I'm just Mad Online.
I’m not sure if it helps, but as someone who was raised very conservative I’ve seen nearly all my family and friends from that time adopt beliefs that are not only completely insane, but are completely different than any beliefs you’d expect these folks to have based completely on tribalism and the desire to disagree with liberals. (Anti-vaccines and 9/11 trutherism are two examples that come to mind).
I think you’re seeing the same thing here, where people are so intent on being anti-colonial and “anti-racist” they end up with hang glider banners which are literally endorsing mass murder and rape.
I do think anti-Semitism plays a role too though because both the crazy left and crazy right converge on the same weird anti-Semitic ideas. Although I’m surprised how overt it is on the Left right now, especially considering most Democratic politicians are actually pretty pro-Israel.
I said a few bland things that amounted to a polite "maybe don't carry water for Hamas, guys" in my hyperprogressive social circles and promptly got massive thanks from my Jewish friends for saying anything at all. So then the next thing I said was way more pointed and less polite. Might as well use my gentile privilege.
I am not looking forward to family gatherings next month. Too many DSA bleeding hearts with binary thinking that I will want to shout at.
I'm angry too, and my GenX conditioning toward apathy cannot overcome it. I get mad when I see videos of parents grieving their children, or read stories of the missing and the lost. I become unspeakably angry when I hear the comments from those who consider themselves compassionate, attempting to explain away the brutality of monsters.
It's okay to be angry about these things. It's okay to stay away from the enablers and those infected by hatred. I'm not Jewish, not Israeli, but I have many mutuals who are one or both. I've checked in with them, made sure they and their families are ok, and have received words of surprised gratitude. Seeing humans as human should not come as a surprise -- it should be common. It is not.
Remember this and stay angry, just a little. Don't let it control you, but never forget.
I’ve definitely struggled to exist in a sphere where my most strident foes are leftists without getting negatively polarized, but I just try to remind myself that I believe what I believe because I think it’s right. If I’m going to change my mind, I want it to be because I found something more correct, not because idiots exist online and I want to distance myself from them.
Anyway sending my best, Ben, please take care of yourself.
Go easy on yourself Ben. You are quite right to be hurt. I’m not Jewish but I sense what many must’ve felt like in Germany circa 1933. I fear those roots are spreading & ready to sprout. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing”...this time those good people better start shouting from the rooftops...
Stay strong brother. Twitter isn’t real life, and college campuses certainly aren’t either. Ideologues are gonna ideologue. Until reality slaps them in the goddamned mouth. Maybe this is the slap they needed. Maybe not. But the vast majority of the quiet part of society that actually does the thing, they’re not anti-Semitic shitbags.
Hey Ben. What you are experiencing is a very old kind of Jewish pain, which is cold comfort at times like this. You are not alone in feeling this way, either in this generation or the ones preceding ours.
Also, I just think you should know this because it'll make you laugh: my husband (affectionately) refers to you as the "wheelchair orgy guy" because that thread is how I originally discovered this substack. He asked me how you were feeling about all of this right before I saw this post, actually.
Keep on keeping on, wheelchair orgy guy.
I’m 100% with you, Ben. I have gotten incandescently furious at a few of my progressive friends who persist in “whatabouting” the Hamas attacks, as well as suggesting that Israelis brought this brutality on themselves. Some of these same people said last year that Ukraine deserved to be invaded by Russia, and the invasion was also somehow NATO’s fault, so I already knew they were idiots. But that still doesn’t make me less furious with them.
I completely identify with this, to the point where at times my brain can't even process how some are behaving in the aftermath of the horror, and what is still happening. I feel like it just does not compute. It is hard because it is such a shock. So.....you are not alone, if that helps at all. I found comfort in what you have been writing about this, as well. Thank you. 🙏❤
I have had to step away from the internet at times in the past couple of weeks. It was making me too depressed and I never get depressed. I lean to the right but I have a number of friends on the left, even close family, and when I see them make a post that basically says 'Israel had it coming' I have to try very hard not to lose my shit. Israel has been singled out among the nations for years so this isn't anything new, it's just really highlighted by the present situation. SJWs with their intersectionalism and oppression Olympics will always be opposed to Israel. I am happy, at least, that some of the most loudmouthed of them are being made to pay a price.
I hear you. What happens when the frayed string finally snaps?
Hang in there man, the whole situation is horrible and everything you feel is valid ❤️
Hard to like what you see when the mask cracks and harder still to will yourself to like (let alone love) the mask wearer. I wish you the best in this new era of scales being pried from our eyes…
Ben, I hear ya. What I’ll say having felt that way for a few years now is that eventually you find out a few things:
1. You’re not alone, there’s plenty of other left-liberals whose brains haven’t dribbled into their shoes, but they’re quiet in public, and you have to stop listening for dogwhistles and start hearing what they’re actually saying.
2. The reason you suddenly find yourself agreeing with social conservatives is not because you subscribe to their whole program but because we all live in a society with broadly shared norms. You’re not going to be out there advocating for tax cuts for the rich next week just because you agree with a Republican that murder is bad. In fact this will highlight those things where you really do disagree, it will sharpen your sense of what those things are. But at the same time, you may enjoy this fellow-feeling when you do agree without guilt. Average Republicans have some bad policy ideas, they might post some dumb memes, but they aren’t going to parachute in and murder your family.
3. You will quickly stop giving a shit about the dumbfuck pronouncements from the loud left crowd, and the cognitive dissonance of knowing that they’re actually quite intelligent will fade. You’ll realize they’re opportunists who just happen to have been telling you things you liked hearing, or gutless slaves to peer approval.
This is a bunch of work because now you can’t just default to the MSNBC line, and you won’t get that “I have a posse” feeling (I had it many times). But you will feel more of a grown up afterwards.
I keep thinking of lines from a poem (*) by Emily Dickenson:
’Tis the Majority
In this, as all, prevail -
Assent - and you are sane -
Demur - you’re straightway dangerous -
And handled with a Chain -
In my teens, I attended a hippie prep school where creativity and individuality were extolled. But even then, as I adjusted my wardrobe from the 1970s plaid from my previous prep school to faded ripped jeans and proto-grunge, I saw we were all cookie cut-outs. Only the pattern had changed.
Humans have an overwhelming need to be part of a group and the prerequisite of belonging is to take on that group’s coloration. Fail to display a black square or assert that Gazans are the “true” victims, and your punishment will come swiftly. Accordingly, people have conditioned themselves to roll over and do/say/think whatever their group dictates. They preemptively spout the slogan du jour without recognizing they have become Hitler’s posthumous collaborators.
(*) The full poem can be found at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/51612/much-madness-is-divinest-sense-620
Keeping it in perspective, although not easy, is still the right thing to do for your sanity. :) I have a similar background re mental health so I can relate. Also keep reminding yourself, these douchenozzles that are all over social media saying this crazy crap are NOT the majority, not even close... it’s something I’m having to mumble a lot through gritted teeth while reading the news these days. Hang in there, man.