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It’s hard not to enjoy the current backlash against some of the most irritating people on the left: Harvard students. The full horror of Hamas’ massacre of unarmed men, women, and children in Israel was still emerging earlier this week when the Harvard Undergraduate Palestinian Solidarity Committee released a joint statement signed by some 33 student groups. It began:
We, the undersigned student organization, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence. Today’s events did not occur in a vacuum. For the last two decades millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison.
The patronizing, sanctimonious tone is all too familiar. Just as they did with both 2020’s summer of rioting and the ongoing sexual mutilation of “trans” children, self-appointed moral arbiters have stepped forward to inform us that our instinctive, common-sense revulsion is misinformed if not evil. Oh, you think you’ve witnessed a brutal, unprovoked attack on innocents? Not so fast.
How refreshing to see these scolds finally get their comeuppance! Turns out nobody — right or left — is buying what they’re selling this time. Look who’s getting canceled now!
You’d need to possess a heart of stone not to take a little pleasure in the spectacle of these young wokesters frantically dismounting their high horses as the mob comes for them, whether via the Harvard “doxxing truck” or billionaire Bill Ackman’s hiring blacklist.
But it’s time to let bad opinions speak for themselves. Yes, “we’re better than that” is the excuse justifying countless conservative defeats and own-goals. But we are, in fact, betterthan that. Acting like it has practical implications. COVID and the Summer of Floyd “radicalized” many liberals (among them this writer and, I imagine, a reader or two) into thinking critically about their default assumptions. This horrible moment could lead to even more “conversions” — as long as we make it clear that sincere fellowship awaits on the other side.
I’m not saying we can’t roast them a little. A thicker skin is a requirement for membership. But no more scorched-earth “unpersonings” for mere speech. The elegant logic of the “doxxing truck,” which exposes people simply by disseminating their freely expressed public opinions, is spoiled somewhat by additional editorial commentary: a heading that labels the signatories “Harvard’s Leading Antisemites.”
There’s a whiff of the playground tattletale about such an accusation. It is no more becoming than when the left does it with its cherished “transphobe,” “Islamophobe,” and “white supremacist” epithets. It’s easier and more rhetorically effective to cry "anti-Semite" than to present an argument debunking the standard pro-Hamas, “open-air prison” narrative. The problem is, doing the former can cast doubt on your ability to do the latter. It’s easier to get the teacher involved than to stand up for yourself.Aren’t we supposed to be made of sterner stuff? Social media is an indispensable tool for spreading ideas, and it’s high time the right learned to exploit it as efficiently and ruthlessly as the left. But by sacrificing its victims on the altar of public opinion, cancel culture turns the internet into an idol. We owe our allegiance to a higher authority. Any victory that requires forgetting that will be hollow indeed.
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Managing Editor, Align
Matt Himes is the managing editor for Align.