The Cocktail Party Contrarian: Musk and Carlson Aren’t Antisemitic — Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Is

Not only shouldn’t we point the finger at Elon Musk or Tucker Carlson, but we should thank them for their critique.

Patrick Pleul/pool via AP, file
Elon Musk. Patrick Pleul/pool via AP, file

Elon Musk and Tucker Carlson are not antisemites for pointing out, however clumsily, the truth. Pre-October 7, many Jews and Jewish institutions eagerly embraced the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion movement. They overlooked DEI’s biases and behavior that negatively affected other Americans.

They linked arms with those who openly practiced racism, betrayed women, and rejected American values, all while suppressing free speech. It isn’t hard to understand the criticism, maybe even the resentment, of our fellow citizens who paid a heavy price every time DEI’s circle of influence grew.

Since October 8, some Jews have abandoned the intersectional game or, more precisely, have been abandoned by it. BLM postings of Hamas hang gliders on social media and the silence of women’s groups in the face of mass rape did the trick. Others, though, panicked by the surge of antisemitism across the country, are still trying to leverage DEI’s victim narrative for their safety and security, and it’s a terrible mistake.

An amendment to the 2024 Labor, HHS, and Education bill recently introduced by Congressman Mike Lawler of New York would deny federal funding to American universities that support antisemitic events as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Many Jewish Americans are celebrating this as a win for Jewish students who have been harassed, threatened, and physically assaulted over the last several years, and increasingly since the October 7 attacks.

All that behavior, though, was already illegal and legal action was already an option for students whose schools ignored their Title VI obligations. What’s new about this amendment is that the government has empowered itself to act punitively based upon its own assessment of what does or does not constitute a breach of the IHRA definition.

The assumption that Congress will only use this power in the most narrow and proper ways to help Jewish students is one only the willfully blind can make after reading the Twitter Files or the findings in the case known as Missouri v. Biden. Unchecked government power always grows, especially when it is justified with a righteous DEI mandate to “protect” a class of people.

It isn’t hard to imagine that the Lawler amendment might be followed by a similar one threatening government defunding of schools that support events featuring “Islamophobia,” as defined by those who have some interest in defining it. What will Jews say then, when a different Congress uses the excuse we have handed it to bar unacceptable Zionist speakers from campus? How should people like Messrs. Musk and Carlson feel, knowing these speech-killing DEI emergency carve-outs designed to make certain Americans feel safe tend to lead to the discrimination against, and exclusion of, people who look like them?

Governor Hochul recently announced that because 69 of the 101 hate crimes reported by the NYPD in the month of October were directed against Jews, $2.5 million would be deployed to hire additional state police investigators to monitor speech on social media, presumably to detect incitement to violence. It sounds helpful, even if mass government surveillance in the name of safety doesn’t ring our Patriot Act alarm bells.

Yet consider that the official announcement for the program states, “This is Governor Hochul’s latest effort to fight hate in all its forms after the Hamas terror attacks, which have been followed by a reported increase in Antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents.” As is often the case, antisemitism is coupled with the statistically far smaller problem of Islamophobia, presumably for equity’s sake.

This tells us what sort of speech the government plans to manage next with the power we allow it to grab in our name. Even more menacing is the vague call to fight all forms of “hate,” which authorities doped up on DEI define as anything they oppose and intend to silence.

New York’s lieutenant governor, Antonio Delgado, added, “This new investment … will also strengthen ties already existing between the JTTF and the New York State Intelligence Center Counter-Terrorism Center, allowing for greater involvement in investigations into Racially Motivated Violent Extremists, Domestic Violent Extremist groups, Anti-Government/Anti-Authority Violent Extremists, as well as into conspiracy theories & disinformation/misinformation.”

Every type of speech the government has targeted in the recent past for political purposes is going to be monitored now in the state of New York in the name of protecting Jewish Americans. This is not how you love the Jews, but how you use them. Those who have been canceled, deplatformed, demonetized, raided by the FBI, or singled out by the Department of Justice have the right to ask the Jewish community why it doesn’t reject the government’s divide-and-conquer censorship campaign so we might all feel more secure.

Many Jews do reject it, but their voices have been drowned out by the Anti-Defamation League, rabbis of prominent American synagogues, and others who have not only refused to reject DEI and its poisonous collaboration with government power, but have publicly championed them. Even now some can’t seem to stop.

Congressman Adam Schiff, who was censured by the House for spreading misinformation, just days ago demanded accountability from Mr. Musk for “amplifying antisemitic content, profiting from misinformation, and allowing pro-Hamas propaganda to spread on X.” The thinly veiled attempt to kill free speech for partisan gain, using the pain of the Jewish moment as cover, is shameless. Those who notice are not antisemites. They are honest observers.

On November 4, Bill Ackman wrote an open letter to Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, in which he offered suggestions for dealing with the post-October 7 climate of hostility toward Jews on campus. Among his recommendations was to “review the appropriateness” of the activities of the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging and whether its practice of excluding certain minority communities on campus, including Asian and Jewish students, “is appropriate.” 

The OEDIB, which Mr. Ackman suspects might be part of the problem, is exactly that — but not because the Jews haven’t made it onto OEDIB’s roster of the oppressed and protected. The problem is that such a roster exists at all. Jewish students at Harvard should confront and dismantle the system, not participate in it, if they want a more peaceful campus environment.

Similarly, a letter sent by Princeton alumni, faculty and staff to President Eisgruber suggested, “So long as it is the University’s position to provide antiracism training, the University should provide training to both identify and combat antisemitism.”

Any institution that trains its constituents in “antiracism” cannot be turned to for serious education about antisemitism. The same reductionist, anti-liberal principles that antiracist ideology espouses threaten the foundational American ideas that have made the United States the most hospitable country Jews have ever known. 

Not only shouldn’t we point the antisemitism finger at Elon Musk or Tucker Carlson but we should thank them for their critique. It’s not that DEI didn’t work well enough for us, it’s that DEI doesn’t work, and the Jews better than almost anyone on the planet should have known that all along.


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