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October 23, 2003

My Jewish "problem"-and ours

First, I am paraphrasing Norman Podhoretz's famous essay My Negro Problem-And Ours, though this post will bear only a flimsy resemblance to that. I titled it for the attention, I admit it....

Due to time constraints, I won't be able to blog much in the near future (measured in a few weeks). I thought that I'd post something that was controversial (in the best tradition of this blog) as a temporary kiss-off to readers. But first, I'd like to point you all to Google News Alerts. Since I don't have time to do much web browsing these days, this service has come in really handy (I actually only have a "genetics" search, since I assume CNN can give me an OK headline list).

OK, on to Jews. My thoughts were obviously triggered a bit by this whole Easterbrook affair. My friend Steve Sailer has some cogent things to say as usual, though I might not agree in the details. Unlike Steve I take a young man's more laissez faire attitude toward depictions of violence, sex, etc. That being said, the big thing about the Easterbrook controversy was that he said things about Jews related to money in a really stupid way (from the perspective of public relations).

As I've stated on the blog, I was pretty shocked that he was saying this. I was more dumbfounded than outraged. I mean, he was writing this on a blog run on the site of a magazine owned by three wealthy Jews. Now that's chutzpah (did I get the context right?). Easterbrook has apologized and some of his critics feel bad that he got fired and so forth. You've probably done more reading on the topic than I have if you clicked "Continue reading...." So all I can offer you are my opinions and a few ideas and thoughts that have come to fruition after being stimulated by the back & forth generated by Easterbrook's comments.

So, are Jews greedy? I don't really know. Depends on how you define greedy. Some people define rich people as greedy, and since Jews are richer than gentiles on average (in the United States), they are greedier than the average gentile. etc. etc. etc. I think this is the root behind a lot of Leftist "anti-Semitism." If Jews were poor & oppressed like in the day of the Czar, the liberals of the world would bleed for them, but as it is, Jewish scholars like Norman Cantor can relish the fact that Jews are 25% of America's super-wealthy families in books like The Sacred Chain.

The above statement kind of makes me uneasy. I don't like that I wrote it. And that makes me uneasy. I think everything above is factual to the best of my knowledge, most Left-of-Center people who have expressed anti-Semitism to me never referred to racial or religious issues, but tended to couch it in terms of winners vs. losers (and of course, they root for losers). Jews are wealthy & educated compared to the gentile population (look at the American Jewish Identity Survey if you want to double-check my assertions that will pepper this blog). An interesting and related point is that most religious conservatives that are uneasy about the Jewish influence on American life (think Easterbrook^(Robert Bork)) care less about Jews than the fact that they are liberal and often promote progressive causes. Remember a few years ago when it came out that Billy Graham had made a few statements about Jews and pornography and their negative influence on this country? Of course he got shat on, and had to pretend like he didn't know what he was thinking of at time. Of course, many Jews supported free speech and the like, not because they were Jews, but because they were liberals. Additionally, Jews do seem to have a hand in porn ( NOT WORK SAFE ), so to speak, out of proportion to their numbers in the general population. These are the sort of things that Billy Graham was probably threading together, and the intersection was toxic in hindsight (for Graham). Some thoughts are not worth having....

I review this small list of unmentionables because this is a blog that stumbled over and into unmentionables all the time. We attack God regulary, even though over 95% of Americans, and probably 90% of the world's population, believes in Him or one of his kooky variants (we devote special attention to Allah-Deity-of-Peace). We regularly break a taboo of American culture and state baldly that genetic differences between racial groups may have non-trivial behavorial consequences. We say things about black Americans that would induce many to turn my brown ass red with a beating from hell. Some of the things we say make me wince. But do I think we speak falsely? No. Do I think we might be wrong? Yeah, sure. Do I think we might be right? Yeah, sure. The crime is in uttering the unmentionable(s)....

That being said, there is one topic that I've avoided. The reason are posts like this that have had to have threads heavily moderated and comments deleted because of the vitriol spewed. I don't feel comfortable speaking of the Jewish people in a way that I might speak of blacks, Chinese, Hispanics, etc. Though I am pretty indifferent to talk about the utilitarian value of Latinos to the American republic, I tend to get very uncomfortable when the issue starts to focus on Jews. Unlike godless I won't come to an unqualified defense of the Chosen People, rather, I run away from the controversy.

Perhaps one of the reasons is this: I am a Jew. By this, I mean I share many of the traits (streotypically) of Jews, I am bookish, argumentantive, often analytic in my thinking though it might lead to pedanticism, and yes, obscuranticism. The values that I prize most highly, sharpness of intellect, curiousity, mastery of word and symbol, and so forth, the Jewish people excell in in spades. A common phrase is, "but is it good for the Jews?" It might be re-termed "but is it good for me?" On some level, I suspect that if it's good for the Jews, it must be good for me, as a socially libertarian individual of Asiatic provenance.

