A week for challenging stereotypes

Like everybody, I maintain stereotypes about various groups of people.  None of us could do without them, but it’s in our interests for our stereotypes to be as accurate as possible.  Of course, no one is such a fool as to imagine that general rules like “Frenchmen hate Americans” have no exceptions, but the rule is still usefully accurate if most Frenchmen hate Americans, or even if Frenchmen are just much more likely to hate Americans than the world average.  Since none of my stereotypes are integral to my worldview, I’m happy to refine them when the opportunity arises.

Here is, or was, one of my stereotypes:

Jew = self-rightous liberal

Now, this has all the makings of a good stereotype:  simple, easy to apply.  But is it true?

Via Steve Sailer, I’ve just seen this surprising finding:

But this week some Jewish leaders are beginning to wonder if American Jewry’s traditional empathy for all newcomers is now waning.

Their concern follows the Oct. 12 release of a survey by the American Jewish Committee that asked respondents if they supported or opposed Arizona’s controversial new law on illegal immigration. Fifty-two percent of the 800 respondents said they supported the law, while 46  percent opposed the measure and 2 percent said they weren’t sure.

Holy crap!  Half of Jews came down on the conservative side of a social issue, the conservative side of what most of us think of as the signature Jewish social issue (alongside maybe the “war on Christmas”) because Jewish spokesmen have themselves talked about it that way (“Jewry’s traditional empathy for all newcomers” etc).  So the “liberal” part of my formula needs reconsidering.

How about the “self-righteous” part?  Being an official victim means never having to subject oneself to painful self-criticism, right?  I’ve just gotten a very interesting email from a Jewish fan of the Orthosphere (yes, it seems we do have at least one, in spite of my own occasional obnoxiousness toward our “elder brothers”) on this point.  Excerpt (quoted with permission):

Many Jews, including myself and my friends, who more or less agree with your posts you’ve written these last days about Jews — including the one that you deleted (which I read before you did: yes that’s how much of a fan I am, I read it all the time!).
I really only want to take issue with one sentence in what you wrote. A sentence which you probably meant as a minor point, ancillary to your core point — but, from my point of view, you hit on one of the key issues from the Jewish eyes. You wrote in “More on Inferiority”, still published online: “How I wish I could be uncomplicatedly proud of my people like the Jews can!”
Uncomplicatedly proud! Uncomplicatedly! What an odd vision of Jewish culture you have (and I say this as someone who almost entirely agreed with your Jewish posts and agrees with a good 90% of everything written on your Orthosphere blog)! Funny: since when have Jews ever under-thought anything, or ever thought about anything in an uncomplicated way. Appealing only to mass stereotypes, remember Woody Allen’s over-analysis of everything, making every little thing complicated. Appealing to the massively disproportionate success of the Jews, it comes, to a large degree, that we take every little simple thing and we think about them in very complex, subtle, and – complicated – ways. This is why we innovate so much.
So it’s odd you think our pride is uncomplicated. Everything we do, including that which makes us successful, is based on our complicating things. Now lets talk about the other word, pride: Let me assure you, very very very strongly, that, although we Jews are very proud — our pride in our success is *VERY COMPLICATED*.

Let me give you an example. Here is a very common question that my Jewish friends and I debate amongst ourselves all the time: “Overall, have the Jews done more good or more harm for the world?”. The Jewish mind has given birth to Einstein and Feynman and Kafa and the list goes on of the amazing contributions Jews have made. But, we Jews are very, deeply aware of the Jews have also contributed, deeply disproportionately, to the dark side as well. There’s Marx and Engels. I myself am descended from Jews who were among the thinkers in Lenin’s circle supporting the Russian Revolution and all of the evil that stemmed from it. Freud, I’m not yet sure whether he goes on the side of good or evil.
Indeed, the Jewish roots of communism and leftism is a deep source of shame, embarrassment, and humility for most Jews I know.
This is something we wrestle with and discuss all the time. We Jews tend to be conservative, we love our heritage and our tradition and want to keep it and have strong pride in the amazing things we have done. We are also aware, and constantly discuss and debate and try to understand our darker side, how we have given birth so much of the terrible, evil ideologies also.
Please don’t think that our relationship with our pride is “uncomplicated.”
All of this is written from a point of love and support! I, and many, many Jews, are on your side in the great cultural war now happening. Please don’t forget that.

