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Timothy Carney

Timothy Carney, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

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Opinion

Universities must blame themselves for protest hypocrisy

May 16

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Timothy Carney

Timothy Carney, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

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U.S. college protests over the Israel-Hamas war have divided college campuses, often pitting university officials and executives against their own students and faculty. And yet, as Straight Arrow News contributor Timothy Carney points out, many of today’s university officials are actually the anti-Vietnam War protesters of a previous era’s student protest movement. Today, those same officials crush the anti-war protests of a new generation.


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Watch the video above to listen as Timothy Carney explores the reasons for this change of heart, and explains why U.S. universities have only themselves to blame for the situation they now find themselves in. Below is an excerpt from that video:

The baby boomers who run our colleges today have courted activists into their student body and their faculty, sold themselves as the training ground for “change-makers,” and celebrated their own radical pasts.

At Cornell University, for instance, the school celebrates the armed occupation of Willard Straight Hall. Back in 1969, radical students took over the campus building to protest “racist attitudes” and “irrelevant curriculum,” as Cornell describes it on its website. The university’s account of this occupation is 100% supportive of the armed occupants, and points out that the occupation was successful in getting the school to change its curriculum and add an “Africana Studies” major.

Writer Tyler Austin Harper in The Atlantic recounted recently how Cornell extolls this violent takeover in all sorts of ways and admits students who made it clear that they are coming to Cornell in order to become more effective activists for social justice.

Columbia University likewise celebrates the boomers’ anti-war protests in 1968. These protests included outright communists who were rooting for America’s defeat and the Communists’ continued march towards global empire.

It’s the same story across our elite institutions: Aging baby boomers who flex their radical past in order to buy some street cred now get upset that today’s young radicals are messing up their institutions.


Interested in opposing perspectives? Have a look at how our other contributors view this issue from across the political spectrum:

Adrienne Lawrence: Students learning brutal lesson on how police respond to protests.
Newt Gingrich: Pro-Palestine protesters should recognize the evils of Hamas.

Students on college campuses across America are protesting against Israel by camping out, occupying buildings, skipping class, and smashing windows.

 

While these activists have many supporters among the faculty, the *administrators* at these schools are clearly displeased by the destruction of property, the interruption of learning, the bad press, the cancelation of graduation, and the blow to their reputations.

 

But these administrators have only themselves to blame.

 

The Baby Boomers who run our colleges today have courted activists into their student body and their faculty, sold themselves as the training ground for “change-makers,” and celebrated their own radical pasts.

 

At Cornell University, for instance, the school celebrates the armed occupation of Willard Straight Hall. Back in 1969, radical students took over the campus building to protest “racist attitudes” and “irrelevant curriculum,” as Cornell describes it on its website. The University’s account of this occupation is 100 percent supportive of the armed occupants, and points out that the occupation was successful in getting the school to change its curriculum and add an “Africana Studies” major.

 

Writer Tyler Austin Harper in The Atlantic recounted recently how Cornell extolls this violent takeover in all sorts of ways and admits students who made it clear that they are coming to Cornell in order to become more effective activists for social justice.

 

Columbia University likewise celebrates the Boomers’ anti-war protests in 1968. These protests included outright communists who were rooting for America’s defeat and the communists’ continued march towards global empire.

 

It’s the same story across our elite institutions: Aging Baby Boomers who flex their radical past in order to buy some street cred now get upset that today’s young radicals are messing up their institutions.

 

Yes, the causes are different—one can obviously oppose the Vietnam War, support creating a Black Studies department, and yet oppose the pro-Palestinian cause. But in another way, the causes are the same, and the philosophy underlying them has been clearly articulated.

The Social Justice movement of the past decade has been clear: They want to dismantle the “systems of oppression.”

 

Those systems include all institutions as they currently exist: not just the church and the family, but also capitalism, academia, and the United States of America, which is, after all, a settler-colonial nation.

 

Such thorough dismantling is an unpleasant prospect to the former hippies now comfortably running some of these institutions. I won’t say they should have thought of that before becoming young radicals—young people can’t be expected to have foresight.

 

But maybe they should have considered the message they send when they celebrate their past radicalism and recruit and foster the generation of radicals who want to burn it all down.

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