In the Jews, I see me. And yet on the other hand, I don't. I am Right-leaning (unlike most Jews), and I do admire the Way of the Wasp. I have little sympathy or empathy for Arab or Israeli, and I do believe that the original individualism promoted by Judaically top-heavy organizations like the ACLU is now turning to eat its own tail, the liberal polity engulfing itself in an act of auto-cannibalism. In a personal exchange of emails with other young South Asians, I even expressed dismay at a "Jewish model" for the development of the ethnos that I am a member of by blood and birth. My reasoning is that I do not wish to see myself identified as a member of a group by the general society, affiliated to a rough set of values, positions and dogmas promulgated by "community leaders," who act as putative channels and intercessors with "mainstream" culture. I want the brown to melt into the milk, I want desi (South Asia) culture to envelope itself into the broadly liberal tradition of this country, whether than be that of the bobos (my preference), or a more traditionally minded American social cluster. The path toward ethnic self-awareness and identification is fraught with unasked for responsibilities and duties in exchange for the protection conferred by the group, while the path of individual self-definition is rich in the possibilities for failure and personal humilation, though it frees you up to dictate to the world who you are.

Back to the Jews. With 50% intermarriage rates many Jews seem to be disappearing into the general population. I cheer this on. The dissolution of the Jewish people is a sad event for those who identify as such, but it is part of the genesis of the bobo class, which is partially Jeurasian. This is not a new phenomenon-the original Sephardic Jewish residents of the United States have largely disappeared into the gentile masses. Within 100 years of his rise, the great German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn had no Jewish descendents! Though an Orthodox Jew himself, Mendelssohn initiated the revival of secular learning among the Jewry in Europe. This great potion was a poison for the religiously traditionalist Jews of Germany, for out of their ashes emerged the Reform movement, which continues today in the United States as the legacy of German Jewish immigrants in the 19th century to this country. Germany was in the 19th century a place of relative opportunity for Jews, especially those who Christianized, at least nominally, as they were the women who ran the intellectual salons and raised sons who became serious players in all the professions open to them (and in England, Prime Ministers!). Some of the more extreme German Jewish reformers took to calling themselves "Germans of the Mosaic Faith" (those that could not abandon their Judaism). Many more joined the confessionless, those who did not subscribe themselves to any of the dominant religious traditions of the land, but swam unhindered and unaided in a sea of their own self-reflections, part of the bohemian folk who serve as one of the antecedants for the bobos.

By the early part of the 20th century, intermarriage and conversion was diluting the German Jewish community to the point where it might have become extinct by the 21st century. Of course, history intervened, the Holocaust.

The German experiment failed. Jews were still Jews. Rounded up, butchered like animals, treated with a barbarity that defies description. Some of the groups that were targeted, Communists, Gypsies and homosexuals were marginal social deviants, but Jews were are important part of German cultural life. That they could be treated like the beasts of the field certainly changed the perspective of many Jews it seems. The shtetls of Eastern Europe that held the majority of the traditionalist, often hasidic, Jewish communities became charnel houses. The two traditions in Mitteleuropa, to became part and parcel of the gentile society, or turn from it and form your own community that lives apart within a gentile society, failed.

The inadequecies of these traditions when faced with atavistic anti-Semitism has led to the maturation of the view that rejects the traditional Jewish perspective that accommodates the dictates and demands of gentile society, tolerating its petty injustices and more serious pogroms knowing that they were God's Chosen People. But this new strand of thought, neither integrationist nor segregationist (often oppositional in public though in private quietly integreationist), did not want to just live in gentile society on that society's terms, it sought to change that society to a more just form (usually this to the good in my opinion-ergo, equality between sexes, races, etc. before the law).

The most paranoid tendencies can be displayed in this article by Paula Frederickson in The New Republic on Mel Gibson's The Passion. The article is for subscribers only, but I did the 2 week trial and read it when it was fresh, and it ends with a prediction that The Passion will incite violence against Jews the world over. The problem I have with Frederickson's assertion is that the parts of the world where people are stupid enough to riot over a film and kill people in this day and age simply don't have enough Jews to engage in a pogrom. The movie might induce Muslims and Hindus to kill each other in India (who needs an excuse?), but I doubt that the French will turn on their Jewish neighbors.

Yes, it can be argued that the French turned on their neighbors in the 1940s. And 60 years ago 6 million Jews were killed under the aegis of a great European civilization. But let us shift to the United States, there will be no pogrom. Mild anti-Semitism is a fact of life. Mild anti-anything will exist, because difference sows discord, not everyone will like you. I am not worried about an anti-Jewish pogrom and having to witness to my ignorance because I suspect I will have been killed by an angry mob because of a race war in America by that time. I don't believe that anti-Jewish violence will ever occur in this country on a large organized scale sans race war, in which case, I'm smack-dab in the middle of enemey territory, and I can't change uniforms....

I'm not worried. The Holocaust will never happen again because of the Holocaust-Jews no longer live in a constant state of deference to the powers to be or wish to part of the mainstream-they are part of the powers to be, they are part of the mainstream-and they would not go meekly to the gas chambers any longer. I have read that many of the European Jews simply did not believe that Hitler was going to go as far as he did-the secularists because their European civilization was too holy to engage in such despicable acts, the religious because they had suffered and lived to tell the tale many a day and they assumed that their G-d would remain with them.

