See No Evil: On American Campuses, It's Tiki Torch Time
Lexington, Massachusetts, is a peaceful town, famous for being an ideal place to raise children. Young couples move there from everywhere so that their children can attend its public schools, which in disproportionate numbers send students to the finest universities in the land. Lexington has a robust library serving its hypereducated residents, and its own symphony. It is a community of bake sales and charity drives and back-to-school nights.
A walk into Lexington Center one recent morning revealed that heart-wrenching posters had been pasted onto a window of a vacant store. They said "Kidnapped," and featured pictures of the Israeli babies, toddlers, children, elderly and disabled, including Holocaust survivors, who had been brutalized by Hamas gunmen on Oct. 7, and then rammed -- maimed, raped, bleeding, terrified -- onto the backs of trucks and abducted into Gaza. These were the "lucky" ones, who were not butchered to death, blown to pieces or burned to dust by 3,000 Hamas killers who invaded Israel for the purpose of slaughtering as many Israelis as they could.
Each "kidnapped" poster had a picture of an innocent soul who is now held at gunpoint in underground Hamas tunnels. Any of them who manages to survive will live the rest of their lives as a human shell. It's hard to believe that anyone could fail to feel for them or to respect the idea of keeping them in the hearts of decent people.
By the next morning, the posters had been ripped down.
The ripping down of the posters of kidnapped Israelis by the grinning, the leering, the amped up and the cruel has become not just a fad but a craze among those who fancy themselves "progressive" while they cheer on anti-Jewish hate, or outright engage in it.
Ground zero for hatred-posing-as-progressivism is academia, where Jewish students and others who are disgusted by the Hamas massacre of Israelis have found themselves assaulted, bullied, surrounded, forced to run gauntlets of students screaming for the eradication of the Jewish homeland or otherwise harassed while faculty members and their fellow students stay silent, or urge it on.
At the University of Pennsylvania, one student speaker invoked the "joyful" images of beheaded and dismembered Israelis from the "glorious October 7th," and encouraged her audience to "bring it to the streets." Observed Rep. Ritchie Torres of New York, "This is not a patient at a psychiatric hospital. This is a student at an Ivy League institution."
At Harvard, a group of law and divinity students surrounded a Jewish student walking alone and attacked him. At Cornell, where a professor pronounced himself "exhilarated" by Hamas' massacre, a student made death threats against Jewish students. At Cooper Union, Jewish students had to hide in a library while anti-Israel protestors violently pounded on the door. At Tufts University, one student group issued a statement praising the "creativity" of Hamas' various methods utilized in hacking, burning and shredding Israelis to death. At Yale University, a student group hailed Hamas' slaughter, praising the group for "making history this Saturday morning."
This is intended to destroy the emotional well-being of Jewish students. And it's working. "We want to be able to go to class," one Jewish Tufts student told a reporter. "We want to (go around campus) without having somebody actively chanting for our demise."
Those holding themselves out as progressives now closely resemble the racists marching at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Those protesters were "expressing" themselves, too, marching against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. They held tiki torches aloft as they chanted white supremacist slogans, the torches intended to intimidate.
Progressives who denounced the hate festival at Charlottesville are now staging hate festivals of their own. Their victims are Jews. What would never be OK if the victims were others is perfectly OK now.
They believe they are really progressives. That's what they tell themselves and each other they are. But what they really are is the new tiki torch carriers. And that is how history will remember them.
Jeff Robbins, a former assistant United States attorney and United States delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, was chief counsel for the minority of the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. An attorney specializing in the First Amendment, he is a longtime columnist for the Boston Herald, writing on politics, national security, human rights and the Mideast.
Copyright 2023 Creators Syndicate Inc.