Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

September 8, 2009

Why Are Jews Liberals?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 6:02 am

I came upon an interesting post by Robert Stacy McCain which discusses, in a civilized way, the topic why Jews are liberal taking off from a symposium in Commentary on Norman Podhoretz’ new book of that title.

I can only answer by explaining why this Jew is liberal (but no longer left).

First of all, I should disqualify myself to some extent. I’m not an observant Jew, I don’t regard the Bible as the word of God, I’m an agnostic about the existence of God. So some may say I don’t have a place in this conversation.

But Isaac Bashevis Singer was an agnostic, you gonna say he’s not a Jew? I’m a Jew like he’s a Jew, forever arguing about what it means to be a Jew, forever arguing with a God you’re not sure exists.

I feel Jewish, I certainly am identifiably Jewish, and I have expressed myself on the subject of Jews changing their names. I feel an unshakeable identity with Jews and Jewish culture, have explored the source of the Holocaust in one book (Explaining Hitler) and have edited an anthology about the current threat of anti-Semitism (Those Who Forget the Past).

In addition I support the existence and persistence of the state of Israel, although I was never a strong Zionist and feel more of an affinity for the Jews of the diaspora, the brilliant culture of the Jews of exile.

So I consider myself both a Jew and a liberal and if I had to name one factor that would make it so, it was the Civil Rights movement of the ’60s. For my parents it was FDR and Harry Truman (and I recommend my colleague Ron Radosh’s book (co-written with Allis Radosh) about Truman and the founding of Israel, A Safe Haven — an important work, on the back cover of which I’m proud to be quoted.

So it was kind of a family tradition to associate being Jewish with being liberal (although my mother’s side of the family were mainly Republicans). But to me as a young kid idealist of the Bob Dylan, Joan Baez folkie leftist persuasion, what I saw were Jews and liberals, and liberal Jews and observant Jews and secular Jews and Jewish secularists all supporting the great American movement for social justice that was the Civil Rights movement.

For we were slaves in Egypt once, right? How could we not be at the forefront of protests against racist former slave-state sponsored segregation in the South and racism in the North?

I saw conservatives and Republicans staunchly opposed to anti-segregation legislation and anti-racist movements. I still see conservatives and Republicans still unashamedly profiting electorally from the racism-lite “Southern strategy.” I was glad to read of William F. Buckley Jr. expressing regret for the anti-civil rights stance of the early National Review, but I don’t hear of many other conservatives expressing regret that their movement stood in solidarity with racists and continues to profit from Southern strategy racism.

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51 Comments »

  1. I just saw the film “Baader Meinhof Complex”, a film about terror, irrationality, murder and chaos. Liberalism is the phoenix arising, against all odds, from these ashes.

    Comment by charlie finch — September 8, 2009 @ 8:00 am | Reply

  2. As long as Christians who are traditional in interpreting scripture are
    seen to have a lot in common with Jews who are traditional in interpreting scripture, the division within Israel will continue.

    For Christians are demonized because of the reasons they are demonized.
    So, as long as that is the case, Israel, indeed Judaism, will continue
    to weaken itself.

    Because there are realities which are not dependant upon what a person has done with their time. Therefore, it is the reaction of a person to
    this that says a lot about who they are.

    Comment by David W. Lincoln — September 8, 2009 @ 9:38 am | Reply

  3. The times are not a-changin’, they changed. An extreme leftwinger is in the White House and look what’s happening. We’re beggaring future generations by our spending. Racial polarization is deepening instead of lessening — Van Jones, Skip Gates, the Blank Panther poll watchers, etc. The Justice Department is hamstringing the CIA. Israel is being hung out to twist in the wind, abject apologies have been extended to whoever will listen for our supposed past sins, and the president has bowed to a Moslem king. It can’t be easy being a liberal these days.

    Comment by Banjo — September 8, 2009 @ 11:37 am | Reply

  4. As so often before, I feel that Ron speaks for me. I’m a generation younger than him, but I grew up seeing my parents participate in the Fair Housing Council, a group that sought to ensure the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 was actually enforced and that realtors who sought to perpetuate racial segregation were punished. We were synagogue goers, and I grew up seeing the Jewish religion with its prophetic imperative for justice (“Justice, justice shalt thou pursue) as all of a piece.

