Please Hate Israel More

they’re the same picture

Alt-right tropes have been percolating into populist conservatism for awhile now. Chief among these is an outsized opprobrium of Jews and Zionism as major sources of national and societal ills. As the 2020s progress and the boomers die off, this dime-store eschatology will only intensify and spread. And you know what? I can’t wait.

I love being hated. I’m a born contrarian. Despite what you may think, contrarianism is not negatory, but deeply affirmative. It’s quality control. Everything is a yin and a yang, and the superlative metaphysical precept which only the contrarian understands is not just that man is a herd animal given to dogma, cheap moralism, and reflexive conformity—to anything, really, but the agony of self-examination—but that the cost of this denial is always the apprehension of one-half of some fundamental polarity. So a contrarian is not an accuser, but a defender.

The alt-right, on the other hand, is full of brackish, self-righteous venom. Why? Because people are rotten, and when they suffer the effects of their rottenness, they blame others. This is why I love being hated; everything you accuse me of can be true, but at least I’m not you.

Please don’t misunderstand—my recent polemics may have given the wrong impression. I am emphatically not urging anyone to hush-up their sniveling about Israel. On the contrary, please, please keep it coming. I like my enemies ridiculous, and if you ever stop honking your red rubber nose I don’t know what I’ll do with myself. Five years ago, to be a vanguard edgelord I would’ve needed a fashy flop and a tiki torch; today, with reactionary clichés selling like Beatlemania, a half-kike who isn’t a weepy, self-execrating faggot suffices quite nicely as the stuff of teenybopper nightmares.

Chief among alt-right dilettantism’s apostles to the magapedes is the lithe and dilated carnival barker, Nick Fuentes, who this week emerged triumphant from a debate with an obscure boomercon attorney, hosted by Alex Jones, on the subject (what else?) of perfidious Israel. Who that is impressed by this can rightfully complain about boomers? The fruit nowadays is as rotten as the vegetables. If Sacha Baron Cohen and Jonathan Greenblatt were to sodomize them in a pizza parlor and delete their Twitter app, I’d fall down laughing.

you get what you fucking deserve

What does it mean, “America First”? It’s a spiteful, circuitous admission of worthlessness and defeat. It means, “why is no one defending me? Why can’t we have nice things? Where is my safe space to criticize your privilege? I’d like to please speak to a manager.” It is a syndrome of grown men who’ve only lately had the milk tit removed from their gibbering gobs.

And who is this American, who must be put first? What is an American? He is someone who would resent you if he had to lift a leg to step over your dying body on a hot sidewalk to get through the entrance of Panda Express. He’s a passive-aggressive spiritual carnie who loves his dog more than his next-door neighbor. Mountebanks like Fuentes out insisting he be catered to give no more of a shit about him than Lindsey Graham or Sean Hannity do.

America was toppling legitimate governments, occupying foreign lands and handing out no-bid contracts to crimson profiteers long before Israel existed. It uses its reserve currency to decimate the economies of whole hemispheres and suck the surplus value out of them like a marrow bone. No one in the alt-right has anything to say about this unless they can pretend to blame it on Jews (which is obviously easier than closing your web browser and zipping your fly.) “I can’t believe I’m doing this, I’m not that kind of girl.” Show me a radcon newly woke to ZOG, and I’ll show you a replicant who has no affirmative vision of what an “America First” foreign or military policy would look like. When the money changers are driven from the temple, the Groypers will follow them to Wal Mart.

all the hasbara we need

Boatman’s Bluff

Screen Shot 2020-07-09 at 12.35.36 AM

The year after college I was an ambulance EMT. I started in July, and it wasn’t until September that I was assigned a steady shift with a partner. Before that I just bounced around between paramedics, snoozing, reading, and writing this blog on my cellphone between inventory and 911 calls.

My first code blue was an OD, on my first day of work. We arrived on scene before fire to find a supine fat kid unresponsive on a back driveway, with a gaggle of bleary-eyed teenagers who’d obviously waited too long to call, and were real quiet and vague about what happened to their friend.

I attached the EKG nodes and started bagging while my paramedic trainer pounded on his chest. No cardio activity. Fire arrived and they started banging on his chest in a rotation. Still no activity. Then someone offered to bag while I pumped, and I went to town so hard on this kid that I cracked his sternum. The snapping sound was horrific, but the moment it happened the heart monitor gave a beep and started going.

The thing about it was, everything happened in under ten minutes, and although he died later that day, when we dropped him in the ER the kid was still alive—unconscious and intubated, but alive. It wasn’t until November that year that I actually witnessed a death.

Now, I’m an omega, a contrarian loner who hates rules and rarely strikes up a lasting friendship. I’m also fairly tall and large-framed. My first paramedic partner, Tommy Gonzales, was a medic second lieutenant in the National Guard, the kind of beta-simp who joins the service to compensate. He looked like Eugene Levy—gaunt, about 5’6″, and very uptight, but highly intelligent, which necessitated bending the rules as often as they got in the way of logic. I respected him for that.

One night just about dusk as I was driving Tommy around the Sonic drive-thru, we got coded to a trailer park. Again, we got there before fire. Again, the patient was supine, this time on a shabby carpet. It was a double-wide with fake wood paneling and a bunch of taxidermied elk heads on the walls. The guy must’ve been in his mid-sixties. He was shirtless and barefoot in a pair of jeans that hadn’t been washed in a coon’s age, skinny-fat like alcoholics often are, and covered in a half-inch layer of wooly grey body hair that went all the way up his neck to an untrimmed beard. The place was strewn with empty pint bottles and crushed-up Coors cans.

The family was all assembled—son, daughter, daughter-in-law, adult grandkid. They said they’d found him the way he appeared, unresponsive, not breathing. They thought he’d choked on a turkey sandwich he’d been eating lying down, and that he must’ve rolled off the couch onto the floor. That was what it looked like. I had to shave him to place the EKG nodes, then Tommy and I started doing our thing.

It was a long night. The monitor gave just enough activity after a minute of CPR that we had to keep going even though the guy’s chances were very slim. Fire got on scene and Tommy started trying to intubate, but the laryngoscope kept bringing up turkey sandwich. The firefighters and I rotated doing CPR while Tommy smeared gob after gob of partly digested food like pâté onto the inner lining of a red haz bag. Eventually we got the guy tubed. His cardio kept flopping and starting back up with just enough activity for hope.

