Skip to main content

One of the most interesting cultural echoes to emerge from the right wing echo chamber over the nomination of Elena Kagan is also one of the most unsurprising.  

With scant out of context catch phrase "gotcha-isms" available to the usual cast of right wing actors playing pundits on T.V., the conservative movement has had to dip into its long and inglorious bag of tricks to resurrect one of the classic tropes of right wing reactionary hysteria.

And it delves into the long undercurrent of anti-Semitism that has bubbled in the Conservative movement since the early 20th Century and the rise of Hollywood.

21st Century Conservatism can no longer be understood as an intellectual movement.  It has long ago abandoned any pretense to critical thought, becoming instead a cult-like emotion based series of triggers, whistles and bells used to signify and resurrect long-standing and age-old pre-existing narratives already embedded in the minds of its followers.

Think a five year old looking at pictures and being asked to associate images.  A pig means "oink."  A lion means "growrrr!"  That sort of thing.

The conservative movement, now a series of emotionally triggered hate-porn  images masquerading as political thought, relies entirely on disconnected buzzwords presented by actors pretending to represent intellectuals (Gingrich, Kristol, et. al.).  

For the ascendant personalities in this movement, namely Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, language itself is merely fodder for the Manchurian Candidate trigger words that prey on that most basic of human instincts:

I am defined not by what I am, but by what I am not.  

We are all familiar with the "Other" -- the long history of nation building in which patriotism, jingoism, nationalism, ethnicity and regionality are defined not actively, but reactively.  

For the snake oil salesman, the charlatan, the carnival barker or the half-term former governor from Alaska who sees life as a perpetual beauty pageant, this divide and conquer strategy is as comfortable as it is comforting.

There is real America.  And there is fake America.

"This person is who you are not.  Therefore you are."

For Christian America, there are two kinds of "Others" at work to be defined as outsider, contagion and threat to the purity of the Nation-State.  

1 -  The clearly demarcated ethnic Other (black, latino, Asian, European)

2 -  The ethnic Other within.  

It is the second group that causes the right wing white Christian movement the most anxiety of all.  For while the first group can be rounded up, placed in urban ghettos or harassed with paperwork demands (see Arizona 2010) or poll taxes and/or voter purges (see Jeb Bush Florida 2004), the second group cannot be clearly marked.  The second group cannot be defined by "what you are not" and, in so doing, provokes an intense crisis in "who you are."

There are only two groups that can "pass" as normal while not being normal in the dominant republican hierarchy of white, Christian heterosexual normativity.

1 -  Gay

2 -  Jew

Unlike other ethnic Others, gay people and Jewish people can "pass."  They can integrate.  They cannot be marked, or clearly seen, or clearly compartmentalized.

For the reactionary movement we call conservatism in 2010, there can be no greater threat to their perceived (and quite fictional) construction of the "real America."  Sarah Palin's Norman Rockwell fantasies of a white, middle class of "values" that never existed, and never will exist, except in the fever dreams of the snake oil salesman preachers.  For the conservative actors selling reassurance to a populace too afraid to use logic and facts and real world thinking they must clinging to cartoon simplicities.  They must offer childhood reassurances of a safe past from long ago that exists somewhere deep in their subconscious longings for the safety of the crib.  There are "us."  And there are the clearly marked "Other."

Except where the lines break down:  Gay people and Jewish people.

Long connected by Christian hucksters as "deviants."  Sexually suspect and capable of corrupting Christian youth from within.  A hidden menace that cannot be seen or located with ease.

This is what fueled the 1930s and 1940s red scare, in which Jews were marked as the face of left wing labor leaders (Saul Alinsky, Emma Goldman), and of course the Jewish Karl Marx the face of anti-national "globalism."  The same "globalism" the right wing hysterics in Maine actually put on their charter.  The notion of a "one world government" being secretly enacted by those behind Obama, like the hidden Shylock Rahm Emmanuel and duplicitous moneylender George Soros.  

