April 16th, 2013 / 3:45 pm

Dear White Race,

One dead white peoples equals how many dead non-white peoples?


Baby Marie-Antoinette


— 14 April 2013: 30 children were killed in Syria.
— 15 April 2013: At least 37 people were killed in Iraq.
— 15 April 2013: 3 people were killed in Boston.

The icky white race says:

Picture 7

Picture 11

Picture 5


Baby Marie-Antoinette’s “Dear White Race” letter was first published 15 April 2013 on the cute literary corporation Bambi Muse.

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  1. gingersnap222

      This isn’t really white vs. non-white (which is also totally its own problem, though not addressed here). It makes sense that the stuff that happens in your own country gets more press/coverage/outrage than stuff that happens for away. That is human nature. Not just white-people nature.

  2. Scott Riley Irvine

      Please fuck off.

  3. guywatchingbowling

      Finally, someone’s speaking truth to power! Thank you people’s poet!

  4. A D Jameson

      I tend to look askance at anyone who thinks that “the white race” exists, but please do explain further, Seth. That said, I doubt your logic will shake out the way you want.

  5. Matt Rowan

      Finally, Seth! You’ve done it! I’m glad I see how smart and satirical you are, now. I get it. I’ll put this as an example under the dictionary definition of doubling down, I think. Thanks for adding to the discourse. Don’t worry, some day these troglodytes will wish they were nicer to you.

  6. Brendan Connell

      Could someone please take this guy’s HTMLGiant account away?

  7. Brendan Connell

      Seth is A-1 honky material. That he somehow thinks he stands for all the folks in Africa and Asia is a complete joke.

  8. Don

  9. Caleb Powell

      Seth, you are a judgmental self-hating reflexive racist idiot. Gee, like you care about people so much and no one else does…you prick. One of the people who died in Boston was a Chinese national, not that it matters, except to you.

  10. Reg Donaldson

      Enough with this dipshit! Take him off HTML Giant, please.

  11. Guest

      Kid is obviously starved for attention. Was probably abused at some point as a child. The whole Disney fetish and infantilism routine speaks to some weird shit that probably happened in his past. Hope he seeks treatment along with his sister, Amanda Bynes.

  12. Guest

      Seth is probably one of those dudes who thinks the “Stuff White People Like” blog is subversive…too tone deaf to realize the implicit problems with associating half the worlds props with “whiteness.”

  13. deadgod
  14. Brendan Connell

      how is that context?

  15. deadgod

      Seth seems to me to think that (we) Americans privilege their (our) suffering qua (our) nation not only in a ‘natural’ way–you see and care more about what’s closer to you–, but in ways obliterative of even perception (less empathy with and much less taking responsibility for) other nations’/people’s suffering.

      Who is he–who looks pretty ‘middle-class’ and ‘white’ to me–to make such a big deal, and from so specifically targeting a point of view, about European-American bourgeois entitlement??

      I mean, what a hypocrite!

      Well, look again at that tumblr post.

      Seth’s responding–maybe in a self-defeatingly theatrical way–to a toxic ideological gum so intricated as to be easily–maybe rationally–taken for cultural machinery itself.

  16. Brendan Connell

      Yeah, I certainly understand the point he is trying to make. But, clearly he is doing a poor job of it. Also, I think his audience (us), is probably much more educated on these and other matters than he is, so the whole thing just comes off as ludicrous.

      The point he clearly doesn’t get, is having compassion for one person doesn’t mean that you don’t for another. Compassion and empathy don’t mean anything unless they are broad reaching.

      Is what I completely don’t understand is why he was selected to post here. I am genuinely curious about this point.

  17. Guest

      Not sure what your point is, or who you’re disagreeing with here. Most people who read this site recognize the basic contradiction you point out in your post (it’s sort of obvious). It’s also obvious to any semi-literate person that a message is shaped by its delivery, and that people are reacting against the childish delivery, one you acknowledge as self-defeating in your last paragraph. It’s okay, deadgod–you don’t have to play Devil’s Advocate in this thread.

  18. mimi

      reading that tumblr, while provocative and ‘educational’, makes me feel profoundly sad

      no wonder i prefer discussing bread v. toast with mr. cugini

  19. Michael Martin


  20. deadgod

      Agreed: compassion for one doesn’t–or shouldn’t–drive out compassion for any other.

      I took your question seriously.

