The Oldest Bigotry

Mireille Knoll believed that Paris was her city. As an article in the New York Times recounted,

She believed this despite the fact that it was also the city where, when she was 9 years old, the police rounded up 13,000 of the city’s Jews, 4,000 of them children, and crammed them into Vélodrome d’Hiver, a cycling stadium, before shipping them to their deaths at Auschwitz. Ms. Knoll narrowly escaped this largest French deportation of Jews during the Holocaust and fled to Portugal with her mother.

After the war, she married a man who had survived Auschwitz. She returned to her native land where she built a home and raised a family. French to her core, she stayed in Paris even as her grandchildren moved to Israel.

Last week, Ms. Knoll was stabbed eleven times, and her apartment was set on fire. French authorities have confirmed that the motive was anti-semitism. She wasn’t the first in her neighborhood, either. In another incident found to have been motivated by anti-semitism, almost exactly a year ago, a 65-year-old Jewish widow named Sarah Halimi was murdered by her neighbor, 27-year-old Kobili Traoré.

The truth of the matter is that Jews have made handy targets throughout history, and the assaults have come from all directions, and in all countries.

Anti-Semitism, like other bigotries, ebbs and flows; right now, with the global growth of explicit white nationalism, it is on the rise.The Guardian has reported that such incidents hit an all-time high in the UK last year. Here in the U.S., the Anti-Defamation League recently catalogued 1,986 occurrences in its 2017 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, up from 1,267 in 2016. That made it the highest single-year increase since the organization released its first audit in 1979.

Most observers attribute America’s increase in hate crimes to a toxic political environment that has increased tribal animosities and sparked bigotries of all kinds. Donald Trump–whose election was substantially attributable to what polite researchers call “racial resentment”–regularly stokes the stereotypes and conspiracy theories that give rise to those resentments.

Trump regularly recycles far-right propaganda. Recently he tweeted out an anti-immigrant message that cited a group known for promoting pieces authored by anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers: the ambiguously-named Center for Immigration Studies. The organization was founded by John Tanton, a Michigan ophthalmologist whose racist beliefs

stirred him to create a network of organizations with a simple agenda: heavily restricting the immigration levels to the United States in order to maintain a white majority. As Tanton himself wrote in 1993, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”

Trump and his supporters have waged unremitting war against “political correctness”–their term for the social norms that deter people from engaging in public expressions of bigotry. Trump himself exhibits–daily–the sorts of attitudes and behaviors that decent people teach their children to avoid.

Is it any wonder that unhappy and unpleasant people look at this President and his supporters and see permission to act out their most despicable biases?

One of the reasons so many Jews support organizations working for equal rights and social justice is that we have learned from our history. Jews and other minorities are only safe in open and inclusive societies–societies where all citizens are equal before the law, in legal systems where your “tribe” is legally irrelevant.

Of course, it’s not just members of groups that have historically been targets. Trump’s efforts to subvert the foundational American principle of civic equality doesn’t just threaten minorities. It threatens us all.


  1. I’m not sure about “social norms” telling us not to hate. I think it goes against our innate moral compass. Bigotry is fear. Why are white-Europeans afraid of folks who are different? Why do middle-easterners fear jews?

    Is it because of our history dating back to the bible? Is it due to the illegal land grab from Palestinians for the sake of rebuilding Israel?

    Cause of effect. One of the more interesting cases to study.

  2. Hmm… a rise in Antisemitism, right wing groups rising in strength, a Fascist bastard for a ‘leader’, Jewish activism, LGBTQ people on the move… The ‘christian right’ supporting the ‘leader’… what could go wrong? It is a sad thing but those who FORGET HISTORY are doomed to repeat it… but HOW MANY TIMES?

  3. Manuel,

    “It is a sad thing but those who FORGET HISTORY are doomed to repeat it… but HOW MANY TIMES?”

    Every time. The current wave of anti-Semitism in the U.S. goes back to Jerry Fallwell’s trip to Israel right after the 1967 war. It didn’t take him long before he and his friends maneuvered the Jews into a lose/lose position. You don’t have to be a genius to do that. It’s the easiest game in town. Even the likes of a Donald Trump can play it.

