Friday, May 10, 2024

George Takei, Candace Owens, and the Keffiyeh

 George Takei, Candace Owens, and the Keffiyeh
Social media reveals the power of the West's new religion

The West has retreated from the Judeo-Christian tradition. Atheists and Marxists demonize that tradition. Their new worldview is not an absence of religion; humans cannot live without religion. All humans believe in dogma; practice rituals; quote scripture; embrace a tribe; elevate teachers, healers, and saviors; model themselves after saints; interpret patterns from apparent chaos; and insist on a larger meaning.

A new religion practiced by many in the West is distinguished by several features. Genesis and Talmudic commentary insist that we are all equally made in the image of God; and we all equally descend, literally or spiritually, from the first couple, Adam and Eve. That is, the Judeo-Christian God did not create better or worse versions of humanity. In Christianity, all humans are flawed because all humans have free will and use that free will to choose away from God. Thus, we are all responsible for the problem of evil. All humans are in need of the salvation offered by Jesus. All humans benefit from humble self-reflection, confession, and repentance. Through God's grace, we are all capable of manifesting God's love in a broken world, no matter how low we have fallen.

In the West's new religion, equality is rejected. Some are good and some are bad based on their ethnicity, sex, or skin color. Guilt, shame, and the problem of evil are assigned to the West. Beneficence is found as far from the West as possible. Non-whites are better than whites. Jews are better than Christians and Muslims are better than both. Human value is relative and depends on context. A black Christian is of greater value than a white Christian and of less value than a white Muslim. Islam is prioritized because it is recognized as a greater threat to the West.

Those influenced by this new faith view moral questions through the lens of relativism. Relativism is applied selectively. Relativism is used, for example through whataboutism, to excuse atrocities committed by Muslims. "Sure, the Muslim Conquest of India is estimated to have resulted in the deaths of eighty million people, but what about the Europeans killing Native Americans?" Leftist relativism, which appears to be a flexible system that encourages open-minded tolerance of human failing, is in fact rigidly intolerant. Leftist Atheists never use relativism to relativize the West's failings. Followers of the Church of the Anti-West never say, "Sure, the arrival of Europeans in the Americas resulted in the deaths of Native Americans, but what about the Muslim Conquest of India that is estimated to have killed eighty million people?"

Atrocities committed by non-whites are often attributed to whites. The Rwandan genocide is all the fault of the white man. "The Rwandan Genocide must first be seen as the product of Belgian colonialism," insists the University of Minnesota's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. In contrast, the same institution's page devoted to the Armenian Genocide never mentions the word "Muslim" and mentions "Islam" only once – as a great monotheistic religion, but not as a factor in the genocide of Christian Armenians, as well as Christian Greeks and Assyrians, by Turkish Muslims.

The Hindu caste system, one of the worst human rights abuses in history, is rooted in the myth of Purusha in the Rig Veda, composed over three thousand years ago. Anti-Western voices, though, blame the Hindu caste system on British colonialism. Again, the reverse process never takes place. No one points out that, for example, whites in North America committed atrocities against Native Americans after the whites' loved ones were kidnapped, killed, or tortured by Native Americans. Similarly, if you mention antisemitism, you must pair it with "Islamophobia." You can, though, mention Islamophobia without mentioning antisemitism.

The Church of the Anti-West renders judgment taboo. One must not judge – non-Westerners. Cannibalism, clitoridectomy, tribal warfare, child marriage, honor killing, and, perhaps most ironic of all, unquestioning adherence to irrational dogma, are all excused with "don't judge," and, of course, with relativism. I've been told numerous times that clitoridectomy is comparable to the Catholic confirmation ceremony.

The Judeo-Christian tradition addresses the problem of evil with the process of confession, repentance, and reintegration. The Old Testament king David sinned grievously, murdering Uriah to gain sexual access to Uriah's wife, Bathsheba. God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David. David confessed, was punished, repented, and was reintegrated. The new religion rejects confession, repentance, and reintegration for whites and for the West. Muslim terrorists can be received back into society. White men must always remain outside the circle of community.

