Jew-Hatred as History
A Scholar Defines the Issue
Posted: December 31, 2001
Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., in a New York Times article, astutely identifies how the authors' use of a racial definition of Judaism fits into their overall purpose. He writes: "However shoddy the scholarship of works like The Secret Relationship, underlying it is something even more troubling: the tacit conviction that culpability is heritable. For it suggests a doctrine of racial continuity, in which the racial evil of a people is merely manifest (rather than constituted) by their historical misdeeds. The reported misdeeds are thus the signs of an essential nature that is evil."
Guilt is Inherited
In such a world view, the reader is not only encouraged to accept the fact that the effects of slavery are "still being felt among the peoples of the world at this very hour" (a reasonable assertion), but also the allegation that the descendants of this crime's culprits (who according to the authors' agenda are nearly all Jews) are to be held accountable for the slave traders' actions. It therefore doesn't matter to the authors whether "Jewish" slave traders practiced Judaism or not, nor does it matter whether the majority of Jews participated in the slave trade or not. Their main concern, rather, is to define a kind of "original sin" through which to judge living Jews. And like the aristocrats of medieval Europe who levied a special tax against Jewish merchants, it doesn't matter to the Nation of Islam whether the Jews in question are guilty of the specific charge or not.
"However shoddy the scholarship of works like The Secret Relationship, underlying it is something even more troubling: the tacit conviction that culpability is heritable. "
- Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Nonetheless, in a vital admission, the authors lose their argument that anti-Semitism can be dismissed because Jews were penalized for their business practices rather than for their religion. Early in their narrative they write, "Europe's experience with 'Mosaic Law' was that it very closely resembled business law, and that money, not worship, was the main objective." (p. 34) They repeat this offensive characterization later in the book, when during a highly distorted account of Jewish tradition they write, "In addition to slavery, Jewish law permitted the exploitation of the Gentile." (p. 202) Thus, the integrity of Judaism as a religion is directly impugned by the authors; Jewish "sharp practices" are alleged to be an essential part of Jewish identity.