Simcha Fisher Finds Anti-Semitism Where It Isn’t — Which Keeps Us From Seeing It Where It Is

A stained glass window from Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels, depicting the antisemitic legend of Jews stealing sacramental bread.

By Peter Wolfgang Published on December 9, 2018

The work of the popular blogger Simcha Fisher has always struck me as a complicated topic. There is Simcha the pro-life feminist, Simcha the humorist, Simcha the relationship advice columnist, Simcha the Catholic who is also a Jew, and yes, Simcha the potty-mouthed working class gal. 

Much of that work is good. Indeed, surprisingly good, if you know her only by her reputation in the conservative Catholic blogosphere. Simcha will defend “Baby, it’s cold outside” against the silly claim that it’s a rape song. She will offer spot-on advice for young couples struggling with Natural Family Planning. She will speak for the unborn with eloquence. Her criticism of Pope Francis packs a punch precisely because of her reputation, because you expect her to defend him.

At her best she is a modern Catholic version of 20th century motherhood comedian Erma Bombeck or one of Bombeck’s present-day successors. At her not-so-best she is our Roseanne Barr.

 And at her worst she can paint her targets with a broad brush, slurring well-meaning people on scant evidence. Simcha can write, for instance, that President Trump’s attempts to fight crime by illegal aliens will lead to an American Kristallnacht. Or that Ben Carson hates the poor.

Or that Catholics don’t care about anti-Semitism. I have to say, as a fellow “Catholic of Jewish origin,” I don’t see it.

The Stupid Tweet

Catholic News Service stupidly tweeted a photo that was the opposite of what they intended to convey and then compounded the offense with two inadequate apologies. The Jewish writer David P. Goldman called it a “well-meaning but awkward tweet.” Yet that tweet-gone-wrong somehow becomes a jumping-off point for Simcha to explain how almost any critic who ever referenced her Jewishness or George Soros is an anti-Semite. And that there is some large undiscussed undertow of anti-Semitism among Catholics in general. 

CNS’s clumsy apologies leave Simcha with “a dreary certainty that CNS learned the lesson ‘Jewish people are touchy.’” How she is so certain of this she does not explain, but knowing CNS, it doesn’t seem likely. She insists that Catholics look the other way on anti-Semitism “if the antisemite does other good things or is an effective fundraiser for Catholic causes.”

 Simcha says that Catholic News Agency (a entirely separate group) had been informed that the name Soros “is shorthand in the United States for ‘evil Jewish influence.’” Nonetheless, it kept this “anti-semitic dogwhistle” in a story. “There are so many Catholics of bad will,” Simcha says (the emphasis is hers). “I don’t like guilt by association,” she tells us. But she engages in quite a bit of it:

I am exhausted. I am exhausted with extending good will where it is neither desired nor deserved. I am exhausted with taking the high road, telling myself people simply didn’t know any better, they simply travel in different circles, they simply don’t realize what it’s like to be Jewish. I am exhausted with arguing with myself over whether I’m overreacting or not, whether I’ll make things better or worse by saying something.

Granted, Simcha’s gig is different than mine. She and I attract different types of attention. So I’m not accusing her of making it all up, unfair as she was to CNS.

Catholics the Only Ones

That is not to say that I have never experienced anti-Semitism from Catholics. (My father was Jewish, though I was raised in my mother’s Catholic faith.) In fact, they’re the only ones from whom I’ve ever experienced it. As the head of a socially conservative ecumenical organization, I represent people from all walks of life: Evangelicals, Mormons, secularists, etc. None of them have ever breathed a word of Jew-hatred to me. 

Quite the opposite. The Evangelicals treat you as if you’re descended from royalty. I even have a little bit of a mystique among some of them owing to the persistent-but-false rumor that I’m a convert from Judaism. (I’m not. My Dad’s Jewish, but we were raised in the Catholic faith of my mother.)

Ah, but my fellow Catholics. Yes, I have seen it there.

