October 23, 2003
An apology from The New Republic's Gregg Easterbrook doesn't lessen the sting of his anti-Semitic attack.
After The New Republic's Gregg Easterbrook wrote in his online column that Jewish executives in Hollywood "worship money above all else," he apologized.
Every group in some way lives up to its stereotypes, and even knows that about itself -- otherwise there'd be no specific humor within each tribe or dismay about the tribe within the tribe. Tribes and nations have opposing codes, and smaller groups within bigger nations or cultures will always suffer for the differences. None of us live without summary judgments of other tribes, in the largest sense of that word. The scapegoat mechanism is biological, and a civilized person, knowing this, doesn't bring his uglier opinions forward, because he knows that our summary judgments belong to the same rough instinct as road rage. We feel it, we control it, and sometimes we slip.
The problem with summary judgment is that for every particle of truth, the scapegoat mechanism uses the lie to protect us from the mirror. This is called projection, or as the founder of Christianity said, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye, with never a thought for the great plank in your own?"
As far as I know, Halliburton and the big defense contractors who got the no-bid contracts to rebuild Iraq are controlled by Christians, but no one would say of them that Christians are warmongering profiteers bent on destroying America's middle class to immiserate all but a few million families, who will then refeudalize the world. Or no one would say of Disney that because some of the largest holders of Disney stock, the Bass and Disney families, are Christians, we can say that Christians exploit the Jews' undeniably fluid understanding of numbers to make the Christians rich and give some Jews the illusion that financial partnership equals social acceptance. Then, when the Jews are no longer needed, like, say, Andrew Fastow at Enron, the Christians hang them, or even, as with Dennis Kozlowski, the old-line WASPs use the crimes of anyone outside of their tribe to obscure their own role in the conspiracy. No one would say of them that Christians worship money, just because of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.
So who is guilty for Columbine? Blaming mass culture for destroying society isn't new. Blaming the Jews for the destructive mass culture is also not new. Read "Mein Kampf." "Scream" and "Kill Bill" were written and directed by Christians. Is Easterbrook saying that Wes Craven and Quentin Tarantino were abducted in the night by Jews, their blood drained for the matzah and replaced with monster-movie Jew juice? Or that Christians, going back to ancient Rome, have an uncontrollable lust for images of blood, which the Jews exploit?
What is unforgivable in this is the phrase "worship money above all else."
Some may think that Easterbrook absolves himself of anti-Semitism with his aside that there are Christian executives who also worship money. But framed as it is, he puts the Jews in first position at the blood-soaked money altar. We started it. When you say the Jews worship money, when you say that Jewish executives worship money above all else, when you say that Jews don't care about the screams of the innocent, you're talking like a Nazi.
Easterbrook wrote: "Recent European history alone ought to cause Jewish executives to experience second thoughts about glorifying the killing of the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice."
Adding to the distress, Leon Wieseltier, his editor at The New Republic wrote, "Insofar as Gregg's comments impute Jewish motives for everything that Jews do, insofar as they suggest that everything any Jew does is intrinsically a Jewish thing, they are objectively anti-Semitic. But Gregg Easterbrook is not an anti-Semite."
Wieseltier is wrong. Writing without an editor, or cautious self-censorship, Easterbrook wrote what he really thinks: that the Jews control everything, and that the Jews, for their own good, should remember what happened in Germany. There is no support possible for Easterbrook, the damage has been done and the Jews have been hurt. The apology is not accepted.
Author Michael Tolkin is the co-writer of "Changing Lanes," which has been named the Best Picture of the Year by Catholics In Media. His most recent novel, "Under Radar," is published by Atlantic Books.