Simon Hardy Butler
Simon Hardy Butler

Trump Defenders’ Weird Anti-Semitism

I thought Jews were supposed to be smart.

Ever hear that one before? It’s a phrase that, in various iterations, is being disseminated on social media by numerous Donald Trump supporters in reference to the predilections of many American Jews for championing Democratic U.S. presidential candidates. The argument, according to these weirdly bigoted individuals, is that Republicans care about Israel more than the other major party’s members—especially Hillary Clinton, whom they blame for siding against the Jewish state. Jews, you see, are voting for people who hate them. Why do they do that?

Aren’t they supposed to be smart?

It may strike folks as amusing to complain about this kind of rhetoric, but it’s not as benign as it may seem. This is another kind of hate speech, an anti-Semitism as disturbing as any that pegs all people Hebraic as dirty, big-nosed, money-grubbing thieves doomed to wander without a home for all time while infecting civilized communities with their filth. The reason: It’s a vast generalization, and like all such blanket statements, it casts an assumptive net, making a universal conjecture without accounting for the single, unique unit. Plus, it’s not a positive characterization; it actually denigrates Judaism’s adherents by propagating two stereotypes at once—that Jews are intelligent because, of course, they’re all doctors or financiers or lawyers or in some such profession deemed reachable only by brainiacs who fit into naïfs’ typecast world, and that Jews are stupid despite the fact that everyone mistakenly believes them to be smart. Thinking any lady or gentleman is “supposed” to be anything because of his or her heritage is sophistic, anyway, yet this sort of philosophy is particularly scary, owing to its prejudicial undertones.

Jews are this. Jews are that.

If Jews are anything, they’re not trivial stuff to be pigeonholed.

The concept that Jews are self-destructive because quite a few are wary of Trump is a specious verbal trap set by those who claim to know better than we do about what may benefit us. We’re not smart enough to realize it, even though we’re supposed to be. You see what I mean?

We don’t know what’s good for us.

Does that kind of reasoning sound familiar? A little imperialistic, n’est-ce pas? Kind of like the colonizers back in the day who professed to understand the needs of the “childish” and “primitive” natives they aimed to “civilize” with Western mores?

I don’t think this is too far-fetched.

Anti-Semitism unfortunately remains a powerful force in this era, and it’s highly creative. I thought Jews were supposed to be smart is a new-ish variation on a tried-and-untrue theme, but it’s still the same old intolerance … only this time it’s wrapped in shiny paper. We’re not expected to take umbrage, as it’s meant to be complimentary, right? Anyone who says this type of thing likes Jews, no?

No. It smacks of bias akin to any other. And those who subscribe to such ideologies may not really have Jews’ well-being in mind.

Just my two shekels.

About the Author
Simon Hardy Butler is a writer and editor living in New York City. He has written for publications ranging from Zagat to Adweek and has interviewed innumerable people—including two Auschwitz survivors whose story may be heard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website. His views and opinions are his own.
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