A must-read: Bari Weiss decries wokeness, anti-Semitism at Tablet

I’m not sure whether Bari Weiss has a new, permanent gig at Tablet Magazine, but her latest big article is there (see below). While Tablet may seem a comedown from the New York Times—where she was hectored by her colleagues so relentlessly that she left—Tablet has had some good stuff, including scoops. It broke the news of Jonah Lehrer’s plagiarism, leading to his resignation from The New Yorker and semi-permanent disgrace, it found out that Jewish lesbians were expelled from Chicago’s Dyke March, and it exposed the anti-Semitism rife among the leaders of the Women’s March, leading to the fracturing of that movement.  It’s also a Jewish venue, and Bari Weiss is much concerned with anti-Semitism, the topic of her most recent book. Still, the NYT needs someone like Weiss—a liberal critical of what’s happening to liberalism—yet they’ve simply replaced her with a garden variety anti-Zionist.

Weiss’s new Tablet piece is long but very good. I say it’s a must-read because it does a superb job of exposing the anti-Semitism at the heart of Wokeness, while decrying the aims of that movement (if it is a movement) as anti-liberal.  This much most of us know, but she collects a lot of evidence of anti-Semitism among the Woke, something that many prefer to ignore.

I happen to agree with her, and feel, as she does, that the “anti-Zionist” trope that passes for the Left’s criticism of Israel is actually thinly disguised anti-Semitism. Neither Weiss nor I are gung-ho fans of the Netanyahu government, but Israel is a country duly recognized by the United Nations, and anti-Zionism is, pure and simple, a denial of Israel’s right to exist. So are calls for a “one-state solution”, which, as everyone knows, constitute a recipe for a bloodbath in the Middle East. And so is the BDS movement, which from the outset has opposed Israel’s right to exist.

But I digress. I won’t quote Weiss in extenso, for there’s simply too much that is quoteworthy. You should read her article, whether or not you agree with it. Click on the screenshot to see it.

As I noted, her article deals with two interrelated issues: Wokeness as anti-liberalism, and the infection of the Left by a brand of Wokeness that is anti-Semitic. The result, as Weiss foresees, is a rising tide of anti-Semitism on the Left, not just in America but throughout the West (the Middle East through India is already largely anti-Semitic, though Arab states are beginning to make their own peace with Israel). Yet as Arabs reconcile with Israel (a result that the Palestinian and many NGOs can’t abide), the Left grows more hostile towards the Jews.

Here’s Weiss’s take-home lesson:

I share with the majority of American Jews’ disgust toward Trump and Trumpism, which has normalized bigotry and cruelty in ways that have crippled American society. That truth doesn’t detract from another: There is another danger, this one from the left. And unlike Trump, this one has attained cultural dominance, capturing America’s elites and our most powerful institutions. In the event of a Biden victory, it is hard to imagine it meeting resistance. So let me make my purpose perfectly clear: I am here to ring the alarm. I’m here to say: Do not be shocked anymore. Stop saying, can you believe. It’s time to accept reality, if we want to have any hope of fixing it.

It may be too late to fix it, but her article is a game try. After all, even the British Left, or at least the Labour Party, pulled back from the anti-Semitism that nearly wrecked it.

Weiss begins with what she considers a shocker: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s acceptance and then withdrawal from a memorial event honoring Yitzhak Rabin, assassinated for trying to make peace with Palestine. It’s not a shocker to me, though (indeed, AOC’s acceptance was a shocker), for you don’t have to be a genius to see the anti-Semitism of all members of “The Squad.” And if the Squad really heralds a new “progressivism” among Democrats, so the American Left will move further towards dislike of and disdain for Jews, aligning itself with Palestine, a territory that rejects every ideal of democracy and humanism.

I wrote this on October 10:

As Roger Cohen pointed out in the New York Times, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had initially agreed to participate in a virtual memorial on October 20 to Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister who, 25 years ago on November 4, was killed by an assassin who deplored Rabin’s desire to compromise with the Palestinians and Rabin’s peace initiative with Yasser Arafat.  It wouldn’t do, after all, to have anybody on “The Squad” celebrate anything to do with Israel. Remember, one hallmark of the “progressive” Democrats is their unstinting celebration of all things Palestinian and the demonization of all things Israeli and Jewish.

No surprise there. Weiss, however, does seem to be surprised (all further quotes from her Tablet piece):

The savvy politician [AOC] had read the room and was sending a clear signal about who belongs in the new progressive coalition and who does not. The confusion—and there seems to be a good deal of it these days—is among American Jews who think that by submitting to ever-changing loyalty tests they can somehow maintain the old status quo and their place inside of it.

