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Using Schwerner and Goodman and the Nazis to deny the Jewish moment (privilege)

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Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman's images from poster when they were missing in 1964

Images of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman from FBI poster when they were missing in 1964

Maybe you’ve heard about this, but an angry piece defending privilege has gone viral. Tal Fortgang is a Princeton freshman who wrote a piece for a conservative school magazine that objects to the left’s scrutiny of privilege.

“Check your privilege,” they tell me in a command that teeters between an imposition to actually explore how I got where I am, and a reminder that I ought to feel personally apologetic because white males seem to pull most of the strings in the world.

Time and Gawker refer to the piece as a defense of “white privilege” — and it is — but I also see the Jewish angle. Fortgang several times refers to his Jewishness in often angry ways, citing his ancestors who fled the Nazis and wound up in Displaced Persons camps, and those who didn’t too:

Perhaps it was the privilege my great-grandmother and those five great-aunts and uncles I never knew had of being shot into an open grave outside their hometown. Maybe that’s my privilege.

But Fortgang says his grandfather became an entrepreneur in the U.S. That’s code for, he made a lot of money. The family flourished, he says. He grew up in New Rochelle.

In other words, his ancestors were persecuted, but maybe Fortgang really is privileged?

You can see the same ancestral Jewish claim in the response to the Donald Sterling flap. Howard Megdal is the reporter who asked NBA commissioner Adam Silver at his press conference ten days ago if he was disciplining Sterling for his racism “as a Jew.”

Silver said he was doing it “as a human being,” but Megdal insists on linking Silver to those Jews who died in the civil rights movement.

It was, as I saw it, a very Jewish moment for Adam Silver. It was one man’s tikkun olam, a Hebrew phrase meaning “to repair the world”….Schwerner and Goodman died for what mattered. Two years later, Texas Western’s all-African-American starting lineup beat the racist Adolph Rupp and Kentucky. My grandfather marched on Washington to support civil rights. Bill Russell became the first African-American NBA coach.

But the civil rights movement was a long time ago. Schwerner and Goodman and Chaney, too — he was black– were martyred 50 years ago next month!

And Josh Nathan-Kazis writes at the Forward that the Megdal moment was “awkward” because it pointed up the large number of Jews in sports ownership, including Donald Sterling.

Yet nearly half the principal owners of NBA teams are Jewish, as are the league’s current commissioner and its immediate past commissioner.

I think Megdal and Fortgang are citing Jewish history because they’re uncomfortable with the fact that Jews are so privileged right now. They are in denial of the changing Jewish image in America. Increasingly, we are associated with the Establishment, with the people who “pull most of the strings in the world,” in Fortgang’s phrase. We’re the richest group by religion in this country, and Donald Sterling is not the only arrogant powerful prick in our number. Gawker says that Fortgang’s piece was promoted by a network that includes neocons John Podhoretz, Bill Kristol, Bill Kristol’s son-in-law Matt Continetti (of the Washington Free Beacon), and the neocon funders of the Shalem Center, the rightwing thinktank in Israel. Lovely people. And P.S., Donald Sterling defended his racism by citing Israeli racism.

The Jewish brand is changing before our eyes. Increasingly we’re associated with rich fools like Donald Sterling, and a militant rightwing state in the Middle East and its rightwing lobby here. Rabbi Michael Lerner says it’s all connected:

Israel today presents the Jews as one of the more arrogant nations on the planet….

In order to defend Israeli policies, Jews around the world insist on the need for the Jewish people to have power and dominate others, because that’s “the real world” in which we live. This is the logic of Roman imperialism, Christian colonialism, Hitler and Stalin and all those who have opposed Jews through history.

That’s one reason I’m proud of this site. You read progressive Jews here who oppose those attitudes and policies.

