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If the Woke Revolution Cancels Truth Itself, What Then?

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

In academia and beyond, the last fifty years have seen the rejection of the idea of “Truth” and its replacement by partisan political commitment. Critical theory resuscitated the old “sociology of knowledge” paradigm that reduced statements to the political interests of the speaker or writer. Postmodernism rejected science and adopted subjectivity, asserting that each person has his or her own truth. The powerful feminist movement rejected “Truth” on the grounds that whatever a woman felt from her “positionality” was her truth. 

The ideas that assertions should be supported with evidence and that conclusions should be based on that evidence have been “canceled.” The important question today for academics is whether an assertion supports the “right side,” usually the far left side. So any claims that favor preferred parties–whether females, “racialized” and “marginalized” minorities, or their champions in “progressive” political parties—are considered legitimate and supportable. 

We are now so used to blatant lies from our political leaders that most of us probably no longer notice. President Trump was much taken to task for lying, and the Washington Post took much pleasure in unleashing their “fact-checkers” to vilify, I mean correct, the president. A few of their objections were justified. I do not want to bore you with the hundreds if not thousands of lies from the Democrat Party and the Democrat media, but there are many debunked false claims that are difficult to forget: 

  • that President Trump was an agent of Russia;
  • that every African American was at risk of losing his life every day from police violence, and that defunding or disbanding the police would make African Americans safer;
  • that the BLM and Antifa riots, arson, looting, assaults, and murders resulting in huge economic damage were “mostly peaceful” protests;
  • that saying 2+2=4 is racist;
  • that the Communist Chinese virus was from a natural source;
  • that locking people away would stop the virus;
  • that no vaccine could ever be developed within a year;
  • that it was medically necessary to close schools and require children to wear masks;
  • that hiding indoors and avoiding the outdoors was required to stop the infection;
  • that the unruliness at the Capitol was an “armed white supremacist insurrection” that almost overthrew the U.S. government;
  • that the vaccines have no serious side effects; and
  • that, under the Biden administration, “the border is closed.”

Almost all American academics are Democrat devotees who agree with every assertion that supports the Democrat Party and undermines the opposition, including all of those listed above. But that is only the beginning. As academics have adopted Marxist class conflict theory and Leninist postcolonial theory, they have taken partisan sides against the West and in favor of the rest, against whites and in favor of people of color, against males in favor of females (except in the case of transsexual males where they are against females), against capitalism and in favor of communism. Any assertion that supports “the right side,” that is, the far left, is accepted, while any assertion that raises questions or disagrees is “racist,” “sexist,” “transphobic,” “Islamophobic,” and oppressive “white male supremacism.” Academics have regressed to kindergarten partisanship and aspersions. 

Statements are now judged, not by whether they are supported by evidence, but by whether they support the “right side.” To illustrate, let us take the recent Hamas-Israel conflict. Now people have a right to their opinions about Israel, about Zionism, and about Jews. Perhaps some people think that Jews should have assimilated to Christian Europe and Muslim North Africa and the Middle East and avoided being a scapegoated minority. Perhaps others think that Jews should have pursued their Zionist national liberation dream in Siberia or Africa and avoided conflict with the Arabs rather than returning to their ancient homeland. One may disagree with such opinions, but they are not false; they are just opinions. 

But while people have a right to their own opinions, they do not have a right to their own facts. Assertions about how things are must be backed by evidence; assertions unsupported by evidence are, at best, hypotheses, and, at worst, particularly when politically motivated, outright lies. In response to the Hamas-Israel conflict, academics from many fields across the land have produced solidarity statements with Hamas that condemn Israel. A convenient compendium is found in “When It Comes to Israel, Academics Agree.” 

What exactly is the basis of this anti-Israel consensus by Ivy League universities, gender studies professors, university unions, anthropologists, and other faculty members, even Jewish Studies professors, across the land? Part of the explanation is the current fanatical academic adherence to intersectionalism, equating all of the “oppressed” and requiring  solitary among them all. For that reason, the Arab-Israel conflict is construed by American academics in racial terms: the “white” Israelis oppressing the Palestinian “people of color.” The problem with this is that Arabs have always been classified as “white,” and “people of color” are looked down on in Arab society since, historically, Arab slave raiding in Africa brought blacks to Arab countries as slaves. The racialization of the Arab-Israel conflict is lie number one. 

