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UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

Truth or social justice? I have a feeling in the minds of the kids on campus they are the same thing. They’re living “their truth” as they like to say. Remember in the post-modernist world the truth can be seen as relative.
How unfortunate.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I agree but I think the author is challenging the university authorities to choose between truth and social justice; he’s challenging them to become what they always should have been: the adults in the room.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

“Some others dispensed even with the pretence of scientific scholarship, producing work that was little more than political propaganda, barely distinguishable from the eccentric rants..”
Hasn’t this been true of UK and US universities for the last 60 years

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago

Yes, this was the point of the article….

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

In the ‘I’ paper yesterday, a so-called journo writing about Germolene Boy and The Princess of Lies (aka Hal & Megs) repeated some of the latter’s lies with the intro ‘We all know that….’.

Goebbels would be greatly pleased to see his own propaganda techniques being slavishly emulated by today’s youngsters.

Samantha Stevens
Samantha Stevens
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I teach HS and if I hear “my truth” or “my authentic self” one more time in school from a student or colleague, or on TV or in media, my head will explode. I came of age, Jesuit educated, in the truth era.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
1 month ago

The dear little boys and girls on campus have not yet grown up. Apparently, there are certain kinds of knowledge that one cannot get at college ……

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago

Thought-provoking essay. Some parallels to today’s campus environment.

El Uro
El Uro
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Right now I’m reading Geschichte eines Deutschen (The story of one German) by Sebastian Haffner. The book covers the period from 1914 to 1938. Some details are almost the same

A D Kent
A D Kent
1 month ago

 OK then, as truth is so pivotal, there are two questions that need to be answered before we can hope to address any of the issues raised by the current University protests.

Are men, women and children being killed, maimed, starved and tortured in their tens of thousands in Gaza?
Are the governments of the countries in whihch each protest is taking place offering support – physical and/or moral – to those inflicting that suffering?

Once you’ve answered these then only then can we have a proper, truth-based, discussion regarding the context of the current protests.

El Uro
El Uro
1 month ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Where have you seen torture, dear demagogue?
BTW, Hamas has excellent relations with Russia, Hezbollah, Iran, which helps Russia kill Ukrainians and destroy Ukraine, and our admirer of fascist totalitarian regimes says something about humanism.
You are ordinary Quisling, buddy

A D Kent
A D Kent
1 month ago
Reply to  El Uro

Evidence of torture? How about on CNN – when it makes it to one of the narrative management outlets, you know it’s too serious to hide.

https://edition.cnn.com/2024/05/10/middleeast/israel-sde-teiman-detention-whistleblowers-intl-cmd/index.html

Dr E C
Dr E C
1 month ago
Reply to  A D Kent

No, they’re not. And you need to stop injecting Al Jazeera directly into your veins.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 month ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Silly, undergraduate level straw man. Superficial level answer to your questions.

1. We don’t know since the UN recently cast significant on doubt on the numbers coming from Hamas. It seems many civilians have been killed, as they have in every war since aircraft became weapons of war.

2. Absolutely. Aid funding of one side has enabled them to build rockets and tunnels, and sanctions release on the regional power fermenting the trouble has enabled them to keep supply lines going

Let’s try other silly, tribal questions to simplify a complex tragedy.

1. Is it possible to negotiate with an armed political grouping whose reason for existing is your destruction.

2. How should any sovereign state respond to the well publicised murder of 1200 of its citizens

Or try a more philosophical question. If a man is shooting at you, while crouched behind his own child, who is responsible for the death of the child?

A D Kent
A D Kent
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

 This reply may be brief and may include responses to other comments that gave answers to my two questions, but as as usual Unherd has removed my comment from view. If you’re reading this, then we can assume that it has reappeared – at least for a while, but I’m not going to bother spending much more than a few minutes because there’s no point wasting my time otherwise.

The ‘rounded-down’ figures of Gazan deaths still result in five figure (tens of thousand) numbers. It is also the case that the reports of the rounding-down were based on misrepresentation of the fact that the UN had released figures for the number of bodies that they had managed to identify so far. There still remained around ten thousand (that number again) of corpses the UN knew of, but that they were, as yet, unable to put a name to.