    We also were and are proud Zionists. And like Ron, I have found the greatest challenge to my liberalism in the anti-Semitic, genocidal views that dominate the Palestinian and Arab worlds and make peace an impossibility. And Israel’s fight for survival has led me to look askance at the post-Vietnam, McGovernite impulse in the Democratic Party. Bring back the spirit of the Democratic heroes of yesterday, from FDR to LBJ (with all their fallings), say I.

    Comment by Martin Berman-Gorvine — September 8, 2009 @ 11:38 am | Reply

  5. A good piece, but I still do not understand how even the most liberal Jewish friends of Israel could have been so easily taken in by Obama’s campaign reassurances. We now have the most anti-Israel president ever, elected with the support of 75% Jewish votes.

    His naive belief in appeasement and personal diplomacy have already gone bust. Ahmadinejad announces “Iran Will Never Negotiate Over Nuclear Rights”, and goes ahead with his plans for Round Two of the Holocaust, and Obama remains uninterested.

    With the rise of worldwide anti-semitism and hostility to Israel, it is clear that USsupport and friendship is Israel’s last lifeline. How can we care so little?

    Comment by Hans Moleman — September 8, 2009 @ 2:20 pm | Reply

  6. “…I don’t hear of many other conservatives expressing regret that their movement stood in solidarity with racists and continues to profit from Southern strategy racism.”

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Democratic Party was the party of slavery and Jim Crow. Ever hear the term “Dixie-crat?” It was JFK who made a deal with the southern Democrats to get the nomination by not rocking the boat on civil rights. It was RFK who wiretapped and harassed Martin Luther King Jr. Robert Byrd was a KKK Kleagle and he’s still a senator.

    While Republicans of the time were certainly no angels, the shame of slavery and discrimination rests in large part with the southern Democrats. And the failure of Democratic policies such as the so-called War on Poverty and the Great Society have immiserated 2 generations of black Americans, making them perpetual wards of the state and political pawns of the Dems.

    And sadly, it is this administration that has turned on the Jewish state. Well, I guess that’s what you get sitting in Jeremiah Wrights pews for 20 years.

    Since many subsequent commenters take up the same obvious distortion (I wonder why?), let me point out that anyone who reads my post will see it’s not about Democrats and Republicans, it’s about conservatives and liberals. Lincoln, who feed the slaves was a Republican–duh! All honor goes to Republicans who, in his wake, supported the civil right movement, all shame to those who betrayed his legacy. The Southern Democratic racists who opposed civil rights were not liberals, even though they were Democrats, they were conservatives. Got that straight? It’s not that difficult if you took history in high school. You almost have to be willfully deceitful (or just thickheaded) not to understand the distinction . Strom Thurman who was a Dem, and then a Repub. was a conservative and a racist in both parties.
    The point is that conservatives of both parties found reasons to oppose one of the great moral and political movements in American history; liberals of both parties supported it, and those among Jews for whom the prophetic tradtion of social justice is central saw this clearly.

    Comment by J.J. Sefton — September 8, 2009 @ 3:59 pm | Reply

  7. Mr. Rosenbaum, I hope to address your argument at some future point, but am now on deadline for the American Spectator. For now, then, I merely wish to thank you for the frankness and courtesy of your response. My blog post was merely intended to call attention, and add my two cents, to the Commentary symposium. Many liberals have, however, taken the opportunity to make this an occasion to display their penchant name-calling, perverse insinuation and historical counterfactualism.

    Comment by Robert Stacy McCain — September 8, 2009 @ 4:29 pm | Reply

  8. […] Read the entire post here. […]

    Pingback by Pajamas Media » Why Are Jews Liberals? — September 9, 2009 @ 12:40 am | Reply

  9. So you leaned toward the 60.s causes like civil rights and culture like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Good for you. But now you believe that only leftist, liberal people did that? Dont you think your giving the people you label liberals and leftists too good a name? I was around during the sixties and there were some conservatives that were against apartheid and torture and actually supported human rights as well. Though, some might argue the point that its true today. Your article actually paints conservatives, in a very bad light.

    Comment by Poor Citizen — September 9, 2009 @ 3:15 am | Reply

  10. I love Ron’s honesty and have learned much from his writings and appreciate his perspective on this vexing issue. Liberalism has changed and American Jews seem not to have noticed. Ron has noticed but swore life time allegiance years ago. Present day liberalism IS comfortable with Jew haters and America haters like Hamas, Hezbollah, Ahmadinejad and Chavez because it has become a utopian ideology. It was once a muscular, realistic ideology, but Henry Jackson and Harry Truman are long gone. When utopia fails, someone must be blamed–Israel, America, the Jews. I am secular and Jewish to the core (like Freud) and a strong supporter of Israel. Therefore I have had to scrutinize my liberalism and have shed it because I think it weakens our defense in the ongoing war against the barbarians at the gates.

