Andrew Vitelli

The misplaced self-righteousness of WaPo’s Karen Attiah

“Does my moral consistency upset you?” Washington Post columnist Karen Attiah tweeted on October 28, in what she described as her “Maya Angelou voice.” “Don’t you take it awful hard that I don’t want men, women, and children being ethnically cleansed with no regard?”

She expressed a similar self-regard a week earlier, tweeting on October 20, “I view the world through a human rights perspective.”

“I will always stand with the dehumanized and erased, to the best of my ability,” she continued. “My brain is just not wired to think that one group of people is inherently more valuable than others. Or that land, resources and artificial borders are worth destroying other human beings over. Is that really so radical and wrong?”

Attiah’s claim of “moral consistency” on the slaughter of innocent men, women and children can only be seen as laughable for those who have followed her posts on X (formerly Twitter) since Hamas’s October 7 massacre of Israelis. After news emerged that Hamas had slaughtered what would turn out to be more than 1,400 people in the most gruesome ways imaginable – raping and killing young women, burning alive and beheading babies – Attiah’s reaction fell somewhere between dismissive and giddy.

“What did y’all think decolonization meant? vibes? papers? essays? losers,” went one tweet that Attiah approvingly reposted. While that retweet, which now appears deleted, drew attention, it was in line with her initial reaction to Hamas’s wanton slaughter.

“Settlers are not the victims here and never will be,” read another post that she retweeted. By settlers, she meant the babies and children tortured in front of their parents, the girls raped next to the dead bodies of their friends at a music festival, the Thai workers beaten to death by gleeful terrorists (all were residing in southern Israel, an area within Israel proper, not the disputed West Bank).

Tell me again, Karen, about your moral consistency in standing with the dehumanized. Because it sure seems like your brain is wired to see Israeli lives as less valuable than others.

It was initially shocking, after the October 7 attacks, to see activists and scholars defend and even celebrate the mass rape and murder of young Jewish women and children. Four weeks later, many of us in the Jewish and Israeli communities have become numb to such sentiments. Still, to see Attiah so arrogantly anoint herself the queen of universal empathy days after dismissing murdered children as “settlers” and chiding those who see them as victims is another level of galling.

And this is not some obscure freelance writer or a tenured professor at a liberal arts college. Attiah is the Global Opinions editor for one of the country’s most influential newspapers. Someone who sees no contradiction between justifying Hamas’s attacks and “stand[ing] with the dehumanized” helps determine what views millions of politically engaged Americans are exposed to each day.

Attiah’s stance on the conflict between Israel and Hamas seems to stem from her views of “anti-colonial resistance.”

“Honey, we did the scholarship way before it was ‘cool,’” she boasts in one semi-coherent tweet thread. The Atlantic – hardly a right-wing publication – recently published a comprehensive takedown of the decolonization narrative as it applies to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I will admit that I know little about and have little interest in the academic debate on decolonization, but I can confidently say that any theory or worldview that leads one to conclude that babies burned alive in ovens are the aggressors and not the victims is a moral abomination. We have seen other worldviews that led to Jewish children in ovens, and I have no doubt that history will view Attiah and those she retweets as we now view propagators of those worldviews.

In siding with Hamas over the innocent men, women and children they murdered, Attiah proved herself to possess neither intellect nor morality, despite her endless boasting to the contrary.

About the Author
Andrew Vitelli is a New York-based journalist. A former Fellow for the Government Press Office in Jerusalem, Vitelli earned his master's degree from Tel Aviv University.
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