Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Some Thoughts on Fisher On Trump's Anti-Semitism Order

Max Fisher's December 15th article for The NYT is an interpretation of Trump's Order (read it here before proceeding) on Combating Anti-Semitism as seen through the liberalist lens. It's not all bad I suppose. I think the most I can say for the article is that Mr Fisher has given us another place from which not to reliably get one's history or a serious analysis of things, namely from Mr Fisher.

His piece is typical for the modern left. It's an opportunistic, uncharitable and rigid rant against the current enemy du jour, our president. The reality is that all Trump has done is to exploit the 1964 Civil Rights Act for a bit of political benefit. Time will tell if it pays off I suppose.

Fisher kicks things off with a claim that "such preoccupations with identity have animated not just the Trump administration but much of the global populist backlash." Fisher puts his myopia on full display with this claim when finding such things among his ilk on the left is like shooting fish in a barrel. Anyone with eyes to see and a head to think should understand that identity politics is likely unavoidable in a managerial, capitalist "democratic" state such as the one we have.

Mr Fisher says that the order "is ambiguous as to whether [or not] [sic] it sees Jews as a distinct nationality or a minority race, but either interpretation aligns with Mr Trump's preoccupation with defining, and policing, the boundaries of identity." Such a thing could only irritate liberal Jews who want only their pets (blacks, Aboriginal peoples et al) to be viewed racially, and only when it's strategically advantageous for their sappy sensibilities.

He then says that Trump's order touches on a "... defining issue of our time: Who belongs and who decides?" Fisher wants his readers to think that this is the only issue it touches on which is worth considering. There are many other issues it touches on of course, and these are too many to list here. But Fisher's just blaming Trump for having a potentially multi-varied view of Jews. And so what? Trump is certainly not responsible for opening up the question of who is a Jew.  This question is not a new one.

By the way, Mr Fisher's claim that Trump's order is ambiguous as to whether Jews are defined as a distinct nationality or minority race puts his article at odds with a New York Times article he links to, but it's nice to see the president being cut even this slack.

My own take is that Trump's order is essentially equal parts of pandering to Jewish groups and also an honest attempt to address BDS's misaligned-priorities/idiotic-methods -- I suppose I'm essentially against it, but not because it (gasp!) views Jews through a racial lens. Judaism is a family of historically-minded inter-generational collections of traditions, practices, interpretations, and texts which places demands upon either side of any relationship be it father & son, husband & wife, prophet & scribe. It's not surprising that something like this would come to be racialised by anyone outside of the faith.

Fisher's gasping at the order says next to nothing about the order but volumes about him. And the fact that both modern liberals and religious Jews have disdain for ethnic/racial understandings of Jewry should give one pause; perhaps both have an unmistakable religious dimension.

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