The Democratic Party’s “Structural Anti-Semites”

Today there is much talk on the political left about “structural racism,” a kind of discrimination or bigotry which is never overt and rarely intentional, but somehow built into the system. The idea sometimes illuminates real ills, and at other times simply obscures and distorts. But a similar concept could prove useful in describing the way certain progressives speak about Israel, argues Jonah Goldberg:

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was appalled by President Biden’s statement that Israel has a right to self-defense. I don’t think Ocasio-Cortez is an anti-Semite, but I do think she’s perpetuating structural anti-Semitism. When she says it’s simplistic to say that Israel has a right to defend itself, she’s clearly right in a sense. It is simple: Israel has a right to defend itself.

But what she and countless others are arguing is that Israel has no right to act like a normal country. You don’t have to hate Jews to believe that the only Jewish country in the world is also the only country in the world that can’t behave like a normal country and defend its citizens. But the policy that flows from that argument is, in important ways, anti-Semitic—even if it isn’t intended as such.

That, by the way, is what Israel wants to be—a normal country. But it’s stuck in an abnormal predicament. . . . [W]hen people point to the fact that Israel is militarily more powerful than its neighbors, they make it sound like this is somehow unfair. On several occasions, Israel’s neighbors have declared war on Israel with the intention of destroying it. Those countries could afford to lose those wars—and they did—but Israel couldn’t, because to lose once is to lose for all time. If you know everybody in your neighborhood wants to kill you, you’re not the bad guy for being better armed than your neighbors.

And if you always start with assumption that the Israelis are wrong, or if you always end with that conclusion regardless of the facts, you may not be anti-Semitic, but you’re on the side of structural anti-Semitism.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Anti-Semitism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Progressivism

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus