There is obviously a drug problem in American colleges, most especially on its elite Ivy League campuses, because what we saw this past week was “moral relativism,” “critical race theory,” “wokeness,” and “intersectionality”—all on crack.
Pro-Hamas demonstrations erupted at Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, and lesser ranked schools like Binghamton and Hunter College, all glorifying the massacre in southern Israel. Not candle-light vigils ala 9/11; 10/7 generated deranged endzone celebrations. Students and faculty offered their full-throated applause to those who gleefully slit the throats of Jewish infants. This on college campuses purportedly obsessed with microaggressions and “safe spaces” granted to defenseless groups.
Jewish babies need not apply to such institutions of higher learning. No one gave trigger warnings to Israeli teenagers before terrorists pulled actual triggers.
Lest we forget: American citizens were murdered, too. Surely that should count for something. Not on college campuses where most everyone loathes America. A sure sign of national stupidity is the use of government loans to educate the least patriotic of citizens, along with student visas to those from nations that hate America even more than the students do.
At least the protests did not lack for school spirit, or imagination. These Hamas cheerleaders—with their “From the River to the Sea” fight song—perhaps rightly presumed that the Americans who were either murdered or kidnapped are themselves Jews. That’s a win-win for antisemites—fewer Jews in both countries!
At Harvard, over 30 student groups blamed Israel for the murder of its own people. The fault, these collegians concluded, lies not with Hamas, which beheaded soldiers, burned babies, and raped young girls beside the corpses of their friends and families, but with Israel. After all, Israel could have avoided the carnage on October 7 if it had merely allowed Hamas’ nearly two decades of terror to achieve its intended aims. By ably defending itself for so long, Israel finally received what it had coming.
In the twisted logic of identity politics, being Jewish is the one identity exempt from victimhood, notwithstanding two millennia of antisemitic torment. Instead, Jews are among the forever blameworthy, rendering upsidedown the default position: terrorists are freedom fighters; Israeli infants are IDF soldiers; self-defense is ethnic cleansing.
Some of America’s “best and brightest” shamelessly exhibited their support for a bloodbath, in all its inhumane splendor. Many wore masks, either because they knew the repugnance of their actions, or because they didn’t want to pay a price for their beliefs. I get it: The same people who would cancel anyone for misusing a pronoun, or wearing the wrong Halloween costume, or had a kind word for Republicans, didn’t wish to be held accountable for their convictions.
And that demonstrates the incomprehensibility of what it means to be a progressive these days. Free speech and open inquiry are no longer progressive ideals. Nor is tolerance. Objective criteria, civility, and standards have all collapsed; so, too, has fundamental distinctions between right and wrong. Students are encouraged to express their own truth—even if grounded in a lie. For at least one week, Hamas-envy was the new college rave. The cost of a college education remains astronomical, and yet it’s so morally bankrupt.
The entire educational system itself has been in decline for several years now. Reading, writing and arithmetic is yesterday’s schoolhouse. Today we have queer studies, indigenous literature, and the overt racism that critical race theorists have discovered in calculus.
What can be expected of students with such deficits in general knowledge and reasoning? And on top of it all, prone to propaganda and denial.
We are graduating a generation of dunces who lack nothing in antisemitic sentiments. Most shouting obscenities at Jews can’t find Israel on a map. None are aware that Jewish boots have not made a single footprint in Gaza since 2005. That will change this week. Those holding “Occupation” posters don’t know that Egypt controlled Gaza from 1948-1967. Apparently, when Arabs occupy land it’s never an “occupation.” Similarly, when Arabs kill other Arabs (500,000 in Syria), it’s never “genocide.”
When Jews must do it—even in national defense, even when it leaves them in anguish—it’s a war crime.
Israel as “colonialist.” Jews lived in the Holy Land for thousands of years before the religion of Islam even came into being. Read the Old Testament, for God’s sake! Jerusalem is mentioned nearly 700 times. It’s not mentioned once in the Koran.
An “apartheid” state. Not when Jews and Arabs eat in the same restaurants and ride the same public transports. Apartheid requires a racial separation—forcibly apart. There is no separation in Israel, Muslims are not a race, and they serve on the Supreme Court. In what way does that even remotely resemble South African Apartheid?
To compensate for such wide-ranging ignorance, students toss words around like “complex” and “nuance,” brainwashed by professors who spew academic jargon and catchall phrases for hating white people.
The fact that any of these kids got admitted to any school at all is a wonder.
At least one good thing came out of these protests, however. Finally, all those high-brow pretentions were revealed for what they are: ancient antisemitism masquerading as human rights. It was never about the dignity of Palestinians, the evil of Zionism, or settlements and borders. It wasn’t ideological, but visceral. Foaming at the mouth anti-Israel demonstrators have now been exposed as siding with savages in a revolting celebration of the Holocaust 2.0—an insatiably bloodthirsty jubilee that demands even more death.
The vulgarity of it all was worsened by the absence of moral leadership from university presidents—the failure to condemn, in no uncertain terms, the violence directed against Jews and the common cause their students were making with terrorists. Enough coddling of the grievance generation. It’s time to flunk the poisoning of campus life, these artificial hierarchies of oppression and privilege, and the charade of inclusion that manages to always exclude Jews.
The “Decolonize” drumbeat has become the favorite tune of nearly every university marching band. Nearly all students and faculty hop to it. Jews are left friendless on campus, not unlike how Jews have been banished from progressive circles, generally.
Black Lives Matter provided its own confirmation, not that there should have been any doubt. This week they released a leaflet featuring the silhouette of a paragliding Hamas terrorist on his way to wreak havoc on southern Israel, with the tagline, “Free Palestine.”
After the murder of George Floyd, Jews re-enacted their role as 1960s Freedom Riders and took part in public demonstrations. Where have we seen that movie? The Black Power Movement betrayed the Jewish civil rights workers of that era. Now Black Lives Matter has made it clear that Jewish lives simply do not matter.
At least these pro-Hamas protests had the virtue of leaving everyone’s cards on the table, nakedly face up for all to see. “Settler colonial enterprise” we now know is code for “kill Jews.” Israeli teenagers attending a dance festival, and babies in their cribs, will do just fine.
All Jews are settlers now—regardless of where they live, or where they stand.
Thane Rosenbaum is a novelist, essayist, law professor and Distinguished University Professor at Touro University, where he directs the Forum on Life, Culture & Society. He is the legal analyst for CBS News Radio. His most recent book is titled “Saving Free Speech … From Itself.”