A New Science-Fiction Movie Explores What Happens When the Future Goes to War with the Past

The philosopher Leo Strauss, in one of his most significant essays on Judaism, contrasts the modern West’s understanding of progress with the Jewish aspiration for t’shuvah, or return (often imprecisely rendered as repentance). While one view sees perfection in an imagined future, the other hopes for a return to the past. It is an extreme version of the former view, perhaps, that was at work when rioters in Portland, Oregon destroyed statues of Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Reviewing Christopher Nolan’s new time-travel film Tenet, Michael Weingrad is put in mind of that event, which occurred just a few days after he saw the film, and not far from his own home:

“The future is trying to kill us,” explains one of the characters. Nolan leaves the precise details vague; there is a gesture at the environmental damage we in the present are said to be causing. But the point is that our descendants have found us wanting and have decided to solve the problem by destroying us, their past.

In other words, Nolan gives us the metaphysics of much of the left, dramatized with explosions and spy gear. It is part of the progressive faith that the future is always better and more moral. Why, then, should the future not try to kill us, we who were inconsiderate enough to be born in the past, and who always seem to hold back the better world just around the corner?

So how do you fight the future? To some extent, you can’t. Yet Nolan gives us heroes who do not give in to historical determinism. They do not confuse their position on a timeline with morality.

Read more at Investigations and Fantasies

More about: Film, Leo Strauss, Progressivism, Repentance

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University