The new McCarthyism cries “anti-Semite”

30 Apr

This post continues the theme of yesterday’s, featuring Caitlin Johnstone. 1 Here is my favourite political economist, Michael Hudson, away from his customary terrain to throw a beam on the new McCarthyism sweeping American public life, beginning, chillingly, with academia. We had a foretaste when #meToo  addled the brains of otherwise rational folk while standing on its head the presumption of innocence. In our brave new postmodern/post-truth world, to be accused is to be convicted. 2

Ask Woody Allen. Ask Kevin Spacey. For that matter, ask Julian Assange.

We had a foretaste too in the way line after vicious line of attack on a thoroughly decent (if not wholly convincing) leader of the British Labour Party failed to make headway until his enemies finally struck gold with an issue the average voter never gave a moment’s thought. I mean the anti-Semite smears by which an Israel Lobby in cahoots with the Labour Right ousted the most popular leader in living memory to shoe in the ruling class choice of Sir Keir Starmer.

But this is worse than either, as all with eyes to see would expect given a Washington morally stark naked – and desperate to distract from its support for genocide before the eyes of the world. The 17th century bogeyman is dead. Likewise his 1950s reincarnation. A new Matthew Hopkins, a new Joe McCarthy, stalks American public life; most fiercely on Ivy League corridors acutely vulnerable, after decades of corporatisation, to the power of big money – which the Israel Lobby has in spades – to subvert both the presumption of innocence and the safeguards, crucial to a functioning society in the scientific age, of intellectual freedom. Today’s Witchfinder Generals use the themes and language of liberalism to wreck careers with accusations neither of sorcery nor communism. Since the US ruling class, and those of the collective West at large, are stuck with Israel for reasons given here and revisited here, they see little alternative to conducting character assassinations they assuredly know to be as viciously risible as those of Tail-gunner Joe’s House Committee on Un-American Activities.

Aimed at whom?

At those of their citizens now taking to the streets and occupying campuses in the perverse belief that mass murder – we might say aerial pogrom – should be opposed, not armed and bankrolled by their government. And as with the vilifying of Jeremy Corbyn, “anti-Semitism” is the smear of choice.

Over to Professor Hudson, writing yesterday on the excellent Naked Capitalism site.

Gaza protesors: Today’s “Have you no sense of decency?”

The recent Congressional hearings leading to a bloodbath of university presidents brings back memories from my teen-age years in the 1950s when everyone’s eyes were glued to the TV broadcast of the McCarthy hearings. And the student revolts incited by vicious college presidents trying to stifle academic freedom when it opposes foreign unjust wars awakens memories of the 1960s protests against the Vietnam War and the campus clampdowns confronting police violence. I was the junior member of the “Columbia three” alongside Seymour Melman and my mentor Terence McCarthy (both of whom taught at Columbia’s Seeley Mudd School of Industrial Engineering; my job was mainly to handle publicity and publication). At the end of that decade, students occupied my office and all others at the New School’s graduate faculty in New York City – very peacefully, without disturbing any of my books and papers.

Only the epithets have changed. The invective “Communist” has been replaced by “anti-Semite,” and the renewal of police violence on campus has not yet led to a Kent State-style rifle barrage against protesters. But the common denominators are all here once again. A concerted effort has been organized to condemn and even to punish today’s nationwide student uprisings against the genocide occurring in Gaza and the West Bank. Just as the House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC) aimed to end the careers of progressive actors, directors, professors and State Department officials unsympathetic to Chiang Kai-Shek or sympathetic to the Soviet Union from 1947 to 1975, today’s version aims at ending what remains of academic freedom in the United States.

The epithet of “communism” from 75 years ago has been updated to “anti-Semitism.” Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin has been replaced by Elise Stefanik, House Republican from upstate New York, and Senator “Scoop” Jackson upgraded to President Joe Biden. Harvard University President Claudine Gay (now forced to resign), former University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill (also given the boot), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth were called upon to abase themselves by promising to accuse peace advocates critical of U.S. foreign policy of anti-Semitism.