      If you “certainly” understood the point, then why did you ask how the rwnj reaction to the bombing was context?

      Your first remark on this thread was to say ‘shut up’; that’s fine.

      Would you make your own point–about Seth’s disqualification or self-disqualification from comment–more clear?

  21. deadgod

      –and you can relax your grip on your pitchfork.

      It’s not “obvious” that “people are reacting against the childish delivery”; to the contrary, the major reaction is to the perceived substance of Seth’s posts and not their “delivery”.

      I doubt, from his blogicles, that Seth is really a misogynist or a racist or an anti-Semite (or self-hating Jew); that is what I disagree with.

      I also doubt that most of the shrill indignation at Seth’s unremarkable provocations is because people do “recognize” that they share at least some of the conflicts of his position; I suspect their tantrums demonstrate a lack of that recognition.

      Seth’s not–at least at this remove–the ironist that Plato, Swift, or Mel Brooks are. Oh well.

      My point is that his failure, in that case, is that of a provocateur, and not that of the targets whom, you might agree, he shares with his critics.

  22. deadgod

      mimi, one point, if Seth hasn’t succeeded in making it (or even tried to), that I’m eager to make, is that profound sadness at that pretty common reaction to the bombings is ordinary.

      I mean that there’s no credit for being disheartened by the shit of shitty people.

      I don’t mean to belittle the emotion, but so what?

      So what is our country, is what.

      I think raw vs. cooked is a great dilemma, but at a moment like this, what is our country?

  23. Brendan Connell

      No, I didn’t say “shut up”. I said that someone should take his HTMLGiant account away. Not the same thing.

      Everyone is qualified to talk, or type, or what have you. But HTMLGiant has a large readership, and not everyone is qualified (or deserves) to be given a platform. Seth doesn’t on so many levels. Aside from the fact that he is indeed a racist (you can deny this all you want, but it is apparent to me and most others here), he also is a truly awful writer.

      To me it also seems you are sort of half-heartedly making a defense for him, not because you even believe that he has talent, but more as an intellectual exercise of your own, like some lawyer who takes on some silly criminal pro bono just because they feel that every fool deserves to be defended.

      And me understanding Seth’s point (which is obvious), does not mean that I think it has any context related to your link. The only context is that he is simply a little prick.

      And by cherry picking words like “obvious” and “certainly” and stringing them up with quotes you come off as a little passive aggressive.

  24. mimi

      deaders, thanks

      a reply:

      1. i’m not looking for credit

      2. i don’t feel belittled, and i embrace the sadness i feel, it is so deeply authentic, however ordinary
      and so what? i realize it is perhaps ‘stating the obvious’ in the presence of others’, for example seth’s, reactions –
      but so what? i said it here

      3. i do care deeply about What our country is, What Our World Is, but have no words right now
      i do feel like a head-in-the-sand’er talking about toast, perhaps it is an aspey reaction (i’ve picked up the coping mechanisms of the adult autistics i work with, maybe)

  25. A D Jameson

      Well put. Seth’s purpose and points are opaque, though perhaps clarifying? But that opacity understandably rankles folk. Meanwhile, as Brendan points out above, Seth’s possibly misjudging his audience, or failing to even acknowledge that different audiences exist. Some who know Seth personally have told me he’s “always like this,” regardless of where he is or who he’s around, or where he’s writing. Might he lack the very empathy that he thinks others miss?

      I haven’t really brought it up here yet, but soon I plan to address the idea that being an artist all the time—being always “on,” so to speak—makes one a better artist. “Erase the distinction between art and life,” etc. It’s a popular idea these days, and has been since Cage’s time (at least), but the approach, like any, has its problems.

  26. A D Jameson
  27. mimi

      thanks A D J

  28. deadgod

      You don’t know what ‘cherry-pick’ means, do you. I quoted those words to emphasize what they’d already been chosen to emphasize (and which I take to be wrong-minded).

      I whole-heartedly dislike the dilution of sensitivity to mistreatment by its careless accusation. That is my brief, counsellor.

      You really don’t see the connection between Seth’s “icky white people”–however poor you find it–and that batch of tweets? Here’s an enabling nexus: four years of sleazy Faux seals barking and clapping and–after 30 years of Ronnie and Hanoi George–calling Obama “lazy” and “stupid”.

      It’s enough to whiten the knuckles of even patient, steady people. What America’s trashy right-wing shit does to “little prick[s]”? Well.

