August 14, 2006

Rootless Cosmpolites

Reading Billmon and Adele Stan reminds me of a question which has been bugging me for a while, but not so much as to actually investigate it. Namely: how much did traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes contribute to the stereotypes associated nowadays with conservative attacks on the "liberal cultural elite", "transational professional class", etc.? (I'm thinking of ideas like: Jews run the media etc. behind the scenes; Jews are clever but shallow; the bankers are all Jews; the Communists are all Jews; the Jews want to do away with our wholesome institutions and religion.) It would seem like a natural translation for someone to have made, but I don't know of any evidence that it did happen that way. Maybe, after all, there are only so many ways of disliking other groups that any pair of negative stereotypes is going to have a lot in common, if you look for it. (Of course, people who harbor or play to such stereotypes about liberals are not necessarily anti-Semites, even if those stereotypes historically developed out of anti-Semitic ones.)

Has anyone with some actual knowledge looked into this?

Update 17 August 2006: Edward Burns writes to point out that before the current fabricated outrage over the "war on Christmas", it was being pushed as a UN plot by the John Birch Society in the 1950s, and before that Henry Ford was warning that the Jews were trying to get rid of Christmas and Easter. (See this good story by Michelle Goldberg in Salon.) It's not clear, however, that there was any actual transmission of ideas from one episode to the next; if I were a historian I'd think it would be worth looking into, though.

The Running-Dogs of Reaction

Posted at August 14, 2006 20:43 | permanent link

Three-Toed Sloth