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Critical Race Theory’s Jewish Problem


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James Lindsay

October 22, 2020

Critical Race Theory has a Jewish problem, and, finally, people are beginning to notice. “Stop being shocked,” implores Bari Weiss, formerly of the New York Times, writing for the Jewish commentary magazine Tablet. Stop starting off sentences with “can you believe…?” It’s a staggering article that cannot be recommended highly enough.


To understand the enormity of the change we are now living through, take a moment to understand America as the overwhelming majority of its Jews believed it was—and perhaps as we always assumed it would be. It was liberal. Not liberal in the narrow, partisan sense, but liberal in the most capacious and distinctly American sense of that word: the belief that everyone is equal because everyone is created in the image of God. … No longer. American liberalism is under siege. There is a new ideology vying to replace it.

Weiss is correct in her diagnosis and in her identification of the underpinnings of the new ideology replacing liberalism. She describes it as “a mixture of postmodernism, postcolonialism, identity politics, neo-Marxism, critical race theory, intersectionality, and the therapeutic mentality,” to which we should add at least a few drops of the Rousseauian assignment of primacy to instinct, emotion, intuition, feelings, and passion over reason and evidence. The only place her description leaves anything to be desired is in her claim that “No one has yet decided on the name for the force that has come to unseat liberalism.” That may well be the case in that we haven’t decided on the name we’ll use for this ideology, but it does have a name. This ideology is called by at least some of its proponents by the name “Critical Social Justice.” In short, Critical Social Justice—colloquially “Wokeness”—is a toxic fusion of cherry-picked aspects of the many lines of thought just identified, each chosen for its practical utility in advancing its particular line of fundamentally anti-liberal activism.

People need to understand that the new growth of anti-Semitism that Weiss asks us to stop being shocked at seeing is, if not a deliberate feature, a reliable consequence of the ideology of Critical Social Justice when put into practice. Because of the way Critical Social Justice views the world, it generates certain unavoidable and irreconcilable contradictions where Jews are concerned, and lacking the means to resolve them, it finds itself faced with what some are rightly naming a Jewish question that leads to it having a Jewish problem. As few, if any, clear explanations for this worrying trend currently exist, this essay aims to provide one in thorough detail.

A Brief Introduction to Critical Social Justice


At the moment, we are losing liberalism to Critical Social Justice, which isn’t just inimical to liberal beliefs but also believes they must be torn out by the roots—which, if Weiss is right, will include Hebrew roots. This simple truth, hard-learned so many times before about shallow social theory, is a danger to us all. It poses a particular, though not wholly unique, danger to Jews.

For the present, there is still some daylight between Woke anti-Semitism and older, more recognizable forms of Jew-hatred, but there’s no guarantee that will stay the case. Indeed, the edifice already seems to be crumbling. It’s worth stating, then, that the only difference between historical applications of ideologically driven anti-Semitism and Woke anti-Semitism, then, is that the current approach comes at the issue in an apparently novel way by shoehorning Jew-hatred into a drastically oversimplified framework of American racial history—one with a great deal of current cultural cache—which is to say that the differences are mostly a matter of window dressing and time. That is to except one other difference: those have no positive branding and no Jewish support, whereas Woke anti-Semitism currently enjoys a reasonable degree of both.

Critical Social Justice is, in its vulgar simplicity and pretentious racism, neither sophisticated nor liberal enough to handle the straightforward facts of Jewish life and history, which make an inconvenient misfit to its profoundly inadequate notions of social power and conflict. It must therefore be said that this paucity of sophistication and liberalism within Theory render the contradictions at hand both unavoidable and irreconcilable for Theory. This, in turn, defines a fundamental and intolerable Jewish problem in Critical Social Justice that, if history writes any guide, will find its “resolution” in the decrees of the Theorists, if they become sufficiently empowered. We must not allow this to happen.

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