THE CAMPUS SPECTATOR: In a Sixties Frame of Mind

Sneider, Jaime

THE CAMPUS SPECTATOR JAIME SNEIDER In a Sbdies Frame of Mind OCATED ON BROADWAY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY has well-earned reputation as a hotbed of crazy idea: and what passes for cutting edge...

...Worries over the possibility of violence against Arabs or Muslims soon came to dominate campus newspaper headlines...
...SET ITS SIGHTS ON IRAQ, the same chorus line piped up, undeterred by the failure of their revious predictions...
...Three days after the attack, a letter to students cosigned by university chaplain Jewelnel Davis and the Student Governing Body executive committee, warned students that it was "incumbent upon each of us" to promote an "attitude of tolerance and understanding" and, at all costs, "resist the temptation to assign blame based indiscriminately on faith, culture or ethnicity" On September 19, though no documented campus incidents had surfaced, then-President George Rupp pressed this point further, writing that his charges must "counter hateful speculation or harassment" and, the money shot, "work together to build communities that bridge divisions in our pluralistic world...
...More recently, during a panel discussion about the future of Iraq, Rashic Khalidi, the Edward Said professor of Arabic studies anc literature, declared, "[T]his war, fought by this adminis tration, with these objectives, is having consequence that far outweigh the destruction of this regime...
...Student lap-dogs chimed right in...
...government's interest, a fact that should have been blindingly obvious to all but the most rabid observers...
...Last June, the AP reported that it had confirmed 54 THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR JUNE 2004 3,240 civilian deaths with a few areas still unchecked...
...In the first days of the Iraq war, Professor Nicholas D( Genova infamously called for the unambiguous "defea of the U.S...
...In one case, a mere glance justified a lengthy news article about a Muslim street vendor...
...Instead, references to "the atrocities routinely carried out by US...
...However, some people now "seem to look at me differently in the subway...
...Jaime Sneider is a 2002 graduate of Columbia University...
...As the nation as a whole turned from mourning to war, campus peaceniks claimed millions of Afghani civilians would die from bombs run awry and the starvation caused by American intervention...
...S THE U.S...
...Zainabab Bahrani cited U.N...
...As in the case of Afghanistan, the opportunity cost of inaction was ignored on Broadway...
...If for nothing other than public relations reasons, massive civilian casualties simply wouldn't have been in the U.S...
...and British troops" continue to overwhelm any celebration of the dictator's removal...
...The sour faces are odd but, also, I think, telling...
...It's not that anyone says anything," said one 42-year-old man who runs a pretzel stand...
...Such a strategy betrays a radical skepticism of the media that would make the most rabid conservative press critic blush...
...And the responsibility borne by Saddam Hussein's minions all but ignored...
...worries that the war might produce half a million civilian casualties...
...Prof...
...This, of course, proved to be an obscene overestimation...
...The day after the attacks, the head of thi Muslim Student Association, Ayesha Syed, submitted ( letter to the ColumbiaDaily Spectator...
...In August 1998 alone, the Taliban summarily executed 2,000 civilians in the northern city of Mazar-i Sharif...
...The U.N...
...Others still died because of a hazard created by Iraqi troops using ambulances and taxis for military purposes...
...Then there was the small matter of 3,000 dead on September 11 by mad al Qaeda bombers, and the niggling fact that the Taliban was sheltering Osama bin Laden & Co...
...With astonishing swiftness after 9/11, campus attention shifted from the casualties of the World Traci( Center to the Arab and Muslim students who faced a pos sible backlash...
...estimates that 500,000 Iraqi people will die if the Bush administration goes to war," wrote one student in an op-ed, which would be as if 167 September 11's were visited upon a country only "a bit larger than Texas...
...What migh have passed as an overzealous enthusiasm in the 1980( and '90s has metamorphosed into an anti-America' pathology...
...Faculty and students might be expected to celebrate his ouster...
...The war in Vietnam may be over, the battle for civi rights may have been won, but now there's a new strug gle for the latest generation, and an aging gang of radica professors: the War on Terrorism, or, from their per spective, the War on the War on Terrorism...
...The petition warned that the war against the Taliban had "increased the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan...
...Naturallythe students don't let their professors hay( all the fun...
...Editors published story after story recounting the fears of Arab students who believed some impending doom awaited...