In 2010, when republicans invoke anxieties about urban "elites" or "cosmopolitans" working inside government to sell America out to a hidden "world government," they are invoking the age-old right wing anti-Semitism borne of the 1910s and 1920s, seen in the papers of Henry Ford's Dearborn Independent, who reprinted the famous French forgery, "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion" as it were fact of the secret Jewish conspiracy to sell out the United States on the global market.

This is what fueled the HUAC and McCarthy trials of the 1950s, that the gays and Jews in Hollywood were corrupting Christian youth through subliminal messages implanted in movies and T.V.  The same fictions of "liberal media" we see today.  That the "media" are working to undermine Christianity, like we saw from that clueless young woman the right wing media machine is currently propping up with her new book on how the media is assaulting Christianity (seen last week on Bill Maher's show).

McCarthy was so aware of the anti-Semitic tinge of the witchhunts, he needed to select the odious gay and Jewish Roy Cohn as the face of the very witch hunt of which McCarthy sought.  

As we see today when the republicans trot out tokens like Michael Steele and Eric Cantor.  The conservative movement must constantly couch its nativism, its hysteric racism and anti-Semitism through code words and behind token faces.

But it is not the Mexican or the Black or the European that truly threatens the conservative hysteric.  Those groups can always be tracked and counted and contained and quantified.

It is the conflation of the unknown that truly threatens the conservative cultist's attempts to construct a singularity of self not by what they are, but by what they are not.  And if they cannot mark what they are not, then they do not know who they are.

Jewishness and gayness.

What Susan Sontag noted in 1964 as the twin pillars of the modern sensibility are also the twin pillars of the modern Conservative crisis.  To long for an idealized past must mean the railing against any iconography of the complexities of the present.  The notion of a "contagion" lurking in society, rotting it from within like a plague, is of course, nothing new.

This is the very image Hitler used to create anxities in the German population.  That Jew could be invisible, and therefore needed to be marked by a yellow star so his deeds could be tracked. This anxiety that led Richard Nixon to count up the Jews in the state department, or the shameful racist Pat Buchanan to count up the Jews on the Supreme Court.

Because the Jew, and the Gay, cannot be easily marked. They are the unseen deviancy that haunt the anxieties of the white, Christian conservative.  

And this leads us to Elena Kagan.

As we've all learned through our many decades of Jewish comedians, performers, songs and entertainment, Jewishness is gay, whether or not it is gay.  And by this I do not mean literally gay.  I mean Jewish masculinity fractures normative definitions of masculinity, just as Jewish femininity does the same.

Milton Berle created televion by putting on a dress.  Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie had to dress as a woman to find his masculinity.  

Sacha Baron Cohen can play Bruno and kiss other men with ease.  Icons of gay movement like Barry Manilow, Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler, conflate Jewish "loudness" and gayness as stylized act of inscription as performance.

For the Jew to announce he or she is Jewish, the Jew must "perform" Jewishness.  Just as the gay, to announce he or she is gay, must "perform" gayness.

The outing is done as performance.

If the Jew or the gay person do not announce their status, they could very easily be mistaken by Sarah Palin for a "real American."  

And there is no greater crisis for the modern conservative hysteric than to be fooled by an "Other" passing as normal.

This is why it was natural for Elena Kagan to be marked as gay.  

Sonia Sotomayor, also unmarried, faced none of these concerns.  Because Sotomayor was clearly and distinctly marked as ethnically "Other."

Kagan could pass as "white."  She is the contagion personified.  

Her queerness is her Jewishness, and both provoke anxities in the conservative movement that date back nearly a hundred years to the early boatloads of immigrants who arrived through Ellis Island.

The Jewish sexual deviant/pervert is one of the great icons of the last half century, the stereotype Woody Allen made a career lampooning (and, some say, eventually becoming), is perhaps the greatest threat to the Conservative mindset.

