Wednesday, January 03, 2024

Things People Blame the Jews For, Volume LXIX: American Healthcare Inequities

I really do try to stay off the bad place. You know that trope in cartoons where the protagonist runs away from monsters or a blizzard or some other element of chaos, and slams the door behind him? And then after a bit of quiet, he opens the door a tiny crack to see if the coast is clear, and the maelstrom immediately swirls in the doorway and tries to batter its way inside for the split second before he slams it shut again?

Yeah, that's what checking Twitter is like these days. Peek your head in for even a moment, and it's just immediately somebody denying 10/7 atrocities or a tsunami of Nazi reply guys or, as we have here, a sparkling new 21st Century Jewish Doctors' Plot.

Over at the good somewhat better place, I alluded to these posts to call them "a crystalline example of anti-Zionism in its 'antisemitism is the socialism of fools' guise," but also to observe that the degree to which sentiments like these are accepted or repudiated in the relevant communities of interest will depend almost entirely on how they're treated by non-Jewish non-Zionists. Obviously, the folks pushing or considering this line don't care a whit what I think, but Jewish anti-Zionists may be dismayed to learn their opinions will be equally irrelevant. The non-Jewish non-Zionists might have the epistemic authority to be able to arrest its momentum, but it will be hard -- in large part, because posts like this, precisely because of their antisemitism, are genuinely helpful to anti-Zionism's growth and influence in American politics. 

It is a great and comforting lie that "antisemitism hurts our [anti-Zionist] movement". Antisemitism is one of the most powerful mobilizing forces the world has ever seen; it would be stunning if it did not provide at least some help to any movement that managed to successfully harness it. To the extent Americans can be persuaded that Jewish nationalism is why the US doesn't have good health care, that's very likely to make more Americans anti-Zionist and so benefit anti-Zionism as a movement. It would be, when you think about, far too convenient that "opposing antisemitism" only entail opposing things that already hurt the movement -- that's a cost-free action. The trouble comes when opposing antisemitism means actually forgoing useful tactics and ceding promising opportunities -- but that's where the rubber hits the road. 

(This doesn't mean that the only problem with Dr. Marya's supposition is that it hurts Jews. It does, in this case, also hurt the movement for health care equity insofar as it diverts scarce political mobilizing resources towards attacking a "cause" that almost certainly plays no role in the effects she wishes to undo -- hence, the "socialism of fools" moniker. In terms of raw political calculus, the trade-off at issue here is "more effective anti-Zionism" pitted against "less effective health care equity advocacy" -- alongside, of course, the danger toward Jews).

But substantive issues aside, I also want to flag a move in the last pictured post, where Dr. Marya -- after calling Zionism as "supremacist, racist ideology" which may be a "structural impediment" to American healthcare equity -- contends that to accuse her of antisemitism is "an ad hominem attack" that obstructs "substantive debate".

Do you see the issue? This is what I was getting at in my Fathom essay: the easy, almost reflexive treatment of "antisemitism" as, not a subject or component of "substantive debate", but as an obstacle to it. This invariably occurs in tandem with the speaker demanding absolute free rein to open fire on Zionism as racist and white supremacist and colonialist and apartheid and genocidal. We must have an open debate on the merits about those important allegations! But not so "open" that "antisemitism" can be part of the discussion. Alone among the "isms", it is cordoned off from "substantive debate" and treated as an ad hominem attack. This, to borrow (as I did in the Fathom essay) from Jerome McCristal Culp Jr., is not open debate at all, it is a "a coerced argument … that concedes the key intellectual contest." That this happens even in this context, where the issue to be "substantive debated" is as transparently absurd as "Zionist doctors are why we can't have nice health care things in America", is demonstrative of just how deep-seated the reflex runs.

I cannot quite say I respect the position that all of these "isms" (racism and antisemitism and colonialism and so on) are toxic to "open debate" and must be avoided -- it's too clearly unworkable and renders impossible too many obviously essential social conversations -- but at least that's a facially coherent position. The notion that antisemitism alone carries this toxicity (or, for people with different politic, every "ism" but antisemitism does) and for that reason "doesn't count" as part of the "substantive debate" is incoherent save for its naked partisanship. But its incoherence in no way is arresting its prominence: it is held by many and seducing many more. All we can do is flag its absurdity and demand that, if open conversations are to be had, then this is part of the piper that must be paid. There is no entitlement to not have to think about antisemitism, even if you really, really don't want to. And a claim of antisemitism is an argument, not a smear.

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Out/In List: 2023-24

The other, less old but still venerable Debate Link tradition: The Out/In list!

Out                                                                 In

Black Sea                                       Red Sea

Cornel West, truth-speaker            Cornel West, grifter

Paper mills                                     Chat-GPT

Pack the Israeli Sup. Ct.                 Don't mess with the Israeli Sup. Ct.

Mastodon                                       Blue Sky

Achievement Hunter                      Jet Lag: The Game

Assistant Professor                         Associate Professor

Abraham Accords                          Free Palestine

Elon Musk                                      Sam Altman

Substack                                         Buttondown

Pac-12                                            One Big Mega Conference

Surging Nikki Haley                     Trump wins every primary by 50

Reining in the 9th Circuit              Reining in the 5th Circuit

#BelieveSurvivors                         #NotAllHamasTerrorists

James Corden                                Taylor Tomlinson

Electoral Count Act                       14th Amendment Section 3

Cybertruck                                     Lawsuits about Cybertruck

Learn to code!                                Learn autoworking!

Somali pirates                                Houthi pirates

NFTs                                              Index ETFs

Grindset                                         Collective bargaining agreement