« Jekyll and Hyde, LLC | Main | Among the Kosniks (part V) »

Among the Kosniks (Part IV)

By Michael J. Smith on Saturday February 18, 2006 07:47 PM

Part four of a series. Previous installments

IV. Kosniks can't think about Israel

Characteristic Kosnik responses to to a post about the Israel lobby's role in pushing the Iraq war:

this diary is a vile piece of crap
and that's exactly that I'd expect from you.

Here we go again...
For the thousandth time, Israel never wanted or needed the Iraq war....The Iraq War is a major political liability for Israel because it fuels anti-semitism at a time when Israel is working very hard to combat anti-semitism. Israeli papers were hardly supportive of the Iraq War before and after, basically calling it a wash - any positive benefits would likely be weighed down by negatives....
I think the whole "JEWS ARE BEHIND ALL WARS!" nonsense is absurd but there seems to be no end to it.

These two posts between them pretty much define the poles of permitted discourse about Israel among the Kosniks. It's like taking a little spin in the Wayback Machine to, oh, 1975 or so. In those days, if you said anything about Israel that strayed by a hair's breadth from the official narrative – courageous, beleaguered, righteous Israel, and bestial, bigoted, sadistic Arabs – you would find yourself marginalized pretty fast. And if you said anything about the influence of the Israel lobby – why then, you were Julius Streicher reincarnate.

In more recent years, things have opened up a lot. You can now take a whack at Israel or the Israel lobby without getting tagged for life as an anti-Semite or a lunatic or a terrorist – everywhere except in the Democratic Party.

As other constituencies and sources of funding have dried up or switched to the Republicans, largesse from the Israel lobby has become crucial to the Democrats. You might even say it's their lifeline; without the lobby's support, the Democratic party would undergo a sudden shrinkage, like one of those bloated red-giant stars collapsing into a white dwarf.

Yeah, the Republicans get Israel money too, and yeah, they've signed up for whatever the loby wants, too. But the difference is that the Republicans have other resources. The money pipeline from the Israel lobby is welcome and important to the Republicans, but it's not life-or-death as it is for the Democrats. Thus a Pat Buchanan has far more scope to speak his mind than anybody in the Democratic party has.

This censorship – or self-censorship, really – extends right down into the Kosnik basement of the party. Now many of the Kosniks are quite intelligent and well-informed people, and there must be a considerable cognitive dissonance between what they know privately and the party line they have to toe publicly. Perhaps this helps explain my next observation.

To be continued...

Comments (9)


Presumably the Kosniks are often Americans who didn't want war in Iraq, despite what FOX told them to want. Why was it so hard for this particular Kosnik to see the difference in what the Israeli-on-the-street wants and what his/her Government wants ?

As for Buchanan, he's a pig. If the neo-cons helm too many more disasters on the scale of Iraq, he may well get his long-time wish to get his team of Isolationists back on top of the GOP. These wars DO fuel anti-Semitism;That's one thing the Kosnik got right. You just need a few monied re-framers out there on national TV referring to how the wars in the Mid-East are really "The Jew Wars" and you're off.

Political fashions and fortunes can change very quickly. Folks like good ol' Pat are never as far from the center of power as we like to think.

The failure of neo-liberalism and its apologists is indeed the failure to see the connection between economics and social issues. The worse the economy, the easier it is for fascism and the other deadly -isms to grow and bear fruit. The market forces worshipped by the DLC don't fuel social progress and human rights at all;They undermine them. The Democratic rank-and-file who claim to be for glbt marriage even as they make apologies for their team's role in NAFTA and CAFTA are operating at cross-purposes, even if they can't see that they are.


vs anti imperialism

"You just need a few monied re-framers out there on national TV referring to how the wars in the Mid-East are really "The Jew Wars" and you're off,,,"
to the races

"jew wars ..."
the anti imperialism
of fools


I have a soft spot for isolationism, myself. Staying home and minding our own business would be a vast improvement on what we have now. The natural public impulse in that direction -- which has to be relentlessly propagandized away by the promoters of empire -- seems common-sensical and fundamentally healthy to me.

