Patterico's Pontifications

4/25/2024

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.”

—Dana

29 Responses to “Columbia Professor On Campus Protests”

  1. Hello.

    Dana (8e902f)

  2. The USC administrators have dug themselves quite a hole after canceling the commencement speaker, who would have been a lightning rod. Now the lightning hits everywhere.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  3. Protests are always a cheap date.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  4. University administrators have coddled their students far too long during these protests. It’s time to shut down the campuses, expel the media, and start filling the campus stadiums and arenas with arrestees, followed by summary expulsions.

    Rip Murdock (79ebbf)

  5. The poor kids. No, not the protesters. The other ones.

    From Covid to Palestinians.

    Literally. Most of them graduating this year went in in the first year of Covid. Lockdowns. Quarantines. Remote learning. The whole catastrophe.

    And now this crap.

    nk (bdd973)

  6. As much as I criticize the Mormon church, I am glad that BYU, my alma mater, doesn’t have any of this nonsense going on.

    norcal (4b91db)

  7. The girl with the oxen nose hoop and her friend with the retro COVID mask are so unintentionally hilarious. I think a legitimate line of questioning for both of them would be things like this:

    “If you are truly committed to equity, why is your hair not dyed in a day-glo color?”

    “Which trifling course of study allows you so much time for your performative protesting?”

    “Which would be safer alone after midnight: riding the NYC Subway or walking down a street in Tel Aviv?”

    “Can you name one pluralistic, non-authoritarian Islamic democracy?”

    JVW (3179a6)

  8. Literally. Most of them graduating this year went in in the first year of Covid. Lockdowns. Quarantines. Remote learning. The whole catastrophe.

    Even before COVID lockdowns we’ve been poisoning their minds with threats of environmental doom, rampant crime, insidious and pervasive racism, societal collapse, and Taylor Swift’s failed romances. We’re the worst collection of so-called adults in human history.

    JVW (6e66ef)

  9. I don’t agree with this line from McWhorter…

    Yes, there can be a fine line between questioning Israel’s right to exist and questioning Jewish people’s right to exist.

    …because both Israel and the Jewish people have a right to exist, the former being affirmed by the UN over seven decades ago.

    In my mind, the Hamas terrorist organization has affirmed that they have no right to exist and, for their self-defense, Israel has every right to remove the terrorists. Also, as Jonah has noted, there’s a disturbing number of protesters who aren’t anti-war for Palestine, they’re pro-war against Israel.

    Paul Montagu (d52d7d)

  10. One of the leaders of the pro-Hamas protest encampments on the Columbia quad said that, “Zionists don’t deserve to live.” That’s a real fine education they’re getting there.

    Paul Montagu (d52d7d)

  11. Protests are always a cheap date.
    Kevin M (a9545f) — 4/25/2024 @ 5:31 pm

    100%.
    “Hey baby! After we’re done burning Netanyahu in effigy, wanna come up to the dorm to see my etchings?”
    😉

    qdpsteve again (711764)

  12. ‘Israel Must End Its Illegal Occupation!’ Cry People Staging Illegal Occupation

    Link

    Paul Montagu (d52d7d)

  13. Even before COVID lockdowns we’ve been poisoning their minds with threats of environmental doom

    Y’know, after the end of the Cold War and the ever-present threat of global thermonuclear war, I’ve looked at all these other replacement dooms like a Californian looks at a 4.0 earthquake in New York.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  14. qdpsteve again (711764) — 4/25/2024 @ 8:05 pm

    😁

    norcal (3d2fa0)

  15. 6 because mormonism is a cult. The federal government had to threaten to take away their tax exempt status before they would stop discriminating against black people who the book of mormons calls filth! (zelph) The feds have to raid places like arizona city to rescue young girls from being sex slaves to mormon bishops like warren jeffs.

    asset (630b0e)

  16. First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they threaten you. Then you win. (gandhi) Though we have disagreement on hamas. We are all part of the left as in world war II FDR Churchill and Stalin had disagreements ;but we all fought against Hitler and destroyed him. I don’t want Israel to end up like carthage. You laugh at the left the same way goring laughed about america entering the war. Remember the elephant vs the ants and who won in the end. I don’t want this to happen to Israel. As churchill once said we lose every battle ;but the last one! Now the bottle deposit crook says any criticism of his actions are anti-semitism. latest fox poll 50% of 18 to 35 support hamas and 25% says Israel has no right to exist! Netanyahu is working hard to increase those numbers. As an old lefty I may disagree with others on the left over gaza ;but I understand them and their strategy and tactics. This is a battle for the democratic party and conservatives are yelling from the side lines and have no effect.

    asset (630b0e)

  17. asset (630b0e) — 4/25/2024 @ 11:57 pm

    because mormonism is a cult.

    That description may have fit in the mid-19th century, but not today. Yes, there are fundamentalist Mormons around today, but they are a tiny group compared to the mainstream Mormon church.

