Farewell, My Dear WASP

George Gilder

“Here’s a WASP joke. Question: Why do WASPs not engage in more orgies? Answer: Too many thank-you notes to write.”

Thus began a NYTime’s book review last fall about the new book Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor by Tad Friend.

I read the review and highlighted a phenomenon I thought was worth commenting on later. The passage was:

In his teenage years, Tad Friend chose to attend the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pa., where he first grew aware of the designation “N.O.C.D.” — “not our class, dear,” an exclusion usually directed at Jews and Catholics. Friend offers a fitting tirade against WASP anti-Semitism, reminding us that well into the 20th century, signs on the lawn of the Lake Placid Club read “No Dogs. No Tuberculars. No Hebrews,” and noting that his paternal grandfather “was hardly alone, among the WASPs on Squirrel Hill, in fretting” that it was harboring an increasing number of Jews. In atonement, the author observes that “almost everyone” he’d hung out with at Harvard was Jewish, as was his first significant other, Melanie Grayboden. When relating his painful eventual shedding of Melanie, he digresses divertingly on different forms of ethnic guilt. “If Catholic guilt is ‘I’ve been bad’ and Jewish guilt is ‘You’ve been bad,’ then WASP guilt is ‘You probably think I’ve been bad.’

This review that I clipped out of the Sunday Book Review then gathered dust on the big pile of magazines and papers that invariably grows on my side table. Atop it later came a curiously related story, this one about a WASP named George Gilder who seems to love Jews more than many of them love themselves, if that’s possible. By pure chance, I’ve just happened across the third review of Gilder’s latest book, which I take as a sign to now write about it.

My first notice of The Israel Test, Gilder‘s new book, came while reading Scott McConnell’s review of it in the Dec. 2009 American Conservative. Titled Chosen People, the review sadly noted the usual mainstream fare: “For Gilder, the superior men are not Teutonic explorers or generals but Jewish scientists and financiers.” (Save the guffaws—we’re not supposed to notice that Madoff, Summers, Rubin, Blankfein et al. are all Tribe.)

We also see that Gilder’s prose includes, “Is one able to admire and embrace Jewish superiority and creativity, or does one, out of envy, oppose it?” Getting to the central argument of the book, we find that Gilder’s thesis is that “all opposition to Israel is rooted in anti-Semitism.” Or this: “We need Israel today as much as Israel needs us, as much as we needed Jewish physicists and chemists [for the Manhattan Project].”” Ho boy, the same old tired arguments trotted out by so many Jews. Fine, Gilder must be a Jew doing the usual group-shielding, meme-selling job. Or so I thought.

Much to my surprise, McConnell revealed that Gilder is a WASP raised in an upper-class world. And McConnell thinks he has found a reason for Gilder’s strange Judeophilia, an explanation that oddly parallels that of Tad Friend above. It seems that

an incident that occurred when [Gilder] was about 17. While trying to impress an older girl, his summer tutor in Greek, he blurted out something mildly anti-Semitic. The young woman dryly replied that she was in fact “a New York Jew.” Gilder was mortified. He relates that he has never quite gotten over the episode. It is the kind of thing a sensitive person might long remember. Variations on this pattern are not uncommon in affluent WASP circles to this day: guilt or embarrassment at some stupid but essentially trivial episode of social anti-Semitism serve as a spur for fervent embrace of Likud-style Zionism. Atonement.

This is simply bizarre. I cannot relate to a group that would be so easily traumatized by, as McConnell states, something so trivial. What is going on?

It gets worse.

The next time I ran into a review of The Israel Test was in the Nov. 2009 issue of Commentary, penned by Michael Medved. Gilder is quoted as declaring: “Israel is hated above all for its virtues.”

This of course is lunacy. Could Gilder be that clueless about Israel’s actual behavior? He shouldn’t be. After all, McConnell described him as a “veteran luminary of the American Right, author of a successful polemic against feminism and a Reagan-admired ode to the free market, and publisher of a newsletter touting technology stocks.”

I believe I understand why many Jews offer explanations for anti-Semitism in which Jews are blameless. Readers will likely recall what Kevin MacDonald wrote in chapter 7 of Separation and Its Discontents about Jewish failure to be realistic about their own often bad or brutal behavior: “Historians of Judaism have often falsely portrayed the beliefs of gentiles as irrational fantasies while portraying the behavior of Jews as irrelevant to anti-Semitism” (p. 220).

But of course Jewish behavior is overwhelming responsible for occurrences of anti-Semitism: people react angrily when their culture is relentless attacked, when they are swindled, and particularly when they are subjected to genocide. This is rational human behavior. Why does Gilder miss this?

