Jeffery Lord‘s ridiculous piece in the American Spectator cannot be taken seriously as an intellectual argument. Using an early 1980s term which once described Democrats like Gary Hart and Paul Tsongas and which came to fruition in the Clinton/Blair era to try and make Ron Paul be the “other”, as it were in our modern politics, has nothing to do with trying to make people think. But Lord knows this as well as anyone because it is not his intention to make a cohesive argument for opinion makers. Instead he is making a political argument with a specific purpose in mind. He is trying to discourage the presumably conservative readers of the magazine and others who will read the article online from even considering Paul as a second or third choice among many, but to rule him out completely. And he is doing so with similar tactics one finds by reading SPLC manifestos or listening to Cultural Marxian critics within the academe.
Then again, being “politically correct” has never been the sole discretion of Left. It is a tactic which can be employed by any ideologue of any persuasion wishing to damage a political opponent or cause or movement by separating the candidate or activists as individuals and making them part of something bigger, more sinister in its design by either the company they keep, intentional or not; by what they’ve written, even if out of context or long ago (or in the case of Ron Paul not at all) and by their supposed place in history and what they connect back to. Lord employed the entire arsenal in order to go after Paul and no doubt the people who published this article thought they were getting “In Search of Anti-Semitism II” referring back to infamous essay written by National Review founder and editor William F. Buckley whose basic design, like Lord’s, was to forever connect Buchanan with fever swamps of anti-Jewish conspiracy mongers regardless that Buchanan, the so-called extremist, worked for two Presidents, had a syndicated column and was a pundit for many media shows.
Buckley’s smears did not keep Buchanan from the mainstream (although that wasn’t true for Joe Sobran) anymore than Lord’s load of filth will affect Ron Paul’s impact on politics. But having insulted the Lord’s piece from being anything worth reading, I wish to dwell upon it if only to marvel at the obsession those within the “conservative establishment” (or as I have called it “Conservative INC.“) with anything which has to deal with the state Israel and or anti-Semitism. Like the Left when it comes to race, those who would call themselves conservatives seem to have their ears more wide open on this topic than anything else.
And why would this be? Why does the contemporary Right act about Israel the way the Old Left did when it came to the Soviet Union or the way liberal internationalists like Wilson and the Roosevelts reacted towards Great Britain? In at least in the case of the former it was the pull of the ideological motherland (not to mention the pull of the strings of money to American Communist Party) that did it for the 1930s-50s Left. The Anglospehere did the same for the old WASP elite. Israel on the other hand did not become cause celebre on the Right until the late 1990s. Before then one could guess Buckley being more or less embarrassed at a so-called uncouth, bigoted anti-Semite wrecking his goal of creating a conservatism acceptable at Manhattan cocktail parties (where one would find it strange that Mr. Lord would call Revilo Oliver, Willis Carto, Gerald L.K. Smith, or Fr. Coughlin “Leftists” because of their anti-Semitism. ). But that’ a lot different than fealty to a foreign nation. And when we talk motherland, we’re not talking about a large group of children either. On an ideological scale, most persons of the Jewish faith or identity still see themselves as liberals and for the most part vote with the Democrats. Indeed, it is Lord and those like him who equate the terms “neoconservative” and “Jewish” for obvious political reasons when in reality this is not true at all. There are just as many Catholic and Protestant neocons as well. The first actual neocons were old Catholic Democrats who were pushed out of the party by FDR and the Progressive Republicans (like the La Follettes) who followed them. People like Clarence Manion for example, one of the founding fathers of the conservative movement. Or people like former CIA Director William Casey, who started out as a Catholic Worker activist straight out of Fordham in the Bronx in the 1930s, went to work for a public welfare agency in New York and quickly gave up his utopian leftist views and went into business after World War II and made a lot of money for himself. And of course there’s Daniel Patrick Moynihan as well.
It may surprise contemporary “conservatives” of this day and age but there once was a time when being a neoconservative had nothing to do with “Jewishness”. It had everything to do with being a realist. After all, wasn’t it Irving Kristol himself who said “A neoconservative is a liberal mugged by reality” ? What that sounds like to me is a fellow who dropped his ideological blinders and embraced a more conservative ethos. Not that the liberalism ever went completely away but it was at least tempered by the on-the-ground situation either on the sidewalks of New York or on campus or on the world stage. This is why many of them supported overseas dictators like Pinochet, Galtieri, Somoza, Pahlavi because they kept the U.S.’s enemies at bay and their regimes could gradually before reformed into democratic ones. Places like the Philippines, El Salvador, Chile, Spain, are good example of the strength of this foreign policy realism. This is why persons like Kristol or Sidney Hook and others were welcomed into the movement. Not just because of their connections or class or intellectual weight, but also because they themselves had seen the future and saw that it really didn’t work. Yes there were concerns about Jewish interests, mainly the fate of Jewish dissidents in the old Soviet Union, and of course support for Israel. But it says something about priorities and interests when the U.S actually grew closer to the Arab/Muslim world in 1980s and 1990s (even under the Reagan and Bush II Administrations which the neocons both supported and staffed) with military and economic support to Egypt, Saudi Arabia (and yes, even Iraq at the time) while supporting the Muslim cause in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union.
So what accounted for the change of neoconservatism from a realist, non-utopian ethos into both a utopian ideology and something tribal, ethnic and even religious? In the mid-1990s there were some neoconservatives (including the godfather himself Irving Kristol) who were saying neoconservatism had run course and the plug needed to be pulled. There was no Cold War to fight anymore, welfare reform was taking place, crime rates were dropping, New York City was actually becoming a tourist destination. And yet what began instead is what would be known as “third generation neoconservatism” and it gave us the Weekly Standard and the PNAC. Why? I suspect many neocons felt Israel’s strategic position was deteriorating at this time even well before the second Intifada because of the Oslo Agreement of 1993, the rise of Hezbollah and Hamas and the explosion of the Palestinian birthrate. There was a feeling also thatU.S. foreign policy (even the country itself spiritually) was adrift and need some galvanizing cause, like a war for example (Jonah Goldberg would often write silly essays like advocating a U.S. invasion of Africa). And being for an aggressive, militaristic foreign policy has a way of getting defense contractors to give to the foundation which backs your think tank or magazine. We also have to remember how neocons were spooked by the paleo movement of the late 1980s early 19990s and its political manifestation in Pat Buchanan. Whether accusations that Pat or any other paleo is an anti-Semite have merit is beside the point when we consider that Buchanan and his allies had a different vision of the conservative movement than the neocons did and that in a battle for power victory is often gained “by any means necessary” (As Mel Bradford can probably relate too). It was also during this time the neocons developed a relationship with the Religious Right, given its own interests in the state of Israel for religious reasons, and shrewdly used them as foot soldiers (something they never had when backing Scoop Jackson in the 1970s) to maintain their power and influence within the movement and the government whenever the GOP was in charge. Simply pining for the ouster of a weakened Saddam Hussein probably wouldn’t have brought together the PNAC in 1998 had it not been for a new ideology to replace their old realism:
“It is quite true, [neoconservatism] is not ‘in essence’ a “Jewish movement”: not all neoconservatives are Jews, most Jews are not neoconservatives, and neoconservatives certainly do not place “Jewish interests” ahead of “American interests.” Still, I think that the appeal of neoconservatism to many Jews can be related to lessons that they draw from Jewish history. Neoconservatism can be defined as aggressive support for (classical) liberalism, and it is clear that the fate of the Jews has absolutely been connected to the fate of liberalism. Where free speech, the free market, individual rights, and tolerance flourish, Jews flourish; where they are destroyed, Jews are destroyed. This is one reason why American Jews tend to be patriotic: America has the most durable and deep-rooted liberalism of any country in the world. The desire to defend and to extend American freedoms is what leads many Jews to be left-liberals; but it is only a different interpretation of what that same defense requires, and who freedom’s enemies really are, that leads some Jews to be neoconservatives. And there is nothing sinister about that.
So if a liberal society, in the classical sense, is in the best interests of Jews, why does Jeffery Lord claim Ron Paul, the one candidate who most strongly supports such a society, is anti-Semitic? If Paul, greatly influenced by Jewish economists and scholars like Von Mises, Friedman and Rothbard, who also wished for such a society for the same reasons, is a champion, how can he be an enemy? Because of an obscure article written over 60 years ago from someone almost all outside a few people have ever heard of that he happened to like or which supported his views? To Lord, it’s almost if Paul said the Spotlight was his favorite magazine.
Paul’s doctrine of non-interventionism, which seems to be the sticking point here, is consistent across the board and has nothing to do with support or non-support of Israel. Paul does not believe in entangling the U.S. in the Middle East and that Muslim and Arab counties which have enjoyed U.S. support in the past along with Israel will be cut off from foreign aid. How will this affect Israel? Very little. It might make them poorer at first given the billions which are given each year, but given the dynamism and growth in the Israeli economy (including its defense industry) and high education levels, I doubt if Israel will become an economic basket case. If anything, without the aid, Israel will feel more free to make strategic decisions based on its own interests rather than worrying about Washington’s reaction. This could well mean airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities. If U.S. aid is keeping Israeli bombers at their bases, then maybe the funds should be cut off for those wishing to see a decisive blow. Of course don’t forget Israel’s nuclear deterrent is also quite potent to ward off potential attackers. Perhaps a cut off of aid will finally end the charade of Israel’s nuclear weapons program being a secret.
So Ron Paul, given what he supports, what he’s said, his votes in Congress and who has influenced him over his career, is far, far from being “anti-Semitic”. On its face and judging by the evidence given, Lord’s piece is utterly ridiculous and a vicious smear The Spectator should have tossed into the trash. However, since this was a political hit piece and not an exercise in discourse, it gets published anyway because many opinion journals are not interested in discourse and ideas. They are simply used as platforms to take shots at and settle scores. Fine then. Judging by the comments given, hopefully many are seeing through In Search of Anti-Semitism II they way should have seen through In Search of Anti-Semitism I. But what’s disconcerting, if not downright scary, is the way many on the Right (like Mr. Lord) are using Israel to cut off or stifle debate on U.S. foreign policy and defense spending in regards to the debt the nation is currently drowning in. And in using the state of Israel and those who support in this manner, they are also encouraging serious religious heresies and fanaticism which can damage U.S. interests and which could be taken into dangerous territories.
Israel is not a U.S. state nor a territory nor has anything to do with the history of the U.S or its development. It is a separate nation with its own history and interests. Yes we are allies and close ones at that. But the U.S. has maintained such alliances with other nations like Ireland, France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Britain and Canada over the years and Israel should not be treated any different. What that means is no ally, no matter how close, should dictate U.S foreign policy or make the U.S. do something counter to its own interests (that’s how World War I started). If the supporters of Israel believe this to be “anti-Semitic” then the real issue is not bigotry, it is whether such persons can be trusted to put America First rather than a foreign nation. Ron Paul should not be attacked for taking the stand of a patriot. To use anti-Semitism in the same manner the Left uses racism is the desperate act of a desperate establishment unwilling to admits own failures but rather once again wishing “control the limits of permissible debate.” Mr. Lord would be well reminded that such controls maintained by himself and others in Conservative INC. have not prevented the rise Ron Paul anymore than In Search of Anti-Semitism or even Unpatriotic Conservatives (another such smear attempt whom the author has now properly shed his “conservative” clothes) for that matter have prevented questions being asked about why U.S foreign policy has become the handmaiden of special interests. Perhaps debate and discussion in opinion journals rather than smear and supression would be a wiser course to follow in the upcoming campaign.