    Comment by Stephen Rittenberg — September 9, 2009 @ 4:34 am | Reply

  11. I would point out that one of the reasons that many Republicans did not enthusiastically engage in some aspects of the Civil Rights Movement was the federalism question. There wasn’t any enthusiasm for what the Southern states were doing, but there was a reluctance to have the national government step into areas traditionally within the authority of the states. As obnoxious and brutal as Southern racism was, abandoning the federal division of responsibility leads to many other problems.

    Comment by Clayton E. Cramer — September 9, 2009 @ 5:53 am | Reply

  12. If you dont believe,read or even attempt to understand the Bible.
    If you dont observe any Jewish rites.
    If you dont go to Synagogue,
    If you feel no affiliation to
    the defining elements of Judaism and define yourself by that indifference,
    You are not a Jew.
    You are a man with a genetic mix vaguely Middle Eastern.
    Thats all.

    Who appointed you to decide who’s a Jew? I read the Bible. Along with many Jews, I just don’t think it was written by God. Rather than “indifference” I feel a great love for the Jewish people, Jewish culture, the people of Israel and the Jewish prophetic tradition of social justice. Your narrow minded definition of Jewishiness would exclude some of the greatest Jews from Spinoza (heard of him?) to Isaac Bashevis Singer (ever read him?) to Einstein. And can you be ignorant of the primal Jewish law that anyone born of a Jewish mother is himself Jewish, and beyond that brilliant Jews have for thousands of years disagreed on what else is required. But you of course know better.

    Comment by ehunter — September 9, 2009 @ 6:04 am | Reply

  13. This is an interesting article. The main problem is the world has changed dramatically since the 60’s. In addition, I dont have a problem with being socially liberal and “justice for all”, the problem is being blind to everything else going on around you. Its being willing to destroy the economy in order to fullfill liberal wishes of wealth distribution. I also think the writer here has to recognize that a lot of republicans today do NOT think like that of those in the 60’s and needs to get a little different perspective, especially since someone like me, I am not from the south.

    Comment by Drew — September 9, 2009 @ 6:08 am | Reply

  14. Well, Ron, the civil-rights movement happened over forty years ago. A lot has happened since then. Plus we can see the effects of what was done then more clearly.

    For example, by raising up blacks, who was pushed down? It was poor whites. One can see this with busing. This was generally done only in cities, where poor whites lived, rather than also in suburbs, where rich whites lived. Poor whites have been the ones shouldering the burden of eliminating racism in our society. I see very little in the way of sacrifices by rich whites. Why pick on poor whites? And busing isn’t the only example like this.

    As for your claim that Republicans haven’t repudiated the racism of the 60s, neither have those left of center repudiated the butchery associated with communism. Castro still has many, many defenders among liberals and leftists. I try to taunt these people by asking, “If Castro is so progressive, why hasn’t he resigned so that a woman or a black can take over?” I’ve received no good answer to that yet.

    Finally, regarding the Palestinians, someone (I can’t remember who) put this in perspective. Arab Muslims dominate that region. They are like whites in this country. There are various minorities there, such as Jews, blacks in Darfur, Copts in Egypt, Kurds, and so on, none of whom are treated very well by the majority Arab Muslims. The so-called oppression of the Palestinians is nothing more than the unusual example of a minority actually managing to thrive and win wars against the “whites.” For too long, we’ve heard about this situation from the wrong point of view. The fact that Palestinians oppress women and homosexuals should show how wrong that point of view is.

    I’m not Jewish, but my wife is. I occasionally try to point out to her relatives that anti-Semitism exists more on the left these days than on the right. I think they are slowly coming around.

    Comment by JFP — September 9, 2009 @ 6:45 am | Reply

  15. This is perhaps the number one thing one must realize about liberal Jews: there will not be many of them in the relatively near future! They simply do not have enough children. A Reform Jew is similar to the Unitarian-Universalist. They are extremely secular and indifferent, if not even outright hostile, toward traditional values. The parents might make an halfhearted attempt to occasionally attend Reform religious services—but their few grandchildren will not give a damn. It will bore them to death. They will instead play golf or go shopping on Saturday. Liberal Jews are unwittingly participating in a suicide cult.