I had three encounters recently on social media that demonstrated these features of the West's new religion. I title these encounters "The Keffiyeh and the Rainbow," "George Takei and Japanese Internment," and "Candace Owens and Catholicism."

First encounter. The Keffiyeh and the Rainbow.

On May 1, 2024, a photograph came through my Facebook feed. A man is standing in front of closed New York City subway doors. His bare right arm is outstretched and his hand clenches a metal support. His inner forearm is heavily tattooed. His left hand is holding his cell phone, at which he is staring. Both of his hands end in long, pointy, sky-blue fingernails. The man displays the disturbing thinness of someone in the final stages of a deadly disease, possibly anorexia. He's wearing large headphones over his head, and stylish eyeglasses. His tight, sleeveless top exposes his bare midriff. Jeans cover his skeletally thin legs. Slung over his shoulder is a large rainbow-striped tote bag. Slung around his neck is a keffiyeh.

You can see the photo here, where it is captioned "The utter incoherence of the bourgeoisie left in one picture."

The man's appearance can be interpreted as announcing: "I am biologically male, but I identify as a woman, or maybe just as an effeminate, and physically vulnerable, gay man. I am wearing a symbol used by those who committed vile terrorist attacks against Israel on October 7."

At least ten Muslim nations punish homosexuality with death. Many other Muslim nations treat homosexuality harshly; see map here. To support this hostility to homosexuals, Muslims cite sharia and hadith Sunan Abu Dawud 4462.

In 2022, the severed head and torso of gay man Ahmad Abu Murkhiyeh were found near his family home in Hebron. "Palestinian youths" shared footage of the corpse on social media. A friend reported that the man's entire family and village wanted to murder him because of his sexual orientation. He was one of many gay Arabs who seek safety in Israel. Their Arab co-religionists "hunt" them in Israel and transport them to Muslim-majority areas to kill them.

In 2022, an anonymous gay man whose father is in Hamas described being imprisoned and tortured for being gay. He saved for years to escape. He now resides "thousands of miles away" from Gaza but still lives in fear that Muslims will hunt him down and torture and kill him. In short, "Gays for Hamas" is often interpreted as "Chickens for KFC."

That the keffiyeh is a symbol of terror against Jews and other non-Muslims is beyond dispute. A hundred years ago, the swastika was primarily associated with Hinduism and Buddhism. Nazism adopted it and this ancient symbol will never again be seen as an innocent Pagan solar symbol. Catholic Spanish penitents have been donning a capirote, or pointed hood that obscures the face, for hundreds of years. The Ku Klux Klan adopted a capirote-like pointed hood-and-mask combo, and pointy white hoods and face masks are now the Klan's trademark.

A hundred years ago, the keffiyeh was worn by Bedouins, desert nomads, not by settled people like those who today call themselves "Palestinians." Wadi Rum Nomads say that the keffiyeh "is a sign of male status. A man who wears it is assumed to be able to uphold the obligations and responsibilities of manhood." That is no longer the case. Keffiyehs are now made in China. Leila Khaled, a terrorist member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the first woman to hijack a plane, wears a keffiyeh.

Wafa Ghnaim is a senior research fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ghnaim sketches the history of the keffiyeh as a political symbol in a December 6, 2023 NPR report. The keffiyeh began to have political meaning around 1936, when Arabs rebelled against the British. One of the demands of that action was for "an end to Jewish immigration." From its first use as a political symbol, the keffiyeh represented Muslim hostility to Jews. "The fighters used the keffiyeh to hide their features," just as Klan members used the hood/mask combo to hide their features. "The revolution's leaders issued an order for men to wear the keffiyeh to express solidarity with the revolutionaries and so that the British could not distinguish the fighters from others." The keffiyeh, then, was associated with subterfuge and pressure to participate in a "revolution."

Sixty years ago, terrorist Yasser Arafat indelibly cemented identification of the keffiyeh with antisemitism and terrorism. "The apocryphal story among many Palestinians is that Arafat folded his keffiyeh in a way that reminded him of the Dome of the Rock … and let the side panel drape in a way that resembled the historic map of Palestine… [terrorists] conducted guerrilla operations while wearing the keffiyeh."