      Clamoring for the push for someone on a platform is saying ‘shut up’. –which, on an open, public forum, is fine. Someone wants to say ‘shut up’ and not be that guy? Being that that guy is fine, too.

      I trust you find this post healthily aggressive-aggressive.

  29. deadgod

      Truly, I hate to run second behind anyone in a stampede to take offense, but I just haven’t been offended by Seth’s giggling-regicide act. (Maybe a little by the creeping superciliousness–especially in the dimness of thoroughly assimilating the Shoah to Western bourgeois life.)

      I mean, Dolly Dress-up with… Anne Frank? …because she has it coming?? or ‘we’ do. I think ‘we’ probably do have it coming, though a more artful attack, I’d prefer.

      Again: “sadness” makes perfect sense (though, on my part, I’m sure it curdles into wrath too easily).

      There’s some nearly incredible material on twitter; that Erik Rush tweet stopped me for a second. And I hear it in bars pretty often.

      Hey! …maybe the rwnj poison is ALL Oelbaum satire! An Aristophanes behind every megaphone!


  30. mimi

      deaders –
      i haven’t been particularly offended by seth’s ‘artsy’ but weak, affect-saturated baby-rants – and i too would prefer more artful, and less dim, offerings
      do ‘we’ have it coming? well, i don’t think I have it coming, but i see your point
      me, offense was taken at the rwnjobbery exhibited in those tumblr’d tweets
      i try to contain my reaction in my sadness container – but also experience (‘feel’) the curdling of it into anger, frustration, … ‘helplessness’
      but i also think that if one fights the anger and frustration and instead tries to turn that energy toward ‘the good fight’, well, then that’s a better turn (instead of escaping into bread v. toast-ery)

  31. Guest

      Um, what? How about I shove my pitchfork up your groveling, ass-kissing behind?

      –and you can relax your grip on asinine words like “blogicle” if you want to be taken seriously.

      “Substance” is rhetorically shaped by “delivery,” and vice versa. I never suggested the two were inseparable because I assumed you would understand they are not. And, as others have said, his points are so tangential they often contain bits of obvious truths arranged so sloppily and lacking obvious sincerity that no one can take him or his points seriously.

      –except you, of course, as you’ve managed to assign yourself the twin duties of Seth’s “Blogicle” Editor and Publicist. Hey dipshit, guess what? Any writer who can’t express his ideas clearly and maturely and needs YOU to rewrite or explain all of his ideas for him is probably a shitty ass writer.

  32. Jeremy Hopkins

      $.02 — Seems like people here would prefer to discuss “writing” over discussing “sociology.” They either call Seth a dick or a bad writer, and if there’s even a mention of what he might be trying to get across with his posts, it’s of a lesser importance to this crowd than his style or method.

  33. Guest

      When people call him a bad writer, I’m pretty sure they are aware of the intimate relationship between style and content and assume others understand this relationship. It’s typically covered in Freshman Composition classes.

  34. Guest

      *never suggested the two were separable.

  35. A D Jameson

      Tim JY would seem to disagree with you.

  36. deadgod

      Other hand to wipe your chin, champ–or you’ll poke an eye out.

      Maybe get help with “ass-kissing behind”. I mean, editorially.

      Here’s another new word for you: n e o l o g i s m . Check it out!

      You said, “[A] message is shaped by its delivery, and […] people are reacting against the childish delivery[.]”

      Now was the time for the ‘form and content are inseparable’ distraction: well played!

      With what of Seth’s substance do you quarrel? I anticipate a clear and mature response…

  37. Guest

      Congrats on your neologism that only distracts and draws needless attention to your persona’s cleverness.

      What don’t you understand? Distraction? The style is so obviously adolescent, trollish, and insincere that it clouds any meaningful substance. You will not receive a “clear and mature response” from me because Seth’s writing doesn’t invite such a response in the first place.

  38. Guest

      Furthermore, using false equivalencies to state the
      obvious–when the obvious can be stated without the false equivalencies–adds nothing to meaningful discourse on these issues. It’s also highly unoriginal and you, given your profession, should have higher standards when choosing what clients to represent. Are you as ambitious as your client? Your client’s primary evidence is how people respond to certain tragedies on Facebook and Twitter—hardly a sophisticated and convincing metric. Your client also enjoys condemning, from his soapbox, others for their social media behavior yet never implicates himself in said behavior when the evidence against him is damning. Finally, please advise your client to stop talking full-length selfies of himself in his junior-sized PJs with his smartphone.