Beyond that, given the relative levels of destruction inflicted on Gaza and the numbers of dead we know that have followed such levels of devastation in other conflicts, five-figure casualty numbers are not at all unlikely.

In reply to Martin’s questions (as far as I can remember them):.

1. Yes it is always possible to negotiate with anyone.

2. I’ll note the number of Israel dead from the events of October 7th were, according to Haretz, about 50 shy of 1200, at least 300 of them were armed forces or other security personnel, and that an unknown, non-zero, number of these were caused by the Israeli response (there’s plenty of discussion of their Hannibal Directive taking place in their own media. I’ll answer your more philosophical question with one of my own:

When ever has it been that the appropriate response to that situation has been to call in an airstrike?

There are all sorts of issues regarding notions of proportionality that come into play here – far to many to list, but chief amongst these are the range of other options available. Could the threat of that gunman be otherwise minimised and contained? Could this be achieved in a way that would not necessarily lead to the gunman escaping justice?

In the Israeli/Hamas context the answers to both these questions disfavour the actions they’ve taken. The Hamas incursions of October 7th did not destroy all the fences, did not destroy all the monitoring equipment, did not render the IDF in capable of plugging whatever holes had bee made or render the Iron Dome suddenly unable to shoot down their rockets. After that there were a range of much more targetted approaches and responses the Israelis could have taken that were many orders of magnitude less wanton than the one they, apparently gleefully, embarked upon.  

In my view (and very likely also in the view of many of the demonstrators) the IDF’s response has been massively disproportionate, massively damaging to their future security, utterly depraved and morally reprehensible. Our governments should not be supporting it. All this talk of 1933 is sickening, apologist cobblers.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 month ago
Reply to  A D Kent

You have a startling ability to ignore context, fact and history. After a rapist finishes his torture on a woman, do you also side with the rapist after he goes on trial for his crime? If you were a doctor, you would also be an advocate for only removing very small pieces of a malignant tumor in the human body in hopes of curing the cancer. Incredible perspective you have.

David Clancy
David Clancy
1 month ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

If the victim then kills the rapist along with his entire extended family including 10 children and whoever else was visiting that day, then I begin to lose some sympathy, yes

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
1 month ago
Reply to  David Clancy

Hamas started this war on October 7th. They enjoy the support of most of their population, who cheered when the half naked corpses of female Israelis were dragged into Gaza as gruesome trophies. Hamas killed hundreds of young people at a peace rave, murdered families in their homes, and tortured people to death. Hamas then stated that they will repeat actions like these, until Israel is destroyed.
Israel is now at war with Hamas, who hide weapons and war materiele in hospitals, mosques, and schools, and in their childrens’ nurseries.
Any Palestinian casualties – and Hamas knew well that there would be many – are now propaganda victories for Hamas, as evidenced by the charges of “genocide” by people such as the kleptocratic government of South Africa. And by the propaganda war waged by the blatantly antisemitic.
Personally, I dislike both antisemitism and radical theocracies, as well as hard left socialism, as they’re all a clear threat to liberal democracy, but in the West, you can believe what you’d like.

Dr E C
Dr E C
1 month ago
Reply to  A D Kent

The answer to both your fantastical questions are no, they’re not. https://youtu.be/sP5JHNDZqbQ?si=waC4c71mJnZSjqXK

thomas Schinkel
thomas Schinkel
1 month ago

The universities, then and today, are subjecting themselves to the charge of giving in to political expediency at the expense of an objective truth, the primary idea behind science. The protesting students today express a peculiarly universal human sentiment called morality. It was, is and always will be immoral to commit genocide regardless of whether the targeted population is considered by some as “expendable”.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago

Of course you’re right about the immorality of genocide, under any circumstances.
The Israeli campaign in Gaza just isn’t genocide, by any accepted definition. If it were, it would’ve been over in the first week. You know that very well, of course. Your use of the term ‘genocide’ in this instance is therefore immoral, and debases those populations who’ve suffered actual genocide.
Genocide of the Jews, on the other hand, is the stated policy of Hamas.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Thanks for dealing with Hamas’s useful idiot.

