Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Pressure is mounting on the University of Sydney to back away from planned changes to its Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), with Federal Labor MPs writing to the University and urging it to reconsider.
In a letter seen by New Matilda, three Federal MPs and four of their state counterparts have implored the institution not to "downgrade" the Centre into a mini-department.
The CPACS is headed by Associate-Professor Jake Lynch, and has campaigned outside of the classroom on a number of issues. Lynch and others involved in the Centre are concerned the changes to its structure will threaten that side of its operations.
So too are Federal MPs Melissa Parke, Maria Vamvakinou, and Laurie Ferguson, who along with state MPs Paul Lynch, Julia Finn, Lynda Voltz, and Shaoquett Moselmane have signed a letter protesting the restructure and sent to the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Professor Barbara Caine.
"CPACS’s efforts to promote debate on issues like accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka, West Papua, Palestine and human rights generally provide the Australian and the global community with a sophisticated, alternative voice on topical and difficult issues, as reflected in acclamations for CPACS’ work by the likes of Dr Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu," their letter says.
The letter goes on to urge the University to reconsider changing the Centre’s status.
"It cannot be good for our democracy and academic reputation to attenuate such voices. It would be particularly disturbing if a prestigious institution like Sydney University, by the simple expedient of withdrawing resources from CPACS, is seen to supress reflection and debate on important, even controversial, matters."
The move follows similar action from NSW state Greens MPs, who wrote to the University earlier in the week warning the changes to the Centre could look like a ‘politically motivated attack’ to the broader community.
After being contacted for comment today, a spokesperson for University said they did not comment on correspondence with MPs. The University has previously argued the changes to the Centre are due to falling enrolments, but that has been disputed by Lynch.
Lynch has previously been the subject of controversy thanks to his support of the Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions campaign. MPs who signed the letter, including Federal members Melissa Parke and Maria Vamvakinou, have been among Labor’s most outspoken supporters of Palestine.
Monday, March 28, 2016
There is a HUGE rant by Geoff Russell on "New Matilda" about global warming being caused by farm animals. It bemuses me to see how many words the Green/Left usually take to make their points and this is an example of that. The article seems to go on forever. The Green/Left must be boiling with rage to pour out so many bile-filled words.
And despite all those words absolutely nothing is said about how humans have evolved to be omnivores and that any attempt to take meat off our dinner tables would be so widely and strongly resisted as to make the attempt futile. He seems to think it is only a "conspiracy" that keeps us eating meat. What a wacko!
He also dosn't question global warming orthodoxy but that is unsurprising. It gives him a hook to hang his vegan crusade on.
That he is actually capable of critical thought is revealed by the second oddity about him. He likes nuclear power. That's perfectly rational if you believe in the evils of CO2 and CH4 but is rare on the Green/left.
And speaking of CH4, the usual swipe that Warmists take at farm animals is at their farts, which do have a lot of CH4 in them. But CH4 intercepts warming in certain wavelengths only and water vapour also absorbs those wavelengths so the theoretical effect of CH4 on global warming translates in practice to a nil effect. So that part of Mr Russell's argument is a washout.
It's amusing, though, that Mr Russell aims primarily at fellow Greenies. He thinks they are conveniently overlooking a major source of global warming. Just a few excerpts:
The makers of the US eco-ethical-documentary “Cowspiracy” are attempting to explain why the world’s largest environmental organisations have ignored the role of meat in both climate change and more generally in trashing the planet.
They use the well-worn tactic of simply asking them… or trying to. When it comes to slandering people for buggering the planet, Greenpeace apparently thinks it’s more noble to give than to receive, so they aren’t keen on being asked inconvenient questions.
This doco has lots of Michael Moore moments. People knocking on doors, asking pointed questions and getting sheepish looks. All the big US players get a mention: The Sierra Club, Greenpeace, NRDC, Rainforest Action Network, Amazon Watch, and more.
These groups all love asserting the high moral ground and aren’t used to being questioned about their submersion in a deep trench of cattle excrement.
The inconvenient truth is that none of these environmental icons care enough about their beloved planet to order the vegan option, let alone make the whole menu vegan.
In the case of Greenpeace, their PR people did the old “turn that camera off” shuffle and refused to be interviewed; … priceless!
But after all the fun and games… does Cowspiracy actually explain the inaction of at least the US environmental movement on the meat and dairy industries? Is it really a conspiracy? Is it organised and funded?