Related: Here’s How We Counter the Woke Revolution

Drawing on the increasingly dominant Marxism in academia, social science, and humanities, academics have adopted “postcolonial theory,” an application of Lenin’s argument to explain why workers in industrialized countries never joined the communist revolution. Lenin’s core argument was that class conflict in industrialized countries was obscured by the exportation of exploitation to conquered peoples in colonies. The main point of postcolonial theory is that Western imperialism and colonialism ruined a world of kindness and harmony and is why there all the world’s problems today. (Apparently, academia has never heard of the hundreds of empires—such as the Roman, Islamic, Mongol, and Ottoman–that preceded the recent and short-lived Western empires and the Soviet and Chinese Communist empires that were concurrent or succeeded them.) 

Today’s academic militancy thus focuses on “anticolonialism,” trying under the impetus of intersectionalism to tie it to race, gender, and sexuality. It is thus no surprise, once the politically correct have chosen the “people of color” Palestinians as a favored “victim,” that Israel would be accused of “settler colonialism.” While this is now a standard accusation, it is particularly incoherent concerning Israel. Colonies are the projection of a metropolitan power, but what is the metropolitan power of which Israel is the colony? Israelis come from all countries in Europe, all countries in the “people of color” Middle East and North Africa, from India, America, and Ethiopia. Far from being a colony, Israel is an ingathering of an exiled people to their ancient homeland. Zionism, far from being an imperial movement, is the Jewish National Liberation Movement. 

Just as most of the European Jews who went to Israel after WWII were refugees, most of the eight hundred thousand Jewish Israelis from the Middle East and North Africa were expropriated and expelled at the time Israel was established and went to Israel as refugees. It is an outright lie, lie number two, to call Israelis “colonial settlers.” But academics who have decided that Palestinians are the “good guys” and Israelis are the “bad guys” will invoke the worst labels of disparagement that they can think of. Apparently, lying for “the cause” is now regarded as virtuous by academics. 

Lie number three is that Israelis engage in “ethnic cleansing” and engage in “genocide” against Palestinians. This assertion ignores the almost two million Palestinians and other Muslims and Arabs who make up 21% of Israeli citizens. It also ignores the burgeoning population of Palestinians: In 1970, in Gaza and in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”), there were 1.03 million Palestinians. In 2014, there were 4.55 million Palestinians in those territories. For anti-Israel academics, a Palestinian population quadrupling is evidence of Israeli “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide.” If the “all-powerful” and “ruthless” Israelis had had “ethnic cleansing” or “genocide” in mind, how did the Palestinians quadruple? 

Searching for another pejorative to throw at Israel, almost every academic declaration of support for Palestinians claims that Israel is guilty of “apartheid.” This is the South African term for separation of the races. The rejection by the world of South African apartheid encourages academics to try this drive-by mud-slinging. It is wholly inapplicable to Israel. First, to have racial separation, it is necessary to have separate races, which, as already discussed, do not exist in Israel or between Israel and Palestinians. Second, all Israelis–Jews, Muslim and Christian Arabs, Druze, Baha’is—have the same rights under the law. They are not “separated” geographically, professionally, or institutionally. If academics only cared about it, the reality is that Jew and Arabs mix in every sector of society, in housing, education, industry, government, medicine, and the judiciary. “Apartheid” is the fourth lie. The only supporters of “apartheid” are the Palestinian Authority, which has banned Jews from living in its claimed “State of Palestine.” As well, the only party to endorse genocide is Hamas, which promises not only to destroy Israel but to murder all the Jews in the world. 

Finally, most of the statements supporting Palestine condemn Israeli violence against Palestinians but neglect to mention that the 2021 conflict was set off when over four thousand rockets were shot into Israeli population centers by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. This omission is the fifth lie. Nor do the condemnations mention that Israel took heroic measures, unprecedented in warfare, to avoid civilian casualties. Nor that many of the so-called victims of Israeli aggression were Gazans killed by Hamas rockets that malfunctioned. Another subject avoided by these academic activists for Palestine is the hundred-year terrorist campaign by Arabs against Jews in Palestine and then Israel, or that the Biden administration has refunded the Palestine Authority “dollars for daggers” campaign to pay families of terrorists who have murdered Jewish children, students, mothers, elders, rabbis, and other civilians.

A special word for the gender studies academics who claim that “Palestine is a feminist issue.” These very same academic feminists refuse to look at the deplorable subordinate status of Palestinian girls and women, the violence against them by their relatives, and the so-called “honor killings” of Palestinian girls. 

The conclusion to draw from this discussion is not that there are no legitimate reasons to be concerned about the Palestinians’ situation or that Israel is correct in every policy and action. Rather, the conclusion is a more general point: Academics are no longer interested in discovering truth; rather, they are exclusively devoted to making Marxist partisan points and to intersectional virtue signaling. Moreover, academics no longer care to support their assertions with evidence but rather strive to make their points through the manipulation of language. “Truth” may be dead in academia, but reality is nonetheless out there if anyone cares to inquire honestly.