watson believes that in 10–15 years we will get “an adequate understanding for the relative importance of nature versus nurture in the achievement of important human objectives.”
So is the clock ticking for the cultural left? Are we about to enter an age in which it will impossible to deny genetic differences on intelligence and we will be able to rationally discuss race differences in intelligence in the mainstream media? I think not. The cultural left has a long and largely successful history of being able to combat scientific ideas that it doesn’t like. This was the main conclusion of The Culture of Critique: The long and sorry history of Boasian anthropology, psychoanalysis, the anti-hereditarian and anti-Darwinian movements in the social sciences, and the Frankfurt School all masqueraded as science but they also wore their politics on their sleeves. Like other political movements, dissenters were simply excluded — drummed out of professional societies, publically humiliated, and relegated to the fringes of intellectual life.
It’s a tradition that is alive and well in the 21st century. Watson has seen his book tour cancelled, he has been suspended from his position at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and has been subjected to outraged moralism from people who can’t hold a candle to his intellectual stature. And all for expressing his professional opinion on how the blind hand of natural selection may have operated to make people different.
October 14, 2007
Elaine McArdle was lobbied by the Israel Lobby. Of course, this is not exactly unusual, nor is it illegal. Indeed, it is standard practice among lobbyists of all kinds. As she notes, AIPAC provided first-class, all-expenses-paid trips to Israel for 40 US congressmen just last summer. Journalists are eager to participate as well, although it appears that this is viewed as less than ethical by at least some mainstream news organizations.
Still, there are probably very few congressmen of any longevity who haven’t participated, and, as she notes, most journalists have only one question about whether to participate: “Where do I sign up?” Free trips to Israel for US military personnel and politicians are also a standard policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. And Birthright Israel annually organizes trips to Israel for 20,000 young Jews in an effort to deepen their Jewish commitment.
What stands out about McArdle is that she is very self-conscious about the psychological processes involved. She is quite aware that persuasion often works at an unconscious level. Giving someone a gift taps into a reciprocity norm that is doubtless a remnant of our evolved psychology. People who don’t reciprocate did not make good allies or friends, and this happened over a sufficiently long period to result in specialized brain mechanisms designed to detect reciprocators and cheaters. As McArdle notes, this is true the world over. For the non-sociopaths among us, when we receive something from someone else, we feel a need to reciprocate or at least have positive feelings toward that person.
Since I am engaged in trying to understand Jewish influence in general, McArdle’s article gets one thinking of what other psychological processes are involved in various sorts of Jewish influence. Of course, none of these processes are unique to Jewish influence. It’s just that Jews are a very good at the influence game. The Israel Lobby and its influence on US foreign policy are Exhibit A for this perspective. So it’s reasonable to suppose that one aspect of their success is being better than most at tuning in to people’s psychological tendencies and to use them to further their perceived interests.
At a basic level, going on a trip in a group makes the person a member of an ingroup. Psychologists have found that being a member of an ingroup results in positive attitudes toward other members of the ingroup. Even though there is no explicit quid pro quo going on, the norms of the ingroup are molded by the tour guides and even by the itinerary itself.
In effect, the people on the tour are being inculcated into a Jewish world view—one in which Jews are the quintessential victims. McArdle’s group was shepherded to an Israeli family that had been in the area hit by Hezbollah rockets last summer. There is a palpable sense of fear “Children today, we were told, still wet their beds in fear. … I wondered how long I … could tolerate the omnipresence of danger.”
They are also taken to Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Museum. Similarly, the Birthright Israel trips for Jewish youth start with Holocaust seminars in New York, then proceed to Poland to visit Auschwitz, and then to Israel where participants visit historical sites intended to instill strong Zionist feelings. Especially important are border outposts “where the ongoing threat to Israel’s security is palpable” (Woocher, 1986; p. 150). Among these Jewish visitors, the result is a sense of dread: A participant in Birthright Israel says, “I never felt unsafe [in Poland], but I couldn’t wait to get to Israel where I knew that we would be wanted and accepted.”
Indeed, as I noted in A People That Shall Dwell Alone (see Chapter 7), “a permanent sense of imminent threat appears to be common among Jews. … [F]or Jewish families a ‘sense of persecution (or its imminence) is part of a cultural heritage and is usually assumed with pride. Suffering is even a form of sharing with one’s fellow-Jews. It binds Jews with their heritage—with the suffering of Jews throughout history.’”
There is also a sense of psychological bonding with Israelis at a person-to-person level. McArdle refers to her experience as “an unforgettable and emotionally charged week with warm, likable people — generous hosts and tour guides whom I worried about after returning to the safety of life in Massachusetts.”
She experiences empathy for these Israelis as fellow ingroup members who are living in danger, and she worries about their safety. But she never gets to experience empathy with the Palestinians on the other side of the wall—the ones living in Bantustan-like concentration camps in the apartheid West Bank.
McArdle also mentions that the experience was “emotionally charged.” A great deal of psychological research shows that experiences that have intense emotional overtones are much more likely to be remembered and to have a long term influence. As McArdle is well aware, people need not be consciously aware of these memories to be influenced by them.
Another psychological aspect of Jewish influence is that Jewish intellectual and political movements are promulgated from highly prestigious sources. An important feature of our evolved psychology is a greater proneness to adopt cultural messages deriving from people with high social status. This was certainly true of all the movements discussed in The Culture of Critique, and there is no doubt that the Israel Lobby is intimately entwined with elite media, elite universities, and well-funded think tanks.
And finally, it’s not only journalists like McArdle who have to worry about the possibility of unconscious bias. We all do. Movements such as the Israel Lobby have typically presented themselves not as furthering Jewish interests but as furthering the interests of the society as a whole. Neocons such as Richard Perle typically phrase their policy recommendations as aimed at benefiting the US. He does this despite evidence that he has a strong Jewish identity and despite the fact that he has typical Jewish concerns, such as anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and the welfare of Israel. Perle poses as an American patriot despite credible charges of spying for Israel, writing reports for Israeli think tanks and op-eds for the Jerusalem Post, and all the while having close personal relationships with Israeli leaders.
This was also true of all the movements I described in The Culture of Critique: The Jewish commitments and motivations of the main players were never a subject of discussion, and the movements themselves were presented as scientifically sound and morally superior to the traditional culture of the West. As a result, non-Jews are invited to see these Jewish activists as disinterested social scientists, or, in the case of the neocons, as patriotic fellow Americans — as “just like themselves.” We are invited to view these Jewish activists as part of our ingroup, with all that that entails psychologically.
In my ideal world, Jonah Goldberg’s op-eds and Paul Wolfowitz’s advice to presidents and defense secretaries should be accompanied by a disclaimer: “You should be cautious in following my advice or even believing what I say about Israel. Deception and manipulation are very common tactics in ethnic conflict, so that my pose as an American patriot should be taken with a grain of salt. And even if I am entirely sincere in what I say, the fact is that I have a deep psychological and ethnic commitment to Israel and Judaism. Psychologists have shown that this sort of deep commitment is likely to bias my perceptions of any policy that could possibly affect Israel even though I am not aware of it.”
As I noted in The Culture of Critique, “many of the Jews involved in the movements reviewed here may sincerely believe that these movements are really divorced from specifically Jewish interests or are in the best interests of other groups as well as Jews. … But, as [evolutionary theorist Robert] Trivers (1985) notes, the best deceivers are those who are self-deceived."
October 1, 2007
The Jewish segment of Christiane Amanpour's God's Warriors is doubtless the best and most refreshing comment about what's going on in Israel ever to appear on American television. The take-home message—the one that will be lurking around in the back of the minds of viewers long after watching it—is the image of fanatical Jews. There are repeated images of religious Jews referring to the West Bank and Jerusalem as promised to Jews in Genesis and advocating that Arabs either move or be expelled. There are Jewish activists bent on destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque built at the site of the ancient Jewish temple and plotting to kill Palestinian schoolchildren; Jewish settlers being hauled out of the Sinai, Gaza, and various West Bank outposts by the Israeli army; Baruch Goldstein's massacre of praying Palestinians; masses of Jews expressing hatred toward Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin because of his endorsement of the Oslo peace process; the assassination of Rabin by Yigal Amir, a Jewish fanatic inspired by Goldstein; Ariel Sharon, "the Godfather of the Settlements," visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque and fomenting the Second Intifada.
There is a particularly striking segment on Jewish woman from New York who moved to Israel because "I was never fully American. I was Jewish." As a child, she learned Hebrew before she learned English, and her summers were spent at Zionist youth camps. She now recruits financial support for the settlements from Christian Zionists in America. The Christian congregation sings songs in Hebrew, and the Israeli and American flags are juxtaposed..
In America we tend to think that Jews are "just like us. After all, Israel is the "only democracy in the Middle East" and a "staunch American ally." We have been led to think of Judaism as one of the three mainstream American religions. ("Have you heard the one where a priest, a minister, and a rabbi go into a bar? ...") When most Americans think of Jews, they think of the the friendly doctor who lives in the neighborhood, the brilliant scientist at the university, or the liberal social activist on behalf of the downtrodden.
But the Jews in God's Jewish Warriors often don't look like us at all. They are often religious Jews with long braided hair, beards, and names like Dvir and Dov. (New York State Assemblyman and West Bank settler Dov Hikind is depicted contributing some of his campaign funds to the settlements.) Many of the men use tefillin and wear yarmulkes, and they rock back and forth when they pray. The women often cover their hair and wear long gowns resembling a mild version of the Muslim purdah.
Judaism's Middle Eastern roots are on display, and there is nothing Western about it at all. These people don't seem very democratic, and they seem massively ethnocentric. They live in a completely Jewish world where their every thought and perception seem colored by their Jewish identity. Theirs is an apartheid world separated by high concrete walls from their Palestinian neighbors, where even tiny settlements are necessarily protected by the Israeli army. And at a time when Americans are constantly being encouraged by Jewish organizations like the ADL to be ever more tolerant of all kinds of diversity, these people are anything but tolerant. Calls for expropriation and expulsion of the Palestinians are commonplace among them. Israel has created a classic Middle Eastern segmentary society in which different groups live in an ingroup/outgroup world, completely isolated from each other. (Click here for a discussion of contrasts between Middle Eastern and Western societies.)
Not surprisingly, pro-Israel activist groups in the U.S. are not pleased. The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) calls it "CNN's Abomination." Depictions of influential Jews who are obviously "not like us" are likely to trigger feelings of estrangement and alienation in most Americans—a natural consequence of our evolved psychology. CAMERA's main complaint is that there is too much focus on extremists rather than on more typical Jews. But as Amanpour notes at the beginning, "in the last 40 years [God's Jewish warriors] have changed the history of the Middle East." The question is not how representative these Jews are of American Jews or even Israeli Jews. The question is how much influence they have had. As I have argued, the settlement movement is the vanguard of Judaism, and Jews who actively oppose this state of affairs are eventually marginalized. If Jewish history shows anything, it's that the radicals eventually come to dominate the Jewish community.
The result is a full-fledged campaign by Jewish organizations against CNN. In an article titled "CNN Comes Under Unprecedented Attack," the Forward reports that members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations "have asked CNN to avoid rerunning the show before concerns about factual errors and bias are addressed and corrected. It is also requesting that the network invest similar resources to produce a new program that would "rectify the bias and inappropriate context.” “We are aware of some advertisers that have already distanced themselves from 'God’s Jewish Warriors,'" ... “It was recommended that all advertisers be contacted to express concern at their association with this offensive program." "
Amanpour does an excellent job showing how the organized Jewish community in America, and especially AIPAC, has rallied to the defense of the settlements in defiance of international law and every president since Jimmy Carter. Missing is a depiction of the internal politics of American Jews in which Jewish voices who oppose support for Jewish radicals are rendered powerless. But this is an incredibly brave and informed presentation of the radical vanguard of the Jewish community that is having such a huge impact on the Middle East and, via its effects on US foreign policy, the entire world.
August 19. 2007
Jewish intelligence has become a hot topic following the publication of a paper by Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending in The Journal of Biological Science. Charles Murray weighed in with an article in Commentary (Jewish Genius, April, 2007). Murray's theory is quite a bit like the one I published in my 1994 book, A People That Shall Dwell Alone (Ch. 7). I discussed eugenic events such as the Babylonian exile in which the elite Israelites were relocated to Babylon and refused to intermarry with those left behind when they returned (as graphically recounted in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah). I also described a great deal of discrimination against the illiterate in the ancient world, with the effect that such people were excluded from the Jewish community. Marriage to such a person was especially abhorrent. And I recounted the history of Jewish education and Jewish idealization of the scholar, including especially the practice of wealthy Jews marrying their daughters to scholars and providing them with business opportunities. Because wealth was correlated with reproductive success in traditional societies, this had the effect of eugenic selection for intelligence. All of these practices originated in the ancient world and are well attested among both Ashkenazi and Sephardic populations in later centuries.
The argument of Cochran and Harpending depends on Ashkenazi uniqueness. Their major contribution is to elaborate evidence that Ashkenazi intelligence is linked to mutations linked to brain metabolism and to certain Jewish genetic diseases (e.g., Tay-Sachs disease). I certainly do not want to deny that there is some unique genetic basis for Ashkenazi IQ. Indeed, I described the evidence available as of 1994 on Ashkenazi CNS mutations linked to brain metabolism in A People That Shall Dwell Alone (Ch.2):
Eldridge (1970; see also Eldridge & Koerber 1977) suggests that a gene causing primary torsion dystonia, which occurs at high levels among Ashkenazi Jews, may have a heterozygote advantage because of beneficial effects on intelligence. Further supporting the importance of selective processes, eight of the 11 genetic diseases found predominantly among Ashkenazi Jews involve the central nervous system, and three are closely related in their biochemical effects (see Goodman 1979, 463). [Further,] Motulsky (1977a) suggests that the higher incidence of myopia in Ashkenazi Jewish populations could be the result of selection for higher verbal intelligence. Myopia and intelligence have been linked in other populations, and Jews tend to have higher intelligence and higher rates of myopia.
Eldridge, R. (1970). The torsion dystonias: Literature review and genetic and clinical studies. Neurology 20:1–78.
