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On the justice of rooting out poultryism

The left’s favorite slogans are expressions of pure murderous nihilism.

A humorous cartoon of chickens at a protest. Source: Stable Diffusion
A humorous cartoon of chickens at a protest. Source: Stable Diffusion
Benjamin Kerstein
Benjamin Kerstein is a writer and editor living in Tel Aviv. Read more of his work on Substack at No Delusions, No Despair. Purchase his books here.

The radical left has a terrible weakness for slogans. Sometimes catchy, usually stupid, often amusing, more often sinister, we are constantly beset by them: “No blood for oil,” “People not profits,” “Yes, we can,” “Hope and change,” “No justice, no peace” and “From the river to the sea,” they run the gamut from the irritatingly self-righteous to the outright genocidal. None, however, is quite as hilarious or as telling as the perennial favorite “The chickens come home to roost.”

This bizarre reference to wandering poultry has several variations, such as “The chickens always come home to roost,” “It’s the chickens coming home to roost,” and so on. It appears to have originated with Malcolm X, a hugely important figure who gave voice to the inchoate rage of black Americans. It means, more or less, “What goes around comes around.” That is, the bad things one does to others are eventually done to you as well and it’s a damn good thing too. X used the phrase in the context of American racism and racist violence, but leftists today apply it more or less universally to anything of which they disapprove.

The slogan became particularly popular on the left after the 9/11 attacks. It is often conveniently forgotten that, for the most part, the radical left adored the attacks and reacted to them with almost orgasmic schadenfreude. The atrocities, the left claimed, were righteous payback for the depredations of the American empire and, in many ways, the existence of America itself. Everything from the initial colonization of the Americas through slavery and Vietnam, the left said, had culminated in this act of beautiful vengeance. America, they held, had brought it all upon itself. The chickens had arrived and it didn’t make the left mad, it made them glad.

The slogan became most notorious, perhaps, due to the scandal of former academic and intellectual con artist Ward Churchill. A dedicated leftist who had lied for decades about having Native American ancestry (he had none whatsoever), Churchill penned a 2005 essay hilariously titled “On the Justice of Roosting Chickens.” Apparently unaware of the extent to which he thus marked himself as a personification of all the worst stereotypes of left-wing academics, Churchill’s essay exterminated irony by referring to the victims of the 9/11 attacks as “little Eichmanns.” The chickens, it seems, came home to roost and discovered Nazis living in their nests.

Amid the ensuing outcry, Churchill’s lies about his ancestry and academic malfeasances were revealed and he was ousted by the University of Colorado. No doubt he now lurks in the basement of some Berkeley, California headshop, raising chickens and plotting his revenge.

Churchill may have been disgraced, but his favorite slogan lives on, as does the mentality it represents. Indeed, the left’s full-throated and passionate support for the Oct. 7 massacre is nothing but clucking about returning chickens. No one could support such an atrocity, after all, if they did not think the victims deserved it.

This points to one of the more disturbing aspects of the phrase in question. It is, of course, a self-evidently farcical slogan (the late Christopher Hitchens once reacted to it by asking “What chickens? Where?”) but it is also quite monstrous. This ought to be obvious: If anything bad that happens is just karmic retribution, then anything can be justified. The left seems oblivious to the fact that if, for example, Israel expelled the entire population of Gaza, it could easily be said that this is simply the chickens of Oct. 7 coming home to roost. Given the left’s code of moral poultryism, they could have no argument against this. In other words, while it professes to morality, poultryism is pure nihilism.

This is underlined by another of the left’s favorite slogans, which was also popularized by Malcolm X: “By any means necessary.” This is, undoubtedly, a rousing call to arms. There are few of us, including Jews, who do not feel a certain sympathy for it when we are faced with obvious injustice. Nonetheless, it is clearly a horrific statement. What if ethnic cleansing is deemed necessary? Or genocide? Or nuclear war? The answer can only be that “by any means necessary” means precisely what it says. If the necessary means include the extermination of large numbers of human beings or—in the case of nuclear war—the planet itself, then so be it. By definition, such a principle has no limits, moral or otherwise. The chickens come home to roost no matter what and we can’t complain if they peck us all to death.

If we view “by any means necessary” as the natural endgame of poultryism, then we must acknowledge that poultryism is more or less sanguine about potentially destroying the world. Thus, it should not surprise us that the poultryists are perfectly fine with Hamas’s genocidal violence, would like to see more of it, and are enthusiastic about the prospect of murdering seven million Jews. Nor should it shock us that they are willing to transgress all of their professed morals and values by engaging in racist incitement, antisemitic violence and systematic criminality to get what they want and sate their sadistic instincts.

What should be surprising, however, is the conduct of the adults in the room. Rather than laugh at absurd blubberings about largely flightless birds or express horror at nihilistic violence, most of those who ought to know better bow before the clucking hens. They have decided that they may not support the poultryists’ methods, but they accept the principle and admire the ideal.

It appears not to occur to them that, since it can justify anything, poultryism is as much a danger to them as to Jews or indeed everybody else. Perhaps we should remind them of a basic principle of animal husbandry: Once the chickens have outlived their usefulness, they are always slaughtered. This might, at long last, awaken the adults in the room to what the poultryists have in store for all of us.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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