The Dead’s Envy for the Living. By David P. Goldman. PJ Media, November 26, 2013. Also at the Middle East Forum.
Worse Than Munich. By Bret Stephens. Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2013.
Obama’s women reveal his secret. By David P. Goldman. Asia Times, February 26, 2008.
Zionism for Christians. By David P. Goldman (writing as David Shushon). First Things, June/July 2008. Also here.
Jimmy Carter’s heart of dorkiness. By David P. Goldman (writing as Spengler). Asia Times, January 17, 2007.
Goldman (PJ Media):
Iranians, and why the Jews? Jew-hatred is rampant in the Muslim world, to be
sure, but that did not prevent Egypt and Jordan from keeping the peace with
Israel for 30 years. Nor does it prevent Saudi Arabia, where Arabic editions of
the Protocols of the Elders of Zion
line bookstore shelves, from making a tactical alliance with Israel. Except for
Iran no Muslim regime trumpets its intention to “annihilate the Zionist” regime
in routine utterances.
has no common border with Israel. No Iranian soldier has killed an Israeli
soldier in combat since the founding of the Jewish State. Yet hatred and fear
of the Jews is a palpable presence in the minds of Iran’s rulers. Some days the
mullahs make the Nazis look rational by comparison. I cited a lecture given by
an advisor to Iran’s culture minister insisting that the cartoon “Tom and Jerry” was part of a plot by Jewish studio executives in Hollywood to
rehabilitate the image of Jews.
theocrats hate and fear the Jews for the same reason that Hitler did. The
“Master Race” delusion of the Nazis twisted the Chosenness of Israel into a
doctrine of racial election; for the “Master Race” to be secure in its
dominion, the original “paragon and exemplar of a nation” (Rosenzweig) had to
be exterminated. Islam is by construction a supercessionist religion. It claims
that the Jewish and Christian Scriptures perverted the original prophecy of
Islam, and that Mohammed restored the true religion through the Koran. Mohammed
is the “seal of the prophets,” the final and definitive exponent of God’s word,
replacing the falsified version of Christians and Jews.
may believe this and peaceably await the day when its competitor religions will
crumble and the whole world will acknowledge its prophet, just as Jews pray
thrice daily for the Messianic era when all the world will acknowledge one God
by one name. But it is difficult for Iran to be patient when its self-conceived
guardians of God’s message are staring into an inescapable abyss at the horizon
of a single generation. This is a
culture inherently incapable of reflection on its own deficiencies, one that has
nourished itself for 1,200 years on morbid rancor against the Sunni Muslim
majority and more recently against the West. Patience in this case is a poison.
thus faces a new Hitler and the threat of a new Holocaust. There is no way to
portray the situation in a less alarming light. That is one parallel to 1938;
another is the response of the world’s powers to the emergence of this monster.
declining nations of Western Europe, Israel’s national self-assertion is a
moral outrage. Since St. Isidore of Seville persuaded the Visigoth kings of
Spain to adopt Christianity with the promise that they would become the leaders
of a chosen nation in emulation of King David, the national consciousness of
the European nations has taken the form of national election. I argued in a
2008 essay for the religious monthly First Things:
Franz Rosenzweig observed, once the Gentile nations embraced Christianity, they
abandoned their ancient fatalism regarding the inevitable extinction of their
tribe. It is the God of Israel who first offers eternal life to humankind, and
Christianity extended Israel’s promise to all. But the nations that adhered to
Christendom as tribes rather than as individuals never forswore their love for
their own ethnicity. On the contrary, they longed for eternal life in their
own Gentile skin rather than in the Kingdom of God promised by Jesus Christ.
After Christianity taught them the election of Israel, the Gentiles coveted
election for themselves and desired their own people to be the chosen people.
That set ethnocentric nationalism in conflict both with the Jews—the
descendents of Abraham in the flesh—and with the Church, which holds itself to
be the new People of God.
Rosenzweig put it, “Precisely through Christianity the idea of Election has
gone out amongst the individual nations, and along with it a concomitant claim
upon eternity. It is not that the case that such a claim upon eternity
conditioned the entire life of these peoples; one hardly can speak of this. The
idea of Election, upon which such a claim [upon eternity] uniquely can be
based, becomes conscious for the peoples only in certain exalted moments, and
in any case is more of a festive costume than their workaday dress. . . .
Still, there sleeps upon the foundation of one’s love for one’s own people the
presentiment that someday in the distant future it no longer will be, and this
gives this love a sweetly painful gravity.”
European elite cannot distinguish its own past parody of Israel’s election from
the self-understanding of the Jewish people as a blessing to all nations by
virtue of its unique national life. Israeli nationalism only brings to mind
Europe’s failed nationalisms and their horrendous denouement in the world wars
of the past century. Europe is enervated, exhausted by past wars, aging,
hedonistic and cynical. It is not surprising that the nations of Europe once
again would avert their eyes to the threat of another Holocaust.
explains, though, the Obama administration’s obsession with a compromise at any
cost with the Tehran regime? I have not changed my view of what an Asian leader
privately called “America’s NGO president” since I profiled Barack Obama in
is not the embodiment of hope, but the abandonment of one kind of hope in
return for another. America is the spirit of creative destruction, selecting
immigrants willing to turn their back on the tragedy of their own failing
culture in return for a new start. Its creative success is so enormous that its
global influence hastens the decline of other cultures. For those on the
destruction side of the trade, America is a monster. Between half and
nine-tenths of the world’s 6,700 spoken languages will become extinct in the
next century, and the anguish of dying peoples rises up in a global cry of
despair. Some of those who listen to this cry become anthropologists, the
curators of soon-to-be extinct cultures; anthropologists who really identify
with their subjects marry them. Obama’s mother, the University of Hawaii anthropologist
Ann Dunham, did so twice.
most revealing disclosure, perhaps, came in his autobiography Dreams from My Father as he recounts his
thoughts while visiting Chicago’s public housing as a young community
for all that poverty [in the Indonesian marketplace], there remained in their
lives a discernible order, a tapestry of trading routes and middlemen, bribes
to pay and customs to observe, the habits of a generation played out every day
beneath the bargaining and the noise and the swirling dust. It was the absence
of such coherence that made a place like [the Chicago housing projects] so
deeply identifies with the fragile, unraveling cultures of the Third World
against the depredations of the globalizing Metropole. So, I suspect, does his
mentor and chief advisor, the Iranian-born Valerie Jarrett, and most of his
inner circle. This goes beyond the famous declaration of Jimmy Carter’s advisor
Hamilton Jordan—“the Palestinians are the n****ers of the Middle East”—and
Carter’s own mainline-Protestant reverence for the “holy men” of Iran’s 1979
Iranian revolution. It goes beyond the post-colonial theory of liberal
academia. For Obama, it is a matter of personal experience. His father and stepfather
were Third World Muslims, his mother was an anthropologist who dedicated her
life to protecting the traditional culture of Indonesia against the scourge of
globalization, and four years of his childhood were spent at an Indonesian
school. The same point has been made by Dinesh d’Souza, among others.
commitment to rapprochement with Iran arises from deep personal identification
with the supposed victims of imperialism. That is incongruous, to be sure.
Persia spent most of its history as one of the nastier imperial powers, and its
present rulers are no less ambitious in their pursuit of a pocket empire in the
Shi’ite world. The roots of his policy transcend rationality. Israel can
present all the evidence in the world of Iran’s plans to build nuclear weapons
and delivery systems, and the Iranians can cut the Geneva accord into confetti.
Obama will remain unmoved. His heart, like his late mother’s, beats for the
putatively oppressed peoples of the so-called Third World.
factor of this sort was present in 1938: Neville Chamberlain did not sympathize
with Hitler. He simply feared him and needed time to rearm, as the Wall Street Journal’s Mr. Stephens
observes. If Lord Halifax rather than Chamberlain had been prime minister then,
the parallel to Obama would be stronger.
not know how Israel will respond. There are too many unknowns in the shifting
political equation of the Middle East to solve that equation. But the facts on
the ground support the Israeli view that the Geneva accord puts the Jewish
State at existential risk.
Goldman (Asia Times):
Obama is a clever fellow who imbibed hatred of America with his mother’s milk,
but worked his way up the elite ladder of education and career. He shares the
resentment of Muslims against the encroachment of American culture, although
not their religion. He has the empathetic skill set of an anthropologist who
lives with his subjects, learns their language, and elicits their hopes and
fears while remaining at emotional distance. That is, he is the political
equivalent of a sociopath. The difference is that he is practicing not on a
primitive tribe but on the population of the United States.
is nothing mysterious about Obama’s methods. “A demagogue tries to sound as
stupid as his audience so that they will think they are as clever as he is,”
wrote Karl Krauss. Americans are the world’s biggest suckers, and laugh at this
weakness in their popular culture. Listening to Obama speak, Sinclair Lewis’s
cynical tent-revivalist Elmer Gantry comes to mind, or, even better, Tyrone
Power’s portrayal of a carnival mentalist in the 1947 film noire Nightmare Alley. The latter is available
for instant viewing at Netflix, and highly recommended as an antidote to having
felt uplifted by an Obama speech.
has the great misfortune to have encountered Obama at the peak of his powers at
its worst moment of vulnerability in a generation. With malice aforethought, he
has sought out their sore point.
the Ronald Reagan boom began in 1984, the year the American stock market
doubled, Americans have enjoyed a quarter-century of rising wealth. Even the
collapse of the Internet bubble in 2000 did not interrupt the upward trajectory
of household assets, as the housing price boom eclipsed the effect of equity
market weakness. America's success made it a magnet for the world's savings,
and Americans came to believe that they were riding a boom that would last
forever, as I wrote recently.
regard upward mobility as a God-given right. America had a double founding, as
David Hackett Fischer showed in his 1989 study, Albion’s Seed . Two kinds of immigrants founded America: religious
dissidents seeking a new Promised Land, and economic opportunists looking to
get rich quick. Both elements still are present, but the course of the past
quarter-century has made wealth-creation the sine qua non of American life. Now for the first time in a
generation Americans have become poorer, and many of them have become much
poorer due to the collapse of home prices. Unlike the Reagan years, when
cutting the top tax rate from a punitive 70% to a more tolerable 40% was
sufficient to start an economic boom, no lever of economic policy is available
to fix the problem. Americans have no choice but to work harder, retire later,
save more and retrench.
reversal has provoked a national mood of existential crisis. In Europe,
economic downturns do not inspire this kind of soul-searching, for richer and
poorer, remain what they always have been. But Americans are what they make of
themselves, and the slim makings of 2008 shake their sense of identity.
