I heard Tomislav Sunic (a board member of the American Freedom Party) tonight address the John Birch Society at the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station.
There was an even mixture of pro-Jewish and anti-Jewish sentiments at the meeting but nobody said they wanted more Muslims in America.
Tom concluded: “Why did the Chinese build a wall? Not for tourists. There were practical reasons. Because they fought the wild Mongols. I may love the Jews or I may hate the Jews. Let’s leave that aside. But I know from my own experience, Serbs and Croats, these people are similar but very different. Why did the Israelis build up this big wall? Because there is no way the fake marriage can work… It is better to seek a decent divorce than to live in a fake marriage, which is going to end up in terrible disaster for both partners.”
I was invited to speak.
Luke: “Hi, I’m an Orthodox Jew. I think our main problem today is that all the major moral categories of the modern world are false. Take something like Islamophobia, which is supposed to be such a terrible thing. If you look in the Bible, there is no commandment against Islamophobia. There is no commandment against suspicion of other religions. There is nothing wrong with being suspicious of people who are different from you. It’s normal, natural and healthy. I’m an Orthodox Jew. It doesn’t bother me if you are skeptical and suspicious of me and my people. That’s the healthy thing.
“Racism. There’s no commandment against racism in the Bible. Now I’m not telling you to hate people because of their race, but this is an entirely made-up moral category. It did not exist prior to a 100 years ago. All the great thinkers in history from Jesus to the Apostle Paul to Moses to the great Christian thinkers such as Acquinas…and Augustine, none of them mentioned such a thing as racism. It simply wasn’t thought of, and yet this term racism is used to shut down all sorts of legitimate areas of discussion about people who are flooding into our country, coming here illegally, and trying to subvert everything we stand for. Also sexism and homophobia, all these moral categories of the modern world find no resonance in the books we hold sacred such as the Bible.”
“Speaking from a minority group, I think the majority population has the right to demand from its minorities certain standards, that if we are to be guests in your country, we need to live up to certain things. I think minority groups should be expected to [take] no welfare, no seeking affirmative action, no subverting the national paradigm and the national fundamental beliefs. Americans have the right to ask that of Jews, of Muslims, of blacks, of Mexicans. This is a country that was founded by a certain people with a certain ideology. They were Christian. They were overwhelmingly white Anglo-Saxon Protestant. If a group does not live up to these standards, if a group practices honor killings, if a group lobbies for foreign powers, if a group plans terrorism, if a group tries to stigmatize those who stand up for the Constitution and traditional American values, you have every right to not just punish those people who are subverting your land but to ask minority groups to hold their own members accountable or to pay the price. I feel confident as an Orthodox Jew that we can live up to your standards and that we can be good citizens in your land.”
Man in the audience: “There’s the old saying, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Visitors to any nation should respect the values of the people who live there.”
Another man: “The word ‘racism’ is a code word for being anti-white. The only people who have to apologize for being racist are white people.”
“I’m not as afraid of terrorism as I am about the police state we already have in America.”
“We are seen in the world, and rightly so, as the attack dog for Israel. What they did to the Palestinians last month, if any other country did that, they would be talking about sanctions and bombings. When they do it, we look the other way. Our politicians are so afraid of AIPAC and the Israeli lobby, they won’t stand up for us.”
Elliott, the chair: “The people in the Gaza strip were launching missiles against Israel.”
Man: “They were launching Roman candles that didn’t even hit the mark.”
Elliot: “It was lucky they had this Iron Dome.”
Man: “I don’t know that it was lucky. They need to take their land back that was stolen from them and we helped them [Jews] steal it.”
“When they expelled the Palestinians in 1948, do you know how many were Catholic and not Muslim? Do you know how many churches were desecrated by the Israelis? They have a hatred also for Christianity. There’s a little thing called the Talmud. I could start on that. There’s also a little thing called the Kol Nidre oath, but I won’t mention that because we have a guest here.”
William Johnson: “There is a major shift in the American public. We have largely supported Israel for a long time and now for the first time in our history we have a large Muslim population, there is a shift in the general population to lend an ear to the Muslim side. In this country, we have the Jews and the Muslims going at each other, you have the Japanese and the Koreans going at each other, you have the Armenians and the Turks going at each other, all in America, when we didn’t cause any of that stuff. The more multicultural we get, the more infighting and it is a bad development.”
Woman: “There’s no justice in the Middle East for the Palestinians.”
“The [Israeli] soldiers have a patch — born to kill.”
Bill Johnson: “There are disputes around the world between different people and America has tried to solve them. And we can’t do that. We go to war in Vietnam, and after we’re done, we want to show that we’re good guys, so we let the Vietnamese come in.”
Woman: “Every time there’s a war.”
Bill: “Foreign entanglements cause a greater problem.”
I’ve never heard of that.
Tom: “When I was a professor at Cal-State Fullerton, 70% of my students were white and 30% were black and hispanic. I had to practice some self-censorship. I had to give passing grades to my minority students simply because I wanted to avoid the possible legal hassle of being sued for flunking this guy. I had considerable difficulties having these people conceptualize on the level of white students because they were slow. I was teaching a course on East-European politics. I had to start from scratch like in high school for many of my minority students. If you say that, you get fired. Nobody is going to kill you like the gulag but they are going to kill you spiritually. My teaching had a negative impact on some of my bright white students. They were yawning because I had to slow down my teaching for my minority students. I had to be more descriptive. I had to use short elliptic sentences.”
“I have certain skills, specially linguistic skills. I’m not politically correct and I am removed from the mainstream. In normal circumstances, I should be a dean at a good university, but my values are traditional.”
Jack* tells me:
1. The John Birch Society (JBS) is interesting because its origins were the anti-communist right arising out of fear of a communist conspiracy fueled by the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities (HUAC) and the McCarthy hearings. Because so many of the communist sympathizers were Jews (although not the communists in the state department) the JBS also attracted its fair share of anti semites. In the late 60’s the JBS switched around and became convinced that the communist revolutionaries in Russia and in Europe (though not in China) were arms of the big financial interests. None Dare Call it Conspiracy by Gary Allen became the bible for the JBS. So many of the international bankers, especially the Rothschilds were Jews so although Allen never overtly blames Jews, it was easy enough for a reader to make the leap that some vast international Jewish conspiracy headed by the Rothschilds was calling the shots both for the leaders of the free world and the leaders of the communist world. It is against this backdrop that you were evaluated by the JBS members. They may share your views on social issues and true American values, but Jews will always be viewed with suspicion, although they may be accepted as allies out of expediency.
2. It’s clear Sunic is a really really smart person. I would be interested in what you think of him compared to other intellectuals with whom you have interacted. I know your phone interviews with Gottfried (who is a traditional academic intellectual) and Nicholas Wade (who is a public intellectual) are far different than meeting and speaking with someone over a longer period of time. How would you rate Sunic’s critical thinking and intelligence to those (and other really smart people you have met?)
