Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Eugene Volokh has some typically insightful comments regarding a student at UNLV who is being accused of anti-Semitism:

It seems to me perfectly proper to condemn ethnic groups -- Jews or not -- for being too focused on their ethnicity, and even for discriminating (albeit in perfectly legal ways) in their social and romantic decisions. Of course, if Chomintra condemns only Jews for that but thinks that it's just fine when other groups do that, that seems an anti-Semitic double standard; and if his point was that "you're a sad, pathetic, weak organism" if being Jewish "determine[s] how you shape your life," but you're just fine if being Irish or Hispanic shapes your life, that too suggests hostility to Jews. But absent such evidence, this seems to be a slam against perceived excessive focus on one's ethnic identity, not an expression of hatred or hostility to Jews as such. In fact, Chomintra equally condemns (though rather less politely than I would have preferred) people who think that Jews are "anything less or anything more than anyone else" (emphasis mine) -- more consistent with "people shouldn't care about ethnic identity" than "Jews are evil."

One can of course disagree with Chomintra on the merits, and conclude that it's right for people to be focused on their ethnic identity (or in the case of some but not all Jews who focus a great deal on their Jewishness, on their religious identity).

However, he didn't discuss one possibility that jumped out at me: that the comments in question arose out of being dumped by his (previous) girlfriend - who is Jewish. In addition, it seems that the reason that he was dumped (or at least the reason that he believes he was dumped) was that he was not Jewish.

Some of the quotes that lead me to this belief:

The comments ... were published by Chomintra ... about a former girlfriend.

He also criticized a Jewish student for "not wanting Jews to associate or date non-Jews," and for "blindly celebrating being Jewish." . . .

It seems to me that this is the likely sequence of events:

1. He was dating a Jewish girl.
2. She broke up with him.
3. He believed (rightly or wrongly) that this was due to his not being Jewish.
4. He also believed that a friend of hers had talked her into the break-up, also on the grounds of his not being Jewish.
5. Rather understandably angry and upset, he lashed out on his "web log".
6. After calming down, he deleted the angry tirade.

If this is what really happened, then this would indicate a couple of things.

1. Make it unlikely (though not impossible) that he is truly anti-Semitic. Dating a Jew would strongly suggest that you do not hate them.
2. If anything, he is the victim of discrimination. Again, this would make his evident anger more understandable.