Here’s the thing, though. I remember those episodes because they were the exceptions. I’ve only experienced it among a few Catholics on the outer fringe of the Tea Party movement and some (by no means most or even many) Latin Mass Catholics. The latter, I really want to underline, were a minority-within-a-minority. That’s not been my experience of most of the Latin Mass crowd. 

As for the former, there was this one really ugly episode about four years ago. I screenshot it, wrote a long post in response, and it sits there today on my Facebook under the “Only Me” privacy setting. No one has ever seen my post on it except my wife and a friend.

“I have never felt like a victim of anti-semitism in my life … until today,” reads the first sentence. Which, again, gives away how unusual it was. My organization’s political action committee had endorsed one candidate and not another many conservatives supported. Here’s one typical response: “It’s all about $$ … Wolfgang can shove it! $$$$hungry phoney…”. They might as well just have said what they were thinking: Wolfgang’s a Jew.

Fisher v. Ruse

Unfortunately, I can attest to the fact that some Catholics hate Jews. But I can’t go along with Simcha’s generalizations, which I don’t think she comes close to supporting. I can’t speak to every episode she mentions to make her case. But I do remember the one involving Austin Ruse. Simcha’s accusations of anti-Semitism on Austin’s part are ludicrous.

Simcha doesn’t mention that she and Austin had a subsequent exchange on her Facebook page in which he said he did not mean to imply that she was on Soros’ dime. He’d included reference to her work, in an article on attacks on conservative Catholic colleges that were actually funded by a Soros group. He told her he would ask Crisis‘s editor to clarify the point. When Austin mentioned this on her facebook page she took down her comment accusing him of anti-Semitism. 

And yet, here we are again, with Simcha accusing Austin of anti-Semitism largely because he is a critic of George Soros. Simcha ignores the fact that Soros is criticized by many — including me — because he is a leftist who attacks some of the bedrocks of Western civilization. He is not always criticized because he is Jewish, a faith with which neither he nor many of his critics identify him.

Yes, for some his name is a dog-whistle for “Jew.” But for most conservatives, it’s a symbol for “Very, very rich leftwing foreigner who uses his money to influence American politics.” Soros functions for them exactly the same way the Koch brothers do for leftists.

A Real Thing

The rise in anti-Semitism is a real thing. The hatred of Jews is ugly, vile, frightening, and you can find it in fringe Catholic circles. I know that from my own experience. Verbal violence can encourage physical violence. Pittsburgh was a real thing.

But elevating well-meaning but idiotic tweets to the same level as real anti-semitism distracts us from fighting the real hatred of Jews. So does generalizing from the tweets and a few bits of doubtful evidence to widespread anti-semitism among Catholics. 

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  • Skay

    My understanding is that Soros is an atheist and a globalist who is using his wealth to promote open borders and one world government through the UN. He is a very large donor to the Democrat Party.
    My problem with him is his ideology–certainly not his Jewish heritage.

    • Au naturel

      Yes, this whole dust- up is silly. Why is greed only possible for Jewish people? I thought it was a cardinal sin for ALL. Both Fisher and Wolfgang seem to hate themselves and projecting on to others.

  • Craig Roberts

    I love Simcha Fisher. She’s so funny. Even when she’s not trying to be. I feel sorry for her sometimes though. It must be really “exhausting” being a shining beacon of Christian charity in a sea of haters. :/

  • Jeanmarie DeCoster

    Thanks for a well-balanced and reasonable piece on the issue of being well-balanced and reasonable when evaluating people’s comments and the danger of jumping to wrong conclusions. Yes, tragically there exists some anti-Jewish sentiment among some few Catholics, but when a person has legitimate concerns over strong-armed and well-funded manipulations into the social order by a stealthy billionaire of questionable intentions, it can only be fairly concluded that such a person is anti-Soros, not anti-Semite. One can have reasonable cause to be dubious about an individual based on his actions, but that doesn’t mean one has developed a sweeping dislike for an entire group of people. That’s a wrong and unfair conclusion.

  • I never associate Soros with Judaism. Is he even a believer in God? I haven’t read Simcha in a long time, and I did like reading her at one time. But I did notice she flies off the handle every so often. Her over reaction does not surprise me.

