Fellow Goyim: On Jewish Disingenuity about Whiteness

A Jew converts to Catholicism and becomes a priest. On the morning of his first mass, a number of local clergy, who have been watching his conversion and ordainment with interest, are in attendance at his church to see how he will perform. After the services, the local Bishop comes up to the Priest to offer his congratulations.
“Father Goldberg,” he says, “that was a magnificent mass! Simply magnificent! Only one thing – next time, please don’t start your sermon with ‘Fellow goyim…’”

In the past week, two articles have appeared in the Jewish publication Forward that are principally concerned with the question whether or not Jews are White. One, by Karen Brodkin, contends that Ashkenazi American Jews have ‘become’ White, but stand in danger of ceasing to be White; the other, by Micha Danzig, contends for a variety of reasons that Jews are not and have never been White. Both pieces, my arguments shall show, are seriously confused, and their confusion only obscures the nuances of what is today a very important question. The principal target of my essay, however, is Brodkin’s article, as it is her article that best exemplifies the disingenuity and hostility of liberal Jewish attacks on White Identity, although much of my response to her shall address the errors in Danzig’s.

The central thesis of Brodkin’s essay is this: after being discriminated against for decades, American Jews in the middle of the 20th century managed to ‘become’ White; although, in the wake of Trump’s election, Jews stand in danger of losing their privileged White status. The evidence for this danger, Brodkin claims, consists of certain “chilling parallels” between Trump and early 20th-century eugenicists – in particular, Trump’s suggestion that his success is a result of good genetics, various ‘dog-whistles’ to certain undesirables on the part of his supporters, and the apparent re-emergence of the swastika as a prominent symbol in American life.

Obviously, this supposed evidence is nothing but the smoke and mirrors of paranoia and hysteria. To suggest that someone’s success is a result of their good genes is no more to create a parallel with eugenicists than it is to create a parallel with the majority of Jewish mothers in this country (whose children, as science confirms and most Jews silently acknowledge, are genetically predisposed to have those traits most conducive to success). Moreover, to imply that our evaluation of Trump ought to take into account the ‘dog-whistles’ of his supporters is equivalent to saying that we ought to attribute to Trump views that certain people he has never met are merely suspected of having – and this is surely ridiculous. “Trump’s plan to impose a compulsory registry for all Muslims echoes Hitler and yellow stars,” claims Brodkin, but it echoes this no more than Brodkin’s own claim that it echoes this echoes the ‘echoes’ used by online anti-Semites to identify Jews. Just as I would not, on this basis, accuse Brodkin of ‘dog-whistling’ to anti-Semites, so no one ought to accuse Trump of the same. There is simply nothing that Trump has said or done that might warrant any fear that Trump is anti-Semite.

But more troubling than Brodkin’s irrational fear of Trump is the confusion she sows regarding the nature of White identity. According to Brodkin, White identity (of which she is so disdainful that she puts the very term in quotations) is nothing but a “claim to ownership, power and privilege for [whomever is deemed] non-White.” To be White, on this view, is nothing other than to attain to a certain social class, enjoying various privileges that other groups do not have. But if this is the right analysis of White identity, then Whites in South Africa must be non-White, which is absurd.

Instead, it is obvious that to be White is simply to be part of a certain group of people who share a common set of ancestors in Europe many thousands of years ago, just as to be Jewish is to be a part of a certain group of people who share a common set of ancestors in Judea many thousands of years ago and to be Black is to be part of a certain group of people of people who share a common set of ancestors in West Africa many thousands of years ago. That, at a certain point in the past, various people who had the right sort of ancestry in Europe were not called ‘White’ does not prove that Whiteness is membership in some sort of sinister social club, but only that people used to use the term ‘White’ in a different way than we do now. Analogously, we now consider many more people to be disabled than we once did, and on that basis give many more people disability benefits, but this does not in any way suggest that being disabled just is a matter of receiving disability benefits. Rather, we simply have found that the meaning of the term ‘disabled’ includes many more people than we previously thought it did.

There is much anthropological and philosophical complexity to the question whether racial terms like ‘white’ refer to biological groups or merely social constructs, and it is not my intention to settle the issue here. Rather, I should like to remark only on the disingenuity and hypocrisy of any Jew who adopts Brodkin’s stance on race. For such a Jew, inasmuch as they consider themselves to be White, attains to the privileged position of being able to, just as Brodkin does, decry Whiteness and slander White identity not as a hostile outsider but as an apparently repentant insider. Because Brodkin considers herself White, she must surely feel no compunction in admitting that her Whiteness is something hateful, bigoted and shameful. In other words, Brodkin’s self-identification as White allows her to make attacks on White people and their identity; whether or not these attacks are warranted by historical systems of power and oppression and present-day instutions of privilege is not germane to the issue: what is relevant is that Brodkin takes herself, as a White person, to be in a position to attack other White people.

