Accusations of bigotry are far too common, and tend to be unsubstantiated. Playing the race card has proven an effective way to avoid arguing the merits of ideas.
That said, there is bigotry in the world, and it needs to be illuminated and condemned. One recent example comes from Max Blumenthal, described by NRB’s Matthew Vadum as “a soulless ultra-leftist propagandist who labors under the misapprehension that he is a journalist.” In a recent post on his website, Blumenthal condemns the Israeli response to an insult from singer Macy Gray.
The Israeli media is filled with reports about Macy Gray confirming her plans to perform in Tel Aviv in March. This should have been an occasion for Israelis to celebrate their continuing ability to behave as a normal society despite occupying millions of people, holding Gaza under siege, maintaining an apparatus of racism against its non-Jewish citizens. But in a poorly calculated stunt designed to wash her hands of human rights concerns, Gray had first asked her “fans” if she should perform despite what she called Israel’s “disgusting” treatment of the Palestinians. Within hours, thousands of people who had no prior interest in Gray or her music flocked to her Facebook page (they only had to “like” her page in order to post) to register their opinions. Gray, who appeared to have every intention of performing anyway, remarked after announcing her plan to go to Tel Aviv, that some of those urging her to boycott were “assholes(…)”
… However, her initial criticism of Israel’s occupation has invited a firestorm of racist, sexist and generally hateful diatribes from Israelis.
Blumenthal’s analysis of the Gray story drips with thinly veiled hatred of Israel. This is demonstrable through a simple exercise. Merely substitute any other nation for Israel in his post, and consider whether the resulting piece could be regarded as legitimate criticism.
Because Blumenthal operates in a sphere of anti-Israel sentiment, he feels free to affirm as if axiomatic Gray’s belief that Israel is a “disgusting” human rights violator. Were such an accusation leveled against any other nation, surely he would feel obligated to substantiate it.
Gray’s bizarre choice to ask her Facebook fans whether she should perform in Tel Aviv is offensive on its face. What if Gray asked her fans whether she should do a show in England, or Brazil, or Canada? What if she referred to those nations as “disgusting” human rights violators for “occupying” territory that, at some point in history, was held by another people? How would we expect the citizens of any such slighted nation to react?
Blumenthal shares his expectation. Israelis should have responded to Gray’s slight by “[celebrating] their continuing ability to behave as a normal society.” Who thinks like this? What people would cheer upon a celebrity’s half-hearted and likely profit-motivated acquiescence to play in their “disgusting” country? Blumenthal’s standard is ludicrous and crafted for Israel in particular, fulfilling the very definition of a bigoted sentiment.
In the absence of a substantive argument, Blumenthal adds rhetorical weight to his perspective by presenting anecdotal evidence, a handful of cherry-picked anonymous user comments from an article about Gray, which contain derogatory statements and racial epithets. He does so as if a similar sampling would not result from virtually any population thus treated anywhere in the globe. Publicly call New Yorkers “disgusting” before playing Madison Square Garden, then see what kind of tweets you get.
Blumenthal is applying a clear double-standard, the simplest explanation for which is a festering hatred for Israel. If you took the same story and switched out a random nation for Israel, Blumenthal’s commentary would be widely regarded as absurd, and Gray’s treatment of her host nation would be rightly regarded as despicable. Where are Blumenthal’s human rights complaints against Hamas? Where does he rail against the atrocious treatment of women, children, and “infidels” in the Muslim nations surrounding Israel? He doesn’t. What drives Blumenthal is not human rights, but a refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist.