Society has been tolerant, even accepting, of many of the actions and priorities of the far left on college campuses. The campus socialists have been, if not at the forefront, highly supportive of fundamental changes this century: the Me-Too Movement, the Black Lives Matter movement and the burgeoning equal rights of LGBTQIA+ individuals. As Dr. MLK, Jr. noted, the arc of moral just has been long, but it has been bending toward justice.
Some of the responses from some members of this community after the attack by Hamas on Israel, to many, did exactly the opposite. seemingly excusing the brutal killings. A statement was put out by two dozen Harvard groups that the Israel regime “entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” At George Washington University, a group of students projected the phrase “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” on the outside wall of the Gelman Library, which is well-known to be a call for the destruction of Israel, and “Glory to the Martyrs,” At the University of Virginia, the chapter of students for Justice in Palestine stated that it “unequivocally supports Palestinian liberation and the right of colonized people everywhere to resist the occupation of their land by whatever means they deem necessary.” Even a leftist Jewish group, Jewish Voice for Peace, put out a statement after the Hamas attack saying: “Israeli apartheid and occupation — and United States complicity in that oppression — are the source of all this violence.”
Mainstream Democrats and Socialist inspired groups have had an uneasy peace. Conor Friedersdorf, comments in The Atlantic that “the left’s most radical elements exerted influence disproportionate to their numbers because of the belief among their progressive allies their hearts were in the right place” causing some “ who deferred to leftists on social justice to regard their views with less deference and more skepticism. Virtue signaling on campus will change as radical views are seen as less virtuous.”
Rabbi Sharon Brous, a progressive rabbi in Los Angeles, who has consistently criticized Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, ruefully noted that ““The clear message from many in the world, especially from our world — those who claim to care the most about justice and human dignity — is that these Israeli victims somehow deserved this terrible fate,”
The excesses of college culture, described variously as “wokeness” or “cancel culture” have done little to dampen support for the causes they promote. There are plenty of examples, such as here, here and here, with speakers being shouted down, professors being fired, and students being attacked. Yet this time, things are different. Kyle Sammin, in the Phildelphia Inquirer, sums up that “In the new social justice calculus, instead of dividing individuals and their actions into right and wrong, they divide all groups into ‘oppressor’ and ‘oppressed.’ Convinced of their righteousness, the post-liberal left will openly say what was once unspeakable. They are emboldened to hate because they think that actions on behalf of the “oppressed” cannot be wrong, no matter how hateful. ..Our retreat from Enlightenment ideals is not progress — it’s a return to tribalism and hate.”
The uneasy alliance between the traditional Democrats and more far left is fraying badly. This is likely to affect the ability of these groups to act together for common causes. But it is also likely to move traditional Democrats toward the center where they will likely engage in new alliances.
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