But unlike the great majority of those White people in attacking whom Brodkin takes herself to be justifed, Brodkin is not truly attacking herself. For Brodkin has a competing identity behind which she can retreat in the face of her own invective: namely, Brodkin identifies also as a Jew. Brodkin’s own fears about anti-Semitism are evidence that she does not see herself as responsible for any history of power, privilege, and oppression, but rather as a precarious minority in the midst of a potentially hostile majority – a minority sometimes accepted as equals, but always separate and in danger of oppression. As such, Brodkin herself does not bear the personal weight of her attacks against White identity, and whatever justification those attacks might have obtained in virtue of her supposed Whiteness is merely disingenuous illusion.

For Brodkin, who considers herself both White and Jewish, does not appear to take into account that most American Whites do not consider themselves to be anything other than American Whites. When told that their identity is oppressive, shameful, and ought to be eliminated, most American Whites do not have any other identity toward which to turn. Brodkin’s attack on their identity, rather, is an attack on the only identity that they have. As such, its disingenuity is doubly vicious.

This is not to say, of course, that Ashkenazi Jews should never consider themselves partly White, or at least something approaching White. I have argued elsewhere that while Ashkenazi Jews may consider themselves either Jewish or White, but not both. Nevertheless, Brodkin and others are right to note that different racial groups can occasionally merge together, so let us grant on this basis that Ashkenazi Jews can indeed consider themselves both Jewish and White. Still, even if this supposition is true, what is White about Ashkenazim is not membership in any privileged social class, for what makes us partly White was apparent in us long before we attained to full social acceptance in the middle of the past century. As recent studies have shown, up to half of Ashkenazi ancestry is European rather than Levantine, and the culture of Europe is deeply imbued in Ashkenazi history and identity – to be sure of this, one need only look at the long list of Jewish classical musicians, scientists, philosophers and artists, or at the traditional central and eastern European dishes that we eat at our Shabbat tables. We maintain, to be sure, our own separate, Jewish identity, but there can be no doubt that Europe and European culture have left an indelible mark on our own culture and heritage, just as we have left our mark on them.

But should we choose to embrace this European heritage and consider ourselves partly White, it ought not be in order to acquire a mere guise behind which to criticize those other Whites from whom we are still, as Jews, apart. Should we choose to think of ourselves as White, we ought to consider other Whites as our friends and allies, as compatriots in a civilization that we have built together. We should not deny that gentile Whites have a robust identity as the descendants of a great European civilization whose culture, history, mythology and achievements belong to them just as the culture, history, mythology and achievements of East Asian civilizations belong to the East Asians and the culture, history, mythology and achievements of Jews belong to the Jews. All of this is, needless to say, consistent with a view that objects to racism and hatred against others: there is nothing about taking pride in the culture and heritage that produced Bach, Kant, Einstein and the Arthurian legends that commits one either to hatred of the cultures and heritages that produced Jazz and algebra or to the belief that non-Whites should be oppressed. For this reason, should we choose to identify ourselves as White, we should take no less pride in that which makes us White than we already do in that which makes us Jewish, and we should never deny the same pride to gentile Whites.

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5 thoughts on “Fellow Goyim: On Jewish Disingenuity about Whiteness

  1. I agree with much of your post and consider it very well-stated. However, there’s an idea laid out here that I’ve seen pop up over and over again in certain right-wing circles, and I believe it deserves further scrutiny. Specifically, you write that Jews like Brodkin enjoy a dual identity that makes their criticism of whiteness more low-stakes for them, and that because of their ethnic/religious fallback, they aren’t really criticizing themselves. Indeed, in a certain sense, they’re only pretending to do so. And, as you’re probably aware, lots of anti-semites have run with this idea, albeit in ways infinitely cruder than yours. (Perhaps you’re familiar with the countless /pol/ memes where the evil Happy Merchant infiltrator wears a comically unconvincing white-person-mask mask that he expects will fool the gullible goyim.)

    But the extent to which such Jews “retreat” into these crypto-identities after collectively shaming their white host societies always seems to simply be assumed, never actually researched. Noel Ignatiev is pretty much the poster boy for this sort of thing: he’s an absolute goldmine for WN’s seeking to demonstrate deep-seated Jewish hostility to white people, having explicitly (and famously) called for the concept of “whiteness” itself to be abolished, while participating in activities like editing a (no doubt stupid) journal called “Race Traitor.” But upon further investigation, he also turns out to be the sort of guy who likes to compare Israel to Nazi Germany. So it’s really unclear at best he’s *that* loyal to his Ashkenazi coethnics compared to white gentiles, don’t you think?

