Necessary but not sufficient

Borat seems to have irked the association of rightward commentators. Both David Brooks and Jonah Goldberg have complained about it (at least Goldberg thought it was funny). Now Krauthammer joins in (and he even cites the acute observation of David Brooks). What gets Krauthammer’s goat is the implicational insult to the rabid evangelical supporter of the nation of Israel (nota bene: by “nation of Israel” we do not mean “Jews”). He writes:

>Sacha Baron Cohen, the creator of the film “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” revealed his purpose for doing that in a rare out-of-character interview he granted Rolling Stone in part to counter charges that he was promoting anti-Semitism. On the face of it, this would be odd, given that Cohen is himself a Sabbath-observing Jew. His defense is that he is using Borat’s anti-Semitism as a “tool” to expose it in others. And that his Arizona bar stunt revealed if not anti-Semitism, then “indifference” to anti-Semitism. And that, he maintains, was the path to the Holocaust.

But there are two serious problems with Krauthammer’s argument.

First, as I read this claim, I think Cohen is probably suggesting that American indifference to other’s unashamed and virulent racism is a necessary but not a sufficient cause of organized and systematic genocide like the Holocaust. There would have been no Holocaust, perhaps, had so many Germans and Poles and Italians and French and many others not been indifferent. That point seems obvious. He’s hardly claiming, as Krauthammer seems to suggest, that they were the necessary and sufficient cause–that the indifferent brought it about. The indifferent don’t bring anything about. They fail to stop or help others from bringing about. The positive anti-semitism of others is another matter.

The second problem is that Krauthammer is fundamentally confused about who Cohen is criticizing. So from the Arizona bar stunt, Krauthammer reads a criticism of Christian Evangelicals. What they would be doing in a bar is beyond me. But more to the point, it’s not clear that Cohen even criticizes them specifically (if he does, please tell me).

But even if he did, somehow Krauthammer will have to explain that many Christian Evangelicals defend the nation of Israel in order (1) to help bring about the end times; and (2) the unconverted Jews (at the end times) will have no share in paradise. They are merely the means to the salvation of Christians.

One thought on “Necessary but not sufficient”

  1. i don’t if you’ve seen this, but there is a popular push to equate “Borat” with Michael Richards’ n-bomb fiesta as equal instances of guerilla comedy. i’ve seen two articles to this effect, just on it would seem that Sasha has struck a vein with middle american evangelicals and their response is to place his comedy on the slippery slope to inveterate racism. that mainstream evangelicalism is finally confronted by Borat with their usurpation of jewish culture–i.e. the shofar blowing in evangelical services–and the implicit anti-semitism of some of their, not Jesus’, teachings is, as you’ve stated, not an argument Krauthammer has made, nor one that Cohen would probably assent to, but the mere fact Krauthammer wrote this makes me think this is an indirect, and unintended result.

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