It’s a simple question: How can “Queers for Palestine,” the slogan on protest signs of pro-Palestinian (or anti-anti-Hamas) protesters, be a thing? (Homosexuality is stigmatized and criminalized in the Palestinian territories, while in Israel it is legal, and in secular spaces not stigmatized. As a practical matter, one would much rather be queer in Tel Aviv than Khan Yunis.)
To answer the question, one must consider the operating ideology of left-wing activism, which for lack of a better term might be called “Everything Leftism.”
An Ideology and a Structure
Everything Leftism operates on two levels, as an ideology and as an institutional structure. As an ideology, it is a corruption of or derivative from intersectionality. As intersectionality views all oppressed identities as linked in compounding dimensions, Everything Leftism views all left-of-center issues as linked in compounding dimensions.
Thus, for the Everything Leftist all issues are mutually dependent. In this view, the interests of 2SLGBTQI+ people in the United States depend on Palestinian sovereignty, which depends on radical decarbonization of the economy, which depends on widespread access to taxpayer-funded abortion, which depends on de facto open borders, which depends on every other issue in the progressive playbook.
As an institutional structure, Everything Leftism operationalizes this ideology in the philanthropic and governmental spaces. Charitable organizations and advocacy groups seeking support from left-wing institutional Big Philanthropy will be pressured to align with Everything Leftism not only on any single issue but on all issues, or at least to silence themselves on issues on which they do not align. Meanwhile, where and when administrations aligned with Big Philanthropy hold power, they will use their discretion in government grantmaking, regulatory policy, and prosecutorial decision making to carry out the tenets of Everything Leftism. The Biden administration has announced and carried out a series of “whole of government” schemes related to Everything Leftism, most notably regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and climate change.
Everything Leftism in Practice
Everything Leftism is much easier to see than to define. Groups associated with left-of-center causes sometimes just “tweet it out,” with graphics in the typical corporate-liberal pastel-style demonstrating how all issues are mutually dependent.
Sometimes the issue lists of supposedly single-issue groups show the depths of Everything Leftism. The Sunrise Movement is ostensibly a campaign group for an immediate severe cut in carbon emissions to stop the supposed “climate crisis.” But its list of “our demands” includes “union jobs for all,” “abolish the police,” and “ensuring that indigenous communities are well resourced and safe.” Sunrise Movement claims that these Everything Leftist positions are inherent to its environmental mission, but in reality they are extraneous.
In the labor-union space, this is why the United Auto Workers (UAW), driven to strike in part due to the consequences of the shift to electric vehicle production driven by the American and international governments’ war on cars, supports the “just transition” away from conventional fuels. Labor unions in many ways pioneered Everything Leftism with “social justice unionism.” After John Sweeney, a Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member aligned with government-worker unions and unionism’s radical Left, replaced the George Meany-Lane Kirkland center-left Truman-LBJ regime at the AFL-CIO in the 1990s, they turned their dues-funded treasuries into general-purpose piggy banks for left-wing economic and social movements.
In a sense, the Everything Leftist intersectional politics of the DSA replaced the old industrial-class politics of Meany, Kirkland, and their turn-of-the-20th-century predecessor Samuel Gompers. Those industrial-class politics may have been left-of-center—they gave America the capital-P Progressive Movement, the New Deal, and the Great Society, which all had many political-economic problems. But they were also patriotic and recognizably American in their liberalism, as evidenced by Gompers’s resistance to European socialisms of his day and the Meany-Kirkland regime’s work against international Communism during the Cold War. But in the new post-Sweeney era, Big Labor has joined the Everything Leftists, backing causes further left than the liberalism of the Biden administration, and so the UAW demands Israel not defeat Hamas in battle.
Once the concept of Everything Leftism is introduced, it is easy to find examples. Blaming school choice on “racism, homophobia, and xenophobia”? Everything Leftism. Calling everything “x justice” – “racial justice,” “environmental justice,” “economic justice,” “algorithmic justice”? Everything Leftism. California offering government-funded sex changes to illegal immigrants? Everything Leftism.
Knowledge of Everything Leftism, like knowledge of the related social justice unionism, should teach that there is no prospect of long-term alignment with the Left for moderate concession on a single issue. For a real-world example, ask the Republican and conservative groups that allied with liberals for moderate relaxation of criminal justice policies whether they expected their erstwhile partners to jump headlong into defunding police and de facto legalizing mass criminality in the name of “racial justice.”
But the Permanent Revolution is the demand of the Everything Leftist, so the move to abolish the police was inevitable. That was the ultimate objective for many of the left-wing groups, and it was published in the New York Times as such.
So to answer the opening question, how can “Queers for Palestine” be a thing? Everything Leftists saw an opportunity to combine two or more supposedly oppressed identities into a novel intersectional combination and took it. This happens often and across issues.
Let any conservative seeking to work with (or worse, appease) a left-wing faction beware.