Jews unbound by self immolating notions of Christian "sin" will lead to sexual bacchinals and Studio 54 orgies.  

These same haunting specters that lead to the ugly anti-Semitism on display by a Bill O'Reilly with his annual "war on Christmas" nonsense, or Sarah Palin's vile narratives of "urban elites" assaulting the "real" Christian America.  

"San Francisco Values" can mean gay, but it can also mean Jewish.

The McCarthy attempts to purge Hollywood of "Communist influence" echoing the bizarre (yet wholly consistent) resurrection by Glenn Beck of the Jewish social organizer, Saul Alinsky, as the ideology "behind" Barack Obama.

This is what will be on display in the Kagan confirmation hearings, and we should all be attuned to the historical narratives that will run through the right wing interrogation of her, not as a potential justice and as an intellect, but as a contagion of unspecified and undefined (and therefore anxiety provoking) pollutant.

Kagan will be marked as "white but not white."  Normal but also "Other" and therefore the most suspect of all.  Unlike Sotomayor, who was clearly dangerous simply for her ethnicity, Kagan will provoke a very different response.

And it will be the anxiety of a political party that is the end product of a hundred years of racism, xenophobia, rampant paranoia and hysteric fear of the "Other" contaminating their notion of country and of self (or as Kubrick put it in Dr. Strangelove, their "previous bodily fluids").

Whether or not Elena Kagan is literally gay is entirely beside the point and completely irrelevant to this reaction.

To them, Kagan is gay, just as she is Jewish, because she is unclassifiable as "Other."  She is white but not white.  And this is what queers her.

Kagan will provoke a distinct and historically noteworthy response at the point where anti-Semitism and homophobia meet in the paranoid and delusional subconscious of the right wing movement.  

We should all take note.

Originally posted to WinSmith on Mon May 17, 2010 at 12:12 PM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  You really lost me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vita Brevis, EnderLS

    when you went Godwin.

    You've got a good diary here for the most part, but you took it way too far.

    We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

    by raptavio on Mon May 17, 2010 at 12:17:16 PM PDT

    •  I'm not going to be afraid to talk about Hitler (7+ / 0-)

      Because some internet meme called "Godwin" sprung up somewhere.  The marking of the invisible Jew is a key to understanding the right wing reaction to Kagan, and that goes back to Nazi Germany (and much earlier).

      •  No, it really doesn't. (4+ / 0-)

        Anti-Semitism is a lot older than some Austrian failed artist, and comes from a lot more sources than 1930s Berlin.

        We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

        by raptavio on Mon May 17, 2010 at 12:28:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thus "and much earlier" (4+ / 0-)

          The notion of the Jew as a rootless international cosmopolitan elite is distinctly late 19th and early 20th Century, beginning in Russia with pogroms and culminating in Hitler's 1922 Mein Kampf and subsequent slide into Nazism.  This modern manifestation of anti-Semitism directed at Kagan traces only back to this historical period.

          I still have no idea what your point is.

          •  I'm certainly starting to doubt (4+ / 0-)

            what YOUR point is, sir. You seem to be saying that opposition to Elena Kagan is going to be grounded in her Jewishness and that said opposition is derived from OMG NAZIS NAZIS NAZIS. And frankly --- that's bullshit.

            We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

            by raptavio on Mon May 17, 2010 at 12:53:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Please leave my diary (0+ / 0-)

              You haven't made one coherent point other than shouting "Godwin."  Go back to fark.com.

              •  Wow, that's really classy of you. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Remembering Jello

                The fact of the matter is that you've made a number of direct claims about the confirmation process of Elena Kagan and supported none of them with anything other than arbitrarily chosen points in history and a line drawn by your own hand in crayon. The Hitler reference was particularly inflammatory as you're essentially saying that the modern Right's attitudes toward Jewry are rooted at least in part in Hitler's. Claims like that require strong evidence, none of which you've provided.

