American Jews Explain the Culture War

So this morning in the WSJ there's an opinion piece by Norman Podhoretz, whose new book Why Are Jews Liberals? was just released.

Podhoretz explains that Jews are not predisposed to be liberals. "Jewish law permits abortion only to protect the life of the mother; it forbids sex between men; and it prohibits suicide." Moreover, the Jewish immigrants who began coming here from Eastern Europe had to struggle a great deal. They called America "the golden land" and appreciated the freedoms and opportunities that only America could provide. Jewish law and Jewish history, then, would seem to predispose Jews to be conservative.

And, of course, some are. But a whopping 78% of Jews voted for Barack Obama.

Podhoretz explains that liberalism has become more than a political outlook for Jews. It's become a bona fide religion, thereby expunging Jewish law. The question is why? The answer can be found in America's culture war.

When a modern liberal (who's not to be confused with a classic liberal) looks at this country, he sees "injustice and oppression of every kind -- economic, social, and political. By sharp contrast, conservatives see a nation shaped by a complex of traditions, principles and institutions that has afforded more freedom and prosperity to its citizens than in any society in human history."

This is the crux of the divide that now defines American culture. It doesn't matter whether you're Catholic, Jewish, Baptist, Protestant (or whatever else). In the end you fall under one of two categories: liberal or conservative. As much as we wish it weren't so, one of these philosophies (whether you see injustice or prosperity) ultimately defines you. There is, of course, a spectrum within each label. We don't all think one way or the other about each and every issue. If you follow my work, you know I lean left on several issues. But in the end, we each fall under one of two umbrellas whether we want to or not.

I have a sign on my refrigerator that reads, "Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it." I read it every day to remind myself of my overall philosophy in life. No modern-day liberal could have this on his fridge. To a liberal, life is 90% what happens to him and 10% how he reacts to it. Liberals, like modern Jews, see America as a place of oppression, a place that "needs to be changed -- and apologized for to other nations."

So the lesson is this: Regardless of what one's religion is, or what the history of a people are, today's Americans are defined by a new religion. One religion thinks America is great; the other doesn't.

This is an oversimplification, I know. But it often does come down to just that.

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