We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The Arab world is experiencing a series of convulsions resulting in the quotidian slaughter of citizens in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and elsewhere. Yet the reaction on American college campuses is comparatively muted.
Muted compared to what, you ask? Compared to the tragic shedding of one life in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Having directed Jewish Studies programs in universities for most of my career I can assure you of this: If Israel were to inflict the type of violence on Palestinians that Arab regimes (and Iranian ones) casually inflict on their own dissenting populations in the course of one day, many colleges across America would be virtually shut down....
I am struck, however, by the relative calm on American campuses as each day brings forth fresh and repulsive evidence of civilian massacres in the Arab world. No demonstrations. No “teach-ins.” No “die-ins.” And there is less calling out of professors who support(ed) these regimes than I would ever have imagined possible.
This is not to say that faculty and students are unconcerned. It’s more as if they are speechless, unworded. They are not protesting, as much as they are trying to puzzle this catastrophe through (and let me be the first to say that this is precisely what people on college campuses should be doing).
Their speechlessness confirms a truism: The old dominant paradigm for explaining Mideast dysfunction is not working. It is hard to understand what the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has to do with Muammar el-Qaddafi strafing his own citizens or Bashar Assad unleashing his goons on protesters (though whether all of those protesters are offering more democratic alternatives is a conversation I will leave for another day).
No, sorry, not a new paradigm on campus, rather the same old one. Ignore the atrocities of the supposedly downtrodden or former colonized, and don't forget to bash the West and Israel. The "old dominent paradigm" never worked, in reality, but reality has little to do with the penchants of the leftists on campuses.
And to some extent, a casual bigotry: However bitterly American students criticize Israel, I wonder if they don't have a deep and unacknowledged assumption that the Israelis are regular, civilized people, like us, whereas the Arab leaders are inexplicable barbarians, no more susceptible to moral condemnation than an animal would be.
Last week I had a conversation with a young lady who had just taken a college course on the Middle East, taught by a prof hostile toward Israel. She said that the Palestinians have a good case. I just asked her whether she'd rather be in a dark alley with a Palestinian or an Israeli. She grimaced and said the latter.
Texan99 ... You summed things up very neatly above, as did Bruce in his anecdote. I would love to see Bruce write an essay analyzing the basic differences between Palestinian thought and Israeli thought, delving briefly into the background of the Palestinians. How about it Bruce?
I have known 3 generations of a Palestinian Christian family. Bright, well educated. Before the Six Day War, when they were living under Jordanian rule, the grandfather had told his children to get out of the West Bank. As Christians, the grandfather informed his children, remember that Muslims will always be promoted over you.
One of the grandchildren- call him Ishmael- who has spent most of his adulthood in the US and is a US citizen by now- abandoned his professional career to agitate against the Israelis.One of Ishmael's cousins in the West Bank can point out to Muslim mistreatment due to his being Christian - which I have read about on the Internet. Ishmael has very little to say about Muslim mistreatment of his fellow Christians- which include his relatives in the Bethlehem area. [One of Ishmael's relatives was born in Bethlehem on December 24.] Yet Ishmael has plenty to say about mistreatment on the part of the Israelis.
I sense in Ishmael some of the same mentality that JP Blickenstaff sees in lefties and academics: protest against those who will respond in a civilized fashion, but be quiet regarding those who will not be nice in response.