The Radical Convergence of Briahna Joy Gray and Candace Owens

If anything, the dialogue revealed how the far-right and radical left share similar patterns of thought and behavior.

Last week, American commentator Briahna Joy Gray was dismissed from her position at The Hill following an interview with Yarden Gonen, the sister of Israeli hostage Romi Gonen, who spoke about the systemic rape perpetrated by Hamas on October 7. Gray’s reaction during the interview – rolling her eyes in evident disdain – was a stark display of her ongoing contempt for anything and anyone Israeli. This incident marks a turbulent period for Gray, a former press secretary for Bernie Sanders, particularly in the wake of her public outburst following a debate at the Dissident Dialogues event moderated by Konstantin Kisin, whom she subsequently accused of racism. Her striking assertion that “Hamas does not seek to kill Jews, what it means is to end the Jewish state and create a pluralistic society, like the one we have in America,” highlights a significant moral disorientation that many are guilty of following that dark day in Jewish history.

Gray’s situation is somewhat tragic. It appears she genuinely believes she is a good person, but to any rational observer, it is clear that she is fundamentally confused about what that entails. Her continuous support or apologia for jihadism is one glaring point of evidence.

Western observers, like Gray, seem allergic to understanding the true nature of jihadist terrorism. There is a tendency to interpret these acts through the lens of Western political and ethical norms, and therefore mapping their own justice struggles onto the Palestinian cause, all while failing to appreciate the religious and ideological convictions that drive jihadism. Jihadists are not merely political actors driven by legitimate political grievances; they are true believers who view their actions as divinely mandated. In their minds, this conviction transforms what might otherwise be seen as acts of madness into calculated, theologically justified acts of violence and martyrdom. This may sound insane, and that is because it is.

Speaking of insanity, following her dismissal, Gray finds herself peculiarly allied with far-right commentator Candace Owens, who had been ousted from the Daily Wire a few months ago for promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories in the name of Christian nationalism. This partnership is truly emblematic of a broader ideological convergence between the far-Right and radical-Left in America. This phenomenon, however, is not new; it has deep-seated historical undercurrents that extend well before the founding of America itself.

While progressivism may have been the kindly offspring of Christianity in Europe, antisemitism was its nasty stepchild, and the struggle between these two impulses continues in the modern world. Just as Christianity historically failed to live up to its own teachings in the treatment of the Jews, modern progressivism similarly fails by abandoning Jews to the designs of a genocidal adversary. Watching Gray, a progressive darling, and Owens, a self-proclaimed Christian nationalist, banter back and forth in quasi-religious fervor is almost reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch.

If anything, the dialogue revealed how the far-Right and radical Left share similar patterns of thought and behavior, something commonly referred to as the horseshoe effect. But beyond this, Gray and Owens cannot be held solely responsible; they are merely faces of a dangerous convergence of anti-nationalist Islamists, the transnational communist graduates building encampments, their progressive professors, and the ultra-nationalist neo-Nazis rallying around common grievances against perceived enemies. Of course, with one enemy in mind – the Jews.

French philosopher Renee Girard explained this social phenomenon of scapegoating as a necessary mechanism to maintain a needed level of group harmony in a society. In Girard’s view, every human society is made of a set of rival groups. As the rivalries continue, the very center of society becomes made out of tensions due to some having what others want. As the tensions brew, violence starts to threaten the fabric of the community, at which point all communal tension and resentment are projected onto a single group. Rivals unite their efforts, and former enemies now become friends, and the community participates in punishing the scapegoat.

If this is not some sort of a depiction of American socio-political dynamics and polarization from roughly 2016, and indeed an accurate descriptor of Owens and Gray, I don’t know what is.