by Jay Knott
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
The following paper was submitted to The Journal of Hate Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA, USA, on March 14, 2012. It was rejected without explanation. My paper criticizes the approach the discipline of Hate Studies had taken hitherto. It argues that Hate Studies has over-estimated the extent of white racism in the USA, and neglected Zionism as a source of hate. It backs up these criticisms with evidence, and a rigorous approach to evaluating it.
The Journal of Hate Studies asks for “cutting-edge essays, theory, and research that deepens the understanding of the development and expression of hate”. The following submission for the 2012 issue of the journal (Call for Papers, Tsai, R.L., 2012) is all of the above. It argues that Zionism generates hate, and that hate studies writers have neglected it. Further, it produces evidence that hate studies researchers have exaggerated the amount of racism in white gentile America. In the process, it examines the methodologies which have led to this miscalculation, and suggests a more balanced approach.
In his paper Hate, Oppression, Repression, and the Apocalyptic Style, (2004), one of the founders of hate studies, Chip Berlet, defines the field as “inquiries into the human capacity to define, and then dehumanize or demonize, an ‘other,’ and the processes which inform and give expression to, or can curtail or combat, that capacity”. The current paper argues that Zionism includes examples of the above “human capacity”, but that no contributor to hate studies, until now, has noticed them.
Noel Ignatiev’s contribution to the Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, (2007, pp. 240–244), describes the Zionist state of Israel as a “racial state, where rights are assigned on the basis of ascribed descent or the approval of the superior race”. Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, (2006), shows how Israel was initiated by the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from their homeland, because they were not Jewish. I therefore argue that Zionism is a valid subject of hate studies.
However, a survey of the current publications of hate studies reveals a lack of concern with Zionism, in contrast to an emphasis on anti-Semitism and white racism. I illustrate this below with citations from the major works of hate studies, analyzing examples of alleged hate incidents to suggest a more scientific approach to the evaluation of hate. I cite the recommended works which allege there is an “epidemic” of hate crimes, and the one book currently in print which directly falsifies this hypothesis, Hate Crimes – Criminal Law & Identity Politics (Jacobs, J.B. & Potter, K., 1998). I make use of Steven Pinker’s recent work on the decline of violence, including hate crimes, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Pinker, S., 2011), and a number of newspaper and online reports of alleged hate crimes.
The Zionist justification for expelling Palestinians has included expressions of “the human capacity to define, and then dehumanize or demonize, an ‘other,’” (Berlet, C., 2004). When Zionist leaders recognize the Palestinians’ existence, they sometimes refer to them as “devil’s spawn” (Rachel Abrams’ weblog; 2011). Other representative epithets include “drugged cockroaches”, “two-legged animals” and “Arab scum” (according to the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, 14 January 2002, citing The New Statesman, June 25, 1982). Some Zionists go so far as to say it would be justified to kill gentile babies “if they would grow up to harm us” – Rabbi Shapira, reported by Roi Sharon in Maariv, 2009. The evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers, in a book about self-deception, The Folly of Fools, the logic of deceit and self-deception in human life, (2011), in a section entitled “False Historical Narratives”, contrasts the Zionist myth with the reality:
a racialist (and then racist) country was shoehorned into the Middle East, so that Jewish people (half and quarter also) from around the world can immediately claim citizenship to this land but none of those who were so recently expelled could do so. (p. 236).
Nevertheless, only one of the papers for hate studies’ most recent conference mentions Zionism, and not to criticize it for racism, but to ask at what point criticism of it becomes racist – “Not every criticism of Israel and Zionism was viewed as antisemitic, but on many occasions such comment served to mask antisemitism” – Michael Whine, The Community Security Trust – Best Practice in Combating Antisemitic Hate, (2011), Journal of Hate Studies (vol. 9, p. 114).
Kenneth Stern, a founder of the discipline of hate studies, vigorously defends Zionism against the “racism” charge. In his first pamphlet on anti-Semitism for the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Zionism, the Sophisticated Anti-Semitism, (1990), Stern wrote: “This anti-Semitic slander – that Zionism was racism – first appeared at the United Nations in the early 1960s” (p. 6). Even the Jewish Agency for Israel says, of the right of return for Jews, “It has been suggested that an immigration policy which explicitly gives priority to one ethnic or religious group cannot be justified in liberal democratic terms” (2004). But Stern has consistently argued that describing the Law of Return as racist, is itself racist (Stern 2006). In an extensive survey of the literature, I have been unable to find anything recommended by the hate studies department at Gonzaga University’s Bibliography of Hate Studies Materials (Thweatt, E., 2002), which agrees with the United Nations that Zionism as a form of racism.
