Suppose there was a small country in Africa that was deemed vital to American political interests for whatever reasons. Suppose furthermore that it was constantly at war with its non-African neighbors, for whatever reason (maybe the country’s fault to some extent, maybe not). Suppose that African-American families owned the Washington Post, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal and that the heads of the editorial boards of two of the papers were African-American and that the editorial pages of these newspapers consistently expressed support for this small African country, more or less whatever it did (for the sake of accuracy, let’s say the Times was a bit more critical than the others). Suppose further that Ebony and Jet (now owned by an aging Harvard adjunct and someone from Australia) devoted a large part of each issue to describing anyone who criticized this small African country as racist (EDIT: or as a “self-hating African-American”).
People would eventually start to laugh at the “racism” charges, right?
The second thing that hit me upon reading this, which I'm putting first because it's a shorter thought, is the idea that it is particularly suspicious when Black people say things are racist, or Jews say something is anti-Semitic. Doug puts a lot of weight on this, and it is hard to see why -- presumably, if the hypothetical racism allegations regarding this country are so misguided, they should be considered suspect regardless of who was promoting them. I'm not sure what else to take from Doug's hypothetical except that he subscribes wholeheartedly to Professor Bell's rules of racial standing. Or perhaps I should respond with "suppose there was a community widely dominated by non-Jews, that greets every claim that something is anti-Semitic (and some claims that say nothing of the sort) with dismissal and derision. People would eventually start to laugh at the notion that they care about anti-Semitism at all, right?" (The answer, of course, is "wrong").
But what immediately struck me as weird here was this notion that people don't laugh at racism charges in America right now. It's not like we live in an America where, any time someone makes an allegation of racism, everyone immediately takes it seriously and demands accountability from the wrongdoer. Much the opposite -- the standard operating procedure for a significant swath of the American population (including one major political party) is to simply allege the folks are playing the "race card", make jokes about political correctness run amok, and whine about how nobody can say anything that isn't pre-screened for approval by Al Sharpton without being called a racist (cue eyeroll).
What does this tell us? Two things. First, that "ism" charges are considered laughable based on conduct that doesn't even approach Doug's hypothetical. Second, if one asks the purveyors of the "race card card" why they do so, they won't answer "because racism isn't a bad thing". They'll tell you a story very similar to Doug's -- about how the charge of racism has been diluted to non-existence by overuse, how it's important to preserve for "true, serious" cases, how they're merely reacting to aggressive thought-policing by the gatekeepers of acceptable racial discourse.
In other words, the narrative of why racism became laughable is a tale of majoritarian speakers telling themselves a highly distorted story of how "racism" is used as a weapon, so they can justify dismissing it out of hand. Or laugh at it.
One way of exaggerating the prominence of an "ism" charge is to presume that anytime a member of the minority group opposes your position, they are implicitly accusing you of racism/anti-semitism. As Doug laments, "I’ve had it with the fact that every time someone says something that opposes the Israeli far-right that person is labeled as an anti-Semite (EDIT: I forgot about the ones who are labeled self-hating Jews.)"
But if one canvasses the reaction of prominent Jewish organizations, one notices the anti-Semitism charge is pretty absent -- rather mysterious, given its presumed ubiquity. To be sure, many groups are now asking the Obama administration to defuse tensions after having expressed its condemnation. And they might be wrong. But if one looks at those statements -- AIPAC, CPMAJO (no permalink), and the American Jewish Committee -- neither the word, nor anything insinuating it, is present. Indeed, as I noted, a top official at the AJC wrote a furious post in the scandal's aftermath accusing Israel of "taking the US for granted". Those editorials Doug alludes to? Here's the Washington Post, maybe your ctrl-f for anti-Semitism works better than mine. The NYT editorial board hasn't issued a piece on the controversy, but Tom Friedman and Maureen Dowd have, both backing tough action towards Israel. Jeffrey Goldberg called Secretary of State Clinton's chew out "smart and necessary". Even Abe Foxman, the particular villain of Doug's play, was clear that he viewed some American reaction to the Israeli move as entirely appropriate and understandable. And that doesn't even get into J Street.
The fundamental premise behind Doug's story -- of anti-Semitism accusations being pervasive and pervasively abused -- is simply wrong. Not only are important players in the Jewish pro-Israel community openly backing the Obama administration, but even those more circumspect simply haven't been accusing anybody of anti-Semitism. So enough with the victimology, already.