Americans have no institutionalized culture to fall back on. Their national
religion has consisted of waves of enthusiasm – “Great Awakenings” – every
second generation or so, followed by an interim of apathy. In times of stress
they have a baleful susceptibility to hucksters and conmen.
afraid – be very afraid. America is at a low point in its fortunes, and feeling
sorry for itself. When Barack utters the word “hope,” they instead hear, “handout.”
A cynic might translate the national motto, E
pluribus unum, as “something for nothing.” Now that the stock market and
the housing market have failed to give Americans something for nothing, they
want something for nothing from the government. The trouble is that he who gets
something for nothing will earn every penny of it, twice over.
George W. Bush administration has squandered a great strategic advantage in a
sorry lampoon of nation-building in the Muslim world, and has made enemies out of
countries that might have been friendly rivals, notably Russia. Americans
question the premise of America’s standing as a global superpower, and of the
promise of upward mobility and wealth-creation. If elected, Barack Obama will
do his utmost to destroy the dual premises of America’s standing. It might take
the country another generation to recover.
will oft evil mars,” J R R Tolkien wrote. It is conceivable that Barack Obama,
if elected, will destroy himself before he destroys the country. Hatred is a
toxic diet even for someone with as strong a stomach as Obama. As he recalled
in his 1995 autobiography, Dreams From My
Father, Obama idealized the Kenyan economist who had married and dumped his
mother, and was saddened to learn that Barack Hussein Obama, Sr, was a sullen,
drunken polygamist. The elder Obama became a senior official of the government
of Kenya after earning a PhD at Harvard. He was an abusive drunk and
philanderer whose temper soured his career.
senior Obama died in a 1982 car crash. Kenyan government officials in those
days normally spent their nights drinking themselves stupid at the Pan-Afrique
Hotel. Two or three of them would be found with their Mercedes wrapped around a
palm tree every morning. During the 1970s I came to know a number of them,
mostly British-educated hollow men dying inside of their own hypocrisy and
Obama and the American public should be very careful of what they wish for. As
the horrible example of Obama’s father shows, there is nothing worse for an
embittered outsider manipulating the system from within than to achieve his
goals – and nothing can be more terrible for the system. Even those who despise
America for its blunders of the past few years should ask themselves whether
the world will be a safer place if America retreats into a self-pitying shell.
the Palestinians are concerned, Carter keens the same trope. It is repulsive to
think that a people of several millions, honeycombed with representatives of international
organizations, the virtual stepchild of the United Nations, appears doomed to
reduce its national fever by letting blood. The 700,000 refugees of 1948,
hothoused by the UN relief agencies, prevented from emigrating by other Arab
regimes, have turned into a people, but a test-tube nation incapable of
independent national life: four destitute millions of third-generation refugees
in the small and barren territories of Gaza, Judea and Samaria, which cannot
support a fraction of that number.
of a Palestinian economy based on tourism and light manufacturing is a delusion
in the globalized economy of Chinese-dominated trade in manufactures. The
subsistence-farming fellahin should
have left their land for economic reasons, like the Okies during the 1920s and
1930s, and dispersed into cities, like a hundred other rural populations of the
so-called developing world. Kept hostage for political reasons, they cannot
stay, and they cannot leave. They have chosen instead to fight, and if need be
Palestinians cannot hope to earn their keep in peacetime; their only hope is to
keep the region in perpetual tension, the better to blackmail the West and the
Arab Persian Gulf states for subsidies. . . .
former president is hard to read without taking into account the southern US
context. A partial explanation for his see-and-hear-no-evil view of the world
can be found in southern guilt over the maltreatment of blacks. Carter’s chief
of staff, Hamilton Jordan, heard his first briefing on the Middle East in 1977
and offered, “I get it: the Palestinians are the niggers.”
Carter knows better than that: the Palestinians are not in the position of
southern American blacks, but rather of southern American whites, the exemplar
of a self-exterminating people in the modern period. That is why Carter
identifies with them. Apart from modern Palestine, there are very few cases in
modern history in which a militant population showed its willingness to fight
to the death. The US south sacrificed two-fifths of its military-age men during
the Civil War of 1861-65, a casualty rate matched only by Serbia during World
War I. Southern blacks, by contrast, were pacific, Christian, and
long-suffering in their hopes for eventual deliverance.
Palestinians are not an oppressed people, but rather the irreconcilable
remnants of a once-victorious but now defeated empire, living in an irredentist
dream world in which a new Salahuddin will drive the new Crusaders into the
sea. Pour a few bourbons into the average white citizen of the US state of
Georgia, and the same irredentist fantasy will bubble up: “The south shall rise