Saturday, October 2, 2010

CNN's Rick Sanchez Loses Job Over Antisemitism But Reveals The Secret of Its Resurgence

By Barry Rubin

Rick Sanchez, a CNN anchor, was fired from his job after making antisemitic remarks on a radio show. This follows the firing of Helen Thomas, a wire service reporter, for similar behavior. Antisemitism is becoming rampant at the very moment when other types of bias have never been so reduced and under assault. Why? Sanchez reveals the secret, which I'll reveal ten paragraphs from now.

How do we know the remarks in both cases were antisemitic? Because they fit with historic stereotypes that have dominated antisemitism. Sanchez, the Jews are all-powerful and control the media; Thomas, the Jews steal the land and have no right to be anywhere.

Time Magazine also made an antisemitic remark claiming that Israeli Jews didn’t want peace because they were making too much money.

Greedy wielders of secret power who are really homeless trespassers that must be kicked out. That’s historic antisemitism in a nutshell.

Yet Sanchez, like Thomas, was not fired merely because he made antisemitic remarks. They were fired because they were journalists who did so. Journalists are expected to be honest, balanced, and fair. If Helen Thomas had been a college professor no one would have called for her to be fired. (Walt and Mearsheimer come to mind here as well as dozens of professors teaching about the Middle East, not to mention such people as Rev. Wright in another profession.) She was a professional journalist for a wire service which is supposed to supply balanced news. Her show of extreme bias--only the most dramatic of statements she has made going back decades--shows she did not meet those qualifications.

A journalist is more like a judge, occupations where biased opinions are a violation of professional ethics, in contrast to many other jobs.

One of my readers wrote me disagreeing with my statement that in the Western world the left is now the main source of antisemitism rather than the right, as was historically true. Many, especially many Jews, still believe this, but it is a historical reflex quite out of date. The world has changed.

There is a ridiculous level of sensitivity—even mania—about race, religion and ethnicity at present. One of my son’s school friends in the fifth grade told him that, “everything is racist.” Even a reference to an object being black, for example, has triggered statements from some of the eleven-year-olds that this was racist. (I'm not kidding.) A generation is being raised with some very dangerous ideas.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way. Race was supposed to become something invisible, ignored, no longer a factor. Instead the exact opposite happened and the levels of anger, conflict, and misunderstandings have all risen sharply.

Never before in America has there been so little bias based on race, ethnicity, and religion. Yet the charges, slanders, and obsessions continue to heat up.

And here is why what Sanchez said during the interview explains the contemporary steep rise of antisemitism. Talking about Jews he said:

“Very powerless people… [snickers] He’s [the left-oriented comedian Jon Stewart] such a minority, I mean, you know [sarcastically]… Please, what are you kidding?…I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they — the people in this country who are Jewish — are an oppressed minority? Yeah. [sarcastically]”

Stewart's apparent crime in Sanchez's eyes was to be one of many comedians who made jokes about Sanchez because of his on-screen errors. Sanchez played his own race/ethnicity card by trying to distract from his widely remarked incompetence by claiming he was being discriminated against as a Cuban, a group generally held in high regard in America.

So Sanchez in effect said: You can't criticize me because to do so is racist against Cuban-Americans--if he'd been smarter he would have said Hispanics--but I can attack anyone who makes fun of me as Jewish.

One of Sanchez's biggest mistakes was to target a left-liberal comedian and his own bosses. CNN executives didn't like being publicly baited and presumably won't believe that someone on the left could not possibly be racist or bigoted. If Sanchez had been smarter he would have gone after Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and other conservatives, left out the open bigotry, and his reputation probably would have been enhanced in the circles he wanted to impress.

But here’s the key phrase from Sanchez I promised you in the first paragraph :

“…the people in this country who are Jewish—are an oppressed minority? Yeah. [sarcastically]”

And this explains, I think, the left’s feeling that it can be open season on Jews. After all, they say, Jews aren’t a real minority or a group that suffers (disregarding the history of the last few centuries) but are part of the ruling class. The fact that many on the left are Jews—the snag that sunk Sanchez—does not conflict with that assumption since such smears and sneers are usually only used against self-assertive Jews who support Israel, are religious, or are active in supporting the community in some way.

So as a part of what the left sees as the ruling class, Jews are not clearly covered by the all-minorities-are-beyond-criticism rule. To use Graham Greene’s phrase, Jews are part of the “torturable classes” while Muslims, Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, Third World peoples, homosexuals, etc., are of the “untorturable classes.”

But since there isn't much strong feeling against those Americans who are Catholics, Protestants, or are ethnically Irish or Polish, Germans or Italian, then once again Jews--as happened in Europe--are the one group against whom hatred is at least partly authorized. In short, there aren't a lot of other categories left to show bigotry against.

Yet, in sharp contrast to the past, this antagonism is largely being promoted and rationalized from the left side of the spectrum.

Left-wing Jews basically accept this designation implicitly, even if they are unaware of it. They hope that if they are the loudest in denouncing "Islamophobia," jumping on the "progressive" (translation: extreme left-wing pretending to be liberals) bandwagon, and shed all there distinctively Jewish aspects they will be granted immunity from prosecution. Indeed, they think they can do so by being the loudest in bashing Israel and denouncing Israel.

It's a strategy that didn't work out too well for the Communist Jews who sacrificed themselves for the USSR only to be--if they lived in the Soviet empire--executed, sent to concentration camps, allowed to participate in the destruction of their people's religion and culture, or--if they didn't--to watch their idol align with the Nazis and engage in the greatest post-1945 persecution of Jews and production of antisemitic literature seen in the West.

For their contemporary imitators, all of this show of being super-Politically Correct and super-multiculturalists availeth them not. Sanchez touched on the real problem: Jews as a group are not seen by much of the raging left—even Jews in the left-- as oppressed but as oppressors. Only by turning away from Israel, becoming atheists, and abandoning the community can they be accepted as individuals.

Of course, this, too, is a traditional theme of antisemitism, known in the Middle Ages; heightened by the growth of nationalism in Europe; perpetrated by the Communists in the USSR (including the Jews among them) who destroyed Judaism, Yiddish, and all community organizations.

Rick Sanchez didn’t just reveal his prejudice; he brought into public a key assumption that underpins the growing antagonism against Jews in America and Europe.

PS: Let me explain the context. The interviewer was challenging Sanchez's claims of bias against him so he said: well Stewart criticizes you and he's Jewish and Jews are very sensitive to bias against ethnic groups. So to be fair it was a pro-J...ewish statement by the interviewer that set Sanchez off. Another point I didn't mention is of course the use of the race/ethnic defense. Sanchez is criticized so he doesn't cite facts or promises to do better but uses the "anti-racist" race-baiting defense.

So what can I say now except the following joke: A man goes to a lawyer and wants to sue a radio station that refuses to hire him as an announcer for discrimination.

Why? Asks the lawyer.

Because I'm J-J-J-ew-ew-ew-ish-ish-ish.

In other words he wasn't hired because he is a stutterer (which raises an interesting question whether today a stutterer could accuse a radio station of discrimination for not hiring him.  

PPS: I just realized the best joke of all about this: Geraldo Rivera! He's Puerto Rican, Jewish, and incompetent as a reporter! He has it all! Now, if Jon Stewart ever wanted to make fun of Geraldo, we're covered.        

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