  4. Anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry ebbs and flows but never dies out due to being based in hatred which, like the ability to love and to think, is inborn in all of us; what we do with it is the telling factor about each of us. Anti-Semitism is without a doubt “The Oldest Bigotry” but I believe it is also the cause of Judaism also being hidden; unlike different race in which the superficial (skin deep) differences are obvious. White Privilege is, and always has been, a minority but has always held the upper-hand by sheer force and wealth, not by numbers. As I said yesterday in “A Better Future?”; we are all now in the position of being forced to fight the same tyrannical leadership in this country for our very survival. And as Marv has so often tried to tell us, anti-Semitism is a strong baseline running through this government and the entire country. The increase is covert, but it is there and is reported (sorry, Marv) by the SPLC and other like organizations regularly in their works and their publications, it is not at the forefront because they work to support many minorities singularly or in groups.

    “One of the reasons so many Jews support organizations working for equal rights and social justice is that we have learned from our history. Jews and other minorities are only safe in open and inclusive societies–societies where all citizens are equal before the law, in legal systems where your “tribe” is legally irrelevant.”

    “Of course, it’s not just members of groups that have historically been targets. Trump’s efforts to subvert the foundational American principle of civic equality doesn’t just threaten minorities. It threatens us all.”

    If counted together, have we minorities become a majority number in this country? If so; we need to combine our numbers and our efforts if we are to overcome the current threat to all our lives. Or are we willing, like the situation with Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote for president by millions of votes but still lost the election, to allow the reasons for that loss (a loss to the entire country) to continue as we seem to have allowed “The Oldest Bigotry” to become the oldest bigotry along with the rise in racism?

    Is it coincidence that this is the issue of today’s blog; today when the front page of the Indianapolis Star has a large front page headline and picture; “Eva Kor was not always so forgiving”? The movie of her survival of the Holocaust and surviving her own hatred to reach a state of forgiveness will premiere to a sold-out crowd Thursday night at Clowes Hall and will air in the fall on WFYI. Her book, “Echoes From Auschwitz” is the story of the survival of her and her twin sister, Miriam, of Dr. Mengele’s medical experiments.

  5. Manuel – The YOUNG PEOPLE are coming. Let’s quit the mysticism and use our heads on November 6th. We MUST unseat this Republican majority. It’s within our grasp. It will make it possible to unseat this Orange Ogre or at least put a leash on him.
    No more prayer, Manuel. Religion truly is the opiate of the people. No super being is going to fix this disaster. We must do it at the polls in November if an NRA lover doesn’t do it sooner.
    We were hoodwinked but we’re wiser now.

  6. It all comes down to the political-religious concept that White Male Christians are the “Chosen ones” and everyone else is inferior. It’s nothing more than a massive, disgusting political power play.

  7. JoAnn,

    “The increase is covert, but it is there and is reported (sorry, Marv) by the SPLC and other like organizations regularly in their works and their publications, it is not at the forefront because they work to support many minorities singularly or in groups.”

    When did I ever say that the SPLC didn’t report incidents of anti-Semitism. My criticism has always been that you had to do more than just monitor and report on Far Right extremism. The SPLC and its partner [ADL] have never taken a deep look at the causes of anti-Semitism; to do so would have agitated the Religious Right/Far Right which would for all probabilities have jeopardized the enormous aid to Israel.

    And if anyone wanted to go deeper, the Anti-Defamation League [ADL] and their Jewish allies were there to make sure they were taken care of and not gently. I know that first hand. Just ask Bill Moyers who received the treatment after he exposed the Southern Baptist Convention and its covert anti-Semitism in “The Dallas-Times Herald” in 1988.

    Morris Dees is not Jewish but his friend and co-partner from the beginning is.

  8. Anti Semitism does not mean the same thing as Anti Jew. One answer for Europe is that they know more about some things than we do. Of course, it is simplistic to ascribe the problem to their tendency to import Muslims. Anyone who relies upon the Satanic,Pathetic, Lying, Cretins organization also needs to look for truth rather than their easy lies. EG. No comment on this thread about the resident Bigot Editor/Owner of the Indianapolis Business Journal? Why not?
    Who has read Two Hundred Years Among Us? It has long been available in Russian, German, and French but NOT in English (though there is now a suspect translation available). Ask the precious ADL why and why Europeans have long known more about the behavior of Jews than have Americans. Note too, 4,000,000 non Jews were also murdered by the Nazis but you never hear about them, only the 6,000,000 count? The author, Norman Finkelstein spoke here in Indianapolis about his book, The Holocaust Industry. Pappe did as well, concerning his book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. People in Europe are familiar with Ethnic Cleansing. People in America ought to know then, some of the valid reasons Europeans would be anti Jew……the semitism has nothing to do with the valid reasons.

