Argument by Anecdote
As one might suppose given the extensive range of data provided above, testing the Cofnas default hypothesis on contemporary involvement in immigration took a number of months to carry out, and involved a thorough survey of very many organizations and individuals. It was labor-intensive, but stands as an accurate and easily verifiable record of the role of Jews in contemporary American demographic and cultural change. It’s really quite remarkable, then, to see how lightly Cofnas appears to take his own hypothesis, since he refuses to subject it to any intensive testing at all. In fact, as with his brief and inaccurate accusation of MacDonald’s putative misrepresentations and omissions, there is a palpable air of laziness in all of Cofnas’s work in this area. Rather than conducting surveys of organizations, movements, or activities, Cofnas favors a kind of “argument by anecdote,” in which he simply tries to find one or two exceptions to a rule, amplifies their importance, and then reclines to bask in the dubious published glory afforded to him by co-ethnic journal editors.
One of Cofnas’s favorite anecdotes is the first American Renaissance conference, something Cofnas made much of in his original article, and which he has returned to in his 2021 rehash for Philosophia. He writes,
When given the opportunity, Jews have been overrepresented in non-anti-Semitic white nationalist movements, as MacDonald and Joyce inadvertently acknowledge. The one major white nationalist organization in the US that is not explicitly anti-Semitic is American Renaissance. Four-out-of-ten invited speakers at the first American Renaissance conference in 1994 were Jewish (Lawrence Auster, Michael Levin, Rabbi Mayer Schiller, and Eugene Valberg) (American Renaissance 2017), and many of its most prominent supporters were Jewish.
I have to begin with Cofnas’s habit of inserting claims into the mouths of others. Nowhere have I “inadvertently acknowledged” that Jews have been overrepresented in non-anti-Semitic White nationalist movements. In fact, I find the idea laughable and entirely lacking in evidence. What Cofnas is doing here is twisting MacDonald’s citing of my work, without actually consulting the original piece. Cofnas writes,
MacDonald (2016) says that “there is a historical pattern where Jews have entered putatively nationalist movements and directed them towards positions that make them ‘safe for the Jews’, at the expense of developing a true sense of ethnic interests.” He quotes his protégé, Andrew Joyce: “That Jews would try to co-opt, or attempt to derail, a potentially damaging movement does have many historical precedents.” Joyce goes on to say that “Jews attempted to take key roles” in the German nationalist movement in 1860–1880 until, under the influence of non-Jewish leaders, the “movement adopted an ‘Aryan clause.’” So if Jews want to join white nationalist movements as equals, they are accused of scheming to make the movements “safe for the Jews” and driven out. Then white nationalists ask why Jews don’t support their movements. Haven’t they answered their own question?
In a word, no. As stated above, Cofnas suffers from a serious deficit in understanding the importance of qualitative as well as quantitative data. In brief, if Cofnas can find a Jew in a nationalist movement, even if they’re proven to be subversives, half-Jews, quarter-Jews, or even anti-Semitic Jews, everything else can be discarded. The problem is that biography is absolutely crucial to testing both MacDonald’s thesis and that of Cofnas, and yet Cofnas seems entirely unconcerned with it — a good example being Cofnas’s claiming of Hans Eysenck as a Jewish hereditarian scientist, even though Eysenck was only half-Jewish in parentage, wasn’t raised within Judaism or a Jewish milieu, and made a point of explicitly denying any affinity or connection to Jewishness. If Cofnas was in fact familiar with the case of Victor Adler and Heinrich Friedjung, referred to above, who competed for leadership of the German nationalist movement in Austria at the end of the nineteenth century, he would be aware that both were promoting a heavily diluted, left-leaning, and multicultural nationalism unrecognisable to those non-Jewish nationalists around them. This is not only a historical fact, but a matter of overwhelming consensus in the relevant historiography. Steven Beller, one of the foremost historians of the Jews of central Europe during this period, described Adler and Friedjung as part of a Jewish intellectual grouping that possessed its own “goals of social and cultural change.” Beller writes that Adler’s politics was inflected through a Jewish liberal lens, in which “socialism, universalist and secularist, [was viewed as a] possible answer to the antisemitism of the other parties. … Adler early on decided to stick to the rules of Austrian constitutionalist politics to bring about the revolution peacefully.” Adler, who had in any case earlier described nationalism as “tactless”, “madness,” and “based chiefly on envy, misunderstanding, and irrationality,” became an out and out Marxist overnight after leaving the nationalist organization, proving in one stroke the total insincerity of his Austrian “nationalism.” Friedjung, meanwhile, ostensibly a historian, was later castigated as a fraud not only for his putative political beliefs, but for producing texts based on inauthentic historical materials. Along with Adler, Friedjung was viewed as promoting a republican, anti-aristocratic, anti-clerical, and multiethnic nationalism that diverged significantly from the Austrian nationalism of non-Jews. The eventual adoption of an Aryan Clause by Austrian nationalists was a response to the dilution of nationalism promoted by Adler and Friedjung and their very Jewish social circles (as well as Jewish movement predecessors like Ignaz Kuranda and Moritz Hartmann). To celebrate the removal of these influences, leading Austrian nationalist Georg von Schönerer published a new nationalist newspaper titled Undiluted German Words. The title says it all.