    Comment by David Thomson — September 9, 2009 @ 6:51 am | Reply

  16. So, if I understand the article, Jewish liberalism can be attributed to stupidity and ignorance. As several other commenters have pointed out, it was white Democrats who instituted Jim Crow and fought against civil rights.

    “where were conservatives during the civil rights movement of the 60s…” Passing legislation in Congress to destroy the Democratic led oppression of minorities.

    By the way, I’m not sure how FDR is associated with Civil Rights even in your muddled reasoning. Quite a few Japanese-Americans might have a counter-argument.

    Comment by Old Soldier — September 9, 2009 @ 7:23 am | Reply

  17. Why anyone would write a paean to LBJ for what he did for civil rights is beyond me. That only means the author has failed to look at LBJ’s biography. The man never voted for a civil rights bill with Federal enforcement provisions while he was in the Senate. Eisenhower was the civil rights leader of the ’50s, not the Democrats. Kennedy’s death and an unprepared LBJ allowed Hubert Humphrey and a group of northern Republicans to enact the civil rights legislation of the ’60s. The northern Dems most certainly didn’t have enough votes to do it themselves. FDR put American citizens in concentration camps. He continue the bar on Blacks being officers in the military until 1944. From the 1880’s on Jews were busy promoting labor unions, which were frequently bastions of anti-black thinking. Oh, and American Jews were prominent in both the communist and socialist movements of the time. There is a lot more to this, but for the moment I have run out of time.

    Comment by Spinoneone — September 9, 2009 @ 7:29 am | Reply

  18. Why are Jews liberals? Because they’re smart.

    Comment by Now and Then — September 9, 2009 @ 7:33 am | Reply

  19. Soooooooo. You’re saying Jews are Liberal because of a lot of misinformation?

    :\

    Comment by Delia — September 9, 2009 @ 7:41 am | Reply

  20. Mr. Rosenbaum’s post should be entitled “Why Secular and Reform Jews are Liberals”. They usually are, but the few orthodox Jews I have known have generally been more conservative then the most right-wing Christians.

    How can you say that the Palestinians have “demonstrated a consistent racist, anti-semitic, hate-filled desire to eliminate the state of Israel”? The Palestinians were under occupation for 37 years, from 1967 to 2004 before Hamas rose to power. For most of that time the PLO, admittedly a violent and corrupt organization, offered to negotiate a two state settlement.

    Gee, I guess support for the terrorist murder of women and children just because they were Jews isn’t “anti-semitic or hate filled” or anything.

    Comment by MonkeyShines — September 9, 2009 @ 8:21 am | Reply

  21. Marvin Sipperstein was one of my professors of medicine. In one medicine lecture, he starts off with citing a study of US Korean war soldiers in which 3 of 4 have significant coronary atherosclerosis. He’s giving this lecture to a bunch of college kids really who have no perspective on incidence of coronary artery disease adjusted for age. Why does he do this? Well, it fits into his research interest which he was very successful at and which helped people, but he wasn’t considering the people he was talking to. You know the old saying, ‘I love humanity. It’s people I can’t stand.’ Being intoxicated with the civil rights movement shows you love humanity. Jewish may be to love an ideal, G-d, civil rights, communism at one time, at the risk of discounting the person in front of you.

    Comment by Michael — September 9, 2009 @ 8:25 am | Reply

  22. Not very clever to vote for a party because of what people did 40-50 years ago instead of what they are doing now. I’d say that’s a very extreme kind of sentimentalism. I’d also say that you have misunderstood the concept of democracy completely. The hole point of democracy is that politicians are to be punished by the voters, if their policies fail. And you vote like a robot no matter what they do, because of what happened in the 60ties. I’m shaking my head in disbelief.

    Comment by JL — September 9, 2009 @ 10:08 am | Reply

  23. As JJ noted, the Republicans were no angels, but it was they who did the main work. There was a lot of anti-racist rhetoric from northern Democrats, but not a lot of action. Not in their cities.

    Segregation, like communism and fad diets, turned out to be one of those things that can sound intellectually defensible, but turns out not to work even under the best of circumstances. That is a lot easier to see now than it was fifty years ago, when even reasonable people might say that yes, segregation is used as cover by racists, and yes, it is not working, but still might be made to work. If that seems like an apology for racism, consider that this reasoning is the foundation for much of liberal plans today, just from another perspective.

