One upshot to the profusion of online Hitler sympathy this past decade is that it shows how brittle American liberal indoctrination really is, despite its insidiousness. Of course, it also shows that older habits tend to die harder.
To wit: every now and again some earnest little yid blogger pokes his head up on an alt-right podcast and tries to explain that we’re not all that bad—while agreeing that indeed, we are all that bad. It’s a bit like playing dead: contrition itself is supposed to be a point in the Jews’ defense.
Now, if your experience tells you that Jews are often oily, pushy, loud, verbose, solipsistic, dissembling and cheap, well…. Join the club: so does mine (although only the first five apply to me). Perhaps you live in a community somewhere back east where the ethnic fault lines are long standing, and over the decades each of the local constituencies has made a certain impression on its neighbors. Well and good. If it’s a matter of navigating daily life and real relationships, stereotype away, for all I care. But when we refer here to anti-semitism, what we mean is the kind that’s mediated through propaganda, i.e., the full-retard pamphleteering variety:
Again: if experience recommends wariness of a given human group, then be wary—end of story. Self-defense, after all, is a dish best served cold, and sparingly. But for the full-retard anti-ZOG pamphleteer, there’s no adrenaline in that, no hard-on, no quasi-mystical shivers. For them, the case is so open-and-shut they can never shut up about it.
Henry Kissinger once said that a people that’s been persecuted for 2,000 years is doing something wrong. A certain Luke would beg to differ that being persecuted necessarily means you’re in the wrong, but he didn’t much like Jews, either. In any case, a people that beats those kinds of odds has also got to be doing something right.
All the same, you might think it would be worthwhile for the Jews’ own sake to at least engage with our worst critics and try to learn something from them; that conceding part of their argument signals transparency and introspection that might be reciprocated, therby mitigating anti-semitism. In certain isolated cases that may be correct. But such nuanced public hesitance to fully recognize a self-proclaimed enemy as an enemy can only play as sycophancy and, as Jabotinsky once noted, a man who’s ever-willing to turn out his pockets and consent to a search is only liable to elicit suspicion and scorn. Indeed, when you reach out to full-retard anti-semites (lots of those abroad in the world nowadays) what you’re almost invariably going to find is that the burden of proof falls exclusively upon the semite. Your every overture is taken both as subterfuge and servility. Your every word short of utter self-abnegation amounts to proof of incorrigibility, no matter what you’ve conceded—and so does self-abnegation. There is literally nothing that can be proved to these types. You may share alt-right or far-left concerns about the complicity of Jews in systems of power you oppose, but that’s never how anti-semites see you, and the only effective way to deal with execration is to be stoic, or mocking—to disregard it, or hand it right back, reheated. Because full-retard anti-semitism (right or left) is not about opposing systems of power per se; rather, it is the vocation of finding fault with yidden. It’s a manichaean template that confers total absolution from shame, and earnestness is poison when you’re dealing with a shameless interlocutor. As soon as you give him the time of day, you’re taking on all the shame in the equation.
Take, for example, the following aside (~29:00-30:00) from alt-right agitator Mike Enoch on that episode of The Daily Shoah podcast I hyperlinked above (the one with the yiddle-diddle blogger guest interviewee.) Here Enoch’s talking about the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm:
We had this conversation today where we were talking about Larry David, that fucking stupid show where he runs around being Jewish…. and someone [some fellow anti-semite] was like, ‘Oh no, but it’s hilarious because he’s so Jewish [that] he’s fucking over even other Jews.‘ And I’m like, yeah, but at some point I just want to be done with this Jewish psychological shit, I don’t want to be sucked into this world of the Jewish fucking inner turmoil, I just want to be done with it.
Um…. excuse me? You guys are the ones with a three-times weekly podcast called The Daily Shoah (“shoah”=Hebrew for Holocaust) that’s going on its 200th episode at 2+ hours apiece, and in every single one, you discuss Jews at length. No schtick fatigue? I get that plutocrats and media mandarins are disproportionately Jewish, that such power ought to be accessible to satire, and I can at least respect the alt-right for its irreverence, but…. You “want to be done“? The fuck outta here. What would you even do with yourselves at that point?
Someone who claims to have caught a whiff of sulfuric old Beelzebub is liable to be reminded that whoever smelt it dealt it. Yet the self-flagellating little yid blogger guest on the podcast ends up agreeing with Enoch about yiddishkeit in showbiz: “Right, this is 2% of the population, why is this the thing that’s being constantly put in front of us?” I don’t know, why are there so goddamned many steers in Texas? In the words of the great Marshall McLuhan: if you’re seeing it, it’s for you. Someone got you straightjacketed to a theater seat? Lots of options what to watch nowadays. Last I checked, HBO is premium cable. So I’ve heard a lot of anti-semitic tropes in my day, but as these things go, “wanting to be done with the Jewish inner turmoil” that’s “sucking me in” is revealingly bizarre. Whether it’s only tortured logic, or also tortured, sub-rosa yiddishkeit, what it reveals about anti-semitism is the same. Veyizmir.
