I had a plan.
It was one of those ideas that you are sometimes ashamed to confess.
It followed last week’s ideas about a return to normality.
I had scheduled an old-school blog,
Something that I might have written before October 7,
I was thinking about work and medicine and healthcare leadership,
Subjects I have not touched in over two months,
Call it hubris if you like.
The mess becomes a morass becomes an ever-expanding nightmare.
Reality is remote.
Capable of more obscurity than our imagination.
I see this every day in my work.
Patients act in ways that defy my every expectation, both for the good and the bad – those I anticipate will die live for year after year, those I am confident are solid, robust, pass overnight.
I couldn’t have imagined the news.
In the world of Myers Briggs, the personality profile people, there are those who plan ahead, who like preparation and order – they like to know where they stand now and in a years’ time; they will book their summer holiday in September and wrap their Christmas or Channukah presents in the same month, these, in the language of Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) are the ‘Perceivers’ (denoted as P) and, the others (me) who are equally confident that no plan will stand the test of time, who prefer to leave decisions until the last minute; my summer holiday is booked a week before the trip, my presents still not purchased, I am an ‘iNtuiter’ (N).
The underlying theory isn’t important – some consider it nonsense, others are passionate advocates; me, I stand in the middle, there are interesting components that I have discussed previously.
Who expected 10/7? Who could have anticipated the global response?
In parts of Europe, US and Asia, the reaction was shock, stunned disbelief (in some areas similar to the incredulity demonstrated in relation to the Holocaust – that it was so unimaginably bad, it could not have happened) (See here) – nowadays, this is called fake news and the onus is on the victim to prove their injury.
In other places, the informed west, there were celebrations.
It did not surprise me that some in Turkey, Syria or Iran celebrated the deaths of the Israelis (and everyone else unfortunate to find themselves on the scene – Indians, Thais, Philippines, Germans, French, Americans), it was the celebration in the more enlightened areas, by the Chicago Chapter of Black Lives Matter or the University of Columbia.
And so it goes on.
Last week, I watched aghast at the testimony of the three American University presidents wriggling though a senate interrogation, their determination that the meaning of genocide depends upon context.
This led to a riot of creativity across social media questioning which other absolutes could be dependent upon context.
‘Is kidnapping wrong?’ Well, it depends on the context.
‘Was Hitler wrong?’ Context.
‘Is the planet warming?’ Yes.
‘Do Black Lives Matter?’ Yes.
You get the idea.
Were the president’s responses expected? No? Could they have been anticipated? Maybe.
It’s a nonsense and we all know it.
It is this that overlapped with yesterday’s Unholy Podcast with Ronit Levi and Jonathan Freedland.
Their guest speaker, Yascha Mounk, a German-US academic described the system at play on US campuses (and spreading) of the four cornerstones of intellectual narrative that have led to this situation.
He described them as:
1. Life is a struggle of White against Black (no matter the whiteness or blackness, you are allowed to self-identify as an individual, as a group ‘we’ that is the community will determine) (i.e. Jews, Israelis are White, Palestinians, Arabs are Black).
2. The world is understood through a lens of Colonisers and Colonists – you are either indigenous or you came along later, you are either marginalised or dominant. (Israelis are the colonisers despite their Middle Eastern origins, despite history, the Palestinians are the colonised despite their self-rule in Gaza).
3. A redefinition of racism – beyond, ‘I will not let you drink from my water fountain,’ to a more nuanced form of structural discrimination – institutions in the US and the UK are racist as they do not proactively address the inequalities of access between the majority (white middle-class) and others.
4. Intersectionality – the overlap of disadvantage, I campaign for the environment, and I am a neurodivergent woman, I, by association support Hamas (who might I be?)
I am no social scientist.
I’m not a scientist at all and I have written these words with trepidation, afraid I might have misinterpreted, mis-stepped or mis-spoken.
Part of Yascha’s narrative is the reason these presidents and may others like them, particularly those who identify with ‘The Left’ take these positions relates to their desire to avoid conflict.
He explains using an example – in the US, those from Latin America refer to themselves as Latinas and Latinos. In American academia, these people are Latinx. This is a neologism created in the social science lab aimed at de-objectification.
(I note that ‘Latinx’ is already part of my Word dictionary).
Well, writing Latinx will make people shake their heads, if however, you use the non-politically correct terminology, a vocal minority will come for you – often the ones with the privilege (think Harvard) and call you a racist.
No one wants this.
Racist will get you blocked; it will get you cancelled.
And so, those seeking a quiet life go with the flow, Latinx and another protest or negative Tweet is averted.
We live in an echo-chamber of fear.
Possessed of an anxiety that we might be seen to be on the wrong side.
The perspicacity of the president’s was such that they became disorientated and floundered.
What was obvious couldn’t be said for reasons beyond my ken.
And so, we live in a surface world.
One where decisions are taken in the way in which what we say or do is determined by a loud minority, who don’t care that their arguments are nonsensical (zombie ideologies according to Simon Sebag Montifiore) as they have the rabid energy to keep going in front of journalists. (They also make good telly).
And we all suffer.
We fall into a grey of political correctness where people who are terrorists hide behind the slogans of young Americans and Brits in the same way they shelter behind the residents of Gaza and the West Bank.
The act of using a human shield is appropriate when the Little Satan is coming for you.
We have an angry youth.
The anger of the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised spills over in these protests. Like a child striking out at their parent, like a cat defending its litter.
Logic goes out the window and we are left with reflex.
A spinal reflex does not involve the brain. It bypasses rationality and this is where we are.
A world ruled by spontaneous acts of illogicality.
Perhap X could adopt this as its next name.
‘Spontaneous illogicality,’ formerly ‘X’, formerly Twitter.