How to ensure that your lefty Jewish friends do not take you seriously.

I do not have the knowledge — or the kevlar underwear — to opine on the situation in Gaza, but I’ll say this:  nothing seems better designed to ensure that Jewish lefties simply tune you out than the choice to use inflammatory — borderline anti-Semitic — language.

I’m a liberal and a Jew, and would be the natural audience for arguments that Israel has — what’s the technical foreign policy term? — seriously fucked up this time.  But when I hear words like “genocide” or “apartheid” or see images of Israeli politicians with blood on their hands, I don’t think, “Hmmm, that person has an interesting point I should think about.”  I think, “asshole.”  Or, with slightly more nuance, “grandstanding asshole who is more interested in left-wing tribal solidarity than actually having a rational dialog.”  And ultimately:*

Image:  Graphic of the small toolbar from the upper right side of a web browser that offers the choices of minimize (a flat line), restore (two small squares), and close (an X), with a red arrow pointed to the X.

 

 

 

 

I know this can be said of almost any fraught issue in American politics today.  If you say either “baby killer” or “the government wants to own my uterus” you are not interested in having a rational discussion about abortion; you are expressing tribal solidarity.   I’m firmly convinced that tribal solidarity drives most political opinion.  Once you’ve identified as a Republican and that has become part of your identity, it’s hard to say, “you know, perhaps we should treat children arriving at our border with compassion.”  Your tribe has made it a mark of in-group-ness to decry these children as shock troops of an invading horde of Obama-inspired future Democrats,** and taking a contrary position would be as hard as making a Red Sox fan cheer for the Yankees.  It is similarly hard, I think, to get most Democrats to even admit that people who oppose abortion might do so from deeply-felt, well-thought-out reasons and not simply because they hate or want to suppress women.***

So ultimately if your goal in discussing the situation in Gaza is  just to express tribal solidarity with your co-opinionists, go for it.  Use whatever inflammatory language makes you feel like part of the in-group.  If you actually want to have a rational discussion with people who just might share some of your lefty views, you might want to reconsider.

***********

* Well, no, ultimately what I feel is fear, because historically when people start down this road, things do not end well for Jews.

** Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

*** Two additional notes about this.  First, these two examples are in no way intended to suggest some sort of faux balance.  In my view, Democrats remain largely right, policywise, and Republicans largely wrong.  Second, I think tribalism is stronger on the right than the left because one of the substantive values of the right is conformity, while one of the substantive values of the left is iconoclasm.  Which makes it all the more ironic and, to me, disappointing to hear left-wing tribalism.

 

 

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