Would the UK media normalize anti-black racism like they do with antisemitism?

Imagine if you read the following passages – an interview with politically conservative actor Jon Voight – in the New York Times culture section:

So why do affirmative action policies continue to be pervasive at university admission committees, in the procurement of government contracts and even at Fortune 500 companies? According to the acclaimed conservative actor Jon Voight, the power of black groups within the Obama administration makes it increasingly tough for there to be a rational discussion on the issue.

“I considered campaigning against affirmative action myself,” he told The New York Times.  But, he said he was informed by others that choosing to do this could have a bad impact on his livelihood.

“I think the reason that even the Republican Party doesn’t actively challenge the status quo on minority set-asides is because blacks and the politics of black victimhood exerts a suffocating grip on our political culture“, he said. 

The main problem for me in all this is that kind of black radicals. That extreme belief by blacks that they are entitled. They will label you a racist if you resist such an idea. It’s worse than McCarthyism.

Then, imagine, in such a hypothetical scenario, if the NYT culture critic responded to Voight’s words by dryly adding:

Hurt’s comments could stoke controversy.

Impossible to imagine, isn’t it?  

Any liberal NYT journalist who encountered such bigotry would surely not let it go unchallenged. Further, in such a scenario, Voight’s views on the ‘corrupting influence of African-Americans in the US’ would likely be the story’s lead, and surely not be downplayed or minimized.  It’s also likely that the liberal media would – quite justifiably – be abuzz with news of the Republican actor’s racist meltdown. 

While the exchange above was obviously fictional, the following (Rankin on Scarlett Johansson’s SodaStream advert: Why Hollywood stars can’t afford to be linked to Pro-Palestinian causes, Feb. 13) was actually published at The Independent:

So why did the actress [Scarlett Johansson] with the cleanest PR track record in Hollywood opt for the latter and part ways with [Oxfam]? According to [Rankin] the acclaimed photographer and director – who has not only worked with Johansson on a number of occasions, but has also shot for Oxfam in the Congo and in Kenya – the power of a far-right pro-Israeli lobby within the US makes it increasingly tough for creative artists to take the ethical high ground in favour of Palestinians.

“I asked, actually, Oxfam if I could go to Palestine because I’m interested in what happens in Palestine,” he told The Independent. But speaking of his desire to shine a light on the plight of the Palestinian people, he said he was informed by others that choosing to do this could have a bad impact on his livelihood.

I think the reason that she has not backed down is because in America, the Jewish zealots are so powerful. Especially in the entertainment industry… What they could do to her career,” he added, admitting he had “negative views” on SodaStream’s West Bank operation.

The main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism. That extreme belief that this is their homeland and those people are worthless to them. That’s very powerful in America. They will blacklist you. It’s worse than McCarthyism…

The Indy’s Jenn Selby then merely added the following:

Rankin’s comments could stoke controversy, judging by the reaction to Seth McFarlane’s performance hosting the Oscars last year, when his character Ted suggested that only Jewish actors would be able to get jobs in Hollywood.

Has antisemitism become so socially acceptable within the media and among the cultural elite that most don’t blink an eye when a political figure, journalist or artist explains social or political problems by evoking the specter of powerful, malevolent Jewish forces in Hollywood and in Washington?

Whilst there is of course nothing wrong with the Indy publishing the interview – odious bigotry and all – we can’t help but be disturbed by the banality of the manner in which it was contextualized, indeed normalized.

As we’ve continually documented, narratives regarding the injurious influence of powerful Jews – previously relegated to the margins of the far right – have become increasingly acceptable within left-wing political discourse, and is often packaged as ‘progressive’, anti-establishment commentary. 

The continuing failure of otherwise sober and putatively enlightened voices to unequivocally condemn such rank expressions of anti-Jewish racism represents, at the minimum, an appalling moral abdication.

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