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Everyone Expects the Neoconservative Inquisition

Jennifer Rubin outdoes herself [1]:

This is important to do on every subject of concern as a test of veracity and character. It is one thing to tell Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) privately that he feels bad about defaming American Jews and other senators (I’m not the senator for Israel); it is quite another to explain that accusations of dual loyalty have no place in American society and the notion that our security is not linked with Israel’s is flat-out wrong. The former requires no remorse (not even a personally drafted letter); the second is essential if he is to be placed in a top national security position.

What makes Rubin’s latest nonsense worth discussing is the heresy-hunting, inquisitorial character it takes on. The language of inquisitors crops up throughout the post. Rubin describes recent reports about Hagel’s views in terms of his supposed “serial recantation,” she insists that he must “renounce” his past views, and later implies that he must express remorse for them. Hagel is supposed to prove the sincerity of his “conversion,” and he must prove that he has “the emotional commitment to these views” that the hard-liners require. At one point, she states that this is necessary because “we expect the defendant to recognize and accept full responsibility for his misdeeds.” In this case, Hagel’s “misdeeds” amount to questioning hard-line policies and nothing more. Applying such absolutist, religious terms to policy differences is twisted, and it is proof of the fanaticism of Hagel’s critics.

It is not enough if Hagel ceases to support a policy that Rubin considers mistaken, and it is certainly not enough that Hagel correct the distortions of his record that his critics have circulated. According to this fanatical view, he is obliged to confess his wrongdoing and beg mercy of the people hounding him. Of course, this is not unique. This is standard procedure in responding to any Republican or conservative dissenter on foreign policy and national security issues. Hagel is simply the most high-profile example of the process in recent years.

It should go without saying, but when a U.S. Senator affirms that his first and most important duty is to the United States rather than to another country this does not defame or insult anyone else. The only person offended by such a statement is someone who thinks there is something wrong with an American politician stating that his responsibility is to his own country first. One would think that any politician that didn’t believe his first duty was to his country would be unfit to serve in government at any level.

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21 Comments To "Everyone Expects the Neoconservative Inquisition"

#1 Comment By Uncle Vanya On January 21, 2013 @ 5:00 am

You still read La Rubin, Daniel? Thanks for that. It saves the rest of us from the trouble of having to do it.

Actually, I stopped reading La Rubin, Kristol, Krauthammer, Podhoretz et al. almost a year ago now. This nuthouse amen-chorus lost any credibility so long ago that their continued screeds only serve to make them look even more ridiculous.

I’d have said LaRubin’s regular screeds make her seem like a banshee, but I have nothing against banshees.

#2 Comment By maynard On January 21, 2013 @ 7:01 am

The best comparison here is not quite with a religious inquisition, but with Stalinist/Maoist “self-criticism” and ritual public confession. This strange woman is demanding that Hagel admit his false consciousness so that the revolutionary vanguard can magnanimously decide not to destroy him. This is Moscow 1938 stuff.

What’s happening here is that the neo-cons’ long-ago roots on the totalitarian left are showing once again. You can’t hide breeding.

#3 Comment By Cliff On January 21, 2013 @ 8:07 am

Hagel, in other words, must undergo self-criticism.

#4 Comment By IanH On January 21, 2013 @ 8:54 am

I agree with maynard.

I would also add that loss of influence has a lot to do with it. Rubin and her ilk are on the receiving end of what will likely be many policy defeats in the coming months.

#5 Comment By lester On January 21, 2013 @ 9:00 am

“the notion that our security is not linked with Israel’s is flat-out wrong”

because she says so? I don’t think any US politician would even say this.

The anti Hagel campaign is a joke. Use Your Mandate/ astro turf gay rights groups , Rubins columns, Ari Fleischer and Dan Senor’s twitter feeds. It’s obnoxious and dishonest. The Breitbart/ fever swamp are phoning in some columns with an anti Obama angle but the real passion is with the hardcore pro Israel think tank crowd.

#6 Comment By Dakarian On January 21, 2013 @ 9:37 am

This isn’t original or new. I’ve been seeing such talk since 2008. The tipping point for me was Bachman’s requesting that Congress should be looked over to see who is ‘pro-america’ and ‘anti-america’. I had to pull up the transcript just now tO

#7 Comment By Dakarian On January 21, 2013 @ 9:47 am

(Mental note, be careful when typing comments around kids who can reach the tab key. Sorry for the split post)

I pulled up the transcript of Bachman’s request in 2008 to reread it and it’s as bad as I remembered it. Finding out that similar mentalities are being done now to Hagel no longer surprise me: It’s hard to be scared of a horror movie after watching enough sequels.