  9. When I saw the story of this poor woman late yesterday afternoon I was both horrified but also furious about it. To think of her having survived so much and then have her life snuffed out in such a reprehensible way jarred me to the quick. I have never understood in antisemitism just like I’ve never understood other forms of racism or ethnic hatred in its various forms. I thank my parents for that but also I guess just how I am wired as a person. This behavior has no place in a civilized society and never has had a place in any civilized society yet it’s gone on for centuries like some sort of fungal growth that lies dormant and then has outbreaks and contagion and has to be eradicated over and over.

    My late father served all through the European Theater of Operations during the Second World War as an army combat engineer and served from North Africa to Sicily to Italy to France to Holland to Belgium and then into Germany. The last thing he and his unit did was to help liberate the Dachau concentration camp in Germany in April 1945.
    Like most combat veterans, he didn’t go into a lot of details regarding the horrors of total war and destruction that he saw across two continents over the course of 3 ½ years as a man in his mid twenties although I pestered him for years to do so. He would normally tell me funny stories of just life in the army unless we’d be out shoveling snow and then he get a faraway look on his face and start telling me about some of these experiences in the Battle the Bulge. I know now that that faraway look is what combat soldiers call the 1000 yard stare where you are constantly surveying everything in your line of sight looking for the enemy and as a veteran it never leaves you.

    Shortly before my dad passed away in 1985 my family and I sat together and watched the award winning television series “Holocaust”. During one of the last episodes of the series, when the principals of the story are in the camps, I happened to look over at my dad while he was sitting in his easy chair, as he called it, and I saw tears streaming down his face and his lower lip quivering. I asked him, dad what’s wrong? He had never told me before that his unit had helped to liberate Dachau.

    The first thing out of his mouth was that it didn’t make sense to them and these were hardened soldiers that it been through lots of combat and my dad especially, having been in five invasions always in the first wave to clear the beaches for every one that followed. He said that they were driving down the road in their vehicles, halftracks with quad .50 caliber machine guns, howitzers, and all the engineering related vehicles they had with them along with a mobile field kitchen. All of a sudden, they noticed to their right individuals coming out of the woods that ringed both sides of the road they were on. Initially some of them thought they were ghosts which startled them greatly. Then they realized they were people dressed in gray and white striped uniforms with many of them being near starvation. They stopped their convoy, dismounted, and attempted to aid these people and feed them, still trying to figure out what was going on. Unfortunately, their field kitchen only had milk products on hand so when they tried to feed them they became violently ill and their medics had to step in to help them.

    When they entered the camp they saw what was just unbelievable to them and, again, these were heartened battle tested soldiers that it’s seen incredibly horrific things up to that point but this was beyond their comprehension. I must say I was just spellbound as were my siblings when our father relayed this experience to us because I had never heard it before and I know they hadn’t either.

    There’s a famous photograph of Generals Patton, Bradley, and others that had toured the camp immediately after its liberation where in the photograph there is a pile of dead German guards shot by paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division at their feet. All these individuals had the look of complete disgust on their faces and behind this scene was in line of American soldiers looking on and on the very far left side of the photograph there is a dark haired soldier that looks a lot like me. Whether it was actually my father I don’t know but I always think about that when I see the photograph wondering if it was him. In any case, what my dad saw were the results of the ultimate expression of antisemitism and the barbarism of man and the idea that any group of people was better than another. The fact that such ideas have had a resurgence both in Europe and in this country is horrific and that perhaps all of us need to take stock of what very tired, war weary Allied soldiers saw at the end of the Second World War when they entered Central Germany just as Russian troops saw when they crossed Poland into Germany. It jarred them for the rest of their lives.

  10. I hope you can all see by Leon Dixon’s comments, criticizing the ADL is one hell of a problem. But there is no other choice. The ADL chose to defend the massive aid to Israel at the expense of allowing runaway anti-Semitism in the U.S.

    The actions of the ADL are very understandable, but they cannot be condoned. Unless you don’t give a damn for the future of Democracy; Or whatever is left of it.