Since October 7, the keffiyeh "has been associated with the Hamas spokesperson known only … as Abu Obeida … the 'masked one' … his face is always covered by a red and white keffiyeh that shows only his eyes." The "masked one" "praised the Oct. 7 attack … as a victory for the Palestinian cause." Abu Obeida is celebrated in Paterson, NJ. A young Muslima wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with his image was recently seen strolling through a Paterson park.

In 2010, the peer-reviewed Journal for the Study of Antisemitism published "Keffiyeh As Swastika." Also in 2010, the keffiyeh came up in an exchange between David Horowitz and Jamanah Imad Albahri, a Muslim Student Association member at the University of California-San Diego. When Horowitz invited her to do so, Albahri, who was wearing a keffiyeh, refused to condemn Hamas. Horowitz asked Albahri if she supported the Hezbollah call for Jews worldwide to gather in one place, making them easier to annihilate. She voiced support for that planned Muslim genocide of all the Jews on the planet. Horowitz identified Albahri's keffiyeh as a "terrorist neckerchief." On October 13, 2023, Jim Treacher referred to the keffiyeh as a "hipster swastika."

The keffiyeh's new identity as trademark of hate, violence, and terror is demonstrated multiple times daily. In mid-April, 2024, Elisha Baker, a Jewish Columbia student, was greeted with chants of "Kill yourself! Kill yourself!" Baker was kicked in the stomach by Tarek Bazrouk, a keffiyeh-wearing attacker. Baker's shirt was also set on fire. Why did the keffiyeh-wearers attack Baker? He was carrying an American flag. In late April, 2024, someone disguised with a red-and-white keffiyeh used a hammer to break into Hamilton Hall on Columbia University's campus; see here. Some interpret red-and-white keffiyehs as a statement of Marxist identity. On May 5, 2024, Dahlia Kurtz posted video of a Jewish man walking down a quiet street in Canada. He is suddenly surrounded by antisemitic thugs, who mask their faces, and their crimes, with keffiyehs. The keffiyeh-clad thugs shout antisemitic slurs and attempt physically to harm the Jew. This video records just one of countless assaults against Jews and others by those wearing keffiyehs.

There are "Queers for Palestine," "Fatties for Palestine," and even Jews for Palestine. I shared the photo to share the point that many who wear keffiyehs and voice support for Hamas seem not to be aware of the full import of the position they are taking.

"Ethel" has not talked to me in years. This saddens me, as we had some friendly back-and-forth when we first "met" on social media. I had hoped we might become friends. I have commented on her posts, to praise her photos or to offer sympathy after a death in her family. I get no response. Ethel did respond to the photo. She wrote, "This is just a person expressing themselves in their own way. Good for them!" Note Ethel's use of the plural pronoun to honor the man's apparent trans identity. Ethel's meaning is clear. She understands my posting the photo as a criticism of the man for his effeminate appearance. Ethel did not say a friendly "Hi, it's been a long time," or even ask why I had posted the photo before preaching at me. Friendly human interaction, the most basic building block of ethical behavior, is less important, in the new religion, than alienating virtue signaling.

"Jake," a prize-winning poet and retired university English professor, also does not post on my page much, but he did post in response to this photo. Jake asserted that he knows how to "accept people who were considered different. Gay? Black? Puerto Rican? Jewish? Smart? Poor? Crippled? Addict? Christian? No problem." Jake, like Ethel, concluded that I need to be taught how to be tolerant of gay people. They assigned themselves priest function. They would punish me for my sin.

In fact I have been in touch with Jake via the internet for over twenty years. In that time, in multiple internet environments, I have repeatedly expressed my support for equal rights and respect for homosexuals. I have broadcast and published on this topic. Jake appears unaware of this. Jake and Ethel want to preach. Jake and Ethel don't care about the individuality or the humanity of the person to whom they are preaching. The public pose, the rush to virtue signal, transcends any deeper spirituality, any genuine connection with, or respect for, a fellow human. Jesus did not behave this way. He addressed people as individuals. Have a look at his longest conversation, the one with the Woman at the Well. It's clear that he knows her before he preaches to her.

I explained to Jake, "1.) He is wearing a badge associated with genocidal antisemitism.

