Thanks for clearing that up

The anti-Soros campaign turns frankly anti-Semitic.

Ever since the Republicans started their attempt to demonize George Soros, I’ve had in the back of my mind a nagging question about how much of the campaign was based on simple anti-Semitism.

I’d like to thank Tony Blankley for resolving my doubts. Presumably Blankley prefers Jews who were killed in the Holocaust.

And I’m waiting to hear from Abe Foxman on this.

Here’s the Hannity and Colmes transcript.

Here’s Soros’s speech.

Update Eugene Volokh is right to say that Blankley’s statement, taken alone, doesn’t show that the entire anti-Soros campaign is anti-Semitic. I’m sure it’s not anti-Semitic in motivation; but I strongly suspect that Soros was picked in part because his Jewishness (combined with his profession of currency speculator) can be used to mobilize latent anti-Semitic fears. What convinces me that Blankley’s disgusting comments correctly reflect the campaign of which they are a part is that no one associated with that campaign has, as far as I can tell, criticized Blankley. (Sean Hannity, for example, made no protest when Blankley said what he said on Hannity’s program.)

Eugene and I disagree about the extent to which Soros’s words and actions deserve criticism. (Part of the anti-Soros campaign, naturally, involves misrepresenting what those words and actions have been: e.g., asserting that Soros blamed Jews for anti-Semitism, or that Soros’s Move-on speech implied that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were as bad as the 9-11 bombings.)

That disagreement makes me even happier to have Eugene’s confirmation of my belief that Blankley went way over the line. I’m waiting for others who have criticized Soros to join him in criticizing Blankley’s really appalling remark. But I’m not holding my breath; Eugene’s integrity makes him very much an outlier.

Eugene also notes what I was wrong to omit: Blankley wasn’t appealing only to anti-Semitism, but also to bigotry against atheists. An equal-opportunity hater.

Second update Pejman Yousefzadeh also disapproves of Blankley’s ravings, and also disagrees with me that they represent part of the coordinated anti-Soros strategy. I’m still waiting for a non-Jewish conservative to agree, or a hint of complaint from the RNC or its allies.

Third update Dan Drezner dislikes what Blankley said, but thinks that Soros’s views on foreign policy are out to lunch and that Prof. Bainbridge has offered evidence to support the charge that Soros has in fact “blamed Jews for anti-Semitism.”

I don’t think the passage Bainbridge cites does anything of the kind: Soros points out that the Bush/Sharon policies have helped stir up hatred, and points out further that his own liberalism has helped inflame people like Mahathir Mohammed agasint Jews. Those are obviously correct propositions, and Abe Foxman’s rather overheated objections (based on the false ethical proposition that mentioning a contributory cause of evildoing is the same as condoining the evildoing itself) don’t change that.

Drezner also doubts that Blankley’s words reflect discredit on the other Republican Soros-bashers. I’m with Kevin Drum on this one: yes they do, unless the other Republican Soros-bashers distance themselves from their colleague. (More on this from Max Sawicky.)

(Since Drezner mentions Michael Moore specifically, perhaps I’m entitled to point out that I gave Wesley Clark a very hard time about not contradicting Moore’s characterization of GWB as a “deserter.”)

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

5 thoughts on “Thanks for clearing that up”

  1. Volokh and Kleiman Omit the Soros Backstory

    My friend and colleague Eugene Volokh seconds our fellow UCLA professor/blogger Mark Kleiman's criticism of something Tony Blankley said on Hannity and Colmes on June 3. Both accuse Blankley of anti-semitism (although Volokh dances around it a bit). He…

  2. What do Tony Blankley, George Soros, and Mahathir Mohammed have in common?

    They all excel at saying unbelievably stupid things. Let's start with Mohammed and Blankley — both of them blame Soros for the Asian Financial Crisis. About Mahathir's anti-Semitism, click here and here. Blankley's statement is the new one. He said…

  3. I Guess I'm Just Chopped Liver

    With respect to the Blankley kerfuffle, Mark Kleiman writes:I'm still waiting for a non-Jewish conservative to agree, or a hint of complaint from the RNC or its allies.And Kevin Drum writes:Blankley's transparently racist imagery hasn't caused much of …

  4. Conservative Anti-Semitism

    I won't join Messrs. Kleiman, Drum, and Sawicky in getting all outraged about the anti-semitic undertones of the GOP's anti-Soros campaign. (and yes, those undertones expand beyond Tony Blankley…I've seen stuff straight from the RNC that certainly pl…

  5. POLITICS: You Will Write What I Tell You To Write

    Is there any blogger out there who makes more demands of other bloggers than Mark Kleiman? I should preface this by saying that I generally don't get into flame wars and the like with other bloggers; life's too short, and…

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