Am I overreacting to think that BYU’s online government class slipped in a gratuitous, classically antisemitic trope about Jews controlling foreign policy?
I’ve written before about BYU’s online high school government class and, frankly, didn’t have much nice to say about it. It’s poorly written, poorly structured, and poorly informed. Thinking about it, that probably makes it the equivalent of an average high school government class.
Today, though, while keeping my Bookworm company, I read language that struck me not just as below average but as wrong. Really wrong.
You guys are my reality checkers. Does the language I’ve highlighted in the following passage from the course’s section on religious diversity constitute important information, random information, or the unnecessary insertion of a classic antisemitic trope?
The so-called “Black Church” (churches comprised primarily of African Americans) has contributed significantly not only to the religious and cultural richness of the United States, but it has also played a central role in the political sphere. Numerous black religious leaders, including the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., have been and continue to be hugely important in numerous civil rights and public policy causes. Meanwhile, Jewish Americans have had significant influence on the United States’ policies in the Middle East, and millions of other religious and nonreligious Americans influence politics and public policy every day in elective office, through participation in the political process and through civic activities in their neighborhoods and communities.
Here’s my take: Jews make up only 2% of the American population. To the extent there used to be unanimous support for Israel across both political parties, that wasn’t driven by this 2%. Instead, it came from (a) anticommunism during the Cold War, because Israel sided with America against the Soviet Union, which backed the Arab states; (b) respect for a beleaguered liberal democracy in a sea of totalitarian theocracies and thugocracies; and (c) an American prophetic Christian belief that Israel is the Jewish land and Jews need to return to that land to initiate the Second Coming. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that America’s conservative Christian community currently loves Israel more and fears Islam more than America’s predominantly Progressive Jewish community does.
My view is that ti’s antisemites, such as Walt and Mearsheimer, who argue that a cabal of evil Jews is directing America’s Middle Eastern foreign policy. For BYU to slip in what I see as a gratuitous remark about Jewish control over foreign policy is a bow to the antisemitic world of Walt and Mearsheimer, and all the others who trail in their wake.
What’s your take? Again, a reality check is always welcome. I’m willing to concede that I’m hypersensitive, but it seems to me that BYU is either careless or worse.
UPDATE: I’m getting a lot of different and interesting opinions — thank you! I should say here something that I should have said in the first place: I have no hostility to Mormons, a group of people I greatly respect. While their faith doesn’t attract me, they live honorable and patriotic lives and that’s always going to appeal to me.
I am, however, deeply suspicious of academics. After all, we know that academia trumps values. That’s why Jesuit colleges encourage abortion and Brandeis supports antisemitic academics. One of the hardest Left students I knew in law school was a BYU grad (he’d followed a girl there). Thus, even though BYU is mostly Mormon and in Utah, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything when measured against the fact that it’s an American university.
My main problem was that the statement seemed utterly out of place. One can definitely praise (or damn) Jews for their impact on American culture (movies, songs, television), but their control over America’s foreign policy strikes me as less obvious. Random statements always seem a bit suspicious.
Incidentally, in the spirit of equality, let me point you to an article in the Forward, a hard Left Jewish online magazine, saying that the NRA is antisemitic. The article basically says that Wayne LaPierre gave a speech attacking Leftists for undermining traditional American institutions.
To the article’s author, the speech’s topic, in and of itself, is an antisemitic dog whistle. I strongly disagree. Leftists of all races, nations of origin, and faiths are proudly attacking America’s institutions — they hate capitalism and the free market, they hate the Second Amendment and other constitutional rights, and they use American institutions (Hollywood, the media, academia, etc.) to spread that hate. In other words, they’re Marxists and they hate what America stands for. That’s not a Jewish thing; that’s a Marxist thing.
Ironically, Marxists throughout the 20th and into the 21st century have been fanatically antisemitic, ever since Marx, a self-hating first generation Jewish convert tied together Jews and capitalism. That’s why socialist nations such as Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia aggressively slaughtered Jews. And that’s why the harder Left a college campus is, the more likely it is to support the BDS movement and otherwise be hostile to Jews. So, no, there is no dog whistle there.
The article also points out that LaPierre singled out Jews in his speech: Soros, Schumer, and Steyer, among others. Yes, they’re all genetically Jewish, and Schumer and Steyer associate themselves with the Jewish community. First and foremost they’re all hardcore Leftists.
Soros is dismissive of his Jewish past, Schumer is the leader of the Senate Democrats, and Steyer has noisily devoted himself to advocating Leftist causes. That is, yes, they are Jewish, but their malevolence towards American institutions is unrelated to being Jews (and certainly none of them are truly religious).
The people LaPierre names are what Evan Sayet calls “plopping” Jews — they plopped out of a Jewish woman’s body and either abandoned Judaism entirely or opted for Reform Judaism, which is more of a social thing, with a form of worship indistinguishable from an amalgam of hard-Left Unitarianism and the Democrat Party platform. I suspect that were LaPierre to speak of Bibi Netanyahu, he’d have nice things to say.