I guess when I was imagining how great it would be to be an American Jew (obviously, there are some places where it wouldn’t be great at all), with all that cultural pride, I was imagining being a liberal Jew.  Most Jews are liberals, but the conservative minority isn’t negligible, and a conservative Jew is bound to be more ambivalent about his people’s influence.

So, can I refine my stereotype, or must it be chucked altogether?  How’s this for a refinement?

self-appointed spokesman for all Jews = self-rightous liberal

So, to all conservative Jews out there, I’m sorry for writing you off.

What a week!  Next thing you know, I’ll bump into a Jesuit praying the rosary.

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16 thoughts on “A week for challenging stereotypes

  1. “Being an official victim means never having to subject oneself to painful self-criticism, right?”

    In fact, Jewish criticism of Jews is so common that there’s even a term for it — a stereotype, if you will. If a Jew is painfully critical of Jews, then other Jews call him a “self-hating Jew”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-hating_Jew

    I wouldn’t get too excited about Jews favoring the Arizona law. Jews are going to keep voting Democrat, and the Democrats are pro-illegal immigration, end of story.

    You also need to ask yourself how “conservative” the Arizona law really is. The law is designed to curtail illegal immigration. Extreme liberals favor illegal immigration, but the liberal position (endorsed by many so-called conservatives) is that legal immigration is fine and dandy and there should be lots of it. Jews overwhelmingly support legal immigration, which is what we would expect since Jews are overwhelmingly liberal.

  2. From Peter Oliver’s Puritan Commonwealth:

    “As Grahame sees nothing excellent except in sectarianism, so Bancroft acknowledges nothing to be bad unless it emanates from kingly institutions. He hates the Stuarts because they used, but more because they had, prerogatives. It is not the tyrant merely, but the King, which brings out the venom of his pen. Radicalism, pure and unadulterated, that species of radicalism which beholds nothing bad in the many, and little that is good in the few, seems to be the ruling impulse which animates his labors as an historian. To have gained his approbation, a king must have undermined his throne, and a bishop have broken his crook. The walls of a ballot-box are large enough for his philanthropy, and that species of liberty which consists in compelling the few to submit to the many, brings down his apotheosis. A “press free even to dissoluteness” is one of the merits which he claims for an advancing civilization.1 As he writes not to let the past speak for itself, but to bend it to support his own theories, so he does not scruple to identify himself with any party or system, however contradictory, if he can thereby promote his own ends. With the Quakers, he can “thee” and “thou;” with the Puritans, he out-Puritans Cromwell; with the Anabaptists, he can kiss the dust under the feet of Roger Williams, with a more superstitious reverence than the humble Papist, in a better spirit, bestows on a nail-paring of St. Peter; and, with those noble missionaries who bore the white lily and the cross among the terrible warriors of the Five Nations, he can condescendingly become a hero and a martyr. These do not contradict his favorite philosophy. But, on the other hand, whatever is good and holy in the conservatism of the church, and whatever adds strength and grandeur to the pyramidal structure of civil and social communities, meets from him with untiring assault. And thus it is with this writer that an apostolic faith becomes mouldy tradition; that a kingly government and a loyal obedience are transformed into tyranny on the one hand and slavery on the other; and that a gradual scale of social order is distorted into an odious antagonism between the few and the many. His hatred of loyal old England is the characteristic of his work, and he seeks, with unbecoming eagerness, opportunities for digression, in order to indulge in his favorite theme. So far is he carried away by this hostile spirit, that he perpetually violates the rule of the res gestae in his descriptions and illustrations, without making any allowance for the circumstances of time and place. Thus, in describing the Treaty of Utrecht, he refers those of its provisions relating to the slave-trade in favor of England, to the promptings of bad hearts and unscrupulous avarice, rather than to the faults of the time.1 By the light of a clearer day, England was the first nation to repudiate the system which preyed upon helpless Africa, and, as if to show her shame for the past, she has gone to the other extreme. This is merely one instance of many, and we have not space, in this connection, to go more into detail. The candid inquirer, who is unaffected by that worst of all cant, the cant of New Englandism, will judge for himself, in spite of common-school falsehoods and fourth of July hyperboles. He will not allow himself to be coaxed «or threatened into the support of popular errors, even though they should be stamped with the counterfeit of truth by judicial decisions; and, doubt- Chap. less, his conviction will gain fresh strength, as he pro- v^^-ceeds, that the history of the Western Republic is yet to be written. In the mean time, let us calmly review the character of the enterprise which led to that most important event for Europe and the world, the settlement of Massachusetts Bay.”

