Harvard, MIT, Penn presidents grilled by Congress over mishandling of antisemitism
December 6, 2023
The presidents of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University were called to Congress to respond to questions on the antisemitism rife in their colleges. They did not respond well to the questions. As we’ve noted before, Bill Ackman is doing excellent work on this subject. His Twitter carries video of that Congressional testimony – and shows how appallingly the presidents are dealing with it.
As Ackman says:
“They must all resign in disgrace. “
We would go further – as has happened at Columbia Law School on the same point – and insist that it will be a disgrace if they do not resign – or are not forced out if they’ve not the good manners to resign.
All three were – repeatedly – asked whether “does calling for the genocide of Jews violate MIT’s (or Penn, Harvard) code of conduct or rules regarding bullying and harassment, Yes or No?” None were willing to answer the question. One from MIT said, “That would be investigated as harassment if pervasive and severe.” Like there’s a non-severe method of calling for the murder and death of an entire race? Which is what genocide actually means.
The other two were worse: Penn and Harvard discussing “context.” “It is a context dependent decision,” from Penn. Harvard was, as ever, worse: “It can be, depending on the context.” What is the possible context of insisting upon the death of the individual, their family, their entire race and nation? If it’s served with pancakes, it’s OK?
All then went, yes, and it’s difficult to imagine this, one stage worse. From Harvard: “Antisemitic rhetoric, when it crosses into conduct, it amounts to bullying, harassment, intimidation, that is actionable conduct and we do take action.” As Rep. Elise Stefanik, their questioner, points out, this seems to mean that only if people actually start to carry out a genocide will Harvard tell the students they’re being a little bit naughty.
As Bill Ackman says, this is not acceptable.
Allow us to remind you of the start of all of this, and it has been AIM pushing the point since it happened. 34 student groups at Harvard signed a letter blaming Israel, and Jews, for the October 7 attacks. Sure, anyone’s allowed to say what they want, even Harvard students. But they also have to put up with the reaction to what they’ve said. Public revulsion, and withdrawals of jobs offers the least among them (both, of course, have happened).
The other thing people making such statements should have to put up with is their college presidents slapping them down. While free speech is indeed a virtue, it is something with those consequences. If you’re threatening other students on campus, you don’t get to go to campus anymore.
Which isn’t what these presidents have been doing. If anyone said anything remotely vile about any other group, then they’d be out of there and no refunds given. This isn’t happening because the group being attacked are Jews.
And that’s antisemitism itself. Jews are being treated differently than others. That’s racist discrimination, and it’s coming from those very Presidential offices. We know that if anything like the same were said about people of color, Native Americans, women, and people of non-traditional sexualities, then the response would have been different. But it’s Jews, so it’s different.
This is antisemitism. Those presidents must go. And if they won’t resign, then they should be pushed.