As I've been discussing with some Jewish friends on Facebook, I find this whole debate about whether "Anti-Semite" also means "Anti-Zionist" or whatever (both directions), too confusing. 

Because whereas I know what "Jewish" means (it's a world religion, one of several), the "Semite" meme traces to myths and various dubious shades of meaning involving genetic strains.

"Semite" has a holdover eugenics flavor, not unlike "Aryan". 

I consider myself pro Jewish and celebrate Planet Zion (so a zionist?), our Promised Land (the only one we're given, to treasure or to trash).

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I appreciate your going over all those details, regarding the history of the "antisemitism" concept, per Wilhelm Marr et al.

The idea of Planet Zion being our Promised Land (Our Israel) traces to the occult teaching that, despite the confusion of tongues, and the necessarily garbled nature of our communications, we might eventually, thanks to divine wisdom and continuing revelation, come to appreciate our cosmic circumstances: as a life form chosen by God to dwell upon and care for this planet.

That we're a single human family in a ball-shaped garden or biosphere was not entirely obvious to Noah's immediate progeny, the descendants of which went on to try building that Tower, once again misconceiving their relationship to the almighty. 

It's not supersessionism I don't think, as it could as well be a Jewish teaching in some esoteric cult or other.

Dear Heidi,

I would suggest you pause before presuming to define other people's terms of identity. I don't think I've ever met a Jew who would agree with your definition of who is or is not a Jew, and I've known a great many Jews from pretty much every major (and many minor) subgroups.

Regards,

Aaron

Heidi Murdoch said:

No, Semite is not a synonym for Jew.  Jews are only from the tribe of Judah. There are 12 other Israelite tribes. Semites are descendants of Noah's son Shem which would include Israelites, Edomites, and Ishmaelites. 

Although, technically yes but you would need to include all those other people.

Hi Kirby,

I don't think there's any one, correct answer to your question. "Anti-semite" is generally used in reference to anti-Jewish bigotry, so I would say that's what it "means" in the most important sense. The group of "semitic" languages, however, includes Arabic, Amharic, and a number of others no longer in active use. I've known a number of Palestinians and pro-Palestinian Jewish activists who would argue (with reason) that using "anti-Semitic" in reference to Palestinians tends to negate or trivialize their existence. There are certainly many Jews with strong pro-Israeli sentiments who would argue that anti-Zionism is inherently anti-Jewish/anti-Semitic, but I think this is almost purely a rhetorical device, and makes no sense for any number of reasons. I suspect there are also anti-semites/anti-Jewish bigots who are +not+ anti-Zionist, either because they prefer the Jews go elsewhere (similar to the slavery/post-slavery era back-to-Africa movement), or for reasons of eschatology.

Regards,

Aaron

Thank you for your contribution to this discussion Aaron. I still brave coming here even though Chrome insists I'm at risk (some certificate configuration thingy). The red exclamation point next to the URI reminds me I'm here against Chrome's better judgement.

Anyway, I understand how human languages branch and fork into family trees.  Computer languages do that too (branch and fork, have ancestor influences and descendents). much as rivers do, and the notion that Semitic languages form one such family, on purely philological grounds, seems pretty plausible, if not outright indubitable. Sanskrit fits into this puzzle too.

Then you get a rather different concept, of Semite as "a race". That's crossing a threshold into new territory in my book, as we're no longer discussing communication codes.  Now we're talking animal husbandry, and family planning.  The stakes seem higher and the danger of animosity greater.  I'm heeding Ashley Montagu's warnings, about "race" as man's most dangerous myth, a myth going way back to before genetic science, or Ancestry.com. 

I've remarked earlier in this discussion how these racial undertones give off a vibe or smell that reminds me of Aryan supremacist ideology, so vested in notions of "super-race" (an ideology requiring of the concept of "race" in the first place, and therefore "pure" versus "hybrid" strains or classes, i.e "mixed race" or "mongrel" versus "pureblood"). 

