“A university training is the great ordinary means to a great but ordinary end; it aims at raising the intellectual tone of society… It is the education which gives a man a clear conscious view of his own opinions and judgments, a truth in developing them, an eloquence in expressing them and a force in urging them.’ – John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University
Education is deeply imbedded in culture. However, it is most unfortunate that in our current era the educational basis of today’s culture is based on intolerance and hate. Though it is true that in the United States one has a constitutional right to the freedom of speech, should institutions of higher learning allow its student body a realm in which to spread its hate speech like a Cancer? UC Berkeley has recently reinstated a course entitled Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis. This course, though by the name not much seems amiss, the professor of the course clearly stated in a letter his intent to show in the course ‘Israel’s accountability for its continued violations of Palestinian rights.’ Also, according to an article by the Observer a review of the syllabus reveals that ‘the course’s objectives, reading materials and guest speakers are politically motivated, meet our government’s criteria for anti-Semitism, and are intended to indoctrinate students to hate the Jewish state and take action to eliminate it.’
As if it were not enough to have behavior like this at one higher education institution, the hate has spread. 58% of hate crimes spawned due to religious intolerance in the United States according to an FBI statistic is against a population that is little over two percent of the population, Jews. ‘Safe Places’ on U.S. College/University campuses seem like a good place for Jewish students in theory, however due to intolerance, bitter words, and misplaced idealism has prevented Jewish students from being able to safely enter those spaces on college grounds. The hypocrisy is a bit disconcerting that conferences which sole purpose is to promote tolerance and equality cry out to deny Jewish students their own equality. It is a sign of the times with terrorist groups such as Black Lives Matter and hate groups like BDS or Westboro Baptist Church seem to forget that other lives matter beyond just their own. How can anyone cry out at the social injustices towards one while speaking out against another minority at the same time?
Some might assume that only the recently educated or those becoming ‘educated’ are the ones spouting hate. However, just last year in October 2015 over 300 academics from the UK (lecturers, professors, etc.) called to boycott Israeli universities citing ‘intolerable human rights violations against the Palestinian people.’ It is intriguing that these 300 plus scholars and all the students have seem to turn a blind eye to articles and news that does not fit their own agenda. Has the world not learned what hate can do from Nazi Germany or the Spanish Inquisition?
The USACBI (US Campaign For the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) calls on everyone to boycott Israel. Where did the idea that Higher Education was a means to grow and be open to new ideals go to? The USACBI has listed in their mission statement to recognize Arab-Palestinian citizens in Israel to full and equal rights, do they not? They vote, drive, work, and live life to their choosing.
They want to end occupation and dismantling the Wall. If the organization is inferring to the security wall, why dismantle it? Can a government not legally build a wall around its borders? As for occupation, that remains to be seen if Israel is occupying anywhere other than its own land. Their third reason to boycott is respecting, protecting and promoting rights of Palestinians to return to their home. There is in the Israeli Parliament a fairly large Arab party. It is up to the elected officials to work with the government instead of using their platform for spread hate and dissent. Instead of calling for the destruction of Israel, work peacefully and help your people.
There are two scholars one more recent than the other that have said it better than anyone else to combat hate speech. Benjamin Franklin so famously stated, ‘We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.’ The other Victor Hugo is quoted with saying, ‘Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause.’ Both of these quotes pertain to what is happening around the world today. It is all too easy to say you hate and spread it like wildfire. The true challenge is try to understand what you hate and do your best to attack the problem not a religion. To those reading this that are on campuses and spreading your loathing instead of attacking innocents verbally or physically, why not learn both sides of the issue instead of just one side? To those that fall victim to tyranny, do not let it stop you. That which does not kill you, will only make you stronger.