Monday, October 29, 2018


I spent a number of years in the disagreeable task of documenting homophobia, concluding that because of its multiple strands it remained hard to extirpate. I laid out these conclusions in my book The Homophobic Mind. It occurred to me that a similar approach could be useful in analyzing another noxious hydra head: Anti-Semitism. 
As with homophobia, it may be best to turn first to the bearers of the virus themselves. A useful start in this approach can be found in an old screed - reprinted recently in France - called La France Juive (1886) by Edouard Drumont. The book expounded three strands of antisemitism. One was pseudo-racial, positing an opposition between non-Jewish ”Aryans” and Jewish ”Semites.” At best, the terms are linguistic not racial, and their polemical use is now crippled by the fact that linguistically Arab Muslims are Semites. Another strand was economic. Drumont argued that finance and capitalism were controlled by the Jews. A third factor was religious, referencing the Jews' supposed complicity in the death of Jesus. 
Today, at least three more elements may be adduced. First is the emergence of neo-fascist groups on the far right in Europe, chiming in with a more general dislike of immigrants. Secondly, for its part the far left is given to denouncing the state of Israel in ostensible support of the Palestinian cause. Finally, many Anti-Semitic outrages in Europe are perpetrated by Muslims, a factor that tends to be obscured by those who are fearful of being charged with Islamophobia.


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