Back in the mid-aughts I was sitting around one weekend with a friend—also Jewish—smoking something stupid and watching one of the hundreds of conspiracy documentaries then mushrooming on the new-fangled YouTube. Up until that time, my conception of Jewish success was that it vaguely confirmed my far-fetched desire to believe in divine election—you know, the suspicion that there must be some truth to the stereotype about Jewish brains. But due to events like 9/11, the NSA spying scandals and the 2007 financial crisis it was starting to become painfully clear that the height of success in America is something profoundly dark, and that one’s ethnic group being disproportionately implicated in it can be a very bad thing. At one point during the documentary, my friend turned to me and asked, “How are we supposed to cope with the fact that we come from a race of deceivers?”
Privilege has always been precarious, and no clever person facing long odds is going eschew the opportunity to steel himself. Relative to the proportion of Jews who, historically, weren’t able to do so, yiddishkeit is probably an overall liability. But it’s true that a relatively high proportion of elites nowadays are Jews. Still, what evolutionary biology considers success can be very dangerous from an Epicurean standpoint. Either way, I don’t buy my friend’s supposition that Jews are exceptionally criminal, or liable for one another’s crimes.
But would you believe who might? I mean, other than the alt-right? Larry David. Here’s how David treated the Weinstein/#MeToo scandal in the opening monologue of a recent episode of Saturday Night Live he hosted (executive summary here):
What’s awkward about this performance? It isn’t the references to sex, or to genocide. It isn’t the uncouthness, or even David’s openness to discomfort. No, what’s awkward about this performance is its sincerity. It’s a public service announcement concealed behind only the most implausible veneer of comedy, because Larry David means exactly what he says: he reflexively feels that allegations against a handful of fellow Jews reflect on him, fundamentally. But what’s ironic about the tenebrous self-awareness he exemplifies is that it produces more christlike behavior than anything anti-semites exhibit.
Mihail Sebastian was a Romanian-Jewish linguist and novelist who kept a diary of life in Romania between 1935 and 1944. The manuscript was smuggled to Israel by his brother in 1961 and eventually published as a book after the Cold War. What’s interesting about it is that many fellow Romanian intellectuals whom the author maintained friendships with were vehemently pro-Nazi. According to a 2001 book review in The Irish Times, Sebastian had a remarkable tendency to make excuses for them:
Sebastian’s friend, the charismatic philosopher and teacher Nae Ionescu, who enthusiastically supported the Iron Guard, agreed to write a preface to one of Sebastian’s novels, but when he did, it turned out to be vigorously anti-Semitic.
Ionescu warned the younger man against imagining that he could become assimilated into the gentile community, asking of him “Are you . . . a human being from Braila on the Danube? No, you are a Jew from Braila on the Danube.” Sebastian, in typical fashion, continued to look upon his friend and mentor with fondness, regarding him indulgently merely as a rogue and an opportunist whose heart nevertheless was in the right place; when Ionescu died prematurely in 1940, Sebastian wept in sorrow.
He even found excuses for his friend the novelist, and fascist, Camil Petrescu. When the private houses of Jews were confiscated by order of the government, Petrescu complained to Sebastian that he would probably not be given one; Sebastian said that surely, under the circumstances, his friend would not accept a house even if it were offered to him, at which Petrescu stared at him in surprise and asked: “Why not?”
What diaspora Jew has not occasionally found himself countenancing insults in this manner and ad-libbing some conciliatory self-deprecation so as not to offend his assailants? Even Henry Kissinger (“at once an excellency and an untouchable,” in Sartre’s memorable formulation) is noted as a practitioner of this dance.
When you sell out your own kind in this manner, you mean to say, “Don’t hate me. I’m not so much like them!” but what it sounds like instead is, “I’m exactly like them, and it’s okay to hate me. I forgive you.” Kafka’s Trial is a tedious, flagellating read, but the book’s prime conceit—an inexplicable vulnerability, an affliction of inchoate guilt that can never be lived down—is the perfect encapsulation of the tortured relationship of yiddishkeit to the non-Jewish world. There has always been an uneasiness about being exposed as a Jew and, for the time being, the degrees of difference between Mihail Sebastian’s Romania and Larry David’s America can mitigate, but never extirpate it.