But I won’t tell you I’m not privileged. I’m looking out my window at the woods right now; I live in a beautiful part of the world. And dealing with privilege is difficult. It means sorting out one’s personal relationship to the powers that be, and sorting out one’s individual responsibility in the context of identity politics. For me that means confronting the Jewish and American relationship with the people Jews have dispossessed, Palestinians, and granting Palestinians a leadership role, and honoring their narrative. Because I lead a good life, it means struggling honestly with my own investments in the west, even as I work on justice questions as a liberal. I don’t know how Jewish that struggle is, and it certainly isn’t about Schwerner and Cheney and Goodman or the Nazis. But as Hillel said, If not now when?

Thanks to Annie Robbins.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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38 Responses

  1. Krauss on May 8, 2014, 11:32 am

    I read Fortgang’s essay. I viewed his referenced to his Jewishness as two-fold:

    First, to soften the inevitable counter-attacks. Being a white Jew is easier than being a WASP in an America where people’s cultural privilege in left-wing discussions are based on the collective appraisal of their victimhood. In other words, if he were a WASP, he’d have a snowball’s chance in hell. As a Jew, and referencing the Holocaust, he has a slim chance, but at least a chance. People will still write him off as a white guy with too much privilege, but there’s that moment of hesitation because of his Jewishness, because of past persecution.

    And this gets to your point, that our role has changed. 30 years ago, there wouldn’t be that hesitation. As a Jew you could almost identify yourself with PoC and nobody would bat an eye. The vast majority of Jews are Ashkenazi so that’s out of the question now.

    The second reason why I think he referenced his Jewishness is that is his mind, at least, there is still that divide. He’s an Orthodox Jew, so he comes from a milieu which is far less connected than most Jews either on this site or indeed in America overall, where we’re by and large secular, which is a byword for assimiliated and cultural insiders.

    • Krauss on May 8, 2014, 11:41 am

      As for the whole debate about white privilege debate itself, the whole thing is a mess. I fundamentally disagreed about the argument he was making, he more or less wanted to ban discussions on privilege. That makes little sense.

      But there is a case to be made that there are tendencies on the left where people’s skin color become more important than their arguments. Of course, your background informs your skin color, but if people automatically categorize according to skin color the first thing they do(and often the only thing they do), then it becomes a system based more on an inverted racial hierarchy to that one in the wider society, which is kind of the point in some sense, but it also assumes people are unable to transcend racial barriers, especially the intellectual ones.

      And that can become a very lazy way to argue on.

      It reminds me of a mini-debate over Suey Park’s use of Michelle Malkin on Twitter. Arun Gupta wrote about it a month ago or so on HuffPo, was immediately called a “house PoC” and worse things. Blumenthal defended him, and Blumenthal in turn got accused as a “white guy doing things white guys do”, i.e., somehow Blumenthal was acting out of “racial loyalty” to Gupta, a non-white and decidedly brown Indian man.

      It was a classic example of how someone was trying to dismiss Blumenthal because they were uncomfortable with him criticising Park for associating with right-wing supremacists like Malkin, and instead attacked him, basically, on the basis of his skin color.

      Conservatives like Fortgang, who wants to more or less ban any serious discussion about privilege, isn’t going to succeed. But the left has a lot of work to do on identity politics, where the issue of race has become almost comical in how it used as a debate trick to try to silence people you disagree with.

    • Woody Tanaka on May 8, 2014, 1:40 pm

      I read the article, too and it was clear to me that he had not the foggiest idea of what it was that he was addressing. If he did, he would have seen that the history of his family’s tragedies and challenges was completely and utterly irrelevant to the issue of white privilege.

      • bilal a on May 8, 2014, 4:44 pm

        Are white Gentiles even allowed to dispute their ‘privilege’ in an elite university setting where Ron Unz says they suffer very significant discrimination based upon race and religion, more so even than Asian American students?

        If the white immigrant from Bosnia , or the poor teen from Appalachia
        must suffer in silence when rich black or jewish kids from Long Island discuss their Gentile ‘white privilege’, what kind of privilege is that ?

