EDITORIAL

University President Trio Fail To Speak With Moral Clarity On Genocide

The question of whether students should be disciplined if they call for the genocide of Jews posed to the presidents of Harvard, M.I.T., and Penn Universities, and the lack of forthrightness in their answer has not only left stakeholders angered but has also baffled some members of the public.

The presidents’ pretzel-like approach to answering the question was unbecoming of leaders entrusted with the overall responsibilities to ensure that students’ minds are molded to assume significant roles and make meaningful contributions to the greater good of society.

Now, how is it possible that leaders at three of the nation’s top leading universities cannot speak with moral clarity on the question of the genocide of the Jews?

Undoubtedly, any Jewish student who watched the display of their president at the hearing on Capitol Hill would have walked away with much fear and trepidation, especially given the context of the anti-Israel sentiments being demonstrated on university campuses and in the streets, not only locally but also internationally.

Senator John Fetterman, a Pennsylvania Democrat, one of several politicians opining on the matter, described the testimony as “a significant fail.”

“There is no ‘both sides-ism’ and it isn’t ‘free speech,’ it’s simply hate speech,” he said in a statement.

“It was embarrassing for a venerable Pennsylvania university, and it should be reflexive for leaders to condemn antisemitism and stand up for the Jewish community or any community facing this kind of invective,” he added.

Yet, to be fair, in their opening remarks and throughout the hearing, Dr. Gay, Ms. Magill, and Sally Kornbluth of M.I.T. all said they were appalled by antisemitism on campus.

However, on the question of disciplining students for statements about genocide, they took the circumvoluting route, giving a formulaic and bizarrely evasive answer.

The fact of the matter is the three presidents should not have made it a challenging task to condemn genocide against Jews or any other group of people – it’s that simple.

The university trio was pressed by Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, to get a yes or no answer on the call of the genocide of the Jews.

Ms. Magill, “Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn’s rules or code of conduct, yes, or no?”

Ms. Magill replied, “If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment.”

Ms. Stefanik pressed further on the issue: “I am asking, specifically: Calling for the genocide of Jews, does that constitute bullying or harassment?”

“If it is directed and severe, pervasive, it is harassment,” the president replied.

Ms. Stefanik responded: “So the answer is yes.”

Ms. Magill said, “It is a context-dependent decision, congresswoman.”

Ms. Stefanik exclaimed: “That’s your testimony today? Calling for the genocide of Jews is depending upon the context?”

All three leaders invoked a context-driven answer without speaking forcefully with moral clarity by stating categorically that genocide ought to be condemned.

The lawyer-like response from all three presidents is indeed troubling for at least three reasons:

First, leaders are prepared to compromise their position and sell their integrity on account of political correctness.

Second, self-preservation and job security force leaders to adhere to the adage, “See no evil, speak no evil, and hear no evil.”

Third, some leaders are prepared to do or say anything, even against their convictions, to maintain a certain status quo.

Evidence of the preceding can be seen in the mea culpa of all three presidents following the public backlash to their answer or lack thereof to a simple question — “Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn’s rules or code of conduct, yes, or no?”

A simple yes would do, but not for the university president trio.

A topsy-turvy world, isn’t it?

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Readers Bureau, Contributor

 Edited by Jesus Chan

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