Jewish Attitudes toward Free Speech: What’s Good for the Jews

Amazon is no longer selling books linked to White nationalism by the thought police at Quartz. It’s obvious that in the EU and since the 2016 election in the US, there have been campaigns to destroy the media presence of the dissident right by deplatforming from financial sites like PayPal, limiting followers and shadow-banning on Twitter, etc. Even mainstream conservatives like Ann Coulter and Charles Murray have had talks at universities cancelled amidst violence and threats of violence The campaign against free speech is clearly heating up. Since Jewish issues are discussed on this site (who knows for how long!), I thought it appropriate to comment on the recent history of Jewish attitudes toward free speech.

There is a huge contrast between the stance of the organized Jewish community regarding free speech depending on whether it’s “good for the Jews.” During the 1950s, the organized Jewish community consistently opposed measures intended to make it more difficult for communists to operate within the American system even as it officially opposed communism. For example, Jewish organizations objected to any infringements of civil liberties or academic freedom enacted to firm up national security. Jews were also vastly overrepresented in high-profile cases among those invoking the Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate oneself, so that public hearings like Sen. Joe McCarthy’s inevitably highlighted the Jewish role in communism. For example, in 1952, of 124 people questioned by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Weingarten identifies 79 Jews, 32 non-Jews and 13 with unknown ethnicity. All invoked the Fifth.

Even more remarkably, of the 42 people who were dismissed from their positions at the Fort Monmouth Laboratories in New Jersey on suspicion of constituting a spy ring (the same one that Julius Rosenberg belonged to), 39 were Jews and one other was married to a Jewish woman.

On the other hand, during the 1920s and 1930s mainstream Jewish organizations and Jewish intellectuals rationalized Soviet despotism and turned a blind eye to Soviet mass murder during a period when Jews were an elite within the Soviet Union. And in the present era, Jewish organizations, most notably the ADL, have been prime advocates of “hate crime” legislation aimed at penalizing beliefs and ideas. Jewish organizations have also attacked the academic freedom of professors who have been critical of Israel. The ADL has also been critical of my writing and, along with the $PLC, engaged in public denunciations of my writing and associations at the university where I work. In general, perceived interests are a much better predictor of Jewish behavior than principles.

During the 1950s, Jews were also deeply involved in creating a culture of the left that was  mainly concerned to protect communist  professors and other leftist dissidents targeted by McCarthyism. Inherit the Wind (by Jerome Lawrence Schwartz and Robert Edwin Lee) was written to oppose McCarthyism. Another famous example of anti-McCarthyism from the 1950s is Arthur Miller’s The Crucible which implicitly condemned the  House Un-American Activities  Committee by comparing it to the Salem witch trials.

Although quite powerful, the culture  of  the left was not yet the dominant elite  that it has become since the 1960s; it had powerful enemies in McCarthy and his allies, and these forces had strong popular support. The rise of this new elite has coincided with the power of organizations like the Southern Poverty Law  Center and the ADL that  specialize in getting people fired for  thought crimes and care nothing  for  free speech. There is clearly an  ethnic aspect to this transformation. While there are endless tears (see here and here, pp. 39-40) for Hollywood screenwriters blacklisted during the anti-communist fervor of the 1950s and since promoted to cultural sainthood, don’t  expect our new elite to condemn witch hunts like the one that destroyed Jason Richwine. And don’t expect a hit Broadway play based on an allegory in which the SPLC is implicitly condemned for its persecution of race realists and White advocates.

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