No place for racists?

As much as I applaud the NAACP for calling out rampant racism within the Tea Party movement, the problem is this. The NAACP’s rhetorical strategy is a delicate one; they don’t want to alienate masses of blue-collar whites who might be drawn to the Tea Party’s brand of (I would argue phony) libertarianism. So the NAACP instead insists that the Tea Party must make clear there is “no place for racists” in its movement. But the fact is there is a place for racists in the movement. And there’s no delicate way to say that.

The problem is similar when it comes to antisemitism, the fringe left and the Palestine solidarity movement. Consider, for instance, the attempt of Socialist Worker to slink away from its association with Nazi sympathizer Gilad Atzmon. To his credit, Paul Heideman of Newark wrote in to denounce Atzmon and say that antisemitism “has absolutely no place in our movements.” But yes it does. Antisemitism does have a place in far-left movements at present, and that is because the far left has created a rhetorical culture attractive to antisemites. Just as the Tea Party has created a rhetorical culture attractive to white racists.

2 Responses to “No place for racists?”

  1. paul says:

    Your representation of Atzmon’s relation to SW is not at all accurate. SW had no association with Atzmon – rather, someone heard he was an pro-Palestinian artist, and decided to interview him, but did not realize who Atzmon was. While he is notorious on the British Left, in the US he is not well known. Once I and others made the editors aware of Atzmon’s anti-Semitism, SW took down the interview and condemned him. This seems to me to be a sterling example of how this sort of thing should be handled. It really stretches credulity to portray it as evidence of anti-Semitism in the movement.

  2. admin says:

    My account is in fact accurate – I noted SW’s effort to disavow Atzmon and did not claim there is an institutional link between the two. However, SW’s laziness and sloppiness in the matter revealed a failure to take antisemitism seriously. The tendency is to grant credibility to any foe of Israel, no matter how extreme the views. Atzmon’s record is entirely clear and unambiguous, as the most cursory Google search would have revealed.

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