The Spectacle Blog

Hard and Fast Distinctions

By on 12.19.13 | 2:00AM

It's touching that Wlady has gone all white knight on Aaron's behalf, but it doesn't really matter. My points still stand.

What I want Aaron and everyone else hurling this epithet at Waters to recognize is the seriousness of the charge they are making. An anti-Semite is someone who hates Jewish people. There is still no evidence that such hatred motivates Waters, and I fail to see why it is necessary or reasonable to make this (at present) unverifiable claim when Waters's known views already condemn him in the courts of decency and reason.

The paragraph Aaron quotes from Jonathan Marks actually makes my point for me:

One does not have to think that Roger Waters dislikes Jews [empasis mine--MW] to think that his general way of thinking, along with the way of thinking of many of his comrades in arms, is infected with anti-Semitic mythology.

So, is Roger Waters the world's first anti-Semite who does not dislike Jews? There is a huge difference between saying that someone is guilty of making statements--even frequent statements--that suggest the influence of anti-Semitic propaganda and saying that someone is an anti-Semite: having and giving voice to idiotic ideas is not the same thing as hating millions of people. If Waters does not hate or dislike Jewish people as such, then he is quite simply not an anti-Semite, though he may be a great many other nasty things.

I stress the importance of this distinction not because I do not take anti-Semitism seriously but rather precisely because I believe that it is not only an indication of serious moral and intellectual deficiency on the part of an individual but also a relentless force for evil in the world. Imputations of anti-Semitism--as opposed to other kinds of criticism of individuals who say and do vicious and stupid things--should only be made when evidence of it is clear and forthcoming.

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