Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jews and victimology

Consider this statement: "School bullies are inadequate people who endeavour to compensate for their own inadequacies by attacking vulnerable fellow-students".

Is there anything wrong with that statement? I don't think there is. But whether it is right or wrong, note what it does. It explains bullying by referring to two things: The characteristics of the bully ("inadequate") and the characteristics of the victim ("vulnerable"). And the entire social science discipline of Victimology does that. It sees victimization as an interaction between the characteristics of the victim and characteristics of the victimizer. And, being myself a social scientist I tend to look at human relations generally that way: as an interaction between different parties in different positions.

But here come the tricky bit: I do that when I speak of Jews too. I am the madman who thinks I am entitled to treat Jews like any other group and expect them to have both strengths and weaknesses. And you will see that I do that even in my side column. On the one hand I speak of Jews as being "the best we've got" and on the other I describe Jews in general as being politically stupid. And when I look at why Jews are persecuted and hated, I take into account vulnerabilities in Jews that might be one side of the explanation for the phenomenon. I think there is no doubt that doing that is good social science but it is of course politically perilous.

Which is where Punditarian comes in. He and I have engaged in dialogue about Jews several times and it has always been a civil and enjoyable exploration of the facts. He is himself one of the NY Ashkenazim so he does well to talk civilly with someone who tends to put him on the defensive. Jews are used to ignorant criticism but fact-based criticism from Goyim is normally beyond their experience. Jewish criticism of one-another is however a torrent. One only has to read the Israeli press to see that. Israelis who do their best to undermine Israel are appallingly common.

I recently put up a post about the role of high drive in both Jewish success and antagonism twoards Jews and Punditarian has just responded to that. I reproduce his comment:
"You are making a very old mistake, of seeking in some feature of the Jew the reasons for his persecution. Jew-hatred comes first, however, and the reasons the Jew-haters give come after.

While it may be true that the Ashkenazi Jews are a couple of standard-deviations [actually about half a standard deviation -- JR] more intelligent than the populations surrounding them, and that they may have an energy or drive that the surrounding populations seem to have lost, the Mizrachi or Eastern Jews in the Arab and Muslim countries were hated by the people around them, despite the fact that they don't test out with such substantially higher IQ results, and were not more prominent in their countries than other members of the middle and merchant classes.

I think my preamble about bullying etc. has adequately answered his first point so I will go straight to his point about the Mizrahim. He is quite right in saying that in IQ and in other characteristics the Mizrahim are not readily distinguishable from the Muslims among who they resided for many centuries. He is also right that they were oppressed by the Muslims. But were they any more oppressed than were the Christians living in Muslim lands? Not notably as far as I know. Muslims oppressed ALL "infidels". Mohammed during his early conquests did slaughter Jewish communities whom he thought stood in the way of his plans so The Koran in fact offered ample warrant for a holocaust against the Jews. But there was no holocaust. So I think that what Mizrahi Jews suffered was because they were kuffars (non-Muslims), not because they were Jews as such.

So I think the experience of the Mizrahim is quite dissimilar to the experience of the Ashkenazim and leaves the fate of the Ashkenazim in need of an explanation which considers just them and their experience. And I try to do that.

I might add that I do NOT go along with the story of a "golden age" for the Jews under the Moorish (Muslim) rulers of Spain. The Moors discriminated against Jews as much as did other Muslims. The grain of truth in the myth is that the Muslims were at least better than the Catholics -- who expelled all Jews from Spain once they had conquered the Moors.

It is always tempting to see deep similarities where there are only superficial similarities. In 1290 a Catholic King of England -- Edward I -- expelled all Jews from England too. That seems like pretty good comparability with Spain but it is not. The Spanish expulsion was motivated by religious fanaticism whereas Edward was mainly aiming at dodging his debts. The superficial similarity is there but the explanation is different.

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