2.) He himself is a target of the very same murderous ideology he appears to endorse."

In spite of my making this clear, Jake responded that my motive for posting the photo was to "criticize" the man in the photo and "hate him" and encourage others to hate him "for being gay." There were in fact no posts whatsoever mocking the man for being gay. Jake's lack of connection with actual facts and his repeated clinging to counterfactual dogma declares loud and clear Jake's adherence to his new religion.

In an attempt to explain the photo to Jake, I posted links to the Hamas Charter, that calls for a genocide of Jews. I also posted links to material on the persecution of homosexuals in Muslim countries. Jake ignored these links. Jake said that the keffiyeh is merely "a square scarf, usually made of cotton." Jake was quoting Wikipedia's page on the keffiyeh. Jake's quote was selective. He did not quote Wikipedia's extensive coverage of the keffiyeh as a symbol of terror, so much so that its use has been banned or otherwise sanctioned in England, France, and Germany.

Jake then claimed that the keffiyeh is an "anti genocide" symbol. "The dude in the pic might be anti genocide," because of "Israeli genocidal practices." I invited Jake to adduce facts supporting his allegation that Israel is engaging in genocidal practices. As of this writing, no such support has appeared. Again, in Jake's adherence to his dogma, facts don't matter. In fact, they intrude, so they are ignored.

Jake publicly identifies as an atheist and a leftist. Jake is not without religion. Humans can't be without religion any more than they can be without politics. Jake expresses his atheist, leftist, Christophobic religion in various ways. After the October 7 atrocities, Jake voiced a common, false, atheist religious dogma.

On November 4, 2023, as part of a post addressing the October 7 atrocities, Jake alluded to the Good Samaritan parable. This parable expresses a distinctly Christian ethic. It is found in chapter ten of the Gospel of Luke. A legal expert asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Jesus and the expert both affirm verses from the Old Testament, that is, Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength," and "Love your neighbor as yourself."

After Jesus and the expert both agree on the value of these verses, the expert complicates the question. He asks Jesus about something that has challenged humans for as long as humans have existed. "Who is my neighbor?" That is, to whom do I owe loving, ethical behavior? Jesus gives a radical answer, an answer that calls upon Christians to love even people who are not members of their tribe. 

Many religions, possibly most, have answered the expert's question like this. The believer owes ethics and loving behavior to his own tribe. This approach is codified in Hinduism's caste system, in Confucianism's guanxi and also in the Chinese shao guan xian shi (see here). Islam's differentiation between Muslims, "the best of peoples," (Quran 3:110) and kufar, "the worst of creatures" (98:6) has had massive world impact in the tens of millions of non-Muslims who have been killed in jihad. Sharia codifies the difference between the value of a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Blood money paid to relatives of a victim of a killing is calculated based on the identity of the dead. An heir of "a Jewish or Christian male ... is only entitled to receive 50 percent of the compensation a Muslim male would receive; all other non-Muslims (Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Animists, Atheists) are only entitled to receive one-sixteenth of the amount a male Muslim would receive."

Jesus and Mohammed do not differ only in the words they spoke and the lessons they taught. They differ in the behavior they modeled as an ideal pattern for their followers. Christians believe that Jesus was divine. Jesus "gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being," see Philippians 2:7. Christians believe that Jesus voluntarily submitted to excruciating torture, that of scourging and crucifixion, in order to save us. The visual reminder of a crucifix hung on a wall or worn around the neck urges us to honor Jesus' sacrifice by following his difficult teaching of "love they neighbor," as he loved us (John 3:16; John 13:34; Luke 23:34).

Mohammed, in contrast, was a warrior, a torturer, a caravan raider, an enslaver, an owner of sex slaves, an adult man who married a six-year-old child, and a murderer. Roman Emperor Constantine, a convert to Christianity, banned crucifixion in 337 AD. Mohammed, in the Quran, adjures his followers to crucify non-Muslims (Quran 5:33).

