Israel’s tragedy should spark rebellion in our woke sick universities

Israel’s tragedy should spark rebellion in our woke sick universities. By Niall Ferguson.

The recent disgraceful responses to the attacks on Israel that we have seen, from US university campuses to the streets of London – not forgetting the streets of Sydney – have dramatically increased awareness that something is rotten in the state of higher education in the English-speaking world.

ome of us have been battling against the ideological takeover of academia for close to a decade. Each year, we have been getting better organised. But we have struggled to convince people in the real world just how bad things are. The past three weeks may finally have changed that. …

The idea that Israel should do nothing in response to this outrage — other than increase the flow of aid into Gaza — defies both human emotion and strategic sense. Only those wearing ideological blindfolds cannot see that.

1930s Stanford:

The most shocking episode occurred in a classroom just days after the attacks, when — according to student testimony in the San Francisco Chronicle — a lecturer blamed the conflict on Zionists, said that Hamas’s actions were “resistance”, asked Jewish students to raise their hands and then separated those students from their belongings, saying he was simulating what Jews were doing to Palestinians.

The lecturer, Ameer Hasan Loggins (who is in fact a graduate student in the African-American Studies department at UC Berkeley), then asked how many Jews died in the Holocaust.

When students answered with six million, Loggins retorted: “Yes. Only six million”, arguing that the number of victims of colonialism was larger. He proceeded to ask every student to say where their ancestors were from, labelling each one a “coloniser” or “colonised” depending on their answers. When one student said they were from Israel, the lecturer responded: “Oh, definitely a coloniser.”

Flourishing in academia:

If that strikes you as outrageous, you have clearly missed the fact such thinking is rife throughout the Anglosphere academy.

None of this should have come as a surprise, for it is the culmination of many years of infiltration of our universities by the radical leftist ideology sometimes known for short as “wokeism”. The reason such shorthand is necessary is that the academic left is a much more complex coalition nowadays than it was back in the 1930s, when Cambridge had its covert cadre of card-carrying Communists, or the 1980s, when Oxford snubbed Margaret Thatcher by refusing her an honorary degree. …

Like all cults and sects, the woke have their own idiosyncratic language and rituals. These include explicitly stating one’s “preferred pronouns” at every opportunity and acknowledging whenever possible that one is meeting on land expropriated from indigenous peoples. In marked contrast to conventional scientific understanding, race is an essential, unalterable attribute (you’re either Black, Indigenous and People of Colour or you’re incurably white), but gender is almost infinitely fluid. In each case, there is a hierarchy, determined mainly by the extent to which your assigned minority were “victimised” and “marginalised” by the white, cisgender colonisers. …

How did it come to this?

There are four reasons this confused ideology has established itself in so many universities.

First, an older generation of soggy liberal and social democratic professors could not resist appointing and promoting younger radicals, naively equating their illiberal outlook with their own youthful idealism.

Second, various policies of affirmative action — designed to increase the proportion of female and non-white students and teachers in universities — had the unintended consequence of reducing intellectual diversity.

Third, as universities institutionalised policies such as the promotion of equity, diversity and inclusion and the decolonisation of this or that curriculum, bureaucracies sprang up that were swiftly staffed by woke believers.

Finally, a coalition formed between woke students, professors and administrators, who discovered that there were almost no limits on the methods they could use to attack the surviving conservatives in their institutions. Anonymous letters of denunciation, cancellation campaigns on social media, the bearing of false witness, public mobbings, and extra-legal investigations — I have seen all of these techniques used against professors who dared to resist the woke cultural revolution. …

So wake up, wokies are a danger:

Up until this month, the response of many people who graduated from university in the 1980s or 90s has been something along these lines: “Well, universities are always left-leaning, aren’t they? And there’s always a minority of students who take ridiculous political positions. They’ll soon grow out of them, won’t they? After all, we did!”

This is the kind of complacency that has made it so easy for one university after another to be captured by the ideologues. The reality is that this isn’t the way universities were when I was an undergraduate. In those distant days, forty long years ago, academic freedom was at its zenith, as was intellectual diversity. More importantly, the people who ran universities did not regard themselves as political activists or social engineers.

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