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anti-Semitism conspiracy theory covid

Right-wing bloviator Dennis Prager thinks that the clods who won’t wear masks in the grocery store are the same sort of people who hid Jews from the Nazis

Dennis Prager is a right-wing bloviator and the founder of Prager “University,” which is about as much of a university as it is a pastrami sandwich. He has many terrible opinions, which he expresses in newspaper columns and brief videos, on such topics as gay marriage (he’s against it), the environment (he’s against it), free school lunches (he’s against them), and the alleged “Islamicization of America” (he’s guess what? against it).

He also has opinions on the burning question of our age: who would be most likely to hide Jews from the authorities “in the event of a Nazi-like outbreak.” 

Setting aside the fact that we’re already in the middle of a “Nazi-like outbreak,” let’s consider his, er, argument.

In an exceedingly rambling column, he declares that the clods who get into fights when someone asks them to wear a mask at the Piggly WIggly would be the most likely to hide a Jew or two.

You see, the people who do wear masks are a bunch of dumb conformists.

We have seen herdlike behavior and an unquestioning obedience to authority that few expected to witness in previously free countries such as the English-speaking ones. Worse, we have seen unquestioning obedience to irrational authority.

The hypothetically heroic citizens who would hide Jews? FIrst: Polish priests and nuns, because a couple of sociologists who wrote a book about altruism once told Prager that’s who they would turn to in case of Nazis. (It’s not clear why Prager assumes that Catholic clergy are anti-maskers, because I could swear that I’ve seen pictures of priests in masks).

Second: the “eccentric,” because someone said so in a book Prager read forty years ago. I would provide you a link to the book, but Prager’s citation is a little on the vague side.

Another study of rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust offered four characteristics of rescuers. I read this book about 40 years ago and I do not remember the name of the book or three of the four characteristics.

No, I didn’t make that up. That’s his “citation” for the study. He continues:

According to this study, individuals who were considered “eccentric” prior to the war were disproportionately represented among those who hid Jews.

Now, why would that be? …

The answer is obvious: Eccentrics are, by definition, people who march to the beat of their own drummer, who are nonconformists, and who don’t seek social approval.

That should give us some major insights into who would save Jews — or any other group targeted for death (such as landowners in communist countries) — if our society were taken over by Nazis or communists.

So, QED, ani-maskers would hide Jews because they’e eccentrics who “don’t seek social approval.” At least that’s what he implies without saying outright — perhaps because he has no evidence that anti-maskers are more eccentric than the masked.

But I’ll give him that one: antimaskers do seem to trend eccentric.

Anyhoo, that’s pretty much his argument: Anti-maskers would be more likely to rescue Jews because they’re priests and/or eccentrics.

There are, you may be shocked to discover, some much more plausible reasons why the masked and vaccinated would be more likely to hide Jews than anti-maskers.

One: An actual study that I can link to found that “Americans with authoritarian tendencies are less inclined to wear masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” as a PsyPost article summarizing the study proclaimed. These were people more likely to answer “yes” to questions like:

Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us.

And:

The only way our country can get through the crisis ahead is to get back to our traditional values, put some tough leader in power, and silence the troublemakers spreading bad ideas.

So the people who agree with these sentiments are the free-thinking eccentrics who will save us all from the authoritarian regime they … actually would rather like to have running the country?

Two: The anti-mask/anti-vaxx movement is absolutely riddled with antisemites. It’s not hard to find evidence of this; no mysterious 40-year-old books are involved. On Coda Story, Erica Hellerstein writes about the

growth of antisemitic vaccine conspiracies, which are popping up everywhere from Neo-Nazi websites to Covid-19-skeptic communities. …

The conspiracies now doing the rounds draw on well-worn themes and typically originate in neo-Nazi and far-right circles: A cabal of powerful Jews engineered the vaccine to control the global population; Zionists, the Rothschilds or George Soros masterminded the pandemic in order to establish a New World Order; longtime vaccine advocate Bill Gates is a secret “Jewish aristocrat;” the coronavirus is a Zionist bioweapon; the vaccine is part of a Jewish plot to sterilize the white race.

[H]ate groups appear to be exploiting that common ground to amplify the world’s oldest conspiracy theory — “The Jews are behind it all” — within online communities that may not have previously held ethno-religious prejudice as an organizing principle.

This accusation (“Jews did COVID”) has been all over social media, including, of course, 4chan. It’s even made it to t-shirts:

None of this is new. According to historian Mathias Berek, antisemitism has been a central part of anti-vaccine movements since the late nineteenth century. As he recently told an interviewer,

If we look at the anti-vaccination movement in the 19th century and the situation today, we can see that the arguments put forward by vaccine criticism have changed little since 1874 and that antisemitism remains a constant.

But, Berek notes, not all antisemites blame the Jews for the vaccine directly; instead they try to steal the suffering of the Jews in the Holocaust as their own.