  39. A D Jameson

      Guys, if you fight, it’s only Seth who wins.

      Plus you’ll also upset your tummies, and then not enjoy all the snacky-yums at Mr. and Mrs. Fuzzles’s birthday tea party.

  40. Jeremy Hopkins

      He may be right to. It appears to me that the responses to this guy’s posts are of a limited few varieties, which seems telling of those who read them, or of the more restrictive set: those who read them and comment. What does the rest of the world think? We know not, for they pass by without so much as up/down-vote or avatar update.

  41. Jeremy Hopkins

      By referring to “Freshman Comp.” are you saying Seth doesn’t understand “the intimate relationship between style and content,” or that I don’t?

      Are you (Guest) the “joined at the hip”-guy? The two may have a relationship, but, however intimate they are, they remain two things. Siamese twins are two people, not one. If you tell one they have bad breath, you are not telling them both they have bad breath. The second may indeed have bad breath, or may take offense at your statement, but you do not automatically address them both by addressing one.

  42. Jeremy Hopkins

      I voted me down, too.

  43. Jeremy Hopkins

      “I think sweet little bon mots are very much the point, style trumps ideological coherence in Seth’s performance, I think that is something people have often missed here in how they react to him.”

      Is this^ what you’re referring to?

  44. A D Jameson

      Yes, I should have included a link. I keep forgetting that the Current Seth Debate is raging across two comments sections.

  45. A D Jameson

      I voted your comment up.

  46. Guest

      You seem perpetually obtuse. Maybe you’re just young, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Anyway, when people say he’s a shitty writer, there’s a good chance they are referring to both style and content, and/or how the troll style undermines the latter. Considering the typical audience for this blog–a literary one–a person should be able to say, “he’s a shitty writer,” without you assuming they are not also somehow referring to “sociology.”

  47. A D Jameson

      I voted you down, too.

  48. Jeremy Hopkins

      You seem convinced that slapdash words in a rectangular field can convey your intent (or that people already know your intent).
      I am not concerned with Freshman Comp. You are.

  49. Jeremy Hopkins

      I guess I could reply they might not be “missing” them so much as ignoring them in favor of getting mad about stuff.

  50. Guest

      Maybe if you’d paid attention in Freshman Comp you’d understand that “he’s a shitty writer” in this context can easily address the relationship between style and content, as well as audience. More so, maybe you should also realize that people are considering dude’s posting history–the well-established patterns in his work by now– so that saying “he’s a shitty writer” is not merely response to one specific post in a vacuum, .but please continue your feigned obtuseness routine.

  51. A D Jameson

      As I’ve said a few times now (and will probably now stop saying), Seth makes it easy for people to miss the point.

      The trajectory here seems obvious to me. Seth will keep putting up posts like this one, seeking to provoke people. He may get better at it or he may not. People, thus provoked, will chime in in the comments, calling him a racist and a bad writer and arguing that he should be dropped from this site. This will continue until Seth stops writing for this site, for whatever reason (boredom, moving on to another site, tummy trouble, sleepiness).

      It’s all about Seth at this point. He’s no doubt the happiest person in the room.

  52. Brendan Connell

      Well, the big problem is, that the artist doesn’t actually exist. Most people just assume the pose but can’t write the prose (add sampled duck sound here). I think Seth is a fake eccentric. But I do look forward to reading about the always on…. I am fairly suspicious of the always on as generally it is a sign of a mental disorder rather than any especial skill.

  53. Brendan Connell

      Bro, you are writing more like Seth every minute. Maybe you could get a position to write for his blog? I am sure your knuckles are white for other reasons than lack of patience.

  54. Brendan Connell

      Yeah, I will continue to comment on the threads already started, but will not on future Seth posts. It’s been fun, but my deadlines are probably more important…:)

  55. A D Jameson

      I am working on some of that writing as we speak…which is why I am following the comments being made here out of the corner of my eye. (I’m writing and saving drafts of the post here.)

      To put this question or concern in greater context: this semester sees me finishing my course work at UIC, and starting to prepare for my exams. Part of that work consists of a paper addressing the notion that the “the true artist is always on.” Behind that, I think, lurks Cage’s notion that it is the task of the artist to “erase the difference between art and life.” I’m curious as to why that idea has had the currency and influence that it’s had.

