Tag Archives: when you say what the right says you are the right

genocide warrants

any meaningful long-term jewish response to the current acceleration of the zionist genocidal project in palestine is going to need to reckon with the ways that the central texts of the rabbinic (and priestly, and, yes, priestessly) tradition actively and repeatedly call for and celebrate genocide.

i’m talking about the commandment to exterminate the amalekites and steal their land. i’m talking about the physical destruction of the bnei amram’s political opponents – specifically, the group opposed to hereditary theocratic rule whose spokesperson was korakh. i’m talking about the mass killing of the children of mitsraim. i’m talking about the supposedly pre-emptive massacre of 75,810 people (explicitly including children) in ahashevrosh’s empire.

these are genocidal acts – the extermination in whole or part of an identifiable social group, because they are members of that group. and those are just the quickest four to come to my mind. the quickest four large-scale actions, that is: i’m not even bothering to include the countless incitements to genocide, like the one in psalm 137, which begins with weeping by the rivers of babylon and ends with a blessing on those who systematically murder the infant children of peoples defined as “enemy”.

all of these actions (and more) are presented as inherently good. some are divine actions, so their positive character cannot be disputed within a rabbinic/priestly frame. some are the actions (with or without divine assistance) of moses, whose correctness is only slightly more debatable within the rabbinic/priestly tradition. some are explicitly intended to continue into the present, considered as binding positive commandments rather than mythic accounts. some are the basis of celebratory holidays.

they are what comes immediately before and after practically every mythic story that liberal and progressive religious jews love to tell as examples of heroism in the service of justice. the bravery of nakhson and crossing of the sea follows the mass murder of children and leads into the extermination of the bnei amram dynasty’s political opponents. the esther story ends with the slaughter of tens of thousands – not in self-defense, but after the danger had definitively passed. i could go on.

support for genocide is not extractable from a rabbinic/priestly approach to jewishness. it is not a subject of debate within that tradition, except in the sense that some writers pick and choose which genocides and calls for genocide they actively defend and which ones they remain silent about. it is the heart of the “prophetic tradition”, whose heroes constantly call for purification through mass murder – often the mass murder of specific groups of the people they are supposedly trying to save – and when the genocide they call for does not arrive (as in the story of jonah) they are enraged. it is woven through every prayerbook and many rituals, and through commentaries, analyses, and rulings on subjects of all kinds, generally with directly fascist implications (for example, blaming the “erev rav” – the internal diversity of the jewish people – for resistance to the hereditary theocratic rule of the bnei amram).

and it has direct, bloody consequences in the real world. we are seeing them now, as the full spectrum of zionists call for the genocide of palestinians with rhetoric and specific goals drawn from precisely this tradition. pre-emptive mass murder. the slaughter of children. massacres of those who speak against autocracy. wholesale extermination in pursuit of land theft.

after all, zionism, even when some of its advocates claim secularism, is very specifically part of the rabbinic tradition. its only justification for jewish rule in palestine – its defining political project – is the rabbinic canon: the fantasy of a divine land-grant, the fiction of a powerful ancient israelite kingdom, and the rest of the mythology zionism pretends is history come exclusively from those texts.

so it’s no wonder zionism is a movement that makes constant use of the genocidal tools celebrated in the tanakh and its religious tradition. it is pursuing a goal defined in terms taken from that tradition, through a practice modeled on the genocidal conquests the tradition celebrates as steps towards that goal.

if you want to “embrace tradition” through the rabbinic/priestly path advocated by the ‘progressive’ religious sphere – yes, including Kohenet; yes, including Svara – genocide is a pervasive part of what you’re being asked to embrace.

luckily, the rabbinic/priestly tradition is not the only way to be jewish. at the core of the jewish left for the past 150 years – from marrakesh to madras to montréal to melbourne, from buenos aires to baghdad to brooklyn, from istanbul to indianapolis, from tehran to toledo to tetuan – has been a rejection of that tradition as the defining center of jewishness. that is what has made possible a jewish politics of solidarity, a jewish ethics of liberation, a jewish practice of heterogeneity, a jewish radical diasporism – all imperfect, all evolving, but now possible. one no that leads to many yeses (as the zapatista proverb says).