Jewish paranoia is not special. We know Arabs are paranoid. We know that Maxine Waters thinks that the CIA is pumping crack cocaine into black communities. We know about the militia men. But those of us that fancy ourselves semi-educated, we can't imagine that many Jewish leaders are seized by self-interested paranoia, they speak good English, went to the correct schools and make their case in the language of Locke and Mill. When we at GNXP make comments about the black community's tendency toward criminality we expect some flack. When we discuss the influx of Latinos into this country as imposing negative economic externalities (e.g. by necessitating more in tax expenditures than remitting in receipts), we are disputed but not smeared. But what if we spoke about Jews in such a fashion? What if we mis-spoke? Well...I don't know how many people in the blogosphere are Jewish, but the offense might extend farther than a straggling comment here and there in dead threads. There are many smart and eloquent Jewish bloggers out there that might take offense, that might attack us. Many of these smart and eloquent Jewish bloggers are bloggers first, Jewish second (in my mind Jewish nth), we like their stuff, we might be friends with them, they are "our kind of people." And so the double standard.

How can we diffuse the conflation between ethnic insult and factual critique? Perhpaps we should be more latitudinarian in our critiques. We have spoken of rational discrimination by cab drivers of young black men because they are playing the acturial game. Let me tell you another tale-I know a small gift shop owner that explicitly tells her clerks to give the cold shoulder to older Jewish ladies (however they identify them). The reasoning is that many of these ladies complain about the product after some usage, and this just costs too much money because the resale value is diminished (especially for faddish products). Instead of changing the return policy the owner of the shop practices discrimination, anti-Semitism. I have to say I was appalled when I heard this. But I'd seen it happen in the shop as well, though I can't assert I had a large enough data sample to make an independent judge of the issue (the one sales girl I queried on this topic tended to agree with the shop owner about these "problem customers"). I don't have many young black male friends who wear Fubu or Starter jackets. I do though have Jewish friends. Discrimination against Jews hits closer to home. This is something I have begun to think about more, and has made me more hesitant about posting on racial issues.

As far as my view of Jews goes, I'm for them as individuals, but against them as a group. This is simply an elaboration of my general view: let small ethnic groups in the United States melt into their appropriate socioeconomic niche on an individual level. I want the ex-Jews to come into the ranks of the bobos, lose their Semitic distinctiveness, and become part of a different peculiar tribe defined by process rather than substance, method rather than ends. Bobos are the end product. Educated WASPs the substrate. Educated inviduals of liberal inclinations (wine & cheese liberal to metrocon) are welcome to join. Jews, as smart and liberally inclined people, are a big target group, and since the Buddhists in the United States seem to be Judaifying, I see no reason that bobos can't take a piece of the action while the getting is good. Imagine a world where none of Alan Derschowitz's great-grandchildren are Jewish. That was a joke, not an anti-Semitic crack, seriously.

But logic, reason, math, science, the humanities, the treasures of Western thought, rationalism, skepticism and empiricism, in the minds of some these are time bombs. They wear away centuries of ethnic identification, religious transcendence, faith, certainty, local attachments. 25% of American Jews are atheists, their relationship to Adonai tenuous at best, they are ripe souls to be harvested and debited from the Jewish people. There are others, but Jews are target #1 which their high IQs and quick wits. In a way, I am an anti-Semite, as I wish the Jewish people a thousand small deaths as their genome gets sliced and spliced with that of Koreans, Scots, English, Italians, Brazilians, etc. I hope for a day with 2,000 years of oral law will pass by the wayside, where perfunctory days of awe in memory of a bygone age and a people lost will have no meaning, where the New Man will walk into the sunlight, take his place among the congress of peoples, and make a space for himself.

I never said I wasn't insane....

Godless comments:

First, though I'm definitely sympathetic to the Jews, I wouldn't call myself an "unqualified defender" of Jewry. On issues like Jonathan Pollard, the positions of many Jews are outright treasonous.

I do think the topic is controversial, but we aren't ones to shy away from controversy. It's worth reading this old post - that's where I lay out my thoughts on "da Jews". It's important to proceed from quantitative facts here (e.g. statistics on education, income, and voting patterns), because impressions alone are imprecise and won't convince skeptics. So - read that link, and then come back.

Now - what do I think about Razib's comments? Well, in no particular order:

  1. I do think that intermarriage is the key to assimilation, and I am mildly favorable towards intermarriage (though it is, of course, an issue of personal choice). The resultant "mutts" have allegiance to the USA rather than foreign powers. I think Razib phrased this in an intentionally provocative way, but it's no different in spirit from the Bulworth quote about "f****** till we're all the same color". That said, I don't think Israeli Jews are going to have high intermarriage rates in the near future.

  2. Concerning Jews being "greedy"...well, it's difficult to measure greed objectively. If "rich" means "greedy", then various Asian and European ethnic groups are also greedy. If "greedy" means some sort of state of mind (and does not correlate 1:1 with being rich), then we'd require some sort of fMRI to provide an objective look at the biochemistry of thought and feeling.

    The recent discovery that magnetic resonance imaging can be used to map changes in brain hemodynamics that correspond to mental operations extends traditional anatomical imaging to include maps of human brain function. The ability to observe both the structures and also which structures participate in specific functions is due to a new technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI, and provides high resolution, noninvasive reports of neural activity detected by a blood oxygen level dependent signal

    It's possible that thoughts and feelings about economic matters could differ by ethnic group, as a higher order phenomenon resulting from different neurological chemistry. Such experiments would have to be well controlled, but they could be performed in principle (e.g. with thousands of genetically identical clones to correct for environmental noise).

  3. The "social justice" trend among Jews predates the Holocaust. Jews were disproportionately Communists, both in the US and Russia. The whole "social justice" phenomenon is, in my opinion, the root of a lot of right-wing anti-Semitism. It's not well known, but in addition to their role in the US Communist party, Jews were involved (along with WEB Dubois) in the 1909 foundation of the NAACP and were also key to the creation of MALDEF. The "Brown" in Brown vs. Board of Education was Esther Brown, a Jewish woman. And so on - most of the major civil rights initiatives had substantial Jewish intellectual and activist firepower behind them.

    There is an interesting contrast with the other successful "alien" group in America at that time, the Japanese Americans. While both groups did quite well for themselves financially (even before the Civil Rights Act, Asians had higher mean incomes than whites - I can find the source if curious), the Japanese did not participate in attempts to "remake" the society at anywhere near the frequency the Jews did.

    This is for a number of reasons, but prime among them is the fact that many/most Ashkenazi Jews are not easily distinguishable from other European ethnic groups, while the Japanese clearly are. Thus, the leaders of these civil rights movements were seen as "ingroup" (white) rather than "outgroup" (non-Christian), which increased their credibility.

    It should be noted that such movements - roughly, socialism & communism inspired - were not entirely Jewish, but disproportionately Jewish. It's an oversimplification to attribute them entirely to Jews; the mix of influences was a global phenomenon. China and East Asia picked up and ran with Communism, Stalin purged the Jews, Bismarck invented the welfare state, and nonviolent resistance came to America by way of India.

  4. A question arises at this point: was this remaking of society a good thing? And independent of whether it was, was it pursued for idealistic or selfish reasons? These are complex questions, but let me give some brief answers (which I will elaborate upon later).

    In the interests of full disclosure, I probably wouldn't be a US citizen without the Immigration Reform Act and other civil rights-era legislation. Just as it would be strange for an Italian American to express sympathy for the 1860's Know Nothing party, I have little affection for the Bull Connor-types who would have kept my family out of the US.

    That said, I think that the outcome of the civil rights era is for the most part good, but mainly because the US can afford it . As I will post at length (see the post by 'realistic' for details), South Africa could not afford civil rights. They have traded apartheid for anarchy, and with the rate at which the educated elite are fleeing the country, the collapse into a Zimbabwe-like hell is not far off.

    Lastly, as for the idealistic vs. self-interested issue in the civil rights era...well, I think there was probably a little of both. I do believe that many progressive Jews believe what they're preaching. After all, large numbers of left-wing Jews protest against Israel, support racial preferences and wealth redistribution, and vitriolically denounce Jewish intermarriage restrictions as racist. Yet there is certainly a component of self-interest as well. The end of state-sanctioned discrimination and the parallel institution of the meritocracy was certainly beneficial to American Jewry.

Anyway, the topic is a complex one, and much less cut and dried than (say) crime or academics. With reference to crime & academics one can simply point to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, Interpol, the SAT, or the TIMSS. But the discussion of the achievements and political effects of Jews in the US is not quite as amenable to quantification (though one can of course cite IQs, voting patterns, and so on).

Posted by razib at 03:34 PM

What a lack of originality, Razib! Assimilation was tried and it did not work, not in Spain not in Germany not in Poland. I do not think that Jewish people can escape from their Jewishness in any significant scale. The world "needs" Jews. It is fate. It is also fun. Enjoy.

Posted by: jaime at October 23, 2003 10:22 PM

Hurry back, Razib. GNXP is basically a political blog without your posts, and I enjoy reading it for info on cultural dynamics.

Posted by: Chris W at October 24, 2003 12:27 AM

not in Spain not in Germany not in Poland

a non-trivial number (some say as high as 40%) of the spanish nobility has marrano forbears. many polish families, including in the former nobility, had jewish antecedants, though we won't ever know how many because books published on this topic were purchased by members of these families and destroyed.

the idea that the "jews will always be with us" is false. the jews of zimbabwe became bantu tribesmen. the jews of kaifeng disappeared circa 1850 because of assimilation into the chinese substrate. the indian bene israel are descendents of kohanim from what i know-what happened to other jewish lineages? perhaps they assimilated because the barriers were lower for non-priestly jews. etc. etc.

many of the german jewish families of the 19th century and almost all of the sephardic families of the 18th century have become christian (barry goldwater's father was a german jew, he was raised episcopalian by his gentile mother). the reform congregations founded by german jews are now filled with people who are descendents of galician hasids and lithuanian mitnagdim (traditional orthodox)-not the original reform jews who founded them.

are the jews the most persecuted people in the world? perhaps. but they are the most persecuted because they are one of the most persistent and resistant to full assimilation, a jewish core remains to witness to the historical tradition of their people. other minorities that have been treated badly are eventually absorbed when they exist in the number that jews have. like a allele that will not reach fixation, but always hovers between 100% and 0%, jews rarely overwhelm societies to make them jewish (stopping persecution) or become totally absorbed to the point of no longer being identifiable objects of persecution (the historical instances of jewish assimilation are not pointed to very often-but new genetic studies hint at its existence in rather strange locales if the kohanim can be taken as a guide-post).

btw, i don't address israel, because it doesn't have a "jewish problem." it is close to one end of the continuum, toward fixation of jewishness as the norm, so persecution and its children are not the same in that state.

apologize to all those who post comments that i can't respond to. i really am pressed for time.


p.s. chris, you should get yourself a genetics book so you can read the science related posts!

Posted by: razib at October 24, 2003 01:02 AM

Razib wrote:
"Perhaps one of the reasons is this: I am a Jew. By this, I mean I share many of the traits (streotypically) of Jews, I am bookish, argumentantive, often analytic in my thinking though it might lead to pedanticism, and yes, obscuranticism. The values that I prize most highly, sharpness of intellect, curiousity, mastery of word and symbol, and so forth, the Jewish people excell in in spades. A common phrase is, "but is it good for the Jews?" It might be re-termed "but is it good for me?" On some level, I suspect that if it's good for the Jews, it must be good for me, as a socially libertarian individual of Asiatic provenance"

This isn't really a response, but just something this paragraph made me think of. I think the accusation that many make that the Jews are primarily concerned with the well-being of their own in-group may be true under many circumstances, but in this regard they are not unique at all. Most people are not as universalistic as they proclaim (although an even greater number of people are honest, and don't proclaim to be universalistic at all). People care about those who are like them: those who share the same lifestyle, history, culture, and values. I care most about other educated, secular, socially liberal, reflective, cosmopolitan types -- that is my in-group. Average ordinary middle-class Americans care about other average ordinary middle-class Americans, Evangelical Christians care about other evangelical Christians, white trash care about other white trash, international businessmen care about other international businessment, Linux geeks care about other Linux geeks, and working-class Latinos care about other working-class Latinos. Loyalties aren't based upon "blood and soil" for all people anymore -- other factors come into play. However, moral universalism is typically a cover for special interests, and those who speak of their loyalty to "America" usually have a specific subdemographic in mind that motivates this loyalty (which isn't nearly as broadbased as some might believe). Maybe many Jews are tribal, but no more so than anybody else.

It would be refreshing to seek everybody cast the ideologies aside, and just come out and admit that they are merely seeking the benefit of their specific in-group. Nobody cares about "American culture" -- such a concept is a piece of fictional propaganda. People care about the specific subdemographic of which they are apart, while false conflating it with "American culture". Maybe if we admitted this, we could see that many problems could be solved if groups with irresolvable differences separated from each other's political space, so to speak. Maybe.

Posted by: Chris W at October 24, 2003 01:06 AM

jaime wrote:
"I do not think that Jewish people can escape from their Jewishness in any significant scale."

I know from experience that this is false. Being in my twenties, I've known a number of young people of Jewish background who aren't in anyway recognizably Jewish. My favorite co-worker, who had Jewish parents, is a good example. The guy almost has an allergic reaction to stereotypically Jewish behavior, and bashes Jewish culture on a regular basis. There are countless young people of jewish descent who aren't Jewish in any relevant sense, aside from the fact that their parents happened to be Jewish.

Posted by: Chris W at October 24, 2003 01:10 AM


since i'm still here, i'll make one point: i think anti-semites and jews tend to both play into the stereotype that jews are a special people put through special circumstances. in other words, they are always targets, always making trouble among the nations etc. etc. i don't think this is true, jews aren't that special, many of the things kevin macdonald says about jews ring true, but they aren't unique to jews, so i don't buy his idea that they are evolutionarily adaptive. instead, they are the responses of a given people to a given set of problems and contexts.

for instance-some of my jewish acquaintances often like to note that they are a very persecuted people, a specially persecuted people. there might be some truth in the christian context because of theological issues, but in general, i think what is special about jews is that a few instances of persecution does not totally digest them into the general society. though the majority of marranos converted to catholicism and became spaniards, a minority of sephards remained to remember their expulsion. if persecution is the dependent variable, and t the independent variable, the jews might win out in the number #1 victim game if you evaluated the integral between t=0 (genesis of the jewish people) and t=present. but, there are many peoples who have strong histories of persecution, and the absolute average value of persecution for jews might not be that much higher in the historical scope that it was for say the albigensians in southern france. groups like the latter though have a much shorter span of t and so their integral of the persecution function comes to a smaller absolute value....

Posted by: razib at October 24, 2003 01:15 AM

It's crucial to note that Easterbrook's entire crime was to write a sentence that contained the phrases "Jewish executives" and "worship money." He did _not_, however, say "Jewish executives worship money." Nor did he say that all Jewish executives worship money or that more Jewish executives than gentile executives worship money. He was specifically referring to only the two men who greenlighted "Kill Bill," Michael Eisner and Harvey Weinstein. I don't know about Weinstein, but Eisner is notorious for the vast amount he has paid himself as head of Disney.

Easterbrook is being condemned for _accidentally_ making a glancing reference to a stereotype. The reaction of the vast majority of commentators has been shameful. The chilling effects on freedom of speech are obvious.

If you converted his "radioactive" paragraph into an attack on black rap moguls, it would elicit few complaints from anyone beyond the hard left.

"DefJam's CEO, Russell Simons, is black; the chief of Death Row Records, Suge Knight, is black. Yes, there are plenty of white and other music executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence. Does that make it right for black executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence? Recent American history alone ought to cause black executives to experience second thoughts about glorifying the killing of the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice. But history is hardly the only concern. Rap records are now played all over America, to audiences that may not understand the irony or even read the reviews, but can't possibly miss the message--now DefJam's message--that hearing the screams of the innocent is a really fun way to express yourself."

Bob Herbert writes this kind of thing in the NYT all the time. Why Jews should be immune from formulations that blacks are exposed to constantly is a very interesting question, but not one I expect to hear discussed widely in the press after the Easterbrook brouhaha.

Posted by: Steve Sailer at October 24, 2003 02:01 AM

So, are Jews greedy? I don't really know. Depends on how you define greedy.
This article (which says that the net worth of US Jews is three times the average), claims that it's because Jews don't believe in the afterlife....!

Rounded up, butchered like animals, treated with a barbarity that defies description. Some of the groups that were targeted, Communists, Gypsies and homosexuals were marginal social deviants,
Well, that's OK then!

I don't feel comfortable speaking of the Jewish people in a way that I might speak of blacks, Chinese, Hispanics, etc..... But what if we spoke about Jews in such a fashion? What if we mis-spoke?
For fucks sake, get a spine. For a supposedly 'realist' site, Jews are definitely your elephant in the sitting room.

If you converted his "radioactive" paragraph into an attack on black rap moguls, it would elicit few complaints from anyone beyond the hard left.
Nor would discussion of Japanese being particularly good at consumer electronics, or Swedes good at producing cheap furniture... but Jews good at making money? unmentionable.

Posted by: fredrik at October 24, 2003 04:11 AM

"The "social justice" trend among Jews predates the Holocaust. Jews were disproportionately Communists, both in the US and Russia. The whole "social justice" phenomenon is, in my opinion, the root of a lot of right-wing anti-Semitism."

You've hit the nail on the head. If Jews stopped trying to fix the world's injustices and went back to their ages-old practice of just *surviving* ( which is what Israel is all about, basically ), there would be no Jewish 'problem' in the USA - at least not in its current form.

Posted by: Melnorme at October 24, 2003 09:16 AM

"The dissolution of the Jewish people is a sad event for those who identify as such, but it is part of the genesis of the bobo class, which is partially Jeurasian."

Razib, I know you have high hopes for a caste of Jeurasian bobos who will create an oasis of real liberalism and genuine regard for the individual in a desert of group-think hyenas, but do you really think it will happen? Let's say for the sake of argument that your "Jeurasian bobos" are the best realistic outcome of our ever-coalescing cognitive elite. The worst is a caste of Brahmin-like overlords, and the middle ground is are Latin-American style "conservatism" that Murray and Herrnstein predicted in "The Bell Curve". Of these three, which do you think is the most likely? We all know that high IQ and compassion are not package deal, but neither are IQ and individualism. I suspect that the ethnic melding you speak of will occur, but it will not respect true individualism any more than the current regime does. In fact, I fear that Asian influence might strengthen the drive to create tight group bonds that ostracize non-conformists in the Japanese model. But I predict that your Jeurasians will embrace (or extend)individualism as an intense desire for money and status, not as honor, courage, and respect for the independent mind. This, of course, is nothing new. The bourgeouisie has been acting this way since it's inception. But as the cognitive elite coalesces, the Jeurasian bobo elite will become for anyone with a high IQ what the pre-Lutheran Catholic Church was for any European who feared Hell: the only game in town. In the past high IQ folks who preferred not to become consumption machines could escape to the bohemian, avant garde world or to religious institutions, for whatever relief they could provide. Even materialism wouldn't be so bad if they could put it in a historical, more worldwide perspective, but most bobos' disinclination for self-examination is matched only by their ignorance. What is someone like me to do as my Church becomes an advocate for illegal immigration and the bobos adopt (or increase) Jewish American Princess levels of shallowness?

My greatest lament as a humanitarian has long been that the social/economic changes of post-WWII America have it so extremely difficult for the low-IQ individual to live a life of honor. But then I realized that whatever their IQ, most people don't want to live honorably if it requires self-denial and sacrifice. Their choices in aggregate do not reflect well on human nature, but neither does most of what people do. However, some people do want to build lives of honor and the bobo elite must (at least) tolerate them if any greater good is to come from the Jeurasian community. If high IQ people must choose between a consumeristic but functional JB elite and black/redneck/Mexican proles, most idealistic ones will choose the latter. How can you keep the JBs from purging their critics? Can any large group of people be taught to respect the principles of liberalism? We are a minority, as you've said. Maybe the ignobility of the masses is acceptable since it is a triumph of free will. But if the miniscule percentage of people who want to be honorable have that urge pressed out of them to avoid being thrown overboard into the roiling underclass sea, it will be a tragedy for the individualist spirit that you so admire.

Posted by: duende at October 24, 2003 10:55 AM

Duende, great comments.

We must always keep in mind the problems with human nature. There is no ethnic blending or cultural blending that will fix those problems.

People can and will find new ways to differentiate among themselves. There is no shortage of snobbishness and arrogance of upper class liberals and leftist intellectuals. There is no shortage of ignorance and embrace of stereotypes of assorted outgroups by academics with high IQs.

I agree with Steve Sailer about the chilling effects on freedom of speech by the Easterbrook affair. I am disappointed that Razib doesn't even bother to mention this in his comments about it. This is ironic since Razib posts under a pseudonym in large part because he wants to write about taboo subjects.

Posted by: Randall Parker at October 24, 2003 01:44 PM

"Just don't impose it on me..."

Where in that post did I tell you, or anyone, how to live their lives? Find me a quote that says "The government should stop people from being greedy pigs". I simply said that I doubt the new JB world order will be any more respectful of real individualism than the current state of affairs. If the JB crowd considers itself a threatened minority at the mercy of a large, hostile underclass the urge to censor and ostracize will be even stronger. Is this position unreasonable?

You seem to find my ideals as distasteful as I find your self-gratification/materialist stance. All this really means is that you and I are very different people. My post did not have instructions. It did convey my negative feelings of consumerism as an attitude toward life, but I'm sure you can live with my disapproval.

Godless, I really don't care what you do or how you live. But if all the JB dream accomplishes is that we trade one high IQ groupthink for another, how will we be better off?

Posted by: duende at October 24, 2003 10:07 PM

Get off the mescalin please. Sounds like you need to get a fantasy novel out of your system.

I'm not sure where Godless, I or any other advocate of philosophical materialism has advocated 'instant gratification' and 'materialism' in the consumerist sense. You're simply conflating the two concepts. I suspect high IQ people find 'vulgar consumerism' too boring to provide much long term gratification. You're the one watching Geraldo or whatever the hell it is you watch, not us. Note that according to David Brooks' formulation, Boboism is to be distinguished from the sort of shallow consumerism you have in mind which is more typically the preference of your idealised proles.

Posted by: Jason Soon at October 24, 2003 11:03 PM

what is this real individualism you speak of, Duende? it sounds like the sort of Rousseau-inflienced romanticised notion that produces suicide bombers rather than the sober but dynamic bourgeoise individualism that has served America well all this time.

Posted by: Jason Soon at October 24, 2003 11:06 PM

"I suspect high IQ people find 'vulgar consumerism' too boring to provide much long term gratification."

Well, I doubt the line between "vulgar consumerism" and "non-vulgar consumerism" is that sharp. Both low IQ and high IQ men spend money on cars and clothes that they think will help them get laid. There's nothing wrong with this, but I just don't see much fundamental difference. High IQ men are probably more selective in their purchases and consider ramifications (e.g. will this look like I bought it for tonight?), but the motive is not that different.

High IQ people probably pay more attention to quality and shop with a long-term or intangible goal in mind, such as a specific color couch to match the wallpaper they chose for it's classical theme. There is nothing wrong with this, it's how style, aesthetics and the arts function. Looking for a really expressive sweater is a lot of fun. But if, outside work, you spend most of your time shopping even for beautiful things, I find this a little creepy. Maybe I'm just a nerdy bookworm who would utterly miserable shopping my life away.

You used the word "instant" not I. I don't "idealize" proles, and I certainly didn't mean to convey that I did. They terrify me, even if I do pity them. If I had to choose between them and the bobos, I'd go with the bobos, I just
want a third option

My notions of individualism and high IQ people's propensity for it are very much colored by my residence in Washington DC. EVERYTHING here is political and/or is traceable to partisan politics. I am surrounded by very smart, very ambitious people who think their party is the savior of mankind, and that the opposing party (and its adherents) are enemies of humanity who must be crushed if their party is to build its shining city on the hill.

And as for getting a fantasy novel out of my system, I don't entirely disagree.

Posted by: duende at October 25, 2003 06:30 AM

Razib: I'm told that the Israelis have a saying that goes something like this, "When you visit a country, if you want to know who really runs it, find out who it is who no one is talking about."

I find your hesitancy in not talking about Jews annoying (and telling?). Perhaps part of the reason for your hesitancy is that they make such a stink about being citicized, and they are so good at derision that people internalize a sense of shame at the idea of criticizing them. And if Jews are able to control you and others in that way, then they indeed have won a major psychological battle.

In my opinion, all people grouped by race or religion or any other category are open to criticism. If you are afraid or hesitant to criticize, you wind up letting a group get away with things. This is exactly how an idiot like Jesse Jackson has had such success and is still able to damage race relations after all these years.

The educational philosophy of the Jews themselves is to create psycic dissonance, and I for one am certainly willing to help them out with that by pointing out their own contradictions. I find their diversity mantra ridiculous (it is theirs in the sense that they use it a lot) when on the one hand multiculturalism causes such obvious problems and on the other the pursuit of diversity seems to be leading to a globalized homogeneous cultural and the possibility of miscegenation to the point of minimal human biodiversity. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with those things, but I think that Jews are not always forthcoming about their real motiviations.

At any rate, my advice is that you ignore your hesitancy and criticize away as you feel inclined.