Semite in the sense of "race" gets traced back to scripture (to Genesis) by many scholars, religious and not, who point to the descendents of Noah as the begetters of N races where N = Number of Noah's sons (a patriarchal reckoning is taken for granted). Bible School websites teach the story of Noah in the same breath as they plant the seeds of racism.

Then, after the Flood, in a following chapter came the Tower of Babel debacle, which ended up in these Races dispersing around the world (a first diaspora).  And so, children, this is how the Races of Man came to be.  

I don't believe contemporary genetic science has any corresponding theory of such a severe, near-extinction level cataclysmic event for all humans, let alone all species, although bottlenecks there may have been according to the mitochondrial record etc. 

Our species has certainly enjoyed its share of disasters (more to come), with many of them self inflicted, or so it seems to appear in some god's eye view, to which we are mysteriously privy (something about a shared "image"); certainly the Babel debacle was one of those. The disaster was our wasting time on single-mindedly building that silly tower, not the liberating solution that God devised for us.

Genesis gets to stay meaningful as a profound myth: the Tower of Babel story is quite powerful in my book.

[ I've seen the Youtube channel Genesis Apologetics, which seems to want to re-literalize those Bible stories. There's always the temptation to saddle the ancestors with our contemporary cosmology, seems comforting.  Manifestly, the "curse of many tongues" was never lifted (pssst: because it's not really a curse, praise Allah for our biodiversity and freedom from groupthink) ]

What I sense within some branches of Judaism is a strong interest in Ancestry.com type concerns i.e. genetic heritage and lineage, which is something we can trace in geographic terms (genetic markers moving around on a globe). When you get to the age of jet air travel, the record gets more confused. 

Christianity, as a latter day state organized and supported religion (historically speaking) of monarchs and emperors, satellite nobles, is of course all caught up in pedigree and distinguishing royalty from the unwashed masses etc., the animal husbandry derived genetic science of selective breeding, originally based in theories about "blood" (a lazy pseudo-scientific language perpetuated to this day among the common folk (smile)).

[ Christians who think Jesus survived the crucifixion to have children tend to have more focussed genetic obsessions, however said "Da Vinci Code" minority may be branded heretical. Likewise are Quakers (the sect) so branded by many a shocked flock. ]

I'm a fan of Isaac Asimov for his three rules of robotics, a way of talking and thinking about ethics, human to human as well.

Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek introduced the Prime Directive (a doctrine of non-interference), so much the opposite of colonizing or beaming down missionaries. Star Trek communicated a more secular / catholic / universalist / liberal ("live and let live") code of conduct. Mark Twain and Thomas Paine are in the background (more influences).

Given such hallmarks of Americana inform my thinking, I say "far be it from me to try deprogramming every cultish devotee I come across".  Like if you choose to believe in "races" (what I'd call a "whiteman concept" in my homebrewed vernacular given its Social Darwinist roots) go right ahead, free country.  Your bag of beliefs (worldview) is your cross to bear (karma).  Debate me if you want to.

However, even as I leave people to their bags of belief, I make room within Quakerism for a Planet Earth = Promised Land revelation (ongoing). We've been chosen by God to cherish or trash it, make it our heaven or our hell. A big responsibility, especially with free will. Lucifer's angels are betting we fail, and torture us with our own shortcomings.

Given the confusion of tongues (a gift!), we maybe thought (or at least some of us did), that some patch of land in the Middle East is what a few tribes of humans were destined to inherit, to be given the gift of, by our Lord. That was the whole point of those stories, those myths. 

However, in hindsight, some of us see it was more than that. We now have a more clear-eyed view of the species predicament, and we're are grateful for this opportunity to prove ourselves worthy.  Amen. Some of us might confess our convincement as Jewish, others not (without being anti-Jewish about it, in contradiction of what's been revealed).

Well, "race" is inevitable if you want to explain how new species developed from old ones.

Even indivuals can be compared, about who is more or less well-functioning or apt - and it's the same with races (or other particular groups). The only world where you cannot find such differences is a world in which neither individuality nor group particularity are allowed.

On the other hand, it's for individuals that you can say "Don't interfere" or "Live and let live". And it's just the same with races (or any other kind of particular groups). The only world where you cannot say "Don't interfere" or "Live and let live" is the world of modern Equity fanatics, where no individuality and no group particularity are allowed. 

Only people who don't tolerate any kind of exclusion, seclusion, segregation, separation of different individuals or particular groups: only those people cannot say either "Don't interfere (with other peoples' affairs)" or "Live and let (other people) live". In all these matters the individualist and the racist (or every other particularist/groupist) have to support each other against radical egalitarianism/collectivism.

(Bythe way: did you understand that early Hebrews were deeply involved in the breeding of sheep? Breeding is not a Christian invention!)


Kirby Urner said:

I'm a fan of Isaac Asimov for his three rules of robotics, a way of talking and thinking about ethics, human to human as well.

Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek introduced the Prime Directive (a doctrine of non-interference), so much the opposite of colonizing or beaming down missionaries. Star Trek communicated a more secular / catholic / universalist / liberal ("live and let live") code of conduct. Mark Twain and Thomas Paine are in the background (more influences).

Given such hallmarks of Americana inform my thinking, I say "far be it from me to try deprogramming every cultish devotee I come across".  Like if you choose to believe in "races" (what I'd call a "whiteman concept" in my homebrewed vernacular given its Social Darwinist roots) go right ahead, free country.  Your bag of beliefs (worldview) is your cross to bear (karma).  Debate me if you want to.


I'm accepting of sets & categories i.e. classifying people by differences. When I build my avatar for a computer game, I have all those attributes to build a "me" with, gender stuff included, skin tones galore. This computer game is not just your grandfather's Mr. Potato Head game, when it comes to degrees of freedom.

It's just the "race" concept as concocted is such a crazy mixed bag with no strong genetic underpinnings, less every day, and lots of arbitrary ethnic stuff mixed in. Hispanic is a race, then isn't.  There's no Semite checkbox.  Some bureaucracies won't allow the kind of checkboxes the North Americans still take for granted, given the American predilection for apartheid style thinking.

What's the difference between "race" and "breed" again?  Animal husbandry people have any number of breeds of dog, or horse, but no races of dog or horse (or cat).  Partly because breeds are recognized as fleeting and somewhat made up, by the breeders themselves (same with flowers).  Why do humans get saddled with "races" in particular, and no other animal in the animal kingdom.  No races of duck, otter, beaver, pig.  Why?  It's political, not science.  Humans may be categorized into patterns, endlessly. Just some of those patterns don't have much to offer after awhile (reduce to noise at the end of the day).

Asking if a person is "white" in a set of checkboxes (...black, brown, pacific islander...) is so banal and meaningless, compared to the more exacting racisms of the recent past, wherein "white" was fine-tuned into so many sub-races (if you wanna call 'em that -- "arbitrary categories" also good -- such as Italian, English or Irish). As a consequence of these hodge-podge made up "breeds", all these people have to admit they're "mixed breed" starting with a mixed up mixed bag of arbitrary features in the first place.

The pattern in racist thinking is a need to think in terms of "primary colors" (like R, G, B in color theory, or C, Y, M, K -- another basis), a few "pure types" from which all the "mixed types" descend. That's all within the "species" of homo sapien. Neanderthal DNA doesn't get talked about as much as Neanderthals (also sapient) didn't make it into Genesis. One could build a new snobbery (a new MENSA) around having a higher percentage Neanderthal DNA. Interesting science fiction, no?

Back in the day, you were supposed to say you were "1/8th black" or "1/16th white" and stuff like that, as if that made any sense in genetic terms (as if "white" were some gene that gets halved, and halved again).  Something about blood (royal blood is more blue).  Short half life superstitions like that (folk beliefs) come and go.

A racist type question is like "are Jews white or a hybrid of white and something else?". To my ears, this question makes no sense, starting with "white", but to a dyed-in-the-wool racist, such questions are an excuse to lecture at length in a language I won't understand (unless maybe I've read the Bible, in which case I might hear a mish mash of Genesis in the background).

Put another way, as a giant corporation I wouldn't be asking my machine learning software to tell me your "race" based on this, that and the other about you. and yet I'm no less interested in your preferences and in marketing to you. Sure I'd like to know your skin and eye color, other measures, but figuring out your "race" would be somewhat meaningless to me.  Info about your ethnicity would be far more informative.  Do you fast?  Do you drive?  What languages do you speak?  Use any computer languages?

If you go around talking about "the five races of man" (or was it seven?) I'll chalk that up to your ethnicity (how you were programmed, your code of conduct). You're in one of those subcultures (cults) with a racist language, so many of those.  Not a genetic condition, more of a meme virus (some might say a good one -- some meme-plexes we treasure, as Americana or whatever).

Rainer Möller said:

Well, "race" is inevitable if you want to explain how new species developed from old ones.

... 

(By the way: did you understand that early Hebrews were deeply involved in the breeding of sheep? Breeding is not a Christian invention!)



Kirby,

I am glad that we can agree about classifying people by differences.

I also agree with you that the popular and above all the political use of the concept "race" is flawed. This is an inevitable phenomenon when scientific ideas go public.

For example, the U.S. census does not define race in the scientific sense, but rather something like "racial/ethnic identity". Identity (subjective identification) is here the most important aspect, but if we accept this correction there is not much to say against it.

As for typology I think that you don't completely take into account how much biology has modernized. Of course most scientists nowadays quantify, i.e. they look at features of men as quantifiable . In this way they can place every individual within a "property space" (whose coordinates are the different features). But - and this is important - in this property space people are not evenly distributed, they form clusters. And insofar features are hereditary, endogamous groups - which prefer endogamy over exogamy - form genetically determined clusters, i.e. races.

Is that important? Not, if we want to assess an individual. But a lot of our political decision is nowadays determined by statistics, and we cannot really understand statistics without including racial differences in the mean and the variance of, for example, impulsivity or intelligence.

"(W)e cannot really understand statistics without including racial differences in the mean and the variance of, for example, impulsivity or intelligence."
What utter and utterly repugnant nonsense. It's been a few years since I've followed QuakerQuaker, and I never imagined it would become a forum for racist apologetics. Since I see no way to block the user, I think it's best I withdraw from the site.
"For no one is a [Quaker] who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a [Quaker] is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter."

What I'm suggesting is the concept of "race" people wish to use in their folk religion, is not a concept that genetic science has lately rediscovered and provided with a scientific basis. 

Marker genes may be traced geographically and so we may learn more about our ancestors (ancestry) through their migrations (ancestry.com).  We may also study the ideas our ancestors had about "race" as an organizing heuristic, but that's anthropology more than biology. 

Yes, skin color over time adapts to the mix of light frequencies (tropics vs poles), tree barks also colorize. So do species of tree come in "races" now? It doesn't follow. The human genome is highly adaptable and variously expressible, that we knew. Geography has made a difference in what genes express. That's true too.

The animal husbandry minded have their "royal pedigreed" (distinctive features, sometimes too inbred) versus their "mongrelized" (everybody else).  Nothing new here. Humans sometimes eye themselves with the thoughts of an animal breeder, no arguing there.

"Race" came closer to a sense of "national identity" in historical terms, which is why a folk religion around Aryanism and a super state (super power, reich) made a modicum of sense to people then. You can sell people on ideologies without much aid from science (except from psychology, pharmocology and social engineering, the better to spread the memes with).

