Jew Cleansing/Shaming Is Not a Civil Right
What demons possess people to turn into hellish monsters who would burn civilization to the ground? What turns otherwise decent people into uncivilized brutes?
In The Spectator, Peter W. Wood is not writing about the intoxicated evil of the young men unleashed by Hamas on Israeli civilians.
Those killers are not a case study in the breakdown of civilization, but rather instances of the atavistic savagery of people raised to be piranhas: frenzied, gleeful, sated only by pure evil. They provide no lesson in the breakdown of the norms of self-control, since their only measure is loyalty to a fanatical cause.
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Instead, Mr. Wood is recognizing “the legions of American (and not just American) young people who justify the atrocities committed by Hamas as a legitimate action against “settler colonialist Jews.”
This isn’t anger as a prelude to violence. It is anger that is conjured in the aftermath of violence. And like other forms of anger, it feeds on itself and escalates. What began as a handful of statements by student activists who followed instructions from “Students for Justice in Palestine” soon became a popular cause. It snowballed by drawing on several tributaries. One was generational. Extolling Hamas became a way for the current generation of college students to issue a blanket “F-you!” to the rest of society.
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Mr. Wood also recognizes the full ownership of the anti-civilizational conceit in which from kindergarten on an entire generation has been indoctrinated. They have been taught that the West is totally rotten, and corrupt. It gained its ascendency by stealing resources from indigenous people and ruthlessly exploiting the environment by burning fossil fuels to hand over to the next generation a planet that will wither under the curse of Global Warming.
Praising Hamas is a way to bundle all these discontents and antipathies into one giant outrage. It screams, “I hate your civilization. You deserve to be raped, beheaded, tortured, roasted, and hauled into underground caves.” This is the proper response to the crimes you have committed against our purity and innocence.
Lacking a grasp of history, this generation buys into the mythology of Howard Zinn, Edward Said, Ibram X. Kendi, and Nikole Hannah-Jones. In place of science, continues Mr. Wood, “They have the mythology of Al Gore, Michael Mann, Greta Thunberg, Bill McKibben, and the IPPC.”
They have grown up in the bubble of social media in which their capacity for critical thinking has been hijacked by their exquisite sensitivity to group conformity. Their moral formation has been blotted out by endless reassurance that what counts is “social justice.” Their sense of a morally culpable individual self has been dimmed to the pilot light of submission to ideological orthodoxy. Whatever challenges the orthodoxy is cause for outrage.
Their anger is “perfectly real.” It’s about the only emotion that has been positively reinforced throughout their lives.
Optimism about their lives to come has been ground to the dust of apocalyptic fantasy. It is cartoon nihilism that exhilarates them.
Mr. Wood’s intent is not to condemn a whole generation. Rather, he professes to know plenty of young people who “shun this worldview,” or at least “try to.” The problem is this generation’s education has given them precious little with which to resist.
Indoctrination on climate catastrophism, Critical Race Theory (packaged as “diversity, equity and inclusion”), anti-colonialism, LGBTQ doctrines and transgenderism, leaves them with only the sketchiest of ideas about the civilization they are destined to inherit.
What to Do
Chilling as all this may sound, there is an antidote: hard work – the hard work of restoring substance to American education. Parents can wrest control of school boards and citizens can recapture the universities for the public good. Let pathetic college students now reveling in their identification with euphoric executioners sink in the mire where they belong, suggests Mr. Wood.
They have chosen self-exile from civilized life and that should be the order of the day. Some will find their way back, but that won’t happen by indulging them with rational debate, tenderheartedness, tolerance, or forgiveness. They have cast their lot with Lyssa (the Greek goddess of mad rage and frenzy,) and are, by all accounts, proud of it. The best we can hope for is the moment when they look in the mirror and are appalled.
Peter W. Wood is president of the National Association of Scholars. A former professor of anthropology and college provost, he is the author of Wrath: America Enraged and 1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project.