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Safetyism doesn’t belong on campus Conservatives have adopted social-justice tactics

Activists hold a mock trial at a pro-Palestine encampment at George Washington University (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Activists hold a mock trial at a pro-Palestine encampment at George Washington University (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)


May 10, 2024   6 mins

I have just spent a week in the US: one in which the main news stories were not about Gaza, but rather about university encampments and occupations protesting what is happening in Gaza. Everyone seemed fascinated by this strange shadow play, whose protagonists were self-indulgent Ivy League students and their hawkish critics rather than Hamas members or IDF soldiers. Whatever political and psychological dynamics were animating the furious homegrown conflict, it seemed to have little to do with what was happening thousands of miles to the East.

The fog of war was real, though involved no confusion about body counts or potential crimes against humanity. Instead, the burning questions were about whether a Jewish student at Yale really had been “stabbed in the eye” by pro-Palestinian protestors as was initially reported, or whether she had accidentally got in the way of some exuberant flag-waving; whether a UCLA student had been “beaten unconscious”, or instead fallen over in a chaotic kerfuffle and gone deliberately limp. Never mind for the moment what atrocities were or were not being committed in Gaza: more to the point, did pro-Israel supporters at UCLA knowingly risk the life of someone with a severe banana allergy, by throwing several pieces of the fruit into the “liberated zone” there?

Enterprising postgraduates across the land were seizing their media moment, perhaps breathing a sigh of relief that there was now a good excuse not to finish that dissertation for at least one more year. At Columbia University, Johanna King-Slutzky — a 34-year-old specialist on the Romantic imagination — apparently drew upon acquired reserves of Byronic hyperbole to suggest to journalists that fellow protestors who had deliberately barricaded themselves into a university building were at risk of “dehydration and starvation”. Upon questioning, she clarified that she wanted the powers-that-be “to not violently stop us from bringing in basic humanitarian aid”; a counterfactual scenario which, she admitted after further probing, had not yet happened, nor had even been threatened. Near-universal derision followed, absolutely correctly.

Though Columbia hogged most of the headlines, many other universities had encampments too. Visiting Cornell to give a talk, I saw its version: a huddle of tents, cringe-inducing artwork, and earnest placards in a corner of the main quad, sporadically erupting to the sounds of loud hailers and chanting. One of the main spokespeople for the Cornell protest was 30-year-old Momodou Taal: a British postgrad and veteran of many previous media interviews, who also happens to be the great-grandson of former Gambian President Sir Dawda Jawara. (Here I should declare a personal connection: it was on Taal’s podcast last year that philosopher Judith Butler first aired the perfectly sane theory, later prosecuted in her new book, that the Pope, Vladimir Putin, J.K. Rowling, and I are the four horsemen of the “anti-gender” apocalypse.)

Back in November, a CNN report about the impact of the war upon US college students included an interview with Taal, and described how he was tired of being questioned about whether he supports Hamas or not. As a black Muslim, he said, he “felt like there was an implicit presumption in the question that he supports terrorism”. Granted, an unfair connection with his race and religion might be the best explanation for the presumed association: or maybe it was Taal’s tweet from 7 October, still publicly available, which stated: “Today has shown us what is possible when you are organised… It’s not about the numbers. But how you organise and execute”.

In short, then, the past week served up ample material for riotous mirth or contemptuous eye rolls. Though many students are sincere and well-intentioned in their objections to what is unfolding in Gaza, watching self-appointed leaders role-playing at Left-wing radicalism in the hope of future glittering career prizes will never not be ludicrous. Equally, approaching a bloody war like a rabidly partisan football fan on matchday, as Taal seemingly does — automatically primed to deny atrocities committed by your favoured side, and to downplay the devastating effects on opponents — is hardly a sign of moral sainthood, albeit that the phenomenon is now near-ubiquitous.

But there are more alarming aspects to this situation other than the presence of narcissistic millennials. Scorn should also be reserved for those supine university bosses who — having spent years positively incentivising an entire generation to think of themselves as pleasingly disruptive social radicals, acting on behalf of a variety of oppressed victim classes — have now swung to the other extreme without missing a beat, and are cracking down excessively on behaviour they used to tolerate or even encourage. At Columbia, university president and member of the House of Lords Minouche Shafik eventually gave up on negotiation and brought in police against protestors, resulting in more than 100 arrests. At the University of Texas in Austin, riot gear and pepper spray were employed against those camping out; the encampment at UCLA was also flattened by law enforcement, with 200 arrested there. There have also been large-scale arrests at Dartmouth, George Washington University, Massachusetts Amherst, Wisconsin-Madison, and other places too.

“There are more alarming aspects to this situation other than the presence of narcissistic millennials.”

It is often remarked that the modern liberal quest to free both self and society from traditional cultural norms and boundaries tends to coincide with increased acceptance of state surveillance and authoritarian social control. Even so, it is rare to see institutions openly inciting both liberation and repression at the very same time. Small wonder that susceptible young people are confused. “I thought that this university accepted me because I am an advocate, because I am someone who will fight for what they believe in, no matter what,” mournfully recounted one Vanderbilt alumnus, originally lauded by faculty and administrators for making a stand against perceived oppression, but now expelled for the very same thing. You can laugh with enjoyable schadenfreude at the naivety; but you should probably also be horrified at the unprincipled ease with which Frankenstein has set the dogs upon the pious, guilt-ridden young monster he had a hand in creating.

Equally depressing has been the way that many conservative commentators, normally professional scourges of wokeness, have become apparent fans of safetyism for Jewish students (please note — not safety, but safetyism). Just as the modern Left either tends to cheer or stay silent as Right-coded views are eliminated from the academy either by stealth or by force, many on the supposedly freedom-loving modern Right apparently have little to say about the violation of the basic right to peaceful speech and assembly, when it comes to defending the perceived interests of Palestinians. (Though some of the university protests sought illegitimately to impose a heckler’s veto upon the free speech or movement of others, many did not.)

There has also been relatively little pushback against the sort of hyperbole purporting to justify aggressive managerial and police interventions on campuses; even where its format and tone vividly reminds one of the activist guilt-tripping of which the modern Left is so fond, and the Right normally so critical. Many cultish identitarian tics familiar from social justice activism turn up in pro-Israel discourse about the protests, and yet remain uncriticised from the Right. These include: a total failure of charity when it comes to construing the various motives of pro-Palestinian and anti-war activists, collapsing all of them into a single simple narrative of “hate” towards Jewish people, despite evidence to the contrary; exhortations to move from subjective perceptions of antisemitism by particular Jewish students or groups of students to immediate protective or punitive action (or both); the glossing over of reasonable disagreement between Jewish students on, precisely, whether the protests are antisemitic or not; and accusations of confusion and self-hatred towards those who dissent.

The emerging rubric seems to hold that when those with whom you have little political sympathy complain of intense feelings of threat, in response to still objectively small levels of risk on campus overall, you can minimise and scoff away with impunity; yet when your own family, friends, or political allies do it, we are suddenly plunged into the sort of dramatic counterfactual territory also beloved of King-Slutzky and her ilk. No doubt such sympathy-dependent reactions are understandable wherever they are found, and particularly in those Jewish people deeply worried about antisemitism; but the whole point of rights to free speech and assembly is that they are supposed to be rigorously maintained even as polarising emotions swirl around society, demanding that they be partially rescinded for some particular group on the basis of imaginary future scenarios.

Often in thrall to the American cultural landscape, elite UK campuses such as Oxford, Cambridge, and UCL now have their own, somewhat more repressed, versions of the Ivy League protests. And here too, there are influential voices urging us to take all or most such protests as evidence of deep-rooted antisemitic hatred. Only yesterday, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan told Sky News that: “What we don’t want is our campuses becoming unsafe environments for students or staff and going down the route that you see in other places like the US” — as if it was obvious that US campuses were now unsafe places for students, simply in light of the protests there. And as in the US, UK university bosses are being exhorted by some to prioritise the subjective feelings of certain Jewish students over the feelings of others — including those of other Jewish students participating enthusiastically in the protests, or who feel unaffected by them.

A Times column by the Prime Minister on Wednesday suggested he is committed to rooting out genuine antisemitism from universities, while preserving freedom of speech and the right to protest, including against Israel; and of course, that is exactly what he and others in power should be doing. But the task will be fiendishly difficult, requiring nerves of steel to avoid hastening the slide of our academic institutions towards the suppression of lawful speech, all in the alleged interests of certain identity groups. In attempting this, perhaps it will help to remember that, whatever the ideological struggles to come on manicured college greens, in elegantly appointed quads, or in scruffy common rooms, they will have almost nothing to do with what is happening on the ground in Gaza.


Kathleen Stock is an UnHerd columnist and a co-director of The Lesbian Project.
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Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
19 days ago

Much of the protest has not been a demonstration of the peaceful right to protest, though. Calls for the destruction of Israel, for deaths to Zionists ( the new term for Jews); the intimidation of Jewish and other students, blocking their freedom to move around the campus; to access buildings. Crazy scenes.
Kathleen I appreciate a lot of what you write on many issues, and I’ve certainly been with you all the way in your fight against the intimidation, censoring and bullying you were subject to at Sussex, but I detect that your own anti Israel leanings and concern about accusations of anti semitism have clouded your judgement somewhat here. I’m not a conservative ‘free speecher’ nor am I jewish, yet I’ve still been truly alarmed at some of the scenes coming out of the U.S.

