Friday, May 31, 2024

A Great Reckoning

I have occasionally made the point that student protesters and demonstrators, filled with righteous zeal, camping out in their college quads, are going to have an eventual reckoning. Or should it be, wreckoning. 

Given that they are ruining their reputations, along with the reputations of their schools, many of them are going to discover that bad behavior has a price tag. If they did not know it before they started shouting about killing Jews, they are about to find out.

Yesterday, New York Times columnist Pamela Paul took the full measure of this phenomenon, and offered some useful ideas.

She began with an obvious point. These children, even the students among them, have been told, by their teachers and their college admissions officers, that their goal in life should be to fight for social justice.

They were not taught how to think, but were told to engage in political action. That might mean shutting down classrooms. It might mean preventing Jewish students from going to class. It might mean screaming themselves silly over the river and the sea.

College administrators, especially those of a more radical leftist bent, are hoist on their own petard. They made their bed and now they are obliged to lie in it:

Across the curriculum, from the social sciences to the humanities, courses are steeped in social justice theory and calls to action. Cornell’s library publishes a study guide to a 1969 building occupation in which students armed themselves. Harvard offers a social justice graduate certificate. “Universities spent years saying that activism is not just welcome but encouraged on their campuses,” Tyler Austin Harper noted recently in The Atlantic. “Students took them at their word.”

This assumes that these academic bureaucrats had something like a flicker of an idea about what they were proposing. One understands why so many of them feel obliged to coddle and swaddle the revolutionary bands. The students are doing what they were taught to do. 

And now for the reckoning. Not merely on those campuses where young radicals have been punished for disrupting the proceedings, but out in the real world, where more and more hiring officers have decided that they do not want to hire those who participated.

Anti-Semitism might be all the rage on college campuses, but it is certainly not embraced by corporate America, or even legal America.

Paul explained:

In November, two dozen leading law firms wrote to top law schools implying that students who participated in what they called antisemitic activities, including calling for “the elimination of the State of Israel,” would not be hired. More than 100 firms have since signed on. One of those law firms, Davis Polk, rescinded job offers to students whose organizations had signed the letter Ackman criticized. Davis Polk said those sentiments were contrary to the firm’s values. Another major firm withdrew an offer to a student at New York University who also blamed Israel for the Oct. 7 attack. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law urged employers not hire those of his students he said were antisemitic.

Surely, the situation would look worse if everyone could speak openly and freely about their preferences. One understands that announcing something that looks like prejudice risks litigation, and many people would rather lie to surveys than suffer litigation.

Paul wrote:

Two partners at corporate law firms, who asked to speak anonymously since other partners didn’t want them to talk to the media, told me that participating in this year’s protests, especially if it involves an arrest, could easily foreclose opportunities at their firm. At one of those firms, hiring managers scan applicants’ social media histories for problems.

As for what employers are looking for, they want people who can get along and fit in. Happily enough, I have written a book about that. 

She writes:

Also, employers generally want to hire people who can get along and fit into their company culture, rather than trying to agitate for change. They don’t want politics disrupting the workplace.

Naturally, sentient college students are cleaning up their social media accounts. It is not very easy to discover who was manifesting and who was doing schoolwork. 

Hiring officers have therefore been reduced to a secondary consideration-- stereotyping. Certain students were more likely to be waving PLO banners. Some were less likely to do so.

Of course, this sometimes correlates with a consideration regarding which students were more likely to have been hired to fill diversity quotas. 

And then, reputational considerations is going to be applied to schools themselves. One hears, anecdotally, that local parents are looking beyond the Ivy League, to favor schools in the South. One understands that hiring managers are probably using the same calculus:

For decades, employers used elite colleges as a kind human resources proxy to vet potential candidates and make their jobs easier by doing a first cut. Given that those same elite schools were hotbeds of activism this year, that calculus may no longer prove as reliable. Forbes reported that employers are beginning to sour on the Ivy League. “The perception of what those graduates bring has changed. And I think it’s more related to what they’re actually teaching and what they walk away with,” a Kansas City-based architectural firm told Forbes.