Jake and other leftist Atheists insist as a matter of dogma that the Judeo-Christian tradition is worse than other traditions. They also insist that anything positive in the Judeo-Christian tradition is found in other traditions. In these contradictory positions, leftist relativism and condemnation of the West combine in one toxic brew. Jake voiced this explicit leftist Atheist dogma less than a month after the October 7 atrocities. Jake insisted that Jesus is "not the only one" who told his followers to love God, love their neighbor, and treat others unlike the self with an equal ethic. "Almost every religion has that phrase or something like it at its core," Jake says, voicing leftist Atheist relativism.

Of course the facts directly refute Jake's relativism. Islam isn't about love – Muslims themselves insist as much. It's about unquestioning submission to Allah's extensive demands, right down to the elaborate, regimented gestures one performs when repeating, by rote, in Arabic, five daily prayers. If Muslims don't perform assigned tasks just right, Allah promises that he can destroy them and replace them. "He could destroy you, and in your place appoint whom He will," Quran 6:133; "If anyone from you turns back from his Faith, then Allah will bring a people whom He loves," 5:54; "If you were to turn away from Him, He would just replace you with another people, who will not be like you," 47:38.

Jake, to prove that all religions contain a version of the revolutionary Good Samaritan parable, to prove that there is nothing special about the Judeo-Christian tradition, grasps at a verse from the Quran. In verse 4:36, the Quran advises Muslims to "do good" to "those whom your right hand possesses." Those who have bothered to educate themselves about Islam recognize this verse's ugliness. "Those whom your right hand possesses" is a Quranic euphemism for the Mohammed-mandated practice of capturing women in war, killing or enslaving the women's male relatives, and using the women as sex slaves. Mohammed demanded this of his followers; Mohammed practiced this, for example, in the case of the Jewish Safiyya, whom Mohammed had sex with after killing her father and her brother, and torturing her husband to death.

But there's more. Had Jake read the entire chapter, he would have read 4:34, just two verses above 4:36. Quran 4:34 says that since Allah made men superior to women, men should beat their wives if the men so much as suspect that the wife is "disobedient" to the man. The key relationship in most people's lives, that between spouses, is based, not on love, but on the man's superior power and an inferior woman's submission. This dynamic of domination and submission is reflected in humanity's relationship to Allah, who does not love much: see 3:32, 2:276, 2:190, 3:140, 4:107, 8:58, 9:73, and 48:29. In that final verse, contrary to the Good Samaritan parable, Allah tells his followers to be "hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves." Jake's fallacious insistence that the Judeo-Christian tradition has nothing special to offer humanity, and his marketing of Islam, less than a month after October 7, was liked and shared multiple times. 

Jake has stated in his poetry that "I'm Jesus" – that's a direct quote. "This town ain't big enough for both of us," goes a threat from an old Hollywood Western. There's only room enough for one Jesus. Men who can't handle something bigger than themselves, holier than themselves, more salvific than themselves, need to invent a new religion that assassinates Jesus, and elevates the self.

Second encounter. George Takei and Japanese Internment.

On April 20, 2024, NPR broadcast laudatory coverage of George Takei's new children's book, My Lost Freedom. Takei played Helmsman Hikaru Sulu on the beloved 1960s TV series, Star Trek. In recent years, 87-year-old Takei has developed a puckish and political social media presence. He's been called "the funniest guy on Facebook," where he has over nine million followers, and his catchphrase, "Oh my," is part of the culture. When he was a child, Takei was one of the Japanese-Americans interned in camps. NPR pointed out that Takei had published twice before about this experience.

In the NPR broadcast, Takei said that internment was "degrading" and "humiliating." The broadcast focused on how his family made the best of a bad situation by, for example, braiding rugs for the household and capturing polliwogs and watching them develop into frogs.

Listening to NPR's coverage of My Lost Freedom, I felt irritated. I was shocked at my own irritation. I was clearly not having the "I'm ashamed to be an American; isn't Takei's family so admirable" reaction prescribed by NPR. I feared that I was turning into some kind of monster. That's how you feel when you resist a powerful narrative. Powerful narratives work to divorce you from your own transgressive thoughts, your own taboo questions, your own gut feelings.

I silenced the internalized Big Brother accusing me of thought crime. "What am I really thinking and feeling? Why are charming George Takei and NPR's pious, didactic drone annoying me?"