  11. It’s a natural liberal thing to think about the victims first but it’s important to remember that they were victims; they caused nothing. Good problem solving begins with causes not effects.

    The cause is entitlement; are authoritarians; is reaction to the threat of freedom: everyone equal.

    We are the cause of an improving, more free world, a liberal democracy as our founders intended. They knew that they would have to fight for freedom. We are either too or not.

    If we are up to the challenge we need to accept like they did the reality of united we stand, divided we fall.

    Democracy gives us the possibility of a death free war vs a death prone peace as Sheila’s reporting illustrates.

    November isn’t that far away. The more united our response then the more effective and sustainable will be our victory.

  12. Beginning with the weird premise: “Anti Semitism does not mean the same thing as Anti Jew. “, one gets a view of what flying off the rails looks like.

    It IS about tribalism, fear, religion and power. It always has been. Judaism is almost 8,000 years old. Judaism has ALWAYS been the target of other castes, religions and bigotry. Why?

    Religion is sold to us as the great appreciation of our creator, yet no respect for “other” religions comes from this. Why not? Anti-semitism IS the same as anti-Jew! It is the same for ALL religions. Hell, there are over 2,000 “sects” of Christianity. All religions claim to be THE most important and “true” religion.

    Humans will forever live inside their primitive minds of tribalism, because it was the tribe that ensured our survival as a species. The bad news behind this evolution was that humans became “intelligent” and learned to manipulate one another, both within and without the tribe.

    The hate will always be there no matter what leaders come along. The hate for Obama because he was black was a true embarrassment for our country. The unleashing and enabling of that hatred – from the same people – gave us Trump, and Trump will keep beating that drum until he is gone. He’s as backward as the haters. He’s as stupid as hate is itself in a “modern” society.

  13. leon; if you have a dictionary, look up anti-Semitism for the actual meaning of the term.

    On the other hand; if you are Gopper, reincarnated under the pseudonym “leon dixon”, we understand that you gave up your dictionary after the 6th grade…which explains a lot about your comments. Except for your limited self-image using lower case letters in your name.

  14. The following is from “The Redemption of Democracy” by Hermann Rauschning (Alliance Book Corporation, New York, 1941) p. 56

    From a Discussion of Anti-Semitism in America during the 30’s and early 40’s:

    “Above all there was the Jewish question. In view of the large Jewish element in the cities, and the position of its members in the American new-rich, it seemed mere CHILD’S PLAY to fan anti-Semitism, and thus to set off the revolutionary forces, as had been done in Germany. Jew-bating, in which the National Socialists have gradually attained a practiced unscrupulousness by no means fully displayed in Julius Streicher’s paper, is the means of creating initial propaganda cliques throughout the world. Already now we can realize the part played in the French success by anti-Semitism, combined with the war on Freemasonry [my maternal grandfather was a Mason]. It was so in Poland, so in Czechoslovakia, so in Austria. EVERYWHERE ANTI-SEMITISM WAS THE ENTERING WEDGE FOR DISINTEGRATION, FOR THE SPLITTING UP OF THE BODY POLITIC, FOR THE SATISFYING OF ECONOMIC ENVY AND THE LAUNCHING OF A REVOLUTIONARY ATTACK ON PROPERTY.”

    Whatever mistakes that have been made by the SPLC/ADL, knowingly or not knowingly, must be faced up to. We have no other SANE choice in this matter. This potential political catastrophe, as Rauschning has so well pointed out , is not just a Jewish problem; It’s a problem for the whole Planet.

  15. My now deceased sister in law, Avivah, was from Tel Aviv and the daughter of a Christian missionary sent from Britain to Israel to convert Jews to Christianity. He failed, of course, but she used to tell us how she was harassed by her Jewish classmates, called a “Christian dog,” etc. It appears that the problem is tribalism and that religion is a mere protective cover for the assumed right to trash those of a different tribe. All are guilty, as it were, though the horrors perpetrated by Hitler could never be forgiven under any circumstances. Murders and putdowns don’t belong in the same sentence in a civilized society.