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you can’t support both trans liberation and medical ‘expertise’

i’ve been talking about this for many years now (here, here, here, and even here – rejection emails not included).

but here we go again:

the main structuring fact of so-called trans healthcare is that the exact doctors who trans liberals hold up as “the best” (cohen-kettenis, for instance) have decades-long collaborative relationships with the exact doctors who trans liberals hold up as “the worst” (zucker, for instance). those two, for example, regularly co-author academic and clinical papers, textbook chapters, and such, and have for as long as they’ve been working in the field.

and what these supposedly “good” doctors’ practice (always remember: practice is purpose), especially when it comes to young people, is the same old gatekeeping with shiny liberal rhetoric. wanna get a trans clinic to question whether you should be there? all you need to do is let them find out you’re wearing a kind of underwear that’s marketed to your originally assigned gender group! (this recent example taken from one of the “best” clinics in the u.s.)

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when you say what the right says, you are the right

i’m always impressed at how often, and how consistently, liberals & progressives repeat right-wing marketing rhetoric as if it were not just true, but self-evident.

lately, i feel like i’ve heard these floating around (all bullshit invented in the late 1900s, some of it in my lifetime):

the right (or, sometimes, the far right) “moved from the margins to the center” between the 1960s and the 2000s. just absolute crap: if there’s one constant in u.s. politics since 1776, it’s the depth of white (especially wealthy white) support for the overtly white nationalist far right, which has never been separate from the rest of the u.s. right in anything but aesthetics.

the right used to have an intellectually rigorous, morally grounded wing that kept its less respectable side in check. bill buckley’s patrician accent doesn’t make what he said, wrote, believed, and advocated – and who he was allied with – any different from what you’re hearing from any other rabid death-cultist, from calhoun to cohn to roof.

the democratic party is in some way affiliated with the left. the least-justified fantasy since the faeries at the bottom of arthur conan doyle’s garden. perhaps such an alliance could could have been made at the 1964 democratic party convention, if it hadn’t refused to seat the multiracial Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party delegation. it says everything you need to know that in ’68, when a not-lily-white delegation was seated, it no longer claimed to represent “freedom”: it was the “Loyal Democrats”. that loyalty – still driving electoral progressives near you! – is part of why we do need a name for identifying with people who are actively trying to kill you instead of folks trying to keep you alive (“stockholm syndrome” is a misogynist lie invented to curb criticism of the police).

the “elites” of our society are media workers and the professoriate (who’re supposedly liberal: also generally a lie), not the people with actual economic and political power (including the ones who own media corporations and control universities).

it’s more disappointing (if less common) for folks who’re actual radicals to do this, of course. in that zone, the one i see coming up all the time lately is this:

the right, or the far right, or some parts of the right, are “anti-state”. now, there is a small slice of the libertarian right that might in fact oppose state structures as such. but most libertarians, and all neocons, paleocons, and other rightwingers who use an “anti-government” rhetoric base their whole political program on the existence of the state. some don’t want the current state, based on the slaveowners’ constitution of 1787, but all of them are aiming to maintain, and to control, a hierarchical, centralized, territorial structure of rule that legitimizes violence (by its agents, its supporters, and at times others) in service of its policies. you can tell because they want borders, they want enforced order, and they want “free enterprise” to be “protected”. that, my friends, is a description of a state and its policies, not of an “anti-state” position.

aside from making me annoyed, when liberals, progressives, and radicals parrot these various lines of bullshit, it strengthens the right. it turns their lies into “common sense”. and it makes them harder to fight. don’t do it. talk with your friends who do. and treat any analysis based on this junk as what it is: a right-wing analysis that supports and assists the right, even – especially – when it comes from liberals & progressives.