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Making Duke Safe for Hate By: John Baker
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, October 25, 2004

Duke University’s new president, Richard H. Brodhead, has only been at his job since July of this year, yet he already has much to show for his tenure: university-sponsored anti-Semitism is enjoying a golden age of sorts.  Brodhead has achieved this in just a few months, bringing Duke more in line with other institutions of higher learning like Michigan, Yale and Ohio State. Under Brodhead’s new regime, Duke gave a green light to the Palestinian Solidarity Movement (PSM) conference, refusing to listen to critics who questioned the appropriateness of Duke hosting an the anti-Israel hatefest (“Zionism is a disease,” and suicide bombing of Jews is beyond criticism according to its speakers). Putting its money where its mouth is, Duke provided over $50,000 (according to an administrator interviewed by FrontPage reporter Lee Kaplan) to make the conference possible. Most of these funds were spent on security, which makes sense when you are hosting a gathering to support terrorism. Duke also allowed the conference to put on one face for the public – a rally for oppressed Palestinians – while holding closed sessions devoted to facilitating the genocidal agendas of Hamas and the PLO. One result of this fiasco was: a classically anti-Semitic article published in Duke University’s main student newspaper, the Duke Chronicle. 

The Chronicle article, written by Duke senior Philip Kurian -- who is a co-founder of Duke’s Center for Race Relations and a Duke scholarship recipient and who is African American -- has the virtue of candor, beginning with its title: “The Jews.” (In attacking the opponents of the conference, Kurian simply ignored the presence of several anti-Israel Jews among the organizers and participants.)


Kurian begins by informing readers that opposition to the PSM conference was spearheaded by “the powerful Jewish establishment,” which as Kurian warns us is “a very well-funded and well-organized establishment, indeed.” There are in fact too many Jews at Duke and other universities for Kurian’s comfort. “It is well known that Jews constitute the most privileged ‘minority’ group in this country,” and that Jews “enjoy shocking overrepresentation” among the most elite universities in the nation.  Jewish students, it can be inferred, don’t earn their successes through hard work and long hours of studying, but through covert backroom deals that unfairly help them gain entrance to Duke and other institutions at the expense of non-Jewish students.  In short, having your people secretly run the show sure helps.


Also helpful is the “Holocaust Industry,” an “extortion racket” run by the Jews to “stifle, not enhance, the Israeli-Palestinian debate, simultaneously belittling the real struggles for socioeconomic and political equality faced, most notably, by black Americans.” The Jewish establishment uses the Holocaust as a smokescreen: “what Jewish suffering—along with exorbitant Jewish privilege in the United States—amounts to is a stilted, one-dimensional conversation where Jews feel the overwhelming sense of entitlement not to be criticized or offended.” 


Jews have no right to criticize those who support their murderers, however: because the Jews opposed the PSM conference, they thereby “distorted the meaning of th[e] age-old teaching” of “Tikkun Olam,” or “perfecting the world.”  Got all this?  Fortunately, in Kurian’s eyes, Duke’s president didn’t give in to the Jews: “If the Duke administration had buckled under the influential weight of the Jewish establishment by not allowing the PSM conference, we would be suffering from the Orwellian notion of consciousness, where the only ideas that matter are the ones espoused by the powerful.” Most of the protest of the Duke event – which was led by the non-Jewish Duke Conservative Union --was to demand that the conference be open to all (which it wasn’t) and that its sessions not be closed to the press and the public (which many were). For the rest, the protesters sought to correct the genocidal lies the conference was designed to promote, which is what really gets Kurian’s dander up: “It is impossible to ignore the unprecedented outpouring of pro-Jewish, pro-Israeli support in defiance of free speech at Duke.” (Don’t even try to parse the logic of that sentence.)


Kurian is not what the Duke administration (or the Chronicle editors) would call intolerant (the greatest sin anyone can commit at Duke -- if the intolerance is directed at non-Jews).  He offers the Jews a familiar path to redemption: “[Jews] can renounce their difference by taking off the yarmulke.” This will protect them from the bigotry of people like Kurian. Such an easy escape from their persecutors is “not a luxury enjoyed by all minority groups.” Therefore, according to Kurian, “Jewish-American appropriation of the ‘oppressed’ moniker is disingenuous, belying the reality of America’s social hierarchy.” (Again, do not try to parse this sentence too closely.) In fact, Jewish attempts to remind people that they were nearly exterminated by anti-Semites not too long ago, are themselves oppressive to minorities like Kurian: “[The] U.S. decision to authorize federal funding of a holocaust memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.—hallowed ground otherwise reserved for commemorating U.S. history—camouflages this nation’s guilt in our own crimes against humanity: the Native American genocide and slavery.” 


