Back at the peak of the Mostly Peaceful Protests after George Floyd’s demise, I wrote in Taki’s Magazine:
July 22, 2020
The most likely process by which the current Black Moment will get canceled is the exact same way black radicalism got shut down in both the early 1970s and the early 1990s: As black antiwhite rhetoric grows more heated, black spokespersons start drifting from merely spewing hate at whites to complaining about Jews.
The current Black Lives Matter movement was concocted to not violate our society’s most stringent taboos. But with its recent success, a number of black male celebrities have started sounding off with antiwhite theories that eventually spill over into anti-Semitism.
Q. Were you right?
A. [Holds hand out palm down, wobbles it back and forth] Eh… Black anti-Semitism tends to be more of a black male thing, while black women increasingly dominate wokeness, who tend to be just plain anti-white.
But then there are the Palestinians.
Indeed, since October 7, Jews have turned out to be the most contentious element of the Democrats’ Coalition of the Fringes, due in part to their vast wealth and influence.
One possibility is that American Jews will tend to turn against Wokeness as they see how little their allies in the Democrats’ Coalition of the Margins care about Israelis getting slaughtered by Gazans.
But another, perhaps more likely possibility, will be that Jewish organizations will double down on Wokeness with Jews at the top of the totem pole of privileged victims, combined with even fiercer demonization of straight white gentile males to unite the Coalition of the Margins.
Jewish Democrats tend to see themselves as deserving a high-ranking spot on the Pyramid of Victimization due to the events of 1933-1945 on another continent and, closer to home, due to great-great-grandpa having to help found the Hillcrest Country Club in 1922 after he couldn’t get into the Los Angeles Country Club.
On the other hand, most other elements of the Coalition of Fringes don’t take Jewish bonafides as victims all that seriously due to their vast wealth and influence at present.
Jews tend to view all criticism of Israel and/or Jews as anti-Semitism, but most critics within the Victims Coalition view them as just another flavor of whites, and anti-whiteism isn’t a sin, it’s a religious duty. Leftist specific anti-Semitism is fairly rare these days, but anti-whiteism is now close to the default bias. So, Israeli and American Jews are talked about by the Woke as whites, and whites are talked about awfully brusquely these days.
The Jewish Establishment has been casting about for individuals to hate for their anti-Israeli views. The problem is that most anti-Zionists are BIPoCs or other privileged persons. Hence, much Jewish rage has been directed in recent weeks at the extremely English Roger Waters, the 80-year-old former lead singer of Pink Floyd, for whom anti-Zionism is part of his lifelong leftism.
Personally, I always found Waters kind of whiny, but David Gilmour can really play the guitar.
But, weirdly, in December 2023, the octogenarian Waters is a man of vast controversy. Today, for example, there is a big push going on by Jewish donors to have the University of Pennsylvania president Liz Magill fired for, first among her sins, letting an event honoring Palestinian writers and featuring Waters proceed at Penn back in September (i.e., before the October 7th atrocities). From the Daily Pennsylvanian:
The first serious challenge to free speech during Magill’s tenure happened in response to the Palestine Writes Literature Festival hosted on campus in September.
I’d say the Amy Wax Affair is an ongoing serious challenge to free speech at Penn.
The festival sparked fear and outrage among Penn students, alumni and community members of national Jewish groups who objected to the inclusion of Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters—who the United States Department of State has said to have a “long track of using antisemitic tropes”—and other speakers who have allegedly made antisemitic comments in the past.
Magill and administrators came under criticism for having permitted what critics saw as hate speech on campus. Her initial response—a statement condemning antisemitism while reaffirming her belief in the importance of freedom of speech—would satisfy neither side, and was linked on the president’s website but was not immediately distributed to the Penn community in a University-wide message.
“We unequivocally—and emphatically—condemn antisemitism as antithetical to our institutional values,” the statement read. “As a university, we also fiercely support the free exchange of ideas as central to our educational mission. This includes the expression of views that are controversial and even those that are incompatible with our institutional values.”
But not if you’re Amy Wax. Then we’re trying to take away your tenure.
Students on all sides of the issue responded with anger. Over 200 students signed a letter asserting that the event violated several University standards and would create a “hostile” environment for Jewish students. Another group accused Magill of “marginaliz[ing] Palestinian students” by conflating calls for Palestinian liberation with antisemitism.
The greater Penn community also pushed back. 2,000 pro-Israel Penn alumni and affiliates, including 1984 Wharton Graduate and CEO of Apollo Global Management, Inc. Marc Rowan, signed onto a public letter calling on Magill to further distance the University from the festival.
Since appearing before Congress earlier this week, in an attempt to save her job, Magill has been back-pedaling furiously on her defending anti-Israel speech on her campus.
But… I’m fascinated by how often the Pink Floyd singer’s name comes up in the 2023 debates, fifty years after Dark Side of the Moon. As best as I can tell, the 6’3″ Waters doesn’t seem to qualify under any Woke categories for privilege, thus making him perfect to be The Face of Anti-Semitism as a straight white Englishman. Just look at him. From Wikipedia:
Waters was born on 6 September 1943, the younger of two boys, to Mary (née Whyte; 1913–2009) and Eric Fletcher Waters (1914–1944), in Great Bookham, Surrey. His father, the son of a coal miner and Labour Party activist, was a schoolteacher, a devout Christian, and a Communist Party member.
In the early years of the Second World War, Waters’ father was a conscientious objector who drove an ambulance during the Blitz. He later changed his stance on pacifism, joined the Territorial Army and was commissioned into the 8th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers as a Second Lieutenant on 11 September 1943. He was killed five months later on 18 February 1944 at Aprilia, during the Battle of Anzio, when Roger was five months old.
As a teen in the 1950s, Waters was a leader in the youth wing of Bertrand Russell’s Committee for Nuclear Disarmament.
That’s all very well, but Waters is extremely white, so he makes a good unifying face to hate for those pushing to silence criticism of Israel.
The University of Pennsylvania imbroglio provides an interesting test because, of course, Penn has also been persecuting its white Jewish tenured law professor Amy Wax for telling the truth about race and IQ and the like, trying to strip her of tenure.
In an op-ed in the Daily Pennsylvanian, Professor Wax’s lawyer David J. Shapiro wrote:
Penn’s relentless pursuit of my client, when juxtaposed with their “hands off” stance towards Palestinian activists, reveals gross inconsistencies, shameful hypocrisy, and an egregious double standard in the University’s treatment of speakers and their positions. My client must defend herself against scurrilous charges of “racism” and “white supremacy” because, as a white Jewish conservative, she dared to question the liberal orthodoxy about the lives of many African Americans. But the individuals who organized the Palestine Writes Literature Festival, who invited Mr. Waters, who approved the hateful content, and who have not condemned Hamas’ slaughter of Israeli Jews (but, instead, appear to applaud it), can go about their day knowing that the President will not bring any charges against them. Alumni and donors should take note: These inconsistencies are motivated by a naked partisanship that favors some speakers and causes over others. This hypocrisy is now an official part of the University’s “institutional values.”
My guess would be that the current controversy won’t help Wax. Demonizing both Waters and her jointly seems like a plan that will appeal politically to whomever winds up running Penn.
Meanwhile, Steven Pinker, professor at Harvard, is offering a principled five-point plan:
The wrong way for the elite universities to dig themselves out their reputational hole: restrict speech even more. Instead:— Steven Pinker (@sapinker) December 7, 2023
1. Clear & coherent free speech policy.
2. Institutional neutrality: Universities are forums, not protagonists.
3. Force prohibited: No more heckler's… https://t.co/aQbjGgxhH3