David Gelernter wrote:
It’s really East European Jews you mean.
Quite correct. I had almost inserted that qualifier myself. It’s impossible to read any history of the American Old Left without noticing the preponderance of Litvak, Galizianer, Ukrainian, and Polish family names.
I guess my underlying error here is that when somebody says “Ashkenazim” I tend to automatically think of shtetl country rather than Vienna or Berlin. I suspect this is a common tendency among goyim who know the word “Ashkenazim” at all. Blame “Fiddler on the Roof” for it. :-)
Nonetheless you are right, and it’s a matter of history: Jews played a disproportionately prominent role in pushing American intellectuals and universities to the Left. That this never created any sort of anti-Semitic backlash (or hasn’t so far) is one of the most extraordinary, noble facts in modern American history.
Now that you mention this, I wonder why it never did. My best guess is simply that the Holocaust put Jew-bashing so far beyond the pale for a generation after the war that anti-Semitic nativism couldn’t get any traction even when there were historical facts on the table to motivate it.
Today, American politics does have a still minor but troubling problem of anti-Semitism. Curiously, in view of those historical facts, it isn’t a right-wing phenomenon but a left-wing one. I’ve sometimes wondered if, among the many suicidally stupid things American leftists have done, driving away the Jews that have provided them with most of their intellectual firepower will be the one that finally drops them in the dustbin of history.
The dark side of Internet liberation slapped me in the face as I was researching these issues yesterday. If you google for “jews communism” the top hit will give you facts about the dominance of Eastern European Jews in the Old Left. They’ll even be true facts, or at least consistent with what I’ve gathered from respectable sources. The trouble is, you’ll find these true facts on Stormfront, a site run by evil neo-Nazi scum.
The most disturbing thing about this isn’t that the Internet has enabled Stormfront to peddle glossy lies as propaganda, but that it enables them to present unspeakable-in-polite-company truths in a tempting and tasty format—one which might just bait gullible people into buying their poisonous brew of hatred and racism.
Internet liberation gives more power to the bad guys as well as the good. That’s obvious. The subtler challenge here is that in an information-rich environment, even the quality of facts and argument used by evil scum rises. Neo-Nazis were easier to dismiss as sick jokes when they dealt entirely in obvious falsehoods.
This makes it more important than ever for people to be able to think critically and discriminate—not just to be able to catch lies and logical errors, but to notice even when truth and relatively sound argument are being gradually twisted to support an agenda that is neither true nor sound.
The top “jews communism” hit on Google should be a genuine and dispassionate scholarly study of the Eastern European Jewish Old Left dynasties, but it isn’t because in today’s academia you’re not allowed to go anywhere near that close to noticing that race matters. Before the Internet and search engines, neo-Nazis couldn’t really exploit that willful blindness effectively. Now they can.
The lesson here is that people of goodwill can’t allow any truth to be unspeakable any more, because on the Internet that kind of polite or politically correct suppression just hands a weapon to hatemongers.