Maureen Dowd Faces Growing Backlash After Accusations Her Column Uses Anti-Semitic Stereotypes

Maureen Dowd Faces Accusations That Her Column Uses Anti-Semitic Stereotypes 

Long-time New York Times opinion columnist Maureen Dowd is facing a significant backlash over her latest column in which she uses a number of medieval, anti-Semitic stereotypes to describe neoconservatives and, specifically, Dan Senor, a close advisor to Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

In Dowd’s latest column, Neocons Slither Back, she describes Ryan’s senior advisor as snake-like. Dowd also describes Senor as the “puppet master” behind Ryan’s supposed lurch towards a neoconservative foreign policy critique of President Barack Obama. This, too, is a trope used for centuries to villainize Jews.

Commentary Magazine’s Jonathan Tobin savaged Dowd’s column as “creepy” and says that this episode should not be swept under the rug:

Dowd’s column marks yet another step down into the pit of hate-mongering that has become all too common at the Times. This is a tipping point that should alarm even the most stalwart liberal Jewish supporters of the president.

Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic, responded immediately to the slurs printed in the Times on the eve of the Jewish new year holiday. In Happy New Year, Puppet Masters, Goldberg goes after Dowd for her liberal use of offensive slurs to attack Ryan.

“Maureen may not know this, but she is peddling an old stereotype, that gentile leaders are dolts unable to resist the machinations and manipulations of clever and snake-like Jews,” Goldberg wrote.

He also attacks her substantively for her characterization of the Mitt Romney campaign’s demand that the Obama administration establish red lines for the Iranian nuclear program after which they will face military action as “outrageous.”

Why is this an outrageous demand? The White House doesn’t think this is outrageous. The President and his aides understand why Netanyahu would seek red lines. They would like to keep their red lines hidden from the Iranians (the smart move, obviously), but it is not “outrageous,” in the course of [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s conversations with President Obama, for him to want to know precisely what might spark the U.S. into action? Certainly the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have also asked the same question of the President.

An editorial in Future of echoes those critiques and demonstrates how there will be a double standard at work if Dowd does not face the same criticism from the left as she does from the right.

Depictions of Jews as snakes or puppeteers are classical anti-Semitic images, right up there with blood-sucking. The snake image has roots in the Christian Bible; the puppet-master goes back at least to Nazi Germany, and when Glenn Beck used it to talk about George Soros, who, unlike Dan Senor, has actually been hostile to Israel, the left was all over him for it.

Both Goldberg and the editorial above point out that Senor, as a former spokesperson for Ambassador Paul Bremmer while he was managing the transition from American to Iraqi leadership in Baghdad, is anything but a neocon’s neocon. The editor in Future of Capitalism explains:

Dan Senor isn’t much of a neoconservative. He rose to prominence on the foreign policy side as a spokesman for Paul Bremer. Bremer was a longtime colleague and associate of Henry Kissinger and is thought of as a Kissingerian realist, not a neoconservative. The neoconservatives couldn’t stand Ambassador Bremer; they thought he was trying to run Iraq as proconsul when he should have more quickly turned things over to Iraqis like Ahmad Chalabi.

Andrew Rosenthal, the Times editorial page director, told Politico that the allegations against Dowd were baseless. “No fair-minded reading of Maureen Dowd’s column supports the allegations you and others are making. She makes no reference, direct or implied, to anyone’s religion,” Rosenthal said.

Read the full column via New York Times

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An experienced broadcaster and columnist, Noah Rothman has been providing political opinion and analysis to a variety of media outlets since 2010. His work has appeared in a number of political opinion journals, and he has shared his insights with television and radio personalities across the country.