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The AAUP’s statement on campus protest

When the UN General Assembly adopted its infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution  a few months short of fifty years ago, a newspaper in New York City, my hometown, printed a list of the countries that had voted for the ignoblie decretum. Dad clipped it, taped it the door of our kitchen in Castle Village, and wrote neatly on the top, THE SH*T LIST. Dad has gone on to a better world, and may his memory be a blessing. But for those of us stuck down here in times that are darker, down here on what a friend of mine recently called the floor of the bird cage, here is an addition to the Sh*t List. It consists of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and its members, who have concocted and signed the statement you can read below.

The statement decries the words and actions of Congress, American law enforcement, and anybody else who has dared to stand up for human decency since October 7th, 2023, as violations of just about every Constitutional freedom there is. The statement is hogwash from start to finish.

You would think that this self-righteous gang were defending an inoffensive gaggle of flower children playing sitars and chanting “All we are saying is give peace a chance” while being roughed up by blue-helmeted cops egged on by a sweaty, unshaven demagogue like Senator Joe McCarthy with his Heinz 57 list of card-carrying Communists. One has to pinch oneself, to remind oneself that they are advocating the violently genocidal antisemitic mobs that have disfigured American campuses for many months.

The AAUP styles itself a champion of free speech. Free speech? That hasn’t existed on the American campus in years. Decades! Trigger warnings, micro-aggressions— all that was the primrose path going downhill to the pit. To this. They are not advocating free speech. They are advocating incitement. Is the AAUP for real?

Of course not. The AAUP is lying. Its members are lying. They are, all of them, low down liars. Or as a Yiddish-speaking Brooklyn mom of my parents’ acquaintance used to say long ago whenever her daughter brought a boy home, “Feh! A hoodlum, a gangster, a bum!” That’s who they are. Hoodlums! Gangsters! Bums! Because they’re not defending hippies or sophomoric late-night dormitory bulls*itters, and they know it. They’re perverting every single word, every jot and tittle, of the English language by running sanctimonious interference for masked thugs and cutthroats who are celebrating Hamas and its sanguinary mayhem, giving aid and comfort to terrorism, and calling for the extermination of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Hamas, Hezbollah, & Co. have duly thanked these vicious morons— coddled millennial Nazis and their phony professorial mentors— for their earnest efforts. And with this disingenuous manifesto, the tenured radicals have done their bit for the globalized intifada, too: the AAUP has made itself an apologist for mass murder, a lobbyist for terrorism.

Remember back before COVID when BLM/Antifa were rampaging through American cities, killing, burning, and looting? The same academic windbags and the same media establishment, the brownshirts of the “left”, then declared those riots “mostly peaceful demonstrations”. And we, the appalled majority of the American people, were expected to swallow this “mostly peaceful” tripe silently. Oh yeah, like the Titanic was a “mostly floating ship”. Same Big Lie now. Goebbels would be proud of today’s AAUP. Silence implies consent, my Dad used to say. Well I’m not silent, and if my compatriots don’t speak up very loudly indeed, in public fora and at the ballot box, the big lie stands fair to vanquish the truth.

Peaceful protests? Peaceful? Like the Jewish students assaulted, abused, or threatened on campuses all over the country? Like the violent break-in at Hamilton Hall at Columbia University? Like tearing down the American flag? Too bad the AAUP wasn’t around in the 1930s to whitewash Hitler’s stormtroopers. (Well, maybe it was, after a fashion: after all, Harvard & Columbia with their numerus clausus were both playing footsie with the “mostly peaceful” Führer. )

And the AAUP can spare us its “vehemence” about lawmakers, too. Rep. Stefanik and her Congressional colleagues asked the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and UPenn whether it was okay to call on their campuses for the genocide of Jews. Yes or no? The three harpies demurred and replied with sick smirks that such incitement to mass murder had to be “contextualized”. How mean of Congress to take note when the inmates have taken charge of the asylum for the criminally insane that is American higher education today. Congress, too, should shut up, opening its mouth only when ordered to swallow the big lie.

Anyhow, here’s the AAUP’s longwinded statement, together with its signatories (that is, the updated Sh*t List). If it were shorter it might serve as an epitaph for the life of the mind in this unhappy country. As it is, it’s just another document of our collective slide into ignominy. Dad, I miss you but you were a devoted Columbia alumnus and maybe it was an act of grace that you’re not here to see what academia’s become.

