Tribalism Now

Via Luke, here’s the Tablet on what Eagles fans can teach Jews about tribalism.

I’ve inherited my allegiance to the Eagles through marriage, but it was just such rowdiness that made me really fall in love with the Birds. How horrible are Eagles fans? You can decide for yourself by reading this outraged letter from a Vikings fan reflecting on the boys in white and green who greeted him at Lincoln Financial Field (“I was literally embarrassed to be a human,” the nice man wrote after he was called a bunch of names he had never even heard before). Or you can ask children, the frail, and the faint of heart to leave the room and play this video, which had gone viral in the last few days and which showcases the typical Eagles fan’s verbal dexterity. Or you can you just consider that in its former home, Veterans Stadium, the team chose to endorse its faithful by building a freaking jail inside the stadium itself, complete with a presiding judge, to keep the animals at bay.

I can’t tell you how happy this all makes me. 

Why would anyone put up with this behavior, let alone revel in it? Why tolerate such boorishness, inflected as it is with violence and disdainful of all that is kind and beautiful in the world? There’s a good reason, I think, and it has more to do with theology than it does with athletics.

Aptly enough, I first stumbled upon this bit of religious insight in Jerusalem. I’m a fan of the city’s local soccer team, Beitar, and I was attending a game one day when the God of Vengeance soured on his hometown boys. Beitar lost, and the fans set out on a nearby mall, seeking revenge. Happening on a McDonald’s, they attempted arson, pouring their wrath on the Chicken McNuggets before the law swooped in and had the hooligans arrested.

Observing these men, my fellow fans, I felt a strange sort of pride that troubled me. Even though I could never partake in their shenanigans, and would, under any other circumstances, denounce them as vile little vandals, I was gratified to see them senselessly express their disappointment by behaving like a gaggle of Visigoths with clubs in their hands and pillage on their minds. In their own idiotic way, I understood, they were pledging their allegiance to their tribe. It didn’t matter much that their tribe revolved around something as trivial as soccer, or that their way of expressing themselves involved light eruptions of asocial behavior. What mattered is that these men wanted to belong.

And wanting to belong, these days, is a problem.

Wanting to belong is only truly a problem for white Westerners. The author of this piece Liel Liebowitz has not only an exception from the compulsion to self-atomize, but the responsibility to resist it, as a Jew. Even the most secular Jew living outside of Israel can take his ethnic identity–a genetic and cultural lineage going back thousands of years–as such a normative given he doesn’t even see it. White Americans used to have this. The critique of “white privilege” is just the pathologizing of the normative values any nation is necessarily based on.

The tribalism of soccer hooligans and American normals is meaningless, except as another degenerate wasteful release of energy. From the elites’ perspective, having nationalist tendencies subsumed in sportsball enthusiasm, whether by design or happy accident, is a Good Thing.

Recently someone tweeted a photo of an impressive parade of German men turned out to support their soccer team, while their women are raped and seduced at home by men with a deeper sort of tribalism.

Nonetheless, Liebowitz is on to something, and perhaps even comfortable secular Jews are starting to worry about the post-national wonderland that awaits:

These days, you’re likely to be told that the only collective you can join without care or concern is the biggest one possible, that of the human race. Globalists are welcome, praised for their humanity, celebrated for their universal worldview that insists that all peoples and places and cultures are, at heart, the same. But say that you have an affinity for your nation, say, or for the particulars of your religion, and suspicions arise: Are you some sort of separatist? And isn’t your preference really a way to mask feelings of supremacy? Because isn’t belonging really about choosing, and choosing really about hierarchy, and hierarchy really about discrimination?

If this sounds comical to you, you haven’t spent much time in graduate seminars, or newsrooms, or think tanks, or even some shuls, where the traditions and identities that have tethered us to each other for millennia have been replaced by the shinier markers of difference that tear us apart. The idea was to usher in justice by toppling the structures of oppression and leaving us all to live freely as individuals, bound only by the biggest umbrella there is, that of the human race writ large.
If you’re wondering how well the project’s going, you’re welcome to pick up a newspaper.

But this is no based Jew

But not all hope is lost. Some among us still know the value of banding together. Often, these tribalists express their ideas in silly ways, like voting for imperfect candidates or coloring their faces green and attempting to climb up a greased pole. But what they’re really saying is that they see the value in small and tightly knit circles that value loyalty and mutual responsibility and that look for meaning in something bigger than the self and its appetites. These rowdy fans with their profane cheers have little patience for sanctimonious homilies about diversity; real diversity, they know, can come only when real difference is not only tolerated but encouraged, when men and women who pride themselves on their traditions come together not for the purpose of becoming the same but in the hope of inspiring each other with curiosity and with respect and with a little healthy competition. Football fans understand that intuitively; it may take professors of political science a few more decades to catch up.

The diversity illusion is like a booger you just can’t flick off your finger.
We are so conditioned even when one is up against its madness he laments it’s not “true diversity”; many will go to their graves unable to ask “why diversity?” Seeing the “value in small and tightly knit circles that value loyalty and mutual responsibility and that look for meaning in something bigger than the self and its appetites” you say? Scale that up and you have fascism.
And it frankly sounds a lot better than the hellscape that America is becoming.

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