This time of year it is worth remembering Mein Kampf, the turgid and unreadable Bible of the Nazi movement that was published back in July of 1925. The last time I looked, you could still buy it at the international airport newstand in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur — along with other classics of anti-Semitism like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the collected rants of Henry Ford in the Dearborn Independent. Jeffrey Goldberg tells me that he recently saw Hitler’s masterwork on the bestseller shelf of the Borders book store at the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai.
When Hitler wrote, it was still socially OK to be an anti-Semite. In some circles it was mandatory. As a consequence of Hitler’s life’s work, it is now as unfashionable to be an anti-Semite as it is to name your child Adolf.
The truth is that anti-Semitism is alive and well and not even particularly rare; it’s just that many of today’s anti-Semites like to think of themselves as enlightened, modern people and get all huffy and hissy if anyone accuses them of prejudice in any form. Many who in past times would have been open and honest about their anti-Semitism, now try to hide the truth even from themselves.
But anti-Semitism involves belief in any or all of the following ideas:
Jews are more clannish than other people and act in concert to support a specifically Jewish agenda.
Jews deploy extraordinary wealth with almost superhuman cunning in support of the Jewish agenda.
As a religious and national minority, Jews cannot flourish without attacking the traditional values of their host society. In every country Jews seek to weaken national culture, religion, values and cohesion.
Jews are not a national group or a people in the way that others are; they do not have the same right to establish a nation state that other peoples do.
Where Jewish interests are concerned, the appearance of open debate in our society and many others is a carefully constructed illusion. In reality, Jews work together to block open debate on issues they care about and those who resist the Jewish agenda are marginalized in public discussion.
These ideas are the five pillars of anti-Semitism; you don’t have to believe them all — any one will do. Being an anti-Semite does not necessarily make you a Nazi. You are an anti-Semite. That doesn’t make you a Nazi; Hitler added a sixth pillar of anti-Semitism that the only way to successfully oppose the Jewish agenda was to kill all the Jews.
Since Hitler’s death, the world has defined anti-Semitism down. Nurturing ancient fantasies of secret Jewish cabals that control the media and play politicians like puppets on a string, and making political judgments based on these fantasies isn’t sort of or almost anti-Semitic. To believe that Jews control public discourse and the media and bend the gentile masses to their sinister agenda is the essence of old fashioned anti-Semite. In some countries these beliefs are so common that they are no longer recognized as an aggressive and communicable mental disease. These ideas have become so widely accepted that they are seldom questioned or examined; when that happens, a whole society is poisoned and distorted.
On the anniversary of Mein Kampf‘s publication people of good will everywhere should remember the need to fight one of the most vicious forms of prejudice that the world has ever known. Prejudice never recognizes itself; anti-Semites honestly think their delusional beliefs about Jews are simple, obvious truths. They are not; all five of those beliefs are demonstrably false.
In Nazi Germany people were imprisoned and even killed for trying to fight anti-Semitism. In America we are free to fight it, but too many of us choose to ignore this hate that dares not speak its name. Anti-Semitism is real, it is murderous, and it is very much with us today. Speak the truth and shame the devil. Whatever your religion, your politics, your views about Israeli policy, fighting anti-Semitism is part of what it means to be a decent human being.
We must all do our part to keep this filthy hatred in the ignominious pit where it belongs.