Oy Ye

Photograph Source: aaronisnotcool – CC BY 2.0

The problem with political correctness has always been that you were never going to stop people from being offensive, as our system virtually requires people to mistake appearance for reality while not being permitted to talk about it. Browbeating them seemingly worked in the short run of the postwar era, while the economy was booming and the shock of wartime atrocity hadn’t worn off, but it was never going to work in the long run if for no other reason than people become offended when you tell them that they’re being offensive. “That’s Offensive!” additionally means that the accused will not be provided an explanation for what they seek to understand and should stop looking for one, an unlikely demand as our material world exponentially melts into air. Mandating political correctness through censorship and economic coercion only guarantees that people will eventually revolt. Self-dignity virtually requires it, although this will likely be a revolt that has little to do with human liberation.

It’s empirically true that Jews are disproportionately represented in Hollywood. The question that matters is what this implies. Dave Chappelle was right to note that there are also plenty of Black people in Ferguson, although Hollywood is above all an industry not a location. Yet even assuming that Jewish people disproportionately control Hollywood — notwithstanding invariable Jewish gofers and the otherwise kicked upon (Harvey Weinstein surely didn’t rape only gentiles and Woody Allen knows full well that abuse starts at home) — what does this imply?

An antisemite – that is, an anti-Jew — starts and stops with identity, as for him the Jew by nature connives with his brethren to exploit others, and Jewish dominance of Hollywood is therefore a mere means to an end. If only the moguls could be replaced with Christians, the antisemite implies, Hollywood would be fairer, less profit-hungry, and less exploitative.

Someone interested in structure, on the other hand, would recognize that capitalist enterprises will necessarily pursue specific behaviors — exploiting workers and disseminating idiotic trash to consumers, for instance — irrespective of who’s in charge. Those interested in history might even recall that early 20th century Jews, excluded from the respectable industries of the day, helped found Hollywood and made it, in the title of one book, “an empire of their own.” The same phenomenon also occurred in the country’s law firms, as Jewish lawyers, excluded from the WASP-run white shoe firms, founded their own in the ill-reputed field of litigation, which unbeknownst to anyone at the time would go on to become the financial powerhouse of the legal profession. Jewish influence — that is, the influence of rich people who happen to be Jewish — was ironically born of social and political weakness. But the antisemite is not interested in such observations, as they aren’t useful to those whose real problem with exploitation is that they are not the ones who are doing it.

Joshua Sperber teaches political science and history. He is the author of Consumer Management in the Internet Age. He can be reached at jsperber4@gmail.com