Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

Do you agree that racism is different than antisemitism?

Asked by JLeslie (57656points) 1 week ago

I just saw an interview with Bari Weiss. She recently wrote a book called How to Fight Anti-Semitism. I haven’t read the book. She looks rather young to me, not that it necessarily matters, but her generation maybe is more naïve is my thought on that. She looks to be in her early 30’s. The book talks about being Jewish in America, and how so many of us (Jewish people) were raised feeling America was the golden land (Goldene Medina a Yiddish expression) or my father used to say paradise for the Jews.

She said in the interview that racism is different than antisemitism, because racism is punching down at someone the racist person feels is less human than themselves, but antisemitism is punching up, and about conspiracy theories. A conspiracy theory that there is a secret hand manipulating the world. Controlling banks, governments, and more.

She argues that a culture that has antisemitism is a sign of a society that is dying.

She summed up how the Jews are scapegoats for so many. She stated that under communism the Jews are the ultimate capitalists. Under Nazism the Jews are the race contaminators. Under the far right the Jews are the handmaidens of immigrants and minorities. Under the far left they are the handmaidens of white supremacy, because they support Israel.

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46 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

No, it is not different.
Antisemites do consider Jews inferior.

Demosthenes's avatar

I understand the argument being made here; that modern antisemitism (and, well, much of it throughout history) seems be targeting Jewish “elites”. It’s resentment felt toward Jews for having money and being in positions of controlling money (ironically, most antisemites seem to be raging capitalists). Antisemitism seems to come mainly from the lower classes, as opposed to racism against blacks in America which was felt at every level and especially by the elites. But that’s only part of the story. Antisemitism isn’t just about financial resentment; there’s also the whole “deicide” factor among antisemitic Christians which has little to do with class. And as @ragingloli says, antisemites do tend to view Jews as inferior; the higher class they may belong to does not ameliorate their inherent inferiority. Their reputation as “contaminators” and a threat to “the whites” is much more about inferiority than it is about any anti-elitism.

Critical theorists certainly love their “punching up/down” dichotomy; they seem to think it explains every social phenomenon in existence from comedy to antisemitism. Lately I’ve been finding it to be quite the oversimplification.

ragingloli's avatar

I consider the “punching up against elites” to be a feeble attempt to imbue their racism with some sort of perceived “legitimacy”, by conflating being Jewish with class conflict.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I see a difference.

To me, real racists in the US, hate everyone non-white basically, for the most part. There is a lot of talk about Jewish people, but it doesn’t seem more virulent than any other races. Maybe more suspicious of motives, but not more vitriolic.

But I’ve heard people across the pond speak, who are fine with everyone except Jews. That to me seems odd, based on the assimilation over there by so many races.

To me, that is difference, Jews seem to be especially hated in some areas, kind of like many Americans feel about Isis.

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL Are Jewish people considered not white in your statement above?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie They are not considered white by the WS’s I used to know.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The Jews are relegated to a “special” bigotry distinguished from other targets of racism. The discussion over their “whiteness” just serves to illustrate how illogically difficult a task racism is to justify. But the Jews are unique in the pantheons of hatred in America, because rather than the typical excuse of an ethnic minority dragging the rest of us under, they have the honor of being too successful, and so much so that they supposedly own the country and are grinding the rest of us under their well heeled boots. And nothing one might invent serves to reinforce this ridiculous delusion than this country’s relationship with Israel. Just try convincing a Muslim that Jews don’t own and run America.

LostInParadise's avatar

Strictly speaking, Judaism is a religion and a culture, not a race. Antisemites tend to confuse the two, making it seem as if Jews are a separate race. There are indeed genetic similarities among Jews, due to Jews mainly marrying other Jews, but this is not the defining characteristic. A person can convert into or out of Judaism. You can’t do the same with race. Discrimination by either race or religion is equally reprehensible, but there is a distinction.

Having said that, it may indeed be the case that antisemitism involves more punching up than racism.

It should be pointed out that American Jews are divided over Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. We also have the peculiar situation where many right wingers are pro-Israel but are also antisemitic.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@LostInParadise “We also have the peculiar situation where many right wingers are pro-Israel but are also antisemitic.”

My perception is that Republicans are not all racists, obviously, but many racists are Republicans. I think that’s where some confusion lies.

