The Right Coast
June 22, 2004
Termites at Crooked Timber
By Maimon Schwarzschild
Oh my. Kieran Healy at Crooked Timber is calling me into the Headmaster's office for a stern caning for saying that an anti-American federal Europe would be a bad thing, and that it is good news if last week's election success for the Euro-sceptic parties-- including the UK Independence Party -- makes the creation of a centralized, federal European power less likely.
Headmaster Healy is so cross that his logic is impaired. It is one thing to say that UKIP's success is a good thing if it slows down the euro-federal juggernaut. (That's what I said.) It would be another to say I want to be governed by UKIP. It's true, UKIP is a mixed bag: like many fringe (and not-so-fringe) political parties. Many people who voted for UKIP surely wouldn't want it to be the government. (Even if UKIP had won all the votes last week, it still wouldn't be the government of anything. This was an election for the "European Parliament", which is not where the power is in the EU.) But the UKIP vote does send a message to the "establishment" parties that euro-federalism is unpopular, and getting more so. Voters unhappy with the idea of a Brussels superstate -- or unhappy with the idea of toeing the Chiraq-Schroeder-Zapatero line -- might well have felt that they had nowhere else to go.
The second piece of illogic from Kieran Healy is much the more serious one. I mentioned the growing "anti-Americanism, and thinly veiled anti-semitism" in European politics. This is obviously what excited the hornet's nest at Crooked Timber. Kieran Healy says UKIP "in the past" had a "scattering" of anti-semites or at least "nordicists" (whatever they are: I don't think he means Swedish socialists): and this is his bridge to the ugly subject -- and it is an ugly subject -- of the European far right.
That there was, and is, anti-semitism on the European far right is scarcely in dispute. But the implication at Crooked Timber is that if there is anti-semitism on the far right (and of course there is), then there is anti-semitism only on the right: don't look for it anywhere else.
Put baldly like that, the idea is ludicrous. But I think some such idea, or at least some such feeling, is common enough among "progressives". Anti-semitism is a right-wing disorder. Must be. Therefore it is only a right-wing disorder.
Would that it were so.
Anyone who has watched an "anti-war" march ("Star Of David = Swastika"), read the mainstream European press ("Jenin massacre", and much, much else of the same sort), attended a bien pensant dinner party in London or Paris (graced with the presence of the French ambassador to Britain or otherwise), or spent any time in left-leaning European university or professional circles lately, knows better. You have to be deep in a "progressive" burrow not to notice the seismic growth of "anti-Zionist" rancour on the European left: a preoccupation with the possible misdeeds of Israel so disproportionate as to make the inference of anti-semitism inescapable.
For a typical if fairly mild example, Kieran Healy need look no further than his own fan mail. A Crooked Timber correspondent writes,
Does Crooked Timber share that view? Crooked Timber saith naught.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, a growing number of French Jews are taking steps to emigrate. I don't think a Bourbon restoration is what they're worried about.
For more on Europe and euro-federalism, here is Mark Steyn in the Daily Telegraph. And the extraordinary (in the good sense) Victor Davis Hanson. And read David Frum's op-ed (English version) in the Swedish daily Expressen on US-European relations.