Weiss then gives example after example of fulminating anti-Semitism in the media and other influential groups (I wasn’t aware that Twitter suspended Bret Weinstein’s “civic organization” but still allows Iranian ayatollahs to promote Jewish genocide).

We segue to the problem of Wokeness as anti-liberal, especially viewed through its new lens of anti-racism, in which “I don’t see color”—the goal of Martin Luther King, Jr.—has become “I must see color in everything.” (You can sense Weiss’s frustration towards the New York Times and its 1619 Project in the piece.):

The new creed’s premise goes something like this: We are in a war in which the forces of justice and progress are arrayed against the forces of backwardness and oppression. And in a war, the normal rules of the game—due process; political compromise; the presumption of innocence; free speech; even reason itself—must be suspended. Indeed, those rules themselves were corrupt to begin with—designed, as they were, by dead white males in order to uphold their own power.

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” as the writer Audre Lorde put it. And the master’s house must be dismantled—because the house is rotted at its foundation.

The beating heart of this new ideology is critical race theory. The legal scholar Angela Harris put it concisely in her foreword to Critical Race Theory: An Introduction:

Unlike traditional civil rights discourse, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.

Critical race theory says there is no such thing as neutrality, not even in the law, which is why the very notion of colorblindness—the Kingian dream of judging people not based on the color of their skin but by the content of their character—must itself be deemed racist. Racism is no longer about individual discrimination. It is about systems that allow for disparate outcomes among racial groups. If everyone doesn’t finish the race at the same time, then the course must have been flawed and should be dismantled.

The new guru of race issues on the Left, claims Weiss, is Ibram X. Kendi. But his values are at odd’s with King’s, which means they’re at odds with classical liberalism. The characterization below is itself brilliant—and accurate.

According to Kendi, we are all either racist or anti-racist. To be a Good Person and not a Bad Person, you must be an “anti-racist.” There is no neutrality, no such thing as “not racist.” Indeed, Kendi wants to ban those words from the dictionary.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech would not meet Kendi’s definition of anti-racism, nor would the one Barack Obama made about there being too many fatherless Black families. Indeed, nearly everything that Americans have been taught about how to be anti-racist for the past several decades is, according to Kendi’s explicit definition, racist.

It’s a rhetorically brilliant strategy. Racism is the gravest sin in American life. Who would ever want to be anything other than an anti-racist? And so under the guise of a righteous effort to achieve overdue justice and equality of opportunity for Black Americans, Kendi and his ideological allies are presenting Americans with a zero-sum choice: conform to their worldview or be indistinguishable from the likes of Richard Spencer.

. . . Over the past few decades and with increasing velocity over the last several years, a determined young cohort has captured nearly all of the institutions that produce American cultural and intellectual life. Rather than the institutions shaping them, they have reshaped the institutions. You don’t need the majority inside an institution to espouse these views. You only need them to remain silent, cowed by a fearless and zealous minority who can smear them as racists if they dare disagree.

This I’ve seen time after time in academia, with classical liberals afraid to criticize the “progressive” Left for fear of being smeared as racists. This pusillanimous attitude reminds me of those on the Left who refused to defend accused Communists during the McCarthy era lest they be smeared themselves. As a friend told me recently, “Most academics are cowards.”

Part of “progressive” Leftism is a denial of cultural differences, or at least the view that the differences have meaning and should be scrutinized (viz., the misogyny and homophobia of many Muslims). The Jews, though, have always been the “others”, and thus must be demonized. What’s saddest is that Jews and blacks used to be allies, most prominently during the Civil Rights era, yet now anti-Semitism is rife among African-Americans, and not just members of the Nation of Islam. Have a look at the link below in which Oberlin students see the Holocaust as “white on white crime.” Now that is shocking.

By simply existing as ourselves, Jews undermine the vision of a world without difference. And so the things about us that make us different must be demonized, so that they can be erased or destroyed: Zionism is refashioned as colonialism; government officials justify the murder of innocent Jews in Jersey City; Jewish businesses can be looted because Jews “are the face of capital.” Jews are flattened into “white people,” our living history obliterated, so that someone with a straight face can suggest that the Holocaust was merely “white on white crime.”

The end of Weiss’s piece is brilliant:

America is imperfect. The past few years and the problems they have laid bare have rocked my faith like no others before. But the ideas this country is based on truly are exceptional, worthy of our relentless defense and more. They are under siege by Trumpism, but also by those who suggest that the solution to our problems lies in obsessing on race; in suggesting that some Americans are more righteous or more cursed than others by dint of the circumstances of their birth; and in tearing down rather than renewing. That leaders and philanthropists charged to protect and nurture our community are entertaining, and at times embracing, such nihilistic and anti-American ideas is a scandal.

