Discover more from Mindset Shifts—Essays by Barry Brownstein
Why Civilization is at Stake
We are witnessing scenes from "a very dark, barbaric era."
In this essay, from my safe home, I do not join the opining on what terrible choice Israel should make to counter an existential threat to their existence. The plight of the Israelis and the Gazans weighs heavy, leading me to inquire into the threat to civilization that confronts all of us.
This past week, sociologist Frank Furedi observed, “Seeing the Hamas-orchestrated pogrom was gut-wrenching. But what I have found almost as disturbing are the smug voices of those in the West who say that Israel is responsible for Hamas’s barbarism. That it brought this horror on itself.”
To say that enduring the apologists for Hamas added to the horror might sound grossly disproportional, but as we will see it is not. Some might argue we should reserve using the word horror for terrorist campaigns aimed to “achieve the highest level of human losses.” Is not “unimaginable savagery” horror? Beheading children, raping women, murdering 90-year-old women, and maximizing the deaths of their own people are horrors.
Barbarism is not a new feature of Hamas. Their founding documents clearly state the genocide of Jews, and not just in Israel, is their goal.
But let’s also be clear as Yasmine Mohammed writes that, “Hamas is not Gaza, and Gaza is not Hamas…Gazans are just human beings, like their Israeli neighbors. They want to live in a peaceful environment where they do not have to be concerned about the safety of their children.”
If you don’t believe what Hamas documents say, read Son of Hamas written by Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a founding Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef. Mosab observed his father’s mindset: “Allah had given us the responsibility of eradicating the Jews, and my father didn’t question that, though he personally had nothing against them.” He explained,
[Hamas] Islamized the Palestinian problem, making it a religious problem. And this problem could be resolved only with a religious solution, which meant that it could never be resolved because we believed that the land belonged to Allah. Period. End of discussion. Thus for Hamas, the ultimate problem was not Israel’s policies. It was the nation-state Israel’s very existence.
I believe Yousef’s account. If you give solace to Hamas, you support the genocide of Jews.
Helen Dale makes a convincing case that the Hamas murderers are worse than Nazi killers. She concludes, “The gleeful, brutal pride we’ve all seen across social and conventional media in the last week represents humanity at such a nadir that even Hitler, our contemporary folk-devil, struggles to provide a useful comparator.” Before you object, Dale is pointing to a murderous mindset, not the number killed.
Frank Furedi wrote, “When they parade young women and old ladies on the streets of Gaza and invite onlookers to jeer and spit at them it feels as if we are watching a scene from a very dark, barbaric era.”
Eliot Cohen explains the barbarian mindset:
Barbarians fight because they enjoy violence. They do not only kill and maim—the armies of civilized states do that all the time—but go out of their way to inflict pain, to torture, to rape, and above all to humiliate. They exult in their enemies’ suffering. That is why they like taking pictures of their weeping, terrified victims; why they make videos of slow beheadings; and why they dance around mutilated corpses….
That is why they excel at building only certain kinds of things—arsenals and strongholds, booby traps and minefields, sports stadiums and missiles of all kinds, but not places of beauty and contemplation, elegance and human proportion….
They dream of an unrealizable utopia, in which their nation dominates the Earth, or their religion extirpates all others, or their enemies grovel for a mercy they will never grant.
Barbarians fear argument and are driven to madness by certain books and certain ideas. In place of reason, compromise, forgiveness, or compassion, they revert to rage, and that is because they sense their inner weakness. A curious inquiry about truth or values is beyond them. They have no use for the legacies of Athens or Jerusalem.
Is Cohen wrong about Hamas being incapable of building beauty? Mosab Hassan Yousef further exposed the mindset of Hamas:
I asked myself what Palestinians would do if Israel disappeared—if everything not only went back to the way it was before 1948 but if all the Jewish people abandoned the Holy Land and were scattered again. And for the first time, I knew the answer. We would still fight. Over nothing. Over a girl without a head scarf. Over who was toughest and most important.
So Furedi is right to be horrified by the smug voices of the West. It should horrify us to learn how many of their barbarian supporters walk the streets in America. This is a battle for civilization. Seeing how many Westerners (including people we may know and formally respected) are on the side of wanton murder makes their reaction horrible.
Holly MathNerd explained where this is all heading:
If livestreaming barbarism is acceptable “resistance,” then there is no restraint required from the “oppressed,” period, under any circumstances. This is, of course, the logical consequence of intersectional analysis, and we deserve what we’re going to get.
We have swallowed intersectional bullshit to such a degree that all of us are affected by it to some extent, and most of us much more affected than we realize. The primacy of identity and the baseline assumption—that certain identities are de facto justified in their behavior towards people with certain other identities in the progressive hierarchy—has created this situation, where the kidnapping, rape, and murder of children is something that requires nuance, rather than immediate condemnation. Why? It’s as simple as it is asinine, as plainly obvious as it is tragic: because the kidnappers, rapists, and murderers were brown and perceived as oppressed.
Holly spelled out the insanity of intersectionality. Those steeped in this mind-rotting philosophy must rabidly defend their ideas:
Once intersectionality as a worldview has been inculcated, all “oppressed” people are automatically and instantly justified in any response to their “oppressor”. If even one case of an “oppressed” person being unjustified is named, the whole intersectional house of cards comes tumbling down.
You can’t kill a philosophy. Hamas, the acting agent of a barbarian philosophy, has not only easily breached Israeli defenses but has breached American defenses. The barbarism of Hamas revealed the rot in American education, if it wasn't apparent already. On the latter point, see Holly’s excellent essay:
Cohen warns that civilization is being undermined from within:
Civilization is built and protected by many forces—law, religion, habit, philosophy. It is not impregnable, and can be undermined from within. The challenges sometimes take mild forms, like flash mobs looting and burning a luxury store, or a crowd shouting “Gas the Jews!” in front of the Sydney Opera House. The challenges can take more violent forms as well, as murderous gang violence motivated by greed or ideology has shown in more than one liberal democracy.
As a proportion of Israel’s population, an equivalent attack in America would cause the death of over 20,000 Americans in one day. Would Hamas comforters cheer and pronounce the slaughter justified on the grounds of American support for Israel?
Furedi wrote, “The civilizational conflict enveloping Israel will become globalised and Europe will be its first stop.” America is not far behind.
What can I offer? I can provide no military strategy among terrible options.
In an essay to follow this week, I will offer a mindset change we all can make. This is not a one-time adjustment in our outlook but a daily crossroads.
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