The Forward reports,
For the small, hardy band of right-wing Jews who attended this past weekend’s American Renaissance Conference, the biennial gathering of white nationalists ended on a sour note.
The events Saturday, February 25, passed without major incident. But then, late Sunday morning, none other than former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke approached the microphone on the floor during the question-and-answer session for French writer Guillaume Faye. After congratulating Faye for stirring remarks that “touched my genes,” Duke asked if there weren’t an even more insidious threat to the West than Islam.
“There is a power in the world that dominates our media, influences our government and that has led to the internal destruction of our will and our spirit,” Duke said.
“Tell us, tell us,” came a call from the back of the room.
“I’m not going to say it,” Duke said to rising laughter.
But Michael Hart, a squat, balding Jewish astrophysicist from Maryland, was not amused. He rose from his seat, strode toward Duke (who loomed over him like an Aryan giant), spit out a curse—“You f … ing Nazi, you’ve disgraced this meeting”—and exited.
As it happens, only a few minutes earlier Hart, a mainstay of American Renaissance conferences, had been trying to reassure Herschel Elias, a first-time attendee from suburban Philadelphia, that he should not let his observation that the meeting was “infiltrated by Nazis and Holocaust deniers” ruin his impression of American Renaissance.
“The speakers aren’t Nazis,” Hart assured him. “Jared isn’t a Nazi.”
Jared is Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance magazine. He founded the publication 1990, and since 1994 he had sponsored the biennial conference that bears its name. A former liberal, Taylor is glib, gracious and genial, capable of putting his white nationalism in the most benign and commonsense terms.
“We mean well to all people,” he said in his address at this year’s conference, “but our own people come first.”
The conference has attracted ever larger crowds, with this year’s event drawing about 300 people—all white (no more than 5% Jewish) and most of them male. The attendees are united by a common belief in black intellectual inferiority, opposition to non-white immigration and ardor for maintaining America’s white majority. By the end of this seventh biennial conference, however, the delicate state of his coalition seemed apparent.
Hart, who spoke at the 1996 conference about his plan for a racial partition of the United States, said that Taylor now had to face the fact that he must purge the Nazis or lose the Jews. “He can’t expect Jews to come if there are Nazis here,” Hart said.
And therein lies Taylor’s dilemma.
From the start, he has been trying to de-Nazify the movement and draw the white nationalist circle wider to include Jews of European descent. But to many on the far right, taking the Jew-hatred out of white nationalism is like taking the Christ out of Christmas—a sacrilege. Actually inviting Jews into the movement is an act of lunacy, or betrayal, to them.
Still, just before dinner Saturday, Taylor sounded resolute.
“Ultimately, for all the things I care about to happen, Jews must be part of the movement,” he said in an interview. The reason, he added, is that Jews have influence and are widely seen as “the conscience of our society.”
For example, Taylor said, without Jewish support it will be nearly impossible to restrict immigration. Besides, the conference organizer said, as far as he is concerned, a white Jew is white.Â
Michael Berman — the Brooklyn man responsible for exposing the November A.P. story that falsely implied that Jews and Italians were motivating anti-Asian hate crimes in a public school in his article published on Amren – was also alienated by the anti-Jewish sentiment at the conference.
Son of a card-carrying Communist, Berman marched on Washington with Martin Luther King Jr. But, he wrote, that was before two of his sisters were raped by black men and before he served eight years as the dean of boys at Brooklyn’s George W. Wingate High School, where “we averaged five arrests a day.” These days he attends American Renaissance conferences, and this year he brought a likeminded former teaching colleague to serve as his shabbos goy.
“It has not been easy for me as a New York Jew, embracing the views that I do. I am regarded as a pariah,” Berman wrote in his 2003 essay…”Are you a Jew?” Matthews demanded. “I don’t think you should be here.”
Berman was hurt.
“You see, there’s no home for me,” he sighed after Matthews had left. “I’m like a black sheep here and everywhere I go.”
Taylor’s site Amren certainly shares some of the traditional ingredients of the normative White Nationalist movements abhorred by mainstream conservatives. He provides links to dubious theories in eugenics; his focus is almost exclusively race, with little allowance for the affects of social class; his selection of links and his readers’ comments display much more interest in obsessing over and raising white consciousness than discussing a specific policy. This is not a site for conservative wonks. This is still a White Nationalist breeding ground, with a focus all but exclusively on race.
Where Taylor remains enigmatic is his White Nationalist site’s strict avoidance of antisemitism, overt or covert, and his rejection of conspiracy theories, his rejection of Holocaust denial, his genteel manner, and his limited policy objectives which he does advocate, and which (his goals, though not White Nationalism itself) are growing increasingly legitimized in more respected circles. He has long argued against non-European (read white) immigration, a position less unacceptable to many than it was prior to 9/11, and the riots and terrorism afflicting Europe. His opposition to affirmative action may be racially motivated, but affirmative action is routinely defeated in popular votes, revealing much greater white dissatisfaction with these programs than is generally acknowledged in the mainstream media, where it is frequently portrayed as a more reactionary position than is really the case. So too, Taylor has long railed against “the myth and double standard of diversity.” Taylor calls for removing the U.S. from the Middle East in policy and maintaining a truly neutral and disengaged position, which is still notably even-handed compared to the anti-Israel Left calling for divestment, boycotts, and ever-increasing pressure, and amid the general increase in resentment against the Jewish State and Jewish Neocons since 9/11 and the Iraq War.