It is not by chance that Jews thrived in a world in which liberalism prevailed. The idea that we should judge each person not by their station or their family lineage but by their deeds; that human beings have agency—these are revolutionary ideas that are, at root, Hebrew ones. We should never be shocked that any ideology that makes war on these true and eternal values will inevitably make war on us.

It is this growing animus against “Zionism”—and despite the denial of critics, against Jews—that has made me speak up against anti-Semitism. I’m a secular Jew, though David Silverman denies that such people exist coherently, but I reject every tenet of the religion. Still, I feel Jewish because of the culture, a culture I admire when it’s separated from anything religious (I suppose I’m a cultural reform Jew, the wing of the faith that barely believes in God).  And yet I didn’t start getting my hackles up until I saw my own side—the Left, for crying out loud, the traditional side of Jews!—become more and more anti-Semitic, all the while pretending that it’s just “Zionism” they dislike. But the mask slips when people advocate for BDS without knowing its real aims, and when they call for a “one state solution”. Or when the Left ignores the palpable anti-liberal principles governing Palestine and other Arab countries.

Enough. Weiss says it much better than I could. You don’t have to heed her warning, but you should definitely read her warning.

h/t: Malgorzata

63 Comments

  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    How refreshing – bravo Weiss.

    The “anti-racist” religion is inherently about conflict because I stead of anti-racism, it is attacking individuals – and let’s not be too careful, anyone might have some racism in them, except of course the race we are defending. Is that clear? (No it isn’t.)

    Sadly, if we aren’t part of a “race”, we must seek articulate minds who obviously are that “race”, and for that I have been refreshed to listen to John McWhorter and Glenn Loury discuss things – they spread it all out on the table in a problem-solving approach, and it is compelling.

  2. eric
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Good article.
    I am one who thinks most of the excesses of wokeness will disappear with time – that it’s a generational movement, not a permanent shift. However, given the long history of anti-Semitism, I do fear that that may be one aspect of it which doesn’t go away as easily. I can see tomorrow’s generation laughing at their parents’ absurd insistence that segregated spaces are necessary for equality. I’m less sure they’ll see their parent’s absurdity in claiming Iran or Palestine’s policies are more liberal and respectful towards women and religious minorities than Israel’s.

  3. TJR
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Does indeed sound like a must-read.

    However, you might want to reconsider the thread title. I originally read it as being an article about “wokeness and anti-semitism at Tablet”, which would have been a real surprise.

  4. AST
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Bari Weiss seems to me a very bad-faith actor. She effectively tried to cancel people she disagreed with.

    Now, I agree that cancel culture is a very dangerous cultural phenomenon right now: but you can’t complain about it if you’re the first to apply the same tactics.

    • Patrick
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Got any cites to back up that accusation?

      • AST
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

        Of course.

        Read this article, as a start: https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/bari-weiss-resignation-new-york-times-victim-cancel-culture

        Eventually I can get you other material.

        There are many ways to defend Israel and criticize Palestine, without being censorious. It turns out that’s not what Bari Weiss did at all.

        By the way, I started to think there was something rogue with Weiss during his infamous podcast with Joe Rogan. Now I understand why

        • Niklas
          Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

          Interesting read. I would say Weiss is right about Sarsour though, and anyone defending her as simply a critic of Israel is deluded, (willfully) ignorant or an antisemite. I’m not familiar with the other examples given in the article, I did find it quite biased in some respects though. Anti-Palestinian activist rather than pro-Israel? Is it common to frame the conflict in those terms in American media?

        • Richard Sanderson🤴
          Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

          It is worth noting that people who dislike Weiss, either in the form of antisemites or woke regressives, can only highlight her hypocrisy. And there are certainly instances where Weiss can be criticised for that.

          However.

          I often see this highlighting of her hypocrisy just in order to deflect from some of the truly odious people she has called out.

          Oh, and it might be worth citing something other than the rag that is Middle East Eye. They even employed ** W****m** after he was exposed as a racist, plagiarist hack.

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

          Bari Weiss is not a ‘his’, as in “his infamous podcast”, she is a her.

          Did you know that?

          Van Halen used to ask for no brown M&M’s to ensure that he contract provisions had been properly scrutinized.

          I’m not sure how much scrutiny was being applied to evaluations of Bari Weiss if the fact that she is a her not a his is not picked up.

    • Posted October 16, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      It’s possible to learn the error of ones ways.

