Friday, May 09, 2014

Once again: Vassar SJP and White Nationalist publications

There are times when you simply cannot make it up. SJP Vassar's Communique #1 - On White Supremacy and Its Watchdog reads as if it came from the Onion.

Where to start with the fisking?

Well, first off, they accuse nameless people of "lies, propaganda, and misrepresentation leveled against our movement. Baseless ad hominem attacks have been launched against us in an attempt to mystify both our politics and those of our attackers."

I've read many of the recent critical articles about SJP Vassar, and they address what the group is doing, without engaging in ad hominem attacks. The Commentary article from yesterday even ends with these words: "The SJP consists of students, and perhaps a national publication is not the place to discuss their foolishness." While condescending, this is not an ad hominem attack.

I have not attacked the SJP Vassar students personally. I have criticized their words, as posted on their various internet sites.

They claim that people are accusing them of supporting white supremacy. Since they provide no links, I don't know who they are referring to. I certainly haven't accused them of doing this. I have demonstrated, however, that their Tumblr blog reposts material from White Nationalist sites. They reposted an article from The Occidental Quarterly called "Zionist Internet Trolls." They reposted a cartoon from a White Nationalist Tumblr blog called "neonationalist." Both of these postings are still up on their Tumblr blog (as of this moment). Another blogger on Tumblr, Ora-Shira's Blog commented to them:

The article then says: "We find it an appalling irony to be accused of supporting white supremacy by those who support the racist Israeli regime and its white nationalist agenda. This agenda is comprised of policies that work towards exterminating Palestinians and African migrants, only to replace them with predominantly white Euro-American settlers."

I would like to see some proof that Israel is trying to exterminate Palestinians and African migrants. As Ari Shavit shows in his book My Promised Land, Israeli forces did expel Palestinian Arabs during the 1948-49 war. He details what happened in Lydda, and there are many other examples. Israeli forces also committed atrocities against Palestinians then; the most notorious example is the massacre at Deir Yassin (which Shavit also writes about). About 150,000 Arabs were left inside of Israel at the end of the 1948 war. Arabs are now about 20% of the total Israeli population. The refugees who fled to Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq have also increased greatly in population since 1948. While the State of Israel is guilty of crimes against Palestinians, it certainly did not in 1948 and certainly not now try to "exterminate" Palestinians. 

And the Jewish immigrants who came after 1948 were predominantly not "white Euro-American settlers." Hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees entered Israel in the next few decades from North Africa and the Middle East, motivated to leave Arab and Muslim countries by the physical attacks and discrimination that they encountered in those countries. The Arab countries are also guilty of crimes against their indigineous Jewish populations. The current Jewish population of Israel currently is about half of Ashkenazi descent (many of them Holocaust survivors and their descendants) and half of Sephardi-Mizrachi descent.

Now we get to the heart of the matter. SJP Vassar writes:
This should go without saying, and yet here we are saying it: providing an article link from a white nationalist publication does not mean we support white nationalist ideology; rather, we found this particular article’s description of those behind zionist propaganda campaigns and how they operate to be a helpful articulation of problems many organizations like us face. A profound irony is that we have come under assault from the very same trolls the article describes. As students who must navigate the world under the thumb of white supremacy, we understand what it is like to have to take ideas from organizations that have supported white supremacist structures, whether they be from Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, Legal Insurrection, or the Occidental Quarterly, and put them in a productive conversation. The struggle for justice for the Palestinian people will continue despite petty slander, and we at SJP Vassar strongly encourage anyone who may read this to question the dominant narrative.
The article is trying to evade the fact that they reposted from a White Nationalist site by claiming that Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, and Legal Insurrection all support "white supremacist structures," along with Occidental Quarterly. OQ publishes articles that denigrate Black people as inferior to whites. It publishes articles from Kevin MacDonald, who accuses Jews of having a "group evolutionary strategy" to undermine western white civilization. While the Jerusalem Post and Legal Insurrection are conservative publications, they would never publish articles like those. OQ is the "kinder, gentler" face of the white supremacist movement in the United States. The SPLC puts OQ into the category of "academic racism," writing "Founded in 2001 by Chicago millionaire publishing scion William H. Regnery, the Charles Martel Society puts out The Occidental Quarterly, a journal devoted to the idea that 'race informs culture' that is edited by a Who's Who of the radical right."

Why would an ostensibly anti-racist organization like SJP Vassar want to be connected in any way with The Occidental Quarterly? This is what I find particularly baffling. Why didn't they just apologize, remove the articles from the Tumblr blog, and move on?


  1. very good article, thanks for writing it.

  2. Oh my god, you mentioned me in it!

  3. I think the simple answer is that they come across antisemitic material online, agree very much with its viewpoint on Jews, and choose consciously to repost it. I'm sure some of these activists might also be too stupid to realize that these sites are white supremacist until it's brought to their attention. And then, they're also stupid enough to write the laughable defenses of themselves like the ones you've highlighted here. I'm very glad you're doing so - this garbage needs exposing.

  4. I think you're probably right. I've wondered if there might be someone in the group who actually *is* a white nationalist (pretending to be on the far left) who posts the WN material - although that's probably too conspiratorial. This defense of their actions, which they pompously name "Communiqué #1" strikes me as an example of poorly understood Marxism married to equally misunderstood critical race theory. They also come across as having that heady feeling of being part of the vanguard of the Revolution