Midway through his review, even the normally level-headed Medved gets taken in and becomes party to Gilder’s fantasy about Israel. The Palestinians, Medved and Gilder agree, are fortunate to have had the Israelis take over Gaza and the West Bank because this has “decisively raised the living standards of local Arab populations” [emphasis in original]. Between 1967 and the first intifada in 1987 “per capita income tripled in the West Bank while it rose in Gaza more than twentyfold—from $80 to $1,706.”

I suppose to worshippers of mammon, this represents progress, but what about all those thousands and thousands of Palestinians— including countless women and children—blown to bits by Israeli offensive weapons? Does a dying youth utter with his last breath, “All to the best. At least I would have earned more money . . . had I not died so young”? (See my essay “For Whom the Gaza Bell Tolls” here and here .)

The best review so far of The Israel Test is a negative one by Robert Sungenis that appeared in the January issue of E. Michael Jones’s Culture Wars. (Subscribe here.) Readers should know that Culture Wars and its editor are pariahs among respectable company, mostly because The Jewish Problem is addressed forthrightly. I think that’s the whole draw of the magazine. Indeed, Jones and his writers are “Jew-wise,” as TOQ editor Greg Johnson likes to say.

The Israel Test is reviewed in Culture Wars by frequent contributor Robert Sungenis, Ph.D. He begins by noting the same Gilder quotes about Jewish and Israeli superiority covered above. He then addresses some of the negatives. To be sure, Sungenis’s critique is that of an arch-conservative Catholic, but his claims are nonetheless intriguing. For example, he writes that despite Jewish prominence in capitalism, technology, etc., “there has resulted more atheism, more murder, and more sexual deviance than at any time in history. If anything, these technological advances have stunted man’s development, since the tendency is now to rely on one’s own Tower of Babel to measure human worth to the virtual exclusion of the development of the inner man.”

He goes on to charge these smart Jews with “the promoting of homosexuality, divorce, adultery, gambling, insider trading, cultural revolution, and many other societal ills.” Mischievously he adds that “Among Israel’s Muslim neighbors these ills are practically non-existent.” 

With respect to Jews and capitalism, he asks, “How much more economic upheaval, corruption, greed and scandal do the capitalists need to realize that their system is on a self-destruct course? How many Savings & Loan debacles, Enrons, WorldCom’s, Ivan Boeskys, Bernie Madoffs, deceptive collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps are needed to see that the capitalist system is a racket of smoke and mirrors?”

Sungenis goes on to skewer other categories of Jewish “geniuses.” Psychologists? Well, take Sigmund Freud. Sungenis’s estimation of the good Doctor Freud is in line with what Kevin MacDonald wrote in The Culture of Critique, MacDonald’s culminating volume in his trilogy on Jews: Freud was a charlatan cult leader who was not good for gentile society.

Jewish feminists? Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem and their ilk “have destroyed the traditional role of wife and mother.” Jewish artists and architects? Fuggedaboutit. (See here, here and here.) Ditto for the eighty percent of American comics who are Jewish—“the raunchy Sarah Silverman or the sex-crazed Woody Allen and Howard Stern.” Such humor presents “the abnormal as normal, the neurotic as necessary, the outsider as the true insider.” Even a prominent rabbi admitted that “Some of the most notoriously foul-mouthed and obscene-minded entertainers are Jewish and earn no reproof for their public aggrandizement of filth.”

In summary, according to Sungenis, “The humanist Jew has poisoned every area of our culture. Gilder can’t see any of it because he lacks a properly tuned moral compass. The moral ineptitude of the humanist Jew at large is ignored and only his ‘technological achievements,’ ‘his raw genius,’ his ‘capitalistic entrepreneurial spirit’ is enshrined as the model which the world is not only to follow but to bow down to.”

This leaves me trying to get my head around why such an obviously brilliant WASP like Gilder would write what he does about Jews and Israel. From what I can tell, he sincerely believes what he writes, too.

Consider that this man is the product of the best America has to offer—wealth, Exeter, Harvard, exposure to top leaders (he was a speechwriter for Richard Nixon), etc. His long list of books attests to his intelligence and work ethic. Among them are:

Wealth and Poverty

Sexual Suicide (updated as Men and Marriage)

TELECOSM: How Infinite Bandwidth will Revolutionize Our World

Microcosm: The Quantum Revolution In Economics And Technology

The Spirit of Enterprise (updated as Recapturing the Spirit of Enterprise)

The Silicon Eye: Microchip Swashbucklers and the Future of High-Tech Innovation

Life After Television

Visible Man: A True Story of Post-Racist America

In addition he writes the Gilder Technology Report.

