When the French-Spanish singer and songwriter Manu Chao released the song “Politik Kills” as the third single from his 2007 album La Radiolina, the artist was taking a jab at global capitalism, neoliberalism, and political conservativism of the West. He sings:
That’s what my friend is an evidence
Politik is violence;
What my friend it’s an evidence
Politik is violence;
Politik need force (force)
Poltik need cries (cries)
Politik need ignorance (ignorance)
Politik need lies (lies)
Ironically, in today’s sociocultural and political landscape of the West, the lyrics of this rebellious song seems to apply more fittingly to radicals on the other end of the political spectrum, namely far-left political operatives, cultural Marxists, and illiberal ideologues. If anything, in the aftermath of the October 7th Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel, the plethora of pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel events held by Hamas’ Western allies from universities and various “intersectional” groups of the “oppressed” poignantly proves—ideology kills.
In early October, a coalition of 34 student groups from Harvard condemned Israel for annihilating Palestinians and facilitating ongoing violence “[f]rom systematized land seizures to routine airstrikes, arbitrary detentions, to military checkpoints, and enforced family separations to targeted killings.” When confronted with backlash and outrage about the illogical blaming of Israel for atrocities against Israelis, some student organizations backtracked from participating in the coalition. However, many, including the main organizer, Harvard’s Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC), have remained defiant, criticizing American media outlets for pushing “misinformation” about the Hamas-Israel War and urging supporters to get their news from “Gazan journalists.”
The virulent rhetoric of justifying terrorism under the tutelage of radical slogans such as liberation, anti-colonialism, anti-racism, and anti-oppression is shared by many others among the intelligentsia—whether it is expressed explicitly or through acquiescence. College students throughout the U.S. have held hundreds of pro-Palestine protests—some of which brazenly called for Jewish genocide. A Cornell Professor of History—apparently disregarding the complex history of the Middle East involving both Jews and Muslims— called Hamas’ attacks on Israel exhilarating. A Yale Professor of American Studies blamed the attacks on Israeli settler colonialism and White supremacy. A former Emory Professor of Medicine chanted “Glory to all resistance fighters” at a pro-Palestine rally in Atlanta. A Columbia Professor of Gender and Sexuality Law defended Hamas’s assault as a “military response.” Also, at Columbia, over 100 professors signed a letter in support of pro-Hamas students, whom they say are merely “recontextualizing” the events of October 7th.
Administrators and staff, feeling the pressure from donors and the public to denounce students’ support of Hamas, issued tepid statements pledging to fight anti-Semitism but are otherwise too politically correct to do more to reign in the neurotic mob. Many intentionally did not mention that Hamas is the instigator of the latest Israel-Hamas war. This refusal to draw a line and stop defending the indefensible is a result of their cowardly attempts to appease and pacify campus activists and justice warriors, who are often louder than pro-democracy, pro-Israel voices. A recent online poll of 609 college students found that 22% sympathize with Hamas, nearly as many as those who back Israel.
The recent wave of mass demonstrations against Israel, like the 2020 racial justice riots following the George Floyd tragedy, is the fruit of a decades-old culture war waged by far-left intellectuals and scholar-activists to capture young American minds in a hate-filled, divisive dogma of group grievances, identity politics, and racial animus. This ideology—combining neo-Marxism with post-modernism, critical pedagogy and critical race theory—is so widespread among the intellectual and cultural elites that sheer acts of terrorism and violence by repressive regimes such as Hamas are legitimized internationally. The irony is not lost when numerous privileged American college students rush to celebrate a terrorist regime that routinely penalizes “marginalized” sexualities and restricts the freedom of its subjects.
The culture war has arrived at a tipping point where a soul-searching reexamination of our institutional orthodoxies must be conducted. The vision of the anointed, according to Thomas Sowell, which blames the larger society and traditional Western values for all social ills and foolishly engages in victimhood-based politics, needs to be refuted with empirical evidence and commonsense if we want to get rid of the “intellectual rot” and the insidious ideology that kills.
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