      Behind Cage’s notion lurks the idea that the artist should be as unconscious as possible of artistic production. One sees that commitment in Cage’s chance techniques, in conceptual art’s devotion to the concept, even in the New Sincerity’s commitment to appearing as unedited, as unrefined as possible. Or as Dean Young put it: “We’re trying to make birds, not birdhouses.” The artist should simply be, and live and breathe art. The artist should shit art. Above all else, artistic production should not be thought.

      This is, I think, a commitment to irrationality, and I’m curious as to why art has become so synced up with the irrational.

  56. Brendan Connell

      I think though, pardon my idea, that Cage was also a wee bit of a poseur. I mean, he gets a lot of credit for things he copied from true eccentrics, but I question whether he himself was an eccentric. In other words, to me it is more imitation art. Seth is more like someone imitating the imitation of the imitation.

  57. A D Jameson

      I don’t think Cage was a poseur. I’ve been studying his work pretty closely for the past 15+ years now (although others know it far better than I do), and he seems to have been entirely committed to his ideals. That said, his ideals contain numerous inconsistencies and contradictions, which have long fascinated me. Indeed, I think the #1 problem with Cage today is that too many take him too much as his word. He’s become St. Cage, which I imagine would greatly trouble him. To take him seriously, I’d argue, is to engage those inconsistencies.

      I’ll add here that Kyle Gann’s recent book on 4’33” is brilliant and well worth reading.

  58. Brendan Connell

      Well, maybe not poseur, but—4’33” was something he copied from a Frenchman…so maybe a poseur.

  59. A D Jameson

      Oh ho ho. Which Frenchman? Cage claimed to have composed 4’33” on his own—though he admitted there were influences and precedents. Again, Gann’s book struck me as quite good.

  60. Brendan Connell

      Alphonse Allais. It is pretty clear. Also because Cage did say he was influenced by Satie and a few others, there is just no way he was unaware of Allais’s composition. Just as Duchamp ripped off Allais. I am sure Gann’s book is interesting… I guess though, if you read much about guys like Allais and Satie, it makes later people like Cage seem very unoriginal. But Satie also is generally not much known – I mean his music is, but his ideas much less so.

  61. A D Jameson

      Ah, right. Allais. It’s possible that Gann mentions him. I read the book a few years ago now, and sometimes my memory isn’t the greatest. In fact, I should even claim to have read it. I walk back my claims about its quality!

      What I find most remarkable about Cage’s Silent Piece, though, is the fact that it isn’t silent at all (as many have noted)—as well as Cage’s use of chance operations in composing it. (But Gann has a more thorough reading of the work. 100 pages worth!)

      I’m also entirely for people ripping each other off—which is part of why I’m not a conceptual artist, although I have a certain fondness for conceptual art.

      J’adore Satie. Though I also haven’t listened to him in a while. I’ve been too busy listening to Greg Sage and the Wipers.

  62. Brendan Connell

      Oh, I don’t mean that Cage is a bad egg. I just mean that, at heart, I am not sure he is a true eccentric. It does certainly play into the whole thing about Seth and being always on etc. Cage also had a lot of talent, so I am not denying that. The difference with people like him and earlier people like Satie however is that the latter really was an eccentric. In other words, he truly did not do what he did because of any particular influence, but because the things sprang from within him. As such, he also had access to certain subliminal places that were unique. And though his music sounds serious, it really was almost, for him, more like a game, or trick… But, because of people like him and countless others, mostly who lived somewhat before modern art really became mainstream and began to be taught in universities etc, we now have a lot of people who learn about eccentricity via established education rather than through insanity or primordial contact – and I am unsure if this is a good thing.

  63. Jeremy Hopkins

      Please do not try anymore to alchemize your doubts into my benefit if this is the result.

  64. Guest

      I have no idea what that means and I doubt you do either.

  65. Jeremy Hopkins


      Courage, friend.

  66. deadgod

      Oh. You ask how right-wing racial vituperation could be context for Seth’s get-whitey Jolson because you haven’t read Seth’s blogicles.

      In this regard, it’s Musil’s librarian who’s the true “eccentric”, yes?

  67. deadgod

      Pretty sure Seth’s social-media selfie career is all about interacting not with me, but with you, Javert.

      Clarity and maturity aren’t imparted by an object of attention, Inspector; they evince the character of attention itself.

