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Protests, Privilege and Hypocrisy

Froma Harrop on

This is not directly about the issues animating the "pro-Palestinian" demonstrations at many colleges. Rather it's about the air of privilege filling the sails of hypocrisy on which many ride.

Start with the masks that protestors use to hide their identities. And from whom? In many cases from future employers who may object to their singling out of Israel for charges of genocide -- or who simply would rather not hazard hiring someone arrested for trespassing.

Civil disobedience is the refusal to obey laws deemed unjust. With that, though, comes the obligation to accept the consequences of that lawbreaking. Martin Luther King Jr. said those who engage in civil disobedience "must do it with a willingness to accept the penalty."

Getting arrested at an unruly demonstration while being associated, fairly or unfairly, with a terroristic death cult might pose a barrier to lucrative employment at a top law firm. Fear of reprisals in polite society is why members of the Ku Klux Klan hide their faces under hoods.

Do some of these demonstrators have a justifiable fear of being doxed? That is, might their opponents harass them by publicizing personal information? That could happen. There is stalking behavior that victims can cite to obtain restraining orders. But displaying one's opinions before the nation's cameras makes them TikTok public.

There is an element of white privilege in cries of resentment at being hauled away from private property. Consider the response of Emory University economics professor Caroline Fohlin to getting tackled by Atlanta police. The CNN video showed students, some in keffiyehs, peacefully accepting the zip ties and being taken off. Not the nice white lady.

She not only refused to leave the encampment but resisted efforts to stop her interference with police. Fohlin is heard screeching, "Oh, my God!" then shouting, "I am a professor!" in the same sort of voice as, "Do you know who my father is?"

Some demonstrators say they are opposing the horror in Gaza. But it's pretty clear that the focus of many is to make Israelis the designated white villains while placing the suffering residents of Gaza in a supporting role.

That could explain why far worse bloody conflicts throughout the Muslim world draw little notice by this crowd, much less active protest. That's business as usual, right?

"More than 300,000 civilians have died since (Bashar al-)Assad turned his guns on Syria's 2011 Arab spring pro-democracy uprising," The Guardian reported last year. An estimated half a million Muslims perished in the Iran-Iraq War.

 

In the 1980s, according to GenocideWatch.com, "(Somaliland dictator) Siad Barre launched a genocide against the Isaaq tribe, one of the largest in Somalia. The genocide ... killed an estimated 200,000 people." The father of Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar was a colonel in Barre's army.

Go ahead and criticize Israel's conduct in this latest Gaza war. But Omar's labeling some Jewish students "pro-genocide" while portraying her family as righteous refugees from Somalia is hypocrisy on a grand scale.

As for the agony in Gaza, coverage of how the residents feel about Hamas -- when Hamas doesn't have a gun to their heads -- has been sparse. But now that the group's internal enforcers are hiding from Israeli troops, residents of Gaza have started openly criticizing Hamas. The Financial Times spoke to several. They didn't object so much to attacks on Israel's military as to the massacre of ordinary Israelis that set off the bloodbath, as Hamas planned.

"I pray every day for the death of Sinwar," a Gazan named Mohammed told the FT. That was a reference to Yahya Sinwar, mastermind of Hamas' Oct. 7 barbaric attack on Israeli civilians.

Now, this man has guts.

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Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

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