Blogs > Liberty and Power > NEOCONSPIRACY THEORY

Jan 4, 2004 10:32 am


I sure wish we could get beyond this dishonest, debate-squelching notion that"neocon" is a code-word for"Jew." Folks on the political Right, veterans all of campus affirmative action debates where ideological opposition automatically prompts charges of racism, ought to know better than to engage in this sort of well-poisoning tactic. Yet it's increasingly becoming a favorite trick of conservatives, as witnessed by Joel Mowbray's recent column intimating that retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni is a closet brownshirt:

Discussing the Iraq war with the Washington Post last week, former General Anthony Zinni took the path chosen by so many anti-Semites: he blamed it on the Jews.

As Mowbray has it, Zinni has committed blood libel by charging that the President's foreign policy has been hijacked by administration neocons, whom Mowbray charges"everybody knows" are Jewish. Personally, I didn't know that Douglas Feith was Jewish and didn't care. Next thing you're going to tell me that Lewis"Scooter" Libby--Dick Cheney's chief of staff and a PNAC member who's usually ID'd as a leading neocon--is Jewish. Well, I don't believe it. No self-respecting Jewish man would adopt a WASPy moniker like"Scooter." He sounds like the preppy villain in a John Hughes film--you know, the kind of guy who tells Andrew McCarthy not to date Molly Ringwald because she comes from the wrong side of the tracks. Is State Department neocon John R. Bolton Jewish? Do right-wingers really expect war critics to go through the distasteful task of vetting last names like early 20th century Ivy League admissions officials before they dare to breathe the word"neocon"?

Anybody who follows politics can name a host of neocons who aren't Jewish: Jeane Kirkpatrick, Michael Novak, Pat Moynihan, James Q. Wilson, Bill Bennett. But certainly there are many prominent Jewish neoconservatives. Name me an important intellectual movement of the 20th century where that's not the case. Do Nozick, Rand and Friedman make"libertarian" a code-word for"Jew"?

In any event, to the extent there's an ethno-religious component to the current debates over foreign policy, it isn't driven by Jewish Americans, who tend to have more moderate views on preemptive war and the Middle East than the country as a whole. The more interesting story is the apocalyptic vision shared by many on the Christian Right. I liked them a lot better when all they wanted was prayer in school.

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