At one point I stood up to stretch my legs. Across the room, the family was piled around a card table in the corner, faces downcast, their arms draped around one another, watching their patriarch recede into eternity past indifferent, knee-jerk bureaucracy—past us, with two forms of state-issued ID over his eyes. We were the boatmen.

Above the family on the wall was a framed and faded portrait of a proud and fearsome Marine with a flag half-draped across the background. That was the guy we were trying to save. The two of them couldn’t have looked more different. He wasn’t in his body anyway, yet he might not’ve been further away than that portrait. I felt this sudden sense of reverent foreboding in the pit of my stomach, that this man lying dead at my feet was witnessing his family’s despair, and screaming desperately from just out of reach of them.

After three hours, Tommy advised the family that things weren’t going to turn around. They nodded stoically. We called up to the hospital and signed the necessary forms. Then we packed up our equipment in haz bags and debriefed with the firefighters before leaving them to wait for the coroner.

That shift went long. We went back to base, cleaned up, and tried to get a nap, but the calls just kept coming. The 24-hour shift that had begun just before that code in the Sonic drive-thru turned into 35, 36, then 40, and topped out at 51.

At one point we dropped someone at the ER. It was about 9 in the morning. I was sitting in the driver’s seat of the ambulance waiting for Tommy to snag Graham crackers and juice boxes from inside at the nurse’s station, when all of a sudden I started sobbing maniacally, just huge choking sobs without any kind of buildup or anticipation whatsoever. It was so primal. There was no reflection, no social pressure (I was completely alone) and no reason to feel anything. I hadn’t known the guy, the Marine—I hadn’t known him. I’d run plenty of codes, seen lots of pitiable people in sorry states and felt bad for them, and I’d gone hours by then without it occurring to me that I’d been impacted at all. It was just a job, I was just exhausted, I just wanted to go home to my family, I just wanted a burrito. This is America—nobody has real feelings. I remember that I’ve had them, back when I was a kid, but I don’t even remember what real feelings feel like. It’s been six years since that 911 call and in all that time I haven’t experienced a comparably spontaneous and authentic emotion. And yet it happened, in spite of every social pressure militating against it.

It’s strange how things incubate in us when we thought they didn’t matter, or that we’d forgotten them. Sometimes when I discipline our kids, my wife gets on me and says, “This isn’t the army, you know!” On the one hand, when I hear this it sounds odd, because the army is the furthest thing from my memory and my motivations. On the other hand, my first reaction is to feel she’s being unreasonable, because life is rough, and it’s better they learn it first from their dad. But what she sees me doing that I can’t see myself is sublimating an experience that’s constantly with me in ways I’m almost never aware of, forgotten humiliations and death by a thousand cuts, and spinning the wheels of borrowed time.

A shopping excursion

Screen Shot 2020-06-01 at 8.51.54 AM

this weimerican life

I keep having these dreams where I can’t get out of the room. Some grim dinner party or shabby hotel cafeteria where I’m exposed somehow to a whole gallery of faces I can’t quite make out. Where I’m stuck with someone from my past or present who wants something I can’t give, or knows something I’d rather they didn’t. Sometimes I’m able to escape, but then can’t seem to find my way out of the building—the trap just expands, until at some point I’m hit by the dread realization that no matter what they look like, each person I encounter is exactly the same on the inside.

Sometimes it’s a labyrinthine airport, incredibly futuristic, where I keep following bad directions or encountering incomprehensible bureaucratic obstacles requiring me to traipse back and forth between ticket counters and security checkpoints and terminals. I can never seem to make my flight, yet it’s always imminent, and panic builds until finally I wake up grinding my teeth and repeating incomprehensible nonsense to myself in a low whisper until well after I’ve had my coffee, like I got high the night before and it still hasn’t worn off.

Other times I’ve committed a crime of passion. As I begin to realize what I’ve done, my surroundings become dim, narrow, subterranean. Acquaintances and passersby all take on a uniform, alien quality. I feel I have to hide from them as I go about planning how to cover my tracks, but I can’t get out of public and they keep questioning me and I keep piling lie upon lie until I’m all out of lies and no longer believe myself.

Lana wanted to have a date—clothes shopping at the mall. It’s not how I would choose to spend a couple hours away from the kids, and she knows it. The clock slows; my blood congeals. I’d resist, but I’ve got to buy my next reprieve. We’re living on borrowed time, so why not live on a little more borrowed money?

On the way, we discuss what to buy. What the kids may like. Then a hopeful note underlying the subject of job prospects turns to debts, bills. Once that subject is wandered into, we fall silent. Her phone comes out of her purse. Like having to eat a failed attempt at some new recipe, I’ve ruined our afternoon, but still have to see it through.

The unspoken tension ratchets up as we near the mall. I fight traffic on the proximate boulevards and join a rotating queue of drivers, presumably all grimacing and overweight, as we circulate the packed rows of parking spaces, now stopping as some optimistic rube slams his breaks behind a pair of glowing tail lights, now proceeding again, now stopping, all in a row—trapped together, but unknown to one another. Some ham-faced slob in a ginormous pickup nearly backs into us as he jerkingly vacates a parking spot without looking over his disgusting shoulder. Honking, shouting, shaking his fist, he ejaculates his soul’s phonetically memorized plaque and drives off in a cloud of diesel exhaust. In my own grey-green, calcified heart I blame Lana, realizing all this could’ve been avoided. She feels it, and lowers her face into the refuge of the pillar of blue light emanating from her stupid smartphone, which may be the only thing keeping us married.

The mall is filled with wretched refuse and flooded via loudspeaker with the vacant crooning of some new ethnically ambiguous slag of the month. Huge families of eggplant shaped Mexicans block our progress as they amble along at a snail’s pace, shoulder-to-shoulder across the width of the walkways, stuffing their faces as they go, from carafes of nachos, fries and mega-sized slushies all teetering precariously atop the canopies and cupholders of baby strollers occupied for some strange reason by five, six and seven-year olds. I nearly trip over a morbidly obese preteen in ankle shorts and a Nike shirt that reads, “Skilled in Every Position” when the family’s uppity little garden-gnome patriarch casts a threatening glance, holding up his cartoonishly oversized pant-waist with one hand like he’s somewhere on a prison yard.