US Professor of Nutrition, Marion Nestle blew the whistle years ago with “Food Politics” on how the meat industry stacked and bullied US Government nutritional advice committees.
Cowspiracy lacks Nestle’s academic rigor, but still delivers a few hits.
When asked if the meat and dairy industries donate to environmental organisations, the Animal Agriculture Alliance spokesperson looked like a kid caught with both hands and feet in the cookie jar, and said she couldn’t comment. She refused to answer a direct question about funding Greenpeace.
In Australia, the funding link is clear and a matter of public record. As is the lack of any major campaign against meat by the big green groups (ACF, FOE, AYCC, Greens to name but a few) getting this funding. Tim Flannery is also a recipient of pastoral largess from the bovine broverhood.
Let’s be clear here: different meats have different impacts. It gets tiresome to differentiate constantly, so I’ll do it once now.
Ruminants are the primary climate culprits by way of methane and deforestation, while pigs and chickens primarily pollute air, water and other foods while diverting deforested land from food to feed, while also killing people directly via new diseases (e.g. Swine Flu) while adding to our risk of losing antibiotics.
The cattle barons supporting our big green groups obviously don’t care that their funding is common knowledge. Why? Probably because our mainstream media don’t give a damn. Aussie BBQ culture is at least as strong here as in the US; and don’t forget meat industry advertising.....
Environmental tribalism has our environmental groups automatically anti-GM and anti-nuclear as a matter of ideology. This illustrates a profoundly anti-science bias. They simply don’t get it.
You can’t credibly accept climate science but reject any other science which contradicts your policies. All the science of the last 30 years on the causes of cancer and the mechanism of DNA repair contradict the radiophobia behind green anti-nuclear policy.
When science conflicts with your policy, you may wait a little to make sure the science is solid and well supported, but if it is, then you change your policies. Any high school student can understand this, except perhaps those in AYCC.
When your science is shallow and you don’t really understand the process, you tend to pick and choose what you like. But science isn’t like that.
The human population, even the 9 billion of us expected by 2050, could actually live without doing too much environmental damage if we ate at the bottom of the food chain (vegan) and used nuclear power for all our energy needs.
Energy doesn’t have to have a large adverse footprint on the planet, unless we go with sources having a low power density, like wind, solar and biofuels. It is ironic that our environmental movement has opted for the sources of energy that will have the most impact on wildlife habitat, and therefore biodiversity.
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Has radicalism become fashionable?
The Australian Leftist writer, John Preston, below says that centrism is no longer the way to win elections. He makes a reasonable case for radicalism instead -- but I think he is wrong. I will say why at the foot of the article
The popularity of Corbyn and Sanders in the UK and US and the elections of Trudeau in Canada and Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza Party in Greece, and even the success of the Scottish National Party in the recent UK, would appear to offer an alternative theory.
What appealed to UK Labor and the progressives amongst Canada’s voters, and is appealing to Democrats in the US, is strong leadership coupled with high idealism backed up with deliberately progressive rhetoric, if not actual policy.
The diminutive member for Islington North, Jeremy Bernard Corbyn, was universally written off by the UK Tories, the centrist Labour movement and the British press as being much too strongly rooted in his social-democratic roots to become a credible leader of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom.
Corbyn’s philosophy is firmly based around poverty and social inequality. He advocates the re-nationalization of the railways and public utilities and has championed unilateral nuclear disarmament, free university tuition and an unashamedly green agenda of significantly increased renewable energy targets and the phasing out of the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels.
An unabashed “socialist” in the traditional sense, Corbyn barely gained sufficient nominations from Labour MPs to secure a spot on the leadership ballot, but then rapidly rose to lead the polling for the leadership of the Party for the duration of the campaign and went on to achieve a resounding – some would say ‘landslide’ – victory securing nearly 60 per cent of first round voting.
After announcing his candidacy for the Democratic Presidential Nomination in April 2015, Bernie Sanders has made consistent and occasionally remarkable in-roads into an apparently unassailable lead by US political royal and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
While at least as unlikely a candidate as his UK counterpart, the rise and rise of this self-confessed socialist, peace campaigner, former conscientious objector and avid critic of the moneyed classes in a notoriously pro-capitalist and conservative United States is remarkable.
In a February 2016 Huffington Post poll, Sanders’ is polling at 36.8 per cent in an aggregated poll of 29 polling organisations monitoring the 2016 National Democratic Primary. To be polling at nearly 37 per cent against an establishment candidate like Clinton (who is, admittedly, at 50.2 per cent) is nothing short of astonishing.