      • AST
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:15 am | Permalink

        I too hope that Bari Weiss learned from her mistakes.

        • Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:17 am | Permalink

          No you don’t. You want to put a pall over her for life because of what she said in college. That’s clear from your first comment. The comments are supposed to deal with the substance of her arguments, something you’ve scrupulously avoided.

          • AST
            Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:46 am | Permalink

            I’m not just talking about her college behavior. These are mistakes of youth and it is perfectly fine to forgive her. I have no problem with that.

            I’m talking about what she did last year, when she praised a column calling for the deplatforming on campus of a cartoonist.

            The article I put above in the link talks about it.

            As far as I know, she has never admitted any wrongoing. On the contrary, she has sought pseudorationalizations which, in my opinion, are inconsistent with a sensible defense of free speech. That makes Bari Weiss, I think, in a very weak position to criticize cancel culture. On the contrary, I am afraid that her behavior may do damage and harm to anyone – like you and me – who wants to fight back, rationally and consistently, against cancel culture.

            • Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:54 am | Permalink

              She made one tweet, ONE, praising an article that criticizes the invitation of a vicious anti-Semite. There was no call for “deplatforming” in the column, and Weiss said just this:

              “Valley’s work has nothing to do with peace in the Middle East, and everything to do with the free-form hatred that gloms onto Jews and the Jewish State.” Thank you,
              @arih1987

              You imply that she was down with deplatforming, when in fact she says nothing of the sort. She issued one tweet praising a writer calling out the anti-Semitism of a speaker.

              And you want her to “admit wrongdoing” for that tweet, which is here: https://twitter.com/bariweiss/status/1125789271959277569?s=20

              Trying to devalue her column based on one tweet that doesn’t say what you said it did is Cancel Culture par excellence. I would advise you not to continue in this vein.

              • CCC
                Posted October 16, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

                If you read the article she endorsed, it calls the invitation an “abomination” and practically calls for a boycott of the entire event, so yes… it is clear for me that Weiss shouldn’t have endorsed it (at least if she wants to be consistent in her critique of lunatic anti-free speech SJWs in campuses).

                And by the way, yes… even a “vicious antisemite” has a right to free speech, even if one (like you or me) may find his views disgusting or horrible.

                But I disagree with AST about her “college behavior”. She never admitted that what she did when she was a student was a mistake. Never. How can she be taken seriously? How can she save her face if someone calls her a hypocrite if she is not even willing to admit that what she did was wrong?

                And we may go on a deep discussion about her own 2019 book
                “How to Fight Anti-Semitism”… where she appears to be totally anti-free speech for the people she defines as antisemites.

                I too dislike antisemitic ideas, but it is clear to me that Bari Weiss – and I say that unironically -embodies the very hysteria, the very SJW excesses, that she apparently wants to criticize. Her hypocrisy is really sickening!

                With her own behavior, and with her own book, she is doing only harm to those who want to consistently defend freedom of speech.

              • Taz
                Posted October 16, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

                Practically calling for a boycott, or even actually calling for one, is not anti-free speech. No one is required to attend an event.

              • CCC
                Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

                Taz, thanks for the reply. In this case I disagree with you: you cannot consistently defend free speech, criticize lunatic SJWs and then behave like them.

              • Taz
                Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

                Lunatic SJWs don’t call for boycotts, they call for speakers to be de-platformed. There’s a world of difference between “you shouldn’t listen to this person” and “you shouldn’t be allowed to listen to this person”.

              • Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

                CCC: “and practically calls for a boycott of the entire event, …”

                There is nothing at all wrong with boycotting an event or asking people not to attend. Trying to get the event cancelled or otherwise *prevent* other people from being able to attend is totally different.

    • Posted October 16, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Ah, here we have an example of cancel culture under our noses. I presume you refer to Weiss’s activities at Columbia University, about fifteen years ago, when she called out anti-Semitic scholars. I’m not sure that that instantiates “cancel culture”, but here YOU are practicing it. Since then she has not tried to go after anyone in that way, but you are basically claiming that we can ignoring everything she says for the rest of her life for what she did in college. And so you ignore the arguments of this article to go after Weiss for what she did in college.

      Ignoring someone’s arguments for one thing they did in the past is exactly what cancel culture does.

      • AST
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        Jerry, please don’t say that. Don’t confuse legitimate criticism of a person with a desire to censor or cancel her. I have no intention of canceling Bari Weiss, nor I ever will… at all, I just want to point out her hypocrisy and her double standard.