Lana peruses the racks of a store. We stand in the massive checkout line with her items. A couple of shameless, mercenary orientals are in front, delaying everybody’s day to interminability, yapping scarcely comprehensible harangues at indifferent teenage cashiers in an attempt to find some grift in a system that permits no haggling otherwise.

Some ghastly, freckled, androgynous high-yellow in a denim vest and fedora is staring out of a wall-length advertisement with a quote emblazoned along his misshapen flank: “sometimes, you just gotta do you.” Somewhere in a stock photo lean-in high in a glass tower some shrewd hypnotist wants you to think of these pontoon-lipped vacancies like a quotable Confucius or St. Matthew. It seems with each passing day that being white and remotely genteel in America is more and more like being a ruined old noble in a Chekhov play. We’re living through this long night, and we can’t bring ourselves to turn the lights out, but we’ve had too much time to ruminate and it isn’t getting us anywhere.

Lest you find all this bigoted—which it is—allow me the caveat that I consider these plague rats the real Americans. Their ready, unreflecting belief in magic, their vulgar fixation on commerce and utter abandonment of traditional scruples in the hubbub and banal, intermittent terror of this strange new land—as new to me today as it was to them last week—make them far worthier to be called Americans than all the brokeback whites longing for cowboy chivalry as they use their bottom incisors to greedily scrape the Dorito dust of this neurasthenic consumerist birdcage off the tips of their fat, diabetic fingers.

We pass the food court, the metastasis of sickening flesh in sweat pants with little cups of frozen sugar and cardboard palettes overflowing with cheap sauces. Then we make our way into another one of the undifferentiated neon storefronts so Lana can look for jeans. Somewhere over the rainbow, beyond every sales display and stack of merchandise lies the smoke-shrouded neo-Dickensian charnel house it all emanates from, the ant-farms and blood-sausage of Christmas present, and corrugated metal dwellings stacked along alleys strewn with plastic rubbish, flowing with human excrement, and interminable fields of shipping crates transiting sweltering ports. It’s only mid-July, but in my head I hear jingle bells. I start to wonder whether we’ll ever get away from this, whether we’ll ever be self-sufficient and free, or will we always just be employees and consumers and patients, avatars and reflections, bar-coded replicants, objects to whom all meaning in life is provided, administered, and presented like food to a capricious toddler. The wax paper burger wrapper wafting along the ground that fifteen hundred people just stepped over, the cigarette butts floating in the urinal, the fluorescent lights overhead, the LED screens in our palms, the model on the wall poster like a whore in a red-light district window, her snide smile doubtless masking every private misery, and the thousand hidden thoughts or inarticulate nagging doubts between hand-holding couples with lowered expectations, their acne, their cankles, their flat feet, fat asses, and venal cravings—the yawning gap between what you own and what you owe, and the sense of resignation to a trap so thorough we dream what it feeds us and conceptualize nature itself like a kind of unknowable death.

This is the cross. These are the nails.

“I’m so fat.” She’s in front of the mirror in the narrow corridor across from her changing room.

The worst part of marriage is the lying. Falling in love is this perfect kind of exposure that relieves you of everything you thought you needed to hide, and you reciprocate this to your lover and she accepts it with tender ecstacy and you’re free and she’s free and the world is light and song. But marriage builds lie upon lie, just in order to function. There are never enough sorries. There are never enough I love you’s.

“You look great, babe.” And she does.

Deconstructing Judaism, Pt. IV

Screen Shot 2018-10-22 at 8.58.11 PM

Assyrians, Donny

(….Part I here….)

One October almost a decade ago, I was enrolled for the fall semester in my California hometown community college when an Israeli army pal flew in to visit. He spoke almost no English, and it was a great opportunity to translate and see my native country through alien eyes. The morning he arrived, I showed him around San Francisco. It was during the Jewish high holidays, and I had taken the week off school. Our plan was to drive to Lake Tahoe the next morning.

Toward mid-afternoon we came to the Palace of the Legion of Honor (when I show you San Francisco, I do it right.) The museum is on a hill sloping sharply down from the plateau of a cliffside that looks north across the Golden Gate toward Marin. The bottom floor is partially subterranean, but white-walled, high-ceilinged and well lit. As you exit east-to-west along the south side, there’s a long hallway leading past the gift shop and the cafeteria. My friend and I slowed to peruse the contents of the glass cases along the south wall, when a number of ancient Assyrian artifacts caught our eyes.

“Assyrians!” my friend exclaimed.

“Those bastards!” I chimed in.

Well, about a week later I was in World Civ class (Honors World Civ, if you must know.) The instructor, a charismatic, Jesuit-educated old historian with a wry sense of humor, who knew about my Israeli army sojourn, was lecturing about the Bronze Age Levant. When he came to the Assyrian sacking of Jerusalem in 701 BC, he paused, lowered his glasses down his nose a bit, and cast a mischievous glance in my direction. “I don’t want to inflame any tensions here,” he quipped. “I know Sam’s still mad at the Assyrians.” What could I say? He’d busted me.

My old father is a small-town doctor, raised as one of a few dozen Jews at a time when the town was overwhelmingly WASP. He’s totally irreligious and apolitical. Yet, not long ago, he told me about a Lutheran minister who’d been in to see him as a patient. “I asked the guy why Martin Luther didn’t like the Jews,” he told me. Awkward. What kind of madhouse would the world be if everyone had memories this long?

As it turns out, we have some idea. Yoav Shamir’s 2009 documentary, Defamation, examines official Jewry’s exploitation of anti-semitism for political gain. Andy Nowicki reviewed the film for the original Alternative Right:

[T]he most powerful segment of the film involves a group of Israeli teenagers who are flown to Auschwitz on a field trip. The kids are familiar adolescent characters: rowdy, rambunctious, immature, emotional, prone to gossip and mischief, at times sweetly wide-eyed in their innocence. They are both annoying and likable simultaneously, as teenagers can be. In any case, this group is in no mood to have their consciousness raised during their exciting trip together: much to the consternation of their adult chaperones, they just want to have fun. 

Over the course of the trip, however, these kids are repeatedly bludgeoned with the message: You are Jews and the world hates you; you must in turn hate and fear the world if you hope to survive! Their faces are pushed into the gruesome tales of the events that took place in the notorious camp, and at night their handlers tell them stories of how the present-day country of Poland is still rife with neo-Nazi violence. A harmless comment to some members of the group uttered by an old Polish man is interpreted as viciously anti-Semitic; Shamir tries to correct their misconception, but to no avail; they have been instructed how to perceive reality, and won’t be dissuaded.

