18 Comments

I think that this is well put, balance, and correct in its conclusion. (Need one add, it’s about those big donor checks. Losing those is a university president’s nightmare.) The protesters have been exceptionally well organized on the whole. I would only wish for less self-righteousness on all sides. Sartre had his myopia but he made an important point : to engage in politics is to have dirty hands. Moreover, to shun politics is also to act politically. These days, everyone wants to be on the side of the angles.

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I think you got it right. The strongest argument against the Columbia protest I’ve seen is John McWhorter complaining that the loud chanting made it impossible to conduct a class in a building adjacent to the tented lawn; but if the administration made any attempt to get the demonstrators to manage the noise level, I haven’t heard of it.

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It is funny, I remember during all the arguments about the Harper's letter how I'd ask my friends why they thought Noam Chomsky and Cornel West signed it. Chomsky and West remembered when these censorship / cancellation debates were all about Israel, with critics of Israel being accused of anti-semitism. Now we seem to have come full circle, some of the letter's signatories are behaving in a predictably hypocritical way but the (perfectly banal) principles it expresses remain true.

"Suck it up" is exactly the right thing to say.

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Excellent article!

During the Vietnam War the media said the same crap about student anti war protesters.

Roll on Columbia genocide protesters!

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Thanks Ross for pulling some threads together for this piece.

Its almost as though you were thinking things through and this story was somewhat of a medium for the ideas.

I was told that my favorite football play was get the quarterback.

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They called the police? It wasn’t but 15 minutes ago they wanted to defund and abolish the police.

What happened?

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author

I am struck by how quickly administrations went from embracing BLM to cracking down on Palestine protests

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It’s incredible to watch. I have no idea what they stand for.

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Having a nonacademic corporatist president in the pincers of the certifiably evil Elise Stefanik surely panicked said corporatist president into calling in the cops. (Thus spurring a ring of faculty and others with functional swipe cards for the main campus—unlike the overgrown B School baby Shai Davidai—to offer support to the campers , and mostly to support the demand forthe pres's resignation for cowardince under fire and of course denigrating faculty governance.)

It would be nice if the media would pay attention to whether the physical attacks (as few as they are) and the hate speech were occurring on the street or on campus, but that seems unlikely to occur. These Columbia protesters have taken up the Occupy Strategy of camping--as opposed to the Vietnam era actions of literally occupying, and shutting down, campus buildings-- and seem like a gentle, peaceful lot. (Of course the cops in 68 were astoundingly brutal in clearing out the protesters, but I doubt they could get away with that these days.) But I'm sure they don't mind having discussions with their opponents/ counterprotesters.

If you want to follow on-the-spot reporting, you can tune in to WKCR which has constant updates frmo student reporters interspersed with their regular programming.

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*cowardice*; *from*

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If the notion of Existentialism as a corrective of political smugness resonates with you, I recommend Louis Menand’s intellectual history of 1945-65: The Free World. He stops before the full idiocies of the “60s”; but is surely not ignorant of them. From my limited perspective I described the heights and depths of the 60s “movement” in Remembering the Student-G. I. Antiwar Movement.

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I struggled with this article, but I do admit there is some force to your argument. I tend to be open to bans (in private institutions) against calls for violence against groups of people on basis of their identity, but aside from extremely obvious cases this is a nebulous category of speech and could muffle substantive criticism of Israel (or Palestine).

I do think that partisans of the left and right have abandoned the enlightenment belief in intellectual contestation as a mechanism for coming upon the truth. As such, not many people believe in free speech as a virtue in and of itself. Instead it is cynically advocated for or against depending on whether the speech is favorable or disfavorable to your cause. Which makes much political discourse feel like a war of all against all.

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Every time I read of a pro Palestinian protest, I can't help but think 'where were you for the Rohingya?'. You might say to me, fairly, that these are two very different situations, but if someone feels it's their moral duty to oppose civilian slaughter then it's their moral duty to oppose all civilian slaughter.

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It's a fair point, but one that could be applied to almost anything. No one shows up for the Uyghurs. They should! I think the argument would be the U.S. can influence the outcome in Gaza.

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Apr 24·edited Apr 24

It's fair to call on people to condemn ethnic cleansing in any form, but as you say, the differences are stark and call for very different responses/actions. The US government is actively providing weapons, ammunition, positive/propagandistic PR, and diplomatic support that materially enables Israel's continued civilian slaughter. Nothing similar is happening in Myanmar, and state officials have even been honest and direct about calling it genocide, unlike in Israel. There simply isn't a lever there for protestors to pull in the same way.

You can think people should protest for the government to do more to intervene in Myanmar, but stopping ongoing, material support for an ethnic cleansing seems like a much more immediate and pressing moral imperative to me (and most others) than encouraging active intervention in another conflict, especially when the US's record of intervention in military conflicts from the 50s on is pretty uniformly atrocious.

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Thank you for your reply.

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Of course!

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I do agree that the symbolic importance that the whole wide world gives to this conflict is disproportionate and helps neither side.

Javier Milei's fascination with Israel and Judaism is downright creepy, and I hate the fact that he is turning "do you like Jews" into a left-right cultural divider in Argentina. But what do you expect will happen if pro-Israel Argentines call people like Pope Francis (who co-authored a book with a prominent Argentine rabbi) anti-Semitic for supporting a ceasefire?

In the USA matters are different because our political and military ties with Israel are so tight.

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