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Sunday, April 9, 2017

The New Jacobins: Where Israel Is Involved, the Suppression of Campus Speech Is an Old Story

...Something is clearly amiss on North American campuses, and this recent spate of disrupted events has brought to the forefront a troubling phenomenon on campuses that supporters of Israel have been experiencing for more than a decade already. Anti-Israel campus activists have conducted an ongoing campaign to delegitimize and libel Israel, and their tactics include a concerted and blatant attempt to shut down dialogue and debate—anything that will help to “normalize” Zionism, permit pro-Israel views to be aired, or generate support for the Jewish state.

The marauding, virtue-signaling bullies who were successful in suppressing the speech of conservative speakers whose views they had predetermined could not even be uttered on campus share a common set of characteristics with the campus activists who have led the assault against Israel and Jewish students who support it: it is they, and they alone, who know what it acceptable speech, what ideas are appropriate and allowed, which groups are victims of oppression and should, therefore receive special accommodation for their behavior and speech, which views are progressive (and therefore virtuous) and which views are regressive (and therefore hateful), which causes are worthy of support and which are, because of their perceived moral defects, worthy of opprobrium.

Repeatedly told by faculty and administrators that they need and deserve “safe spaces” where their sensibilities will not be offended, crippled with preconceived progressive fantasies about a world without conflicts where all cultures are equal, these students have become ill-equipped to defend their intellectual positions and therefore do not wish to inconvenience themselves by having to defend their views. Feelings, not ideas, are what count; emotionality now trumps rationality.

Ideas which are contrary to these social justice warriors’ acceptable worldview are dismissed as contemptible—not even worthy of being debated—or are neutralized by designations which characterize it as hate speech because it is, depending on the victim groups attacked, racist, sexist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, or homophobic. So sure of their righteousness and ideology are they that they do not even try to hide their preconceived notions and evident bias against ideas they have decided are beyond the pale or unworthy of being given voice. One telling example was a controversy involving The McGill Daily and its editors’ astonishing published admission that it is that paper’s policy to not publish “pieces which promote a Zionist worldview, or any other ideology which we consider oppressive [emphasis added].” 
The notion that a vocal minority of self-important ideologues can determine what views may or may not be expressed on a particular campus is not only antithetical to the purpose of a university, but is vaguely fascistic by relinquishing power to a few to decide what can be said and what speech is allowed and what must be suppressed; it is what former Yale University president Bartlett Giamatti characterized as the “tyranny of group self-righteousness.”...

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