The net effect for Clinton has been a refocusing of her social justice rhetoric, with an increased emphasis on the very same policy positions that Sanders has been espousing. Following the struck match result in Iowa and the apparent 60 per cent to 40 per cent victory to Sanders in the New Hampshire Primary, income inequality and the minimum wage will inevitably feature in Clinton’s stump speeches in the lead up to the South Carolina primary, notwithstanding that she currently holds a pretty comfortable 63.2 per cent to 33.3 per cent lead according to the polls.
Justin Trudeau’s recent victory in Canada’s general elections delivered the largest-ever numerical increase in seats recorded for the Canadian Parliament. Trudeau took the Liberal Party of Canada from a lack-lustre third-position with 36 seats to a victory that saw the party secure nearly 40 per cent of the popular vote and 184 seats in a commanding mandate to form a comfortable majority government.
In the aftermath of the Paris tragedies of November 2015, Trudeau’s commentary was scrupulously measured and cautious, in stark contrast to comments by Hollande in France, Cameron in the UK or the more aggressive protagonists among Australia’s conservative political and media.
The 50/50 split by gender, reinforced by a multi-ethnic and multi-faith cabinet has led the 29th Canadian ministry to be dubbed one of the most diverse of any western democracy. Right out of the blocks, Trudeau’s ministry has begun work on shifting the taxation burden away from the middle class towards the rich, and significantly increasing the Syrian refugee intake to 25,000.
When questioned on the make-up of his cabinet, and in particular why there were 50 per cent women, Trudeau’s now famous reply was “because it’s 2015” – a statement clearly tilting at his progressive agenda.
While arguably more center-left than his UK and US brethren, Trudeau is a self-declared feminist, is resolutely pro-choice on abortion, supports the legalization of marijuana and is a champion of religious freedom.
Perhaps more pointedly, Trudeau’s foreign policy agenda revolves around peacekeeping, humanitarian aid and the reduction of Canadian troops in foreign (particularly Middle-Eastern) conflicts.
Trudeau is, by any measure, a long way from the hardline conservatism of his predecessor, Stephen Harper, and has been pejoratively labeled as: shaggy-haired; gaffe-prone; subject to depthless impetuosity; and, above all, a democratic-socialist in the bleeding-heart liberal mold.
The outstanding success of the Scottish National Party in the recent UK general elections (notwithstanding the re-election of a conservative government) has made the SNP the third-largest political party by membership and overall representation in the UK House of Commons.
The party’s success as a social democratic party is built on much the same basis as Trudeau’s Liberals in Canada and Corbyn’s platform with UK Labour – the environment, social justice, progressive taxation, affordable social housing and an intriguing anti-nuclear stance (Scotland has four nuclear power stations and two nuclear-capable military bases (Clyde and Neptune) which provide significant employment opportunities for Scottish workers).
A potential (although not predicted) coalition of SNP and UK Labour would cause significant headaches for the UK’s Tories at the next UK general elections in May 2020.
In Greece, Tsipras’ Syriza party has had a more checkered but nonetheless revealing history. In reaction to crippling austerity measurements that Syriza claim were being imposed by Germany, Tsipras came to power with a modest 36 per cent of the vote.
In the snap election of September 2015, Syriza was returned on much the same margin despite the failure of Tsipras’ coalition government to achieve the progressive policy outcomes that it had originally sought a mandate for.
On the other side of the political divide, the inexplicable rise of real estate tycoon and reality television personality, Donald Trump, as the front-runner for the Republican (GOP) Presidential Nominations also challenges the centrism theory.
Trump (on 35.5 per cent) is comfortably ahead of his nearest rival, Ted Cruz (18.5 per cent), and is well ahead of the rest of the most ultra-conservative cadre of GOP candidates in United States history.
The increasing momentum of social-democratic movements and their counter-weights around the world makes a considered study of mass-appeal politics and policy in the Australian context a worthwhile exercise.
The rise and rise of Corbyn and Sanders from the left and Trump et al. from the right, suggests that more extreme policy, coupled with decisive leadership and populist policy is at least as likely a recipe for electoral success as the centrist line.
