How Barbara Ehrenreich and her son exploit other people’s suffering to make the story all about themselves.
A month before the election that would make Obama the first Democratic Socialists of America member in the White House, another prominent DSA’er wrote a cheerful article about the 160th anniversary of The Communist Manifesto.
Barbara Ehrenreich, the daughter of a Gillette executive, had gone mainstream by writing about poverty in America, but her politics never strayed far from her own roots in a more prosaic Marxism. It wasn’t poverty that Ehrenreich objected to. It was capitalism.
After September 11, Ehrenreich complained that applying the word “evil” to Islamic terrorists made her “nervous.” “The real challenge,” she said, “is to look at terrible acts and try to work our way towards an understanding of how a human being might undertake them.”
But there is one country that the morally ambiguous Barbara Ehrenreich has no difficulty branding as “evil” or refusing to understand. On the list of endorsers for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, Barbara Ehrenreich’s name appears next to that of her son, Ben.
As the son of John and Barbara Ehrenreich, leftist politics of the worst kind were in Ben Ehrenreich’s DNA, and both mother and son found their calling as pseudo-journalists who exploited other people’s suffering while managing to make the story all about them.
Ben was graced with the typical directionless biography that qualified him to do little except express self-righteous anger on a semi-professional basis. He studied religion at Brown and wrote for alternative newspapers. He packed a backpack and went to dangerous parts of the world and wrote self-centered diatribes about the military-industrial complex.
In Haiti, Ben Ehrenreich declared that Obama’s post-earthquake relief effort was “savage and bestial in its lack of concern for human life.” His Post-Katrina article began by suggesting that New Orleans had been deliberately flooded. In Arizona, he compared policing the Mexican border to the war in Vietnam. One can only imagine what the copy would have read like if he had ever made it to Disneyland.
If Ben’s mother had learned to deliberately tamp down her invective in order to be taken seriously, her son went in the other direction, amping up the volume to hysterical levels until every place he set foot in was the worst place on earth.
After plumbing the depth of such atrocities as the relief effort in Haiti, Arizona border patrols and the plot to flood New Orleans, Ben Ehrenreich eventually found his Disneyland in Israel.
If there was any place where Ben Ehrenreich could fully unleash his histrionic borrowed socio-realist prose filled with dusty landscapes full of hardworking brown peasants threatened by the murderous forces of white capitalist imperialism, it was in the Jewish State. And unlike Haiti or New Orleans, no one would even notice he was writing complete barking lunacy.
Barbara Ehrenreich had found her niche by pretending to care about working people. Her son found his niche by learning to hate Jews. While there’s only so much gain in accusing America of genocide in New Orleans or Haiti; there is a bottomless market for accusations of genocide against Israel.
In a Harper’s article, the same place that helped his mother rocket to fame with her “Nickel and Dimed” stunt, Ben Ehrenreich informed readers that the Jews stole the water from the Muslims. In medieval times, Jews were accused of poisoning the wells. Now they were being accused of emptying them. By the time the screed concluded, the water-stealing Jews stood accused of starting the Six Day War for water and of hydrological ethnic cleansing.
But Ben Ehrenreich couldn’t be satisfied with chanting “No Blood for Water.” In an LA Times op-ed he declared that Zionism was the only reason that Jews and Arabs couldn’t get along, introduced a reference to Israel as “the Hitlerian concept” and informed readers that his Marxist grandparents (on his father’s side) saw Zionism as a distraction from class warfare.
“It has been all but impossible to cry out against the Israeli state without being smeared as an anti-Semite,” Ben Ehrenreich complained in the same whiny tone of every bigot outraged at the unfairness of the social disapproval for bigotry. And then he went on to denounce Israel as worse than South Africa, equate Hamas with Israel and to propose the destruction of Israel as the only solution to terrorism.
Having done all that, the man who exposed the plot to flood New Orleans with water and the Jewish conspiracy to steal all the water, was stuck on the horns of a dilemma. Once you’ve called for the destruction of Israel, where do you go next? The answer is Disneyland. For professional provocateurs like Ehrenreich, whose M.O. is to always escalate the violent rhetoric, Disneyland is spelled "Intifada."
“If There Is a Third Intifada, We Want to be the Ones Who Started It,” Ehrenreich’s New York Times Magazine cover story headline screams. The “we” was meant to refer to the rogue’s gallery of anti-Israel portraits decorating the cover, but of course it really referred to Ben Ehrenreich who had finally found his Disneyland in a village filled with terrorists. The sort of men who were willing to do what he could only write about.
Ehrenreich’s prose lavishes a great deal of love on the ground, the hills and a swing set. But in his prose, murdered Jews are stripped of all context and identity. They are objects, vague and formless. When a Jew is murdered, he is described only as a “settler” without gender or name.
A cousin of the man whom Ben Ehrenreich’s article is designed to glorify participates in the murder of children in a family restaurant and Ehrenreich dryly describes the atrocity in the passive voice. “Fifteen people were killed, eight of them minors.” One of those passively murdered minors was Hemda, a 2-year-old girl. But that 2-year-old girl is very minor to Ben Ehrenreich.
The fictional novelist-slash-fictional journalist who strives so hard to bring color and life to an argument over a spring has no color or life to spare for entire families wiped out by having nails and bolts from a bomb driven through their bodies while eating lunch. They are non-persons. Water thieves who start all the wars and distract from all the Marxist class struggles.
Like so many of the protest tourists trooping through West Bank towns in $150 keffiyehs hoping to throw some stones over the weekend, sniff some tear gas and then brag about it to everyone back home in Berkeley or Olympia; Ben Ehrenreich is bored.
Wars are his Disneyland. Like his mother, he lives by exploiting misery, feeding off other people’s suffering and passing off the results as political outrage. The New York Times insists on calling Ben Ehrenreich a freelance journalist, but he’s just another privileged political activist looking for a fight. Israel happens to be the place where he can find it.
Ben Ehrenreich searched for his Disneyland in Afghanistan, Mexico, Haiti, Los Angeles and New Orleans. But those places are dangerous and the only real danger in Israel comes from the terrorists whose side he is on.
Like so many privileged children of privileged parents, Ben Ehrenreich is still looking for somewhere to play Peter Pan in a keffiyeh and for someone else to start a war that he won’t get hurt in. If there is to be a Third Intifada, he wants to be the one who started it and wrote about it. And then in the footnotes he will mention, in the passive voice, that some settler minors were killed in the fighting.
If Ehrenreich’s Third Intifada has begun, its first victim may have been Adele Biton, a 3-year-old girl, critically injured after a rock throwing attack.
Just another minor little body. Another victim of the war a bored leftist is so eager to start.
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