Eldridge, & T. Koerber (1979). Torsion dystonia: Autosomal recessive form. In Genetic Diseases among Ashkenazi Jews, ed. R. M. Goodman & A. G. Motulsky. New York: Raven Press.
Motulsky, A. G. (1979a). Possible selective effects of urbanization on Ashkenazi Jews. In Genetic Diseases Among Ashkenazi Jews, ed. R. M. Goodman & A. G. Motulsky. New York: Raven Press.
Cochran and Harpending base their argument of Ashkenazi uniqueness on their belief that Jews did not have a reputation of being smart in the ancient world. However, if you look at Jewish religious writings, such as the Mishnah (2nd century AD) and the Talmuds (4th and 6th century), their elites were at a very high level. And it should be remembered that until the Enlightenment, the vast majority of Jewish scholarship was directed within the Jewish community, rather than at science or philosophy. As a result, Jewish intelligence may not have been apparent to non-Jews. In the ancient world, Jewish education was the norm and the system where scholars benefited with advantageous marriages was already in place. And in any case, the historical record supports the idea that Jews were quite successful economically in the ancient world. After the failed rebellions against the Romans during the 1st and 2nd century, Jews achieved a very prominent economic position in the Roman Empire and dominated some industries, so the familiar pattern of Jews as an elite group was well underway at that time. Consider, for example, the following passage from Separation and Its Discontents:
Bachrach (1985) suggested that the Jews were so wealthy, powerful, and aggressive that until around the middle of the 5th century the government viewed a strong anti-Jewish policy as not politically viable, even though it was continually being pressured in this direction by the Church. The rather limited anti-Jewish actions of the government during the 150 years following the Edict of Toleration of 313 are interpreted “as attempts to protect Christians from a vigorous, powerful, and often aggressive Jewish gens” (Bachrach 1985, 408). The Jews themselves were perceived by the emperors, the government, and the Church fathers as “an aggressive, well-organized, wealthy, and powerful minority” (p. 408). Particularly revealing are the suggestion that the solvency of the municipalities depended on Jews paying their taxes and the fear that offending the Jews could set off widespread and costly revolts, such as the one led by Patricius in 351.
Bachrach, B. S. (1985). The Jewish community in the Later Roman Empire as seen in the Codex Theodosianus. In “To See Ourselves as Others See Us”: Christians, Jews, “Others” in Late Antiquity, ed. J. Neusner & E. S. Frerichs. Chico, CA: Scholars Press.
In short, Jews in the ancient world had all of the characteristics associated with later Ashkenazi populations: Economic preeminence, an occupational profile emphasizing business, finance, trading, and manufacturing, high levels of education, and a scholarly elite producing complex, religious writing. Scholarship was an excellent means to achieve upward mobility and presumably greater than average reproductive success.
These traits also characterized the Sephardim. I agree with Murray on the Sephardim because of the complete dominance of Spain by the New Christians (economic, political, and intellectual) after the "conversions" of the early 15th century. This group remained influential in Amsterdam and elsewhere, but they gradually lost their grip in Spain because of the Inquisition. They became separated from the wider Jewish community—mainly the lower classes of Jewish society—after the expulsion of 1492. This was a dysgenic event for that group, and their descendants do not seem especially accomplished. This is a passage from Ch. 7 of A People that Shall Dwell Alone:
Jews who continued to practice Judaism in Spain during the 15th century and were subsequently expelled in 1492 were less educated and less economically successful than their Converso brethren who remained to endure the wrath of the Inquisition. In this case, the less wealthy Jews certainly suffered fewer casualties and eventually were able to emigrate to North Africa or the Levant. Eventually, the Levantine Sephardim underwent a distinct atrophy of their culture..., while the descendants of the Conversos continued their highly elite and exclusivist profile on the international economic scene. When these Levantine Sephardim immigrated to the United States in the 20th century, they exhibited much higher rates of illiteracy, alcoholism, prostitution, and wife abandonment than did the Ashkenazim (Sachar 1992, 338). While the Ashkenazim were quickly upwardly mobile in American society, the Sephardim achieved only “a modest economic foothold” and were more likely to engage in lower-status occupations (Sachar 1992, 340).
My view is that the Jewish population of Spain had all the characteristics of Ashkenazi populations, including the emphasis on Jewish scholarship and favorable marriages for scholars. The Conversos were at least as accomplished as Ashkenazi groups and dominated Spain at least until the Inquisition and even for quite a while thereafter. The section on the ups and downs of Jews in the Muslim world is here:
The argument emphasizes the pattern of lower Sephardic IQ than for Ashkenazi populations within Israel. Nevertheless, it also notes that in general Jewish populations had higher intelligence and achievement in Arab societies when they were politically allowed to prosper. Perhaps the accomplishments of the Levantine Sephardim during some periods were facilitated because of the low average IQ of the peoples they lived among. In other words, they were highly capable compared to the native populations. There seems to be good evidence that the decline of the Levantine Sephardim was due at least partly to anti-Jewish actions.
Anthropologist Peter Frost has proposed a variation on the theme of Cochran and Harpending. Frost emphasizes the shift to early marriage, especially by "semi-rural artisans who produced on contract for urban merchants and who could ably exploit these larger, more elastic markets. . . . Their workforce was their household. In more successful households, the workers would marry earlier and have as many children as possible. In less successful ones, they would postpone marriage, or never marry."
This theory also demands Ashkenazi uniqueness, which is at least questionable given the above. The cottage industry niche was a fairly short-lived phenomenon, so a more formal argument would have to be made involving the power of selection among Jewish artisan families and between Jews and non-Jews. Frost's proposal reminds us that the stereotype of Jews as financiers, money lenders, merchants, and traders can be overdone. Indeed, the general pattern was for Jews to be involved in vertically integrated business and trading arrangements. For example, in Poland by the end of the 18th century, Jews dominated almost all areas of trading, manufacturing, and estate managing, and they had become dominant among the artisans as well (A People That Shall Dwell Alone, Ch. 5; Zionism and the Internal Dynamics of Judaism). The Jewish economic niche began with trading, estate managing, and money lending, but eventually they dominated virtually the entire economy except agricultural labor as the Jewish population increased.
Given this pattern, it seems gratuitous to attribute causality to one part of this pattern, especially when artisanry was the last economic niche to become dominated by Jews. Indeed, the Jewish involvement with artisanry seems to have been a consequence of their already dominating other areas; artisanry was the last remaining niche above agricultural labor to be dominated by Jews. For Frost's model to work, he must assume that the IQ of the Jewish population prior to their involvement in artisanry was at the population average. But the progenitors of Jewish artisans in Eastern Europe were Jewish traders, money lenders, and estate managers—hardly low-IQ professions. Overall, the Jewish occupational profile in Eastern Europe is familiar in other times and places, including the ancient world and Spain prior to the Inquisition, so it's difficult to see how this fits as an argument for Ashkenazi uniqueness.
should also be noted that Jewish fertility was very high not simply because they
were involved in artisanry, but also for religious reasons: the rise of the
Hasidic movement. Poor Jewish families continued to have high fertility even
when the result was poverty (see Zionism and the
Internal Dynamics of Judaism). My argument is that
eventually Jews overshot their economic niche entirely. This had huge
consequences for the modern world not only because it figured prominently in the
pressures resulting in anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe throughout the 19th and
into the 20th century, but also because the main Jewish responses to their
misery in Eastern Europe were Zionism and political radicalism—two very potent
August 2, 2007
Steven Pinker has apparently assumed the Stephen Jay Gould Chair for Politically Correct Popularization of Evolutionary Biology at Harvard. Gould, of course, had a long and distinguished career devoted to disinformation in the areas of IQ research and other leftist causes — so much so that I devoted a large section of a chapter to him in Culture of Critique. I suspect that the folks at Harvard understand the power that their position as an elite academic institution exerts in the mainstream media and that Pinker's appointment was tacitly understood to be a safe bet that he would carry on the Gouldian tradition and not stray too far off the reservation, at least on the key issues of race and ethnicity.