In short, Jews have been accused of “scheming” to subvert nationalist movements because they are very often proven to be doing just that. The problem with Cofnas is that he insists that these figures should still be considered nationalists, and that we have to ignore all evidence that they associated predominantly with Jewish milieus and often explicitly professed to seek after Jewish interests. Unfortunately, Cofnas doesn’t provide any meaningful reason for doing so, resorting repeatedly only to anecdotes like that of the first American Renaissance conference. In any case, what is the real substance of this anecdote?
Cofnas remarks that “four-out-of-ten invited speakers at the first American Renaissance conference in 1994 were Jewish (Lawrence Auster, Michael Levin, Rabbi Mayer Schiller, and Eugene Valberg) (American Renaissance 2017), and many of its most prominent supporters were Jewish.” He furthermore argues that this is evidence that “Jews have been overrepresented in non-anti-Semitic white nationalist movements.” But the logic here surely breaks down when given even the briefest of considerations. These speakers were not representational, but invited. Their mere presence at the conference reflects in large part the tastes, preferences, and, I would argue, anxieties of the person or persons who invited them. In this regard, I believe it’s been a longstanding position of Jared Taylor that he not be seen as anti-Semitic, and Taylor has himself on many occasions expressed hostility to anti-Semitism. In his own words, Taylor has maintained that “American Renaissance has taken an implicit position on Jews by publishing Jewish authors and inviting Jewish speakers to AR conferences.” Could his selection of these speakers have been an over-compensation to fend off accusations of American Renaissance being anti-Semitic? I believe so. Does the skewed representation of 40% at this one conference indicate that Jews are necessarily over-represented in non-anti-Semitic white nationalist movements? Only a fool would think so. Which brings us finally to biography, that important facet so often neglected by Cofnas. Auster, of course, was an adult convert to Christianity, which doesn’t prove anything conclusively but does suggest a weakened attachment to Jewishness. Moreover, Auster, despite acknowledging the Jewish role in the transformation of America, vigorously condemned MacDonald. All four figures are primarily concerned with race and IQ, a preoccupation of the almost explicitly philo-Semitic Jared Taylor (and one I personally find both distracting and overplayed in the context of broader civilizational collapse), rather than having ties to broader White nationalist ideology. Schiller was an almost comical inclusion given his lack of academic credentials and attachment to certain crackpot fringe ideologies. As for Cofnas’s claim that “many of [AmRen’s] most prominent supporters were Jewish,” I note that he provides no names or data for the claim, or any evidence that such support would amount to an overrepresentation commensurate with his default hypothesis.
Critics might accuse me of picking at a weak spot here in Cofnas’s work, but the point I’m trying to make is that, to Cofnas, the 1994 American Renaissance is a trump card that he sees as worth repeating every time he publishes a critique of MacDonald. I’m not highlighting the conference — Cofnas is, and quite shamelessly.
