When thinking about the terrorism by white supremacists in Charlottesville yesterday, it’s easy to overlook one aspect of they’re hateful chants: Why were they also chanting anti-Jewish slogans? 

It’s natural to mell this in with their other racist and xenophobic chants. Yet, the protest was organized around the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. What does this have to do with Jews and Judaism? A lot, apparently. According to this article in Ha’aretz, white supremacy and anti-Semitism have a long and inter-twined history. 

At the root of American white supremacy is the belief that white, Christian males are being “replaced” as a majority in America by other racial ethnicities, religions and genders. This outrages white supremacists, and since that outrage needs to be directed somewhere, Jews and racial minorities are easy, visible targets. 

But what does it really mean to be “replaced?” It means that white, Christian males no longer have a stranglehold on stable, good-paying jobs. An easily identified culprit is those who are seemingly now occupying these jobs, e.g. immigrants, women, Jews and other non-white, non-Christian groups. The real culprit, though, is Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AI is replacing jobs at an unprecedented rate, and will make the Industrial Revolution seem like child’s play in comparison. The best solution we have right now to disappearing jobs is a Universal Basic Income, where robots do all the mundane jobs and humans are free to either do interesting, creative work or not work at all. But as anyone who has read the exceptional writings of Calum Chace or William Hertling can tell you, in a future with billions of people well-fed and taking art classes all day, it is easy to imagine that those same people will also lack a sense of purpose, which will breed discontent and unrest (similar to large swaths of unemployment).

Seeing where this discontent could be leading, I was originally going to segue this blog post into a discussion of Jews in Europe leading up to World War II. The “smart people” got out before it got too bad to leave: Einstein, Freud, Fermi, Chagall. And thus, I was going to conclude, maybe it’s high time to flee America, as well. After all, every empire crumbles, and the people who survive are those who got out before the impending collapse.

But the AI Revolution is going to be all-encompassing. It will not leave any safe refuges that are unaffected by AI. To be sure, things are going to get worse before they get better. In America, things will almost certainly get worse for non-white, non-Christian, non-males in the immediate future. Although I sometimes feel powerless in the face of America’s current administration and seemingly hate-filled zeitgeist, it is more important than ever to remember the power that every individual yields:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead (probably)

Sometimes, yes, when a relationship is going sour, the best solution isn’t to try and repair it, but rather make a clean exit. In this case, however, there is nowhere to go. If you’re feeling powerless and frustrated today, do something about it. 2 things I’m doing:

  1. Even though I live in a very liberal Congressional district, I’m not too far away from a handful of toss-up, currently Republican districts. I’d bet that your state Democratic party would be happy to have your help right now.
  2. Go to a protest event tonight. The best counterattack to a hate-filled protest is a peace-filled protest right afterwards, that is 100 times larger. You can look up local events here.