I should note that I am not entirely disinterested in discussing Pinker. He has attacked my work on Judaism from an evolutionary perspective without reading it. However, it's interesting that he now seems comfortable with the possibility that Ashkenazi Jews on average have a higher IQ, and he seems to agree that it's quite possibly because of the same sorts of selective pressures that I discuss in A People That Shall Dwell Alone. Indeed, on the one hand, he is quite proud of Jewish intelligence and accomplishment, but on the other he is a bit worried about its consequences: Is it good for the Jews if non-Jews know it?
In any case, there is no question that Steven Pinker is the popular voice of evolutionary biology in the elite media. His latest effort, Strangled by Roots: The Genealogy Craze in America (The New Republic Online, July 30) has some good points, notably the statement that "blood relatives are likely to share genes. To the extent that minds are shaped by genomes, relatives are likely to be of like minds. Close relatives, whether raised together or apart, have been found to be correlated in intelligence, personality, tastes, and vices." Such statements of the importance of behavior genetics to understanding IQ and other important human traits are certainly none too common in the media. Gould would certainly not be happy with this.
However, Pinker pledges allegiance to some of the central theories and
data in evolutionary biology while nevertheless vitiating their importance for
understanding the world we live in.
Pinker's central claim is as follows:
The same arithmetic that makes an individual's pedigree collapse onto itself also makes everyone's pedigree collapse into everyone else's. We are all related — not just in the obvious sense that we are all descended from the same population of the first humans, but also because everyone's ancestors mated with everyone else's at many points since that dawn of humanity.
This claim fails to acknowledge that people's pedigrees don't collapse into everyone else's for the simple reason that populations did not interbreed for thousands of years. This led to distinct races and to distinct ethnic groups within races. (See, e.g., V. Sarich & F. Miele, Race: The Reality of Human Differences.) Particularly egregious is that there is no appreciation of the work of Frank Salter (On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethnicity, and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration). Salter shows that when world populations are sampled, genetic variance between groups is about .125—equivalent to the kinship between grandparent and grandchild. Think of it this way: A grandfather has about .125 more genetic overlap with his grandchild than with a person taken at random from his ethnic group; similarly, I have about .125 more genetic overlap with a person taken at random from within my ethnic group compared to a randomly chosen person from outside my ethnic group. And there is a gradient of genetic similarity among ethnic groups: Swedes are more closely related to Poles than they are to sub-Saharan Africans.
The result is that humans have an enormous genetic interest in their ethnic groups. Just as with genealogical kinship where people with larger families have a higher inclusive fitness, this genetic interest becomes enormous because it is tied to the actual number of ethnic group members which, in the modern world, can total in the millions, or, I suppose billions, in the case of the Chinese.
Pinker creates an imaginary world in which family ties are
"biologically tenuous" because of the exponential decay of relatedness as one
goes back in time. But for a European, say, going back for a very long time
still means finding ancestors that were also from the European gene pool. And
it's a very different gene pool than the Chinese or Africans find when they look
into their past. And, as Salter's work implies, individual Europeans have a very
large genetic interest in furthering the numbers and influence of their groups,
just as other peoples do. This implies that ethnic and racial interests are
real, not illusory.
Secondly, Pinker gives an air of expertise when he
discusses the psychological mechanisms underlying kinship but he only includes
socialization mechanisms (growing up in the same household and seeing siblings
cared for by mother). Notably missing is any mention of J. Philippe Rushton's
Genetic Similarity Theory. This theory attempts to account not specifically for
perceptions of kinship, but rather for the general human tendency to assort with
genetically similar others.
The implication is that when there is a choice to be made whether in marriage, friendship, or other type of alliance, all things being equal, we are more likely to choose similar others as a way of enhancing the benefits of relationships and lessening the risks. Obviously, being of the same race is a very important basis of similarity. In a recent paper, I describe what I call implicit white communities: communities, such as NASCAR and country music fandom in the United States, where the vast majority of participants are white but not necessarily self-consciously so. That is, white people choose to be among people who are white like themselves, but they don’t necessarily think of their choice as resulting from a conscious desire to be part of a white community.
Pinker portrays appeals to wider kinship ties beyond the immediate family as little more than demagoguery, made possible by a variety of tricks, such as using the language of kinship (e.g., brotherhood, motherland). But the reality of racial and ethnic differences and the fact that we are drawn to people like ourselves means that appeals to kinship often have a firm basis in self-interest and psychological reality. Not for nothing the question "Is it good for the Jews?"
Finally, Pinker correctly calls attention to the problem that extended families present to modernization. As he notes, Iraq is a classic example of a society based on kinship ties cemented by first cousin marriage. Without using the terms, Pinker is pointing to the classic divide between individualist cultures and collectivist cultures. But what he doesn't point out is that the differences between these cultures may well be biological, reflecting natural selection in different environments. European individualism has its roots in a northern hunting ecology, while the collectivism of much of the rest of the world is rooted in prolonged evolution in environments that support group conflict.
Individualism is linked to a suite of traits that together form the
basis of Western modernization: the nuclear family, bilateral kinship patterns,
monogamy, moral universalism, civil societies based on trust and reputation
rather than kinship connections, relative lack of ethnocentrism and group
orientation, and science. Collectivist cultures typical of the Middle East,
China, India, and African cultures have the opposite suite of traits. Like Iraq,
they are are based on extended kinship and tribal relationships.
If we have learned anything by the disaster in Iraq, it is that it is not easy to change these patterns. It's ironic that, as Pinker notes, journalist and blogger extraordinaire Steve Sailer pointed out the collectivism of Iraqi society and its implications for social disintegration in post-invasion Iraq around the same time that neocon Bernard Lewis, the most widely respected academic expert on the Middle East and Arab culture, was crowing about the democratic potential of Arab societies.
At a time when Western peoples and culture are under massive assault via the mass immigration of peoples with very different family and cultural patterns, Pinker's assurances that resistance ultimately has no basis in science will certainly not help the cause of defense. But I rather doubt that he would be troubled by this. And it certainly will play well at Harvard.
July 30, 2007
Not having any young daughters I was quite unaware of the "wildly successful" Bratz dolls or the recent movie featuring them. ("A Good-Girl Make-Over for the Bratz," Los Angeles Times, July 30, 2007). The dolls are aimed at 4-8-year-old girls, with "dewy lips, fishnet stockings and barely-there miniskirts — a creep-out factor for a lot of moms. Earlier this year, a report from the American Psychological Assn. even mentioned the Bratz dolls by name and said 'it is worrisome when dolls designed specifically for 4- to 8-year-olds are associated with an objectified adult sexuality.' " So we have the cultural subversion theme going on: "ten-inch tall hoochie mamas" for little girls to play with. Director Sean McNamara's first reaction to the dolls is revealing: "These aren't cute dolls — they look like sluts." (Here's a collection from Google Images.)
But for the movie, they probably figured that the teenage girls as sluts theme would mean that the girls would actually have to act slutty rather than just look slutty. That would bring about an R-rating or worse, and therefore cut down on the profits. So the hoochie mama theme was downplayed in favor of a strong multicultural conflict between multi-race good guys versus "country club white" bad guys. The bad guys are led by "student-body president Meredith, who is platinum blond, affluent, haughty and in possession of both nefarious plans to rule the school and a pampered pooch named (ahem) Paris."
On the other hand, the Bratz "are the urban poly-hues of a Benetton ad": one "lily-white," one African-American, one Asian, and one Latino (played by the daughter of an Australian Jew and a Spanish Catholic). So there is a Jewish theme as well: "The loopy vision of a Jewish grandmother who, with no explanation, has a mariachi band strumming away and munching on bagels in her kitchen."
All of the non-white characters look about as white as possible while nevertheless retaining distinctive racial characteristics. This doubtless makes the characters more attractive to white girls who constitute the core audience for the movie. After all, it's natural to be attracted to those like yourself (part of the deep structure of Philippe Rushton's Genetic Similarity Theory)— even when the ingroup crosses racial lines. Having a dark-skinned Muslim character dressed in a Burkha would definitely ruin the aura.
The driving force behind Bratz is Avi Arad, an Israeli-American who is very big on diversity, at least for America: "The first thing I saw in them was diversity." ... "I really liked the idea that they had a Latino girl, an Asian girl, an African American girl and a lily-white kid. They show that your color is not going to set up your path in life. And I think that works because, among kids, it's becoming more and more of 'one world for a change.'"
The dolls and the movie are just the beginning. A Broadway musical and sequels to the movie will in due time be coming to theaters near you. Perhaps in the sequels they can continue with the "diversity is good — white without diversity is bad" theme, but maybe spice it up with some slutty behavior more in line with what the Bratz dolls are all about.
Hey Avi, how about a movie
aimed at Israeli kids? I've got the perfect plot. A Jewish girl from Israel, an
Israeli Arab, a Palestinian Muslim from the West Bank, and an Arab Christian do
battle against a stereotypically evil Jewish-Israeli girl. A religiously
fundamentalist West Bank settler who wants all Arabs removed from Israel and the
occupied territories would be perfect. Or we could play it safe and have the bad
guy be a Jewish girl who simply wants Israel to remain a Jewish state. Since
you're into physical stereotypes, the evil Jewish girl could have all the
stereotypical Jewish physical features—something right out of Der Sturmer, and
we could even do an Israeli version of the "Jewish American Princess" bit. I'm
telling you, Avi, this idea has legs. Have your people call me. We'll do
July 28, 2007
Following closely on the heels of news that Israel is considering a law allowing the Housing Agency to discriminate against Arabs in leasing land (see entry for July 21, 2007), the LA Times reports on the difficulties caused by the fact that control over marriage in Israel resides with the Orthodox rabbinate. This means that marriage is restricted to people who can prove Jewish descent through their mothers or who have undergone the grueling process of converting to Orthodox Judaism.. So Israelis with a Jewish father don't count, and even if you have a Jewish mother it may not be easy to prove it to the authorities. Documents must be authenticated, often at considerable cost. It is possible to go abroad and have a civil ceremony, but this too is costly.
This is not a
rare problem. Over 300,000 Israelis cannot be legally married, even though they
are eligible for the military draft.
One of the criticisms of my work is to argue that even if I am right about the extreme concern that traditional Jews had in racial purity, this surely does not apply today when there are very high rates of conversion and intermarriage. Consider the following:
To the extent that this is true at all, the argument is really about how to characterize Diaspora Judaism in certain Western countries. High levels of intermarriage do not occur in Israel or in other parts of the world. In fact, the article notes that each religious community in Israel has its own marriage laws. The Jewish state becomes a microcosm of traditional Middle Eastern societies and traditional Judaism itself: Different groups living among their own people and with their own cultural practices, walled off from other groups.
In the U.S., estimates of rates of intermarriage tend to be inflated because Orthodox Jews are undersampled while Southern, black, and poor Jews were oversampled. The best-known survey inflated the number of out-marrying Jews by including people who themselves were of mixed parentage and were not raised as Jews.
The vast majority of the intermarried and their children will eventually leave Judaism both because their descendents will be less committed to the Jewish community and because they are made to feel unwelcome in the Jewish community. Outreach efforts routinely overlook the children of intermarried couples. Thus, the issue is not so much about what Judaism is, as about whether there will be a decline in Jewish numbers in the long run.
There is a robust core of ethnically conscious Jews (fundamentalist, Orthodox, and Conservative)—at least 33% but probably more because these groups are undercounted probably for political reasons—for whom intermarriage is anathema. This group will retain their genetic integrity into the foreseeable future, and they are prone to high fertility levels.
The Jewish community has made a major effort to minimize intermarriage (see also Separation and Its Discontents, Ch. 9). This effort is one factor likely to discourage conversionary families and their descendents from remaining in the Jewish community. It is still very common for Jews to self-consciously assert the ethnic basis of Judaism. Charles Bronfman, a main sponsor of the $210 million "Birthright Israel" project which attempts to deepen the commitment of American Jews, stated, "You can live a perfectly decent life not being Jewish, but I think you're losing a lot—losing the kind of feeling you have when you know [that] throughout the world there are people who somehow or other have the same kind of DNA that you have."(Washington Post, Jan. 17, 2000). Even in Reform Judaism, it is common to think of Judaism as having a biological basis. And the fence mending has been particularly vigorous in the outer layers of the Jewish community. Recent guidelines for Reform Judaism emphasize traditional practices of conversion, such as circumcision, that are likely to minimize converts, and proselytism is explicitly rejected ("Reform Judaism Nears a Guide to Conversion.", p. A19, New York Times, June 27, 2001). It would appear that Conservative religious forms of Judaism will be the rule in the Diaspora and there will be a self-conscious ethnic aspect to Jewish religiosity.
There is no attempt by the organized Jewish community to simply convert non-Jews to Judaism. Quite the opposite. Every effort now is directed at mending the fences and preventing intermarriage. Orthodox conversion is a very grueling process, presumably designed to weed out all but the most motivated.