                And now when challenged, you throw off a Fark insult. In the words of the Farkers then, allow me to retort:

                EPIC FAIL.

                We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

                by raptavio on Mon May 17, 2010 at 01:32:44 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  You posted it, defend it. (0+ / 0-)

                "Cuz I gotta tell ya, I'm w/ Raptavio on this.

      •  And by the way, it's not (0+ / 0-)

        an internet meme called "Godwin."

        Mike Godwin, currently general counsel for the Wikipedia foundation, created the law that bears his name as something of a protest against the unfortunate tendency for people to invoke the Nazis in their rhetoric when it's not appropriate to do so. As you have.

        We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

        by raptavio on Mon May 17, 2010 at 12:37:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And Mike Godwin is important... why? (3+ / 0-)

          I wasn't aware Mike Godwin was the official expert on when it is appropriate to discuss Nazi Germany. Thank you for clarifying.  I'll check with this noted Wikipedia scholar before I do so in the future.

          •  You don't get it. (0+ / 0-)

            The name "Godwin" is just a shorthand. The objectionable behavior is still that. Captain Charles Boycott may have had a practice of economic ostracization named for him, but that doesn't make him the point of reference of any boycott in the present tense.

            It truly sucks that people such as yourself have to resort to invoking the memory of the Nazis to bolster your arguments on an emotional rather than rational level. And it further sucks that you're digging in your heels when called on it.

            We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

            by raptavio on Mon May 17, 2010 at 12:50:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  He said is appropriate at times to call (4+ / 0-)

          a Fascist, a Fascist, and that all internet threads, the longer they are, include an accusation of Fascism.

          That is different than saying the accusation is always false.

          In this case he is actually referring to the history of right wing antisemitism. To not mention Nazism, would be to avoid actually discussing antisemitism's full history.

          "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

          by thethinveil on Mon May 17, 2010 at 02:20:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  True. (0+ / 0-)

            But to link it to the modern conservative movement in the manner the diarist has is simply inflammatory and ludicrous.

            We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

            by raptavio on Mon May 17, 2010 at 02:21:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I guess there are no non-white (4+ / 0-)

    gay people and that all Jews are also white.

    Our real adversaries are not each other

    by Vita Brevis on Mon May 17, 2010 at 12:21:42 PM PDT

  •  Sotomayor's sexuality was questioned (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OIL GUY, Jeff Y, canadian gal

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Mon May 17, 2010 at 12:31:41 PM PDT

  •  They do not like Jews; they hate blacks so much (0+ / 0-)

    that including Jews in the equation will be distracting.

    Believe me, despite their flirtation with the state of Israel, Joe Lieberman, Benyamin Netanyahu and his right wing elks, their hatred for the Jews remain the same.  

    So I disagree with you.

  •  Say what? (4+ / 0-)

    Jewish masculinity fractures normative definitions of masculinity, just as Jewish femininity does the same.

    Rachel Weisz, Einstein, Groucho, Max Weinberg, Natalie Portman, Paul Newman, Michael Landon, Harrison Ford, William Shatner, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sarah Jessica Parker are Jewish.

    So what in heck are you talking about?

    "Here's the book on Alan Greenspan: He thinks what everybody else thinks, but one fiscal quarter later." -- James Grant

    by dov12348 on Mon May 17, 2010 at 12:40:53 PM PDT

  •  American homophobia.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thethinveil, canadian gal

    ....which is being exported globally (see, for example, Uganda, Russia and Poland) strongly resembles European antisemitism as it developed at the end of the 19th century.  So much so that there was an article about it in the American Prospect a while back.

    Nevertheless, while there does appear to be a whisper/smear campaign on her sexuality, I don't think that it is any different from what they would try with any female nominee.  The same campaign was tried with, inter alia, Reno, Clinton and Sotomayor.  

