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“This Book Needed 200% More Wingnut”

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The Times has published a review of Bari Wiess’s new entry, Both Sides Do It But Liberals Are the Real Anti-Semites, and…I can’t believe I’m saying this, but even this book deserved better:

Bari Weiss has written what must be judged a brave book. 

It must not.

That it must be is a badge of shame for the “progressive” America with which she identifies.

Should it call for courage for a politically liberal American Jew like Weiss 

Weiss is not “politically liberal” in the sense implied here. She calls herself a “classical liberal,” which anyone paid to review political books for a major publication should know means “conservative who would prefer Roe v. Wade not be overruled but is willing to live with that outcome if they get a tax cut out of the deal.”

to point out that Jews, though a tiny percentage of the population of the United States, are the victims of over half of its reported hate crimes? That anti-Jewish rhetoric, once confined to right-wing extremists, now infests the American left, too?

The first point is not controversial to point out*, and as for the second…we’ll get to that.

*As Jacob Levy points out, as stated actually that claim is actually highly misleading — it’s more than half of religion-based hate crimes.

Should someone like Weiss, an editor and opinion writer at The New York Times, have to expect brickbats from her colleagues for observing that a vicious demonization of Israel and its supporters has become routine in much of the American left and endemic on college and university campuses?

Note that immediately “anti-Semitism” is conflated with “vigorous condemnation of Israeli policies.” I think we’ve identified what’s actually “controversial” about Weiss’s views!

That whatever its failings, Israel is a remarkable human adventure that deserves at least as much sympathy as criticism? 

“The stifling conformity of Campus P.C. is killing the freedom of speech, and also all criticisms of Israel must be balanced out with an equivalent amount of praise.”

It is in writing about the left, however, that Weiss is at her most passionate.

No kidding!

Here she is, after all, on her home territory — a home that she feels lately has rejected her, precisely because she is a proud Jew and lover of Israel (though one critical of its current policies).

The party left her! Also, I’d love to hear some examples of her being “critical” of current Israeli policies.

She writes about how others who share her feelings have been forced to deny who they are. “I meet such people in every Jewish community I speak to,” she relates. “They tend to wait until late in the evening, after the crowd has thinned out or after they’ve had a few glasses of wine, to make their confession. But the confession is always the same: I’m in the closet. It’s not their sexuality or gender expression they are closeting. It is their Jewishness and their Zionism.”

There’s that critical conflation again.

Of course, American liberalism was staunchly anti-Stalinist. Yet the intellectual terror that has much of the American left in its grip today, not only in regard to Israel and Zionism but relating to a wide variety of issues on which one can be pilloried for being a millimeter out of step, strongly suggests that Stalinism, though it lost its political battle with liberalism, is winning the cultural one. The United States is no longer a society in which, in “progressive” circles, freedom of expression (and perhaps even of thought) can be said to exist.

Yes, Bari Weiss continues to be SILENCED by being given a position on the country’s most prestigious op-ed page, a book contract, and countless television appearances to say things that you aren’t allowed to say in America, which is pretty much like Stalinism.

Here’s where things really get off the rails:

Weiss fails to realize that she herself is an example of the wishful thinking about Judaism that is ubiquitous among American Jewish liberals. One might call this the Judaism of the Sunday school, a religion of love, tolerance, respect for the other, democratic values and all the other virtues to which American Jews pay homage. This is a wondrous Judaism indeed — and one that has little to do with anything that Jewish thought or observance has historically stood for. “We’ve always been there,” Weiss approvingly quotes a friend of hers, hurt to the quick by the proposed banning of “Jewish pride flags” at the 2019 Washington Dyke MarchAlways? As if the right to define oneself sexually as one pleases were a cause Jews have fought for over the ages!

As a matter of historical record, it was Greek and Roman high society, not the Jews, that practiced and preached polymorphous sexual freedom. Judaism fiercely opposed such an acceptance of sexual diversity, against which it championed the procreative family, the taming of anarchic passions, and the cosmically ordained nature of normative gender distinctions that goes back to the first chapter of Genesis: “So God created man in his own image. … Male and female created he them.” And while we’re at it, it was the Greeks, not the Jews, who invented democracy. What mattered to Jews throughout nearly all of their history (and still does to a considerable number of them today) was the will of God as interpreted by religious authority, not free elections.

“This book would be better if it spent more time ranting about how being Jewish means that you should hate gay people and indeed democracy itself. I am not a crank.”

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