    The federal government had to threaten to take away their tax exempt status before they would stop discriminating against black people

    I think it more to do with other universitys’ athletic teams boycotting BYU, and the difficulty the church faced in Brazil when it came to determining who was black.

    The feds have to raid places like arizona city to rescue young girls from being sex slaves to mormon bishops like warren jeffs.

    It’s Colorado City, Arizona, not Arizona City. And Warren Jeffs is a fundamentalist Mormon (see above). The mainstream Mormon church excommunicates anybody practicing polygamy these days.

    norcal (3c0726)

  18. Here are two simple facts: Israel has made peace with Egypt, Jordan, and the Bedouins, living in Israel. Hamas has been unable to make peace — even with the PLO.

    Jim Miller (09a7ac)

  19. This is my world, even on my campus. How the administration is reacting, here and elsewhere, is a reason I am retiring. I do NOT think professors should be weaponizing students, and make no mistake: that is baked in the current academic cake.

    The real problem is administrative bloat. These characters are the source of most of the nonsense, because they have nothing else to do. One Jonathan Swift proposal: eliminate faculty and students from universities:

    “And just like that, the college would be rid of two nuisances at once. Administrators could do what administrators do — hold meetings, codify rules, debate policy, give and attend workshops, and organize social events — without having to deal with whiny students and grumpy professors.”

    From: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2024/04/23/save-colleges-chatbots-administrators-satire/?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  20. Further: when faculty and administrators stir and encourage student actions like this (and they do), it is the STUDENTS who will suffer. Not the faculty and administrators.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  21. Thanks for your comments, Simon Jester. The adults are all too willing to exploit the kids to advance their pet cause, and the kids are to dumb and naive to understand that they are being used by lazy adults.

    Dana (8e902f)

  22. Great comments, Simon Jester. The Swiftian essay from the Pomona Professor has been making the rounds all over social media today, so I think he’s really struck a nerve. Cheers to him for such an insightful piece written in a wry style.

    By the way, here is a link to the essay that gets you past the WaPo paywall.

    JVW (b02843)

  23. Thank you, JVW and Dana. Patterico is aware of the weirdnesses on my campus.

    The students don’t trust some adults, but trust others. It’s weird. I’m happy to tell you that I have a couple of socialist colleagues who are REALLY unhappy about how the students are being directed.

    Students rightly know that old men sending young people off to war is a bad thing. I hope they understand how that applies to the current situation, with professors stirring things up.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  24. Article leans a little bit to the left but contains many assertions of fact

    tohttps://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/columbia-protest-anti-semitism-campus-israel-jewish-students-justice-palestine.html

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  25. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_Front_for_the_Liberation_of_Palestine

    Headquarters Damascus, Syria

    ….By early 1968, the PFLP had trained between one and three thousand guerrillas. It had the financial backing of Syria, and was headquartered there, and one of its training camps was based in as-Salt, Jordan. In 1969, the PFLP declared itself a Marxist–Leninist organization, but it has remained faithful to Pan Arabism, seeing the Palestinian struggle as part of a wider uprising against Western imperialism, which also aims to unite the Arab world by overthrowing “reactionary” regimes. It published a magazine, al-Hadaf (The Target, or Goal), which was edited by Ghassan Kanafani.

    Not clear who’s funding it or is in charge now. It’s part of the PLO but withdrew participation in 2015

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  26. @17 I think it has to do with byu. No it had to do with the church sayin blacks had the mark of cain. Even mitt romney was happy when the feds forced them to stop discriminating against blacks or lose their tax exempt status costing them billions! Mormons I know have to narrow focus to keep their religion. See deborah laake book secret ceremonies.

    asset (8b4c5e)

  27. @21 The same thing was said during the vietnam until kent state happened. I have warned since Oct. 7 that this might happen. Latest poll (FOX news) under 35 year olds 50% support hamas and 25% don’t think Israel has a right to exist. At the start of the vietnam and Iraq wars they had wide spread support afganistan even more. Then those who questioned were called traitors as supporters of ceasefire are called terrorist/hamas supporters now. For the dunning/kruger’s here as I have said no ceasefire till hamas is destroyed for both palestinians and Israelis benefit.

    asset (8b4c5e)

  28. Jim Miller (09a7ac) — 4/26/2024 @ 6:13 am

    Israel has made peace with Egypt, Jordan, and the Bedouins, living in Israel. Hamas has been unable to make peace — even with the PLO.

    Not that Russia and China aren’t trying.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/4/30/china-says-palestinian-rivals-hamas-and-fatah-met-for-talks-in-beijing

    Actually, they’re trying tp prevent the PA from being acceptable to Israel.

    Sammy Finkelman (61907d)

  29. Prolem with King Tut;s tomb discovered

    It’s radioactivity.

    https://nypost.com/2024/04/27/lifestyle/king-tuts-mysterious-pharaohs-curse-solved-scientists-claim

    Sammy Finkelman (61907d)

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