America’s Universities Reap What They Have Sown
America’s elite institutions are shuddering from the impact of the outbursts of anti-Semitism on their campuses. Their spasms of panic are animated less by the Israel-hatred and hostility to Jews emanating from their students than by something even atheist materialist postmoderns find terrifying: loss of income.
From Harvard to Berkeley, universities long-reputed to be the nation’s — and often the world’s — finest have proven to be cauldrons of seething bigotry. But it’s bigotry of a specific kind, aimed at Jews and the State of Israel.
This is not new; it’s been simmering for years. As journalist Seth Mandel reports, many universities’ “diversity, equity, and inclusion” agenda is substantially anti-Semitic. Numerous incidents of anti-Semitism have been well-documented, and the U.S. Department of Education currently is reviewing reports of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish behavior — even by some professors — at the City University of New York and its law school, UCLA, U.C. Berkeley, George Washington University, the University of Vermont, the State University of New York at New Paltz, and the University of Illinois.
Since Hamas launched its atrocity-laden attack on Israel on October 7, there have been outbursts of unrestrained Israel hatred at some of our country’s most storied places of higher education. Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania are among the schools at the center of the storm, but not just because so many of their students have signed odious petitions and blamed Israel for Hamas’s morally squalid assault.
These expressions of anti-Semitism have led many previously generous donors to pull their pledged donations. For example, former U.S. Ambassador to China John Huntsman has written to the president of the University of Pennsylvania that the institution is “deeply adrift in ways that make it almost unrecognizable.” Huntsman, a Penn alum and billionaire whose family has long supported the school, wrote that “the University’s silence in the face of reprehensible and historic Hamas evil against the people of Israel (when the only response should be outright condemnation) is a new low.”
Financier Kenneth Griffin, who “has donated more than half a billion dollars to Harvard University,” placed a call to the school’s president expressing dismay that Harvard had been so tepid in response to a public letter produced by 30 student groups blaming Israel for Hamas’s attacks. “Asked if his hedge fund Citadel would hire the head of a student group that signed the Harvard letter, his answer was an unequivocal no. ‘Unforgivable,’ he said.” Griffin then asked, “How do you end up in such a twisted place?”
So, with money on the line, university leaders are now almost falling over themselves condemning Hamas and its brutality. Better late than never. But there’s a larger issue at stake.
For decades, America’s top colleges and universities have become home to far-left academics who denigrate America’s founding, its history, and its basic principles. The United States is cast as a global villain and portrayed as little more than politically bankrupt and racially and economically oppressive. This is not about an honest accounting of the nation’s failures but an almost exclusive emphasis on her faults, omitting all that is noble in our past and worth upholding in the present.
So with Israel: According to some of America’s most talented young people, a little country founded after a mid-century genocide of six million Jews, occupying about 8% of the land mass of the Middle East, surrounded by Islamists for whom nothing short of Israel’s utter destruction will be enough, is at fault for the attacks and attempted conquest to which it so often has been subject. This mentality is, in part, the fruit of the propaganda to which they have been subject in the name of education. And fearful of offending those who scream the loudest, university leaders have cowered upon hearing such “woke” shibboleths as (so-called) justice, “triggering,” and so forth.
Even more, the unwillingness of college heads to articulate clear moral rights and wrongs stems from their own denial of objective, knowable, and unchanging truth, truth revealed by the Creator, Who our Declaration of Independence heralds as the author of our inherent rights. So, why is it unsurprising that impressionable students, many if not most raised in religiously vacuous homes and taught in faith-hostile schools, would gravitate to the grimy alleyways of anti-Semitism? That, Mr. Griffin, is why we are now in “such a twisted place.”
Donors to prestigious institutions are shocked by what they are seeing. Where have they been? And what do they expect? As C.S. Lewis wrote prophetically in “The Abolition of Man,” “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
Rob Schwarzwalder, Ph.D., is Senior Lecturer in Regent University's Honors College.