18

This question was closed for being an apparent effort to discredit people while I was in the middle of answering it: Why is "Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country" anti-Semitic?

I answered the question because I thought it was actually possible for people not to know why these seemingly innocent sounding statements are actually deeply anti-semitic. I've known people who just really don't get the subtext or context behind why these sorts of things are bigotry, because they simply don't know any Jews, or don't live anywhere where these forms of bigotry are present in actual practice.

It also didn't seem as obvious an attempt to push anti-semitic ideology on this SE the way that other questions usually are (e.g. usually by having an unjustified bigoted belief implied to be a fact in the framing of the question).

Should questions that are potentially anti-semitic but might just be ignorant always be closed like this?

On the one hand, I can understand that tolerating anything might make this site more attractive to bigots, which is already a problem with some questions we seem to get from very new or anonymous users. But I feel like letting people answer these questions might actually be genuinely educational for people who really are ignorant of these sorts of things who might come here really wanting an answer because they really just don't get it.

  • During a card game with friends & friends of friends, one of the players - whom I had never met - stated that "Jews control all the money and the media". I asked her how she came to this conclusion. She claimed she researched it. I asked her, "Why, of all topics, did you choose to research this?". She could not provide an answer. I explained to her that claims like those are frequently used by anti-Semites as part of attempts to spread prejudice and hate. She claimed ignorance. To this day, I tend to think that she was an anti-Semite, but I have to wonder if she was simply incredibly ignorant. – RockPaperLizard Nov 28 at 1:02
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    I know no jews (personally) and live in an area where they are an extremely small, invisible and demographically negligible minority. Before reading this question and your answer I wouldn't see any obvious anti-semitism in the question and now I've read the answer I understand why this statement is anti-semitic in some context. As such your answer is useful and the Q shouldn't be closed. – Bregalad Nov 30 at 20:22
11

Part of the problem has been people Sealioning (a type of bad-faith) the issue on multiple sites. In Charcoal (anti-spam project) we track mentions of the Holocaust. An excellent example happened here two weeks ago with this post asking a seriously incendiary question. As such, I've tended to err on the side of caution with regards to questions about anti-Semitism, Jews, the Holocaust, etc.

I voted to close because it seemed dangerously close to suborning anti-Semitic answers. I can't vote to close again either way, but I at least wanted some explanation out there. If mods feel they can keep the trolling down, I trust their judgment.

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    Regarding the question you mentioned (asking if the Holocaust was a factual historical event): Would it be good to have a well written fact-based answer to that question on this site? Relevant is that Google strongly favors StackExchange sites in their search results. – RockPaperLizard Nov 28 at 0:42
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    @RockPaperLizard No. It's quite possible to ask serious questions about the Holocaust without crossing any lines or engaging in bad faith. Furthermore History.SE deals with it pretty well. A question solely about Holocaust denial isn't really a good fit for Politics – Machavity Nov 28 at 1:43
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    I agree it's a more appropriate topic on History SE. On the other hand, if it comes up a lot here (I don't know whether or not it does), perhaps some sort of pointer that links people to the appropriate question(s) on History SE would be helpful. That is, of course, assuming History SE handles it well (to date, I haven't read the relevant content there). Although there may be bad-faith actors, most of the people in the world simply do not possess a well-rounded education, often because it has not been made available. – RockPaperLizard Nov 28 at 2:05
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    @RockPaperLizard I think there could be value to a canonical question about something like this, but it needs to be built on a good, unbiased question, not a (possibly unintentionally) anti-semetic push question. – divibisan Dec 2 at 0:46
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    @divibisan I agree completely. – RockPaperLizard Dec 3 at 20:38
9

Frankly I don't think there's much to be gained by closing a question just because it questions a practice that people consider to be racist. As long as they're not maliciously disparaging anyone or any groups, the question should probably stand.

And in case you're wondering how you detect whether someone is being malicious or not, you can use context clues in the writing. This should be a high-school level skill.

I've re-opened the question for now. If the community decides to close it again, I'll probably leave it be.

