Focusing on marginal hate speech as a form of ‘displacement’

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.[1] The term originated with Sigmund Freud.[2]

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…

Outrage of the day

The administrators of Martin Luther King high school in Berkeley, CA think an antisemitic rap ‘artist’ and a borderline Shoah denier are appropriate lecturers for its pupils. Somewhere in Georgia, a generator is being hooked up to the grave of MLK junior, as it started spontaneously rotating at 6,000 rpm. (MLK: “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”)

And you wonder why you couldn’t pay me enough to go live in CA again, but especially not in the Bay Area.

The article also notes that CNN’s Anderson Cooper does his best to live up to the name of Contemptible News Network, with (this time around) a PC-based defense of segregated education.

Tea Party, Charles Coughlin, and “Social Justice”

James Taranto’s Best of the Web (link to latest edition available) always eminently worthwhile, has a few items today that I cannot resist commenting on.

AOL News reports that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is backing away from a USA Today op-ed he penned with his boss, Nancy Pelosi, last August (which we criticized at the time):

Hoyer said [yesterday] that he regretted calling vocal opponents of health care reform “un-American” but compared the angry rhetoric of some Republican leaders who goad them on to the fiery rantings of a controversial Depression-era priest sympathetic to the Nazis.

Hoyer just got carried away and misspoke. He doesn’t think you’re un-American. He’s the first to acknowledge you’re as patriotic as any red-blooded Nazi-sympathizing priest!

The priest in question is, of course, none other than the infamous Father Charles E. Coughlin. Coughlin’s radio show, at its peak, reached an audience of as many as 40 million listeners — in the age before television, he was truly a mass media phenomenon.

However, Steny Hoyer might want to be careful with trying to paint him as the Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh of his age:

  • Coughlin started out his career as an enthusiastic New Deal supporter, before throwing his weight behind Huey Long. His disagreements with FDR had nothing to do with distaste for intrusive government or belief in laissez-passser capitalism — quite the reverse.
  • his main slogan, and the title of his newspaper, was, get this: “Social Justice”.
  • Coughlin was a virulent antisemite by any definition of the word. While antisemitism is today a marginal phenomenon in the Conservative movement (to the point that even L. Ron Luap’s son, Rand Paul, feels compelled to repudiate his father’s crackpot ideas on Israel), it has sadly become — fashionably disguised as “anti-Zionism” and Third-Worldism — at the very least respectable on the liberal left. [I hasten to point out that Steny Hoyer himself, whatever his faults, is a vociferous supporter of Israel.]
  • Coughlin was on the other side“anti-war”. Enough said.
  • In sum, Coughlin would find more in common with today’s Loony Liberal Left than with your average Tea Party demonstrator.

Claiming Charles Coughlin and the modern Tea Party movement have anything in common is like saying Jack Russell Terriers and Great Danes are very similar, since they both bark as well as have four legs, two ears, and a tail.