“I would say, as a card-carrying member of the neoconservative conspiracy,” said William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, “that Giuliani, McCain and Thompson are all getting really good advice
Ah yes!. The ridicule that admits. How does this work?
Prima facie, there is no such thing as a card-carrying neo-con conspirator. In the American historical lexicon, the phrase alludes to McCarthy era “card-carrying communists” and is intended to suggest (1) an organized, (2) secret (3) subversive (4) economic & political (5) conspiration. The image conjured up is that of communists infiltrators and spies, meeting in dark corners, leaving messages in telephone booths and burrowing their way into government, a la Tinker Tailor & Spy
Of course the analogy is rife with an inherent ridiculousness. Not only are conservatives not communist but neo-conservatives are, in fact, apostated communists. However, since the unmistakable allusion is to the discredited McCarthy hearings which are generally viewed as an disgraceful example of “witch hunting,” bear baiting and official persecution, the phrase infuses the ridicule with a strong flavor of odiousness.
The art of making something loathsome and ridiculous at the same time is the hallmark of the Meister Sophist, propagandist and rabble-rouser. If you've ever wondered why Bill Kristol has a perpetual smirk on his face, now you know why.
However, in the hierarchy of eristical sophistries, Kristol ascends higher than a mere monsignor; for, it will be noted that in this case, Kristol has inverted the trick. It is not the "card-carrying conservative" who is exposed as ridiculously loathsame, but rather the characterization of conservatives as "card carrying"
No one has actually gotten up and accused that neo-cons of being “card carrying conspirators”. No one has actually drawn an analogy to the Communist Party of the 30’s and 40’. The only one who has done that is Kristol himself. What Kristol has managed is something like a pre-emptive strike, making pre-ridicule of something that has not been said, and letting it be known that it would be ridiculous to even think of saying it. Deride and Deflect.
But Kristol’s tactic has a deeper allusion; one that is intimately and intuitively understood by neo-conservatives themselves. McCarthy’s harum scarum about card-carrying communists was itself an allusion to the older fascist accusastion directed at Jewish-Communists or Jewish Bolsheviks. It is odd how for certain purposes the human ear seems to require certain alliterations; but, in all events, McCarthy took the anti-semitic race card and replaced it with a carrying card. These deeper allusions are congenitally understood and would never be overlooked by neo-conservatives since their founding lights -- Irving Kristol, Norm Podhoretz et al. -- were exactly the people McCarthy and fascists alluded to: Jewish Communist-Leftists.
Of course, the whole point of neo-conservativism is that it founders apostated from anything remotely “left”. With this history in mind, Kristol’s ridicule is structured into the very paring of “card-carrying” with “conservative” and adds a strong dash bitterness to the broth.
What is understood equally by then Jewish-Communists and now Jewish neo-cons , is that the "Jewish-Bolshevik" label of the early 1900's was itself an offshoot of the infamous Protocols of Zion of the 1860’s. For those innocents who may never have heard, the Protocols was a forged document which was allegedly “discovered” by the Tsarist secret police and which detailed a plan for Jewish World Domination. The Protocols became the totem of anti-semites.; and it is fair to say that no one who considers himself a Jew is not alive to any hint of Protocol-talk. Thus, at bottom, Kristol’s preemptive strawman is aimed at denying and denigrating the notion that neo-conservativism might be a Jewish or Zionist “conspiracy”.
But the question has to be asked, why would Kristol go out of his way to dredge all this crap up, just in order preemptively ridicule it? Has anyone accused the neo-conservatives of meeting in dark subway tunnels to plot jewish world domination? Well.... anyone not in Idaho, at least?
Neo conservatives seem to think so. According to Joshua Muravchik, a Jewish fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, "Neocon” is now widely synonymous with “ultraconservative” or, for some, “dirty Jew.” [ here ] Is this paranoia or what? While there certainly has been growing criticism of the pro-Israeli tilt in U.S. policy, critics have gone out of their way to avoid equating "zionism" and "judaism" and have carefully avoided anything that might smack of "dirty Jew" talk. No - it is Kristol and Muravchik who are in fact playing the “race card”. What they are saying is don’t even dare to think, much less say, that we are a card carrying jewish conspiracy.
Why not? Facts are facts. The fact is that neo-conservatices are card-carriers. They carry identity cards that allow them into the halls and conclaves of AIPAC, WINEP, JINSA, and AEI (to say nothing of Israel itself). Let these institutes speak for themselves:
AIPAC (American-Israeli Political Action Committee) was founded to “help make Israel more secure by ensuring that American support remains strong."
WINEP (Washington Institute for Near East Policy) was founded in 1985 by Martin Indyk, then research director for AIPAC and later U.S. ambassador to Israel, in order to promote[ ] an American engagement in the Middle East committed to strengthening alliances, nurturing friendships, and promoting security, peace, prosperity, and democracy for the people of the region."
JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security) was established (1) "To educate the American public about the importance of an effective U.S. defense capability so that our vital interests as Americans can be safeguarded; and (2) To inform the American defense and foreign affairs community about the important role Israel can and does play in bolstering democratic interests in the Mediterranean and the Middle East."
AEI (American Enterprise Institute) was established primarily to promote international neo-liberalism, but it's policy paper track record has been unmistakably and markedly pro-Israel, and Islamic and in favor of "preemptive" strikes against nations it labels as "terrorist".
The policy statements of these organizations themselves make it crystal clear that they are pursuing a pro-Israeli, zionist agenda which they have conflated with U.S. interests. Moreovoer, a cursory look at their actual papers will reveal that they are the ones who most conflate "judaism" with "zionism" and deny the existence of those Jewish voices that are not zionist and that are appalled by Israel's conduct.
I am not here arguing the merits of this agenda; I am simply pointing out that it exists. There is a group of people a substantial percentage of which are Jews, who are united in an political agenda and who meet regularly (behind closed doors, in fact) to churn out papers and strategies to advance that agenda...which, among other things, is unquestionably supportive of Israeli-Zionist aims.
Are the merits of this agenda a proper subject of discourse? Yes. Does Kristol seek to pre-empt debate on the merits by a pre-emptive veiled accusation of anti-semitism? That too yes. Kristol and fellow zio-cons should recall, if they can, that their tactics usually become self-fulfilling prophecies.