The decade's most triggering comedy
They hate America and the West.
That is the common thread uniting radical college students with terrorist members of Hamas. It is why we see marches by “Queers for Palestine,” despite the fact that queers would summarily be murdered in any “Palestine.”
Their differences don’t matter.
They are, in the words of radical revolutionary author Frantz Fanon, “The Wretched of the Earth,” rising up to smite the hierarchies of power.
In 1961, Fanon, a black radical member of the Algerian National Liberation Front, put forth a shockingly violent treatise calling for the revolution of the colonized. Pointing out the evils of colonial administration, Fanon didn’t merely call for the end of colonialism, a la Gandhi. Instead, he called for violence, which he saw as purifying, in all of its varied forms. His book, “The Wretched of the Earth,” posited that revolutionary violence would usher in The New Man, free of the evils of the West.
“Decolonization,” he wrote, “is always a violent event.”
“Decolonization,” he wrote, “which sets out to change the order of the world, is clearly an agenda for total disorder.”
“In its bare reality,” Fanon wrote, “decolonization reeks of red-hot cannonballs and bloody knives.”
Violence. Disorder. Bloody knives.
That’s the essence of Fanon’s decolonization. The colonized must take everything from the colonizer in the name of restoring himself as a human being. Fanon writes, “The gaze that the colonized subject casts at the colonist’s sector is a look of lust, a look of envy. Dreams of possession. Every type of possession: of sitting at the colonist’s table and sleeping in his bed, preferably with his wife. The colonized man is an envious man.”
Colonialism justifies any response. In fact, it requires any response.
The West must be destroyed, for the West has colonized: “When the colonized hear a speech on Western culture they draw their machetes or at least check to see they are close at hand,” Fanon says.
Such hatred of colonial power was at least somewhat understandable in Algeria. But Fanon wasn’t making the case for revolutionary violence merely in Algeria. He was making the case for revolutionary violence everywhere.
The man who made that clear was existentialist and Marxist Jean-Paul Sartre, the French intellectual. Sartre’s introduction to Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth” makes the case not only that the colonized have an ultimate right to violence, but also that the entire West must be collapsed from within for its great sins. Violence, says Sartre, “is man reconstructing himself … killing a European is killing two birds with one stone, eliminating in one go oppressor and oppressed: leaving one man dead and the other man free.” The only honorable thing for the West to do is join in on its cultural suicide: “You who are so liberal, so humane, who take the love of culture to the point of affectation, you pretend to forget that you have colonies where massacres are committed in your name,” writes Sartre. “Fanon reveals to his comrades — especially to those who remain a little too Westernized — the solidarity of the metropolitans with their colonial agents.”
Sartre says he has carried Fanon’s “dialectic through to its conclusion: we, too, peoples of Europe, we are being decolonized: meaning the colonist inside every one of us is surgically extracted in a bloody operation.” We must recognize we are all complicit in “a thousand-year-old oppression. … Our beloved values are losing their feathers; if you take a closer look there is not one that isn’t tainted with blood.” How do we recover? By joining in the violence against our own civilization: “Violence, like Achilles’ spear, can heal the wounds it has inflicted.”
And how can we tell the enemy? Simply by attacking the powerful.
The colonizers are the powerful; the colonized are the powerless.
Therefore, the powerful must be colonizers and the powerless their victims. This is how, for example, Israel — the ultimate case of decolonization in human history, after the return of a native population to its homeland and its battle to throw off the shackles of the British Empire — became today’s hottest “decolonization” cause.
Sartre’s radical call has been taken up sporadically, both at home and abroad. As critical theorist Homi Bhabha points out in his Foreword to Fanon’s book, the Black Panthers found inspiration in Fanon. So did the Iranian Revolution that ended with the rise of the mullahs: Those revolutionaries transmuted Fanon’s distinction between oppressor and oppressed into a distinction between “the arrogant” and “the weakened,” translating Fanon’s Marxist-tinged radicalism into radical Islamism.
But the coalition of Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth” could not materialize until the generation of Sartre came to full maturity, until the institutions of the West poisoned themselves slowly with the imbecilic suicidality of weakness. The West remained strong enough to fend off the radical alliance when it faced down the Soviet Union. But then it had nothing to stand for.
And so it began to fall.
Fast forward 60 years, and Sartre’s radicalism has now become a mass movement — a movement uniting Hamas and campus radicals, the far-Left, and the terrorists.
Cornel West, the black Marxist radical, calls Fanon “the greatest revolutionary intellectual of the mid-20th century.” According to West, “he compels us to acknowledge colonialism is a sustained barbaric war waged against colonized people sanctioned by Western values.” What’s more, colonialism isn’t a far-from-home problem — it means the West must be completely demolished. “For Fanon,” West says, “revolutionary internationalism — anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, anti-colonialist, anti-patriarchal, and anti-white-supremacist — yields a new humanism that puts a premium on the psychic, social, and political needs of poor and working peoples — a solidarity and universality from below.” Explains West: “In our present-day moment of imperial decay and capitalist decrepitude … the spirit of Fanon is most manifest in my American imperialist context in the revolutionary internationalist wings of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the Palestinian Lives Matter movement aligned with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions effort.”
The coalition is complete. The alliance of the supposedly marginalized march together, arm in arm, toward the destruction of the West — and particularly, the United States. After all, the United States, even according to Fanon in 1961, had become the chief colonizer thanks to its power: “Two centuries ago, a former European colony took into its heads to catch up with Europe. It has been so successful that the United States of America became a monster where the flaws, sickness, and inhumanity of Europe have reached frightening proportions.”
The alliance to destroy the West spans the globe. And it’s right here at home, too, threatening everything we stand for. If decolonization is merely a code word for attacking “the powerful” and the systems that supposedly sustain them, then Queers for Palestine begins to make a lot of sense. That’s why the same people caterwauling over the use of the wrong pronoun celebrate the burning of babies. As Washington Post writer Karen Attiah recently retweeted after the slaughter of 1,500 Jewish civilians, “What did y’all think decolonization meant? Vibes? Papers? Essays? Losers.”
She might be evil, but she isn’t wrong.