  2. just on May 8, 2014, 12:03 pm

    “But I won’t tell you I’m not privileged. I’m looking out my window at the woods right now; I live in a beautiful part of the world. And dealing with privilege is difficult. It means sorting out one’s personal relationship to the powers that be, and sorting out one’s individual responsibility in the context of identity politics. For me that means confronting the Jewish and American relationship with the people Jews have dispossessed, Palestinians, and granting Palestinians a leadership role, and honoring their narrative. Because I lead a good life, it means struggling honestly with my own investments in the west, even as I work on justice questions as a liberal. I don’t know how Jewish that struggle is, and it certainly isn’t about Schwerner and Cheney and Goodman or the Nazis. But as Hillel said, If not now when?

    Thanks to Annie Robbins.”

    Amen.

  3. Marshall on May 8, 2014, 12:17 pm

    Yes! This is a brilliant post, Phil.

  4. ThorsteinVeblen2012 on May 8, 2014, 12:17 pm

    I imagine there will come a day where like Schwerner and Goodman every one will identify with Phil Weiss and claim to have supported him all along.

    Schwerner and Goodman were on the right side of history. Not everyone was.

    Now it seems everyone like Tal Fortgang rode on the bus with Rosa Parks. They were sitting right up in front with her.

  5. Stephen Shenfield on May 8, 2014, 12:41 pm

    Being a member of any group based on ethnic/racial origin, religion, gender etc. does not automatically rule out the possibility that a person is privileged in the most decisive area, that is, in economic terms. It depends on the conditions of time and place. However, even in an extreme situation like the Holocaust wealth significantly increases your chance of surviving (in Hungary 1944 you could buy a ticket on Kastner’s train).

    By contrast, your class position does automatically give an approximate idea of your privilege or lack of it. If you are a member of the capitalist class then you are privileged by definition, because unlike the vast majority you do not have to sell your working time to others. You are your own man or woman. That is why a left politics based primarily on class is less deceptive than a “left” politics based on all these other “identities.” It also has the advantage of at least potentially uniting the large majority of society in a common cause.

    • Citizen on May 8, 2014, 4:35 pm

      Where would Phil Weiss be, and what would he be doing if he had not had the means to go to an ivy league university on his own? And, in his post college life, what if he was just another goy? Just asking. I mean, unlike me, for example, he didn’t have to work in the South Chicago steel mills to pay for his own education in off hours. Or am I wrong here? Don’t get me wrong, I think Phil Weiss gave up a lot to be, basically, an honest journalist, and opinion writer on key political topics. I guess I just want to suggest others have given up more, just to speak now and then on key political issues even if it’s only in the least influential domains.

  6. Bumblebye on May 8, 2014, 1:39 pm

    I wondered if you’d pick up on this Tal Fortgang thing.
    The youth declares he doesn’t have a “racist bone” in his body.
    So what does he think Palestinians are?:

    “By the way, ‘liberators of “palestine”‘, confident in your god of war: you are living at Israel’s mercy. Shut up before they’ve had enough.

    — Tal Fortgang (@PastramiOnWry) November 21, 2012”

    “Hitler had guts to lie showing his face in taking Sudetenland. Palestinians who got a finger and want a hand like cowards are much worse”

    His twitter bio has him “Settling the West Bank”.

    Poor underprivileged rich boy.

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/princeton-freshman-wants-you-to-know-he-shouldnt-have-to-check-his-privilege/

    • Marshall on May 8, 2014, 1:53 pm

      Amazing that the Chosen People mythology has morphed into a sad ideology of birthright privilege. As we all know, Hitler gave us the right to burn down as many Palestinian villages as we want.

    • Woody Tanaka on May 8, 2014, 1:55 pm

      Ugh. Disgusting. It’s like reading the ramblings of a Klansman on a KKK website.

      (And he’s a fan of the Mets and the NY Rangers, which is almost as bad as his bigotry.)

