Liberalism's Last Stand
The hideous unveiling this week of the West's moral rot could be our final chance
I remember the precise moment that I began my long, slow turn away from the Left. It was the morning of October 7, 1985 (though it might have been October 8). I was a college freshman, and was an idealistic member of the Progressive Student Network’s LSU chapter. That morning I was set to work at the PSN’s information table in front of the student union building. As I ate breakfast, I watched the first news reports about the murder of elderly Leon Klinghoffer on the cruise ship Achille Lauro, which had been hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. They shot the wheelchair-bound American Jew and dumped his body overboard.
The cruelty of this act shocked me to the core. When I arrived at the PSN table on campus, I told my comrades (heh) how disgusted I was by it. One of the guys there, a tall, intense, bearded fellow, thundered that you always hear about Palestinian terrorism, but why don’t you ever hear about Israeli terrorism, huh? The other student at the table, a short Puerto Rican with thick, owlish glasses, sat under the oak tree and mused calmly that if Klinghoffer was wealthy enough to take the cruise, then he got what he deserved.
That was the end of me and the PSN. I remained a liberal for a few more years, but my heart wasn’t in it anymore. To be fair, most liberals on my campus back then were ordinary Democrats who would likely have been as disgusted by the PSN cretins as I was that morning. On the other hand, even back then I remember that there was an unspoken reluctance among campus liberals to criticize anybody on the Left. We followed a general No Enemies To The Left line. The idea was that whatever the flaws on our side, the battle against the Reaganite enemy was more important.
Today I’m on the Right, and have been for most of my life, but I am militantly against the No Enemies To The Right mentality that you see among some of the more excitable voices on my side. If that’s what you think, you’ll end up defending, either actively or passively, by your silence, the kind of people who murder old Jews in wheelchairs, or Jewish babies in kibbutzes.
What a clarifying moment this is in the West. We have all seen the jaw-dropping alacrity with which so many leftists, especially within the academy, have rushed to defend the Hamas stormtroopers. If you think this is merely about Israel and Hamas, you need to wake up. The people who are celebrating the massacre of innocent Jews in the name of “liberation” are the same people who would celebrate the massacre of you, if they had the chance.
You think I’m wrong? Today, I write in The European Conservative about the situation in 2017 with Tommy J. Curry, a radical black professor who at the time was on the philosophy faculty at Texas A&M. A reader of mine at The American Conservative who was also either a student or faculty member at A&M brought to my attention how the university flipped out about the racist white activist Richard Spencer coming to campus, but tolerated a black professor making racist comments even more extreme than Spencer. I looked into it, and this, excerpted from my TEC piece today, is what I found:
Curry once gave an interview in which he denounced black liberals like Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama for being soft, and said, “In order to be equal, in order to be liberated, some white people might have to die.” In a different interview, Curry denied that white people have the capacity to reason.
Years back, Curry published a paper that, beneath its critical studies jargon, argues for indiscriminate killing of whites for the cause of black liberation. In the paper, Curry argues that he is “trying to question if it is the case that the only way to end racism is to challenge the existence of those whose breaths of life sustain the racist structure.”
He goes on:
White socialization reproduces white ways of life, white values, and an ideology of white superiority engrained [sic] in the narratives and history of American society. Even causal analyses of racial events in American society are framed in ways that uphold white sensibilities of justice and fairness, especially when those events would imply racism as the cause.
If you switched out the word ‘Jewish’ or ‘Zionist’ for white in that paragraph, you would get something that could have come from a Hamas propagandist laying the groundwork for extermination.
Curry praised anti-white violence as “a revolt against both the colonial structures of the America context, as well as the rebellion against the individual whites who choose to claim the legacy of that oppression in a white racial identity.” And: “Violence is anger realized as liberation.”
The philosopher cited approvingly Frantz Fanon’s belief that there are no innocents in a colonial situation. A white person under colonialism—and he believes that American blacks live under a kind of colonialism—is guilty by virtue of the fact of being white. The title of his paper includes the phrase “violence against whiteness.” Of course, there is no such thing as violence against ‘whiteness’; there is only violence against flesh and blood white people.
My reporting stirred up outrage in Texas, of course. The Chronicle of Higher Education published a long, sympathetic piece about the poor, put-upon black scholar victimized by a white conservative pamphleteer. It begins with an anonymous racist threat to harm Curry — an appalling act, of course, and not the kind of thing anyone should ever have to put up with. But the piece never seems to grapple with the obvious fact that a man who valorizes racial violence and even murder for political ends calls up the same demons from among his enemies.
What astonished me at the time was how normative this kind of radical discourse was on campus. That Tommy Curry was black, and a leftist radical, meant he had carte blanche (so to speak) to make outrageous, morally reprehensible claims — and nobody would call him on them. In 2019, Curry left Texas for Scotland (96 percent white), to live among people he hates and to teach at the University of Edinburgh, one of the UK’s oldest universities.
