What makes someone instinctively defend a monster? I don’t mean a legal defense, to which everyone is entitled. Nor do I mean exonerating someone after the facts are known. I’m talking about instinctively defending a monster purely out of some inexplicable affinity with him.

That was the spectacle du jour on social media yesterday, when an official Israeli account posted a video of female soldiers as they were taken hostage. The Hamas terrorists taunt and salivate over the women, some of whom are bloodied from the attacks. There was nothing ambiguous about what the fatigue-clad barbarians meant or intended.

Nevertheless, a darkly pedantic argument ensued on Twitter/X. The Israeli account had mistranslated one of the words to suggest the terrorists were specifically pointing out which women were fertile. Hamas apologists took to social media to rain down approbation on the video and those who shared it. They suggested other parts of the video were mistranslated, and therefore that the whole scene was portrayed falsely.

To review: The scene they’re talking about is Hamas terrorists taking women hostage during an extremely bloody spree of murder and sexual violence. It was obviously not the case that this video showed anything other than monsters behaving monstrously. There is only one reaction to such a video that marks you as worthy of participating in society, and it is not, as the anti-Zionist twitter horde spat, “hey nobody said the word ‘pregnant,’ you hasbarists!”

Eventually, Palestinians who aren’t Hamasniks logged on to point out that in fact the terrorists were referring to the women essentially as sex slaves and were referencing Islamic scripture. If anything, then, the one modest translation error had underplayed how sick and twisted the Hamasniks’ words were.

My reaction, and I imagine it was a common one, was similar to that of Nadav Pollak, the former Washington Institute fellow, who posted: “People see a video of terrified bloody young Israeli women next to Hamas terrorists that just butchered their friends and threw the bodies next to their feet to scare them even more, and their focus is arguing on a translation of one word. Seriously the world is f***ed.”

Indeed, there is something very dark bubbling up to the surface of society these days. The people who latched on to semantics in the video translation look absolutely insane. Not strange, not silly, not eccentric, not unpleasant. Actually insane. The fact that some of these people teach in universities is a dirty trick committed against humanity itself.

Then today the Daily Mail released a video of an Israeli intelligence officer’s interrogation of two Hamas fighters captured on October 7, a father-and-son duo. The father describes, in detail, raping one of the Israeli women he encountered while murdering innocents that day. Then his son says this: “My father raped her, then I did and then my cousin did and then we left, but my father killed the woman after we finished raping her.”

I’m sure the same folks are out there trying to find a missing punctuation mark in the translation.

Why are people, some of whom are educators or otherwise part of the intellectual class, out here shredding their souls with a cheese grater? Why? I think one answer is that the only way to make Israel the bad guy here while still being able to sleep at night is to pretend Hamas doesn’t exist. Everything the civilized world has said about Hamas is true. Its barbarism has no limiting principle. And it does nothing but promise to continue carrying out these family rape-and-murder outings the way other people might take their kids to the renaissance fair on a lazy weekend.

There is simply no argument against the immediacy of Israel’s obligation to destroy Hamas.

At some point, we in the West are going to have to grapple seriously with the fact that, yes, the protesters and their faculty supporters are pro-Hamas, just as they say they are. The same is true of a shockingly important segment of the national political media. It’s even true of the odd politician here and there.

It is not true of the majority of this country, no matter what one might think reading the New York Times or watching the BBC. And our best chance at keeping it that way is by being brutally honest about the depths to which some in our society have sunk.

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