A few days ago, on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio was confronted with examples of left-wing anti-semitism, and his commentary, in all its astounding ignorance, offered some perspective on why the issue doesn’t get nearly as much attention from the press or political leaders. In short, the mayor of the city with the largest Jewish population in the country doesn’t believe anti-semitism, if practiced by leftists, is a genuine issue.
De Blasio offered commentary on the UK election and on Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign, which had failed miserably amidst well-founded accusations of Jew hatred. The discussion pivoted toward anti-semitism, a topic particularly relevant and necessary, given the Jersey City shooting occurred a mere three days earlier in a city just a few train stops away from de Blasio’s turf. On a rainy Tuesday, two Black Hebrew Israelites targeted a kosher grocery, murdering three civilians and a police officer, though speculation following the shooting suggests that the killers were initially seeking to terrorize the Jewish school adjacent to the grocery.
“And yet it’s coming from left, if you want to call Jeremy Corbyn that over there and this group [the Black Hebrew Israelites] which was clearly not a white supremacist group, coming from various different political and cultural places,” Lehrer prodded the mayor.
De Blasio then responded by alleging that left-wing groups, on the whole, were not violent, and he refrained from stating that the Black Hebrew Israelite terrorists followed any distinct hate-filled ideology.
“The challenge here and we have to have an honest conversation. And I’ve talked to a lot of Jewish leaders about this,” de Blasio said. “There are folks who identify on the left who are saying and doing anti-Semitic things although it has not taken a systematic violent form, I am not going to ascribe any ideology to the two individuals in Jersey City. They seem incoherent but we need to know more obviously.”
A few moments later, de Blasio began discussing white supremacy movements and how they are the actual culprits of violence related not just to anti-semitism but also to other forms of hatred.
“What I am trying to argue here, and I think there is a lot of evidence in this country, not just in terms of anti-semitism, but violent acts in general that are premeditated and political, that’s coming from the white supremacy movement. Charlottesville is another example obviously,” he said.
He continued by referencing the rise of militias and then returned to discussing how left-wing groups were not the violent ones. “The violence overwhelmingly is coming from right-wing forces, white supremacist forces, direct linear descents of Nazism and fascism and the Ku Klux Klan. That’s the reality.”
He finished his lengthy answer by noting, “We have to be clear about the difference between some of the folks who have said inappropriate things versus systematic forces plotting ongoing violence and that is the white supremacy movement in this country.”
Mayor de Blasio’s answers seem particularly asinine when considering the growing prevalence of left-wing anti-semitism. Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign was one of the most progressive in the history of the UK. It was also one of the most anti-Semitic, with nearly half of UK Jews admitting they were seriously considering leaving, if Corbyn won. The shooting at the kosher grocery was not carried out by white supremacists, but allegedly by believers of a left-wing, anti-semitic ideology. President Trump’s Executive Order combatting anti-semitism on college campuses, issued this past week, was in direct response to the rise of progressive Jew hatred on college campuses. And it is believed that the vast majority of hate crimes against Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, which continue unabated and with little response from de Blasio, are not being carried out by white supremacists, but rather “by either young people of color or people with evident psychiatric issues,” according to David Pollock, the director of public policy and security at Jewish Community Relations Council.
Reminding Jews of the events in Charlottesville two years ago does little to address the issue of progressive Jew hatred, which seems to be burgeoning at a rapid pace largely because the left has shown a gross unwillingness to police their own ranks. The failure of the left to address anti-semitism may be attributed to a host of things, including, but not limited to, identity politics.
Identity politics is a pseudo-Marxist lens through which to view the world where an individual, based on race, gender, or sexual orientation, may be categorized as either the “oppressed” or the “oppressor,” the category then being determinative of the level of attention the Marxists will bestow upon the individual. Jews create confusion for practitioners of identity politics. They have faced centuries of oppression, yet have become one of the more integrated and successful groups in society, as Professor Eric Goldstein of Emory University pointed out to The Atlantic.
Until the left recognizes that identity politics is racial reductionism and moral relativism at its finest, they likely will continue to ignore Jew hatred, comforting themselves sheepishly that Jews do not fit the category of individuals in need of advocacy and that any rise in anti-semitism is the result of Donald Trump. Not only is this an example of disgusting cowardice, but it highlights precisely why everyone should reject the Marxist prism through which progressives continue to view the world.
As Mayor de Blasio’s interview reveals, ascribing to such an ideology means turning a blind eye to violence and hatred because it doesn’t fit an intellectually lazy worldview, and that isn’t a society I’d like to live in.