Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Niggers and Zionists

In concert with Israel and Washington's Zionist and fundamentalist Christian lobbies, the Bushites say their "strategy" is to end Iran's nuclear threat.

-- from AntiWar.com via The Leiter Reports.

Given that the Leiter Reports have tried to (rightfully) support the idea that one can criticize Israel's policies without being anti-Semitic, posting an article that uses a quote like the above strikes me as seriously problematic.

While there are certainly some self-identified Zionist organizations, and I imagine a few of which are worthy of criticism, the use of Zionist as a pejorative must certainly be understood to evoke emotional responses above and beyond what would be associated with the more neutral use of the term.

For instance, the above quote relies on the rhetorical image of the militant Zionist lobbying America to support their program -- an image evocative of the Protocols of Zion (an "antisemitic literary forgery that purports to describe a Jewish plot to achieve world domination"). If the writers did not wish to subtly or not so subtly conjure up these images, why use the term "Zionist" instead of the more neutral and less historically-laden term, pro-Israel lobby?

How many millions of people in the world when they hear "Zionist" think of the various competing political and ideological movements compared to how many think of the secret Jew seeking dominion over the world?

When I was in the service, some otherwise progressive folks referred to one of the black guys in our unit as a nigger. They quickly explained that here they meant simply "nigger as generic term for asshole", and that white guys could be niggers too. Admittedly, the guy was kind of an asshole. But we already have a more neutral and less historically-laden term for asshole.

It's called "asshole".

1 comment:

M. Scott Eiland said...

Any time I see someone ranting about "Zionists," I presume that they're anti-Semitic, subject to rebuttal by any other comments they might make. Considering that Justin Raimondo--one of the head honchos over at AntiWar.com--is a big Pat Buchanan admirer, I'd say that my presumption is unlikely to be rebutted.

Even in this day and age, there is a tendency to want to inject some form of "otherness" into an insult for someone that a person doesn't like, if a category and a known insult associated with that category is available, and some innocuous sounding terms are rather nasty when you look closely at their deeper meaning. Take how conservative members of minority groups tend to attract name-calling like "oreo," "banana," or "coconut"--implying that because they are conservative, they're really "white inside." If you look at the literal meaning of that insult, it's really an updated version of when some KKK member in the 50's or 60's referred to another white person as a "nigger lover." In other words, as a traitor to their race. A rather vile concept to be found in an innocuous word that usually refers to a cookie or a fruit.