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The Bigotry of Intersectionality

The Bigotry of Intersectionality

Call out intersectionality for what it is: a euphemism for anti-American, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bigotry.


What do the terrorist group Hamas and the anti-violence group Black Lives Matter have in common? What does the democracy of Israel have in common with the anti-Semitic Ku Klux Klan? What does the Islamic Republic of Iran, which throws gays off rooftops, have in common with gay-rights activists? What do feminists have in common with radical Islamic sexists who support the honor killing and genital mutilation of women?

Nothing, of course. Unless you subscribe to the pseudo-academic concept of interesectionality.

Intersectionality – the radical academic theory according to which all forms of social oppression are inexorably linked – has become a code word for anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bigotry. Nowhere has adoption of this radical paradigm been more pronounced then on college campuses, where – in the name of “identity politics” and “solidarity” – artificial coalitions are formed among causes that have nothing to do with each other except a hatred for their fellow students who are “privileged” because they are white, heterosexual, male and especially Jewish.

Students at the University of Illinois (UIC) recently took to social media to express their distress, after flyers were plastered around campus calling for the “end of Jewish privilege.” The flyer stated in bold letters that: “Ending white privilege starts with ending Jewish privilege.” The posters had outlines of silhouettes with Stars of David printed on their chests and an arrow pointing to them with the accompanying caption: “The 1%.” Although some of the posters identified Black Lives Matter as sponsors, it isn’t clear whether they were distributed by extreme right-wing groups using hard-left antisemitic tropes or by hard-left antisemites. In some respects, it doesn’t really matter, because many on the hard-right and hard-left share a disdain for Jews, their nation state and so-called “Jewish privilege.”

By attributing this domestic social problem to so called “Jewish privilege,” radicals are engaging in traditional economic anti-Semitism.

The very concept of “privilege” – the idea that white people benefit from certain privileges in Western society, compared to non-whites living in the same social, political and economic environment – has a long and complex history in the United States. The subjugation of black Americans, and other non-whites, is an endemic problem that requires far-reaching legislative and grassroots action. By attributing this domestic social problem to so called “Jewish privilege,” radicals are engaging in traditional economic anti-Semitism: attributing far-reaching societal problems to Jewish status, occupation or economic performance.

This practice resembles the vile anti-Semitic propaganda splashed across Der Spiegel in the 1930’s, which blamed Jews – and so-called disproportionate Jewish wealth – for Germany losing WWI and its subsequent economic downturn. Canards about Jews controlling world finances – first promulgated by the Tsarist forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – were anti-Semitic back then and are still anti-Semitic today, whether espoused by the extreme Left or Right. There is no more evidence that Jews are responsible for economic or social inequality in contemporary America than there was that Jews were responsible for any of the other crimes that formed the basis for traditional blood libels. Indeed, Jews disproportionately support racial equality and other liberal causes. Most successful Jews, like most successful people of other religions and ethnicities, earned this success by hard work, not special privilege. I certainly didn’t begin life with any privilege; indeed, despite finishing first in my class at Yale Law School, I was rejected by all 32 of the law firms to which I applied.

The linking of unrelated “victimizations,” despite their tenuous connections, is reflective of a broader trend in hard-left politics, whereby increasingly radical activists demand that the demonization of “Zionists” – often used as a euphemism for Jews – be included, indeed featured, in the package of causes that must be embraced by anyone claiming the label of “progressive.” Lumping seemingly disparate groups under the “umbrella of oppression” leads to the forming of alliances between causes that, at best, have nothing to do with each other and, at worst, are adverse to one another’s stated mission. Their only common feature is that in order to join, they must demonize the nation state of the Jewish people.

Some intersectional feminists involved with the recent Women’s March on Washington, for example, purport to be natural allies with anti-Israel Muslim groups that tolerate, if not accept, the “honor killings” and genital mutilation of women. Similarly, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) – an organization that calls for “an end to violence against civilians; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East” – invited Rasmea Odeh, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and convicted terrorist, to appear as a speaker at its national conference later this month. The idea of Odeh – a terrorist who quite literally has blood on her hands – speaking for a Jewish organization that claims to propagate peace flies in the face of logic. Fortunately, Odeh is being deported for perjuriously failing to disclose her murder conviction. I guess the peace-loving members of JVP will have to applaud her on Skype.

The following are among many examples of radical leftists conflating unrelated grievances. Consider the linking of our government’s handling of the Flint water crisis to the “severe” water crisis in Gaza. Black Lives Matter activists have visited Gaza to express solidarity with the terrorist group Hamas and with Palestinians oppressed by so-called racist Israeli self-defense measures. While Black Lives Matter claims to disavow violence in securing its political objectives, many of its most prominent members are far more eager to criticize the “Israeli genocide of Palestinians” than to criticize Hamas for using rockets to target Israeli civilians.

The essence of anti-Semitism is the bigoted claim that if there is a problem, then Jews must be its cause.

During a recent interview on PBS’ “Charlie Rose Show,” Jonathan Haidt – social psychologist and professor of ethical leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business – had this to say about the conflation of various left-wing causes under the banner of intersectionality:

…There is a good kind of identity politics, which is, you know, if black people are being denied rights, let’s fight for their rights, that’s the good kind. But there is a bad kind, which is to train students, train young people to say let’s divide everybody up by their race, gender, other categories. We’ll assign them moral merit based on their level of privilege [which] is bad, and victimhood is good. Okay, now let’s look at everything through this lens. Israel, the Palestinians are the victims. So therefore, they are the good and the Jews or the Israelis are the bad. And then you get – and then that, so there is one totalizing perspective. All social problems get reduced to this simple framework. I think we are doing them a disservice. I think we’re actually making students less wise.

