As Josh Marshall points out, apparently the new tactic from conservatives is to call anyone criticizing neoconservatives anti-Semitic.
We’ve now gone from arguments where anti-Semitism is perceived at the margins of critiques of neoconservative intellectuals to the current practice in which it is treated as a given that ‘neoconservative’ is simply a code word for Jew and criticisms of the same are one shade or another of anti-Semitism.
Let’s be clear on what’s going on here.
Pressure groups exist in politics. The loose association of people generally termed ‘neoconservative’ use the term to describe themselves. And while no group is monolithic in its thinking, they generally think of themselves as a group and act in that fashion. We can get into a discussion at some other point about the fine points of intellectual history and note that intellectual or ideological movements are as much social constructs tethered to specific institutions as they are coherent and consistent textbook philosophies which remain the same over time. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The point is that this is an ideological group in American politics. The people who are a part of it see it as such, as do its critics and opponents. And yet many now want to use blanket criticisms of anti-Semitism to stigmatize and ward off any and all criticism.
You really have to go read the article(s) he’s talking about to get a sense of just how nasty some of this stuff being written is. Personally, I find the whole thing beyond baffling. Until I started seeing some of these charges, I had no idea what any of the neocon’s ethnic or religious backgrounds were. I just thought they were nuts.
Aside from shock and bafflement, however, my other reaction is that the neocons must have lost the argument. Call it a corollary to Godwin’s Law— as soon as someone resorts to charges that their opponent is racist (in whatever form that takes), they have lost the argument.