Just finished my 90 minute slugfest with Jonathan Kay (it was only supposed to last 60 minutes, but time flies when you’re having a good time). The show is archived for on-demand listening here. Kay is the author of Among the Truthers: A Journey into the Growing Underground of 9/11 Truthers, Birthers, Armageddonites, Vaccine Hysterics, Hollywood Know-Nothings, and Internet Addicts
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Jonathan Kay’s Among the Truthers: “It All Ties in to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion!!!!”
“You can’t defeat the Enlightenment’s enemies unless you understand them. And that is the project I ask my readers to embark on as they read this book. Those of us who continue to adhere to the rationalist tradition must commit to its defense.” – Jonathan Kay, whose book abjures rationalism and instead offers a hodge-podge of ad-hominems against those with whom he disagrees.
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Jonathan Kay’s Among the Truthers is either one of the worst, most slipshod books ever written, or a masterpiece of high comedy. Read at two levels — one for Straussian initiates, the other for the rubes — Kay’s book outwardly poses as an unhinged diatribe against “conspiricism.” Beneath the surface, however, it can be interpreted as a viciously brilliant self-parody whose implications are as dark and unsettling as its superficial message is conventional.*
Kay’s book strings together a vast agglomeration of unrelated or loosely-related phenomena: deconstruction, identity politics, the rise of the internet and the birth of youtube, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Marxism, evangelical Christianity and its end-times obsession, jihadi videos, Jewish conservatism, Voltaire and the Enlightenment, St. John the Revelator, racism and anti-racism, globalization and anti-globalization, Zionism and anti-Zionism, pop psychology, pro- and anti-Obama polemics, Kay’s unhappy experiences with black people at Yale Law School, and a whole lot more, including just about every major historical controversy that has gotten traction in mass culture (as well as more than a few minor ones).
The book’s organization follows the random jumbling of non-sequiturs method, as exemplified by its division into the three sections: “Part One: The Truth Movement and Its Ancestors. Part Two: Meet the Truthers. Part Three: Accessories to Trutherdom.” In fact, we randomly “meet the truthers” throughout the book, beginning with Ken Jenkins in Part One and continuing through myself among others in Part Three; similarly the historical overview is spread throughout, as is the discussion of what might be vaguely called “accessories” in all of that word’s many senses.
Likewise, within each section, the chapters and paragraphs veer wildly from subject to subject, with little or no connecting thread other than Kay’s apparent paranoiac belief that all of this seemingly unrelated material somehow illustrates his thesis: That the 9/11 truth movement is the most salient and dangerous manifestation of a horrific conspiracy to spread the “incurable disease” (p. 315) of “conspiracism,” a dastardly evil whose “archetype” is the dreaded Protocols of the Elders of Zion. If Kay were in one of my college composition classes I would have him do a lot of remedial outlining work.
How can we explain Kay’s lunatic attempt to lump everything in the universe and its opposite together in service to his paranoia? Was the ardently pro-Zionist author, whose only other book sings the praises of a heroic Canadian Mossad agent, unhinged by his discovery that any serious reconsideration of 9/11 leads inevitably to the discovery that Zionists, not Arabs, were the probable villains? We know from Jewish Studies professor Sandra Lubarsky’s courageous essay in the volume I co-edited with her and John Cobb, 9/11 and American Empire v.2, that even the thought of possible Israeli involvement in 9/11 raises in her “the terrible desire that it never be true, for I fear the consequences it might have on American attitudes toward Judaism and Israel.” (p.96). Could it be that what merely sparks this fear and “terrible desire” in a moderate, reflective, self-aware, principled pro-Zionist like Lubarsky might be enough to drive a fanatical Likkudnik like Kay insane?
While it might be a consolation to the many courageous and accomplished people slimed by Kay’s ad hominems and occasional outright libels to imagine that their tormentor is clinically insane, another explanation suggests itself. What if Kay, who hangs around with neoconservatives, were actually following in the footsteps of neocon guru Leo Strauss, who advised his followers to lie in order to conceal their real beliefs, because the truth is too dangerous for the masses? Strauss told his followers to write at two levels: First, feed the public the myths and propaganda necessary to preserve social cohesion. Second, strew your silly middlebrow mythologies with subtle indications that gesture mutely toward the horrific truth: there is no truth or goodness or justice or God; crime usually pays; and the wise criminal who poses as a good man — the “pious fraud” i.e. the smart Straussian — always rises to the top.
Is this what Kay is doing in Among the Truthers? Does he expect the general public to be taken in by his superficial and disjointed diatribe against “conspiracy theorists,” while reserving for careful readers the pleasure of discovering the method in his madness?
Straussian neoconservatives reveal their true intentions to the few, while hiding them from the masses, by carefully setting up apparent contradictions in their texts.** By placing a seeming contradiction right at the heart of their text, they can make the whole thing say — to initiates — the exact opposite of what it appears to say. Kay seems to do this by covertly undermining his book’s core claim: That its purpose is to stand as a heroic defense of rational-empirical discourse.
As the book’s thesis statement, blown up and pasted on the back cover, puts it:
“You can’t defeat the Enlightenment’s enemies unless you understand them. And that is the project I ask my readers to embark on as they read this book. Those of us who continue to adhere to the rationalist tradition must commit to its defense.”
Yet throughout his 340-page “defense of rationalist tradition” Kay neglects to offer a single rational argument against the core claims of the 9/11 truth movement — or any of the dozens of other historical claims, good, bad and ugly, that he strings together seemingly at random. Instead, he simply engages in ad hominem attacks, ranging from condescending to vitriolic to downright libelous, against a few of the many people who have espoused these arguments: David Ray Griffin is a crank, Richard Gage is having a midlife crisis, Ken Jenkins is a hippie, Mike Ruppert is crazy, and Kevin Barrett is a drooling anti-Semite who lives in two places at once, got his Ph.D. seven years before he got his Ph.D., and believes a long list of crazy things that he doesn’t believe and has said a long list of crazy things that he never said.
Kay’s method is, to say the least, highly irrational. The rational position on “conspiracy theories” is, of course, Michael Moore’s: “I’m not interested in conspiracy theories, except the ones that are true.” In other words, any “defense of rationalist tradition” that considered topics like 9/11, political assassinations, and similar historical controversies would begin by sorting the sheep from the goats — that is, by ranking the various controversial assertions according to (A) their importance if they were true, and (B) probability that they are true, based on the rational consideration of empirical evidence. Any assertion that would be very important if it were true, and whose truth is supported by strong evidence — such as the assertion that the 9/11 Commission Report and the Warren Report are so egregiously faulty as to raise painful questions about the health or even existence of American democracy — would presumably earn high marks.
While painting his whole book as a defense of rationality, Kay actually admits that he cannot win a rational argument against 9/11 truth, even against a relatively unsophisticated opponent: “I’ll admit to feeling personally humbled by my failure to get the best of conspiracy theorists: What was the use in going through the official 9/11 report with a highlighter and Post-it notes, much less writing a whole book on the subject of Trutherdom, if I couldn’t win an argument with a single college student? But on a more fundamental level, I also felt disillusioned by what this experience taught me about the limits of intellectual discourse itself.” (p. 314).
Kay’s apparent contempt for the very rationalism (“intellectual discourse”) he pretends to defend is evidenced in his assertions about me, which go beyond mere libelousness into the realm of the bizarre.
On page 167 Kay tells his readers: “Minnesota-based Muslim convert Kevin Barrett, for instance, tells his Truther audiences that Osama Bin Laden could never have been behind 9/11 because the al-Qaeda leader embodies his religion’s dedication to ‘peace and truth.'”*
If Kay had bothered to make a fact-checking call or email to me, he could have learned that not only have I never lived in Minnesota, but that I have never said anything remotely like this. (Kay offers no citation backing his claim that I made this bizarre statement.) In fact, for the first two years after 9/11, I thought that Bin Laden or other Muslim jihadis were very likely involved in 9/11. And unlike Sandra Lubarsky, I had no “terrible fear” that made me wish it weren’t so. I could have easily lived with believing al Qaeda had done it. Had I not discovered the overwhelming empirical evidence against the al-Qaeda-did-it thesis, I would probably be happily teaching literature and Islamic studies at some American university, bothered very little by the thought that a handful of fellow Muslims could have been misguided enough to take bloody revenge for the Palestinian holocaust, the murder of half a million Muslims in Iraq, and a long list of other atrocities. For while Islam does indeed value peace and truth very highly, it also values lesser jihad, or armed struggle in defense of the community against aggression; I have never denied that Muslims sometimes engage in armed struggle, and make many of the same mistakes as other human beings who engage in armed struggle.
When Kay launches into his main diatribe against me (p. 286-289) he continues to get things egregiously wrong. He begins by claiming that I was born into a “Midwestern Lutheran family.” In fact, Lutheranism was, to the best of my recollection, the one branch of Christianity that nobody on either my father’s or mother’s side was ever involved with! (My parents are best described as lapsed Unitarians — which is about as lapsed as it gets.) If I were a paranoid conspiracy theorist, I would imagine that Kay’s Mossad handlers did a background check on me, discovered that somebody in my extended family was a member or lapsed member of practically every Christian denomination except Lutheranism, and decided to attribute a Lutheran background to me as some kind of warped practical joke.***
Kay then says I converted to Islam in 1992. In fact it was 1993, which I suppose is close enough. But his claim that I converted “after marrying a Moroccan-born Muslim woman” (my italics) is not just false but offensive and potentially damaging, since according to Islamic principles I had to be Muslim before marrying her. This amounts to an accusation that my wife violated a very serious point of Islamic law by marrying a non-Muslim. Kay’s false statement, were it widely disseminated and believed, would seriously damage my reputation, and my family’s reputation, in the Muslim community.
After falsely having me marrying and then converting in 1992, Kay says that I earned my Ph.D. five years later, which would be 1997. Alas, in reality, I did not earn my Ph.D. until 2004. While unlike most of Kay’s false statements about me, this one is in itself not defamatory, it does illustrate his reckless neglect of even the bare minimum standards of fact-checking.
Kay goes on to claim that I remained at the University of Wisconsin as a lecturer after allegedly earning my Ph.D. in 1997 until I “created an uproar by publicly insisting that Muslims weren’t involved in the World Trade Center attacks” in 2006. By claiming that after I earned my Ph.D. I spent nine years hanging around the same university as a lecturer, Kay misrepresents my career path in a pejorative light. In fact, after earning my Ph.D. in 2004 (not 1997), I earned what I was told was the most prestigious offer anyone had received in the history of my department — a prized University of California post-doc, which I turned down because it would have involved studying immigrant Muslim activities under the auspices of the CIA-linked Ford Foundation. (I stuck around Madison as a lecturer in 2005 and 2006 in order to focus on 9/11 truth activism, and was successful beyond my wildest expectations.)
But I cannot claim credit for that success. Contrary to Kay’s false statement, it was not me who “created an uproar” in Madison. The uproar was entirely the creation of State Rep. Steve Nass, whose call to have me fired from my UW-Madison teaching job made us both front-page news. Prior to Rep. Nass’s highly-publicized vendetta against me, I had been simultaneously teaching and doing 9/11 truth activism without any “uproar” from anyone; in fact, not one of the many colleagues with whom I discussed 9/11 truth during that period overtly disagreed with my contention that the 9/11 Report was a joke and that the best evidence suggested a false-flag operation. Nor were my Folklore 101 students, including the grandson of conservative Repubican former governor Lee Dreyfuss, discomfited by the way I spent a few days looking at the 9/11 controversies in that class. In short, I made no effort to create any uproar, nor did I create one.
Look at how Kay characterizes his claim that I “created an uproar”:
(In 1997 [sic], Barrett) “earned a Ph.D. in African languages and literature at the University of Wisconsin, where he remained employed as a lecturer until he created an uproar by publicly insisting that Muslims weren’t involved in the World Trade Center attacks. (“Every single Muslim I know in Madison knew it was an inside job!”)
The clear implication is that I publicly stated the exact words “Every single Muslim I know in Madison knew it was an inside job!” as evidence for my contention that Muslims weren’t involved in the World Trade Center attacks, and that these exact words “created an uproar.” Kay offers no source for my alleged public statement of these words, which portray me as such an idiot that I would offer what people think as empirical evidence to prove a historical point.
In fact, when I have pointed out that virtually all my Muslim acquaintances were right about 9/11 from the get-go, it has always been as part of an admission that I was wrong, rather than as an attempt to argue from popular opinion. The accurate quote: “From 2001 to 2003, I was practically the only Muslim in the area who didn’t think it was an inside job.” Saying this has never had anything to do with creating any uproar. Kay’s sentences are false in so many ways, on so many levels, that disentangling and disinfecting the multiple strands of falsehood is like cleaning the Aegean stables.
Kay then asserts that I was arrested for “domestic abuse” (actually, misdemeanor disorderly conduct) and pled not guilty without mentioning that the charges were dropped without any conditions — which is almost unheard of in Wisconsin domestic cases — because those charges were shown to be false. When a Wisconsin domestic-related case is dropped without the accused having to do any domestic violence counseling, the person has basically been certified as a non-abuser seven ways from Sunday. Such an outcome, rare as it is, is a far stronger indication of innocence than even an acquittal. Kay apparently knows, as do other smear artists, that publishing the fact that a person has been arrested, without mentioning that that person was acquitted or otherwise found innocent, is a time-tested way to attack a person’s reputation based on false allegations.
Kay’s attack goes on:
“…he’s…run a fringe campaign for Congress, hosted conspiracist radio programs, launched a series of ugly feuds with competing conspiracists, and started up a creepy website that publishes the home addresses of police officers and other government officials ‘who are alleged to have seriously abused their power over others.'”
Look at the adjectives: fringe, conspiracist, ugly, creepy. No agenda here! And once again, the facts are egregiously, libelously wrong. I have never launched an attack on a fellow 9/11 truth-seeker. Yes, a couple of ardent Zionists in the 9/11 truth movement launched feuds against me — they hate me for the same reason Kay does, because I don’t share their fanatical devotion to Israel — but in no case did I respond in kind to their vicious attacks until, in every case, months or years after the attacks had begun. Nor did I “start up” a website of the kind Kay describes. As far as I know, no such website ever published any addresses of police officers and other government officials. At the urging of Rev. Frank Morales, a Christian minister who has successfully changed NYPD policy by organizing demonstrations outside the homes of rogue cops, I did once float the idea of launching a nonviolence movement, in the footsteps of Gandhi, that would demonstrate peacefully outside the homes of those who ought to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity, but who currently enjoy impunity. That idea, as far as I know, never came to fruition; but it is a good one, and I do hope that someone picks it up and runs with it.
“Barrett began his presentation at St. Mark’s by arguing that the involvement of Muslims in the 9/11 operation would be an impossibility, since the tenets of Islam are incompatible with any sort of unprovoked violence.”
Obviously, neither I nor any remotely rational person would ever make such a ludicrous argument. People violate the tenets of their religion all the time. I believed Muslims were probably involved in 9/11 for the two years after the attacks, and only changed my mind when forced to by irrefutable empirical evidence. Also, the idea that I would characterize an extremist Muslim attack on America as “unprovoked” is laughable, given the long history of US atrocities against Muslims, including the fact that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright admitted that she thought murdering half a million Iraqi children was “worth it.”
Kay’s false statements about my St. Marks talk run wild: “Nor can we trust the official 9/11 commission, Barrett says, since its executive director, Philip Zelikow, is an ‘ethnic Jew.'” The idea that I would not want an “ethnic Jew” to head the 9/11 Commission is ludicrous; among my first choices would have been Paul Wellstone, Barbara Boxer, or Russ Feingold, the three bravest Senators who resisted the 9/11 perps’ agenda — and all three Senators happen to be Jewish.
Obviously I did not say that the only reason to mistrust the 9/11 Commission was Zelikow’s ethnicity! My position is that the 9/11 Commission Report is a tissue of lies, big lies, and bigger lies, as everyone from critic David Ray Griffin to the Commission’s own co-chairs has shown/admitted. Research by Dr. Griffin and other scholars and journalists has shown that Philip Zelikow was essentially the sole author of the Report, which he had drafted in outline before the Commission hearings began. Dr. Zelikow’s self-reported area of expertise is the “creation and maintenance of public myths.” The kind of “public myth” he creates and maintains, he explains, are like unto the tale of the “dastardly and unprovoked Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,” i.e. stories widely believed to be true even though they may not be, that exert a searing or moulding effect on both the experiencing generation and subsequent generations. Dr. Zelikow, apparently blessed with precognitive ability, published a 1998 Foreign Affairs article speculating on the likely social, psychological, political and cultural effects of a massive Pearl-Harbor-style terrorist attack in the US such as the destruction of the World Trade Center. One wonders whether he wrote the outline of the “public myth” that became the 9/11 Commission Report before 2001, and whether it served as the script for the Hollywood-style special effects show that transpired on 9/11.
Given the above (and much more) Philip Zelikow is, to say the least, a person of interest to anyone seeking the real perpetrators of 9/11. So what is his background? He is a neoconservative and, like Kay, a fanatical partisan of Israel. The fact that Zelikow, like Kay, is Jewish and a fanatical Jewish nationalist (i.e. a Zionist) is obviously relevant. If a fanatical Saudi-American Muslim named Abdul-Azziz Jones presided over a report falsely accusing Zionist Jews of a mass murder actually carried out by Saudi intelligence, the fact that Mr. A.A. Jones was Muslim and Saudi would be equally relevant. If, in this scenario, someone called attention to the fact that A.A. Jones was a fanatical Muslim Saudi, would that person necessarily be an islamophobe? Of course not! So am I anti-Semitic for thinking Zelikow’s fanatical Jewish nationalism is a factor in the 9/11 cover-up? Look at what Zelikow himself admitted about the 9/11 – triggered war on Iraq:
“Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I’ll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990 — it’s the threat against Israel,” Zelikow told a crowd at the University of Virginia on Sep. 10, 2002, speaking on a panel of foreign policy experts assessing the impact of 9/11 and the future of the war on the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation. “And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don’t care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell,” said Zelikow. http://www.rense.com/general50/warforisrael.htm
Kay continues to lob buckets of slime in my general direction, without bothering to research his “facts,” when he accuses me of being “that rare breed: a left-wing Holocaust skeptic” (p. 288). In fact, I am neither left-wing nor a Holocaust skeptic. I ran for congress as a Libertarian, a party that is generally identified with the right, and my politics cannot be categorized as left or right. And if “Holocaust skeptic”means someone who doubts or denies the gist of the standard European account of the German mass murders of communists, Jews, slavs, gypsies, the handicapped, and so on during World War II, I am not one. As I wrote to the European Jewish Chronicle, which cited Kay’s book:
To the Jewish Chronicle,
It has come to my attention that JC writer David Aaronovitch libeled me in a recent article. Aaronivitch characterizes my views on the Nazi holocaust in a false and defamatory manner when he wrote: “(Richard) Gage himself has appeared on a US radio programme hosted by one Kevin Barrett, who has described the Holocaust as a ‘destructive myth.'”
