For decades, our elite institutions and media have treated free speech as increasingly dangerous.
As Alex Berenson highlights in an excellent summary of the situation, they have used their power to put topics off-limits, especially those that expose racial differences.
Like most evils, censorship metastasizes. Universities now police even the smallest offenses against minority or self-declared marginalized groups.
Last year, Harvard declared “misgendering” - that is, referring to transgender people by the pronouns of their actual birth gender - as a form of abuse.
The year before, Columbia had declared it a fireable offense.
This attitude - this “context,” to use a word heard frequently on Tuesday - is what makes Tuesday’s Congressional testimony by three presidents of elite American universities so shameful, fraught, and hypocritical.
At Harvard, "fatphobia" constitutes violence; but now, as Bari Weiss exclaims (Editor of The Free Press), "globalize the intifada" requires context.
Weiss summarizes the utter farce and hypocrisy on display this week in 240 seconds...
At Harvard, "fatphobia" constitutes violence.— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) December 7, 2023
But "globalize the intifada" requires context.
But, the question is - how did we get here?
Victor Davis Hanson's latest essay, "How Were The Universities Lost?" lays out the how and the why, and the fact that the Ivy league and their kindred so-called elite campuses may soon go the way of Disney and Bud Light...
After October 7, the public was shocked at what they saw and heard on America’s campuses.
Americans knew previously they were intolerant, leftwing, and increasingly non-meritocratic.
But immediately after October 7—and even before the response of the Israeli Defense Forces—the sheer student delight on news of the mass murdering of Israeli victims seemed akin more to 1930s Germany than contemporary America.
Indeed, not a day goes by when a university professor or student group has not spouted anti-Semitic hatred. Often, they threaten and attack Jewish students, or engage in mass demonstrations calling for the extinction of Israel.
Why and how did purportedly enlightened universities become incubators of such primordial hatred?
After the George Floyd riots, reparatory admissions—the effort to admit diverse students beyond their numbers in the general population—increased.
Elite universities like Stanford and Yale boasted that their so-called “white” incoming student numbers had plunged to between 20 and 40 precent, despite whites making up 68-70 percent of the general population.
The abolition of the SAT requirement, and often the comparative ranking of high school grade point averages, have ended the ancient and time-proven idea of meritocracy. Brilliant high school transcripts and test scores no longer warrant admissions to so-called elite schools.
One result was that the number of Jews has nosedived from 20-30 percent of Ivy League student bodies during the 1970s and 1980s to 10-15 percent.
Jewish students are also currently stereotyped as “white” and “privileged”—and thus considered as fair game on campus.
At the same time, the number of foreign students, especially from the oil-rich Middle East, has soared on campuses. Most are subsidized by their homeland governments. They pay the full, non-discounted tuition rates to cash-hungry universities.
Huge numbers of students have entered universities, who would not have been admitted by the very standards universities until recently claimed were vital to ensure their own competitiveness and prestige.
Consequently, they are no longer the guarantors of topflight undergraduates and professionals from their graduate programs.
Faculty are faced with new lose/lose/lose choices of either diminishing their course requirements, or inflating their grades, or facing charges by Diversity/Equity/Inclusion commissars of systematic bias in their grading— or all three combined.
The net result is that there are now thousands of students from abroad, especially from the Middle East, far fewer Jewish students, and student bodies who demand radical changes in faculty standards and course work to accommodate their unease with past standards of expected student achievement.
And, presto, an epidemic of anti-Semitism naturally followed.
In such a vacuum, advocacy “-studies” classes proliferated, along with faculty to teach them.
“Gender, black, Latino, feminist, Asian, Queer, trans, peace, environmental, and green”-studies courses demand far less from students, and arbitrarily select some as “oppressed” and others as “oppressors”. The former “victims” are then given a blank check to engage in racist and anti-Semitic behavior without consequences.
Proving to be politically correct in these deductive gut-courses rather than pressed to express oneself coherently, inductively, and analytically from a repertoire of fact-based-knowledge explains why the public witnesses faculty and students who are simultaneously both arrogant and ignorant.
At some universities “blacklists” circulate warning “marginalized” students which professors they should avoid who still cling to supposedly outdated standards regarding exam-taking, deadlines, and absences.
All these radical changes explain the current spectacle of angry students citing grievances, and poorly educated graduates who have had little course work in traditional history, literature, philosophy, logic, or the traditional sciences.
Universities and students have plenty of money to continue the weaponization of the university, given their enormous tax-free endowment income. Nearly $2-trillion in government-subsidized student loans are issued without accountability or reasonable demands that they be repaid in timely fashion.
Exceptions and exemptions are the bible of terrified and careerist administrators.
Faced with an epidemic of anti-Semitism, university administrators now claim they can do little to curb the hatred. But privately they know should the targets of similar hatred be instead blacks, gays, Latinos, or women, then they would expel the haters in a nanosecond.
What is the ultimate result of once elite campuses giving 70-80 percent of their students As, becoming hotbeds of dangerous anti-Semitism, and watered-down curricula that cannot turn out educated students?
The Ivy league and their kindred so-called elite campuses may soon go the way of Disney and Bud Light.
They think such a crash in their reputations is impossible given centuries of accustomed stature.
But the erosion is already occurring—and accelerating.
At the present rate, a Stanford law degree, a Harvard political science major, or a Yale social science BA will soon scare off employers and the general public at large.
These certificates will signify not proof of humility, knowledge, and decency, but rather undeserved self-importance, vacuousness, and fanaticism—and all to be avoided rather than courted.
* * *
The backlash after the hearings was massive enough to prompt back-pedaling from Harvard...
A Video Message from President Liz Magill pic.twitter.com/GlPE3QZU4P— Penn (@Penn) December 6, 2023
But, Penn alum Musk is ashamed...
I am a Penn alum and this is indeed shameful— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 7, 2023
And Harvard donor Bill Ackman is waking up to the 'woke' issue...
I learned from someone with first person knowledge of the @Harvard president search that the committee would not consider a candidate who did not meet the DEI office’s criteria.— Bill Ackman (@BillAckman) December 7, 2023
The same was likely true for other elite universities doing searches at the same time, creating an…
The hypocrisy is inescapable and infuriating.
Meanwhile, Harvard antisemitism adviser David Wolpe has resigned following Gay's "painful" hearing.
2/3— David Wolpe (@RabbiWolpe) December 7, 2023
However, the system at Harvard along with the ideology that grips far too many of the students and faculty, the ideology that works only along axes of oppression and places Jews as oppressors and therefore intrinsically evil, is itself evil. Ignoring Jewish suffering is…
3/3 Battling that combination of ideologies is the work of more than a committee or a single university. It is not going to be changed by hiring or firing a single person, or posting on X, or yelling at people who don’t post as you wish when you wish, as though posting is…— David Wolpe (@RabbiWolpe) December 7, 2023