Good Goyim and Bad Jews: Getting Clear on Jews and the Alt Right

Ari Ben Canaan writes:

Jamie Kirchick’s recent attack against this website, my collaborators and our audience is, unfortunately, a typical example of the attitudes of many Jews toward the Alt Right: underinformed, confused, and at times hysterical. It is also, unsurprisingly, rather antagonistic and polemical. But because Jewish attitudes toward the Alt Right are so underinformed, confused, and hysterical, I should like to take the opportunity afforded to me by Kirchick’s article to bring some clarity to two issues particularly salient to the question of Jewish relations to the Alt Right.

First, Kirchick’s thought on the Alt Right seems to waver between characterizing the nascent movement as a loose collection of more-or-less inchoate ideologies, and as a sort of political party that publishes manifestos and pronounces precisely-formulated doctrines. In one paragraph, Kirchick describes the Alt Right as nothing more than a ‘nebulous collective’, but goes on in the next to suggest that, because prominent Alt-Right author Kevin MacDonald is critical of the historical role played by Jews in the European Diaspora, Jews have no place in the Alt Right. But it is not clear why Kirchick thinks that MacDonald’s voice on the matter is authoritative: since, as Kirchick admits, the Alt Right is a rather nebulous group, there is no reason to think that MacDonald is any sort of officially-sanctioned doctrinaire rather than simply one influential voice among others.

And indeed, MacDonald’s position on the status of Jews in the Alt Right is far from the only one commonly held among the Alt Right. Jared Taylor, long one of the intellectual pillars of the movement, takes the view that any Jew can be a member of the Alt Right so long as he earnestly considers himself a part of European civilization. It is not clear to me whether Kirchick is unfamiliar with Taylor’s position, or whether he has simply neglected to mention it because doing so would detract from the polemical panache of his unabashed hit-piece; in either case, Taylor’s position is one that anyone who wishes to think seriously about the relation of Jews to the Alt Right must take into account.

Second, Kirchick’s analysis of the question whether or not Jews are White is fraught with historical myopia. Kirchick suggests – wrongly, as anyone who listens carefully to our podcast will appreciate – that both I and my co-author Reactionary Jew are in agreement that Jews are not White, and should not identify themselves as such. For this, he thinks we owe an intellectual debt to prominent Alt Right activist Richard Spencer, who thinks that Jews, after all, are Jews – a unique race distinct from that of Europeans.

However, our views on the question of Jewish race and identity are informed far less by Spencer than by the famous Zionists of the late 19th century, including Theodor Herzl and Leon Pinsker – the former who, in a controversially Spencerian publication entitled The Jewish State, proclaimed that ‘Jews are a people – one people’; and the latter who, in his classic essay “Auto-Emancipation”, made the MacDonaldite proclamation that “the essence of the [Jewish] problem … lies in the fact that, in the nations among whom the Jews reside, they form a distinctive element which cannot be assimilated [or] readily digested by any nation.” Herzl and Pinsker, in sharing these sentiments, were not ‘self-hating’ entryists into antisemitic movements, but proud Jews, educated in their own people’s history and determined to create for their people a better future. Were Kirchick more versed in his own people’s history, he might appreciate that The Jewish Alternative’s view on Jewish identity stems from a proud and successful tradition of Jewish nationalism.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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