Patterico's Pontifications


Columbia Professor On Campus Protests

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:06 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Protests on university campuses are continuing across the country. And while police have dismantled encampments and arrested some protesters at various campuses, there is little doubt that the students (and faculty) will be distracted from their mission.

I read with interest John McWhorter’s op-ed, I’m a Columbia Professor. The Protests on My Campus Are Not Justice. and wanted to present some points he made.

McWhorter makes a distinction between protesters. There are those who see Israel as the enemy and chant “from the river to the sea…” because they actually want to see Israel’s destruction. There are protesters who don’t really know why they are protesting but join in anyway (see video at end of post). And finally, there are those who don’t necessarily hate the Jews and want to see the destruction of Israel, but instead their focus is the war in Gaza and their school’s monetary investment in Israel:

…I don’t think that Jew hatred is as much the reason for this sentiment as opposition to Zionism and the war on Gaza. I know some of the protesters, including a couple who were taken to jail last week, and I find it very hard to imagine that they are antisemitic. Yes, there can be a fine line between questioning Israel’s right to exist and questioning Jewish people’s right to exist. And yes, some of the rhetoric amid the protests crosses it.

Conversations I have had with people heatedly opposed to the war in Gaza, signage and writings on social media and elsewhere and anti-Israel and generally hard-leftist comments that I have heard for decades on campuses place these confrontations within a larger battle against power structures — here in the form of what they call colonialism and genocide — and against whiteness. The idea is that Jewish students and faculty should be able to tolerate all of this because they are *white.

I understand this to a point. Pro-Palestinian rallies and events, of which there have been many here over the years, are not in and of themselves hostile to Jewish students, faculty and staff members.

[*Ed. about Jews being white…]

Additionally, McWhorter contrasts the focus of allegedly peaceful protests and a certain double-standard that would cause differing responses based on interpretation of them:

Social media discussion has been claiming that the protests are peaceful. They are, some of the time…But relatively constant are the drumbeats. People will differ on how peaceful that sound can ever be, just as they will differ on the nature of antisemitism. What I do know is that even the most peaceful of protests would be treated as outrages if they were interpreted as, say, anti-Black, even if the message were coded, as in a bunch of people quietly holding up MAGA signs or wearing T-shirts saying “All lives matter.”

…calling all this peaceful stretches the use of the word rather implausibly. It’s an odd kind of peace when a local rabbi urges Jewish students to go home as soon as possible, when an Israeli Arab activist is roughed up on Broadway, when the angry chanting becomes so constant that you almost start not to hear it and it starts to feel normal to see posters and clothing portraying members of Hamas as heroes.

And about previous campus protests, specifically against apartheid regime in South Africa, he says:

…but the bigger difference was that though the protesters sought to make their point at high volume, over a long period and sometimes even rudely, they did not seek to all but shut down campus life.

On Monday night, Columbia announced that classes would be hybrid until the end of the semester, in the interest of student safety. I presume that the protesters will continue throughout the two main days of graduation, besmirching one of the most special days of thousands of graduates’ lives in the name of calling down the “imperialist” war abroad.

McWhorter concludes by contrasting pre- and post-social media protests…and the “tenor” behind them:

But they have pursued their goals with a markedly different tenor — in part because of the single-mindedness of antiracist academic culture and in part because of the influence of iPhones and social media, which inherently encourage a more heightened degree of performance. It is part of the warp and woof of today’s protests that they are being recorded from many angles for the world to see. One speaks up. Butthese changes in moral history and technology can hardly be expected to comfort Jewish students in the here and now. What began as intelligent protest has become, in its uncompromising fury and its ceaselessness, a form of abuse.

P.S. USC announced today that it is canceling its main May commencement ceremony.

This x 100:

“Hello class of 2024. Your family will be deprived of the chance to honor your achievements because a small minority of your classmates feel entitled to break the law in order to express their support for a foreign terrorist organization.”


Judge Luttig on the Supreme Court Today

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:00 pm

[guest post by Dana]

This is helpful:

As with the three-hour argument in Trump v. Anderson, a disconcertingly precious little of the two-hour argument today was even devoted to the specific and only question presented for decision.
The Court and the parties discussed everything but the specific question presented.

That question is simply whether a former President of the United States may be prosecuted for attempting to remain in power notwithstanding the election of his successor by the American People.
thereby also depriving his lawfully elected successor of the powers of the presidency to which that successor became entitled upon his rightful election by the American People — and preventing the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in American history.

It is not even arguably a core power or function of the President of the United States to ensure the fairness, accuracy, and integrity of a presidential election. Let alone is it a core power or function of the President of the United States to ensure the proper certification of the next president by the Congress of the United States. Neither of these is a power or function of the president at all.

In fact, the Framers of the Constitution well understood the enormous potential for self-interested conflict were the President to have a role in these fundamental constitutional functions.

Consequently, they purposely and pointedly withheld from the President any role in these fundamental constitutional functions.

To whatever extent the Framers implicitly provided in the Executive any role whatsoever in these fundamental constitutional functions, it was a limited role for the Executive Branch,
through the Department of Justice, to inquire into allegations of fraud in presidential elections and ensure that the election was free, fair, and accurate.

The former president’s Department of Justice did just that and found that there was no fraud sufficient to draw into question the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The former president of course has refused to this day to accept that finding by not only his own Department of Justice, but also countless others of his closest advisors.

Whether undertaken in his or her “official,” “candidate,” or “personal” capacity, a President of the United States has never been and can never be immune from prosecution (after leaving office),
for having attempted to remain in power notwithstanding the election of that President’s successor by the American People.

Consequently, there is no reason whatsoever for the Supreme Court to remand to the lower courts for a determination of which of the alleged criminal acts might have been personal and which might have been official.

Neither is a clear statement from Congress that a president is subject to prosecution under the statutes with which the former president has been charged necessary in this particular case.

As applied to the former president for the criminal conduct with which he has been charged, there can be no question but that Congress intended a President of the United States to come within the ambit of the statutory offenses with which he has been charged.

For the same reason, it would be ludicrous to contend that the former president was not on sufficient notice that if he committed the criminal acts charged, he would be subject to criminal prosecution by the United States of America.

To hold otherwise would make a mockery out of the “plain statement” rule.


Remember this about blanket immunity for a president:

Nearly four years ago, all nine justices rejected Trump’s claim of absolute immunity from a district attorney’s subpoena for his financial records. That case played out during Trump’s presidency and involved a criminal investigation, but no charges.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who would have prevented the enforcement of the subpoena because of Trump’s responsibilities as president, still rejected Trump’s claim of absolute immunity and pointed to the text of the Constitution and how it was understood by the people who ratified it.

“The text of the Constitution … does not afford the President absolute immunity,” Thomas wrote in 2020.


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