    Liberals, and Democrats, did indeed attempt a lot of noble things on behalf of justice in my lifetime. Sometimes they were even successful, and should be given credit. But they mostly succeeded in picking off the low-hanging fruit in any situation, as a show to keep minorities on the plantation.

    Comment by Assistant Village Idiot — September 9, 2009 @ 11:35 am | Reply

  24. Ron, reading this reminded me of something you wrote many years ago that sticks with me: About the glory of a tradition that encompasses Torah as universe (the religious aspect of Judaism–the apex of human spirituality, in my view) and the universe as Torah–an intellectual tradition of explicating the world.

    I know that you describe yourself as nonreligious, so I hope that you will not feel insulted when a religious person like me tells you that I see the Divine in your writing and passion.

    Comment by zeemumbai — September 9, 2009 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

  25. Hey Monkeyshines: “The Palestinians were under occupation for 37 years, from 1967 to 2004 before Hamas rose to power. For most of that time the PLO, admittedly a violent and corrupt organization, offered to negotiate a two state settlement.” Revisionism. The Israelis offered to negotiate after the Six Day War and were rebuffed by the Arab League–the 3 No’s. No peace, no negotiations, no recognition of Israel. Ross/Clinton/Barak offered them a state in ’99. Arafat walked out and started Intifada II. As Abba Eben put it, “The Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” How about Gaza 2005? Land for. . . rockets.

    Comment by smellthecoffee — September 9, 2009 @ 2:53 pm | Reply

  26. Wasn’t George Wallace a Democrat in the 1960s? Wasn’t the KKK almost all democrats? The Dems were the party ofd slavery in 1860, 1960 and now in 2009. My father was a knee jerk Democrat. My grandfather escaping from Europe was a knee kerk socialist/Democrat. Yes there were reasons to look askance at Conservatism in 1960 but they are gone now. And conservatives did have one realistic objection to the Civil Rights movement. They could clearly see the destructiveness of Affirmative Action looming on the horizon and that truly turned into the horror we have today. There really is no conservatism anymore besides Pat Buchanan and he is whacked. The Republicans today are the classical liberals

    Comment by aloysiusmiller — September 9, 2009 @ 2:55 pm | Reply

  27. #8 ehunter.

    I have a friend who says he’s a Jew. One day I asked him how he could identify himself as a Jew considering he hadn’t been in a synagogue since he was 9 (no bar mitzvah for him). He regularly worked after sundown on Friday. His favorite breakfast was bacon and eggs. I can’t remember what else I mentioned but suffice to say he was about as Jewish as I am Christian and I would never identify myself by a religion that hasn’t been practiced in my family in three generations.

    He told me about his grandmother. He told me about two great-aunts and one great-uncle. He told me about four of his great-granparents. What he told me was that all of these blood relatives of his had been killed by the Nazis in death camps. He said that even though he does not practice or believe in Judaism, he would be rounded up and gassed as quickly as the most orthodox rabbi. That made him a Jew.

    Can you argue that my friend was wrong?

    Comment by Northern Light — September 9, 2009 @ 3:44 pm | Reply

  28. Aligned with Father Coughlin and Charles Lindberg

    You left out Norman Thomas. The politics of the past doesn’t map directly onto the present.

    I figure that Jews found the Marxist version of socialism more congenial than the fascist because the former is a Christian heresy with its roots in judaism whereas the latter is essentially pagan. You shall have no God before me and all that.

    Comment by chuck — September 9, 2009 @ 3:50 pm | Reply

  29. ehunter, you’re full of crap. It takes a lot more than that to drum someone out of the tribe. In fact, I think the only way you can stop being a Jew is to actively join another religion, marry a gentile, practice the other religion in your home, refuse to do anything Jewish in your family, and you will still be a Jew but your kids wont be.

    Comment by Yehudit — September 9, 2009 @ 4:08 pm | Reply

  30. There is a problem, here – the identity of the both parties has transformed, and has been transforming for some time – I believe it started in 1990. I am a Christian, I believe Israel deserves to exist and that the Muslims must accept its existence. I believe it has a right to fight for existence. I believe lower taxes help me and my family save money. I believe that if I obey the laws I deserve to own a gun and defend myself if need be. Mr. Rosenbaum, stop living in the past. If you look far back enough into the past you will see that that the republican party began with Abe Lincoln and they were against slavery. The Democrats pretty much ran The south for several decades after the Civil War.