It’s my belief that Cofnas makes his arguments in bad faith, and I’m led to this belief primarily due to the slowly shifting sands of Cofnas’s own position and the fact he regularly makes claims unsubstantiated by evidence. Without any kind of broad or detailed survey, for example, Cofnas claims that “Jews have also been represented in the leadership of non-anti-Semitic right-wing movements.” Which movements? Which leaders? In which countries? Relative to what? In what time period? We don’t get any such information, just the claim. And where Cofnas does attempt to bridge the gap between claim and evidence, the result is nothing short of laughable. Take the following, from his 2021 Philosophia rehash:
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is leading the charge to censor politically incorrect speech, but the most prominent pro-free speech organization in the US—the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)—was founded by Jews (Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate).
It’s worth remarking first that there’s no evidence suggesting that FIRE is the “most prominent pro-free speech organization” in the US, relative to other groups like the Institute for Free Speech, which wasn’t founded by Jews, has no Jewish board members, and does not restrict itself to higher education. FIRE is also certainly not more prominent than the American Civil Liberties Union, which also advocates on free speech issues. The more obvious problem, of course, is once again qualitative in that many “pro-free speech” groups dovetail ideologically with the ADL in many areas, and a lot of these organizations are inherently left-wing dating back to periods in which they fought against the censorship of pornographic or homosexual material (e.g. the Free Speech Coalition), for drug use, or for the rights of students to protest on campus. It goes without saying that the ADL is absolutely in favor of this kind of “free speech,” and that its primary concern is with White nationalist, and similar, content — something FIRE, or any of these groups, have yet to defend. Cofnas’s use of the anecdote of FIRE is interesting because of the (by now predicable) lack of biography for Kors and Silverglate (e.g., do they see a Jewish interest in free speech?), and the total lack of nuance or context in making a comparison between the ADL and FIRE. As with other examples produced above, we simply have an “argument by anecdote” in which an organization is inflated in prominence so that its small number of Jewish founders or members can be raised to the purely rhetorical position of overrepresentation, behind which there is no meaningful substance. The biography and intentions of these Jews doesn’t matter to Cofnas, nor does the huge disparity in Jewish support, material and/or ideological, between them and the ADL. It certainly doesn’t seem to matter to Cofnas that Silverglate is a lifelong leftist married to a dedicated Jewish feminist and AIDS activist. The only significant example of Kors engaging in racial issues is when he came to the defense of a University of Pennsylvania student accused of making racist remarks to a group of Black students. That student’s name was Eden Jacobowitz. Is Kors a dedicated conservative free speech activist? Or is he an ethnocentric Jew “looking out for his own”? Ultimately, when contrasted with Jewish wealth and support behind the ADL (unlike FIRE, an explicitly Jewish organization), it doesn’t really matter, because FIRE is utterly dwarfed by the Jewish behemoth and its unrelenting campaign to smother the freedoms of White Americans.
As stated above in relation to the so-called “default hypothesis,” Cofnas argues that, predominantly due to a higher than average IQ and a tendency toward urban living, Jews will naturally be over-represented in all intellectual movements and activities that are not overtly anti-Semitic. While Jews may be overrepresented in pro-immigration, pro-pluralism organizations and movements, the default hypothesis insists that they will also be overrepresented in nationalist, anti-immigration or restrictionist movements (that are not anti-Semitic) also. There is an inherent implication that these over-representations will be, more or less, to the same degree, and Cofnas, for the most part, refuses to discuss the matter in any serious way that might allow for, or explain, why any potential divergence in over-representation might occur. In his new piece for Philosophia, however, Cofnas inserts a minor qualification: “In recent history, Jewish involvement in politics has skewed left because a higher proportion of right-wing than left-wing movements were overtly anti-Semitic.” He also adds that his overall thesis
should not be misinterpreted as a claim that Jews are exactly the same as white gentiles, or that they’re just like high-IQ, urban white gentiles. All groups differ from each other in interesting ways, reflecting their evolutionary and cultural histories. But, in general, anything unusual about Jewish political behavior is mostly a predictable reaction to their historical circumstances.
