Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Education & The Workforce held a hearing titled “Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism.” Although we know antisemitism has always existed, it has reared its ugly head unlike any other time in recent decades. It is alarming to see that time and time again since the Hamas terrorist attack of October 7, 2023, Jewish students on college campuses across the country have been ambushed, screamed at, and threatened. Take, for example, Eyal Yakoby, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) who shared at a press conference hosted by Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) that he, alongside other Jewish students, had to hide in their campus bedrooms as professors and fellow students marched and defaced school property chanting for the genocide of Jews. Drexel University, UPenn’s neighboring university, President John Fry quickly issued a denouncement of the march while UPenn’s President said nothing. What Eyal faces on his campus are despicable phrases like, “you’re a dirty little Jew, you deserve to die” and “90% of pigs are gas chambered,” but that is apparently not concerning to the UPenn administration as they peddle the idea of “free speech.”
The hearing’s witnesses included Harvard University President Dr. Claudine Gay, University of Pennsylvania President Ms. Liz Magill, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) President Dr. Sally Kornbluth, and American University Professor of Jewish Studies Dr. Pamela Nadell. One of the more chilling moments of the hearing came when Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-New York) asked each university president explicitly whether the calling of the genocide of Jews is considered bullying and harassment according to their codes of conduct. Each Ivy League president refused to say “yes,” instead answering with flowery language such as, “It can be depending on the context.” Rep. Stefanik provided Dr. Gay and Ms. Magill several opportunities to simply say, “yes,” but they could not do it. Ms. Magill went on to say that it would only be taken as a serious matter if the speech turned into conduct. Rep. Stefanik rightly responded by asking the next obvious question: does that mean “conduct by committing the act of genocide” against an entire people group? Unfortunately, Ms. Magill still could not answer the question honestly.
The truth is UPenn, Harvard, and MIT do not believe in free speech. They only believe in their version of free speech when it comes to issues that they choose to tolerate. They do not believe in true free speech as one can clearly see how they treat professors who simply believe that affirmative action is wrong, that a boy cannot be a girl, or that abortion is wrong. Those beliefs will get a professor fired, or at the least in hot water with the school’s administration. Every university president is happy to unequivocally shun these ideas from ever stepping foot on their campus and will quickly post statements that these ideas are harmful, but when students are calling for the mass genocide of an entire people group there is a resounding silence.
So how did we get here? Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) rightly questioned Dr. Gay, pointing out that Harvard University accepts segregation when it is appropriate in their eyes, like their Hispanic and Black-only graduations. Progressive ideology splits people into camps based on their skin color, gender ideology, and whatever other identity suits their ends. It pits student against student simply based on their skin color, regardless of the objective truth. That is what has happened here – no matter that Hamas quit the ceasefire by ambushing Israel’s border, killing 1,200 people or that in Hamas’ own founding document calls for the killing of the Jewish people. In the mind of progressive ideology, the Palestinians can do no wrong and the Jews are the ones to blame. They pit the whole conflict into their myopic view of oppressor-oppressed categories they envision. Unfortunately, this cancerous ideology will continue to spread as long as university presidents, like those testifying in Congress this week, are steering the ship.