Dorly Ninio
Dorly Ninio
15 days ago

The writer does exactly what she purports to scourge. This is an ideological reframing of a real issue at hand, conveniently choosing to concentrate on minor incidents and ignoring the ominous big picture, using the same alarmist tactic the writer accuses the right of doing : Blame the republicans.
The safety issue is real whether or not the ‘right’ is calling it ‘Safetyism’.
It is a reality where Israeli Columbia business school assistant professor has his entry pass deactivated because, says the administration, they cannot assure his safety. He is not allowed to hold a counter protest, even in a different part of the building. Freedom of speech indeed. Pro Palestinian protestors can use their pass to enter and encamp the lawns but students who wanted to hold signs saying ‘Hamas are terrorists’ were told by security to move along as their safety could not be guaranteed either. This, at the same time that another Columbia professor, Joseph Massad is allowed to continue to teach, after having called the October 7th slaughter “Awesome”. A video of NYU Jewish students cowering in a locked library while protesters are banging on the door and shouting genocide doesn’t seem to be a safety issue either apparently, nor are the signs held by pro palestinian students hailing Hamas as “freedom fighters” who will ‘free Palestine from the river to the sea” and, most frightening of all “by any means necessary”. In the UK, this has moved to death threats. On April 21st, Columbia University announced that it would hold classes remotely because of student safety issues. Scores of Israeli and jewish students are withdrawing from Columbia and other elite Universities that they worked so hard to be admitted to and paid a small future to attend. Not an a flippant life decision to make. But, according to this writer, the safety issue for jews on campus, is not really a big thing and what there is should carefully be levered against the freedom of speach and expression of ideas. Ideas such as that the slaughter of 1200 people is something the celebrate. None of this is new. The antisemitism in the elite universities has been growing steadily for the past 20 years. The Gaza war is just an excuse, not a cause. What Americans and Brits should really worry about, whether or not they like jews, is the fact that history is full of examples of major breakdowns of civilisation which were preceded by rampant Antisemitism, and the author’s attempts to downplay it, if not sinister, is dangerously misguided.
The writer seems to empathise with an expelled Vanderbilt alumnus who is clearly confused as to what a university is actually for: “I thought that this university accepted me because I am an advocate, because I am someone who will fight for what they believe in, no matter what”. Exactly when did the acceptance criteria at Vanderbilt turn from academic achievement to political advocacy? After all, the dictionary definition of a university is “a high-level educational institution in which students study for degrees and academic research” This Alumnus is confused as to why he was “originally lauded by faculty and administrators for making a stand against perceived oppression” Perceived is the key word here. Not reality or evidence based oppression but the perception of it. Most hypocritical is the writer’s assertion that “in the US, UK university bosses are being exhorted by some to prioritise the subjective feelings of certain Jewish students over the feelings of others”. Excellent material for satire. There is nothing the universities’ spawned Woke ideology is more guilty of than prioritising the subjective feelings of certain people over the feelings of others. This includes outrageous counter-racism, encroachment on Women rights, and vicious persecution of anyone who might have an even slightly different opinion to the dogma du jour or god forbid uses a word that was normal a week ago but now no longer acceptable according to strong armed university bosses who promptly end the careers of those professors who strayed. The hypocrisy of those who demand ‘safe spaces’ and claim ‘words are violence’ now claiming that freedom of speech protects their call for annihilation of a state, or glorifying of massacres, is staggering, as is that of those who choose to ignore that hypocrisy when discussing free speech as the writer here does.
One would think that as an American, or a Brit, the first order of the day is to be concerned about what is alarmingly happening at home, rather than something that is happening thousands of miles away. After all, what is happening in Gaza, is just one, equal if not smaller human disaster than what is happening currently and in the recent past in Yemen, Syria, Darfur, Ukraine and China. The excuse for the outrage given by protestors is that America is supplying Israel with weapons, ignoring the fact that Saudi Arabia is the number one buyer of American arms which had caused around 377,000 deaths in Yemen to date, more than half by hunger and disease. Periodically, a distinction is being made by some between the Saudis who buy, rather than given arms like Israel does, somehow suggesting that if Blood money is paid for arms, it’s all good. Every single day, according to Unicef, more that one thousand Yemeni children under 5 die from hunger or preventable diseases, the very definition of a humanitarian crisis, but I can’t think of anything more dominant in discussion (as the writer claims is not) on campuses, the front pages of prominent newspapers, websites, and on social media platforms, more than the war in Gaza. The idea that coverage of protests on Campuses somehow diverts from the conversation about Gaza is ludicrous.
Most egregiously, this piece unveils an ongoing campaign to turn the raison d’être of our universities from truth seeking and academic freedom institutions, to bastions of advocacy, based not on facts, but on perception.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
19 days ago

It is often remarked that the modern liberal quest to free both self and society from traditional cultural norms and boundaries tends to coincide with increased acceptance of state surveillance and authoritarian social control
I call it “libertine authoritarianism”: you can do and say whatever you like, so long as you don’t threaten the power of the state–or, as is increasingly common, the non-governmental governing elite.

Howard Ahmanson
Howard Ahmanson
19 days ago

You need to go back 90 years, to Huxley’s preface to Brave New World: “as other freedoms decrease, sexual freedom tends to increase.” That is why I think of sexual and body freedom as the Last Freedom, the one that appears when all others fade.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
19 days ago

That’s what the transhumanists and proponents of Queer philosophy want in their vision of an ultraperrmissive society; and that’s what they’re getting in North America today- left-wing liberty.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
19 days ago

That chap Taal, who sounds otherwise wholly unappetising, was right about one thing.
“It’s not about the numbers. But how you organise and execute”
The very existence, and prosperity, of Israel is proof of that.

Arthur G
Arthur G
19 days ago
Reply to  Seb Dakin

You could say that about Western Civilization in general.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
19 days ago
Reply to  Seb Dakin

It’s said that a third of Columbia’s campus is composed of foreign students and more than half arrested were not even students at Columbia. First, colleges are getting really ‘piggy’ in their pursuit of money. They go after foreign students because they pay the $100k per year of attending (and a number of these foreign students have their parents buy them apartments in the city to live in). No matter how you cut it this imbalance and introduction of large sums of foreign money creates on a campus where there are many other American-born who are struggling to attend creates a weird dynamic. Secondly, regarding the non-students who are protesting and becoming really violent and destructive represents another stream of huge funding gushing in from people and places like George & Alex Soros, the Rockefeller family, the Tides foundation etc. Wherever one turns it’s a rot and decadence fueled by money from illiberal & often foreign sources. It’s not clear how one should counteract the decay.

A D Kent
A D Kent
19 days ago
Reply to  Seb Dakin

Its amazing what you can do with billions of dollars being thrown at you from abroad every year.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
19 days ago

It’s because we’ve become so polarised as a society. If you’re not on my team, you’re evil and wrong and you can’t possibly have anything useful to say. And I have a legitimate right to insult, ignore and silence you by any means I think I can get away with.

Goodbye nuance. Goodbye curate’s egg. Goodbye granularity, examination, persuasion, compromise, objectivity and grace.

Hello kindergarten and the chorus of ‘Four legs good, two legs bad’.

Surely we can do better than this.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago
Reply to  Roddy Campbell

This is the most elegant summary of the frustration I’ve increasingly felt in recent times.
What happened to shades of grey, when holding apparently contradictory points of view was viewed as a sign of intelligence, not weakness? When debate and compromise weren’t seen as surrender?
Most people don’t confuse noise for volume. Too bad our politics and media do.

William Cameron
William Cameron
19 days ago
Reply to  Roddy Campbell

Not if you start by only recruiting very left wing lecturers.

El Uro
El Uro
19 days ago

The fish rots from the head

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
16 days ago

That started in the late 1930s.

Ian_S
Ian_S
19 days ago
Reply to  Roddy Campbell

In my experience, all the vilification only occurs from the Left. What the Left calls “extreme far right”, — which are, in the old currency, ordinary liberal or conservative viewpoints — are far more civil. That’s because liberals and conservatives value civility. The left don’t, they see civility as a mask to obscure the structurally oppressive f*sc*sm they’re convinced lurks behind it. Perhaps if you dig the internet deep enough, you’d find fringe, actually far-right views that are pretty nasty — it stands to reason that they’d be out there somewhere. But these are so far from mainstream — so far outside the Overton window — most people would never encounter them. I certainly don’t. On the other hand, shrieking, hysterical, bullying, vilifying Leftism is run of the mill mainstream, very much within the Overton window. Every university campus has a quadrangle lawn full of screaming vilification at the moment — and it would be physically dangerous to confront them.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
19 days ago
Reply to  Ian_S

“In my experience, all the vilification only occurs from the Left”.
Thus you vilify the entire Left, in absolute and totally one-sided terms.
I think it would be physically dangerous–in one measure or another– to confront any large crowd with many hostile people, including the Jan 6th rioters or Unite the Right marchers. Were those events populated by some vanishingly small fringe we’d have to search out with a figurative magnifying glass?
I see plenty of indication that the worst actors were in the decided minority in both those crowds. Yet as we see when we flip the script, to say that a gathering is “mostly peaceful” or spoiled by a few bad actors is quite meaningless when there’s a sizable minority causing intentional mayhem. Many of us would feel more or less safe in a given riled-up crowd. But we can try harder to escape being, as Dr. Stock says, “automatically primed to deny” any real blame for our “favoured side”, our preferred group of extremists.
Down with ALL oppressive intolerance.

Ian_S
Ian_S
18 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Woah, AJ. Calibrate your words. Criticism is not vilification. Otherwise, I can say your reply was vilifying me. But I’ll leave those games to leftists, who put great store in weaponising language, calling any opposition phobic, racist, or “far right”. I certainly criticise the left. But vilification is to dehumanise. A good example is Adrian Kent, in this very thread, calling Netanyahu a “religious n*tj*b” ( if I repeated it unbowdlerised, it’s certain UnHerd would block my post here — maybe they will anyway). That’s an example of leftist vilification — use of language intended to bully and demean, to reduce the humanity of the target. Netanyahu is arguably Machiavellian. But “n*tj*b” is an empty insult; and given the contextual accusations of “genocide” and ADK’s general anti-Semitic slant (oh yes yes, anti-Zionism, right, sure), it’s vilification. Note, I’m no fan of the nasty, tawdry, sleazy rockspider right, and took care to point that out. But I also pointed out that the Overton window is positioned over the left, not the far right. So it’s entirely fair to say that practically speaking — or should I say, in public discourse we actually hear — it’s only the left who vilify. Because, as I say, ordinary liberals and conservatives don’t do it, and the actual far right is out of view. As to Jan 6 being an example of “far right vilification”, I don’t think they were vilifying anyone. They were protesting what they saw as corrupt Democratic Machine election interference. “Far right” was a slur put on them by the Democrats and the Democrat’s media puppets. The Jan 6ers could certainly point to unsettling incidents and curious statistical patterns to support their argument. It wasn’t unreasonable, they weren’t violent (watch out for leftist misinformation about that, though), and they espoused no actually “far” right slogans. But their problem was that the hard left have control of the high ground, so they were put down like an anti-monarchy peasant rebellion of old — not put to the sword but — quite literally — hunted down and thrown in the dungeons. And vilified by the left of course. Nothing at all like the “mostly peaceful” fire-storming of cities by thousands of violent hard left agitators in 2020, which Biden’s apparatchiks never prosecuted.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
18 days ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Hold your horses yourself, Ian. Your attempt to locate nearly all meaningful violence or repression on The Left may not be a well-calibrated instance of vilification, granted. So would you prefer that I call it a broadbrush denunciation or a convenient oversimplification?
My mention of Jan. 6 was in reference to your previous concluding clause: “and it would be physically dangerous to confront them”. Many among the obstructionist mob had some form of patriotic or virtuous intent in their own minds and most remained peaceful enough. But many didn’t. And really, really believing that an election result you cannot accept was fraud doesn’t constitute evidence, let alone give you just cause to enter a federal building and try to halt the peaceful transfer of power, or threaten the lives of lawmakers.
Or what would you call the the chant of “Hang Mike Pence” and “All we want is Pelosi”…friendly suggestions? That day would have been far more bloody and undemocratic if Trump had not belatedly, finally stopped watching the show unfold on TV and told the rioters he had helped to rile up in the first place to go home. Now he calls the convicted felons among them “hostages”, and promises his most adoring, angriest fans “retribution” in pursuit of his own “ultimate revenge”. And claims that any Jew who supports Biden “hates Israel”, and his or her own religion. Is that careful use of language?
That comes from the de facto leader of the Republican party, not some fringe or minor actor or someone shivering and sputtering away in some corner of the internet.
I don’t think the reaction to the George Floyd’s death, nor government and law enforcement handling of the widespread destruction and pockets of violence in the Summer of 2020 was correct or sane. But there was a great deal of pent up rage, exacerbated by isolation and social distancing, which went out and through the window under the banner of The Cause. I think that all played into 1/6/2021 as well.
I don’t defend, nor think it’s very sensible to minimize either strain of mayhem. You seem to think the Right-identified rioters were sensible patriots and claim that none among them were violent.
Please expose yourself to a 5-minute compilation of video evidence to the contrary. Sure it’s selective, but it is not fabricated: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXnHIJkZZAs
Locating all or close to all of the violence, destruction, and dehumanization run rampant in our society on either the Left or Right alone is a key instance of being “automatically primed to deny atrocities committed by your favoured side, and to downplay the devastating effects on opponents” which is “hardly a sign of moral sainthood, albeit that the phenomenon is now near-ubiquitous”.
But it’s much easier to see this form of blindness in an enemy than in one’s own field of vision.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
18 days ago
Reply to  Ian_S

My reply has been automatically quarantined too*. At least they’re interrupting our exchange from both directions(!). Maybe my comment will be “set free’ after 8 hours like yours seems to have been. I hope you have a good weekend in any case, sir.
*Switched to “now you see it, now you don’t” mode. Ah well, I’ll try to take your sensible plea of a few days ago to heart and go do something useful.
**Posted briefly after an 18-hour “timeout”, then re-disappeared. They seem to be permitted some form of heckler’s veto here, wherein flag-waving offense-takers can penalty-box a comment that hurts their feelings for some multiple of 6 hours.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
17 days ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Interesting take on politics! The Left are not a homofenous grouo of agitators, belueve it or not. But they seem to be a scapegoat for the hard of thinking. The majority involved would not understand left wing politics if they were handed information on a plate and if you ask the protestors where to find Israel and Palestine on a map, there would be many blank faces. My nephew did this at his university and was surprised at the ignorance, whereas this is just what I suspected. . It is not about Palestine or even Israel, it is about “being progressive, taking on authority and breaking the rules”. That is why so many whinge when the police move in. How dare they tske away their freedom to break the law… It is their right of passage. It might be different in tbe US, but in the UK, having a crininal record can affect your career choices and who will employ you. But the students are not thinking thst far ahead. With the right of protest , is the responsibility to self and your future job prospects!

