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Thursday, May 23, 2024

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If memory serves, he was invited to a senior intellectual history class I had. I recall a rather rousing class discussion—primarily because it was a fairly tiny class. The class professor is sharp and an excellent writer herself.

Walzer is a sharp guy, his work is worth taking seriously, even if he’s not ultimately someone you would or could agree with.

Bill, it's interesting you bring this up right now given what's happened in the last several months.

I have strong, indeed moral, convictions in regard to the Middle East with Israel and Gaza and Palestinian Arabs. I'm not Jewish, but all this is personal for me in a way that it isn't for most non-Jewish supporters of Israel -- the reasons for which I won't go into right now. Suffice it to say, my convictions are of such strength that I have felt intellectually uneasy about them. What was I missing? Why is there such a gulf in belief between me and those leftists and apologists for Hamas and the Palestinians? I've wanted to understand why these people are defending/downplaying terrorism and ethnic violence against the Jews not seen since the Nazis. Is there any rational basis to any of the opposition arrayed against Israel and world Jewry in the aftermath of Oct. 7? So, I decided to look for it.

I haven't found it. But what has struck me in this odyssey of sorts that complements your polemical observation here is how educated secular leftists defend Muslim Palestinians. They have this conceit, an excuse-making ideological paternalism about them. As Walzer's examples show, leftists have a tendency to ascribe and project their own beliefs and worldview upon Muslims, in this case the Palestinians, arguing that Hamas, the PLO, and Palestinians as a whole are motivated to dishonorably slaughter and engage in revolutionary violence for honorable secular reasons. They presume the Palestinians are ostensibly just acting within the same sort of liberal humanist tradition of both the Founding Fathers, for example, and of their noble egalitarian leftist selves. The conflict in the Middle East is really about "human rights" and "dignity," and for 100 years, Jews have and continue to tyrannically tread upon the poor Palestinians, so they claim.

Throughout all this, unsurprisingly there is nary a peep about Islam influencing the Palestinian barbarians. Leftists don't take seriously religion, obviously the defining feature of Muslim society, as evidenced by it's seemingly never brought up for consideration as even a potent sociological force in order to dismiss it when defending or "contextualizing" the Palestinians. It never seems to occur to them that it's not "Justice as Fairness" but perhaps Surah 2:191 that more so inspires Palestinian "resistance."

What explains this myopia, this willful ideological blindness? Putting aside prejudice against Jews or that leftists just think religion is superstition as causes for the moment, I'm beginning to think more and more that Israel-Palestine is illustrative of where idealized egalitarian liberal social contract theory fails -- both as an explanatory framework and with its ethical prescriptions and proscriptions: It's hard to effect a social contract for a politically just and free society, escaping the "state of nature," when your neighbors, for a century now, insist upon a perpetual "state of war" and, against their own seemingly rational self-interest, continuously elect to pursue ends that result in lives -- for both themselves and their children -- that are "nasty, brutish, and short." Leftists refuse to see this as the case, to concede Islam as the preeminent cause of what clearly is a Palestinian jihad, because they intuitively grasp the unpleasant theoretical implications. As committed ideologues who think very highly of themselves, it's easy to dogmatically double, even triple, down and see the Palestinians as perfect "non-white" underdog victims who have no agency against "white colonial zionists" and abstract Islam from the equation. So they invoke hoary and sacred notions of "human rights," "veils of ignorance," "original positions," and the like on the Palestinians' behalf to condemn Israel as being essentially hostis humanis generis. Why confront reality and engage with the concrete and historical facts, as well as other plausible ethical considerations outside of the ones leftists favor, that more accurately characterize, in my opinion, the conflict, thus facing the unbearable prospect of revising some of their self-congratulatory beliefs, perhaps going as far to discard their false and rotten worldview?

Even among sins, pride is a helluva narcotic. It feels better to be an erudite antisemite than suffer the indignity of an intellectual colonoscopy and discover how far your head is up your own ass.

Thanks for the comments, Ben.


>>leftists have a tendency to ascribe and project their own beliefs and worldview upon Muslims,<<

>>Leftists don't take seriously religion, obviously the defining feature of Muslim society, as evidenced by it's seemingly never brought up for consideration as even a potent sociological force in order to dismiss it when defending or "contextualizing" the Palestinians.<<

I agree with these points. Because leftists are constitutionally incapable of taking religion seriously, and because they engage in psychological projection, they think that Muslims don't really take religion seriously either. But they do, in the main. (There are exceptions.) Unfortunately their's is an inferior religion. Downstream from it is an inferior culture, and downsgtream from IT is an inferior politics. Religion --> Culture -->Politics.

What these lefties don't understand is that if the Islamists got control, they (the lefties with their libertinage) would be among the first to 'lose their heads.' Literally.

More later. It's time for Mark Levin. And I need to see what's up with Trump and the libertarians. I haven't had the TV on all day. I've been dialing back the political dreck for the samk of sanity and peace of mind. But you have to be aware of what's coming down the pike.

Bill,

You’ve said elsewhere that the more essential point that gets lost in these kinds of arguments is that there is a fundamental value difference, let’s call them “core axiomatics”, or at least whatever ones near enough to them that some fights and conflicts are **unresolveable**, period. Least of all in any enduringly peaceful or “reasonable” way. It thus becomes an us-versus-them feud, and on and on. So, as you say; if it has to simply be about a real-world pragmatist stance, pick a side and hopefully not the losing one.

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