The kids, being hedonistic at heart, do manage to put up some resistance to the relentless stream of emotionally compelling propaganda being pumped into their ears, but they can only hold out for so long. Near the end of the trip, a lovely young Jewess breaks down and tells Shamir that it has finally happened: she has learned to “hate” her enemies; the implication is clear that she has come to view the Palestinians and Arabs as cut from the same cloth as the Nazis. 

This scene has a viscerally searing quality, similar in feel to Orwell’s account of his hero Winston Smith succumbing to the horrific manipulations of the Ministry of Love and learning to embrace the pernicious ruling ideology of Oceania. The corruption of innocence portrayed here is simply breathtaking, and heartbreaking to behold.

Who can fail to detect the empathy in Nowicki’s recounting of this little incident? I know all about these stories. I was nursed on precisely this kind of pathos and spite throughout my childhood, and adolescence, and as a young adult in Israel. The problem is that, because I am half-Jewish, this fear and loathing that Judaism traffics in is directed, in part, against a part of myself.

The perspective of this series is one that will be difficult for many Jews to accept or even follow. I’ve tried to raise a mirror to Judaism—not just to the frummies, or the liberals, or the Zionists, but to Judaism and Jewishness fundamentally, and what I see reflected back is not entirely flattering. As Nowicki puts it, channelling the filmmaker, Shamir,

Hating those one takes to be one’s enemies and constantly fearing the worst from them may in fact be a self-fulfilling prophecy, bringing out the worst in everyone, oneself and one’s enemies alike. If Jews want to thrive and inspire goodwill from others, Shamir appears to be saying, they should eschew such a spurious mindset, and not dwell so much on bad things that were done to them in the past.

But what kind of Judaism would that be?

Deconstructing Judaism, Pt. III

Screen Shot 2018-10-26 at 7.57.31 PM

“Seen from the outside, Israel still comports itself like an adolescent: consumed by a brittle confidence in its own uniqueness; certain that no one ‘understands’ it and everyone is ‘against’ it; full of wounded self-esteem, quick to take offense and quick to give it. Like many adolescents Israel is convinced—and makes a point of aggressively and repeatedly asserting—that it can do as it wishes, that its actions carry no consequences and that it is immortal.”  —Tony Judt, Ha’aretz (2006)

I have identified here as the sine qua non of Judaism the belief that the Jewish people are congenitally more special, intelligent, persevering and misunderstood than all other peoples, with a special destiny to be vindicated before the rest of mankind. Let’s test this thesis against some possible alternatives:

(1) The essence of Judaism is faith. It is doubtful whether anyone really believes this. Orthodox Judaism mandates faith, but it defines who is a Jew biologically, and there are many more irreligious Jews than there are religious ones. One could believe all thirteen Pillars of Faith and not be Jewish, and one could be Jewish without believing them. So we can dispense with this hypothesis.

(2) The essence of Judaism is Torah law. Certainly this is what orthodox Jews believe, but it’s really just no true scotsman, because Jewishness is many things besides just Torah observance, and you could observe no Torah laws and still be Jewish even according to the orthodox.

(3) The essence of Judaism is nationalism. Nationalism may be necessary to Jewishness, but if the essence of Jewishness is to defend itself, this begs the question of what values are being defended by Jewish nationalism. So nationalism cannot be the essence of Judaism.

(4) The essence of Judaism is an ethical system or attitude. Though there are Jewish ethics, it would be a stretch to say that Judaism’s ethical admonishments are essential, for if you can be a Jew without observing halakha, how can observing anything in Pirke Avot be considered essential to Judaism?

In fact, in the modern era, flagrant violation of both derech eretz and halakha, not only as a matter of personal foibles but as a matter of personal identity, is no bar to Jewishness affirmed by secular Jewish culture and at last not denied by religious Judaism. For example, comedienne Sarah Silverman, pornographer Al Goldstein, and New York LGBT synagogue Beit Simchat Torah would horrify the Hasmoneans, or the sages of Pirke Avot. Yet Goldstein identified strongly as Jewish, as does Silverman, and Beit Simchat Torah is literally a synagogue, with a frum rabbi. The demographically beleaguered State of Israel would grant citizenship to every one of its genetically dead-end members, with a three-year tax holiday, free healthcare, and $15K in cash assistance almost immediately upon arrival, regardless of need, simply because they meet its biological definition of “Jewish.” Should they wish to become parents with a gay partner—a hillul hashem if ever there was one—the Jewish State will go to great lengths to ensure that they can. So no—neither law (halakha) nor ethics (derech eretz) by themselves make up the essence of Judaism.

(5) The essence of Judaism is tikkun olam. While orthodox Judaism indeed views the performance of mitzvot as inherently leading toward a “healed world” (tikkun olam), this is perhaps more quantitative than qualitative. In any case, for most modern Jews, tikkun olam actually functions as a half-assed secular substitute for strict religious observance, i.e., simply “being a good person.” But that is arbitrary, and has no necessary connection to Judaism.

So we’re back where we started: the sine qua non of Judaism is the belief that the Jewish people are congenitally more special, intelligent, persevering and misunderstood than all other peoples, with a special destiny to be vindicated before the rest of mankind. This narrative core transcends virtually all religious and political differences among Jews. It isn’t just a religion, because faith in God is at best only ancillary to it. Yet it is something more than just an ethnic identity.

In the next installment, I shall say why I think this is tragic. I will then follow up with a fifth installment where I say what I think its virtues are, and why it is (or can be) something noble.

(…..Part IV here…..)

Deconstructing Judaism, Pt. II

Screen Shot 2018-10-20 at 9.11.19 PM

Leo Strauss, in his noted 1962 lecture, “Why We Remain Jews,” concluded that the purpose of the Jews is to prove that there’s no salvation.

Have you ever received unsolicited advice from an embittered elder about why some ambition or endeavor of yours is futile, “don’t get your hopes up,” “don’t quit your day job,” etc.? That’s exactly what Strauss was saying. Our religion has proven disappointing, so yours must be as well. You’re just too stupid to realize it. “Why We Remain Jews” indulges a lot of maudlin high self-regard, but at bottom it’s an endorsement of total nihilism.

