It took a historic massacre of Jews for the Washington Post to decide colleges shouldn’t opine on world events

Are you an institution of higher education? Do you enjoy considering hot-button cultural issues and controversial policy debates? Are you currently concerned about the safety of Jewish students and the murderous intentions of pro-Hamas faculty and student organizations? Are you struggling to balance it all?

A Washington Post editor has some advice for you. “Shut up and study!”

“Higher education needs to find a way back to a place where institutions, as institutions, are not involved in the controversies of their time.” The editorial board insists. “Silence is not necessarily complicity. Rather, it is a healthy practice consistent with academia’s role in society in promoting open inquiry.”

These institutions have considered virtually every conceivable issue for as long as anyone can remember. Their (mostly ridiculous) statements have increased exponentially over the past decade. The Washington Post has never been concerned about this.

But the issue concerns the indiscriminate massacre of civilian Jews in Israel and the barbaric scenes in which pro-Palestinian activists, including many American students and faculty, expressed support for Hamas’ October 7 attacks. Now, the Washington Post editorial board suddenly believes that the US attack on Palestine is an expression of support for the US attack. The university should issue an official statement and calm down. A truce if possible. Post editors now argue that the wisest course of action is for these schools to immediately stop expressing their opinions on world events. Professors, keep your heads down and get back to work!

School administrators cringe in fear as keffiyeh-wearing student mobs stomp on university quads, threaten (and sometimes physically attack) Jews, and chant genocidal phrases about Israel. It is surprising that the Board has to come to this conclusion now. “Make the intifada global!” student demonstrators shout. “From the river to the sea!” they declare, meaning Israel as a sovereign state must be removed from the map. “Glory to our martyrs” They said this while praising the Hamas terrorists who died in the group’s massacre of civilians on October 7.

Will the Post choose now than when its editors came to this conclusion, that academic leaders should be more restrained in their public statements?

Do they believe that at a time when anti-Semitism is surging around the world, it is best for American academia to keep its mouth shut? Now that Hamas has killed an estimated 1,200 Israelis, including women, infants, and the elderly, and kidnapped hundreds more? Now that the Jews have experienced the greatest single-day massacre of their own people since the Holocaust? Are Israel and Hamas now embroiled in a bloody and ruthless battle for survival? Is now the time for U.S. universities to exercise extraordinary discretion?

That’s the idea, the Washington Post editors insist, but their moral compass was clearly lost in the move from its old headquarters on 15th Street.

“The problem with public university statements, even when legitimate and well-intentioned, is that they imply that there are orthodox views on those issues and related policy issues within a particular school. ,” the board said. “As we are seeing now, this can impede discussion and create competition over the university’s moral standards.”

The university “needs to recommit to the principles of the University of Chicago,” they continue. Kalven Report The report not only allows for exceptions for religious institutions to comment on issues that “threaten the very mission of universities and values ​​of free inquiry,” but also a broad exception for all schools. he pointed out.

The Board concluded:[F]Alternatively, for secular institutions dedicated to free and controversial speech, silence is the best policy. Paradoxically, the lack of intervention from university leaders allows students and faculty to voice their opinions and express opposition to conventional wisdom. When administrators take sides, they send a message to students and professors that they have the right mindset. The role of universities is not to tell students what to think, much less to tell them what the government is to teach students how To think. ”

If we were in a vacuum, this would be good advice. Many sane and intellectual People have been saying this for over 10 years. student and Faculty similar.

But after the massacre of Israelis by Hamas and shocking scenes of Western students cheering the killings, the Post finally found out why U.S. schools would be wiser in taking public positions on current events. Did he suggest that a similar approach should be taken? Why would a university continue to extract funding over the reckless responses of school administrators before Post editors finally reconsider the pernicious role that academia plays in one issue after another in today’s American politics? Was intimidation from donors necessary?

For that matter, where has the Post been over the past 20-30 years when it comes to the “value of free inquiry” emphasized in the vaunted Kalven Report? Conservative speakers routinely kicked out of campussometimes literally run away from an angry mobphysically prohibited or otherwise prevented. Prevents delivery of pre-scheduled addresses.That’s if they get lucky. Approved to speak in the first place.

The Post’s editorial board was unmoved in 2018 when Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber issued a statement explaining the White House’s so-called travel ban:horrifying” In 2018, when Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, issued a statement, Condemning gun violence in Texas and Ohio, the post held its own. The board was undaunted when the Berkeley School of Public Health issued a report that said: 2020 Condemnation Statement “White supremacy in all its forms, including racism and police brutality.”

Later, in 2022, the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Wellness at Penn and Penn’s Center for Public Health Initiatives revised the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.Threats to access to health care, fundamental human rights, and health equity” The post didn’t blink.

That was then, and this is now. After October 7, the Washington Post finally realized the downside of these public statements. All that was needed was a large number of dead Jews and a crowd of students demanding more.

Beckett Adams is a writer living in Washington. National Journalism Center.

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