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Taking Sides By: Joseph J. Sabia
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, October 04, 2002

Editors at the Cornell Daily Sun recently denounced Harvard University President Lawrence Summers for supporting Israel's right to self-defense against savage Arab terrorists. As has been widely reported, Summers publicly denounced anti-Semitism on America's college campuses and announced that Harvard would not divest from Israel. Outraged, the Cornell Daily Sun editors penned an editorial that would make the Swiss government blush, entitled "Not Taking Sides." It stated, in part:

Harvard University President Lawrence Summers broke the unwritten code of higher education administrators when he offered his opinion on the conflict in the Middle East…when Summers left no room for argument on the issue of the divestment, he did what most university presidents cringe from doing — he took a stand on a political issue. Summers must be commended for voicing his beliefs, especially with the understanding that his was not the popular view. However, the stronger argument might have been one of abstention.

First, what "unwritten code" are these people talking about? Since when have leaders in higher education not offered their opinions on a wide variety of political issues? Recently, Cornell University President Hunter Rawlings had multiple orgasms over his latest plan to hire unqualified racial minorities for academic positions to meet various racial quotas (and to prevent Africana Studies professors from rioting). Affirmative action is a political issue, is it not? Additionally, for many years, Cornell University Vice President of University Relations Henrik Dullea served as an aide to former liberal New York Governor Mario Cuomo. Since leaving Cuomo and joining Cornell, Dullea has advocated a liberal political agenda of mandatory multicultural indoctrination sessions for freshmen, racially segregated dormitories, and greater funding for public education. The notion that college administrators usually refrain from political positions is pure bunk. The Cornell Daily Sun simply disagrees with the content of President Summers' remarks, so they threw out a red herring in lieu of an honest argument.

Second, only on a college campus are there individuals who believe that abstention from a moral debate is the "stronger argument." Editors at the Cornell Daily Sun are moral relativists who do not believe that there is any difference between homicide bombers in the PLO and Israeli soldiers defending their nation. They instinctively identify with the "oppressed Palestinians" because their skin color tends to be a bit darker than most Israelis. (Plus, international Jewry is hoarding the world's wealth, right Sun editors? Wink, wink.)

Why is silence golden on a great moral issue of the day? The Cornell Daily Sun editors want the Ivy League to be unequivocal in its support for racial quotas, multiculturalism, and social spending. But on the question of Israel, Harvard is expected to be Switzerland. Would the Sun editors also demand Ivy League neutrality on the issues of slavery, Klan lynchings, gay bashing, National Socialism, and the One China Policy?

The editors then offer:

Blatant discrimination, though, must be distinguished from intellectual debate. Protesters on both sides of the issue have been subject to bigotry; posters have been vandalized and students threatened.

These remarks are intellectually dishonest. Jewish students have not been engaging in organized efforts to threaten Arab students or vandalize their property. The reverse, however, is not true. Fanatical Arab students throughout the California University system (and increasingly at elite universities on the eastern seaboard) have been engaging in riotous acts of hooliganism designed to intimidate Jewish students. Many of these incidents have been reported here on FrontPage Magazine. Most recently, the Boston Globe reported:

The Harvard Islamic Society has publicly acknowledged that it has considered donating funds to the Holy Land Foundation, a group with some humanitarian programs that the United States has linked to the radical Islamic group Hamas.

Isn't that special? The Religion of Peace strikes again. Imagine if various Hillel chapters started donating money to organizations that advocate homicide bombings? Somehow I doubt folks would chalk up such activity to the "strength of diversity."

Not only do the Cornell Daily Sun editors denounce President Summers' remarks, but they also predict that his support of Israel will lead to lawlessness and the suppression of free speech at Harvard:

In addition, taking a stand on a political issue creates a rift in the campus between students who agree with the president (and the might of the administration) and those who do not. It does not leave room for healthy protests but for the type of ignorance that causes students to anonymously express their opinion with graffiti.
Putting aside the obvious point that college administrations routinely take stands on issues that alienate conservative, religious, and patriotic students, there is nothing in President Summers' comments that suggests that free speech rights will be squelched. Any Harvard student can, presumably, protest Israel or America and support totalitarian terrorists whenever they like. Students can write newspaper articles, hold rallies, hand out flyers, and so forth. The First Amendment gives them the right to speak, but not the right to be heard.


If Palestinian sympathizers choose to vandalize private property with anti-Semitic graffiti, they will reveal themselves as barbarians unable to cope with intellectual discourse. These thugs will be solely to blame for their crimes, not supporters of Israel. It seems that extreme leftists always find some way to blame Israel's supporters for the criminal acts of Arab terrorists and their allies.

The Cornell Daily Sun editors close with the following:

A university campus is a prime place for protests and debate to rage unchecked. However, the university will never be a tool for making political statements, it will only be the forum at which to develop such opinions.

While it is nice to see this 180-degree turn-around from the stance Cornell Daily Sun editors took in 1997 (when they endorsed the theft and burning of the campus conservative newspaper, Cornell Review), they again erroneously imply that President Summers' suggested that free speech rights be abridged. He did no such thing.

For years, the campus Left has endorsed policies such as speech codes and sensitivity seminars to infringe upon students' free speech rights. Now, they are upset because their opinions are wildly unpopular among reasonable-minded Americans and, rather than defend their obscene points of view, they are outrageously and erroneously claiming that their free speech rights have been abridged. There is a name for this type of mindset — psychosis.

The position of the Cornell Daily Sun is clear — these Leftists want the Ivy League to remain neutral on the question of university divestment from Israel. Fortunately, there are university presidents like Larry Summers around to remind college kids that there is a difference between good and evil and that evil will not triumph on his watch. Shame on the Cornell Daily Sun for writing such a spineless editorial and allying itself with anti-Semites.

Joseph J. Sabia is a Ph.D. candidate in economics at Cornell University.

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