        I myself believe that Wokeism and cancel culture constitute a very dangerous cultural phenomenon that must be courageously criticized, but if you want to criticize it you have to show consistency in your behavior. And I’m afraid Bari Weiss didn’t. That’s all. And for that reason I think she is not helping her cause, which is also mine and yours, of fighting back against cancel culture.

        I repeat: let’s not confuse what I think is a legitimate concern over someone’s hypocrisy with the desire to cancel this person. Even if Bari Weiss is a hypocrite, that will never mean for me that she needs to be canceled. Never.

        • Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

          Her arguments stand on their own, despite what she did or didn’t do in college. You wanted to discredit her for something in the distant past without having addressed her arguments. Calling her out for hypocrisy (and who has ever been completely consistent in their life?) is a way of discrediting the piece she wrote. Digging into someone’s past is the m.o. of cancel culture, for then, if you find a skeleton, you can take their names off buildings and tear down their statues, ignoring what they did.

          A “bad-faith actor”, I believe you called her.

    • eric
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      you can’t complain about it if you’re the first to apply the same tactics.

      Sure you can, as long as you’re not hypocritically still doing it. That’s called “learning.”

      Biden is supporting BLM now, but 26 years ago he took the near-opposite, ‘let’s be tough on everyone and give the police more powers’ position. Should we dismiss him and not vote for him because of the change?

      Or let’s talk about gay rights. Prior to about 2008 you would’ve been hard-pressed to find any politician – even liberal ones – supporting same sex marriage. Back then, your most enlightened liberal democratic politician would’ve been described as someone who supported civil unions for gays, marriages or civil unions for straights. But a lot of those folks are still around, still active in politics, and now support SSM. Should we dismiss them and not vote for them because they changed their mind on gay rights?

      If Weiss initially wanted to cancel/censor her critics (which I’m not sure she did, but I’ll take your position as given for sake of argument), but doesn’t now, good for her. We need more on the left to make that shift, not exile the ones who do.

      • CCC
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        Everybody that is sensible believes in learning, if one is willing to admit a previous mistake. The point is: she never did. She never said that what she did on college was wrong. How can one take her seriously? How can she save her face if someone calls her a hypocrite if she is not even willing to admit that what she did was wrong?

        And, I have a question for you: have you read her 2019 book “How to Fight Anti-Semitism”? It’s a 2019 book (so we are talking about last year not about years and years ago) but she clearly appears to be totally anti-free speech for the people she considers antisemites.

        Like the SJWs she says she wants to criticize, she too isn’t a friend of free speech. As always, “free speech for me but not for thee”. Sickening!

        • Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

          “She never said that what she did on college was wrong.”

          I’m lost. What, specifically, are you accusing her of?

      • CCC
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        I have just found this article:
        https://theintercept.com/2018/03/08/the-nyts-bari-weiss-falsely-denies-her-years-of-attacks-on-the-academic-freedom-of-arab-scholars-who-criticize-israel/

        Not only Weiss never aknowlegded what she did in college. She actually tried to cover it up two years ago with this twitter story: https://mobile.twitter.com/bariweiss/status/971556549645815809

        That’s why she cannot be taken seriously. She is effectively harming anybody who wants to defend freedom of expression.

        • john reynolds
          Posted October 16, 2020 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

          Please cite anything since her university days where she has tried to have people fired for political beliefs. Because trying to judge my current drinking habits based on my college days drinking habits would be pretty lame and I don’t want to call your argument pretty lame.

  5. Malgorzata
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    sub.

  6. Patrick
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Very strong finish on that article. The NYT lost one of their strongest writers when they allowed her to be hounded out.

    With regard to “the master’s tools”, I can only say that once one has rejected reason in principle, there is quite literally no possibility of engaging rationally with them. It leaves the only options as ignore or fight.

    • eric
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      It’s a pretty silly bit of rhetoric when you think about it, isn’t it? Of course you can use the same tools to put up and tear down. Screwdriver works to put the screw in, screwdriver works to take the screw out. Yes science gave us racist skull measurements…then later it was science that deconstructed them too.

      • Posted October 16, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        Thank you. I’ve always thought that was an inherently self-contradictory and patently stupid saying.

      • kesheck
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        It’s comments like this that make me wish there was a “Like” button on this site. Agree, 100%.

        • jezgrove
          Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

          There actually was a “Like” button on this site after a WordPress change earlier this year – indeed I got a couple of automated “So-and-so liked your comment – View comment” emails from this site just today – but I no longer see the Like button and have absolutely no idea how those automated emails are generated!

          • kesheck
            Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

            I just noticed that when I read the blog on the website (as opposed to in my email account) there is a bell icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. There was a small orange dot next to the bell which was alerting me to your reply to my comment.

