When the Authorities Tell You to Dissent

When the Authorities Tell You to Dissent, by Zachary Smith.

The University of Melbourne advertises itself as Australia’s best university — the first and only member of the Australian Ivy League. …

Naturally, I was pleased and even proud to have been accepted into the University of Melbourne’s 2017 Master of Journalism program. I believed, without really thinking about it, that I was in for a challenging year and a half at a school far more rigorous than the one from which I received my baccalaureate. ((The University of Oklahoma… )…

The first indication I received that something had gone awry at Australia’s best university was in a criminology class titled “Violence, Trauma, and Reconciliation.” …

The instructor, Dr. Juliet Rogers, devoted a lecture to female genital mutilation — a natural enough topic for a class on trauma. In Rogers’s view, however, the true source of trauma was not the practice of FGM itself, but the “violence” of anti-FGM laws. After all, Western societies pressure women into body modification in the form of ear piercings — so who are we to pass judgment on those who practice clitorectomies and infibulations on children? And isn’t it true that legislators’ supposed concern with FGM is actually motivated by “Islamophobia”?

Another peculiar class was Terror, Law, and War, ostensibly a survey of legal and military responses to terrorism. In practice, the class focused almost exclusively on American, European, and Israeli misbehavior, and on the perceived ridiculousness of Australian anti-terrorism measures. Islamist terrorism was left unconsidered except as a hallucination of xenophobic Westerners. As if to drive the point home, one presentation on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict referred to Palestinian suicide bombings as “terrorism,” in scare quotes. …

We spent a period discussing a televised interview with Wassim Doureihi, spokesman for the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. … The subsequent class discussion became something like a rally: we unanimously acclaimed Doureihi’s dignity and courage and took turns mocking Alberici’s hypocrisy and ill-concealed racism. …. Some of the students who rose to voice their support for Doureihi were so agitated that their voices shook. Somehow, throughout this bacchanal of self-righteousness, the fact that Hizb ut-Tahrir is an explicitly anti-democratic organization that supports the killing of apostates and whose leaders describe Jews as “the most evil creatures of Allah” escaped mention. Evidently, one can’t take sides between liberalism and totalitarianism without knowing the pigmentations of those involved. …

To hear Australia’s most privileged youth praise a theocrat like Doureihi was unsettling, but classes equally often took a turn for the comical. On one occasion, Rogers interrupted a Violence, Trauma and Reconciliation lecture to tell us about Lego’s “criminal” figure … the criminal, you see, is depicted with visible chest hair. This chest hair is a coded indication that the criminal is nonwhite, thereby implying that people of color are criminals and terrorists.

Students were always instructed to question their assumptions rather than acquiescing mindlessly to the status quo. At the University of Melbourne, however, the assumption that racial identification is of paramount significance, that Western societies are uniquely malignant and oppressive, that Islamist theocrats are victims and not perpetrators, et cetera, is the status quo. What does it signify when the authorities tell you to dissent? …

During one and a half years attending journalism classes, I was exposed to surprisingly little information on the actual craft of journalism. …

I graduated in December 2018, amidst rallies against “fascism on campus.” (Given that, in 18 months on campus, I encountered no fascists, these rallies seem to have been very effective.) …

Was pursuing a degree at Australia’s top university a waste of time? Not necessarily. The name of an institution whose superiority is supported by so many statistics surely helps beautify my résumé. And I was granted the chance to dip into a strange emerging culture, one whose existence I probably would not have accepted if I hadn’t seen it for myself.

Obviously indoctrination, not education.