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
16 days ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

While the Labour Party was dominated by Non Conformists( Methodist, Baptists and Quakers ) they were well mannered as was Anthony Wedgewood Benn, Viscount Stansgate, but ever since it has been dominated by middle class Trots, manners have collpased. The below demonstrates what the Left has lost, a time when it was run gentlemen and scholars.
Roy Jenkins and Tony Benn debate : The European Communities membership referendum, 1975 – Panorama (youtube.com)
Peter Shore speaking against Europe.
Peter Shore – Oxford Union 1975 – Common Market membership – Full Speech (youtube.com)

Madas A. Hatter
Madas A. Hatter
16 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Apart from anything else, you misconstrue the grammar. Ian_S made no reference to ‘the entire Left side of the spectrum’ or any similar phrase.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
16 days ago

Fair enough, from a nitpicking standpoint. Nevertheless, Ian indulges in some combination of hyperbole and absurd one-sidedness when he claims “vilification only occurs from the Left”. Despite his thin qualifications (“in my experience” or “in discourse we hear”) such a totalizing, balance-free claim is just silly–a thought and discourse killer. I attempted to engage with it anyway, and took rhetorical liberties of my own. I don’t claim that all my reasoning and wording is perfect.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
16 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

The Left have been mocking gentility since the French Revolution. Since 1917, The Left have denigrated bourgeois morality which includes good manners.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
16 days ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I don’t disagree altogether. I’d only stipulate that rudeness and even vitriolic, violent hatred is much older the 1917, and found across the whole sociopolitical spectrum. And the Right is getting much ruder these days too–have you noticed?
With rare exceptions, you are quite unfailingly polite. And not an extremist (though your views do seem quite fixed). I applaud you for that.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
15 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I was thinking about the the way pople spoke to each other on political issues. In Britain, there were two types of labour member, the practical working class Christian such as Keir Hardie and E Bevin were well mannered and the middle class Trotkyist who despised good manners who came to be dominant post 1960s.
In Britain Tories do not call Labour members ” Scum ” as did Labour MP Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. Compare her with Dennis Healey, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Denis Healey – Wikipedia
I would say America has become more coarse and crude since the late 1960s, compare Dionne Warwick with recent female rap stars . In Britain it was the rise of football hooliganism from the late 1960s which showed a decline of good manners in Britain.
The Transgender and Hamas debates show people have become emotionally unstable, they are shrill, unbalanced, lack perspective and lack emotional detachment. I think this is lack of experience , the days when middle class were tempered by adversity and their mettle tested by their early twenties are long gone.
What we lack are people of Tom Neil’s experence. He said it was a privilege to be in the Battle of Britain
Tom Neil – Statistics & Personnel (Part 1 of 6) (youtube.com)
Today we have people who have never been so vain about so little. They make a noise because they are empty bans rolling down a street.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
15 days ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

As always, you make a strong and concerted case for why the past has lessons to teach us about how we might better live now. To the extent you offer practical teachings and hope for renewal, I sympathise with much of your perspective, and take an interest in many of your UK references, whether they are new to me or not.
Of course we are ruder on the whole, on both sides of the Atlantic, across the Left-Right spectrum. To some extent that represents a loosening of sometimes burdensome rules of propriety, as among 18th-century gentlemen who might write outwardly polite but vicious or threatening letters ending with ‘your most humble servant’. And many among both the urban and rural rabble were exceedingly rude: drunkards, vagabonds, thieves, layabouts; unwashed and illiterate, or nearly so. Granted, genuine civility and decorum was also much more prevalent before 1950 or even (in a way to which I can attest form experience) 1990.
I have a hypothesis that much of the decorous civility of the distant past had to do with how much life literally stank and hurt more, say pre-1850. Hygiene was poor and disease rampant. Steven Pinker has demonstrated that murder and other forms of violent outrage were more common in medieval and early-modern times than now. So it was more dangerous then too. Hence some of the elaborate politeness: ‘good morrow, kind sir’ and ‘I prithee, who goes there?” instead of ‘who the f–k are you?’. Some of that ceremony lasted into the Industrial Age, in a residual way.
The Left has long been ruder and rougher of speech overall, what with their revolutionary impulses, dreaming of reform but often hedonistic in their habits. Byron has mean and dirty passages. Blake uses some language of denunciation that mirrors the angriest parts he Hebrew prophets. The Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) was one of the nastiest and sickest people who ever lived, the namesake of all sadists since. Not that all of this is connected to the Left in some convenient way. On what side of the center would we place the hellfire rantings of a Jonathan Edwards?
Much cruelty can lurk behind a smiling (or sour) face and gentle (or preachy) tongue. The outward polish of a Southern gentlemen circa 1850 often masked great cruelty toward slaves, poor whites, and women. Most people were not all that nice in 1925 (the year of my longest-lived grandmother’s birth) or 1948 (my mom). In and of itself, a conservative or traditional manner does not establish real decency, let alone kindness. Chinese society is very polite, but also more underhanded, and violently repressive. Smooth tact is not always the best response to danger or transgressive disrespect. I know you admire the circa-1965 English laborer type, with his raw honesty and willingness to fight.
I share an admiration with you for much of the ways of a hundred or even sixty years ago. Of course you know that conservatives were lamenting the fallen societies they observed in 1924 too–and 1824, 1724, and 1224 (‘O to return to my grandfather’s day, before all this talk of Magna Carta and peasant dignity!’). GK Chesterton anyone?
The Left and Right–and all that those facile labels represent–will always exist in dynamic tension. More mutual respect is called for. Standards of duty and order are best upheld by the Right, innovation and liberty by the Left. But there is enough blurring and crossover to make such binary divisions quite inadequate, and sometimes absurd.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
15 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

As Orwell stated technology has removed the need fro hard labour in dirty and adngerous conditions , so life, luckily has become more pleasant. Coal mining in the 1830s was hellish.
Since the late 1960s life has become very comfortable, luckily, so why are so many people more coarse and crude but less tough ?Do people think being coarse and crude is sign of toughness ?
I looked at one S Pinkers lectures and from about 1300 England had half the murder rate of the Low Countries and a quarter of Italy. As Orwell pointed out Britain has achieved social change with less violence, managed to maintain a more peaceful society with less killings and less police, than other countries. If one compares the Peasants Revolt( 1381) with The Jacquerie( 1358 )
Jacquerie – Wikipedia
in France and English Civil War with The French and Russian Revolutions and Spain from 1931 to 1940 there is far less killing of children, women and the old, less rape and torture. Fighting men fought and killed each other . King Charles returned in 1660 after the Civil War and by 1690 it was no longer influencing politics. In Spain in 2023 they are still arguing over the Civil War which ended in 1940, some 84 years ago.
It is not to say that England was not violent one only has to look at cartoons of elections in the 18 century but it was largely fisticuffs between young men, it was not gangs assaulting a person or stabbing people in the back, the stiletto is Italian not English. Fights between apprentices from rival guilds, such as butchers and mercers were a common part of the City of London but few fatalities. Early football matches between villages were brutal affairs, the only rules were no eye gauging and no weapons.
Bare knuckle boxing, cricket and horse racing were rowdy affairs enjoyed by all walks of life.
There were certain sayings: do not kick a man when he is down, no hitting below the belt, fair play to you, played straight bat, pick on someone your own size, roll with the punches, do not be a bad loser, a good clean fight , etc.. Cowardice, deceit, cruelty, bullying, sadism were treated with contempt, not respected. A boy who is brought up hunting, boxing, playing rugby and cricket will have learnt to take knocks and take a fall. Arthur Bryant ” Search for Justice ” p5 there was no standing army or police force so gentry learnt to command respect by force of character, courage and good sense. The gentry grew up with the boys on the village and learnt to box, hunt, play cricket and football/rugby ( pre 1863 rules ),and shoot. Boxing was national nursery of manliness. Young noblemen took boxing lessons ( bare knuckle included throwing ) at Gentleman Jacksons room in Bond street. An honest fight between equally matched boys/men was acceptable, stabbing someone in the back was not. Britain was able to codify fights between young men as shown by Rugby Football and Queensbury Rules for   Boxing,  such there were fights, clear winners and losers but very few fatalities and minimal vendettas. If one looks at South America drug gangs, putin, ISIS, Italian organised crime, etc it is not that they kill they have to do so with as much cruelty as possible: there is a blood lust but not necessarily toughness.
A Bryant was Attlee and Wilson, both Llabour Prime Ministers favourite historian.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
15 days ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

You make several excellent points including this: ‘If one looks at South America drug gangs, putin, ISIS, Italian organised crime, etc it is not that they kill they have to do so with as much cruelty as possible: there is a blood lust but not necessarily toughness’
Without a doubt, the worst cowards can be murderers, rapists, and all the rest of it.
I do think you downplay the bloodiness of The Peasant’s Revolt as well as the English Civil War, with a comparison to events 300 years later that muddies the purported parallel.
In boiled-down terminology, we might say that both Wat Tyler & Company and Cromwell & the Levellers were “of the Left”. And that the conditions they rebelled against were not minor inconveniences, even if their bloody methods were both unwarranted and unsuccessful.
The English are a notably freedom loving people, though often not so much with regard to the peoples whose lands they’ve colonized. Here in the States, we’ve no doubt inherited that coin, both sides of it; a proud but complicated legacy.
I strongly agree that rudeness, disrespect, and selfish acting out have reached a new, previously almost unheard of high point–a new low really–in our time. In a broadbrush sort of way, The Left do bear the brunt of the blame for this. However, many on the Right have taken some of the worst pages from the Left-wing or peasant’s playbook: extreme rudeness; self-righteous, prejudicial condemnations; readiness for violence. In fact, the Left and Right have always shared a few pages/chapters of this sort.
Most of the fiercest peasant uprisings in Europe occurred in the wake of the Black Death. The disease-severity and death toll of Covid was far smaller, but I think we see a valid parallel, or at least a comparable excuse to get all riled up and violent. And the crudeness and meanness–while trending upward for some time as you amply document–is far worse since March of 2020.
*Please give this rather short article a look if you can:
https://www.persuasion.community/p/welcome-to-anti-woke-hell?utm_campaign=email-half-post&r=7×231&utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
19 days ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Well stated. But Professor Stock and many others on the left side of the argument completely fail to acknowledge that only one side of the two combatants in Gaza openly, brazenly and proudly call for the extermination of the people on the other side. And only one of the combatants exists solely for that purpose.
It’s hard to fathom why the left fails to see the utter hypocrisy. The dum-dum test I have used in this situation is to replace the word, “Jew” with the word, “Black”. The left would become apoplectic, and justifiably so, if anyone uttered such hate at any other group.
And no mention of the fact that many of these “protesters” are paid hacks. Upwards of 50% of them, according to police reports after the mass arrests.

