Keep us going. Donate!


Show more

The Gaslighting of Gaza

I have seen the best of my generation.

For the past 10 years, I've been deep into the trenches of social justice work. From the nonprofit field to two separate political campaigns to now working in city government, I have been able to surround myself with like-minded individuals who largely share my own worldview. I've witnessed conversations about the root causes of systemic racism that would go toe-to-toe with any conversations currently being held on elite Ivy League campuses. I've seen campaigns break through walls to win statewide on issues that previously fizzled out in committee. I've observed a new generation of leaders emerge and take charge of some of the most pressing issues of our time. I've watched my peers enter adulthood and become amazing advocates for their own children's generation, centering on a mantra of leaving this place better than we found it. Through all of this, I've been inspired to do my own small part knowing that it is up to us to be the change we seek in this world. 

But I've also seen the worst.

And that's the part that gnaws at you at night. Knowing that so much talent exists and yet there still remain prevalent and prominent gaps in knowledge, even amongst the best and the brightest. While there has always been the need to educate and engage historically marginalized communities, there has never been the need to educate and engage ourselves at the levels that we are currently witnessing. Being the first generation to grow up with at-home internet access, we had the world at our fingertips. Yet sadly what we are seeing are smart, talented individuals who still, to this day, cannot separate fact from fiction. Who cannot differentiate news from propaganda. Who cannot tell that they are pawns in someone else's game. What we have today is a generation that is so committed to its own belief system that it can't see the forces of evil that are manipulating them day in and day out. We are seeing all this unfold in real-time, done in a way that leaves those of us on the outside frustrated, fatigued, and flat-out fearful of what might come next.

While my generation can tell you about historical injustices like redlining, the Tulsa race massacre, or the Black Lives Matter movement, what they cannot tell you about are things like astroturfing, gaslighting, or bad actors. Therein lies the problem. Because what we are seeing today with the Gaza conflict is exactly that. There are those abroad that would like nothing better than a divided United States during an election year. Those same bad actors who infiltrated our 2016 and 2020 elections are back at it again. What they learned in 2016 is that young voters (read: millennials) are especially susceptible to propaganda under the guise of altruism. My generation has yet to understand that they are being manipulated to feel a certain way about the issues at hand. Social media not only manifests misinformation, it creates a herd mentality where those jump on the bandwagon and take up positions without fully understanding the situation. These rallies we're seeing aren't organic; they're planned. And they're designed to get others to accept a conclusion before fully understanding the facts.

The problem is that our generation looks to its leaders for affirmation. Yet sadly our leaders are the ones who have fallen for this widespread anti-Israel propaganda. I've lost count of the number of respected people in my own personal and professional circles who have bought this whole narrative of an Israeli "genocide" even though there exists factual evidence that what is happening in Gaza is nothing of the sort. But they've drunk the Kool-Aid. They've gone to the rallies and marches. They've seen the Tik-Tok videos. They've added a Palestinian flag to their workstation. They've gotten to a place where presented with facts, actual facts, that challenge their assertions and they wave off these facts as "Israeli propaganda." It has been deeply disturbing to see some of the brightest minds in my universe fall victim to the same kind of thinking that cost us the 2016 election. Because if it can happen to them then it can happen to anyone. 

We don't know what the future of the Gaza conflict holds. Perhaps it will be resolved within a couple of months, rendering it a non-issue in the fall. But knowing how impressionable the younger generations are should be a huge red flag for those of us who see through the astroturfing and foreign influence campaigns that have gotten ahold of the issue. We need to continue to push back against those who use terms like "genocide" when describing the conflict. We need to continue reminding those pleading for a ceasefire that Hamas still has refused to release the hostages, a key prerequisite for any serious ceasefire talks. We need to educate those about the latest developments on the UNRWA and the role that they played on October 7th. While they may not acknowledge these truths, challenging our peers and pushing them to think long and hard about their views is critical work as we head into November. Because while Gaza won't likely be a make-or-break election issue, ensuring that millennials are critical consumers of information is absolutely urgent and necessary as we approach the election. We know if it isn't Gaza, it will be some sort of additional foreign influence campaign that will aim to demotivate millennials from voting.

All of this is hard. It isn't easy seeing one's friends go down these rabbit holes. But the pushback is necessary. We can't stay silent in this environment. Silence is the opiate that bad actors aim to serve. Being gaslit day in and day out in one's own professional workplace is exhausting. It's hard to de-program those who are already so deeply invested in the narrative. Yet, here we are. Less than 9 months from the most important election in our lifetime for the third time in a row. My generation screwed up in 2016. We got it right in 2020. We absolutely have to get it right once again in 2024. 

And we will have to recognize and overcome countless bad actors to get there.


Like what you're reading? Never miss another post! Get notified via email here.

Donate at the link below to keep us going.