OpinionU.S. News

The ‘inclusive’ public square excludes Jews and Christians

Progressives tolerate everything except everyone who disagrees with them.

Police struggle to hold back anti-Israel protesters on UCLA's campus. Source: YouTube.
Police struggle to hold back anti-Israel protesters on UCLA's campus. Source: YouTube.
Henry Kopel
Henry Kopel is a former federal prosecutor and the author of War on Hate: How to Stop Genocide, Fight Terrorism and Defend Freedom (Lexington Books, 2021).

Among the proclaimed values of America’s leading institutions, “inclusion” ranks near the top. Virtually all universities, Fortune 500 companies and media groups place inclusion front and center.

Yet at the same time, these institutions project a message of exclusion towards two prominent groups. The new rules of the game are: Jews and Christians are unwelcome unless they subordinate their beliefs to a woke-progressive agenda. If you’re too Jewish or Christian, the inclusion door slams shut.

Consider the place of Jews. Since Hamas’s Oct. 7 mass rapes and murders, elite college campuses have been besieged with threats, intimidation and protests calling for the extermination of Jews and Israel. At UCLA, protestors blocked entrances to libraries, permitting access only to students wearing “anti-Zionist” wristbands. At many colleges, protestors demand the exclusion of all Zionists: That is, any student who simply believes Israel has a right to exist.

And where were campus administrations amid such blatant civil rights violations? Did they stand by their endlessly touted commitment to inclusion? Quite the contrary: They sought to negotiate with the Jew-bashing mobs. Instead of “This will not be tolerated!” the appeasing message was “We hear you, so let’s consider divesting from Israel” (but not genocidal China or Iran). Campus Diversity, Equity and Inclusion offices, which routinely spread defamatory propaganda about Israel, did virtually nothing for their beleaguered Jewish students.

These phenomena long predated Oct. 7. For years, campus Hillels have been targets of vandalism and antisemitic rhetoric, while campus leftists repeatedly seek to expel Jews from student government based on an alleged “pro-Israel” bias.

This extends well beyond the campuses. Ex-New York Times editor Bari Weiss has compellingly documented how neo-Marxist ideologies embraced by the media and education sectors exclude Jews who refuse to denounce Israel. A recent exposé by a senior NPR editor revealed a similar newsroom mindset.

Clearly, among the 80% of American Jews for whom “Israel is an essential or important part of what being Jewish means,” the door to the public square is closing.

Now consider the place of Christians in public discourse: Despite two centuries of American presidents routinely invoking their Christian faith, there is, per several media outlets, a specter now haunting the land called “Christian Nationalism.” The progressive NGO Center for American Progress defines this as “the anti-democratic notion that America is a nation by and for Christians alone.” Many share the view of the Baptist Joint Committee’s Amanda Tyler that this theology embraces “nativism, white supremacy, authoritarianism, patriarchy and militarism,” and hence portends “the single biggest threat to religious freedom today.”

Yet polling data refutes this media-manufactured panic. A 2024 Pew poll found that “Most Americans express support for … separation of church and state. And few say they think the federal government should declare Christianity to be the official religion of the United States.”

Meanwhile, amid fear-mongering about a Christian supremacist pandemic, actual Christians experience an ever more hostile environment. As summed up by Mary Eberstadt, these include: “The teacher in New Jersey suspended for giving a student a Bible; the football coach in Washington placed on leave for saying a prayer on the field at the end of a game; the fire chief in Atlanta fired for self-publishing a book defending Christian moral teaching; the Marine court-martialed for pasting a Bible verse above her desk; and … anti-Christian activists hurl[ing] smears like ‘bigot’ and ‘hater’ at Americans who hold traditional beliefs about marriage.”

Much of the public panic over Christian Nationalism is driven by “progressive” journalists’ enmity towards Donald Trump. The New York Times exemplifies this in its claim that “the most extreme corners of support for Mr. Trump have become inextricable from … white evangelical power in America.”

This is where the public square’s antipathies towards both Jews and Christians converge in a repugnant set of parallel slanders. Against Jews, Israelis are tagged as Nazis committing a Gazan genocide. Against Christians, evangelicals are tagged for supporting Trump, who supposedly channels Hitler.

What does it say that the gatekeepers of the “inclusive” public square see only Hitler when looking at Israel’s noble defense against genocidal killers or at Christians’ peaceful dissent from some secular catechisms? Among other things, it shows that progressives’ claimed commitment to inclusion is a grand illusion, and that progressives opposed to threats to freedom should take a long look in the mirror.

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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