“Those Jews”

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Victor Davis Hanson outdoes himself in today’s column about the newly fashionable, thinly disguised antisemitism of European politicians, “intellectuals,” academics, and media wolves: “Those Jews.”

There are certain predictable symptoms to watch when a widespread amorality begins to infect a postmodern society: cultural relativism, atheism, socialism, utopian pacifism. Another sign, of course, is fashionable anti-Semitism among the educated, or the idea that some imaginary cabal, or some stealthy agenda — certainly not our own weakness — is conspiring to threaten our good life.

Well apart from the spooky placards (stars of David juxtaposed with swastikas, posters calling for the West Bank to be expanded to “the sea”) that we are accustomed to seeing at the marches of the supposedly ethical antiwar movement, we have also heard some examples of Jew-baiting and hissing in the last two weeks that had nothing to do with the old crazies. Indeed, such is the nature of the new anti-Semitism that everyone can now play at it — as long as it is cloaked in third-world chauvinism, progressive thinking, and identity politics.

The latest lunatic rantings from Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad are nothing new, and we should not be surprised by his mindless blabbering about Jews and his fourth-grade understanding of World War II and the present Middle East. But what was fascinating was the reaction to his madness: silence from the Arab intelligentsia, praise from Middle Eastern leaders (“A brilliant speech,” gushed Iran’s “president” Mohammad Khatami), and worry from France and Greece about an EU proclamation against the slander. Most American pundits were far more concerned about the private, over-the-top comments of Gen. Boykin than about the public viciousness of a head of state. Paul Krugman, for example, expressed the general mushiness of the Left when he wrote a column trying to put Mahathir Mohamad’s hatred in a sympathetic context, something he would never do for a Christian zealot who slurred Muslims.

A must-read. But you knew that.

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