I feel sorry for Elizabeth Magill, the former President of The University of Pennsylvania. Yes, she embarrassed herself and her institution and alienated large donors with her poor performance. And, of course, the two primary requirements of her position are not embarrassing the institution and not alienating donors. But she was just trying to do a job that has become impossible. It is certainly true that she and her sister Presidents of formerly respected academic institutions made themselves look like imbeciles by demonstrating an abject inability to deal with basic moral issues–”is calling for genocide bullying?” But they live in an environment in which moral relativism has made everything, yes everything, contextual.
Congresswoman Stefanik asked Ms. Magill if calling for genocide of Jews constituted bullying or harassment, clearly anticipating that she would receive an affirmative answer, so she could proceed to ask why the people who made such distressing calls on the Penn campus were not disciplined. But Ms. Magill, an academic to her very soul, instead gave Ms. Stefanik, a skillful politician, a huge gift. She qualified her answer.
“If it is directed and severe, pervasive, it is harassment.” “So,” Ms. Stefanik responded, “the answer is yes.”
And then Ms. Magill called upon the skills that undoubtedly made her a terrific test taker at law school and a fine professor of law. She employed her highly developed issue spotting skills, quickly considering every conceivable situation in which such a grotesque and violent public demand could be made–perhaps if a gun were being held to your head, perhaps if only genocide could reduce your carbon footprint–and came up with the cringeworthy, instant meme: “It is a context-dependent decision, congresswoman.”
Ms. Stefanik replied: “That’s your testimony today? Calling for the genocide of Jews is dependent upon the context?”
Game, set, match, Ms. Stefanik.
And back to teaching Constitutional Law for Professor Magill. [Advice to Jewish and/or Israeli graduate students planning to take the course: Don’t!]
But consider the ridiculous wonderland in which those university presidents live. They would be similarly unable to answer definitively the following questions that would have been elementary for any high school student before 1980:
Should merit be rewarded?
Is achievement to be respected?
Is it wrong to discriminate on the basis of race?
Are women people who are born with vaginas?
Are men people who are born with vaginas?
Is everyone entitled to the same reward irrespective of how well they perform or how hard they work?
Is grammar racist?
Is mathematics racist?
Are Israelis entitled to defend themselves?
Should the number of Asians admitted to a school be limited so other, less qualified students may attend?
Is shoplifting wrong?
Did the American colonies separate from England in order to preserve slavery?
Should criminal behavior be punished?
Excepting the NBA, should organizations be required to have their employees mirror the racial composition of the society, irrespective of qualifications?
“It is a context-dependent decision, congresswoman.”
And that is why forcing poor Ms. Magill from office is a sad, if appropriate, exercise in futility. She is the product of a broken system. As long as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (see the title of this essay) cult rules the education system, and critical race theory haunts society, we will continue to regress as a civilization. If there were any justice and common sense, the funds that are being withheld by outraged donors from Harvard, Columbia, Penn, Cornell, and other such compromised institutions, should be directed toward a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction study of lawful ways to do away with DEI and CRT.
Perhaps this should be a job with which Ms. Magill is tasked. It would be an appropriate penance.
End the programs, fire the administrators, abolish the litmus tests for faculty, break the teachers union, reform the curriculum, open intellectual debate, and rebuild the educational system. Utilize the federal and state legislatures, school boards, Boards of Regents, Boards of Directors, PTAs. Visas for foreign students who vandalize campuses or engage in antisocial behavior should be terminated. Students who break the law should be suspended or expelled.
The answer is not to combat anti-Semitism by bringing Jews under the umbrella protecting other at-risk identities. In the current hierarchy of the academy, anti-racism will always reign supreme, followed by transgenderism and pronoun abuse. Even if anti-Semitism makes it into the canon, it will be a poor cousin. But the whole system is corrupt. The answer is to throw away the umbrella entirely and bring back sanity. Weed out the provocateurs and charlatans (looking at you, Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ibram X. Kendi). Get back to basics. Bring back standards. Anyone with an ounce of common sense who looks at the curriculum and policies governing our education system can see where ideological extremism has overpowered morality, ethics, decency, and logic. We know where to go simply by looking at where we have been before the standards eroded.
Americans are decent people. They want to be just and fair. They deserve better.