Pat Buchanan, for example, has called Capitol Hill ``Israeli occupied territory.'' He declared that the only people who were in favor of the 1991 Gulf War were ``the Israel Defense Ministry and its amen corner in the United States.'' He used the case of a stalled train in a Washington, D.C., tunnel to dispute the fact that Jews were gassed at Treblinka -- after citing ``Holocaust Survivor Syndrome'' involving ``group fantasies of martyrdom and heroics.'' If such a man had written Easterbrook's three lines, then you might have a case.
But Easterbrook is no Pat Buchanan. Apart from those clanging three lines, there is not an ounce of evidence of anything anti-Semitic in Easterbrook's entire life.
The man has written millions of words, none of them remotely anti-Semitic. I hardly know him, but people who do testify that in private life, too, he is free of prejudice.
We have become very touchy about ethnic slurs in recent years. And that is not entirely bad. It is good that people should feel that there is public disapproval attached to any expression of bigotry, even if it does not suppress the underlying feeling. The very convention of proscribing such expressions is an unmistakable societal message that prejudice is to be accompanied by shame and opprobrium. You cannot legislate feelings, but you can certainly create social norms that make people who have such feelings know that they should not.
Nonetheless, the idea of destroying someone's reputation and career over a single slip of this type is not just ridiculous, but vindictive.
And hugely beside the point. The world is experiencing the worst resurgence of anti-Semitism in 50 years. Its main objective is the demonization and delegitimation of Israel, to the point that the idea of eradicating, indeed obliterating, the world's only Jewish state becomes respectable, indeed laudable. The psychological grounds for the final solution are being prepared.
Easterbrook has apologized. Leave him alone.
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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