Intersectionality Devolves

Intersectionality Devolves

Written by Christopher F. Rufo |
Tuesday, October 31, 2023

In 2015, BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors led a delegation to the Palestinian territories, so that the group’s activists could learn from the “Palestinian struggle.” She condemned Israel as an “apartheid state,” and the running theme of the trip was revolution, “from Ferguson to Palestine.” The same year, Cullors signed a statement drawing parallels between the Palestinian fight against Israel and the black one against America. During a speech at Harvard Law School, Cullors went further, telling the audience: “If we don’t step up boldly and courageously to end the imperialist project called Israel, we’re doomed.”

For years, left-wing intellectuals have treated “intersectionality” as an inevitability. The social theory, which holds that all oppressed peoples must join together to overthrow their common oppressor, has been an essential strategy of the Left.

There is some truth to this theory. When the fortunes of the Left are rising, intersectionality seems like a juggernaut: identity groups get aggregated into the mass, internal conflicts are subordinated to the cause of liberation, and a policy of “no enemies to the left” shifts political life in favor of the radicals. But the aura of inevitability surrounding the intersectional coalition is an illusion moments of crisis can bring suppressed contradictions to the surface and begin a process of fragmentation.

The recent Hamas terror campaign against Israel might become such a crisis. Following the attack, the foot soldiers of intersectionality—most notably, Black Lives Matter (BLM), the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and the academic “decolonization” movement—celebrated the militants who murdered civilians, raped women, and butchered babies. BLM’s Chicago chapter published a graphic lionizing the Hamas paraglider terrorists who killed innocents. The DSA blamed Israel for the terror attack against it, arguing that it was the “direct result of Israel’s apartheid regime.” Ivy League professors with expertise in “decolonization” called it a “stunning victory” and said that “Palestinians have every right to resist through armed struggle.”

For years, these academics and groups had been able to hide their ideological commitments and operate with an air of respectability. But after last week’s statements, they have encountered a well-deserved backlash. Jewish groups, including the generally left-wing Anti-Defamation League, have condemned BLM’s anti-Semitism. A Democratic congressman quit the DSA in protest. Major donors have rebuked Ivy League universities for failing to condemn Hamas forcefully. The Financial Times warned that the “left’s take on Hamas” could lead to a “Democratic party split.”

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