    The Democratic party is now a strange mutation, I no longer recognize it as the party of John Kennedy and FDR. My parents, both traditional Democrats, would be shocked to see that their party now approves of Abortion, the Muslim terrorists (as freedom fighters of all things!),Socialism, communism and homosexual marriage!
    I am surprised someone as intelligent as you can’t see that socialism doesn’t promise social justice or economic security, look at every state it has been instituted! It bleeds the few real producers,that exist into poverty, it saps a society’s vitality and discourages innovation and experimentation.

    Comment by Kathleen Mary — September 9, 2009 @ 6:05 pm | Reply

  31. So Yehudit if being a Jew doesnt mean any belief or practice of Judaism..what DOES it mean? Can you come up any answer but some empty cutesy
    version of shallow consumerism? You know..if you like Matzo ball soup that means you are Jewish..etc etc

    Comment by ehunter — September 9, 2009 @ 6:24 pm | Reply

  32. So a person who doesnt practice any feature of Judaism can claim to be a Jew…does that mean
    that all people who dont practice Judaism can be Jews too…I mean if they really believe themselves to be so?

    Comment by ehunter — September 9, 2009 @ 6:41 pm | Reply

  33. Jews traditionally support what is right. I remember being a liberal and working for the equality of blacks. Once legislation was passed, the tone of the blacks changed. I remember being no longer welcome in the black neighborhood in which I grew up. I remember when affirmative action gave blacks I knew (with far less credentials) jobs and advancements over me. Since the time I laid my life on the line for my beliefs, I see the black community openly hostile to my people. They openly profess some of the most vulgar and profane statements about my people that I’ve ever heard.

    I have to look back at history. Was I wrong in openly supporting the blacks during the civil rights movement?

    Comment by Oscar the Grump — September 9, 2009 @ 6:45 pm | Reply

  34. “Was I wrong in openly supporting the blacks during the civil rights movement?”

    Your heart was in the right place. You made the mistake, however, of not paying attention to scholars like Edward Banfield—so that your head was on your shoulders a little tighter. The situation got really bad once the peaceful but radical leftist Martin Luther King, Jr. started pushing zero sum economic doctrines. Banfield wrote his profound The Unheavenly City in 1968. His superb insights and advice were mostly ignored.

    Comment by David Thomson — September 9, 2009 @ 7:49 pm | Reply

  35. Rosenbaum asks:
    “But if you want a simple answer to why Jews are liberal, ask where were conservatives during the civil rights movement of the 60s, the social justice movements of the 40s.”

    Why stop at the 40s, if you are going to bring up ancient history why not go all the way back to the 1800’s and early 1900’s when the Democratic party passed Jim Crow segregation laws and looked the other way while lynchings occured, and Republicans fought for civil rights. The “conservatives” Rosenbaum speaks about from all those years ago were mostly in the Democratic party.

    Republicans voted for the civil rights bill in higher percentage than Democrats. Many Democrats fought civil rights legislation tooth and nail. It was a Republican president who first enforced school integration laws and a Democratic governor who threatened to stand in the door of public shools to prevent black students from entering. The idea that a “southern strategy” as practiced today, if it is practiced at all, is racist is laughable. Rosenbaum should get his facts straight before lecturing conservatives over ancient history.

    We have one political party in this country with a shameful legacy of racism, and it is the Democratic Party.

    Comment by Stevemmn — September 9, 2009 @ 9:46 pm | Reply

  36. Rosenbaum’s article points out the central issue as to why so many Jews are liberals and it is not complicated at all, it is quite simple. A great many so-called “liberal Jews” are not Jews at all, they are just liberals who happen to have a Jewish heritage based on a religion they no longer observe.

    Comment by Stevemmn — September 9, 2009 @ 10:11 pm | Reply

  37. I saw conservatives and Republicans staunchly opposed to anti-segregation legislation and anti-racist movements.

    I saw a lot of idiots and misinformed people between Jews.

    One of those eeeeevil Republicans was Martin Luther King. And while it was Johnson who had the legilsations restricting Black vote declared unconstitutional the fact is that it was the nearly unanimous (90%) support of Republican congressmen and states who allowed it to be passed. The fact is that had the ratification process been restricted to Democrat congressmen and Democrat states it would have failed since support between them was weel below the two thirds makority required

    Comment by JFM — September 10, 2009 @ 1:28 am | Reply

  38. Neither party – in my lifetime – has been able to own civil rights. When I was a child, southern Democrats were fighting against integration with firehouses and dogs. Now, Democrats support affirmative action, which is another sort of racism.