Posted by: Unstoppable at October 25, 2003 10:52 AM

This is not going to happen. Besides, even if you did mix people up on a global scale, it wouldn't "eliminate' biodiversity - it would just create new groups.

i agree on this point. some people seem to have interpreted my idea of a JB class a move toward a universal a-racial liberal class. not at all-rather, i view it as a logical "cluster" in america that should bind itself more closely together and implement in reality the de-emphasis of aspects of identity that it rhetorically asserts are not very important (race & religion). so-if secular jews assert that race & religion are not important, but rather you views on tolerance, pluralism, freedom, justice, etc. they should get with the program and accelerate their mixture with well educated inviduals of all religious confessions and racial backgrounds....

Posted by: razib at October 25, 2003 02:57 PM


I listened to Amy Chua for an hour yestereday. She has interesting ideas and I will read her book. However, she does not believe that the market dominate minority phenomenon is a product of either genes or culture. Instead, she gave some inscrutable PC reason for it.

Posted by: Unstoppable at October 27, 2003 10:35 AM

A very good, thoughtful post. Along with the "Jewsweek" post, one of the two intelligent pieces to come out of the Easterbrook imbroglio. But no good deed goes unpunished ...

[excerpted quotes follow]

"I am a Jew. By this, I mean I share many of the traits (streotypically) of Jews, I am bookish, argumentantive ... In the Jews, I see me ..
... [but i have] ... expressed dismay at a "Jewish model" for the development of the ethnos that I am a member of by blood and birth .. want the brown to melt into the milk, I want desi (South Asia) culture to envelope itself into the broadly liberal tradition "

This is the most personal post of yours I have read so far. It's a coherent view of yourself and how you relate to the world. And I think its incorrect.

I think it's impossible to disappear, and that the "Jewish model" is the best and only way an non-Christian, non-white alien can become a real American. Melting into the milk is a futile effort that will result in a frustrated life (unless you do it the Bobby Jindal way -- that would work)

But you're already aware of my objections...

"The path toward ethnic self-awareness and identification is fraught with unasked for responsibilities and duties in exchange for the protection conferred by the group, while the path of individual self-definition is rich in the possibilities for failure and personal humilation, though it frees you up to dictate to the world who you are."

I'm not sure you can dictate to the world who you are. One part of the Hitler lesson is, as you say, become part of the establishment if you wish to be secure. But the other part is that, no matter how much you cast aside you ethnic markers (e.g. accent, funny clothes) you cannot fully dictate to the world who you are. Even if he had never taken power, blocked by a JB establishement, Hitler and company would have seen Jews, not Germans.

And in a country like the US, where Christ is central and a connection to the 'heartland' a sign of legitimacy, there will always be many people who will see you as part of the indissoluble brown, not part of the milk.

But I suppose from a multi-generational perspective, the melting is be possible, so long as your descendents embrace Christ. If Dershowtiz descedents will not be Jewish, it is also possible that Razib's kids will be creationist evangelical Christians, pure whole milk.

And finally

"has made me more hesitant about posting on racial issues"


Posted by: Ikram Saeed at October 27, 2003 10:14 PM

Or if the culture becomes less Christian, and more "spiritual". I don't think you have to "embrace Christ"

Said by a blue-stater. We are in the midst of the fourth great-awakening, the greatest Christian revival in America in a century. The President's most admired philospher is Jesus Christ. Outside Berkeley, "the culture" is not getting less Christian.

And maybe the rest of Cali-fornia is not so godly either. But, like it or not, American normality is defined by the 'heartland' -- the red states. And increasingly, it is defined by the south. When I lived there, Wednesday night was bible night, and this was in one of the richest parts of Texas. There was no hope of JB there, but plenty of WWJD. That's why Hindu Piyush Jindal is now Catholic Bobby Jindal.

If you don't want to convert yourself, the econd best hope is that your children will marry Christians and your grandchildren will be future Wesley Clark's or John kerry's -- both Christians with a smattering of non-Christian ancestry.

I suppose that's one way to have the brown dissolve into the milk. Is that what Razib meant?

Posted by: Ikram saeed at October 28, 2003 06:07 PM

both Christians with a smattering of non-Christian ancestry.

both are half-jewish. not a smattering.

and you'd know what i meant, ikram, if you read what i wrote. of course, your tendency is to resort to snide ripostes - which i'm sure are impressive on your ever so original blog. keep on living by substance of style ikram....

Posted by: razib at October 28, 2003 06:09 PM

Yeesh, next you'll be saying I am an enemy of the future ...

As I said in my first comment, I thought this was a well thought out post. As per your advice, I went back and read it agian, as well as re-reading some of your other recent posts. I understand that you do not look fondly upon the Clark-Jindal solution.

As you know, I think your preferred option, the bobo elite, is not a stable long term solution. (You probably don't think so either). The values of the mass of people ("volk", to misuse a term) need to be aligned with the values of the elite. I can think of several historical examples where a heterogenous secular cosmopolitan elite came to no good -- Vienna before WWI, Alexandria before Nasser, Sarajevo before the 90s.

The wine-drinking apostate elite of Sarajevo were not attacked for the religion they followed, they were attacked for the religion their parents followed. Had their parents converted to Orthodoxy, would they have been safer? I think yes -- still not safe, but safer.

(As for my own blog, I am under no illusions. It is infrequently updated and mostly visited by google-searchers hoping for porn and people looking for a dead South Asian gangster.)

Posted by: Ikram at October 30, 2003 11:24 PM