Andrew Sullivan, on his website: www.andrewsullivan.com,writes:
JOURNALISTS FOR THE THOUGHT POLICE
WHY David Plotz decided that now is the time to come to the defense of the Anti-Defamation League's Abraham Foxman is beyond me. Plotz all but exonerates Foxman for lobbying for the Marc Rich pardon because he was honest about his mistake.
But surely, it would have come out eventually -- and Foxman was just getting ahead of the story to save his own butt. Foxman is also Exhibit A in how pernicious the cult of victimology is in our culture. The ADL goes around America looking for any signs it can find that people still hate Jews, despite the fact that anti-Semitism has all but disappeared in this country. Foxman, like all thought police, is also viscerally leery of free expression. He has urged that the government should be able to monitor "hate" groups, just because of what they preach, even if there's no evidence that they want to commit any sort of crime. Plotz writes that, "When anyone criticizes Foxman for hand-wringing over minor insults, he answers that "the crematoriums of Auschwitz did not begin with bricks. They began with words."
Foxman always refers to anti-Semitism as "the disease of anti-Semitism." People who speak like that are not friends of the First Amendment. Does Foxman believe that anti-Semites should be hospitalized for their sickness? Does he believe that the United States should have free speech laws like they have in Germany where the expression of anti-Semitism is illegal? The answer to both these questions is no, but it's telling that they can even be asked.
JEWS AND VICTIMS: Besides, it's one of the ironies of our culture that so many critics of victimology are Jewish, but one of the chief purveyors of victimology is also Jewish -- the ADL.
Worse, the ADL has a direct financial interest in fomenting the idea that Jews are permanent victims. The more Jews who feel that way, the more cash Foxman gets.
The ADL does some good things, and anti-Semitism is worth exposing and excoriating. But in many respects, the ADL, like other organizations like the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the NAACP, or the Catholic League, is a racket. It hypes whatever shred of bigotry is out there, ratchets up general paranoia, and makes a small fortune as a result.
I'd have hoped that a skeptical outlet like Slate would have raised this issue. But victimology and group-loyalty seem also to have claimed the otherwise incorruptible Plotz. He takes it as a given, for example, that the only reason anti-Semitism has abated in this country is because of people like Foxman. Hooey. It has abated because Jews have come out more aggressively in civic life, have assimilated more thoroughly, and their very presence in our national life has dispelled the ugly bias of the old world.
If anything, Foxman, in his paranoid bossiness, holds Jews back. Now is the time to use the Rich incident to illustrate the broader problem of paranoia-mongers like the ADL. Instead, we come to their defense. What gives?
[The Plotz article is at Slate]