One of the more sophisticated arguments leftists employ in order to morally browbeat “privileged” groups into embracing their agenda is the notion that “silence is consent.” Famous black civil rights activist Martin Luther King on several occasions made statements to the effect that those who remain neutral during times of conflict and oppression have chosen the side of the oppressor. In one of his classic works “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” King does not mince words when denouncing white moderates who were insufficiently devoted to the cause of black freedom:
“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
In the eyes of leftists, you are either actively fighting on their behalf or you’re part of the problem. In fact, those who remain neutral are in some ways more passionately condemned than those who actively oppose leftist causes. Of course, those who possess even a rudimentary understanding of human nature recognize such logic as sheer foolishness. Most everyday people are too busy focusing on their own problems and issues in life to go out of their way to come to the aid of marginalized outsider groups. To quote Dale Carnegie from his classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People, a person’s “toothache means more to that person than a famine in China which kills a million people. A boil on one’s neck interests one more than forty earthquakes in Africa.” Haranguing everyday people for not actively altering their routines to participate in social justice causes will only inspire resentment among most, but then again, the left gladly dismisses human nature and empiricism whenever they need to advance an agenda.
This is not meant to denigrate King as a person, since such logic is typical of his ilk. King’s leftism was also much more morally sound and logical than the histrionics engaged in by today’s deranged netizens on Tumblr. However, his notion that silence equals consent continues to thrive among liberals and leftists, and is not merely confined to a few screeching SJW bloggers. In a recent PSA aimed at eliminating sexual assault, famous individuals including no less than president Barack Obama did everything but use the term “collective responsibility” when calling on men to take responsibility for ending sexual assault.
(don’t let the presence of women and the gender neutral language that it’s on “all of us” fool you. Men are the primary targets in this announcement)
How rich that a leader who has no qualms about ordering drone strikes on children suddenly develops a deep moral concern about the safety of women. Nor is our beloved commander-in-chief the only one. Check out this article from the mainstream male feminist site “The Good Men Project.” Unlike the PSA above, the author makes no attempt to conceal his belief that all men are collectively guilty and responsible for women feeling unsafe (and of course, women’s feelings are never irrational or misguided).
However, the left does not genuinely adhere to the principle that silence equals consent and that misbehavior by certain members of a group renders the entire group collectively responsible. The idea that “silence is consent” only applies to whites and men, as well as straights and other groups that are regarded as eternally “privileged.” A couple of examples demonstrate that the left does not hold other groups collectively accountable for the misdeeds of certain bad apples.
For starters, I’m going to be very original and use the Jews as a case study for leftist double standards! Don’t worry though, this will not turn into a post about the Jewish Question. In my old article on Chinese colonialism, I argued that the left will criticize Israelis as whites, but never as Jews. Kevin MacDonald’s excellent article on the disconnect between elites and average people with regards to Israel and Jewish power rekindled my interest in this topic. This quote says it all:
“The strategy pursued by the organized Jewish community is to acknowledge that it is reasonable to criticize Israel while demanding that Israeli behavior have no effect on how Germans and others see diaspora Jews.”
The same goes for so-called “anti-Zionist” Jews such as Max Blumenthal. For him, criticizing Israeli racism and Jewish ethnocracy is okay, and critiquing Zionism is all fine and dandy. However, the second one makes a connection between Israeli crimes and diaspora Jews as a whole, then intrepid fighters for Palestinian rights such as Blumenthal draw the line (skip to around 2:06). Likewise, critiquing Judaism or Jewish culture as a whole is unacceptable. Blumenthal’s assertion that colonialism and not Judaism is to blame for Israel’s behavior is part of the MO of Jewish leftists who criticize Israel but conveniently absolve Jews as a whole from any collective responsibility. However, should Jews in the West actually be held collectively responsible for Israel’s transgressions? Going by the logic of leftists, the answer is an unequivocal “yes!” Far from merely being silent and therefore complicit in Israeli crimes, significant numbers of Jews ranging from prominent politicians and media talking heads to “civil rights leaders” such as Abe Foxman lobby or serve as advocates on Israel’s behalf.
Nor are Jews the only ones exempt from the left’s notion of collective responsibility. Take the appalling child sexual abuse scandal from Rotherdam, Britain, where 1,400 children (mostly white girls) were pimped out and raped by various Pakistani men. Despite some mild acknowledgment from leftists that British Pakistanis have to address certain problems, there’s still a reluctance to assign collective responsibility to British Pakistanis as a whole. The left continues to tell us that abuse, blaming the victim, and even men as a whole are the problem, but not their beloved brown Pakistanis.
I know that some would say, “but not all Jews support Israel, and many criticize Israel! Likewise, not all Pakistani men are rapists, and this problem isn’t confined to Pakistanis.” Okay, now let’s apply this logic to white people and men: “most whites aren’t racist, and racism is hardly unique to whites. Other countries do it too! Whites as a whole shouldn’t be blamed for white racism. Similarly, most men don’t rape and the problem is violent individuals, not men as a whole. Besides, look at what they do to women in places like Saudi Arabia. This problem is hardly unique to our countries.” Do you think for a second that leftists would buy that defense? Obviously not. In fact, they would double down on their criticism of white men and accuse them of derailing and privilege denial.
Yet the left allows ethnic groups like Jews and Pakistanis to avoid being assigned collective responsibility for their own transgressions. Unlike whites and men, who are both very large and diverse groups with a wide variety of backgrounds, diaspora Jews and Pakistanis in Britain are much more homogenous and tightly knit. If collective guilt ought to be assigned to any groups, it’s them.
Ultimately, the left cares very little about principles or a consistent sense of justice, and “collective responsibility” is simply another tool in their psychological arsenal designed to weaken and demoralize the traditional peoples of the West.