            When I clicked on the bell, a panel is revealed from the right of the screen that shows your reply. I also have the option of seeing “Unread,” “Comments,” “Follows,” and “Likes.”

            Hey, I learned something today!

  7. Historian
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    In regard to the cultural Left, Weiss says: “In the event of a Biden victory, it is hard to imagine it meeting resistance.” I am not as pessimistic as Weiss that the cultural left will have a significant impact on Biden’s policy towards Israel. First, Biden portrays himself, at least on his website, as a staunch supporter of Israel and opponent of anti-Semitism. Second, American Jews, although small in numbers in the total U.S. population, make up an important part of the Democratic coalition, in terms of votes and financial support. Third, even if we accept Weiss’s argument that the Woke have or are in the process of capturing American cultural institutions, it is doubtful that the vast majority of the American people follow this trend closely, if at all. Thus, Biden and the bulk of the Democratic Party will pay more attention to what the “typical” American thinks than a leftist minority, even if a few of them have been elected to office within the Party.

    Certainly, Weiss’s fears may come to fruition – eventually. The Woke need to be watched. Undoubtedly, if Biden takes office, the Band-Aids that have kept the Democratic Party together throughout the election season will be torn off, and we can expect bitter disputes amongst its factions. But, I expect the Biden Administration to maintain the long-time Democratic support of Israel.

    https://joebiden.com/joe-biden-and-the-jewish-community-a-record-and-a-plan-of-friendship-support-and-action/#

  8. finknottle
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this great read. Jerry and Bari have been two of the most important thinkers to raise my awareness and fear of all this ridiculous illiberalism. Plus Bret and Heather from Evergreen with their Dark Horse stuff. I would also like to include Gad Saad but he’s pushing voting for gop and donalchump

  9. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    It’s not just academics who are cowards. Most people are cowards. Stick your neck out and have a differing opinion at work and depending on the culture there, you will see your “friends” cower and abandon you. I watched and experienced this early on in my career. Of course, that is often indicative of a terrible work environment and you should look at finding another one as quickly as possible but there is a strong streak of cowardice in all places.

  10. Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I am rooting for a blue wave that will wipe the Republicans out of the WH and Senate control while increasing the Democratic majority in the House. But I am worried about the direction the Democratic party might take in the future. Will it become the party of the Woke and the squad? I sincerely hope not.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      I guess that’s step 2. Step 1 get the current president out of the WH. Step 2 make sure the Democrats don’t screw up their party like the Republicans screwed up their party.

      • rickflick
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        Well said. Whatever the distant future holds, job one is: dump the orange bastard.

  11. john reynolds
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Apparently the Woke hounds are baying at Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) being cast as Cleopatra in some upcoming movie.

    Will absolutely watch it, because, Gal Gadot.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Oh I know and they all rally behind the banner of “Cleopatra was black” and it kills me a little inside because as someone educated in the Classics I know that Cleopatra was Greek (Macedonian) as a descendent of Alexander the Great’s generals, specifically Ptolemy. She spoke Greek, she looked Greek, she adopted some Egyptian customs from an ancient empire that was ancient to the Ancient Greeks in the way the Ancient Greeks are ancient to us.

  12. Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Harrison Bergeron anyone?

  13. Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    On the subject of masochism being offered by sadists, I’m currently ‘studying’ a MOOC on ‘Gender & Intersectionality’. The Course Leader presented course materials praising Sarsour, Perez and Mallory for the Women’s March. I pointed out that those three are antisemites (thanks for all the links, Jerry). Would she consider withdrawing those course materials? “No.” Ad hominem, apparently.
    There is a lot more like that: a course which tests to the limit one’s sense of humour.

  14. A C Harper
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    “After all, even the British Left, or at least the Labour Party, pulled back from the anti-Semitism that nearly wrecked it.”

    Not yet, in my opinion. A few of the baddest apples have been ejected but there is still a lot of anti-semitism mumbling in the membership. We shall see how the forthcoming Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report is handled in public.

  15. Jim batterson
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks M and JAC for connecting me with bari weiss’ excellent article in tablet. Yet another day of big value added by weit!

  16. ladyatheist
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read Kendi’s book, and I think she mischaracterizes what it means to not be “anti-racist.” Essentially, he says that silence is equivalent to acquiescence.

    So the person who isn’t actively anti-racist is allowing racism to persist, which is enabling it.

    If someone takes offense to their “neutrality” as being part of the problem, then perhaps they really are part of the problem.