An afterword.

Back in the fall of 1967, when I was a freshman at Bronx Science and kids tended to drift off to sleep in first-period English class, Mr. Trimarco (God, how I miss him) used to drop a dictionary on his desk with a bang and intone, “Wake up, America!” The poor, nodding young heads would jerk upright.

Everybody loved Mr. Trimarco, and just before Christmas break we purchased a strawberry cheese cake, knowing from various soliloquies that it was his favorite. And there it was on the table awaiting his arrival in a white cardboard box neatly tied with string. Like the extraterrestrial singing stone slab in “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Ninth graders were mostly tough Irish and Italian parochial school kids: the intake from the public schools came a year later. Trimarco came in. “The laws of the State of New York prohibit me from accepting a gift from a student. Who brought this?” We kept mum: omertà, the parochial schools’ iron-clad code of silence, ruled. He takes the cake.

Fast forward a week and a half to the first bleak, dark, freezing January morning of classes in the new year of 1968. Mr. Trimarco comes in. “I just want to say,” he intones in his Jack Benny drawl, “that the only good thing about the holidays was a certain strawberry cheesecake.” The class erupted in wild cheering that I never witnessed the like of before or since. Now THAT was America. THAT was education. I want it back.

Mr. Trimarco, my Dad, my Mom, everybody I ever loved, are all gone beyond the veil. The AAUP and its ilk want us who are left to sleepwalk over the cliff into the abyss. The edge is coming very, very close. I will not march in step. For all of them, for myself, for you, I’ll shout till I’m hoarse, Wake up, America!

***

“The AAUP and its chapters defend the right to free speech and peaceful protest on university campuses, condemn the militarized response by institutional leaders to these activities, and vehemently oppose the politically motivated assault on higher education.

“Our colleges and universities are places of free and open expression, inquiry, and debate. Even in sharp disagreement, our goal is communication in service of learning and understanding. The critical evaluation of different points of view and the questioning of even the most deeply held beliefs are essential to learning. So too is our students’ right to protest and to express their political convictions.

“In a democratic society based on the fundamental value of free speech, it is unacceptable to respond to demonstrations with violent repression. When the Speaker of the House of Representatives equates protesters at Columbia University with terrorists, he irresponsibly incites violence. When politicians demand the resignation of university presidents, they threaten the autonomy of private universities. These actions continue an alarming and decades-long trend of undermining the shared governance, academic freedom and independence that have made American higher education globally preeminent. These recent interferences and threats are part of an ongoing partisan, political attack intended to dismantle higher education in service to the public interest, and make our institutions beholden only to corporate, political and private interests. They are an existential threat to democracy.

“We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the heavy-handed, militaristic response to student activism that we are seeing across the country. At this critical moment, too many cowardly university leaders are responding to largely peaceful, outdoor protests by inviting law enforcement in riot gear to campus and condoning violent arrests. These administrators are failing in their duty to their institutions, their faculty, their students, and their central obligation to our democratic society. When university administrators set overly restrictive limitations on when, where, and how free speech may be exercised, and require advanced applications for permission of such expression, they effectively gut the right itself. To insist that harsh discipline and violent repression are necessary to combat hate on a college campus is a pretext to suppress protest and silence speech.

“Harassment and hate have no place on college campuses or anywhere. Universities have carefully developed policies and disciplinary procedures based on due process to address these long-standing problems and these must be used now and allowed to run their course. Policies enacted unilaterally after October 7 violate principles of shared governance, and institutions should enforce only mutually-approved policies which, on a college campus, should be focused on restorative justice and learning in service of understanding.

“We are alarmed at the shameless exertion of pressure on university leaders by the nation’s politicians, by the universities’ most powerful donors, and by other interest groups. We are even more alarmed at how quickly our institutional leaders have capitulated to that pressure. In just a few months, too many university leaders have abandoned long-standing principles of academic freedom and shared governance that are meant to protect colleges from such outside influence. Policies guaranteeing academic freedom and free speech mean nothing if they are not upheld in times of stress. We call on institutional leaders to reinstate student organizations shut down in recent months for political activity, to drop charges against peaceful protesters, to observe due process in disciplinary actions, to keep armed law enforcement off campuses, and to uphold fundamental freedoms for students and faculty.

