Growing up as a Seventh-Day Adventist, telling the truth was ridiculously important. If you got a reputation for lying, you were finished. You were lost. You were dead.
The Christian commitment to truth went to extreme lengths. For instance, if you were hiding Jews in your basement from the Nazis and the Nazis stopped by and asked you if you were hiding Jews, you weren’t supposed to lie about it and no, you weren’t supposed to tell the Nazis where the Jews were hiding either, but oh Lord have mercy on us sinners and pray for us in our hour of need.
In the Christian view, lying destroys the soul, even when in the opinion of some theologians, it is morally necessary.
When I discovered Judaism, and found out that lying was positively encouraged in some instances, such as when the goyim were seeking to kill you, I regarded it as a much more sophisticated and superior ethical system to the polyester Adventism I knew.
Then I started meeting Jews and I began to see certain advantages to the extreme Christian commitment to truth. I noticed that real Jews in real life had a more flexible moral system than I was used to, particularly with regard to gentiles. If an Adventist bought a car, he reported the exact price he paid to the DMV or he would have to look at himself in the mirror every day and see a lying cheat staring back. I didn’t meet many Jews with these same scruples.
As an Adventist, you reported honestly to your insurance company where you lived while if you were ethnic, it seemed, you were more flexible. If you could save money by giving a false address for your car insurance, you did it.
As a Seventh-Day Adventist and you sold something, you felt a moral obligation to be truthful about its defects. I noticed that ethnic groups didn’t feel this same compulsion quite as often as the people I grew up around.
I went to Seventh-Day Adventist schools and there were classmates who cheated, but they were rarely proud of it. It was not considered cool to game the system. It was not considered to cheat on taxes or customs or in business. It was the mark of low character, you were a moral leper. Unclean! Unclean!
I often take my Seventh-Day Adventist customs into my life in Los Angeles and I’m mocked for being archaic and pedantic. “That might fly in Seventh-Day Adventist land,” my friends will say, “but that’s not how we do things in Hollywood.”
I notice with my Jewish friends, if you need to get something done, you get it done by any means necessary. If you need to make up names and email addresses for a petition, you make them up if necessary. That would be regarded as just not cricket in my Anglo upbringing.
I’d go to events with Jewish friends and be appalled when they’d suggest that just one of us buy a ticket (for, say, a Dennis Prager lecture on morality, yes, we did this once at Valley Beth Shalom, I bought the ticket but then, oy, I’m so ashamed) and then open the back door so the rest could get in for free. As a Seventh-Day Adventist, you don’t tell the conductor that you are 12 when you are 13 to get a cheaper ticket. What’s the big deal? Lying is thought to be corrupting. When you get in the habit of lying over small things, you’ll be more likely to do it over big things, and the more you do it, the more it rots your soul.
From a Christian perspective, there is one universal morality. There is one standard for how you treat people. In tribal moralities such as Judaism, there is a dual morality. There is one standard for how you treat your in-group and a lower standard for how you treat outsiders.
When I came to UCLA in 1988 and met Jews for the first time, I was fascinated. They seem to have such animal spirits and intense community and strong family lives. I was very impressed. Anglo life, by comparison, seemed dull and tame.
I got some Asian girlfriends. I loved the way Asians studied hard, worked hard, and respected authority. I love their strong family structure. I was, however, disappointed in their ethics. If they could get away with cheating, they did. If they could get away with stealing, they did. They didn’t have the same universal morality of my Christianity. They viewed Americans as naive, as easy marks.
My Chinese girlfriend told me about how she stole money from her family and I was appalled, even though she used it to fly to see me and to pay for our long-distance phone calls.
Asian morality, Jewish morality, ethnic morality, Mediterranean morality, tribal morality, seemed pretty similar. Anglo morality (belief in one universal standard for how you treat people and great importance given to doing the moral thing) was the outlier.
I don’t regret my conversion to Orthodox Judaism. It is a passionate exciting God-intoxicated and in many ways a morally superior way to live.
I was watching this Seinfeld episode tonight from season five:
Jerry’s girlfriend, Meryl (Courteney Cox), poses as his wife so she can share his 25% dry cleaning discount. In fact, Jerry is having fun with the idea of having a wife, even if it’s just to start a sentence. George urinates in the shower while at the health club and fears he may be reported to management. Elaine gets mixed signals from Greg, a prospective boyfriend in whom she is interested. As it turns out, the man Elaine has her eye on is the same person who caught George urinating in the shower.
Jerry eventually cheats on his “wife” with another woman in order to give her the discount. Meanwhile, Kramer is losing sleep because Jerry took his quilt to the cleaner, taking advantage of the discount. Kramer goes to get a tan to impress his girlfriend’s family, and ends up falling asleep on the tanning bed.
As it happens, Greg wants to date a female gym instructor and not Elaine. Then he discovers Elaine is friends with George. The episode ends with Kramer meeting his girlfriend’s family, who are black, and Kramer being horribly tanned to the extent that he appears to be in blackface. The girlfriend’s father then angrily says, “I thought you said you was bringing a white boy home! I don’t see a white boy! I see a damn fool!”
I am unaware of the lead characters explicitly identifying as Jewish but they are all obviously Jewish except Kramer. The things they do just wouldn’t fly in an Anglo community. You wouldn’t tell the dry cleaner, for instance, that you were married, just to get a 25% discount.
I don’t think I have seen one Seinfeld episode where the main characters could conceivably be Seventh-Day Adventist. They are way too unethical, duplicitous, selfish and hedonistic. You try to pull that stuff in a Seventh-Day Adventist community and you’d be pulled aside and told to shape up or ship out. Your interlocutor would get a very serious face, stare into your eyes, and with an expression of great pain say, “You need a closer walk with the Lord, my friend.”
To Jewish eyes, Adventists seem like regimented children, all fake, naive, ignorant, and overly nice. To Adventist eyes, Jews seem rude, crude, unethical, lustful, beastly, haggling, and duplicitous. Adventists seem like simple folks to outsiders, Jews seem like anything but.
The matter of fact ways that the Seinfeld characters pursue what they want without regard to ethics is hilarious, but if I were the ruler of a country, I would not want such people. If I had a high-trust society, these people would be parasites. They would take advantage of the naive and take them to the cleaners. They would corrupt the less intelligent with cheap alcohol, cheap loans, cheap porn, cheap TV, cheap goods, cheap standards and as a result, society would go to hell.
I can’t think of anything less Seventh-Day Adventist than recreational sex while for many of my Jewish friends, that’s the greatest thing ever. As a Seventh-Day Adventist, pre-marital sex was a very big sin. Most Orthodox Jews are virgins when they marry, but overall, even Orthodox Jews seem more at ease than Protestants with the natural passions such as lust, envy, and honor-seeking. Protestants keep a tight check on animal spirits.
Pre-marital sex is a huge sin in conservative Christianity. In Orthodox Judaism, it is not necessarily any more serious than breaking the Sabbath or eating non-kosher food.
Why don’t WASPs go to orgies? Too many thank-you notes to write.
Orthodox Judaism is a more difficult and demanding way of life than Seventh-Day Adventism. There is no comparison. Adventism is easy street when compared observance of Torah law, but there are ways I realize now that Adventism is more demanding, such as with the truth.
Plenty of Jews are fanatically dedicated to the truth and plenty of Adventist cheat, lie and steal, but in my experience, I noticed one group tends to be more flexible with its ethics.
The big sins in conservative Christianity are sexual. The biggest sin in Jewish life is making the tribe look bad.
White guilt means being too ethnocentric, notes Steve Sailer. Jewish guilt means not being ethnocentric enough.
Overall, Orthodox Judaism has more stringent rules for behavior than Seventh-Day Adventism (the average IQ of Ashkenazi Orthodox Jews is around 110 and for white Adventists about 100), but in the way the religion is practiced by fallible people, things are more complicated. There is plenty we can each learn from the other and there are generalizable patterns for how Adventists and Jews behave. We don’t put identical stress on the same sins.
In Jewish life, “sin” is not the obsession it is in Christianity. I don’t recall many Jews I’ve known who were racked by guilt over their sins while that was common among the Adventists I knew.
When I was an Adventist, if the boss asked you if you had plenty to keep you busy, you were expected to answer honestly. In much of the Jewish life I’ve known, you are not expected to answer honestly. If you are surfing the net and the boss asks you what you are doing and you say, “Filing!”, and you have some paper in your hand to be filed, it is cool as long as you can get away with it, and if occasionally you told the truth, then there were shock and congratulations. In large swatches of Jewish life, from the secular to the Orthodox, if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.
Leading a Jewish life is very expensive and if you have to cut a few ethical corners to make ends meet and to pay for yeshiva tuition for your kids, it’s not so bad (though certain sects of Judaism are strict about ethics, such as the Modern Orthodox, and Jews of Western European origins, particularly those from England and Germany tend to be particularly ethical, upstanding and polite).
On the other hand, if you couldn’t achieve without cutting corners in Adventism, then you made peace with your lack of achievement and you stored up treasure in heaven (though plenty of Jews have the same attitude, just not the Sammy Glicks).
Jews tend to be more blunt and intense than gentiles. They tend to be more direct and challenging. Being a nice person is an important value in Protestantism. In Judaism, it is just one value in a constellation of values. Part of the reason that goyim may think of Jews as immoral is that Jews are simply more open, direct and honest about their motivations and what they want and what they have done. As a Seventh-Day Adventist, I learned to hide anything unseemly.
I’ve always been a lazy sort looking to take the easy way out. When school got too hard, such as in Chemistry class, I cheated. I’ve rarely put much effort into my work unless I was getting the attention I craved. I thought converting to Judaism would cure my moral shortcomings. With a few exceptions, it did nothing of the sort.
When I was a Seventh-Day Adventist, I usually took the path of least resistance and tried to get away with everything I could without risking too much tension. I carried that identical pattern into my Judaism.
One such approach is to present characters that are Jewish in every way except that there are no explicit assertions of Jewish identity. Seinfeld was a great example. Although Jerry’s character was overtly Jewish, the character of George Costanza was obviously Jewish but presented as not Jewish. George is presented as Italian, but he is played by a Jewish actor whose parents on the show are also played by Jewish actors exhibiting stereotypical Jewish family patterns; George’s character was based on the show’s co-creator, Larry David who is quintessentially Jewish. It always seemed to me that the same could be said of the Elaine character, but perhaps less obviously so. She is played by a Jewish actress but is often seen wearing a crucifix; her name suggests she is Czech and in one episode she explicitly states she is not Jewish. But her character, her appearance, her interests, her mannerisms, her voice, and her rapport with Jerry and George seem obviously Jewish. None of this could be said about the Kramer character played by Michael Richards. Clearly a goy.
Such characters might be called implicitly Jewish—ways of expressing a Jewish sensibility without being overtly Jewish.
The Switch (2010), written by Allan Loeb, is a great example of implicit Jewishness. Here the motive for lack of explicit Jewishness is obvious. The movie is about nothing less than the contrast between Nordic and Jewish character traits seen as genetically caused—a point that seems to have been completely lost on critics. And while the movie is quite explicit about its presentation of Nordics, it would not want to draw too much attention to the contrast with Jewish traits, especially when it’s quite clear that Jewish traits are presented as superior…
The portrayal of Nordics as low on neuroticism and loving physical danger and risk taking certainly conforms to common images. As noted above, extreme sports is a context for implicit Whiteness; it’s is an area where Nordic Whites dominate—hang gliding, mountain climbing, bungee jumping, skate boarding, speed racing in vehicles of all kinds.
The movie presents neuroticism as an intense form of introspection, but I am not familiar with any data supporting that theory. It’s interesting that the program of the Frankfurt School in The Authoritarian Personality was to present the most successful and socially approved (non-Jewish) members of society as suffering from a failure to “look inside”—that is, a lack of introspection: “Surface security and self-confidence become signs of deep insecurities and unresolved hostilities symptomatic of a fear of ‘looking inside’” (see here, p. 185). On the surface, Roland is self-assured and confident, a very upstanding member of society. But he lacks introspection; his surface traits are nothing but masks for pathology. Ain’t psychoanalysis wonderful?
As a personality psychologist, all the data point to neuroticism being an indication of high emotionality. Emotions are the engines of behavior—energizing all of the personality systems, including positive emotions related to reward seeking. High emotionality can be very adaptive; highly emotional people react very strongly to their environments; they have strong motivational systems, including strong attraction to rewards such as financial gain and competitive intensity. (From my summary of Jewish personality, from Ch. 7 of A People That Shall Dwell Alone, p. 212: “The suggestion is that via processes of cultural and natural selection Jews have developed an extremely powerful set of psychological systems that are intensely reactive to environmental contingencies.”) But the downside is proneness to intense negative emotions such as Sebastian’s fear during wall climbing. Neurotic people show strong negative emotions in physically dangerous situations.
As to neuroticism resulting in better thought out opinions and points of view, I can see no evidence for that or any theoretical reason to think so. And given that I am typically not enamored by the opinions and points of view that are entirely mainstream in the Jewish community—particularly hostility toward the people and culture of the West, I am not at all inclined to think that Jewish psychology somehow results in enlightened opinions.
