"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Pro-Palestinian Hysteria - Anti-Semitism And Feel-Good Victimhood In An Intellectual Void

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ‘Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had'

Bob Muzelle's father, a minister and a good man read these lines from The Great Gatsby to his young son, hoping that he would follow suit.  The Muzelles were not wealthy, nor even well-to-do, but they were descended well.  A Muzelle had been one of John Davenport's associates in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and later in New Haven where he founded the New Haven Plantations as a more doctrinally pure settlement far from the growing apostasy of Boston.  A Palmer on Bob's mother's side had come with the second English ship to sail to Jamestown.

Neither side of the family had ever lost a sense of duty and responsibility instilled in them for over three hundred years.  They had a moral compass, unerringly pointed along the path of service, honor, and respect.  The elder Muzelle had gone ashore at Normandy, and his father, Bob's grandfather had fought at the Marne.


All of which is to say that any errancy on the part of Bob would never have been expected; but as a young man, first at Yale and then in Washington, he became isolated and indignantly righteous.  The causes he was fighting for - civil rights, peace, and the environment - were simply too important to give ground.  There was, he found, such a thing as absolute right; and once in one's grasp should never be let go. 

Of course most people have never believed in such absolutes.  The world has always been one of moral, self-justifying ups and downs. The Crusades, often condemned for their Christian imperialism and geopolitical intolerance, have turned out to be, at least for the time being, right.  Muhammed unleashed a virulent, obsessive, implacable expansionist force on the world and he should have been stopped in his tracks in Palestine just as his armies were at Roncesvalles. Would have saved the world a whole lot of trouble.

Views on everything from favorite colors to abortion have their indicators, justifications, and history. There is no absolute, indelible, ineradicable right to abortion, and the very conception of life will soon change as the human genome will be engineered to offer infinite possibilities for the human design of creation. 

So why was it that Bob, child of centered, morally certain, Christian parents could have fallen so far off the rails?  How was it that no analysis of antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction history could persuade him that the whole affair was not just about slavery but about the nature and value of labor and, the unique indivisibility of capital and labor in the system.

Nothing could change his mind that despite the tribal, primitive nature of the African slave and the economic vetting system which valued reproductivity and physicality over any other trait, the black man should be at the very pinnacle of human society. 


The answer comes from the idea of victimhood, the conviction that anyone who has been a victim of racism, misogyny, homophobia or any one of a hundred other common prejudices, has a right not only to be heard, but to be raised to prominence.  The black man simply because he was the victim of slavery is ipso facto superior to the white man who enslaved him. 

Conditionality - the millennia-old history of slavery, the burgeoning inter-tribal African slave trade, the cultural dominance of Western civilization, the trial and error of economic systems (viz Communism, slavery, socialism, Utopianism et. al.) - must be discounted in a universe of absolute right and wrong. 

How victimhood came about is not a tough puzzle to solve.  The sedate, stable, primly conservative Fifties - pinafores, cocktail dresses, church, and Sunday dinners - and the demographic bulge of privileged post-war babies with few concerns about well-being, caused a restiveness, an unsettled sense of ill-defined purpose.  So, borne out of social history, demographics, and boredom came the Sixties.  Victims were its heroes - the little men in black pajamas and a bowl of cold rice bombed by Nixon's B-52s; the black man beaten, clubbed, and bitten by Bull Connor, George Wallace, and their thugs; women, suffering under the persistent legacy of patriarchy and male prejudice. 

By time the Sixties were over and done with, the ethos of victimhood was now in place, and everything was to be observed through its lens. 

Bob swallowed all this hook, line, and sinker. Victimhood was the only way to look at human crises.  Jesus Christ himself dedicated his ministry to the poor, after all.  Compassion for the downtrodden was ordained, not invented. 

Of course, Jesus aside, the world since the amoeba has been ruled by tooth and claw, competition, territorialism and every other hardwired, innate trait of human nature.  A human history of victors and vanquished, winners and losers, never oppressors and victims.  

'Bullshit', said Bob in a moment of pique and frustration.  For years he had perfected a calm, professorial demeanor, one meant to hide the screeching, howling anger seething inside him.  Reason, he said, was the way to compromise.  Of course he meant nothing of the sort.  Reason would lead his adversaries to the truth, his truth.  He was just a big, pompous windbag. 

After decades in the trenches fighting for peace, civil rights, and the restoration of the black man to his rightful place atop the human pyramid, Bob was now an older man; but the fire of righteous anger still burned brightly.  Yet there were no real causes he could sink his teeth into.  No Freedom Rides, no Pettis Bridge, no Selma, Hanoi, or the Castro.  

He was at loose ends until Hamas struck Israel and Israel responded in a once and for all, never again assault to rid the region of a genocidal, anti-Semitic hateful regime.  Victimhood now had a name, a place, and a cause. 

Bob was the first at the barricades, first in solidarity with Yale, Columbia, and Harvard students spewing long pent-up hatred for the Jews.  Now, they could be as violently anti-Semitic as they pleased because they were condemning the State of Israel, not Jews themselves; although anyone on campus could see the seething rage at any Jewish student in their way. 

The Palestinians for no other reason than their supposed victimhood were heroes to be championed, defended, and honored.  It mattered not that Hamas and its mentor Iran have called for the elimination of Israel and the eradication of the Jews; or that Muslim states have called for the destruction of Israel since its founding; or that the billions of international foreign assistance has been spent on tunnels and armaments to attack Israel; or that Islam itself has within its code, an implacable righteousness and Jewish mistrust. 

Bob was ecstatic, blissful, as happy as he had ever been.  Entering surely the last decades of his life, he had found his real calling. 'Death to Israel' was his mantra and he shouted it at the top of his lungs with the throngs of young people around him.  Victimhood had never been more satisfying, the self-purifying, self-actualizing hatred of the Jewish oppressor epiphanic. 'Death to Israel', he shouted over and over again. 

Anything less would have meant a chaise lounge on a Florida beach, but this....this! was more than Bob could have ever hoped for.  He was young again, vital and vibrant again.  He was whole. 

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