      What, of what Seth has posted here, do you disagree with in principle? Not in detail–I get and agree with objecting to his carelessness–, but what does he say that’s wrong in principle?

  68. Brendan Connell

      I think I’ve “read” his blogicle. (What is a blogicle?)…. My shelves are lined with half-read Musil books. Unfortunately, Germans, Austrians and Swiss have never really been good at being eccentrics. Handke almost managed, but then dropped the ball. I suppose the only real one was Richter (the writer)….

  69. A D Jameson

      Oh, I get you now. No, I don’t think Cage was all that eccentric. I don’t even know if he wanted to be an eccentric—not the way Nerval or Satie or Duchamp was. I don’t know if the US even has that same kind of dandy/flaneur eccentric tradition. Cage was more like…Henry Cowell? Idiosyncratic?

      Gann says some interesting things in his book about Cage’s temperament. Apparently when he was younger, Cage had something of a short temper—he was fussy and easily annoyed. (I’m paraphrasing Gann’s claims from flawed memory, mind you.) He was uptight. But then at some point—I think when he got to Wesleyan?—his attitude totally changed, and he became the jovial laughing guru we now see when we picture him. Don’t trust me on this point, though.

      One remarkable fact that I do know about Cage, and one that I never get tired of repeating, is that Cage was 39 when Christian Wolff gave him a copy of the I Ching. Wolff was 17. In other words, Cage was the kind of 39-year-old who was willing to let himself be deeply influenced by a 17-year-old. That takes real humility. I find that inspiring.

  70. Brendan Connell

      Yes, great story about the I Ching….

      I think Burroughs though was a sort of American eccentric…Neal Cassady definitely was….

  71. A D Jameson

      You are right. I take back my comment of there not being a US tradition! … I guess the point is that Cage’s commitment to erasing the difference between life and art strikes me as different from, say, Marcel Duchamp’s commitment. Duchamp was operating more in the tradition of the flaneur. Cage was operating more out of a Zen Buddhist conception. Though of course I’m speaking very broadly here. But the issue strikes me as an interesting one. I’m planning to spend some time in the coming months / years working through the logic underlying those respective arguments and traditions.

  72. A D Jameson
  73. Guest

      Are you serious? How about the racial angle, which makes no sense and is completely out of left field.

      And while it’s true that Americans often don’t care about violence in third-world countries that implicate “America,” it’s also true that people in general will react more strongly to violence in their own backyards, so writing this post in response to people reaction to the events in the heat of the moment proves nothing, really.

  74. Jeremy Hopkins

      I’ve been working on this response for two whole days. [Not really, but I’ve already done what drinking I’ll do for the night and am now bored. I’m making this clear.]

  75. Guest

      I can’t believe it took me this long to figure out: Seth Oelbaum is HTMLGIANT’s version of Westboro Baptist Church.

  76. Don

      I don’t get it though. Why would a website want to have someone writing anti-semitic posts? Would other types of racism be okay?

  77. A D Jameson

      Hi Don,

      It’s not up to me whether Seth posts here. I’m also not convinced he’s anti-Semitic, though I also think his real values/commitments are obscure. I get the impression he’s trying to be satirical, and just bad at it.

      Best wishes,

  78. Don

      I don’t understand how there’s any doubt about his posts and comments being anti-semitic. I guess a lot of people don’t understand what anti-semitism is and how it functions as an ideology because he’s pretty text-book.

      There is no evidence that he’s being satirical. His comments are consistent and earnest.

  79. A D Jameson

      I have no interest in serving as an apologist for Seth. But I don’t think it’s obvious that he’s being anti-Semitic, and arguments like the ones you’re making do nothing to convince me. If you have a case, make it, don’t claim it’s obvious / call me ignorant for not seeing it. Cheers, Adam

  80. Don

      Okay. Here is the basic argument.

      Seth writes: “Until Hitler and his boys seized the spotlight the Jews’ lives resembled those of American humans: they dined out, took vacations, ran factories, operated department stores, and practiced medicine, law, and banking. Their value and American human’s value share the same source — money.”

      This comment is a standard anti-Semitic trope: identifying Jews as the personification of money. Moishe Postone has written articles about how the identification of Jews with finance capital is the meeting point of left and right-wing anti-semitism.

      Of course, his vision of pre-Shoah European Jewry is only a Stalinist/Nazi caricature and has no relation to history. This article is a helpful corrective: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/nov/11/worst-madness/

      He writes again: “Extracted from their monetized value, the Jews were subject to the type of treatment that non-American humans get on a consistent basis.”

