Proof that Something Is Seriously Amiss in America’s Universities
According to news reports, ones on TV news network prime time programs, showing three presidents of major Ivy League universities speaking at a congressional hearing, something is terribly amiss in American universities.
A congresswoman asked the three female presidents of major universities whether calling for genocide of Jews by employees or students constitutes free speech or whether such should be grounds for firing or expulsion. The three presidents repeatedly would not give clear answers.
Now, these university presidents are what most people would call “left-leaning.” Not one of them is known to be conservative in any common, contemporary sense of the word.
A top scholar of religions who I have met and highly respect (he is highly respected by most people in that field of study) was essentially fired (barred from attending faculty meetings) because he dared to say publicly that a particular sensitivity training event held by the university was a waste of time.
My point is that many colleges and universities have very strict speech codes; limitless free speech is NOT the norm on most American college and university campuses. So, naturally, I was shocked at these three presidents’ reticence to answer the clear question about speech advocating genocide—on their campuses.
Anti-semitism is once again rearing its ugly head even in America. I thought we “civilized” people had moved beyond that. Apparently we have not. And, apparently, it is questionable how civilized we are.
One of those three universities responded to protests that there is no plan to replace her as president of the university. The protests were attended by both Jewish and non-Jewish students and faculty. Had I been there, I would have joined them.
Anti-semitism is a social disease and a psychological-spiritual disorder, but one for which people are responsible. Institutions and organizations of all kind should ban it from their campuses and offices and expel or fire people who, for example, on social media, advocate persecution or worse of any group just because of their religion or ethnicity.
Naively, I thought that was already the norm in American academia! I was shocked to see and hear these three universities presidents say it isn’t, in the name of “free speech.” That is simply stupid. We all know that yelling “fire!” In a crowded theater when there is no fire is not “free speech.” Advocating genocide shouldn’t be either. In fact, issuing threats against specific individuals or groups can be punishable by law. I know this because I once had a student who, after leaving the college where I taught, came back on campus and said to an African-American professor “We intend to eradicate you.” By “you” he clearly mean black people, or at least activists for black rights. His threat was overheard, he was arrested, he was jailed and sent to prison.
Why in the world would three presidents of major American universities be reluctant to say that advocating genocide on campus or by employees or students even off campus constitutes grounds for dismissal? Why would they suggest that it constitutes free speech? This is so absurd as to prove that something is seriously amiss within many American academic institutions.
The only reason I can think of, and I don’t know this for a fact, is that all three presidents know there are powerful donors and/or regents of their universities who are anti-Semitic. I do not think they are themselves anti-Semitic. But, if I am right, cowing before anti-Semitic (or other hateful) people with money and power is wrong and if you have to do it, it’s better to resign and go do something else. That is what I did at a university where I served on the faculty for two years and where the president tolerated chapel speakers who spouted hateful words against disabled people because they allegedly lacked faith to be healed. He even chided a professor who dared to contradict the chapel speaker when the speaker asked the audience “Well, am I right?” The professor dared to shout “No!” He was called on the carpet by the president.
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