The stunning cowardice of American academia
The same professors and administrators who make careers of defending "microaggressions" have failed to condemn Hamas's deliberate slaughter of innocents, including Americans
On Saturday, as Hamas terrorists rampaged across Israeli towns, Vanderbilt University issued a statement condemning their atrocities.
I’m kidding, people! Vanderbilt did nothing of the sort. Instead, its chancellor wrote:
The deeply layered and nuanced complexity of today’s incidents reminds us that we must denounce violence, hate and prejudice in all forms…
“The deeply layered and nuanced complexity of today’s incidents?”
Vanderbilt Chancellor Daniel Diermeier offered those words at 7:04 p.m. Saturday in Nashville, or 3 a.m. Sunday in Israel. At that moment, Hamas’s fighters were still slaughtering defenseless civilians.
(Fighting to give you the facts, even when they’re uncomfortable. For 20 cents a day.)
(This statement was made from Earth. Maybe.)
Diermeier’s words were particularly egregious and bizarre, but Vanderbilt was far from alone in its resolute unwillingness to condemn Hamas for its brutal assault. From coast to coast, American universities have spent the last five days making statements that are Orwellian in their vagueness and passivity.
The violence in Israel and Gaza is weighing heavily on all our hearts.
Recent news of conflict in Israel and Gaza is having a direct impact on many members of our campus community.
These institutions aren’t outliers.
The American Association of Colleges and Universities, an umbrella group that represents over 1,000 schools, said it was “saddened by the recent outbreak of violence in Israel and Gaza.”
Yes, violence broke out! Lots of passively committed violence. Safe rooms were burned. Children killed. Women raped. Who knows how it all started? Not the American Association of Colleges and Universities, that’s for sure.
Of course, the academy’s unwillingness to hold anyone responsible for the “incidents” Saturday - in all their “nuanced complexity” - stands in stark contrast to its willingness to stand strong on other issues.
Like “condemning transphobia and discrimination in any form,” as the Ivy League did in 2022 when female swimmers asked if they should really be forced to compete against (and share a dressing room with) a guy in a one-piece.
(What, Woman of the Century wasn’t available?)
Or the statements after George Floyd’s death supporting “protests” while systematically downplaying the looting and riots that followed. As The Chronicle of Higher Education - which is as reliably woke as the institutions it covers - wrote on May 31, 2020:
Amid peaceful protests, sometimes violent responses by the police, and some looting, higher-education leaders sought to assure their communities that they, too, were bearing witness to the historic events.
(Systemic racism, bad! Systemic killing of Israeli civilians, we’ll get back to you.)
As evidence of Hamas’s atrocities on Saturday mounts, a few academic leaders have spoken out more forcefully.
Most notably, Ben Sasse, the president of the University of Florida, released a statement Wednesday condemning Hamas - as well as “people in elite academia [who] have been so weakened by their moral confusion that when they see videos of raped women… the first reaction of some is to ‘provide context’ and try to blame the raped women.”
Sasse also promised in the statement that his university would “protect its Jewish students from violence.” The words are a concession to the reality, unacknowledged elsewhere, that as the war between Hamas and Israel continues, Jews in the United States will be at far greater risk of religiously motivated attacks than Muslims.
But Sasse’s words are very much the exception in academia, not the rule - as Vanderbilt chancellor Diermeier’s statement shows.
Vanderbilt has now scrubbed Diermeier’s words from its Website - without acknowledging or apologizing for them.
As of this writing, the statement remained on his Twitter feed.