I recognized that when Takei talked about how "humiliating" and "degrading" it was to live in an American internment camp, my mind immediately flashed images of my peasant relatives in Eastern Europe occupied by Imperial Japan's allies, the Nazis. Families wiped out. Villages razed. Resisters tortured. Starvation allowances of calories per day. Education denied. I thought of my father, a first sergeant in the Pacific Theater, fearing that any creak of bamboo meant oncoming Japanese.

I remembered a classroom thirty years ago. My Japanese students were wealthy visitors. They were every bit as charming as George Takei. Even their pencils were decorated with cute images of "Hello Kitty" style graphics. They gave a classroom presentation on how to make origami peace doves. "Japanese are peaceful," they told us. "America bombed us at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and so we are ambassadors for peace." Pearl Harbor went unmentioned.

My Chinese students fumed silently. The Chinese students were poorer than the Japanese, and they looked it. Their clothing was threadbare, they were often work-grimed, and they rarely smiled. One, Fred Chen, told me he slept in a windowless storeroom above a restaurant with ten other immigrant men. The Chinese were too polite to say anything during the origami presentation; they expressed their rage to me privately.

My Chinese students didn't want the Japanese students, who were telling a skewed narrative, to suffer. My Chinese students just wanted the truth to be told.

As Takei spoke, I thought of a New York Times article that is seared in my memory. I was an adult; I had been taught all about what the Nazis did. Somehow at no point in my education had anyone taught me what the Japanese did. This Times article, that I read by chance, detailed horrors committed by Japanese against Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos, POWs, and others. I learned about the Japanese resistance to so much as admitting these crimes, never mind apologizing for them. Iris Change exposed the rape of Nanking in her 1997 bestseller. Chang eventually killed herself. She had many challenges, not least of which was exposing herself to overwhelming horror combined with resistance to her exposure of that horror.

There are many reasons why Nazism's atrocities are better known than those of Imperial Japan. I note, though, that leftist Atheists exploit Nazi atrocities as an anti-Western talking point. They conflate Nazism with Christianity. In fact Nazism was overtly and murderously anti-Christian, especially anti-Catholic. Dachau, as "Germany's largest monastery," attests to that.

Conversely, Brian Victoria's work exposing the relationship between Zen Buddhism and Imperial Japan is not part of popular consciousness. If it were, New Agers would be much less likely to use the word "karma" as if "karma" were a beneficent concept. It is not. The Buddhist concept of karma was used to excuse atrocities. If victims suffer, compassion is misplaced. Bad karma causes suffering; the sufferer is just getting what he deserved from his actions in a previous life.

At least one Zen abbot, Kubota Ji'un, felt it necessary to issue an apology to a Dutch child survivor of Japanese atrocities. "Whenever I hear such stories, I feel great pain in my heart as a member of the nation that once initiated that horrible war; I sincerely apologize … to all people who had to go through such excruciating experiences." God bless this abbot for recognizing that Buddhism itself was exploited to advance Imperial Japan's atrocities. That awareness has not penetrated American popular culture, though. Accurate knowledge of Zen Buddhism's role in advancing Imperial Japan does not serve the anti-Western, anti-Judeo-Christian narrative.

No, I'm not accusing George Takei's family of contributing to that horror. Rather, I'm asking that George Takei and his team do something I do. I've published about Polish-Jewish relations. Even though I attempt to dismantle prejudices against Poles, and I attempt to disseminate information about Poland's victimization at the hands of the Nazis and the Allies' repeated betrayals of Poland, I do one more thing. Every time I address these issues, I acknowledge that Poles were also victimizers. I acknowledge Polish crimes and acknowledge that those crimes are part of any complete narrative.

I ask Takei to use his considerable celebrity to acknowledge, "Yes, internment was hard. And, yes, America faced an overwhelming threat and challenge when Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, and fascist Italy all declared war on the US."

