June 25th, 2010
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Too true. A muslim acquaintance of mine says he is amused whenever he hears about a muslim being called antisemitic. Of course in the ignorant states of america antisemitism only ever refers to jew-hating.
I’ve heard this exact argument put forward by Jew haters and Holocaust deniers. As though hating an entire group of people is alright as long as you are not called a specific word. Those guys are a walking joke. A very sad walking joke.
Although the name is based on a fairy tale, the term “semitic” is still used as both a linguistic and ethnic designation, although in linguistics it once denoted a language family, but now names only a part of a family. However, linguistic and genetic studies do indicate that Arabs and Jews are related peoples and their pre-biblical religions also bear similarities. The term “Hamitic” was once used in linguistics to designate a group of non-Semitic African languages; the term became obsolete when it was determined that these languages were not actually related but only shared some surface characteristics – the language family is now referred to as “Afro-Asiatic”. “Japhetic” is a similarly obsolete term once used to designate what are now called the Indo-European languages. So it seems that “Semite” and “Semitic” are now largely confined to the dustbin of ethnic stereotyping and prejudice, and not very accurately, either.
Q: How does Rocky Balboa greet his Middle Eastern acquaintances?
A: Yo! Semite!
Afnsdon, the word “Antisemitism” has *always* meant “Jew-hating” in English, regardless of its etymology. I prefer to spell it this way, as a single word, to avoid the implication that there is a philosophy called “Semitism” that Antisemites are opposed to, like “anti-Catholicism”.
Nunuv, you have it basically right. However, the “Hamitic” language families, namely Ancient Egyptian, Berber, Chadic, Cushitic, and maybe Omotic, all spoken in Africa, *are* related to each other and to the Semitic family. It’s just that they aren’t particularly closer to each other than to Semitic, so it doesn’t make sense to have a collective name for them.
Mo is just anti-Everything…
Devastating! Well done, Author.
For a laugh, try to get Islamic folks to eat Kosher food, as it’s about as close to Halal as you can find in the U.S. The looks on their faces is worth the price of admission; “What, me eat ‘Jew’ food?”.
Can you name of that place where Ansel Adams took so many great photos?
I’ve always found it irritating when someone calls a Jew-hating person an anti-Semite.
I’ve never seen any cause for ‘Semite’ to be limited to just Jews – particularly since in religious terms, Semitic religions also cover Islam and Christianity, irrespective of the languages or ethnicity of the religions’ adherents.
Better to just call any ‘anti-Semitism’ as ‘anti-Judaism’ or something and be done with it.
No doubt some anti-Israeli Jews have been accused of being anti-Semitic, which is just plain daft.
I’ve known a few Moslems in the UK and they’ll use kosher when they can’t get halal. But then certain types of crisps (US potato chips) are haram because they use alcohol to put the flavouring on!
Anti-semitism = anti-jewish and always did. And most Moslems will eat kosher food at a push.
True to form, the readership weighs in with erudite analyses… Always something to be learned here!
In a similar pedantic vein [not to change subjects], I’ve always been annoyed that there isn’t a better popular term than “homophobic” to describe a particular brand of bigot.
->> Is it out of disrespect for the disrespectors [sic] that we label them badly? ;p <<-
Curiously enough, Antisemitism was a term proudly used by European political parties (Antisemiten-Liga, Alliance Anti-semitique Universelle, etc.).
I think that any kind of racism is out of order and stupid, whatever you choose to call it. I also get annoyed when criticism of Islam is falsely labelled as racism and various PC idiots fall for the deception.
I always laugh when the white power types claim to be Aryans – since the real aryans are from India
and the whitest folks today – the scandinavians – are not very interested in their KKK/neo-nazi nonsense
I think arguments from etymology are interesting, but ultimately pointless. It’s the same as arguments from the dictionary, where a theist claims “See, Atheism means the doctrine of believing God doesn’t exist!” It says so in my dictionary!” Words are fluid, meanings change through use and correct etymology is not always a deciding factor. If a word has a generally accepted meaning, especially if this word describes a group, and the group accepts it, then that is an acceptable meaning, even if it gets my etymological goat.
The more we find out about each other, the more we are the same, which is very hard on elitist’s egos.
Like others I find etymology interesting but not decisive.
A quick search of Mein Kampf reveals about a dozen mentions of “semitic”, all in reference to Jews, and all presaged with “anti”.
Although there seems some good evidence that Hitler is celebrated in some Islamist quarters this can only be in a rather confused fashion. There is no good reason to think that he would not have wanted to finish them off as well given half a chance.
I have seen several online references to Hitler referring to the Arabs in general as “lacquered half-apes who ought to be whipped” but I can’t find a source for this.
Well, imagine two native African ethno/religious groups fighting against each other, where the first labels the second as being “racist”. That’s as close to the analogy as you can get for pro-Israeli and anti-Israeli conflict in the Middle East.
Keeyop, I agree that homophobic is a pretty silly term for what you call a ‘particular brand of bigot’, but unfortunately we are no longer allowed to call them ‘small minded bigot gits’ as this is, for some reason, seen as disrespectful. Until we come up with a better term, we will just have to take comfort in the idea that some bigots really are frightened (phobic) of gay people. Gays should be proud of having that much power!
I enjy nothing more than having a pleasant conversation to a person who reveals that they are anti-gay – then I tell them that I am – and their brains freeze in cognitive dissonance of having just had a pleasant interaction with a gay person.
then I tough their arm and say gay kooties
Jerry w: I always thought that Yo! Semite! was how Rocky Balboa greeted his Middle Eastern friiends.
Folks – just to let you know there’s the most spectacular troll ranting away at Freethinker.co.uk at the moment. Bring yer popcorn …
According to Wikipedia (with references that can be checked):
“While the term’s etymology might suggest that antisemitism is directed against all Semitic peoples, the term was coined in the late 19th century in Germany as a more scientific-sounding term for Judenhass (“Jew-hatred”), and that has been its normal use since then.”
1. Like victor williams points out antisemitism has always referred to jews and only jews, it doesn’t matter what it might literally mean.
2. “Name” yes, two african ethno-religious groups being racist to one another, that’s ridiculous, oh, wait, it already happened http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rwandan_massacre.
And that’s just the most famous example, in fact the africans, despite having similar skin color, are extremely racist towards one another. check darpur and who sold the europeans slaves. Racism isn’t just about skin color and genetic similarities.
Oh and here’s a funny fact about arabs, jews and racism, when israeli pilots where captured in 1973 it was one of the first times their arab jailors saw jews. The pilots who later returned to israel said that the arabs were genuinely surprised that they didn’t have horns and believed they had magicle powers. You see jews are always depicted in arab media as having horns or being murderous conscienceless animals (in the islam by the way they are many times equated with monkeys because of a certain sura in the koran).
what r u people talkin bout, jewish people are a religious group not a race, kaifeng jews in china are jewish but they’re not semitic, european jews r white, and im pretty sure there r a lot of arab jews, persian jews and others,
Yes, a new word needs to be invented for a specific type of bigot other than “homophobe”.
I myself hate and fear any two things that are the same (and homogenized milk, yecch!), but love gay people. In fact, I would be happy to acquire Nina’s gay kooties anytime!