Thursday, April 18, 2024

Academia and the American People

Columbia University President Nemat Shafik (JTA)
This time the answer was the right one. It’s too bad the first three times (in a row) the answer was stupid, foolish, and outright wrong. The question asked this time at a congressional hearing about antisemitism on college campuses was the same as it was in the other three cases: 

“Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate (Insert college here) code of conduct?”

The first time (back n December of last year) 3 university presidents with diverse backgrounds were asked that question: Harvard (now former) President Claudine Gay who is black, UPenn (now former) President Elizabeth McGill who is white, and MIT President Sally Kornbluth who is Jewish. They gave virtually identical answers. As though they were schooled by the ACLU in constitutionally protected free speech. Their answers were ‘It depends.

Yesterday at the latest congressional hearing on the subject, the correct answer was given by Columbia President Nemat Shafik who is of Egyptian descent. It was an a immediate and unequivocal yes. It did violate Columbia’s code of conduct.

The first 3 presidents were harshly criticized for their stupid answer by people on both sides of the political aisle. Staring with conservative Republican and Trump supporter Elise Stefanik (who first asked the question) - to Lawrence Tribe an arch-liberal constitutional scholar who said that he never thought he would ever agree with Stefanik on anything. But he did on this.

It seems ironic that a woman of Arab descent would give the right answer about antisemitism while a Jewish woman could not. But I think it is more about ‘lesson learned’ than actually knowing the difference between right and wrong. This was indicated by Shafiks hesitation at a follow up question about a tenured Columbia professor of Arab descent who publicly expressed amazement and approval of what Hamas did on October 7th. She was asked whether she would fire a teacher expressing a view like that. 

She stumbled over her answer but then answered in the affirmative.  She stumbled because for a moment - she probably thought his views were a function of his constitutionally protected free speech.

This is the problem with the progressiveness that has taken over in the hierarchy in university education. It isn’t just that a popular left wing Palestinian professor says things like this. It is that college presidents are condoning it.

If Jews on campus were to have a rally calling for the genocide of Palestinians, how far would university tolerance for free speech go?  I can’t imagine a question about whether Jewish students calling for the genocide of Palestinians was against school policy getting an ‘it depends’ answer. And I cant imagine any university official expressing hesitation about firing a Jewish professor expressing joy over the 30,000 Gaza Palestinain deaths and the starvation of its refugees - thinking even for a moment it was his free speech right. There would be no hesitation at all about firing him.

What if anything does this say about antisemitism in America?   

Well for starters it says that both liberals and conservatives agree that antisemitism is wrong. It also say that the government does not tolerate it. But it also says something about academia. Major universities have gone from right wing antisemitism where Jews were at first barred from entry and later limited to quotas out of fear that those schools would become ‘too Jewish’... to left wing antisemitism under the guise of leveling the playing field through affrimative action. Disadvantaged minorities were given precedence over more qualified students.jsudge more by the Which in some cases were Jews started implementing quotas again in reverse. Instead of being accepted on merit a predetermined number of students would be accepted based on diversity. 

Now things have deteriorated into outright antisemtism being tolerated on college campuses from  faulty, students, and even administrations. All of whom are victims of woke progressives

I do not however believe this kind of thinking has filtered down to the average American.  The vast majority of Americans are not woke. Most are not hypnotozed by the rhetoric of the left that has for example villified he founding fathers as nothing ore than slaveholders who built this great country on the backs of those slaves. Most Americans still see the founding fathers m as great but flawed men who were influenced by the etos of theor time.  

This is why there is a distinct possibility that the most unqualified individual in the history of the American presidency may ascend to office again. The American  people are not happy with the woke direction in which this country is going. a direction that - among other things spawned a permissive attitude in academia about antisemitism.

My hope is that the pendulum will again swing back to where it was before he term woke even existed.