August 24, 2004
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From: Stephen Steinlight
Through much of his mixed, rather schizophrenic review of the Center for Immigration Studies symposium [High Noon to Midnight: Does Current Immigration Policy Doom American Jewry?] in which I participated, John White warmly compliments me on the insightfulness and intellectual integrity of my arguments. Then he pounces gleefully if absurdly on one point, taken entirely out of context and blown all out of proportion, as a pretext to discredit the whole of my presentation. It's rather like a mangled, backwards version of William Hazlitt's famous comment on Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution in France" when Hazlitt asserted that "in arriving at one error he [Burke] discovered a hundred truths.
The error? Mr. White ridiculously alleges that I proffer as a solution to the immigration-borne problems America faces its wholesale conversion to Judaism.
Let us credit White for succeeding, at least, in his capacity to invent an extremely if unconsciously amusing and completely irrelevant reductio ad absurdum. Nowhere do I suggest that the answer to America's problems lies in conversion to Judaism—a proposition as insane as it unlikely—nor do I anywhere suggest that Muslims would be candidates for such a preposterous project.
Rather, reflecting on the widely reported radical demographic decline of the American-Jewish community, a decline that poses genuine political dangers at a time when a rapidly growing and profoundly anti-Semitic Islam threatens to politically overwhelm it, I suggest that Jews reconsider their cultural—though not religiously sanctioned—opposition to conversion and seek to grow the community at a time when numbers will have enormous political consequences.
This was all I said. Anyone familiar with the inter-relationship between demography and politics would read that argument for the sound, sane case it makes, especially in light of the precedents I cite regarding the difficult current circumstances of increasingly beleaguered Jewish communities in Western Europe.
That I harbor a bizarre and utterly inconceivable notion of America becoming a predominantly Jewish country lies only in the comic musing of Mr. White. Surely he must be kidding.
John White replies: Stephen Steinlight confirms what I reported, his remarkable proposal that Jews make conversions to bolster their political power. He was indeed frankly motivated, as I reported, by his calculation of what might be good for the Jews, not by any search for what he now calls "a solution to the immigration-borne problems America faces." He did not say, so I did not report, whether this requires that America be "predominantly," or just significantly, converted. I am puzzled by his complaint.