The concept of "genetic distance" is there, but doesn't match up with that tired old "black red brown yellow white" color schema (five pure colors, with mixtures) that so many children get programmed with from an early defenseless age, with or without the traceback to Genesis. Updating from there can take a lot of work, and maybe isn't worth the effort in some cases.

In sum: the "race" concept precedes science without a stable grounding in science.  It's a concept with a half life, meaning it bears the signs of exponential decay. It's obsolete and antiquarian, deserves a postmortem analysis.  Lets keep studying the race concept, for sure, given its virulence.

That being said, I don't dispute that experts with academic credentials, in the sciences included, have remained loyal standard bearers for "race" as a legitimate part of some continued [pseudo-] science.  I don't get to be some final authority on the matter, just another Friendly voice.

And so we argue, yes, as rabbis too. We debate. This debate goes on among Jews, among Quakers, among scientists (overlapping sets).  Perhaps the racists are losing?  That depends. Is the goal is to purge racism from the culture?  People don't like it when you challenge their ideology.  I say the confusion of tongues is a permanent aspect of our diversity.

A psychometrician may yet want to know what "race" you think you are (or what you think others think you are -- "does she think of me as white?"), for a poll or survey or census, but that's more prying into your private folk beliefs, than a question about some biological fact of the matter.

There's no genetic test for "percent of each race" as that's all too ill defined and not science (what are the races again? Can you point me to a list?  Caucasian you say?). 

ancestry.com doesn't tell you you're 52 percent white.  There's no breakdown in terms of the pure archetypes. However traces of Neanderthal DNA are apparently dedectable.

Some folks, if asked to check a race box, will say "none of your business" whereas others might say "I haven't decided" whereas others might say "I don't think in those terms".  I might add these as joke check boxes, were I designing any surveys asking about race (likewise a joke).

USA OS (the hypothetical new operating system I write science fiction about) would not repeat the mistakes that crashed the old one.

Rainer Möller said:

Kirby,

I am glad that we can agree about classifying people by differences.

I also agree with you that the popular and above all the political use of the concept "race" is flawed. This is an inevitable phenomenon when scientific ideas go public.

Kirby,

the central point which I want to make is: Endogamy/Exogamy has consequences. Group endogamy causes group differences, first of course physical differences, but also in the realm of psycho-physical relations. (Of course, groups/clusters, and the differences between them, can appear and disappear again, as long as interbreeding is still possible, i.e. as long as races have not become species. In this sense there is no pure race. On the other hand, most groups/clusters and their specific features are rather long-lasting.) My interest is in facts, not in words, but there must be a vocabulary to speak about the facts.

Folk pre-scientifical (or early-scientifical) vocables are a (more or less adequate) approximation to modern scientifical ideas (compare the folk concept of "heavy" with modern gravitation theory), so scientists have always to decide if they use the folk expression or coin a new one. But the abolishment of the word "race" has been connected with so much denial of reality, and has indeed facilitated and fostered so much deterioriation, that I see a good reason for continuing to use the word "race". Of course, I am prepared to use any other word which allows us to describe the facts clearly.

Kirby Urner said:

What I'm suggesting is the concept of "race" people wish to use in their folk religion, is not a concept that genetic science has lately rediscovered and provided with a scientific basis. 

Marker genes may be traced geographically and so we may learn more about our ancestors (ancestry) through their migrations (ancestry.com).  We may also study the ideas our ancestors had about "race" as an organizing heuristic, but that's anthropology more than biology. 

Yes, skin color over time adapts to the mix of light frequencies (tropics vs poles), tree barks also colorize. So do species of tree come in "races" now? It doesn't follow. The human genome is highly adaptable and variously expressible, that we knew. Geography has made a difference in what genes express. That's true too.

The animal husbandry minded have their "royal pedigreed" (distinctive features, sometimes too inbred) versus their "mongrelized" (everybody else).  Nothing new here. Humans sometimes eye themselves with the thoughts of an animal breeder, no arguing there.