      • lysias on May 8, 2014, 2:55 pm

        Fortgang actually uses the word “Weltanschauung”:

        “The phrase,” he writes, “handed down by my moral superiors, descends recklessly, like an Obama-sanctioned drone, and aims laser-like at my pinkish-peach complexion, my maleness and the nerve I displayed in offering an opinion rooted in a personal Weltanschauung.”

        I suppose the word was used in German before the Nazis took it up, but it is now irredeemably associated with Nazism.

      • Ellen on May 8, 2014, 3:58 pm

        OMG his writing is dripping with sophomoric narcissism. (Well, he is a college freshman, still a teenager concerned with self.)

        But to pompously use a foreign word to sound ever so smart when the simple English expression precisely captures exactly what he wants to say and what weltanschaung means: world view.

        Any decent English teacher would have called him on that.

        What a phony kid.

      • just on May 8, 2014, 4:20 pm

        He learned it somewhere… or copied it.

        wunderkind extraordinaire. yech.

      • Betsy on May 8, 2014, 5:26 pm

        why is “Weltanschauung” irredeemably associated with Nazism? I’ve only heard it used in Continental philosophy & in the social sciences — where it’s a basic concept. It is widely used in these fields & in association with thinkers who have nothing to do with Nazism. It just means “world view”. It is often used as a critical tool to analyze ideologies like fascism. Why specifically is it associated with Nazism?

      • Ecru on May 8, 2014, 5:42 pm

        @ Betsy

        I’ve taken courses in Sociology, Anthropology and Archaeology and have NEVER heard that phrase – only the English equivalent – “world-view.” Philosophy maybe (they do love their German terms those Philosophers) but nope, never in a Social “Science.”

      • lysias on May 8, 2014, 5:59 pm

        Because it was used all the time by the Nazified German media. I recommend reading Victor Klemperer’s LTI: Lingua Tertii Imperii. He has quite a bit to say about the word. Or you can read it on Wikipedia.

        A word search of Mein Kampf on my Kindle shows 115 occurrences of the word in Hitler’s book.

      • Feathers on May 8, 2014, 6:35 pm

        Etan Bloom’s dissertation on Arthur Ruppin makes extensive use of the term “Weltanschauung.” http://www.tau.ac.il/tarbut/tezot/bloom/EtanBloom-PhD-ArthurRuppin.pdf

      • wondering jew on May 9, 2014, 6:08 am

        lysias- Weltanschauung is not a phrase that I have ever associated with Nazism. It’s a much fancier phrase than “world view” and sounds distinctly German and maybe because the world “welt” pronounced “velt” is such an early word that I encountered learning Yiddish casually in the Torah velt, world of Torah, where Yiddish was used in the USA not the yeshiva in Israel but in New York and Chicago, but I never associated Weltanschauung as a Nazi term. (We heard it so much when I was college age in Chicago, that we, the punsters, turned it into a porno type phrase, Weltanshlang.)

      • LeaNder on May 9, 2014, 11:31 am

        yonah,
        Weltanschauung was used by the Nazis for their own ideology. Which of course wasn’t an “ideology”, ideology was something only their enemies had: the larger Judeo-Bolshevik threat.

        Personally I would avoid it in everyday speech or in the context he uses it. I would substitute Weltsicht/world view. Weltanschauung is still used by the extreme right over here with the Nazi meaning. Apart from that it is somewhat antiquated. But one would still use it no doubt in a distinctively historical context, dealing with e.g. Weltanschauung in Kant, or let’s say, when discussing the fights between the materialists (natural science) versus the idealists (philologies) in the 19th century.

