October 16, 2015

#Antisemitism and #FeelTheBern: A needed refudiation of an apparent #ConspiracyTheory

Bernie Sanders, victim of anti-Semitism
or victim of some of his own backers?
Via some Twitter friends of Doug Henwood (who I follow) and Corey Robin (who I do not), this seems like some big new theme — speculation, hints, etc., that at least some of the opposition to Bernie Sanders is driven by anti-Semitism.

Of course, I'm not saying that particular persons ARE doing this for their own political wedge.

However, I'm going to say right up front that THEY COULD BE.

It would be so tempting to call all that neoliberal, establishmentarian, inside-the-Beltway opposition to Sanders anti-Semitic and paint with a big black brush Sanders' opponents, wouldn't it?

First of all, Sanders isn't the first major, "legitimate" Jewish presidential candidate.

Barry Goldwater was, by ethnicity, though not religion. Joe Lieberman was the second, by ethnic Jewishness, and the first, by religious Judaism. And, while Lieberman didn't have a stereotypical New York City accent, whether Jewish or not, he was religiously observant as a Jew, which Sanders isn't. (And Goldwater, having grown up in Arizona, didn't have such an accent at all.)

Speaking of that, claiming this:
Is itself indulging in the idea that that is anti-Semitic stereotyping, by the person first Tweeting it, and fostering such thought, by the person passing it on.

Ted Rall's newest cartoon somewhat ties in with this issue.
Anything CAN BE a stereotype, and if I want to, I can shift it from a geographic origin stereotype (or other stereotype) to an ethnic one (in the case of ethnic Jewishness, like African-Americans), or in religious observance (in the case of religious Judaism, like Islam).

Or, I can say that cranky might be an age-related stereotype, or perhaps, a more legitimate age-related generalization, since Sanders is the oldest Democratic candidate, and if elected, will be older than when Reagan started his second term!

Here's another from the same person:
Maybe CNN thinks Bernie's a stereotypical Italian?

Or a stereotypical New Yorker, now transplanted a bit further north?

I do.

As for Ms. Dean, she thought my Italian comment was "just silly."

I told her it was less silly than "potentially fueling a potentially budding conspiracy theory."

And, that's exactly what the likes of her are doing.

Which is why I'm disturbed by the likes of Doug Henwood and Corey Robin, who know better, uncritically retweeting such nonsense.

And, while I disagree with part of this Facebook post, because I do think Sanders "won" what we now call a "debate" (it's a glorified joint press conference), I agree with large parts of it, namely, that Sanders' candidacy is highly Internet-driven, and in some ways, pretty insular.

As for whether or not Hillary Clinton called someone a fucking Jew bastard (I'm sure she did; like Jonah Goldberg [mark your calendars, I agree with a wingnut on something] her temper and vocabulary of that sort are legendary), that still doesn't mean there's an anti-Semitic cabal brewing. (That said, Jonah's laughable for calling Alan Dershowitz the poster child for anti-Semitism. Inside baseball?)

That said, the original NYT article? It's 15 years old!

What IS brewing is my growing less enthusiastic for him, the more I see more followers of him promote such nuttery.

As for Jodi Dean, again? I never claimed that all of the opposition to Sanders was anti-Semitism. I just claimed that (excluding non-realistic opposition, with possible anti-Semitism, by a nutbar Dallas Republican, and similar) none of the opposition to Sanders is driven by anti-Semitism.

Per comments below, one could see this Tweet:
As reflecting a Poe, tis true.

Or setting one up.

If it had been the first Tweet I, or the Twitterverse in general, had seen rather than the fifth or tenth, and not even the first response back to me.

If you're dumb enough to play badly with Twitter for a candidate probably even less likely than Hillary Clinton to be ranked high on "sense of humor," don't blame people like me for seeing it seriously. I say "people like me" because I'm sure I'm not alone.

Update: It's not a Poe, per a new blog post by Dean responding to mine. It's stone cold serious. Liza Featherstone, you first need to talk to Jodi. Second, if it is a Poe in your mind, you need to stipulate in any further comments here that that's your personal opinion only, and not that of other people from that Twitter thread.

That said, I'm going to do a bit of petard-hoisting on Dean, and through her, on Featherstone. If it's OK to think that privilege, structure, etc., is a bar to Sanders, and was a bar or potential one to Obama, it's a double standard to laugh whenever Hillary Clinton talks about being a woman is a bar, or potential one, to her.

Period and end of story.

Otherwise, my response to Dean about her comment about CNN stands in spades. If you want to even begin to read anti-Semitism into CNN commenting on Sanders' level of emotions, gestures, etc., you're at least skating close to the thin ice of conspiracy theories.

Beyond that, I hadn't previously known Henwood to be the type of person to uncritically pass on blogs, etc., that talked about "privilege" and "patriarchy." Robin, from my interactions with him, it's not as surprising, but it's still somewhat surprising.

Otherwise, I'm glad for the blog hits. As someone who'll vote Sanders in the Dem primary, but still vote Green in the general, and sees him with a fair set of his own flaws, which include personality issues, more ardent Sanders supporters can either get a clue about those personality issues (and see if he'll change) or else cruise along.

(And, if any readers unfamiliar with me think I'm a Clintonista or whatever, wrong. I scored Sanders as winning the first debate.)

Update, Oct. 27 — Having already written one follow-up on this nonsense: If the Bern-Boosters keep up the claims that talking about Sanders speech volume in an underhanded anti-Semitic trope, I'm going to keep writing blog posts kicking you in the nads.

6 comments:

Liza Featherstone said...


Oh dear. You know, we were totally kidding about this. It was all a big joke.

Gadfly said...

I didn't see Jodi Dean presenting it as one. Nor did I see retweeters presenting it as one.

Nor did I see any Twitter hashtags like #snark, #sarcasm, etc.

So, the "oh dear" and any eyerolls that may lie behind it? That's your problem, not mine.

Because the way many Sanders backers have been, post-debate, it's very easy to see how something like this could be presented seriously. I consider myself a reasonable detector of Poes, etc., and it looked serious to me. Still does.

Liza Featherstone said...



No it was 100% a joke to me and to Jodi and to any of the retweeters I know personally. We were just doing a pretty good job of using the language of grievance. Your sarcasm hashtag suggestion does not seem like very much fun, but then I am an old person. It was a parody of the readiness of the Hillary people to see misogyny in every criticism of their candidate.



Gadfly said...

First, by its 140-character limit and lack of context, Twitter, vs. even Facebook, let alone a blog post, is the worst social media venue to carry out such a Poe.

Second, I would be by no means surprised if some Sanders supporters don't already see anti-Semitism out there somewhere.

Third, for both of the above reasons, don't expect me to take down this blog post. If nothing else, it stands as a warning for other people using Twitter for Poe-like purposes, IMO.

Gadfly said...

No, Liza. Jodi Dean was clearly not joking. I'm not accepting more comments from you, per a Tweet of mine, until you talk to her and read her blog post.

Gadfly said...

And, as of March 8, Henwood's still not joking, Liz, or else he has an awfully crude method of "working the refs."