Clearly, we have to take such a man seriously. But, again, what could make him believe such things about superior Jews and an enlightened and moral Israel when the facts are so starkly otherwise?

Kevin MacDonald attempted to unravel the effects Jews and WASPs have had on each other. This came in his discussion of Eric P. Kaufmann’s The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America. In essence, Kaufmann argued that WASPs voluntarily relinquished hegemony in America—cultural “suicide,” in other words.

Writing on VDARE.com, MacDonald explained why he viewed it as murder rather than suicide. In short, as he argued at length in his book The Culture of Critique, “the rise of Jews to elite status in the United States and the influence of particular Jewish intellectual and political movements, especially the push for mass and indiscriminate immigration, were key contributions—necessary conditions—to the demise of WASP America.”

Crucially, MacDonald complained that Kaufmann

never mentions coercion and the penalties that are imposed on people who dissent from the elite cosmopolitan consensus. The fact is, Whites who violate these strictures are severely censured — a phenomenon with which I have considerable personal experience.

Kaufmann presents the views of elite Whites who are cooperating in the demise of their own people as nothing more than the enlightened opinions of an intellectual and moral elite. But it is far more than that. Since the 1960s, Whites who depart from the consensus of cosmopolitanism have been penalized in a wide variety of ways — from lack of access to the mainstream media, to firing from their jobs, to social opprobrium. Conversely, those who collaborate are rewarded. This revolution is neither peaceful nor bloodless.

I’m not sure if this helps understand Gilder. In fact, doesn’t it deepen the mystery, because, as MacDonald concluded about the Jewish-WASP ethnic war in America, “For the Anglo-Saxons, it is a defeat of cataclysmic proportions.”

How could Gilder not recognize this? He’s old enough (b. 1939) to have grown up with older relatives who represented the apogee of WASP power in America, but his whole life has witnessed the unbroken decline of his caste — and a concomitant rise of the Jews. Are we witnessing a form of the Stockholm Syndrome, in this case, one where a formerly free man worships the power of his (cultural) captors? I confess I don’t know.

I almost wish I could find evidence that Gilder was blackmailed into writing The Israel Test, or that he did it as a quid pro quo for something else, or that he’s in love with a Jewish woman. Lacking any evidence of that, however, I’m forced to grapple with the question of how an otherwise highly intelligent man could be so misguided about Jews.

Whites in America have suffered in recent decades because of the migration of power from WASPs to Jews. To be sure, middle and working class Whites who are not elite WASPs have done their best to protect their interests. Ford was from a rural background, Lindbergh was never part of the Eastern elite, and McCarthy, Coughlin, and Buchanan were or are Catholic.

Where are the WASPs today? Some have led lives unworthy of their ancestors (think Paris Hilton), while others have died young after fleeting and dissolute lives. The Short Unhappy Life of Casey Johnson may be fitting:

Lesbian heiress, socialite, and Hollywood celeb Casey Johnson, 30, was found dead in the bedroom of her West Hollywood home on January 4, 2010. Jewish gossip website TMZ reported that Johnson, last heard from on December 29, 2009, had been dead for several days before her body was discovered by a maid. A coroner’s toxicology report has yet to be issued, but foul play is not suspected. Johnson suffered from diabetes and had a history of drug abuse.

Casey Johnson’s death provides a convenient window into the seamy underbelly of the contemporary WASP “elite.”

Mostly, it seems, American WASPs have simply disappeared. Updike died, while President Bush (41), undeniably a WASP, gave way to his son Dubya (43), who certainly did not look, speak or behave like a WASP. Where can we now find in positions of power those tall, lean men who, whatever their vulnerabilities, once so confidently bestrode the world stage?

Averell Harriman

George H. W. Bush

Where once we had men like Averell Harriman and George Herbert Walker Bush, we now have Alan Dershowitz, Larry David, Woody Allen, and Michael Chertoff.

America, including its White gentile majority, is about to find out what it’s like to be ruled by a hostile elite. The upper crust WASPs seem to have gone quietly for the most part, but what of the remaining White masses? As MacDonald said with respect to the WASPs, “For the Anglo-Saxons, it is a defeat of cataclysmic proportions.”

The same now goes for all Whites.

Edmund Connelly (email him) is a freelance writer, academic, and expert on the cinema arts. He has previously written for The Occidental Quarterly.