Along the Tracks

Friday, April 05, 2002

When I was just a young pup ...

It hasn’t been that long since I was just a campus undergrad myself, starry-eyed at all the opportunities the big, wide world presented. Like most who enter journalism, I had a drive to “change the world.” However, the world, I discovered (in classes ranging from deep philosophy to mundane accounting), is a complicated place. “Change” is only a noble goal if it is change for the better. Thus, I joined in the tradition of the majority of student liberals, choosing to speak out in limited fashion (an occasional march, petition signature or letter to the editor) on subjects where I felt confident change would improve things.
Of course, I am tossing around the label “liberal” rather loosely here; I didn’t consider myself to be “liberal” and the causes I espoused seemed morally obvious (to me, at least) and not at all “political.” Heck, I supported Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush!
Today, a different driving force appears to have taken root on campuses. More and more, student activists seem to be defining themselves as “anti-Right.” This results in a muddy hodge-podge of positions which are incoherent and sometimes directly at odds with one another, and in almost all cases indefensible by any moral (or even logical, if immoral) argument.
The latest manifestation of this phenomenon is the student call for colleges to divest of any Israeli assets they hold.
Student protesters who decry the oppression of the Palestinian people and then call for actions ostensibly aimed at Israel have been skipping their history classes and need tutoring in critical thinking. Most Palestinians in the occupied territories have been under Palestinian rule for the past 8 1/2 years; most who are gainfully employed work for Israelis, many in Israel proper. The Palestinian Authority, and their “Arab brothers” in general, have done almost nothing to help destitute Palestinians achieve dignity and economic security. In return for its decent and honest efforts to assist the Palestinian people in achieving their stated goal of nationhood, Israel has been attacked by suicide bombers, gunmen and the Palestinian Authority itself. The PA’s goals - Yasser Arafat’s goals - are antithetical to those of the Palestinian people, antithetical to peace. By supporting divestiture, college students are supporting the goals of eternal oppression of the Palestinian masses, the hate-inspired deaths of thousands of Jews and the destruction of the free and democratic state of Israel.
If that sounds more like an ultra-right wing philosophy, rather than left, you’ve got your thinking cap on. In fact, it’s the policy of the Aryan Nation, the Klan, and other home-grown fringe terrorist groups. This is yet another example where the lack of any moral center has fractured the left, causing some of its “splinters” to end up tight and cozy with the black helicopter crowd.
Unfortunately, power loathes a leadership vacuum. Right now, the latent power of college students is being sucked into mindless “anti-ism” rather than the idealism which once sought to change - and improve - the world.

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