Here's another fact Takei and NPR would need to acknowledge if they are honest and want to contribute to, rather than detract from, historically authentic narratives. Takei is disseminating a narrative that only American white supremacy dictated the internment. The New York Times offered a different take in a May 22, 1983 article. "Before interning 120,000 Japanese-American citizens and alien residents in World War II, President Roosevelt and some of his top advisers may have seen decoded Japanese diplomatic cables boasting that ethnic Japanese had been 'utilized' for espionage … 'Anyone reading this flow of messages during 1941 could easily conclude that thousands of resident Japanese were being organized into subversive organizations,'" according to David Lowman, a retired special assistant to the director of the National Security Agency.

Here's more that Takei didn't mention in the NPR broadcast. German-Americans and Italian-Americans were also interned. And one more thing Takei and NPR did not mention. Canada interned Japanese between 1942 and 1949 – internment ended only four years after the end of the war. Because America, to the left, is the great Satan, Canada, being "not America," is perceived as superior. Canada's interment is rarely mentioned.

None of these facts running through my head as I listened to, and was irritated by, George Takei make his internment right, or diminish the suffering he and his family endured. Here's the point of all these facts. Takei isn't just telling his own personal story. He's reinforcing a narrative. In this narrative, white Westerners are the racists. White Westerners, like German Nazis and Americans, do bad, racist things. Americans generally don't know about Imperial Japan's war crimes, or its sick racism, or tortured Chinese or Korean women reduced to sex slavery. Takei and NPR didn't mention any of this. Doing so would certainly cast American fears of Japanese-Americans in a different light. Simply mentioning that Germans and Italians were also interned would crack the "white supremacist American" narrative that Takei and NPR serviced.

I mentioned all this on Facebook. And I was spanked. Japanese people are peaceful and are not racist! I was told. One poster blamed Americans for Japanese atrocities. Her logic was so serpentine I'm not even going to try to recapitulate it. Another poster's "whataboutism" move was to bring up the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She also insisted that Imperial Japan was not racist. Another friend, who is researching World War II, tried to talk some sense into her. His post is fact-fact-fact-fact. She never responded to it.

Third Encounter. Candace Owens and Catholicism.

Candace Owens is a 35-year-old, movie-star-pretty, black conservative commentator. In December, 2018, at a Turning Point UK conference, Owens made a public comment about Hitler; video of her comment is here. I was put off by Owens' Hitler comment. I regarded her work with caution.

On June 3, 2020, as America was being torn apart by riots, Owens released a video. In this video, Owens said that she rejected the elevation of George Floyd as a role model or martyr for black people. She also made very clear that she did not believe that Floyd deserved to die. I thought her statement was clear, courageous, and correct, and I said so. On October 12, 2022, Owens released The Greatest Lie Ever Sold: George Floyd and the Rise of BLM. I published a review praising the documentary as, again, clear, correct, and courageous.

In recent years, Owens has made public comments that many, including me, assess as antisemitic. Many websites catalogue these comments; I won't rehash them here. Rather, I'll talk about how her comments sounded to me.

Back in the 1970s, I began to travel to my ancestral homelands in Poland and Czechoslovakia. I met relatives and friends, rescuers and survivors, who had lived under Nazi and Soviet occupation. These encounters seared me for life. The fear in my elders' eyes made me weak. I met two elderly Polish peasants who had been slave laborers under the Nazis in Germany. The stories they told beggar the imagination. Soviets, once the Nazis' allies, offered a tainted "liberation." One of my aunts was gang-raped by Red Army soldiers. I could go on but you've no doubt heard similar stories before.

We must resist antisemitism not just because a decent person and a livable society stand up for the vulnerable. Those of us who are Christian must resist antisemitism because too many Christians have, wrongly, used Christianity as a weapon to harm Jews. We must resist antisemitism out of interest in our own self-preservation. My loved ones who suffered and died under Nazism were all Catholics. The haters may start with Jews. They never end with Jews.

Candace Owens' inept 2018 comment about Hitler was incoherent enough that I cut her some slack. Her more recent antisemitic comments have been, to this listener, not just "clear as a bell." They also sound an unambiguous air raid siren.

