Friday, January 27, 2012

Attackerman Attacked for Attacking Anti-Semitism

Spencer Ackerman has up a very sensible, bordering on mundane, article objecting to the use of the term "Israel-firster". The point is simple: "Israel-firster" has a sharp anti-Semitic pedigree (not to mention it might be conceptually incoherent if we're to accept the premise that even minorities are allowed to construct and forward their own conception of American "interests") and should be abandoned. It's not like it plays some critical role in buttressing the progressive argument regarding the proper US/Israel relationship or the best policies for securing a safe, democratic, Jewish state of Israel. That's a debate progressives are well-positioned to win on the merits, what with the GOP going all one-stater.

Of course, left-wing purveyors of "Israel-firster" can't possibly comprehend that there might be a progressive critique of anti-Semitism that nonetheless sometimes implicates fellow progressives. So, for example, M.J. Rosenberg of Media Matters proclaimed that Ackerman "put your rightist buddy & your career over principle". For those of you who don't recall the circumstances of Ackerman's departure from The New Republic (he sardonically offered to "skull-fuck a terrorist" to counter charges he was squishy on foreign policy), I think it is fair to say that Ackerman's problem has not historically been that he is too deferential to conservative sensibilities in pursuit of his career ambitions. But as Rosenberg aptly demonstrates, the problem here is simply that some people think there is no such thing as anti-Semitism when it used for "noble" reasons, and will react with all the fury and indignation of a Heritage Foundation staffer who's just been condemned for racist dogwhistles (it's a distraction from "real racism", dontcha know?).

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