Some will speak approvingly of the mass murder of Jews in private chats, while others deny the Shoah. Mostly, however, they use the memory of the Shoah for their own purposes. Unlike earlier, they no longer claim that Jews are to blame for vaccine injury. Instead, they say that they are themselves Jews in order to usurp the ultimate victim status. We have seen this at demonstrations: People wearing yellow Stars of David with “ungeimpft” (unvaccinated) written on them or comparing themselves with Anne Frank. This constitutes secondary antisemitism as it represents an obscene trivialization of the suffering of Jewish people. It insinuates that the Nazis only obliged the Jewish population to wear masks and imposed some contact restrictions on them. 

And then there are the memes:

Yeah, I don’t think the people who put these memes together — or who spread them around — are going to be doing anything to help the Jews. Sorry, Dennis Prager, you’re living in a fantasyland.

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Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
2 months ago

Hiding Jews requires the ability to sacrifice and do things for other people, both of which are in very short supply among antimaskers.

Allandrel
Allandrel
2 months ago

Plus, we already know exactly how this group of people would respond to government agents looking for Undesirables to hip off to concentration camps: They would be lining up to turn in their neighbors.

We know this because this is exactly what they did to anyone and everyone they thought might be “illegal” while praising themselves for their righteousness.

epitome of incomrepehensibility

Sigh. I wish people would realize that “popular = bad” is just as much a fallacy as “popular = good.” If you’re such a freethinker, think for yourself.

As well as anti-Semitism, I also find that anti-vaxxers are more likely to show prejudice towards autistic people, on purpose or not. Because the idea that vaccines cause autism isn’t only ridiculous, it’s also like “oh horror, autism!!!”

Last edited 1 month ago by epitome of incomrepehensibility
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Mexican Hot Chocolate
1 month ago

I wish these right wingers would stop comparing mask and vaccine mandates with the Holocaust. Being asked to wear a mask and/or get vaccinated during a pandemic is not Holocaust level oppression but a minor inconvenience and literally the least you could do to slow the spread of the disease. It’s basic empathy and civic responsibility. If anything the anti-maskers and the politicians who’ve been pandering to them are more comparable to fascists.

Crip Dyke
1 month ago

@epitome:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QereR0CViMY

Also, Prager is an antisemite. I think one should hear his argument as “who would save the [metaphorical jews]?” where “metaphorical jews” = christian conservatives.

He doesn’t want to save us and doesn’t think we deserve saving, but he does think that christian conservatives are the most horribly oppressed group in the USA today.

Karalora
Karalora
1 month ago

@Crip Dyke

he does think that christian conservatives are the most horribly oppressed group in the USA today.

Their idea of “horrible oppression”–applied only to themselves, of course–is getting pushback when they try to treat others like shit and use their religion as an excuse.

Lumipuna
Lumipuna
1 month ago

Hiding Jews requires the ability to sacrifice and do things for other people, both of which are in very short supply among antimaskers.

Indeed. It’s easy to be a nonconformist when it’s about maintaining your own comfort and refusing to change with the times. Or, as the antimaskers would say, when it’s about your own rights.

Also, Prager is an antisemite. I think one should hear his argument as “who would save the [metaphorical jews]?” where “metaphorical jews” = christian conservatives.

He doesn’t want to save us and doesn’t think we deserve saving, but he does think that christian conservatives are the most horribly oppressed group in the USA today.

I saw that he started with the persecution of Jews during a hypothetical Nazi takeover, to use a common rhetorical stock device, and then eventually slipped into the persecution of rich people during a hypothetical communist takeover.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee
weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee
1 month ago

Yes, people afraid of a piece of cloth and tiny little needle would be lining up to risk their own lives to save others. I’m so sure.

GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
1 month ago

This is, as the saying goes, Not Even Wrong.

Battering Lamb
Battering Lamb
1 month ago

The three nazi-occupied countries that had the lowest percentages of jews deported were Italy, Bulgaria and Denmark (for different reasons. A logistical assignment of such magnitude requires a lot of infrastructure and cooperation.). Those countries also seem to take mask wearing pretty seriously (masks are no longer required in public in Denmark since september, this year).

Something about facts and feelings.

Allandrel
Allandrel
1 month ago

Whenever American Evangelicals start claiming oppression, I am reminded of this timeless quote from L. Sprague de Camp’s Lest Darkness Fall:

“You don’t like the Goths?”

“No! Not with the persecution we have to put up with!”

“Persecution?”

“Religious persecution. We won’t stand for it forever.”

“I thought the Goths let everybody worship as they pleased.”

“That’s just it! We Orthodox are forced to stand around and watch Arians and Monophysites and Nestorians and Jews going about their business unmolested, as if they owned the country. If that isn’t persecution, I’d like to know what is!”

danielrigal
danielrigal
1 month ago

There are two sorts of dipshits in this world: Those who thoughtlessly do whatever the state tells them and those who thoughtlessly do the opposite of whatever the state tells them. It is good fun, and an easy source of newspaper columns, to pit them against eachother but society is better served by encouraging less thoughtless dipshittery. Prager is not helping and he knows it. He seems to be amusing himself by deliberately saying really dumb things that would get anybody who wasn’t Jewish condemned as an antisemite. In conclusion: There are three sorts of dipshits in this world…

epitome of incomrepehensibility

@Crip Dyke – Ha, indeed! Would you believe I’ve never seen Monty Python’s Life of Brian? Just the Holy Grail film.

@danielrigal – You put this much better than I did:

There are two sorts of dipshits in this world: Those who thoughtlessly do whatever the state tells them and those who thoughtlessly do the opposite of whatever the state tells them.

Elaine The Witch
Elaine The Witch
1 month ago

@Allandrel

*winks at you in the goths*

Full Metal Ox
1 month ago

@Elaine the Witch; @Allandrel:

It’s always those danged Goths and their eccentricities, isn’t it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9A8PFlqM4U

(Hey—it’s October, and everything’s better with cute animal videos.)

Alan Robertshaw
1 month ago

@ Allendral, Elaine, and Full Metal Ox

Oh great, now you’ve got me listening to The Mission and having 1988 Leeds Merrien Centre flashbacks! 😀

Alan Robertshaw
1 month ago

Gothiest goth song that ever gothed.

.45
.45
1 month ago

Soooo… the Jews manufactured this and the righteous far right are the only ones who stand against it and would protect the Jews… errr, wait.

Gotta love the right. They have so many confusing contradictions in their thought processes.

gijoel
gijoel
1 month ago

Orac raised the alarm a few weeks ago about anti-vaxxers aligning with right wing hate groups a few months ago.Proud boys harassing cancer patients for fuck’s sake.

Last edited 1 month ago by gijoel
Full Metal Ox
1 month ago

@Alan Robertshaw:

Gothiest goth song that ever gothed.

I’d award that title to a different song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bMM61Y5CEU

(This essay articulates reasons that overlap with mine—including the fact that they’ve consistently rejected the Goth label:

https://web.archive.org/web/20160220121542/http://jwm.livejournal.com/105861.html)

.45
.45
1 month ago

You know, I also gotta mention that from what I remember when I got a lot of PragerU ads on YouTube a while back, it is disturbing how “good” they are. Well made, professional and as reasonable and appealing as possible. The gateway drug kind of thing.

Alan Robertshaw
1 month ago

@ full metal ox

This essay articulates reasons that overlap with mine

That was an interesting read. The arguments were well articulated.

I’m not a big one for labels anyway. They can be useful shorthand sometimes; but oftentimes things are much less clear cut.

It is fun though to argue about which bands were, goth, punk, metal or whatever. But so often the best bands are a fusion and don’t comfortably fit into any single genre. And of course even within genres there’s evolution.

Heck, I liked the Sisters in their original incarnation, but I loved them in the Tony James era. But does that mean the band ever stopped being goth; or did the band just help shift the parameters of what goth is?

Allandrel
Allandrel
1 month ago

Well, the Goths in the de Camp novel were more along the lines of Visigoths and Ostrogoths, but now I’m imagining Rome being sacked by the crowd at a Sisters of Mercy concert.

rusalka
rusalka
1 month ago

We have seen this at demonstrations: People wearing yellow Stars of David with “ungeimpft” (unvaccinated) written on them or comparing themselves with Anne Frank.

That reminds me of the foolish girl who turned herself into a walking meme in Germany by first comparing herself to Sophie Scholl then stomping off the stage in a hissy fit that would do any stereotipical 3yo proud. Why? Cause one of the stewards at the demonstration quit and walked off after telling her, he wouldn’t stand by while she spouted bullshit.

Totally the kind of people who’d risk their lives to safe others or protest the prosecution of people other then themselves in a murderous regime…

Schnookums Von Fancypants, Naughty Basic Horse
Schnookums Von Fancypants, Naughty Basic Horse
1 month ago

@Full Metal Ox

I was fully expecting “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” when you were talking about Gothiest song ever, but I was pleasantly surprised! I haven’t heard that song in forever.

Full Metal Ox
1 month ago

@Schnookums Von Fancypants:

I know Shriekback wrote the song in a tongue-in-cheek frame of mind (and alluding to Nemesis the Warlock from 2000 AD Comics), but I personally always associated it with Ray Bradbury’s “Homecoming.”

Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meani
Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meani
1 month ago

Jew flu? Haven’t heard that one before. I mean, it doesn’t surprise me it exists because, well, ‘when in doubt blame the Jews’ is the motto of far too many people in positions of power. Only that I’ve not been reading in the right forums to stumble across it before.

However, I have seen COVID-19 referred to as the Christian Flu, primarily in the comment sections of a few atheist blogs I follow from time to time (the bloggers themselves haven’t done so in their articles, that I recall seeing anyway). How much of that is a reaction to certain conservative Christians referring to the plague as the Wuhan/China Flu and how much to general hatred of religion is anyone’s guess.

GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
1 month ago

@Phoenix: it’s likely to do with the fact that white evangelicals are spreading and dying of Covid at astounding rates, because they don’t need no vaccines cuz Jesus and horse paste

Turns out they do need ICUs, intubation, and all that, but they didn’t need no medical insurance and life insurance, so their families will soon be the dreaded Welfare Queens.