Circling the Wagons at Vassar

It has now been about a month since Jasbir Puar gave her infamous talk at Vassar College, about which I wrote here. Thanks to a strong reaction by Fairness to Israel, a Vassar alumni group, and the Academic Engagement Network (AEN), a new group devoted to combating the propagandistic treatment of the Israel-Palestinian issue on college campuses, the College is facing criticism. That criticism culminated in this Wall St. Journal op-ed, written by Mark Yudof and Kenneth Waltzer, board chair and executive director respectively of AEN. The Wall Street Journal has a circulation of 2.3 million. So Vassar, whose response had been muted, recently held a webinar, listened in on by 930 alums and parents, and featuring, among others, board chair Bill Plapinger, President Catharine Hill, and Peter Antelyes, director of Jewish Studies. The gist of their message: look over there!

33
Shares
Google+ Print

Circling the Wagons at Vassar

Must-Reads from Magazine

The Proliferation of America’s Enemies

Controversies come and go so fast in the Trump administration that it’s all too easy to lose sight of individual issues. It is, therefore, worth remembering that before the events in Charlottesville grabbed public attention on Saturday, the president had been making news with his bellicose statements against North Korea and Venezuela.

10
Shares
Google+ Print

We Are Cowards

We ignored the warning signs.

The only morally acceptable response to the events in Charlottesville is full-throated condemnation. Full stop. This is not the time for moral equivalencies. The barbarism committed by a white supremacist in the name of white supremacy should not elicit sympathy or a deeper exploration of root causes. The root cause of this weekend’s murderous violence is racism. The end.

32
Shares
Google+ Print

Explaining Trump’s Charlottesville Behavior

The nucleolus of Trump.

You can choose to have whatever opinion you have on the president’s statement today condemning white supremacists, but it’s hard to believe he would have read it out if he’d had his druthers. No, the real Donald Trump was the one we saw on Saturday when he decided to condemn violence “on many sides” in response to the deliberately provocative and intentionally violent neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia; when he decided to refer to the events as “sad” in tweets; when he wished “best regards” to those injured by the car that was deliberately smashed into them, killing 1 and injuring 20. When he acted in that way, he was operating according to his instinct. And his instinct said:  Do not attack the white supremacists.

257
Shares
Google+ Print

Charlottesville and the American Crisis

Podcast: A ugly old adversary reemerges.

In the first COMMENTARY podcast of the week, I ask Noah Rothman and Abe Greenwald whether we are seeing a rise in extremist political violence in the United States and what it portends. And then we talk about what it means for the president to have chosen not to take the layup of denouncing Nazis when he had the chance. Give a listen.

11
Shares
Google+ Print

Resisting the Islamic State from Within

Heroes in obscurity.

Perhaps the best book I ever read was Natan Sharansky’s Fear No Evil, a memoir of his time in Soviet custody and an explanation of how he outwitted his KGB interrogators as they sought to break him. Almost every activist imagines that he is speaking truth to power, but to do so when power is overwhelming takes both courage and skill. But while the KGB sought totalitarian control, they could be subtle. That is one adjective that cannot be applied to the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh).

9
Shares
Google+ Print