Hearsay Explained

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  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    There is comfort to be found in the odd conspiracy theory. I mean, the thought that these things are happening more or less as they appear to be happening can be pretty scary. If there’s a guy out there pulling strings, maybe he can be stopped. Maybe he will be hit by a bus.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

      Conspiracy theories aren’t comforting if your a member of the group that is frequently accused of being at the center of many conspiracies.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Lee,

        Are you Israeli?

        Or are is the group you’re referring to Americans?

        Really, Naomi might be (and often is) sorta out there in a lot of her analyses, but in this case it’s straight ahead contextual institutional stuff coupled with the duplicitous nature of gummints around the world sponsoring nasty shit for instrumental reasons. Not every criticism of Israel is an example of anti-semitism, is it?

        Or is it?Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Any good nutball conspiracy theory has some contact with reality. The Saudis have been heavily supporting Wahabi groups for a long time and we heavily support the Saudi’s. Of course Ms. Wolf should not take what a ruling class Pakistani says without significant examination of the context where he is coming from. Each of the ME countries have a variety of motives for who they support and why.

        And of course the Israeli’s are going to get blame for anything that appears negative to any group in the ME. It would be more surprising if they weren’t written into the conspiracy somehow.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @stillwater, jaybird was writing about conspiracy theories in general and my group, Jews, tends to get cast as the big bad in many conspiracy theories in one way or another. That makes them much less thrilling.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @stillwater

        I think he means being Jewish and I understand where he comes from. I have a hard time making fun of conspiracy theories or finding light in them because many minorities groups including and possibly especially Jews are the victims of conspiracy theories. There are still plenty of people who sincerely believe that Jews control the world economy and what not.

        Then there are people who try and backtrack on their anti-Semitism by issuing a “clarification” that they are anti-Zionist:

        http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20141002/bushwick/coffee-shop-owner-accused-of-anti-semitism-says-he-was-misunderstoodReport

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @leeesq Call this not a challenge question so much as a temperature-taking question:

        If you were to speculate on which group is the one that is the center of more negative and/or ethinc-based conspiracy theories in 2014 America, would you say Jews or Muslims?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Sure. But you’re making a huge assumption here in thinking that an analysis which attributes certain states of affairs to state-craft in general, with Israel being a specific example of the general rule, originates in anti-semitism. I mean, I know enough about state-craft to say that what she’s talking about is certainly a possibility that cannot be ruled out a priori. And that’s basically what she’s saying. What I’m challenging – or wondering about, really – is that (and why) your first inclination is to reduce an analysis about state-craft to anti-semitism (when she specifically is talking about state actions) when there is all sorts of evidence to suggest that her call for more evidence isn’t crazy. Skeptical, yes. But not crazy.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @tod-kelly, I’d say that more Americans probably believe in conspiracy theories about Muslims than Jews but thats made up by the number of people elsewhere in the world that believe in conspiracy theories about Jews including those involving Israel. There are also lots of people in the United States that are prone to believe things like 9/11 was a Mossad operation or AIPAC is controlling American policy in the Middle East.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Lee,

        I’ve read members of AIPAC say that they in fact do control US policy in the middle east. I’ve read quotes from non-AIPAC other Jews say the same thing. What do we make of those statements? What are they evidence of?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @stillwater, your seriously arguing that the Israeli government is funding a group that has demonstrated genocidal attempt towards non-Muslims in the Middle East?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

        See how quickly things go off the rails?

        No, Lee. I’m just curious why you think an analysis based on the insitutional logic of promoting state interests – stuff you probably apply other states all the time as a matter of course – is viewed as anti-semetic rather than the application of a general rule when applied to Israel.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @greginak

        The reason I called this hearsay explained is that Naomi Wolff does not seem to be acting much like a journalist.

        I have no idea who this 4th generation scion is, I could probably do some research though to find likely candidates if Ms. Wolff did indeed correspond with one. She just seems to take this hook, line, and sinker because she wants it to be true.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to LeeEsq says:

        One of the most interesting aspects of Jewish-related conspiracy theories is that there’s such a strong degree of awareness of these conspiracies among many Jewish people, in ways that aren’t true of many other groups targeted by conspiracy theories.

        I remember reading the Steven Salaita tweets during the discussion about academic freedom, and wondering why Saul and Lee saw them as being so obviously anti-Semitic when to me they mostly just seemed to be a macabre but understandable reaction to violence.