For the Australian Labor Party, rather than shying away from a progressive social democratic platform and strong, idealistic leadership, the strategists at Labor’s National Secretariat may need to offer an alternative to Dyrenfurth’s ‘more vanilla’ centrist mantra and give the electorate a real alternative to garner success at the ballot box in 2016.
As perhaps befits a conservative, I am more cynical than the writer above. I believe that policy plays a secondary role in any election. People elect a person, not a platform. An attractive personality, like the Gipper, will win every time. And Tsipras (Greece) and Trudeau (Canada) are clearly attractive personalities. Even Sanders is, in his way. He at least conveys sincerity. British Leftist, Jeremy Corbyn, by contrast, is not an attractive personality and his popularity ratings are making the Conservative party very happy
And Trump most definitely fits the mould of a popular personality. He has very little in the way of firm policies at all. But what he says and the way he says it sounds good and cheering to a lot of people. People do like a strong leader and Trump oozes strength and confidence. Tsipras and Trudeau also convey great confidence and self-assurance. And what did Mitt Romney convey? Nothing.
And the rising star in Britain's Conservative party -- Boris Johnson, said in some polls to be the most popular man in England -- is nothing if not self-confident and is an attractive and cheerful personality generally. So if Britain votes to leave the EU, he will most likely become Prime Minister overnight. Johnson is heading the "leave" vote while the present PM wants Britain to stay in the EU.
The House of Commons has the power to change Prime Ministers at any time. I am betting that a lot of Americans wish that Congress could toss Obama out. In Britain, Parliament can do exactly that sort of thing. The supremacy of Parliament is a pretty good idea. Britons fought a civil war to enshrine it.
Policies do matter but they are secondary in winning elections
Monday, March 7, 2016
Is Trump like Hitler?
People such as comedian Louis C.K. and Glenn Beck have asserted that Trump is like Hitler but have offered only an emotional rave in support of that opinion -- with no detailed analysis.
But hysterical claims that Trump=Hitler should remind us all that Leftists also repeatedly said Bush=Hitler. He wasn't, was he? I have made a particular study of the Nazi period so I have been looking for a reasoned rather than rage-filled account of the comparison. I have finally found one: An essay by Professor Noah Riseman, a far-Left American Jew who doesn't know the difference between "rein" and "reign". See his essay below.
In looking at the essay I will first mention something Noah has got right. Weimar (pre-Hitler) Germany was a very decadent time with perversions of all sorts rife and a general loss of behaviour standards. In Noah's words it was "progressive". America today, with its glorification of homosexuality etc. does seem very reminiscent of Weimar Germany. Noah and I agree on that. So it is reasonable to ask if America too will create a Hitler for itself.
And it is understandable that a Jew should be nervous at any semblance of Nazism. But Noah has very selective vision, in the best Leftist style. For a start, he realizes that there is a big hole in his story but makes only a rambling attempt to cover it: The different electoral systems.
Germany had, and still has, an electoral system (proportional representation) that facilitates the rise of minor parties. And Hitler used that to bypass the traditional parties of the Left and Right. The American system is the opposite of that. It effectively keeps power in the hands of the two major parties -- the center-Left Democrats and the center-right Republicans. Under the American system it is most unlikely that Hitler would have risen to power. So there is a clear structural reason not to compare the present USA with prewar Germany.
With no apparent knowledge of history, Noah also says that "Republican control of the House of Representatives seems all but assured for the foreseeable future". Up until very recently the Democrats controlled both houses so what has changed? Noah does not say. If my electoral history is correct, Democrats have been in control of Congress more often than the Republicans over the last 100 years. But be that as it may, the American system is clearly good at rotating control of Congress. Noah is making bricks without straw.
Noah's ignorance also shows in his comments about a Sanders presidency. He seems to think that Sanders could put his ideas into practice. To do so would however require a compliant Congress and that would be most unlikely. A President's job is to enforce the law, not create it. Obama forgot that and found Obamacare to be the only thing he could actually get through. His wishes about immigration and global warming were blocked by Congress. He had to skirt the law via EPA regulations and by refusing to enforce immigration law to get his way to some extent. Sanders' ambitions are much larger however so he too would be left scratching at the margins of the system.
The only substantial points in the screed below are the ones I have highlighted. Let's look at the points involved:
* Torture: It seems reasonably clear that most, if not all, administrations have used some form of it on particularly dangerous captives and Trump has said that he will stay within the law in the matter.
* Free speech: All that Trump has proposed is to widen libel law to encompass political lies. It should have been done long ago.
