By Arthur O’Sullivan
Hamas’ assault on Israel is a gut-wrenching historical turn. There can be no excuse, no equivocation, and certainly no euphemism for it. The sentence “The most Jews have been killed in a single day since the end of the Holocaust.” should not spark anything other than rage in the one reading it. Only the worst specimens of our fallen human race would defend—or worse—celebrate the massacres of the past two weeks. Still, that’s what we see. But surely, in this trying time, there is a light of hope to which mankind can look, and guide us through the darkness. No not the hope of two thousand years: to be a free people in the land of Zion. That’s silly. Our only real hope can be found in the western academic.
Academics, you have to understand, are so much smarter and better than we are. These brilliant minds have made profound breakthroughs in the world of postmodern ethics, “decolonization studies,” and all manner of relevant inquiries into the hardest issues facing our world. Surely academics, in their infinite wisdom, will lead the way in condemning the slaughter of innocents, understanding why it happened, and how to prevent this ever happening again, right?
Let me just open Twitter and see what they’re say- OH MY GOODNESS!
Laurence Tribe, Professor Emeritus of Law at Harvard University, accuses Prime Minister Netanyahu of instigating the war for political purposes.
Walaa Alqasiya, author of “Decolonial Queering in Palestine” and a Marie Curie Global Fellow at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Columbia University, and the London School of Economics, euphemizes Hamas’ assault on Israel as “decolonization.”
Bikrum Gill, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Virginia Tech, describes news reporting on Hamas as “racist dehumanizing propaganda,” intended for “genocide.”
Cinthya Martinez, a postdoctoral fellow at UC Santa Cruz, calls out fellow academics for their “hypocrisy” on U.S. Immigration and Palestine.
Uahikea Malie, an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Politics at the University of Toronto, exhorts his fellow “Lāhui” to support “decolonization” in Palestine.
Zareena Grewal, an Assistant Professor of American Studies and Religious Studies at Yale, makes the “not hard” distinction between the murder of civilians and of “settlers.”
Nihad Awad, Executive Director of CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations), expresses “no surprise” at French support for Israel, “a settler colonial Apartheid state,” with the Eiffel tower lit blue and white. In case the statement wasn’t obvious, Awad adds an Israeli flag to the tower.
Tarek Ismail, an Associate Professor of Law at CUNY, accuses “the most powerful governments in the world” of seeking to genocide him and his people.
Twenty-seven “Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups” entirely blame Israel’s “apartheid regime” for Hamas’ terror attacks, calling on Harvard to “stop the ongoing annihilation of Palestinians.” The nature and scope of Hamas’ murders go completely unmentioned.
Nothing to see here, I guess. Academia’s just “batting a thousand” like it always does. Surely you wouldn’t want to be a rube, and question these Ivy Leaguers and P. H. D.s on the basis of common sense? You couldn’t just say “murdering and raping civilians is wrong.” Are you stupid or something? Just let these smart people—these self-proclaimed “experts”—do the hard thinking for you. After all, haven’t you considered that Israel did bad things too?!
Have I made my point yet? These are the people who take every opportunity to assert their intellectual and moral superiority over you. These are the vanguard of the view—popular among the left, especially on Twitter—that the only evil in the world comes from power differentials. Therefore, when the weaker party does something unjust to the stronger, it is still (somehow) the stronger’s fault. Thus, the western academic is ever able to write these tweets, posts, and articles in good conscience. I would call them lunatics, but people bellowing obscenities at the moon would probably have more credibility than these tweeters.
Every day ending in “y,” professors like these attempt to inculcate this deranged worldview in their students, some of whom lap it up like dogs. Whether it’s through snide non-sequiturs, epistemological assaults on reality (sorry, “alternative ‘ways of knowing’”), or an overbearing culture of nonsense jargon about “decolonization,” “equity,” “positionality” et fucking cetera, these armchair revolutionaries never stop muddying the waters of our “discourse.” Where does this lead us? Evidently, it’s “postcolonial” professors justifying moral atrocities, if not outright ignoring them.
What’s going to happen to these professors? I sincerely want to know. I know that the semi-anonymous “Harvard Palestine Solidarity” group leaders face possible blacklisting, but is that fair? I typically disagree with ostracizing or firing people over political views, but do these same people care? I likewise believe that Hamas’ invasion goes beyond just “political views,” but this line of reasoning has been abused before. Myriad articles, in this publication and beyond, have detailed unfair restrictions on freedom of expression in academia, often launched by professors and student-radicals in departments like these. Yet why have these specific ‘intellectuals’ received a free pass? Why do they feel secure in euphemizing atrocity while so many other students and professors self-censor their (likely far less radical) views?
It should be clear that academia has a problem, especially when it comes to Israel. Whether it’s rank anti-semitism, a positive feedback loop of leftism, or some other deranging factor causing this is up for debate. Yet so long as these academics and elite students are nestled in high positions like Harvard, Yale, D.C. think-tanks and beyond, it will be difficult to address the problem fairly. There are no good solutions that get rid of these insane agitators, while alleviating self-censorship, and still respecting free speech. The goals seem to conflict with one other.
As I see it, there are two options for a fair system:
- Do not ‘cancel’ these professors and students. Let them express their views, however insane they are, while only reacting with civility. At the same time, allow all other insane ideas—left and right—to similarly pervade academia, in the name of free speech.
- Fire these professors (or put them on extended leave), and blacklist these student-radicals, same as for other expressions of controversial ideas. Declare a semi-arbitrary limit to “free speech,” and apply it equally to all faculty and students. The cost to freedom will be counterbalanced by increasing respect and trust for the academy.
Neither of these sit well with me, though “gun-to-my-head,” I’m a little more inclined to the latter (though this could be my anger speaking). I will expand more on this in a future article about “Academic Freedom,” its abuses, and how we ended up here.
As things stand, however, contemporary academic culture has allowed for these unconscionable ideas and rhetoric to flourish, without any appropriate checks. Both systems which I proposed are imperfect, but “fair.” The rules are, in principle, applied equally. If you have a better idea for a fair system—one that allows freedom of speech while disincentivizing these insane ideas—please let me know, or write for us in the next article.
All this to say: for right now, these academics could be ostracized or even fired, and I wouldn’t lose a wink of sleep over it.
It wouldn’t be fair, however, to lump all academics in with this crowd. No Binghamton University professor (to my knowledge) has said anything to rival these Yale and Harvard faculty. Many professors, while “supporting” Palestine (this is academia, after all), are quick to condemn Hamas and its crimes. Even Laurence Tribe, the Harvard Law emeritus who accused Netanyahu of instigating this war to distract from political controversy, quickly retracted his statement, apologized, and condemned Hamas’ attack in the strongest possible terms. Examples like these illustrate how it’s important not to lose sight of the broader picture: while specific academics may be deranged beyond all reason (especially in certain departments), many still have some connection to reality.
You might call the atrocity-justifying students and professors “bad apples,” but this only evinces the problem. “One bad apple spoils the bunch,” after all, and this “bunch” looks pretty spoiled. I call on every “pro-Palestine” activist, whether academic or lay, to look hard at themselves and their movement, and set a firm boundary for what is acceptable and not. Without it, they will always suffer situations like these.
All reports on free speech and self-censorship were taken from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) and its Pulse surveys.