It has to suck when your religion proves itself false, but it’s a necessary hurt, as New York Times editor Bari Weiss came to realize.
This weekend, at a lesbian march in Chicago, three women carrying Jewish pride flags — rainbow flags embossed with a Star of David — were kicked out of the celebration on the grounds that their flags were a “trigger.” An organizer of the Dyke March told the Windy City Times that the fabric “made people feel unsafe” and that she and the other members of the Dyke March collective didn’t want anything “that can inadvertently or advertently express Zionism” at the event.
Notice that she wrote “the fabric made people feel unsafe.” Not the actions of any individual. No one threatened to clock someone else over the head, as if they held a bike lock. It was just fabric. Ridiculous, right? How can fabric make anyone feel unsafe? Of course, it can’t, but that’s the perpetual rhetoric, which worked well enough until it came back to bite some of their own.
Intersectionality is the big idea of today’s progressive left. In theory, it’s the benign notion that every form of social oppression is linked to every other social oppression. This observation — coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw — sounds like just another way of rephrasing a slogan from a poster I had in college: My liberation is bound up with yours. That is, the fight for women’s rights is tied up with the fight for gay rights and civil rights and so forth. Who would dissent from the seductive notion of a global sisterhood?
If the connection fails to grab you as obvious, then you’re just not woke enough to get it. Sure, it’s a gibberish theory, one that relies on believing jargon rather than any sound logic. But that’s how religion works; you believe for no better reason than you believe. And one of the core beliefs of progressives is intersectionality.
Well, in practice, intersectionality functions as kind of caste system, in which people are judged according to how much their particular caste has suffered throughout history. Victimhood, in the intersectional way of seeing the world, is akin to sainthood; power and privilege are profane.
In the progressive religion, you get points for each step on the victimhood hierarchy, and lose points for each privilege you enjoy. Woman? Plus one. White? Minus one. White woman? You zero out. But who decides who gets points and who loses them?
One of the women who was asked to leave the Dyke March, Eleanor Shoshany Anderson, couldn’t understand why she was kicked out of an event that billed itself as intersectional. “The Dyke March is supposed to be intersectional,” she said. “I don’t know why my identity is excluded from that. I felt that, as a Jew, I am not welcome here.”
She isn’t. Because though intersectionality cloaks itself in the garb of humanism, it takes a Manichaean view of life in which there can only be oppressors and oppressed. To be a Jewish dyke, let alone one who deigns to support Israel, is a categorical impossibility, oppressor and oppressed in the same person.
Every religion has its dogma, its rules, and they’re enforced by the high priestesses, who tolerate no blasphemy.
That’s why the march organizers and their sympathizers are now trying to smear Ms. Grauer as some sort of right-wing provocateur.
For reasons known only to the high priestesses of the religion of progressivism, the plight of Palestinians trumps the Jewishness, which they try to hide by calling it Zionism, but is plainly just good, old antisemitism.
For progressive American Jews, intersectionality forces a choice: Which side of your identity do you keep, and which side do you discard and revile? Do you side with the oppressed or with the oppressor?
Lest this be viewed as Jewish thing, it’s not. While this particular situation pits the oppressed lesbian against the oppressor Jews, the rigidity of the religion demands that for every victim, there be someone to hate for victimizing them. In this instance, it was lesbian Jews, At another march, it will be some other intersection. Indeed, lesbian women of color regularly dump hate on white feminists, who should be their natural allies, for trying to control the narrative rather than shutting their privileged yaps and doing as their more victim-y victim commands.
As the Jew dykes learned, as did Weiss, the religion is untenable.
But this is the United States. Here, progressives are supposed to be comfortable with the idea of hyphenated identities and overlapping ethnic, sexual and political affinities. Since when did a politics that celebrates choice — and choices — devolve into a requirement of being forced to choose?
When the religion is predicated on a point system of victimhood, choice was inevitable. Whoever has the most intersectional points gets to be the high priestess and make the rules, and everybody below her is less worthy, at best, and the evil oppressor, at worst. There was no other way this could work out, which should have been apparent to all these otherwise smart and well-intended people.
When all it takes to subjugate the “oppressor” is some silly trope, like a swatch of fabric makes people feel unsafe, then all the other true believers will rush in to burn the witch, rid the religion of its heretics. It’s too easy, too obvious, which is why others rejected the religion, seeing both its unsustainability and the ease with which today’s victim becomes tomorrow’s oppressor.
Sorry you had to learn the hard way, but most people don’t want to be the target of your religious crusade. We’re fine with just treating people like people without counting up the points of victimhood or pretending that fabric makes us feel unsafe.