* International relations: It seems likely that Trump will indeed be more assertive with other countries, Iran in particular. Obama's spinelessness with the mullahs is very dangerous to America's safety. Iranians have been chanting "Death to America" for decades. If they get nukes they may well try it on. For their own safety, Americans should vote for The Donald.
* Muslims: Trump has NOT "demonized", Muslims despite undoubted temptations to do so. He has simply proposed a temporary halt to Muslim immigration.
* Latinos: Trump has NOT "demonized" Latinos. He has undertaken to stop illegal immigration. Given the high rate of crime among illegals and their offspring, that would be highly desirable.
Now for the things that Noah leaves out:
Trump's speeches are essentially rambles. There is very little of the policy wonk in him. Hitler, by contrast kept on message. He had three major themes: The wickedness of the Jews, a promise of equal rights and the promise that he would be a candidate of peace.
In his electoral promises Hitler was a peacenik. That he did not fulfil that is of course another matter. But promises of peace helped get him into power. Trump is no peacenik and is a demonstrable friend of Jews. See here.
And Hitler's promise of equality is mainstream Leftism. Trump has made no such promises. Below is one of Hitler's election posters from the 1930s in which he offers himself as standing for peace and equal rights.
And finally, there is the matter of style. Trump's rallies are undoubtedly rambunctious but American political rallies have always been high spirited and lively. Hitler's rallies and speeches were very different. As anybody who has seen Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will" knows, the rallies were very disciplined, most unlike the rambunctious American performances. And Hitler's speeches were unique too. He would start out very quietly and calmly and would gradually accelerate to impassioned shouting. It had none of the Trump jollity
And the origins of Hitler and Trump could hardly be more different: The impoverished artist versus the rich businessman
So Noah simply does not know what he is talking about
The more I watch the 2016 election, the more I see parallels to Weimar Germany of the late 1920s and early 1930s. This was a society that was culturally and socially progressive, with Berlin in particular a hotspot for new liberal attitudes towards gender and sexuality.
It was also a period of economic hardship, political gridlock and fragmentation. The economic crisis after the First World War and Treaty of Versailles left many Germans disenchanted with capitalism and the international order.
Throughout Weimar Germany’s entire existence from 1919-33, there were tensions between left and right which erupted in parliamentary debates and in violence on the streets.
The extreme left – in the form of communism and anarchism – became one popular alternative to liberal capitalism. By the late 1920s, the other alternative that promised to make Germany great again was the extreme right fascist movement of the National Socialist Party (Nazis).
By the early 1930s, democracy was clearly broken (if it ever was working in Weimar Germany). Historians and political scientists have written extensively about why the Weimar Republic was so dysfunctional, including a flawed electoral system, the international impositions of the Treaty of Versailles and – what I find most intriguing – the notion that democracy has inbuilt logic designed to destroy itself (read Theorising Democide).
By the early 1930s, there were no working coalitions, political parties would not compromise and the political system reached crisis proportions. In the end it was the Nazis rather than the communists who came to power through the very political system they despised. They only won 33 per cent of the votes in the November 1932 election (incidentally, 2 million fewer voters than they had four months earlier). Whilst not a majority, the Nazis did have a plurality in the German Reichstag.
In January 1933 the president appointed Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany in the hopes that he would stabilise the situation and perhaps even reign in the Nazi Party. A few months later the Reichstag passed the Enabling Law, abolishing democracy and ushering in the Third Reich. I do not need to recap how that worked out.
I look at the United States in 2016 and am struck – indeed frightened – by the parallels to Germany circa 1932. While the causes of the present crisis are different, there are a lot of similar symptoms.
Again, there has just been a major economic recession. Whilst the US economy is improving, people are still angry – and rightfully so – because those who caused the economic crisis have gotten away with it and the political establishment has allowed that to happen.
The political system is not working at all. Congress is so polarised that nothing gets done, compromise has become a dirty word and politicians are willing to let the government shut down just to score points and get their way.
In Weimar Germany one reason for the political fragmentation was because *the electoral system allowed parties with minute percentages of the vote to win seats in the Reichstag*. In the US, political parties controlling the state legislatures have gerrymandered districts so much that now there are only a handful of marginal districts.
Instead, Republicans are fighting Republicans and Democrats are fighting Democrats to win primaries which may as well be the general elections in most electorates.