Aaronovitch either recklessly or intentionally neglected to mention that when I speak of the Holocaust as a myth, I always make it clear that I am using the scholarly sense of the word myth (sacred narrative) rather than the vernacular sense (lie, false account). Additionally, I have on literally hundreds of occasions made statements that make it clear that I do not dispute the gist of the standard Western historical account of German mass murders of Gypsies, Jews, homosexuals, communists, handicapped people, slavs, and so on during World War II. What I object to is the way this historical narrative has been made sacred (i.e. a myth) and used to justify the invasion, occupation, and ethnic cleansing of Palestine — despite the fact that the Palestinians had nothing to do with the Germans’ crimes. One might as well turn the firebombings of Dresden, Tokyo and other cities, and the nuclear annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, into a sacred myth justifying the mass murder and expulsion of the natives of India to make way for the Germans and Japanese.
By falsely implying that I deny the standard account of these Nazi murders, Aaronivitch commits libel. Indeed, he accuses me of a speech act that is a crime in many Western European countries, including some I traveled through shortly before he published his libel! I look forward to an apology from the editors and Mr. Aaronovitch.
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Needless to say, I am still looking forward to that apology.
When I wrote the letter, I had not yet read Kay’s book, and did not know that the Jewish Chronicle was citing a quote in it that was falsely attributed to me. Yes, I have occasionally pointed out that the Holocaust is a “myth” in the sense of a sacred narrative, and yes, I do believe its effects — including the Palestinian genocide — have been destructive. But it turns out that the JC was using a quote from a bogus source — quoting something I had never said.
Kay’s “evidence” that I am a “Holocaust skeptic” consists of a paragraph that a crazy stalker named Mark Rabinowitz claims was in an email I sent him many years ago. Rabinowitz — a minor-league political paranoid who harassed me briefly in 2005 about my anti-Zionism, and against whom I nearly had to take out a restraining order — has never produced any evidence that the paragraph he attributes to me actually was in an email I sent him; nor do I remember writing that paragraph. I am reasonably certain that the paragraph was either altered or invented out of whole cloth by Rabinowitz, since it mentions three alleged “holocaust deniers” named “Green, Irving, and Zundel” about whom I knew nothing at the time, and still know very little. (I still don’t know who this “Green” person is, though Kay helpfully informs us that the first name is “Mark.”) So here I stand, accused of supporting “holocaust deniers” whose names I barely recognize, based on a false claim posted by a nobody on his obscure personal website. Strangely enough, this completely baseless libel proved impossible to remove from Wikipedia despite repeated efforts, and has now found its way into Kay’s widely-published book. Time for a libel suit? Will I soon be the proud owner of Wikipedia and HarperCollins?
From his attack on me, which offers many more false and/or defamatory statements than I care to inflict on the reader, Kay segués in his usual non-sequitur style into a rambling rant about the long and terrible history of anti-Semitism, which (he claims) is the reason for “the anti-Zionists’ obsessive focus on the victims of Israeli counterterrorist operations, while ignoring the terrorist provocations that led to them.” In other words, throughout the history of the Zionist invasion of Palestine, the 95% of the murders and maimings and kidnappings that are attributable to the Zionists are just “counterterrorist operations,” while the 5% attributable to the Palestinians are “terrorist provocations.” That’s a lot like saying that any Jews who killed Nazis while resisting the holocaust were terrorists, since the Final Solution was just a big counterterrorist operation.
Kay claims that the statement that Israel “deliberately targets Palestinian children playing on roofs” is a “blood libel” (p. 299). His statement must be knowingly false, since I sent him a copy of an article in the prestigious British Medical Journal (10/16/04) which concluded: “Two thirds of the 621 children (two thirds under 15 years) killed at checkpoints, in the street, on the way to school, in their homes, died from small arms fire, directed in over half of cases to the head, neck and chest—the sniper’s wound. Clearly, soldiers are routinely authorised to shoot to kill children in situations of minimal or no threat.” Along with the BMJ article, I sent him Chris Hedges’ Harper’s magazine article “Gaza Diary” (October 2001) in which Hedges graphically reports that he had been in several war zones, but he had never seen soldiers luring children within range of their guns, then gut-shooting them for sport, until he saw Israeli soldiers doing it in the Occupied Territories.
