Yesterday LRC featured Nicholas von Hoffman asking Are Critics of Israel Smeared as Anti-Semites? I think it is important to remember that this is just a variant on a general type of smear. A parallel example would be calling critics of the U.S. government (especially during a “crisis”) “anti-American”. Due to the changing winds of PC fashion, “anti-semite” is currently a better smear than calling someone a Communist sympathizer (though that worked pretty well about 50 years ago) and probably a bit more effective than “anti-American”.
The confused thinking that allows for this particular type of smear is the loss of the sharp libertarian distinction between society and the state. Even if the distinction is retained, many people seem to have trouble grasping that the best interests of the society and the state might be at cross purposes. It is vitally important that this confusion be attacked whenever it rears its ugly head. Otherwise we waste our time arguing over who really loves Americans (or who really loves Jews or whatever) rather than the real issues: Is the policy under discussion just? Is the policy under discussion in the best interests of the society it’s supposed to benefit? Or is it just another boondoggle that will grow the State at the expense of the people?
As a personal note, I might also add that it’s preferable to avoid the “who really loves/hates the American/Jewish/whatever people” kinds of discussions because they’re BORING!