(In Professor of Anti-Semitism, published in our May 5th issue, Jacob Laksin discussed Professor's Kevin MacDonald's record of anti-Semitism. Below is MacDonald’s response, followed by Laksin’s rejoinder. -- The Editors)
KM : I have one comment on Laksin's rejoinder, in red typeface. The man really is quite shameless.
Laksin's False Charges
By Kevin MacDonald
Jacob Laksin’s critique exhibits three basic strategies: scream anti-Semitism and bigotry, engage in guilt by association and character assassination, and finally come up with an argument or two, mainly by rehashing the arguments of other people hostile to my work — arguments that are not at all central to what I suppose is the main focus of his ire — my book, The Culture of Critique. A more detailed reply is available at my website.
Charges of anti-Semitism are becoming increasingly common, even against authors of carefully argued, moderately toned work, such as Mearsheimer and Walt’s work on the Israel Lobby. Such charges serve to intimidate those who attempt to understand and call attention to Jewish power and influence, especially when combined with thinly veiled displeasure that my employer, California State University, has ignored “the question of why it considers the manufacture of stylized bigotry an appropriate avocation for a tenured scholar.” Such comments also frame the reaction of potential readers who know that they must be extremely cautious in how they discuss such work with friends and colleagues. Fear of being called an anti-Semite is probably the reason why academics feel they have to “tiptoe around” the Mearsheimer and Walt paper. We are increasingly approaching the sad situation where being labeled an anti-Semite is a badge of honor.
Laksin’s article contains a number of misquotes and quotes out of context. Most egregiously, I do not have empathy for Nazi genocide, and my point on Nazism being a mirror-image of Judaism refers only to socializing group members into accepting group goals, the importance of within-group cooperation in attaining these goals, and the well-documented perceptions of many anti-Semites that the ethnic cohesion of Jews was a trait worth emulating.
Laksin’s accusation of conspiracy mongering because of my writing on the neocons lacks credibility, especially since the work of Mearsheimer and Walt . As advertisers are well aware, it makes excellent psychological sense to have the spokespeople for any movement resemble the people they are trying to convince. Because neoconservative Jews constitute a tiny percentage of the electorate, they need to make alliances with non-Jews whose perceived interests dovetail with theirs. Non-Jews have a variety of reasons for being associated with Jewish movements, including career advancement, close personal relationships or admiration for individual Jews, and personal convictions.
Finally, I have responded to critiques of my work by historian Jaff Schatz, musicologist David Lieberman, and evolutionary psychologists John Tooby and Steven Pinker on my website.
What’s needed is to bring the entire discussion of Jewish influence out of the closet into the light of day, as it is with other ethnic groups and other lobbies. And if this ever comes about, it would be edifying for all concerned if it could be accomplished without all the invective and guilt by association.
MacDonald's Anti-Semitism Denial
By Jacob Laksin
It is more than a little puzzling that Kevin MacDonald should protest being labeled an anti-Semite. As I noted in my article, MacDonald openly admits that he seeks to depict Jews and Judaism in a negative light while willfully excluding contrary evidence. This approach cannot be confused with disinterested scholarship but it is the dictionary definition of anti-Semitism.
Another example is MacDonald’s claim, which he shamelessly insists on repeating, that senior figures in the Bush administration are somehow "spokespeople" for "neoconservative Jews". To point out the absurdity of this charge is to treat it as a plausible hypothesis rather than what it so plainly is, namely, a flight of anti-Semitic fantasy that could impress only someone predisposed to exaggerate Jewish influence and identify Jews, in defiance of all evidence, as the root of all, or at least most evil. Here again MacDonald fits the bill.
I leave it to readers to decide what it says about MacDonald that he finds in Judaism a convincing analogue to the genocidal Nazi mania that resulted in the deaths of 6 millions Jews. But his claims that I have misquoted him or otherwise misrepresented his views are without merit. In his book, A People That Shall Dwell Alone, MacDonald writes that Hitler’s hatred for the Jews "although clearly having a basis in reality, may well have been exaggerated…" (pg. 207) And this is the worst that MacDonald can bring himself to say about one of history’s most prolific Jew killers. In describing MacDonald’s position as "empathy for Nazi genocide," I was, if anything, too charitable.
KM: It's noteworthy that only quotation that Laksin bothers to defend is one I could not find at the time my rejoinder was published. But once again, his quotation is a complete distortion. This is the entire quote, from Footnote 25 of Chapter 5 of A People That Shall Dwell Alone: "There is no question that Hitler's perception that Jews and 'Aryans' were locked in an intense competition was central to his world view (Bracher 1970; Gordon 1984; see discussion in SAID [ch. 3]). These perceptions of economic competition and Jewish economic domination, although clearly having a basis in reality, may well have been exaggerated—a not uncommon aspect of anti‑Semitism and one that is highly compatible with an evolutionary perspective (see SAID, ch. 1)." Obviously, I was not talking about Hitler's murderous hatred for Jews but his perceptions of economic competition and domination. I have a more extended discussion of Hitler’s views on Jews in Chapter 5 of Separation and Its Discontents. The exaggeration of negative views of outgroups combined with some real elements is a well-known consequence of psychological mechanisms of social identity discussed in Chapter 1 of Separation and Its Discontents, but there is no way that I am rationalizing or condoning genocidal ideology.
Finally, I have no objection to an informed discussion of any ethnic group, Jewish or otherwise. But Kevin MacDonald, for reasons explained in my article, is not equal to the task. Moreover, in noting the plaudits his work has won from the likes of David Duke, I was not attempting to impose “guilt by association” but merely pointing out the obvious fact that MacDonald’s supposedly scholarly theories about Jews are identical to those espoused by run-of-the-mill anti-Semites. There is, however, one notable difference between David Duke and Kevin MacDonald. David Duke is not a tenured professor.