By: Hugh Fitzgerald
The palpable decline in what we optimistically still call “higher education” was on display these last two weeks with campus demonstrations by supporters of Hamas, who in calling for “from the river to the sea/Palestine will be free” were demanding the disappearance of the only Jewish state, and its replacement by a twenty-third Arab one. Those demonstrations by students, and supported by some faculty members, exemplify the moral rot in academia, but there are many other sources of decay, including the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity mania and the campus czars who enforce it, the dumbing-down of courses, the admission of students and hiring of faculty based on criteria other than merit, the vast expansion of administrators that diverts funds from faculty, the rock climbing walls, latte bars, and drag shows that have nothing to do with serious education, the multitude of “grievance studies” courses, therapeutic studies classes and social activist degrees, and much more in this hideous and preposterous vein.. Victor Davis Hanson offers a coruscating criticism of American universities here.
The sheer madness that has gripped many elite universities since October 7 and the butchery, rape, torture, and mutilation of some 1,000 Israeli civilians [and 300 soldiers] by Hamas murderers have shocked the public at large.
Campus craziness is, of course, nothing new. But quite novel for campuses was the sudden jettisoning of prior campus pretenses. Universities have brazenly dropped their careful two-faced gymnastics to reveal at last–unapologetically, proudly, and defiantly–the moral decay that now characterizes American higher education.
Recent news stories have exposed this rot to the world, and will have grave repercussions for higher education in the next few years.
The Nazis once desecrated the tombstones of dead Jews. Our campuses have updated that hatred. Students now tear down pictures of Jewish captives kidnapped or murdered by Hamas. University presidents do not condemn the hate-filled rallies supporting the killing of Jews in Israel, even though, according to their own safety-first ideology and prior proclamations about systemic hatred, these rallies instill a “climate of fear” in some students.
An instructor at Stanford separated Jewish students from their belongings, ordered them to stand in the corner, boasted about denying the Holocaust, and singled them out for unhinged rantings. Screaming campus activists and professors openly support Hamas even after its brutal killing of hundreds of Israeli women, children, and infants. That for more than two weeks thousands of rockets—barrages initially designed to enhance the surprise mass murdering of October 7—daily continue to shower down upon Israeli cities is of zero concern to loud campus activists.
An even bolder Cornell history faculty [Russell Rickford] member bragged that he was “exhilarated” on news that Jews were butchered on October 7. A UC Davis professor [Jemma Decristo] threatened to go after the children of “Zionist journalists.” “Savages”, “excrement” and “pigs” are the adjective and nouns one professor [Mika Tosca] at the Art Institute of Chicago posted to describe Israelis.
At rallies and protests, hundreds shout about eliminating Israel altogether; students, faculty, and throngs in general occasionally wear masks or wrap their faces in keffiyehs, as if conceding that most would find anyone identifiably mouthing such advocacy despicable. In some sense, such campus haters have become the equivalent of antisemitic sheet-wearing Klansmen.
There was plenty of prior evidence to predict the hate-filled, bigoted, campus reaction to the mass murder of hundreds of Jews inside Israel. The ideology of “decolonization” that today condemns Israel, and the West generally, has had many equally rancid predecessors….
In short, colleges are now a bad deal—far too costly, too political, and too incompetent in fulfilling their mission to the country. They no longer can deliver on what they were created for, and they simply will not stop fueling things that are not just unnecessary, but downright injurious to the country, scary, and destructive.
Who wishes to continue with all that?
Victor Davis Hanson writes about our universities out of both anger and despair. What a falling off there has been, in the universities that were once, scarcely a half-century ago, still so full of promise, but have now become expensive centers of moral and intellectual decay. One welcome development has been the deep-pocketed alumni who have decided to close their checkbooks in response to the failure of university administrators to denounce the antisemitic demonstrations on campus, and the employers — prestigious law firms like Davis, Polk, and Wardwell, and Winston and Strawn — that have withdrawn job offers to students who took part in these ghastly pro-Hamas demonstrations, or expressed approval of Hamas on social media. Now alumni ought to withhold their donations to those universities for other reasons as well, including the administrators’ devotion to the unholy trinity of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which is nothing but Affirmative Action on steroids.