Today’s Radical Chic

Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center and the author of “While Europe Slept” and “Surrender.” His book "The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind" is just out from Broadside / Harper Collins.


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And who’s this imam?  As Chesler reports, he’s the successor to Sheik Muhammad Gemeaha, who blamed 9/11 on Jews and said that if Americans had known the truth about that atrocity, “they would have done to Jews what Hitler did.”

Chesler sets the scene:

I arrived at the Jewish Community Center and found that a protest organized by Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, and Christian activists was in progress. Banners held aloft read: “What Are Muslims Doing for Peace? Burning Churches, Honor Murdering Women. Where is the Muslim Protest?” “Since 9/11, Radical Islamists Committed 11,961 Attacks, Killed 75,038, Injured 115,255.”

Inside, the panelists tip-toed through the tulips and landmines, with a well-meaning, well-practiced display of earnestness, “goodness,” love, mutual admiration, and perhaps some self-admiration as well. There was no mention of terrorism, Islamism, or Islamic gender and religious apartheid.

Ms. Clinton, poised and very blonde, noted that “We are being protested against” which she considers a “positive sign. That means we are talking about something important.”

While “Rabbi Schneier was stiff, pompous, and self-important,” Chesler reports, the imam was “very likeable and charming,” although “his stances on key issues are less so.”

Chesler quotes the self-important rabbi as saying that “seven years ago, my friend, Russell Simmons, challenged me to close the divide, narrow the chasm between Muslims and Jews. And now, we are now the international address for Muslim-Jewish relations.”  So what have the name-dropping rabbi and the deceptively charming imam accomplished together?  Well, one thing they’ve done is to jointly protest Rep. Peter King’s extremely important hearings about radicalism among American Muslims.  They’ve also sponsored so-called “twinning” programs, each of which brings together members of one synagogue and one mosque on an annual basis, presumably to talk about peaceful co-existence and such.  As Chesler notes, these programs take place in North America and Europe but not, ahem, “in the Arab Middle East or in Muslim Asia.”  Chesler also mentions “the colossal failure of their Buffalo ‘twinning’ program,” which apparently led to an unpleasant confrontation between some “well-intentioned Rabbis” and a “Jew-hating radical Sheikh.”  Gee, who’d have expected that?

Ultimately, Chesler found the evening at the Jewish Community Center “disappointing” and “boring” because “too much was avoided. Too much ‘feel good’ Kool-aid was passed around. Everyone seemed to be drinking it. What was not said was far more important than what was said.”  Chesler is far less rough on the imam than she is on the rabbi, whom she describes, not (it appears) without ample justification, as “a dangerous Court Jew who is profiting from the gravy train of the ‘interfaith’ business. He is profiting from his fiddling while Israel and the world burns. He is part of a grand taqiyya effort to present Muslims in a time of Islamism as peaceful partners. He is on a mission to persuade Jews to become agreeable dhimmis ‘for their own good’; otherwise, things will go badly for them and for other infidels. He thinks of himself as a great man. We have seen his sort before.”

Indeed.  At the Bernstein party, the beverage of choice was also feel-good Kool Aid.  What was not said on that evening in 1970, too, was much more important than what was said.  While the Black Panthers were committing all kinds of violent mischief, Bernstein (though not “fiddling,” strictly speaking, but rather tickling the ivories and waving a conductor’s baton) was eager to present supporters of Maoist revolution as peaceful partners in a quest for a better world, just as Rabbi Schneier is out to whitewash the religion of jihad.  Bernstein and friends bowed and scraped to the Black Power movement in hopes of escaping the firing squad should the Panthers’ hoped-for revolution ever materialize; in the same way, Schneier is on a campaign to dhimmify his flock for, as Chesler rightly puts it, “their own good.”  And just like the Bernstein party, the event that Chesler has now immortalized was clearly, in its own way, a sociological study that shines a bright light on (among other things) upper-class New York narcissism and self-congratulation, shameless social climbing, nostalgie de la boue, and a truly repellant condescension toward the purported prejudices (read: legitimate concerns) of the lower orders.

