Thursday, July 8, 2010

MJ Rosenberg On "Neocons"

When I started reading the Huffington Post, I saw the word "neocon" get bandied around a lot by the users there. Although I had heard the word before I never knew what exactly it meant and came to the conclusion that it was one of those words that has morphed into meaning "someone the Huffington Posters do not like." This was based on its use as a pejorative on practically all topics and threads.

But then eventually I got around to looking up what exactly it meant and, apparently, "neonconservative" does have a specific meaning. Neoconservativism is a philosophy that "supports using American economic and military power to bring liberalism, democracy, and human rights to other countries." The war in Iraq would seem to be a perfect example of neoconservativism, which is probably why the word has now become popular. It also used to be an insult directed against people who were once liberal but then became conservative.

So what does all of this have to do with MJ Rosenberg? Well, in an article he wrote last week Rosenberg tries to convince his audience that it was the Jews who came up with neoconservativism and continue to push it today. Yes, really. Click below to continue.

I'm not going to go through the whole article because it is very long, and will instead focus on the paragraphs of interest.
"But they are still around and still pushing for a war with Iran, which they want even more than the last one. Everywhere you look there's Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle, John Bolton, John Podhoretz, Douglas Feith, Danielle Pletka, The Washington Post editorial page, Frank Gaffney, Charles Krauthammer, Max Boot, The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Pipes, New Republic, Liz Cheney and a host of others who, undaunted by the Iraq debacle, are gung-ho about taking out Iran. (Then there is AIPAC, which is the war party's headquarters.)"
 I don't know about that laundry list of names, because I'm really interested in the claim that AIPAC is what leads "the war party." Is this backed up by Rosenberg's link? No, of course it is not. The link is to an AIPAC page about  the Iranian nuclear threat. One of the quotes from that page is "Increased economic, diplomatic and political sanctions are needed to persuade a defiant Iran to turn away from its dangerous pursuit of nuclear weapons." Ooh! Warmongering!

At this point Rosenberg starts talking about Commentary magazine, which was founded by the AJC in 1945 but since then has taken on a life of it's own. It is here that Rosenberg makes a strange accusation:
"Its editor Norman Podhoretz invented the term "neoconservative" to describe those, like himself, who were liberals on every issue except those related to Israel. But they have evolved into right-wingers on everything..."
I need to come up with some kind of term for this kind of Rosenberg tactic. Basically he is taking some truths and stringing them together to come up with a narrative that (although it is misleading) suits his agenda, and so it becomes true.

For starters, Norman Podhoretz did not "invent" neoconservatism, Michael Harrington did. Furthermore, around the same time Podherotz was writing Irving Kristol was also commenting on the topic, and Kristol is now considered to be the founder of the neocon movement. I guess Rosenberg left that out to play up the Jewish and Commentary angle. Maybe Podhoretz helped make it popular and encouraged it's development as a nationalist movement but again, Rosenberg claimed something different from the truth. What a surprise.

Second is his ridiculous claim that a neocon is the same thing as an "Israel-only liberal" or a "South Park Zionist."  As the article above explains, when the movement started a neocon was someone who finally got sick of the Far Left and now seeks to oppose them. Since then it has come to mean someone who supports the Bush Doctrine, the use of American resources to project American values into the world. Israel is certainly part of that, but as usual MJ Rosenberg is trying to take two very distant topics and bind them together with nothing more than his own words and stilted logic.

Rosenberg at this point begins quoting from articles in Commentary, so let's skip down to...

"FOR the record, the term neoconservatives, although invented by the still-neocon American Jewish Committee by way of its then magazine Commentary does not only apply to Jews."
Notice the "does not only apply to Jews" there, implying that it mostly does. Okay, let's follow this logic train.
-The AJC founds Commentary in 1945.
-Forty years later the editor of Commentary invents neonconservatism (though he really doesn't).
-Therefore, the AJC invented neoconservatism!

Are you confused? Yeah, there were some key elements of logic there that Mr. Rosenberg seems to have missed. What I find particularly troubling about this piece is that rather Rosenberg realizes it or not he is making mainstream Jews who support Israel (which includes most of them, but not him) to be "neocons." And as I said at the beginning of this post, on the HP neocon is synonymous with pure evil. It isn't all that different from AZs making Israel out to be like Nazi Germany just because Nazi Germany is the most evil thing any of us have ever heard of it.

One last thing:
"The combination of the dictates of our faith (see the Prophets, any of them) and the long history of right-wing anti-Semitism (culminating in Nazism) have made Jews fear and understand the chauvinist right more than most others do. The Jewish neocons are outliers, like, say "Jews For Jesus" or "Jews for Palin."
 I wonder if Mr. Rosenberg would also admit that although American Jews are liberals they also principally support Israel far more than he does. I also wonder if he would admit that there is a long history of left-wing anti-Semitism as well. Or that those Jews who flock to the far Left, like he and his friends Philip Weiss and Norman Finkelstein, are outliers as well. I'm guessing probably not.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a conservative. It shows up in how I think and write. Liberal and leftist Jews overlook the fact Nazism was a biologically determined form of socialism based on race. Yes, socialism. It was called national socialism for a reason. Only a breath-taking denial of history could lead MJ Rosenberg and his friends to conflate the mainstream American Right with Nazism. Anti-Semitism has a long history on the Left. Then there's the Nazi alliance with the Soviet Communists that gets overlooked. And postwar Soviet backing of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism throughout the world. None of which Rosenberg and company want to confront honestly. Today's enemy after all is Israel and the side that supports its right to exist.