A D Kent
A D Kent
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Here’s an ‘accepted definition’ of genocide – taken from the UN Convention on..wait for it… Genocide:
The israeli outrages fit all of these in spades:
Article II
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 month ago
Reply to  A D Kent

You are, of course, referring to Hamas’s mission statement?

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

It’s a Marxist tool to use the opposite meaning of words.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago

Yet their passionate morality doesn’t extend to places like Armenia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and countless other places.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago

If one is to invoke the term genocide, it might be nice to use it in an applicable situation. When a nation telegraphs where and when it is going to strike, that’s not genocide; that’s an attempt to minimize civilian casualties. As it is, the death figures issued by Hamas that were once taken for granted were found to be grossly inflated. That’s not how genocide works.

David Clancy
David Clancy
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

One word: 15,000 children. And please don’t argue about exact numbers. Of children, blown apart, crushed or burned to death.
15,000.
Ethnic cleansing, at the least.

David Yetter
David Yetter
1 month ago
Reply to  David Clancy

You are accepting as accurate casualty figures which make no distinction between civilian and combattant deaths, are likely inflated overall, show statistical patterns which suggest they are fraudulent, and are moreover issued as accusations against Jews by an arm of an organization whose charter calls not merely for the elimination of the State of Israel, but for the elimination of all Jews.
We may wonder, also, how many of those children are 15, 16 and 17 year old Hamas fighters legitimately killed in combat, how many were collateral deaths not of Israeli action, but of Hamas action.
The best estimates of the civilian to combattant death ratio in the Israeli operation in Gaza are between 1.5 to 1 and 3 to 1. The average in modern urban combat is 9 to 1. Not only are the Israelis not committing genocide, they are more careful to minimize collateral civilian casualties than any army in modern history, even though their task is made harder by Hamas deliberately colocating military assets with civilians and civilian infrastructure, which, last I checked, is a war crime.

David Clancy
David Clancy
1 month ago
Reply to  David Yetter

Collateral deaths of the precision guided heroic 2000lb bombs, I would say. There’s another number: 2000lb of high explosive. Heroes.
And yes, you really are arguing about numbers. Class. In the past people have not seriously disputed the Health Ministry’s figures, not even Israel.
Maybe it’s only 14000. Maybe 16000 – by now – there’ll be some famine-related deaths just now. Maybe 10000. Is that acceptable? Maybe it’s only 25, and their pets.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago
Reply to  David Clancy

Except it’s NOT 15,000 children. The death toll was revised. Downward. Did you miss that or choose to ignore it?

David Clancy
David Clancy
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

What was the number Alex? How many children?

Dr E C
Dr E C
1 month ago
Reply to  David Clancy

That’s not one word. And it is a Hamas figure. And you are just showing you’ve bought their war aim hook line & sinker.

David Clancy
David Clancy
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr E C

Congratulations you spotted my Midnight Run reference. Well here come 2 words for you ….
As is well known by now, Hamas figure is accurate, it’s just that there are 10,000 corpses unidentified. Jeez, you’d think they could get onto that more smartly. Still, bureaucracy huh?

Samantha Stevens
Samantha Stevens
1 month ago

In WWII, Allied bombers killed 600K German citizens, including 80K infants and children. Was that a genocide? Should we not have stopped Hitler? War is hell and innocent people die. But Israel didn’t start this war.

David Clancy
David Clancy
1 month ago

I’d have thought we’d have moved on from 80 years ago, but apparently not. In fact, 15000 Palestinian vs 80000 german children, given the differences in scales of the conflicts? I’d say Israel’s doing a banging job turning back the clock on state-sanctioned human behaviour in conflict. What do you reckon?

Samantha Stevens
Samantha Stevens
1 month ago
Reply to  David Clancy

Taking your statistics from Hamas, I see. And no, we haven’t moved on from 80 years ago at all. So many wars and injustices all over the world, including October 7th, but people only become angry when Jews defend themselves after a brutal attack. There’s a word for that – anti-Semitism.
Any reaction to the recovery of Shani Louk’s body? You might remember her – she was the girl whose naked body was paraded around in the back of a pick-up like a dead deer after she had been raped, as Palestinian men spit on her and Palestinian women and children cheered.
Do you also advocate for the Jewish children held hostage to be returned?