3. You have stumbled upon one of the great paradoxes of the extreme right, the mainstream left and the mainstream right. You have found that you have been treated courteously and respectfully by those who might by their own principles disdain and dislike you. I looked up Bill Johnson, who must be a reasonable competent and successful lawyer and remembered how he was slimed when he ran for judge as a white supremacist. I think you realize that regardless of his personal beliefs, and I do not know what they are, he is able to put them aside when interacting with someone like you. I have no doubt that had he been elected, he would be a fair judge to all who appeared before him. I do not believe that is true for a great many African-American judges. This also gets down to what Dennis Prager discusses when he asks us to focus on the actions and not the thoughts (or for that matter the intentions)
4. In the portion of the speech you allude to Jews being guests in America. This is great fodder to feed the your audience, but the problem is Jews are not guests in America. Once Jews or Mexicans or Chinese people come to this country, they can become Americans and fully participate in American life by embracing its values. There is nothing inherently preventing Jews from accepting Christian values as they have evolved over the last 500 years or so out of Europe, and there is nothing preventing muslims from continuing to practice Islam while fully accepting freedom of religion. I think that what you mean to say is that any immigrant is a guest, including immigrants from northern European country and as guests are obligated if they want to become American to accept for themselves American values as established historically and agree on the need to inculcate those values in their children. If a conflict arises between that group’s belief and traditionally accepted American values, the group’s belief have to be rejected. The consequences of failure to accept are deportation and what you want to impose as collective punishment. I don’t think you can have collective punishment, although punishment by public example, which you also endorse, may be viable.
In my daily life, I find that whites (of northern European origin) display more empathy than do other groups, and most of the time in my daily life, I don’t give a damn about a group’s historic suffering because I’m relating to individuals rather than groups.
Anthropologist Peter Frost writes:
Whereas pro-sociality is attested across a wide range of cultures, full cognitive/affective empathy is more localized. The difference is like the one we see between shame and guilt. Most cultures primarily use shame to enforce correct behavior, i.e., if other people see you breaking a rule, you feel ashamed and this feeling is reinforced by social disapproval. In contrast, only a minority of cultures—largely those of Northwest Europe—rely primarily on guilt, which operates even when only you see yourself breaking a rule or merely think about breaking a rule (Benedict, 1946; Creighton, 1990).
Northwest Europeans have thus undergone two parallel changes in behavioral control: 1) a shift from pro-sociality to full cognitive/affective empathy; and 2) a shift from shame to guilt. Indeed, full empathy and guilt may be two sides of the same coin. Both are the consequences of a mental model that is used to simulate how another person thinks or feels (an imaginary witness to a wrongful act, a person in distress) and to ensure correct behavior by inducing the appropriate feelings (anguish, pity).
Finally, full empathy and guilt are most adaptive where kinship ties are relatively weak and where rules of correct behavior require a leveling of the playing field between kin and non-kin. This has long been the case in Northwest Europe. There seems to be a longstanding pattern of weak kinship ties west of a line running from Trieste to St. Petersburg, as shown by several culture traits that are rare or absent elsewhere:
– relatively late marriage for men and women
– many people who never marry
– neolocality (children leave the family household to form new households)
– high circulation of non-kin among different households (typically young people sent out as servants) (Hajnal, 1965)
Commonly called the Western European Marriage Pattern, this geographic zone of relatively weak kinship was thought to have arisen after the Black Death of the 14th century. There is now good evidence for its existence before the Black Death and fragmentary evidence going back to 9th century France and even earlier (Hallam, 1985; Seccombe, 1992, p. 94). Historian Alan Macfarlane likewise sees an English tendency toward weaker kinship ties before the 13th century and even during Anglo-Saxon times (Macfarlane, 2012; Macfarlane, 1992, pp. 173-174).
This weak kinship zone may have arisen in prehistory along the coasts of the North Sea and the Baltic, which were once home to a unique Mesolithic culture (Price, 1991). An abundance of marine resources enabled hunter-fisher-gatherers to achieve high population densities by congregating each year in large coastal agglomerations for fishing, sealing, and shellfish collecting. Population densities were comparable in fact to those of farming societies, but unlike the latter there was much “churning” because these agglomerations formed and reformed on a yearly basis. Kinship obligations would have been insufficient to resolve disputes peaceably, to manage shared resources, and to ensure respect for social rules. Initially, peer pressure was probably used to get people to see things from the other person’s perspective. Over time, however, the pressure of natural selection would have favored individuals who more readily felt this equivalence of perspectives, the result being a progressive hardwiring of compassion and shame and their gradual transformation into empathy and guilt (Frost, 2013a; Frost, 2013b).