Passover started Friday and Sunday is Easter for most Christians (Orthodox Christian Easter, or Pascha, is next Sunday). In keeping with the season, The New York Times thought Thursday was the perfect day to publish a rancorous anti-God screed written by an angry former believer. The Times is now openly proselytizing for atheism, and while that’s certainly its prerogative, it also must be asked: why now, in the lead-in to two of the holiest of times for both Jews and Christians? And also, cui bono — who benefits?
The Times op-ed was the work of Shalom Auslander, the author of a book called Foreskin’s Lament: A Memoir, in which he bitterly recounts his Orthodox Jewish upbringing and how he has said goodbye to all that. He does essentially the same thing in the Times piece, presenting some acid recollections of being an eight-year-old learning about Passover, and adding, “In this time of war and violence, of oppression and suffering, I propose we pass over something else: God.”
This is because God’s judgment on the Egyptians in the Exodus story seems to Auslander to be excessive. “God, it seems, paints with a wide brush. He paints with a roller. In Egypt, said our rabbi, he even killed first-born cattle. He killed cows. If he were mortal, the God of Jews, Christians and Muslims would be dragged to The Hague. And yet we praise him. We emulate him. We implore our children to be like him.” Auslander adds, “Perhaps now, as missiles rain down and the dead are discovered in mass graves, is a good time to stop emulating this hateful God. Perhaps we can stop extolling his brutality. Perhaps now is a good time to teach our children to pass over God — to be as unlike him as possible.” That’s the Times’ message for Passover and Easter.
Auslander doesn’t explain, of course, where he thinks he got the moral sense that he used to judge God’s actions in the Exodus account as he understands them. The Times, of course, has no space to consider answers to Auslander’s theological questions, which have been considered by Jews and Christians throughout the ages who were far more thoughtful than Auslander himself is. It does, however, have plenty of space for Auslander’s practical conclusion: “Killing gods is an idea I can get behind.”
The deicide would be for our own good, you see, because Auslander claims that it would make us more open to people who are not like us. “This year, at the end of the Seder, let’s indeed throw our doors open — to strangers. To people who aren’t our own. To the terrifying them, to the evil others, those people who seem so different from us, those we think are our enemies or who think us theirs, but who, if they sat down around the table with us, we’d no doubt find despise the pharaohs of this world as much as we do, and who dream of the same damned thing as us all: Peace.” How wonderful. But like so much that comes from the Left, it is fantasy.
The grim reality is that there have been several avowedly atheist regimes around the world in the last century. Some are still with us. Without any exceptions, they have been viciously brutal to people who were different, not just racially or ethnically different, but above all to those whose thought departed from what the government delineated as the acceptable parameters.
And that brings us to the cui bono; what is the Times’ purpose in bringing us Auslander’s ugly ruminations on these holy days? The rejection of traditional understandings of God, and of Judaism and Christianity in particular, is central to the Times’ larger agenda, which is that of the Left in general, of eliminating dissent and creating an authoritarian state in which reality is determined by the authorities, not by God or by our perceptions. The totalitarian states the world has seen in the twentieth century have been atheist, and that’s no accident.
The elimination of dissent has already begun. One aspect of it is the transgender madness that is forced upon us, with those who affirm that men cannot become women and women cannot become men being punished and vilified. Like Winston Smith in 1984, we have to agree, and sincerely believe, that two plus two equals five because the authorities say it does. But if we still believe in God, we might be tempted to accept the codes of behavior, beliefs, and attitudes that are based in the traditional religions, and that will never do. That sort of thing creates dissidents, and gulag inmates.
And so, as millions of Jews and Christians celebrate their holy days, the Times strikes a blow for statism and authoritarianism, courtesy of Shalom Auslander. Those who nod their heads in agreement with his sour op-ed will think themselves sophisticated as they set themselves on the path to handing over their very selves to the tender mercies of our self-appointed superiors and guardians.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 23 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is The Critical Qur’an. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.