But there’s one major difference between then and now, between the Bernstein party in 1970 and the Islamophobia event in 2012.  “Radical Chic” appeared in New York magazine, which was then the Sunday supplement of the Herald-Tribune, New York’s “other” serious newspaper.  After the Bernstein party, moreover, the New York Times – believe it or not – actually ran a stern editorial criticizing the Park Avenue elite for romanticizing thugs like the Panthers.  Today, which New York establishment media organ would publish a piece like Chesler’s?  And need I add that none of us are holding our breaths waiting for a Times editorial denouncing “Combating Islamophobia”?

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  • http://www.resonoelusono.com/NaturalBornCitizen.htm Alexander Gofen

    What a profound article… Thank you Mr. Bawer! Just adding my favorite quote of Keith Davies fitting to the point:

    Through our history many Jews have acted in betraying their God and their own people… If we think rationally why we have survived as a people based on our own collective behavior as a nation, we should not have survived at all. The only conclusion I can come to as a Jew is that we have survived because of God himself and his mercy and compassion. (See more).

    • Western Spirit

      Well said Mr Gofen. God has indeed preserved the Jewish people because He had a task for them to do and in spite of everything they have done it—spread the knowledge of their God to the rest of the world.

  • red wolf

    None of this is remotely surprising, one could have seen it coming (I remember that essay of Wolfe's). It is the persistent senescence of the self-appointed Jewish "intellectual" elite that boggles the mind. Yet this masochistic know-nothingness and willful blindness on their part is nothing new, it was there with pre-Holocaust Jewry in Europe (and America). The trauma of the Holocaust has it would appear only intensified the neurosis. This 'radical chic' of today though is far more depressing, scandalous and utterly insane than that of 1970, the latter coming across as naifs more than anything else. Nowadays the price to pay is far greater, and the bill is not yet added up, never mind yet to be paid..

    Strange, I used that exact term 'radical chic' in the exact same context (re the Jewish attachment to destructive modern-day Leftist cultural and moral relativist values, Islamophilia and blindness to anti-Semitism) at my blog not that long ago..

  • vlondo

    Theres no answer, these ethnic Jews are working toward the destruction of the West – and they are succeeding.

  • theleastthreat

    Ultimately, these people will fail. I hate to imagine how many lives will be lost in the meantime.

  • steven L

    This why Pr. Obama MUST be defeated.

  • maturin20

    I don't know what to laugh at more, Bawer in exile trying to pick apart the bones of a long deceased pianist, or his faux shock. He makes it sound like getting into a fight with the police might be something that only takes place on a remote moon somewhere. I just had a fight with the police a few months ago. With police getting up in peoples' business more and more, it is commonplace now to fight them. Look at how poorly they behave.

    • Ray Olson

      So just when did you stop reading the piece? After the first paragraph or after the first sentence . . . or the first word? Please don't contribute if you don't bother to find out what the subject of the initial posting is.

      • maturin20

        I read the whole piece. It was a lot of setup to construct the weak simile. One whole page of raging against Bernstein leading into a second page where an updated passion play of the same is recast with some imams and rabbis and Phyllis Chesler as the "life" of the party. A party in Sartrean hell. What is sad to me is Bawer is retelling that old racist Phyllis Chesler's unfun party anecdotes. That's a second hand hearsay recount of another woman's experiences of ennui at an event. I am familiar with Phyllis-Chesler.com and her freakouts about the alleged encroachment of sharia law in the United States and her self-touted copious expertise.

        • Ray Olson

          Thanks for explaining your reaction. I guess what constitutes a weak comparison is in the eyes of the beholder. I think the circumstances of the radical chic party and the incident Phyllis Chesler (whom I had never heard of) reported are broadly similar–both were meetings of people commonly supposed to be antagonistic, both were hosted by celebrities, both were exposed by a journalist. OK, one was a party and the other a panel discussion, but the party included at least one statement on issues that the attenders heard as soberly as I imagine the auditors to the panel received what they heard.

