Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Stage 3 Sullivanism

The Atlantic is one of my daily reads but they have had an irritating tendency to employ and promote some idiot columnists (a dirty word in my house, as in "hey who was the columnist who spilled bat guano on my tuxedo and didn't clean it up?!.") But the worst they have, as of now, is Robert Wright, as I mentioned here.

He exhibits the classic trappings of a columnist: many opinions, little fact, and a whopping great ego. Now, I too have a big ego, so my complaint isn't as much about the size but about it leads ignorant fools (aka 'columnists') into aggressive solipsism.

For a wonderful example of how a columnist can convince himself that he can and should comment on anything, see Wright's set of 3 columns from July 2 to July 7. The first, entitled, Turkey's 'Islamists' Remarkably Like Republicans. I was intrigued enough to read it despite my near allergic reaction to journalistic idiocy. Naturally, as soon as I delved in I got brain hives. How are the Turks like Republicans? Well Rob discovers that the right-wing party in charge of Turkey has a coalition made up of uneducated religious fanatics as well as the (de-facto secular) moneyed elite.

What's galling is not that he's right, it's the fact that he finds it news that a right-wing party is made up of these groups. As any student of modern History will tell you: ALL RIGHT WING PARTIES ARE MADE UP OF THESE GROUPS. It's what right-wing stands for: nationalism. Speaking as an academic, I find that I won't comment on a subject if I don't feel knowledgeable enough. That fear is excised from the typical columnist.

Then, soon after I discovered what a complete raging idiot Wright is - as if being anti-Israel wasn't a tip-off - his next column was entitled: "What This Higgs Boson Thing Really Means." So now the ignoramous about Mideast politics, and history, was switching to physics? This was confirmed by the next column title: "Higgs Boson Continues to Not Make Sense."

Who the hell does he think he is? OK, so cutting-edge particle physics doesn't make sense. To you. And that's news? The hubris is astounding.

However, I didn't pause in my exam prep just to vent about Robert Wright's past idiocy, as he graced us with some new idiocy, back in his 'expertise' in hating Israel.

His column is entitled: Neo-McCarthyism. What's his problem now? Well he claims in his first line that "The charge of anti-Semitism is starting to lose its force" - and this is entirely predicable for Wright to say because, as the title of this post states, Wright is at the third stage of becoming Andrew Sullivan.

Sullivan used to be a decent read but at some point his utterly confused mind decided that he should hate Israel. And when Sully hates, he hates. It was stunning to watch. At first, I just checked it off to Sully being British - and UK has a built-in anti-Semitism that's hard to fathom. But now that Wright is following the same path, I can say that there's a real pattern to the descent.

Stage 1 Sullivanism is to start by being a columnist - which means to prize your self-satisfied ego, avoid facts and research, and to believe that whatever opinion pops in your skull is worthy for everyone to believe (and unbelievers are heretics to the Pantheon of You). Yet not all columnists become Israel haters, and not all Sullivans are columnists (Mearshimer and Walt come to mind). The egoism is the path to darkness here: the person is question needs to not have anything to do with Israel or non-secular Jews. Israel is the 'other.' And if the person was raised with a religion, it helps for that religion to be a good solid elder-brother hating Christianity (Sully is Catholic, Wright says he was raised bible-belt Baptist).

At stage 1, the columnist will see Israel as the embodiment of what they hate in their own lives. This is the root of anti-Semitism as well, for those keeping score. Moreover, these guys will have sentimentality as their prime ethical impulse - if something makes them feel bad, then that thing itself is bad. So moral difficulties get reduced to the solipsism that governs their working life.

Stage 2 Sullivanism is when your creeping dislike of the Jewish state makes you frequently quote with approval other, more rabid, anti-Semites and to use their rhetoric (e.g. "Israel Lobby" or "Israel Firsters" or "Mein Kampf"). The common people to quote are Mearshimer and Walt, Andrew Sullivan, and - increasingly - Peter Beinart. Now Beinart isn't a clear anti-Semite, but I've seen his views be repeated so often by the Sullivans of the Internet, that I believe approval of him is a sign of anti-Zionism/Semitism. And since Beinart is almost certainly a self-hating Jew - he loves himself, but the hate the Jews that will make the goyim reject him. Quite standard policy for the self-hater.

Stage 3 Sullivanism is when you lose your understanding of anti-Semitism completely. Basically, in Wright's column, he weaves an utterly confusing story of he-said-this-about-what-someone-else-said-about-another-guy, that I have no idea who is what. Suffice it to say that Wright is just so fed-up of people using the term "anti-Semite" that he rules that it is losing its meaning. Oh, and since using the term 'anti-semite' is meant to 'silence' someone, ipso facto calling somoene an anti-Semite is an act of McCarthyism.

To review some important facts:

  1. Robert Wright is not Jewish. He is a White Anglo-Saxon (ex) Protestant. He is a prominent journalist columnist. He has power, probably money, and is part of the complete majority of US History starting from the 17th Century. He has no place to determine when a historically persecuted minority is allowed to complain about their treatment. This is a self-test for everybody: if you think the historical victims of organized mass murder are 'too sensitive' then you may be part of the problem.

  2. I should remind everyone that anti-Semitism, like most hatreds, are public health problems. There was a point in history when anti-Semitism was leading cause of death for Jews in Europe. It is one of the main causes in Israel today. It is creeping back up in Europe today as well. Anti-Semitism is real and it kills.

  3. Anti-semitism is not only those with arm-bands and guns. The Holocaust happened because most people in Europe and America felt that it was OK to eliminate the Jews from their midst. If you need a historical note, recall back to the 1980s when most people openly believed that AIDS was fine because it would kill of only gay people. Hatred kills even in its small forms. And bigotry is never good in any dose.

  4. Censorship and McCarthyism only apply to the government, not to your fellow citizens. The government telling you to shut-up is censorship, my telling you to shut up is free speech.

  5. The reason why Wright, a now stage-3 Sullivanite, *thinks* it's McCarthyism is because he is so egotistical that ANYTHING that reduces his ability to shriek, or the impact of those shrieks - such as someone thinking he's wrong - then he considers that censorship.

  6. For cases in point, see the post-Mein-Kampfing of Mearshimer and Walt who just hate it when they are told by private organizations that they are anti-Semites; or Norman Finkelstein, or Tony Judt, or other well-established "misunderstood anti-Zionists."
Ultimately, the reason why Wright claims that "anti-semitism" is losing force is because all the people who he agrees with, starting with himself, are being called anti-Semites. And since he doesn't think of himself as a bigot, ipso facto, the term is meaningless.

Well, OK, the term may be meaningless to Wright, or to others who use anti-Semitie in the same way as 'racist' to mean "a wholly unredeemable caveman," but for those of us who could be killed by this disease, the term still carries some meaning. Wright cares about the term only insofar as it can affect a reputation or 'discourse.' He has no idea - because he's the guy in charge and has nothing really to fear - that people like him are the reason why my relatives were murdered in Europe and are killed around the world til this day.

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