Not long ago, TED-talk charlatan—I mean, “public intellectual”—Douglas Rushkoff expanded on Strauss’s concept:

The thing that makes Judaism dangerous to everybody, to every race, to every nation, to every idea, is that we smash things that aren’t true, we don’t believe in the boundaries of nation-state, we don’t believe in the ideas of these individual gods that protect individual groups of people; these are all artificial constructions and Judaism really teaches us how to see that. In a sense our detractors have us right, in that we are a corrosive force, we’re breaking down the false gods of all nations and all people because they’re not real and that’s very upsetting to people.

We are nihilists, Lebowski. We suck all the enchantment out of the world and replace it with data. Leaving aside Rushkoff’s gibbering self-flattery and falsehood (Judaism “doesn’t believe in nation states” or in “gods who protect individual groups of people“?), the question arises whether, from this perspective, there is anything Jews do believe?

Well, how different is Rushkoff’s thesis from ours? Is he not agreeing that Judaism entails being congenitally more special, intelligent, persevering and misunderstood than all other peoples, with a special destiny to be vindicated before all mankind? Of course, as a good progressive, Rushkoff might not say that this is “congenital,” but if it isn’t, then we don’t have Judaism, we just have neoliberalism and granola. Irreligious Judaism simply cannot exist without the surreptitious sacralizing of congenital Jewish qualities.

But this is quite odd. On the one hand, we have Judaism, the ancient religion: insular, xenophobic, theistical. On the other, we have “Judaism”: liberal, cosmopolitan, atheistic. The rabbis (for the most part) aren’t excommunicating the atheists, and the Zionists approve of both sides. All seem to agree about little else, except that Jewishness makes us more special, intelligent, persevering and misunderstood than all other peoples, with a special destiny to be vindicated before all mankind.

What’s going on here?

(…..Part III here…..)

Deconstructing Judaism, Pt. I

Judaism is a lyrical trove. It embodies mournful steadfastness, defiant pluck, and impervious amour propre. But it is also an agonized victimology. Even the historical premise of Judaism, i.e., faith in an immanent, moral God, is quite secondary to how Judaism actually functions, its role in the world, and the way its adherents construct meaning.

A disclaimer before I continue: what follows is an introspection. People are people, no culture is perfect, and those of us who have the brains have the duty of self-examination. So none of the very critical things I’m about to say should be taken as precluding positive feelings toward yiddishkeit or denying that it entails many great and worthy characteristics. But I digress.

So: how does Judaism actually function? What is its role in the world, and just how do its constituents construct meaning? Can Judaism’s many disparate tendencies and factions be shown to have something fundamental in common? And is that something worthwhile, or pernicious?

I won’t belabor the build-up. In my fairly large experience of the subject, Judaism’s basic narrative structure is that the Jews are the elect of God or of history—congenitally more special, intelligent, persevering and misunderstood than all other peoples, with a special destiny to be vindicated before the rest of mankind, either (1) religiously, in a coming messianic age; (2) historically, over the linear course of history, or (3) in daily life and society, as sagely sorts with a penchant for overcoming long odds. Every (yes, every) disparate form of Jewish identity, whether secular, religious, Zionist, leftist, etc., is characterized by this basic narrative structure. Even Jewish self-hatred just turns it all inside out. I know Jews who are adamant in their apostasy and anti-Zionism, who ostentatiously adopt eastern spirituality or granola radicalism or some God-awful fetish for indigenous people. On the surface this appears to be alienation or self-loathing, but you’ll notice that these types never truly walk away from Jewish identity. Like a psych major with daddy issues, when it suits them they’re more likely to emphasize the importance of Jewishness to their identity and beliefs. It’s a very strange thing.

Now, the reality of human psychology is that any enduring group identity will involve mythos, conceit, xenophobia, perhaps inferiority complex. But has any people taken this as far as the Jews? Mark Twain didn’t think so:

The Egyptians, the Babylonians and the Persians rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greeks and Romans followed and made a vast noise, and they were gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, and have vanished. The Jew saw them all, survived them all, and is now what he always was… All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains.

What Twain has given us is a photo negative of the thesis I’ve put forward here. But while it speaks to certain virtues, e.g., perseverance and religiosity, it is also a testimony to the sustaining power of piss and vinegar, because so much of Jewish collective memory is an accounting of wrongs done to us by others. In daily life we rightly avoid those who tend to snivel and castigate fortune. A great deal of Jewish pride since emancipation has been based around living down stereotypes, but if the stereotypes have no basis, then what could there possibly be to live down?

(…..Part II here…..)

How to Respond to Microaggressions

I come from a town where the locals can be a bit territorial.

In my mid-twenties, I went home and decided to finish college. Throughout this period, I moved around a lot between shared quarters of various kinds. At one point, I rented a backyard bungalow from a divorcee with two school-age kids.

Jenna was a petite blond in her early forties whose ex-husband was a schoolteacher. She took good care of herself. Apparently, it had occurred to her rather late that her sexual power was never fully realized, so she rebelled against this weak-chinned fellow to live the independent life of her dreams, in his house, on half his salary, with some strange renter sharing a bathroom with her poor kids—though I wasn’t around much, and it was only a two-month sublet anyway.

She devoted herself to jiu-jitsu, and would invite the whole staff of Brazilian instructors and other students over for wild parties. She had turned her living room into a salon, and whenever I got back from campus there’d be a gaggle of gibbering yentas all getting their hair and nails done. And she seemed to be dating quite a bit, with numerous types of guys. There was an uptight, white attorney who’d come for dinners after work in a suit. One of the Brazilians was definitely getting in there. Also, a high school classmate of mine who played bass for a local fixture rock-reggae band. And a couple of times I noticed a short-statured but muscular, intense looking black dude.

I was in very good shape back then. I had a weight set and a tower with dip handles and a pull-up bar, and in the afternoons I would lift in the backyard. It was springtime. One day while I was working out, I came through the back porch to the kitchen for some water. No one was home, so I had my shirt off. Just as I finished washing my glass and putting it on the dishrack, Jenna came in with this black fellow. Like me, he was shirtless, in basketball shorts. I was feeling friendly and self-satisfied. I greeted the two of them warmly and chatted with her a bit, but I could sense him sizing me up as competition.