...Reuters pegged the civilian death totals from US...
...At a teach-in to protest Iraq, professor and student alike blamed it on the media-military-industrial complex...
...Because the World Food Program had JUNE 2004 THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR 53 JAIME SNEIDER been forced to suspend operations, 7.5 million people might starve and 1.5 million children could die in a brutal Afghan winter...
...Because they had employed numbers quite outside the realm of possibility, we can sense why they would ignore US...
...Absent from the Columbia radicals' reaction was any attempt to grapple with the nature of the previous regime...
...And yet, here was a good part of the student body of a leading university, convinced that their government was about to inaugurate a second Hiroshima...
...Of course, no mass starvation took place, and no mass slaughter ensued...
...Although much has changed since, the stu dents and faculty seem stuck in a decidedly Sixtie, frame of mind...
...The Los Angeles Times reached a similar figure at 1,067...
...They opined, "Prejudice and judgment against Arabs and Arab-Americans will drive a divisive wedge into the cooperation that sawus through this darkweek" It was as if the San Francisco Chronicle had felt it necessary to editorialize against the dangers of homophobia...
...Student Laura Durkay, in an op-ed aptly titled, "Proud to Oppose My Government," asked, "What about the 7 million Afghans who could die of starvation this winter because trucks carrying food aid cannot pass safely through a country that is being bombed...
...militaryto limit such casualties...
...The horror...
...They can make these claims with the authority of social scientists sans any of the accompanying responsibility...
...Saddam killed hundreds of thousands of people, including his own citizens...
...Professor of History Eric Foner, reflecting on the events of September 11 wrote that he was unsure which was more troubling "The horror that engulfed New York City or the apoca lyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House...
...Some of the innocent deaths were caused by Iraqi anti-aircraft and gunfire that missed its intended target...
...And their professors, rather than using their knowledge and experience to teach their charges about how these things really work, were encouraging them in these delusions...
...In fact, remarks and articles by the campus reactionaries shifted from apocalyptic totals to discussions of individual incidents, as if these were the norm rather than the outliers...
...What's more, none of this should have surprised...
...A student group calling themselves the People for Peace circulated a petition, which was later published as a full-page ad in the Daily Spectator, with the headline, "The People of Afghanistan Are Not to Blame: Stop the War Now...
...This notoriety was forged in the 1968 riot( A when hundreds of angry students occupied cam pus buildings and police attempted to force their removal...
...bombings at about 1,000...
...Shortlybefore the bombs began to fall in Afghanistan, academics at Columbia described support for this administration's policies as a form of false consciousness...
...The Daily Spectator also entered the mix with an editorial...
...This skepticism frees campus activists to put forward whatever estimate of casualties they want, draw any conclusion they can conjure up, and treat every issue as a matter of he said, she said...
...military" He hoped that American armec forces would get bogged down in "a mink(' Mogadishus"a reference to the slaughter of 18 U. Army Rangers in Somalia in 1993...
...That may explain, in part, why idiocy surfaces fron Columbia as a matter of routine...
...Such an outlandish figure must have sounded reasonable to the signatories, including 24 professors and more than 200 students, and the projected death totals echoed all over campus...
...THE CAMPUS SPECTATOR JAIME SNEIDER In a Sbdies Frame of Mind OCATED ON BROADWAY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY has well-earned reputation as a hotbed of crazy idea: and what passes for cutting edge academic think ing...
...Saddam ran a dirty war," as one Iraqi doctor said...
...Their strange theories now percolate in a narrow academic culture where they are reinforced through repetition by like-minded free thinkers...
...media reports, once the wars began, of low casualty rates, and attempts by the US...
...He put weapons inside schools and mosques...
...Many comparable massacres have been uncovered...
...Brigitte Nacos, a professor of political science, accused members of the media of losing "their critical judgment," as if the peacenik position was the only critical judgment that could be rendered...
...Mt is hard to fath om the backlash of incidents against Muslims arounc campus and in New York City," she fretted...
...Official statements from the university echoed her concerns...

Vol. 37 • June 2004 • No. 5


 
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