OpinionSchools & Higher Education

The ideological cocktail poisoning American campuses

Woke warriors add neo-Nazism to the neo-Marxist/Islamist mix.

Anti-Israel protesters on the Foggy Bottom campus of George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C. on April 26, 2024. Photo by Andrew Bernard.
Anti-Israel protesters on the Foggy Bottom campus of George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C. on April 26, 2024. Photo by Andrew Bernard.
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Clifford D. May
Clifford D. May is the founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), as well as a columnist for “The Washington Times.”

Back in December, the eminent historian Niall Ferguson wrote an essay in The Free Press that, it’s now apparent, presaged the tidal wave of demonstrations now inundating college campuses around the country.

It was called “The Treason of the Intellectuals,” which also was the title of a 1927 publication by French philosopher Julien Benda. Ferguson noted that while that piece was written six years before Hitler came to power, German universities—then the world’s best—already were transitioning from scholarship to “the intellectual organization of political hatreds.”

German academia “did not just follow Hitler down the path to hell. It led the way,” he wrote.

He added: “American academia has gone in the opposite political direction—leftward instead of rightward—but has ended up in much the same place.”

That place is one in which there is intense hostility toward the world’s only Jewish state, and toward those who support its survival and that of its citizens.

Antisemitism is hardly a novelty on the left. Back in the 1960s, the Soviet Union was responsible for first spreading the libel that “Zionism equals racism.” In truth, Zionism—once the conviction that the Jewish people has a right to self-determination within some part of the ancient Jewish homeland—is today merely the conviction that Israel has a right to continue to exist.

The leftist ideology that has become dominant on campuses today, sometimes called “wokeism,” adds a twist that is racialist and arguably racist: that all those deemed (by the woke) as “people of color” are oppressed and entitled to commit any and all atrocities to “resist” those deemed (by the woke) as “white.”

This is a mirror image of the Nazis’ belief that the German nation, “the Aryan man” and white people were oppressed, and that the solution was what they called a “racial revolution.” (You should know that both Nazi and woke racial constructs lack any scientific basis.)

“This is not the Second World War,” Nazi leader Hermann Goring declared in October 1942, “this is the Great Racial War.” Jews—not regarded as white no matter how pale their skin might be—were the primary racial enemy.

Today, the woke decree that Jews—including black-skinned Jews from Ethiopia and brown-skinned Jews from Yemen—are white enough to deserve denunciation as “settler-colonists,” even in the Judean Hills and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. They claim every inch of Israel is a colony. Of what foreign empire, they don’t say.

Much of the media have been calling the campus demonstrations “pro-Palestinian” but, from the start, they have in fact been anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish and pro-Hamas. Indeed, many demonstrators proudly proclaim: “We are Hamas!”

At Columbia University last week, groups displayed signs reading: “Al Qasam’s Next Target” with arrows pointing to Jewish students gathered nearby. Izz ad-Din al-Qasam is the Hamas “military wing” that carried out the Oct. 7 massacre and atrocities in Israel.

Unfortunately, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” is not a demand that Hamas guarantee freedoms of religion, speech and the press to Gazans. My colleague Hussain Abdul-Hussain points out that in Arabic the slogan is more straightforward: “From water to water, Palestine will be Arab.”

Why do those chanting such genocidal slogans simultaneously claim that Israel’s defensive war against Hamas is genocidal? To understand, read up on Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda from 1933 to 1945.

Hitler’s clearly stated goal was the “the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.” The anti-Zionists’ goal is the annihilation of the Jewish state in the Middle East. As Mark Twain said, history doesn’t repeat, but “it often rhymes.”

I need to mention the alignment between these woke neo-Nazis and Islamists. That, too, has historical roots.

In Mandatory Palestine—ruled by the British Empire, which took the territory from the Ottoman Empire following World War I—the most prominent Arab figure was the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini.

He organized pogroms against Jews in 1929 and 1936. In 1941, he fled to Berlin where he assisted Hitler, recruiting European Muslims to fight for the Nazis and broadcasting Nazi propaganda into the Middle East.

He remains an inspirational figure to Hamas and similar groups. How many of the students shouting for an “intifada revolution” would even recognize his name?

Probably very few, which raises a more mundane factor in the campus equation: To become a scholar requires strenuous effort. To become a woke social justice warrior requires a keffiyeh, a piece of cardboard and a Sharpie.

I’ll briefly touch on one more topic: Significant financial resources have been necessary for the “intellectual organization of political hatreds” on America’s campuses.

Qatar, a petroleum-rich monarchy that is supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood and hosts Hamas leaders, has been a major benefactor.

According to the National Association of Scholars, Qatar gave at least $4.7 billion to American universities between 2001 and 2021. These funds support professors whose views align with those of the Qatari ruling family.

Other prominent funders of anti-Israeli indoctrination and activism include billionaires George Soros and Neville Roy Singham (who, according to The New York Times, has close ties to the Chinese government), as well as several major left-of-center philanthropic foundations.  

There’s much about the funding streams we don’t know.

New laws and policies—and serious enforcement of those that exist—could improve transparency and inhibit further transformation of American universities into faux-educational institutions where impressionable young minds are served a poisonous cocktail of neo-Marxism, Islamism, and neo-Nazism.

Enacting meaningful change would require leaders who recognize that today’s “treason of the intellectuals” is a threat to “our democracy” and have the courage to combat it. It’s up to you, the American voter, to decide who those leaders are.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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