One of the cherished notions of the intellectual set is the notion of nuance-- the idea that nothing is ever truly black and white. There’s always a complicating factor or two that justifies a more nuanced view of any given situation.
More often than not, that makes sense. But to the dismay of nuance lovers everywhere, we’ve seen recently some important phenomena that are, in fact, pretty black and white.
Let’s look at three examples.
The first is the hypocrisy of the tens of thousands of anti-Israel, pro-Arab demonstrators around the world who’ve been all over the airwaves since the start of the Gaza war. These demonstrators were quietly sipping their cappuccinos in recent years while more than 200,000 Arabs were being murdered and millions displaced in countries like Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.
But now that they see on their Twitter feeds that Israel is responsible for Arab casualties, all of sudden they seem to have rediscovered their compassion for Arab victims!
This is hypocrisy as performance art, served up raw and naked.
To this group of hypocrites we can surely add our friends at the United Nations. Here are self-righteous, cardboard diplomats who dine on caviar in Manhattan restaurants while massacres are routinely happening throughout the Arab world. But when they hear that Israel is involved with Arab casualties, well, it’s time to blow the sirens, hyperventilate on CNN and call one emergency meeting after another.
A second example of newfound clarity is the very belated realization that poor little Israel—surprise!— has absolutely nothing to do with the humanitarian disasters and sectarian struggles that have long afflicted the Middle East.
For decades, nuance-happy commentators were parroting the absurd line that peace between Israel and the Palestinians was synonymous with “peace in the Middle East”-- as if the Middle East consisted of only two countries instead of 22; or a 1400-year religious war between Sunnis and Shiites could have anything to do with a 66-year-old country.
Yet another thing that’s been stripped of any nuance lately is the evil of Hamas. While this shouldn’t come as news, the extreme demonstration of this evil has been breathtaking.
An evil that can lob 2,000 rockets on civilians in just three weeks, or put its own children in danger so their deaths will bring PR gains, or build tunnels designed to help massacre families is an evil that radiates clarity.
So, what do we do when these big bad truths become so clear and obvious as to be almost blinding?
One way to reduce their glare is to try to cover them with mini truths.
For example, you can reduce the glare of Hamas’s evil by noting that Hamas can think rationally and hold its fire if it makes sense politically; or noting that we can isolate evil by promoting moderates; or simply by explaining that it’s not productive or forward-looking to focus on destructive things like Jew-hatred.
That may shade you for awhile from the blinding light, but it doesn’t alter the big bad truth itself—the evil of Hamas’s genocidal Jew-hatred will still be there, glaring away, utterly free of nuance.
Philosophically, the notion that everything deserves a dose of nuance is itself devoid of nuance. It’s lazy thinking. It’s dogma disguised as intellect.
And it can be dangerous.
Threatening, black-and-white truths become especially dangerous when they’re handled with muddled, grey thinking. The clarity, depth and purity of Hamas’s evil, for instance, calls for force and eventual eradication, not for longterm co-existence or rehabilitation.
Of course, the irrational hatred of Jews has always been devoid of nuance. Those vicious Jew-haters who tried to storm a Paris synagogue recently were not looking for a debate or a panel discussion. They were not yearning for us to analyze the context of their pain.
Like so many other Jew-haters around the world, they had Jew-hatred in their eyes, Jew-hatred in their hearts, and Jew-hatred in their souls.
The quicker we can confront these terribly inconvenient black-and-white truths that are glaring at us, the better it will be for the Jews.