Wednesday, May 9, 2018

When Facebook Becomes Blogging

Some of you probably saw that I had an interaction with an internet friend (at least temporarily former - his doing) which I found quite disturbing. What was disturbing was not the opinions he espoused, which were clearly antisemitic though not dramatically so, Jews know perfectly well that when you associate with the outside world, there will be millions who think things far worse than his opinions but are wise enough to generally be quieter about it. What was disturbing was the fact that he had so unbelievably little hesitation to say it all out loud and seemed to expect that after resisting such arguments for my entire adult life, I would somehow be instantly won over by the power of his logic. He assured me that he was mindful of antisemitism and would look out for all those antisemitic dogwhistles that were dated by 1930.
Being Jewish is not like being anything else - it's a whole religion of living between the lines, it's entire ethical system is built around dialectical thinking nearly 2000 years before the dialectic was a gleam in Hegel's eye. It's a religion that does everything within its power to minimize the specificity of its descriptions what transcendent realms are like, and rather, all of its focus on the here and now with all of its complexities debated and examined from every angle. If you have resolved for yourself what a better world looks like, it's only a matter of time before you have problems with Judaism...
What this means in terms of our relations with the outside world is that we have never been entirely this nor entirely that, and anyone who subscribes to any absolute moral dogma runs into enormous tensions with Jews. And this goes for both Black Lives Matter and the people behind Women's March, both of which clearly have Jewish problems. In truth, we are neither white nor people of color, and our resemblance to one and the other seems to change multiple times in every country and every century. For our security we require (and it is very much a requirement) safe haven in a country whose practices can at times resemble colonialism because once upon a time European colonialism kicked us out of it - and now have to entertain the idea of a boycott from the grandchildren of the colonialists who boycotted our immigration in the face of the worst, yes, the worst, mass slaughter in the history of the world.
In country after country, we seem the most prosperous minority who has little reason to complain when so many groups suffer worse than us, until the moment we're slain in the span of a year at numbers that more obviously oppressed groups don't equal in a hundred. Antisemitism, like any kind of racism, is much more insidious than is generally supposed. But antisemitism has the added dimension of mass paranoia. In every generation, Jewish power is incredibly exaggerated. 200 years ago, we were both the villains who killed Jesus to Christians and the villains responsible for the creation of Christianity to enlightenment atheists. 80 years ago, we were both the Communist puppetmasters and the capitalist ones too. Today, Jews are apparently both the reason that America has a too hawkish foreign policy, and a too dovish one. Zionists are apparently the world's most flagrant colonialists yet progressive Jews are apparently the biggest impediments to law and order. Various Jews are apparently responsible for bringing the world to war and other various Jews are responsible for the fact that wars are never won. Like with any minority, it's all too easy to be comfortable with Jews so long as they believe what you believe. I have no doubt that Jeremy Corbyn and Linda Sarsour are as incredibly solicitous to the Jews in their lives as they are to everyone else, perhaps sometimes moreso because of the tensions involved, but it would never occur to them to associate with those who disagree with them, and when the tensions occur, antisemitism mutates for a new generation, and if you believe too fervently in moral absolutes, the moral absolutes prevent you from seeing what these beliefs are. As ever, Jews never really have a problem associating with people who have problems with us, they inevitably seem to think it's a bigger problem than we ever do. 'Some of my best friends are Jews...' Yeah well... some of my best friends are antisemites... maybe even 40% of them... I won't be shy about telling them, but if they can live with it, I certainly can...

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