Mark Franke: They’ve gone too far

This time they have gone too far, so far that even their usual choir of apologists have distanced themselves.

The sickening images coming out of Israel are the epitome of pure evil. What compounds the horror is the response this is getting on certain elite college campuses.

This should have given everyone pause, including those who generally are sympathetic to Palestinian claims. Parachuting armed terrorists into a music festival for the sole purpose of beginning a “war” by massacring civilians is indefensible.

Then there are reports of the “execution” of babies and children, reports that now have been attested by photographs. Killing babies is not an act of war; it is murder.

I am a baby-boomer so I know of the World War II atrocities by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia only through history books. I do recall Pol Pot’s butchery when he and his communist fellow travelers secured control of Cambodia. Then there was Idi Amin in Uganda. I assuaged my conscience by convincing myself that these were aberrations.

So how can anyone, self-entitled college students included, paint these Hamas killers as the true victims? It is Israel which is responsible for this bloodshed, according to these youngsters. Apparently unfair treatment by a government absolves the self-anointed aggrieved of any response they choose to make. Babies, by transference, are guilty and deserving of whatever they get.

This is a sick application of the “Devil made me do it” defense. It didn’t work for Flip Wilson or for Eve in the Garden.

It is instructive that news reports of campus protests generally mention that the pro-Hamas demonstrators are masked. They may have convictions but they sure don’t have the courage of those convictions.

Perhaps the only careful analysis of the situation these children have undertaken caused them to realize that there just might be repercussions for their contemptible actions.

And while we are speaking of courage and the lack thereof, the president of Harvard University was slow to rise to the occasion. After the 30 some student groups issued a joint statement holding “the Israeli regime wholly responsible for the unfolding violence,” she needed two days to issue a university response condemning those who actually perpetrated the violence.

Was she not paying attention? Is she privately sympathetic to the anti-Semitism inherent in the student statement? Was she naively hoping these protests would get favorable treatment from a docile media?

My guess, and that is all it is, is that more than one major donor or powerful alumnus phoned the president’s office in outrage. That’s how private (and major public) universities work: the president’s primary duty is fundraising. Alumni across the nation have not been quiet about the woke direction of their alma maters and are encouraging their peers to stop donating. Claudine Gay, the Harvard president, certainly is aware of that movement.

The reaction to this campus extremism has begun. One major law firm has already revoked an offer of a summer internship to a student who wrote a pro-Hamas article for the student newspaper. The Wall Street Journal reported that some corporate employers have announced they would not hire students who support the “It’s all Israel’s fault” narrative.

That’s what it is: a narrative. It has no basis in facts or rational thought. Palestinian residents of the nation Israel have been declared oppressed by upper class students in the United States and that means Israel must be the oppressor. Period.

I spent my entire career in higher education administration. I also attended college during the Vietnam era. There were disagreements and intense debates between left-wing and right-wing student groups. No one ever wore a mask and no speaker was shouted down. As an administrator I never was involved in a student disciplinary action over illiberal or uncivil political speech. But I worked at a university in Indiana and I have been retired for 10 years. Maybe things have changed but I trust not, at least at my erstwhile campus.

Something clearly has gone wrong when students at the most prestigious university in the United States, or at least most prestigious in its own mind, can endorse a statement excusing these brutal murders. Excuse is the wrong verb; they just blamed the victim.

We have become a society inured to violence but this time it is different. All the Americans I’ve talked to are outraged at the brutality and bloodthirstiness of this attack. A national consensus might be achievable on this issue. Even Joe Biden has responded in support of Israel, no doubt to the Squad’s consternation, but then we hardly need or want them in a national consensus.

If my sense of American sentiment is correct, the evil of this situation may finally get us to stop viciously attacking each other and rally to support our allies who are facing a crisis.

And it is an existential crisis for the nation of Israel and its citizens.

Mark Franke, an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review and its book reviewer, is formerly an associate vice-chancellor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Send comments to [email protected].