Hate Speech at the Forward

Hatred. No, “blind hatred,” a “hatred so visceral that anything the man supports must be bad, wrong, and shot down,” because he’s “anti-American, anti-Semitic, or a baby-killing godless Communist.” It’s an “all-encompassing” hatred.

It’s about acting “to tear down the other side, rather than show their strength through intelligent, reasoned discourse.” “The knee-jerk Obama-hatred just runs so deep that all logic flies out the window.”

All of the above comes from Gavriella Lerner’s screed in the Forward, helpfully entitled “The Truth About Orthodoxy’s Obama-Hatred.” In brief, it is her argument that since Jewish law permits many forms of birth control in a variety of situations, the decision of the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel to “align themselves with the Catholic Church” is simply because they hate Obama, rather than because they believe in controlling women — which, according to her, is the only alternative.

Now of course, if she had cared in the least about what both groups actually had to say, it wasn’t at all hard to figure out their rationale. One, in fact, needs to be a member of neither organization to discern that the administration’s new policy is an assault upon religious freedoms, and, as expressed by columnist David Goldman, this does not bode well for us as a religious minority:

Memo to Jews: After They Come for the Catholic Church, They Will Come For Us

Today it is contraception and the morning-after pill. Tomorrow it will be kosher slaughter, or matrilineal descent, or circumcision, or other matters of existential importance to Jewish observance. If the Obama administration gets away with forcing Catholic institutions to step across lines of life and death in the name of “health,” the federal government will have a precedent to legislate Judaism out of existence — as several other countries have already tried to do.

This was clearly stated by the Orthodox Union:

In declining to expand the religious exemption within the healthcare reform law, the Obama Administration has disappointingly failed to respect the needs of religious organizations such as hospitals, social welfare organizations and more.

Most troubling, is the Administration’s underlying rationale for its decision, which appears to be a view that if a religious entity is not insular, but engaged with broader society, it loses its “religious” character and liberties. Many faiths firmly believe in being open to and engaged with broader society and fellow citizens of other faiths. The Administration’s ruling makes the price of such an outward approach the violation of an organization’s religious principles. This is deeply disappointing.

This was clearly stated by Abba Cohen of Agudath Israel:

The important points here are that no religiously sponsored entity, and no religiously motivated individual, should be forced by government to violate its or his sincerely held religious principles; and that the determination of religious propriety must be left to the religious entity or individual, not to the government.

So as I said, if she cared in the least about what their rationale actually was, she could have easily found what both organizations had to say, and addressed their arguments. Instead, she made an irresponsible and unreasonable accusation of “hatred.” So who acted “to tear down the other side, rather than show their strength through intelligent, reasoned discourse?” Why, Gavriella Lerner and the Forward.

To accuse an individual or group of irrational hatred, of course, inspires ill feelings towards that person or group. To accuse someone of hatred is, in fact, hate speech, and should be a last resort. So who has ignored logic and instead engaged in “knee-jerk hatred?” Why, Gavriella Lerner and the Forward.

The writer makes it obvious that she doesn’t care what the Orthodox say on their own behalf, she’d rather chalk it all up to “hatred” in a way that disparages the Orthodox. We have reached the last resort — there is no reasonable explanation as to why she might have so completely ignored what the Orthodox had to say, in favor of a hate-filled strawman, other than her own hatred of the Orthodox. So who has shown us “hatred so visceral that anything [they] support must be bad, wrong, and shot down?” Why, Gavriella Lerner and the Forward.

If she’d written it about Jews, we’d call it anti-Semitism.

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14 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    The hard left has been a prominent hate group ever since Marx and Engels. In this and other ways, it was the pioneer for spin-off political groups, including fascists, national socialists and the like. One of its special hate objects is organized religion. It tries to brainwash us, against all logic and the evidence of our senses, that those it wants to destroy are the real haters. Many American liberals, including those Jews whose primary or sole faith is socialism, have now been infected with this same warped thinking.

  2. Tal Benschar says:

    What is so interesting and ironic is that this hatred of hers springs from extreme narrow mindedness. Since SHE can think of no rational reason why the OU or the Agudah might side with the Catholic Church on the issue, it must be that it stems from racism or a wish to control women. The notion that someone might have a different viewpoint and might rationally come to a different conclusion never occurs to her.