Well, today Sebastian Milbank at The Critic checks in on Curry and his radical colleagues, who have been all over the pro-Hamas cause this past week. Milbank’s piece is about how the University of Edinburgh is destroying itself by culturing radical leftism within, including anti-Semitism. Milbank brings up Curry here:
Of course to invite a lunatic speaker is one thing, and could perhaps be excused as a gross error in judgement. But how does one account for appointing someone with fantastically offensive and violent views to teach students at Edinburgh University? I am speaking of Tommy Curry, who holds a distinguished personal chair in “Africana Philosophy & Black Male Studies” at Edinburgh’s faculty of Philosophy. Professor Curry was also keen to express his views on Palestine, writing on Twitter that “Phallicism or the simultaneous construction of racialized males as the rapist while they are subject to rape & sexual violence remains an undertheorized aspect of race/gender theory despite being observable in every theatre of war & colonial oppression such as Palenstine[sic]”.
Another Curry tweet this week:
Translation: you thought decolonization was bloodless, fool?
Milbank uncovered one of Curry's academic papers, in which he observes that "the white woman cries out for rape”:
These are the kind of monsters that the triumph of the radical left in academia has created. One is once again reminded of Hannah Arendt's observation, in The Origins Of Totalitarianism, that elites in pre-totalitarian Russia and Germany were pleased to oversee the destruction of pillars of civilization for the fun of seeing marginalized peoples rush in. What sane person would want to study at the University of Edinburgh now? Who at that old and venerable institution has allowed ideological apologists for rape and murder to teach there, and proclaim their hateful views? And: who will hold them accountable?
Today is the international Day Of Rage called by Hamas. There have been pro-Hamas riots in European cities, and big demonstrations in support of the murders of 1,000 defenseless Israelis by Hamas commandos. We cannot allow ourselves to look away from this. We have living among us a large number of people who believe that intentionally slaughtering innocent, defenseless people, even children and babies, is morally justified for the sake of achieving a political goal. We have living among us a shocking number of people who despise Jews because they are Jews, and who would happily see their throats cut. This is not a wild accusation; this is a mere description of what we are seeing online and on the streets of Western capitals and university campuses.
At Cambridge University, the campus left is going after my friend James Orr, a divinity don, for commenting on mass pro-Hamas protests in London, “Import the Arab world, become the Arab world.” Raaaaaacist! they are screaming, demanding that Something Be Done About That Man. The absolute gall of these people, trying to get Orr sacked while people who actually believe in killing Jews thrive unmolested within the British university system. Besides which, Orr is objectively correct. If you import a large number of people from the Arab world, you are also importing its good qualities as well as its pathologies. The same is true of people from any part of the world.
Among the pathologies imported from the Arab world is anti-Semitism. The ADL did a survey globally to test anti-Semitic views. Here are the results from the Arab world:
There’s no getting around this. Does this make all Arabs, or a majority of Arabs, terrible people? No it does not. There are no people on this earth free of prejudice. It is part of the sinful human condition. But it does mean that among Arabs living in the West, anti-Semitism is likely to be common. Not universal — I have Arab friends in the US who are not anti-Semitic — but common. James Orr made the mistake (“mistake”) of saying something true but unsayable — even as pro-Hamas militants crowd the streets of London cheering on the burning of Jewish babies in a new Holocaust.
We have to start saying the unsayable, living no longer by the lies that ideological bullies require us to bow to for the sake of social peace. Hear me clearly: I am NOT talking about “saying the unsayable” in the sense of slandering others because of their race, religion, or other factors. I am talking about being unafraid to state what many of us can recognize as real problems, but ones we are not allowed to notice for fear of losing our jobs or being cancelled in some other way.
Looking at the pro-Hamas violence on the streets of European capitals, the wisdom of Hungarian PM Viktor Orban’s migration hardline is made manifest. Among the European elites, Orban is considered to be a horrible bigot because he will not allow Islamic mass migration into Hungary. I’m not in Budapest today (Chicago), but if I were, I know that I could walk with safety through the Jewish district, and that Jewish families can walk the streets on the international Day Of Rage without fear. Why? Because there are few Muslims living in Budapest. To be fair, you can see from time to time Nazi kitsch for sale by Budapest flea-market vendors, which is repulsive — but overall, Jews have every right to feel safe in Budapest, and do.
