Anatomy of an Anti-Semite

by A. Jay Adler on November 15, 2011
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Ross Vachon (of Malibu, CA, he informs) has reappeared. A month and a half after I pinned him wriggling to the specimen board in ‘Anti-Semitism, the Ur-Hatred,” he has apparently taken time to emerge from his burrow and discover what I observed of him. He had originally written me privately, in response to “The Uncanny John Mearsheimer,” the sum total of his trenchant reply being to call me a “Jew hack.” I then performed my antisemitology.

Vachon, who has written for one of the anti-Semites of the moment – Gilad Atzmon – and who used to contribute to Semite loving Counterpunch, now by all indication prowls the internet attempting to play whack-a-Jew. He discovers that I publically replied to his ugly private communiqué, and he is compelled once more to respond. He rhetoriczes. He insults on the exhale. He quotes Danton, does standup shtick, descends for a roll in Yiddishkeit vernacular, and rummages around in his rucksack of adjectives. The one thing he does not do – of course – is think. Reacting defensively to my analysis last time of why he then wrote privately, he now posts a public comment.

We see that the earlier use of “Jew hack,” to end his original insult string “bilious anti-American neurotic Jew hack” has now had the “Jew” this time, again defensively, removed. We then are graced with an unselfconscious litany of Jew love that – I suppose we should all be grateful and (you’ll forgive the expression) observant – omits only “finance.” The only attempt at actual argument, at which Vachon is woefully deficient (there being a paucity of interlocutors in the burrow) is the simple claim

You’re afraid to address the central point – “The Israel Lobby” was 1. A best-seller 2. The American Foreign Policy Establishment could not help but take notice of it.

Of course, Mein Kampf was a bestseller, as was Valley of the Dolls, as is currently – you can look it up –  Kris Jenner…And All Things Kardashian. The monumentalized-in-all-caps American foreign policy establishment took note of The Israel Lobby in order to reject it (one can’t help but notice road kill either), and the reputations of its authors have suffered for it.

I am sure that there are things Vachon does well. He insults with enthusiasm. Still, even then he can be lamely puerile, resorting to “blogger kook who parades around in pajamas.” Only the tops, Ross – get it right. When he attempts to join insult with (only the veneer of unsupported) analysis, as in “[j]ust more callow sophistry,” he follows it up with the empty “bilious, clueless, horny, over-the-hill.” Nonetheless, while pretty stupid stuff, it isn’t, except in its aim at me, especially vile in character. But somehow this ejaculation did not suffice. Vachon did not subside in satisfaction. He pressed on to investigate me, and was compelled to comment again.

Vachon has attempted to pretend that this exchange is all about the The Israel Lobby, yet while I never bring it up, he cannot forget my Jewishness. He digs around amongst my several alma matae and seizes upon the one that enables a joke based upon a distinguishing Jewish physical characteristic. I guess none of my schools provided an acronym for hooked nose. And Vachon thinks identifying Jewish comic Lenny Bruce as the joke’s source obscures its psychic provenance in him. In truth, this brief outburst is a mine of material.

Vachon pretends that I last time identified the epithet “neurotic Jew” as a sign of anti-Semitism, while in reality it was the use of the mere “Jew” as insult that was the giveaway. I was quite clear about it. It is one of the characteristics of the racial and ethnic hater that he simply cannot recognize how objectionably he is perceived by others – how the hate brands and disfigures him in others’ eyes, and how visible it is. He will even show it off – hoods and capes, swastikas, “Jew!” – imagining that he is the uncanny eruption to the surface of the feeling everyone else still represses but receives with unacknowledged familiarity. And erupt it does.

A characteristic of the Ur-hatred is that it overrides other ideational tendencies: it is the ever disturbing, repeatedly, momentarily satisfying answer to all. This is why right and left anti-Semitism tend to merge, how David Duke can support Cynthia McKinney who joins forces more generally with white supremacists. So on the one hand Vachon accuses me of being anti-American – a typical far right criticism – and on the other he grabs from the bag of purer-than-pure farther left criticism of liberals by imagining my work in Indian country to have exhibited nonetheless “racism, and paternalism.”

It’s not the right. It’s not the left. It’s the hatred stupid.

Vachon closes with a quote from Danton: “Audacity, always audacity.”

But the quote is incomplete. The full statement is

“Pour les vaincre, messieurs, il nous faut de l’audace, encore de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace et la Patrie sera sauvée!”

“To defeat them, gentlemen, we need audacity, still more audacity, and audacity forever, and the Fatherland will be saved!”

Now, yes, this was Danton during the French Revolution. But given the context of this exchange, from whom else can we easily imagine these words – into whose mouth place them? It was an early and continuing discomfort among some during the days in which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was created that the U.S. for the first time in its national vernacular made use of a term, common in other countries, that chauvinistically conjures up a volk and their nativist attachment to land. It is not a sentiment and language that has produced the best in human beings. It isn’t a good history.

When was the last time a people were urged to show audacity in order to save the Fatherland from Jews?

AJA

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