So, the students learned their lessons well. Those who have been saying that university faculties have been overrun with tenured radicals, who have made it their mission to ruin students’ minds, seem now to feel vindicated-- regrettably.

The toughest lesson for this generation may be that while they’ve been raised to believe in their right to change the world, the rest of the world may neither share nor be ready to indulge their particular vision.

So, the situation in the Middle East has exposed the appalling failures of some of our great educational institutions. Or should I say, formerly great educational institutions.

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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Saving America's Face

Get ready. New York Times columnist Tommy Friedman is upset. He thinks that America has lost its moorings. Worse yet, he suspects that America has lost its sense of shame.

Dare I say that I do not think he is wrong. He might not have a sufficient number of little gray cells to say anything cogent about the problem, but surely America has lost its sense of shame.

In truth, I said as much in a book I wrote in 1996. It was called Saving Face: America and the Politics of Shame. I suspect that Tommy did not read it, but you can’t have everything.

Sad to say, but Tommy remains loyal to his party. He functions as a Democratic Party flack, and opens his reflection with the notion that in a society where shame mattered Donald Trump would have retired from the public scene once his dalliance with a porn star was exposed. 

We will ignore the fact that said dalliance is not illegal, but we will emphasize the simple fact that deviant sexual behavior is no longer considered to be shameful thanks to Democratic Party hacks, not to mention the great feminist leaders, who went to the barricades to defend the serial cheater and accused rapist named Bill Clinton.

Now, Friedman quotes his friend Dov Seidman, to the effect that cultural norms are established when leaders obey them. Again, he believes that Donald Trump is most egregious in defying said norms, but he might have said a word about the ranting, raving Trump detractors. They have certainly not behaved with exemplary decorum. And that does not merely involve lawfare.

As for how we lost our shame, not to mention our pride and self-respect, consider the wise words of Tommy’s fellow Times columnist, Bret Stephens. I quoted his remarks yesterday, and in case you missed them, I repeat them here:

In the past 50 years, the United States has gotten good at losing wars.

We withdrew in humiliation from Saigon in 1975, Beirut in 1984, Mogadishu in 1993 and Kabul in 2021. We withdrew, after the tenuous victory of the surge, from Baghdad in 2011, only to return three years later after ISIS swept through northern Iraq and we had to stop it (which, with the help of Iraqis and Kurds, we did). 

As I wrote nearly three decades ago, a country loses pride when it loses wars, when its great collective enterprises fall short. Not only have we been losing wars, but, as I remarked, no one has really taken responsibility for the serial failures. In truth, we rationalize our losses, as Stephens also said, by telling ourselves that we did not visit limitless destruction on our enemies. We cannot occupy territory but we console ourselves by staking a claim to the moral high ground.

Nations, especially democracies, often have second thoughts about the means they use to win existential wars. But they also tend to canonize leaders who, faced with the awful choice of evils that every war presents, nonetheless chose morally compromised victories over morally pure defeats.

Now, Friedman thinks that you feel shame when your behavior departs from societal norms. And yet, that implies that society has a single set of cultural norms, one that is embraced and, more importantly, practiced by everyone.

In short, the most significant enemy of shame is multiculturalism. You cannot have multiple cultures with multiple norms and expect people to practice them. When you Balkanize the society, you cannot have a singular set of cultural norms.

To his credit, Friedman understands this. The advent of cancel culture, the blame game that occurs when no one takes responsibility for societal failure, shows this clearly. For the record I suggested as much in my 1996 book.

Friedman explained:

Many universities today seem to be in the grip of a progressive ideological framework that divides the world into hierarchies of colonizers and the colonized, oppressed and oppressors, racists and anti-racists — and now pro-Zionists and anti-Zionists. As a result, those who fall on the wrong side of those binaries feel the need to stay silent or risk being ostracized. The first impulse in too many cases these days is to seek cancellation, not conversation.

