It was just a matter of time until someone said this out loud, so it was not a surprise from that standpoint. However, Democratic Congressman James Moran's comments the other day about Iraq and American Jews were still jarring.
At "an anti-war forum" in an Episcopal Church in Northern Virginia, according to the Washington Post, Moran said:
"If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this ... The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should."
It has been whispered around Washington for some time that is it not a coincidence that the three largest European countries with the longest, most well-documented history of government-condoned anti-Semitism in the 19th and 20th centuries have been France, Russia, and Germany. And those are the three countries which are leading the charge against President Bush's Iraq policy.
The pogroms of Tsarist Russia then the Soviet Union were sanctioned and organized efforts to attack Jewish communities in the 1800s and 1900s.
The infamous Dreyfus case in the 1890s is the most well-reported case of French-sponsored anti-Semitism.
And, the Holocaust needs no explanation.
As recently as the 1940s anti-Semitism was so commonplace in the United States as to have been openly discussed at the highest levels. In his excellent book "The Conquerors," Historian Michael Beschloss quotes Franklin D. Roosevelt telling his Jewish Treasury Secretary, Henry Moganthau that the U.S. "is a Protestant country" and that "Jews and Catholics are here by our forbearance."
But those were the same days when it was permitted - expected, really - to describe anyone who was not a direct descendent of White, Protestant, Northern-Europeans by an epithet.
One would have expected, in the 21st Century, that a politician with the experience of James Moran who has been in public office for 24 years - the last 12 as a Member of Congress. He said, in his own defense, "Nobody could berate me more than I do when I see my words in print compared to what I intended to say," which is Moran-speak for "If I had known it was going to end up in the Washington Post I never would have said it."
But that's the kind of man James Moran is.
On the other side of the coin, a growing number of people opposed to a war in Iraq are openly suggesting that our policy is based on the United States' desire to control Iraqi oil and control Iraqi territory.
In February Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared on MTV to discuss the US position with regard to our becoming an imperial power. A viewer in Norway asked why Europeans consider the U.S. to be the "Satan of contemporary politics." Here's a portion of what the Secretary said:
"Far from being the Great Satan, I would say that we are the Great Protector. We have sent men and women from the armed forces of the United States to other parts of the world throughout the past century to put down oppression. We defeated Fascism. We defeated Communism. We saved Europe in World War I and World War II.
"And when all those conflicts were over, what did we do? Did we stay and conquer? Did we say, "Okay, we defeated Germany. Now Germany belongs to us? We defeated Japan, so Japan belongs to us"? No. What did we do? We built them up. We gave them democratic systems which they have embraced totally to their soul.
"And did we ask for any land? No, the only land we ever asked for was enough land to bury our dead.And that is the kind of nation we are."
And that's the kind of man Colin Powell is.