MORE ON EASTERBROOK, from James Taranto:
Those who’ve commented on the Easterbrook kerfuffle fall, roughly, into two camps: those, like Foxman, who believe his original posting was an expression of classic anti-Semitism, and those who don’t know what to make of it. An example of the latter is blogger Josh Marshall: “What Easterbrook said was weird and something a hair’s breadth short of ugly. . . . Try as I might to explain to myself how Easterbrook could have unwittingly walked into such an unfortunate formulation, I still find it a bit difficult. What was he thinking? I go back and forth. I’m not sure.”
Well, allow us to explain. Easterbrook’s essay was an expression not of anti-Semitism but of a lesser, though still insidious, form of prejudice. Call it liberal condescension. This sentence from his apology reveals all: “How, I wondered, could anyone Jewish–members of a group who suffered the worst act of violence in all history, and who suffer today, in Israel, intolerable violence–seek profit from a movie that glamorizes violence as cool fun?”
“Members of a group”: This is the language of liberal identity politics. And note that this is a philo-Semitic prejudice, not an anti-Semitic one. Easterbrook’s premise is that the suffering of the Jewish people ennobles Jewish individuals–or should–even if those individuals have not themselves suffered. Thus he presumes to hold Jews to a higher moral standard by virtue of their Jewishness–though in fact all he’s doing is asking them to agree with his highly debatable opinion (does it really make any sense to liken stylized Hollywood violence to the Holocaust?).
Ideologically, Easterbrook’s earnest criticism of Jewish studio executives is of a piece with Maureen Dowd’s racist rant against Clarence Thomas. Because Thomas is black, Dowd, like other liberals, expects him to conform to liberal orthodoxy and thus treats his conservatism as a far greater offense than that of, say, Antonin Scalia. This kind of prejudice may not lead to pogroms and lynchings, but it’s divisive and often ugly all the same.
It’s Taranto’s lead post today. Scroll down below it for a look at how President Bush took on Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad face-to-face for Mathahir’s rabid anti-Semitic remarks last week. And don’t miss how Reuters headlined the story!