Channeling the Nuremberg Laws with the Guardian’s Deborah Orr

A guest post by AKUS

Twitter has become a treasure trove of information that reveals a great deal about the sub-conscious of those hastily tweeting messages that, in more sober moments, they might revise. As a communications medium the tweets can remind one of the outbursts a permanently drunk Mel Gibson he would have preferred to hide. The twitter equivalent of  “in vino veritas” appears to be: “In tweets, the twouth”. This should be emblazoned at the top of smartphones to warn the unwary that the unedited tweets emerging directly from their nastiest depths will be faithfully recorded and available on the internet.

There has been a well-deserved uproar over the despicable article by Deborah Orr in the Guardian, and her mealy-mouthed apology  in her attempt to rescue what was left of any reputation she might have had.

Thinking of how Nir Rosen lost his job when his tweets about the sexual assault on CBS reporter Lara Logan in Cairo revealed at the very least a warped sense of humor,  I took a look at Orr’s twitter account to see what else she may have to say on the topics of Israeli, Zionism, and Jews.

Deborah Orr describes herself as a “sarcastist” by which she presumably means she has a somewhat cynical view of the world and a great sense of humor.

Much was made of her reference to the “chosen”, a prime antisemitic trope, but I think that there is another interesting sub-text at play in her writing. Her tweets reveal that, sarcastic or not, she has picked up many of the memes that informed the Nazis with their racial theories. She applies the Nuremberg calculus to her musings about degrees of “Jewishness”, and, in a bizarre twist, to her own family.

Wikipedia has a concise version of the racial arithmetic used by the Nazis in formulating the infamous Nuremberg laws:

The Nuremberg Laws classified people with four German grandparents as “German or kindred blood”, while people were classified as Jews if they descended from three or four Jewish grandparents. A person with one or two Jewish grandparents was a Mischling, a crossbreed, of “mixed blood”. These laws deprived Jews of German citizenship and prohibited marriage between Jews and other Germans.[2]

Now take a look at the following tweets from Ms Orr, in a few exchanges at with two Jewish interlocutors, “yidtech” and “roeberg”  (you can see the full exchanges at her twitter page if you wish). Note how she refers to Jews as a “race”, which by now most supposedly educated and intelligent people should understand Jews are not, and her fascination with the determination of the fractional Jewish makeup of her husband and children.

The next day, caught up in the furor over her article, her mental defenses are going up, though she still apparently fails to grasp just how badly her article was received – hence her inadequate apology in the Guardian, hardly better than the original article:

Finally, after having initially executed the most extraordinary example of what Landes brilliantly referred to as “a magnificent exegetical pirouette” or moral inversion possible by asserting that Hamas’ insistence on releasing 1,027 of their terrorists in exchange for one kidnapped Israeli soldier was an example of Israeli racism, she backed away. Trying to ease her way back to the safety of condemning terrorism (and perhaps others of Hamas’ less than attractive beliefs and activities) she tweeted:

(Unfortunately, even if some of her best Palestinian friends think Hamas is a ghastly organization, the polls taken to evaluate Palestinian attitudes to Hamas reveal exactly the opposite – that many think it is really quite a fine organization. So do several well-known British citizens – Baroness Tonge, Lauren Booth and  Ben White, to name just three of many).

I do not mean to imply, of course, that Deborah Orr is a Nazi, by any means – but her tweets reveal how deeply prevalent the kind of thinking that imbued Nazi anti-Semitism can still be found among some representatives of Britain’s chattering classes.

Coincidentally or not, Deborah Orr is leaving  CiF for the less widely circulated pages of the Guardian’s Saturday edition. I suppose we will never know if her interesting ideas about Israeli racism and the chosenness of the Jewish people were a last hurrah or the cause of her departure. 

Perhaps on Saturday she will stick to less dangerous topics, such as gardening or cooking. In a way, I will miss her – it is always interesting to have on hand someone like Orr who provides insights into the murky depths below the veneer of “liberalism” that the Guardian tries to maintain over the original ethos it has so perverted.

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