Friday, June 09, 2006

Let me start out by saying how disappointed I am with my fellow bloggers at notlarrysabato.typead.com, www.raisingkaine.com, and elsewhere throughout the blogosphere. It is important to note that notlarrysabato and raisingkaine include bloggers that are working on the Jim Webb campaign.

I have been a loyal Democrat all of my life and find the personal attacks of Harris Miller very distasteful. I have been very much undecided on whom to support in the June 13 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, although I had been leaning towards Jim Webb.

The latest controversy involves a cartoon distributed by the Webb campaign, which some have accused of being “anti-Semitic.” I am deeply troubled not only by the cartoon, but also by the repeated use of the term "anti-Christ of outsourcing” throughout this campaign by Mr. Webb. The fact is that after this comment was first made by Mr. Webb it upset and angered some Jews and non-Jews alike. Regardless of who used this term first, this is not kindergarten, the fact that groups of individuals were upset by this comment should have been enough for Mr. Webb to stop referring to Mr. Miller in these terms. Instead, they have continued to refer to him as the “anti-Christ of outsourcing,” which has drawn some to claim that the Mr. Webb was being “anti-Semitic.” I would instead argue that Mr. Webb was simply being insensitive. Now the cartoon combined with the “anti-Christ of outsourcing” comment, in my mind, seems to weaken my argument of simple insensitivity and strengthen claims of “anti-Semitism.”

I did a little digging on the Internet to see for myself if I could find some examples of cartoons used by the Nazis as propaganda against the Jews. What I discovered was quite damming to my initial feeling of simple insensitivity.

Here is the picture that appeared in the Free Lance Star yesterday:

Here is a Nazi propaganda cartoon from Der Stürmer:

I believe that Mr. Webb has truly crossed the line of decency. I am very dismayed by this as I truly was encouraged, at the beginning, by his candidacy and the prospects of him defeating George Allen. Here are some additional Nazi propaganda cartoons that I found that seem to exploit several other stereotypes of Jews that were exploited by the flyer distributed by the Webb campaign:

I believe, as a lifelong Democrat, if I supported Mr. Webb I would simply be a hypocrite to the things I have stood for all of my life. Whether this was a deliberate act, we will never know. The right thing for Mr. Webb to do right now is publicly apologize to Mr. Miller and all of those offended by this cartoon and his continued comments. I hope that other Democrats do not forget the values that we stand for as a party.

Here is some expert commentary on this from the Free Lance Star newspaper

"That doesn't look so good. There's no question to me that's replete with anti-Semitic stereotypes," said Mark Feldstein, an associate professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University. "I'm not someone who readily cries anti-Semitism, but I think it's hard to look at this and not see a number of anti-Semitic stereotypes plugged into this ad, from the hook nose to the 'antichrist' to the money-grubbing character."

Bruce Newman, a professor of marketing at DePaul University and editor of the Journal of Political Marketing, said it reminded him of 1930s German propaganda, where the Jewish character was subtly made out to be the thieving villain.

"It very much crosses the line," said Newman, who is Jewish. "I'm speaking with my professional hat on now. It's a modern-day caricature of the quote-unquote villain, the one who's out to make life difficult and hurt people in the town. I've seen literature from those days and this offends me quite a bit."

University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato said the flier wasn't really any worse than other campaign literature he'd seen in hotly contested races.

"I think that's a real stretch to call that anti-Semitic, and I'm not usually inclined to give candidates the benefit of the doubt," Sabato said.

Later today I will try and post my impression of the debate between Mr. Miller and Mr. Webb on Hardball last night and on WTOP radio.