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Investigation by J. Peder Zane originally published by RealClearInvestigations and RealClearWire
Hamas’ savage pogrom in Israel revealed the moral abyss at the core of America’s left and the cowardice of traditional liberals who enable them.
The highly coordinated war crimes – the murder, rape, and torture of civilians – were clear to the eyes of the world on that dark day because the butchers gleefully posted videos of their inhumanity.
Oct. 7 appears to have been the deadliest single day for Jews since the Holocaust.
As has been widely reported, this barbarity gave no pause to many leftists, especially those at top schools, who almost immediately issued statements blaming Israel for the violence. Some grotesquely celebrated the carnage.
These statements were soon followed by messages from several university presidents among others who refused to confront and denounce this evil. Corporate leaders who rushed to denounce the 2017 clashes in Charlottesville and George Floyd’s death while in police custody in 2020 largely remained silent.
Yes, there have been some signs of a pullback in recent days, but that is merely a cowardly response to the backlash against the shameful defense of monstrous acts. One doesn’t need to reject the complexities of the Middle East or even support Israel’s reprisals to acknowledge that the events of Oct. 7 were indefensible.
And yet, they were defended and diminished by many members of America’s elite, including students who will likely be running our country one day. The same crowd that has insisted that words are weapons and silence is violence, who have used cancel culture to destroy those who say things they dislike, is now saying hey, genocide happens; it’s complicated.
One hopes the rebarbative response to this savagery will spark a Bud Light Moment for liberals who have made a devil’s bargain with the left, bowing to its illiberal intentions because of their shame regarding America’s past and their fears of Donald Trump.
This has come at a heavy price. During the last decade liberals have allowed the left to overtake much of the cultural landscape it long dominated: our schools, our media, and much of our politics. They have surrendered the hallmarks of their worldview – a generally open-minded understanding that our democracy is a mix of high-minded principles and pragmatic accommodations, which most always acknowledge human frailty to protect the nation from the perils of hubris.
Instead, they have empowered the left, which – along with some extreme, but far weaker fringes of the right – rejects that tradition. It advances an ideology that, convinced of its absolute righteousness, is largely unaffected by human experience. Never let reality impede your vision.
One of its galvanizing assumptions divides the world into two groups: the oppressors and the oppressed. Expressions of this include the recent rise of concepts such as white privilege, systemic racism, and queer theory. This racialized ideology holds that the oppressed are entitled to fight their alleged oppressors by any means necessary.
We see this, for example, in our daily news coverage where the alleged crimes of the “oppressors” are cast as grave threats to the Republic, and those committed by the “oppressed” are acts of rebellion seeking justice or are excused as proof of the degradations imposed by the ruling class.
Such thinking is unspeakably dangerous. As it excuses the behavior of some, it denies the humanity of others. This was the dynamic at work on Oct. 7. Like the Hamas terrorists they celebrated, many on the American left did not see the slaughtered Israelis as human beings but as obstacles to their aims. It is the same ideology that informed the Soviet Union, the Communist Chinese, and the perpetrators of the genocide in Rwanda.
At a time when Americans blithely call each other Nazis, Hamas’ action was a continuation of Hitler’s final solution. And many of our fellow citizens applauded it.
The hard left will never change. It doesn’t really want democracy to succeed and is too invested in its ideology. As the physicist Max Planck observed in a different context, science advances one funeral at a time because true believers are loath to surrender ideas they have spent their lives advancing.
There is still some hope, however, for liberals, whose traditional values are so at odds with those of their leftist allies. Oct. 7 held up a mirror. Will liberals respond to the horrors that all can see? Will they fight back and reclaim their place in our politics and culture? Or will they continue to surrender their humanity, our country, and the world? It is their time for choosing.
J. Peder Zane is a RealClearInvestigations editor and columnist. He previously worked as a book review editor and book columnist for the News & Observer (Raleigh), where his writing won several national honors. Zane has also worked at the New York Times and taught writing at Duke University and Saint Augustine’s University.
This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire.