What’s Wrong with David Brooks’s Pronouncement That “We Are All Jews”

“In a world of radical pluralism,” proclaimed David Brooks in a recent New York Times column, “we are all Jews”—in the sense that all Americans are now members of “creative minorities” in a society that no longer has a single dominant culture. Ira Stoll points to the troubling pedigree of such statements, which can be traced back to Paul’s statement in Galatians 3:19 that, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” As the scholar Jon Levenson explains in his book Inheriting Abraham:

Conversion to Christianity (to use terminology that did not exist in Paul’s time), then, gives Gentiles the status that Jews claimed for themselves: it makes them descendants of Abraham and thus heirs to the promise given him. It does this, moreover, while bypassing the laws of Moses and even the law of circumcision.

Drawing on Levenson, Stoll writes:

Brooks has just published a bestselling book, The Second Mountain, in which he details his personal spiritual journey, including his view that the accounts of Jesus in the Christian Bible “do feel like a completion to me,” and his description of himself as “a wandering Jew and a very confused Christian.” Religion News Service reports that, “When he attends church, he says the Nicene Creed and takes communion.”

Being a Jew merely by being a “creative minority”—but not by believing in one God, attempting to follow the laws of Judaism, or participating and joining in Jewish communal life—is a contemporary version of Paul’s shortcut. Think of how women might react to a New York Times op-ed claiming “we are all women” or how African Americans might react to a New York Times op-ed claiming “we are all black.”

It’s not that one doesn’t appreciate the sentiment or the feeling of having admiring allies, but one has the uneasy feeling that these allies don’t quite get it. They are expanding the definition of the group beyond the definition’s breaking point. . . . [W]hat Brooks means by “Jews” when he writes “we are all Jews” may be something distant from what most Jews mean.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Christianity, Judaism, New Testament, Paul of Tarsus

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter