The Wesel Word “But”
Do we need to thank Hamas? Although the savage terror group epitomizes the latest form of murderous, antisemitic brutality. In The Spectator, Roger Kimball wonders how, amid Hamas attacking young, old, innocents, a familiar moral perversion instantly came to the fore.
Without warning, Hamas attacked and murdered Israelis. Yet somehow the Israelis are to blame, or half to blame, or at least complicit in the slaughter.
Barack Obama gave a sterling performance in a much-shared article on Medium. Yes, we must lament the brutal attack by Hamas, quoth the former president. But… You know the script.
António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, sang a version of the same song when he warned that the attacks by Hamas didn’t occur “in a vacuum.”
Many colleges and universities dispensed with subtly, criticizes Mr. Kimball. Higher ed institutions dispensed with subtlety:
There, pro-Palestinian, anti-Jewish protests made headlines. Some thirty student organizations at Harvard dotted the campus with pro-Palestinian posters and manifestos.
At Cooper Union fifty Jewish students were barricaded into a room to protect them from rampaging protesters.
At Columbia University, Joseph Massad, a professor of modern Arab politics, joyfully described the Hamas massacre as “awesome.”
Students have been an element of campus moral idiocy, not for the first time. Think back to at least the 1960s, when students made common cause with the Viet Cong. This time, however, there may be differences.
Hamas, in its appeal to left-wing elements on college campuses, just might be performing a much-needed emunctory role. Major donors across the country, appalled by the spectacle of pro-Palestinian demonstrations by students and faculty, have reacted with outrage, disgust, and a conspicuous snapping-shut of their checkbooks.
Roger Kimball considered writing book – an opening sally in a campaign to recapture higher education from the twisted grip of the “Marxists, the deconstructionists, the feminists and racial-grievance mongers, the anti-humanists and cynical relativists of all description.”
No longer are tenured radicals students or junior professors. Now they are in the lofty heights of department heads, deans, provosts, and presidents.
Initially, Mr. Kimball thought that by appealing to trustees, parents, alumni, and other concerned groups, it would make a difference. No longer does he.
… it is extremely difficult to generate a sense of emergency strong enough that those groups will … take action, let alone maintain the sense of emergency long enough to have an effect.
These days many colleges and universities are so rich that they can afford to cock a snook at parents and alumni. Forget about Harvard and its $50 billion. Even many small colleges are sitting on huge fortunes. The money makes them largely unaccountable.
Losing financing may sting, but real change will come from widely shared social legitimacy that this revolution-by-major-donors may precipitate. Ultimately, this will lead to a diminution of higher ed’s most precious asset – Prestige.
Sensing something different this time in the revulsion against the pampered radical-chic outposts, Roger Kimball is hoping it marks the beginning of a long-overdue “sea change in how our society regards academia.”