The Open Bigotry of the Neoconservative American Right

Executive Director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, dressed in Arabface

The past few decades have seen an admirable amount of progress in making overt racism socially taboo and imposing limits on hate speech in American society. This change is not something that came about through pure enlightened reflection, but as a response to hundreds of years of intimate experience with the evils of racism and from a recognition of what a permissively racist environment can lead to. In a sign of legitimate social progress, in most cases being an open bigot today is something for which an individual can expect to be ostracized and shunned in society. While it may still exist, this type of behaviour is generally not a welcome part of the public discourse any longer.

There is one threshold however which is still crossed on a regular basis by both political and media figures; bigotry and racism against Muslim and Arab-Americans. Try and imagine Noah Pollak, Executive Director of the Emergency Committee for Israel’s Leadership pictured above dressed in blackface, lampooning African-Americans the way he is doing Arabs in the picture. The response would be justifiable outrage and there would likely be consequences imposed on him for wearing his bigotry so proudly in public. For dressing as an Arab however, there is scarcely a response because although he is acknowledging his pride in his bigotry he is doing so in the last remaining space where it is not considered taboo. The same reasons why dressing in blackface is considered wrong exist in this case, and the same motivations and attitudes which would drive an individual to dress in blackface exist here as well.

The example of Pollak casually indulging in racism is indicative of the deep seated attitude of the neoconservative American right towards Arabs and Muslims, and of its role in spreading race hatred in the United States. Far from being a fringe figure or the leader of an obscure organization, Pollak is the Executive Director of one of the most powerful and influential Israel lobby groups in America. That their leader and director, the cream of the crop, their ideological course-setter, dresses up in Arabface and spends his days writing bloodthirsty screeds against Palestinians, Arabs and those who he perceives as supporting them is a good window into the thought process and worldview of the neoconservative right.

Newspaper ad campaign placed by right wing Israeli advocacy organization in American papers.

Another recent window into the ideology of this group was a recent article written by Rachel Abrams, wife of former Bush Administration Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams and sister of prominent neocon and Iraq War advocate John Podhoretz. In the article she described Palestinians as “shark feed”, and “unmanned savages”, among other things. Again, this is an individual at the very heart of the neoconservative movement in America. The mask slips from time to time and reveals the radical ideologues who hold strong influence in Washington, who have hijacked American policy to send it off into countless wars, and who continue to try and sway American policy in the Middle East, as well as American cultural attitudes towards Arabs and Muslims in general.

This is not about demonizing individuals advocating for Israel in the United States; whatever your opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict it is a democratic right to lobby for any cause one desires. What the problem is is the increasingly vitriolic and hateful propaganda being used by neoconservatives to push their agenda. Demonizing, caricaturing and attacking Arabs and Muslims by using tactics straight out of the worst of the Jim Crow era, indifferent to, or even trying to catalyze, the same type of destructive influence that type of racism has created in the past. Try and imagine the leader of a prominent Arab-American organization dressed up as a Jewish caricature the way Noah Pollak has dressed as an Arab above, and you’ll understand how potentially deleterious such behaviour can be.

The ideological inspiration to Noah Pollak's bigotry against Arabs and Muslims today.

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6 Responses to The Open Bigotry of the Neoconservative American Right

  1. Sigh. Where does one begin to talk about the open bigotry towards Muslims in North America and worldwide? I have “friends” who “jokingly” call me a terrorist because I am visibly Muslim. Am I afforded the same freedom to jokingly call German friends Nazis? No. Would I want to? No. But I guess that’s the difference.

  2. mazmhussain says:

    thats messed up. I think you need to change some of your friends

  3. Hence the quotation marks…

  4. Troy Barcume says:

    Your blackface comments are even more true of Sasha Baron Cohen, especially in the movie Borat. Imagine the outcry if the roles were reversed– if some Muslim comedian’s whole schtick was dressing up as a caricature of a Jew and then (as a Jew) doing and saying the most reprehensible things. Given what happened to Helen Thomas, Mel Gibson and Rick Sanchez, what do you think would happen to THAT guy? Do you think the excuse that “it’s just satire” would make everybody okay with it? So why does Cohen get away with the same thing? Bigotry is wrong no matter who’s doing it.

  5. Pingback: Three must read articles « Zach Resnick: Thoughts from Jerusalem

  6. Steve from Raleigh says:

    That is terrible. Especially wearing the shirt which is the flag of Hezbollah. That’s terrible, pointing out that a) Hezbollah exists and b) they openly want to kill people in Israel and around the world, at least according to their own words. Lastly, since 2/3rds of all Israelis are Sephardim (look it up) I guess they’re self-racists too. A triple war crime if there ever was one.

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