The Tyranny of the Minority

The Tyranny of the Minority

© David Burton 2019

PTyranny of the Minority

     “The tyranny of the majority isn’t a problem in America today. Tyranny of the minority is.” (Ref. 1)

     Most of us can understand that the tyrannizing of minorities by a majority is wrong and should be subject to considerable approbation. Examples of such inappropriate behavior abound throughout the history of the world – Nazi Germany and the Jewish minority, South African Apartheid, America and Black slavery, etc. But the reverse can also occur – the tyranny of the minority over the majority.

     One case in point has been taking place in Israel over the past several years. Over the centuries, the main plaza of the Western Wall in Jerusalem was the province of the Orthodox which meant that it originally was for men only – Orthodox Judaism decreed that men and women had to be separated for prayer. In recent times, women have rebelled against this separation and the more fundamental objection of the Orthodox that women were to be excluded from any of the ritual observances required of men. In particular, some women in Israel demanded the right to pray at the Western Wall like men and to partake in the associated religious rituals.

     After considerable back-and-forth bickering, a compromise was reached – men could have a section of the Western Wall where only men would be allowed to pray and women would have another section of the Western Wall where they could pray as they wished.

     Problem solved – but wait . . . a group of women, a minority, who call themselves the Women of the Wall (WoW), decided that this was not enough. They wanted the right to pray anywhere and in any manner they desired, and the hell with everyone else! The following presents one view of the impasse.

     “. . . it is one thing to worship in any way that one wants in the privacy of one’s own family or home or even synagogue. It is quite another to do whatever one wants or is moved to do in a public space that is used, particularly for spiritual purposes, by Jews (and non-Jews) from ‘left to right’ of every tradition, custom and observance.
     “The public space in the main plaza of the Western Wall needs to be a space where everyone is comfortable, where nothing is done that is inconsistent with the most common denominator, and where everyone feels welcome. Unfortunately, that means that none of us can do whatever we want, and therefore we can’t engage in practices that are inconsistent with or contradictory and therefore provocative to the prayer traditions that have been observed there for generations.
     “Every Jew should be allowed to pray in the way that he or she finds meaningful. However, I honestly think this is a more an issue of public relations and intolerance from those who seek change than anything else because there is, in fact, a place already set aside for mixed and egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall. [Emphasis mine] The space currently set aside is respectful, open and easily accessed, but – and here is the problem – it is more discrete.
     “Those I’ve spoken to who want an egalitarian prayer space for the right reasons – their spiritual fulfillment and observance of Judaism as they see it – are perfectly satisfied with a discrete location. They don’t need to be prominently displayed in the main Western Wall Plaza. Those who uncompromisingly insist that they must be accommodated at the main plaza, despite the sensitivities, should ask themselves whether they are more interested in the publicity and public display or the personal spiritual fulfillment. ” [Emphasis mine] (Ref. 2)

     “Many well-meaning people have asked: Are the aims of Women of the Wall (WoW) religious or political in nature? Does this group wish to simply pray after its own fashion or force change upon the rest of us?
     “{In 2017, the} . . . WoW Chairwoman . . . published an essay . . . entitled ‘ Women of the Wall (WoW) Is Fighting For Ultra-Orthodox Women, Too.’ And yet, her op-ed was oddly tone-deaf to women in the Orthodox community. She calls them ‘ultra-Orthodox.’ Why? Why do liberals give every ethnic and religious group the right to name themselves except {ultra-Orthodox}? Why the necessity to use the pejorative word ‘ultra’?
     “More to the point, referring to those opposed to WoW as ‘ultra-Orthodox,’ . . . is factually inaccurate. Women for the Wall – the group leading the legal fight against WoW – is not, in fact, led by {ultra-Orthodox}. But {the WoW chairwoman} cannot imagine that traditional women from all circles – even more than men – disapprove of her activities, so she paints them all as dreaded ‘ultras.’
     “One of the leaders of Women for the Wall relates an incident that occurred shortly after its founding that neatly captures WoW’s intolerance and ignorance. Five years ago, a erusalem-based media organization learned about the then-new group, and invited both Women of the Wall and Women for the Wall to appear before journalists to discuss their differences.
     “When the day arrived, representatives of WoW stood outside, refusing to enter the room, much less hear what Women for the Wall had to say. They waited until Women for the Wall had left before entering to deliver their own prepared remarks. That was their level of appreciation for the concerns of other women.
     “{On one occasion,} . . . Women for the Wall and other groups arranged a special {prayer} service, wishing to demonstrate the extent of female opposition to WoW.
     “Since WoW wished to pray on its own, simple politeness and respect for other women would have dictated that it not disturb the women already there. WoW had three options: to pray at an alternate site at the Western Wall that had been set up by the government years ago. Going there would have meant praying as it liked and avoiding conflict and the noise of the larger service. The other two options were going behind barriers set up by the police while fighting to be heard or planting themselves in the middle of the far larger group of traditional women to maximize interference with everyone’s prayers.
      - - -
     As it did . . . earlier . . ., WoW refused to go behind the area cordoned off for it, deliberately pushed other women out of its way, and stood in their midst. WoW then proceeded to sing and shout as loudly as possible to prevent other women from participating in the larger service. {The Wow chairwoman} even pushed a woman trying to video its activities, deliberately stepping on her feet to get her to leave.
W chairwoman} may write of ‘freedom and equality’ of other women, but in actuality WoW pushed other women, moving some younger participants to tears. WoW has demonstrated none of the inclusion or tolerance it preaches.
      - - -
     “WoW is not merely engaged in a political fight; it is deliberately choosing a path of confrontation and acrimony. If {the WoW Chairwoman} really wanted Orthodox women to be empowered to make their own choices when practicing Judaism, she would respect those who choose to follow tradition. But she doesn’t, thus revealing her true colors.” (Ref. 3) In other words, what we have here is an example of the minority trying to impose its will upon the majority and even upon other minorities. i.e., a blatant example of the tyranny of the minority.

