They aren’t revolutionaries. They’re bigoted brats

They aren’t revolutionaries. They’re bigoted brats

The Columbia cranks rant about killing Zionists one minute and demand hot meals the next.

Tom Slater

Tom Slater

Topics Free Speech Politics USA

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If you want to know what’s driving the Israelophobic protests and occupations at New York’s Columbia University – and many more elite campuses across America – get a load of this clip that has been doing the rounds on social media over the past 24 hours.

In it, one Johannah King-Slutzky – spokesperson for the occupation of Columbia’s Hamilton Hall, which was forcibly ended by the New York City Police Department last night, with around 100 arrests – issues her and her comrades’ demands. On top of Columbia ‘divesting’ from Israel and such, King-Slutzky also demanded meals and water.

Apparently, Columbia was refusing to allow the students who were then breaking windows and barricading themselves inside Hamilton Hall to access their usual canteen grub. ‘We’re saying that [Columbia is] obligated to provide food to students who have paid for a meal plan here’, King-Slutzky told a sceptical press conference.

When pushed, she said they were only asking that supplies be allowed to be brought in:

‘Do you want students to die of dehydration and starvation or get severely ill, even if they disagree with you?… I mean, it’s crazy to say because we are on an Ivy League campus, but this is like basic humanitarian aid we’re asking for. Like, could people please have a glass of water?’

It’s all there. The whinging cadence, the ‘like’-strewn patter, the obligatory keffiyeh, the industrial-strength victimhood, the bloke in a crop top stood behind her… King-Slutzky and Co are the picture of trustafarians in revolt. Their anti-Israel bigotry is matched only by their profound sense of entitlement. How dare the university not provide adequate refreshments while we are smashing shit up?

There are plenty of people today likening the Columbia meal-planners to their Sixties forebears – in particular, to the Columbia radicals who mounted their own disruptive demos in 1968. Sadly, even some veterans of Sixties activism are flattering today’s privileged brats with the comparison.

But it’s bollocks. When Columbia students occupied Hamilton Hall and other buildings in April 1968, they did so to oppose the Vietnam War and university plans to build a gymnasium in nearby Harlem, which students argued would effectively be segregated. After a week, police moved in and arrested 700 students.

Today, Columbia students and their off-campus heavies aren’t opposing war exactly. Yes, they oppose Israel’s assault on the genocidal lunatics of Hamas, following the Islamist terrorists’ vicious pogrom on 7 October. But they seem pretty relaxed about warfare against the state of Israel. ‘We don’t want no two states / We want all of it!’, they chant. ‘Never forget 7 October… 7 October is about to be every fucking day for you. You ready?’, screeched one racist cunt outside the gates.

Therein lies another crucial difference between ’68 and today. Today’s students aren’t fighting racism, they are luxuriating in it. Khymani James, a leader of the Columbia protests, posted a video to social media the other week saying ‘Zionists don’t deserve to live’. ‘I don’t fight to injure or for there to be a winner or a loser, I fight to kill’, he said, fantasising about having a scrap with one of those awful Jews. (Given the vast, vast majority of Jews are Zionists, that’s really not overegging it.)

Elsewhere, we’ve seen protesters chant ‘Go back to Poland’ at Jewish Columbians and hold up homemade signs, stating ‘Al-Qasam’s [sic] next targets’, pointing to a group of Israeli-flag-waving students. The Al-Qassam Brigades being Hamas’s military wing. An Arab Israeli was also punched outside Columbia recently, by activists brandishing the pro-Hamas triangle symbol.

I’m willing to concede that some of this unvarnished, violent hatred is being carried out by off-campus antifa types, as is routinely alleged by the protesters’ apologists. Not least because King-Slutzky and yer man in his crop top look like they couldn’t fight their way out of a ball pit. But activists’ alarmingly high tolerance for virulent anti-Semitism, their total lack of condemnation of Hamas or its many campus fanboys, speaks volumes.

As does their expectation of water and spag bol and their apparent shock and horror when the police were called in. The Columbia protesters and their supporters are now trying to portray the clearance of Hamilton Hall as an affront to freedom of speech. Free speech is ‘supposed to be prized’ on campus, one student told Al Jazeera last night.

Being concerned about a heavy-handed response to these demos is one thing. The governor-ordered crackdown on protests at University of Texas at Austin, for example, has been nakedly authoritarian and censorious. But there is no inalienable right to break into and occupy university buildings. (Nor is there an inalienable right to constantly harass Jewish students as they try to move around campus.)

As the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) points out, civil disobedience is not the same as expressing an opinion or engaging in peaceful protest. The whole point of it is to break the rules. Indeed, it ‘derives expressive power from the willingness of participants to accept the consequences of breaking the rules’. That these students and junior academics are shocked to be handcuffed for breaking the law reveals a profound sense of entitlement among young ‘radicals’.

We shouldn’t be surprised. FIRE president Greg Lukianoff has pointed to two dispiriting, parallel trends in American universities: a willingness to curtail free speech, all while giving a green light to violent, intolerant protests. At the University of California, Berkeley, where students rioted in 2017 because that tiresome weirdo Milo Yiannopoulous was speaking, the university ‘showed cowardice in its unwillingness to punish the rioters’, writes Lukianoff and Angel Eduardo in a recent op-ed. We saw a similarly rank capitulation at Evergreen State that same year, where marauding students were effectively allowed to chase professors Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying off of campus. Since then, ‘shutdowns and shout-downs have become commonplace’, they write.

Some critics of campus cancel culture have been caught off guard by the pro-Hamas protests. Almost a decade ago, they observe, we were all gawping at the ‘Yale Snowflakes’, those absurd Ivy Leaguers who went into open, teary-eyed revolt because academic Erika Christakis sent them an email saying they should chill out about offensive Halloween costumes. How did babyish offence-taking give way to open support for anti-Semitic terrorists?

But it all makes a perverse kind of sense. Students taught that freedom of speech is a form of violence have begun to see violence as a form of free speech. Young radicals reared on a crude, conspiratorial racial identity politics have begun to apply it to geopolitics, with predictably anti-Semitic results. A new generation of elite youth, overprotected and indulged in equal measure, have come to think they can do no wrong.

So let’s retire the Sixties comparisons. In 1964, when Mario Savio – civil-rights activist and student leader of the Free Speech Movement – was leading a campaign of civil disobedience, aimed at liberating Berkeley students from censorship, his cause was just and he was happy to suffer the consequences of his methods. ‘There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious’, he famously said, ‘you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels… you’ve got to make it stop!’. Meal plans did not get a mention.

At the same time, let’s not pretend that today’s revolting students just appeared, fully formed, from the womb. They are the products of an academic and upper-class culture that has kindled their prejudices and inflamed their intolerance. They aren’t revolutionaries. They’re bigoted brats. And they’ve been pandered to for far too long.

Tom Slater is editor of spiked. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater_

Picture by: YouTube.

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Topics Free Speech Politics USA


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