The problems with the latest reply from Disco. ‘tute’s David Klinghoffer begin in the title. He claims: “National Center for Science Education Defends Its Association with James Fetzer, Peddler of Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories.” NCSE did not address Klinghoffer’s specious and slanderous claims; I wrote a blog post on my personal blog. The blog clearly states in the sidebar:
The opinions expressed here are [my] own, do not reflect the official position of the NCSE.
Lest that leave some ambiguity, I added in the post Klinghoffer is responding to:
On this blog, I don’t speak in my capacity as an NCSE employee…
Klinghoffer wrongly treats my blog post as an NCSE response, when it is not, as the post itself made clear. Furthermore, I didn’t “defend” any “association” with Fetzer; I don’t know him and as far as I’m concerned, NCSE is only associated with Fetzer in Klinghoffer’s fevered mind. Thus, I see nothing to defend.
He opens the post:
The other day I called on the NCSE, the nation’s most prominent Darwin-lobbying group, to assure us it has implemented a new policy …
And undoubtedly NCSE will give the suggestions of its institutional opponents all the attention they deserve.
After filling half the post with recap (I firmly believe they pay him by the word), Klinghoffer writes:
Wildmon, whom Rosenau ignorantly slurs, isn’t now the head of that AFA.
I know. He fell ill and retired a couple years back [Updated: apologies for the premature obit]. Before then, as I noted yesterday, Klinghoffer sided with him against American Jews. Klinghoffer offers no rebuttals to my links showing Wildmon claiming Jews control the media, and therefore are responsible for increasing acceptance of gays and lesbians, nor rebuttals to links showing Wildmon’s AFA attributing to a Jewish upbringing such outcomes including: a life of crime, drug abuse, and “a hostile attitude toward Christ.” Needless to say, these sorts of claims are the stock in trade of antisemitism, and I see no cause for the claim that my criticism was “ignorant.”
The only defense Klinghoffer offers is:
His son Tim runs the group and recently signed a pastors’ open letter, published in newspapers and supporting Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Banner headline: “Israel, You’re Not Alone. We Stand With You.” Does that sound hateful and anti-Semitic to you? No, not to me either.
The fact that that statement wasn’t hateful or overtly antisemitic hardly means that the group (or its former head) isn’t hateful or antisemitic. Nor is taking a stance in favor of particular political parties in Israel, or defending the existence of that nation, proof of philosemitism. As I noted yesterday, radical rightwing religious groups often support certain policies or outcomes in Israel for their own purposes, regardless of whether those policies are good for Israel. An antisemite could well support Israel in certain ways. For instance, an antisemite could wish to see the Jews in his neighborhood move to Israel, or could wish Israel would pursue bellicose policies, knowing that doing so would place Jews in danger. Or an antisemite could pretend that Jews in Israel will play some important role in the Tribulation, and support Israel in that purely instrumental way, accepting that Jews have to live there. Or an antisemite could believe that supporting Israel (in some sense) will make it easier to proselytize to Jews, thus “perfecting” them.
That “perfecting” language comes most prominently from Ann Coulter, who told a Jewish talkshow host that she considers Christians “perfected Jews.” The host called it antisemitic, she defended herself (poorly), and in the end, the ADL “strongly condemn[ed] Ann Coulter for her anti-Semitic comment,” saying “the idea that Judaism needs to be replaced with Christianity and that each individual Jew is somehow deficient and needs to be ‘perfected,’ is rank Christian supersessionism.” The American Jewish Committee agreed, stating “Ms. Coulter’s assertion that Jews are somehow religiously imperfect smacks of the most odious anti-Jewish sentiment.”
You’ll recall that Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Bill Dembski was widely credited for having helped write parts of one of Coulter’s books which dealt with evolution and creationism. The Discovery Institute has done nothing to distance itself from her antisemitic remarks, and Klinghoffer does not seem to have personally distanced himself from Coulter or Dembski. Perhaps he’s agitated internally for such a separation, but publicly he seems at ease with letting Disco. ‘tute senior staff dance with this hateful conspiracy theorist. As he seems to be at ease with letting Disco. share the dance floor with conspiracy theorists who deny that HIV causes AIDS.
Nor does he seem troubled by the hateful homophobic positions advanced by Coulter and other groups DI is associated with. Coulter frequently trades in anti-gay slurs, referring to almost anyone she opposes (most prominently John Edwards, during his 2007 bid for the White House) as a “faggot.” It was Don Wildmon and the AFA’s efforts in support of anti-gay discrimination (not their antisemitism) which earned them the “hate group” label.
If the Discovery Institute stands by the remarks David Klinghoffer has posted on their website, consistency demands that they repudiate the hateful anti-gay comments of Coulter, the AFA, and of other groups and individuals Disco. works with, including the Louisiana Family Forum, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, and Howard Ahmanson. If they don’t support Klinghoffer’s false (and frankly defamatory) statements, perhaps it’s time for them to curtail their public partnership with him.