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Enemies in all directions

Christianity is the rock against the sand of extremism


Supporters of Palestinians rally in Chicago. Associated Press/Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times

Enemies in all directions

The predictably equivocal, even positive response from many on the political left to Hamas’s attack on Israel offers a fascinating glimpse into the strange fate of progressive politics in the West. Indeed, if Karl Marx were alive today, he would no doubt be utterly confused by those like the left-wing journalist Rivkah Brown who now claim to speak for the oppressed and extol the necessity of bloodshed for revolution while sipping their carbon-neutral lattes in London or Manhattan.

Marx was a critic of capitalism, but he was also clear that it was a dramatic improvement on the feudalism and religiously controlled world that preceded it. Thus, even somebody with a Wikipedia-level knowledge of Marxist thought should know that, in any war between capitalists and those committed to an old-style feudalism, reinforced with an intolerant religious ideology, the supporters of liberation should back the former. Israel may not be the end of history, but for a Marxist, it is closer to that goal than those who look to Iran as the model for society. Thus, when those on the left back Hamas over Israel, they expose their real commitments: They simply hate the West upon which they are parasitically dependent.

It is especially odd that the American left is so equivocal. It has spent the years since 2016 warning us all about the existential threat posed to democracy by fascism and fascists, from Donald Trump to those terrifying Moms for Liberty. The same goes for racism. Apparently, it is everywhere, and all are guilty of it, hence the need for costly action, such as wealthy sports stars taking the knee before a game and countless Facebook accounts sporting Black Lives Matter logos. But now that we have some real fascists on the block, the left seems oddly conflicted. When, I wonder, was the last time we saw men, women, and children (even infants) rounded up because they were Jews and carried off to be raped and murdered?

The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend, and, as soon as I start thinking he is, I might find myself on the way to excusing or even justifying evil.

Actually, I don’t wonder at all. We all know very well who did that sort of thing and when. Isn’t it funny how that seems to have been conveniently forgotten by the left, and moral equivalence and even racism (as long as it is against Jews) is now so in vogue? But then again, it is so much easier to take the knee, to stick a logo on a personal website, or to protest against the middle-aged housewives who think biology is actually real than to fight the gun-toting fascists on the actual frontlines.

There is a lesson here for us all in this current political climate: The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend, and, as soon as I start thinking he is, I might find myself on the way to excusing or even justifying evil. And this is no monopoly of the left. The current penchant in some quarters for the claim “No enemies to the right!” is merely the mirror image of the excesses of the progressive left.

For the Christian—indeed, for anyone who has a basic concern for our common humanity—such silly rhetoric cannot be adopted without serious moral cost. If there is some left-wing progressive who thinks killing Jewish children is acceptable, then he is an enemy of all right-thinking people. But if there is some right-wing misogynist who thinks women—your mother, your wife, your sister, your daughter—are just pieces of sexualized meat, then he, too, is your enemy. Christians cannot let the rhetoric and the power games of our immediate political culture pervert our commitment to a morality built upon the character of God and the notion that all are made in his image, regardless of race, sex, nationality, political allegiance, or economic status.


Carl R. Trueman

Carl R. Trueman taught on the faculties of the Universities of Nottingham and Aberdeen before moving to the United States in 2001 to teach at Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. In 2017-18 he was the William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life in the James Madison Program at Princeton University.  Since 2018, he has served as a professor at Grove City College. He is also a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a contributing editor at First Things. Trueman’s latest book is the bestselling The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. He is married with two adult children and is ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.


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