I find it hard to imagine anti-Semitism ever becoming a significant factor in American political life. I just don't see the social basis for it -- Eastern Europe in the 20s and 30s was a very different kind of place. And needless to say, there are a lot of other minorities in line ahead, too.

This is not to say that American culture isn't rife with stereotyping and cartoonish thinking about ethnic and religious groups, including the Jews, but it seems to me it's a long way from that to political anti-Semitism.

The Democratic rank-and-file who claim to be for glbt marriage even as they make apologies for their team's role in NAFTA and CAFTA are operating at cross-purposes...
Amen to that!


(shrug.) If you want to expand on the virtues of isolationism, MJ, I'll read it. I guess my main quarrel with it is my main quarrel with a lot of political causes. The version sold to us on the ground doesn't seem to have much in common with what the big boys and girls up in the tower are practicing. Think of the contradictions inherent in Lindbergh's love affair with the German-American Bund. Or Shrub's granddaddy's business with the Nazi Empire. That wasn't true Isolationism. It was buying off thugs and selling it to the masses as "we're minding our own business over here."

I hope you're right about anti-Semitism in the U.S., but I find it hard to take anything for granted as the economy slides further and further into the tank. Also, I wouldn't be any happier to have some other group cast to play the "Jew" role. Think of those jackasses who are running around playing "Minutemen" on the U.S.-Mexican border, for instance. I don't doubt that they'd take it further, given half a chance.


Isolationism, like most political terms, means different things to different people. The kind of "isolationism" I like is the spontaneous (and I think quite sensible) impulse to want to stay out of foreign entanglements. There is hardly ever a good reason for doing otherwise.

For a century or so Americans have been so relentlessly bludegeoned with imperialist propaganda that this eminently intelligent native caution has come to seem disreputable.

Of course, politicians of various stripes are quite good at slipstreaming thoroughly unsavory stuff behind appeals to attitudes that are in themselves perfectly sensible and constructive. This is an old story.It was certainly the case back in the 30s, and even earlier, when you got isolationism all mixed up with nativism and anti-Semitism.

Part of the problem is that the other side of the coin -- call it liberalism for short -- is also a mixed-up muddle of the sensible and the noxious. The sensible part is teaching evolution in the schools and so on. The noxious part is institution-worship and a soft spot for international adventures as long as they are carried out under a moral pretext. So the liberals discredit isolationism because the isolationists are susceptible to nativism -- and on the other hand, the public can get suspicious of the liberals' philo-Semitism because those very same liberals have a tendency to get us into wars.

The short of it, I guess, is that you just can't accept these package deals as given -- you have to try to tease out the components and recombine them in more constructive ways.

J. Alva Scruggs:

"The United States that minds its own affairs" has a lot of appeal to me, as I think it would to any cautiously conservative person. The codpiece posturing of the neocons and murderous sanctimony of the cruise missile liberals create endless problems.


the hunt for moral monsters
quite a lure to many
a goo goo cosmopolite

these freedom and
human rights hegemonists play rough too
in the shadows at least

the expression
kold war liberal
i suspect marked the end of js mill's process over substance road
to liberation

one's own damn eploitation
seems to me
enough of a path
to righteous struggle
for most wage earners here

J. Alva Scruggs:

Re: minding one's own damn exploitation.

It took me a long time to realize that the top managers of troubled organizations will do anything, without regard to its rightness or wrongness, to externalize their problems. They're scared to death of the smallest efforts at cleaning house, even though the odds of losing their livelihoods are very slim.

Near as I can tell, the term 'Isolationism' means nothing to the average Kosniki. It's just a way to shut down debate. Anything that deviates from the 'we can fight the war better' party line is termed 'isolationism' in the Kos converational dogpile.

Post a comment

Note also that comments with three or more links may be held for "moderation" -- a strange term to apply to the ghost in this blog's machine. Seems to be a hard-coded limitation of the blog software, unfortunately.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Saturday February 18, 2006 07:47 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Jekyll and Hyde, LLC.

The next post in this blog is Among the Kosniks (part V).

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License

This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31