    I’m old enough and cynical enough now to realize that political parties have no real moral or ethical basis. They will use whatever they can to get votes.

    Neither Democrats nor Republicans hold the moral high ground.

    We really need to get past demonizing people with whom we disagree, and instead try to persuade or make a case for what we believe.

    Comment by Xanthippe — September 10, 2009 @ 6:34 am | Reply

  39. Kathleen Mary, you are quite right. The Democrats were the party of the poor when I was young. But today, they are the party of, as Camille Paglia put it yesterday, “an upper-middle-class professional elite, top-heavy with journalists, academics and lawyers.” In other words, we have two parties of the rich.

    If you’re poor, there’s no longer an obvious choice to make. It will differ depending on your identity. If you’re black, the obvious choice is Democrat. The same if you are Latino, unless you are a very conservative Catholic, in which case you might be better served by the Republicans. If you are a poor white, then the Republicans seem like a better choice.

    And if you’re Jewish, increasingly the Republicans look better, just because there’s so much anti-Semitism on the left these days.

    Comment by JFP — September 10, 2009 @ 7:18 am | Reply

  40. “And so it’s the Jewish tradition of social justice that made me a liberal. Here’s where things get difficult.”

    “Social Justice” is what Hitler Used in his propaganda against the Jews! The “Protocols of Zion” was about promoting “Social Justice” for “Victims of Jews!”

    Social Justice is a term invented by Karl Marx and used by the Bolshevics to justify their reign of Terror!

    Don’t throw this term around as a way to explain yourself. It carries only the weight of the blood of millions upon it, and ignorance or stupidity by those who carelously use it.

    Comment by wancow — September 10, 2009 @ 12:24 pm | Reply

  41. “I don’t understand those Jewish liberals and Leftists — supposedly anti-fascist ”

    Not supposedly anything. They’re stupid, ignorant or evil, take your pick.

    All Liberals ARE FASCISTS if they’re not Socialists.

    They favour state control of all aspects of human endeavour through Regulation (Fascism) or Nationalization (Socialism).

    Comment by wancow — September 10, 2009 @ 12:26 pm | Reply

  42. “the civil rights movement.”

    Yet another leftist, fascist term that needs to be shown for what it is.

    A “Civil Right” is granted by the Government, and is therefore a PRIVELEDGE, NOT A RIGHT!

    There are only Human Rights!

    Comment by wancow — September 10, 2009 @ 12:29 pm | Reply

  43. Sorry, but no cigar. You would be much better off pondering why there is a straight line from Marx and Trotsky to Mark Rudd and David Axelrod, with the phony civil rights battles in between. Jews are liberal mostly because they are now secular, which is precisely why orthodox Jews are much more likely to be conservative. As the old saying goes, Those who believe in nothing will believe in anything. In the case of western Jews, they invented and still believe in leftist totalitarianism. (George Soros, call your office.) Why that is so is the more legitimate question. But it is ironic that much of the intellectual revolt today against Marxist totalitarianism is also coming from American Jews. Perhaps there is hope for us after all.

    Comment by james — September 10, 2009 @ 2:06 pm | Reply

  44. Hey, Conservatives, ever wonder what happened to those racist southern Democrats who opposed civil rights? They had a massive and well-documented exodus to your party. And now they form the spinal column of your unabashedly homogenous coalition. How is it possible that you all do not realize this? You might, from time to time, examine those one-size-fits-all factoids Sean Hannity feeds to you. Such scurrilous characters are not above lying and misrepresentation. I used to believe what they say about the very much lower IQs on your side of the aisle, and then I thought, nah: Just immature and super snobby of me. Now I think the issue really ought to be studied in a responsible, cross-cultural, big budget kind of way.

    Comment by Tim R — September 10, 2009 @ 3:04 pm | Reply

  45. Why are Jews liberals? I don’t know, but I suspect, that it flows from the Jewish culture that places a high emphasis upon learning.

    I don’t know, but I suspect, that because of this Jews, as a group, are much more likely to have a college degree than many of the other groups that we tend to divide our society into.

    And what do they teach/indoctrinate in most colleges? A very “liberal” world view. That’s the key. There’s nothing inherent in Judaism about being “liberal.”

