A quarter of Americans believe Hamas atrocities are justified. Why?

A quarter of Americans believe the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7 were justified. You may want to check that you read that sentence correctly—but please sit down before you do.

That’s right. By pre-planned design, Hamas death squads entered Israel on a Jewish holy day to butcher 1,400 Israelis, most of them civilians. Women were raped, children and infants were burned alive and beheaded, the dead were mutilated and paraded through the streets. And all of this grotesque barbarism was effectively Israel’s fault, according to one quarter of living Americans.

This was the finding of a Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll of over 2,100 voters taken in October, its most shocking statistics masked by mainstream reporting that preferred highlighting the milquetoast fact that most Americans take Israel’s side in the war.

“Do you think the Hamas killing of 1200 Israeli civilians on Israel can be justified by the grievances of Palestinians or is it not justified?” the survey pointedly asked.

In a frightful omen for the future of the West, not only did a quarter of Americans agree, but over 50 percent of respondents aged 18 to 24 years affirmed that Hamas’ pre-civilisational brutality was excusable.

Australian journalist Claire Lehmann captured how many sensible-minded people would react to the data, posting on X (formerly Twitter):

I've been covering the toxic ideology in universities for years. But if you had told me a month ago that this ideology would lead more than half of Americans under the age of 25 to justify and excuse the torture and mass-murder of a minority group, I would not have believed you.

Believing the poll’s findings is hard enough. What about finding an explanation?

As the war rages on and pro-Hamas protests persist in the West’s biggest cities, a number of commentators have offered their suggestions.

Conservative filmmaker Christopher Rufo has been circling this topic for the last several weeks, observing the alarming ideological overlap among elite academics, Black Lives Matter activists, the Democratic Socialists of America, and supporters of Hamas.

“The critical race theorists are totally ignorant of world history and devoted to nothing more than racial egoism,” he recently mused. “For them, every conflict must be reduced to ‘white-black oppressor-oppressed’ and schematized as a morality play on 1950s/60s America.”

“Hamas, BLM, DSA, decolonization—same ideology; same bloodlust,” he has also warned.

In answering the question of why Ivy League students in particular cheered Hamas atrocities, Mercator’s own Michael Cook highlights moral relativism as the connecting thread. Having spoon-feed students this ideology for decades, Cook argues, American intellectuals “sowed the wind; now they must reap the whirlwind”.

“They taught that there are no self-evident truths, no unchanging moral standards. And guess what? Their students believed them. No wonder they have been celebrating the atrocities of Hamas.”

Rufo and Cook are both correct. 


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Perhaps the most insightful think-piece on the topic so far, however, comes from Russian-British commentator Konstantin Kisin in ‘The Day the Delusions Died’, published this week at the Free Press.

“A friend of mine joked that she woke up on October 7 as a liberal and went to bed that evening as a 65-year-old conservative,” Kisin begins. “But it wasnt really a joke and she wasnt the only one. What changed?”

Kisin leans in to a political binary presented by the brilliant Thomas Sowell in his 1987 classic A Conflict of Visions.

“We disagree about politics, Sowell argues, because we disagree about human nature,” summarises Kisin. “We see the world through one of two competing visions, each of which tells a radically different story about human nature.” Kisin continues:

Those with unconstrained vision” think that humans are malleable and can be perfected. They believe that social ills and evils can be overcome through collective action that encourages humans to behave better. To subscribers of this view, poverty, crime, inequality, and war are not inevitable. Rather, they are puzzles that can be solved. We need only to say the right things, enact the right policies, and spend enough money, and we will suffer these social ills no more. This worldview is the foundation of the progressive mindset.

By contrast, those who see the world through a constrained vision” lens believe that human nature is a universal constant. No amount of social engineering can change the sober reality of human self-interest, or the fact that human empathy and social resources are necessarily scarce. People who s ee things this way believe that most political and social problems will never be solved”; they can only be managed. This approach is the bedrock of the conservative worldview.

What October 7 catalysed for many Americans, Kisin argues, was an “overnight exodus” from the unconstrained camp into the constrained one.

“Many people woke up on October 7 sympathetic to parts of woke ideology and went to bed that evening questioning how they had signed on to a worldview that had nothing to say about the mass rape and murder of innocent people by terrorists,” he writes.

In essence, many Americans had assumed wokeness was about protecting minorities and victims, but were shocked to discover that all along, wokeness was only ever about raw power.

In the words of Kisin, “if there is any constant in human history, it is that revolutionaries always feel entitled to destroy those who stand in their way.”

Kisin also reminds his readers that if the West does finally collapse in on itself, what replaces it will not be a progressive utopia but rather “chaos and barbarism”.

I fear Kisin is correct. And I can’t help but ponder the perennial irony at the heart of it all: those most optimistic about human nature are those who pose the most danger to all of us. A humanity that is autonomous and unrestrained — and indeed, morally relativistic — is truly the most deadly.

Or, in the words of another Russian writer, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, “We have forgotten God; thats why all this has happened.” 

Kurt Mahlburg is a writer and author, and an emerging Australian voice on culture and the Christian faith. He has a passion for both the philosophical and the personal, drawing on his background as a graduate architect, a primary school teacher, a missionary, and a young adult pastor. 

Image: screenshot / The Guardian


Showing 14 reactions

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  • Marty Hayden
    commented 2023-10-30 17:56:37 +1100
    Fabio they are not the same Gods, that’s my point. You are for sure smarter than me too. I didn’t even know that Webern was a team, let alone that they scored.
  • Fabio Paolo
    commented 2023-10-30 15:34:10 +1100
    Marty, dude. If you think that the Christian God – that there bloke stuck bleeding on the cross, ever seen him? – is the same as Hamas’ god, I suggest a few years’ course in logic and categories. You know, so you can know and understand what you see. Because at present you are no better than a stone age man trying to decipher a music score by Webern.
  • Joan Seymour
    commented 2023-10-29 21:43:41 +1100
    Solzhenitsyn was right. And specifically, we’ve rejected the idea of original sin. We can’t be made perfect -we can only be saved.
  • Simon Bradley
    commented 2023-10-29 13:29:01 +1100
    Current Marxist academic indoctrination…….‘as a morality play on 1950s/60s America.” Is exactly what critical thinkers have seen happening all over the Western world for the last decade and a half as a direct result of the Klaus Schwab – George Soros scholarship funding and benefactor donations to academia since the Seventies. They have blindly railed against the democratic capitalism which supports inventive
    entrepreneurs to advance humanity, as they conveniently brush over the atrocities of Communism, Socialism and Marxism/Fascism which their favored ideology was perpetrating in the 50’s/60’s of their formative years.
    There are two inalienable truths of their ideology; they are in for the long haul and don’t care how many lives are destroyed to reach their goal.
    They need useful idiots and the pampered youth of Western countries (who can conveniently ignore realities that don’t touch their daily lives) are fertile receptacles for the theoretical academics indoctrinating them. How is that realistically possible? Because as this article correctly identifies, they are allowed to live in a world frozen in time where their theory is unsullied by the horrific reality.
    a percentage of these useful idiots will harden into zealots when confronted, because facts don’t matter to those who believe the ends justify the means, but keep questioning the others at crucial times to mitigate the reach of the movement is critical.
    The Marxists have been given a massive head start in their new iteration of their ‘cause’, but the basis remains the same, they are creating chaos on a number of different fronts (climate, gender, race, religion) to draw in as many impressionable useful idiots, while attempting to fracture opposition.
    Elon Musk and Pierre Poliere showed the way forward in breaking down useful idiots without violence, but the opponents of the next double down must recognize the leaders (likeable or not) who will have the fortitude to fight the actual root cause, because the alternative is massive loss of life!
  • Marty Hayden
    commented 2023-10-29 06:54:18 +1100
    Kurt, dude, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was not right when he wrote, “We have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Don’t think, even for a minute, that Hamas is not absolutely convinced they are doing God’s work. And likewise Israel. It’s not about God. It’s about the mistaken understanding of who God really is.
  • mrscracker
    Julian, "not supporting Hamas’s actions "is not a strong enough condemnation of terrorism or the torture, kidnapping, and murder of over 1,000 civilians.
    It continues to puzzle me how the violation of women by Hamas and public displays of their bodies as trophies doesn’t strike a chord with most progressives.
    You do know that the kibbutzim targeted were peace loving, progressive Israelis who generally did not support Netanyahu? They were a softer target. Ditto for the 20 and 30 year olds dancing out in the desert in their tribal tattoos.
    The kibbutzim had tried to help Gazans by employing them. Some of those workers were informants who provided Hamas maps of where children were sleeping, security gates were located, etc.
    Israel has had to combat Hamas propaganda once again. Every dead Palestinian is a win for Hamas. It’s truly tragic.
  • mrscracker
  • Julian Cheslow
    commented 2023-10-28 06:34:41 +1100
    I don’t support Hamas’s actions, but I do believe Netanyhau’s lust for vengeance will only make the situation worse. And before this, he bolstered Hamas and undermined the Palestinian Authority to stop the creation of a Palestinian state. As far as i’m concerned that man is a ghoul who will create more death and destruction just to satisfy his own ambitions.
  • David Smith
    commented 2023-10-27 18:27:58 +1100
    Nicely put.

    For a more extensive discussion of the thought behind the new world the present establishment are forcing us into, I suggest reading “The Decomposition of Man”, by James Kalb.
  • Peter
    commented 2023-10-27 18:08:56 +1100
    I’m amused that no one can see the elephant in the room. The creation of Israel and the Middle Eastern wars that followed were hacked out over a 100 years ago. This theatre of choosing sides is all part of the dialectic of war, to atomise society, and everyone has fallen for there trap. Stephen Reason goes part way to explaining it in his recent substack piece and is well worth a read if anybody is serious about looking past the theatrics playing out in the media at the moment.
  • Trotsky Lives!
    commented 2023-10-26 23:08:23 +1100
    Apropos of your idea about conversion to Christianity, Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, toyed with this idea briefly. According to an article in Israel Today: “Few people know that Herzl had an idea in 1893 that is actually quite difficult to swallow: He developed a plan for the mass conversion of Austrian Jews to Catholicism.” I don’t think that this was popular, though.
  • Jürgen Siemer
    commented 2023-10-26 22:33:11 +1100
    The hate, the lust for revenge is growing on both sides of the conflict.

    This conflict can push the world into WW3. China has just sent war ships to the Persian Gulf to protect it’s main source of oil, Iran. The ships are on their way.

    So even if WW3 is avoided, what happens then? I would bet we would see another Gaza war in say 8 years. Remember this the Gaza war this year is not the first one.

    The only hope I have is that both Muslims and Jews realize that their religions are dead ends. If both peoples converted to Christianity, then the situation would change fundamentally. But I know, a very very unlikely scenario.
  • mrscracker
    It’s tragic if that’s actually true but the good news is that 75% of Americans aren’t fooled.
  • Michael Cook
    published this page in The Latest 2023-10-25 11:01:11 +1100