        It was only a few days later that I realized that while I read “a necklace of children’s teeth” as a cynical reference to those killed by Israeli missiles, those with better awareness of historical antisemitism might very well read it as a reference to the Blood Libel. Most Americans, and probably even most American antisemites aren’t aware of that particular piece of historical filth–But I’d suspect that most American jews are very much aware of it.

        On the flipside, while my grandmother and her sisters probably know a bit about anti-catholic conspiracy theories, my mother and her siblings probably don’t, and I and my cousins definitely don’t.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @alan-scott

        Re: Jewish knowledge of conspiracy theories. Some thoughts on why:

        1. Anti-Catholic conspiracy theory was pretty big in the United States during the 19th century but died out sooner.

        2. Anti-Catholic conspiracy theory did not result in anything as extreme as the Holocaust. Anti-Catholic bias did make the Irish potato famine worse though. The Holocaust is really the logical conclusion of centuries of treating Jews as outsiders and the blood libel.

        3. Irish-Catholics assimilated into the American mainstream faster than Jews. It really wasn’t until the 1960s that Jews began to be seen as white. I grew up almost as prejudice free as humanly possible but American anti-Semitism is still a living memory for people of my parents generation (the Boomers). It was almost a daily fact of life for people from my grandparents generation. I’ve met Boomer-Jews who lost jobs because of their Judaism or were denied entrance to certain colleges because of their Judaism. This would be unacceptable today but was probably within reason until around 1968.

        4. A good part of Jewish education concentrates on this stuff along with learning Hebrew. I remember my Hebrew school education being more about Jewish history and culture than being about theology.

        5. Even Jews who have not known severe anti-Semitism know some kind of significant inconvenience or slight because they are Jewish. This includes needing to use PTO for the High Holidays. SF has a free music festival called Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. This year the festival coincided with Yom Kippur and Jewish people could not attend the first two days. The festival organizers said there was nothing they could do because Hardly Strictly is always scheduled for the first weekend in October. The festival was first thrown by a Jewish guy who made a fortune in tech and who made a big deal about his Judaism. He also created and funded the trust that finances the music festival. My response to the first week of October thing is bullshit. SF also has a strong Jewish history (probably third in the U.S. after New York and Los Angeles) and another major music festival, Stern Grove, is thrown on land that was donated to S.F. by a Jewish San Franciscan. Even here, I know Jews who say that in S.F. you need to fight for your Jewish identity. I think New York and L.A. are possibly the only places in the U.S. where you can take your Jewishness for granted.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @stillwater

        I personally believe that it is very hard–not impossible, but very hard–for a non-Jewish person in western society to criticize Israel without somehow indulging antisemitism. That doesn’t mean Israel ought never be criticized. But I do think there is always the context of antisemitism that is very difficult to shake off.

        That’s not an accusation against you or anyone, even though it might sound that way. Rather, it’s a confession that I, for example, am not fully innocent of the phenomenon I describe. Don’t get me wrong. I’m very critical of some of Israel’s actions in the West Bank and some of the defenses of those actions that have been on offer. But even though I believe my criticisms are correct, I can’t claim to come at it pure, either.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I think New York and L.A. are possibly the only places in the U.S. where you can take your Jewishness for granted.

        Maybe. But when I was in grad school, my department once organized a picnic on what happened to be Easter Sunday. As far as I know, only one person declined to show up on account of it being a holiday, but otherwise it wasn’t a big deal. If a dinner or other event had been inadvertently scheduled for the day of Passover, however, I imagine the reaction would have been quite different. That doesn’t disprove your point at all, but only points out the demographics of that “micro-culture” of a sub-pocket of academia in a place that’s not NY or LA.

        (Of course, if you’re a tenured professor, there’s no such thing as PTO. All you have to do is make your TA do the work when you’re gone. /bitterness )

        I also realize that there are a multitude of ways in American society where I am permitted to take my Christian-ness so much for granted that the resulting privilege is invisible.Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to LeeEsq says:

        This includes needing to use PTO for the High Holidays. SF has a free music festival called Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. This year the festival coincided with Yom Kippur and Jewish people could not attend the first two days.

        How is this a slight for being Jewish? A Chinese American would need to use PTO for Chiese New YEar, same goes for a Muslim and Eid or a Hindu and Diwali. Heck, that applies to a Catholic and Good Friday in the US.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Lee,
        Good to know you aren’t in the conspiracy then.
        (seriously, it is!)Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Stillwater,
        Syria proves those statements are outright lies.
        AIPAC has a glass jaw, and we fucking broke it.
        So, nu, celebrate!

