Going International: Marquette Makes Jerusalem Post
Not by accident is the most leftist dominated segment of American life also that in which free speech is least protected. Kirsten Powers (a Democrat) has written a new book called The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech. Much of that book is devoted to American universities where left-wing students, administrators and faculty have sent the message that “anyone [who] strays off the leftist script... might find themselves investigated, harassed, ostracized, even expelled” because their speech has given offense.Of course, part and parcel of this intolerant leftism is hostility toward Israel.
Nearly 60% of the colleges and universities in America have campus speech codes that dramatically restrict, if not obliterate, freedom of speech. One, for instance, bars students from “offending... a member of the university community.”
Fordham University prohibits using email to “insult.” Offense and insult are determined by the ones so offended. Numerous universities have instituted “trigger warnings” on course content to warn students that course material may cause them distress by challenging their worldview.
Janet Napolitano, chancellor of the University of California system, the nation’s largest, recently instituted seminars for deans and department chairs to guide them in things that should no longer be said because they constitute “micro-aggressions,” defined as “brief, subtle verbal or non-verbal exchanges that send denigrating message to the recipient because of his or her group membership.”
Included are such statements as “America is a land of opportunity”; “I believe that the most qualified person should get the job”; “America is a melting-pot” and “affirmative action is racist.”
Each of these “suggestions” seeks to impose a particular societal vision and/or foreclose societal debate. They constitute a liberal version of the Gulag’s reeducation centers. Objections to the first two statements are based on a desire to portray America as so racist that individual talent and hard work are virtually irrelevant and it is impossible to speak of a hirings based on merit. “America is a melting-pot” is objectionable, because it prefers the traditional view of America as an affirmational society bound together by certain common ideas over the multicultural vision of a balkanized society based on ethnic, racial and sexual identities. The view that non-colorblind admissions and hiring is inherently racist is one side of a long-standing debate, and it just happens to be the view adopted by the US Supreme Court of late.
A group of Scholars of Color recently disrupted a class at UCLA, charging that the tenured professor had committed “micro-aggressions” against them. Example: The professor changed one student’s capitalization of “indigenous” to lower case, and thus disrespected her ideological point of view. Were the students punished for disrupting a class? No. The 79-year-old professor was instructed to stay off the graduate campus for a year, and UCLA commissioned an “Independent Investigative Report on Acts of Bias and Discrimination Involving Faculty.”
At Marquette University, a Jesuit school, Prof. John McAdams was stripped of tenure and fired for a blog post, in which he criticized by name a graduate teaching assistant who had told a student that he could not defend the traditional Catholic teaching on same-gender marriage in class because it might offend other students.
McAdams wrote that the graduate student had used “a tactic typical among liberals now.
Opinions with which they disagree are not merely wrong and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed ‘offensive’ and need to be shut up.”
His firing proved how right he was and how effective those tactics have proven.
Not all offense is equal. Jewish students live in a hostile environment, which can at times be genuinely frightening, on many campuses across America. Last summer, Boston police had to protect pro-Israel students over three successive days from pro-Palestinian mobs shouting “Jews back to Birkenau.” Over 50% of Jewish students report that they have personally experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism.Jews, for a few decades after the Holocaust, had the status of a politically correct victim group, toward whom liberals were sympathetic. But that era is gone.
No one, it seems, is particularly concerned about aggressions – micro or otherwise – against them, even though Jew hatred is not exactly an unknown phenomenon throughout history.
On about 200 campuses, there are annual Israel Apartheid Week rallies calling for the destruction of the State of Israel. Many of the events are formally sponsored by academic departments and promoted by professors on their emails.
Ruth Wisse, in “Anti-Semitism Goes to School” (in the May Mosaic) describes how a group of pro-Palestinian student groups demanded that candidates for student government at UCLA and Berkeley sign a pledge that they will not participate in trips to Israel organized by groups like AIPAC or Aish International’s Hasbara Fellowships. Most candidates refused to sign, but the student government president did.
While expressing discomfort with the pledge, UCLA’s Jewish chancellor declined to go further on the grounds that promotion of the pledge is a form of free speech. When it comes to leftists, minorities and those otherwise easily offended, the subjective hurt of those offended trumps free speech; when it comes to insult and intimidation of Jewish students, however, the value of campus free inquiry and speech is suddenly rediscovered.
As Wisse puts it, “Institutions that enforce ‘sensitivity training’ to ensure toleration for gays, blacks and other minorities may inadvertently be bringing some of these groups together in common hostility to Jews as the only campus minority against whom hostility is condoned.”
Why is this? First, because Israel is an ally of the United States, and liberals and leftists, not liking America, instinctively dislike America’s allies also.
Secondly, liberals and leftists pride themselves on being champions of the world’s victims. Jews, and the state of Israel, have not played the part of victim. Jews have succeeded splendidly in American society, and Israel has not only prospered as a free society, it has decisively beaten off Arab attacks. Not the sort of place that can be portrayed as victimized.
Thus we have the (happily) unsuccessful attempt on the Marquette campus to divest from companies doing business with Israel. Some flavor of this campaign can by seen in the Twitter feed of Students for Justice in Palestine.
But the anti-Israel campaign has been supported by several official units of Marquette.