Andrew Sullivan probably expected to turn heads with the first paragraph of this TNR piece on the Foley fallout. But perhaps the weirdest sentence is in the second one:
Gay men, of course, went into a defensive crouch. Like Jews watching the Abramoff scandal, we winced at what we knew would be a collective blame-game.
I’m all for a good simile. But actual Jews did watch the actual Abramoff scandal, and not only wasn’t there a “collective blame-game” targeting Jews, “we” didn’t brace ourselves for one either. Did we?
Look, I’ll be the first to acknowledge I’ve spent most of my life in parts of the US with disproportionately little antisemitism (maybe excepting the time Sean Hannity’s niece told me Yale “is basically all Jews at this point, right?”). But the idea that Jews as a community saw Jack Abramoff in the news and started worrying about an antisemitic surge is just spurious.
Sure, Abramoff embodies certain hateful stereotypes about Jews, and Foley embodies certain hateful stereotypes about gay men. But the difference is that blatant antisemitism marginalizes you in American public life. Blatant homophobia doesn’t.
I’m sure you could have heard one Jew crouching somewhere over Abramoff in the news. After Jim McGreevey came out and resigned, I remember a few folks I knew worrying that a story about a governor having a same-sex affair with an Israeli would enflame antisemitism across the country. Those were the same ones who got ganza shpilkes whenever a new article came out about the New Jersey Rabbi charged with homicide. But everyone else – Jews included – saw it as a story about closeted married men, corrupt New Jersey politicos, or both.
Consider the press releases put out by major organs of the conservative movement blaming homosexuality for the Foley fracas. Now try to picture such groups putting out a press release blaming Judaism for the Abramoff scandal.
The leaders in the conservative coalition who feel that way do a better job hiding their antisemitism.