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The Generation of Anti-Semitism

Reader comment on item: The Paterson 'Protocols'

Submitted by Joshua Davis (Republic Of Korea), Nov 21, 2002 at 19:26

2002.11.22 Daegu, Korea

Dear Mr. Pipes:

Thank you for your piece on the "Protocols." I first began to think seriously about
the effects of anti-Semitism about ten years ago in college. I took Dr. Marvin Wilson's "Modern Jewish Culture" class at Gordon College as an elective. One of the required readings was the professor's esteemed book, "Modern Jewish Culture." While raised in a religious home, I felt pretty ignorant about some basic elements of Judaism which Wilson described. The author's section on anti-Semitism was especially challenging for me. I was angered by Wilson's affiliation of Martin Luther with the Holocaust, a disrespectful thing to purport of our Protestant father. In a certain sense I simply skipped over this section until five years later when I returned to it as a seminary student. My curiosity was piqued.

I used my seminary's interlibrary loan system to find a copy of Luther's tract, "Against the Jews and Their Lies." After opening my mind to its contents, I was shocked! Luther wrote irritationally, like a child in full flight of temper tantrum. Unfortunately, the impact of this document was immense. My professor was correct. A chiasm kept floating in my mind: "While you can have Luther without Hitler, you cannot have Hitler without Luther." Luther made two gigantic steps: First, he wrote that the Jews have no place in what we call Germany today. Luther was put off that Jews were not using common sense to convert to Christianity. Second, through many terrible analogies he portrayed the Jews as animals, and in doing so he of course needed to discredit the theological theme of God's covenant faithfulness to Jews. Particularly damning was Luther's use of John 8:44 to paint the Jew's as Satan's offspring. If Jesus was a Jew having it out with fellow Jews, then the Nazarite's spats with certain Jewish leaders of that time are best seen as a family debate, or rather as inter-mural competition, perhaps Wilson's most valuable contribution to Christian-Jewish relations.

My seminary days were important for my growth as a person. During this time I was befriended by two Jews, one an elderly woman, the other a middle-aged man. Perhaps what I enjoyed most about them was their simple humanity. I did not need to see them as less than fully human. A beautiful thing happened when I loved them for who they were- I found myself understanding grace- that respect is its own reward. I had become more interested in Judaism. I gathered the courage to order a copy of the "Turner Diaries." I was enraged when reading of how one of the protagonists shot a Jewish shopkeeper in the face. At that time my friend, the man, told me how his grandfather's aspirations as a businessman in a WASPy New England town were curtailed by those who wanted to make sure that Jews fulfilled a proportionate leadership role in that community- and not any larger. This episode in the "Diaries" (not to address the psychopathology of the entire work) was "blame the victim" in the first rate. My other Jewish friend, the woman, was a great counselor. She was just like my grandmother- brimming with stories. And while I enjoyed my visits with her, my conscience was churning as to how my Christian faith related to her Jewish faith. If I mentioned Jesus in our conversation, could I do it in a non-condescending way, knowing that she does not have the same view of this figure as myself?

Having taught English in Korea for the past five months, it amazes me how cultures can generate such disparate interpretations of "common" events. In my free time I have been enjoying the Catholic great, Saint Augustine- first his "Confessions" and now the "City of God." I have been owning up to the anti-intellectualism in my own religious heritage. In so doing a truism has been forming in my mind: "Man is not intrinsically stupid. Rather he is rational. Yet the brain must be used regularly to think correctly."

It is obvious that certain Muslims have had a difficult time in expanding their horizons. You are to be commended, Mr. Pipes, for not throwing a blanket criticism over Muslims, but rather calling specific Muslims on given logical inconsistencies. I derived a secondary meaning from your article. Christians need to think deeply about the religiously-driven murders of Jews, particularly the heinous killings of children. Good Evangelical theology has been admirable for its philo-Semitism in support of Israel, among other things. However there is a bad Evangelical theology which holds sway over many minds. It is what I like to call the Cinderella mindset. The mindset alternates between an abiblical view of the church as being some perfect society to a replacement model (Christians have replaced the Jews as God's people) of Luther. Christians today need to ask the question- "If Jews are being targeted today, and we are next on the list, what should our attitude be?"
Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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