      • Betsy on May 9, 2014, 10:56 pm

        Sloppy attributions of ‘Nazism’ seem to me to be problematic. It’s complicit with a kind of blanket ethnicizing & stereotyping. Not all German words are part of Nazism — a point that Victor Klemperer made repeatedly when he distinguishes between negative critique of Nazi cultural constructions & positive discussion of German culture. In fact, Klemperer’s book embodies the point I was trying to make. The key argument in his book is that Nazism systematically constructed a new Weltanshauung through specific distortions of language over time. He specifically used the idea of ‘world-view’ (with all it’s rich philosophic connotations in Continental & linguistic philosophy) as a useful analytic concept with which to dissect these distortions. Far from *equating* the use of Weltanshauung with Nazi culture, he *used* the idea as a tool to dissect Nazi distortions of German public culture. That was my point exactly. It’s a critical analytic tool, which allows one to step back from Nazi propaganda in order to analyze its symbolic underpinnings & linguistic manipulations; but Nazi propaganda is the opposite — it tries to collapse ones perspective, so that one cannot see the inner workings of cultural construction — true believers do not question the inner workings of their ideologies. Nazi propaganda, liked Oz behind the curtain, does not want those inner workings exposed. For me, Weltanshauung has been a Toto of an idea, not fake Nazi wizard of an idea. I am an anthropologist whose first year of graduate training was filled with such German phrases (and French, etc) because they led us to the literatures that produced these useful tools. To say that we shouldn’t use words from another language just seems to me to be a kind of American anti-intellectualism & ethnocentrism. Why shouldn’t we mix up our languages…

        I worry that sloppy broad accusations of Nazi complicity are continuous with bad ethnic stereotyping, that makes it hard for people to think concretely about particular realities, in order to make ethical judgments in the real world. To make all things German bad & Nazi, or all German words bad & Nazi — is to construct some pure Other — which I think Zionism has done. Ethnicizing things & then creating moral polarities is a dangerous route. I’m not saying that everyone is doing that in this thread — but I still haven’t heard anything concrete that shows me that there’s anything that links ‘world-view’ (in whatever language) with Nazism.

        @ Lysias — word counts of Hitler’s writing mean nothing. If he uses ‘land’ or ‘blood’ a lot, it doesn’t mean to me that I should stop using those words — it’s *how* he uses them, and the context of meaning & line of argument that are important.

      • German Lefty on May 9, 2014, 11:50 am

        it is now irredeemably associated with Nazism.

        I disagree. It’s a normal German word. I have never associated it with Nazism. If every word that was used or misused by the Nazis were declared taboo, then I could only say and write words like “Internet” or “Computer”.
        A while ago, when I commented on the German queer news website, I wrote something like “Our politicians don’t represent the people.” The German word for “people” is “Volk”. Some self-declared anti-fascist immediately classified me as a neo-Nazi and reprimanded me for daring to use such a “right-wing extremist word”. Last time I checked, the people who shouted “Wir sind das Volk.” during the Monday demonstrations in the GDR were NOT Nazis. I hate fascism too, but these anti-fascists are a real pain in the ass because they are way too aggressive. Actually, their word policing is just as authoritarian as the behaviour of fascists.
        What I wanted to express with this little story is that you shouldn’t pass judgement on a person simply because that person used one single word that you deem inappropriate for whatever reason.
        Besides, just because certain words were misused in the past by some douchebags doesn’t mean that we can’t reclaim these words and use them in a normal way again.

      • LeaNder on May 10, 2014, 6:58 am

        I didn’t want to go into that Betsy,

        @ Lysias — word counts of Hitler’s writing mean nothing.

        admittedly I was a bit surprised that the read the book at all. Not many actually do and as I found out did, although the book was everwhere. And to be quite honest I needed a long time till I made it to the end myself. ;)

        Obviously he will find the word a lot. It is central.

        But, Betsy, I agree they used a lot of camouflaged language too. Euphemisms, simple words simple like betreuen/to take care of were used euphemistically to disguise what really happened. Ultimately it could mean confiscate possessions and kill to. Fanatic was given a positive sense as long as it concerned followers of the Nazi Weltanschauung, while the same thing in the opposing camp was termed “satanic”. Obviously the word that made GL suspect for some was repeated over and over again. ;) Should we have invented a new language since the Nazis misused it?