Owens began to use the phrase "Christ is King" to troll Jews. Those who use this phrase to bully Jews offer a disingenuous defense, and they falsely paint themselves as the victims. "How dare you tell me that affirming that 'Christ is King' is antisemitic!" This "defense" is a straw man. No one is saying that affirming Christ's kingship is antisemitic. It's the use of the phrase to bully Jews that is sinful, disgusting, and dangerous. Hammers are great; they are irreplaceable when I need to pound a nail. Using a hammer to bash a skull is a very bad thing to do.

You can find video online of Nick Fuentes and his followers chanting "Christ is King." These videos go back years. If Candace Owens is a worthy, informed commentator, she knows that open antisemites have adopted "Christ is King," not as a statement of faith, but as a taunt to Jews. A prominent influencer advancing antisemitism raises an air raid siren for me. An influencer using Christianity as a shield to defend antisemitism breaks my heart.  

We don't have to imagine how badly using "Christ is King" to troll Jews hurts Christians of Jewish ancestry. On March 22, 2024, conservative commentator and Jewish convert to Christianity Andrew Klavan released a poignant, passionate, faithfully Christian video. The video is also respectful to Judaism, the faith and culture into which he was born and raised. Klavan addressed antisemites' use of "Christ is King" to troll Jews. Klavan's depth, wisdom, and faith uplifted me.

Then I went to the comments section. Now, see, when I was growing up, America was pumping out liberation movements. We had saved the world in WW II and now we were jettisoning Jim Crow and the glass ceiling and the world was going to be a better place. And there in the comments section I found the kind of antisemitism I naively thought that mainstream Americans had overcome, or at least found too embarrassing to express publicly.

On April 22, 2024, Candace Owens tweeted that she had converted to Catholicism. "Christ is King," she wrote in her announcement. A Catholic Facebook friend celebrated Owen's public identification with Catholicism. I could have remained silent. See the above history. I am all too aware of the consequences of "nice" silence. I pointed out that Owens has made public statements that many, including me, assess as antisemitic, and that she closed her post with "Christ is King," words expressly and repeatedly used to troll, bully, and silence Jews.

Catholics responded to me in a very interesting way. They deployed the very relativism and whataboutism that is used by Atheist leftists to discredit the West. Sure, I was told, Owens has sinned but you've sinned. We've all sinned. What about that? I was told I should not judge.

Yes, the Bible does include a verse that says "Judge not," but those two words are taken out of context and misunderstood. There's more to the story; see here. Christians are to judge with the same measure we wish to be judged. If I made antisemitic statements, I would want my fellow Christians to correct me. Further, the Bible expressly prohibits us from association with people who habitually and publicly sin, including those who commit the sin that Owens is guilty of. "I am writing to tell you that you must not associate with those who call themselves believers in Christ but who sin sexually, or are greedy, or worship idols, OR ABUSE OTHERS WITH WORDS, or get drunk, or cheat people. Do not even eat with people like that," 1 Corinthians 5:11.

Again, the Judeo-Christian tradition offers a route to reintegration: confession and repentance. Ever since her inept and notorious comment about Hitler, Candace Owens has received ample warning that her rhetoric raises alarms. Rather than confession and repentance, Owens persists, including the defiant "Christ is King" in her conversion tweet. The Bible counsels, "As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear," 1 Timothy 5:20. Owens has been rebuked. She persists in sin. Bizarrely, the Catholics on Facebook insisted to me that Owens didn't need to confess anything to anybody.

Owens, a notorious antisemite, posting a photo of herself in a Catholic Church, next to a priest in full regalia, and captioning that photo with a phrase she knows to be used by antisemites, taints the Catholic Church with scandal. Christians believe that faith saves. When someone with Owens' influence associates the Church with antisemitism, she discourages nonbelievers from accessing the Church's salvation. I don't know if any Catholic clergy have addressed this. Meanwhile, I will use my puny voice to say that Owens can and should demonstrate real Christian, not relativist, not arrogant, worldly values. She should publicly confess, repent, and reintegrate herself into a faithful community where hate has no place.

To those Catholics who insisted to me on Facebook that I had no right to mention Owens' antisemitism, I say, let the Atheist left keep its perverse moral code. We Christians must conform to a higher authority.

Danusha Goska is the author of God Through Binoculars: A Hitchhiker at a Monastery


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Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
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