So far as I am aware, conversionary couples and their children do not have a leadership role within the Jewish community. I would be amazed if the ADL had significant number of Jews coming from intermarried families--certainly not people like Abe Foxman, Mortimer Zuckerman, Alan Dershowitz or the Jewish activists I am aware of. Again, the issue of conversion and its effects on Judaism is really a question about the future, not the present, and certainly not about the past.
put all this together, "the only democracy in the Middle East" and its
supporters in the U.S. don't seem very Western at all. Ethnic purity and
apartheid-like discrimination and separation from outgroups are the
July 24, 2007
One of the features of Jewish intellectual and political movements I noticed in my research is a strong tendency to claim the moral high ground (See Culture of Critique, passim). The neocons, of course, are no exception to this, and Jonah Goldberg's "In Iraq Liberals Flip on Genocide" (L. A. Times, July, 24, 2007) is a great example. It is now widely known that the neocons, including Goldberg, were the main force leading us into the war in Iraq and that the motivations of many of the principal neocons were firmly rooted in their ethnic ties to the interests of Israel. The public rationale for this disastrous policy was based on a whole series of lies about weapons of mass destruction and strong ties between Saddam Hussein and El Qaeda. It was also based on an illusory desire for democracy and Western-style social and political institutions on the part of the Iraqi people.
So what we have here is a huge moral abyss in which the ethnic interests of a narrow segment of the American population have resulted in a huge loss of many thousands of American and Iraqi lives as well as hundreds of billions of dollars of unnecessary expenditures. Goldberg nevertheless tries to seize the moral high ground by saying that those who want to leave Iraq are condemning the Iraqis to an ocean of bloodshed. Ergo, the U.S. has a moral obligation to remain in Iraq.
The problem with this from a moral perspective is it was well known prior to the invasion that Iraq was deeply divided along sectarian religious and ethnic lines, and that toppling Hussein might well unleash a nightmare of violence not only on the Iraqis but also the U.S. troops. (Click here for Vice President Dick Cheney's prescient 1994 video clearly stating all the reasons why invading Iraq would be a bad idea..) The idea that the invasion would lead to a society remotely resembling Western societies was a fundamental lie promoted by respected neocon academics like Middle East expert Bernard Lewis of Princeton. (IMO, Lewis should be a prime candidate for the Franz Boas Award for Using Academic Credentials to Advance an Ethnic Agenda. Close runner-up: Alan Dershowitz of Harvard for his multi-faceted activities in defense of Israel, but more on that another time.) And Israeli strategists have long proposed downsizing Arab regimes along ethnic and sectarian lines so that they are less powerful and pose less of a threat to Israel. See "Neoconservatism as a Jewish Movement."
So I can just see the denouement: Goldberg and his ilk will pose as morally pure defenders of continued U.S. presence in Iraq, and when that becomes politically or militarily untenable, they will wring their hands publicly, and condemn the liberals and anyone else who advocates withdrawal. But privately, they and the Israelis will be crying some very big crocodile tears.
July 26, 2007
In writing the previous blog on Jonah Goldberg, I read over an old column of his on why we shouldn't blame the Jews for the Iraq war. (Jews and the war. National Review Online, March 13, 2003). This is a really disingenuous piece. I say that because that's the only explanation for why someone with a presumably high IQ could write such nonsense. Of course, not all Jews were in favor of the war, or even a majority. But he seems to think that it's obviously a bad case of anti-Semitism to suppose that some Jews could have influenced the Bush Administration to invade Iraq because of their sense of Jewish interests and specifically their attachment to Israel. No need to go over the evidence that has struck quite a few people to conclude otherwise. To even entertain the thought that Jews "pull strings" is to cross the line. To be sure, Goldberg is more forthright than many, noting, for example, that indeed "it's perfectly fair to argue that some Jewish (and non-Jewish) conservatives overemphasize the importance of Israel." Thanks!!
But then he argues that "maybe instead of Richard Perle secretly receiving orders from Ariel Sharon, he might actually believe what he says. After all, if the 'Dark Prince' thinks it's in America's interest to risk American blood and treasure in defense of our Taiwanese or South Korean allies, is it so treasonous that he might think we should do it for our Israeli ones as well?"
The problem, of course, is that it's just about impossible to think that someone like Perle could possibly have an evenhanded, unbiased view of the relationship between Israeli and American interests. We're talking about someone who has been credibly charged with spying for Israel, who is on the editorial board of the Jerusalem Post, has worked for an Israeli defense technology company, is a close personal friend of Israeli ultra-hawk Ariel Sharon, and was a leading force behind the notorious "A Clean Break" report for an Israeli military think tank that advocated the removal of Saddam Hussein as being an important Israeli interest. Goldberg, of course, fails to include any of this information about Perle in his op-ed. It's truly amazing that such a person could ever be taken seriously in foreign policy circles in the U.S. — or that people like Goldberg could have influential positions in the mainstream media.
July 21, 2007
President Carter's book, Palestine: Peace or Apartheid, caused an uproar among the pro-Zionist media in the U.S. because the word 'apartheid' appeared in the title. David Horowitz (Jimmy Carter: Jew-Hater, Genocide-Enabler, Liar) was especially pained by Carter's description of the lives of the Palestinians living behind walled off areas and restrained in their movements, while modern roads connected the Jewish settlements. If this isn't apartheid, the word has lost it's meaning. But Carter was very careful to state that apartheid only characterized the occupied territories, not Israel proper. But we have long known that Jews and non-Jews do not have the same access to public services even in pre-1967 Israel, and Haaretz now reports that a law being considered in the Knesset would allow discrimination against non-Jews in leasing land through the Jewish Agency. The law would also allow the establishment of universities and other public institutions reserved only for Jews. This law would in effect overturn a Supreme Court decision prohibiting discrimination—a decision that was ignored in practice by local communities.
It will be interesting to see if the American Jewish community is motivated to take a leading role to protest this state of affairs, but we shouldn't hold our breath on that one. American Jews have a long history of advocating policies in the U.S. that are quite the opposite of Israeli policies within Israel. (Immigration comes to mind.) It is well-known that the American Jewish community played a major role in the civil rights movement in the U.S., but less well known that from the beginning in the early 20th century there was a a strong sense among many Zionists that Jews constitute a biological entity. Many prominent Zionists (e.g., Vladimir Jabotinsky and Arthur Ruppin) saw the establishment of Israel as a way to preserve ethnic purity among Jews and advance the interests of the Jewish people seen as a racial group (reviewed in Ch. 5 of Separation and Its Discontents; see also http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/776995.html).
It's abundantly clear that that is exactly how Israel is functioning. Indeed, the prime advocates of the proposed law (Uri Ariel, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ami Ayalon, Michael Eitan, Reuven Rivlin and Shalom Simhon) are the intellectual and political descendants of Jabotinsky. They are Jewish ethnonationalists who have been in the forefront of the settler movement and the erection of the apartheid society in the occupied territories. These practices certainly depart from the image of Israel as a democratic, Western society, but they fit well with a Jewish ethnonationalist agenda and, from my perspective, are yet another example of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy.
