Friday, May 17, 2024

The Correct Way to Deal With Violent Insurrections on College Campuses

Over the past few weeks, many of the most prominent U.S. colleges have permitted violent insurrections to take place on their campuses. These violent insurrections have targeted Jews in general, and also specifically Israel, the Jewish State. Jewish students have been assaulted verbally and physically, and have been physically blocked from accessing the educational facilities that they have paid to use. It is inconceivable that such violent insurrections against women, Blacks, homosexuals, or any other minority group would be tolerated, but college administrators far too often lose their moral compasses and their backbones when Jews are targeted. Instead of fulfilling their duty to provide access to education for all students, college administrators issue vague, nonsensical pronouncements about free speech.

This is not about and has never been about free speech. No one is disputing that, subject to the same time/place considerations that apply to any exercise of free speech, students have a right to peacefully express their views--but chanting hate-filled slogans, openly wishing for the murder of people based on their religion, ethnicity, or political viewpoint, and denying access to educational facilities are not permissible exercises of free speech rights: such actions are violent insurrections that should be dealt with accordingly.

In the 1960s, many U.S. college campuses faced disruptive protests about the Vietnam War and other issues--but, perhaps because Jews were not the targets, college administrators understood their responsibilities and acted swiftly. For example, here is an excerpt from a letter by Theodore Hesburgh--then the President of Notre Dame--that was published in The New York Times:

Now to the heart of my message. You recall my letter of November 25, 1968, which was written after an incident. It seemed best to me then not to waste time in personal recriminations or heavy-handed discipline, but to profit from the occasion to invite this whole university community--faculty, administration and students--to state their convictions regarding protests that were peaceful and those that threatened the life of the community by disrupting the normal operations of the University and infringing upon the rights of others.

In general, the reaction was practically unanimous that this community recognizes the validity of protest in our day--sometimes even the necessity--regarding the current burning issues of our society: war and peace, especially Vietnam; civil rights, especially of minority groups; the stance of the University vis-à-vis moral issues of great public concern; the operation of the University as a university.

There was also practical unanimity that the University could not continue to exist as a society, dedicated to the discussion of all issues of importance, if protests were of such a nature that the normal operations of the University were in any way impeded, or if the rights of any member of this community were abrogated, peacefully or non-peacefully.

I believe that I now have a clear mandate from this University community to see that: (1) our lines of communication between all segments of the community are kept as open as possible, with all legitimate means of communicating dissent assured, expanded, and protected; (2) civility and rationality are maintained; and (3) violation of another's rights or obstruction of the life of the University are outlawed as illegitimate means of dissent in this kind of open society.

Now comes my duty of stating, clearly and unequivocally, what happens if. I'll try to make it as simple as possible to avoid misunderstanding by anyone. Anyone or any group that substitutes force for rational persuasion, be it violent or non-violent, will be given fifteen minutes of meditation to cease and desist. They will be told that they are, by their actions, going counter to the overwhelming conviction of this community as to what is proper here.

If they do not within that time period cease and desist, they will be asked for their identity cards. Those who produce these will be suspended from this community as not understanding what this community is. Those who do not have or will not produce identity cards will be assumed not to be members of the community and will be charged with trespassing and disturbing the peace on private property and treated accordingly by the law.

After notification of suspension, or trespass in the case of non-community members, if there is not within five minutes a movement to cease and desist, students will be notified of expulsion from this community and the law will deal with them as non-students.

There seems to be a current myth that university members are not responsible to the law, and that somehow the law is the enemy, particularly those whom society has constituted to uphold and enforce the law. I would like to insist here that all of us are responsible to the duly constituted laws of this University community and to all of the laws of the land. There is no other guarantee of civilization versus the jungle or mob rule, here or elsewhere.

We can have a thousand resolutions as to what kind of a society we want, but when lawlessness is afoot, and all authority is flouted--faculty, administration and student--then we invoke the normal societal forces of law or we allow the university to die beneath our hapless and hopeless gaze. I have no intention of presiding over such a spectacle. Too many people have given too much of themselves and their lives to this University to let this happen here. Without being melodramatic, if this conviction makes this my last will and testament to Notre Dame, so be it.

Imagine the immediate, positive impact if the leaders of our "elite" colleges issued such a statement.

Imagine the impact if President Joe Biden made such a statement instead of having his "good people on both sides" moment that media outlets have chosen to ignore.

Imagine the impact if the editorial pages of The New York Times and other bastions of Leftist rhetoric made such a statement.

The profound failures of our colleges, our President, and many of the most prominent media outlets to condemn antisemitism and anti-Zionism is sobering, as is their failure to make a clear distinction between permissible free speech and impermissible violence.

Any Jewish person who is still clinging to "progressive" political views should very carefully note how quickly the public discourse shifted in "progressive" circles after Hamas' October 7, 2023 mass casualty terrorist attack against Israel; at most, Israel received a few days of tepid expressions of sympathy before the talking points became vile antisemitic and anti-Zionist outbursts, attacking not just specific Israeli policies but the right of Jewish people to live in peace and the basic right of Israel to exist. Israel is the only country in the world whose basic right to exist is questioned; no matter how many horrific things China, Iran, North Korea, and other totalitarian regimes do, no one questions that those nations have a right to exist. There are no mass protests on college campuses about China committing genocide or Iran's war mongering/sponsorship of terrorism or North Korea's human rights violations. 

The area extending from Morocco to Pakistan is a vast swath of Arab/Islamic fanaticism and totalitarianism. Israel, the only nation in the region that has free speech, equal rights, and legitimate elections, is unfairly rebuked while the real war crimes and real war criminals are ignored or even praised.

The fear and shame at the heart of antisemitism and anti-Zionism is breathtaking to behold. Israel's success in liberating herself from British colonialism and building a free and open society should be viewed as a model for other nations to emulate, but instead Israel is slandered while our political leaders, our educators, and our media members are either silent or complicit.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All contents Copyright (c) 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 David Friedman. All rights reserved.