As I reported a few days ago, this year’s Dyke March, part of Chicago’s Gay Pride celebrations, kicked out a handful of Jewish women who were carrying “Jewish Pride” flags: multicolored Gay Pride flags with a white Star of David in the middle. I call that an act of anti-Semitism, and so does Bari Weiss, who happens to be a staff editor at the New York Times. She posted about it on Tuesday, in an op-ed with the intriguing title, “I’m glad the Dyke March banned Jewish stars“.
Why, pray tell, is Weiss glad? Because the Dyke March’s actions expose the hypocrisy and unworkability of “intersectionality” as a part of social justice. As she says,
I’m sorry for the women, like Ms. Grauer, who found themselves under genuine threat for carrying a colorful cloth falsely accused of being pernicious.
But I am also grateful.
Has there ever been a crisper expression of the consequences of “intersectionality” than a ban on Jewish lesbians from a Dyke March?
Intersectionality is the big idea of today’s progressive left. [JAC: I’d say “regressive” left, for many progressives don’t sign on to “intersectionality” as it’s used.] In theory, it’s the benign notion that every form of social oppression is linked to every other social oppression. This observation — coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw — sounds like just another way of rephrasing a slogan from a poster I had in college: My liberation is bound up with yours. That is, the fight for women’s rights is tied up with the fight for gay rights and civil rights and so forth. Who would dissent from the seductive notion of a global sisterhood?
Well, in practice, intersectionality functions as kind of caste system, in which people are judged according to how much their particular caste has suffered throughout history. Victimhood, in the intersectional way of seeing the world, is akin to sainthood; power and privilege are profane.
By that hierarchy, you might imagine that the Jewish people — enduring yet another wave of anti-Semitism here and abroad — should be registered as victims. Not quite.
Why? Largely because of Israel, the Jewish state, which today’s progressives see only as a vehicle for oppression of the Palestinians — no matter that Israel has repeatedly sought to meet Palestinian claims with peaceful compromise, and no matter that progressives hold no other country to the same standard. China may brutalize Buddhists in Tibet and Muslims in Xinjiang, while denying basic rights to the rest of its 1.3 billion citizens, but “woke” activists pushing intersectionality keep mum on all that.
. . . though intersectionality cloaks itself in the garb of humanism, it takes a Manichaean view of life in which there can only be oppressors and oppressed. To be a Jewish dyke, let alone one who deigns to support Israel, is a categorical impossibility, oppressor and oppressed in the same person.
That’s why the march organizers and their sympathizers are now trying to smear Ms. Grauer as some sort of right-wing provocateur. Their evidence: She works at an organization called A Wider Bridge, which connects the L.G.B.T.Q. Jewish community in America with the L.G.B.T.Q. community in Israel. The organizers are also making the spurious claim that the Jewish star is necessarily a symbol of Zionist oppression — a breathtaking claim to anyone who has ever seen a picture of a Jew forced to wear a yellow one under the Nazis.
No, the truth is that it was no more and no less than anti-Semitism. Just read Ms. Shoshany Anderson’s account of her experience, which she posted on Facebook after being kicked out of the march.
Unfortunately, Ms, Weis isn’t all that woke, as she seems to be realizing only now that the Left harbors a large component of anti-Semitism, particularly on the Regressive Left. Here’s her last paragraph:
It may be wrong to read too much into an ugly incident at a single march, but Jews should take what happened in Chicago as a lesson that they might not be as welcome among progressives as they might imagine. That’s a warning for which to be grateful, even as it is a reminder that anti-Semitism remains as much a problem on the far-left as it is on the alt-right.
Earth to Bari Weiss: your piece is very good, but you can absolutely read what you did read into the March. The Cntrl-Left segment of “progressives” has been anti-Semitic for years. They call it “anti-Zionist”, but that’s just a euphemism. If you don’t think the state of Israel should exist, and was wrongly founded as a homeland for expelled Jews, then yes, you’re anti-Semitic.
Now one of the organizers of the Dyke March, Alexis Martinez, taken by surprise at the negative reaction to the expulsion of Jews, has responded in an interview on the gay site Windy City Times. I find the response disingenuous and unconvincing, motivated by the very bad press the Dyke March Collective got. Their story is that the Jewish Pride Flag Wavers were expelled not for their flag, but because they were chanting. What were they chanting? Well, they were said to be chanting a response to pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist marchers who were already chanting “No walls from Mexico to Palestine.”
According to Martinez, the Jewish women then chanted, in response, “No walls anywhere.”
That was all it took to boot their asses out. Martinez doesn’t see the irony of her own account:
The first thing I want to say is that this was never about the Jewish Pride flags. They never came into the conversations. As long as I’ve been an organizer, Laurel has always marched [in the Dyke March] with that flag. I had a conversation on text message with Laurel the night before. She asked me if people would be protesting her Jewish flag. I told her “No. It’s never been an issue and it shouldn’t be an issue.” But I also told her very clearly that we were anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian and she needed to understand that and the nature of the event.
. . . They were taking ‘No walls from Mexico to Palestine’ and they started with “No walls anywhere.” They were disrupting the chants and nobody said anything to them.
What happened at the site [of the rally] was some Palestinian Queers who came up to organizers and said they were being antagonized verbally. The Jewish contingent kept agitating and being aggressive about presenting a pro-Zionist position to Palestinian women.
I would say 15 or 20 minutes after we entered the park. One of the organizers came to me and said “Alexis, you have to do something about this.” So, I went over and talked to Laurel. She tried to make it about the flag. I said “Nobody’s got anything against your flag. Wave it proudly. I am asking you if you’re trying to present a pro-Palestinian, pro-Zionist point-of-view.”
She said that she was proud of her Zionist views and she needed to be able to express them. I told her “This isn’t the format to do that. Either you have to stop or you have to leave.” They refused. We don’t have an armed security force to push people out so I left. They stayed around the park until the whole event was over. They were still there an hour and a half later.
So it wasn’t just a Dyke March, it was a pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic Dyke March, and the statement “no walls anywhere” was somehow taken to be disruptive, and offensive to the Palestinian Queers (n.b. Queers are prohibited in Palestine but not Israel). And that chant alone isn’t even pro-Zionist, much less pro-Israel.
It’s clear from Martinez’s long account that she’s trying to rationalize expelling the Jewish dykes because they were “Zionists,” yet at the same time saying that, vis-à-vis the world, they’re not an explicitly political march. The fact is, all this confusion just reflects their upset at being called out, and their haste to confect rationalizations, viz,:
. . . the media and social media outrage was almost instantaneous and we got hit from every possible site and angle. I have never seen any member of the Collective make anti-Semitic statements. We’re anti-Zionism and people are conflating that into being anti-Semitic. They’re saying that we acted against Jewish queer women and it’s just a complete falsehood. Anyone who interprets our political positions as anti-Semitic is profoundly wrong. They’re misinformed. There’s nothing in our history that indicates that.
What we stand against is oppressive governments be they in Israel, El Salvador, Nicaragua; if people are struggling for their freedom, we try to show support in the context of the small organization that we are. The State of Israel is not endangered by anything we have to say at Dyke March and neither was Laurel. Nobody attacked her.
How hypocritical can you get? If they’re talking about oppression of women and gays, well, Palestine is infinitely worse than Israel—not to mention Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and so on. Why single out and demonize Israel? Because they oppress the oppressive and homophobic Palestinians.
But wait–there’s more! The Dyke March wasn’t political!
WCT: So, you are saying that, if the women had minded their own business, enjoyed the rally and not engaged others, that would have been fine?
AM: Right. We’re not there to resolve the political issues of the world. Laurel could have approached Dyke March at any point prior to the march and requested to make a statement but she used the occasion as a representative of A Wider Bridge to inject herself into a space and then ferment dissention.
They’re not there to resolve the political issues of the world—except to bring up Palestinian political issues and suppress dissent from them. Finally, there’s this:
WCT: There are a lot of nation states which are oppressive to populations. Example, the British to Northern Ireland, the Australians to the Aboriginal people, France to the Muslims living within its borders, Iran to the LGBTQ people living there. Is the presence of such people or open support of their government’s policies whether verbal or in a manner of dress or a sign also unacceptable at Dyke March?
AM: We’re not ignoring that. It’s why you see very few flags [at the march]. But we’re pro-Palestinian. We think that the Palestinian struggle demonstrates a good model for what constitutes oppression. [JAC: except for oppression of gays! Why not North Korea, which oppresses nearly all of its citizens?] You have a military power that subjugates a group of people. It could be any number of places in the world including the US. But I’m not going to stop somebody from wearing a US flag tattoo or whatever. It’s only if you begin to agitate a point of view that creates a condition that could explode into something much bigger. We have to be the judge of that. It’s not just hurt feelings. It could become physical. If somebody gets hurt, we are going to be held accountable. I don’t get sucked into arguments with circular logic. If you want to debate Zionism, there’s other forums for that. I’m not going to ban you from my event.
Who is “we”? I guess it’s all the dykes who aren’t Jewish, and if that’s the case, then Jewish lesbians aren’t welcome unless they keep their mouth shut. Pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic lesbians, of course, are free to chant.
You can read the long interview for yourselves; I’ll show just one more bit of dissimulation, pretending that all cultures are equally homophobic (my emphasis in Martinez’s answer):
WCT: Some commentators challenged you to hold the Dyke March in the middle of the Gaza Strip and “see what happens”—that the Palestinians would respond with violence. How do your respond to that argument?
AM: If we had our march nearly anywhere in the world, we run the risk of being attacked. There are Gay Pride marches being attacked everywhere. Even in Israel. Queer people have civil rights there but that doesn’t give you a free pass on not giving Palestinians equal rights. Having equal rights for queer people in the US doesn’t give us the right to ignore the problems that queer people of color face.
And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters: you see how far the termites have gone, and how well they’ve dined. To buttress her anti-Semitism, Martinez pretends that gays are just as bad off in Palestine as in Israel. That, of course, is bullpucky.
What the whole interview demonstrates is what the Times’s Bari Weiss realized too late: the cancer of anti-Semitism, masquerading as anti-Zionism, is metastasizing through much of the Left, and has now infiltrated the gay community. One would think that a gay pride march would decry the oppression, hatred, and execution of gays by Muslims in Muslim-majority lands. But no, they ignore it. Because for them, “intersectionality” puts being brown (i.e., Palestinian) higher than being gay in the Scale of Oppression. What a confused pride of people!