A Chilling Congressional Testimony
According to the Presidents of three major academic institutions, calling for the death of Jews does not constitute bullying or harassment.
Yesterday, America observed one of the most disturbing and chilling testimonies before Congress in its history. The Presidents of three leading academic institutions, Harvard, MIT, and UPenn, all stated that calling for the genocide of Jews does not violate any of their policies on bullying or harassment unless such speech turned into conduct or was directed at a specific person.
One has to wonder how any given Jew on such a college campus does not feel bullied or harassed when confronted by rhetoric that calls for their extermination. At that point, what purpose does a bullying and harassment policy serve? We live in a time where schools are placed on lockdown over a Facebook post that could be marginally construed as a threat of violence, but “unless the speech turns into conduct,” there is no cause for concern when students or professors call directly for the death of Jews?
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These responses would be disturbing enough if they weren’t also accompanied by the recent history of aggressive policing by college administrations of speech they deemed problematic. If college campuses were bastions of free speech absolutism, we could at least chalk up this failure to confront the most pernicious of anti-semitic rhetoric as consistent with a policy of overly broad academic freedom.
But that simply isn’t what we see on college campuses today. Misgendering a student can get a professor fired, problematic terms can get a student hauled in front of administrative officials, and even tweets commenting on political issues separate from official duties can place a professor on indefinite administrative leave. And these are only some of the myriad ways that the speech of students, professors, and guest speakers are aggressively policed on many college campuses today.
We are living in a time when the full administrative authority and power of a public university are brought to bear against “microaggressions,” but calls for “the intentional destruction of a people in whole or in part” are essentially shrugged at and considered non-problematic until it, apparently, culminates in actual violence against Jews.
Justin Stapley received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Utah Valley University, with emphases in political philosophy, public law, American history, and constitutional studies. He is the Founding and Executive Director of the Freemen Foundation as well as Editor in Chief of the Freemen News-Letter. @JustinWStapley
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