06
Feb
10

Michael Kinsley Has Trouble Distinguishing Between Criminals and Jews…

…but calls others ‘antisemites.’

In what has to be one of the strangest pseudo justifications for Goldman Sachs’ activities leading up to the financial meltdown, Michael Kinsley (Atlantic Wire) takes Matt Taibbi to task for his brilliant takedown of Goldman in the Rolling Stone, calling it antisemetic and suggesting that when people hear ‘banker’ they think ‘Jew.’ He even suggests that Goldman Sachs is singled out for particular animosity because ‘Goldman’ and ‘Sachs’ are both Jewish names (which had never actually occurred to me until Kinsley made an issue of it), never mind the fact that, as the last major bank left standing after the financial massacre, Goldman is of necessity singled out. When I hear ‘banker,’ I think ‘sociopath.’ It has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity. From a purely psychological standpoint, people with a certain moral ambiguity are attracted to careers that allow them to exploit others–often legally. It’s no fluke that there are more full-fledged sociopaths (the term has been perverted to imply serial killer by mass media, but it simply means lacking the ability to empathize or care about the morality of one’s actions) in the ranks of politicians, bankers, lawyers and physicians than in other fields (Cleckley, The Mask of Sanity). Defending Goldman Sachs is simply promoting the interests of the conscienceless. Blaming criticism of Goldman on antisemitism just provides cover for their amoral activities. Why would anyone want to do that? To use “others did it too” as a defense pretty much stops working in elementary school, so… really?

I read Taibbi’s Goldman Article. I also read Brooks coded reply and Taibbi’s response to it. I agree with Taibbi that one has to dig pretty deep to find racism in his attack on Goldman. Articles like Kinsley’s distract from the real problem: Criminal activities cloaked as legitimate banking practices. I don’t believe Jews are greedy or that they lie, cheat and steal for money. I do believe many bankers and titans of industry do, however (and just for a frame of reference Hank Paulson is a Christian Scientist and if we are going by last names, Cassano, McCarthy, Raines, O’Neal, Mozilo, Moynihan–it could be argued that complaints about the financial meltdown are anti-Italian or anti-Irish). This belief is not based on antisemitism, but on irrefutable evidence of the last decade. So the question is why is Kinsley defending the indefensible? The real antisemitism is in assuming all bankers are Jewish and that any criticism of the banking industry is by default an attack on Jews. That premise is simply ridiculous, clearly perpetuates a stereotype and only serves to distract from the real problem–an amoral financial industry. Goldman is singled out because, thanks in large part to their non-Jewish former chair Henry Paulson, they got preferential treatment in the bailout debacle. Had Paulson worked for Bank of America and wangled a similarly sweet deal for them, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. I totally agree that antisemitism is a serious issue. Taibbi’s attack on Goldman Sachs is not part of the problem, however.

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