          I also don't understand why you bring up racism. The radical chic party was very much concerned with racism, I grant you. But what Bawer relays of Chesler's report hasn't an ounce of racism in it. On the face of it, how could it, since the panel seems to have been concerned with issues of religious, not racial, confrontation. Moreover, there don't seem to have been any nonwhite participants or perhaps even auditors. OK, if one likes to speak of ethnic and national heritages as races, as in "the English race" or "the Arab race" or "the Persian race" or "the Irish race", etc., the panel event was concerned with race conflict. Is that what you mean when you condemn the event because the reporter is "racist". And do you believe that a reporter's status as a racist invalidates everything the reporter writes?

          • maturin20

            Yes, to almost everything you wrote. I agree. The only thing I answer in the negative is the last question. Regarding the yes part: I think this is some kind of chauvinistic Kulturkampf with a military component. I think Chesler and Bawer are on the Israeli/foreign nationalist side of the struggle and I am playing for The Americans, and more widely for universal brotherhood of man. I share your criticism, and in theory, the criticism usurped by Bawer of "radical chic parties." I am opposed to Kony 2012 for that reason. I am not opposed to all domestic and foreign expatriates as such, but Chesler and Bawer seem to me like ungrateful wretches, who really can't relinquish the country they seem to dislike so much, but in which I still reside.

            Regarding the no part: I don't think that being a racist invalidates EVERYTHING a reporter (or an opinion blogger) writes. Writers like Bawer, David Duke, Chesler, and Dershowitz frequently incorporate huge blocks of moderate sounding, reasonable and true statements in the backdrop of their chauvinist arguments to catch your ear and lower your guard, making you agreeable and then socratically trying to slip in one item that is absolutely out of the question: dispossessing others of their land, their freedom to worship, or their right to speak in public or assemble. I think that being a racist throws up a huge red flag that even the most sensible ideas are going to be shortly followed by an "ergo, hate these people and give me your rights." I think it is an example of Esau giving away his birthright for a bowl of soup.

          • Ray Olson

            Ah! Now I understand. I share your skepticism regarding what you call "the Israel/foreign nationalist side of the struggle." I think we (the U.S.) either support Israel too much and unwisely OR our leadership elite uses danger to Israel as a pretext for costly and deadly adventuring. I favor a single-state solution to the Palestinian troubles, one in which Jews, Christians, and Muslims are on equal footing as to civil rights. (I know that seems a pipedream nowadays.)

            I can't speak as to Chesler, except to say that I haven't yet found evidence that she is an expatriate, but the Bruce Bawer I knew didn't seem a chauvinist of any kind.

            Thanks, again, for the interesting exchange.

          • maturin20

            Thank you!

  • Ozdragon

    Broadly speaking, there two types of people who enter the clergy, 1) those who are spiritual and truely believe that that can do good for society and 2) those who treat religion as another form of business.
    I have met Rabbi Mark Schneier on several occassions and I believe he is one who treats religion as a business.
    He is much more attentive to his rich congregants tha to those who are not.
    He is also politally very far left.

  • Wayneplus

    Shame on the Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Well, one thing they’ve done is to jointly protest Rep. Peter King’s extremely important hearings about radicalism among American Muslims. 

    The reality is there is no specific thing as Islamic radicalization. That notion is based off of the false PC multicultural myth that Islam is a so-called Religion of Peace™ and that the vast overwhelming majority of Muslims in the world today are so-called moderate and peaceful Muslims. Hence, when Muslims obviously don't appear to be peaceful and moderate according to the prevalent false PC multicultural myth, another explanation is required to explain away the situation. Shazam, a new false PC multicultural myth is created: the myth of Islamic radicalization.

    Nevertheless, the truth is first of all, Islam is not a so-called Religion of Peace™. Instead, it is a supremacist theo-political totalitarian ideology that masquerades as being a religion to dupe the gullible societies it intends to subjugate into a very draconian form of Islamic totalitarianism.