        But strictly Weltanschauung is no word you really need in English it feels.

        Here is the Webster definition:

        Definition of WELTANSCHAUUNG
        : a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint
        Origin of WELTANSCHAUUNG
        German, from Welt world + Anschauung view
        First Known Use: 1868/weltanschauung

        My Webster edition defines it thus:
        a comprehensive, esp. personal, philosophy or conception of the universe and human life.

        ******

        Something about that feels either rigid or pretentious. I can imagine that during the 19th century it was slightly easier to believe you had a comprehensive grasp of human life and the universe. This may well be the reason why I would hardly use it either for myself or to describe disagreement with anyone as far as clashing perspectives are concerned.

        Maybe my problems lie in the word Anschauung. If I shift from German to English I end up with Visual space

        Visual space is the perceptual space housing the visual world being experienced by an aware observer; it is the subjective counterpart of the space of physical objects before an observer’s eyes.

        Maybe there lies the central problem. No one today would simply assume that from his own limited observable visual space she can derive a complete grasp of the world and the universe. The Nazis surely didn’t doubt they could, and they thought all they needed was the repetition of the same slogans over and over again to keep the masses in line with their “Weltanschauung”.

    • marc b. on May 8, 2014, 2:01 pm

      he is an unawares, privileged, racist little prick, isn’t he? clacking away on his lap top, internalizing the history of holocaust survivors. perhaps he’d take the time to describe some hardship that he’s personally experienced? No? as for his ‘hard work’, there are millions who’ve worked just as hard (or harder, not having the financial privileges accruing to him by birth) and who are just as intelligent, who will never set foot on an Ivy league campus. I frankly doubt the veracity of his persecution at Princeton tale. it has the texture and stench of something dreamt up as a high school sophomore waiting to be set loose at the right opportunity.

  7. Feathers on May 8, 2014, 2:22 pm

    It’s not clear to me what group is leveling the charge, “Check your privilege.”

    Hard for me to believe that in an Ivy league university, Blacks, Hispanics, or Asians would be telling their white peers to “check your privilege.” But then, I went to college at a time when women were required to wear skirts or dresses and men wore jackets & ties to class.

    So from my perspective, the students who are urging their peers to “Check your privilege” are WASPs — other white, privileged students whose parents achieved the status and prosperity that greased their admission to Princeton. Say what you will about WASPs, they did have a sense of noblesse oblige. Of humility. Of acknowledging their privilege and refraining from boasting about it. Members of my family worked in a firm headed by the son of Polish plumber. The firm’s rules forbade hiring the children of firm members; those children were expected to make their own way, and it was thought that it was unseemly to ask for more advantages than they already had — of decent nutrition, housing, pre-college education, exposure to cultural riches.

    Phil and others may not like reading this, but Phil has set up this theme: Jewish people consider themselves the new WASPs. Mr. Fortung would like to bask in that limelight absolutely and fully, rather than assume other of the now old-guard WASP characteristics, like checking their privilege.

    PS. Was it Schwermer or Goodman who was a member of a Unitarian congregation in Maryland?

  8. phlpp7r on May 8, 2014, 3:01 pm

    in the u.s., and most anglo-european nations, the primary source of privilege is being white. here in the u.s., and in many european countries as well, the changing demography has much altered the concept of who is white. in america, as much as they may have not fit in for decades, jews are white. they always have been, really, but it was so easy to claim victimized minority status. given the power status they have attained this is really difficult narrative to continue, especially in relation to those who do not have privilege. just look at how much formerly left jews turned neo cons influenced the federal government over the past few decades. can the same be said for other minorities despite all their achievements, etc. in this country?

    • phlpp7r on May 8, 2014, 3:10 pm

      i should add that i give the example of neo cons prinicpally as a tip of the iceberg thing to illustrate the level of influence which comes primarily out of privilege. there are so many other facets of america in which jews, essentially secularized ones,bhave been able establish a steong foothold and maintain influence that is often shaped by jewish identity.

