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March 10, 2003

Not a "Trent Lott Moment"

Is this offensive?

"If it were not for the strong support of the Cuban community for this embargo with Cuba we would not be doing this...The leaders of the Cuban community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going and I think they should."

It's a statement of fact.

So why if you substitute Jews and Middle East issues for the above, it suddenly becomes antisemitism? I don't think Jews are as united on the issue as Jim Moran argues, but this is not a "Trent Lott moment." Yeah, it has a vague odor of the "Jewish lobby" power argument, but then AIPAC spends a lot of time bragging about its power.

Moran did not indicate the world would have been better if Hitler had won World War II. That would be a "Trent Lott" moment.

So it's offensive to blacks to compare this lousy, obnoxious political analysis by Moran to Lott's comments. "Black" opinion gets characterized every frigging day, in incredibly offensive ways much of the time. Moran should get his butt kicked for his comments, but its nothing most other minority groups don't deal with every day from idiot generalizations based on their race.

Update: It is worth noting that the New York Times is emphasizing the power of folks in the neoconservative movement, often a synonym for a wide swath of conservative Jewish intellectuals plus various allies, in influencing the current Iraq policy. See this article describing the influence of the neoconservative The Weekly Standard. Progressives have no problem noting the fundamentialist Christian influence over Bush's abortion policies, so (to refine Moran's statements into something less than idiotic generalization) it is not unreasonable to note the influence of neoconservative Jewish leadership in driving the Iraq policy.

Posted by Nathan at March 10, 2003 11:27 PM

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Comments

I think that would be a pretty exact analogy if we were going to invade Palestine, and if the Jewish-American community were as united as the Cuban-American community seems to be. But I don't think those two apply.
Also, in your analogy, I think a lawmaker is wrong to tell one group of Americans what they should or shouldn't do. It singles them out, and even exposes them to resentment. He CAN tell all Americans what they should do, as he sees it.
OK, that about covers my $0.02. I got some of these ideas/insights from others - Oliver Willis, Matt Yglesias, Ted Barlow, Atrios (who has maybe 100 comments on it, fascinating. Some are Bigots for Moran!).
Matt Yglesias has an interesting angle, as usual.

Posted by: John Isbell at March 11, 2003 01:09 AM

in fact as a jewish israeli i agree somewhat with moran's comments. anybody who has been anti-settlement (mckinney, etc) has been completely taken down, politically, by the big pro-defense likudnik aipac, etc. groups. they disgust me almost as much as the christian coalition.

Posted by: yoni at March 11, 2003 09:58 AM

in fact as a jewish israeli i agree somewhat with moran's comments. anybody who has been anti-settlement (mckinney, etc) has been completely taken down, politically, by the big pro-defense likudnik aipac, etc. groups. they disgust me almost as much as the christian coalition.

Posted by: yoni at March 11, 2003 09:58 AM

what do folks make of this?
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/11/international/middleeast/11ISRA.html

ISRAEL'S ROLE
Not Urging War, Sharon Says
By JAMES BENNET

JERUSALEM, March 10 Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel praised President Bush today for his pursuit of a possible war in Iraq, while seeking to disavow any Israeli involvement.

The finely calibrated statement reflected concerns at the top of the government that many of the war's critics in the United States, Europe and elsewhere were identifying Israel as an instigator. Mr. Sharon sought to split Israel's support for a war from any responsibility for it.
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"I wish to emphasize, we are not involved in this war," Mr. Sharon said in a meeting of his party, Likud. "We are neither pressing to move it forward, nor do we seek to postpone it. We know that this is a necessary attempt to bring an end to the capability of tyrannical regimes, such as the one in Iraq, to tangibly endanger the entire world."

The Israeli government strongly supports changing the leadership in Iraq as potentially furthering Israel's interests. Officials have publicly held out the hope that it could lead to a new Middle East more friendly to Israel. Looking past an Iraq war, the defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, has urged the United States to prepare to put diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran.

Mr. Sharon's statement came after a day of news reports here that the Bush administration was furious with Israeli officials for leaking sensitive information. Anonymous Israeli officials were quoted as saying that interviews by Israeli officials in the news media were creating the impression that Israel was urging the United States to go to war.

Today, the newspaper Maariv cited "Israeli sources" in reporting that, after continued Israeli leaks, "The Americans have lost hope and have absolutely despaired in this matter."

A senior Israeli official disputed that account.

Posted by: Peter "Special" K. at March 11, 2003 04:03 PM

Nathan, this (your simile with Cuba) is both thoughtless and unfactual, which isn't like you.

If what you suggest were the case, our policy toward Vietnam would be driven by the folks living in Garden Grove. It isn't.

Our history with Cuba is long and complicated, and driven by actions and interests that logn predate the refugee population in Miami. (And, I'll not, are certainly partly driven by Casto as well).

You have to make a decision; it's either OK to race-bait if you're baiting the right race, or it's not. I say it's not. Period.

A.L.

Posted by: Armed Liberal at March 12, 2003 01:01 PM

A.L. I would agree that the original embargo (like the Vietnam War) was driven by geopolitical decisions, but it's continuation well over a decade after the end of the Cold War is now driven largely by the Cuban emigree community.

National polls show strong support for changing US policy (See here (scroll down for poll), so continuation of that policy is a minority-driven policy. The reason the Vietnamese do not have quite the same leverage (although they had some on preventing normalization with Vietnam) is that they are a smaller population spread across the country (interesting policies that promoted that) or embedded in a large state like California where they have less leverage.

And while I am denying that Moran has achieved "Trent Lott" status, I did note his analysis was "obnoxious" and he should "get his butt kicked."

But it is worth distinguishing between people who say continuing Jim Crow would have been a good thing and those who say particular groups may have too much political power.

The latter has some bad implications at times, but it's all a pretty routine complaint in a pluralistic society. The DLC and other conservative Dems regularly complain that blacks (or unions or whoever they don't like) have too much leverage in Democratic primaries.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at March 12, 2003 01:12 PM

I don't presume to have total knowledge of that situation. However, from what I know, Moran takled about Jews in particular because he had been asked about the war by a woman who identified herself as Jewish and wondered why her co-religionist weren't doing more.

Also, it's weird how positive generalisations about the "community" are ok whereas negative generalisations aren't kosher. It's fair to say that group A is good at Y but not that it's bad at Z. Any corrections are welcome.

Posted by: Baal Shem Ra at June 25, 2003 01:03 PM

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