A Critical Error

Western progressives and radical Islam are ideologically opposed, so why are so many Critical Theory apologists supporting the October 7 attacks?


John Stonestreet

Timothy D Padgett

One of the more ridiculous images to make its way around social media sites in the wake of the horrific attack in Israel was a photo of four Westerners with a sign, “Queers for Palestine.” There’s also a Twitter page with that name. The banner photo insists, “Allah Loves Equality.”  

Statements like these are so out of touch with reality, we can only hope that they are satire. Given what we know of Hamas, ISIS, and the Iranian regime, it’s safe to assume there won’t be any “pride” parades in Gaza or Ramallah anytime soon. Progressives looking for ideological sympathy among the rulers or people of Palestine are fooling themselves. 

A week ago, all of this would have been sadly amusing. Now, it’s terrifying. Ever since the October 7 attacks, protestors across Europe, America, and Australia have denied, excused, justified, and even supported the murders, rapes, and beheadings of babies perpetrated by Hamas in Israel. It makes a kind of barbaric sense for radical Muslim groups to take such stands. It’s harder to fathom why Western progressives offer such affinity for radical Islamism. 

After all, this is a religious ideology that is openly theocratic, misogynistic, violently anti-LGBTQ, opposed to free expression, free press, and nearly everything on the progressive agenda. The radical Islam that the far-Left wants to embrace is far worse than the morbid fantasies they hold about Christianity.  

On the same American college campuses where you can be silenced for refusing to say that a man is a woman, Jewish co-eds tearfully begged school officials to stop speeches of those wishing their people dead. In Philadelphia, a speaker applauded “Hamas for a job well done.” At George Mason University, students chanted “They’ve got tanks, we’ve got hang gliders, glory to the resistance fighters!” Before they issued an incredibly paltry half-apology, the BLM organization chapter of Chicago tweeted an image of a Hamas killer parachuting into battle.  

As strange of bedfellows as they make, radical Islam and the far-Left share hatred for the Western tradition. They cannot stomach free markets, objective morality and knowledge, or the uncompromising priority of human liberty, especially religious freedom. 

Especially, in academic contexts, the Left’s hatred is grounded in the ideological capture of our ivory towers by Critical Theory. This way of thinking reduces the complexity of human existence to pre-determined categories of oppressed versus oppressor. Based on these categories, moral virtue and moral guilt are pre-assigned.  

The matrix of this dynamic determines who is right and wrong. Anything done for the sake of the oppressed is just, even mass murder and rape. Anything done on behalf of the oppressor is vile, even warning civilians to get out of a war zone. In this case, all that matters is that Jews have been cast into the role of oppressor and their opponents as victims; all actions are either justified or condemned according to this simplistic schematic. 

In his book on the Russian Revolution, Richard Pipes described a foreshadowing of this trend:  

For intellectuals of this kind, the criterion of truth was not life: they created their own reality, or rather, sur-reality, subject to verification only with reference to opinions of which they approved. … It is only by reducing people of flesh and blood to a mere idea that one can ignore the will of the majority in the name of democracy and institute a dictatorship in the name of freedom.

Decades of Western decadence have numbed us to the power of beliefs. Ideas have consequences. Bad ideas have victims. That’s true on college campuses and in Gaza. By rejecting objective morality as tyrannical, believers in the ideas of Critical Theory embrace tyranny as moral. 

Neil Shenvi and Pat Sawyer unpack these ideas and expose them in their new book Critical Dilemma. With a gift to the Colson Center this month, you can request a copy. The authors will join us on October 26 for our next Breakpoint Forum to discuss the ideas of Critical Theory in light of some of these current headlines. The forum begins at 8 p.m. EST and will be hosted by Colson Center resident theologian Dr. Timothy D. Padgett. The forum is free, but you must register at 

This Breakpoint was co-authored by Dr. Timothy Padgett. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to 


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