  9. Henry Norr on May 8, 2014, 3:57 pm

    >>the large number of Jews in sports ownership, including Donald Sterling….
    >>Donald Sterling is not the only arrogant powerful prick in our number.

    Let’s not forget Dan Snyder, who owns the Washington, DC, professional football franchise and has for years now adamantly refused to change the team’s racist name “Redskins.”

    The Wikipedia page about him makes interesting reading, especially in the context of this post: virtually everyone who played a role in his rise – from Mortimer Zuckerman, Barry Diller, and Democratic Party honcho Robert Strauss, who were among the early investors in his companies, to Lanny Davis, the Beltway lawyer who now helps him resist the pressure to drop the Redskins name – is Jewish.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Snyder

    • Citizen on May 8, 2014, 4:39 pm

      Well, it’s like owning a racing horse. It’s fun to own a B-Ball team, and very lucrative.
      How is this new?

  10. Alcibiades on May 8, 2014, 6:03 pm

    Very good piece. Interesting, on the one hand, to contrast the reluctant criticism of Sterling in a forum like The New Republic, with that publication’s unhesitating and full-throated attack on Cliven Bundy whom it immediately labeled “the racist rancher.”

    Sterling’s semi-disguised racism of the past decades reminds me of that classic 1970s film, Trading Places (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trading_Places), in which two heartless, miserly WASP plutocrats, Randolph and Mortimer Duke, are shown to be crypto-racists as well and then quickly dealt a devastating comeuppance. The film was directed by John Landis who also brought to the screen the similarly caricatured characters Greg Marmalard and Douglas Niedermeyer in Animal House.

    So, how about a re-make of Trading Places with the Duke brothers replaced by a Donald Sterling-like character? Wonder if Hollywood would be interested…

  11. wondering jew on May 9, 2014, 6:27 am

    I think privilege is something that needs to be studied in each individual’s life and in society in general. I’ve never heard the phrase before and I am sure that sometimes it is overused, so as to avoid dialogue or conversation, just as surely as sometimes it is used accurately to discredit someone’s silly statements.

    The essay in the Princeton paper is one thing and the comments by the sports writer were of a seriously different order and including them in one piece might make some editorial sense, but I think that the topic has been dealt with messily here (Really? We need a photo of Schwerner and Goodman and Chaney in order to discuss Jewish privilege? Not. We need them in the headline? Not. But eye catching headlines seems to be a specialty here. Not as bad as the NY Post, but plenty bad.)

    Jews today in America are a privileged group. Not every single Jew, but many Jews are privileged. The idea that most Jews are millionaires is manure and the high percentage of Jewish sports owners does not reflect anything near the norm, but Jews who made it to America and were spared the abyss in Europe are for the most part privileged compared to wide swaths of the American (let alone the world’s) population.

    This idea that Phil wishes to help the Palestinians because he wants to make up for the privileged life that he leads is silly. He wishes to help the Palestinians because he found this issue and has devoted his life to this issue and has made it his own. He was attracted to the issue because he felt that Israel was skewing American foreign policy. I’m sure the Palestinians appreciate his support, no matter how it evolved but as far as cause and effect, this type of “I am a privileged Jew and therefore I must help the Palestinians,” that doesn’t strike me as true at all.

  12. traintosiberia on May 9, 2014, 10:33 am

    If it were not his great grand mother or equally ancient grand aunts,it would have been
    ” our ancestors ” or ” our forefathers” who would have been invoked to show up ,out of the grave,to help him how to profit from the memory.

    Will some one allow the disgraced Chicago Democrat leader Mr Jackson the jr to use the slavery his ancestors suffered as a way out from the fall from the grace?

  13. traintosiberia on May 9, 2014, 11:03 am

    Howard Megdal pries open an interesting aspect of dialectical discourse or simple quiz session . I don’t know what motive he has in mind but it diverts from the crime scenes someone enough far out to a different field that he forgets that the real crime and the criminal are not being addressed anymore.
    He could have asked now or in the past ( racism is not new for him) if he were not disciplined for belonging to the same Jewish faith who in large numbers marched in Civil Right Movement?

