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Illiberal wokeness is waging a war on free speech and the Jews

“Top Story” with Jonathan Tobin and guest Karen Lehrman Bloch, Ep. 45

JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin says the greatest threat to free speech on college campuses, as well as in the public square, are intolerant woke progressives who are determined to silence anyone who disagrees with them. Tobin explained that “liberal” used to mean someone who defended the rights of the individual against the state but that the left is now illiberal because its championing of toxic ideologies like intersectionality and critical race theory has led not only to their embrace of racist and anti-democratic policies, but also to treat basic principles like free speech as a threat to their quest for power.

But he points out that the left’s hijacking of the word “liberal” on behalf of illiberal causes isn’t just destroying open public discourse. Jews are particularly at risk in this battle even though many of the groups tasked with defending them against anti-Semitism prefer to side with fashionable woke causes that are part of the problem.

He says that “it’s vital that the Jewish community stop pretending that it’s possible to fight anti-Semitism without being just as prepared to combat wokeness and cancel culture and the ideas that reinforce this illiberal plague of intolerance.”

He’s then joined by guest Karen Lehrman Bloch, editor of White Rose magazine, who explained that she founded the new journal to defend the principles of “classical liberalism” after they came under renewed assault from leftists during the Black Lives Matter riots in the summer of 2020. She says her goal is to just promote free discourse but also to uphold the basic principles of the Western canon and aesthetics about the importance of beauty against a leftist movement that is harming both women and Jews that she described as an anti-democratic “cult.”

“Leftism is actually the opposite of classical liberalism,” says Bloch. “What we’re living through right now on the left is not liberalism at all. And I felt and still feel that in order to counter leftist anti-Semitism, we needed to reteach classical liberalism.”

One of the purposes of the magazine, she adds, is “to inspire bravery, inspire people to speak up despite cancel culture.” 

She further explains that a particular emphasis of the publication is to educate Jews about being the indigenous people of the Land of Israel as part of a campaign to combat anti-Semitism.

“Top Story” also airs on JBS-TV.

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