    As an aside, I've always seen "San Francisco values" as an attack on gays, with an incidental attack on the counterculture movement.  It mixes with antisemitism a bit I suppose, but unless you are counting the paleoconservative right as represented by Buchanan and others, the American right is fairly comfortable with Jews and Judaism.  At least, as long as it serves their end of the world fantasy.  

    Policy, Peace and Progress Before Party

    by Alec82 on Mon May 17, 2010 at 12:42:25 PM PDT

    •  I dunno about Poland and Uganda (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thethinveil

      But Russia didn't have to import their homophobia. It goes back at least as far as Peter the Great.

      _Karl Rove is an outside agitator._

      by susanala on Mon May 17, 2010 at 01:17:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No there's... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pico, fizziks, adrianrf, thethinveil

        ...certainly been homophobia pretty much everywhere in the world at one point or another.  Even in places that have never criminalized homosexuality, like Thailand. Like sexism it is not bound to one culture or location or economic or religious system.

        That being said, the particular American form of homophobia, with its connection to Christian orthodoxy, its tendency to conspiracy theory and its association with antimodernism, is being exported.  By evangelicals, for the most part.

        Policy, Peace and Progress Before Party

        by Alec82 on Mon May 17, 2010 at 01:28:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Again, not in Russia (0+ / 0-)

          Russian homophobia has its basis in the Orthodox Church, which long predates fundamentalism (not all evangelicals are homophobic, and I like to be precise). Russian policy is designed to preserve Orthodox influence so Western traditions don't have an easy time there.

          For that matter, as far as the average Russian is concerned, teh gay are a Western import. Putin has a conspiracy theory that HIV/AIDS was intentionally spread to Russia by decadent (code for teh gay) Americans.

          I didn't say it makes sense. Just that it is.

          _Karl Rove is an outside agitator._

          by susanala on Mon May 17, 2010 at 02:19:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well Lively... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            WinSmith, thethinveil, susanala

            ...has spoken before Russian speaking audiences before, at least in Latvia.  There are Russian-speaking evangelical churches all over.  Including in Russia.

            Scott Lively, a key figure in the global anti-gay movement, spoke in Uganda in March. Indeed, wherever one sees really furious Christian anti-gay activism, one often sees his name. Lively is the co-author of a book called The Pink Swastika, which posits that Nazism was a homosexual movement and that the modern gay-rights movement is its direct descendent. He's also written a book called The Poisoned Stream, a kind of anti-gay Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which traces the machinations of "a dark and powerful homosexual presence" through "the Spanish Inquisition, the French 'Reign of Terror,' the era of South African apartheid, and the two centuries of American Slavery."

            Lively has been particularly influential in the former Soviet Union. "The Pink Swastika has become Lively's passport to fame among anti-gay church leaders and their followers in Eastern Europe, as well as Russian-speaking anti-gay activists in America," reported the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2007. "Lively frequently speaks about the book and his broader anti-gay agenda in churches, police academies, and television news studios throughout the former Soviet Union."

            Lively is close to Pastor Alexey Ledyaev, whose New Generation Church, an influential megachurch based in Riga, Latvia, has satellites all over the region. As the SPLC reported, he's known for staging large-scale Christian rock operas "replete with lasers, smoke machines, and spandex-clad actors in ghoulish makeup. One of the rock operas, which young Russian-speaking anti-gay activists promote on video-sharing web sites, features a hero character wearing a tuxedo battling men in black tights armed with tiki torches. Over heavy-metal guitar riffs, a military-like chorus sings of ‘victory over the gays.'"

            Putin is not particularly anti-gay from what I can see, at least not compared to what some Russian politicians have to offer.  

            The "Western import" theory is not limited to Russia in any event.  The same theory has been promoted by the hard left here.  A mild variation of it finds a home in the work of Joseph Massad.  As is usually the case with his work and like minded individuals, it is really about colonialism and Zionism for him.  

            Anyway, homophobia is opportunistic.  It wasn't as if Russia was gay friendly during the Soviety era.  