    Or say he were non Jewish white, he could have raised the question if this guy still had the angst for the economic losses his forefathers endured after losing the slave trade and labour.
    Chances are that he would never in life would raise the first question . Second is always a possibility. We hear this type of arguments often in relation to the muslim ,Russian,or Chinese responses . We provide our answers that suit our objectives of not addressing the root cause . We invoke the loss of the past glories as the motive behind Russian Chinese,or muslim agitation.

  14. traintosiberia on May 9, 2014, 11:17 am

    Nobody has even blamed Sterling ‘s racism on his Jewishness but Magdal brings it up any way to remind the world and through “the world” , the Afro Americans how the Jewish marched .
    He then tells us all Jewish would abhor at what Sterling said.
    Sure any decent person would . But have not we heard the racism in more blatant fashion from the Jewish sounding names against Arab,Asian,and Agrican Muslim for last 12 yrs?
    The Muslim food habit and smell of the muslim food, their inability to support democracy , to understand democracy, and inability to benefit from democracy and their inherent incompatibility with pluralism universal rights,or liberty have been publicized and echoed repeatedly by these folks without ever being disciplined or fined or demoted . Those racist views also have underpinned some of the responses the policy makers have undertaken both in foreign policy and in domestic policy . This is not Sterling personal racism. It is institutionalized.

  15. Keith on May 9, 2014, 8:28 pm

    PHIL- “Time and Gawker refer to the piece as a defense of “white privilege” — and it is — but I also see the Jewish angle.”

    Jewish angle? Hell, this is an in-your-face defense of Jewish power and privilege masquerading as a defense of white privilege. Back when the Jews were clawing their way into the power structure, they “altruistically” defended Blacks against the evils of discrimination and championed affirmative action. Now that they are secure in their power, they reverse course and “altruistically” defend non-Jewish whites against the evils of “reverse discrimination.” The operative phrase is “meritocracy,” those who attend Princeton are there because they deserve it, those stuck in our permanent underclass have only themselves to blame. Tal Fortgang’s lack of any semblance of empathy is notable, along with a haughty arrogance indicating someone secure in the knowledge of his power and privilege. And he has an advantage over non-Jewish elites, the ability to flaunt historical Jewish victim-hood to camouflage his current status and actions.

    At least as interesting is Howard Megdal’s attempt to exploit the murders of Schwerner and Goodman to try to score points for Jewish tikkun olam. The fact that these two individuals happened to be Jewish (religious? secular? organized?) does not mean that other Jews can lay claim to their sacrifice. Yet, Megdal makes a spurious reach into the past to claim some sort of tribal martyrdom. Was it tikkun olam when the Jewish civil rights groups reversed themselves on affirmative action and began preaching the gospel of “reverse discrimination?” A defining characteristic of modern Jewishness is a cultivated sense of group victim-hood which has profound implications for how Jews act toward non-Jews.

  16. kma on May 10, 2014, 1:18 am

    gender and racial privilege is a symptom of something wrong. there is no defense.
    and if the holocaust (which didn’t happen here) justifies it, then slavery (which did happen here) justifies black superiority. right?
    if you believe the Princeton kid, then we owe blacks a few hundred years on top, huh?

  17. kma on May 10, 2014, 11:07 am

    p.s. it is so ironic to think you’re not privileged because your grandfather struck it rich. pretty hard to pull off in families that didn’t have fathers.
    maybe Fortgang’s next essay will reveal the reasons why women are so inferior.

    “That’s one reason I’m proud of this site. You read progressive Jews here who oppose those attitudes and policies.”

    you should also be proud that people here don’t use derogatory language for women and female body parts when they are angry at people, or use slang terms for sex workers to refer to women they don’t like. so many people still think it’s okay. it’s not.

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