The most recent victim was Columbia’s president Nemat “Minouche” Shafik, a cosmopolitan opportunist with trilateral citizenship who enforced neoliberal economic policy as a high-ranking official at the IMF (where she was no stranger to the violence of “IMF riots”) and the World Bank, and who brought her lawyers along to help her acquiesce in the Congressional Committee’s demands. She did that and more, all on her own. Despite being told not to by the faculty and student affairs committees, she called in the police to arrest peaceful demonstrators. This radical trespass of police violence against peaceful demonstrators (the police themselves attested to their peacefulness) triggered sympathetic revolts throughout the United States, met with even more violent police responses at Emory College in Atlanta and California State Polytechnic, where cell phone videos were quickly posted on various media platforms.

Just as intellectual freedom and free speech were attacked by HUAC 75 years ago, academic freedom is now under attack at these universities. The police have trespassed onto school grounds to accuse students themselves of trespassing, with violence reminiscent of the demonstrations that peaked in May 1970 when the Ohio National Guard shot Kent State students singing and speaking out against America’s war in Vietnam.

Today’s demonstrations are in opposition to the Biden-Netanyahu genocide in Gaza and the West Bank. The more underlying crisis can be boiled down to the insistence by Benjamin Netanyahu that to criticize Israel is anti-Semitic. That is the “enabling slur” of today’s assault on academic freedom.

By “Israel,” Biden and Netanyahu mean specifically the right-wing Likud Party and its theocratic supporters aiming to create “a land without a [non-Jewish] people.” They assert that Jews owe their loyalty not to their current nationality (or humanity) but to Israel and its policy of driving the Gaza Strip’s millions of Palestinians into the sea by bombing them out of their homes, hospitals and refugee camps.

The implication is that to support the International Court of Justice’s accusations that Israel is plausibly committing genocide is an anti-Semitic act. Supporting the UN resolutions vetoed by the United States is anti-Semitic.

The claim is that Israel is defending itself and that protesting the genocide of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank frightens Jewish students. But research by students at Columbia’s School of Journalism found that the complaints cited by the New York Times and other pro-Israeli media were made by non-students trying to spread the story that Israel’s violence was in self-defense.

The student violence has been by Israeli nationals. Columbia has a student-exchange program with Israel for students who finish their compulsory training with the Israeli Defense Forces. It was some of these exchange students who attacked pro-Gaza demonstrators, spraying them with Skunk, a foul-smelling indelible Israeli army chemical weapon that marks demonstrators for subsequent arrest, torture or assassination. The only students endangered were the victims of this attack. Columbia under Shafik did nothing to protect or help the victims.

The hearings to which she submitted speak for themselves. Columbia’s president Shafik was able to avoid the first attack on universities not sufficiently pro-Likud by having meetings outside of the country. Yet she showed herself willing to submit to the same brow-beating that had led her two fellow presidents to be fired, hoping that her lawyers had prompted her to submit in a way that would be acceptable to the committee.

I found the most demagogic attack to be that of Republican Congressman Rick Allen from Georgia, asking Dr. Shafik whether she was familiar with the passage in Genesis 12.3. As he explained, “It was a covenant that God made with Abraham. And that covenant was real clear. … ‘If you bless Israel, I will bless you. If you curse Israel, I will curse you.’ … Do you consider that to be a serious issue? I mean, do you want Columbia University to be cursed by God of the Bible?”

Shafik smiled and was friendly all the way through this bible thumping, and replied meekly, “Definitely not.”

She might have warded off this browbeating question by saying, “Your question is bizarre. This is 2024, and America is not a theocracy. And the Israel of the early 1st century BC was not Netanyahu’s Israel of today.”  [Instead] she accepted all the accusations that Allen and his fellow Congressional inquisitors threw at her …

… continue reading at Naked Capitalism …

* * *

  1. For the next three weeks at least I’m busy holidaying. I will post but fewer will be self penned, more will feature my selected readings and viewings.
  2. “… to be accused is to be convicted …”  More sinister yet, and more to the point of such vicious nonsense, to stand by the accused is to be convicted alongside them.

2 Replies to “The new McCarthyism cries “anti-Semite”

  1. The new McCarthyism also bellows ‘disloyalty’ towards any deviation from The Official Narrative (TON).

    Even with its own senior military officers:

    “A senior Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) officer, who is the Assistant Chief of Staff at the NATO Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), faces court martial, “dismissal with disgrace”, and loss of his military pension for having disagreed with Canadian, American, and British military planners of Ukrainian battlefield operations against Russia. His disagreement was in private, when the officers were asking for his professional assessment, and didn’t like what he told them.

