I've resigned my position on the Board of Trustees at the University of Pennsylvania. While one might say I was not technically a member of this board, I feel that taking a stand in principle is far greater than any adherence to reality. That is my truth.— Eddy Elfenbein (@EddyElfenbein) December 9, 2023
From the New York Times news section
Ms. Magill, who had been in her post since last year, stepped down four days after testifying before Congress.
… Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, said that students had chanted support for intifada, an Arabic word that means uprising and that many Jews hear as a call for violence against them.
She asked, “Calling for the genocide of Jews, does that constitute bullying or harassment?”
Ms. Magill replied, “If it is directed and severe, pervasive, it is harassment.”
Ms. Stefanik responded, “So the answer is yes.”
Ms. Magill said, “It is a context-dependent decision, congresswoman.”
Ms. Stefanik replied: “That’s your testimony today? Calling for the genocide of Jews is depending upon the context?”
Magill appears to be a white gentile, so she has fewer Pokemon points than the black lady president of Harvard and the Jewish lady president of MIT. And Penn, with its famous Wharton business school, both for grads and, unusually for an elite college, undergrads, has long had a major Jewish contribution: I believe, although I could be wrong, that Penn had no cap on Jewish enrollment during the era when Harvard and Yale limited the number of Jewish undergrads admitted. So it’s not surprising that Penn’s president was the first head to roll in the current antisemitism moral panic / show of strength.
The unpleasant reality is that, at the most fundamental level, most political opinion is a call for the use of, or threat to use, force. In essence, government relies on armed men enforcing the will of the government. So, First Amendment-protected expressions of political opinion tend to be, to some extent, calls for potential violence against somebody.
Calls for less Israeli retributive violence against Gazans, for example, can be interpreted, somewhat tendentiously but also somewhat accurately as being calls for more impunity for Hamas violence. Similarly, denunciations of Hamas’ October 7th massacre can be seen, with some degree of honesty, as potentially setting the stage for mass bombings of Gaza and the ethnic cleansing, if not outright genocide, of Gazans.
As an American, my prejudice is in favor of freedom of speech, even over questions as horrifying as the Middle East. But traditional American ideals are fast fading.
Michael Tracey writes:
The university presidents were trapped by a bullshit series of questions
Nobody marches around chanting, “We call for the genocide of Jews!”
They march around chanting political slogans whose meaning is hotly contested and debated. One side of that debate insists the slogans are *tantamount* to calls for “genocide.” The other side vehemently rejects that characterization
Members of Congress, pundits, donors, and other outrage-peddlers are demanding that university presidents administratively intervene in this raging political debate and punish one side — because their slogans allegedly endanger or hurt the feelings of certain students. (Although strangely, concrete examples of the physical welfare of students being threatened are virtually non-existent. The examples cited tend to either be painfully exaggerated or outright faked)
The people who want to punish, curtail, and censor speech on behalf of Israel are pressuring administrators to *preempt* this raging political debate, and when they understandably equivocate on the wisdom of doing so, paint them as moral monsters by claiming they’re endorsing advocacy of “genocide” — even though the whole fulcrum of the debate is that the allegedly “genocidal” intent of these slogans is furiously disputed
Today’s pro-censorship lobbyists don’t want the debate to continue, they want to use their political/financial/cultural power to shut it down and anoint one side the victor
The end result is another gargantuan blow to free speech, confirming that the period since October 7 has been the most stifling and repressive in this regard since the George Floyd meltdown of 2020, when today’s pro-censorship lobbyists were all pretending to be principled First Amendment martyrs