"Race" came closer to a sense of "national identity" in historical terms, which is why a folk religion around Aryanism and a super state (super power, reich) made a modicum of sense to people then. You can sell people on ideologies without much aid from science (except from psychology, pharmocology and social engineering, the better to spread the memes with).

The concept of "genetic distance" is there, but doesn't match up with that tired old "black red brown yellow white" color schema (five pure colors, with mixtures) that so many children get programmed with from an early defenseless age, with or without the traceback to Genesis. Updating from there can take a lot of work, and maybe isn't worth the effort in some cases.

In sum: the "race" concept precedes science without a stable grounding in science.  It's a concept with a half life, meaning it bears the signs of exponential decay. It's obsolete and antiquarian, deserves a postmortem analysis.  Lets keep studying the race concept, for sure, given its virulence.

That being said, I don't dispute that experts with academic credentials, in the sciences included, have remained loyal standard bearers for "race" as a legitimate part of some continued [pseudo-] science.  I don't get to be some final authority on the matter, just another Friendly voice.

And so we argue, yes, as rabbis too. We debate. This debate goes on among Jews, among Quakers, among scientists (overlapping sets).  Perhaps the racists are losing?  That depends. Is the goal is to purge racism from the culture?  People don't like it when you challenge their ideology.  I say the confusion of tongues is a permanent aspect of our diversity.

A psychometrician may yet want to know what "race" you think you are (or what you think others think you are -- "does she think of me as white?"), for a poll or survey or census, but that's more prying into your private folk beliefs, than a question about some biological fact of the matter.

There's no genetic test for "percent of each race" as that's all too ill defined and not science (what are the races again? Can you point me to a list?  Caucasian you say?). 

ancestry.com doesn't tell you you're 52 percent white.  There's no breakdown in terms of the pure archetypes. However traces of Neanderthal DNA are apparently dedectable.

Some folks, if asked to check a race box, will say "none of your business" whereas others might say "I haven't decided" whereas others might say "I don't think in those terms".  I might add these as joke check boxes, were I designing any surveys asking about race (likewise a joke).

USA OS (the hypothetical new operating system I write science fiction about) would not repeat the mistakes that crashed the old one.

Rainer Möller said:

Kirby,

I am glad that we can agree about classifying people by differences.

I also agree with you that the popular and above all the political use of the concept "race" is flawed. This is an inevitable phenomenon when scientific ideas go public.

I have a hard time wrapping my mind around your implicit contention that whites and blacks were somehow on their way to species differentiation. What stopped that from happening again?  Exogamy?  None of that sounds like real science to me.  Live and let live.



Rainer Möller said:

Kirby,

as long as races have not become species. In this sense there is no pure race.

Kirby,

I must admit that the theory of evolution (i.e. evolution of new species via racial differentiation) is a mere theory. Even if it is now conventional wisdom taught in schools (but for using the word "race"), such an evolution of a new species is mostly unobservable, at least for mammals. And it lacks in any case the  most perfect proof: experimental repetition.

Notwithstanding, it is the conventional wisdom.

Look at it the other way round: Before horses and donkeys became different species, their forefathers were races of only one species, but the rift (the differences) widened, until there was a genetic mutation on one side of the rift which made producing fertile offspring impossible, i.e. there was no return to the former community. Of course, blacks and whites are not as different as horses and donkeys nowadays (and there has been no such mutation so that a return is quite possible) - but the forefathers of horses and the forefathers of donkeys were not as different either.

I don't pretend that this story has much practical use, and I agree to your philosophy of "live and let live". My only intention was to show (a) that the word "race" had its good sense in science and (b) if persons want to identify or group themselves along racial lines there is no scientific reason why they shouldn't. (Only we may insist that, in the upshot, most people group themselves along common interests; the descriptive or typological criteria are at best a mere approximation. But whoever knows more about this than the alt-right authors who regularly write about the "flight from white", i.e. population groups who in former times wanted to belong to the white majority and now prefer being seen as members of an anti-white coalition.)

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