    Second, the vast overwhelming majority of Muslims in the world aren't peaceful and moderate at all. Instead, the vast overwhelming majority of Muslims in the world are covert and deceptive non-violent jihadists, while a tiny minority of Muslims are violent jihadists, and the few of them that are not jihadists are not Muslims at all, but instead blasphemous apostates that per the dictates of mainstream orthodox Islam must be executed.

    In fact, covert and deceptive non-violent jihad is employed by the Islamic world astronomically far more prevalently and represents an exponentially far greater threat to the peace and security of the West relative to violent jihad. Yet, our government today is literally going broke trying to protect the homeland from the threat of nearly non-existent violent jihad attacks, while at the same time opening up the floodgates for mass Muslim immigration with all of its excess baggage, which is really covert and deceptive non-violent jihad for the purpose of mass infiltration and stealth demographic conquest. Indeed, covert and deceptive Muslim jihadists can easily do far more harm by duping gullible useful idiots than by blowing them up.

    Hence, Islam must be outlawed on the grounds that it really isn't a religion and mass Muslim immigration, which is really covert and deceptive non-violent jihad for the purpose of mass infiltration and stealth demographic conquest, must be banned and reversed ASAP.

    As a matter of fact, with zero Muslim covert jihadists living in America as a fifth column, violent jihad attacks on the homeland will be virtually impossible, the much greater threat stemming from mass infiltration and stealth demographic conquest will be completely eliminated, and the best part of all is the hundreds of billions of dollars we currently spend annually to protect the homeland from the threat of violent jihad attacks and to continue accommodating mass Muslim immigration with all of its excess baggage can be used instead for something else like getting our financial house back in order.

  • http://whbqt.info/default.asp Dean Speir

    The author notes that "'Radical Chic' appeared in New York magazine, which was then the Sunday supplement of the Herald-Tribune, New York’s 'other' serious newspaper."

    At the time "Radical Chic" was published (June 8, 1970) New York Magazine, launched by Clay Felker and Milton Glaser in 1968, was a publication entirely separate from the Herald-Tribune which had ceased publishing in 1966.

  • joy52

    What is different now from the70's is that the population in general is more aware to the threat from islam, because we have the benefit of hindsight. We really did not know in the 1970's what was coming. While there will always be a radical Left, we are keenly aware of their danger. Hustlers like Schneier, profiting from betrayal, and useful idiots like Clinton, seeking to trade on conferred status, will always be around. The collossal failure of the Obama scam is a taint on the Left's wider influence.

  • Linda Rivera

    WE DON'T WANT ANY MORE 9/11's

    I was out of NYC and very disappointed to be unable to attend the protest. I am so proud of my patriotic, freedom-loving New Yorkers with their wonderful banners that proclaimed TRUTH. Thank you so much for standing up for New Yorkers in particular, and indeed, all Americans! Global jihad targets every non-Muslim!

    Apologist for the totalitarian, political, religious system of Islam, Rabbi Schneier defined "Islamophobia" as "anti-Muslim discrimination." What a LIE! An Islamophobe is a someone who believes that:

    ALL people must have human rights, and

    ALL people must be equal under the law.

    Islamic sharia law is radically opposed to this.

    Ms. Clinton: "We are being protested against". Patriotic, freedom loving New Yorkers were protesting against Muslim/Leftist DECEPTION and for the right for our wonderful, NYPD to continue to protect New York from murderous Muslim terrorism. We don't want any more 9/11s.

    Clearly, protecting New Yorkers, is unacceptable to Leftist, Ms. Clinton, the Rabbi and Muslim Brotherhood groups.

  • tagalog

    One common thread that seems to weave itself through these upper-crust shindigs celebrating the thugs of the world is the self-imposed delusion that somehow these centerpieces of the parties, who make no bones about their willingness to shed blood to accomplish their goals, are non-violent.

    I wonder where that comes from? Apparently, from its regular manifestations, from some deep-seated need.

  • babyanng

    Age ain't nothing but a number for these loved-up A-Listers. My BF and I both think so! He is almost 10 years older than I. We met via ~~Agelessmeet . COM~~ a nice place for younger women and older men, or older women and younger men, to interact with each other! Maybe you wanna check it out or tell your friends: )