When you’re from a place, you can just tell who’s local and who isn’t. Black people are no exception; in my town, I knew all of them, and he wasn’t one of the ones I knew. On the other hand, a part of me despises not just provincialism, but territoriality where no territory has really been earned. Out of both a cosmopolitan impulse and a certain penitence over my past, teenage life of petty robbery, I liked to be open and cordial to transplants, tourists, and students. One can learn a lot in this manner, without making any real compromises. So I extended my hand and introduced myself to this guy. He seemed a bit on edge, which was understandable. I assume it’s not pleasant to be brought home by a woman, only to encounter a shirtless, sweating bodybuilder when you arrive there. Immediately after learning the man’s name and telling him mine, I asked where he was from. He wasn’t from there, after all.

My question pushed him over the edge. He glared at me with intense hostility. “What do you mean, ‘where am I from?’” White people normally like to retreat when put in such a position. Whether they’re intimidated, or simply keeping their powder dry, the aggressor makes of it what he will. But not only was I not intimidated; I was in a good mood. And it would be incorrect to say that I wasn’t going to let my good mood be dampened, because I was in such a good mood that that would have been impossible. In other words, it was beyond my control. I felt great about myself. It just wasn’t a matter of what I was going to let or not let happen.

“What do I mean, ‘where are you from?’” I smiled calmly, but with a look indicating that I regarded the question as ridiculous.  “I guess I mean, where are you from?” I uttered this last part with slight but zesty sarcasm, making direct eye contact all the while. This whole thing was going to go my way. I could feel it.

“Yeah, what’s the problem?” Jenna asked him. “I don’t get it.” If he was mad before, now he was positively steaming. It was no longer a matter of whether I wanted to offend him, but of how far he wanted to take his own counter-productive bullshit. He was the houseguest of a loose woman, after all. Such encounters should be carefree. And although he was clearly in good shape, I did not look like anybody he wanted to fight.

I went back out and resumed my weight routine. Though I couldn’t make out the words, they were bickering in the kitchen—he in a strained, frustrated tone and she in a calmer, uncomprehending one. Frankly, I understood exactly what he objected to about my question. She, however, did not. He was trying to explain it to her, and having no success. By and by, the two of them came out back with a couple of beers. Her backyard was pretty big, so this wasn’t an imposition on my workout. She had a koi pond with a little bench. I was on my back in the grass, doing chest presses.

The two of them sat down. He was visibly perturbed. I stood up and started a set of curls. After what appeared to be some deliberation, he craned his neck my direction. “Hey Sam.” The use of my name signaled a painful concession to civilized mores. “How old are you man?” This was his attempt to shift gears from intimidation to condescension, but the fact that he was older than me only made things worse for him. Try as he might to tone it down, there was considerable edge in his voice. Not even bothering to turn my head his direction, I continued my set of curls. “It doesn’t make a difference and it’s none of your concern.” This was a devastating blow. Under the circumstances, it wasn’t something Jenna could hold against me. I hadn’t started anything with him and I didn’t need to reciprocate his softening up.

“You know, I don’t think you understand what it means when you say certain things to people.” He sounded more agitated this time. It was an impotent threat wrapped in an unsolicited lesson. “I don’t give a fuck what your issue is” I snapped back. “It’s your problem.” I got down and started a set of push ups. When I got back up, they were gone. Jenna later apologized profusely. She told me they’d argued more in the house, and she eventually kicked him out. It was a beautiful little triumph over the forces of arrogance and entitlement. Later that summer, I transferred to a university out of state, and I haven’t been back since.

Fascism is Vaginal

technically, it’s a perversion

The active, aggressive, over-reaching man is still a hundred paces nearer to justice than the man who reacts; he simply does not need to place a false and prejudiced interpretation on the object of his attention, like the man who reacts does, has to do.” Nietzsche, Genealogy (1887)

“Fascism” is an epithet that gets thrown around a lot. But what distinguishes fascism from conservatism, militarism, or machismo? The alt-right (today’s fascism) is a mirror image of the woke/SJW phenomenon. But while the SJW phenomenon has to do with resentment stemming inevitably from congenital or immutable misfortunes, the alt-right stems from missed decisions and waylaid opportunities—no one who is independently accomplished has any need for it except, perhaps, as a source of entertainment. In other words, while wokeness is a genuine envy and hatred of others, the alt-right is a sublimation of self-loathing.

First comes initiation, i.e., the red pill: the revelation of a hidden path, the maudlin solipsism of fallenness and unrequited nobility. The next step is manichaeism: a girt-round delusion of war against a preternatural enemy who is everywhere and nowhere, objectified onto some hapless persons, principally Jews. Then comes sadomasochism: the object of his passions now clearly defined, his mind’s vagina now fully Zionist-occupied, the fascist surreptitiously derives pleasure both from victimology, and from fantasies of omnipotence and revenge upon the adversary—a conduit for and projection of all manner of repressed dirtiness, who (when the imagined time comes) will merit no moral restraint.

Hamstrung by spineless, prosaic scruples such as individual guilt and innocence, the uninitiated—“normies,” liberals, the bourgeoisie, etc.—cannot understand this. Like a clinical pervert or closet-case, the fascist thus inhabits a parallel world of titillation that dare not speak its name, exchanging coded signals under bridges and in water closets. His bad faith is endemic. This is why you hear so much talk about “optics” on the alt-right, whenever the movement periodically catches its fingers in the pearly gates of mainstream revulsion. Like flamboyant homosexuals, they’re convinced that everyone is latently like them, and can surreptitiously be “turned.”

Jonathan Bowden (an obscure but interesting autodidact involved with the British National Party, whose writings and recorded lectures gained a cult following with the advent of the alt-right) once made the astute observation that the hero of American movies and comics is often a vaguely fascistic sort—tycoon, cowboy, war vet, vigilante—whose energy is misdirected toward democratic aims, e.g., defending the victimized and the disadvantaged, upholding the abstract “rule of law,” etc. But this begs the question whether fascism really is what Bowden thought it was. If strength is an end in itself, then who needs the strong? If “life is an instinct for growth, for survival, for the accumulation of forces,” then indeed, Private Ryan is not worth saving. This is why fascist “heroism” and discipline always devolves into rank criminality; it’s always Kant on the streets and Nietzsche in the sheets.

