Barbara Kay and Jonathan Kay are columnists for The National Post. Barbara is Jonathan’s mother. Barbara is a legitimate intellect with important things to say nearly every appearance. Jonathan’s columns are usually filled with trendy recycled conventional wisdom, puffed up with his own unshakeable secular-atheist prejudices. The past two days are a perfect illustration.
Today, Barbara Kay’s column reviews a new book by Jewish-Canadian poet David Solway, “The Big Lie: On Terror, Anti-Semitism and Identity”. Solway is part of a growing subculture of intellectuals schooled in the leftist morass of the 1960s and 1970s, who allowed themselves to open their minds after 9/11/2001. From a former lifelong member of the church of liberalism:
…it took the events of 9/11 to rouse him from the “ignorance and laziness” of half a lifetime’s default identification with the leftist ideology his cohort internalized in the student-revolutionary sixties.
The Islamist assault on America plunged Solway into “a kind of Cartesian interrogation, a relentless scrutiny of the values and beliefs I accepted as gospel.” Six years on, this radical reappraisal of principles plus meticulous research has produced The Big Lie. The book is an idiosyncratically formatted polemic, composed of theme-linked literary and political sorties, and fleshed out by the poignant chronicle of Solway’s personal sojourn, from secular and even arrogant indifference to Israel’s fate toward a proud, informed and loving embrace of Jewish destiny.
I believe that a good part of the virulent hostility of today’s left towards the Jews stems from the leadership of the hated “neo-cons”, many of whom are former Jewish leftists who have “defected” (Irving Kristol, David Horowitz, Charles Krauthammer, Norman Podhoretz, to name a few). Barbara Kay understands this well, and is relentless in her attacks on leftists and antisemites who simply refuse to grow up and face reality.
Son Jonathan, on the other hand, mixes occasional good work (like his expose of the Liberal Party’s increasing ties to Jew-hating ethnic voting blocs a few weeks ago) with regular uninformed tripe. Yesterday’s column, “Jewish Brainpower is a Mixed Blessing”, is perhaps the most ignorant and arrogant column I have ever read by a Jew who professes to be on the right. His main point? That Jews are hated because they are more successful than other groups; and that this success is because of an evolutionary process that has given Jews greater intellect than other human beings. Like many of the liberal, atheist Jews I grew up with, Kay seems to take arrogant pride in his status as part of a super-intelligent tribe, and almost revels in the fact that he is hated out of smartness-resentment. From the column:
In a perfect world, it’s the sort of statistic that Jews might trumpet with unalloyed pride– the way the Dutch brag about their height (6′ average) or Kenyans from the western edge of the Great Rift Valley boast of their exceptional long-distance-running ability. But intelligence, unlike height and speed, is not an unmitigated asset — at least not when demagogues are afoot. What you or I might define as brainpower, others may define as cunning, shrewdness, guile. And to explain that such predilections originated naturally in the markets of Europe through a long history of money lending, deal-making and mercantile pursuits … well, you can see how that tends only to make matters worse.
Rhie Won-bok [antisemitic Korean artist whose work Kay used as a jumping-off point for the column] may not be much of a cartoonist or a thinker. But he’s unwittingly captured one of the sad truths of Jewish history. In peoples, as in people, great intellect can be a mixed blessing.
It is this type of ignorance and arrogance that gives Jew-haters everywhere the amunition they need to demonize Jews. Kay should know better, and I hope his mother gave him a good tonge-lashing over this one.
To correct Kay’s foolishness: Jews are not a race, so evolution cannot improve the intellect of “Jews”. Jews come from all racial groups, and there are plenty of learning-disabled Jews, brain-damaged Jews, mentally-retarded Jews, low-achieving Jews, and just plain stupid Jews to prove his race-based intellect theory dead wrong. Further, a father who becomes cunning in business cannot pass this acumen on to his children through genetics! There is no “business cunning” or “success” gene.
What Jews do have is a strong and enduring set of VALUES passed down from generation to generation for three thousand years. It is the values of personal integrity, community responsibility, concrete universal standards of morality, and individual cosmic accountability encoded in the bible that has allowed the Jews to survive and thrive as a tiny minority on earth. It is also this set of values that was passed on to Christianity that has allowed Christendom to lift the Western world to heights of prosperity and peace that had never before been achieved in human history.
To complete the circle: people like Barbara Kay, David Solway, and myself have come to understand that it is the superior VALUES of Judaism and Chritianity that have allowed us to live the comfortable and free lives we enjoy in this guilded age. It is the perverted values of Islam that poses a real threat to our freedom and prosperity. Jonathan seems to understand the Islamist threat; but until he figures out that it is our values, and not our intellect and success, that makes us hated, his commentary will just be flailing in the wind.