A D Kent
A D Kent
19 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I’m confused. I assumed you’re talking about the fundamentally religious nutjobs who keep parping on about Amalek aren’t you?

Michael Layman
Michael Layman
15 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Exactly. If “Black” was substituted for “Jew”, the Left would come unglued and it would be 2020 all over again. I am also aware of these outside agitators who protest simply to satisfy their own ambitions and do not seek change.

A D Kent
A D Kent
19 days ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Whether or not you agree with the conclusion – what would you think the appropriate response should be to someone who, in your view, actively supports a genocide? I’ve always thought that my response were I to be confronted with this situation would not be to respond with much ‘civility’.

Turns out I was right.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
19 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

What is your definition of genocide?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
16 days ago

Attempt to totally destroy a peoples, race or religion: to remove them from the face of the earth.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
18 days ago
Reply to  Ian_S

“In my experience, all the vilification only occurs from the Left.”

Possibly you simply notice it more because you perceive it as an attack on values you hold? I’ve come to realise that that is what I do.

I used to post on the BBC and would frequently get vilified, as many of the commenters there are from the left. Unherd is more intellectual, and there’s space to explain yourself properly, but there are still occasions when I post something ‘leftist’ that gets vilified. It’s only a minority, most posters here are polite, but I suspect that it is mostly the higher level of intellect and respectfulness that is the difference, not the political leaning.

El Uro
El Uro
19 days ago
Reply to  Roddy Campbell

It was not us who started this war, the leftists started this war with all of us, the extreme right, the right and people with common sense. During a war, you have every right to kill those who started the war and want to kill you.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
19 days ago
Reply to  Roddy Campbell

A well-stated and welcome comment. Thank you for this distilled response to Dr. Stock’s strong, expansive article.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
19 days ago
Reply to  Roddy Campbell

We can do better, but this is what the people who run academia have chosen to do and the same toxin has infected politics, the workplace, and even personal relationships. The Overton window is so far left that defending women from predatory or creepy men is now far-right and phobic.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
19 days ago
Reply to  Roddy Campbell

None of this is new. At my alma mater in the mid eighties there was one guy in my economics seminar group who simply wouldn’t accept the Marxist nonsense we were being spoonfed and argued the toss at every opportunity while the rest of us competed to see who could be leftiest.. He was ostracised and called a ‘fascist p1g’. I’ve felt bad about it ever since. People who are willing to endure that kind of vilification and stand their ground were vanishingly rare then and are pretty well extinct now.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
16 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Well put.

T Bone
T Bone
19 days ago
Reply to  Roddy Campbell

Fair enough general point. But the question becomes when did tent city communes and building occupations become political speech? You have a singular left-wing ideology with a near Monopoly on public disruption.

If the claim is that some of these schools are private universities that have the right to enforce their own rules, fine. But they should bare the financial consequences of failed academics that these “protests” created. Public funding of private institutions from the taxpayer purse is a privilege not a right.

Dr E C
Dr E C
18 days ago
Reply to  Roddy Campbell

The NUS just voted to exclude the Jewish union from its membership. Several Teachers Unions have voted to ‘globalise the Intifada’. Campus protests in America have blocked Jewish students from going to class, assaulted them, caused criminal damage to buildings & called for the execution (by guillotine) of anyone who supports Israel. You can no longer ‘minimise and scoff away’ the risks and we’d be idiots not to recognise that this isn’t a free speech issue. Free speech like drawing a picture of Mohammed? This is a culture clash of serious proportions & we’d better start to get real about our response. The time for bemoaning the loss of subtlety of thinking – which, believe me, I have been mourning in academe for a long time – is over because there is no getting through to these people subtly. I know them, I teach them, they think all Jews are vermin (as per an essay I had to second mark just yesterday – which the first marker had given a first class mark). They are dangerous

Michael Layman
Michael Layman
15 days ago
Reply to  Dr E C

I would point out in the U.S. that the Ivy league schools and their students are spoiled brats(coincidently in “Democrat” states). Unlimited finances have allowed them to promote selective idealogy. Change will only come by hurting them financially. There is some progress in this direction, but not enough. The underlying problem is that the media is not willing to call them out.

David McKee
David McKee
19 days ago

Let’s take the politics out of it for a moment. If an oversexed and inebriated male student walks up to a female student in the students’ union bar, stares at her cleavage and says, “Fancy a shag, love?”; is he exercising his rights to free speech, or is he committing a disciplinary offence? I think most people across the political spectrum would say such behaviour is best discouraged. This is not safetyism, it’s common courtesy. It’s good manners.

Nor is it unfair to see this primarily from the woman’s perspective. It’s a shame Prof. Stock did not talk to Jewish students at Cornell to get their point if view. Failing that, she could try talking to the Jewish chaplain at Leeds, you know, the one who in hiding after getting death threats.

Howard Ahmanson
Howard Ahmanson
19 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

In the old days the female student would slap the inebriated male on the face and bustle away, and not bring in the authorities unless he continued to pursue her. Which in the old days he wouldn’t. That women do not feel safe doing this these days is a loss of power by women, not a gain.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
19 days ago

It’s poor behaviour (unless she relies ” take me, take me big boy”) but not one that requires forml sanctions.

Madas A. Hatter
Madas A. Hatter
16 days ago

You are so right. Making a pass, even a crude one, at a woman may be unwelcome but it is not an offense. Tinder et al. are slowly becoming the only way a young bloke can get together with a woman because the risk of going about it in the traditional way has become too dangerous. In my youth if I fancied a girl and thought she fancied me I would put my arm around her and draw her into a kiss. If she pushed me away and said,”No thanks.” that was the end of it. No big deal. Now, if she were in a chippy frame of mind, I could end up behind bars. Who is going to risk that?
No wonder the birth rate is plummeting in every ‘enlightened’ society.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
16 days ago

I have known two women react to being touched; one slapped a man so hard she knocked him down almost unconscious and another threw him across a room, he then head butted a door and lay stunned. The men cheered. 
One of my Grandmother’s told me the time she was groped on the tube. She stabbed the man with her hat pin, stamped on the top of his foot with a hard heel and hit him in the groin with her handbag. She was 5 ft one inch in height.
If the man wants to push it any further male relative of woman thrashes him to an inch of his life to teach him some manners. Women have worked in pubs in rough areas and canteens on construction sites because if any man misbehaved, other men would thrash them to an inch of their lives.

Connecticut Yankee
Connecticut Yankee
19 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

What’s wrong with the lad taking a shot at a bar? Sounds like in your estimation it should be illegal to hit on women in bars.

I suppose the proper way would be to fill out a consent form and post it to the women to be signed in triplicate that she allows the lad to deign to communicate with her.

Absolutely wild that we’ve come to a point where we’re talking about how terrible it is that someone uses a terrible pick up line at a bar. This overbearing safetyism is the reason that the latest generation are barely having any sex – you can’t know how to flirt properly if you never had the opportunity to flirt badly.

David McKee
David McKee
19 days ago

The point I am trying to make here is that a given action can be interpreted quite differently by the involved parties. A crass pickup line is nothing to a man – either it works or it doesn’t. For a woman, it is demeaning, annoying, and even frightening.
In the same way, what Prof. Stock dismisses as, “a huddle of tents, cringe-inducing artwork, and earnest placards in a corner of the main quad, sporadically erupting to the sounds of loud hailers and chanting,” can be perceived by Jewish students as sinister, hostile and threatening.
So where do we draw the line? Do we tell women/Jews to stop being a bunch of oversensitive cry-babies and grow up? Or do we accept their point of view as valid, and curtail our freedom to say and do what we want? And if the latter, who should discipline those who won’t toe the line – the universities or the state?

T Bone
T Bone
19 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

I see the balance you’re trying to hit. I think your main point is that the fear of Jewish students is in many cases very real and understandable. These are not normal, organic protests full of rational expectations. One has to suspend reality to see mass tent city encampments and building occupations as political speech.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
19 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

Comparing a woman being hit on in a bar vs. Jews facing people who call for their extermination on their college campus is a bit jarring.

David McKee
David McKee
19 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I know. It was the best analogy I could think of. Possibly you can think of better examples.

M To the Tea
M To the Tea
18 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

I believe he is suggesting that the boundary of free speech is crossed when it affects someone personally and causes fear or threat. In this context, the woman and Jewish individuals are the recipients of the message, feeling fear and threat from the protesters’ actions. The protesters, on the other hand, are loudly expressing their own pain and anger due to the government’s support for Israel. If both parties are saying “ouch”—one from pain and anger, the other from fear and threat—what does that imply about the nature of the speech? It implies lawlessness. Therefore, to uphold the law, we must consider which emotion is easier to address: pain and anger or fear and threat?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
16 days ago
Reply to  M To the Tea

Where one works there are tough men, construction sites, mines, trawlers, etc there is banter but there appears to be an instinct as to where the lines exists. Where the line is crossed the offended party can ask the other to step outside. Woman in such environments can have a bawdy sense of humour but once again there is an instinct as to what is acceptable.
Does education destroy common sense, backbone and perhaps a sense of humour? One used to say a person has robust common sense or a robust sense of humour

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
19 days ago

The signatures would, of course, have to be witnessed

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago

Okay. If a man asks me if I want to shag when he approaches me, then I’m allowed to say, “Well, I don’t think so. You have short fingers, and we know what that means.”

Chipoko
Chipoko
19 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

I read a post a few days ago about one of the USA Ivy League universities in which pro-Palestinian students were entering classrooms, demanding a show of hands by the seated students for all those who supported the Palestinian cause and photographed them so as to have a record of all those who did not raise their hands. That is horrendous behaviour and university administrations who fail to address such vile intimidation (e.g. by permanently expelling any student found guilty) are facilitating unsafe campus environments and exposing some students to danger and potential harm.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
19 days ago
Reply to  Chipoko

On the other hand you could use the photos to identify those that did raise their hands and give them a good seeing too

Terry M
Terry M
19 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

Is it safetyism to be concerned when a Jewish student is confronted by a crowd of people chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” at the top of their lungs? Or when that a person moves in front of that Jew and tries to stop her from entering the campus? That’s intimidation, and it is criminal.
Methinks the lady doth protest too little.

David McKee
David McKee
19 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

Exactly. Prof. Stock should have talked to the Jewish students.

T Bone
T Bone
19 days ago

What is meant by “Conservatives.” Are we talking about Fiscal Conservatives, Country Club Conservatives, Cultural Conservatives, Environmental Conservatives, Populist Conservatives or just calling every powerful person a conservative regardless of how left-wing they are? 

Professor Stack is taking an inherently biased left-wing lens here but talking like a centrist. Being a Terf doesn’t make you a centrist.  There’s an anti-conservative bias built into this article that is obviously partial.  The article is unbalanced is because she starts her baseline analysis far left of center…if we assume “center” means no bias toward left or right. Is this an attempt to reestablish left wing bonafides through what the Left media calls “bothsideisms. Or is it an unbiased objective analysis?

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
19 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

Good, that’s the problem of feminist critique. It’s inherently untrusting of conservatives, while conservatives definitely shouldn’t trust it. Political standpoint is all, as the existence of these ironclad ideological backgrounds is the main problem in thr culture today.

George Venning
George Venning
19 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

Unbiased doesn’t mean starting wherever you deem the centre to be. It means accepting roughly the same standard of evidence for all claims.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
19 days ago
Reply to  George Venning

It also means accepting that views you disagree with have as much right as yours to be expressed.

T Bone
T Bone
19 days ago
Reply to  George Venning

And that is precisely what she is not doing. There’s tent city communes all over US campuses and every one of them promotes the same ideological message.

If a bunch of second amendment activists donning crosses started overwhelming parks en masse would you just say “Oh good for them. Exercising their speech rights. We must allow them to exclude the majority at the expense from public land at the expense of a radical minority.”

No you would not say that. Left-wing causes are granted substantially more disruptive freedom than right wing causes.

George Venning
George Venning
19 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

Hang on, who are we talking about here?
You accused KS of bias. But her point seems to me to be that it is strange for conservative champions of free speech to get so upset about speech they don’t like. She’s not being biased, she is pointing out an inconsistency. And she is going out of her way to say what idiots she personally thinks the students are.
A defense of free speech, if it is to mean anything, means a defense of speech (and ultimately politics) you don’t like.
But you then accuse me of being off base and then provide a weird counterfactual that makes no sense.

T Bone
T Bone
19 days ago
Reply to  George Venning

Tent City encampments, occupying buildings, gluing yourself to the street and desicrating public art are not “expressions of speech.”  These are intimidation tactics to compel a result that you want. 

Though I think the “protest demands” are absurd, they’re more than entitled to gather and hold those views.  What they’re not entitled to do is exclusively hold community space to leverage political demands.  What is so complicated about this?  They’re effectively squatters.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

Wait a minute. Are you say that supporters of the Second Amendment are the majority? Only about 38 or so percent of Americans own guns.

T Bone
T Bone
19 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Support for the second amendment is overwhelming. Second amendment activists (those against all public restrictions) are a minority.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
19 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

She is clearly Left-leaning, attempting to pitch toward the middle of the strike zone as you say. However, I think she’s pretty moderate–for an (ex-)academic lesbian.

T Bone
T Bone
19 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I respect her. I just thought this was a disingenuous piece.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
19 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

Understood. I think she’s does well to use her platform and rhetorical skill to address a readership that is to the Right of her overall, but with whom she shares elements of common cause. The prevailing bias at UnHerd is well to the Right, which most commenters, including you, don’t object to very often.

T Bone
T Bone
19 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Like I said before, I think the Unherd Commentariat is well to the right of its Authors. I joined this site after listening to Freddie Sayers interview with RFK because he was so fair. I think of Freddie as a reasonable social liberal/British centrist. But how many regular writers or even guest writers are right of Freddie.
Maybe Ayaan and Jacob Howland?

I’m basically coming from the Beck/Shapiro/DeSantis tree of political thinking…which is economically and culturally far more Conservative than Carlson/Owens/Trump. My viewpoint is not represented anywhere in the writing. And fine, it’s a British site. Brits are more secular and economically liberal than Americans in general. I knew that when I joined. But my guess is the Commentariat would swing a bit left if more Conservative writers were given voice. Contrarianism rules message boards. This board is pretty economically populist which I am not.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
19 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

I strongly disagree that there would be such a contrarian pivot here, but I admit it’s possible given the general level of skepticism among these commenters. That contrast doesn’t occur at the National Review, Washington Post, Reason, Guardian, Breitbart, or NYT. Admittedly, most of those places are more establishment, or at least older than this site. One sees a growing number of dissenting views at the NYT, for example, but the comments tend to mirror the average bias of the articles*. Same at WSJ in my estimation. (My approach remains sharply–not automatically– skeptical and contrarian both at NYT and here, no surprise there).
Isn’t McTague well to Freddie’s right and Harrington getting there? Among pretty regular contributors that don’t have are picture in “Our writers”: Fraser, Luttwak, and Crawford all seem quite clearly to the cultural right, at least of Sayers.
Of the mostly-reactionary trio you named, I can listen to Shapiro the most, because he seems both intelligent and sincere in a way that Beck (somewhat spacey) and DeSantis (puffed up opportunist) do not. I’d say Shapiro is the hardest right among them though. He more than held his own on Bill Maher when Malcolm Nance tried to pull a cheap-ass takedown job.
I’m much more likely to be persuaded by conservatives like the late William F. Buckley or aged George Will–and mostly in the past tense, Jordan Peterson. And I like much of what Catholic traditionalist Ross Douthat has to say.
I’m in pretty strong sympathy with many of the moderate views of, for example, David Brooks, Lionel Shriver or…Freddie Sayers. I’d say I share with all three a kind of cultural preservationism, that is (unevenly, mildly) socially but not politically or economically conservative.
You are among the only (albeit conflicted) Trump supporters that I’ve been able to have discussions with. Perhaps that’s because you’re not a rah-rah populist as you say. Also, you examine your own thinking pretty rigorously–if too often, it seems to me, with a fixed view toward strengthening your existing views. Even so, you haven’t renounced depth and nuance, and you “play well with others”–in a fair and respectful way–for the most part.
Have you checked out any of the content and approach at Persuasion.com?
*The comments, at least on boards I check and post on, average closer to the sociopolitical center than the articles themselves.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
16 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Compared to some if not all humanities academics at Sussex she is conservative traditionalist.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
19 days ago

“I thought that this university accepted me because I am an advocate, because I am someone who will fight for what they believe in, no matter what,” mournfully recounted one Vanderbilt alumnus, originally lauded by faculty and administrators for making a stand against perceived oppression, but now expelled for the very same thing.”
Hoist by their own keffiyeh, one might say.

Rachel Taylor
Rachel Taylor
19 days ago

The culture of assertive victimhood is everywhere. Somehow all kinds of anarchic violent behaviours have learnt to adapt by claiming to be the victim. From Floyd, to Trans, to Gaza, it’s all the same thing.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
19 days ago
Reply to  Rachel Taylor

Spot on

Dr E C
Dr E C
18 days ago
Reply to  Rachel Taylor

Absolutely. Only it’s not ‘assertive’ victimhood, it’s _violent_ victimhood…

Ian_S
Ian_S
19 days ago

I would comment, but there’s a high likelihood UnHerd will block it. So I won’t bother.

Emmanuel MARTIN
Emmanuel MARTIN
19 days ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Antisemitic speech is illegal in the UK

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
19 days ago

The problem here is that older left-wing agitators see an opportunity at these colleges. Them the Right draws in equivalent thugs for a scrap. I’m not inherently against legislating against hate speech but it will doubtlessly be applied against criticism of the trans medical complex too. In the end, we may just have to let people find out for themselves.

Greg Morrison
Greg Morrison
19 days ago

Practise Question 4. “Momodou Taal” is ‘British’. Discuss (be both inclusive and decisive). Consider, briefly, whether you can meaningfully belong to a nation if you hate its history, hate its ethnic majority, hate its traditional religion and ethics, wish to overthrow its politics, do not wish in any way to integrate meaningfully with any of the above, and choose mostly to both live and study abroad (extra points available for inventiveness and demonstrating creative/wishful thought processes). Show your working.

T Bone
T Bone
19 days ago
Reply to  Greg Morrison

I’ll take Infiltrative Reverse Colonialism for 800, please.

philip kern
philip kern
19 days ago

I was uncomfortable watching the congressional grilling of the Ivy League presidents. Of course what the students said was appalling. Equally obviously, from the perspective of western liberalism (not the American brand of liberalism) the right to say appalling things needs to be preserved. The discussion completely lacked nuance. You can’t complain about the coddling of the American mind and the demise of the universities, and simultaneously bristle at offensive speech when it comes along, can you? So how do you protect Jewish students while simultaneously protecting basic rights?

Chris Carter
Chris Carter
19 days ago
Reply to  philip kern

The President of the University of Florida seems to have got it spot on.
“First, universities must distinguish between speech and action. Speech is central to education. We’re in the business of discovering knowledge and then passing it, both newly learned and time-tested, to the next generation. To do that, we need to foster an environment of free thought in which ideas can be picked apart and put back together, again and again. The heckler gets no veto. The best arguments deserve the best counterarguments. 
To cherish the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly, we draw a hard line at unlawful action. Speech isn’t violence. Silence isn’t violence. Violence is violence. Just as we have an obligation to protect speech, we have an obligation to keep our students safe. Throwing fists, storming buildings, vandalizing property, spitting on cops and hijacking a university aren’t speech. 
Second, universities must say what they mean and then do what they say. Empty threats make everything worse. Any parent who has endured a 2-year-old’s tantrum gets this. You can’t say, “Don’t make me come up there” if you aren’t willing to walk up the stairs and enforce the rules. You don’t make a threat until you’ve decided to follow through if necessary. In the same way, universities make things worse with halfhearted appeals to abide by existing policies and then immediately negotiating with 20-year-old toddlers. 
Appeasing mobs emboldens agitators elsewhere. Moving classes online is a retreat that penalizes students and rewards protesters. Participating in live-streamed struggle sessions doesn’t promote honest, good-faith discussion. Universities need to be strong defenders of the entire community, including students in the library on the eve of an exam, and stewards of our fundamental educational mission. 
Actions have consequences. At the University of Florida, we have repeatedly, patiently explained two things to protesters: We will always defend your rights to free speech and free assembly—but if you cross the line on clearly prohibited activities, you will be thrown off campus and suspended. In Gainesville, that means a three-year prohibition from campus. That’s serious. We said it. We meant it. We enforced it. We wish we didn’t have to, but the students weighed the costs, made their decisions, and will own the consequences as adults. We’re a university, not a daycare. We don’t coddle emotions, we wrestle with ideas. 
Third, universities need to recommit themselves to real education. Rather than engage a wide range of ideas with curiosity and intellectual humility, many academic disciplines have capitulated to a dogmatic view of identity politics. Students are taught to divide the world into immutable categories of oppressors and oppressed, and to make sweeping judgements accordingly. With little regard for historical complexity, personal agency or individual dignity, much of what passes for sophisticated thought is quasireligious fanaticism. 
The results are now on full display. Students steeped in this dogma chant violent slogans like “by any means necessary.” Any? Paraglider memes have replaced Che Guevara T-shirts. But which paragliders—the savages who raped teenage girls at a concert? “From the river to the sea.” Which river? Which sea? 
Young men and women with little grasp of geography or history—even recent events like the Palestinians’ rejection of President Clinton’s offer of a two-state solution—wade into geopolitics with bumper-sticker slogans they don’t understand. For a lonely subset of the anxious generation, these protest camps can become a place to find a rare taste of community. This is their stage to role-play revolution. Posting about your “allergen-free” tent on the quad is a lot easier than doing real work to uplift the downtrodden.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-adults-are-still-in-charge-at-the-university-of-florida-israel-protests-tents-sasse-eca6389b?st=lwf5z7ny56lhed4&reflink=desktopwebshare_permalink

Karen Arnold
Karen Arnold
19 days ago
Reply to  Chris Carter

I don’t think there is anything in that speech I can disagree with, it needs shouting from the roof tops of every university.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
19 days ago
Reply to  Chris Carter

It’s hard to believe that such commonsense speech is considered unique and praiseworthy today. Thank God that men like this still exist! They used to be the norm and run for public office.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago
Reply to  philip kern

I got the sense that she was implying that Jewish students who were offended or frightened by the pro-Palestine crowd were victims of “safetyism.” She mentions that there were Jews participating in the protests, so claims of antisemitism were overblown. What does she think “From the river to the sea” means? It means killing every Jew in Palestine. “Go back to Poland” they chant. Poland. where three million Jews were murdered. That’s okay? Sure it’s free speech, but it is also a call to murder Jews.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago

What strikes me now, as a result of comparing the campus ‘wars’ to the war itself, and the suggestion that one is a “shadow play” of the other, is how much the war itself resonates with a pantomime. The awful, absurd events even include protagonists stepping forward and shouting, “Oh, yes he did!” and “Oh, no he didn’t!” The war is a horror that the spectator element makes tragic.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago

Hear Hear. Great column, as usual.