One of the worst proto-alt-right cliches is that communism was worse than Nazism. This just misses the point entirely. Such things are a matter of quality, not quantity. Communism produces one of two types of leader: (1) inquisitors—pure sadists, e.g., Mao; or (2) gangsters, pure criminals, e.g., Stalin. Fascism, on the other hand, produces only one type of leader: the callow, vindictive sperg. “My spirit will rise from the grave and the world will know that I was right.” Translation: “You’ll all be sorry when I’m dead!” You’ll never catch communists feeling sorry for themselves like this. Beneath all their sloganeering, they know exactly what they’re doing.

Communism’s chief antagonist was the bourgeoisie: not so much a class of people as a mode of being, an amorphous set of predilections. Capitalism is a behavior. For example, in Homage to Catalonia, Orwell remarked about arriving in revolutionary Barcelona to learn that tipping had been banned in the hotels. Communism isn’t preoccupied with the enemy’s identity. Its aims do not depend on him. It is domineering in that way; it takes the initiative. In contrast, fascism’s chief antagonist is of course the Jews, and women. In fascist taxonomy, a communistic peasantry, or an inferior race, is just a puppet of the Jews. But the fascist very viscerally senses that, left unchecked, a woman will have ideas of her own. This inconsistency exposes the whole basis of the fascist mind-state: the absolute most puerile sense of entitlement and petty revenge.

Richard Spencer gave an interview to Alex Jones recently. Asked to speak about his background, Spencer said that “I could’ve become a lawyer and made a lot of money,” but instead chose the hard road of thought-criminality. But Spencer is not a hermit, or a crust punk, or a starving artiste. He isn’t risking his freedom or even his safety. He’s a professional Twitterer and civil plaintiff. Clearly, he lives entirely off his parents, and lives well. The source of the anomie and banality he sees everywhere in modern democratic society is himself. Can you honestly think of anyone in the alt-right who isn’t like this?

Here is one of Spencer’s recent tweets:

The video Spencer tweeted is of Trump, bloviating at a rally about his China trade policies, and promising everybody better appliances. Of course, this is phenomenally low-brow. But is the washing machine itself really something to sneeze at? For someone who fetishizes knights, explorers, marble columns and cathedrals, Spencer doesn’t seem to have any comprehension of all the background accoutrements that enabled people to pursue those activities. This is the mentality of someone who doesn’t do his own laundry, if only in the proverbial sense that he doesn’t really do anything.

Fascism is always like this: a Lord of the Flies-style retinue of the fatherless, the pimple-pocked and the half-educated, led by some demagogue pretender or trust-funder. It makes idols out of allegories and can never decide between Odin and Christ, populism and elitism, teleology and deontology, cynicism and idealism, futurism and traditionalism. In the long-term it cannot innovate or restore, because at root it is always a randy tentacle of the goddess of destruction.

Achtung Juden

IMG_3562

What ideology unites Antifa and 4Chan, manosphere he-thots and intersectional harpies, tradcaths and neopagans, wignats and hoteps, Dugin and Zizek, peacenik granolas and international arms dealers?

“Well it’s your own damn fault if you’re so hated!” By those clowns? Really? A man with no enemies is a man with no character, and these enemies are not sending their best. Like the Jersey City shooting earlier this month, last night’s machete attack on an ultra-orthodox Hanukkah party in upstate New York appears to have been carried out by a lumpen African-American under the influence of YouTube Wakanda theology.

Now, I’m half-Jewish, and basically a modern, secular person—I have about as much in common with Hasidic Jews as I do with Denisovans. So it’s as strange to see people who are so different from me being attacked for what little we have in common, as it is startling to see how different the backgrounds of the perpetrators tend to be.

You may recall, for instance, last year’s events at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. No, not the Purim party. I’m talking about the sabbath service where a lonely old wignat truck driver with an AR mistook the place for a range and did target practice on a dozen or so nursing home inmates in wheel chairs. Update: they didn’t survive. You may also recall the following April, when a homeschooled sperg male nurse took out a Federal Reserve banker at a shul in San Diego, wounding the rabbi in the process, along with an eight-year old girl who runs the porn industry. The perp there seems not to have had any imaginary friends, though he did have the next best thing, i.e., 8Chan anons.

Then there was the 2014 Kansas City JCC shooting, also perpetrated by a wignat, who killed a kid and two adults, all of them gingerbread-baking white Methodists in RealTree camo and ugly Christmas sweaters. At least the 2012 shooter in Toulouse (that’s France, for all you Victor Hugo fans) managed to hit actual members of the tribe, killing three toddlers and wounding five others at a synagogue daycare. Oh, and how about the 2009 DC Holocaust Museum shooting? That one took out the security guard, a married black father of three, which is not as rare as a unicorn but should probably require a permit or something. Then there was the Seattle JCC kindergarten shooting in 2006, and the El Al ticket counter shooting in LAX a year or so prior. Oh, and who could forget the 1999 JCC shooting in LA? A real classic, which took the lives of four children, a secretary, and a mailman.

Why do these things keep happening? I’m sure some anthropomorphic little Eric Cartman somewhere would love to fill me in. Yes, the Jews have their fair share of perverts, plutocrats, embezzlers and corrupt politicians. But these pogroms never seem to target those Jews—or any pervs, plutocrats, embezzlers, politicians, etc. So the question is not what the Jews have done to deserve these atrocities. Because if that was the question, they wouldn’t really be atrocities, would they? “Well they’re not, teehee.” Yeah, tell me more about elite pedophile rings there, guy who supports kindergarten shootings.

The reason these things keep happening is because Jews don’t prevent it. And so the real question is, what is to be done to prevent it?

I don’t intend the question as a “silence is violence” callout. Silence can be complicity in the unconscionable, but a lot of unconscionable shit goes on every day, and no one owes it to anyone else to think or feel anything. The solution, then, depends on the Jews. Do we want to live, or don’t we? It’s that simple.

I know that’s sounds trite. I only ask because lots of Jews don’t want to. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that Hitler or Chemelnitsky is coming. Believe it or not—in spite of all these attacks—that’s not the problem. I’m also not talking about Jews who are estranged from their heritage, either. No. I’m talking about Jews who make fellow traveling with some form of anti-semitism a literal component of Judaism.

