Shocking Stories of Anti-Semitism

Read this, and this. I must confess to being a little confused; I have, after all, been repeatedly assured that “anti-Semitism scarcely exists in the West.” Amazing how depressingly frequent the occurrence of something supposedly “scarce” can be, eh?

Relatedly, be sure to read Damon Linker’s open letter to Andrew Rosenthal, in which Linker employs magnificent scorn to magnificent effect. A taste:

As editorial page editor of the New York Times, you’re a very busy man. But I was so excited by Timothy Egan’s column from last weekend that I couldn’t resist writing to thank you for your good work — and to pass along a handful of proposals for some op-eds of my own. (My bosses at The Week are a little skittish about taking on the kind of bold pieces Egan has inspired me to write.)

It was so thrilling to read in the pages of America’s leading newspaper about how “faith-based fanatics” are making this the “summer of the violent God,” with religious zealots rampaging around the globe.

It really was the audacity of the comparisons that inspired me. I loved how Egan showed the underlying connection among all these events — Muslim extremists in Nigeria kidnapping and enslaving girls to prevent them from receiving an education; Muslim militants of ISIS expelling Christians from the Iraqi city of Mosul, where they’ve lived for 1,700 years; the “rage that moved Hamas to lob rockets on birthday parties in Tel Aviv, and Israelis to kill children playing soccer on the beach in Gaza”; and Supreme Court justices ruling that women at some companies may have to pay out of pocket for some forms of contraception.

That’s what punditry is all about: showing how everything fits together. One of my heroes, the sociologist Daniel Bell, defined an intellectual (and what is an opinion journalist if not an intellectual?) as someone who practices and perfects the art of drawing distinctions and highlighting continuities where others haven’t noted them before. Egan did that masterfully. I, for one, had never noticed the deep and ominous parallels between Samuel Alito giving the conservative Christian owners of Hobby Lobby a limited exemption from government regulations and Boko Haram burning dozens of churches to the ground during Sunday services.

But the parallels are there, and they are undeniable. Religion is what connects them. And thanks to Egan’s reasoning, I’m now inclined to think it’s obvious that the world would be an immeasurably better place if religion would just go away. The (non-Jewish) Israelis and (non-Muslim) Palestinians would live in peace and happy harmony. Non-Muslim militants wouldn’t bother to expel non-Christians from Iraq. And of course, the U.S. Supreme Court wouldn’t feel obliged to protect the freedom of non-religious business owners to practice their non-faith.

Peace in the Middle East and free birth control for everyone — who could possibly object?

Only a religious fanatic, that’s who.

That’s the kind of sharp thinking Egan inspired as soon as I read his column.

There is much more, and Rosenthal and the Times deserve to be raked over the coals for shoddy thinking and writing–which they decided to inflict on the public, no less. Read it all. I will only add that Timothy Egan is very much in the running to win the award as Worst Columnist the New York Times Has to Offer.