      Here Seth toys with a kind of soft holocaust denial. Nowhere in the world – even in the Congo – are “non-American humans” being subjected to death camps on a consistent basis. The only way for this statement to be true is if the Shoah is minimized or denied entirely.

      And a third thing: “I am considerably curious why the Congolese deaths, though, obviously, attracting some attention, don’t gain nearly as much heed as those of the Jews. Where is the big Hollywood blockbuster about what’s occurring in the Congo? Why isn’t there a museum in Washington dedicated to them? If American humans — the very ones who switched their FB profiles to equal signs to support LGBTQ marriage — were as concerned about equality and fairness as they say are then why aren’t they utterly distraught about the lost lives? I think about this inconstant reaction a lot, and right now it seems to me that the Jews receive VIP treatment in the Victim Section due, though not exclusively, to their correlation to American human’s way of life.”

      As I noted before, the phrase “VIP treatment in the Victim Section” is disgusting. Hollywood movies and a fucking museum are little consolation after the destruction of an entire civilization (European Jewry). But the subtext here is pretty typically anti-Semitic: Jews get special privileges because they control Hollywood or the government or something like that… that Jews are actually in charge of everything. Seth argues that we ought not to have empathy for Jews or remember the Shoah because Jews are powerful, wealthy Americans (and thus “deserve” what they get, if I understand his response to the Boston bombing correctly).

      All of this taken together with what he wrote about Anne Frank paints a pretty clear picture. The Anne Frank thing on its own could’ve been a very poorly executed art/satire thing, but in light of his subsequent posts and comments, I think it’s just part of his ideology generally.

      I don’t think I should have had to write all this out, but there you go. He checks nearly every box on the anti-semitism checklist, and I imagine he’ll just keep checking more if he keeps writing.

  81. A D Jameson

      Hi Don,

      I really appreciate this; thank you. I wish others accusing Seth of being anti-Semitic would make the same effort. Because I tend to think that nothing is self-evident (nor should it be), and that whenever one wants to make an accusation or criticism, one should always write it out. Writing it out is what matters.

      The passages you quote from Seth, it seems to me, are direct references to Karl Marx’s “On the Jewish Question,” which I would guess Seth read in college. For instance:

      Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist. Money degrades all the gods of man – and turns them into commodities. Money is the universal self-established value of all things. It has, therefore, robbed the whole world – both the world of men and nature – of its specific value. Money is the estranged essence of man’s work and man’s existence, and this alien essence dominates him, and he worships it.

      The god of the Jews has become secularized and has become the god of the world. The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange.

      Marx’s essay (published in 1844) remains deeply problematic even to this day. Many interpret it as the beginnings of Marx’s commitment to materialism, but of course it seems rather anti-Semitic. However, that is still debated.

      And I would imagine Seth knows that? It seems to me unimaginable that someone would encounter this essay in college (a common occurrence) without also encountering some discussion of that very issue—although, who knows? (For example, when my Victorian Literature seminar read this essay earlier this semester, we spent about 20 minutes of class time discussing the essay’s purported anti-Semitism).

      This is a complicated point, and I don’t say that to excuse away any of the essay’s offensiveness. But at the same time, the essay’s meaning is still being debated today, and has been debated for 150+ years by many intelligent people. It seems to me somewhat arrogant of us if we think we have the answer now.

      Similarly, it seems to me that Seth’s argument, while not as sophisticated as Marx’s, is anything but transparent. And I don’t say that out of some kind of moral relativity—I’m hardly that kind of person—but a genuine uncertainty as to what Seth is trying to accomplish by invoking Marx. (That said, Seth strikes me as having rather a shallow/superficial understanding of Marx. And he strikes me as an arrogant son of a bitch who has little empathy or compassion for other people, and little to no respect for his readers.)

      As I’ve said/implied elsewhere, my reading of Seth (still evolving) is that he’s a recent MFA grad who read some Marx and Hannah Arendt etc. while at Notre Dame, and who had his consciousness expanded, and who now fancies himself a masterful satirist who’s going to educate others about those topics. Which is stupid of him, though it’s hardly the worst offense.

      (If I’m right about this, it’s because I was once that same person myself. And perhaps I still am?)