Sound far-fetched? These types are quite vocal, and they’re the tip of a huge psychological iceberg. On the left stand the anti-Zionists, who should be irrelevant—clammy, furtive little figures like Philip Weiss, Norman Finkelstein, Israel Shamir, and Gilad Atzmon, who make entire careers and identities out of shame, discomfort and denunciation of an identity they could easily just walk away from instead. Proof that mainstream liberal Judaism essentially fellow-travels with this pathology is the recent, wholesale renunciation of Zionism by Jewish Voice for Peace—whose board members include Tony Kushner, Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. (It was 1941 when Jabotinsky declared “all those who regard [peace with the Palestinians] as a condition sine qua non for Zionism may as well say ‘non’ and withdraw from Zionism.” Better 78 years late than never, I suppose.) Liberal Zionists like Jeremy Ben Ami and Peter Beinart are actually worse, because they’re pushing from within for the Zionist movement to reflect JVP’s attitudes. Of the Palestinian factions they imagine they’d like to conciliate, each one, including the internationally recognized PLO, has a completely undisavowed and remarkably recent history of deadly attacks on Israeli women, children and elderly. But then, no one in J-Street has to actually live with those consequences (unless J-Street is working with frummies from Monsey I don’t know about.)

As bad as all this is, there’s something far more patently offensive to the intellect about the left anti-Zionists’ mirror image on the right, among the burgeoning ranks of sycophantic, alt-right adjacent Jews desperately flailing to live down every absurd libel and stereotype as if it applied to them personally. (At least having no pride or self-esteem whatsoever suits leftists.) Tech entrepreneur Ron Unz, for example, runs the largest aggregator of anti-Jewish content on the web, where he publishes his own rambling, scarcely readable essays that reprise familial and childhood resentments at great length before eventually getting around to the ostensible topic, which is always how bad his own people are. Self-help charlatan Mike Cernovich similarly grovels for acceptance from Twitter Nazis. Classics professor Paul Gottfried pathetically fawns all over pseudoscientist Kevin MacDonald (and is shocked, shocked to find that liberal journalists associate him with alt-right leaders he actually associates with.) Eccentric inventor Henry Makow writes gushing blurbs for latter-day clerical fascist E. Michael Jones’s self-published screeds; and blog posts with titles like “Anti-Semitism is Legitimate Self Defense.” Would he like somebody to murder him, or what?

One looks for sanity in this febrile atmosphere of ADHD Twitter discourse, of anomie and atomization and dementia, and sees the Jewish civil society commentariat, the ADL, the Atlantic, etc., exuding precisely the fear and panic that the high school bully mentality of anti-semitism veritably lives to elicit. When has official Jewry in America ever prevented an attack on Jews here? When they aren’t pushing constitutionally dubious legislation that makes us look ugly and stupid, their solution to everything is “education”: more words, factoids, arguments, and admonishments against wrongthink; to explain ourselves for the umpteenth time to a balkanized and stupefied public justifiably leery of smug expertise.

In Russia, in 1911, Jabotinsky had a prescient sense of this:

Now they have raised a rumpus over ritual murder, and once again we have taken on the role of prisoners on trial: we press our hands to our hearts, with quivering fingers we leaf through old stacks of supporting documents that no one is interested in, and we swear right and left that we do not consume this drink, that never has a drop of it passed our lips, may the Lord smite me on the spot. . . How much longer will this go on? Tell me, my friends, are you not tired by now of this rigmarole? Isn’t it high time, in response to all of these accusations, rebukes, suspicions, smears, and denunciations—both present and future—to fold our arms over our chests and loudly, clearly, coldly, and calmly put forth the only argument which this public can understand: why don’t you all go to hell?

Who are we, to make excuses to them; who are they to interrogate us? What is the purpose of this mock trial over an entire people where the verdict is known in advance? Our habit of constantly and zealously answering to any rabble has already done us a lot of harm and will do much more. The situation that has been created as a result tragically confirms a well known saying: ‘Qui s’excuse s’accuse.’ We ourselves have acquainted our neighbors with the thought that for every embezzling Jew it is possible to drag the entire ancient people to answer. . . Every accusation causes among us such a commotion that people unwittingly think, ‘Why are they so afraid of everything? Apparently their conscience is not clear.’ Exactly because we are ready at every minute to stand at attention, there develops among others an inescapable view about us, as of some specific thievish tribe. We think that our constant readiness to undergo a search without hesitation and to turn out our pockets will eventually convince mankind of our nobility; look what gentlemen we are—we do not have anything to hide!

This is a terrible mistake. The real gentlemen are those who will not allow anyone for any reason to search their apartment, their pockets or their soul. Only a person under surveillance is ready for a search at every moment. This is the only one inevitable conclusion from our maniac reaction to every reproach—to accept responsibility as a people for every action of a Jew, and to make excuses in front of everybody including hell knows who. I consider this system to be false to its very root.

In over a century, nothing about “this system” has changed. The very existence and prominence of an “Anti-Defamation League” proves this definitively. Cringy reflections on personal and familial Jewishness are a staple among media elites. Jewish topical films and literature reflect the most skittish, vindictive psychology. Far from being an outpost of stoicism and contempt, the State of Israel is fully invested in this victimology, and after 70 years it cannot even live up to its mandate to eradicate these pogroms. Its leaders are busy fighting corruption charges, and casting about belatedly for Nazism; it sends its condolences, as peremptory as any American politician’s. If the body count approaches a dozen, you may get a shitty little Israeli cabinet minister at your memorial service, issuing thinly concealed I-told-you-sos. Mazal tov for that.

For over a thousand years, our ancestors were forbidden to own land, enter an honest trade, testify in court, ride a horse, or carry a weapon in self-defense. We were a “protected” class. A crime against us was a property crime. And after seventy-two years of Zionism the Jew, and the Jewish Israeli, is every bit the specially protected creature his forbear was in medieval Europe, subject to occasional massacres as a matter of course. Zionism deserves our support for the strides it has made in chiseling out the “new Jewish man” it once promised. But some things never change, and a chutzpah that requires the moral license of past misfortunes is utterly repulsive. It would be better to finally decide between maudlin victimology and contemptuous master morality.

As Christopher Hitchens once said, “It will never be safe or normal to be Jewish, and I hope it never is.” He never said why he hopes this, but here is why: because true nobility is inherent in how we bear misfortune, and castigating reality has nothing to do with it. That’s why the best Jews and Zionists are always the ones who live parallel lives. The ones who “think of it always and speak of it never,” who “dress British and think yiddish.”

And that, little yidden, is my recommendation to you.