‘Comment is Free’, “Neocons” and attacks against a much maligned Abrahamic faith

There have been countless reader comments about Jews at ‘Comment is Free’ far more hateful than the following, which appeared  beneath Glenn Greenwald’s latest post, ‘Who paid the Log Cabin Republican anti-Hagel NTY Ad?’, but the language used is quite instructive in several respects.

This reader comment hasn’t been deleted by CiF moderators at the time this post was published.


The interesting thing about this comment is that, despite its risible rhetorical excesses, much of it is in almost complete alignment with the dominant leftist narrative about the injurious effect of the Israel lobby on American politics.  In fact, the passage concerning the Israel lobby’s power, money and purchase of US politicians pretty much represents conventional wisdom within a segment of the American left, as well as at the Guardian.

Further, the word neocon – which refers to new conservatives who moved right due to a disenchantment with liberalism’s ideological excesses and what was perceived as its domestic policy failures, and now support conservative social policy and a US foreign policy which promotes freedom abroad –  has become one of the more popular forms of polemical abuse.  

Often it is a euphemism for Zionists (and sometimes Jews), and anyone who believe that the US should aggressively oppose the rise Islamism around the world, and (even when not used in a bigoted context) commentators such as Greenwald often use the term to paint a broad brush over all who believe the US should continue to support Israel. 

His characterization of opponents of Chuck Hagel’s possible nomination for Defense Secretary as neocons represents classic Greenwald.  

Typical is this passage from his CiF commentary:  

“…a favorite tactic of neocons – who have led the smear campaign against Hagel – is to cynically exploit liberal causes to generate progressive support for their militaristic agenda.”

As is the case with most bigoted and simplistic commentators who impute ill motives to their political opponents, Greenwald is unburdened by political nuance and thus employs the word neocon to attack Hagel’s opponents even though some of the most prominent groups who opposed the possible nomination are clearly not of the neocon persuasion.

For instance, there was significant opposition to Hagel’s nomination by decidedly liberal Jewish groups such as the American Jewish Committee and Anti-Defamation League.  

Similarly, liberal US political leaders such as Congressman Barney Frank (one of the most prominent openly gay members of the House of Representatives) and Senator Chuck Schumer have expressed strong opposition to Hagel.

In addition to Frank, some gay advocacy organizations – which are very liberal on most issues – have similarly expressed opposition to Hagel (or at least have expressed serious reservations).

Fierce opposition to Hagel has also come from the influential liberal activist, and founder of Daily Kos, Markos Moulitsas – who has launched a campaign against the nomination.

While much of the Jewish opposition to Hagel has indeed been motivated by concerns over comments he has made thought by some to be antisemitic, and his opposition to aggressively confronting Iran, gay advocates have expressed concern over homophobic comments Hagel has made, while liberal activists like Moulitsas oppose Hagel for the simple reason that he is a staunch conservative whose views are fundamentally at odds with those of liberal Democrats.

Despite the fact that much of the opposition to Hagel’s nomination has come from those who would never identify with the values of neo-conservationism, decrying an alleged “neocon smear campaign” is an easy way of imputing sinister motivations to such opponents – by suggesting that they’re motivated not by what’s best for the US, but, rather what’s best for Israel, and that such “Israel-firsters” are willing to defame anyone who stands in their way.

Finally, the following passage in Greenwald’s essay is especially illustrative of the anti-neocon persuasion. 

“As it so often does, the [neocon] tactic has worked magically…as numerous progressives who do actually care about gay issues – from Rachel Maddow to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force – dutifully popped up to attack the neocons‘ number one public enemy. Andrew Sullivan is right that this is a classic technique of the neocon smear campaign – recruit progressives to their cause with exploitation of unrelated issues.” 

To commentators such as Greenwald, even those opposing Hagel who clearly aren’t neocons simply could not have reached their conclusions independently but, rather, as the result of being cynically manipulated by neocon trickery.    

Guardian-Left anti-neocons such as Greenwald – and their army of supporters below the line – are increasingly identified as much by their intellectual laziness, convoluted casuistry and a remarkably facile understanding of the world as they are by a willingness to trade in antisemitic calumnies. 

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