    It doesn’t mean that you are *equal* to a Nazi or KKK member, but you can’t count yourself as equal to MLK just because you admire him or agree with him. If you’re not actively working to make the world a better place, you’re giving tacit approval to those who are making the world a worse place.

    The equivalent would be the Germans of the 1930s who shrugged off or ignored what was happening, or the whites of the 1920s who didn’t join the KKK but didn’t care if their neighbors did.

  17. Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand your infatuation. It’s a collection of assertions and they are not as clear as she thinks they are. Let’s take the truly “shocking” one, apparently the strongest point in the entire piece, that “Jews are flattened into ‘white people,’ our living history obliterated”.

    What’s going on there? To find that out, you need to follow the link to the WaPo column by David Bernstein, discussing the “white on white crime” statement, which leads to a “recent post” of his, and from there finally to the source. A few clicks more or less shouldn’t matter that much, but here I wonder why she doesn’t link to the source directly. To cut to the chase: there is not much there, there, so she needs to paint it up with three layers of coat. The source is a law professor named William A. Jacobson, who claims to have overheard someone say this. And here is what he says in context:

    1. The multiple times the Holocaust was referred to as “white on white crime” by my POC peers and hip white Jewish peers, (erasing the fact that ashkenazi jews were NOT seen as white and were being killed in the name of eugenics and white purity and also erasing the fact that blacks, Roma, and north african Jews were also killed in the camps.)

    2. That time a Jewish person made a comment on fb saying “the only reason people care about the Holocaust is because it happened to white people” and got tons of likes from white and POC friends alike (Erasing the fact that the western world only decided to care a few decades after the fact, when it wasnt as fresh, and theyd had the time to really work out the details of how they were going to frame it and make it look like the US were the heroes liberating the camps after the US government knew what was being planned by Hitler, knew waht happening while it was happening, and did nothing.

    This assessment is too big to chew in a comment, but that’s Bari Weiss man. I just stick his and her grievances. According to the source, the “white on white crime” statement was said by “POC”, people of colour or “hip white Jewish peers”. The argument why this is offensive to him is that, back then, Jews were not seen as white, but according to him are seen as white now. He calls them “white Jewish peers” after all. It’s possibly parsimonious, too, because (according to him) caring about the Holocaust could have happened decades later, when Jews were seen as white people (according to the students he overheard). Again, their views, not mine. In any case, the shock value evaporated right there.

    I don’t see how anyone’s “living history” is “being obliterated” as Weiss asserts. POC and “white” Jews say this, and they are woke. Apparently, the whiteness stands for the privilege that atrocities are at least now being considered and remembered, and not downplayed, ignored, or disregarded, like for example slavery (as the woke or BLM people would say) or atrocities against black people.

    The sentiment expressed there, in my interpretation, is not entirely wrong. Half of America, give and take, denies, or significantly downplays slavery and continued racism, not to mention actual racism. Also atrocities against black peoples aren’t really seen as that important. The Herero and Nama genocide is more recently a topic in Germany. For an earlier comment, I happened across the Wikipedia article about the “Atrocities in Congo Free State”, which cites an argument between various historians whether what happened under the Belgian king Leopold II should be considered a holocaust. The dispute is not about the scale or severity, but about the intent. There are many reasons, racism being one, that colonial atrocities aren’t seen as that important.

    Lastly, Weiss is ironically pretty woke in spirit herself (was also an enthusiastic de-platformer). The students want attention to their historical grievances and appear to lament that attention is given to Jews, and then Weiss is being ticked off that these students downplay her identity grievances, so she moves to downplay theirs by writing “the ideas this country is based on truly are exceptional, worthy of our relentless defense and more” where now a black person could complain about their “living history obliterated”.

    • Roo
      Posted October 17, 2020 at 12:15 am | Permalink

      I am kinda uncomfortable with the idea that she decries the ideas of anti-racism so strongly while simultaneously seeing a need for protection due to anti-Semitism in so many places. If one promotes special sensitivity towards historical victim status in some places, consistency means you should probably promote it in all places. And if you’re not a fan when you see other people doing it, well, just don’t promote that particular dynamic at all. It comes off as a bit of “for me, not for thee”, I guess.

      • Posted October 17, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

        Yes, that’s one problem. Had I overheard the statement of “white on white crime” I would raise the eyebrow on the word “crime”, not on the part about the skin colours. The Holocaust wasn’t a mugging incident where white ruffians beset a white lady in upstate New York, but industrial-scale genocide.

