Laura Rosen Cohen reflects on a recent incident in Canada:
A Quebec broadcaster let someone on his show and “Maria” proceeded to call Israelis dogs, and talk about how the Holocaust was the best thing to have ever happened, and say all kinds of other things about Jews.
The host warned her that one must be careful about saying things about Jews because the conversation can easily get shut down, that’s it’s a sensitive topic.
Well first of all, the person trying to insult me by calling me a dog needs to work a little harder, since I can think of quite a few categories of humans that make dogs look excellent in comparison — such as antisemites, apologists for islamofascism, fascist sympathizers (whether their favorite color of fascism be black, brown, red, or green), and of course Chicago Machine hacks. My answer to the kook and her host would probably be something along these lines (NSFW, especially in Italy).
Laura bemoans the excessive amount of attention devoted by Canada’s establishment (and left-leaning) Jewish organizations to combating a few marginal antisemitic kooks, to the detriment of fighting much greater, clearer, and more present dangers elsewhere. While I quibble with some of the language and specifics of her post, her general points — including that the answer to ‘hate speech’ is not ‘hate speech laws’ but better counterspeech — are well taken.
But I believe something else is at work, namely the psychological defense mechanism known as displacement:
an unconscious defense mechanism whereby the mind redirects affects from an object felt to be dangerous or unacceptable to an object felt to be safe or acceptable. The term originated with Sigmund Freud.
A special case of displacement I have discussed on these pages: incompetent managers, when faced with problems that are clearly too big for them, single out some small, insignificant aspect of the problem, redefine that as “the” problem, attack that, and declare success.
In this case, the establishment Jewish community organizations are afraid to tackle the really serious problems — because that would, inter alia, make them no longer salonfähig among the cocktail party set, or cause a confrontation with a type of imported fascist that may actually try to kill you. Or, for those deeply invested in left-wing world views, it may entail a reassessment of values and realignment of loyalties more comprehensive than they can handle. Much simpler to ‘displace’ onto a few marginal remnants of the “ancient enemy” (which command no public sympathy) than to try and face the “new enemy” which all too many consider the wave of the future…