As well as the United Nations, Stern’s complaints about “anti-Semitism” are directed at rural political movements, known as “militias”, in the USA. In 1996, Stern wrote an article for USA Today entitled Militia Mania, a Growing Danger, and published a book called A Force Upon the Plain, subtitled The American Militia Movement and the Politics of Hate, claiming that anti-Jewish attitudes are central to these movements’ ideologies (p. 246). Concern about militias is a recurrent theme in the hate studies literature (Dees, M., 1997; Berlet, C. & Lyons, M, 2000; Thweatt, E., 2002).
An example is Public Eye journal – “Researching the Right for Progressive Changemakers” – edited by hate studies pundit Chip Berlet. In her article for the journal, The Montana Human Rights Network, (2005), Abby Scher claims the following statement, from a leaflet produced by a militia in Montana, is an example of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory: “George Bush… cynically used the tragedy of September 11th to silence dissent and to launch the war for Israel his Zionist neocon handlers wanted.” Arguments for the claims that the neoconservative movement is overwhelming Zionist, and that it was instrumental in persuading the US government to attack Iraq in 2003, include scholarly ones such as those of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt (The Israel Lobby; 2007). Deciding how much truth there is in this view is beyond the scope of the present essay – my point is simply that classifying this analysis as “anti-Semitic” may tend to discourage us from asking legitimate questions.
The field of hate studies has made use of the evolutionary approach in understanding ethnic conflict, for example in publishing Harold Fishbein’s The Genetic/Evolutionary Basis of Prejudice and Hatred (2004), and James Waller’s Our Ancestral Shadow: Hate and Human Nature in Evolutionary Psychology (2004). However, less scientific ideas have also been given credit. For example Jack Levin and Jack McDevitt’s Hate Crimes, (1993), which is recommended in hate studies’ bibliography (Thweatt, E., 2002), and referenced in several papers in the field, relied on a 1950 treatise on hate and prejudice, The Authoritarian Personality (Adorno, T., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J., & Stanford, R.N., 1950): “Decades ago, the authors of The Authoritarian Personality recognized that prejudice satisfies a deep-rooted psychological need to protect or enhance self-esteem” (p. 48).
In The Authoritarian Personality, Theodor Adorno and his colleagues claimed to have found “quantifiable relations” between conservatism and anti-Semitism via the “Politico-Economic Conservatism” scale, the “Ethnocentrism” scale and the “Anti-Semitism” scale (p. 49).
The above diagram illustrates the general principle. If person A believes P and Q, and person B believes P, the likelihood that person B also believes Q is greater than the occurrence of belief Q in the general population. This is as true of any one class of beliefs as of any other. Yet the Frankfurt School believed it could derive “the determination of the potential fascist in childhood” (Adorno et al. 1950, p. 56) from this statistical banality.
The authors claimed that a German who joined the Nazis “can apparently never quite establish his personal and masculine identity; he thus has to look for it in a collective system where there is opportunity both for submission to the powerful and for retaliation against the powerless” (page 370); they did not apply this psychological explanation to Communist Party recruits of the same period.
The Frankfurt School’s approach still has influence. As a contemporary example of the use of psychoanalysis to reinforce political, and possibly racial, bias, consider Naomi Klein’s recent article about climate change for The Nation, Capitalism vs. the Climate (2011). She argued that “conservative white men” tend to disbelieve the theory of unprecedented anthropogenic global warming “because it threatens to upend their dominance-based worldview”.
Though work such as The Authoritarian Personality is taken seriously by some contributors, hate studies has also made some use of a truly scientific approach, such as the papers by Harold Fishbein and James Waller in The Journal of Hate Studies, (2004), which rely on evolutionary psychology. But no contributor so far has referenced Professor Kevin MacDonald, whose Separation and its Discontents – toward an evolutionary theory of anti-Semitism, (2004) locates the genesis of anti-Semitism in genetic interests:
An evolutionary perspective is also highly compatible with the falsity and contradictory nature of many anti-Semitic beliefs. Evolution is only concerned with ensuring accuracy of beliefs and attitudes when the truth is in the interests of those having those beliefs and attitudes. (pp. 18-19).