David Clancy
David Clancy
1 month ago

No, I become angry when a state has such a dehumanized view of innocent civilians that it revenge-kills them at a rate of 20 to 1.
Yes of course they should return hostages. And why would I not be horrified by any atrocity, no matter who the perpetrator and victim? That’s just basic humanity.
You were probably in favour of the Iraq war, I’m guessing, weren’t you.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
1 month ago
Reply to  David Clancy

It takes some people a very long time to remember to mention kidnapped, murdered, assaulted, or tortured Israelis, as they’re talking about “anti-zionism” or the plight of beleaguered Palestinians.
Somehow they fail to remember what touched off the current conflict, possibly because the victims, even if they’re females, children, or innocent civilians, are “white colonizers.”

Josef O
Josef O
1 month ago

Before talking about high education, when I was a child my parents were talking about “the six years from home”, ie the first behaviour concepts which the parents teach a child. They are for life.
And : “thou shall not follow a multitude to do evil” Exodus 23:2

Johanna Barry
Johanna Barry
1 month ago

Interesting but grim reading. I find it amazing how you can have periods when people choose things like the ‘social justice’ du jour over truth and often in conflict with what your erstwhile moral compass would tell you was wrong.

Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
1 month ago
Reply to  Johanna Barry

Convincing ourselves we are good makes it so much easier to be bad. Research suggests that a rudimentary moral sense is innate (Paul Bloom, Just Babies), and that acting against the better angels of our nature is highly stressful.
The problem is that we can construct sophisticated arguments to persuade ourselves that we are the good guys. JC Calhoun framed slavery as a “positive good” in a famous speech on the floor of the Senate, favorably comparing the tender ministrations of masters towards elderly slaves to the Dickensian conditions in urban industrial slums (like these are my only options?).
Similarly, many in Germany convinced themselves they had a Darwinian imperative to “preserve the species” as they saw it. They often perceived themselves as secularists who were following the science.
In surveys even prisoners serving sentences for violent crimes believe they are more moral and trustworthy than an average member of the public, and only marginally less law abiding. Often those guilty of murder perceive themselves as the injured party who took moral action by punishing someone who slighted them.
It’s far too easy to condemn Them as the bad guys without asking if we are truly in the right. It behooves us to question our own beliefs and actions and listen with humility to those we disagree with.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago

Today’s academy has taken Haidt’s choice equation and turned it on its head, equating social justice with truth, and vice-versa. Meanwhile, maybe it’s time to get past our squeamishness with invoking N*zis when making comparisons.
That period did not begin with cattle cars and gas chambers; it began with what we saw during Covid – the active scapegoating of certain groups, the normalizing of abuse against those groups, the moral equivalent of yellow stars on clothing through “vaccine passports” and the like. That holds true with the campus theater as well – harassment of students who happen to be Jewish, calls for intifada and assorted “solutions,” and complete ignorance of history.
Academia faces a reckoning and the situation is of its making. No one told colleges to become hothouses of political dogma, no one told them to make it okay to try and silence speakers with diverse viewpoints (yes, diverse; that word that’s tossed in our faces every 15 minutes), and no one told them to adopt this weird fixation of treating every subject as evidence of racism or colonialism or both.
It’s easy to blame the students while ignoring the alleged adults who created this mess. The permanent staff has ceded control to a transient student population, emboldening the loudest to do what they will because consequences are unlikely.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

“Meanwhile, maybe it’s time to get past our squeamishness with invoking N*zis when making comparisons.”
It certainly is. Given the implications of their demand that Israel be prevented from defending itself, pro-Palestinian protestors want a second Holocaust. They are actual n*zis.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I honestly don’t think they hate Jews specifically. They hate the west. They hate the society that has delivered so much privilege to themselves. Jews are just the oppressor du jour.

Gayle Buhler
Gayle Buhler
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Exactly what I have been thinking since these students started their amazingly well-prepared spontaneous demonstrations.

Frederick Jones
Frederick Jones
1 month ago

Peace and Bread – Horst Wessel song.

M To the Tea
M To the Tea
1 month ago

I thought the article was about how the Nazi style has been adopted into U.S. systems in unconscious manner, disguised as dyadcrats (like autocrats). The author seems to suggest that it is good for protestors to pressure universities and colleges to remain committed to unbiased teaching, free from investment or dark money influence of ideology. It’s an interesting take, suggesting that the history of the Nazis is being used to influence the present, and that the present feels too much like the past, as if time did not pass. However, unlike the Nazis’ short-lived regime, our current repression is much longer-lasting. quite interesting take that I never considered.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  M To the Tea

The only reason that the Nazi regime did not last very much longer was because of the military defeat of Germany.

David Barnett
David Barnett
1 month ago

The great corrupting force of the academy has always been state (and state crony) funding – a Faustian bargain.

When it starts, the state gets to cloak itself in the prestige of luminaries who earned their place through work and genius. And the academy gets security for those luminaries (and their immediate students) to do more great work.

However, as the academic generations pass, and as the bureaucracy grows to manage oversight of the “public funds”, the academic institutions transform from facilitators of scholarly synergy, into rulers over the scholars – the administrative tail wagging the scholarly dog.

The huge, government-mediated funding crowds out other funding sources (which take more work to solicit and gather), and soon the state and its cronies become de facto monopoly funders. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Where once academic integrity was the currency of both recognition and funding, it gives way to political fashion.

Bureaucracies are inherently political, and even more so when connected to government. In a regime where pursuit of funding is an end in itself – the lifeblood of the bureaucracy – adept political operatives rise to the “top” like scum in bone soup – academic competence counting little.

With virtually all funding now political, is it any wonder that political pandering grievance studies “disciplines” thrive?

What to do? Halt tax funding of the academy. Harder will be to limit indirect tax funding via government cronies, but a way must be found to do this, too. Even so, the old institutions will not reform themselves unless they have to compete against new institutions which will earn their credential through good work (the way the old ones established themselves before they were coopted).

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  David Barnett

I think the points you make about the state having too much control over universities is of only tangential relevance to the progressive woke takeover of so many institutions. WHY is the state progressive and woke or at least facilitating it?

I would say that what is going on in much of the West is much more akin to a cultural Revolution. Being an ideology, both private and public institutions are susceptible to capture, as we have seen.

David Barnett
David Barnett
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

The relevance of the virtual monopoly of funding for the academy is that it makes the takeover by clique political activists possible and continues to fuel it. Understand that they are parasitic on the system and incapable of earning a living in a free marketplace. They are niche specialists in political parasitism who will outcompete genuine scholars in the political funding game.

So yes, it is akin to Mao’s cultural revolution, but such was only possible, because politically mediated funding allowed its proponents to bypass the normal marketplace of funding and ideas, and the centralisation permitted the imposition of a monoculture – i.e. capture.

Having captured an institution, the priests of the ideology will never let go. And the bigger the institution, the harder the priest will cling. The only cure is removal of the centralised funding. When forced to earn a living in the marketplace, the rent-seeking parasites will be at a competitive disadvantage re scholars who can appeal to the wider marketplace.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago

I assumed when I read the title that the article was purely about present events, and that the author was being refreshingly robust in his manner of referring to pro-Palestinian protestors.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 month ago

” … Brandi and Schramm challenged Kahrstedt to a duel … but Kahrstedt demurred …” A bit wimpy for a Nazi. A good job the concentration camps hadn’t been built yet, otherwise Kahrstedt might have been carted off there.

Simon Templar
Simon Templar
1 month ago

Excellent study. Notice, however, that the phrase “social justice” is just a philosophical veneer, just like appeal to Hegel’s elevation of racial purity was just a veneer to the Nazis. That veneer of virtue covers over the true agenda: Power acquisition by whatever means necessary.

Samantha Stevens
Samantha Stevens
1 month ago

Amen a thousand times. Amen.