The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Israel at War—Institutional Capture

In dozens of posts over the years, I've argued that the Left has essentially taken over many of the world's 'influencers' (a.k.a. institutions)—the media (social and legacy), the federal bureaucracy (a.k.a, the deep state), major corporations (who bend a knee to the latest progressive cause du jour, the entertainment industry (that loves to portray right-wing bad guys, but never, ever portrays a left-wing villians) and worst of all, colleges and universities (it's not unusual to have 90+ percent of faculty and administration as registered Democrats). Most of my progressive friends saw absolutely nothing wrong with any of this, suggesting that the "smart" people's money was on the left, and besides, "social justice" and all that.

Until this past week.

Bari Weiss, senior editor of one of the few liberal media sources that is unbiased and professional, states:

Since the beginning of The Free Press, we have paid particular attention to the story of institutional capture—specifically, to the story of how America’s great institutions of higher education, charged with educating the country’s future leaders, have been taken hostage by an illiberal ideology that has replaced the pursuit of truth with moral confusion and knee-jerk social justice activism.
In the days since Hamas began its war on Israel, we have seen that ideology in full blossom as students have cheered for terrorists on the quad and administrators have tried, for the first time, to stay out of it.

"Staying out of it" is NOT something that America's universities and colleges have done over the past few years. Within hours of the police-killing of a recidivist, drug-addicted criminal, George Floyd, America's universities were among many institutions that railed against "systemic racism" in all police departments. Strong statements from University presidents condemned not only racism but a country that supported it "systemically." Within days, they joined the extreme left and their legions of social justice warriors who advocated defunding the police. And when those same leftist groups rioted in cities across the United States in the summer of 2020, destroying billions in property and murdering at least 20 innocent people, it was the students and administrators at America's universities who tried to justify their rampage as an "understandable response to systemic racism." Those same elite universities established and funded institutes for leftist radicals (think: Ibram Kendi's anti-racism center at Boston University) that are now under investigation for corruption and inappropriate budget expenditures. 

So ... when the terror-group Hamas murdered and raped over 1,200 Israelis (men, women, children, infants), committing atrocities that were Nazi-like in their brutality, it was expected that the social justice warriors and University administrators would not stay silent and condemn the Islamists outright.

Ha, ha, just kidding.

No one who understands what has happened at American universities over the past few decades expected that. Instead we got exactly what we did expect—historically illiterate and morally vacuous student activists who reveled in an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic orgy of hate, and University presidents who remained eerily silent or at best, issued smarmy, non committal statements of "concern" for both sides. Both sides!

Jacob Savage writes:

... when Hamas brutally murdered babies, raped women, and took the disabled as hostages, it was business as usual, at least on America’s college campuses. Silence from the universities; cruel and maximalist rhetoric from left-wing student groups.

But then something weird happened. People started to say no.

It began with Bill Ackman, the hedge fund billionaire, who had been doomscrolling since news of the attacks first broke. On Tuesday, he came across an open letter, signed by over thirty student groups from Harvard—his alma mater—which blamed Israelis for their own murders.

“We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence,” the Harvard statement read. “The apartheid regime is the only one to blame.”

Ackman and his friends exchanged incredulous texts.

“I have been asked by a number of CEOs if @harvard would release a list of the members of each of the Harvard organizations that have issued the letter assigning sole responsibility for Hamas’ heinous acts to Israel, so as to insure that none of us inadvertently hire any of their members,” Ackman tweeted. “If, in fact, their members support the letter they have released, the names of the signatories should be made public so their views are publicly known.”

A dozen CEOs quickly joined Ackman.
Billionaire hedge fund managers are hated at universities, except when they open their capitalist checkbooks to fund the very programs that hate them. Ackman's public position is a profile in courage, something that very few University presidents have the morality to emulate.

After the CEOs wanted their names, the social justice snowflakes panicked and whined, arguing that now they were being persecuted as they persecuted Jews with glee. Savage writes:

There’s more than a little schadenfreude in watching would-be corporate lawyers realize that they do not, in fact, enjoy the Mandate of Heaven. All it took was a single rescinded job offer [for an NYU law student who was pro-Hamas] to reveal America’s pitchfork-wielding socialists as the careerist weasels they always were.
Weasels should take offense at the metaphor.

The good news is it didn't stop with Ackman. Major donors and trustees at elite universities have announced that they are closing their checkbooks until some degree of balance (and sanity) is restored.

I give generously (I am not a major donor by any measure) to the engineering school at UConn, but the "smarmy, non committal statement" of UConn's acting president [1], along with the uncontested, anti-Israel editorial in the campus newspaper, along with the predictable pro-palestinian demonstrations on campus have (to use one of the left's favorite words) "triggered" me. I view this actions as (another favorite word) a series of "microagressions." And since the Left's own set of New Rules suggests that I must react, I will follow the lead of donors across the country who have closed their checkbooks. The monies I would have donated to UConn will be added instead to donations already given to help the Israeli victims of Hamas's atrocities. 


[1] From UConn's President Redenka Maric's statement, which is anything but a direct and unequivocal condemnation of Nazi-like atrocities perpetrated by a Jew-hating terror group that currently governs Gaza:

"... we condemn terrorism in all forms ..." 

stated in the passive voice without an adjective identifying who the perpetrator of this terrorism was, there is a purposeful implication that 'sophisticated' thinkers might view Israel's reaction to Hamas' atrocities as 'terror' as well, or

"We have experienced a frightening last three days observing deep human suffering on television and social media. Our thoughts are with all those impacted in the wake of this outburst of extreme violence and human tragedy."

Note that Maric does NOT say, "... all those Israelis impacted ... BTW, I'll bet it didn't take three days for UConn's President to react to George Floyd's murder.

She makes no comment on the offensive positions taken during public protests by pro-palestinian UCONN students—not so much as the standard: 'their statements are theirs alone and do NOT represent the position of UConn or the majority of its students, faculty or alumni.'

I suspect that Maric subscribes to the academic belief, held by dozens if not hundreds of academic administrators, that strong condemnation of an atrocity is intellectually unsophisticated and might offend groups that are "oppressed." Therefore, a mealy mouthed statement that is open to wide interpretation exhibits just the right "inoffensive" tone. Eccch.