But then, Tommy begins to opine on the fact that too many people get their information from Fox News. We would all be more comfortable if Friedman had noted that the New York Times itself went into full freakout mode over an op-ed written by a United States Senator, namely Tom Cotton. And let’s not forget Uri Berliner’s criticism of NPR for promoting leftist propaganda.

In truth, for denizens of the political left, the ones who are promoting the free and fair exchange of ideas, Fox News is the bogeyman. In truth, a quick glance at the television ratings will show that the mainstream media has far more viewers than Fox News. The evening news broadcasts of the three major networks far outdistance Fox in terms of ratings.

That there is a single alternative news source offends people like Friedman. The attack on Fox News is a symptom of a lust for pervasive groupthink. 

And for a sustained attack on patriotism. If we want to recover societal norms, we must begin by being proud of our country. As you know, important forces in American society are not proud of their country. Michelle Obama once opined that the only time she was proud of her country was when her husband was nominated as a presidential candidate. If that is what it takes to elicit your pride in country, you are not proud of your country.

The irony here, so clear that Tommy misses it completely, is that people follow societal norms because they are proud of their country. You cannot detach the one from the other. Lack of patriotic pride will damage your personal sense of pride. A sense that the country is an organized conspiracy whose successes were built on exploitation of oppression will not lead to national pride.

The antidote to shame is pride. Which president and which presidential candidate has been touting national pride? Who has been promoting American greatness? Which political party has been willing to abuse and corrupt and pervert the judicial system in order to attack the candidate whose program says that we should make America great again.

While I certainly agree that Trump would do himself and the nation a very large favor if he followed the advice his advisors have been giving him for years now, and to practice more decorum, but when our friend Tommy places the larger share of blame on Trump he is merely exposing his own prejudice. 

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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Wednesday Potpourri

First, on Monday I offered some comments on the new American anti-Semitism, which has invaded and infested the academic and literary worlds.

I had not seen it at the time, but James Kirchick opined on the phenomenon for the New York Times the same day.

I give you some of his comments, the first on the charge of genocide, leveled against the Israeli government: 

One of the greatest mass delusions of the 21st century is the belief that Israel is committing a genocide against Palestinians. This grotesque moral inversion — in which a genocidal terrorist organization that instigated a war with Israel by committing the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust is absolved of responsibility while the victim of Hamas’s attack is charged with perpetrating the worst crime known to man — began taking shape before Israel even launched its ground invasion of Gaza.

And then, as I pointed out, the group that has been opposing what it calls book bans is now working to boycott authors who are Jewish:

There’s a distasteful irony in a literary community that has gone to the barricades fighting book “bans” now rallying to boycott authors based on their ethnoreligious identity. For a growing set of writers, declaring one’s belief that the world’s only Jewish state is a genocidal entity whose dismantlement is necessary for the advancement of humankind is a political fashion statement, a bauble one parades around in order to signify being on the right team. As was Stalinism for an earlier generation of left-wing literary intellectuals, so is antisemitism becoming the avant-garde.

Second, one recalls the Biden administration’s abject failure to stop the Yemeni Houthis from disrupting shipping through the Red Sea.

Add one more mess to the list of the administration’s dubious achievements. Recall that the Biden crowd chose to build a pier in Gaza, the better to deliver humanitarian aid to terrorists.

What could go wrong? In fact, everything.

Noal Pollak wrote this on Twitter:

Update on the Biden admin's Gaza pier to nowhere: Parts of it have broken free and washed up in Israel. And virtually all of the aid that was delivered was stolen by Hamas. A $320M fleecing of the US taxpayer. There should be hearings.

The Washington Post brings us up to date on the progress of the floating pier. 

The Pentagon has suspended the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza via its floating pier after mishaps where U.S. military vessels were beached, one U.S. service member was critically injured, and sections of the structure were ripped free in bad weather.

But at least our military is diverse.

Third,  in the meantime, the Biden effort to appease Iran is proceeding apace. The Wall Street Journal reported:

The Biden administration is pressing European allies to back off plans to rebuke Iran for advances in its nuclear program as it seeks to keep tensions with Tehran from escalating before the autumn’s U.S. presidential election, according to diplomats involved in discussions.

Fourth, a side effect of the mass migration promoted by the Biden administration. Schools across America are forced to accept pupils who are incapable of speaking English, doing any math or following lessons. 

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Millions of migrants, most seeking asylum, have crossed the border in recent years and have been allowed to settle in the U.S. until a federal immigration judge decides their fate, a process that can take years. Among the record numbers, federal data suggest, are as many as one million children who have arrived with their families or on their own since 2021.

They are settling in cities and entering public schools around the U.S., adding financial and logistical strains in communities where they have arrived in large numbers. Districts are faced with the need for additional teachers and staff who can teach English and space for new students, often while waiting for promised supplemental federal or state funding.

There is more to the problem than money. If you put a few of these children in your child’s classroom they will disrupt the proceedings and prevent your child from learning. One more blow for the idiotocracy.

Fifth, meanwhile on the transmania front, the following news comes to us from TransgenderTrend on Twitter:

A new study shows 95% of young women on testosterone developed pelvic floor dysfunction. Participants, youngest 18, average age 28, had bladder and bowel symptoms that medics would expect to see in a woman after the menopause. What did medics expect?

Sixth, and Wesley Yang, also on Twitter offers this comment on transmania:

The evidence continues to accrue that the transgender movement is a cult of medicalized self-harm that inflicts lifelong ill-health onto the confused children it successfully targets for induction into its ranks by an army of profiteering enablers in a rapidly growing industry

Seventh, I recommend some Xanax. Democrats are trembling with trepidation over the prospect that Joe Biden is about to lose the upcoming presidential election.

Politico reports on the emotional condition of serious Democratic operatives:

A pervasive sense of fear has settled in at the highest levels of the Democratic Party over President Joe Biden’s reelection prospects, even among officeholders and strategists who had previously expressed confidence about the coming battle with Donald Trump.

All year, Democrats had been on a joyless and exhausting grind through the 2024 election. But now, nearly five months from the election, anxiety has morphed into palpable trepidation, according to more than a dozen party leaders and operatives. And the gap between what Democrats will say on TV or in print, and what they’ll text their friends, has only grown as worries have surged about Biden’s prospects.

Eighth, some sobering thoughts from Bret Stephens in the New York Times. I will not say that these are especially original thoughts, but still, they are clear and cogent, something we need when the Biden administration has been promoting a path to defeat in Gaza.

In the past 50 years, the United States has gotten good at losing wars.

We withdrew in humiliation from Saigon in 1975, Beirut in 1984, Mogadishu in 1993 and Kabul in 2021. We withdrew, after the tenuous victory of the surge, from Baghdad in 2011, only to return three years later after ISIS swept through northern Iraq and we had to stop it (which, with the help of Iraqis and Kurds, we did). We won limited victories against Saddam Hussein in 1991 and Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011, only to fumble the endgames.

Those who are whining about civilian casualties have forgotten how many civilian casualties we produced during wars when we emerged victorious:

In World War II, Allied bombers killed an estimated 10,000 civilians in the Netherlands, 60,000 in France, 60,000 in Italy and hundreds of thousands of Germans. All this was part of a declared Anglo-American policy to undermine “the morale of the German people to the point where their capacity for armed resistance is fatally weakened.” We pursued an identical policy against Japan, where bombardment killed, according to some estimates, nearly one million civilians.

Victories are often morally compromised. Defeats can be morally pure. A useful distinction:

But they also tend to canonize leaders who, faced with the awful choice of evils that every war presents, nonetheless chose morally compromised victories over morally pure defeats.

Now the Biden team wants Ukraine and Israel to lose.

Right now, the Biden administration is trying to restrain Israel and aid Ukraine while operating under both illusions. It is asking them to fight their wars in roughly the same way that the United States has fought its own wars in recent decades — with limited means, a limited stomach for what it takes to win and an eye on the possibility of a negotiated settlement. 

