Earlier this month, on the campus of DePaul University, James Kirchick, a leading gay activist was planning to speak on the abuse of gay individuals in Islamic countries. His presentation was called “Dictatorships and Radical Islam: The Enemies of Gay Rights.” One should think there wouldn’t be an issue with such a talk, as one doesn’t have to look far to find examples of Islamic regimes that treat homosexuality as a capital crime. 

Except for one major problem. Another student group tried to shut him down. You see, his crime was to point out the atrocities of radical Islam’s violence towards gays and other sexual minorities, and in the oppression hierarchy on college campuses, such views are taboo. In particular, he was denied the opportunity to display a poster with the slogan “Gay Lives Matter.” The offended organization, DePaul Students for Justice in Palestine, categorized Kirchick as a “white Zionist”(as if that matters). Further, they declared “not in our fucking name will you continue to demonize Islam and Muslims and ignore the radical Christian right.” As if the Christian right is beheading people and throwing gays off of buildings. We’ve reached a high point of absurdity when pointing out human rights abuses is “demonization.”

Even though this incident is certainly bizarre and outrageous, it is not unique. All across far left circles, Islam has ascended to the top of the Oppression Olympics to the very point that pointing out objective reality is no longer tolerated. Even in my own social group of psychotherapists specializing in sexuality and relationship issues, I posted on a private Facebook group about the role of radical Islam in creating the horrific conditions of the extermination of homosexuals in Chechnya, and instead of lively intellectual discourse, I was met with hostile insinuations about my attitudes towards Islam, mainly by gay psychotherapists.

My intent in this essay is not to detail every example of social justice warrior nonsense across the country. Rather I want to bring attention to a growing source of tension between and within gay and Islamic groups that is coming to a head and may not be readily resolved, and how this represents a microcosm of a larger cultural struggle. Indeed, it is often gay individuals that are most strident in pointing out the abuses of Islam. Alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos certainly comes to mind, but there are many more examples, including British columnist Douglas Murray, an outspoken critic of European immigration policies, whose book The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam was just released. Numerous articles prior to the recent French election identified gay French men as a potential voting bloc for Marine Le Pen.  One piece in the Spectator even suggested that Parisian gays supported Le Pen at higher rates than heterosexuals.

Certainly not all in the LGBT community have taken a stand in decrying the homophobic, authoritarian stance of Islam (many haven’t), which points to perhaps a growing divide within these communities. This disagreement openly bares the striking contrast between two basic yet essential human needs—survival and acceptance—setting it as a microcosm of the cultural conflicts imposed by mass immigration.

Those gay individuals speaking out against radical Islam, while outraged about human rights abuses abroad, are also motivated by self-preservation. A key thesis of their argument is that bringing in more people from a homophobic culture into the West changes the culture. So in some not-too distant future Western culture too may shift from acceptance and inclusion into persecution and torture. This kind of thinking takes on a long-view approach, factoring future possibilities into present-day decisions.  

On the other hand, we can only form two conclusions about those who defend radical Islam. Either they take the threat of persecution and annihilation present in many Islamic-majority countries seriously, but instead choose to privilege in-group acceptance out of fear of expulsion by appearing racist, or they don’t take the threat of Islamic persecution of homosexuals seriously at all.

Let’s go through each of these in turn. In the first scenario, they are making a conscious decision to ignore an existential threat, which can only be done if that threat feels vague and remote, no matter how much peer pressure is exerted.  The threat of in-group expulsion feels much more immediate and concrete, while radical Islamic persecution feels as real as a video game plotline. This brings us to the second option—not taking the threat seriously. I think this is a very plausible explanation, since one of the core tenets of psychology is that people have difficulty truly understanding an issue unless they have real-life experience to draw upon. In many ways, this may be an unintended consequence of Western civilization, since (relative) prosperity has removed individuals from contact with basic life and death issues. Certainly, there are many poor and sick individuals struggling with daily matters of survival, but we don’t have to look much further than elite Ivy League universities to see they are not the individuals most likely to engage in politically correct activism. When individuals have time to ruminate over such supposed outrages as ‘manspreading’ and ‘mansplaining,’ as a society we have reached the point of seeking out problems, even if they must be manufactured, rather than escaping from real-life oppressions.

Interestingly, gay cultural critic Bruce Bawer, in his book The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind, details a historical divide on college campuses between Gay Studies and the emerging Queer Studies. While the first is classical and modernist in nature, focusing on the gay experience as it relates to the rest of society, the latter is Marxist and postmodernist, attempting to deconstruct the very bedrock of Western civilization. The first attempts to situate gays within a classical tradition, the second seeks to completely undermine it. Other tomes, more academic in nature, have also attempted to examine this divide, such as LGBT Studies and Queer Theory: New Conflicts, Collaborations, and Contested Terrain. The point is that this tension between preservation and deconstruction permeates divisions within academia on LGBT issues just as it extends to fractures in belief systems between self-preservation and in-group acceptance, as detailed above. Indeed, I would argue, that the very attempt at deconstructing civilization is so abstract and far removed from daily concerns of living, that the most important reality becomes adherence to ideology, rather than dealing with real-life threats. This is perhaps why it is mainly those individuals with enough privilege to have the luxury to dally with postmodern philosophy that are also most active in Far Left agitprop.

In many ways then, the controversies surrounding radical Islam and mass migration at their core come down to differing understandings of reality, one that is either centered on daily experiences of living or one based on abstract thought experiments. The first sees the greatest threat to its reality as annihilation, the second sees it as in-group expulsion for deviating from accepted thought. Let’s all hope that there are enough voices in the first group that allow the second group to continue existing in their theoretical dream-state. Otherwise, it may be too late if and when they are forced to wake up.

Michael Aaron is a cultural analyst and NYC-based psychotherapist, specializing in sexuality and relationship issues. His work can be found on Quillette and Psychology Today, as well as his website www.drmichaelaaronnyc.com.