By Gilad Atzmon
In her Forward article yesterday, self-identified “Jewish lesbian leftist” Donna Minkowitz admitted to feeling “horror, fear, anger and disgust” at an invitation to speak at a literary event. “Now, that’s quite a combination of sentiments to feel all at once,” I thought to myself, “How could an invitation to attend an intellectual gathering evoke such negative feelings?”
On 30 April human-rights lawyer Stanley Cohen, history professor Norton Mezvinsky, orthodox Jewish author and whistle-blower Michael Lesher and myself will, in light of my upcoming book Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto, gather together in Theatre 80, Manhattan to reflect on the collapse of Identity politics, the crisis within new-Left thinking and the future of liberal and progressive thought. We invited Donna Minkowitz to participate in the panel discussion so she could present her Jewish LGBTQ outlook. For some reason Minkowitz got the impression that she was expected to “tout” my new book. On the contrary, Minkowitz was invited to oppose my argument.
It obviously didn’t take Minkowitz long to gather that she and I have little in common. Minkowitz is an Identitarian merchant, while I am critical of all forms of Identity politics. In my writing, I examine the role of the Left and Jewish intelligentsia at the core of the promotion of sectarian Identitarianism, tyranny of correctness and the collapse of the Athenian ethos.
Minkowitz was offered a platform to demolish my thesis. Her invitation read: “Our aim for the discussion is to explore this analysis (i.e.Gilad Atzmon’s post-political condition) and the current political landscape from different vantage points.” Since Minkowitz defines herself as a” Jewish writer, a lesbian and a proud progressive,” we wanted to believe she would be courageous enough to come and educate us on the metaphysics of ‘gay Jewish’ perspectives.
Just in case you are a Golem and you don't know how to survive a Jewish mother...
Unfortunately, in her negative response, Minkowitz is not alone. The conference publicist invited most of my NYC detractors to join the panel discussion but, like Minkowitz, none of them found the wherewithal to confront me. Also like Minkowitz, they probably indulged themselves in some PRE-TSDs (pre-traumatic stress delusions) - projecting their own destructive and conspiratorial tendencies onto me.
The intellectual and ethical world in which we live is in pretty poor shape but, unlike Minkowitz, I believe dialogue is essential for human recovery. I do not believe in echo chambers. Instead, I subscribe to the notion of Athenian tolerance – open debate committed to free exchange.
We offered Minkowitz the chance to break away from her ghetto even if only for an hour or two and she had the opportunity to join a panel of four provocative and leading intellects. Instead she simply succumbed to tribal fear.