    I did not see the horrors of the European concentration camps during WW II, being otherwise engaged with the Toyota makers in the South Pacific, though I enlisted at age 17 for the avowed purpose of “killing Hitler.” Killing the bad guys or the good guys doesn’t seem to affect the baked-in idea of tribalism, and that cancer is what we must excise. How to do it is the question and about all I can think of in how to accomplish such a task is via education, example and political action, including but not limited to criminal statutes both state and federal defining hate crimes designed to protect Jews, Muslims, Christians, same sexes and anyone else from tribal abuse. I am open to better ideas on how to redo our tribal instincts, so I here invite such ideas to be considered to that end from my fellow commentators. We will get no help from Trump, of course, but November is on the horizon.

  16. Gerald,

    We must make it a Federal law that all Americans must wear a facial tattoo that says, “USA”. Then, our new “war” paint will make us all of one tribe. LOL.

  17. A libertarian view, And, most intelligent people know about the Whig version of History. Quite a lot of recent “history” on these matters is quite revisionist and Stalin-like. We sneer at Stalin’s lies but ought to hold everyone to truth. The Crucifixion of Russia by Columbus Falco is a new translation. I don’t know how reliable it may be. But, anyone who wishes to brand Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as an anti semite is welcome to attempt such foolishness. Honest Jews might inquire as to why this major work was not made available to Americans. Solzhenitsyn’s original title was Two Hundred Years Among Us……which would be enough notice for the well read to understand the topic.

  18. Vern – If I thought that would work I would support it, but I think the problem is underneath the war paint, as in, are our tribal instincts so baked-in as never to be removed, or can they somehow be removed – or at least weakened with experience and connections with those not of our tribe? Has the melting in our “melting pot” stopped melting, and if so, what can be done about it? Any PhDs in sociology on this blog care to hazard a guess?

  19. Racism is innate according to my sociology courses. White babies shown photos of black people will cry and black babies shown photos of white people will cry as well. We must overcome this.

    Tom…your Dad’s story made me cry.

  20. Gerald,

    It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in Sociology to understand the problems you so clearly stated. Economics and social status drive our prejudices. Re-read “Pygmalian” or watch “My Fair Lady”. It’s always been there, no matter the race.

  21. I have always been open and affirming in my approach to people of other tribes, be it Jews, Blacks, or whomever, but I find a line when it comes to the treatment of Palestinians by Jews today in their own country. It is worse than apartheid in South Africa and cannot be tolerated, but I understand why and have no resolution for the situation beyond feeling the need to recognize and acknowledge it.

  22. The sexism involved in Ms. Hobbs murder should be noted. An older Jewish woman murdered by a middle eastern young male thug. What brought out his assertion over ending her life? Hate forces are definitely unleashed and on the rise. We’ve seen from history how hate movements can grow (Nazism) and dominate. My Mom a WW11 Nurse stationed in Austria in a war zone told us as kids how she took care of people who looked like human skeletons, when they came out of death camps. Dad who was in battle several times in France would just say “War is Hell”! What can we do to keep history from repeating itself?

  23. I read this column today and thought I knew how the comments would unfold. I was wrong. I saddens me greatly that most people commenting expect things to get worse – at least in the short term. While I do not disagree with this assessment, I was expecting some bit of optimism on this subject. I do not want this trend of hate to continue but I don’t know what to do as this hate escalates.

  24. Amen to Charlie Belch’s comments. War crimes and discrimination against any group of people because of their religion or race or national origin or handicap or income level or gender or sexual orientation are abhorrent. Some need to denigrate others to feel superior themselves. This is particularly dangerous in people with political or economic or populist power.

  25. “Is it due to the illegal land grab from Palestinians for the sake of rebuilding Israel?”Theft, Todd, is theft and the stealing of land, buildings and lives of people is what Israel has done. Most civilized people, when made aware of these criminal actions, view Israel as less that what the propaganda puts out. As to the black babies, that is complete bs. Visit the child play area at the Indianapolis Museum for Children and see how Black babies are treated by children….Of course they are dolls but the kids don’t know any racism at all. As for all that lament about objectively disordered people, it is stupid to extend to them any sort of equality when their actions bleed society because of their peculiar behaviors. EG, if there is a “gay” community then perhaps they could run their own health insurance plan and pay for the expenses. Most such plans exclude race car drivers, they exclude sky divers, ….you get the point? Social issues have social costs and ignoring the costs tends to make the costs increase. See also, demise of Black Family due to government policies….with white trash stats following closely behind…As for the IBJ bigot, why not take him on?

  26. It’s easy for me to choose between an authoritarian world like Leon’s and a liberal world like Sheila’s.

    That’s our choice this Nov.

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