Friday, June 4, 2010

Race Card Hypocrisy

There has been no shortage of race cards since Barack Obama’s presidency began.

Most are obvious, of course.

The race card has been standard fare for the Democrats since LBJ. The election of a black president and the emergence of a populist movement on the Right only accelerated the claims.

It’s hard to forget Janeane Garofalo’s sanctimonious monologue with Keith Olbermann, “This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up.”

Conservatives and Tea Partiers were understandably furious.

The Tea Party movement may have conspicuously risen during the early days of the Obama administration, but to leap to the conclusion that the only possible reason grassroots Republicans could oppose the new Democratic president’s agenda was the occupant’s skin color, required an extraordinary sense of moral superiority.

During the Obama reign, conservatives have been adamant that their opposition to the Obama agenda has nothing to do with his skin color but all about the philosophy.

This would seem true.

There may have been no Tea Party movement during the 1990’s, but the hysteria about a popular, iconic Democratic president drummed up on the Right was similar during the Clinton administration. But admitting that a sizeable number of today’s protesters are simply GOP partisans doesn’t win many points with key Democratic constituencies and it doesn’t make for great TV ratings either.

Conservatives have also been quick to remind the Democrats that they don’t exactly have a pure history of multicultural kumbayah-ocity. Nor do we go very long before someone reminds us that Vice President Biden once said, “You cannot go into a 7-11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts without a slight Indian accent.”

But the point today is not to show how Democrats are hypocrites when it comes to race.

We know that it is not racist to oppose a black man’s agenda. If conservatives really believe in a limited, constitutional government, then there is little in the Obama administration that is worthy of praise. We know that the racist charges are meant to silence dissent.

With that in mind, why are conservatives playing the race card in the aftermath of the Israeli flotilla incident?

Despite claims from the White House that there will be “no daylight between the U.S. and Israel,” and despite accepting a non-binding U.N. resolution that does not actively condemn Israel’s actions, why are conservatives insisting that the Obama administration is “anti-Israel”?

Would we tolerate this sort of hyperbole if this was any nation besides Israel?

Take this recent video from conservative filmmaker Andrew Klavan.

In it, Klavan uses the sound of a honking horn to illustrate when anti-Semitism is being said, to show how it rings out loudly when uttered by a bigot.

This stunt is funny, although in an unintentional way, because it was always my observation that self-righteously condemning someone’s unauthorized opinion was the exclusive domain of liberals.

Here, Klavan demonstrates that conservatives have a chance to club liberals for not being enlightened enough on race (and by taking a quote from Pat Buchanan out of context, Klavan proves that even the mention of Hitler’s name without immediate condemnation equals anti-Semitism).


“We said never again would we stand by and watch such an atrocity [the Holocaust] to occur. And now that the Jews are once again in danger of destruction, we’re not standing by, we’re actually pitching in to help.”

This may have been satire, but it captures the bootlicking required to avoid the anti-Semite epitaph.

After all, did we not just see Rand Paul risk excommunication because the Thought Police assailed him for holding a single philosophical dispute with one point of the Civil Rights Act? Is this any different?

Is it possible to have a difference with policies of the Israeli government without being anti-Semitic?

Is it possible to think the Palestinians should have their own state without being anti-Semitic?

Is it possible to think Israel should be in charge of its own self-defense without being anti-Semitic?

Is it possible to think that the actions of the Israeli government might not be infallible without being anti-Semitic?

Is it possible to disagree with President Obama without being a white supremacist?

Conservatives should know better.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

We Have an Israel Problem

This Memorial Day weekend, while most Americans were preparing for backyard barbecues and mattress sales, and even a few remembering our war dead, a now-worldwide incident unfolded where the Israeli Defense Force boarded a humanitarian flotilla destined for a blockaded Gaza, captured the crew and killed perhaps sixteen people in the process.

The international reaction to this incident has indeed been one of furor.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini called the killing of civilians “a grave act.” The German government issued a statement saying that Israel must consider “proportionality” regarding its own self-defense while the Norwegian Prime Minister called for an end to the blockade of Gaza. (Source: Yahoo News)

Over here, commentators on both sides of the aisle are tripping over themselves in an ugly farce trying to justify Israel’s actions.

Marty Peretz at the reliably liberal New Republic tries to convince us that “The Facts are on Israel’s Side.”

On David Horowitz’s Newsreal blog, which never misses an opportunity to confuse Tel Aviv for the capital of the United States, the proprietor shamelessly called the people on the flotilla “armed jihadists” without a single reputable attribution to support his loaded claim and despite video footage showing that the passengers, at best, had makeshift weapons with which to defend themselves against armed Israeli soldiers boarding their ship. Apparently neoconservatives like Horowitz believe Turks armed with metal rods are a genuine threat to professionally-trained soldiers with automatic weapons.

Over at National Review Online, Victor Davis Hanson imitated an Israeli press secretary thusly,

“The fallout from Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, the distortions around the 2002 terrorist storming of the Church of Nativity, the 2006 Lebanon war — over time, these incidents do their part, in weird fashion, to incur hatred for a liberal democracy while creating sympathy for a theocratic thugocracy like Hamas.”

A simpler way to look at it is if Larry King, who is currently going through his seventh divorce, defiantly exclaimed on television, “Cheat on half a dozen wives and suddenly you get a reputation as an adulterer.”

So what does all this mean?

The very fact that this incident is such an issue in the United States demonstrates that we have an Israel problem.

Can anyone identify the vital U.S. national interest in the eastern Mediterranean?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is all over American television defending the IDF’s actions calling it “self-defense.” That is to be expected.

But why are Americans like Victor Davis Hanson exercising every benefit of the doubt for a foreign government? The Obama White House, which has sycophantically stated that there will be no “daylight between the U.S. and Israel,” is probably wondering how to get that sort of treatment.

The problem is not whether Israel is right or wrong in disputes like these but that we defend and subsidize Israel in disputes that are none of our business in the first place.

And just what can the world expect in response?

Even if Hamas had nothing to do with this flotilla, does any rational thinker believe they will let this incident pass and not use it to increase their pressure on the Jewish state? Even new British Prime Minister David Cameron notes how the blockade and attack on this flotilla only strengthens Hamas’ grip on the besieged Palestinians.

Ardent Israel defenders in this country should set aside their hysteria to consider just one fact: Israel may have numerous enemies, but she is not weak.

Even if every exaggerated nightmare about Israel’s plight was true, their actions over the weekend, in their 2006 war in Lebanon, and the 2008 war in Gaza have demonstrated to the world that they are capable of defending themselves with relative ease.

Nor has this incident provided any real discomfort or danger for any American (except perhaps one American who is suspected to have been on the flotilla).

Moreover, Israel brings so much of this on herself.

For a country constantly claiming to be struggling in an anti-Semitic world, someone ought to ask why Israel insists on behaving in such a way that creates more resentment than security. Is this not making Israel’s enemies our enemies?

Perhaps it is time for some brave soul in Washington to ask, “What are we getting out of this relationship?”