War is hell. War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.
William Tecumseh Sherman
Like many Americans I was horrified by the Hamas terrorist attacks October 7, 2023. There are no rational excuses for such savagery, despite attempts of leftists to justify Hamas. The savagery of Hamas is not war. It is terrorism. Savagery is the only word that can describe the slaughter of civilians and children, torture, rape and kidnapping.
Wars are always tragic and it is inevitable that innocents will suffer. However, the war between Israel and Hamas has exposed an even deeper festering wound. As a doctor, I have removed bandages and discovered even worse disease. The British word “gobsmacked” described my reaction to the fetid wound of anti-Semitism displayed in cities across America, around the world and in American colleges.
I don’t consider myself naive or uninformed. I’ll admit I’m far from perfect and sometimes less tolerant of people or perspectives with which I disagree. But that is not bigotry. There is a difference between judgment and condemnation based on race, religion or creed. And antisemitism is no response to Israel’s war for survival.
I am a WASP, a white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant. If I had been born elsewhere my journey would have been different. The point is we all have biases which can be controlled by reason, education and tolerance, but never eradicated. And enculturated prejudice produces deep wounds which ultimately fester.
I grew up in the south in the 1960s during the Civil Rights movement. It is wrong to condemn someone because of their skin color. And it is just as wrong to condemn someone because of their religion or ethnic background, even their nationality. I agree with Dr. Martin Luther King: a person should be judged on their character.
For a long time I’ve been puzzled by antisemitism. The Jewish people I know seem to be fine Americans, and it is disturbing to now drive down Kingston Pike and see police cars in front of Temple Bethel and Heska Amuna to protect these synagogues and Jews. In recent columns, I’ve written about the origin of the terms Jew, Palestine and pogroms.
Dennis Prager is Jewish, a writer and the originator of PragerU, a website which I highly recommend. The internist in me searches for the cause of illness, but also why things happen. Years ago Prager wrote about the causes of antisemitism in his book “The Chosen” (not to be confused with the recent TV series).
Did antisemitism arise because Jews crucified Jesus? Actually, it was the Roman government who crucified my Lord to keep peace among the fractious first century population in Jerusalem. We’ve seen the scapegoat argument in Nazi Germany. Hamas attempts to justify their perversions on xenophobic racism, but no rational person can embrace this. And Prager discounts economic factors, although Jewish people are often highly educated, motivated and successful, and their wealth sometimes provokes envy.
Prager argues that the principle cause for antisemitism is their Biblical moniker, the “chosen people’’ because this sets them apart from gentiles (non Jewish people). That sense of separateness has sustained them and yet separates them from the communities in which they live. Judaism is often perceived as both a religion and a “nation.” The same argument was made with John F. Kennedy’s Catholicism.
Clashes over land and between cultures and religions have occurred throughout recorded time. But the current war in the Middle East has suggested to me a more primal force at work within the soul of civilized man. Its name is cultural Marxism. And like a sycamore tree, when it’s been shown to you, you begin to see them everywhere.
Karl Marx described economic class warfare in his 19th century book “Das Kapital.” The Bolsheviks led the Russian Revolution and adopted Marxism in order to establish a “worker’s paradise.” It never worked, but the radical ideas spread among intellectuals in Europe, notably in Germany and Italy. With the rise of the anti-communist fascists in Nazi Germany, communist intellectuals of Frankfurt University fled to the US. There they established themselves as “educators” at Columbia University where they developed cultural marxism, and then spread their ideas to Harvard, Chicago, Berkeley and numerous small teacher colleges.
There are many paths to transform a society. One is through violent revolution, another is the “long march through the institutions” as articulated by the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci. The Frankfurt school chose the latter as a way to “transform America,” a phrase used by Obama.
The neo-Marxism of today has expanded from economic class warfare to, for instance, racial class warfare, as in BLM. Everything in Marxism is framed in terms of oppressor and the oppressed, such as racial minorities, even sexual minorities of LGTB+. As a result, the Osama bin Laden letter circulated on TikTok spewing anti-American vitriol and Hamas sympathizers have all glommed onto the Marxist ideology. Increasingly radical, useful idiots in universities and street “intellectuals” march to bring down the white patriarchy, Israel or anyone who disagrees with their intolerant views.
Some minorities like Hamas should be suppressed, and anyone who supports their atrocities should be branded a pariah. The illogic of today’s cultural Marxist is the identification of Israel as an oppressor, when in reality this small island of Judaism exists within an ocean of hostile Arab nations.
I admit my bias. I reject Marxism in all its iterations. I am an American and a Christian, but neither plays a role in my rejection of Hamas’ savagery against civilized mankind.
The apostle Paul was said to be “a Jew’s, Jew.” He was a Pharisee and trained by the scholar Gamaliel. Yet, he persecuted the followers of Jesus until he encountered the risen Christ. He then spent the rest of his life as the foremost apologist for Christianity, particularly witnessing to gentiles like me.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans (11:17-19) he uses the metaphor of grafting a “wild, olive shoot” onto an olive tree, to represent the incorporation of gentiles into the community of the faithful. So, in a philosophical and theological sense, Christ grafted me into the lineage of Judaism and I emerged Judeo-Christian.
So to paraphrase Paul, I will speak the truth, fight the good fight, keep the faith and finish the race no matter the consequences. Join me in this struggle against cultural Marxism and the devilish forces of darkness.