            Policy, Peace and Progress Before Party

            by Alec82 on Mon May 17, 2010 at 02:29:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Your last point is all I was saying (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Alec82

              I see the Westerner "missions" as taking advantage of existing homophobia rather than introducing a form of bitory previously rare or unknown in Russia. Planting seed in fertile ground, as it were.

              Formerly Soviet states certainly definitely are not closed in the same sense as when they were Soviet.  There's a Pentacostal mega-church in Kiev, complete with TV faith healing. The Nigerian pastor wants to start a US mission.

              But there's still a strong social norm of favoring indigenous traditions and viewing outside ideas with a heavy dose of suspicion (except robber baron capitalism, of course). Even the behavioral scientists I work with (who asked for our help; we didn't come uninvited) can be anti-Western in some matters.

              _Karl Rove is an outside agitator._

              by susanala on Mon May 17, 2010 at 03:15:21 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  absolutely true (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SamSinister, WinSmith, NamelessGenXer

    I've seen what WinSmith describes at very close hand.  

  •  Here's where I think you made your mistake (5+ / 0-)

    You fail to see the politics in all of this.  

    The fact is, if Kagan was a Republican nominated by Bush, the GOP would claim she's the best choice since, well since the beginning of time.  They'd be touting her ethnicity, her legal background, etc.    

    Forget Godwin.  

    Occam's Razor:  The simplest explanation is usually the best.  

    Let's not overcomplicate the politics.  

  •  Interesting diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fizziks, Commoditize This, msmacgyver

    I see all the sniping of commenters above.  And maybe I would complain about an item here, an emphasis there.

    But it's a difficult topic to nail, and you throw a lot of it out there for consideration.  Lots of truth and real issues you raise.  Interesting stuff.

    •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fizziks, Commoditize This

      I'm not sure what the sniping is about.   Anti-Semitism in the conservative movement is one of the most understudied areas going on right now.  This "war on values" by a suspect "coastal elite" is the very notion of rootless cosmopolitanism and dual loyalty accusations that European Jews suffered from for most of the 20th Century.  

  •  The basic point (otherness, etc) is important (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl, Alec82, Commoditize This

    But,(presumably white) gay people and Jewish people are the only outsiders who can pass as insiders? I guess that goes to show how truly invisible the nonreligious really are. Or, for that matter, other religious minorities.

    •  thank you! (0+ / 0-)

      this dogmatism pissed me off:

      There are only two groups that can "pass" as normal while not being normal in the dominant republican hierarchy of white, Christian heterosexual normativity.

      1. 1 -  Gay
      2. 2 -  Jew

      Unlike other ethnic Others, gay people and Jewish people can "pass."  They can integrate.  They cannot be marked, or clearly seen, or clearly compartmentalized.

      I presume that DKos readers are aware of research showing that atheism is widely held by the US electorate to be the most potent disqualifing prejudice of any electoral candidacy, far ahead of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religious denomination.

      my first-hand experience of Other discrimination in the US on grounds that included my atheism reaches back to 1969, when I was systematically ostracized in 3rd grade by my peer cohort, with the open facilitation of my public school homeroom teacher, for declining to recite the Pledge of Allegiance — which I did primarily on the grounds that its explicit declaration of a condition of religious dominion clearly established that it was, in functional terms, a prayer.

