Coded anti-Semitism in Newt's use of Saul Alinsky?

Gal Beckerman at the Forward posits that Newt Gingrich’s use of “food stamp President” holds racist overtones and that “Saul Alinsky radical” is pregnant with antisemitism. Newt seems to think the average American knows who Alinsky is and that conservatives know to hate him.
Is it true or not true? (Not the part about Obama being a leftist radical, we all know that’s not true. I mean Beckerman’s charge of antisemitism.)

9 thoughts on “Coded anti-Semitism in Newt's use of Saul Alinsky?

  1. Not in the traditional sense, I don’t think.
    I think it has more to do with people’s stereotypical view of a “Volvo-driving, sushi-eating liberal” urban elite being, as Tina Fey put it, a long-winded way of saying “Jew.”
    Except I’m not sure people are picking up on the Jewish part of the dog-whistle except as a proxy for the other parts. In fact, I’m doubtful that most of the people hearing this would include their own stereotypical peyos-wearing religious Jew within this stereotype at all. I think it’s a proxy for secular coastal folks.
    We could argue if this is antisemitism or not. If it is, it’s a different species than the other kinds. May be.
    However, I don’t think you can hold that this is antisemitism and Rick Perry’s comments about bankers weren’t.

  2. “In fact, I’m doubtful that most of the people hearing this would include their own stereotypical peyos-wearing religious Jew within this stereotype at all.”
    Since when was the archetype of the Jew pulling the levers behind the curtain recognizably orthodox? The whole antisemitic idea is that “The Jew” is insidious.
    Look at the right wing bugaboos and you can hear the echoes of anti-semitism: (i) Media Elites, (ii) Hollywood, (iii) Labor Unions and Community Organizers, (iv) Lawyers.
    The consistent message that the culture of places like New York is not “real America” obviously intersects with antisemitism, because there is no city in the United States that is more greatly effected by Jewish culture than New York.
    And all of this is another reason why recognizably religious Jews are less of a threat to and are threatened less by cultural reactionaries like Gingrich. They all have a beef against the insidious (i.e. assimilated) Jew.
    It’s not new that the same people often are the subject of antisemitic attacks *and* attacks from fellow Jews. It’s been that way since Meir London. This has been the way of the right-wing in America for over 100 years. Nothing new here.
    And similar things are true from the far-left. There are current day Upton Sinclairs that use coded antisemitism.

  3. I think the primary aim of the Alinsky mentioning relates more to the fact that he’s become specifically a Tea Party bogeyman who see him as some sort of ur-socialist whose evil spirit guides the radical lefitsm of today. Here’s Glenn Beck discussing Saul Alisnky in Summer ’09:
    Now, does this have the added bonus, from a vile right-wing propogandistic perspective, of also sounding Jewish? Yes. But unlike, say, the “food stamp President” line, which is primarily a racist dog-whistle, I think the antisemitism of the whole Alinsky thing is only ancillary.

  4. I believe that it is coded anti-Semitism. I doubt one in a hundred people know who Saul Alinsky was, or even why Newt Gingrich would lump him together with Obama. But they WILL recognize a Russian Jewish name pretty immediately. Associating the two raises doubts from people who are inclined to be suspicious of blacks, Jews, Muslims, and anyone else they fear.

  5. Saul Alinsky wasn’t a Jew, unless we allow Nuremberg rules to define Judaism. Saul was an APOSTATE who became a communist, which is to say a member of an antisemitic cult dedicated to destroying Judaism and Jewishness. (Go read “On the Jewish Question”, if you don’t know the inherent antisemitism of communists)
    There are no racist bonafides with the people that Newt was reaching out to, just the racism and class bigotry of the ersatz cosmopolitans who know nothing of the south save their own oikophobia.

  6. Ron– I’m not sure where you get that Alinsky was an “apostate.” While he was not the ‘peyos-wearing religious Jew’ described earlier in this thread, he certainly identified positively as Jewish throughout his life.
    Also, Marx’s main points in “On the Jewish Question” are hardly anti-Semitic, even though they are popularly misconstrued as such. His critique of a pseudo-secular nation-state are, in fact, hauntingly prophetic, as the state of Israel, in its continuing identity struggle over 100 years later after the publication of OTJQ, would play out the very tension Marx cautioned against. But this is part of a longer response (perhaps worthy of a full post unto itself).
    As far as the Gingrich references are concerned, I don’t think this is explicit antisemitism. Such references seem more rooted in a kind of general contempt of what they like to regard as ‘east coast elitism'(even though Alinsky worked out of Chicago!)–perhaps code for ‘Jewish,’ but again, more code for ‘privilege,’ which is a deliberate conservative strategy to convince the American ‘everyman’ that they are on ‘their’ side–an ironic manipulation of class identity. (Yes, because the corporations are really humble ‘down home’ folk. After all, they’re people too, just ask the Supreme Court)
    (Newt, the 1990’s called. They want their culture-war rhetoric back.)

  7. Ron,
    Thanks for proving my point. A hated object of anti-semites is the insidious (assimilated) Jew. Marxism is always anti-religious, being a fundamentalist religious creed itself. But Alinsky was not a communist. He was a Jew of a non-rigid monistic outlook who could not accept rigid determinisms, including communism. In other words, his beliefs make him an ordinary Jewish liberal. Only his development of grass-roots methodology made him exceptional.
    (BTW, isn’t it interesting how many Eastern European anti-semites persist in their hatred by freely substituting ‘Marxist’ for ‘Jew’?)
    Also, who are ersatz cosmopolitans pretending to be? What do we aspire to and fail? I mean, I understand ‘ersatz intellectual’ well enough (so should you). But ‘ersatz cosmopolitan’? Is that just a way of saying that you don’t like universalism? Or that we don’t have the courage of our universalist convictions? Is it a fancy shmancy way of saying and denigrating ‘liberal’?

  8. Dan O.
    “Thanks for proving my point. A hated object of anti-semites is the insidious (assimilated) Jew.”
    Antisemites hate all Jews. Gingrich isn’t an antisemite. For the record, I am a Reform Jew. In 1996, I interned at the Progress and Freedom Foundation and had the opportunity to have lunch with then Speaker Gingrich. Unfortunately, the date scheduled was Tisha B’av. I apologized deferring due to the date. He then changed his schedule to have coffee with me. That’s not an anti-semite.
    “BTW, isn’t it interesting how many Eastern European anti-semites persist in their hatred by freely substituting ‘Marxist’ for ‘Jew’?”
    Retarded antisemites of all stripes do this, not knowing that Marx was a Jew for three years, a Lutheran for over 20, and founder of an atheist cult dedicated to eradicating Judaism and Jewishness.
    Cosmopolitans are supposed to be educated and free from prejudice, you fail at both

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