Some unfinished business delayed by moving. Last week, I took Jeffrey Goldberg to task for claiming that Maureen Dowd was "peddling an old stereotype, that gentile leaders are dolts unable to resist the machinations and manipulations of clever and snake-like Jews." Jeffrey first responded by taking offense that I'd slandered him by implying he'd blogged on Rosh Hashana. My apologies if I was misunderstood. All I clumsily meant is that he was taking time out from celebrating the New Year to berate Maureen for something he even conjectures was inadvertent. I didn't even know that blogging is forbidden on Rosh Hashana.
In a later post, he fleshed out his actual disagreements:
Andrew neglects to characterize my criticism fairly — I wasn't complaining about Maureen's focus on Romney's association with neoconservatives, I was complaining about her use (however inadvertent) of an anti-Semitic stereotype. Andrew decided not to tell his readers about my actual objection. Not cool.
Also not true. I wrote: that Goldblog had decided to "consign yet another member of the thinking classes to the ranks of 'something much darker.'" I can see why this may be elliptical and so it is my fault for not being clearer – but it is a reference to Leon Wieseltier's unhinged rant against me as worse than an anti-Semite. But back to Goldblog:
And then there's the accusation that I'm the "would-be policeman" of Washington discussion on Israel.
I understand his motivation for making the charge — he doesn't like to be criticized by me for what I think are his wrongheaded observations about the Middle East — but policing? Really? There's no policing going on here — I often post my opinions about what other people are saying about the Middle East, and I'm often critical in these posts. What Andrew calls policing most other people call blogging. I would only note that, by Andrew's own definition, he "polices" discussions of homophobia, and, from my perspective, more power to him.
Of course I will occasionally note homophobia – but usually of the obvious, fanatical, religious kind, not parsing metaphors of fellow columnists for "dog-whistles" and "code". And I have a long record of exactly the same for anti-Semitism. But in general, I am more pro-freedom than anti-bigotry. I wrote an essay once called "What's So Bad About Hate?" for Pete's sake. I have also long opposed hate crimes law, have defended the Boy Scouts' and the Saint Patrick's Day Parade's right to discriminate against gays, and in Virtually Normal defended even workplace discrimination against gays in terms of human freedom.
I examined as disapassionately as I could the arguments of reparative therapy in Love Undetectable and have defended men like Larry Craig and even Ted Haggard as sad rather than wicked. I have long, relentlessly lambasted the main gay rights lobby, HRC, while Goldblog is always anti-anti-AIPAC, just as he is always anti-anti-settlements.
I have also published an anthology on marriage rights (now, like VN, on Kindle) that includes pieces by Stanley Kurtz, Maggie Gallagher, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Bennett, Hadley Arkes, and other marriage opponents. I gave Maggie a platform on this blog day after day to make her case, without any interference. I have debated her civilly many times. Let me just say that when Goldblog treats John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, Kenneth Waltz, Phil Weiss, or Daniel Larison in the same way I treat my opponents on the issue of marriage rights, I will agree that he is not a member of the thought-police. But here's an almost text-book case of policing discourse:
There's no doubt in mind that the term neocon is very often used as a dog-whistle by people who are signalling their distaste for Jews, or at least their distaste for Jews with political power. And there's no doubt in my mind that accusing Jews of puppet-mastering goyim is an ancient anti-Semitic trope. Combine them, and you're entering into nasty territory (which doesn't mean, of course, I think Maureen did it advertently).
Why do I say that "neocon" is often used as an anti-Semitic dog-whistle? Because anti-Semites of the hard left and the extreme right have long made the connection between Jews and neoconservatism hyper-explicit. In non-polite company, "neoconservatism" is openly synonymous with "traitorous Jew." In semi-polite company, where it is preferable to speak in deniable code, the connection between Jews and neoconservatism is signaled through dog whistles.
So we are not even allowed to use the term "neoconservative" any more without being under the threat of being called an anti-Semite? How very convenient as the next neoconservative war to stop non-existent WMDs in the Middle East approaches in earnest.