This is an absolutely outrageous example of "journalism" from the New York Sun. According to the article, the supporters of the excellent piece by Mearsheimer and Walt are listed as David Duke (= KKK = Nazi), the PLO, and "a senior member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization." Obviously a bad lot. On the other hand, the opponents include prominent ex-government officials, academics, and media people: Marvin Kalb, Dennis Ross, and Mort Zuckerman, and Daniel Pipes—all well-known members of the Israel Lobby. A previous article, titled David Duke Claims to be Vindicated by Harvard Dean, did the same thing, but the opponents in that one included a different set of Zionist operatives: Alan Dershowitz, Malcolm Hoenlein (executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations), Martin Peretz, Aaron Miller, Andrea Levin, and Morris Amitay. The main technique is to find fault with some quibble and thereby discredit the whole thing. The classic is the statement in the article that Daniel Pipes has offered a reward to anyone who can prove that he started Campus Watch at the behest of the Lobby. But M & W simply point to Pipes being a member of the Lobby—someone with a long record of pro-Israel activism (perhaps fanaticism is a better word in Pipes' case). Rather than debate the truth of this, Pipes interprets M & W's to imply some sort of secret organization giving Pipes his marching orders. But of course, this can't be proven, and is probably not true anyway. So the implication is that everything M&W say is tainted.
Not to be outdone, James Taranto picked up
the David Duke theme in his op-ed
piece in the Wall Street Journal. This piece does deal with
some of the actual arguments in M & W (although it leaves an awful lot out),
but Taranto just can't help tying it all together by emphasizing the Duke angle.
I guess the idea is that if you embed your arguments in the Duke stuff, maybe
people won't look too closely at the arguments. Think of Duke as a tool for
focusing the mind and simplifying the issues.
Too bad Hitler isn't still alive so the Sun and Taranto could find out the Fuhrer's attitude on this one. I guess we'll have to settle for the argumentum ad David Duke.
PS: Sept. 20, 2007: This type of attack continues. Mearsheimer and Walt gave a talk at UCLA on Sept. 19. A flyer distributed to audience members by "Stand With Us" has a page titled "Extremists Endorse 'The Israel Lobby.'" On it are listed David Duke, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's guidance council, Abdulmo'em Abulfotah, Hamas, and Mark Weber, director of the Institute for Historical Review. The first page sums up their critique: "Fails to Meet Academic Standards; Includes Factual Errors; Carries Anti-Semitic Overtones.
November 25, 2004
The conventional wisdom put forward by the punditocracy is that the Republicans won the election because of the importance given by voters to moral and religious values. Voting on the basis of cultural issues is nothing new of course. In fact, that’s the big story of Jewish voting where the old saying has it that Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans. Since the 1920s there has been a gap between Jewish voting behavior and their economic interests. This pattern was repeated on November 2 when an overwhelming 75% of Jewish voters voted for John Kerry. More Jews voted for Bush this time around (25% versus 19% in 2000), but the results were far less than the Republicans hoped.
Indeed, the vast majority of America’s Jews continue to vote for Democrats even as their neoconservative brethren have achieved a stranglehold on the foreign policy of the Bush administration and even as the organized Jewish community has played an important role in the success of this effort. Jews voted overwhelmingly for Kerry despite the strong pro-Republican bias of recent Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union and the defection of the majority of Orthodox Jews hoping for federal subsidies for Jewish education.
The strong vote for Kerry occurred despite the fact that the welfare of Israel is a deep concern for the vast majority of American Jews and President Bush is widely seen by Jews as the most pro-Israel and most pro-Jewish president in history. And they voted for Kerry despite the urgings of some liberal Democrat Jews like former New York mayor Ed Koch, and The New Republic editor Martin Peretz that a vote for Kerry would be bad for Israel. Peretz wrote in the L.A. Times (Oct. 17, 2004), “Like many American Jews, I was brought up to believe that if I pulled the Republican lever on the election machine my right hand would wither and, as the Psalmist says, my tongue would cleave to the roof of my mouth. . . . Now although there are many reasons one might want to vote for John F. Kerry, remembering Jerusalem — remembering to stand up for the state of Israel — is not among them.” Of course, Kerry promised to support Israel “100%” and actively courted the Jewish vote, so Jews may have believed that Israel was not about to go under if Kerry was elected. But in any case, these numbers place the mainstream secular Jewish voter pretty much in line with Black voters in their overwhelming support for the Democrats.
So if it’s not economics and it’s not Israel, what is the deep psychology that leads the great majority of American Jews to support the Democratic Party? In a nutshell, it has to do with cultural values that are the direct opposite of those that seem to be surfacing with ever greater clarity in the vast bulk of the land mass of the United States: The red states and counties. When the average Jewish voter thinks of Christian fundamentalism, their main emotions are fear and disdain. Nothing horrifies the mainstream Jewish voter more than the thought of Christian fundamentalists with their agenda of prayer in public schools, their commitment to traditional sexual mores (including opposition to abortion), and, most basically, their living in their homogeneous white communities and wanting to stay that way.
As argued in The Culture of Critique, the organized Jewish community has been the most important force favoring unrestricted immigration to the U.S. There are several reasons for this, the primary one being the belief that Jews are safer in an ethnically diverse, post-Christian America. As prominent neocon Elliott Abrams acknowledges, the mainstream Jewish community “clings to what is at bottom a dark vision of America, as a land permeated with anti-Semitism and always on the verge of anti-Semitic outbursts.” From this perspective, diversity and immigration means safety for American Jews: As Abrams notes, the result is that Jews have taken the lead in secularizing America.
This culture clash between Jews and the idea of a white, Christian America was described some time ago by Charles Silberman who noted that American Jews believe that “Jews are safe only in a society acceptant of a wide range of attitudes and behaviors, as well as a diversity of religious and ethnic groups. It is this belief, for example, not approval of homosexuality, that leads an overwhelming majority of American Jews to endorse ‘gay rights’ and to take a liberal stance on most other so-called ‘social’ issues.” American Jews continue to be on the left of this cultural divide, and it is this liberal stance on social issues that puts Jews firmly in favor of the “bluing” of America. And the Democratic Party is not about to change its attitudes unless it wants to alienate its Jewish constituency. As Marc Stern, assistant executive director of the American Jewish Congress, phrased it in a recent Forward article, "Most Jews are much more liberal than the rest of the population. On abortion, on homosexual marriage, on premarital sex, Jews are fundamentally different than everyone else except the most secular. There's nothing the Democrats can do to appeal to people who are religious without alienating that part of their base."
And it’s not likely that the Democratic Party would want to alienate its Jewish base. As political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg has pointed out, “Without Jews there isn’t much of a Democratic Party and [if they nominate a presidential candidate Jews don’t like] they’d better start saving their nickels and dimes because they’re not going to get as many Jewish dollars.” Indeed, it’s not just that Jews vote for the Democrats because of their vision of a multicultural, post, Christian, non-European America. The Democratic Party is fundamentally a Jewish party in the sense that Jews are absolutely necessary to funding and organizing the Democrats. Ten years ago Jews reportedly donated half of all the funds contributed to the Democratic Party, and it’s undoubtedly higher now, with several estimates in the 60% range. A very prominent Jewish donor to the Democrats has been George Soros who, in the words of Christine Iverson, Republican National Committee spokeswoman, “purchased the Democratic Party” by donating $27 million to pro-Democratic Party political organizations to oust President Bush. (Soros’ friend, insurance executive Peter Lewis, donated another $23 million.) Soros is also well known as a pro-immigration activist whose Emma Lazarus fund provides money for supporting legal immigrants to the U.S.
