Universities have let evil grow on campus. They do not deserve to survive

Harvard President Claudine Gay, left, speaks as University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill listens during a hearing on Capitol Hill
Harvard President Claudine Gay, left, speaks as University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill listens during a hearing on Capitol Hill

The US Congress has had some disturbing hearings in its time. But few have been more so than this week’s, when the heads of some of America’s top universities appeared in front of a special hearing on anti-Semitism in US campuses.

The hearings came after an upsurge of anti-Jewish hate led not just by students but visiting speakers. Inexplicably, invitations for outside speakers have included Roger Waters, who is perhaps better known today for accusations of anti-Semitism than his music. What exactly does he have to teach Ivy League students?

At the hearing, the heads of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania were asked a set of questions that should have been very easy to answer. But oh how they struggled and botched their responses.

Representative Elise Stefanik asked President Magill of the University of Pennsylvania whether calling for the genocide of Jews violated Penn’s code of conduct. “It is a context dependent decision,” she replied. The congresswoman, by now in a state of shock, tried again. Surely it is a “yes” or “no” answer? The Penn leader continued to smirk and bluster her way through her AI-like response.

It was the same with the President of Harvard. Asked about the targeting of Jewish students at her university, President Claudine Gay read out a statement that said “anti-Semitic rhetoric, when it crosses into conduct” is “actionable conduct”. But when pressed she kept saying it was “depending on the context”.

One cannot help feeling that, if these university leaders had been asked the question about any other minority, their answers might have been different.

For American university presidents have presided over campuses which in recent years have become increasingly devoted to rooting out “hate speech”, “white supremacy” and every other “trigger” term of our time. They have disinvited members of the Trump administration. They have chased out women who have argued that biological sex is real.

Perhaps if black students had been hounded on their campuses, or Muslims, or trans students, then some moral clarity and leadership might have occurred. But not here. Because this was Jews, so everything – it seemed – had to be “in context”.

Which is all at one with the evil ideology which has gestated on American and British campuses for a generation. It has produced a population which claims that speech is violence and even “silence is violence”, but which in the wake of the biggest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, and a massive upsurge in anti-Semitism, has either said nothing or outright defended terrorists. That is the true nature of evil.

This time, thankfully, there has been a backlash – not least from business leaders and donors. So now new statements have started to be issued. President Magill, for instance, has finally found her tongue – or at least her career survival instincts. In a video she said: “I want to be clear, a call for genocide of Jewish people is threatening – deeply so. It is intentionally meant to terrify a people who have been subjected to pogroms and hatred for centuries and were the victims of mass genocide in the Holocaust.”

But it is too late for clarifications. The corruption of universities has been shown in real time. The moral bankruptcy which paraded under the banner of “social justice” is there for all the world to see.

Perhaps these women will save their careers. But they will not be able to save the reputations of the once-great institutions they led into this moral abyss.

Douglas Murray’s most recent book is The War on The West: How to Prevail in the Age of Unreason

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