There's a certain amount of ambiguity in my background, what with intermarriages and conversions, but under various readings of three codes which I don’t much respect (Mosaic Law, the Nuremberg Laws, and the Israeli Law of Return) I do qualify as a member of the tribe, and any denial of that in my family has ceased with me. But I would not remove myself to Israel if it meant the continuing expropriation of another people, and if anti-Jewish fascism comes again to the Christian world—or more probably comes at us via the Muslim world—I already consider it an obligation to resist it wherever I live. I would detest myself if I fled from it in any direction. Leo Strauss was right. The Jews will not be 'saved' or 'redeemed.' (Cheer up: neither will anyone else.) They/we will always be in exile whether they are in the greater Jerusalem area or not, and this in some ways is as it should be. They are, or we are, as a friend of Victor Klemperer's once put it to him in a very dark time, condemned and privileged to be 'a seismic people.' A critical register of the general health of civilization is the status of 'the Jewish question.' No insurance policy has ever been devised that can or will cover this risk.
At least two important conservative thinkers, Ayn Rand and Leo Strauss, were unbelievers or nonbelievers and in any case contemptuous of Christianity. I have my own differences with both of these savants, but is the Republican Party really prepared to disown such modern intellectuals as it can claim, in favor of a shallow, demagogic and above all sectarian religiosity?Perhaps one could phrase the same question in two further ways. At the last election, the GOP succeeded in increasing its vote among American Jews by an estimated five percentage points. Does it propose to welcome these new adherents or sympathizers by yelling in the tones of that great Democrat bigmouth William Jennings Bryan? By insisting that evolution is 'only a theory'? By demanding biblical literalism and by proclaiming that the Messiah has already shown himself? If so, it will deserve the punishment for hubris that is already coming its way. (The punishment, in other words, that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson believed had struck America on Sept. 11, 2001. How can it be that such grotesque characters, calling down divine revenge on the workers in the World Trade Center, are allowed a respectful hearing, or a hearing at all, among patriotic Republicans?)
Nihilism is the rejection of the principles of civilisation as such . . . I said civilisation, and not: culture. For I have noticed that many nihilists are great lovers of culture, as distinguished from, and opposed to, civilisation. Besides, the term culture leaves it undetermined what the thing is which is to be cultivated (blood and soil or the mind), whereas the term civilisation designates at once the process of making man a citizen, and not a slave; an inhabitant of cities, and not a rustic; a lover of peace, and not of war; a polite being, and not a ruffian.