The stereotype of Jews as neurotic goes back to the nineteenth century (see, e.g., this article from the Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906) and remains as perhaps the central stereotype of American Jews (e.g., here). It’s interesting that when Sebastian diagnoses himself, he comes up with cyclothymia, a mood disorder related to mood swings and emotional intensity—a mild version of manic depression. There is indeed evidence that Jews are more likely to be diagnosed with cyclothymia (see summary in Ch. 7 of A PeopleThat Shall Dwell Alone, p. 211ff).
As to Jews being more empathic, that would seem to be entirely in the mind of the screenwriter. I am aware of no scientific research supporting it, and it is certainly not at all part of the stereotype of Jews, except as it relates to empathy and rapport for other Jews. Indeed, there is evidence that empathy by itself does not motivate altruistic behavior if the prospective recipient of the altruism is seen as a member of an outgroup. There is substantial research linking empathy to levels of oxytocin. However, oxytocin operates to make people more altruistic and defensive toward their ingroup— what Karsten K. W. DeDreu et al. label “parochial altruism.”
This rapport and empathy with the ingroup are compatible with a very long history in which Jews are seen as hostile and exploitative toward surrounding peoples—a prominent theme of historical anti-Jewish attitudes (see Chapter 2 of Separation and Its Discontents, p. 46ff). No serious scholar argues that Jewish support for the left (with its ideology of supporting social justice, the oppressed and downtrodden) is motivated by altruistic or humane motives (see summary here, p. 79ff); far more likely are motives of hatred toward the traditional culture of the West seen as anti-Jewish and thus warranting displacement. Indeed, Jewish involvement in the left has been drenched in the blood of the native peoples that have come under the power of Jewish hostile elites in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. Ask the Palestinians about Jewish empathy.
Here’s a recent example of Jewish parochial empathy from an article on the Hasidim in New York by Gavin McInnes in Takimag:
I was talking to an EMT [Emergency Medical Technician] on a shoot recently and he told me about a car accident where a guy from Africa was mangled beyond belief and the Hasidic Jew in the next car may have possibly hurt his neck. … So when my EMT pal shows up, he realized he was going to need help getting the black guy out of the car. He asks the Hatzalah [i.e., Hasidic “EMT guys who wear yarmulkes and have vests with Hebrew letters on them”] to assist, but they refuse and focus all their attention on their comrade. When the cops show up, a rookie demands they help and after getting refused, he vows to make them pay. It’s illegal for a civilian to refuse to help a cop. These guys were registered emergency responders. According to the EMT I spoke to, the cop wouldn’t let it go and kept demanding these volunteers be punished for breaking the law. The cop was eventually rewarded with a brutal night shift in the middle of nowhere.
Empathy is the emotion that energizes love, prototypically emotions within the nuclear family. As noted by John Murray Cuddihy in his classic The Ordeal of Civility, love as the basis of marriage was entirely foreign to the Jewish community:
In his insightful ruminations on Freud, Cuddihy (1974, 71) traces Freud’s views in this matter to the fact that for Jews, marriage was completely utilitarian. … A disciple of Freud, Theodore Reik stated that the older generation of Jews held the conviction that “love is to be found only in novels and plays.” “Love or romance had no place in the Judengasse [Jewish quarter].” Love was therefore viewed by Freud as an invention of the alien gentile culture and thus morally suspect. Its true hypocritical nature as a veneer for and really only a sublimation of the sexual instinct would be unmasked by psychoanalysis. … It was a devastating analysis—an analysis with important consequences for the social fabric of Western societies in the late twentieth century. (Chapter 4 of The Culture of Critique, p. 125)
As a Nordic, Roland is thus much more likely to be motivated by empathy and affection for people unlike himself—a fundamental feature of Western individualist culture, where marriage is exogamous and based on love and affection, and where ingroups are morally defined rather than defined on the basis of kinship as is the case with Judaism (see “Moral Capital and White Interests“).
But that’s the power that comes from running Hollywood. Producers and screenwriters can make up any psychology they want. (A theme of The Culture of Critique is that it’s the same with theories of anti-Semitism inspired by psychoanalysis, most notably the theories of the Frankfurt School.) And it’s no surprise that the results reflect very well on Jews but result in invidious portrayals of non-Jews (as documented repeatedly by Edmund Connelly, here and here), and particularly of Nordics as the main group that Jews have been competing with since they arrived in large numbers over a century ago.