Harvard, M.I.T., and Penn Presidents Under Fire After Dodging Questions About Antisemitism

Stephanie Saul and Anemona Hartocollis, reporting for The New York Times:

Support for the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and M.I.T. eroded quickly on Wednesday, after they seemed to evade what seemed like a rather simple question during a contentious congressional hearing: Would they discipline students calling for the genocide of Jews?

Their lawyerly replies to that question and others during a four-hour hearing drew incredulous responses. “It’s unbelievable that this needs to be said: Calls for genocide are monstrous and antithetical to everything we represent as a country,” said a White House spokesman, Andrew Bates. [...]

Much of the criticism landed heavily on Ms. Magill because of an extended back-and-forth with Representative Stefanik. Ms. Stefanik said that in campus protests, students had chanted support for intifada, an Arabic word that means uprising and that many Jews hear as a call for violence against them. Ms. Stefanik asked Ms. Magill, “Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn’s rules or code of conduct, yes or no?”

Ms. Magill replied, “If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment.”

Ms. Stefanik pressed the issue: “I am asking, specifically: Calling for the genocide of Jews, does that constitute bullying or harassment?”

Ms. Magill, a lawyer who joined Penn last year with a pledge to promote campus free speech, 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 exclaimed: “That’s your testimony today? Calling for the genocide of Jews is depending upon the context?”

The reckoning has come for the bizarro-world political climate that’s taken hold at these universities in the last decade or two. This patently offensive equivocation — when the correct answer was obviously an unambiguous “Yes” — makes sense in the context of the insular far-left worldview where the oppressed are viewed as inherently just, but comes across as absurd to everyone living in the real world. All three of these elite university presidents are obviously utterly tone-deaf and detached from the real world.

You can only pretend to live in a bubble for so long. Then the bill comes due.

Thursday, 7 December 2023