Additionally, the religious Republicans, are far more likely to support Isreal, based on religious beliefs.

While WS could care less about any religious aspect. I never met a WS who was religious in any way, shape or form.

kritiper's avatar

No. Hatred is hatred. No difference.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I agree with @kritiper. Hate is hate.

flutherother's avatar

Every example of racism has its own unique history and its own catalogue of reasons to justify what is simply an illogical hatred of our fellow man. Racists can be identified from their speech as they all say “I am not a racist, but…..”. That but can be almost anything from being too rich and powerful to being too poor and too weak.

Thinking that antisemitism is different from racism is almost a kind of racism itself.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@flutherother Real racists don’t deny it, they’re proud of it.

flutherother's avatar

@KNOWITALL They still make up reasons to justify themselves.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@flutherother Oh they’ll tell you all the reasons, for sure, most of which are incorrect information or generational prejudices.

If you haven’t seen a child use the N-word or throw a HH salute, you’re lucky. These people are utterly convinced they are right. They are the ones who would just assume put land mines at the border, I’ve literally heard a man say that in public. Turn the Middle East into a lake of glass, etc…. I mean, it’s sick.

My point is, that people like seawulf who have legit concerns about illegal immigrants, are not the same as these people, so using the ‘racist’ label, to me, in every thread where he voices legit and factual concerns, is highly offensive and inappropriate.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@KNOWITALL Is Seawulf’s hate less caustic than an avowed Nazi’s because he seems reasonable?

JLeslie's avatar

This was the first time I had ever heard the expressions punch up or punch down. I don’t know how I feel about it, which is why I asked the Q, to hear what the collective has to say.

I agree with @ragingloli that antisemites usually look at Jews as inferior. Although, the antisemitism in the black community I think was more of a backlash against what they perceived as Jews taking advantage of them. Even when it was a large percentage of Jews fighting for civil rights in the 60’s for African Americans, there was a significant amount of antisemitism among African Americans.

More often than you might expect, when I tell someone who is not Jewish that I am Jewish, they make a comment like, “the Jewish people are the chosen people,” or, “Jewish people are so smart,” or “Jewish people have a lot of money.” Makes me very uneasy. I’m not always so sure why they are saying it.

I don’t use the term racism for Jews, Muslims, or for LGBTQ, because I think the broadening of the term racism implies a different race. I’ve talked about this on fluther before, and it seems most people feel it’s perfectly fine to call someone who is antisemitism or who hates Hispanics a racist. I think it’s odd, but I’m getting used to it.

The Nazis did see Jewish people as a different race, and interestingly a letter I have that my great uncle wrote my grandmother when he was stationed in Europe during the war referred to Germans as the German race in one part of the letter, so back in the 40’s maybe race was used more loosely.

I don’t know if the author maybe sees Jews as different than other groups, which might mean she herself is not relating to other minority groups and that could be seen as bigoted also. I didn’t read the book, I only saw her in this interview that lasted a few minutes.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake Would you like to move to PM so we don’t derail JLeslie’s thread?

I haven’t seen any hate from @seawulf, myself, but I’d love an example of what you believe shows his hate in regards to race issues.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@KNOWITALL I don’t need to provide examples. You state, “My point is, that people like seawulf who have legit concerns about illegal immigrants, are not the same as these people, so using the ‘racist’ label, to me, in every thread where he voices legit and factual concerns, is highly offensive and inappropriate.” From your statement, it can be surmised that he’s been called a racist. My question stands. Is his hate less offensive because he’s not as vocal as a self-proclaimed Nazi? Is there some kind of scale of hate? Is some hate more palatable than other kinds?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Hawaii I dont see legit concerns as hate. Two very different things.

(Edited to add)
The fact that some people dont know the difference and still use that label constantly, is a troubling new situation.

seawulf575's avatar

I think that racism is different from anti-semitism and that it is really, at heart, the same. Racism is about hating someone for their race not being the same as yours. Anti-Semitism is about hating people because of their religious beliefs. So they are different. But they are the same because they are based on irrational hatred.

JLeslie's avatar

@seawulf575 Antisemitism is about hating people for their religious beliefs? I have honestly never thought about antisemitism that way.

Edit: I guess maybe in a vague way I have thought about it in terms of the haters wanting everyone to have the same religion as themselves, but mostly I have felt antisemitism is about either having a scapegoat to blame bad times on, or hating people who are different, or hating the other, or hating people who have been successful.

Mostly, it just feels like I’m hated because I was born Jewish. I don’t feel like my beliefs matter, because an antisemite won’t care if I convert to some other religion, I’m born a Jew, they won’t ever look past that. Especially, people like Hitler who saw Jewish people as a race. You can’t shed your race.

ragingloli's avatar

It did not matter one iota to the Nazis, if you were adhering to Judaism. You could be a devout christian, but if you had Jewish ancestors, you were a Jew.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie Me neither. The publications did have religious symbols though, now that I think about it. On documentaries.

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL What publications?

raum's avatar

I’m a big fan of Venn diagrams. Antisemitism is merely a subset of racism.

Saying antisemitism isn’t racism is like saying a rich, well-educated black person doesn’t experience racism. Classism isn’t racism.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie WS publications, old Nazi propaganda, etc… PBS has many great documentaries about the Jewish people.

JLeslie's avatar

@raum Wait, what? Your analogy is a well educated black person? So, are you generalizing that all Jewish people are well educated?

@KNOWITALL Oh, the Nazi propaganda. You mean the Star of David? That would represent Jewish people, but I still didn’t see it as a religious thing during Nazi Germany. Religion is a belief, Hitler didn’t care what the Jews believed, he didn’t allow them the choice to convert to live, he hated them for existing. He put stars on us so we didn’t slip through and blend in accidently. When Americans brought slaves to America we chose to import black slaves so we knew they were outsiders and when they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hitler saw Jews as a race of people. A genetic thing. He described our semitic features, etc.

raum's avatar

Often the argument that antisemitism is different than racism is based on the idea that classism negates racism. That’s not how it works.

JLeslie's avatar

@raum I’d like you to elaborate if you don’t mind.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Is Seawulf’s hate less caustic than an avowed Nazi’s because he seems reasonable?” Seawulf seems reasonable to you @Hawaii_Jake?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Dutchess_III I am well aware of what I wrote. I do not understand your question at all. No hate is reasonable. That’s why I wrote the question I wrote. I think you’re misunderstanding something, but I really have no clue what your question means. Please elaborate.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Does @seawulf575 seem reasonable to you?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Hawaii She is asking if you find any of @seawulfs posts hateful, I believe. Many here have called him names in probably 50plus threads.

To me, he’s voicing legit concerns that reflect the opinion of many voters, worthy of deeper discussion.

seawulf575's avatar

Let me help. I can be an ornery cuss. I can be very set in my ways. I have solid opinions that I believe in. Most of my opinions do not fit into the mold of the left, and I have no problem supporting my views. That lack of fit in the liberal mold has earned me many names here on Fluther, but to be honest, I have traded tit for tat many times so I am not looking down my nose at anyone. Now comes the decision….what do you consider “hateful”? THAT is what needs to be answered.

Dutchess_III's avatar

No, I’m asking him if @seawulf575 strikes him as a reasonable person. He strikes me as very unreasonable and unyielding. Even when he is proven to be wrong, beyond any doubt, he refuses to budge. To me, that seems unreasonable and not very wise.

flo's avatar

Is the author trying to say that it’s better to be anti-other groups of people than being anti Jewish people?

Dutchess_III's avatar

No. She’s asking if it’s different than other kinds of hate. So far the consensus seems to be “No. Unreasonable hate is hate.”

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Dutchess_III Seawulf is not the issue. I only mentioned him, because @KNOWITALL brought him up. The issue is hate, and @seawulf575 has rightly questioned what that means. I doubt we can fully define it here on Fluther. I think any definition will start with an attitude that some people are not worthy. That is just a start. A lot needs to be added to that.

JLeslie's avatar

I think the author is saying that Jews are hated for different reasons than other groups, or at least sometimes they are. She isn’t saying one type of hate is worse or better. At least from the interview that is what I gathered, I haven’t read the book.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

A simple yes or no would have sufficed @jake.

flo's avatar

So, if a person hates 2 grous of people:
-The blind
-People between 5’ 7” and 6’.
What is the difference?

flo's avatar

Is it punching up what you’re supposed to do not punch down according to some comedians and /critics of comedians?

Dutchess_lll's avatar

That was a good analogy @flo.

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