“AAUP stands with our chapters and members nationwide who are defending free speech, the right of assembly, and associational rights for students. The way forward is through education and dialogue, not through zip-ties and fear-mongering. We invite all AAUP members, AAUP chapters, higher-education unions and any organizational ally to endorse these positions by signing this statement.

Signed:

Allegheny College AAUP Chapter
Alliance for Texas History
American Association of University Professors
American University AAUP Chapter
Ball State University AAUP Chapter
Bard College AAUP Chapter
Bowling Green State University Faculty Association AAUP Chapter
Bucknell University AAUP Chapter
California Faculty Association
Carleton College AAUP Chapter
The Coalition for an Ethical Psychology
College of the Holy Cross AAUP Chapter
Columbia University AAUP Chapter
Cornell University AAUP Chapter
DePaul University AAUP Chapter
Eckerd College AAUP Chapter
Franklin & Marshall College AAUP Chapter
Gallaudet University AAUP Chapter
George Mason University AAUP Chapter
Georgia State Conference of the AAUP
Guilford College AAUP Chapter
Hamilton College AAUP Chapter
Hobart and William Smith Colleges AAUP Chapter
Indiana University–Bloomington AAUP Chapter
Indiana State Conference of the AAUP
Kennesaw State University AAUP Chapter
La Salle University AAUP Chaper
Lewis & Clark College AAUP Chapter
Marquette University AAUP Chapter
Maryland State Conference of the AAUP
Misericordia University AAUP Chapter
Morehouse College AAUP Chapter
Nevada Faculty Alliance
The New School AAUP Chapter
New York State Conference of the AAUP
New York University AAUP Chapter
North Carolina State Conference of the AAUP
North Carolina State University AAUP Chapter
Northern Michigan University AAUP Chapter
Purdue University–Fort Wayne AAUP Chapter
Purdue University–West Lafayette AAUP Chapter
Roosevelt University AAUP Chapter
Scholars for a New Deal for Higher Education
Seton Hall University AAUP Chapter
St. Bonaventure University AAUP Chapter
Students for Justice and Peace at Elon University
Syracuse University AAUP Chapter
Temple Association of University Professionals
Texas A&M University–San Antonio AAUP Chapter
Texas A&M–College Station AAUP Chapter
Texas AAUP-AFT Conference
Texas Faculty Association
Towson University AAUP Chapter
Trinity University AAUP Chapter
UC-AFT Local 1474
Union College AAUP Chapter
United Academic of Alaska AAUP-AFT
United Academics of the University of New Mexico
United Academics of the University of Oregon
United Academics of Vermont
United Campus Workers of Georgia
United Campus Workers of Arizona
United Faculty of Florida
University of Chicago AAUP Chapter
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs AAUP Chapter
University of Delaware AAUP Chapter (Executive Council)
University of Texas at Austin AAUP Chapter
University of Maryland–College Park AAUP Chapter
University of Miami AAUP Chapter
University of Minnesota–Twin Cities AAUP Chapter
University of Michigan–Ann Arbor Chapter
University of Nebraska–Lincoln AAUP Chapter
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill AAUP Chapter
University of North Carolina at Greensboro AAUP Chapter
University of Pennsylvania AAUP Chapter
University of Rhode Island AAUP Chapter
University of South Carolina–Columbia AAUP Chapter
University of Southern California AAUP Chapter
University of Tulsa AAUP Chapter
University of Virginia AAUP Chapter
University of Wisconsin–Madison AAUP Chapter
Vanderbilt University AAUP Chapter
Washington and Lee University AAUP Chapter
Washington State University AAUP Chapter
Wayne State University AAUP Chapter
Whitman College AAUP Chapter
Whittier College AAUP Chapter”

About the Author
Born New York City to Sephardic Mom and Ashkenazic Dad, educated at Bronx Science HS, Columbia, Oxford, SOAS (Univ. of London), professor of ancient Iranian at Columbia, of Armenian at Harvard, lectured on Jewish studies where now live in retirement: Fresno, California. Published many books & scholarly articles. Belong to Chabad.
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