A serious consequence of the gerrymander is that Republican candidates for Congress often appeal to the hard-right fringe to win elections. Democrats are just as guilty at gerrymandering, except they have not been nearly as effective in most states, meaning that *Republican control of the House of Representatives seems all but assured for the foreseeable future*.
Like in Weimar Germany, a significant proportion of the population is looking for alternatives to the political mainstream. Popular movements on the political fringes, left and right, have manifested in the respective forms of presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump (not to mention Ted Cruz and the entire Tea Party).
I openly admit to being a Sanders fan, and many of his cause celebres (i.e. universal healthcare) are common sense in other developed countries. But in the United States, a self-proclaimed socialist who advocates a revolutionary overhaul of American capitalism is someone from the left fringe.
*A Bernie Sanders presidency* would send shockwaves through the American political system, but it would not mean the end of democracy. Bernie Sanders wants change, but he still believes in the core tenets of the Bill of Rights and the principles of civil rights.
In fact, he would expand the notion of rights to include economic rights. Notwithstanding a groundswell of support especially from young voters, a Sanders nomination for the Democratic Party seems unlikely given the delegate maths.
A Trump candidacy and presidency, however, is becoming ever more plausible, and this truly frightens me. Trump is the culmination of over 30 years of Republicans convincing many Americans that government is the enemy, or what conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks calls 30 years of antipolitics.
As former liberal Congressman Barney Frank argues, in power Republicans have dismantled government programs and regulations in a self-fulfilling prophecy that reinforces the perception of government’s ineffectiveness. Now, to the horror of the Republican establishment, Donald Trump has seized their message and is channelling it with gusto, but with his own warped, authoritarian tinge.
Donald Trump openly talks about implementing torture, undermining freedom of speech and the press and behaving belligerently with other nation-states. What worries me the most is that he scapegoats and demonises Muslims and Latino immigrants with alarming comparisons to Hitler’s rhetoric about Jews
Trump’s populist-nationalism may not mesh with traditional Republican conservatism, but it ticks many of the boxes for fascism.
Until last week I really believed that Trump would never be president. Now I do not know anymore, and it terrifies me. If we look at the outcomes of the Republican primaries, caucuses and polls, it is clear that Trump has a hard-core base of between 30 to 40 per cent of Republican voters.
That is not a majority of Republican voters or even a majority of Americans. But in a broken, fragmented system, that may be enough support to be elected president.
Would a Trump presidency turn America into a fascist state? I like to think that the constitutional system has enough checks and balances not to let that happen. I like to think that Congress would never pass enabling legislation to force Muslims to wear badges or to force the deportation of millions of Latino families. I like to think that the Supreme Court would exercise judicial review and that the executive branch would respect any rulings from the court.
But I just do not know any more. And even if Trump does not become president, I still cannot help but think that Weimar America will never be the same again.
Saturday, March 5, 2016
Michael Brull is an Australian Jewish far-Leftist who is anti-Israel and who is a regular contributor to Australian Leftist media. Below he is desperately scratching around to find something in The Donald's words that he can construe as antisemitic. And in the typical Leftist way there is no attempt to present a balanced account of the matter.
Trump's typically provocative words when he told a Jewish group that he did not want their money is about the best he can find. And his forthright declaration that they were not going to support him was simply an accurate depiction of American Jewish politics: Jews are heavily Left-leaning. And saying that Jews tend to be good at deals is pure realism, though not, of course, politically correct. The Donald rejoices in not being correct.
So if Brull's evdence for Trump's antisemitism is feeble, what is the evidence the other way? What is Brull omitting? With Leftists, what they DON'T say is usually crucial to an accurate assessment of their claims. How about this?
“When Donald opened his club in Palm Beach called Mar-a-Lago, he insisted on accepting Jews and blacks even though other clubs in Palm Beach to this day discriminate against blacks and Jews. The old guard in Palm Beach was outraged that Donald would accept blacks and Jews so that’s the real Donald Trump that I know.”
Brull is pure slime
Donald Trump’s overtly racist comments – about Muslims, Mexicans and so on – have gotten plenty of attention. But what about Trump and the Jews?
Trump’s recent reaction to supportive comments by David Duke, formerly Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan will likely have many Jews feeling anxious. As American Jews tend to be liberal and vote Democrat, plenty already had reason to not like Trump’s overt bigotry.
Yet Duke’s racism isn’t just directed at other groups. Duke and the KKK both have long records of vicious anti-Semitism.
