Sunday, May 08, 2005

Neocons

What will be remembered about this time is how a group of neoconservatives Jews chose to make an unholy alliance with Christian fundamentalists that lead to major restrictions on religious and intellectual freedom in this country. It will be all the more ironic that this alliance was forged at the height of the neocons’ power. In other words, it will be a classic case of Jews willing their own destruction.

I know it is not considered good form to describe neoconservatism as fundamentally Jewish in nature, but the fact is most of its most prominent members are Jewish and there should be no doubt that much of the philosophy undergirding the movement derives from Israel’s experience in the Middle East. Look at how Bush wound up equating Hussein with Hitler or how the neoconservative belief that the Arabs are hellbent on Israel’s destruction and can’t be negotiated with lead the administration to conclude war (and an illegal one at that) was the only way to deal with Hussein. These are clearly instances of the Jewish strain of thinking in neoconservatism found its way into the mainstream.

But is it fair to link the Christian right with the neocons? If nothing else, you rarely see the neocons taking on the fundamentalists, and certainly when they do, it’s with nowhere near the vehemence as they assail the left (as if those of us who favor greater aid to the poor were a greater threat to the country than those who want to turn the government into a theocracy). Just last week, David Brooks offered an endorsement of evangelism that while criticizing the movement for its excesses, still praised it for trying to inject the issues of faith and spirituality into politics. Here is a Jewish thinker, one of our country’s most prominent, taking shots at those who want a strictly secular government while praising, however tepidly, those who want a more Christianized polity. Talk about self-hatred! Brooks ultimately praises Lincoln whom he describes as, ”with the evangelicals, but not of them.“ This is exactly where he and other neoconservatives stand as well, and they should be ashamed, not gloating.

The real link between neoconservatism and the religious fundamentalists is their faith in American capitalism. Both movements believe the American way of life is blessed. David Brooks tells us how the middle-class suburban lifestyle, even with all its excesses, represents the ultimate fulfillment of liberal democracy. Pat Robertson insists this country’s greatness is divinely sanctioned. And whether you believe it’s a secular teleology that’s lead to American exceptionalism or divine interference, the result is the same — blind faith in this country and unthinking zealotry.

This is an unholy alliance, as I said, an example of the kind of moral corruption that arises when Jews become too assimilated. I make the comparison between the neocons and the Jews in pre-World War II Germany — both were too comfortable, debauched, and self-satisfied to sense the danger that they were courting. I am by no means suggesting there is going to be another Hitler in this country, but I do think we are now witnessing the end of the American empire. And with its fall, another golden era of Jewry will be over. We will have only ourselves to blame.

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