There is a certain irony of many feminists and gay-rights activists refusing to condemn the sexism and homophobia in the Arab world. Increasingly, they try and force other progressives to adopt a “No True Scotsman” worldview, in which they are made to feel that to be a “true progressive,” one must embrace a wide variety of so-called hard-left causes, regardless of how unrelated they may be – as long as they also condemn Israel.

The essence of anti-Semitism is the bigoted claim that if there is a problem, then Jews must be its cause. Hitler started by blaming Jews for Germany’s economic downturn. Today, many hard-left activists explicitly or implicitly blame Jews and Zionists for many of the evils of the world. All decent people must join in calling out intersectionality for what it is: a euphemism for anti-American, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bigotry. Exposing and condemning “intersectionality” for the bigotry that it represents is critical to ensuring that those repressive extremists who falsely claim the mantle of progressivism are not able to hijack important liberal causes in support of their own bigoted agenda.

This article originally appeared on

April 1, 2017

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Visitor Comments: 11

(7) J.Weitz, April 4, 2017 2:23 AM

It's complicated.

The theory of intersectionality seeks to add social scientific backing to explain our alliances on civil and humanitarian rights issues. People are super complicated and we must search for common ground amongst each other in order for us to be more compassionate and find solutions.
For instance, I am pro BLM even though I am a Zionist and don't agree with their condemnation of Israel or their inflammatory and factually incorrect rhetoric on the occupation. I am anti-terror but love my freedom so much I'm not willing to give up much of it for more public safety. I love Democracy but am inclined to distrust our government's authority a majority of the time because of it's track record of fighting wars based on greed and false propaganda.
How does one try and organize so much cognitive dissonance? By creating fields of study to help us understand them and bring them in harmony. If some rotten apples appropriate the theory of intersectionality, we shouldn't be reactionary like Mr. Dershowitz suggests and banish it to the tool shed of extremists. We should increase our comprehension and connection together despite our obvious differences, because as humans we barely see the shadow of G-d's reality even when at our best.

DEBORAH RISA MRANTZ, April 4, 2017 3:21 PM

Agree with you Jay

For the most part I totally agree with you, Jay. I think one of the biggest issues today is that people have absolutely zero knowledge between there being any difference between "Zionist" and "Jews". And there are HUGE differences. To simply make these words synonymous is ludicrous. It distorts the argument and makes discussion impossible.
I'm not sure at all the creation of academics facilitates or engenders actual harmony. Talmudic study, and Midrasnhic argument yes, ultimate harmony? Maybe. Diplomacy? Probably not for a very long time. We're going on 7000 years and haven't yet achieved it. I firmly believe a solid wisdom-tradition knowledge and globally based, cohesive intellectual approach (not insular, Nationalistic or dogmatic understanding) is necessary to the bedrock of common ground. But ultimately, I firmly believe Diplomacy will come through a language we all speak, hear and love in common–music and art.

(6) Jay B. Abrams, April 4, 2017 1:30 AM

Very astute analysis

Very astute analysis Thank you, Professor.

(5) Deborah, April 3, 2017 4:24 PM

I'm Getting Fed Up of "Intersectionality"

To me, intersectionality has just seen a disintegration of people into ever smaller groups with ever increasing self-righteousness. Of course, as a black woman, I am conscious of racism and of sexism. I oppose them both, and will do whatever is in my power to confront these evils. But the current crowd of today want to make their anti-Semitism acceptable by scapegoating Zionists (read: Jews) and falsely lumping Israel as being a key perpetrator who must be condemned for someone to be considered part of the "cause". This co-opting of a distorted and deceitful narrative regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict into longstanding issues that predate it is being swallowed by a great deal of students who seem to be losing their capacity for critical, objective thought. Everything must follow the current orthodoxy, or people can risk facing even real violence, as has happened to Jewish students. It now seems that every other bigotry is unacceptable, except bigotry against Jews. This is called anti-Semitism and the so-called "intersectional" movement is thriving with it.

Anonymous, April 4, 2017 4:49 PM

Original "Intersectionality" and "Intersectional Movement"

Thanks for your thoughtful response. Unfortunately, I believe you're correct—the Jewish-Palestinian problem has been hijacked, not by our "BLM movement", but by every opportunistic smaller scale cause who continue to co-opt and conflate historical questions of diplomacy and political ideology w/ today's social currency of "Intersectionality". Crenshaw's original concept is fundamentally based in African American feminist/female experience; While the concept's universality shouldn't be limited by its origins, neither should it veer so far off every PC POC moment flies into its kitchen sink–which is exactly what it's becoming: a repository for the political exasperation, frustration and foment for insurgent forms of dissidence.
Students have lost (not are losing) such a high degree of critical analytical thinking, and generally have such a poor basis of global knowledge, that the insular American Nationalism of the moment underscores those results. To a large degree, statistically, only the economically privileged can separate the wheat from the chaf of charleton ideology. As to "Every other bigotry is unacceptable, except bigotry against Jews"? I'm astounded that anyone could write that sentence. A white supremacist literally prided himself and announced his intention to travel to the most iconic American city–expressly to kill as many Black people as possible (to prevent their intermixing with whites). This not only didn't cause an uproar of any kind, the President nor the AG commented on it as a hate crime referring to it only as an act of terrorism. Brown and Black people are persecuted all over the world, and it's ALL acceptable. America rewarded that blood on the leaves with a Presidency. Anti-Semitism's originates from the Sanhedrin's and Jesus' contemporaries of 1st cent. Jerusalem accepting responsibility for his death. We've been fighting to undo that ever since. Intersectionality has nothing to do with the correct origins of AntiSemitism.

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