        • Roo
          Posted October 17, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

          I’m not entirely sure what your opinion is so I think maybe I’m coming at this from the opposite angle – I have no problem with her being offended at statements that she sees as anti-Semitic, however, I think if you use that standard, it has to apply to everyone. The same level of sensitivity that goes into guarding against anti-Semitism should go into guarding against racism. People will set that bar in different places (it is always a bit agonizing, I think, to find the right balance between supporting victims and not encouraging a victim mentality) but wherever you set it, you have to be prepared for other groups to follow suit and use that same standard for themselves, for it to become a societal norm. And vice versa – if you want other groups to simply ‘toughen up’, then that applies all around. I don’t know that her criticism of Kendi and anti-racism is entirely fair in that sense, in that it seems to me that Kendi is also saying “Look, given everything African Americans have been through, there needs to be some special sensitivity to rectify this situation. You can’t just treat us ‘like everyone else’ now and call it a day, you have to provide some manner of reparations.” A lot of that very thinking, if I understand it correctly, is the entire reason there is a Jewish state, right? An attempt to rectify some of the horrors of the Holocaust? Maybe I’m misunderstanding here (my history is admittedly terrible,) but if that’s so, I think you can’t support reparation-based thinking for one group but not another. If you support it, you support it all around.

          • Malgorzata
            Posted October 17, 2020 at 11:22 am | Permalink

            “A lot of that very thinking, if I understand it correctly, is the entire reason there is a Jewish state, right? An attempt to rectify some of the horrors of the Holocaust?”
            I will limit myself just to this sentence.

            Since expulsion by Romans (2nd century) Jews wanted to return. You can find it in their religion, in always repeated phrase “Next year in Jerusalem”, everywhere in Jewish culture, whether among Jews in Italy, Spain, Poland, Tbilisi, Yemen or Cairo. This dream survived through centuries. Whenever there was a chance, Jews returned to Eretz Yisrael (and were chased away again when the ruler changed the rules). Modern Zionism was born out of Dreyfuss affair which was an evidence that Jews would not be left alone even in enlightened European states. Pogroms in Russia was an additional factor, though among first Jewish immigrants to the Turkish Palestine were Jews from Yemen who suffered exceptionally cruel persecution. Balfour Declaration (1917) was not any kind of “reparation” but partly realization that Jews are persecuted world over, and partly British desire to get any kind of help with winning the war. The horrors of the Holocaust was a factor in UN’s decision to accept establishment of a Jewish State in the Mandatory Palestine after Zionists had already built the fundaments of the state there, but not as any kind of reparation. It was because of understanding that Jews will be persecuted if they do not have their own state, on the one hand, and the wish to solve the problem of thousands European Jews who survived the Holocaust and had nowhere to go, on the other. When a day after proclamation the Jewish state five Arab armies (with some additional, volunteer forces from two more Arab states) attacked Israel the world’s (UN’s) answer was to announce embargo on weapon sale and delivery to the region. Of course, Arab states had free hands to deliver as much weapon as they wished, so in practice only Jews were cut off. It really looked much more like a wish for Arabs to finish off what Hitler couldn’t than as any reparations for the Holocaust.

            • Roo
              Posted October 17, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

              I think you’re saying the difference is mostly one of pragmatism – i.e., the Jewish people needed a state because they were in immediate danger, not as a symbolic gesture around making moral amends. I still don’t think this is so terribly different from the idea of Reparations for African Americans, however – my understanding of what Kendi is saying is that they also needed immediate protection in the era of slavery, however, in their case it was never provided, and so the impact is seen today and pragmatic support needs to be provided now, further down the timeline.

              As often happens in the course of these comments sections when an idea occurs to me, I Googled for more information. This is an interesting article on the topic.

  18. Posted October 17, 2020 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    The end of the Jewish-black (sorry, Black, watch that performative euphemism treadmill) alliance for civil rights is indeed terrible. Cut to Bernie Sanders getting arrested at a demo in the south sometime in the 60s…
    but it started in the 80s with Farrakhan.

    It has gathered steam lately however as the internet and pandemic have both sped up all types of social change. Including this wokeness disaster.

    B. Weiss usually pisses me off, but not so much here – she’s right on most of that Tablet article. I disagree that our mayor’s handling of the ultra orthodox ignoring of public health laws (here and in Israel) is anti-Semitism. Their holy scofflaw attitude endangers us all.

    ((D.A.)), NYC

  19. ruth
    Posted October 17, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    “The idea that we should judge each person not by their station or their family lineage but by their deeds…—these are revolutionary ideas that are, at root, Hebrew ones.”

    Oh dear. Yikhes (pedigree) was of paramaount importance in traditional Jewish society, and the whole of family law revolves about keeping the bloodlines pure. Bari is quite deluded here. It’s good, so it must be a Jewish idea.


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