Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Why winter makes me shudder.

Does anti-Semitism lurk under the respectable skirts of defending Christmas?

I've often thought so, and not just because the Grinches in the story, liberals and the ACLU, are not very subtle euphemisms for "Jewish." The ACLU, especially, is thought by the loony-right to be Jewish controlled, and on the vanguard of the plot to de-christianize America. When certain people say that the ACLU or the liberals are hurting America, make no mistake: They mean the Jews.

The New Republic has an explanation this week on the origins of anti-Semitism, an explanation which feeds into my suspicions about the true motives of the Christmas-police. The author, Paul Berman, references Sarte who wrote in Anti-Semite and Jew, that we hate because we cannot abide our own frailties. We hate when we encounter the imperfect reality, instead of the perfect ideal. Rather than recognizing that the ideal can't ever be achieved, we give ourselves over to hating whoever stands in the way of the perfect vision. Consider the Jews:

For the last two millennia, Jews have been hated... in a special way, which is, once again, always in the name of an all-but-realized human perfection. In the heyday of Christian Europe, the Jews were hated because they alone seemed to ruin the dream of a universal truth: they alone refused to go along with the vision of an ideal society in which everyone would agree on the veracity of the Good News. People hated the Jews out of love for the Gospels—hated the Jews who, by refusing to accept the Good News, embodied the weaknesses and frailties of the human condition.

The era of modern European states got started with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which proposed a newly secular vision of the perfect society—a society in which every state was going to live in tranquility behind its defined borders and respect the borders of every other state. But the Jews scattered themselves (and were scattered) all over Europe, regardless of borders—in plain demonstration, once again, that the vision of universal perfection stood at odds with the human reality. And hatred poured down once again upon the living examples of human imperfection.

Today we have moved into a new era, post-Westphalian, in which, now that France and Germany have made their peace, people look on national states no longer as the source of perfection but as the source of evil. Today the fashion is to imagine that a perfect society can only be a global community, superseding the traditional states—an international community in which no one is going to be the enemy of anyone else.

And yet, in the face of this new vision of the perfect world, the Israelis keep on behaving as if they do have enemies, and decline to entrust their fate to their neighbors or to the international community. And so, once again, out of love for an ideal, people end up gazing upon the Israelis, or upon Israel’s supporters in other countries, and seeing in those people the horrid sign of the human condition—the retrograde Israelis and their supporters whose behavior attests to the lack of human perfection. And hatred pours down, just as it has always done.

Isn't the same thing happening today in America? Instead of recognizing that Christmas has been corrupted by the forces of capitalism and consumarism.... instead of recognizing that a great many Christians no longer find solace in the religion and rituals of their ancestors... instead of taking responsibility for how the Christian feast is celebrated in a land of 300 million Christians.... instead of recognizing that their ideal is not possible.... the Christmas-police blame the Jews, and their proxies, for ruining their holiday, and again the hatred pours down.

For 2000 years Jews were imagined as the betrayer of one version after another of the perfect state of grace; today, in America, we're the enemies of the perfect Christmas. And by couching their anti-Semtisim in pro-Christmas language, the old hatred is sanitized and concealed.

(Sidenote: I think Haredim hate MOs respond to MOs and to MO ideology with some revulsion for a similar reason. They think that if the MOs would just get on board and give up their crazy modern ideas the Moshiach would come. As the Jews stood in the way of perfect Christian grace, the MOs betray the Haredi vision of perfect and authentic Judaism. This why the average MO rabbi says nothing negative about Haredi Judaism, while the average Haredi Rabbi frequently works disdainful remarks about the MOs into his speechs. I've spent my life in both types of places, and I have seen that Haredim are much more likely to attack the other side.)