     In another response to the tyranny that WoW is seeking to impose on everyone else, we read, “It was during the summer of 1974 and my first trip to Israel with my sister . . . . My older brother led us through Yaffa Gate and down the slippery cobblestone steps through the Arab shuk. I could not wait for my first encounter with the Kotel {The Western Wall}. . .
      - - -
     “That visit was very different from the one my young grandsons recently experienced when they went to the Kotel with their family. Women of the Wall (WoW) had come to the Kotel . . . to disturb other people from praying. In reaction, a group of mostly {ultra-Orthodox} men began shouting at them. My two young grandsons did not know what was happening, but one of them got into the rhythm and started screaming at nobody in particular.
     “When my daughter-in-law told me what happened to me over the phone, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
     “What do these women who call themselves Women of the Wall want? Simply: To coerce change among traditional Jewish women who {pray} at the Kotel. These women often sing as loudly as possible, wave {prayer books} in the air – in short, they do whatever they can to disturb the people around them.
      - - -
     “A few years ago, the Israeli government constructed an expanded platform for these women near Robinson’s Arch . . . but most of the time the platform is empty. WoW defies regulations and holds its {monthly} gatherings in the main Western Wall Plaza.
     “As a response to WoW . . . Women for the Wall – W4W – {was founded} in April 2013. Its first event was a prayer gathering . . . that year. Approximately 7,000 traditional Jewish women came to {pray}, highly outnumbering WoW.
     “{The} Founder of WoW . . . along with other WoW leaders claim religious Jewish women are oppressed, religious Jewish men are misogynists, and Orthodox Judaism is ‘archaic, alien and repulsive.’
     “But . . . W4W argues that rejecting the traditional feminine experience is itself misogynous. ‘There is nothing more demeaning to women than positioning the traditionally male experience as the only one worth living and setting up women for an ongoing game of catch-up’ . . .
     “. . . ‘Women of the Wall are not victims of oppression; they are advocates for upheaval. . .’
     “Every sacred site in the world has rules and expectations of visitors in order to maintain an atmosphere of holiness and reverence. The Kotel should be no different.” (Ref. 4)

     Another example of the tyranny of the minority comes from England. “At our universities {in England}, which are meant to be bastions of free thought, guest speakers are barred for fear they might so much as question Left-wing dogma. . .
     “The forces of political correctness impose their unyielding views everywhere.
     "At Oxford and Cambridge, there are calls for statues of historic benefactors to be torn down because they do not comply with fashionable modern positions on minority rights. . .
      - - -
     “Theatre companies are left in no doubt that they will not be given Arts Council subsidies unless they cast a number of ‘non-traditional’ actors — i.e., women playing Shakespearean kings or Afro-Caribbeans as English Regency fops.
      - - -
     “We live in an age of the minority mob. [Emphasis mine] An odd expression, I know. Mob rule used to be an assertion of power through violence by the great unwashed, be it in the French Revolution or America’s racist deep south, when it lynched individuals.
     “It has been replaced by the no less illogical (and hardly less chilling) hysteria of a knot of activists who weaponise minority rights . . . and wield them as a political threat against the majority. More often than not, these agitators themselves are not part of the minorities that have allegedly been offended. They belong instead to a class of professional busybodies who seize on the minorities game for their own ends.
     “ ‘Diversity’ is now a booming employment sector and it offers hefty salaries. More insidiously, others exploit it for political ends and furtherance of their own ambitions.
     “The Twittersphere is full of these self-appointed stewards of indignation who see it as their job to police the media and shout down anyone who dissents from received opinion.
     “Their strategy is to expunge divergence of views and crush resistance to their creed of racial and sexual egalitarianism. Freedom of expression is something only they can enjoy.
      - - -
     “. . . The politicians . . . hope that, by appealing to those who identify themselves as minorities, they will win votes. This is called identity politics, but really it is the politics of the lunatic asylum.
     “There is a profoundly worrying problem with this tyranny of the minorities. By insisting every minority has preferential rights, you end up denying the majority their rights. [Emphasis mine]
      - - -
     “In medieval Spain, the Inquisition caused terror by chasing down anyone who uttered public heresy (i.e. questioned Roman Catholic dogma). The Inquisition itself was small, but it was brutally effective at snuffing out dissent. With fire and torture, it came down hard on a few prominent free-thinkers and that was enough to create widespread repression.
     Spain’s population saw the way so-called heretics had been pulled limb-from-limb and it thought ‘crumbs, we’d better do what we are told’.
      - - -
     “Under this tyranny of the minorities, that may be what you should do for an easy life. But the thing about tyrannies is that they are ruled, ultimately, by bullies. The way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them . . .
     “. . . the lively conflict of views should be welcomed as an essential part of a flourishing democracy. Freedom of expression has been fought for with blood over the centuries and is vital for liberal, civilised behaviour. No minority mob should ever be allowed to destroy that.” [Emphasis mine] (Ref. 5)

