This had to happen. Regardless of what anyone feels about the tragedy in the Middle East, for which there really are no truly good actors or “side,” the response of the presidents of Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, and MIT, when speaking before Congress, was appalling. There is no “context” for calls to genocide, and the reply of all three university presidents, two of whom have now resigned, was steeped in callous legalese rather than compassion for Jewish students who were being blamed and persecuted for events thousands of miles away. Whether or not anyone sees “From the River to the Sea” as a call to genocide—and I do believe that it is genocide adjacent—now former president Gay never had to address that. She and the other presidents could easily have stated that calls to genocide are against Harvard policy without ever addressing whether “River to the Sea” was such a call. Certainly, their sophist lawyers could have accomplished that.
Something I will never wrap my head around in our strict dichotomy of “Left” versus “Right” in politics is how the far right sees fundamentalist Islam (and often, all Islam) as evil while seeing fundamentalist Christianity as noble and virtuous. Conversely, the Left certainly recognizes the dangers of fundamentalist Christianity, while any critique of actual terrorism and fundamentalist Islamist barbarism becomes tarred with the “Islamophobia” brush. Here’s a loud ring from the clue phone for so-called “Lefties” and “Righties.” You’re both wrong. Both Islam and Christianity have many virtues, and yet the fundamentalism of both suck. If your politics have become so obsessive that you must ignore evil based on your political persuasion, then perhaps the arrogance that you’re “awake” (or “red-pilled”) on the right … or “woke” upon the Left is misplaced and you’re actually both asleep at the wheel.
Given the unfair struggles that people of color, particularly women of color in this nation, have faced, it is always a sad event when such an individual has such a fall. Still, the truth must outweigh such socio-political realities. When Phylicia Rashad defended Bill Cosby based on the harm to the legacy of black excellence damaged by the fall of such a powerful icon of color, she was right. Still, she was also wrong because Cosby’s actions far outweighed the political ramifications that his actions would have upon the accomplishments of black men.
This is why those of us in marginalized communities must maintain a higher level of conduct, a lesson I continue to force myself to learn with my own controversial nature and sometimes badly-worded opinions. It isn’t fair that those of us in traditionally persecuted groups have to be better than the herd of normality. Still, if we don’t hold ourselves to that higher standard, our personal failings damage everyone in our particular group.
It is quite clear that all three presidents saw October 7th as a form of righteous resistance rather than the senseless barbarism that it was. I will quote Doctor Phil, saying, “If the events of October 7th don’t cross a line, then you don’t have one.” And if there is to be no line between “resistance” and barbarism, we might as well all be living in the film The Purge. Without any moral or ethical compass at all, we lose all justification to care about any child buried in the rubble, be they Gazan, Israeli, or anywhere else.