We do not accept the idea that Senator Schumer or anyone else is a fair target for racist incitement, anymore than we accept the idea that the basic norms of political discourse in this country do not apply to Jews. Whatever one feels about the merits of the Iran deal, sales techniques that call into question the patriotism of American Jews are examples of bigotry—no matter who does it. On this question, we should all stand in defense of Senator Schumer.Alas, as has become the norm of Tablet columns in this ilk -- and it is depressing to see the flaw migrate from Lee Smith articles to the editorial board itself -- what's missing in the editorial is any evidence that anybody in the Obama administration (or that matter, anybody at all) has subjected Senator Schumer to "racist incitement". Certainly, the Obama administration has opposed Schumer's opposition -- surely that's not objectionable -- but there is nothing in their comments that is remotely outside the bounds of normal political discourse. Nothing about "dual loyalty" or lack of patriotism, or even the more benign bugaboo complaints about "lobbyists" (and, to reiterate, if complaining that one's opinions are being influenced by big money and lobbyists is an anti-Semitic dog whistle, then every political debate our country has seen in the past half-century has apparently been dominated by neo-Nazis). The absolute worst thing you can find is a tweet by a former Obama staffer "the base won’t support a leader who thought Obamacare was a mistake and wants War with Iran," The "War with Iran" bit might be a cheap shot, but just the normal kind. And aside from that, everything one hears is entirely unremarkable political jostling.
All together, it is remarkably thin gruel. Yet paucity of evidence did not stop Tablet from deploying an orgy of histrionic rhetoric to back up its non-case: "It's the kind of dark, nasty stuff we might expect to hear at a white power rally, not from the President of the United States", "the kind of naked appeal to bigotry and prejudice that would be familiar in the politics of the pre-Civil Rights Era South," "This use of anti-Jewish incitement as a political tool is a sickening new development in American political discourse, and we have heard too much of it lately—some coming, ominously, from our own White House and its representatives." It would be exceptionally lovely if any of these allegations were connected to anything the President actually had said, but it's hard to collect quotes whilst hyperventilating I suppose. "It’s gotten so blatant that even many of us who are generally sympathetic to the administration, and even this deal, have been shaken by it," but not so blatant that one can find a direct quote by the President to back up the case.
All that being said, I certainly do not disagree with the statement that Chuck Schumer should not be subjected to racist incitement of any sort stemming from his opposition to the Iran deal. Since the fact that this hasn't, you know, happened apparently is no bar, allow me to go on the record with a few other non-occurrences which all people of goodwill should sternly oppose:
- Mitch McConnell should not be beaten and left in a ditch.
- It would be grotesque for anyone to call for Nancy Pelosi to be buried neck deep in sand at the low-tide mark.
- Regardless of whether or not you like the Dallas Cowboys, it is uncalled for to demand cleansing the entire state of Texas with a holy fire.
- Jewish representatives who vote for the Iran deal should under no circumstances be forced to parade naked through King's Landing as a condition for entering their synagogues.
- Even if the United States men's boxing program fails yet again to medal at the 2016 Olympics, we absolutely should not reinstate the Roman policy of "decimation" as a punishment.
- No matter how he performs at the next debate, Donald Trump should not be hanged from a noose constructed from his own hair.
No matter what one's views are on the Iran deal, surely we can agree that none of these outrageous actions is tolerable in American society. I look forward to a Tablet editorial devoted to each of them over the coming weeks.