  • Donald Hennen

    It’s clear that she’s got a chip on her shoulder. Calling a political candidate money hungry is an antisemitic reference? Really? I don’t think anyone seriously believes that greedy = Jewish. Sure, there’s a stereotype, but it could easily be that someone calling a Jewish candidate money hungry is doing so, not because the candidate is Jewish, but because he’s money hungry.

    As for George Soros, he could be any ethnicity or any religion, and the same people who oppose him now would still oppose him. He’s evil for what he does, not for what he is. He’s made a fortune, not by providing something people want, but by parasitically timing and manipulating markets. He’s made deals in those markets that literally broke the bank in many countries. He uses that fortune to buy riots and fund social changes in countries that don’t want them. He’s a Utopian schemer pushing his schemes on society as did the Communists and Fascists of the previous century.

    Take it from someone who’s not a Jew and never has been. Most people like whom they like and dislike whom they dislike and go months without ever thinking of or caring whether anyone’s a Jew.

  • Soros is being judged on his behavior, and his behavior is at odds with Judiasm anyways, so what would be the point of antisemitism? The antisemitism angle is only used by people who include that with every argument. In other words, she is overreacting to people who have a preexisting condition who are fringe players.

    • Craig Roberts

      Some would say Simcha is a ‘fringe player’ and it would be better to ignore her.

  • Andrew

    This is way too simplistic. Satan tries to stir up hatred against Jews whenever possible. The enemy will turn anyone against Jews—especially Jews, tragically enough. The problem is not that some groups hate Jews, or that any group is uniquely guilty of some hate perspective. We’re all guilty, tempted or subject to sins like these.

  • DebraBrunsberg

    I have always thought that Soros is an evil entity, using his great wealth to destroy all that is good. However, until I read this piece, I never knew he was Jewish. I cannot see him being a spokesperson for the Jewish faith or any faith. I lost interest in Simcha a long time ago because her vulgarity and anger was not entertaining. Her and Mark Shea seemed to get caught up in their own egos and ended up losing all validity as Catholic writers and of course, their jobs. I see Simcha hasn’t changed.

  • brbg

    If Soros is Jewish, he certainly is a bad Jew. We Catholics appreciate the Jews as our older brothers in faith. Jesus and all His apostles were Jews, for heaven’s sake!

    • Fr. J.

      Was a Christ a Jew? Maybe it’s better to distinguish: according to the flesh (His Sacred Humanity) and specifically His ancestry, yes; according to His Person, no.

      Even under the aspect of His human nature, He was not Jewish in observance of the Law, not fully, anyway. He perfected and amplified it, and He brought all that was a prefiguring of Himself to a close, e.g. the sacrifices.

      • kenneth20754

        Um, the human and the divine natures of Christ are united in the one Person of Christ. So according to his Person, yes, he was and is Jewish. “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a [Jewish] woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)

        • Fr. J.

          Kenneth,

          I don’t think you understand what “distinguish” means. We all know that the union is in the Person. Your little exegesis adds nothing. (Harsh, but true.) So, maybe go back and read what I wrote the first time: it’s better to distinguish.

          • kenneth20754

            Fr. Nestorius: I quite understand the meaning of the word “distinguish,” thank you ever so. And it may well be that “we” all know that the union of the natures of Christ is in his Person, but it was not at all clear to me from your comment above that *you* do, hence my response. I greatly appreciate your affirmation of this truth. Now I may rest easily this night.

  • mel35

    Is Satan Jewish? Are his minions Jewish? I don’t think so. They are spirits without bodies. They can and do, however, use evil people to accomplish their efforts to spread ruin throughout the world. Soros is one of those evil people who, according to his own words, loves to ruin people, organizations, and nations that differ from his opinion. He is evil much as Satan is evil, and it does not matter whether he is Jewish or not. Many evil people of all faiths, and no faith at all, inhabit the world and the sensible thing is to recognize evil, no matter what its affiliation is, in order to combat it.

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