A cease-fire with Hamas that leaves the group in control of Gaza means it will inevitably start another war, just as it has five times before. It also vindicates the strategy of using civilian populations as human shields — something Hezbollah will be sure to copy in its next full-scale war with Israel.

Ninth, I have been catching up on the new season of the BRAVO series, Summer House. There is a certain silliness in the behaviors of thirtysomethings acting like teenagers, but that is not the reason why I keep watching the show. It is a reason why I hesitate to watch the show. It’s not fun to watch young people making fools of themselves on national television.

You see, my interest is anthropological. This show allows us to witness the influence of therapy and even feminism on human relationships. It shows us women destroying their relationships and even their marriages, for the best therapeutic reasons. The women who do not have relationships to wreck spend their time trying to help their friends to wreck their relationships.

And, behind it all, lies therapy. The women in question, and even the men, have been therapied. They seem to think that a relationship should be a therapy session. They traffic in barely intelligible psychobabble, and seem not to have the least clue about what it means to be a wife. 

Thus far, we have seen one therapy session. The therapist embarrasses herself and her profession. The scene will show you that I have not been kidding when I tell you that most therapy is bad news. 

The males in question seem well-meaning enough. They go along for the ride. They try to be more womanly, ultimately to fail. 

And yet, the show makes clear the simple fact, not to be ignored or forgotten, that, when it comes to relationships, women are in charge, whether they like it or not.

In the Summer House women assert themselves, insist on imposing their views, fail to support or to show care for their men, and end up lost in an orgy of complaining. Then they get together to console themselves, in something like a coven.

You’ve come a long way, baby.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Rene Girard on Desire

Perhaps we do not need to lose ourselves in the arcana of European idealism to understand the thinking of one Rene Girard. He has been having a moment, so I can at least offer a few comments on someone I knew in passing and for whom I always maintained some respect.

Girard belongs to a group known for their obtuse, barely intelligible prose. If you crack the codes you will feel that you have been initiated into a cult, have become one of the elect.

And yet, is it really all that complicated? How much of it is pure obfuscation? 

Girard’s theory proposes that what really matters in life is desire, a dubious proposition that has been embraced by people who would not recognize a desire if it came up and kissed them on the mouth.

Once the grand idea made its way across the Channel, it became a line in a song by the Spice Girls: Tell me what you want, what you really really want. If you want to make the concept into an ethic, try this: Do what you want.

Girard contributed a curious twist to this theorizing. Your desire, he suggested, is not really your own. You want the fudge Sundae or the beauty queen because you see someone else wanting it. Your desire derives from envy; you want what others want. Thus, you are alienated from your desire. It is not even inalienably your own.

But then, what are we to do with this Girardian dictum. Girard once said that the only desire is the desire for being.

I defy anyone to make that make sense. If you desire being, or even existence, you will need to start out lacking the same. So you do not exist and want to exist. Dare we mention that this has nothing to do with appetite or with libidinous longings. Do you really imagine that you only want to make the beast with two backs with your comely neighbor because you have seen other people doing the same?

Now, Girard was a famous proponent of the story time theory of human existence. We tell stories, to ourselves and to others, and we create the world and ourselves by telling different stories. Sad to say, but nearly everyone believes this

Cynthia Haven presents the theory:

It has been said that the universe is made up not of atoms, but of stories. Whether at a podium or over coffee with a friend, in the privacy of our thoughts or at an international summit, we tell stories pretty much all the time. We create ourselves out of the tales we tell—both individually and as a community, in our myths and in our histories. But who crafts the narrative, and with what motives and vested interests?

We deal in fictions. And yet we never stop asking what really happened.

Haven’s astute coda shoots holes in the theory. Girard might have thought it a great mystery. It was not.

Besides, do you really believe that you can become someone else, that you can change sex or gender, by telling different stories? And besides, how does a community come to adopt one set of stories and not another? And if you are the stories you tell about yourself, how many times do you need to tell each story to different individuals. And what happens when you change your mind?

And besides, the theory contains a nasty error. If all desires imitate other desires, how does the first desirer desire anything?