That isn’t just racism directed at others. Jews are reasonably well assimilated into American cultural and political life. Whilst the “Southern Strategy” and race-baiting towards other minorities may be a familiar form of modern American politics, Jews are traditionally insulated from those types of campaigns. This is partly because of the deep pockets of some Jewish organisations and businessman.
For example, many observers expected Jewish billionaires Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson to have enormous influence over the nomination process and presidential candidates from both the Republicans and the Democrats.
Hillary Clinton made her pitch to Saban and Jewish organisation leaders with a letter promising support for Israel and opposition to BDS, and has continued to promise to bring Israel and America closer.
Donald Trump has made a point of stressing that he doesn’t need to take other people’s money to run for president, because he’s already so rich. So when he appeared before the Republican Jewish Coalition, he said “You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money”.
According to Zaid Jilani, Trump said that Jeb Bush did what he was told by his donors: “That’s why you don’t want to give me money, OK, but that’s OK, you want to control your own politician. That’s fine, good”.
To some, this may sound a bit like what Bernie Sanders says all the time: that he is concerned that “a handful of very wealthy people and special interests will determine who gets elected or who does not get elected.”
Yet Trump’s comments made some Jews uneasy. Claiming that Jews want to “control” politicians echoes ugly stereotypes from earlier eras.
Trump also said to the Jewish crowd: “I’m a negotiator like you folks were negotiators… is there anyone in this room who doesn’t negotiate deals? Probably more than any room I’ve ever spoken.”
The Times of Israel headline was: “Trump courts Republican Jews with offensive stereotypes”.
It may be the tone, delivery, or the additional stereotypes that made Jews suspicious of Trump. It seems there’s a fine line in discussing the influence of wealthy Jews in American politics.
For example, New York Magazine had a lengthy story headlined: “Sheldon Adelson Is Ready to Buy the Presidency”.
I am not aware of a backlash against the story. It may sound like an ugly stereotype, but the fact is, the super-rich do have enormous political influence in America.
Not all of the super-rich are Jews, of course, but some are. And those with means and political inclination use their money to influence politics, just like non-Jews do.
The concern about Trump is that he singled out Jews, speaking as though he had an insider knowledge about us, about our nature and about how we think.
It wasn’t enough for Trump to get any major denunciations. But it was noticed by some. For example, Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, said that when he sees Trump, “I like what I’m looking at”.
Farrakhan explained that Trump “is the only member who has stood in front of [the]Jewish community and said, ‘I don’t want your money… Anytime a man can say to those who control the politics of America, ‘I don’t want your money,’ that means you can’t control me. And they cannot afford to give up control of the presidents of the United States.”
Farrakhan has made his opinions about Jews very clear. His comments about the “Synagogue of Satan” are equal parts hateful and nuts. Yet the way he picked up on Trump’s comments about Jews wasn’t insane. And while it’s hard to know if this kind of appeal was Trump’s goal, it is hard not to notice that that is the effect of standing before Jews and telling them that they can’t buy you.
Nathan Guttman in the Forward reported that Jewish Republicans are feeling nervous about Trump. Guttman observed that they hadn’t united against Trump, despite his “failure to condemn dedicated anti-Semites and racists and his declaration that he would be ‘neutral’ on Israel.”
Some still back Trump – and imagine he would be a strong supporter of Israel. Others are worried about making an enemy of Trump, given the possibility of him ending up President.
Another worry might be that denouncing Trump for politically incorrect comments about Jews won’t necessarily get them very far. Conservatives have been saying how awful Trump is for a while, and it has zero negative effect on his campaign.
Since Trump has shown the effectiveness of saying the outrageous, Republicans have competed in political incorrectness, relishing the ensuing controversies. Trump’s unpredictability means that if he got into a fight with Jewish organisations, who knows what he might say next?
Some may remember Trump’s fight with American comedian and former Daily Show host Jon Stewart in 2013. Trump tweeted that he didn’t like “Jonathan Leibowitz – I mean Jon Stewart”. Trump then continued his criticisms after Jon Stewart called him “Fuckface Von Clownstick”.
Trump queried that if Stewart was “so legit”, then “why did he change his name from Jonathan Leibowitz?” He explained that Stewart “is a total phony – he should cherish his past – not run away from it”.
Trump constantly stressing Stewart’s very Jewish and long-discarded birth name seemed to suggest that there was something suspicious about a public figure not being totally upfront about his Jewishness.