On David Duke and Broad vs Narrow Anti Semitism

There are anti Semites, and there are anti Semites. Is David Duke an anti Semite? In the broad sense, sure, he has a generally negative opinion of Jews. He has said things that aren’t nice about Jews. Well, so have I.

But is he really an anti Semite in the narrow sense? No, because he does not advocate or commit violence against Jews, not as far as I know. If he has, I invite you to send me evidence. “If President I would kill Jews” would count. Or “People should have the right to murder Jews with impunity” would also count. Or “All Jews should be expelled from their property and placed in prison,” would be anti Semitic. Did he ever say these kinds of things? Maybe, but I couldn’t find anything.

As a “grandmaster” of the Ku Klux Klan, he has accused Jews of being ethnic supremacists, conspiring to wipe out the white race, and other things, all based on minor truths. Ethnic supremacy means Jews consider themselves chosen above other groups. Well, we do. We say it every day. In fact, it’s one of the first things we say in the morning.

While we don’t really have active plans to “wipe out the white race” our eschatology generally puts us at the top of the cultural food chain, with us leading the world when the Moshiach comes, or something close to that. Other people may find that annoying. I find it annoying that Christians assume all Jews will convert to Christianity, but then again I don’t demonize all Christians as having active plans to “wipe out the Jewish race” even though that is ultimately what it amounts to. Every religion believes they will reign supreme over all other people in the End of Days. Big whoop.

I don’t like David Duke. I don’t like holocaust deniers like him. I don’t like the things he says and I do not want to ever speak to him. I would not invite him to my house for Shabbos dinner. I want nothing to do with him. But the important thing is, we need to define anti Semitism extremely narrowly. The definition of an anti Semite in my view is someone who either advocates for or commits violence against Jews who have not personally aggressed against him. That’s it.

An anti Semite is not someone who hates Jews. It’s not someone who says not nice things about Jews, or even someone who lies about Jews, nor someone who believes that other people should hate Jews too. It is not someone who believes Jews should have less political power to influence the lives of others, or even someone who believes there is a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, unless these beliefs leads him to commit violence against Jews.

An anti Semite is only someone who advocates for or commits actual violence against innocent Jews.

What if David Duke were president? What would he do? Would he put all American Jews in concentration camps and kill them? Maybe someone should ask him. But from what I’ve read of his positions I doubt it. His positions are not so bad. This is what Murray Rothbard wrote about Duke’s political program:

It is fascinating that there was nothing in Duke’s current program or campaign that could not also be embraced by paleoconservatives or paleo-libertarians; lower taxes, dismantling the bureaucracy, slashing the welfare system, attacking affirmative action and racial set-asides, calling for equal rights for all Americans, including whites: what’s wrong with any of that? And of course the mighty anti-Duke coalition did not choose to oppose Duke on any of these issues. Indeed, even the most leftist of his opponents grudgingly admitted that he had a point. Instead, the Establishment concentrated on the very “negative campaigning” that they profess to abhor (especially when directed against them). (Ironic note: TV pundits, who regularly have face lifts twice a year, bitterly attacked Duke for his alleged face lift. And nobody laughed!)

People use this as evidence that Rothbard, a Jew, a very Jew-y Jew at that, was an anti Semite. A cute claim, but it ignores the fact that Rothbard actually accused others of being anti Semites, particularly John Maynard Keynes. I would call Keynes more of a misanthrope than specifically an anti Semite because he advocated violence against everyone and not just Jews, through systematic inflation and other economic policies of mass theft. But anti Semitism would fit as well. Here’s Murray Rothbard on Keynes.

Here’s the full speech in context.