Protocols‘ Steven I. Weiss (my new arch nemesis) recaps the Gregg Easterbrook affair for Jewsweek. (I created the issue’s cover graphic, pictured at right.)
It’s a very good piece, and I concur, for the most part, with his assesments and conclusions. But, for the moment, what I find a little more interesting is where Weiss writes,
[E]asterbrook’s post was not, as Leon Wieseltier assessed it, “objectively anti-Semitic.” Yet Wieseltier’s justification, in which he says that “Gregg’s comments impute Jewish motives for everything that Jews do … they suggest that everything any Jew does is intrinsically a Jewish thing,” is by far the most articulate critique that has surfaced.
After I quoted Atrios on my writeup of the Easterbrook affair, Weiss criticized me for being “an idiot” who “can’t think for himself.” Truth be told, I had negelected to post my own comments on the issue, which I had left on Atrios’ site. However my response is quite similar to Wieseltier’s latter point, which Weiss calls “by far the most articulate critique” (even though he goes on to disagree with it), though I suppose I did not verbally articulate mine as well. At no point, in my response, do I accuse Easterbrook of being an antisemite. In fact I notably disagree with Atrios, saying that I believe Easterbrook raises a valid point—Jews have no business profiting from violent movies. I then go on to question,
because these people are anything but religious, a) who gives a fuck, and b) why is their cultural heritage relevant? if they were doing business under the auspices of promoting judaism or just being jewish, it would count. but because it’s likely these men barely identify with being jewish, [what] does their jewishness have to do with anything?
So what Weiss is saying, without actually ceding the fact, is that I make a rather valid point and that he and I actually see closer to “eye-to-eye” on this issue than he cares to admit.
Weiss goes on to say that,
While a well-read site with good audience participation and good inter-blog play can achieve a very good error-free rate, blogs are obviously not perfect. And in the sense that sometimes some bloggers feel the need to make stronger statements to get noticed, sometimes some things might fall through the cracks.
Why Weiss is willing to make this concession for Easterbrook (as well as Meryl Yourish and Roger L. Simon), and not me, who he has virulently chastised for my admitedly unthoughtful earlier writing on Jim Moran & Tam Dalyell is beyond me. Thus, I can only wonder why he refuses to be as “fair & balanced” when it comes to Jewschool.
Also, I might be missing something, but I feel as though Weiss doesn’t provide a wholly explainative reason for why Easterbrook invokes the Jewishness of Disney’s executives: He places the dots, but doesn’t fully connect them. To say Easterbrook’s a religious expert justifiably expressing moral outrage doesn’t necessarily cut it. Does Easterbrook seriously believe that just because the Jews have endured the Holocaust that all Jews must subscribe to the moral compass northpoint of nonviolence? If that’s the case, then he is applying a higher moral standard to Jews which is, in effect, antisemitic. On the other hand, to say that his remarks weren’t antisemitic because his critics have a certain affinity for him and were remorseful over his dismissal from ESPN doesn’t make much sense either. It is more complicated than that, and has to do a lot more with just understanding the tone and the intent of the author—with providing a “personal context” for his writing (and I believe that this is the point Weiss intimates but fails to clearly make). We know that Gregg Easterbrook’s a decent guy waging, what moral Jews would consider, a valid criticism. If he were a Jew who’d said it, no one would have even blinked. But because as a culture we are hypersensitive to criticism directed at Jews from non-Jewish sources, people jumped all over him. With that point, I find myself wholly in agreeance with Weiss and I think the entire affair is regretable.
I’m sad to say that I think non-Jews (especially those with something to lose) ought to be careful about publically criticizing Jews, out of concern for heated Jewish reaction. But I think, more importantly, that Jews ought to research their critics a little better before branding them antisemites. You could ruin a good man’s career for no good reason, as is woefully demonstrated by The Easterbrook Incident.