Judging from the online feedback posted by readers from lands far beyond Duke’s ivied halls, the Chronicle article struck a real chord among anti-Semites and other fellow travelers.  One reader had these kind words for the article: “Newsflash to the staunch Jewish defenders – Jew [sic] isnt [sic] a race. Jews clearly have this nation by the financial scrotum. Listen to what this kid has to say, lest we find ourselves living in the Jewnited States of America.”  Another reader, allegedly a lawyer in Denver, shared these thoughtful insights after reading the Chronicle piece:


The next question to ponder is ‘who is more dangerous to us...in terms of the damage they have already inflicted, and could inflict in the future...the Jihadies or the Jewish Lobby terrorists?’ Who is [sic] our press, our politicians, and academicians more afraid of being targeted by?’ Do they know anyone personally, who has been taken out by the Jihadies?...how many do they know who have been taken out by the Lobby?...and what was the public reaction to that?


We have to take back from the hands of these disloyal citizens. These people will get us all killed to serve the interest of racist and criminal Israel.


And then there’s this, a precious bit of approval from a California engineer named Mohammed who was thoughtful enough to provide a link to a website that argues that Jews, not Islamist fanatics, were responsible for 9/11.  Clever, those Jews.


Amidst all the praise, however, one supporter did offer his constructive criticism: “I am glad you have the courage to stand up to the Jews. I agree with everything in your article, except you pointed out that the Holocaust is a fact, when in reality what happenned [sic] is still open for debate.” One had this sage -- or more likely -- sarcastic advice: “This jewish power must be stopped. You forgot to mention all the Jews who steal all the Nobel prizes instead of leaving them for others.”


Duke’s Jewish community responded in a column printed in the Chronicle, in which the author, the student president of Duke’s Freeman Center for Jewish Life, called the Chronicle’s editors “irresponsible.” (A pretty mild complaint from the all powerful cabal.)  The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also condemned the piece in a letter to the editor posted on the ADL website (but not in the Chronicle).  The Chronicle’s editor,  herself Jewish, insists she was right in running the Jew-hating diatribe, while conceding that a few cosmetic changes—like a different title—might have been in order. What she doesn’t say is that she and the Chronicle editors heavily censored the ads it ran that were critical of the conference, thus going out of their way to protect the sensibilities of Jew-haters and pro-terrorist activists without any prompting from irate readers.  


Perhaps sensing that his decision to sponsor the PSM might have encouraged this outburst of anti-Semitism at his university, Duke’s president issued a statement critical of Kurian’s article that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.  Brodhead’s response is rich in moral equivalence, laying equal blame on those who expressed concern about the hate Israel/justify terror conference. According to Broadhead, the Solidarity with Palestine Conference was a “peaceful and constructive event.” $50,000 in security, of course, will make any event with a couple of hundred people in attendance peaceful. But what is constructive about a conference that advises attendees how to break the law to aid terrorists? Judging by Brodhead’s statement, composing an anti-Semitic article is morally equivalent to opposing a pro-terrorism conference.  The evident moral is that Jews should suffer in silence as forces mobilize on Duke’s campus to destroy them. How dare Jews lump terrorists together with the students who support them? 


In his statement Brodhead failed even once to own up to the Duke administration’s role in making Duke an increasingly hostile place for Jews in general and in particular for all those who object to Duke’s coddling and promotion of terrorist sympathizers and activists. On no occasion have Duke’s administrators conceded that putting Duke’s imprimatur on a non-academic rally against Israel and the Jews might have been a mistake.  


Brodhead has subsequently stated that the Kurian article “was particularly dismaying for the many students participating in the Freeman Center for Jewish Life,” and has met with Jewish student leaders in an attempt at damage control.  The student president of the Freeman Center responded positively to Brodhead’s overtures, in fact.  Still, Brodhead continues to deny his responsibility for the mess he’s presided over: “[i]t appeared we had gotten through an enormously divisive episode [the PSM conference] in a pretty good way, and then all of a sudden, things became even more divisive again.”  His own dereliction of moral responsibity had nothing to do with this of course.


John Baker (a pen name) is a graduate student at Duke University.

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