There’s a problem with this anti-semitism claim

As a writer and producer on Seinfeld, Peter Mehlman enshrined “shrinkage”, “yada yada” and the ethics of double-dipping into comedy lore.

He savored the sitcom’s success all the more because it was, famously, “about nothing” and broke network rules about likeable characters and punchlines.

But now the joke is on Mehlman and other liberals who worked on Seinfeld.

The show’s billion-dollar revenues enriched and empowered Steve Bannon, an investor-turned political guru who ran the campaign for Donald Trump, another rule-breaker who according to critics knows nothing, and will be his chief White House strategist.

Mehlman is aghast that Bannon continues to mint a fortune from Seinfeld royalties.

The writer told the Guardian that he felt Bannon had proven himself to be a “raging antisemite”, and the fact that he’d made “all this money off a show that’s associated with Jewish humor – that’s pretty galling”.

Agreed, no one, as yet, is saying that Bannon should not collect because he’s, according to them, an anti-semite. But you can see the pondering of that claim going on in the background there.

And the problem with that is that it’s only a short step from “someone shouldn’t gain money because they’re an anti-semite” to “someone shouldn’t gain money because they are a semite.”

And we do actually have reasonably recent evidence as to how that works out.

Which is why we’ve got to keep shouting that private property is simply private property. Whatever the views, race, background of whose private property it is.

20 thoughts on “There’s a problem with this anti-semitism claim”

  1. Can anyone point me at an article from the grauniad or the BBC from the last, say, 10 years, that paints a positive picture of an Israeli jew? (And I don’t mean one about one of the useful idiots that believes Israel should be handed over to Hamas)

  2. ” To select, for approbation the peculiar elements that come from some supposedly Jewish heredity is to open the door to all kinds of nonsense on racial theory.Such theoretical views were used by Hitler. Surely you cannot maintain on the one hand that certain valuable elements can be inherited from the “Jewish people,” and deny that other elements which other people may find annoying or worse are not inherited by these same “people.””

    Richard Feynman, 50 years ago holing identity politics below the waterline.

  3. There seems to be widespread contagion of Murphy-logic amongst the increasingly serried ranks of the entitled classes and there are no limits to what can be asserted and no shark to be jumped.

    Wasn’t Bannon closely connected with Breitbart? And doesn’t Breitbart boast more jews than the West Bank?

    And the BBC is leading with CIA reports on the FSB ‘outing’ Hillary’s peoples’ emails and swinging the elction for Trump.

    And the second lead is Murphy’s sometime pal Jolyon Maugham (who sounds like a character out of Galsworthy) trying to get the Irish courts to do something bizarre to thwart Brexit.

    They are all bonkers, these people, and they are all losing.

    It would be funny if it weren’t hilarious.

  4. ‘ran the campaign for Donald Trump, another rule-breaker who according to critics knows nothing’

    As opposed to Obama, a Harvard faculty lounge lizard with no discernible background. And with Obama, we have his 8 years of showing he knows nothing.

  5. The main arguments that Bannon is anti-semitic are :

    1) His ex-wife said he made a disparaging remark about Jews as part of her divorce claim (obviously no reason to make stuff up)
    2) Breitbart had a vaguely anti semetic article headline (which was written by another Jew)
    3) Some anti-semites like Trump (undoubtedly true)

    against are basically working with a shedload of Jews at Breitbart including the then owner none of whom noticed it and most of whom seem to think the opposite.

  6. Magnusw, Frederick Douglass made a similar argument 150 years ago. He said that once you identify people as different, you invite discrimination. You have created a basis for discrimination.

    Fifty years ago, Dr King said blacks are just people. The Left said, “NO! Blacks are different!” Yet they revere Dr. King.

  7. Put aside the followers of the Prophet, sundry Eastern Europeans, and the Oirish.

    My guess is that the number of people accused of anti-semitism exceeds the number of anti-semites. I don’t have much evidence for my guess, I’ll grant you. That’s because in my life I’ve twice heard an anti-semitic remark. Twice! And one of those was a rather reflective remark on an aspect of Judaism and Jewish behaviour.

    And even then I am implicitly being asked to equate the anti-semitism of the rude remark to the anti-semitism of kill ’em all.

  8. The problem is that like so much journalism today, you follow the trail, you end up with some stuff that doesn’t quite say what people think it does. You deconstruct “Bannon is an anti-semite” and you find the following:-

    a) his wife said it during divorce filings (because wives tend to be really fair about their husbands character under such circumstances and never do things like tell the police that their husband raped the kids)

    b) Someone on Montel Williams says he is (a show that happily gives coverage to all sorts of bullshit)

    c) An article about Bill Kristol describing him as a “renegade jew”. Now, That sounds damning on the surface, but when you read it, it was written by David Horowitz. Just seeing that name at the top of it made me think “there’s more to this” and yes, there is. Here’s the last paragraph

    “I am a Jew who has never been to Israel and has never been a Zionist in the sense of believing that Jews can rid themselves of Jew hatred by having their own nation state. But half of world Jewry now lives in Israel, and the enemies whom Obama and Hillary have empowered — Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, ISIS, and Hamas — have openly sworn to exterminate the Jews. I am also an American (and an American first), whose country is threatened with destruction by the same enemies. To weaken the only party that stands between the Jews and their annihilation, and between America and the forces intent on destroying her, is a political miscalculation so great and a betrayal so profound as to not be easily forgiven.”

    Maybe Bannon is a foul anti-semite and maybe liked the term “renegade jew” for stoking up hatred, but that final paragraph seems to suggest that there was a different reason for it.

  9. A few years ago I was pushed into buying a mobile ‘phone because I drove up to attend a (client of my principal client)’s AGM and arrived after it ended. The CEO (who personally funded the company, which existed to reducethe hardship of individuals who had lost their jobs while having largeish financial commitments) had in his office a substantial hardback book of “Jewish Jokes” that he used in his after-dinner speeches, and pointed out that I needed a mobile to ‘phone people if I was stuck on the M6.

    It is just possible that Bannon is a foul anti-semite but, if so, why did he apply for a job in a firm owned by a Jew with many Jewish employees and why did they hire him?

  10. Private property is, and has for a long time, been somewhere between an ambivalent and a meaningless phrase. I mean, if London Underground is mine, as the propaganda tells me, then why can I not well my share?

  11. I used to think Mehlman must be a brilliant comedy writer when he worked on Seinfeld. Then he did his own show, called ‘It’s Like, You Know…’ End of Mehlman as a comedy great.

    (Also, he seems to have boilerplate left-wing Jewish ‘intellectual’ views.)

  12. Dearieme,

    > And even then I am implicitly being asked to equate the anti-semitism of the rude remark to the anti-semitism of kill ’em all.

    Exactly. There’s no real problem with discrimination. People have embraced this idea that we’re all Hitlers in waiting, just poised for some little trigger to go full death camp. This is the rationale trotted out for stomping viciously on even the teensiest of unsavoury remarks: because if you don’t stop it early, everyone will hurtle down that slippery slope. And it’s bollocks.

    The problem with Hitler was not that he disliked Jews. The problem with Hitler was that he set out to kill everyone he disliked.

    As I’ve said before, there is a giant yawning chasm of difference between a man who wants to kill Jews and a man who doesn’t want his daughter marrying a Jew, and there’s no reason whatsoever to believe that the latter will inevitably become the former UNLESS WE STOP HIM NOW. There’s just no emergency there. Unless I fancy his daughter.

    And this belief that it’s a person’s thoughts, even if secret, that are the problem is causing all sorts of stupid thinking. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, than Bannon really is an antisemite. OK, and? Is he going to build gas chambers? No. Would he have the power to even if he wanted to? No. People who claim to REALLY CARE about Jews are running around in full-on panic mode because they think a man who secretly dislikes Jews might have a job in which he will do nothing to harm Jews, and they apparently genuinely believe that everything would have been much better for Jews if Hillary had won and been able to continue her project to ensure that the most powerful explicitly antisemitic and genocidal regime on the planet gets nuclear weapons. Oh, great, yeah, as long as she brings about the next Shoah through utter fucking incompetence, that’s fine. But she doesn’t secretly hate Jews, so would sincerely mean the mass eulogy she’d then give them. Yay!

    > in my life I’ve twice heard an anti-semitic remark.

    It’s a hell of a lot more prevalent than that, though.

  13. There’s a very bad part of me that wants to know what your father in law thinks about all of this. Given that Judaism isn’t all that common in NI.

    There’s also a less bad part that wants to ask if you’ve ever been asked if you’re a Prot Jew or a Taig one?

  14. I have never been asked that question, no. However, a Muslim colleague of mine, forced by our awful HR laws to tick one of the boxes, said “Well, I’m from Lisburn, so I guess I’m a Protestant.”

  15. “forced by our awful HR laws to tick one of the boxes”

    Can’t you just write “fuck off and mind your own business”? Or draw a pretty picture rather than tick one of them?

  16. The Northern Irish forms are not like the ones you’re used to. Firstly, there are only two tick-boxes. We do have the other forms for checking ethnic background etc, but there’s also our special wee form, which states on it that, even if you’re not religious, sure everyone knows you’re from one of the two “communities”, so which one is it? In other words, Tim’s old “Would that be a Protestant Jew or a Catholic Jew?” joke reflects an attitude that is actually offically recognised and enshrined in law — hence my colleague’s rather excellent joke. The form also explains on it that you have the right not to fill out the form, in which case the state will find out anyway, using the approved “alternative method”. The alternative method involves checking which school you went to, so, being English, yes, I can ignore the form, safe in the knowledge that my schools weren’t involved. Though I’m pretty sure English would equal Prod anyway. Unless you’re Scouse.

    A friend’s father-in-law runs a mechanic’s, and had been dilligently ignoring the requests of officialdom for years. They finally got him on the phone when he had a free minute.

    “So, John, what would you say the breakdown of your workforce was?”
    “I’d say it was about half and half.” (This would be highly unusual in that line of work.)
    [surprised] “Really, John? Well, that’s great to hear. Excellent. Half Protestant, half Catholic, really?”
    “No, half UVF and half UDA. Now will you fuck off and leave me alone?”

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