Friday, March 20, 2015

Elder Of Ziyon - Israel News: Short review of Melanie Phillips talk

Tonight I went to hear Melanie Phillips speak in Manhattan.

I spoke to her briefly beforehand. I was hoping to interview her but she said she doesn't like being interviewed. Oh, well.

Her speech topic was "Contemporary Liberal Discourse and Jihadism: Why the Disconnect?" But in fact she was describing more how they are related than how they aren't.

Essentially, Phillips presented a unified theory of the Left. Her thesis is that the Left is based on dogma that is more closeminded than religions are, as they create their own ideologies - "isms" - whose foundations are not allowed to be questioned. This applies to progressivism, environmentalism, feminism and many other ideologies, which are, in her view, all really a fig leaf for narcissism - the desire to feel important at the expense of those who disagree with you. In fact, Phillips claims, these ideologies are meant to replace Western religious morality that emphasizes doing good for others with a selfish set of ideologies that emphasize self-centeredness - and self-righteousness.

In fact, one of the ironies of the Left is that this dogma is taught in universities which have now become the most dogmatic, closeminded places on the planet And from there it spreads to the media and elsewhere.

Phillips astutely pointed out that universalism will always hate the Jews, because Jews are a separate people with a separate moral code, which is a threat to these ideologies. Israel's purpose is to provide a safe haven for Jews, and that idea is anathema to any universalism. And, she noted, universalism often ends up becoming totalitarianism.

I thought she was on shakier ground when she tried to compare these ideologies with Islamism, both being universal ways of looking at the world and intolerant of dissent. True, they have made common cause - something she spoke about a bit - but I don't think that there is really any ideological reason for it. I think that they both simply hate Western civilization.

And Israel.

I am not as certain that that leftists have any ideological connection with Islamists. I don't see anyone from the Left praising ISIS or Al Qaeda.

But one of the most striking things about last weekend's #AskHamas Twitter event was seeing how many people didn't only insult Israel, which is to be expected, but how many defended and praised Hamas.  I didn't see one person say "Israel is horrible but Hamas is no picnic either."

Why is one Islamist philosophy praiseworthy and the other one distasteful? 

The real reason is that people who hate Jews, or use Israel as a proxy for hating Western civilization,, are so consumed with their loathing that they are willing to throw away their supposed principles to make common cause even with Islamists who are perceived as being Israel's enemy. Their only real consistent philosophy is hate. Everything else is flexible.

Anyway, the talk was excellent. This short synopsis doesn't do it justice. Hopefully a video will be made available soon.