Girard believed that human beings, each of whom envied the other and coveted what the other had, would naturally be drawn into conflict. That is, before they became completely confused trying to keep all of the stories straight.

Haven summarizes the theory:

He saw that conflict is a constant hum beneath human activity, an inevitable consequence of competing desires. When conflict causes crisis, a pattern of self-justification and cover-up follows. 

It begins with envy: “All desire is a desire for being,” Girard wrote. So we look with covetous eyes at someone we fantasize has it all, who represents our derivative aspirations. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it tends to irritate the original. This metaphysical hunger attracts the resistance of the envied other and provokes heated competition. The enmity itself is the contagion, spreading until the whole community is in a mimetic meltdown. In an ugly attempt to end the escalating tit-for-tat reprisals as tensions rise, someone or some group is singled out as the cause of the mayhem. Although the target is innocent of the blame heaped on him, or her, or them—or at least no more blameworthy than anyone else in the community— people believe a problem has been solved by the elimination of the “guilty.” As the community converges on the culprit, a new unity emerges. Condemnation is unanimous, or nearly so. No one is guilty because everyone is: “It was a monster with one red eye, / A crowd that saw him die, not I” (Auden). In some societies, the condemned faces lynching, exile, imprisonment (a modern version might be “cancelling” the accused). It buys peace and reconciliation . . . for a while.

It would be useful if we could distinguish between lusting after a banana split because you see someone else eating one, and, on the other hand, punishing a criminal or a scapegoat. How did we go from this theory of desire to a theory that based all of human social organization on an expiated or punished crime.

In any event, Girard believed that novels contained the truth. By that he surely meant that the alternative reality produced by a novelist might count as a picture of a desire fulfilled. Shades of Freud’s theory of wish fulfillment. 

If the truth of your desire is the only truth, then perhaps you need constantly to refer yourself to an unreal alternative to reality. Make sure to keep your distance from the real world.

As Girard put it, “The novel is the truth, and the rest is lies.” His close reading showed that what we call “fiction” preserves the social and psychological configurations of a time and place, the contexts that decode the human puzzle. The art of the novel is anthropology, he discovered. 

As noted above, this is all going to reduce to the notion that you should do what you want. At least, that is what psychoanalysts propose.

And yet, consider this. What if the world is not a fiction, but is a game, one in which you need to make a move. When you sit across from your opponent in a chess game you will  not be pondering what you really, really want. You will not become a better chess player by getting in touch with your desire.

Consider this situation. Someone has done you a favor. Whatever it was does not matter. Now, said person asks you for a favor. Let’s imagine that you consider yourself a creature of desire and do not wish to return the favor. Should you blow off the other person or should you do the favor, despite your not really, really wanting to do so.

It’s an ethical dilemma. But, if you have reached the age of adult reason, it is not all that difficult. If you owe someone a favor, you should pay your debt, regardless of whether or not you want to do so. 

This puts you in the world of the most elementary economic transactions. It is based on following rules, not on following your desire.

In truth, you  might ask yourself how much of your behavior, your daily actions and reactions, make manifest your ability to follow rules, not so much your ability to act on your desire. 

If you are playing the game you should follow the rules. If you fail to follow the rule, others will refuse to play with you. If you say that you cannot follow the rules or cannot return favors, you will be writing yourself out of commerce, whether of everyday economic transactions or social exchanges. 

You might be saying to yourself that you follow rules because you want to be a functioning member of society. And yet, you were a functioning member of society, a named individual, a member of a family, a citizen of a nation, before you knew anything about rules or even about desire. And before you could tell stories about any of it.

Your place in the world derives from your role in society, your position in a family-- and different positions entail different responsibilities, duties and obligations. 

Fulfilling those responsibilities makes you a moral individual. You can make up stories that rationalize your failures, but, when it’s your turn to make a move on the chessboard, you should make a move, not concoct a story about why you do not want to do so, or even when you made a bad move.

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Monday, May 27, 2024

The New American Anti-Semitism.