        (It’s also a mistake to assume that AIPAC is Jewish
        or representative of Jews, rather than evangelical
        Christians and NeoCons of rather little religious belief).Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Conspiracy theories aren’t comforting if your a member of the group that is frequently accused of being at the center of many conspiracies.

        Surely, the daily lives of the Illuminati are fraught with dread; for at some point, their compatriots might well engage in some sort of conspiracy for real, and no one would ever tell them . . .Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        will,
        it’s not like the Illuminati don’t own more property than the OP. It’s just not. much. more.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I’m sure the Illuminati were hard-hit by the Global Financial Crisis, and their powers diminished accordingly.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Jaybird says:

      As a friend of mine said, it’s nice to think that the Illuminati really are out there pulling the strings and having a good laugh about it. Because the alternative is that we’ve screwed things up this badly all on our own.Report

  2. Avatar Alan Scott says:

    Even if you put aside the ugliness of this conspiracy theory, it still doesn’t make sense. I mean, even accounting for the fact that these groups are secretly backed by Zionist CIA Sauds, why would the videos be faked? As though these secret masters are paying millions and start genocidal wars to further their secret goals, but they’ll draw the line at cutting of a British aid worker’s head?Report

  3. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    “Yet her post earned 1400 likes and she is a best-seller.”

    Or, if you will, the other side of the “creeping sharia law” narrative.Report

  4. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Naomi Wolf has been saying gob-smackingly stupid things for quite a while now. I think a lot of people finally gave up after she wrote the biography of her vagina.

    I am surprised that the Japanese link wasn’t drawn, given that ISIS members seem to dress like ninjas.Report

  5. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    As for the left, I find it a bit weird that there will be a round of news stories about someone new being decapitated by one of these groups and my liberal friends will all rush to post on Facebook how disturbing they find the anti-Muslim sentiments they’ve seen in the comment threads of news articles lately. I can’t quite explain why it strikes me as weird.Report

  6. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I think with the people I know, there are two things going on here:
    1. We all can pretty much assume that folks like us are opposed to cutting people’s heads off, so they don’t feel any need to declare their opposition to it.
    2. They do feel that, in their general western, white, secular demographic, they might be confused for Islamophobes, so they feel a need to declare that anti-Muslim intolerance is something they’re opposed to, which is something I just take for granted.Report

  7. Avatar James Hanley says:

    I’ll just note that a good deal of Wollf’s post makes perfect sense from a international realist perspective.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley says:

      To be clear, you think the part about the U.S. expending real resources to help allies in the region maintain either the reality or a convincing fiction of a brutal Islamic fundamentalist threat in order to buttress support for moderate or secular regimes either in the interest of maintaining influence with governments or of securing commercial interests makes sense on a realist calculation of U.S. interests? Or does that fall outside of the good deal of it that makes sense?Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

      “A good deal” is more expansive than just that. It also includes expending resources to provide tactical assistance to an enemy for strategic purposes.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

      a good deal of Wollf’s post makes perfect sense from a international realist perspective.

      I think you’re saying (much more clearly) what I was getting at upthread. The logic of state-craft includes all sorts of nefarious, immoral, duplicitous actions just so long as those actions further state goals. History is replete with evidence of this sort of thing, so I’m not sure why someone claiming that Israel (why is no one upset that the US is included on Wolff’s shit list here?) might engage in this sorta stuff ought to raise any hackles. Having said that, I’m sympathetic to what GC wrote upthread about anti-Israeli sentiments being viewed by Jews as expressions of anti-semitism. But that’s precisely what I was challenging to begin with: that a criticism (or skepticism about state-actions, really) of Israel is effectively discounted as absurd because it constitutes an expression of anti-semitism.

      The circularity of that type of reasoning is breathtaking. (Gasp!)Report

  8. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    I just realized I was operating on an understanding that it was Naomi Klein who had written these things rather than who it actually is, Naomi Wolff. This is despite no one, AFAIK, having mistakenly said/written that it was Klein. It makes a bit more sense now. Really only a bit, though.Report

  9. Avatar Citizen says:

    It is the abscence of truth that sustains suspicion. I do not hold that people of power or state will completely escape that reality.Report

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