Culturally respectable racism

Published April 29, 2024

WORLD Opinions

The scenes that have been playing out on elite American campuses—scenes of the most explicit racism—are a national disgrace. Of course, in the United States, people have a right to public protest. And while I am pro-Israel in the current conflict, it does not seem irrational to me that others might wish to support the Palestinians and criticize aspects of the Israeli war strategy. But the protests are not merely supportive of Palestinians. They are supportive of Hamas. And they are targeted not at Israelis in particular but at the Jewish population in general. Such protests are racist, at least according to the traditional definition before folks like Ibram Kendi and the BLM activists of this world managed to twist the term to suit their own interests.

Some may wish to argue that support for Hamas is not anti-Semitic but rather anti-Zionist. They will likely claim that the 2017 Hamas charter identified the problem as “Zionists” rather than “Jews” for this reason. But that is a specious dodge. When you think that the state of Israel is the result of a Jewish conspiracy, the terms become basically interchangeable. And when events on elite college campuses in the USA have created an environment where Jewish students are under threat simply because of their Jewishness, Israeli military action would seem only to be the pretext and not the true cause of the hatred.

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Carl R. Trueman is a fellow in EPPC’s Evangelicals in Civic Life Program, where his work focuses on helping civic leaders and policy makers better understand the deep roots of our current cultural malaise. In addition to his scholarship on the intellectual foundations of expressive individualism and the sexual revolution, Trueman is also interested in the origins, rise, and current use of critical theory by progressives. He serves as a professor at Grove City College.

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