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

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Israel at War—Academic Capture

As an ex-college professor (of computer engineering), I understand the dynamics of a university more thoroughly than most Americans. But my tenure as a professor happened decades ago and during the time that has passed, Universities have (in the main) morphed from liberal-left institutions of learning, to increasingly hard-left indoctrination centers. Non-STEM faculties have, over the decades, been purposely transformed into a collection of leftist ideologues. This modern faculty profile exhibits little, if any, diversity of thought and even less tolerance for opposing views on any of the mind-numbing leftist narratives that they present to their young and impressionable students.

The dynamic I've described has been on-going at major universities for decades, but it became painfully apparent with the rabid, campus anti-Semitism that so-easily took hold with 24 hours of the Hamas atrocities on October 7th. Originating solely from the hard left, students and their leftist faculty mentors were screaming threatening anti-Semitic tropes in a menacing display that would have made a neo-Nazi smile.

The left is anti-Semitic and has been for many years. It's sadly amusing to note that many Jews who have enthusiastically supported leftist ideology were gobsmacked by overt displays of Jew-hatred from once-revered institutions like Harvard, Yale, NYU, and Columbia.

Although the anti-Semitism is despicable and wrong, it is only the latest manifestation of a far bigger problem on American campuses. In an important op-ed, John Ellis writes:

America faces a formidable range of calamities: crime out of control, borders in chaos by design, children poorly educated while sexualized and politicized against parental opposition, unconstitutional censorship, a press that does government PR rather than oversight, our institutions and corporations debased in the name of “diversity, equity and inclusion”—and more. To these has been added an outbreak of virulent antisemitism.

Every one of these degradations can be traced wholly or in large part to a single source: the corruption of higher education by radical political activists.

Children’s test scores have plummeted because college education departments train teachers to prioritize “social justice” over education. Censorship started with one-party campuses shutting down conservative voices. The coddling of criminals originated with academia’s devotion to Michel Foucault’s idea that criminals are victims, not victimizers. The drive to separate children from their parents begins in longstanding campus contempt for the suburban home and nuclear family. Radicalized college journalism departments promote far-left advocacy. Open borders reflect pro-globalism and anti-nation state sentiment among radical professors. DEI started as a campus ruse to justify racial quotas. Campus antisemitism grew out of ideologies like “anticolonialism,” “anticapitalism” and “intersectionality.”

Never have college campuses exerted so great or so destructive an influence. Once an indispensable support of our advanced society, academia has become a cancer metastasizing through its vital organs. The radical left is the cause, most obviously through the one-party campuses having graduated an entire generation of young Americans indoctrinated with their ideas. 

As I have written in earlier posts in the "Israel at War" series, the left ruins just about everything it touches. As Ellis noted, it has ruined academia. It has crushed journalism and main stream media. It has broken the trust that we had in public health authorities and private medicine. It has damaged our military. It has exacerbated crime in cities and shattered our expectation of equal justice under the law. It has established voting policies that have reduced trust in the electoral process. It has crippled our economy by legislating massive debt. It has encouraged the grow of an overly large, centralized and generally incompetent government that is now acting in ways that threaten personal freedoms and dampen free speech. 

And worse, its adherents psychologically project the failings and intent of their ideology on their opponents. Hence, we hear about right-wing "threats to democracy" that are actually inherent in leftist thinking. We listen as leftists claim that their opponents are "authoritarian" as they mandate draconian policies across a wide range of their narratives. We watch as opponents are accused on "censorship" and "book banning" while the left shouts down speakers or shadow bans writers who offer opposing views. 

Ellis ends his op-ed with this statement:

The biggest threat to our future isn’t climate change, China or the national debt. It is the tyrannical grip that a hopelessly corrupt higher education now has on our national life. If we don’t stop it now, it will eventually destroy the most successful society in world history.  

Although this may seem overwrought, it is close to accurate. My only modification would be the following change:

The biggest threat to our future isn’t climate change, China or the national debt. It is the tyrannical grip that hard-left ideology now has on our national life. If we don’t stop it now, it will eventually destroy the most successful society in world history.


And ... for those who think that John Ellis is being hyperbolic in his commentary, quoted in the body of this post, there's this from the Washington Free Beacon ... presented without further comment:


Oliver Wiseman comments on a congressional hearing on anti-Semitism in which the presidents of three elite universities were questioned:

Tuesday’s [December 6th] congressional hearing on campus antisemitism saw the presidents of Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, and MIT opt for exactly the kind of equivocation and double standards that have defined elite schools’ responses to hateful speech directed at Jews on their campuses since October 7. 

In one particularly astonishing turn, Rep. Elise Stefanik asked the university chiefs whether calling for the genocide of Jews breached their schools’ codes of conduct. Not a single one of them responded with a yes.

... It’d be one thing if these college leaders were free speech hard-liners who consistently applied this principle toward all. But that, of course, is not the case. Take Harvard president Claudine Gay, who said yesterday that when it comes to calls for the genocide of the Jews, context is everything ...  (For a fuller look at the hypocrisy, we recommend this piece by the Washington Free Beacon’s Aaron Sibarium.) 

When Gay could summon the courage to denounce antisemitism, she said it was “a symptom of ignorance” and that “the cure is knowledge.” 

It’s a nice thought, but the truth is more complicated—and more unsettling. After all, some of the most credentialed kids in the country have been taking part in hateful protests, calling for the freedom of Palestine “from the river to the sea.”

... Virtue, conscience, humility. These were all in short supply at yesterday’s hearing.

But there was a smug condescension that pervaded their remarks, typical of morally vacuous leftists who have all benefited from identity politics and think they're the smartest people in the room. They aren't.

But they are hypocrites, and worse, supporters of an indoctrination machine that has created the very anti-Semitic sentiment that they profess to be so, so concerned about.