Saturday, August 4, 2012

Roman Polanski, Gore Vidal, and "Charges of Anti-Semitism"

Goddamnit, I get tired of this.

So I wander over to Tiger Beatdown, to see what the hardcore feminists are talking about, and as it happens, they're talking righteous smack about the newly late Gore Vidal, and his defense of Roman Polanski. I am still, as it happens, unbelievably angry about the spineless, unbelievable defense of Polanski exhibited by far too many Hollywood names ('rape-rape', Whoopi? WTF?), so I settle down for a quick read.

Now, apparently Vidal said this: "The idea that this girl was in her communion dress, a little angel all in white, being raped by this awful Jew, Polacko – that’s what people were calling him – well, the story is totally different now from what it was then."  And then right in the middle of the take-down of Vidal's victim-blaming and viciousness, I get this, not from Gore Vidal, but from blogger Garland Grey:
"I take charges of Anti-Semitism very seriously, but I also know that sometimes (as when people show even a sliver of support or concern for the state of Palestine and its people) accusations of such are misused to shut the conversation all the way down."

I wrote a quick response on the comment thread:

I agree that accusations of anti-Semitism were used to deflect blame in the Polanski case, and avoid confronting his actual rape and abuse of this young woman.

You should, however, be aware that the formulation used above, that accusations of anti-Semitism are used to control conversation about the Israel/Palestine conflict, is, in fact, often used to cover for actual anti-Semitism, and to provide people with an excuse for not learning the real history of the conflict, or taking responsibility for the bigotry they may speak.

It's remarkably similar to many other accusations about people 'playing the race card', and it plays a similar function.

Was there some reason for bringing in an unrelated topic to illustrate your idea that people sometimes lie about the bigotry they face? Or was it easier than explaining why you don't believe anti-Semitism was a factor in the Polanski case?

That was was much more restrained and polite than I felt like being. There's a fine line between trying educate and just wanting to break stuff, and this makes me want to break stuff. For real? Is there some way this does not break down into "I take accusations of anti-Semitism very seriously, but Jews and their friends sometimes lie about it, anyway, to shut people up, you know, like if you show any sympathy (a 'sliver') for the Palestinian people, so I guess I can dismiss this contention of Gore Vidal's without seeming like I'm not giving it enough attention, because this is just another example of using charges of anti-Semitism to make people be quiet"?

Is there another form of racism that a serious anti-oppression blogger would treat like this? I'm betting not.

It's really pretty funny, because I think Polanski is scum, so it's fairly hard to offend me when railing on him and his defenders. I wouldn't have blinked if the writer had simply said she thought Vidal was full of shit on the anti-Semitism issue re: Polanski.

Hilarious, too, is the fact that Vidal himself was an anti-Semite fond of veiling his hate in rants about Israel:

Commenting for the Huffington Post on his infamous 1986 piece "The Empire Lovers Strike Back", David Greenberg writes:

It was the kind of piece that should give pause to those who ritually deny that anti-Zionism is rooted in anti-Semitism; it should be read in full. Describing the Podhoretzs as propagandists for Israel (“in its never-ending wars against just about everyone … a predatory people”), he cast Podhoretz, who was born in the United States, as someone who would never become “an ‘assimilated American,’ to use the old-fashioned terminology.” Addressing Decter, he declared, “I’ve got to tell you I don’t much like your country, which is Israel.”

So unquestioningly has this idea been accepted, that calling anti-Semitism by name is only a way to 'shut the conversation down', that it now creeps into conversations as far afield from Israel as this. Charming. Really charming.

1 comment:

Juniper in the Desert said...

From comments I have read elsewhere, it seems Gore Vidal liked underage boys and was a founder of some group in the late sixties, 'old men and young boys', or something. This may explain his defence of Polanski on this occasion.