Ph.D. Octopus

Politics, media, music, capitalism, scholarship, and ephemera since 2010

Yglesias: Jewish conservatives like Jews eating “bad bagels”

with 2 comments

by Weiner

Matt Yglesias summed up his position of Jewish conservatives pretty succinctly, and it dovetails nicely with my own. Here are the highlights from his post:

The problem with being a conservative isn’t that it contradicts Jewish precepts. The problem with being a conservative is that conservative ideology is mistaken and the conservative movement is pernicious.

He goes on to concede, as I do, that individual conservatives can be very smart and are often right about things. But they are the exceptions. And so he goes on:

As a progressive, I think conservatives are wrong. Separately from that, I’m also Jewish. And as a Jew, I’m not immune to a bit of communal pride in the fact that Jews are overwhelmingly progressive and that very few Jews choose to sign up for the wrongheaded and pernicious conservative movement in the United States. But some Jews buck the trend and undermine my effort at communal pride, which I find annoying over-and-above the fact that conservatives are just wrong generally.

He finished off with this terrific analogy:

Nobody should be eating bad bagels, but it’s especially sad when you see Jews do it.

Of course, I prefer Montreal bagels to New York bagels, so I don’t know where this places me in the discussion.

There’s been a lot of scholarship as to why Jews have always been over-represented on the Left, and why the majority of Jews in America and many other places veer left politically. As of yet, I don’t know of any satisfactory answers. The legacy of The Prophets doesn’t really suffice. That’s usually just rhetoric Jews use to justify universalist, humanitarian policies. There is an anti-monarchical, communitarian strain in the Bible, but that can’t be it either. Much too old. Centuries of powerlessness might do it. But there’s got be more there. I just don’t know. But I agree with Yglesias: Jewish leftism is something to take pride in.


Written by David Weinfeld

May 6, 2010 at 23:01

2 Responses

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  1. As a European mutt I’ll give two possible answers to why Jews in America and many other places veer politically left. Although, I don’t tend to “find annoying over-and-above the fact” Jewish conservatism since. (Historically) Jews in American and Western Europe were immigrants and recent immigrants often tend to be to the left on many problems because the current system doesn’t tend to provide them stability. (Presently) Jews who don’t share those “universalist, humanist policies” move back to Israel and become Prime Minister.

    (Just a thought)


    May 7, 2010 at 10:01

  2. […] strident critics, is Jewish (and the son of a Hebrew scholar to boot). This is about more than my taking pride in Jewish leftism, as Matty Yglesias does. I’m happy that New York Times columnist and Nobel prize winning […]

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