A D Kent
A D Kent
19 days ago

Excellent article as usual, but I must say that I find Stocks’ apparent surprise regarding the Right’s alleged U-turning on safetyism surprising – I don’t think she’s been paying proper attention over the last decade or so. They’ve been happy to exploit it for years – and did so in spades in the 2019 General Election and prior to that the Scottish Independence campaign of 2014 (with all the ‘vile cybernat abuse’ hogwash).

A few examples I think are instructive here.

A week ago in a reply to Hadley Freeman’s piece that rehashed some of her early whines about the Labour Antisemitism furore, I asked Unread commentors for any actual examples of this. Of course some came back with the EHRC report (which identified a grand total of, wait for it, 2 serious cases – neither of which they felt able to defend the technicalities of in court). Then there was the years old instances of poster-liking, conference introductions and off-hand quips about irony. Most of what else there was could (and IMO) should have simply been filed under ‘Robust Debate’ and put in the folder marked ‘Get A Grip’. I’m sure some of this was unpleasant, but we were then talking about a party of over half a million members.

[You can look up my request and responses in the thread if you like, but the comment seems to disappear and re-appear randomly – possibly (and rather ironically) due to WordPress/Unherd’s unnecessarily ‘safetyist’ comment reporting features].

Another example came in the infamous(ly distorted) John Ware ‘Panorama’ edition on Labour’s supposed antisemitism (the one in which he interviewed half a dozen anonymous members of the Jewish Labour Movement’s governing council without informing the viewers who they were). In one example given great prominence we heard of the terror felt by a young male (JLM member) Labour ‘investigator’ allegedly being asked ‘where are you from’, by two elderly Liverpudlian female members at the end of an interview the Party had subjected them to. It would have been hilarious if it wasn’t so serious.

[It later transpired that the women had recorded the entire exchange and the poor, wee little Labour snowflake had either misremembered, massively misinterpreted or simply made up his claims that led to him feelin so unsafe.]

Likewise we had the preposterous windbag, Margaret Hodge able to get away with describing her being subject to a Party disciplinary procedure for a foul-mouthed rant at her boss as being like ‘getting a knock from the Gestapo’. Again utterly laughable, again treated with the utmost seriousness by the Establishment and the Right.

[It later turned out that the vast (90%+) of the 200 odd complaints of antisemitism she bunged up Labour’s complains procedure with weren’t from members anyway].

We had great prominence given to Maureen Lipman tearily telling us of how she was going to leave the Labour Party because she no longer felt safe in it under Corbyn’s leadership. No one in our Establishment media felt able to challenge her on the fact that she’d made exactly the same threat a few years previously under the, correct me if I’m wrong on this, Jewish Ed Milliband.

I’m sure members of our various Jewish communities did feel unsafe at the prospect of a Corbyn Labour government, but that was hardly surprising given the blanket coverage afforded those and many more such examples by our media – or for that matter the completely ignored Jewish Labour members who felt entirely safe and supported in the party.

And now they’re at it again. There’s barely a day goes by now that The Daily Sceptic’s ‘News Round-Up’ feed doesn’t include something about someone feeling unsafe or their campuses not being safe-spaces.

Oh and of course we have just had the spectacle of the ludicrous Gideon Falter getting to complain about how unsafe he felt not being able to walk agains the flow of a anti-genocide march (even though he was accompanied by a little group that included a member of the Israeli President’s security team).

The Right are absolutely correct to throw the hypocrisy of the various US university governors back in their faces, but to pretend they’re not neck-deep in it too when it suits them is utter codswallop.

[Let’s now see how the visibility of this comment progresses over the next couple of days].

Dulle Griet
Dulle Griet
19 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

I’m keeping a copy of your comment, because it’s one of the best I’ve seen on the Labour right’s use of false accusations of antisemitism.

Those on the right have deliberately conflated antisemitism with anti-Zionism to purge left-wingers from the party. Many of those falsely accused are themselves Jewish; a member of the left-wing group Jewish Voice for Labour is 37 times more likely to be investigated for antisemitism than a non-Jewish Labour Party member.

Glad to see that not everyone accepts the mainstream narrative.

A D Kent
A D Kent
19 days ago
Reply to  Dulle Griet

Thanks Dulle. I’ve found the hypocrisy of so many of the ‘anti-woke’ blabber-mouths on this issue at times infuriating and at times hilarious. Over Covid I found myself warming to some of them for taking a stance against all of it, but they’ve so quickly reverted to type.

I’m sure you have, but if you’ve not watched Al Jazeera’s series on ‘The Labour Files’ you absolutely must (and everyone else should). It won a US documentary series award, but was steadfastly ignored here by the Establish media in the UK.

Dulle Griet
Dulle Griet
18 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

I have, and I second your recommendation.
The inability of some anti-wokeists to fully understand what free speech is, and that supporting it is important to democracy, is a disappointing failure of intelligence.

nadnadnerb
nadnadnerb
19 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

I really don’t care if it’s unfair to Labour or the SNP to laugh at them being hoisted by their own putrid petard. They deserved every millisecond of it.

Dillon Eliassen
Dillon Eliassen
19 days ago

“Just as the modern Left either tends to cheer or stay silent as Right-coded views are eliminated from the academy either by stealth or by force, many on the supposedly freedom-loving modern Right apparently have little to say about the violation of the basic right to peaceful speech and assembly, when it comes to defending the perceived interests of Palestinians.”
Yes, in the States, Republicans and conservatives often twist their tribalism into pretzel shaped “freedom-loving” rhetoric. The Right often isn’t objective when it comes to their principles, but there have been numerous examples of pro-Hamas/Palestinian protesters here in the States who demand their freedom to assemble, as in camp out on campus public property, who are blocking anyone, especially Jews, from entering campus public property, explicitly saying that if Palestinians in Gaza are going to suffer during the Gaza war, then Jews worldwide must also suffer during it. Whenever there is an Islamist terror attack, the Left immediately yell “NOT ALL MUSLIMS!” But one of the ways they are globalizing the intifada is inverting that to “YES ALL JEWS!” What I’m trying to say is if Democrats and progressives are not going to be honest brokers and use the ends to justify the means, it looks like Republicans and conservatives are finally waking up to the fact that they have to fight dirty if they will ever win any cultural and political wars. The RNC is just now starting to advocate for early and mail-in voting as a way to win elections because if they want to win elections they will have to meet the DNC on its own turf.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
17 days ago

Many are not just waking up to that “fact” but living in an ever meaner headspace and zeitgeist after decades (centuries? millennia?) of Machiavellian “ethics”. In some sense it has been this way for eons, but this is a darkhearted and meanspirited social moment, no doubt. I support the right of those on the Right to defend and preserve what is held to be essential or worthwhile about our culture and traditions; I share many of those preservationist impulses.
The problem with They-started-it or Ruthless Times schools of behavior is that nasty means tend to become the ends, to a poisonous degree. And those who fight dirty tend to get filthy themselves.

2 plus 2 equals 4
2 plus 2 equals 4
19 days ago

“But the task will be fiendishly difficult, requiring nerves of steel to avoid hastening the slide of our academic institutions towards the suppression of lawful speech, all in the alleged interests of certain identity groups.”

That’s why things like law and rights are supposed to be impartial. The problem is that this has been so undermined by special interests in the last few decades that nobody seems to understand the principle any more. Its just another tool to be weaponised when it suits them and ignored when it doesn’t.

Freedom of speech within the law has to apply to people we disagree with or it is worthless. That does not extend to include the freedom to damage property and threaten or commit violence.

Point of Information
Point of Information
19 days ago

Excellent clear-eyed piece again by Stock. Whenever I ponder cancelling my UH subscription we get one of these and it more than earns its keep.

Will someone please make her editor of the Guardian, the FT or Private Eye?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago

I quit UH when I had an embarrassing tantrum concerning my comments. But I came back for the essays. They are almost always thought provoking.

patrick macaskie
patrick macaskie
19 days ago

Could not agree more! I cant believe no one has made this point already…Thank god we have Kathleen Stock and JKR providing an umbrella for the timid and in this case pointing out that free speech cuts both way.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
19 days ago

Speech yes. Encampments, calls for death to certain people, harassment, and trashing property not so much.

El Uro
El Uro
19 days ago

Dear Kathleen Stock!
It is very pleasant to talk about the university as a platform for discussion after this area has been paved and turned into a parking lot with left-hand traffic. Even when the protests move to convenient student audiences, discussion as such will not arise. What you see now in the open air is debate in its modern sense, which leftist teachers with their spirit of intolerance and contempt for the arguments of reason taught students for so long. I, who lived under socialism, simply shake with anger when I see 20-year-old idiots with slogans glorifying Marx and the fight against “neo-colonialism”.
You simply don’t understand how dangerous these young degenerates are and what awaits the countries where they come to power.

Cronain O'Kelly
Cronain O'Kelly
19 days ago

I agree we need to defend the speech of all, especially that speech we find contemptible. I wonder however if the author has missed the key difference of these protests, that is the conflation of action with speech. The New Left and their contemporary off spring have asserted that certain forms of speech (and indeed silence) were violence. As was noted by Tom Slater on Spiked, we are witnessing the corrolary of this mantra, whereby many of these activist believe occupying public buildings and refusing access to others, vandalism, and physical intimidation of their peers and the press is the expression of their opinion. Their oft repeated mantra of ‘we will not engage in discussion’ is proof that they have left rationality far behind.

El Uro
El Uro
19 days ago

They are evil fanatics in the strictest sense of the word.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
19 days ago

Free speech and assembly doesn’t include encampments, no-go zones, occupation, vandalism, and harassment. These kids are no different from the vicious children of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. They may be cosplaying, but attacking police, staging mock executions, and calling for the guillotine is not protected by the First Amendment.

R Wright
R Wright
19 days ago

This is one of those ‘don’t make me tap the friend-enemy distinction sign’ articles. I don’t hold the right to the same standards as the left. Why on earth would I?

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
19 days ago

The sooner students get back to the real purpose of going to university, ie getting drunk and having sex with each other, intermingled with studying their subject and passing exams in that subject, the better.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
19 days ago

Yep, turns out it’s not about ‘freedom of speech’ but ‘freedom for me to speak’. Quelle suprise…

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
19 days ago

University of Toronto
April 28 email to students from management
“Unauthorized activities such as encampments or the occupation of university buildings are considered trespassing. Specifically, our Code of Student Conduct prohibits intentional damage to university property, unauthorized entry and use of university property contrary to instructions, disruptions of university activities, and other offences to property and persons.”
U of T erected a fence around the area likely to be used as a “campground”. The protesters moved in anyway.
May 2
The University of Toronto says it will be letting an encampment set up early Thursday morning by pro-Palestinian protesters to stay for now as long as “activities remain peaceful.”
May 8
One of the spokespeople for the protesters, says university administrators are giving them “the runaround” by discussing sanitation and other issues related to the encampment but are “not addressing the core issue. Demonstrators have been calling on the university to disclose ties with the Israeli government and divest from Israeli companies
May 8
“A Jewish student reported seeing a flag for Samidoun, a group whose leader in British Columbia was arrested last week for allegedly praising the October 7 atrocities committed by Hamas. Samidoun also has ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a designated terror group.”
“On Wednesday, Jewish university students gathered on Parliament Hill to raise the alarm about a rise in antisemitism on their campuses. They appeared alongside several Liberal MPs who helped initiate a parliamentary committee study about antisemitism on campuses scheduled to begin Thursday.”
Stock makes a fair point that calling in the heavies to deal with demonstrators seems a bit like “that’s what the other guys do”. Some Canadian conservatives are asking why Trudeau doesn’t use the Emergencies Act that he so readily applied to the Freedom Convoy. That view is a tad overwrought but understandable.
The real question is why didn’t unis like U of T just apply the rules they spelled out so clearly? Is it because the school administration and faculty are generally supportive or sympathetic to the pro-Pals or are we to assume that ignorance and incompetence blinded them to the obvious path the protests would lead towards out and out anti-Semitism? Is it too cynical to suggest that having made a hash of it they’ll just stall until the police and/or government step in with bully boy tactics and save their progressive haloes from getting tarnished?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
19 days ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

It’s far less cynical to presume that those in charge agree with the protests, which is why they ignore their own rules. Over time, silence has this way of looking very much like agreement.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
19 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Sad but true. I know it’s been said before but it bears repeating: identifying as pro-Pal (which is in truth pro-Hamas) is easy when the oppressor is White but when the whites are also Jews then it gets awkward. The fact that Jews have swept the historical injustice medals since forever has really thrown a wrench in the progressive moral gearbox.

