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April 1991


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 15 Apr 91 21:47:26 EDT
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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> Race, racism and anti-Semitism are all contested terms that carry a number of
> ambiguities and contradictions.  We should recognize the political and
> rhetorical strategies of referring to anyone, Jews included, as being members
> of a particular race.  If you examine the ideological underpinnings of racism
> and anti-Semitism, you can see there are a great deal of similarities.  Both
> attempt to, in Allport's words, construct an Other.  Both are predicated on a
> wayof seeing, not on any innate biological trait.  And both remain embedded
> the level of personal beliefs, but also institutional practices.
> I would agree that to refer to Jews as a race is indeed problematic.  But I
> think it is important in our academic and activist work to link anti-Semitism
> and racism as the oppressive ideologies that they are, regardless of who is
> the victim of this kind of hate.
I think you're making my point, Steve, by *wanting* to adopt the
language of the bigots.  Why should Jews stand for the equation of
racism and anti-Semitism just because the Other is socially constructed?
Would women accept an equation of anti-feminism and racism?  Would
the elderly accept an equation of agism and racism?  I think, especially
among thoughtful people, we can point out similarities in construction
and effect without having to invoke the political charge of "racism."
"Anti-Semitism" is quite ugly enough to warrant our repugnance on its
Eric Rabkin
Department of English
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor MI 48109-1045
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