Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON -- After seeing the box office hit ``Kill Bill,'' New Republic writer Gregg Easterbrook was so furious at those who would produce and promote it that he was moved to write a denunciation on Easterblogg, his New Republic Web log. How can people in good conscience, he asked, traffic in such bloody and disgusting movies for reasons of commerce?

Except that he put the question this way to Disney and Miramax, makers of this particular movie. ``Disney's CEO, Michael Eisner, is Jewish; the chief of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, is Jewish. Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence. Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence?''

Ouch. This is clumsy and stupid -- what does Jewishness have to do with this movie? Moreover, Easterbrook's resort to a classic Shylockian stereotype was somewhat shocking, coming from a guy who really should know better.

And he has paid. He has been vilified. He has been called an anti-Semite. The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement saying that ``Mr. Easterbrook's remarks reflect either absolute ignorance or total bigotry.'' He has been fired from his job at ESPN.

What is going on here? Jews are being attacked in Germany. Synagogues are being burned in France. Around the world, Jews -- such as Daniel Pearl -- are hunted and killed as Jews. The prime minister of Malaysia tells an Islamic summit that ``1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews. ... We are up against a people who think ... they have now gained control of the most powerful countries. ... We cannot fight them through brawn alone" -- and gets a standing ovation from the heads of state of 57 countries. And amidst all this, the Anti-Defamation League feels the need to wax indignant over a few lines on a Web log?

It is certainly true that a single anti-Semitic statement can be the slip that reveals the real heart of a person who has simply been careful in public about his prejudices. A person who has been working at the edges of bigotry for years can inadvertently and thus revealingly cross the line. Then you have a dropped mask, and can fairly attribute malevolence.

Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.

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