Time to Get Serious
Like many, I have been watching developments on our college campuses with dismay. I wish that I had some way to warn those students who are engaging in hate speech and advocating violence that they are being misled and manipulated. And not just by people with evil agendas, but by evil itself. In their naiveté and with the pseudo-intellectual arrogance of those who are too young to understand the world they seek to change, they are being deceived by the lies of forces which seek to destroy everything, including those who serve unawares as “useful idiots” in unwittingly advancing their own self-destruction.
In disappointingly predictable fashion, leadership of some of our historically-perceived elite institutions, ivy-covered and otherwise, have responded in feckless and ineffective fashion. In somber and self-important tones they announce as solution to the tumult the hoary old remedy beloved of bureaucracies everywhere: formation of a Task Force to serve as “a critical tool for making [their] institutions more inclusive and compassionate” by “identify[ing] practical ways for [their] safety and inclusion work to enhance support for all members of [their] communities.”
I wish all such Task Forces well, but I hold out little hope that they will be effective because I am confident that, given the current nature of what we call higher education, they will assiduously avoid addressing the topic in its true context: the struggle between good and evil, the existence of objective Truth, the role of Free Will, the question of God.
The expression of hatred styled antisemitism is ancient; in fact, it is as old as Abraham. I have long believed that hatred of Jews and Judaism stems from the fact that they and it represent a world view that challenges, in fact threatens, the otherwise natural status quo of the world and humanity — the Hobbesian nightmare of life as “nasty, brutish and short.” By believing in a creator God to whom each human life is precious, they affirmatively reject the world’s norms (“We are in this world, but not of this world”) which quite expectedly turns the world against them. Later, Christians and Christianity joined them in standing for the value of life and a world that seeks the good and opposes the evil, and believes that each one of us has the opportunity, the obligation (mitzvah), to do what we can to help heal this broken world. The combined Judeo-Christian worldview stands as a rebuke to the culture of the modern world, and thus a target for its wrath.
How likely is it that these academic Task Forces will conclude that antisemitism -- in fact any form of hatred against any person or group of people based upon their personal beliefs -- is evil and must be actively and firmly opposed by all who consider themselves good, virtuous and loving? How likely is it that these Task Forces will acknowledge that right and wrong exist as guides to, and judges of, behavior? That there are and can be no “equivalencies” between actions taken intentionally and with the purpose of degrading and destroying the humanity of others, and the unavoidable consequences of defending against such actions? How likely is it that these Task Forces will conclude that hate is the problem, and propose, much less take, effective action to educate and motivate their student bodies to replace hate with the love of neighbor which the Judeo-Christian tradition holds is mandated by a force infinitely greater and wiser than we can ever be?
As C.S. Lewis observed:
If you do not take the distinction between good and bad very seriously, then it easy to say that anything you find in this world is a part of God. But, of course, if you think some things really bad, and God really good, then you cannot talk like that. You must believe that God is separate from the world and that some of the things we see in it are contrary to His will. Confronted with cancer or a slum the Pantheist can say, “If you could only see it from the divine point of view, you would realise that this also is God.” The Christian replies, “Don't talk damned nonsense.” For Christianity is a fighting religion. It thinks God made the world — that space and time, heat and cold, and all the colours and tastes, and all the animals and vegetables, are things that God “made up out of His head” as a man makes up a story. But it also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again.
How likely is it that these Task Forces will acknowledge the moral imperative of fighting the good fight?
It is not surprising that antisemitism has shown its ugly face once again at the time and in the context of active war. But the current conflict triggered by the unjustifiable atrocities of terrorists is not just a fight by one sovereign nation to defend its existence; it must be seen as a wake-up call that the civilized world must once again enter with vigor into the moral battle against barbarism and savagery. There can be no room for equivocation or half measures; this is a matter of right versus wrong. When the “kinetic” phase of the current war has ended, the civilized world will have many tools at its disposal to continue the moral fight without necessitating additional death and destruction. Will it have the clarity of vision, the perseverance of commitment, the unity of will, to do so?
We are promised that in the end, good will triumph over evil. In the meantime, will we each choose to put our hand to the plow in service to the healing of this broken and suffering world? Will the well-intentioned Task Forces of academia rise to Lewis’ prophetic challenge:
Now is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It won't last forever. We must take it or leave it.
Hope springs eternal.