If you write a 3,800 word piece titled "Why Jews Hate Palin" and publish it in Commentary--a conservative, Jewish-focused magazine--you're begging for a controversy. That's what Jennifer Rubin did, and her article is drawing more fire every day. In it, she argues that Jews are particularly disdainful of the former Alaskan governor--and not only because "she is a conservative and...the vast majority of Jews are not." Rather, Rubin says, it's because Palin's folksy persona, assertive Christianity, large family, and "intellectual unfitness" is particularly damning in the eyes of Jews, whom she describes as "overwhelmingly pro-choice," urban, secular, educated, and "culturally sophisticated."
In a strikingly unified response from liberals as well as conservatives, most commentators are trashing the piece as illogical, poorly-argued, and anti-Semitic. Here are the biggest problems bloggers have with Rubin's argument:
No Evidence That Jews, in Particular, Hate Palin
- 'Lots of People Dislike Sarah Palin,' points out fellow conservative Jew and Commentator contributor David Frum. "Rubin passes lightly over the question whether Jews in fact do hate Palin more than other people do. The sole evidence she cites on behalf of her assertion is a September 2008 poll in which Jews disapproved of Palin by a 54-37 margin. That does not look like foaming hatred to me, and anyway those numbers are now 15 months out of date." He also notes that Palin "polls poorly among the young, among women, among independents. A plurality even of Republican women regard her as unqualified for the presidency ... this may be just another manifestation of the old rule about Jews being like other people, only more so."
- Shouldn't This, Theoretically, Be Easy to Prove? "I believe that Jews disproportionately hate Palin. I just find it odd that Rubin does such a poor job proving such an intuitive premise," says left-leaning The New Republic's Jonathan Chait. He points to numbers Rubin cites which seem to prove "Palin's selection was more popular among Jews than the McCain-Palin ticket."
Conflates Jews and Liberals
- Newflash: Jews Are Liberals "Jews don't dislike Palin any more than any other group of liberal people does," argues Matthew Yglesias at Think Progress. "So all you’re really left with is the question of why liberals don’t like Palin. Of course we don't like her because she's very conservative."
- A Transferred Trope Jonathan Chait summarizes Rubin's position: "Jews are snobs. They're hung up on academic credentials, biased against rural Americans, gun owners, the military, and the working class. This, of course, is a classic Bush-era trope against liberals."
- An Unmentioned Source of Jew-Palin Disagreement Gawker's Alex Pareene
breaks with the general response, pointing out that Jews may truly hate
Palin more than other liberals do. Why? Pareene thinks it's Palin's
anti-Semitic stance. One example, he says, is her church, "that invited
the Jews for Jesus to come around to explain
that the Jews had been persecuted for centuries because they didn't
acknowledge the divinity of Jesus." Also, she quoted "crazy-ass
antisemite Westbook Pegler in her ... convention speech," and was
photographed "with a copy of the official magazine of the antisemitic
John Birch Society on her desk." David Frum has a similar take: "Just guessing, but I think the real and most fundamental problem Jews have with Palin is not her gleeful ignorance, but her willful divisiveness."
Recycles Every Anti-semitic Jewish Stereotype Known to Man
- A Parade of Bigotry "It really reads like a parody of right wing anti-semitism through the ages," laments blogger Sir Charles at Cogitamus. For example: "The Jews -- they're all about the fancy book l'arnin', the irony and sarcasm, the baby-killing, and the accumulation of fancy degrees from elite academic institutions" Adds David Schraub at The Moderate Voice, "it is rare, exceedingly rare, to find a piece so openly contemptuous, so nakedly trafficking in anti-Jewish stereotyping, in a mainstream American magazine."
- Standard-Issue Anti-Semitism Jonathan Chait argues that the standard anti-liberal rhetoric Rubin recycles in her piece is also standard anti-Jew rhetoric: "Indeed, in Europe, anti-liberals traditionally incorporated anti-Semitism ... using the disproportionate presence of Jews among the liberal intelligentsia to help give weight to this attack. When American conservatives revived this trope during the Bush era, they scrubbed it of all anti-Semitic content ... It's beyond strange to see this argument explicitly targeted at Jews, in a Jewish publication of all places."
- Don't Blame Palin, Blame Jews "A reasonable person," says Politics Daily's David Corn, "might note that if prominent conservatives and liberals have concluded that Palin was lacking in intellectual firepower, the serious issue is whether Palin had (or has) the brains ... But Rubin dodges the big question -- is Palin dim? -- and instead asks, 'What is it about Palin that so grates on American Jews?'" This ends up leading to an argument that Corn finds disturbing-- blaming Jews for not loving Palin: "The problem with Sarah Palin for Jews and non-Jews is Sarah Palin. But Rubin contends the true problem is with the Jews -- their insularity, their elitism, their conceits."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.