Even after Charlottesville, I still don’t know what to think of Richard Spencer. It’s Saturday night and I’m watching him compare his movement to Zionism on Israeli TV. He’s wearing a nice shirt and I’m not surprised; the man has fine taste in clothing, especially in vests. I’d challenge anyone to name a public figure who pulls off vests better than Richard Spencer.
As Jewish people, we can make psychic space for the rough anti-Semite, the uneducated man who hates us because he knows no better, the man in ripped jeans and rebel flag shirts. The “nerdy Nazis” with their polos, marching in Charlottesville can also be explained away, categorized, rendered less frightening. But a man who knows his vests? A man with a winning smile? This is an intrusion, a sign that the containment of the anti-Semitic virus has failed, that the good, the educated, the nuanced people of this world can no longer be assumed to be safe. No matter, though. I still tell people Richard is no Jew-hater. It’s impossible for a real anti-Semite to be so objective about Zionism, to go on Israeli TV… and to wear those nice vests.
After Charlottesville, all nuance is lost. I can’t blame my fellow Jews. The video, pictures and stories are awful. Hundreds chanting “Jews will not replace us,” Nazi flags, the synagogue threatened. However Spencer feels about Jews, he will now attract genuine anti-Semites, moreso than before, and more of his events will devolve into this. Is this what he wanted?
We must be honest about Charlottesville. No one was there to help us. The police in Charlottesville refused to watch the synagogue, despite specific threats (they later denied this). Antifa, claiming that they mobilized to “protect the community,” did nothing to protect the Jewish community. Jews in Charlottesville had to rely on hired guns. Where were the “anti-fascists” we hear so much about? Where were the police? It seems we can only rely on ourselves.
Jews still thinking the left has any interest in defending us against Nazis are fools. I’ve warned for quite awhile that the left will start seeing Jews as White, and the hatred and derision they pour upon white people is headed our way. There are countless vigils, teach-ins, Facebook posts from the left about Charlottesville and Nazis; few mention Jews. We feel this in our online spaces. Jews are an afterthought on social justice Twitter, an annoyance on leftist Facebook. Our concerns “get in the way” of the far more important issues for “people of color” — which of course we are not. I try to explain all of this to the Jewish race-warriors: turn our public discourse into race shaming, my peeps, and Jews will pay the price. We will always be the wrong race, under any formulation.
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