    Comment by Tcobb — September 10, 2009 @ 6:26 pm | Reply

  46. @ wancow

    “Social Justice” was not invented by Hitler, though interestingly enough it was used as the name of a newspaper by the anti-semitic radio priest Charles Caughlin.

    As to your claim that “All liberals ARE FASCISTS if they’re not Socialists.”, would you perhaps care to explain why the actual Fascists, the people who invented the term and used it to describe themselves, spent so much time inveighing against liberalism? For example:

    “The Liberal State is a mask behind which there is no face; it is a scaffolding behind which there is no building.”
    -Benito Mussolini

    Perhaps you had better take an Attivan

    Comment by Monkeyshines — September 10, 2009 @ 8:59 pm | Reply

  47. “…by the anti-semitic radio priest Charles Caughlin.”

    Fr. Charles Coughlin would probably be upset with being described as a socialist—but that’s what he was. At the end of the day, the radio priest believed in wealth redistribution. He was literally more economically left-wing than Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Dealers. Fr. Coughlin didn’t think FDR was sufficiently radical!

    Comment by David Thomson — September 11, 2009 @ 8:40 pm | Reply

  48. Two important principles were at stake for conservatives in the early sixties. Opposition to the civil rights legislation was in fact principled. The first principle is property rights of individuals and the second principle was federalism. For Republican conservatives, opposition to civil rights legislation was not racism, but the need to come to terms with fundamental issues of conflicting principle.

    And it is fair to say that once the legislative issue was settled, Republican conservatives embraced the need for it. Republican liberals, and there once were plenty of them, supported this legislation from the start.

    The Democratic Party has completely corrupted the principles embodied in this legislation and did so immediately by promoting an identity politics that turns this legislation upside down. Since the sixties it has been Republicans who honor the principles of the civil rights movement.

    Comment by Charles R. Williams — September 12, 2009 @ 5:57 am | Reply

  49. Everything changes, nothing changes. Liberals like to think of themselves as modern. They aren’t. They are just people who like to flog a dead horse. They never stop trying to ‘revive’ that horse. In the high flush of their ego and finite understanding they once again instruct us of their so called wisdom.
    Their liberal ideas go back to the earliest days when instead of rejecting the lower standards around them, they would embrace them. These standards are elevated in their minds as being some kind of ideal. It is their belief that this will promote harmony. Once again, this elevated ideal will fail, like it always has for endless centuries. Harmony does not come from elevating impossible situations. It comes from working with understanding on what is doable, not with what is impossible. As long as these liberals keep flogging the impossible and demanding elevated status, there will be no harmony. When it once again, crashes down, like it always has throughout history, there will be a time of quiet reflection. But as history goes, not for long. The blinders will be back in another generation, storming the ‘new’ elevated ideals once again.
    Accept what is possible. Find ways and means in working on what can lastingly be achieved. It is time to take a long hard look, at just what deserves to be elevated.

    Comment by Bonnie — September 13, 2009 @ 12:36 pm | Reply

  50. “And while the Democratic Party was, yes, made up of a bizarre alliance of Southern racists and northern liberals, the support of Northern liberal democrats for the civil right movement earned liberalism, for me, a lifelong allegiance.”

    That’s funny, I mean, really funny to someone who grew up in the South and got his ass kicked by “Young Democrats” for playing baseball with the black kids. Every office in every county and state was controlled by democrats down this way, and there wasn’t any doubt about what they thought of either blacks or northern liberals. If you swore allegiance based on what northern liberals were saying to you, you swore allegiance to people who were well aware that telling you one thing while supporting something else would hook you.

    You may think the groups from the north that headed south for discussions with their fellow democrats were all supporters of Civil Rights, but they weren’t. There were groups that came to plan strategy with the local democrats and told them they wanted to help make sure republicans didn’t, “start Yankee occupation all over again”. You were manipulated and continue to be manipulated. You’re a wonderful example of what people who are betrayed but love their betrayers are like. You poor SOB, you’ve got a horrible case of the Stockholm Syndrome and don’t even know it.

    Have a nice day

    Comment by Rashputin — September 14, 2009 @ 10:22 am | Reply

  51. Compare what so many conservatives say about gays now, and equal rights for gays, with what was previously said about Jews (or blacks). Same accusations, same claims that defense of tradition, “decency” and God requires repressing these depraved people and their outrageous demands. Mr Ron Rosenbaum, you have a point.

    Comment by Lorenzo (from Oz — September 14, 2009 @ 2:21 pm | Reply


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