I know I have shared previously the observations from the late political scientist Aaron Wildavsky from back in 1990 about the early signs of anti-Semitism starting to go mainstream on college campuses, and his foreboding for the future. It is worth revisiting his diagnosis just now, as anti-Semitism, disguised as “decolonial studies,” has settled in as a major malignant force on universities from coast-to-coast, such that university leaders who were so quick to issue forceful statements about George Floyd, police violence, January 6, the Ukraine War, etc, etc, are suddenly tongue-tied at the spectacle of Nazi-level evil, issuing ambiguous statements at best, fearful of offending the anti-Semites on their faculties and among their student bodies.
Here’s how Wildavsky described what he was seeing in the late 1980s:
[S]ometime in the mid-1960s blacks replaced Jews as the nation’s number one oppressed minority and—second—that, toward the end of that decade, white radicals succeeded in having Jews removed from the parlance of left critics of society as “minority,” despite the fact that they constituted no more than 3 percent of the population and were still undoubtedly subject to minor forms of discrimination in banking, business, social life, politics, and elsewhere. It took Christians 1,000 years to go from oppressed minority to inquisitorial majority; those clever Jews seem to have done it practically overnight. Let us investigate this strange case further.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Jews—not entirely without reason—were recognized as one of the nation’s oppressed minorities. Quotas aimed to keep them out of college, discrimination out of work, and voter prejudice out of public life. The 1950s, by contrast, was the golden era of American Jewry, which still enjoyed its leading minority status even though it had become, by and large, affluent instead of deprived. .
Yet there was still this consolation [of being displaced as the number one oppressed minority]: Jews were still a minority, weren’t they, even if they could not be number one? But no, it was not to be. This time around it was not blacks, who were too busy for ancient history, but radical whites—including Jews—who administered the coup-de-grace without so much as a by-your-leave. Without the fanfare of a public announcement of the solemn cadence of a decent burial, Jews no longer were spoken of as a minority, deprived, despised, downtrodden, or whatever. Just like that.
Really, it was a case of mistaken identity: Jews were all of a sudden taken for imperialists. Actually, it was more like guilt by association. Jews, you see, were identified with Israel, which was defeating Arabs, who resorted to guerrilla warfare, however inefficacious, which somehow gave them membership in the Third World, so that Israel, ipso facto, became an imperialist oppressor, and domestic Jews ceased being a minority. Acta est fabula.
And so we have the pathetic spectacle of Lawrence Summers, who is sometimes a voice of sense among Democrats (warning Biden in the spring of 2021, for instance, that Biden’s spending plans would spark inflation):
Memo to Summers: You were president of Harvard University for several years (until you let a mob of shrieking feminists push you out). You could have done something to stop this growing cancer dead in its tracks. You had the power to veto proposed faculty hirings; veto proposed “decolonization” programs and courses; veto tenure and advancement for clearly politicized faculty. My hunch is you did nothing of the sort—ever. And now wonder why Harvard is such a cesspool. You and other spineless college administrators like you let this malignant tumor grow unabated right in front of you.
P.S. I note that a large group of Harvard faculty has denounced the student groups that side with Hamas. You can read the statement, which Steven Pinker organized, and the signatories here. But if you scroll down the list of faculty that have signed on, you may notice something striking: most of the signatories are from the hard sciences, the medical school, or business school. There are very few faculty signers from the humanities or social sciences. It is not hard to guess why.