Does Kay, whose book participates in the cover-up of these child murders, as well as the millions of murders of 9/11 and the 9/11 wars, end his book with a final veiled tip of his cap to the guru of the neocon big lie, Leo Strauss, by way of a quote from Voltaire?
“An atheist, provided he be sure of impunity so far as man is concerned, reasons and acts consistently in being dishonest, ungrateful, a slanderer, a robber, and a murderer. For if there is no God, this monster is his own god, and sacrifices to his purposes whatever he desires and whatever serves as an obstacle in his path. The most moving entreaties, the most cogent arguments have no more effect upon him than on a wolf thirsting for blood.” (p. 326).
For atheist, substitute Straussian. Leo Strauss, the guru of Kay’s neconservative friends, an atheist and self-professed “teacher of evil,” taught his students to be pious frauds, wolves in sheep’s clothing, who realize that brute force and hatred, not “cogent arguments,” rule the world. The ideal Straussian is indeed “his own god, and sacrifices to his purposes whatever he desires and whatever serves as an obstacle in his path.” And since Strauss and his students are fanatical Zionists, they sacrifice to their own purposes whatever they desire (including the World Trade Center and the truth), dispense with rational argumentation, and write dishonest books full of ingratitude to those who helped them, slandering some of the world’s very best people, robbing their readers of their reason while pretending to defend Reason, and participating in the coverup of mass murder if not the act itself.
Is Jonathan Kay this kind of Straussian? Has he written a discombobulated book, peppered with outrageous falsehoods, whose only connecting thread is an obsession with anti-Semitism in general and the Protocols in particular, as an esoteric parody of the worst sort of conspiracism? Is his real message that reason and truth are feeble, while the kind of emotion-based character-assassination he indulges in is a far more effective political tool? Is he telling his fellow Zionist Straussians to get out there and win the fight with lies, murder, slander…whatever it takes? Is he telling his readers “Whatever you do, do not use reason and evidence to look at the facts about 9/11! Instead, hurl insults at those who do!” And is he performing this ritual sacrifice of goodness and truth and reason under the smokescreen of an ironic hymn to the glory of reason itself?
Alas, the answer is almost certainly “no.” Jonathan Kay is no evil genius. As Gordon Duff said on my radio show, Jonathan Kay is a “lightweight.” He even seems to be a fairly nice guy, despite his propensity for libel. I think his nastiness and 9/11 denial are driven by deep unconscious fear, not conscious ill will. In fact, I cannot help but feel the same sort of “affection” (with more than a tinge of condescension) for him that he claims to feel for his victims.
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*Despite Kay’s association with Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the successor organization to PNAC, I do not think he is a scheming Straussian, nor do I think his book is a conscious parody. Instead, I think he is driven by a largely unconscious fear of anti-Semitism, which has developed into something approaching full-blown paranoia: his conspiracy theory that all conspiracy theories are part of a immense plot at the heart of which is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But it’s more fun to read his book as if it were consciously rather than unconsciously parodying itself.
**See Shadia Drury’s books on Strauss and neoconservatism. Or read Strauss himself if you have a lot of time on your hands, a high threshold of tolerance for bad writing, and a strong stomach.
*** Please do not miss the point that I am NOT a paranoid anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist, and I do NOT believe any such background check was ever conducted. I know perfectly well that Kay is just a paranoid & sloppy researcher and thinker. This whole review is based on a conceit (not my actual belief) that he’s a brilliant, scheming, Machievellian-Straussian Mossad agent.