    It’s all there, isn’t it?

  3. The Jesuit would respond, “Rosary? What’s that?”

    That reminds me of a good Jesuit/Franciscan joke. A man asks a Franciscan if it permissible to pray a novena for a BMW. The Franciscan replies, “What’s a BMW?” So, the fellow goes to ask the same of a Jesuit, who responds, “What’s a novena?”

    I sent Auster the Sailer article as soon as I saw it on Monday morning, but he has not yet commented on it. It’s right up his alley of interests, though. Following his past remarks, I could see him respond that the Jewish community still empowers its leaders, even if the leaders are self appointed.

    It stinks to be in the herd, but we must not fully exonerate people by blaming “the elite.” I think of my favorite line from de Maistre (as true as the banner quotation for this site): Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite. Similarly, every community has the representatives that it deserves. And what does that say about us as a people? We have responsibility. However, shouldn’t minorities (in every population and subpopulation) get some sympathy? What can the few realistically do when the herd stampedes on toward destruction?

  4. You might be surprised at how many Jews read your weblog.
    It is intelligent, articulate, and bold (at least most of the time).

    I’m an apostate bastard Jew in my mid 60’s who has had personal experiences with both reincarnation and soul travel.
    I also took LSD in the ’60’s, and rioted in Paris as well.

    Now I read right wing weblogs, con-template the failures of my erstwhile philosophies, and watch society crumble.

    I am a creationist to be sure, but not a religious one.
    For I can see no evidence of divinity or benevolence in the creation of Man.

    I think we were created as slave stock to mine gold on this planet, and were given ‘these religions’ by our ‘creators’ for our brutal self-destruction.

    Once we are gone, the ‘creators’ will harvest the gold.

    • Sometimes, I think the creators want us to bake the universe’s most delicious Chocolate Chip cookie, because their in a baking contest with the creators of another Universe. I took LSD once in college and was NOT a fan.

  5. Great post, great comments. Good to see you here, Josh. I remember Moldbug mentioning Peter Oliver, and had meant to hunt down some of his writing but forgot. Thanks for the reminder.

    Donald, I think you need to read some Chesterton.

    • What ho! I think Moldbug recommended the Origin and Progress of the American Rebellion, a very good read. If Samuel Adams was Jewish, that book would be considered anti-semitic for reducing him to such a stereotype.

  6. I take the point quoted in the original post, that Jews don’t do anything in an uncomplicated way….but it is my experience that the Jews I know don’t wrestle very much with the question of the ‘darker side’ of Jewish contributions to Western culture: they appear to believe pretty firmly that this can be chalked up to corruptio optimi pessima, not that they’d put it those exact words. ;) And sometimes they also hold that such corruptio is mainly due to Gentile influence and/or misbehaviour, or the manifestation within the Jewish people of the ‘mixed multitude’ of Exodus 12:38.

    I respect my observant Jewish friends, but cultivations of a sense of personal or tribal culpability is not one of their strong points, in my experience.

  7. You forgot an important part of the stereotype. Jew = self-righteous hypocritical liberal. They are the kings of “good for me, but not for thee.”

    • Is that part of the stereotype? For me, this didn’t click until I started reading Kevin MacDonald. In retrospect, it’s shocking how much “Israel is a Jewish homeland, and America is for everybody”/”Jews marrying outside the ethnic group is a crisis, and only bigots have a problem with miscegenation” you can hear before you finally say “Wait a minute…”

      In fact, that the Jews aren’t fully consistent in their inhuman universalism is one of their more redeeming features. I find their love for and preoccupation with their own kind strangely endearing, just as long as nobody demands that I share it. There are Jews who would like to dissolve themselves and Israel as well as everybody else in a single socialist utopia, and they’re the really loathsome ones. There are also proudly insular Orthodox Jews who don’t much care what the rest of us do outside their walls, and those are the ones we traditionalists can actually get along with. In the middle are regular liberal Jews living in gentile societies, who find that their universalist ideology matches their ancestral ethno-religious vendetta, and they don’t bother to ask which of the two the fight really is for them.

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