In Identity Politics, Old Religious Ideas Live on in a Post-Religious Society

The 19th-century French writer Alexis de Tocqueville observed that the thinkers of the generations before him were wrong in their expectation that religion would slowly wither away, noting drily that “the facts do not fit this theory at all.” At almost two centuries’ remove, Joshua Mitchell notes that “religious zeal” indeed persists—but not exactly in the way Tocqueville expected:

Religion, [Tocqueville asserted], is a permanent feature of human life. And it is because there are eternal longings in the human heart that cannot be erased. Tocqueville’s brilliance was to have seen that the “secularization thesis” that took hold in the academic world a century after he wrote was a delusion. Man is a religious being. Human nature perennially makes its claim.

Tocqueville was, I think, a bit too confident. Man is religious, he thought, because his sorrows and suffering cry out for answers that the world cannot provide. In offering a language of hope, Tocqueville thought that religion “could reign in the democratic age and in all others.” Yet religion in general, and Christianity in particular, offers more than a language of hope; it provides a language of transgression and innocence. About this, Tocqueville says little in Democracy in America.

Our problem in America today begins there, with the way we are haunted by the language of transgression and innocence, but no longer have a Christian way of understanding it. This development suggests neither the permanence of religion nor the advent of an entirely new, secular, stage of history that Tocqueville thought impossible. This strange intermediary is identity politics. Because it is not quite Christian and not quite secular, it is perhaps best understood as Christianity’s Walking Dead.

Once, because of the doctrine of original sin, there was a presumption of guilt in the churches and, because of our legal history, a presumption of innocence in the realm of politics. Today, this abandonment of the doctrine of original sin has had the curious effect of lifting the burden of guilt in the churches—and of shifting it to politics. Whatever the law may say about our innocence, the presumption of identity politics is that man—or rather the white heterosexual man—is guilty.

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Read more at Law and Liberty

More about: Alexis de Tocquevile, American Religion, American society, Decline of religion

 

Iran’s Responsibility for West Bank Terror

On Friday, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli police officer and was then shot by another officer after trying to grab his rifle. Commenting on the many similar instances of West Bank-based terror during the past several months, Amit Saar, a senior IDF intelligence officer, predicted that the violence will likely grow worse in the coming year. Yoni Ben Menachem explains the Islamic Republic’s role in fueling this wave of terrorism:

The escape of six terrorists from Gilboa prison in September 2021 was the catalyst for the establishment of new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank, according to senior Islamic Jihad officials. The initiative to establish new armed groups was undertaken by Palestinian Islamic Jihad in coordination with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, implementing the strategy of Qassem Suleimani—the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards who was assassinated in Iraq by the U.S.—of using proxies to achieve the goals of expansion of the Iranian regime.

After arming Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Iran moved in the last year to support the new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank. Iran has been pouring money into the Islamic Jihad organization, which began to establish new armed groups under the name of “Battalions,” which also include terrorists from other organizations such as Fatah, Hamas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. First, the “Jenin Battalion” was established in the city of Jenin, followed the “Nablus Battalion.”

Despite large-scale arrest operation by the IDF and the Shin Bet in the West Bank, Islamic Jihad continues to form new terrorist groups, including the “Tulkarem Battalion,” the “Tubas Battalion,” and the “Balata Battalion” in the Balata refugee camp.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Palestinian terror, West Bank