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Rufo’s army are on their way


Pamela Paul, who has written column after column after indistinguishable column decrying alleged threats to free speech on campus, has turned her attention to the subject again. The administration at Columbia doing the bidding of cynical reactionary politicians calling for the coercive force of the state to violently disperse peaceful protestors, suspend students, and deny them the room and board they’ve paid for effective immediately. I wonder how the Times’s designated campus free speech columnist will react? You can probably see where this is going:

There’s plenty to condemn on today’s college campuses, including the behavior of both administrations and students. So it’s a rare pleasure to get a chance to applaud the president of a university, in this case Minouche Shafik of Columbia, who on Thursday called in the police to remove student protesters who have camped out on campus in violation of university policy.

I happened to be on campus Wednesday when this latest wave of protests was getting started. Students marched around outdoors in virtue-signaling masks yelling “N.Y.P.D., K.K.K.!” along with the usual anti-Israel slogans. For this passer-by, the fury and self-righteous sentiment on display was chilling. But for Jewish students on campus, for supporters of Israel or for anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the simplistic good-versus-evil narrative of the anti-settler-colonialism crowd, it must be unimaginably painful. Many of them are at the university to learn in a safe and tolerant environment.

As for tolerance? One can’t help but wonder, no matter what one’s opinion of Israel, or its despicable government under Benjamin Netanyahu or the particulars of its military response, why one rarely hears pro-Palestinian demonstrators condemn the terrorist organization Hamas, which has controlled Gaza without an election since 2006. Or why those who wish Israel’s military campaign in Gaza to end don’t likewise urge Hamas to end the fighting, which it could easily do by freeing the hostages it took during its Oct. 7 rampage.

Note that she cannot identify any genuine security threat or harassment or any other reason that could even begin to justify such a draconian response — she loves what the Columbia admin is doing literally because she believes that some special snowflakes need a safe space from speech they don’t want to hear. This title is, I’m afraid, real:

To get this rancid taste out of my mouth, Moira Donegan does a good job of contextualizing the very obviously viewpoint-based attack on the student protestors and the embarrassing performance of Columbia’s admin before Congress:

The students sat on the ground and sang as police in riot gear approached them. Eventually, more than 100 of them would be arrested; their tents, protest signs and Palestinian flags were gathered into trash bags by the police and thrown away. One video showed officers and university maintenance workers destroying food that had been donated to the encampment, making sure it would be inedible. According to student journalists reporting from WKCR, Columbia University’s student radio station, one arrested student protester asked the police to be allowed to go to their dorm to collect medication and was denied; as a result, they went into shock. The arrested students were charged with “trespassing” on the campus that they are charged more than $60,000 a year to attend.

The day before her administration asked the New York police department to storm their campus and arrest their students, Minouche Shafik, the Columbia University president, testified before Congress, saying that she wanted her university to be a safe and welcoming environment for everyone. But Shafik, who was called to testify after missing a hearing last year where the presidents of Penn and Harvard were each grilled on their insufficient hostility to pro-Palestinian students, appeared eager to please the Republican-controlled committee. The Penn and Harvard presidents who had testified each lost their jobs soon thereafter; Shafik clearly entered the hearing room determined to keep her own.

To that end, she made only tepid defenses of academic freedom, instead favoring wholehearted condemnations of the protesters, assents to bad-faith mischaracterizations of the students as antisemitic and genocidal, and public, apparently on-the-spot, personnel decisions that removed some pro-Palestinian faculty and staff from their positions. The hearing took on a fevered, impassioned tenor that at times verged into the outright weird. Rick Allen, a Georgia representative, asked her whether she wanted Columbia University to be “cursed by God”. Shafik, evidently taking this prospect seriously, replied that she didn’t.

The police raid against Columbia students that followed the next day can be seen as an extension of the policy of appeasement and pre-emptive compliance with the anti-Palestinian, anti-student Republican right that Shafik adopted in her testimony. In its war on education and ostentatious displays of grievance against “woke” universities, the far right has made itself hostile to academic freedom, peaceful protest and vast swaths of progressive speech. In her willingness to unleash state violence against student protesters, Shafik proved herself their willing ally. It is worth stating plainly what happened at Columbia: the raid was nothing less than the product of collusion between a university administration and rightwing politicians to suppress politically disfavored speech.

This entire sequence of events is revolting, and there’s no question which Ivy League administrators actually deserve to lose their jobs.

…I’m just gonna leave this here.

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