      Also, if I’m wrong, I’m wrong; I’ll be happy to admit it. And I do think that if Seth is trying to do what I think he is, he is failing at it. (Try harder, Seth! Learn from this experience! Don’t just double down!) (Or, go ahead and do whatever you want; don’t listen to me!)

      Failure is definitely one way to get better at something. I appreciate the fact that HTMLGiant lets me try out my ideas here, and, for the time being at least, I think Seth should also be afforded that opportunity. But, as I said above, it’s also not up to me whether he writes here, so that’s easy enough for me to say.


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  83. Don

      Your response doesn’t deal with the most disturbing thing in Seth’s writing, which is his ideas about the Shoah.

      The problem is that anti-semitism isn’t taken seriously. If Seth had written the equivalent to what he wrote but was expressing anti-black racism (for example), I don’t think there would be any need to parse out what is so obvious (he also wouldn’t still be posting here). But anti-semitism, when expressed using left-wing lingo, is socially acceptable in left/liberal/subcultural circles… or at least considered ‘up for debate’. It’s too bad.

  84. A D Jameson


      It seems to me Seth’s comments about Jews receiving “VIP treatment in the Victims Section” etc. aren’t critiques of Jews exclusively, but of anyone and everyone who would privilege Jewish suffering over any other human suffering. So if I see Schindler’s List and feel sorry for the Jews, then ignore the current suffering in the Congo, I would be the person Seth is decrying. And I’m a white Irish-American who was raised Roman Catholic.

      That seems to me the core of Seth’s message (“Westerners tend to privilege their own suffering”). If I’m right (and I might not be), then I don’t really see how Seth’s being anti-Semitic, or how I’m not taking anti-Semitism seriously by reading him in that fashion. If anything, it seems to me Seth is making a pretty familiar post-colonial argument, though I might be biased because I encounter that argument just about every day at the university I attend.

      If I’m right, then what would the equivalent be regarding white/black relations? It seems to me that Seth would claim something like, “The US is currently oversensitive to instances of racism against blacks, but insensitive to racism against other underprivileged groups,” or something of the sort. And of course people have made arguments like that. For instance, that was the force of Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s critique when they made this.

      Again, Seth strikes me as someone who took some post-colonialism courses at Notre Dame, and who now wants to tell the world what he learned. Strangely, he comes across as an obnoxious jerk who has little sympathy or empathy for other people, Jewish or otherwise. He seems to me more a misanthrope than anti-Semitic.

      That’s assuming of course that I’m even reading Seth properly. You seem to think his writing is transparent. But the fact that you and I are reading him differently—and that people have been arguing over his crap for a while now—implies that it’s not so transparent.

      Anyway, my basic point is that anyone who wants to accuse Seth of anti-Semitism would do well to actually make the argument, rather than saying things like “it’s obvious” or “anyone who can’t see it is insensitive to the Holocaust.” etc. (Can you tell I teach freshman comp?)


  85. Don

      If you think the American approach to Jewish suffering is a case of “Westerners tend[ing] to privilege their own suffering”, then you, like Seth, have got it all backwards (the Shoah was primarily directed against Jews in the East who were not considered part of “the West”, and the Allied states did nothing to prevent the mass murder). It’s difficult to have these conversations without giving a Jewish history lesson.

      Seth’s statement – “Extracted from their monetized value, the Jews were subject to the type of treatment that non-American humans get on a consistent basis” – can be read two ways. Either non-American humans are subjected to death camps and (attempted) extermination “on a consistent basis” OR Jews in Europe were not. As the former is obviously not true, even in the case of the Congolese or Sudanese wars, then the sentence can only be read as an attempt to deny or minimize the Shoah. Next to his flippant writing about Anne Frank or his celebration of suicide bombing, Seth’s anti-semitism is clear. It was certainly clear to all the people I showed it to.

      I agree with you that he is a misanthrope, but his fixation/obsession with Jewish suffering is not a coincidence. Celine was also a misanthrope, but his misanthropy didn’t get in the way of his being anti-semitic.

  86. A D Jameson

      Hi Don,

      I haven’t said anything about how I regard Jewish suffering. Please don’t confuse me with Seth. And note that I think Seth is being unsuccessful at what he’s trying to say/do. I’ve written that repeatedly on this site so I won’t rehash it all here.

      If you think Seth’s message/anti-Semitism is clear, fine, but I remain unconvinced myself. Perhaps I’m obtuse, but FWIW I come by it honestly.


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      This is pathetic

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