     Here in America, the tyranny of the minority has reached new and extreme heights. “When police accused actor Justin Smollett of staging a hate crime, his left-wing cheer squad threw down their pom-poms and picked up stones. Smollett’s big mistake wasn’t allegedly lying, or playing a black, gay victim in a mediocre TV series. His cardinal sin was to expose the fallacy of the modern Left’s creation myth that politically correct minorities are persecuted rather than privileged.
     ”Smollett is an unremarkable actor, but he is black and gay which gives him minority status.
     ”Such status can provide a range of benefits where the state suppresses fair competition to ensure minorities have special access to education, employment and welfare opportunities. The special privileges regime extends to the realm of public reason. Many Western states built on the democratic traditions of free speech and public reason have made offending PC minorities an offence. It has created a profoundly illiberal culture where the democratic principle of loyal opposition is increasingly difficult to exercise.
     “Smollett is protesting his innocence against evidence that he paid {two} brothers to stage a hate crime against him. On Good Morning America, he welled up while reconstructing the scene. It was dark, he was all alone, just another poor minority millionaire minding his own business, when the unimaginable horror appeared: a Republican voter! To add PC insult to injury, Smollett said the assailant shouted: ‘This is MAGA country, n–!’ One can only assume he said ‘nigger’ because censors ran a part of democratic culture. The principle of loyal opposition requires the understanding that being a citizen of a democracy entails a mutual obligation to hear and be heard. Each side of politics is mutually obligated to demonstrate civility in debate and the exercise of public reason. After an election, the losers respect the outcome and facilitate a peaceful transition to the elected government.
     “In the wake of Trump’s victory, the PC Left showed radical disrespect for the democratic process by trashing the principle of loyal opposition. Mobs attacked Republican voters. Activists tried to stop the president’s inauguration. The progressive press ran fake news stories vilifying Republican voters as stupid, racist and uneducated. There were fake race-hate attacks. The PC sisterhood tortured irony by lauding universal suffrage while encouraging attacks on ‘white women’ who vote to the right. The PC Left has created a culture of contempt for democracy in the land of the free.
     “The censorious thugs of the 21st century Left are throwbacks to a pre-political age where might was right. When they are unable to win an argument by exercising reason in the public square, PC leftists resort to censoring opponents. They use the big club of the state to render dissenters speechless.
      - - -
     “Almost a century ago, the economist Ludwig von Mises outlined the threat special interest groups posed to parliamentary democracy: ‘The parties of special interests, which see nothing more in politics than the securing of privileges and prerogatives for their own groups, not only make the parliamentary system impossible; they rupture the unity of state and society… Their aim is to obtain, at the cost of the rest of the population, the greatest possible advantages and privileges for the groups they represent.’
     “Von Mises’s analysis was developed in the context of the early 20th century and pertained to factions within parties. Almost a century later, the fracturing of liberal democracy by special interest groups of the political Left is well underway.
      - - -
     “In the march of the totalitarians, there is no such thing as free society or a lively democratic culture animated by dissent. There are only state-preferred groups that enforce PC ideology to promote themselves at the expense of the common wealth and greater good.” (Ref. 6) One can argue that here in America, these state-preferred groups constitute the minority that is imposing its tyranny upon the rest us – the majority.


  1. The tyranny of the majority isn’t a problem in America today. Tyranny of the minority is., Dylan Matthews, Vox,
    12 September, 2018.
  2. Ask the Rebbetzin, The Jewish Press, Page 8, 14 July 2017.
  3. WoW Reveals Its True Colors, Rabbi Yaakov MenkenThe Jewish Press, Page 8, 29 June.
  4. A Tale Of Two Kotel Groups: WoW Vs. W4W, Adina Hershberg, The Jewish Press, Page 9, 17 August 2018.
  5. Tyranny of the minorities, Quentin Letts, Daily Mail, 16 June 2018.
  6. The tyranny of the minority, Jennifer Oriel, The Spectator, 2 March 2019.
  14 June 2019 {Article 364; Suggestions?_24    
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