Most upsetting for some is how difficult it is to counter his arguments logically while maintaining politically correct axioms without resorting to emotionalism. Many fail to do so effectively, such as the ADL, which prefers to employ straw man arguments and guilt by association to simply dismiss him as a crypto-Nazi sympathizer even while conceding they haven’t proven it.
The danger of engagement with Taylor is not that he resorts to conspiracy theories, but that he doesn’t. It is rare to find a racist uninterested in demonizing non-whites, but still unafraid to present himself as a dedicated and committed racist. Most mainstream cultural conservative spend a lot of their dialogue with Leftists and liberals defending themselves against charges of racism (or attempting to preempt them) when advocating policies that would adversely affect minorities. With Taylor, the rules are strikingly different, and for many, a new and very unfamiliar terrain where they are easily outmaneuvered by an opponent who has decades of experience sparring with someone just like them.
Danny Goldberg, owner of Artemis Records and author of Dispatches From the Culture Wars: How the Left Lost Teen Spirit, got whipped in his debate with Taylor in Vice Magazine. He conceded that Taylor “admirably, and sometimes eloquently, refutes much of the blatant prejudice of the Nazi,” and proceeded to fail to effectively refute Taylor point for point.
For instance, Goldberg argued that
“The idea that all white people have some unique common cultural bond is absurd. There are dozens of white traditions that clash with each other as intensely as they do with those of other continents. A white, Indian and Nigerian doctor all have more in common with each other than they do with many of their patients of the same ethnic background.”
“This is hilarious. I suppose that is why they established the Association of Black Physicians, the National Hispanic Medical Association, and the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin – because they have so much in common with white doctors. I guess that’s why every big-city fire and police department has special unions for black and Hispanic officers. I guess that’s why there is a Black Congressional Caucus and one for Hispanics, and why virtually every college campus has a black (and Hispanic and Asian) student union. That must be why there are race-based associations for lawyers, journalists, anthropologists, car dealers, realtors, and just about any other profession you can think of[…]That was a silly argument.”
Of course, Taylor is not the rule in the White Nationalist movement. He is, in fact, a unique exception within the White Nationalist movement, and he still insists on maintaining a dialogue with the most virulent of antisemites.
But he never claimed his was a pro-Jewish movement, but rather, that it is inclusive of Jews. He only maintained that his particular strain of White Nationalism should allow Jews to join if they want to join, and that the dominant antisemitic and ZOG focused White Nationalists should recognize that there is another approach, and that in his world view, a world view that is still very much a part of the White Nationalist umbrella, Jews are not the inherent problem, but a correctable one, worth engaging, because pragmatically, they are a much needed and critical partner, who can be coaxed into an alliance with them because of common concerns, such as what a non-white hegemony in the U.S. would consitute for the Jews, instead of the movement facing a real possibility (accepted by all in the White Nationalist movement) that Jews could single handedly block them because of their exceptional intelligence and notorious talent for machinations.
What is baffling to me is the acceptance these Jews were anticipating from the rank and file of a wide variety of White Nationalist groups that included David Duke and his Stormfronters (the literal ones, not fellow Jews who are slightly more right-wing or slightly less Zionist than ourselves). How were they surprised? Why are they flipping out when David Duke implies something antisemitic? Were they expecting him to sing HaTikvah? Did they think they were going to grab beers, exchange off-color jokes, and go whoring together after the final lecture? There are far better places than a White Nationalist convention for a yid to go if he is looking for love. Even on the moderated message board of Amren itself, you would have to be a shmuck to not detect the resentment, suspicion, and rage of many (thought certainly not all) of the comments, if not the posts themselves. Don’t go to a hipster party if you can’t stand the stench of marijuana!
It is unclear what Taylor himself thought would be accomplished by an event that included Stormfronters and Jews, although to be fair, he has held similar conferences with Jews present, even with Jewish speakers, and without the same acrimony exhibited (at the conference itself), or at least, without any reported. But compared to earlier years, the Jewish presence at the Amren conferences has contracted consistently since 9/11 and the Iraq War, as White Nationalist anti-Jewish sentiment has intensified.
Beyond the conference, it is unclear what Taylor’s goal truly is. I certainly can imagine some pretty nefarious possibilities, and many in the normative White Nationalist movements have expounded on his possible motivations, justifying their optimism by noting the role Amren serves as a gateway to more aggressive White Nationalist movements willing to address the Jewish issue, make it paramount, and expatiate endlessly on corresponding conspiracy theories of the ZOG menace to the white race.
But as Taylor noted in Vice,
“I don’t like to ascribe motives to people other than the motives that they actually claim.”