The confluence of Jewish cultural influence and money for liberal causes is, of course, Hollywood. Hollywood has been very good to the Democrats. The entertainment industry is the largest industry funding Democratic Party causes, with only 20% of its money going to Republicans. The big Jewish donors to the Democrats include Haim Saban who gave $7 million in one donation to the Democratic National Committee and $10 million in all during the 2002 election cycle. Saban hobnobs with John Kerry and he vacations with Bill Clinton, and he unabashedly uses his media empire to promote Israel. (Clinton, of course, has a long association with Jewish Hollywood, beginning when he was a virtually unknown governor of a backwater state who came to Hollywood, hat in hand, to solicit the support of Lew Wasserman. Wasserman, who died in 2002, was the last “king of Hollywood”—the only person a Democratic politician aspiring to be president needed behind him to tap into Hollywood money.) Another Hollywood mogul who donates lavishly to the Democratic Party causes is producer Steve Bing—$14 million in the most recent election cycle and another $8.7 million in the 2002 election cycle. Barbra Streisand, the bête noire of conservative talk radio, was for years the largest fundraiser for liberal causes in the U.S., and, as Eric Alter notes, “the fact is, most people [in Hollywood] agree with what she says, and she puts her money where her mouth is.” Alter’s tour of major Hollywood donors also includes David Geffen, who raised $20 million for Bill Clinton, Norman Lear, Rob Reiner, Stewart and Lynda Resnick (Sunkist foods), and supermarket magnate Ron Burkle. Besides the donors, there are also the activists like Laurie David (wife of Larry David and “the It Girl of Hollywood progressive politics”) and agents like Marge Tabankin (“the dean, or perhaps the den mother, of Hollywood political consultants”).
In the campaign, Kerry made the mistake of declaring at a movie celebrity fundraiser in New York that "every performer tonight . . . conveyed to you the heart and soul of our country." This played entirely into Bush’s hands: A constantly reiterated theme of Bush’s campaign was that Kerry claims that "the heart and soul of America is Hollywood, but I know it is really found right here in (fill in the blank)." A recent defector, actor Ron Silver, finds that "There's an incredibly unhealthy uniformity of opinion in Hollywood. When you're at a dinner party and the subject of the president comes up, it's just assumed that all 20 people are thinking, 'How are we going to get rid of this [jerk].' I can't think of any colleague in the entertainment community having a serious conversation with someone who's pro-life or a born-again Christian. There's just a real disconnect from the rest of the country" (L.A. Times, Nov. 16, 2004).
It should come as no surprise that ethnic Jews have a powerful influence in the Hollywood elite — far larger than any other identifiable group. In a survey performed in the 1980s, 60 percent of a representative sample of the movie elite were of Jewish background, and the list of major players in Hollywood’s political donation machine certainly does not indicate things are any different now. Michael Medved—himself a conservative Jewish critic of the liberal bias of the Hollywood media, characterizes the values of Hollywood as precisely opposite those of red-state America—nothing less than an all out attack on the traditional American family, patriotism, and traditional sexual mores. But the most obvious focus of attack is on the Christian religion, the most bedrock value of red-state America:
In the ongoing war on traditional values, the assault on organized faith represents the front to which the entertainment industry has most clearly committed itself. On no other issue do the perspectives of the show business elites and those of the public at large differ more dramatically. Time and again, the producers have gone out of their way to affront the religious sensibilities of ordinary Americans.
In his book Hollywood vs. America, Medved fails to find even one film made since the mid-1970s where Christianity is portrayed positively. Examples where Christianity is portrayed negatively abound, but most of the Hollywood elite was “quick to sneer” at the huge box office success Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. This means that Hollywood would rather leave money on the table than make movies that validate the beliefs of red state America (L.A. Times, Nov. 16, 2004).
Red state America has a strong attachment to small towns, but Hollywood routinely portrays small towns as filled with bigots and anti-Semites. Media commentator Ben Stein records the hostility of the media toward rural America:
The typical Hollywood writer ... is of an ethnic background from a large Eastern city — usually from Brooklyn [i.e., they have a Jewish background]. He grew up being taught that people in small towns hated him, were different from him, and were out to get him [i.e., small town people are anti-Semites]. As a result, when he gets the chance, he attacks the small town on television or the movies....
The television shows and movies are not telling it 'like it is'; instead they are giving us the point of view of a small and extremely powerful section of the American intellectual community — those who write for the mass visual media.... What is happening, as a consequence, is something unusual and remarkable. A national culture is making war upon a way of life that is still powerfully attractive and widely practiced in the same country.... Feelings of affection for small towns run deep in America, and small-town life is treasured by millions of people. But in the mass culture of the country, a hatred for the small town is spewed out on television screens and movie screens every day.... Television and the movies are America's folk culture, and they have nothing but contempt for the way of life of a very large part of the folk.... People are told that their culture is, at its root, sick, violent, and depraved, and this message gives them little confidence in the future of that culture. It also leads them to feel ashamed of their country and to believe that if their society is in decline, it deserves to be.
At the end of the day, I suppose that the real reason that red-state America voted for Bush was not because of Christian religious fervor but as an aspect of “identity politics” (see Chapter 16 of this volume: “Psychology and White Ethnocentrism”): They voted for Bush because he and his wife and daughters look, talk, and act like them and their families and friends. As one analyst noted, "I think their conservatism is born out of a feeling that Bush looks like a regular guy, and the Democrats are all snots and they are not addressing my concerns" (L.A. Times, Nov. 22, 2004). Birds of a feather really do flock together, as predicted by J. Philippe Rushton’s Genetic Similarity Theory: People are attracted to other people of their own ethnic group, prefer to live among them, and tend to be like them in just about every way imaginable, from similar attitudes to similar genes.
And a major aspect of their similarity is that they have the same moral and religious values. The white Protestant vote for Bush is at landslide proportions: 69% according to the exit polls for the 2002 Congressional elections, and a lofty 78% among Evangelical Protestants in the 2004 presidential race. An important new demographic category are white families with young children who are moving away from inner-tier, racially diverse suburbs that have been the main destinations for new immigrants. These white voters are people for whom “identification with the GOP has become a kind of cultural and social statement.” It is perhaps but a short step before these people will consciously identify and assert their ethnic interests as an important voting bloc in multiethnic, multicultural America. This is not a development that will be welcomed by the people who run and fund the Democratic Party.
But the good news for Hollywood’s elite and the Jewish community whose values they embody is that red state America will gradually lose its power because of immigration and the other cultural forces they so ardently support. Indeed, despite its mouthing the moral values of the people who elected them, the Bush Administration is determined to continue their displacement by not doing anything about massive legal immigration and pushing the a new amnesty proposal that would legalize millions of illegal immigrants and act as a beacon for yet millions more. Michael Moore, himself a leftist goy who shares the values of the Hollywood elite and the great majority of Jewish voters, came up with 17 reasons not to slit your wrists with the re-election of George Bush. One of them was “88% of Bush's support came from white voters. In 50 years, America will no longer have a white majority. Hey, 50 years isn't such a long time! If you're ten years old and reading this, your golden years will be truly golden and you will be well cared for in your old age.”
Actually I rather doubt that my children will be well cared for in a non-white America. It’s pretty obvious that the people Michael Moore hangs out with really hate everything traditional about the place, including its people.