      [further, I was quite clear that (since I was in this country solely as a dependent of an L-2 visa'ed British essential worker) it would be wrong in both fact and law to publicly abnegate my true nationality.]

      as a Briton, I'd been accustomed to being present silently and [imo] respectfully for the duration of all religious ceremonies and rituals in my birthplace, a state with an actual, you know, Official State Religion — and there had been no pushback whatsoever there.

      on arrival in the country of formal, constitutional "there shall be no state establishment of religion" separation, however, my accustomed strategy of peaceful conscientious coexistence was immediately deemed so appallingly insufficient that our teacher facilitated another ritual altogether: I was subjected to an actual classroom trial.

      the only peer who took the social risk of befriending me through the following year was in fact himself Jewish. I can't say with authority whether the Parkers were then subject to similar overt xenophobia; [Philip, where are you now?] but it wasn't apparent to me at the time.

      the Pledge of Allegiance, along with all the numerous other public expressions of functional Christian dominion over the affairs of the United States [express assertions of religious dominion imprinted on all national currency; Congressional sessions opened by prayers; POTUS-led prayer events; continual bipartisan invocations of divine favor for the United States concluding virtually every political address; etc. etc., ad nauseam] means that all devotees of the Abrahamic superstition^h^h^h^h^h^h religions
      are able to "pass" without doing violence to their consciences — but atheists are forced to accept a lifetime sentence of staying "in the closet" if they harbor any serious aspirations for making a high-level contribution to national politics.

      "Turning this country around [will] take years of siege warfare against deeply entrenched interests, defending a deeply dysfunctional political system." -PK

      by adrianrf on Tue May 18, 2010 at 02:13:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  atheism is a belief system (0+ / 0-)

        Unless you think gay people "Choose" to be gay, surely you should be able to see that identity politics is not that same as political thoughts or religious beliefs.  I'm talking about Jewishness here as an ethnicity, not simply a religious opinion.

  •  Picky complaint (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pico

    The Protocols of The Elders of Zion is Russian (created by the Orkrana, the Tsarist secret police) not French.

    TELL ME THE WHOLE PLAN!...One day that will work - The (11th) Doctor, Doctor Who, "Vampires of Venice"

    by The YENTA Of The Opera on Mon May 17, 2010 at 01:04:05 PM PDT

  •  Sontag Was Wrong (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pico, thethinveil

    Modernism has everything to do with the possibilities of technology and little or nothing to do with the sort of universalist pretensions that obsess bush-league philosophes like Ms. Sontag who wish to substitute the ability they do have to spin webs of ultimately self-referential words for the ability they don't have to do, well, anything of consequence.

    Modernism allows equal space to the judaic, the christian, the muslim, the indic, the sinitic, and the non-believers of all stripes, the straight, the queer, and the mixed. It is beyond all of those categories, and Ms. Sontag's attempt to reduce it to the twin poles of her own personal identity is, in a phrase, thoughtless masturbation.

    •  Modernism = ? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marja E

      I'm not familiar with the Sontag article, but at least in my field (literature) modernism can be completely ambivalent toward technology - but the two things the diarist mentioned can be pretty integral.  It sorta depends.  It's a pretty broad umbrella of a term.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Mon May 17, 2010 at 01:40:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sontag on "Camp" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pico

        Sontag argues camp is the defining modern sensibility, it has nothing to do with "modernism" as either an art or a philsophical/cultural movement.

        •  Ah, I see. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          esquimaux, Alec82, thethinveil

          Yeah, she's wrong about that - or at least, she way overstates her case:

          Jews and homosexuals are the outstanding creative minorities in contemporary urban culture. Creative, that is, in the truest sense: they are creators of sensibilities. The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony.

          Camp is important - as are moral seriousness and aestheticism/irony - but this is way too narrow an assessment of modern sensibility, even for the mid-60s.

          Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

          by pico on Mon May 17, 2010 at 02:08:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  great diary! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WinSmith, pico, blueoasis

    I don't think this diary deserves all of the complaining.  The thesis is very solid, and is an overlooked phenomenon.

    It is true.  One can see how conservatives - and I mean conservatives in the sense of the contemporary American right - would be doubly threatened by people that should be part of the "out" group but can pass as part of the "in" group.  

    To the right, the "out" groups are obvious - ethnic, racial, and cultural minorities, and gays.  

