Salvo 10.25.2023 8 minutes

Don’t Waste a Good Crisis


When the Left takes it on the chin, strike harder.

Famed girl activist Greta Thunberg recently made a series of Instagram posts expressing her “solidarity” with the Palestinian cause. “Today we are striking in solidarity with Palestine and Gaza,” Thunberg wrote. “The world needs to speak up and call for an immediate ceasefire, justice and freedom for Palestinians and all civilians affected.” She also shared a post from a pro-Palestinian account that called for a “global general strike” and acts of “civil disobedience.”

Although Thunberg’s own post received more than 100,000 likes in a single hour, many commenters were less than happy that she had failed to make any mention of Israel and Israelis by name. One user wrote, “Greta, you used to be an inspiration, but now you’re a huge disappointment. I can’t believe you’re pro Terrorism. You didn’t condemn Hamas and Jihad for committing murders and executions of babies, children and innocent people.” “Hamas is a declared terrorist organization that boycotts many liberal things you support,” another user wrote. “Please educate yourself, because by this post you justify an organisation that boycotts the LGBTQ community, and women’s rights.” Greta soon deleted her posts and issued an apology, including for the presence of a blue octopus toy in the accompanying picture that some claimed had an antisemitic meaning. Greta said the toy helps with her autism.

As the angry responses to Thunberg’s post show, the crisis in Israel has opened gaping divisions within the international Left. Radicals and moderates, the cadre and the well-heeled metropolitan elites, are now facing off over the glaring contradictions within their ideology and organization.

This is already happening, without any help from the Left’s opponents. But there’s no reason why we shouldn’t make it worse, and help “sharpen the contradictions” as Marx himself suggested. For starters, Thunberg’s stance on Palestine could offer a chance to discredit her work on climate change, or at least to divide her supporters and make her work to get us all eating mung beans and paying tax for cow farts a little bit harder than it once was. From being an untouchable member of the leftist pantheon, little Greta’s now looking very mortal, with the feet of clay to prove it. Many other radical darlings of the liberal elite are and will be in the same vulnerable position, where their legitimacy and influence can be hollowed out.

The Right can and should go further than this. We still have some institutional power, including state power, and we should use it, instead of complaining about our opponents’ hypocrisy and lack of consistency. Principles and a sense of fair play are all well and good, but if they lead you and your comrades, one cold winter’s morning, to a bullet-riddled, bloodstained wall, you’ve probably made some serious miscalculations along the way. We should be in no doubt: this is where we, or many of us, are heading. Douglass Mackey, a.k.a. “Ricky Vaughn,” has just been sentenced to seven months in prison for the crime of making Hillary Clinton look bad in some memes. Dissent and opposition to the liberal regime is being criminalized, at every level from humble shitposter to former president. Another election is about to be stolen. If you want to know what might come next, read the memoir of “White” Russian general Pyotr Wrangel, Always with Honor, about the Russian Civil War. I’m not joking.

I’ve already written for this publication about the problems the Right has in recognizing the elementary political distinction between friend and enemy. Some of this may actually be due to deep temperamental differences between your typical right- and left-winger. A new study in personality psychology reveals that, in a series of hypothetical scenarios, “conservatives consistently showed more empathy to liberals than liberals showed to conservatives.” Liberals as a rule made harsher judgments about “outgroup members,” and also tended to rate conservatives as “more harmful than conservatives saw liberals.” Whether this is because, as Jordan B. Peterson likes to tell us, conservatives are higher than liberals in trait conscientiousness, or for some other reason, is unclear, but the study’s findings ring depressingly true. Conservatives are too tolerant of opponents who want them, quite literally, to stop existing. We shouldn’t tolerate such people at all.

The Right is going to have to find some way to override the mental circuits that trap it within the bounds of such dangerously scrupulous behavior. It won’t be easy, but it needs to happen. Plenty of ink has already been spilled about “cancelling the woke Hamas apologists,” for instance the Harvard students who rallied in favor of Palestine, and while it may be satisfying to subject ordinary leftists as well as celebrities to a round of tit for tat for all those who’ve had their lives ruined for a tweet or offhand remark, we can surely be more ambitious than that. Christopher Rufo, one of the most clearsighted and effective enemies of radical leftism the American Right has today, has advocated “[creating] a strong association between Hamas, BLM, DSA, and academic ‘decolonization’ in the public mind” to make all of these groups “political untouchables.”