    Reminds me of when Richard Nixon won the presidential race in a landslide in 1972. (I think his opponent won only one state, plus the D.C.) One very well-known liberal woman who lives in Manhattan was interviewed, and she was astounded at the result. “No one I know voted for him, so I can’t understand how he won,” she was quoted as saying.

  3. concerned says:

    So blatant an anti-Orthodox article that she made your job quite easy. I thank you nevertheless for putting it together so nicely.

  4. Mac says:

    “To accuse someone of hatred is, in fact, hate speech, and should be a last resort. So who has ignored logic and instead engaged in “knee-jerk hatred?” Why, Gavriella Lerner and the Forward.”

    Did you not just “accuse someone” of “knee-jerk hatred,” which you say to do “is, in fact, hate speech”?

    [I said it should be the last resort, and addressed that in the very next paragraph. But in addition, she bandied about the word “hatred” repeatedly and without justification. How could one argue that she did not engage in hatred, and “knee-jerk” hatred, at that? –YM]

  5. L. Oberstein says:

    This is a perfect example of why we Jews should not consider either political party to be synonymous with Torah. Yes,there is a pathological hatred of President Obama which goes far beyond his failed and misguided atempt to coerce Israel into a premature surrender to a weak and basicly powerless Palestinian Authority. Like many new administrations before him, Obama’s team made a lot of mistakes out of ignorance and arrogance. None of this explains the vilification of him that far exceeds any objective rationality. I especially find painful when otherwise intelligent orthodox publicists drink the Koolade of Obama Hatred and especially when magazines and blogs treat their rants as synonimous with Jewish values.

    On the other hand , “A woman’s Right To Choose” and “Gay Marriage” are not basic principles of Judaism either. It pains me when I get missives from Jewish organiations which equate such issues with normative Jewish values and say to vote against someone because he doesn’t believe in either of the above. There are major differences between the two political parties and there is much in the core values of each that is not inimical to Torah. We Jews have to understand that our values are not those that are current on the street but we also are not alligned with all of the opinions of either party.

    I am a long time card-carrying member of Agudath Israel and do not intend to shred my membership card out of sympathy for Gavriella Lerner. On the other hand, I love the Forward. It is the best Jewish newspaper around and has stories that nobody else does. I balance it with reading Hamodia so that I will not go too far off the derech.

  6. Toby Katz says:

    I especially find it painful when otherwise intelligent Orthodox individuals drink the Koolade of Obama Adoration.

  7. Reb Yid says:

    As far as I know, Lerner is speaking for herself, not the Forward. In fact, she calls herself a Republican who didn’t vote for Obama in ’08 and won’t this time around, either (doubtful that too many others at the Forward can say the same).

    Heck, she’s Orthodox herself. Look at her Forward column titled, “Why I Cover Up”, which includes a photo of her.

  8. Nachum says:

    Took the words out of my mouth, Toby. Oberstein, if you think it’s the *opponents* of Obama who are “drinking Kool-Aid,” well, you got another think coming.

    Just to remind people, the original Kool-Aid drinking was done by a cult largely composed African Americans manipulated by a white Communist.

    Tal, the woman you’re thinking of was Pauline Kael, movie critic for The New Yorker. The exact phrasing is debated (look her up on Wikipedia), but, yeah, you’ve got the flavor.

  9. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Unfortunately, Ms. Lerner has pointed out that the observant Jewish community does, in fact, hate President Obama, and from what I have seen, that hatred is intense. Ms. Katz above gives a perfect example by mentioning “Koolade.” That is an obvious reference to Rev. Jim Jones, who led his followers to suicide.

    And whether Yaakov Menken likes it or not, we have heard President Obama called “anti-American, anti-Semitic, or a baby-killing godless Communist,” and sometimes by those well out of the fringes and into the mainstream of American political opinion.

    And whether Yaakov Menken wants to admit or not, one can find those opinions reprinted and published in the Yated Neeman.

  10. Phil says:

    It’s sadly fascinating to watch the very same liberal Jews who promised us that they “knew in their kishkas” that Obama would be good for the Jews and for Israel, still rush to defend him. Unfortunately, he didn’t turn out to be so wonderful for either so their response is to decry the “vilification and hatred” against our poor President and rush to condemn other Jews.

    Accusing others of racism truly is the last refuge of scoundrels!

  11. Yaakov Menken says:

    That Dr. Reisman has entirely missed the target is proven by one simple point: Mrs. Katz was not the first to use the Kool-Aid reference. Rabbi Oberstein referred to “the Koolade of Obama Hatred” and Mrs. Katz simply turned the phrase back around. Dr. Reisman immediately leaped upon Mrs. Katz’s term as “proof” that observant Jews hate Obama “intensely,” while completely ignoring Rabbi Oberstein’s use of the same term. Will Dr. Reisman now claim that Rabbi Oberstein believes Orthodox Republicans are suicidal?

    Frankly, this is silly, and it is beneath the Professor to resort to distorting a common idiom. It is true that “drinking the Kool-Aid” is a reference to Jim Jones, but it is a term of derision, not hatred. Wikipedia describes it as “a metaphor commonly used in the United States and Canada that refers to a person or group’s unquestioning belief in an ideology, argument, or philosophy without critical examination. The phrase typically carries a negative connotation when applied to an individual or group.”

    The Wikipedia reference is one of 2.07 million Google search matches on the term “drinking the Kool-Aid.” I challenge Dr. Reisman to find even one in which the writer actually believes those “drinking” are about to commit suicide.

    In the end, both he and Rabbi Oberstein have missed the point, as did Ms. Lerner: Obama’s other political positions are entirely irrelevant to the objections raised against the administration’s policy by the OU, Agudath Israel, and scores of other faith-based organizations. If George W. Bush had promoted the same policy he would have gotten the same objection. Aye, you say, GWB would never have promoted such a policy? True, and yes that relates to the many perfectly good reasons why observant Jews don’t care for Obama, but it’s still irrelevant. Had he promoted the policy, he’d have gotten the same logical objection.

    Yes, there are people who are hysterical in their opposition to Obama. Is Dr. Reisman claiming, or even hinting, that there were not those “well out of the fringes and into the mainstream” who both said even worse about GWB, and worshiped the ground upon which their Obamassiah deigned to walk? If so, I would point out that he, too, has been drinking the Kool-Aid, and fairly tanking it down.

  12. L. Oberstein says:

    It is very difficult to understand the intensity of those who find fault with my words. It is as if they hadn’t read what I wrote . I do not think that the President is the Messiah or that he has not made numerous miscalculations . If, instead of knee jerk reactions, they would actually read what I wrote they would see that their pejoratives are uncalled for. However, it does show clearly the intensity of negativity towards the President, which somehow makes anyone who doesn’t share their view outside the orbit of normality. Whether or not drinking Koolade is a bad metaphor or not is just a red herring. “Liberal” is no more a dirty word than “Conservative”. Some of the later make absolute fools or themselves and some of the former do too. Not all conservatives are of the loony tunes variety but the ones who are give that side of the spectrum a bad name and vice versa. What I do see is that “Fair and Balanced” criticism is not good enough. Unless one is willing to ascribe only bad intent and evil to the President, one is considerred a heretic or perhaps mentally flawed. What a shame.

  13. Jon Baker says:

    The moral ambiguity here for us is, while claiming to speak for the Free-Exercise clause, the Government, in providing this exemption for employers associated with, not subsidiaries of, Catholic organizations, is running afoul of the Establishment Clause, in that a government mandate making room for the Catholic Church (but not other churches who don’t have this particular issue) to impose its public-health policy on non-Catholics in its employ (and in this employment environment, one may not have the “choice” to work elsewhere, not to mention that new MDs are assigned to hospitals without a lot of choice) is in effect making the Federal Government an enforcement arm of the Catholic Church.

    It’s like what the Tiferes Yisroel says in Avos (and others have said before) – if you make a chumra here, you often wind up depending on a kula there. So too here – in giving the Catholics free rein of the Free-Exercise Clause (and who’s to say that their Free-Exercise is more important than their employees’ Free Exercise?) effectively violates (morally, if not technically) the Free Exercise clause of the employee (whose rabbi may mandate an abortion or birth control) as well as the Establishment Clause.

  1. June 26, 2012

    […] may remember that in February, I communicated with you about a particular post to the Sisterhood blog that I found inaccurate and unfair. Please be aware that I did not hear back from Ms. Birkner, but […]

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