Anti-Semitism as Radical Chic

Yikes. Before the release of the movie recounting part of his life, Muhammad Ali apparently appeared at a banquet and told an anti-Semitic joke — “What’s the difference between a Jew and a canoe? A canoe always tips.”

That’s bad enough, but as Glenn Reynolds points out, what is truly disgusting is The Guardian’s Charlotte Raven who recasts this rather pathetic joke as some sort of expression of radical individualism. Raven writes,

The timing of this incident – a matter of months before the release of a film depicting him as an anti-racist icon – suggests to me that this was no unfortunate faux pas. I think Muhammad Ali knew exactly what he was doing. In refusing to fall into line with the identity thrust upon him by the Michael Mann biopic, he was offering a timely reminder that his brand of subversive politics will always resist definition.

Leave it to the European Left to present anti-Semitism as a subversive act. Give them a few years, and they’ll be writing about how burning crosses is a postmodern rebellion against the iconography of patriarchal cultures.

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