Wokeful Peaceness and Other Inconsistencies

opinion and analysis

Much has been written in the pages of the Community Alliance newspaper about the Israeli assault on Gaza. Much more has been said in public to protest the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians by the Israeli armed forces.

Fresno State students organized a rally on campus on May 1 to add their voices to this global protest movement. Public pressure, no matter how feeble our efforts might seem at times, can yield results.

Already, the Biden administration has changed its language, is taking small symbolic steps to qualify its support for Israel and has begun to acknowledge that little of what has happened in Gaza since Oct. 7 was justifiable by Hamas’s terror attack of that day.

The right in the United States has responded to the student protest movement with pronounced hostility.

Let us examine this hostility more closely. It has been cultivated and channeled as a means for accelerating this country’s march toward fascism. No sooner did a movement to oppose Israel’s war on Gaza civilians emerge than right-wingers began painting it as inherently, fundamentally anti-Semitic.

Congressional fascists have held up every expression of pro-Palestinian sentiment on campuses as an example of anti-Semitism. In Congressional hearings, fascists then wove these examples into a broader narrative of violent anti-Semitism as a defining feature of leftist, activist politics in the United States—not just on campus, but throughout.

If you’ve been paying attention to the deep lore of the global right, this is not a new accusation. According to the fascist worldview, the “woke left” is a project of “Cultural Marxism,” designed to tear down the bastion of white, Western, Christian civilization, the United States, through subversion.

Marxism, in turn, is painted as an inherently anti-Semitic project, usually by deliberately misreading Marx’s “On the Jewish Question” as an expression, rather than a critique, of the anti-Semitism of German liberal nationalists like Bruno Bauer.

You might notice the contradiction in this account—cultural Marxism is a term first deployed by the Nazis in Germany against liberals, feminists, socialists, etc. “Kulturbolschewismus” explained how the Jewish world conspiracy against Germany played out through the subversive activities of the left, even if the bulk of these activists were ethnically German and culturally Christian.

This theory then justified the wholesale purge of the professions—doctors, teachers, lawyers, etc.—in Germany from Jews and their presumed political enablers.

It does not require a leap of imagination to recognize the accelerating purge of U.S. academia, ongoing since 2016 and elevated to a matter of government policy in the inquisitional hearings that target university presidents and public school administrators, as a replay of the “Gleichschaltung” of German professional life, albeit so far in slow motion. Except in Florida, where it is in full swing.

It is a bitter historical irony that U.S. fascism is finding accusations of anti-Semitism a perfect tool for their reenactment of Nazi ideas and policies and that they are deploying such accusations on the basis of an underlying worldview—the fight against “Cultural Marxism” and its symptom, wokeness—that is directly borrowed from the very regime that committed the Holocaust.

What follows from this? The accusation of anti-Semitism against the student protest movement against the genocide in Gaza is a smear. The conflation of anti-Semitism with any criticism of Israeli policy, and the association of both with the terrorism of Hamas, allows those who denounce the student protesters to claim that violence is a defining feature of these protests.

But the actual examples of “anti-Semitic violence” publicized in Congressional hearings and the press exhaust themselves in accounts of right-wing Jewish students claiming they were made uncomfortable by slogans and arguments. As far as actual violence goes, there has not been any that was initiated by the protesting students, but plenty provoked and committed by right-wing gangs and their allies, the police.

Against this background, the uniform praise for the Fresno State student protest for “remaining peaceful” has been odd. After all, it is only remarkable that these students “remained peaceful” if you assume that, elsewhere, they have generally been violent.

That assumption, however, is false, and for a truthful account of events it would behoove journalists and academics to remind the public that a peaceful protest is, in fact, not at all remarkable. What is remarkable is the willingness to repress the student protests elsewhere and to justify that repression with false allegations of violence.

Liberal academics at Fresno State have been complicit in maintaining this false narrative. Consider the words of Professor John Beynon, who told Marek Warszawski of the Fresno Bee that he considered the students camped out on various campuses examples of privileged kids “enjoying the luxury of being able to demonstrate” based on the knowledge that “if I go to jail, my parents are going to bail me out, or I know I can afford a lawyer.”

In case it was lost on the reader that Beynon considers these protesters spoiled brats, he added, “It’s different when you have to show up to a job or watch your sister’s kids.”

The author would not go so far as to argue that the liberal worldview comes down entirely to middle-class resentment, with a thin varnish of theory. Another big factor is the wish of the comfortable to paint themselves as salt-of-the-earth folk.

But the real disconnect here is the wish of liberal academics to distance themselves from, rather than express solidarity with, the students who set up protest camps.

The cops and thugs that swing at those kids are doing it on the basis of a political justification—the war on woke—that has you, liberal, in its sights. It requires you to overcome your narrow, provincial perspective and recognize the need for a united front against the fascist assault on academia.

If you must, you can gloat in private about fascist violence, and threats thereof, against people you despise. In your public role, your job is to stand up to it. You know you will be next.


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