From my discussion of Jewish involvement in refugee and migrant organizations, it should be clear that Jewish involvement in U.S. politics hasn’t merely “skewed” left, but has been overwhelmingly encamped in the left, at least since the late nineteenth century. That being said, there are clearly other questions arising even from this one sentence. What are the parameters of “recent history”? Since 1900? Since 1800? In what countries? Other questions quickly surface. Why is Jewish political involvement still “skewing” left even though we are constantly fed narratives of leftist anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism? Most important of all, the sentence marks a departure from Cofnas’s earlier statement that Jews would avoid specific movements due to anti-Semitism, and towards the implication that Jews are suspicious of right-wing movements in general over fears surrounding anti-Semitism on the Right — a concession that would all but render the “default hypothesis” redundant in any political or cultural context, and require several more layers of explanation. Any attempt to insist that Cofnas is still referring to the avoidance of specific movements would need to answer why Jews remain under-represented in non-anti-Semitic right wing movements like the NRA and the gun rights movement, as well as the pro-life movement and attempts to prevent same-sex marriage.
The tiny Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) has a membership of just 7,000 with no paid staff and annual revenue of less than $130,000. Since members are not required to be Jewish, it would be reasonable to assume that the organization boasts fewer than 7,000 members in a Jewish population of 6 and 7 million. In other words, a Jewish crusade for gun freedom in America resonates with less than 0.1% of American Jews. The National Rifle Association has had only one Jewish President (Sandra Froman) since it was founded in 1871, and, as one commentator put it “the vast majority of American Jews and much of the organized Jewish community consistently support gun control measures. Hadassah, B’nai B’rith, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the American Jewish Committee and others have been essentially “blacklisted” by the National Rifle Association on its website.” There are apparently no Jews on the NRA Board of Directors. Interestingly, Froman, the NRA’s only Jewish President, could hardly be described as strongly identifying with Judaism or Jewishness. She told one interviewer that “her parents didn’t emphasize her Judaism. … She doesn’t remember the denomination of the synagogue near San Francisco where her family occasionally attended services and where she was married the first time. She speaks freely both of her respect for the Jewish spiritual tradition and of her lack of meaningful connection with it.”
By contrast, Jews are dominant in the fight to increase gun control. Jewish lawyers Robyn Thomas and Nina Vinik, executive director and senior counsel, respectively, of the Legal Community Against Violence, are quite prominent in lobbying for gun control legislation, and Thomas also acts as executive director for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Within these groups there’s often a crossover between lobbying for gun legislation and lobbying for hate/speech legalization, as evidenced by Giffords Law Center’s Ari Freilich, a Jewish lawyer who acts as State Policy Director and as a specialist in “hate crimes.” The strongest supporter of gun control measures in Connecticut in recent years is Jewish Senator Richard Blumenthal. The biggest gun control group in Pennsylvania is CeaseFirePA. The board of CeaseFirePA is dominated by Jews (around 80-90%) and includes such figures as Nancy Gordon, a member of the Jewish Social Policy Action Group, and Shira Goodman, Che Saitta-Zelterman and Fred Kaplan-Mayer. In New York, Michael Bloomberg formed and financed Everytown, a new gun control organization, and pledged $50 million to the cause of making it harder for citizens to purchase arms and ammunition. The Huffington Post reports that in California Dianne Feinstein has “long been one of the Senate’s strongest advocates for gun control.” In Michigan, Jewish Senator Carl Levin has been at the forefront of gun control efforts, earning him an “F” score from Gun Owners of America.
Again, in line with his “argument by anecdote” approach, Cofnas would likely balance this with the 0.1% Jews in the JPFO (“Jews are leaders in the pro-gun movement too!”) and insist that Jews have merely “skewed” left. Since no evidence has been brought to light that the gun freedom movement has been historically anti-Semitic, the “default hypothesis” is entirely inadequate to explain the balance of Jewish representation inside and outside the gun rights movement. The only reasonable conclusion would be that Jews are overwhelmingly suspicious of this predominantly White right-wing movement with strong roots in small-town and rural America—if not openly and intensely hostile to it and its members, and are correspondingly to be found in much larger numbers in those movements that restrict the freedoms or otherwise harm the interests of the White demographic (e.g., gun control and hate speech laws), than those movements that seek to improve them.
Similarly stark disparities can be found in other contemporary right-wing political and cultural movements with no history of anti-Semitism. Studies from the Pew Research Center show that Jews overwhelmingly (83%) support abortion rights (compared with 57% of the general population). In fact, Jews support abortion at a higher rate than any other religious group in America. The National Council of Jewish Women, a 126-year-old organization that helped establish some of the first birth control and abortion clinics across the country, considers reproductive rights a cornerstone issue and has publicly condemned the strict abortion bans recently handed down in Alabama and Mississippi. Cecily Routman, the founder of the tiny Jewish Pro-Life Foundation, the only such group within the American Jewish community, has said that her position is essentially “counter-cultural” within Judaism and that, after being horrified by a radio show on the details of abortion, was prompted to examine the Jewish role in what was happening in America.
“I knew very little, she said, “but what I learned horrified me. And I realized in my heart that it was a ghastly business and I didn’t understand how Jewish people had gotten so involved in it.” Jews were not only outspoken in favor of the right to choose, she said, but were also “charitable donors for Planned Parenthood, and hosting fundraisers for Planned Parenthood. I did not understand that.”
In the area of same-sex marriage, Pew Research Center found that 77% of Jews were in favor/strongly in favor, while a further 5% were not opposed. Even accounting for the explicitly Christian nature of many, but not all, of the major bodies opposed to abortion and the marriage of gays, no Jewish leaders or board members could be found in their ranks.
The fact that Jews don’t just “skew” left on social, cultural, and political issues like this, and in fact overwhelmingly take up dominant positions within the left while being almost totally absent from meaningful positions on the right, has a direct relation to Cofnas’s argument that Jews have avoided right-wing movements because of historical anti-Semitism. As mentioned above, there is no historical anti-Semitism in the gun freedom, anti-abortion, and anti-gay marriage movements. What Cofnas in fact appeals to with such a claim is a kind of chicken-and-egg scenario in which anti-Semitism is always said to precede Jewish political attitudes and activity when actually, as in the case of the subversives Adler and Friedjung mentioned above, the opposite is the case. In this light, the most surprising thing about Jewish activity against gun freedom, and on behalf of abortion and gay marriage, isn’t the simple fact of Jewish overrepresentation, but that this overrepresentation hasn’t already led to an increase in anti-Semitism on the American Right.
Cofnas’s attribution to Jewish political “skewing” is also an example of a common approach in Jewish apologetics within historiography and scholarship more generally — a tactic I’ve described as the “cropped timeline explanation.” When faced with an uncomfortable and unavoidable fact involving negative Jewish behavior (Leftism, usury, financial crime, pornography, etc.) the reader of the apologetic is encouraged to begin with assumptions of anti-Jewish prejudice, and to work exclusively from there. Jews are on the Left? The only explanation offered is that they were excluded from the Right. In historiography, we are often subjected to a process of historical gerrymandering. This most often involves beginning and ending all explanations for anti-Jewish animosity with a timeline most befitting the idea of blameless Jewish victimhood and predatory Europeans. Problems begin to arise, however, when the question is asked why Jews were excluded or viewed as socially or culturally oppositional in the first place. Here, “irrational prejudice” is the last resort, but beyond it, when faced with further interrogation of that idea and the even deeper historical context, nothing is there. One is confronted with blank stares, rhetorical dead ends, and a factual wasteland. The essays of Nathan Cofnas offer nothing more than this, which sits extremely uneasily alongside his admission that groups differ in “interesting ways, reflecting their evolutionary and cultural histories.” By reducing all nuances in Jewish political activity to the aggression of non-Jews, Cofnas makes the remarkable argument that where Jews are seen to cluster in a “positive” manner it is simply because they have a IQ and high ability, but where they cluster “negatively,” it is purely due to exclusion or prejudice. In either case, the assumption seems to be that Jews ultimately have no individual political inclinations of their own. By advancing such an argument, Cofnas is firmly within a dubious, and quite shamelessly deceptive, Jewish scholarly tradition.
 “Hans Eysenck’s Controversial Career,” The Lancet, Vol. 376, August 7 2010, 407.
 S. Beller, The Habsburg Monarchy (Cambridge University Press, 2018), 177.
 S. Beller, Vienna and the Jews, 1867-1938: A Cultural History (Cambridge University Press, 1989), 162. See also A.G. Whiteside, Austrian National Socialism before 1918 (Martinus Nijhof, 1962), 67; and also J.M. Fischer, Gustav Mahler (Yale University Press, 2011), 344.
 R.S. Wistrich, The Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph (Plunkett Lake Press, 2019).