Thursday, April 02, 2015

Things People Blame the Jews For, Volume XV: Jewish Friends Edition

This one is a little different from other entrants in the series. An Argentine labor leader referred to a government minister as the "little Jew boy". Then we went through the usual cycle: "That's offensive", "How dare you call me anti-Semitic", "We condemn it", "Everybody uses the term," until we get to the inevitable apex:
I didn’t discriminate against him. I have Jewish friends.
Ah yes, the classic "I have Jewish friends" defense. It is so ubiquitous that maybe it's time I stop closing my eyes to the pattern. Maybe the real cause of anti-Semitism is ... Jewish friends.

Think about it. When's the last time somebody who says anti-Semitic nonsense hasn't immediately referred to their many many Jewish friends? They go together like bacon and eggs latkes and applesauce. Obviously, we're doing something wrong. Either we're not very good friends, or we're subliminally feeding our goyish pals anti-Semitic messages so they can humiliate themselves in public.

Or having Jewish friends isn't a bar to anti-Semitism. But obviously that's the least likely hypothesis here.


Mark said...


You do realize there exist people who's level of anti-Semitism would prevent them from knowingly befriending someone who is Jewish? Given that, the statement "I have Jewish friends" means that person isn't one of them. It isn't the meaningless statement you pretend.

A few other questions. Do you have Christian conservative friends? Do you know liberals who would not knowingly befriend someone who was a conservative Christian? How many of your friends voted for Mr Romney?

You asked me to read "covering" some years back. I'm curious, do you know (or suspect) any of your acquaintances in liberal legal circles "cover" their conservatism or Christian beliefs?

David Schraub said...

1) I suppose there is such a "level", but plenty of virulently anti-Semites nonetheless manage to clear it, so it isn't particularly useful. It has less predictive capacity than you think. Even the Nazis liked to talk about their "one good Jew."

2) Yes; I doubt it (though I don't know for sure); a small handful (still probably lower than the national average given my age group though it's worth noting that Romney won less than 1/3 of the youth vote).

3) Probably (though of course, by definition, I might not notice it if they did because I'd be among the people they'd be "covering" from).

More broadly -- if someone accused me of anti-Christian bigotry, I'd have several responses, but one of them would not be "but I have Christian friends!" (even though I do). It is nonresponsive to the critique being leveled and doesn't say anything useful.

EW said...

"[I]f someone accused me of anti-Christian bigotry, I'd have several responses, but one of them would not be 'but I have Christian friends!' (even though I do)."

I'd guess Schraub would be less likely to be accused of being anti-Christian than of being excessively inclined toward Jews and/or Israel. To rebut such accusations, perhaps Schraub should cultivate new acquaintances so that he can fire back with, "But -- I have anti-Semitic friends!"