Note that if this bothers the folks over here, it’s used by those on the other side of the isle to frighten their children. It works too: I stopped seriously considering conservatism after 2008. This site and a few scattered spots helped change that way for conservatism, but I’m still deeming Republicans as ‘mostly dead’.

At this point, conservatives need to just leave that party and find something new. You don’t deserve to be treated like this. I don’t care how much you love him, he’s no good for you, girl.

#8 Comment By bj2k On January 21, 2013 @ 9:51 am

A Leo Strauss quote, slightly modified, can be deployed against the Isreal hawks: “”We are not permitted to be flatterers of Israel precisely because we are friends and allies of Israel.”

#9 Comment By Noah172 On January 21, 2013 @ 10:00 am

Rubin and other neocons would say that using the term “inquisition” to describe their tactics is anti-Semitic ;).

accusations of dual loyalty have no place in American society

If Rubin and other neocons believe that, why have they accused some critics of the American-Israeli relationship, such as Charles Freeman, of foreign influence and loyalty? (Freeman was accused of being in the pockets of the Saudi and Chinese governments.)

And how can accusations of dual loyalty have no place whatsoever in our society? Certainly there are some people who have amply demonstrated their close attachments to foreign powers, Israel very much included. Jonathan Pollard, Jeffrey Goldberg, Rahm Emanuel: enough said. Senator Schumer once told an Israeli interviewer that he (Schumer) believed that God had placed him in the Senate to be a guardian for Israel (not making that up). Popular fundigelical author Kay Arthur, a major voice in “Christian” Zionism, has stated, “God has chosen Israel above all the nations of the earth, and because I love God, I have to follow God’s heart and be dedicated to the land and the people of Israel,” and, “If I had to choose between America and Israel, I would choose Israel.”

Is “dual loyalty” — or, heaven forbid, single loyalty to Israel — an inappropriate description in these instances?

the notion that our security is not linked with Israel’s is flat-out wrong

This is true in the sense that American support of Israel has made America a target for Islamist terrorism. It is obviously false in the sense that if American cut off Israel, nothing bad and likely a lot of good would redound to the former.

#10 Comment By do the numbers On January 21, 2013 @ 10:04 am

Our security is linked with Israel, but in a very negative way. Israel makes Americans less safe. Israel makes Americans less prosperous. Israel costs Americans more than any other country on earth.

#11 Comment By Patrick On January 21, 2013 @ 10:45 am

@ Noah172:

“Senator Schumer once told an Israeli interviewer that he (Schumer) believed that God had placed him in the Senate to be a guardian for Israel (not making that up).”

Do you have a citation or remember where you saw that quote? It’s not even *dual* loyalty when you’re appointed by God to protect Israel. It’s single loyalty and not to the state that elected you.

There is possibly a lot of ill-thought-out anti-Semitism out there, but it bugs me that people like Rubin refuse to see why, when someone gets offended that a U.S. Senator affirms that he favors U.S. interests, people begin to wonder about the “loyalty issue”.

#12 Comment By Brooklyn Blue Dog On January 21, 2013 @ 10:54 am

I say we apply a market solution to Israel. Stop US government funding, which distorts the marketplace, and let Israel and the Arabs sort things out on their own. We’ll come to a more stable and long-lasting situation that way, without the US disturbing the natural order of things.

#13 Comment By Noah172 On January 21, 2013 @ 11:39 am


Schumer has said this remark more than once in public. I made a slight error in my previous comment when I said that he was speaking to an Israeli. The instance most widely reported in the media (the one I was thinking of) was in March 2010 when he told an Orthodox Jewish New York radio station, the Nachman Segel Network, the following:

[The name Schumer] comes from the word shomer, which mean guardian. My ancestors were guardians of the ghetto wall in Chortkov, and I believe Hashem [Hebrew term for God], actually, gave me the name as one of my roles that is very important in the United States Senate to be a shomer, to be a shomer for Israel.

I can’t find the original recording, but the interview was discussed at Politico, Commentary, The Huffington Post, and elsewhere.