    The same thing, I believe, applies to Brodkin. The first thing I asked myself after finishing your essay was, “Okay, but what does ‘Jewishness’ actually mean to her?” I suspected, giving her Critical Race Theory-sounding rhetoric, that it’s probably not a source of all that much ethnic solidarity. And indeed, after googling her, it turns out she’s one of the many anthropologists who appears to support the BDS movement (see https://polarjournal.org/slippery-slopes-a-specious-anti-boycott-argument/).

    Now, being critical of Israel – even being as cartoonishly hyper-critical of Israel as BDS tends to be – doesn’t disqualify you from being or identifying correctly as Jewish. But if you think Jewishness is Brodkin’s “real” identity, and acknowledge that she’s capable of being harshly critical of the existence of a Jewish state, then on what grounds is her critique of whiteness strong evidence that she isn’t equally serious about being white? Maybe she’s instead just like all the white gentile anthropologists who are also obsessed with colonialism, oppression and white guilt?

    I honestly think we have to actually go and ask Brodkin and people like her about their sense of identity before drawing hasty conclusions about them. Maybe “Jewish” is just a religion to her, and she’d say that whites can simply retreat into identities like “Catholic” or whatever just like she does.

    To be clear, I think most of her beliefs about race are probably completely idiotic, but we still have to be careful in our ascriptions of ulterior motive.

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    1. Mark, this is spot on. That a liberal Jew is hostile to Whites does not preclude her being hostile to her own kind (or, at least, advocating against her own kind’s interests). I’m inclined to think that the ilk of Ignatiev, Brodkin, etc. really identify as nothing other than some sort of cosmopolitan moralistic elite, who use Whiteness and Jewishness as guises behind which to advocate for their cosmopolitan interests. Depending on the context, one or the other identities may be expedient: when one wants to look like an oppressed and downtrodden minority, it’s expedient to present oneself as Jewish; when one wants to look like a repentant oppressor, it’s expedient to present oneself as White. However, this should be consistent with my post: that Brodkin’s adoption of White identity is disingenuous does not imply that her adoption of Jewish identity is not equally so.

      This may be a good subject for a further post.

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    2. Perhaps, as neither loyally White nor nationalistically Jewish, she’s left being an atomized lost lone soul…an affect she’d like to transmit to multitudes of Whites, in the very season of their rising group identity.

      That urge may spew from her (presumably as a raised Jew) corrosive disdain that eats away within her for her own inherited and indoctrinated group membership. This acid (something common, but often unspoken in Jews’ psychology), gets vented out all-but involuntarily on whoever she’s addressing, mainly gentile Whites of the West.

      I may be wrong, but if there’s even a shred of truth to this self-hate being at work within her, then the task lies not in band-aiding self-hate with psychobabble, but in uprooting the objects of that disdain. The replowing can begin with striking the Semitic theology and hypocrisy of being “chosen ones” and yet victims; disavowing “religious” “holiday” celebrations of the atrocities from the books of Maccabees, Esther, and many more incompatibilities of Talmudic teachings with an informed, civilized world; ending barbaric customs on baby genitals, chickens, etc.; and expunging and denouncing what tractates and commentaries ever attacked Christ, Christians, and Christianity, when it was Jesus’ heartfelt criticisms they should have at least had the humility to respectfully heed and be thankful for.

      Since the opportunities to be and do these needed changes have been avoided for centuries, the answer is back to the drawing board to glean only one message – be people of truth. Identity as “Yehudim” should be replaced strictly and publicly by identity as “Emetim” — and the actions of anyone who takes this inevitably necessary position must live up to truth – emet – by not hiding, either consciously or unconsciously, what they really think and what they are really doing.

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      1. What, I thought maybe there’d be some conversation…? Can anyone, even here, say Jewry deserves at least some of the harsh criticisms leveled against (((‘us’))). That it would be honest to disavow publicly many untruths that it propagates? That rather than commemorate old tribal slaughters it would be best to do away with all those “yom tovs.” Ironically, the voluntary abolition of all of the holidays, save maybe one, is the time of redemption, so it is written. I, for one, am wasting no time. Jewry, Judaism, and Jews’ culture of the future is to remove themselves from the poison of celebrating, for example, victory and firstborn death of the Egyptians. Imagine the shoe on the other foot, for God’s sake! Probably can’t do much about the genetics, but the Jews’ way of perceiving and thinking has to be put through the severest of reforms, with internal pressures driving it. When asked by the world, “Why?” the response is, “The centuries-old way was guilt-mongering, destabilizing, and wrong. Mea Culpa. We have long opted not to reform, even though we could see it was corrupt, from the past right up to the present, but we now let any teaching or cultural/behavioral artifact related to that wrongheadedness go. We work to change ourselves.” I know volunteers will be one in 10,000 among the population, but at a dissent site? Anyone?

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