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As Lenin said, the key questions in public affairs are: Who? Whom? (You can fill in your own transitive verb.)

Back in February, blogger Matt Yglesias made a frank point about how American ideological allegiances are often driven not by ideology, but by kin connections. He explained he is “pretty firmly on the left,” even though “there’s an awful lot of room in conceptual space to the left of where I am. I haven’t made a detailed study of it, but it seems to me that in most other countries I would likely find myself on the moderate right or as a swing voter.” Yglesias offered a striking defense of ethnocentrism as the driving force behind party affiliation:



Here in the United States, the right has a tendency (once, but mostly no longer, found on the European right) to serve up a mixture of hostility to intellectuals, Hollywood, journalists, academics, and residents of big cities along with valorization of farmers, soldiers, and small-town life that I, at least, find remarkably uncongenial to the values of American Jewry. I rather doubt, at this point, that there’s any actual anti-semitism lurking beneath this murky cauldron of anti-semitic tropes, but still, there they are. Or to put it another way, granting that pretty much nobody on the American right seems to hate Jews as such, pretty much everybody on the American right seems to hate the things that, in practice, American Jews do. …

Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that my family (including its non-Jewish element) lives up so happily to stereotype. We all live in the Washington-Boston corridor. We’ve all worked in the journalism/academia/entertainment complex except Uncle Andy who does have his PhD. Looking all squinty-eyed at our home region while extolling the virtues of Boise and “character” over actual knowledge is not increasing our comfort level…

But perhaps I’m just paranoid. I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s an astoundingly awesome passage in [Seymour Martin Lipset’s] American Exceptionalism (pages 172) about American Jewish paranoia:



San Francisco provides strong evidence of how some Jews can totally ignore reality. Polls taken by Earl Raab among contributors to the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation have found that one third agree that a Jew cannot be elected to Congress from San Francisco. His survey reported such results in 1985 when all three members of Congress from contiguous districts in or adjacent to the city were Jewish, as were the two state senators, the mayor, and a considerable part of the city council.



Funny, that. But I think the point stands. San Francisco is good for the Jews, and the Republican Party is bad for San Francisco. The fact that anti-SF sentiment is more likely motivated by hatred of gays and lesbians than of Jews is of little comfort, since we seem likely to get caught in the crossfire. Other Jewish fun facts from Exceptionalism Chapter 5:



Although never more than 3.7 percent of the population, and now 2.5 or less, they have been given one third of the religious representation. In many public ceremonies there is one priest, one minister, and one rabbi [ED: this was written in 1996, have they now been joined by an Imam?]. Strikingly, non-Jews greatly overestimate the size of the American Jewish population. A 1992 national survey conducted for the Anti-Defamation Leage by Marttila & Kiley found the median estimate of the percentage of Americans who are Jewish is 18. Only a tenth perceive them as less than 5 percent. . . .

An analysis of the four hundred richest Americans, as reported by Forbes magazine, finds that two-fifths of the 160 wealthiest Americans are Jews, as are 23 percent of the total list. Jews are disproportionately present among many sections of elites, largely drawn from the college educated. These include the leading intellectuals (45%), professors at the major universities (30%), high-level civil servants (21%), partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington, DC (40%), the reporters, editors, and executives of print and broadcast media (26%), the directors writers and producers of the fifty top-grossing motion pictures from 1965 to 1982 (59%), and the same level of people involved in two or more prime time television series (58%).



One notes that while, generically speaking, the Republican Party is very friendly to rich and successful people, the specific brands of success here correlate extremely closely to American conservatism’s most-loathed occupational categories. Lawyers, professors, intellectuals, civil servants, and the dastardly cultural elite.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)