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And Another Thing

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It’s hard to find a rational basis for this spastic response to Rob’s uncontroversial observation that Evangelical Protestant affection for Israel is not incompatible with — indeed, often rests adjacent to — coded language about domestic American politics that reeks of barely-laundered anti-Semitism. Premillennial dispensationalist theology — of the sort John Hagee administers to his flock — famously values Jews only to the degree that they’re willing to return to the Holy Land, fulfilling Biblical prophecy and paving the way for the second coming. Anyone who has spent more than ten minutes reading about the history of Christian Zionism understands this (see here and here for starters), just as they would also understand that Christian Zionists have frequently retained a stable of classical, hostile stereotypes of secular American Jews, whom they regard as theologically unhelpful and (in what amounts to the same thing) politically dangerous. These attitudes spring from the same historical place — also occupied by right wing populists — that depicted Jews at various points as “communists,” “capitalist money-changers,” or (yes) “intellectuals.” Terms like these are part of the basic conceptual grammar of anti-Jewish racism, and it doesn’t “smear” or “hamstring” anyone by pointing out that they survive even among people who believe themselves to be philo-Semites.

Silly me, though, I hadn’t realized that Agnewian phrases like “latte-sipping elitist intellectuals” had become such valuable additions to “the Left Populist” rhetorical canon. But since I am — like Rob — a disgusting avatar of privilege — my pointy-headedness is unsurprising.

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