I wish it weren’t true, but it is. Jew-hatred is a deep sickness in the Arab Muslim world. We do them, and ourselves, no favors by pretending it doesn’t exist. We know very well that it has been a horrible problem in the Christian West. What Hamas did last Saturday was a footnote to the German-led Holocaust. Don’t forget, though, that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the top religious leader among Palestinians at the time was a Hitler ally. This is a screengrab from a German newsreel of the Grand Mufti’s meeting with the Fuhrer:
At that meeting, according to the US Holocaust Museum:
The Führer confirmed that the “struggle against a Jewish homeland in Palestine” would be part of the struggle against the Jews. Hitler stated that: he would “continue the struggle until the complete destruction of Jewish-Communist European empire”; and when the German army was in proximity to the Arab world, Germany would issue “an assurance to the Arab world” that “the hour of liberation was at hand.” It would then be al-Husayni’s “responsibility to unleash the Arab action that he has secretly prepared.” The Führer stated that Germany would not intervene in internal Arab matters and that the only German “goal at that time would be the annihilation of Jewry living in Arab space under the protection of British power.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Back then, do you imagine that there would have been pro-Hitler, anti-Semitic mass demonstrations in non-Germanic Western capitals? Would university faculties have cheered for Hitler? Well, they’re doing it now for Hitler’s worthy successors in Hamas.
What are we going to do about it? Nothing? If so, we are admitting that celebrating the slaughter of innocent people in the name of ideology is permissible. I’m not talking about people who generally support the Palestinian cause, in its various forms. I’m talking about people who affirm the goodness and justice of what Hamas did last week. We saw in the United States a hundred years ago that white Southern society believed that it was just to torture and murder black people extrajudicially. It was evil, and an evil that was at last overcome, through great sacrifice. The kind of hatred we are seeing now on the streets of our capitals lurks in every human heart, and could emerge under the right conditions. The task of civilization is to wrestle with our passions, and subdue them. It is never-ending.
The worst thing, in my view, about the Left today is this one:
It is the fundamental lie on which the entire ideology is constructed. That, and the related claim that the line between good and evil passes between groups, not down the middle of every human heart (as Solzhenitsyn memorably said). This allows people to say, for example, that black people cannot be racist, because racism is a function of power. That belief is a powerful narcotic that gives one permission to endorse any evil. You don’t need to be a Christian to believe, as the New Testament says, that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Arabs, Europeans, Africans … all. You only need to read the daily paper.
Morally responsible liberals (meaning, classical liberals) rightly decry cancel culture as incompatible with the flourishing of liberal society. But at some point, we have to draw the line, and say that this speech is intolerable. The Left, which controls academic institutions, has swallowed the camel of anti-Semitism and anti-white racism while straining at the gnats of misgendering. If we as a culture, and within our academic institutions most particularly, cannot stand unambiguously against valorizing the slaughter of Jewish civilians, then we are lost, and not worth saving. The Israeli air force would do us a favor by flattening those universities, which have already slit the throat of Western civilization from within.
All the normies who embraced Black Lives Matter ignored what critics said at the time: that these are not normal civil rights activists, but radicals who want to destroy the normative family, among other insane things. Back in the day, BLM co-founder Patrice Cullors said that Israel must be eliminated for the sake of racial justice. All the decent liberals ignored all of that, because they wanted to show solidarity with black folks. Now what do y’all think? What did you think it meant to align with a Marxist-founded, racial supremacist organization? Bet you didn’t think embracing the Pride movement without qualification required you to affirm the sexual mutilation of children, did you? You thought it was all Will & Grace, glitter bombs, and Love Is Love™.
The people who came here from the Communist world — the people I write about in Live Not By Lies — knew better. They knew this stuff was totalitarian to the marrow. Now do you see what they saw? If after the siding of Western academic elites with the Allahu-akbar Sturmabteilung doesn’t make you see, then for God’s sake, what will?
We are going to have to see a lot more acts like this one:
Decent people of the Left, Right, and Center are going to have to say, “Enough is enough” — and not just say it, but act on those words. It’s not just about the pro-Hamas Jew hatred we’re seeing now. It’s about the entire Woke-Industrial Complex. They have infiltrated many institutions across the West with their ideological hatred. This might be our last chance to save old-fashioned decent liberalism from the radicals. And not just the left-wing radicals: as I will never tire of saying, this leftist radicalism in power calls up an equal and opposite reaction from the racist Right. We’re seeing it emerge now all over. Young people who see that normie liberalism (left-liberalism and right-liberalism) did not save this society’s institutions from capitulating to leftist insanity will understandably be drawn to a radical-right ideology that is prepared to fight.
You can abandon civilization and go to hell from the Right-Hand Path as easily as from the Left-Hand Path. I prefer civilization. If we aren’t prepared to fight for it, and fight not only in word, but also in deed, then we will lose it. This apocalypse of the past week, this unveiling, has revealed to us just how much we have lost already.
It’s not too late. We can, as a society and a civilization, get up from the progressive propaganda table, and the movements we thought were really about justice instead of hatred, vengeance and murder, and walk away — back to our humanity. The choice is ours. But know this: the enemy is within. We now know, after this week, what many people (of all races) who live among us really believe about Jews, and about their ideological enemies. Again: if they cheer for beheading defenseless Jews and their children today, they’ll cheer for beheading you and your children tomorrow.