Rufo says we need to make it clear that the beliefs and goals motivating Hamas are the beliefs and goals motivating radical leftists on the domestic scene—which is why they are supporting Hamas so forcefully. “Black Lives Matter stands in solidarity with Palestinians,” the group tweeted in 2021. “We are a movement committed to ending settler colonialism in all forms and will continue to advocate for Palestinian liberation. (Always have. And always will be).” To BLM, the U.S. is just another instance of the same “settler colonialism” oppressing the Palestinians, and must be treated in exactly the same manner. “Decolonization” in this form is taught by virtually every lecturer and professor in the humanities and social sciences today.

“Intersectionality” and its implications amount to the destruction of America, and the chaos Hamas spread in Israel is a taste of the chaos that radical leftists would like to bring to the streets of the West. If we can direct greater scrutiny and taxpayer-backed outrage onto the university faculties and staff teaching “decolonization” to hundreds of thousands of students each year, and onto the organizations that are forcing it into ever more aspects of American life, maybe we can start to loosen the hold of this resentful, murderous anti-white ideology. American universities have already lost millions in donor funding as a result of the responses of their students and faculty to Hamas’s attack on Israel. The more, the better.

This need only be the beginning. Hamas is, after all, a designated international terrorist organization. The full-throated support of groups like BLM for Hamas is an invitation for conservatives to have these groups treated as sponsors of international terrorism, as actual terrorist organizations themselves. BLM Chicago has been particularly vocal in its support for Hamas. A few days after the initial Hamas offensive, the group’s Twitter account posted an image of a Palestinian hang-glider with the words, “I stand with Palestine.” The implications of this message were clear for all to see. A huge pro-Palestinian rally took place in Chicago on October 14, which BLM Chicago must have been involved in organizing. Whether BLM has provided direct material support to Palestinian groups, including Hamas, is anybody’s guess at this point, but it wouldn’t come as a surprise if it has. Even if it hasn’t, BLM’s very public moral support for Hamas should give lawmakers more than enough to work with.

It’s wishful thinking to imagine that the current federal government would designate BLM a terrorist group, or that the DOJ or any of the captured three-letter agencies would begin investigating it on that basis. This won’t happen. But at the local and state level, there’s plenty that could be done. If you want proof, just look to Georgia. Dozens of members of the leftist “Stop Cop City” movement have been arrested and charged with domestic terrorism for attacks on a new police training center in Atlanta. Georgia’s Republican attorney general is now using the state’s RICO statute to indict a further 61 people associated with the movement as part of a broader criminal conspiracy. Notably, the attorney general’s indictment implicitly accuses BLM of also being a criminal conspiracy.

The Left seems genuinely afraid. “How Georgia indicted a movement,” runs a headline in The Nation, from September. “The state’s prosecution of Stop Cop City Protesters is astonishingly honest in its ambitions to crush Georgia’s left.” The authors of the article, Zohra Ahmed and Elizabeth Taxel (both law professors at the University of Georgia), write:

The indictment is a document of profound alienation from community, neighborhood, and friendship. The AG describes ordinary forms of political community, like offering emotional support to a fellow activist, as seditious acts that threaten the state. This is a prosecution to crush an empowered and self-reliant left in Georgia, which has become too powerful to tolerate.

No! This can’t be happening to us!? This is what we do, not you!

Cry harder, I say.

There’s no reason why other red states shouldn’t follow Georgia’s lead and begin to investigate radical leftist organizations in their states, too. Imagine the noise the Left would make if multiple states indicted prominent members of BLM and other groups as part of a state and nationwide conspiracy: a squeal so high-pitched it would be audible only to dogs, bats, or expensive seismic equipment.

Degrading the ability of radical leftist groups to organize freely could have significant benefits in the short term. In case you hadn’t realized, next year’s election is not going to see a return to normality, to largely “free and fair” voting as existed before 2020. The frontrunner for the Republican nomination is being dragged into endless rounds of lawfare, with the open intent of putting him in prison, or at least reducing his popularity, preventing him from campaigning effectively, and even disqualifying him from running. If that doesn’t work, it’s entirely possible that the Left will resort to the kind of direct action and intimidation we saw during the 2020 Summer of Floyd: riots, looting, and terror aimed specifically at the white middle classes. Preventing that from happening could be the difference between a second Trump presidency, and at least the possibility of some renewal, and four more years of accelerated decline under Joe Biden, or whoever gets picked to replace him. Which would you prefer?

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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