Surely, you recall the hubbub and hullabaloo over book bans. Our intrepid culture warriors, forever on the lookout for incipient right wing Nazis, were up in arms over the simple fact that elementary school libraries had banned certain kinds of books.

What kinds of books? Obviously, kiddie porn was high on the list. It was proscribed from appearing in elementary school libraries and was banned from classroom lessons for five year olds.

It meant that school librarians could not be in the business of teaching small children how to perform oral sex. If that makes you a Nazi, then clearly there is something wrong with the American mind. 

To be fair, if that happy young couple down the street want their five-year-old daughter to learn all there is to know about anal sex, well, the state is not going to interfere.

But now, would you believe it?-- the radical American left has instituted something that is closely akin to book banning. It is not about kiddie porn; it is not about porn for kiddies. It is about books written by Jewish authors. 

You might recall that the Third Reich, when it went through its book burning stage, paid incendiary attention to books written by Jewish authors. It was not about quality or value. It was about the ethnicity of the authors. This saved incipient Nazis the trouble of having to read anything.

So, today’s book bans have taken up the Nazi practice and have written up lists of Jewish authors who deserve to go unpublished or unread or even unpurchased. You might not want to call this flagrant anti-Semitism, but still, it is anti-Semitism.

Reuven Fenton has the story for the New York Post. It begins with a list of Jewish authors, authors who are now to be ignored or canceled:

Jewish author Talia Carner thought she’d seen the worst after hundreds of antisemitic trolls review-bombed her new novel a few months back in retaliation for a pro-Israel video she posted on Instagram in the aftermath of Hamas’ attack on Israel last Oct. 7. 

But Carner was shocked anew earlier this month after discovering her name on a now-viral “Is your fav author a zionist?” Google doc, which attempted to blacklist authors they believed were either supportive of Israel — or had failed to condemn the nation in the wake of its ongoing war in Gaza.


The spreadsheet’s level of detail, comprehensiveness and unbridled malice was chilling. 

The rationalization involves Israel, but it is merely a reprise of Nazi practice:

Anti-Israel disruptors appear relentless in their efforts to menace writers who so much as mention Israel uncritically, from shutting down author events to ratings-bombing Jewish-themed books on sites like Amazon and Goodreads.

Prominent pro-Palestinian novelists like Hisham Matar and Maaza Mengiste have joined in on this global effort, boycotting organizations like PEN America for not speaking out against the “genocide” in Gaza.

For many writers, Jews in particular, the experience evokes a modern day Nazi book burning.

Worse yet, publishers are beginning to catch on. They are rejecting projects by Jewish authors and especially books about Israel:

“Half of British publishers ‘won’t take books by Jewish authors,’ ” screamed a March headline in the Daily Telegraph because of the Gaza war fallout.

There is “no point putting proposals up to commissioning editors as they just are not interested,” an unnamed literary agent depressingly confirmed. 

Esteemed Israel-based book agent Deborah Harris recently noted that she skipped the London Book Fair this past March, “the first time I decided not to go. I sent agents, and those who went did so with fear.” Her team did feel supported in the end, “but our sales are really down.”

Or, consider the experience of an Israeli scholar whose work was rejected by the Minneapolis based journal, Cultural Critique.

Israel Hayom has the story:

A troubling incident of academic censorship has come to light after an Israeli academic claimed his manuscript rejected by the journal Cultural Critique published by the University of Minnesota Press solely based on the publication's adherence to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Gai Farchi, an Israeli scholar, penned a letter to the journal's editorial team expressing shock and disappointment at their alleged decision to reject the proposed article "based on the journal's commitment to BDS guidelines," which include, "withdrawing support from Israel's cultural and academic institutions." Farchi responded that he is "currently unaffiliated with any Israeli institution" and argued that the journal rejected his work simply due to his Israeli nationality, allegedly crossing a dangerous line and constituting discrimination. Israel Hayom could not verify the claims made by the scholar.

Obviously, the BDS movement predates Israeli actions in Gaza. Evidently, anti-Semitism has gotten a new lease on life in America. It is a dark day dawning. Especially in the academic world.

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