With small numbers, net accumulated wealth and disparate political, religious, and socioeconomic class backgrounds, Jewish people simply do not have the clout of which others have accused us.
In my extensive studies of anti-Jewish oppression (sometimes referred to as “anti-Semitism” or as “the Longest Hatred”), I have isolated a number of recurring themes that dominant groups have exploited to justify persecution of Jewish populations throughout the ages, including the following: 1.Killers of God; 2. Immature / Inadequate Religious Consciousness; 3. In Service of the Devil; 4. Christian Host Desecrators; 5. Ritual Murderers of Christian Children; 6. Feminized Males, Overbearing and Oversexed Females; 7. Poisoners of Drinking Wells and Transmitters of Disease; 8. Usurers; 9. Wanderers; 10. Clannish; 11. Sexually Perverse; 12. Alien “Race”; 13. Communists / Socialists; 14. Rich Capitalists; 15. Dominators of Countries; 16. Exploiters of the Oppressed.
Though all pernicious, one of the most perennial and resistant to change is the theme that Jews as a world community have surreptitiously accumulated inordinate power and wealth to manipulate and control the media, politicians, world economic systems, and the hearts and minds of populations on an international scale.
This came to the surface yet again in a comment by a reader of a recent editorial blog I wrote for the Huffington Post, which I titled “Rick Perry, Say ‘Bye Bye’,” dated 8/21/2015. In the article, I profile a demonstration against Perry in Iowa in 2011 due in part to how he exploited fear and hatred toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people for his own political ends in his appeal to a Christian Evangelical Republican Party base.
The reader, Pete Wagner, employed the tactic of blaming the media and a “Jewish fifth column,” to take responsibility away from Rick Perry for his own political demise in his past and current campaign for the White House. According to Wagner, in part:
“The truth is, we have an extremely powerful and manipulative media and jewish [sic] fifth column, which both have turned against Rick Perry a while back. They killed his 2012 chances and are still doing it. They feared him in a debate with Obama, and fear him and Hillary on the same stage. Their loathing of the man goes back to his tenure as governor, when Perry implemented tort reform (ended frivolous lawsuits), relaxed regulations, and generally started marching out of step with the establishment. What he did produced positive results in TX, economically and environmentally, where TX under Bush/Ann Richards TX was struggling in both areas….”
As an aside, I wonder whether Pete Wagner is related to the German composer, Richard Wagner, who himself was a perpetrator of anti-Jewish rhetoric. He published the brochure, Das Judentum in der Musik(“Jewry in Music”) in which he attacked Jewish influence on German culture in general, and on music in particular, especially against Jewish composers Meyerbeer, Mendelssohn and Offenbach. Wagner described the Jews as “former cannibals, now trained to be business agents of society.”
To Pete Wagner’s assertion that Perry was good for Texas, another reader, a Texan, commented: Jackie Bell:
“Let us get real. They ‘feared’ Perry on stage in debate, because Perry is not intelligent enough to have learned debate skills. His presence at the podium in 2012, is still worthy of a good laugh. The ‘jewish fifth column’?? ‘Relaxed regulations’? ‘Economically and environmentally’ Perry has been a disaster, and his tort reform has made it almost impossible to sue anyone in business here, if you do not have ‘deep pockets’…”
While one could infinitely critique Perry’s impact on Texas politics and his overall leadership skills, my intent here is to illuminate in this instance that anti-Jewish discourse is alive and well not only in Europe, where we are witnessing increased incidents of harassment and violence, but in the United States as well. Pete Wagner’s diatribe harkens back throughout the ages to the trope of Jewish domination.
Though in actuality, Jews had little control over the conditions surrounding their lives in many European countries dating back to ancient Greece, the stereotype of Jews as obsessed with money and power with an interest in world domination persists well into the modern era. During the 19th century of the Common Era (CE), for example, the Rothchild family, represented in a number of pictorial depictions in caricature with Alphonse de Rothschild as an avaricious and cunning predator seizing the globe in his claw-like grasp became the quintessential symbol of a Jewish passion for world domination.
Then, originally appearing under the reign of Czar Nicholas II around 1895 in Russia, as well as other European countries, the infamous booklet Protocols (Minutes) of the Elders of Zion was circulated throughout Russia in 1905. An unknown writer who worked for the Russian secret police in Paris wrote this work to influence the policies of Czar Nicholas II regarding Jews. This was the alleged minutes of a supposed conference where rabbis plotted how Jews would overtake and dominate the world. During the Russian Revolution in 1917, Czarist forces widely distributed the Protocols to incite the populous against the so-called “Jewish Revolution,” and to convince those who favored a revolution that Jews were actually plotting to impose a Jewish government.
In actuality, no monolithic Jewish exists, and the world-wide Jewish population is very small and tremendously diverse. We comprise approximately 2.1% of the total US population. We fall all along the religious spectrum from Ultra-Orthodox to secular and atheist. We subscribe to the full continuum of political philosophies, from radical conservative to progressive, socialist, and communist. We inhabit all the socioeconomic classes from extreme poverty to upper owning class. With our small numbers, net accumulated wealth, and disparate political, religious, and socioeconomic class backgrounds, we simply do not have the cohesion nor the clout of which others have accused us.
In the final analysis, a stereotype is an oversimplified, preconceived, and standardized conception, opinion, affective attitude, judgment, or image of a person or group held in common by members of other groups. Originally referring to the process of making type from a metal mold in printing, social stereotypes can be viewed as molds of regular and invariable patterns of evaluation of others.
Stereotyping can and often does result in singling out individuals and groups as targets of hostility and violence, even though they may have little or nothing to do with the offenses for which they stand accused. This is referred to as scapegoating. With scapegoating, there is the tendency to view all members of the group as inferior and to assume that all members are alike in most respects. This attitude often leads to even further marginalization.
The origin of the scapegoat dates back to the Book of Leviticus (16:20-22). On the Day of Atonement, a live goat was selected by lot. The high priest placed both hands on the goat’s head, and confessed over it the sins of the people. In this way, the sins were symbolically transferred to the animal, which was then cast out into the wilderness. This process thus purged the people, for a time, of their feelings of guilt, shame and fear.
When stereotyping occurs, people tend to overlook all other characteristics of the group. Individuals sometime use stereotypes to justify the subjugation of members of that group. In this sense, stereotypes conform to the literal meaning of the word “prejudice,” which is a prejudgment, derived from the Latin praejudicium.
Today we still live in a society that attempts to define and perpetuate lies about the real lives of Jewish people and of all minoritized peoples, and even proclaims that we do not have a right to exist, but exist we do, everywhere, in all walks of life.
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