Sylvia Volk
Sylvia Volk
19 days ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

May 9
At the University of Calgary, Alberta, students begin setting up tents and pallet barricades. Police arrive en masse and spend most of the day telling them to disperse. Most do. Around eleven that night, the police use tear gas on the remainder, arrest them and dismantle the encampment.

Michael Askew
Michael Askew
19 days ago

Antisemitism is a strange beast because it is both ethnic hostility and a conspiracy theory – that the Jews are shadowy figures holding most of the monrey and power, and manipulating world events for their own evil purposes. Add to this that Israel is a Jewish state (albeit Arab residents have full legal and democratic rights), that their Arab neighbours wish to eliminate. This gives a problem to Palestinian sympathisers in the West – identifying with Palestinians drags their western supporters into the cause of eliminating the Jewish state of Israel. The Middle Eastern Arab states have driven out every Jew from their borders, so if the Palestinians succeed in their goal (“From the river to the sea”), there will be no Jew left alive in what is now Israel. There will be a second Holcaust (they won’t give up without a fight), and the Jews will then be friendless refugees cast out on the world. Not so different from the Palestinians, you might think. Sadly. none of the Arab countries would take them in.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
19 days ago

“have now swung to the other extreme without missing a beat, and are cracking down excessively on behaviour they used to tolerate or even encourage”
Because you have to know who is in charge and who you can’t criticise.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
19 days ago

Except they did a bit more than criticize. Kaffiyeh clad Muslim Americans and the modern day equivalent of Mao’s Youth Brigades assaulted and harassed Jewish students and professors and disrupted daily life for weeks.
Criticize Israeli policies or protest the tragedy of war all you like, but when you and your comrades start to resemble Hitler’s brown shirts or the Red Army Faction, it’s not just permissible to send in riot police, it’s necessary.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
19 days ago

Groups and causes are often defined by their most extreme actors. When your cosplay adventure includes signs calling for intifada, heralding some version of a final solution, or telling Jews to “go back to Poland,” then that will stand out, even beyond the ignorance of participants who can neither river nor sea in a chant whose goal is obvious.
Also, this was not just a case of random, “spontaneous” protests – because nothing says spontaneity like hundreds of pre-printed signs and identical camps sprouting up everywhere – it was a case of students trashing campus buildings, stopping others from freely moving about, and then clutching their pearls when people had enough.
Perhaps more than anything, this episode says that ex-Harvard President Claudine Gay was speaking for the campus majority in saying talk of genocide against any group should be seen in “context.” Had any of this been hurled at blacks, Muslims, gays, etc., the reaction would have been far different and I do not believe anyone can dispute that. These campuses have freely impugned whites, males, Christians, and anyone with a cursory understanding of biology. That Jews would be next is hardly novel.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
19 days ago

Considering the vicious hatred of the rampage of Oct. 7 and the preponderance of Hamas symbols and phrases being used by the protesters it’s difficult to not see inherent antisemitism. The threat doesn’t need to be spoken, it’s obvious.
During the protests against the Vietnam War no one was waving NVA flags or chanting North Viet Communist Party slogans because the issues were humanitarian, not geo-political. We didn’t care who won, we just wanted the killing to stop.
Stock’s essay was, as always, a great read but I prefer Kat Rosenfield’s take on the situation; uninformed students playing at being radical while serving as useful idiots for an angry, intolerant and psychopathically violent terrorist group. These people (Hamas et al) are worse than the IRA.

nadnadnerb
nadnadnerb
19 days ago

Are you sure?

Vietnam War protests in Australia were most certainly waving NVA flags. I was there. The Maoists and Stalinists were having a field day.

Again, are you sure this wasn’t happening in your corner of the world?

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
15 days ago
Reply to  nadnadnerb

Interesting. Here in the US the Maoists and Stalinists keep a very low profile.
There was Jane Fonda’s trip to North Vietnam to show support. It was generally considered a bad idea. It was on the front pages of all the papers right next to the casualty statistics from the day before. Ten or twenty dead American boys and Fonda in an NVA uniform. Not good optics.

John Taylor
John Taylor
19 days ago

This is a very naive view of the protests. Protestors have carried signs arguing for a ‘final solution” (George Washington University) and at Columbia, calling Israel a ‘nation of pigs.” These are calls for degradation and extermination, not anti-war protests.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
19 days ago
Reply to  John Taylor

Yes, what if replaced Jews with Black? Things would be very different.

J. Hale
J. Hale
19 days ago

If a Jewish student wearing an Israeli flag t-shirt tried to walk across a campus commons where pro Palestinians had set up camp, would he be successful? No, he would be blocked, perhaps violently, and turned back. This is not freedom of assembly, this is anti-Semitic violence.

Jan Brogan
Jan Brogan
19 days ago

This is a great column and a great reminder I needed not to write off the protesters fully. The war is ugly, people are dying. But a big concern I have here in the U.S. is how many of the arrestees aren’t college students at all, but professional protesters, who arrive with manuals for the most effective violence, and who are funded by???

Colorado UnHerd
Colorado UnHerd
19 days ago

I appreciate the description of narcissistic millennials. Black men seem to have special credentials here, warranting default leadership. (At Columbia, Khymani James, who gets bonus “oppressed” points for being “queer” and who uses he/she/they pronouns, was banned from campus after posting on social media his comments that Zionists don’t deserve to live, though he did subsequently apologize.)
Stock also is correct to call out “supine university bosses who … spent years positively incentivising an entire generation to think of themselves as pleasingly disruptive social radicals, acting on behalf of a variety of oppressed victim classes….”
However, aggressive crackdowns involving the police are more a result of this stupidly indulgent policy than a flipflop. Existing, content-neutral campus polices forbid tent encampments, disruption of classes, damage to buildings, all of which have characterized these protests. Campus administrators should have enforced those rules unapologetically from the start; they did not, instead capitulating and deferring, and protests escalated beyond what they could handle.

william langdale
william langdale
19 days ago

I didn’t know that rich American kids were so keen on a 40 year old British comedy,come back Rick from The Young Ones,all is forgiven (I bet one of them even has a hamster called Special Patrol Group).

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
19 days ago

Great article. So much to cover. Where to begin.
First a few nits to pick. American universities ARE unsafe simply by virtue of the fact that most of them exist within American cities, which are among the most unsafe crime ridden places in the world. Most of them are marginally safer than the surrounding areas because they spend significant amounts of money on their own police forces that do nothing but patrol a few square miles of campus just so they can make such a claim. I suspect their fence maintenance budgets are not to be sneezed at either. The universities that are safe, like the one I attended, tend to be smaller schools, mostly private but some public, ones in smaller towns throughout the heartland. By some strange coincidence, these universities never seem to make the evening news for having hordes of protesters disrupt campus even in the small towns where there isn’t much news in the first place. Perhaps it’s because these institutions are mostly populated by middle to lower class kids who are less spoiled, less sheltered, and more interested in their education and future careers than fixing the world’s ills or being seen by others doing so. I admit this is all wild speculation on my part. More likely they’re just redneck spawn who haven’t enough intelligence to understand how horrible and racist they are, or perhaps somehow shadowy colonialist forces have gained control of these institutions *sarcasm_off*

As for the sudden appeal of safetyism among conservative and right leaning media voices, I can only refer to the old adage that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Progressives and Democrats started this game of identity politics. They defined the boundary lines. They made the rules. They set up this dynamic of oppressor and oppressed, colonizer and colonized, white and everybody else. It’s more than a little disingenuous to complain when the other side hits back using the same tactics. A reasonable person should have expected this. I certainly have been. As the identity politics movement expanded from being primarily about blacks and whites in America into including ever more different and diverse ‘oppressed’ minorities, it was inevitable that eventually some of them would come into conflict over something. Further, one cannot talk about the unfair treatment of blacks or anybody else without implying divisions between people, divisions which can then be used for any purpose. Further, continually dividing people into different minority groups eventually leads to a world where there is no majority, no base culture, no assumed default, just self-identified aggrieved minority groups sniping at each other. We’re getting awfully close to that in the US. White males are increasingly using the language of identity politics to describe their oppression by feminists, anti-racists, etc. Women use the same language against men. Today it’s just voting patterns, but history is a continuous process. Like will sort with like. Communities will define themselves by who they include and who they shun. One day we might very well be drawing national borders along the lines established by the SJW’s of today. It’s the law of unintended consequences, and it does not care how pure one’s good intentions may be.

I suspect this was one of the easier articles for Kathleen. It’s good, but with such an absurdly humorous topic how could it not be? There are people who regularly protest and agitate for the rights of homosexuals now protesting and agitating in favor of a people, the Palestinians, and an organization, Hamas, who regularly execute people just for being homosexuals. If one enjoys the theater of the absurd, as I do, this is truly wonderful stuff that miraculously came about on its own without any genius humorist to claim it. If it were a script for a Hollywood movie, every producer would reject it for having a premise the average ten year old could see through, and he’d probably have a chuckle for doing so. It’s almost ‘Springtime for Hitler’ level ridiculous. Just as the obvious needs no justification, the absurd requires no criticism. It’s very existence is self-contradictory, and it’s embarrassing for everyone involved to have to entertain such silliness in a serious way. When the various university heads decided to intervene, I wonder if they were really motivated by an impetus to combat antisemitism, or just wanted conservatives and every other serious thinking person to stop laughing at them.

I do agree it was wrong to shut down the protests. I’m a bit of an absolutist when it comes to free speech. I’d defend far more despicable views that were far less amusing. It’s a bad precedent to be sure, but it’s not as if these universities were bastions of free expression before. Their m.o. for the last dozen years or so has been to give tacit approval for their students to ‘cancel’ any divergent political viewpoint and quietly pat them on the back for doing so because it helped a political cause they agreed with. They didn’t care about free speech then, so why should we be surprised they’re willing to send in the stormtroopers now. It’s perfectly consistent with their established pattern of promoting particular political positions at an organizational level. If this is what it takes to wake people up to what elite universities have been doing for a while now, it’s a silver lining to all this nonsense. .

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
19 days ago

Not quite.
Jewish students and even professors at Columbia were physically barred from entering parts of the campus. Jewish passers-by were threatened, and several buildings were “occupied” and vandalized.
Large crowds of people, many of them of Middle Eastern descent, albeit often with American accents, wore kaffiyeh’s in the pattern popular with terror operatives.
My own daughter was prevented from having dinner at her campus, as protestors blocked the cafeteria, and was repeatedly asked if she was Jewish. (We are lapsed Roman Catholics, ethnically.)
At several campuses, the American flag was taken down and the Hamas or PLO flags raised.
These are not minor matters.
We in America were careless, for decades, about whom we allowed into our country, and now have several members of Congress who openly sympathize with Hamas.
Worse, we let Marcusean academics brainwash our own children.
We have a lot of work to do to fix this. Mass deportations may be needed – support for either communism or for terror groups can revoke a visa, or denaturalize a newly naturalized citizen – and we more desperately need to wrest control of academia away from people who think Marx, Mao, and Marcuse had the right ideas.