1

There are a few problems with attacking this question:

1) The question is whether keeping a specific view makes one an antisemitic or not. The research question indeed looks problematic, as there is nothing unusual that any ethnic minority may feel greater loyalty to their own ethnic group, than to the government that they consider as somewhat foreign. Would there be anything outraging if I tell, that Irish in Northern Ireland feel greater loyalty to government in Dublin than in London? Or that Catalans would like to secede from Spain? (does it make me anti-Irish and anti-Catalan?)

2) Are we sure we are combating antisemitism or creating it? Which position is more potentially inflammatory:

  • Yeah, in the research they used a poorly worded question. Actual level of antisemitism among Europeans is presumably much lower.

  • Generally contentious subjects are fine, including questions that would make your country and nation look embarrassingly pathetic. However, there is one big exception - you are not allowed to ask any question that would make Jews look bad. Oh, you are not allowed even to ask question which may imply that amount of antisemitism is overestimated. [Do you have any better idea how to reaffirm someones belief that Jews wield disproportional amount of power and influence, than by enforcing double standards to shield them from any potential criticism?]

-3

When considering the intent of the Politics Q&A site, after having to deal with close votes when attempting to ask questions that were arguably difficult to answer in a factual way (apparently standard PBO stuffs), I concluded that this particular venue is poor for having intellectual and exploratory discussions of these types.

I feel that questions like this can be asked in bad faith to perpetuate the particular PoV of the asker by reframing it in a way which seems, as a primary goal, to provide a path to "factualish" validation and can--unfairly--only apply to a single group. This question in particular seems suspect as it would be difficult to answer factually and its intent seems more to focus on validation of a particular belief or PoV.

It would be helpful to have a test that could be used to assist in determining the intent behind such questions in making close decisions (if not having it expunged completely).

However, I believe it can be a difficult row to hoe; when taking into account the history and doctrine of the Jewish People, it is important to be able to analyse their goals and motives, and it is arguable that antisemitism is frequently used as an effective strawman in quashing discussions made in good faith.

A more enlightening question on the actual topic-at-hand would perhaps look something like:

Does Jewish doctrine prescribe ultimate devotion to the Zionist State of Israel over an adherent's own State?

In this question I use the--sometimes considered pejorative--term "Zionist" in an attempt to specifically focus factual analysis on what may be considered a group with a conflict-of-interest in State loyalty. I feel like this could open it up to attack on grounds of antisemitism, but it doesn't feel like the question is useful without differentiating between Jews, Israelis, and those of the faith who adhere to Zionist teachings (a few words on the subject of conflating these groups).

While it seems answers to this question could be used in reference to perpetuate antisemitic discussions they should be able to stay wholly focused on the pertinent doctrines and beliefs without being impeachable as antisemitic in their own right.

As a possible start of discussion on a test, I think an important contrast to make between the OP and my example question is that of a somewhat common strategy on SE sites; the replacement test.

Can a question be rephrased to apply to groups other than the one specified in the original?

Does [some ethnic, political, or religious group's teachings/doctrine/beliefs] prescribe ultimate devotion to [the group] over an adherent's own State?

It seems plain that the Jewish people are hardly the only group which could be considered to possibly have an ultimate loyalty outside that of their native or adopted State, and so this question can not arguably considered to unfairly target the Jewish people and their beliefs. In fact, this question has played a large part in the historical oppression--and the fight-against--of particular groups (e.g. WWII Japanese internment camps).

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    "this particular venue is poor for having intellectual and exploratory discussions of these types" yes, exactly. By design, this site is not for discussion or anything exploratory. So that observation is a feature, not a bug. – divibisan Dec 3 at 23:50
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    Also, what do you mean by "Jewish doctrine"? I assume that's not your intention, but your question actually sounds worse than the original one – divibisan Dec 3 at 23:55
  • @divibisan I'm sorry, I'm not exactly sure what the issue with the Jewish people having a "doctrine" is... Perhaps my use is colored by my former religious-driven life in the LDS church, but by doctrine I would consider teachings, contemporary and historical, transmitted through written or oral dissemination by those deemed to have authority by a group. – joshperry Dec 4 at 0:03

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