Writes an anonymous friend:
Eli Lake and Bob Wright have a fascinating discussion at bloggingheads. I’m only a dozen minutes into it, though I’d imagine the whole thing makes for interesting viewing. But I had to clip this and send it to you. For the first bit, Bob and Eli are discussing Lake’s TNR piece about the foreign policies of the GOP candidates. This was of course the piece where people kept telling him that Frank Gaffney was Michele Bachmann’s for pol adviser. And Wright and Lake get talking about whether the anti-Sharia people are crazy or just cynical.
Lake says at some point that what the anti-Sharia crowd is saying is that basically Islam and America are irreconcilable. If you go to part 2, 10 minutes in or so, you’ll get a rundown of where the various people stand on this issue — whether all Islam is bad or just a small radical piece of it. Lake notes that TPaw [Tim Pawlenty] got some mileage out of the former description, and so obviously does Bachmann. Rick Perry does not, because he’s friends with Agha Khan, and then — and this is the most fascinating part — we get to Mitt Romney.
LAKE: I also don’t think you would hear it from Mitt Romney. And the reason you wouldn’t hear it from Mitt Romney is because Mitt Romney’s a Mormon, he understands as a Mormon what it’s like to be part of a minority sect that is often attacked. And I’ve heard — I couldn’t report this — but I’ve heard that Mitt Romney is very aware and attuned to making sure that his rhetoric does not attack Islam as a religion, but a sect that he calls radical Islam.
I bring this your attention because Eli Lake’s description of why Mitt Romney is not an anti-Sharia crazy who seeks to smear the entire religion of Islam is that he is part of a persecuted minority. Well what the hell, then, are all the Jews like Pamela Geller and Gaffney’s deputy David Yerushalmi and so on and so on ad nauseum? The explanation given by Lake for why Romney’s not a Muslim basher should apply in spades to Jews. Why doesn’t it? (You always say that Zionism dumbs down the Jewish intelligence.)
Weiss note: I think this is also about empowerment. Jews are by and large empowered. Yes a lot of us still have outsider consciousness, and identify with Muslims on that basis, but even Roger Cohen’s invocation today of this imperative in Jewish life is based on a 1920 anecdote. Empowerment changes consciousness. Or as the Greek tragedians might say, Geller and the neocons are hubristic.