See this video also, roughly 0:50 to 1:22, when Schumer says almost exactly the same thing at a Jewish fundraising breakfast (except here, he sneers that a “shaygetz” [unclean, abominable] immigration officer misspelled the surname, making it what it is today):

#14 Comment By scottinnj On January 21, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

I don’t know why Rubin, Kristol et al command such voices of authority on the neo con right. They may have survived sitting in the Comfy Chair until lunch with only a coffee at 11 and this somehow makes them grizzled survivors of the Inquisition?

#15 Comment By Patrick On January 21, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

Thanks, Noah172.

Being a “guardian” for Israel in the Senate makes it sound like the U.S. Senate is the foreign, possibly hostile body and Israel the parochial one. And that is why the “loyalty issue” comes up every once in a while, though I’m sure Schumer’s constituent services to gentile New Yorkers are very good and obviously, he can’t be faulted for some of the Yiddish words that carry inherent negative connotations against the Gentiles (I don’t see why the orthodox Jews *wouldn’t* consider Gentiles unclean).

There is a part at 3:40 – 4:00 where Schumer says, “the New York Times, which was so afraid of being Jewish, bent over backwards *not* to tell the story” (Europe during the War.) That made me chuckle: apparently only orthodox Jews and the KKK think of the New York Times as a “Jewish” newspaper. Sure: Sulzberger is Jewish but the Times is really upper-class-Protestant in political opinion. Maybe it was different back then.

#16 Comment By James Canning On January 21, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

Jennifer Rubin simply is incapable of grasping the fact it is in Israel’s own true best interests, to be told its delusional colonisation programme in the West Bank erodes its national security? And that the US should not have its own national security interests eroded due to Israeli stupidity.

Let us remember how weakness on the part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire helped to bring catastrope to the German Empire, in the form of Firs tWorld War.

#17 Comment By lester On January 21, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

I find her kind of attractive so this is extra painful

#18 Comment By David Naas On January 21, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

Once again, I am reminded why I never thought the “neo-cons” were true conservatives. What does one call a former Trotskyite who has moved a few steps Right? — In Berlin, Goebbels called them National Socialists. (Proving once more that nationalism is one thing, and patriotism another.)
Perhaps now that Karl Rove and the Necon Army has failed to take Stalingrad, we can have a conversation about the future of conservatism that does not mean receiving fire from those who think everybody has to move in cadenced totalitarian lockstep with der Fuhrer (or the bloviations of Rush, Michael, Ann, Glenn — the list is long and the years are short.)

#19 Comment By Clamdigger On January 21, 2013 @ 7:53 pm

Lester wrote: ““the notion that our security is not linked with Israel’s is flat-out wrong”

because she says so? I don’t think any US politician would even say this. ”

Well, Romney is/was a US politician and he said there would be no space between the US and Israel, and there would never be disagreement. He basically bowed to Bibi, managed to kiss his butt at the same time.

“Delivering remarks on the enduring alliance between Israel and the United States, Romney took a thinly veiled shot at Obama, who Romney has said has allowed “daylight” between himself and Israeli leaders.

this is from BuzzFeed, but there are similar stories elsewhere:

“We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel, voice their criticisms, and we certainly should not join in that criticism,” Romney said, speaking with a picturesque view of Jerusalem’s Old City behind him at sunset. “Diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel’s adversaries.”

The quote largely mirrors a frequent attack line by Romney against Obama on the campaign trail.

Romney used the speech to emphasize that he would put no such space between himself and Israeli leaders, ending his remarks, “may God bless my country of America, and may He bless and protect the Nation of Israel.”

#20 Comment By Clamdigger On January 21, 2013 @ 9:39 pm

Patrick: while Sulzberger’s father was Jewish, he raised raised Episcopalian. According to wiki, he is not that any longer, and was married by a Presbyterian minister. I’ve no idea if he is religious or not today.

The New Yorker had this quote years ago: ” In 1994, two years after he became publisher, we asked Arthur, Jr., to describe his personal faith. “I have the Times,” he said without hesitation. “That’s my religion. That’s what I believe in, and it’s a hell of a thing to hold on to.”

Read more: [2]

#21 Comment By Patrick On January 22, 2013 @ 10:42 am

@ Clamdigger

“while Sulzberger’s father was Jewish, he raised raised Episcopalian.”

Thanks, I vaguely recall hearing that now that you mention it. Schumer was talking about the NYTimes in the ’30’s, when allegedly the old man wouldn’t report news from Europe because he was “afraid of being Jewish”. I guess readers back then were unable to distinguish the “A section” from the owner’s religious views; thankfully, we live in a time where I had to be reminded by you that the paper of records owners are Episcopalians.