I have often written here that Brian Lehrer, the popular talk show host at WNYC public radio, reflects a strongly pro-Israel position because he regards himself as representing the attitudes of the Jewish community in New York. Yesterday in a discussion of the Supreme Court, Lehrer openly embraced that bias, and took a shot at Noam Chomsky in doing so:
Brian Lehrer: Can I ask you, what is Clarence Thomas’s legacy on the court on these racially charged cases? I always thought having Clarence Thomas as the only black person on the Supreme Court is like having Noam Chomsky as the only Jew at the U.N. You know– from the group, but opposed to the positions of probably 90 percent of the group on the salient issues. Do his votes this week on affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act and over his career bear that out?
Adam Liptak of New York Times: He has taken a very consistent and most people would say principled, hard line against racial classifications from the government whether for good or ill. He doesn’t want the government’s help. He thinks that black people can make it on their own. And in all of these cases, he takes a very hard line against any kind of he’d call it discrimination, whether it’s benign or not, whether it means to help historically disadvantaged groups or not. And that’s been his position since he was a very young man.
A couple of comments. I wonder how many of Noam Chomsky’s statements decrying the brutal exercise of US power overseas or supporting human rights in Palestine would actually be objectionable to the liberal Jewish community? It is time we had that battle, and let Lehrer stand up for Iraq-war neoconservatives– whom he so often hosts on his show– and drones. And see where “the community” is.
But let’s say Lehrer is right. He might be right. And by Chomsky he means cultural Zionists and anti-Zionists: so we are on the fringe in the Jewish community. Well then, here’s a simple challenge to Lehrer. Where are we politically represented? Clarence Thomas has strong political support, inside the Republican Party. Adam Liptak speaks respectfully of Thomas’s positions, above; and there are other black conservatives in public roles. Where’s our home? I’m not talking about the synagogues– but in the press, on WNYC, the New York Times, and in the Congress and legislatures. Who thinks we have a point? And if we don’t have a home, isn’t that a bad thing?
This was first reported by the tireless Lisa Guido. Thanks to her and Adam Horowitz.