Steven Jacobs may be right to say, in The Last Uncomfortable “Religious Question”? in The Journal of Hate Studies, (2008), that MacDonald’s work has “been almost universally condemned”, but, since science is not a democracy, this is hardly relevant to a scholarly evaluation of his work.
At the hate studies founding conference, in his paper Hate, Oppression, Repression, and the Apocalyptic Style, (2004), Chip Berlet claimed there was “chronic underreporting” of hate crimes. There is evidence for this hypothesis. As The Leadership Conference states in the introduction to its Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America, (2009), some victims fail to report hate crimes. For example, illegal immigrants are concerned about deportation. People of color may not trust the police. Lesbian and gay victims may not want to “come out” to family members and co-workers by publicizing a homophobic hate crime.
But the scientific approach looks for refutation as well as confirmation. There is also over-reporting of hate crimes, which, if uncritically accepted, exaggerates the amount of hate in our society. I identify five variants of this phenomenon, and give examples below:
1. protected speech is sometimes listed with violent crimes under the broad label “hate incidents”;
2. the degree of hate involved in some actual crimes is exaggerated;
3. there are claims of hate crimes which didn’t happen;
4. there are “hate crimes” committed by the alleged victims themselves;
5. there are unsubstantiated assertions that hate crimes are on the increase.
As an illustration of type 1. above, consider Oregon’s Coalition Against Hate Crimes. This organization claims, on its website, to support the United Nations “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, which declares that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression”. But the Coalition contradicts itself immediately; its list of “hate incidents” equates real crimes like the murder of an Ethiopian immigrant, with a talk by a “holocaust denier” (2010). In Hate Crimes (chapter 4; 1998), James B. Jacobs and Kimberly Potter found that the term “hate incidents” has been used by a number of organizations interchangeably with “hate crimes” to exaggerate the incidence of the latter.
Hate crimes happen. For example, in Texas in 1998, African-American James Byrd was dragged behind a truck by three white men, motivated by racial hatred, until his head came off.
Other notorious cases, such as the murder of Ethiopian Mulugeta Seraw by neo-Nazi skinheads in Portland, Oregon in 1988, and of gay student Matthew Shepard in Wyoming in 1998, were not quite what subsequent political campaigns made of them. According to Elinor Langer’s book, A Hundred Little Hitlers, (2003), the Seraw case was not a premeditated lynching. Had the skinheads murdered Seraw in Florida rather than Oregon, it would not have been a hate crime: the Florida Supreme Court explicitly excluded from that category “arguments over a parking space, which escalate into fist fights accompanied by racial or other slurs” – which is exactly what the Portland case was, except a baseball bat was used (Hate Crimes, Jacobs, J.B., & Potter, K., 1998; p. 32). An investigation by Elizabeth Vargas for the ABC News program “20/20″ on December 3, 2004, described by Virginia Heffernan in the New York Times, found the assumption that the murder of Matthew Shepard was homophobic to be unsubstantiated.
Another illustration of type 2., exaggerating the amount of hate in real crimes, is the 1996 panic about “black churches” being set on fire. President Clinton said “racial hostility” was behind the crimes. But according to statistical analysis in an article about the scare by Michael Fumento in Commentary magazine, (1996), confirmed in Hate Crimes (Jacobs, J.B. & Potter, K., chapter 4; 1998),
1. the number of torched churches nationally was below average,
2. the ethnicity of the buildings had no effect on their risk of arson, and
3. there was no inverse correlation between convicted arsonists’ race and that of the churchgoers.
Type 2 is also illustrated by the one alleged anti-Semitic lynching in US history, which occurred in Georgia in 1915. It resulted in a boost in membership for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which had been founded two years earlier. The victim, Leo Frank, had been convicted of child-murder, but his death sentence had been commuted to life imprisonment; a mob abducted him from prison and hanged him from a tree. His conviction allowed the other suspect, who was black, to walk. The Anti-Defamation League’s evidence for the theory that it was an anti-Semitic lynching, in its People v. Leo Frank Teacher’s Guide, (2009), such as shouts of “Hang the Jew” from the mob, is necessary, but insufficient, to prove it. If a convicted child-killer who was not Jewish would also have been murdered, anti-Semitism had no part to play.
The Anti-Defamation League is consulted by the federal Departments of Education and Justice, the California Probation, Parole and Correctional Association, and other government bodies, according to Hate Crimes (Jacobs, J.B. & Potter, K., chapter 4; 1998). An example can be found on the Department of Justice’s web page about the Sacramento “Hate Crimes Task Force” (2010). Some years ago, the ADL was found by the San Francisco DA to have spied illegally on dozens of people and organizations, fed information about South African dissidents to the apartheid regime, and committed numerous other violations of trust (Blankfort, J., 2002).
A comprehensive survey of examples of type 3. above, completely invented hate crimes, would be beyond the scope of this paper. A small sample can be found in the appendix, Hate Crime Hoaxes, along with some examples of type 4., fake hate crimes committed by pseudo-victims.
Type 4. was discussed by Gabriel Winant in an article for Salon.com, Fake hate crimes: not just for liberals anymore, (2008). She argued that the majority of fake hate crimes consist of minority persons manipulating sympathy for personal and political gain. She suggests this is why there is an epidemic on college campuses – in this milieu, a fake hate crime victim may find sympathy even after her hoax is exposed. In San Diego, a program was announced to “address diversity issues” after a “minority student” admitted hanging up a noose and a white hood in the library at the University of California in February 2010, an example of type 4. The program, entitled Racism – Not In Our Community, includes statements like “hurtful incidents” and “ensuring diversity”. The hypothesis that racism is a problem was so strongly entrenched that evidence known to be fabricated was used to attempt to confirm it (University of California at San Diego, 2010).
Some hate studies research falls into type 5. above, the allegation that hate crimes are increasing. Mari Matsuda wrote that “a marked rise of racial harassment, hate speech, and racially-motivated violence marks the beginning of the 1990′s” in Words That Wound (1993; page 44). Jack Levin and Jack McDevitt’s Hate Crimes complained of “a rising tide of bigotry and bloodshed” at that time (1993; p. xi). Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, wrote a book entitled Gathering Storm: America’s Militia Threat, in 1997. Kenneth Stern’s article Militia Mania, a Growing Danger, (1996), claimed that local officials in rural America were being intimidated by right-wing terrorists – “According to the Rural Organizing Committee, elected officials on the local level have been forced by armed militia members who pack their meetings to enact ordinances they know are illegal, under threat of death”. The National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence alleges there is an epidemic of “ethnoviolence” in higher education facilities, but its definition of the term includes any “perceived expression of insensitivity”, including denial of tenure to an Asian-American academic, and a piece critical of affirmative action in a campus newsletter (Hate Crimes, Jacobs, J.B. & Potter, K., 1998; p. 49).
In fact, the incidence of hate crimes in the USA declined during the 1990s, continuing a century-long trend. Steven Pinker’s history of violence, The Better Angels of Our Nature, (2011; p. 385) used a chart from James Payne’s A history of force, (2004), which shows how racist lynchings declined steadily from 150 per annum in the 1880s to close to zero by the end of the 1960s. Another graph in his book covers racist murders, 1996-2008 (p. 386), using statistics from the FBI. Most of these murders were of African-Americans. The chart shows a decline from five victims per annum in 1996, to one in 2008. One is less than 0.006 percent of the total number of murders in the country per annum, approximately 17,000. James B. Jacobs and Kimberly Potter, in Hate Crimes – Criminal Law & Identity Politics, (chapter 4, Social Construction of a Hate Crime Epidemic; 1998) also studied the evidence, and analyzed the politics, of the “rising tide” hypothesis:
This chapter explains how the hate crime epidemic has been socially constructed. We identify the leading proponents of the epidemic claim – advocacy groups, the media, politicians, and academic commentators – and show that this claim lacks any empirical basis. (p. 46).
The alarmist claims of Levin, McDevitt, Stern, Matsuda, et. al. (Levin, J. & McDevitt, J., 1993; Stern, K., 1996; Matsuda, M., et. al., 1993), cannot survive the gauntlet of attempted falsification by scientific methods. Examining why they are part of the hate studies canon is beyond the scope of the current paper, but I intend to return to that question in further research.