Jessica Woodhouse
Jessica Woodhouse
19 days ago

With all due respect, I think the issue for most Jewish students is not trying to ban offensive speech, but simply trying to ensure that Jewish students can move freely around campus without harassment or intimidation.

The situation has gotten very bad. And the students most affected are the non-political, ordinary students who just want to go to class or get into the library without running a gauntlet of extremely aggressive protestors.

Yes it’s easy to write it off as safetyism. But Cornell, Columbia and MIT all had to tell Jewish students to stay off campus and attend class by zoom because they couldn’t guarantee their physical safety on campus. And even in the absence of serious violence … does anyone think it’s okay for a mob of juvenile delinquents to stake out the library and make Jewish students condemn “Zionist settler colonialism” before they let them in to study for finals?

What’s next? Are students going to have to condemn every policy of the Catholic Church that liberals don’t like? Are students going have to proclaim “I am not now and never have been a member of the Republican Party?”

I jest … but only partly.

I see the current treatment of Jewish students — especially the good cop bad cop routine between the protestors and administrators — as the exact same tactic that was used to push Kathleen Stock and others out of academia. Now, as then, adminstraotirs are normalizing mob rule on campus. Now, as then, a mob is aggressively thought policing a group of students.

The fact that the target group this time is religious Jews instead of gender critical feminists should be irrelevant in my view. In both cases we see mob rule being deployed to make what used to be normal mainstream positions (There are two sexes, Israel has a right to exist) into thought crimes.

This should be profoundly concerning to anyone who values the tenets of liberal democracy.

M To the Tea
M To the Tea
19 days ago

The beauty of using words against anyone who stands up to anything – let us start with infantilism:
Vietnam War Protests: Opponents of the anti-war movement during the Vietnam era might have labeled the predominantly young protesters as engaging in infantile or immature behavior, suggesting their actions were more about rebellion than substantive political change.
Protests Against Trump’s Presidency: Critics of the women protesting Trump’s policies, particularly around issues like gender equality and sexual misconduct, might have used the term to trivialize the protests as emotional or irrational rather than grounded in legitimate political concerns.
Roe v. Wade: In the context of debates and protests about abortion rights, particularly with the discussions around overturning Roe v. Wade, detractors might use infantilism to dismiss the female activists as not fully understanding the issues or reacting based on emotion rather than reason.
I bet tomorrow whatever the issue is, you will be called stupid, uneducated, and infantile! Even if you are, and especially if you are Harvard, Columbia and Yale graduate…

Tom Condray
Tom Condray
19 days ago

I would be more appreciative of this thoughtful article, if Ms. Stock had pointed out the fact that many of the people arrested at these protests in support of Palestine, were not students at all. Instead, there are apparently a host of organizations who support that cause, in one way or another, whose members found ways to show up on campus, and participate in organizing, training and guiding the students present in their protests, while also participating in the actions taken.
It’s one thing to decry the effects of our current education system’s flaws in teaching liberal arts to impressionable young people. It’s quite another to ignore serious sources of anonymous, unreported activism who are riling up those same students, exacerbating the challenges of university administrations and law enforcement to deal with the consequent chaos and illegal activity.
Otherwise, I appreciate Ms. Stock’s admonition to protesters opposing the students pointing out that free speech often requires us all to experience distasteful conversations.

Theodor Adorno
Theodor Adorno
19 days ago

In theory, I agree with Kathleen, but – imagine how long an encampment of tent dwelling Proud Boys would be tolerated before the truncheons were deployed. Double standards?
I’ll happily support free speech but it shouldn’t be selectively applied.

Anton van der Merwe
Anton van der Merwe
19 days ago

It is undeniable that the protests reflect deep-seated anti-semitism. How many campus protests have you seen in reaction to any other wars where vastly more people are killed? Not a single one.
Of course the students are not to blame for the extreme bias in reporting of the Israel-Palestine conflict. That is the fault of the entire world who do exactly the same thing.
Of course many will insist that they are anti-Zionist rather than anti-semitic. However how can one possibly justify anti-Zionism? Is there any other form of national self-determination that is considered unacceptable? Of course not. Anti-Zionism is unique because it is Jewish self-determination.
The examples of bias in reporting on the Israel/Palestine conflict are so many and various that it is difficult to know where to start.
A recent example is the widespread reporting of the ICJ as ruling that it was plausible that Israel was committing genocide in Gaza. Even retired Supreme Court judges believed this, having not bothered to read the ruling itself. The ICJ judge who wrote the ruling has tried to correct this misreporting, but she has been ignored. The truth does not matter because what matters is what people want to believe, and they want to believe badly of Israel.
The fact that Israel has no choice but to defend itself from a group that openly wants to eliminate every jew from the region is not relevant. The fact that the IDF make more effort than any other military in history to avoid civilian casualties is not relevant. The fact that the civilian:combatant death ratio (2:1) is far lower than a typical urban war (9:1) matters not.

David George
David George
19 days ago

The thing is though, Kathleen, the protests have become manifestly anti semitic, cesspits of Jew hatred. Perhaps, for some, that was the real motivation all along.
What to make of the calls for a cease fire and for Jihad, for peace and war at the same time, from people that were, until five minutes ago, having to get counseling for microaggressions. God knows how you untangle that mess but, sorry, straight out ethnic profiling and the inciting of hate and violence is no longer a free speech issue.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
19 days ago

The question is: “how many mostly peaceful protesters fit on the head of a pin?”
Until philosophers like Kathleen Stock can determine this, it is useless to discuss anything.
But I think the answer lies, as always, with the greatest woman that ever lived in Britland, Mary Ann Evans. It is notable that in Middlemarch the real heroine Mary Garth doesn’t take her Fred Vincy seriously until he stops his silly university-learned shenanigans and comes back to Earth. Mrs. Poyser could not be reached for comment.

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
19 days ago

Stock appears to hold a position that makes no sense to me. She says that calling in the police is the action of administrators who “are cracking down excessively on behaviour they used to tolerate or even encourage.” Therefore, do past errors which consistently favored an intolerant left-advocated agenda, such as requiring loyalty oaths to DEI prior to hiring, preclude enforcing rules promulgated for the benefit of all? The students are (legally) adults with adult privileges and responsibilities. After having the consequences of their actions being explained to them at great length, I fail to see why they should be exempt from the consequences.

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
18 days ago

I genuinely don’t understand this from Kathleen Stock, who claimed to have been hounded out of Sussex by trans activists?

Was the behaviour of the trans mob unacceptable, or were the darlings merely expressing their rights to free speech and protest?

Can’t have it both ways – either intimidation and threats of violence are OK or they need to be policed.

Or are gender critical left wing feminists more deserving than Jewish students?

John Corcoran
John Corcoran
18 days ago

Test

Dr E C
Dr E C
18 days ago

The NUS just voted to exclude the Jewish union from its membership. Several Teachers Unions have voted to ‘globalise the Intifada’. Campus protests in America have blocked Jewish students from going to class, assaulted them, caused criminal damage to buildings & called for the execution (by guillotine) of anyone who supports Israel. You can no longer ‘minimise and scoff away’ the risks and we’d be idiots not to recognise that this isn’t a free speech issue. Free speech like drawing a picture of Mohammed? This is a culture clash of serious proportions & we’d better start to get real about our response. The time for bemoaning the loss of subtlety of thinking – which, believe me, I have been mourning in academe for a long time – is over because there is no getting through to these people subtly. I know them, I teach them, they think all Jews are vermin (as per an essay I had to second mark just yesterday – which the first marker had given a first class mark). They are dangerous.

Dulle Griet
Dulle Griet
18 days ago

I joined Unherd because woke authoritarianism made me realise the importance of critical thinking, evidence-based knowledge, civil discourse, the prioritisation of rationality over emotion, and of course, freedom of speech. Some opponents of wokeism don’t apply these values, which are fundamental to democracy, to people they disagree with on emotive issues. It’s a failure of intelligence, and Kathleen Stock has examined it astutely in this article. I hope the University of Sussex realises what it lost when their crybully students drove her out of her job.

M Shewbridge
M Shewbridge
18 days ago

What exactly do universities give us if they are no longer bastions of free speech? What purpose do they serve if they’re not the one place where ideas go to fight on the field of reason?

Because they don’t give us much else. Graduates seem barely capable of writing, let alone thinking straight. Academic publishing is a cesspit of circular citations and papers heavily influenced by their benefactors.

All good things come to an end, and academia is no longer the reliable fount of knowledge and critical thinking it once was.

Fred D. Fulton
Fred D. Fulton
18 days ago

The writer’s sympathetic view of the protests and protesters is stunning and naive. These protests are driven by racism (specifically antisemitism obviously), are fomented largely by paid agitators and also anarchists, and have by all objective measures crossed all lines which may be covered by the concept of peaceful dissent.

William Brand
William Brand
17 days ago

There are so many genocides in this world that need stopping but the elite are focused on Israel which is only defending itself. The real problem is that we are getting into the end of the world times and the rapture of the church, and the rise of the Antichrist are likely within 2 years. Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled every day as we get closer to Christ’s return. The rise in antisemitism at elite campuses fulfills Revelation 13.3  And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. The wound was when Hitler shot himself at the end of WWII. The resurrection of antisemitism was the fulfillment of the prophesy. God is also allowing it to drive western Jews to flee to Israel in order to carry out their part in the 7-year reign of Satan. He is also getting the Jews out prior to the destruction of America listed in Revelation 17 The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. When Revelations speak of the destruction of Babylon they are talking about America. North America will be an uninhabited radioactive waste during the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
17 days ago

Peaceful speech does not include interfering with the day to day operations of the University. It does not include threats of violence or interference with other students who just want to go to class or appropriately enjoy the use of the University facilities that they are paying a lot of money.

Madas A. Hatter
Madas A. Hatter
16 days ago

Both choruses in this performance seem incapable of grasping that in any given conflict, one side does not have to be virtuous and right and the other evil and wrong. I see the Gaza conflict as two very nasty lots blazing away at each other, undisturbed by the huge throng of non-combatants massed between them. I almost wrote ‘innocents’ but the men of Gaza cheered and danced in the streets on October 7, just as they had when the planes ploughed into the two towers on 9/11. Not so innocent. The women and children, however, are truly the innocents, and they are starving and dying in far greater numbers than the dancers and cheerers. It’s as ugly as hell from every angle.

Kevan Hudson
Kevan Hudson
16 days ago

Spot on.

Israel: 1,200+ dead since October 7th.
Palestine: 35,000+ dead since October 7th.

USA: zero dead during the protests.
Yet, we have to endlessly hear how oppressed Pro Israel and Pro Palestine students are on college campuses. Banana allergies and a path to the library being blocked are not crimes against humanity.

Michael Layman
Michael Layman
15 days ago

Well written article as usual(even more respect now that I know you are one of 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse).
The campus protests certainly attracted media attention, perhaps overly so. I agree with the first 6 paragraphs of your essay, but have doubts about the remainder. First, it is now clear that a significant number of protestors are “outsiders”. They are not affiliated with the university, but attracted to the act of protesting. Shades of 2020, though not to the same degree.
Therefore, I have no issues with a police presence. How long will a university allow itself to serve as a campsite? I also note that the far majority wear masks in an attempt to hide their identity. If they are afraid to be identified, then they have no credibility and are cowards.