    Colonel Robert Kearney was charged by the Canadian military police on April 23. The charge sheet says he faces “five (5) x counts of Conduct Prejudice to the Good Order and Discipline pursuant to section 129 of the National Defence Act.”….

    ….“The timing of the alleged offences,” says a Canadian veteran who served with US and NATO units in Afghanistan, “was when the Germans took over command of NATO’s rapid reaction force which has been building up men and materiel, including heavy tanks and F-16s, in Romania for a plan to attack Russian forces around Odessa. Kearney’s court martial is a warning to his fellow officers not to object or predict destruction of the NATO forces engaged.”

    “Kearney said things that clearly offended the top decision-makers in Ottawa,” the source says. “Criticizing the mission meant criticizing [Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia] Freeland and the UCC [Ukrainian Canadian Congress]. Criticizing how the mission was being conducted also meant criticizing the Americans and British. That’s what has drawn the charge of disloyalty.””

    And stop me if this sounds familiar as an abuse of standard due process norms:

    “”By publishing the offence allegations and concealing Kearney’s criticisms, the Canadian government and the ARRC have eliminated the presumption of Kearney’s innocence, and ensured his court martial conviction. By keeping the case particulars secret, the political bomb Kearney’s case represents is being defused. No Canadian journalist dares to investigate.””

    Like so much else in the misuse of basic concepts which treat allegations as equating to guilt – anti-Semitism being joined here by the similar catch all label of ‘disloyalty’ – there is no longer any pretence of due process operating anywhere in the Collective West.

    Ask Julian Assange. Ask Craig Murray. Ask Labour and SNP Party members. Ask Esther Giles.

    And that is just at the individual level. At the collective level its even worse – as even the ICC is facing the same Kangaroo Court threats of the undocumented “Rules Based International (dis)Order” of an out of control Western elite totally spaced out on the twin drugs of arrogance and ignorance:

    With US police looking the other way whilst peaceful students are violently and physically attacked by Genocide Supporters on US campuses – giving effective official sanction to such action (which, surprise,surprise, the Guardian has depicted as six of one and half a dozen of the other) – and then within twenty four hours move in to violently arrest those protesting students for the temerity of being “disloyal” to The Official Narrative (TON) (see recent reports on Skwakbox) the issue of remedy arises to this whole shit show.

    And as Mr Putin learned the hard way – and the rest of the Global South and the majority of the planet outside the cancer that the Collective West has become will also learn – there is no negotiation with people who are prepared to glass the entirety of the human race in the face to have their own way (including their own populations who they also regard as useless consumers of ‘their’ rescources).

    When faced with this level of chaos and anarchy which is the whole objective of “The Rules Based International (dis)Order” there is no reasonable way out. As Putin eventually discovered (and he’s not the only one), to continue existing you have to dismantle and totally remove the cancer.

    When someone doesn’t give a shit about what anyone else thinks, and they control the narrative to the extent that people can be cancelled and outlawed for not showing sufficient enthusiastic total ‘loyalty’ and subservience to that narrative, normal discourse does not even figure or register.

    This is a deliberate policy of breaking all international rules and human norms in favour of total anarchy. From the Geneva convention to the Vienna Convention; from the Treaty of Westphalia to the WTO and the UN. Anything goes to suit the convenience of Empire and Imperial Hegemony.

    Thing is, there is an old, mainly British, saying about what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    Point being that opening this particular Pandora’s Box is a two way street. Given that there are more of us than there are of them those self-identifying Western ‘Elite’ Oligarch’s who have opened this box, along with their lackey’s and cheerleaders, are also fair game under these anarchic conditions.

    Sooner or later the inevitability of the majority dishing out in kind is going to manifest itself in order for that majority to not just survive but to continue to exist* – both inside and outside the Collective West. And there will be no hiding place or safe space for those who have opened this box.

    Tough shit as we used to say in the army. What goes around comes around.

    *Because we are dealing here with a small minority who can never ever have enough. For whom even infinity is too little and too constricting. Who see the existence of everyone and anyone else as an affront and whose actions and behavior can only be interpreted as seeking our elimination from existence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *