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In a recent Federalist article written by Samuel Mangold-Lenett, I was intrigued by his premise that although Republicans are addressing anti-Semitism in Congress, they won’t be successful without fighting anti-White racism. Although on first reading, that seemed to make sense. But it won’t work.
We can look at this argument first by addressing the anti-racism agenda over the last few years. Most of the time, its advocates are unclear, redundant, misinformed about history, and have no basis for their argument. For them to suggest that anti-racism can be eliminated by anyone is unrealistic. The fact is, this country has made great progress in the area of racism, and more can be done, but the idealistic demands of the anti-racist cadre simply cannot be achieved. In fact, they make it clear that anti-racism cannot be overcome, because it is inherent in our DNA. We can fight the ridiculous arguments they make (which are usually racist), but I see no strategic way to stop the anti-racist agenda.
A big part of the problem is that we are caught in the miasma of “Oppressed/Oppressor.” And although some “oppressors” who are usually identified as white are willing to accept this label without question, many of us who are called oppressors know that we are not. But those who think they are oppressed, whether they have had to endure racial slurs or other kinds of discrimination, are not interested in becoming un-oppressed (or some would call it “free”). There are many benefits to being oppressed or a victim; they can blame others for their life dilemmas and are freed from responsibility for improving their situations. Any difficulties they encounter are other people’s fault. They have too many perks in taking on the “oppressed” role to give it up.
Shifting now to look at anti-Semitism, we have different issues, at first glance.
Our first, most obvious example, is the war in Israel. Hamas fits the stereotype perfectly as the oppressed, and they do everything they can to reinforce that image. And Israel has been hugely successful until the recent conflicts over the Supreme Court. But simply because they are mostly Jews, they have earned the disdain and hate of the Palestinians. I’d propose there is another example in Israel of Oppressed/Oppressor, as the Leftist Supreme Court has abused its power but is seen as the Oppressed/ and the Netanyahu government is seen as the Oppressor, trying to rein in its power. The fact that they haven’t addressed the Supreme Court’s overreach effectively only exacerbates their problems.
But what about the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States?
Prior to October 7, there were increased anti-Semitic actions in this country. Overall, Jews had found their place quite comfortably in the United States, participating in all kinds of careers, organizations and activities. In the past, when Jews became complacent about their roles in society, that environment was a breeding ground for a society that is unhappy and struggling—and Jew-hatred–and ours has been struggling for several years. Cultural upheaval, economic stress, invasions on the border have all bred insecurity in the larger population. And our citizens have little to no recourse to turn things around and thus feel helpless and disgruntled. Republicans blame Democrats. Democrats blame Republicans. But there is another group that can be held responsible for all of it: the Jews.
I suspect that the declines in America are the root cause of the violent rise of anti-Semitism. It didn’t happen overnight; incidents have been increasing for the last couple of years. The seemingly sudden rise of anti-Jewish and pro-Palestinian protests was opportune for those who feel oppressed. So, the war in Israel has been a convenient mechanism for people to act out their anger about the state of their lives.
Hamas serves as the avatar for all of those who feel misunderstood and who are struggling. Israel is the embodiment of the elites in our own country who continue to limit our freedoms and demand that we make more and more sacrifices.
So, how do we reframe this image of Jews and the rest of society and transform the Oppressed/Oppressor model?
First, we must explain that we are not the same as Hamas and Israel. Their struggle is horrendous, but it is not our country’s struggle. The people in this country have more freedoms than most countries in the world, including our ability to hold protests. The Jews, rather than oppressing others, have made many contributions to the U.S. and the rest of the world, particularly in medicine and technology, and we should be grateful to them, not resent them.
We must educate people on how they are being caught up in a collection of old tropes, that are as old as civilization. Negative stereotypes, most of which are untrue, only hurt those who indulge in them and those they try to victimize.
Finally, Jews need to speak up. We can no longer try to look the other way, downplay anti-Semitic words and actions, or join in the rancor. We must be forthright, that we will no longer tolerate being made into second-class citizens.
Anti-Semitism is only related to anti-racism because it labels people negatively and divides them from each other. As explained earlier, anti-racism is a vague, incoherent campaign that is nearly impossible to understand and impossible to eliminate.
Anti-Semitism, however, has a long history of tropes and behaviors. Unless we address it head-on, it will be a catalyst to damaging our country and our future.Published in