    Jewish people consitiute a very distinct ethnic minority, so they should be easy to put in the "out" side.  But because of their tendency within American society to a very high degree of assimilation and success, they just can't be  relegated to there.  To do so would be to put much of mainstream America on the "out" - and that includes many conservative leaders.

    Gays too should be on the out side, according to the conservative mind.  However, given that gay people are present throughout all ethnicities and social classes, they are not easy to isolate or remove ones' self from.  Deep in the conservative mind is the fear that gays are present in their family or social circle.  Indeed, it must seem as a stealth threat to them.

    Both of these populations, representing the impossibility of a nice tidy border between the "in" and "out" group, must give authoritarians special nightmares.  I think the diary is exactly right.  

    •  The thesis is solid, but the analysis (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thethinveil

      seems a bit cherry-picked to me, especially once we start naming off celebrities who've trafficked in gender- or sexuality- bending: it feels more like evidence picked for its support of the thesis rather than the reverse.  Still, some good food for thought.  

      I'd actually wager that most conservatives aren't bothered by Jewishness - that seems a mark of the Buchanan brand more so than the mainstream conservative - but the diarist is right that the rhetoric of world governments and conspiracies is sadly reminiscent of the old protocol genre.  It seems like the old rhetorical tropes have been displaced onto liberals in general, shedding some of its specificity in the process.  But that would take me a lot more research and a lot more hours than I'm willing to put into it at the moment.  :)

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Mon May 17, 2010 at 01:52:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But doesn't it fail to acknowledge (0+ / 0-)

      how contemporary American Conservatism has begun to court its gay supporters, and goes on to court, a "rainbow coalition" of Christian religious believers. There is even neo-fascist Christian support for Israel in what they see as the West's and Israel's fight against Islam. I don't think racism and homophobia is completely absent, but they are attempting to appear tolerant enough for those who share parts of their ideology and policy positions. Thus the author ignores contemporary conservatism's (albeit somewhat minor) socio-political contradictions.  

      We can see how this connects to the author's idea that to be a Jew or homosexual, culturally, one has to perform it. And to conservatives if they are not "performing" it in a way they can recognize, (a liberal, homosexual or Jew) then they can work with the Other politically.

      This explains why Kagen is met with relative acceptance among conservatives in Washington (note: I do not think she is gay, performatively or in actuality). They opportunistically drum up opposition, based on rumors to please portions of their homophobic base. But because she isn't identifiably a liberal, or leftist (based on the record of her life or career), she therefore is socially accepted.

      In a way, conservatives have done what the cultural revolution wanted to do, and have made everything "political" - erasing social barriers when it needs to, erecting them when it needs to. The left intended to liberate these Others fully through politics, and the right has made their political participation possible, but only when under their political ideology.    

      "What is the robbing of a Bank compared to the FOUNDING of a Bank?" Bertolt Brecht

      by thethinveil on Mon May 17, 2010 at 02:03:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The sad thing about the GOP's idiotic questions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thethinveil

    is how it obscures the possibility to ask Kagan the good questions.

  •  speaking as a gay, white, jewish male.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WinSmith, thethinveil, canadian gal

    you gave me quite a bit to ponder.

    I like that, so...thanks :)

    "Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle." -Helen Keller

    by ridemybike on Mon May 17, 2010 at 02:03:09 PM PDT

  •  Umm... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux, fizziks, thethinveil

    "San Francisco Values" can mean gay, but it can also mean Jewish.

    ...Could also mean hippies. In fact, when I mention to most people that I'd lived on the edge of the Castro, they have no idea what I'm talking about. Everybody knows about Haight-Ashbury, though.

    Wouldn't fit your narrative, but could also mean "hippies."

  •  i don't necessarily... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WinSmith

    agree with everything here - but certainly i think this is an interesting diary. it also made me think of this haunting image...

    repub hate

    "You can make a profound intellectual statement just by basing your efforts on silliness." -- Donald Roller Wilson

    by canadian gal on Mon May 17, 2010 at 08:43:43 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site