Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Re: Michael Mukasey And Jewish Conservatism

Re: Michael Mukasey And Jewish Conservatism.

Dear Colleagues:

I shall write relatively briefly today on a matter which touches a subject I’ve long, but perhaps wrongly, considered sensitive. The sensitive subject is the turn of American Jews toward conservatism. The matter relating to this is Michael Mukasey on waterboarding.

The overall subject has in recent years been sensitive, I’ve thought, because so many of the neocons who brought us the Iraq war were Jewish. The men at the very top weren’t: bush II, Cheney, Rumsfeld. But several people just below, or with influence, were: Wolfowitz, Feith, Abrams, Perle, William Kristol. To bring up the American Jewish turn toward conservatism in such circumstances seemed to me likely to simply fan the ever present, if often banked, fires of anti-Semitism, fires which have certainly not been diminished by the leftish view that Israel is responsible for our problems. Yet recently, when my views toward Mukasey began boiling over to the point that I have felt a need to do a radio show on the question of Jewish conservatism, and have begun reading materials on the subject in preparation, I found that there is a perhaps surprising amount of writing on the subject. So maybe it is not as sensitive as I thought. Or, if it is, people have decided to write about it regardless.

At present, I have not yet read widely enough to feel reasonably educated in the premises. My views largely still stem from growing up in the home of Russian Jewish immigrants who had a strong belief in social justice and great sympathy for labor (even though a union was more than a little responsible for the destruction of my old man’s small business). My folks, before I was born, had themselves been part of the laboring class for a reasonable period, my mother a milliner and my father a laundryman. I grew up with certain values, obtained from them, from their friends, who had similar or identical backgrounds, from reading, and from the fact that people of their stripe invariably voted for the Democrats -- for FDR and Truman -- and favored what the New Deal was trying to accomplish.

It always seemed to me, quite wrongly and very naively I’m now sure, that several of the inculcated values were necessarily ones which stemmed from a Russian Jewish, semi socialistic background. But in later years I came to believe that several of the values I hold dear are, to a very major extent, signposts as well of the Protestant rural America of the 1800s and well into the mid 20th century, of the working class of all racial and ethnic groups, of Scandinavian American Midwest culture, of much Asian American culture, and others. I am speaking here of values such as hard work, modesty, honesty and a sense of fairness to others. The only group, as it were, that one might think gravely lacking in such attributes is, sad to say, the group which controls America today: the white collar class in business, the professions and government.

I am, of course, not praising or indicting every member of any of the aforementioned groups or others, but am speaking in broad generalities that I think cannot be readily dismissed as obviously incorrect.

Which brings me to Michael Mukasey. Mukasey is Jewish -- he even went to an Orthodox Jewish (if possibly modern) prep school. He belongs to a people that often has been viciously persecuted for 1,500 or 2,000 years. They have been slaughtered, tortured and dispossessed, time and time again. Long before Hitler there was the Spanish Inquisition -- which used waterboarding (and may even have invented it). Coming from this background, and growing up in a period (the 1940s and 1950s) when the human (and humane) attitudes of the general Jewish community favored social justice (as indicated by overwhelming support for FDR and Truman), Michael Mukasey nevertheless does not know if waterboarding is torture? The son of a bitch cannot bring himself to say that a technique used in a Spanish war against his own people, a technique considered torture for 500 years, is torture? I imagine it must be my background, as described earlier, but I just cannot understand how someone who comes out of Mukasey’s background can say what he has been saying. I can understand it when some crumb from the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page tells me in emails that we are not doing torture, or when a lying bum like George Bush claims it. But a Jewish guy who even went to a Jewish religious school? -- he claims it is possible that waterboarding is not torture? This is just too much for my poor mind to grasp. I cannot grasp it even if one were to say Mukasey has acted out of ambition to become Attorney General. It seems to me like a desertion of the most basic human values that a Jewish guy from New York City, and from a religious prep school no less, must have been exposed to all the time.

And it brings up the broader question I adverted to earlier, the question I am in process of reading about. How is it, and why is it, that so many Jews have become so conservative? What are all the reasons? And this implicates another, conceivably even broader question. How is it and why is it that so many American of all creeds, faiths and types -- Americans, for God’s sake -- have come to accept torture as just one of those things?

Maybe, though, I am to some extent focusing through the wrong end of the telescope. Maybe the focus should be on the fact that so many Americans of all faiths, creeds and types never accepted torture, and an increasing number of them seem to be rejecting torture as time moves on. Yet, if that is true, it only causes me to wonder the more about a guy like Mukasey and about the wing of conservative, even neocon, Jews whom he may represent.

*************

This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to comment on the post, on the general topic of the post, or on the comments of others, you can, if you wish, post your comment on my website, VelvelOnNationalAffairs.com. All comments, of course, represent the views of their writers, not the views of Lawrence R. Velvel or of the Massachusetts School of Law. If you wish your comment to remain private, you can email me at Velvel@mslaw.edu.

VelvelOnNationalAffairs is now available as a podcast. To subscribe please visit VelvelOnNationalAffairs.com, and click on the link on the top left corner of the page. The podcasts can also be found on iTunes or at www.lrvelvel.libsyn.com

In addition, one hour long television book shows, shown on Comcast, on which Dean Velvel, interviews an author, one hour long television panel shows, also shown on Comcast, on which other MSL personnel interview experts about important subjects, conferences on historical and other important subjects held at MSL, presentations by authors who discuss their books at MSL, a radio program (What The Media Won’t Tell You) which is heard on the World Radio Network (which is on Sirrus and other outlets in the U.S.), and an MSL journal of important issues called The Long Term View, can all be accessed on the internet, including by video and audio. For TV shows go to: www.mslaw.edu/about_tv.htm; for book talks go to: www.notedauthors.com; for conferences go to: www.mslawevents.com; for The Long Term View go to: www.mslaw.edu/about_LTV.htm; and for the radio program go to: www.velvelonmedia.com.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news