When first reading this passage from Psalms, one might assume, quite understandably, that it is a prophetic pronouncement directed at the woke gods and their false prophets. It is, of course, a reference to other false gods – the man-made idols of Biblical times.
Human history is replete with instances of idolatry. In recent times idolatry has often taken the form of ideologies – totalitarian ideologies that purport to explain the human condition and human history by employing dangerously simplistic and deceptive notions. So it was with Marxism, Stalinism, Maoism and Nazism – man-made idols that ultimately descended into the depths of evil.
What do these totalitarian ideologies have in common?
The ideology is the god. It can be neither questioned nor challenged. Its word is absolute. Fidelity to the ideological god is the moral imperative. Those who are unfaithful must be punished. They are preventing the fulfillment of the glorious utopia promised by the ideology. And, the ideology requires enemies – the oppressive class or the oppressive race – to justify its every anti-democratic, totalitarian action. Education of its youth is nothing but self-serving indoctrination. These ideologies have no space for the complexities of human life, society and history. They have no tolerance for the spiritual and the transcendent. G-d does not exist in their crass materialistic world. Morality is how they define it. They are driven by false prophets who in turn are driven by ego, arrogance and self-interest.
Neo-Marxist, progressive, woke ideology is beginning to resemble totalitarian idolatry.
Shockingly binary in its unabashedly simplistic reduction of human history and society into two opposing camps – the oppressors and the oppressed – wokeness is a noxious concoction of critical race theory, intersectionality, cancel culture, and DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion). It professes to offer a marvelous elixir designed to cure the cruel and racist ills of American society. But, it must be swallowed whole. No challenges and no questions allowed. The oppressors are whites and Jews and the oppressed are everybody else. Simple and straightforward, it obviates the need for critical thinking. The perceived underdogs, defined by their group identity, are by definition the wronged and guiltless victims. Morality is determined by one’s identity, not by one’s actions.
Armed with this idolatry, the woke false prophets smugly maneuver the well-intentioned, but ill-informed, down the wondrous path of political correctness, and, voila, herd immunity – immunity to critical thinking, immunity to intellectual honesty and immunity to moral integrity.
Wokeness is destroying our national institutions: political, academic, media, corporate, entertainment and more. While institutions are intended to operate according to rules of law, codes of conduct and professional standards, many of our institutions are failing to adhere to the most basic of democratic principles. The treatment of Jewish students on campus is only one example. The institutions focus on the “oppressed”, not on the governing principles of liberal and constitutional democracy. The “oppressed” must be defended. The result matters, not the mechanism for attaining that result. The end justifies the means – the ruling principle of all totalitarian regimes.
While the moral decay created by woke idolatry was quite evident even before the evil and barbaric events of October 7, woke moral decay has since deteriorated into colossal moral rot.
By granting Hamas favored victim status, the woke gods and false prophets have effectively joined forces with barbarous jihadists to produce the worst outbreak of antisemitism in the world since the Holocaust. Suffering from a particularly virulent variant of idiocy, they have become the useful idiots of genocidal Islamism, a movement that opposes everything these neo-Marxists support, excluding their mutual hatred of America and Jews.
These false prophets would have us believe that their goal is selfless: to promote social justice, kindness and compassion. It has become quite evident, to all those who are willing to open their eyes and unplug their ears, that their true goal is self-preservation and self-promotion.
There is a concept in kabbalah called chesed d’klipah – self-serving kindness. An act of kindness is performed for another because, ultimately, the actor somehow benefits, not because the recipient benefits. True kindness is performed solely to benefit the recipient without seeking personal gain. Self-serving kindness and compassion can conflict with true kindness and compassion. There is a well-known saying of our rabbis: “He who is compassionate to the cruel will ultimately become cruel to the compassionate.” (Midrash Rabbah on Ecclesiastes 7:16). The cruelty and barbarism of Hamas is rewarded with kindness and compassion. It is not in the self-interest of the woke prophets to be kind and compassionate to the Jews. They fear the wrath of the woke gods – cancellation, shaming, and career loss.
There are clearly preferable alternatives to the inherent social divisiveness, shameless indoctrination, intellectual dishonesty and moral rot of woke idolatry. The West must return to the classical liberal ideas which allowed the societies of the West to develop and grow, slowly shedding ideas and actions that are now viewed as repulsive but were once universally accepted. Our children deserve education, not indoctrination. We must insist that our democratic traditions and values be restored by those institutions that have succumbed to woke ideological poison. Such principles as freedom of speech, equal protection and due process of law need to once again be applied uniformly.
As Jews, we possess G-dly teachings and traditions that provide a profound treasure of guidance towards achieving true kindness, justice, wisdom, humility and other values that promote personal and societal harmony. Jewish values, gained by an unyielding Jewish education, can give us the sense of purpose and determination to unabashedly combat this pernicious, destructive and antisemitic woke idolatry.