Posted on | July 19, 2010 | 13 Comments
“The problem that I see is that so many parents in the Jewish community taught their kids not to judge. I’m going to say something that’s a little bit ideological, but I find that kids on the right are far more likely to stand up for Israel than kids on the left. Because kids on the right believe that there is an absolute right and wrong; this is how they’ve been raised.
“Kids on the left have been taught not to judge. Therefore those on the left will not judge between Israel and the Palestinians; those on the right will.”
I’m reminded of the old joke that a liberal is a man who considers it unfair to take his own side in an argument. And liberalism is still a quasi-religion for many Jews, producing a reflexive reaction: If conservatives are pro-Israel and anti-jihad, isn’t it incumbent on liberals to take the opposite stance? Melissa Clouthier writes:
Many Jews in particular have misidentified the problem of the Holocaust as a problem with beliefs themselves. A problem of believing anything too intensely is bad, they reason. So too much patriotism, too much nationalism, Zionism, too much religiosity, too much intensity around any idea is objectively destructive.
Since Luntz’s comments were the result of his discussion with a group of Harvard undergrads, it’s important to point out that young people don’t know history and are thus easily propagandized, as I explained last month:
There are today in America many thousands of impressionable young liberals who, like Rachel Corrie, are predisposed to buy into the deadly lies that justify the “armed struggle.” They don’t remember the wars of 1967 and ‘73, and they know nothing of the real origins and history of modern Middle Eastern terrorism. They don’t know, for example, that Arafat was allied with Moscow during the Cold War and that the PLO (as well as the Assad regime in Syria) endorsed the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Having been propagandized in their schools to accept the twisted Hamas/Fatah version of Middle Eastern history, young liberals swallow the Zionism-is-racism anti-colonial claptrap . . . and easily imagine the Palestinian cause as the moral equivalent of the U.S. civil-rights movement.
“Confirmation bias” is a basic problem in this context: If you have a liberal worldview, you will tend to believe information that confirms that worldview, while ignoring or discounting contradictory information. And here is the point that Luntz’s audience of Harvard students has probably never considered: Intelligence does not inoculate you against error.
This is the self-flattering syllogism of the intellectual elite:
- I am extremely intelligent;
- I believe X; therefore
- Anyone who doesn’t believe X is stupid.
Intelligence is not the same thing as knowledge, a commodity of which all young people have a meager supply, and even very intelligent young people can be easily seduced into error by providing them with carefully selected facts (and factoids) that prejudice their opinions. William F. Buckley Jr. once observed:
In the hands of a skillful indoctrinator, the average student not only thinks what the indoctrinator wants him to think . . . but is altogether positive that he has arrived at his position by independent intellectual exertion. This man is outraged by the suggestion that he is the flesh-and-blood tribute to the success of his indoctrinators . . .
You see this phenomenon in action, for example, in the global warming debate. Many young people have been carefully indoctrinated — e.g., shown Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth in science classes — and therefore refuse to credit any evidence that contradicts the bogus “hockey stick” alarmism.
As with global warming, so too with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The three-decade ascendancy of the Edward Said cult in Mideast studies has poisoned the academic well to such a degree that one can scarcely find an “expert” on the subject who is not tainted by it. Meanwhile, the veterans of the ’60s New Left have penetrated organized liberalism to such a degree that, vis-à-vis the Middle East, the Democratic Party is now more aligned with Sirhan Sirhan than with RFK.
Even the most intelligent young people are apt to be impressed with the enormous prestige of those numerous academic experts who present the Middle East conflict in the context of Arab victimhood. And if those young people have been raised within a liberal Democrat environment — remember that John Kerry got 74% of the Jewish vote in 2004 — their partisan and ideological allegiances will naturally make them sympathetic to the “Blame Israel First” crowd, who were among the most outspoken voices in the anti-Bush chorus during the past decade.
Thus we behold the astonishing spectacle of young Jews who eagerly align themselves with the Sirhan Sirhan wing of the Democratic Party.