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A Situation of Fear: Revisiting Sartre in Trump’s America

A Situation of Fear: Revisiting Sartre in Trump’s America <p>abstract:</p><p>This article considers how Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1944 essay on “the Jewish question,” <i>Anti-Semite and Jew</i>, sheds light on contemporary politics. Trump’s manipulation of fear and fabrication of narratives of hatred reenact the phenomenological “situation” of anti-Semitism that Sartre described—a bad faith perception of others. For Sartre, existence and sociality create discomfort and instability. Acting in good faith requires transcending the ontological conditions into which one is born and acknowledging the alienating gaze of others. But instead of engaging in these struggles, anti-Semites direct their anger and discomfort onto a scapegoat, the Jew. To convince themselves of their existential solidity, social privilege, and economic stability, anti-Semites create a “situation” of fear for others. Like the anti-Semite, Trump ignites fear to construct “situations” of hatred against multiple targets—immigrants, the LGBTQ community, people of color, Muslims, and women who threaten his power, as well as the Jews who refuse to pay him allegiance. In such “situations,” people who find themselves in the position of the Jew, the hated other, have reason to fear the attacks and violence that ensue.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in American Jewish Literature Penn State University Press

A Situation of Fear: Revisiting Sartre in Trump’s America

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Publisher
Penn State University Press
ISSN
1948-5077

Abstract

<p>abstract:</p><p>This article considers how Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1944 essay on “the Jewish question,” <i>Anti-Semite and Jew</i>, sheds light on contemporary politics. Trump’s manipulation of fear and fabrication of narratives of hatred reenact the phenomenological “situation” of anti-Semitism that Sartre described—a bad faith perception of others. For Sartre, existence and sociality create discomfort and instability. Acting in good faith requires transcending the ontological conditions into which one is born and acknowledging the alienating gaze of others. But instead of engaging in these struggles, anti-Semites direct their anger and discomfort onto a scapegoat, the Jew. To convince themselves of their existential solidity, social privilege, and economic stability, anti-Semites create a “situation” of fear for others. Like the anti-Semite, Trump ignites fear to construct “situations” of hatred against multiple targets—immigrants, the LGBTQ community, people of color, Muslims, and women who threaten his power, as well as the Jews who refuse to pay him allegiance. In such “situations,” people who find themselves in the position of the Jew, the hated other, have reason to fear the attacks and violence that ensue.</p>

Journal

Studies in American Jewish LiteraturePenn State University Press

Published: Mar 17, 2020

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