An opportunity to subject the beliefs of some hate studies writers to scientific scrutiny occurred at Duke University in North Carolina in 2006. When a black woman accused three white students of rape, the DA said it was a “hate crime”. Stuart Taylor Jr. and K.C. Johnson’s Until Proven Innocent: political correctness and the shameful injustices of the Duke lacrosse rape case, (2007), explains the political assumptions behind the credulity which greeted the woman’s claim. As the article Duke’s Reign of Terror by local journalist Arch T. Allen, in Metro magazine, (2007), explains, with few exceptions, the local and national media were biased against the accused. The rush to judgement of some of the faculty, students and outside activists, based on nothing more than the accused students’ sex, race, and alleged class, is a valid subject of hate studies research.
Angela J. Hattery and Earl Smith, in African American Families, (2007), said the case was about how “the class and race dynamics of the individuals involved (affluent white men and a low-income African American woman) shaped this incident differently from how it would have been shaped had they been absent”. The case does reinforce that view, but in the opposite direction to the one these theorists believe. Instead of doing empirical research into the difference between how the Duke three, and black students accused of similar crimes, were treated, they assumed that “members of the team are almost perfect offenders in the sense that Kimberlé Crenshaw writes about – the exemplars of the upper end of the class hierarchy, the politically dominant race and ethnicity, the dominant gender, the dominant sexuality, and the dominant social group on campus”. Inspired by these words, and similar analyses (Matsuda et. al. 1993; Fish, S., 1994; Crenshaw et. al. 1996; Berlet C., & Lyons, M., 2000), eighty-eight academics signed a statement implying the students’ guilt by saying something “happened to this young woman”, but carefully avoiding saying what it was. The document in which they made this allegation subsequently disappeared, without explanation, from the African and African-American Studies website.
After the students’ lawyers uncovered the truth, the DA was dismissed, and his replacement said the students were “innocent”, rather than just “not guilty”, their academic accusers had an opportunity to reflect on the flaws in their methodology which led to their mistake. Instead, after the case, “I am less interested in trafficking through declarations of guilt and innocence in the case”, wrote one of the eighty-eight professors who had “trafficked” in the declaration of guilt (Taylor & Johnson, 2007).
I argue that hate studies should insist that a theory’s claims are subject to testing and reevaluation, and changing its predictions when they are falsified ought not to be acceptable.
“Whenever an ideology justifies baby-killing – even at the fringes of the fringes – that is an especially strong danger signal” – Kenneth Stern, A Force Upon the Plain. (1996, p. 249).
“There is justification for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us” – “The complete guide to killing non-Jews” – Yitzhak Shapira and Yossi Elitzur, rabbis in the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva, Yitzhar, near Nablus, reported by Roi Sharon in Maariv (2009).
The influence of Zionism extends beyond Israel. Consider Rachel Abrams, who is married to Elliot Abrams, an influential advisor to the US government, who served under presidents George Bush Senior and Ronald Reagan, describing, in her weblog, the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from captivity by Hamas in October 2011:
Celebrate, Israel, with all the joyous gratitude that fills your hearts, as we all do along with you. Then round up his captors, the slaughtering, death-worshipping, innocent-butchering, child-sacrificing savages who dip their hands in blood and use women — those who aren’t strapping bombs to their own devils’ spawn and sending them out to meet their seventy-two virgins by taking the lives of the school-bus-riding, heart-drawing, Transformer-doodling, homework-losing children of Others — and their offspring — those who haven’t already been pimped out by their mothers to the murder god — as shields, hiding behind their burkas and cradles like the unmanned animals they are, and throw them not into your prisons, where they can bide until they’re traded by the thousands for another child of Israel, but into the sea, to float there, food for sharks, stargazers, and whatever other oceanic carnivores God has put there for the purpose. (2011).
Hate studies would be enriched by studying how the influence of Zionism can produce this kind of hate. It would have more credibility if claims of the prevalence of white racism were evaluated more scientifically. It would also benefit by examining examples of hoaxes by which resentful members of minorities, encouraged by academic exaggerations of the extent of white privilege, contributed to a positive feedback loop, which appeared to confirm the hypothesis that the USA is suffering from a rising tide of bigotry and hate.
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