Well, no. At least, that's the conclusion you have to reach after reading this fascinating piece by Jonathan Tilove in the Forward about Jews who choose to participate in the annual American Renaissance gathering in Herndon, Va., and what happens to them:
- The events Saturday, February 25, passed without major incident. But then, late Sunday morning, none other than former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke approached the microphone on the floor during the question-and-answer session for French writer Guillaume Faye. After congratulating Faye for stirring remarks that "touched my genes," Duke asked if there weren't an even more insidious threat to the West than Islam.
"There is a power in the world that dominates our media, influences our government and that has led to the internal destruction of our will and our spirit," Duke said.
"Tell us, tell us," came a call from the back of the room.
"I'm not going to say it," Duke said to rising laughter.
But Michael Hart, a squat, balding Jewish astrophysicist from Maryland, was not amused. He rose from his seat, strode toward Duke (who loomed over him like an Aryan giant), spit out a curse — "You f...ing Nazi, you've disgraced this meeting" — and exited.
As it happens, only a few minutes earlier Hart, a mainstay of American Renaissance conferences, had been trying to reassure Herschel Elias, a first-time attendee from suburban Philadelphia, that he should not let his observation that the meeting was "infiltrated by Nazis and Holocaust deniers" ruin his impression of American Renaissance.
"The speakers aren't Nazis," Hart assured him. "Jared isn't a Nazi."
No, Jared -- that is, Jared Taylor, the American Renaissance leader -- isn't a Nazi, at least not exactly. But he is a right-wing extremist who leads a bona fide hate group. And his audience -- white nationalists -- comprises from top to bottom mainly people who, if not actual fascists, are at least profoundly anti-Semitic.
And, as much as Taylor might view Jews as whites who should be on his side -- and tailor his recruitment accordingly -- it's doubtful his organization can ever escape the gravitational pull of the vast majority of his audience who view Jews as the actual source of all racial problems through their money and connivance.
That becomes more than abundantly evident when you consider how Jews have been treated at past AR conferences:
- At the 2000 conference in Herndon, Robert Weissberg — a political scientist who then worked at the University of Illinois — delivered a speech titled "Jews and Blacks: Everything the Goyim Want To Know but Were Afraid To Ask." His thesis was that although Jews and blacks loathe one another, Jews remain frightened of the white right.
Weissberg delivered his remarks with his trademark blend of erudition, Yiddishisms and Borscht Belt timing. He was not a big hit. Taylor heard the complaints: "Now the Jews want to take over this, too."
Weissberg, who is living in New York once again, keeps coming to the conferences. He enjoys the open talk about race, perhaps also the whiff of intellectual danger. At the Saturday morning session, the man sitting next to him doodled on his pad: "No good Jew."
Michael Berman, a New York Jew who wrote a piece for AR in 2003 about his "racial awakening," experienced something similar this year:
- Not everyone at last weekend's meeting could stay cool on the Jewish question. Before Faye spoke, Michael Matthews, an attendee from New Jersey, passed Michael Berman in the hotel foyer.
"Are you a Jew?" Matthews demanded. "I don't think you should be here."
Berman was hurt.
"You see, there's no home for me,'' he sighed after Matthews had left. "I'm like a black sheep here and everywhere I go."
I have a hard time feeling bad for Mr. Berman. His eagerness to join and participate in an organization like Taylor's -- which in the end is all about scapegoating and bigotry and little else -- means he and the other Jews who are part of the AR crowd are just embracing their own narrow brand of prejudice (in most cases, against blacks).
But no matter what they do, there will always be the David Dukes and their thousand little minions around to remind them that bigotry is a many-edged sword -- and over history, the biggest and sharpest edge has long been reserved for their own kind.