Sunday, February 18, 2007

Another Rift In The Wall

A few days ago, someone handed me a story about a legislator in Georgia who wanted the teaching of evolution as science banned in schools, because he had incontrovertible proof that evolution was made up in some grand Jewish conspiracy.

I took the story seriously enough, but didn't write it then, because I was waiting for this:
ATLANTA -- A Jewish organization is demanding an apology from a Georgia legislator for a memo that says the teaching of evolution should be banned because it is a myth propagated by an ancient Jewish sect.

State Rep. Ben Bridges denies writing the memo, which attributes the Big Bang theory to Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism.[...]

Marshall Hall, president of the Fair Education Foundation, says the Republican lawmaker gave him approval to write the memo, which has been distributed to legislators in several states, including California and Texas.
Uh huh. Mind you, the memo came out on the letterhead of a member of the Texas State Legislature specifically citing Bridges' and over his signature. But I'll be the font doesn't exist on any typewriter he's even owned. *snark*

The memo itself is worth a read if only to get your blood flowing faster. Not that it will make you angry, no no! It's too ridiculous for that, like reading a Mad Magazine parody, but the breathless pace at which this memo was clearly dictated infuses the entire screed with this sort of "The Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg planted bobms in the World Trade Cent...WE'RE FIGHTING FOR OUR LIVES HERE!" urgency, like a kid with a load in the bomb bay, and five miles to the nearest bathroom.

The Anti-Defamation League's response was fairly measured, and I'll explain why on the other side:
"Your memo conjures up repugnant images of Judaism used for thousands of years to smear the Jewish people as cult-like and manipulative," wrote Bill Nigut, the league's Southeast regional director.
Now, you might recall the Anti-Defamation League as the organization that came up with this doozy:
The Quigleys and the Aronsons had been engaged in an escalating series of petty disputes prior to this incident. The ADL advised the Aronsons to tape the Quigleys (a tactic which had recently been made illegal). The ADL also labelled the Quigleys as violent anti-Semites in a press conference which led to felony federal charges being filed against them.

The Quigleys successfully sued the ADL for falsely portraying them as anti-Semites.

U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham wrote "it is not unreasonable to infer that public charges of anti-Semitism leveled by the ADL will be taken seriously and assumed by many to be true without question. In that respect, the ADL is in a unique position of being able to cause substantial harm to individuals when it lends its backing to allegations of anti-Semitism." The judge concluded that the ADL supported the Aronsons' accusations without investigating the case, or weighing of the consequences.
Or perhaps this little gem:
In 1974, ADL national leaders Arnold Forster and Benjamin R. Epstein published a book called The New Anti-Semitism (New York, 1974), arguing that a new kind of anti-Semitism is on the rise. In 1982, ADL national leader Nathan Perlmutter and his wife, Ruth Ann Perlmutter, released a book entitled The Real Anti-Semitism in America (New York, 1982). In 2003, ADL's national director Abraham Foxman published Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism (San Francisco, 2003), where on page 4 he states: "We currently face as great a threat to the safety and security of the Jewish people as the one we faced in the 1930s—if not a greater one."
Really? I don't see anyone building ovens...

OK, so why is this getting interesting to me?

Two words: Abraham Foxman. Foxman, a Roman Catholic (yes, you read that correctly), is head of the ADL. He was also one of the few public religious figures during Watergate to voice unvarnished support of Richard Nixon, as well as faith in his honesty.


Foxman has been in the pocket of the neo-fascist neo-conservative movement since that time, supporting Reagan and both Bushes for President, despite his half-hearted support for gay rights (specifically, he protested the Boy Scouts efforts to remove gays from their ranks, but more because many of the temples and synagogues he's worked with offer the ir facilities for Scouts to meet in). He was also instrumental in setting Bill Clinton up one last time on his way out the door, by urging Clinton pardon felon Marc Rich. Who just happened to donate $250,000 to the ADL in the run-up to the pardon.

We remember what happened next.

So to say Foxman's reaction in the Bridges' uproar was measured is...well, let Jude Wanniski say it:
"I think you have to offer Abe Foxman an early retirement or flat out fire him...Abe has become drunk with power, swinging his weight around knowing he can label anyone who challenges him an anti-Semitic bigot."
Indeed. And note in particular that the response says nothing about evolution or creationism or education. Foxman's just pissed because someone picked on the Jews.

What's interesting is to see how this plays out in the future for neo-conservatives, many of whom are Jewish and what Chuck Schumer likes to call "economic royalists", and the theocracy wing of the Republican party.

Could be Armageddon...