Any Other Group
Three elite university presidents decline to say that calling for the genocide of Jews violates their codes of conduct.
AT A CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON TUESDAY, the presidents of three formerly great institutions—Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT—demurred on the question of whether calling for the genocide of Jews violated their universities’ codes of conduct.
Not a single one replied yes.
Nor could they state unequivocally that calls for the elimination of Jews constituted harassment.
This question was phrased baldly.
It was not about pro-Palestine protests. It was not about calls for a two-state solution.
Or criticisms of Israel.
“The genocide of Jews” was the exact phrase, stated over and over.
This three minutes and thirty-one seconds is worth watching in its entirety, lest you understandably believe my interpretation is spin or hyperbole. And if you don’t want to watch it, here’s the transcript:
Rep. Elise Stefanik: Dr. Kornbluth, at MIT, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate MIT’s code of conduct or rules regarding bullying and harassment? Yes or no?
MIT President Sally Kornbluth: If targeted at individuals not making public statements.
Stefanik: Yes or no? Calling for the genocide of Jews does not constitute bullying and harassment?
Kornbluth: I have not heard calling for the genocide for Jews on our campus.
Stefanik: But you’ve heard chants for intifada.
Kornbluth: I’ve heard chants which can be antisemitic depending on the context when calling for the elimination of the Jewish people.
Stefanik: So those would not be, according to the MIT’s code of conduct or rules.
Kornbluth: That would be investigated as harassment if pervasive and severe.
Stefanik: Ms. Magill, at Penn, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn’s rules or code of conduct? Yes or no?
University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill: If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment. Yes.
Stefanik: I am asking, specifically calling for the genocide of Jews, does that constitute bullying or harassment?
Magill: If it is directed, and severe, pervasive, it is harassment.
Stefanik: So the answer is yes.
Magill: It is a context-dependent decision, congresswoman.
Stefanik: It’s a “context-dependent decision”? That’s your testimony today? Calling for the genocide of Jews is, depending upon the context, that is not bullying or harassment? This is the easiest question to answer yes, Ms. Magill. So is your testimony that you will not answer yes? Yes or no?
Magill: If the speech becomes conduct. It can be harassment, yes.
Stefanik: Conduct meaning committing the act of genocide. The speech is not harassment. This is unacceptable, Ms. Magill. I’m gonna give you one more opportunity for the world to see your answer. Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn’s code of conduct when it comes to bullying and harassment? Yes or no?
Magill: It can be harassment.
Stefanik: The answer is yes. And Dr. Gay at Harvard? Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules of bullying and harassment? Yes or no?
Harvard President Claudine Gay: It can be depending on the context.
Stefanik: What’s the context?
Gay: Targeted as an individual—targeted at an individual.
Stefanik: It’s targeted at Jewish students, Jewish individuals. Do you understand your testimony is dehumanizing them? Do you understand that dehumanization is part of antisemitism? I will ask you one more time. Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules of bullying and harassment? Yes or no?
Gay: Antisemitic rhetoric when it crosses into conduct, that amounts to bullying, harassment, intimidation, that is actionable conduct, and we do take action.
Stefanik: So the answer is yes. That calling for the genocide of Jews violates Harvard code of conduct. Correct?
Gay: Again, it depends on the context.
Let us imagine the question rephrased:
“Does calling for the genocide of blacks constitute bullying and harassment?”
“Does calling for the wholesale slaughter of gays constitute bullying and harassment?”
“Does calling for the genocide of Mexicans constitute bullying and harassment?”
“Does calling for the massacre of handicapped individuals constitute bullying and harassment?”
“Does calling for the genocide of Hindus constitute bullying and harassment?”
Would we have to scratch our heads and ponder context if the question were posed in relation to any other group?
“Genocide is acceptable” is the end game of tribal moral relativism, where individuals are reduced to their group identity and assigned worth and rights on the basis of perceived victimization. Through this filter, Jews are the only group that don’t fit neatly into one category; we are considered both oppressed and oppressors. That is why antisemitism serves as a canary in the coal mine. Once Jews become fair game and are served up to the resentment-fueled mob on a platter as deserving targets of obliteration, the remaining groups are neatly sorted. And then the world tears itself apart.
It is a story nearly as old as humanity.
Are we going to draw a line now, finally? Or repeat the cycle?
William Ackman, hedge fund investor and Harvard board member, stated that “the world will be able to judge the relative quality of the governance” at these three universities “by the comparative speed by which their boards fire their respective presidents.”
The clock is ticking.
In every sense.
Gregg Hurwitz is the New York Times #1 internationally bestselling author of 21 thrillers including the ORPHAN X series. His novels have won numerous literary awards and have been published in 32 languages. Additionally, he’s written screenplays and television scripts for many of the major studios and networks, comics for DC and Marvel, and political and culture pieces for the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, and others. Gregg lives with his two Rhodesian ridgebacks in Los Angeles, where he continues to play soccer, frequently injuring himself.