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Desmond Tutu and the Moral Inconsistency of the Right

148059740.jpgGlenn Greenwald has been doing a superb job of documenting how cries of “anti-semitism” are used by the right to silence liberal foreign policy critics, and how the regular use of Nazi and Hilter comparisons on the right (a nightly event on Fox news) is met with a deafening silence:

Innuendo and, increasingly, explicit claims of anti-semitism have become political weapons of the war-hungry Right in all sorts of foreign policy debates, most frequently now with regard to Iran. That is the real goal of constantly labelling liberal blogs and anti-war groups as Nazis, Hitler, Brownshirts, Gestapo troops, etc. Groups such as the ADL which claim to be devoted to opposing such tactics seem extremely reluctant — to put it generously — to condemn these tactics when used by those expressing unrelated political views that they seem to embrace (such as a hard-line against Iran). If they really believe in their ostensible principles, they ought to apply them equally.

This was the “comparison” that got Desmond Tutu banned from speaking at St. Thomas University in Saint Paul, Minnesota:

But you know, as well as I do that somehow the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal where to criticize them is immediately to be dubbed anti-Semitic. As if the Palestinians were not Semitic. (applause) I, I have not been even anti-white despite all the suffering that that crazy group inflicted on our people. NO! How could I be – if I wasn’t even anti those who did that to us – be anti-Jew? Because that is actually the term that ought to be used. Are you anti-Jewish? Not anti-Semitic. And then, you would have to say the same thing to the biblical prophets – because they were some of the most scathing critics of the Jewish leadership of their day. We don’t criticize Jewish people. We criticize, we will criticize, when they need to be criticized the government of Israel.

They said the same to us, I mean when we said to them: Can you explain to us how it comes about that you can collaborate with the Apartheid government on security matters, how you could prolong our oppression. And they would say you’re being anti-Semitic. I said: “tough luck. Really tough luck.” And when we raise similar questions about the treatment of Palestinians when we were visiting the Holy Land in the time that Cannon Ateek was speaking of, they put up, they painted graffiti just outside St, George Cathedral in Jerusalem: ‘Tutu is a black Nazi Pig.’ We come from there.

People are scared in this country to say wrong is wrong. (applause) Because the Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful. Ha, Ha, Ha ha! So what? So what! This is God’s world! For goodness sake this is God’s world! The Apartheid government was very powerful, but we said to them: Watch it! If you flout the laws of this universe, you’re going to bite the dust! (applause) Hitler was powerful. Mussolini was powerful. Stalin was powerful. Idi Amin was powerful. Pinochet was powerful. The Apartheid government were powerful. Milosevic was powerful. But, this is God’s world. A lie, injustice, oppression, those will never prevail in the world of this God. That is what we told our people. And we used to say: those ones, they have already lost, they are, they are going to bite the dust one day. We may not be around. An unjust Israeli government, however, powerful will fall in the world of this kind of God. Because we don’t want for that to happen but those who are powerful have to remember the litmus test that God gives to the powerful – what is your treatment of the poor, the hungry? What is your treatment of the vulnerable, the voiceless? And on the basis of that, God passes God’s judgment.

Now compare that to what Ann Coulter said in 2003:

“In addition to having a number of family deaths among them, the Democrats’ other big idea — too nuanced for a bumper sticker — is that many of them have Jewish ancestry. There’s Joe Lieberman: Always Jewish. Wesley Clark: Found Out His Father Was Jewish in College. John Kerry: Jewish Since He Began Presidential Fund-Raising. Howard Dean: Married to a Jew. Al Sharpton: Circumcised. Even Hillary Clinton claimed to have unearthed some evidence that she was a Jew — along with the long lost evidence that she was a Yankees fan. And that, boys and girls, is how the Jews survived thousands of years of persecution: by being susceptible to pandering …”

Yet as Phoenix Woman notes, Coulter was allowed to speak at St. Thomas in 2005, where she seems to have offended just about everyone (part of a trend).

Where, exactly, was the outrage then?

Update:  Phoenix Woman, from the comments:

By the way, Father Dease of UST is now saying that he wasn’t consulted when Bishop Tutu was invited to speak at UST, thus implying that he’s the guy who signs off on each and every guest speaker invited to St. Thomas.

If that’s true — and pardon me if I find that a touch difficult to believe — then he must have personally approved the definitely anti-Semitic Ann Coulter, eh?

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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