New editions of the old antisemitism problem at San Francisco State University

My friend Stella Paul got a huge, deserved shout-out at Power Line for her expose of the antisemitic rot at America’s campuses, something that started with a bang right in San Francisco, in 2002.  I mentioned yesterday that this wasn’t anything new to me, since my father experienced it in the early 1970s when he got his Masters there.  My sister reminded me that she too experienced it in the mid-1970s, when she attended SFSU for a few years.

I also remembered that I too wrote something about SFSU’s toxic environment.  I wrote it more than seven years ago, but it’s as pertinent today as ever.  Here are the key parts of that old post:

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San Francisco has been in the press a lot lately (and inspired some pretty funny Jay Leno riffs) because of Gavin Newsom’s sexual misconduct with his ex-campaign manager’s wife. It’s sordid, it’s sexy, and, at bottom, it’s not troubling. That is, as with all good sex scandals, we can purse up our lips disapprovingly, look for the scintillating, salacious details, and know that, in the grand scheme of things, this story will have absolutely no effect on our lives.

The problem with this sex scandal is that it’s been useful to depress two other, much uglier and more significant stories out of that same city. [You can read more about the first story, involving Holocaust deniers and Eli Wiesel, here.]

The second story goes beyond Western dhimmitude and into the realms of psychotic identification with murderous thugs. A little background first. San Francisco State University (“SFSU”) is an old and once respected San Francisco institution. Its roots go back to the last days of the 19th century. It boasts some famous and some infamous graduates, including politician Willie Brown; comedian Dana Carvey; actress Annette Bening; novelist Anne Rice; sorry-excuse-for-a-comedian Margaret Cho; singer Johnny Mathis; Kennedy buddy and naive conspiracy theorist Pierre Salinger; and conservative writer and radio host Michael Medved,* among others. My father, a nice Jewish guy, was also an SFSU graduate (in the same Masters program as Michael Medved, although their paths did not cross).

Many of our family friends, all of them nice Jewish guys, were professors at SF State too. They were good professors, but they were also all old-time Jewish liberals who felt it was the right thing to do to invite Black Pantherette and Communist Angela Davis to become a professor there. Sadly, my dear old Jewish liberal friends seem to be reaping what they so inadvertently, and with the best intentions, sowed.

San Francisco State University has become increasingly radical, even by San Francisco standards, in the past few years. Palestinian groups, which have been an increasingly dominant campus presence, almost succeeded in having expelled a Russian immigrant who verbally challenged their violent anti-Semitic rhetoric. Eventually, even the University administration, which supported the Palestinian efforts against her, was forced to concede that Tatiana Menaker had done nothing wrong — she was just being persecuted for exposing the dominant anti-Jewish politics at SFSU.

Jews aren’t the only ones in the radicals’ crosshairs at SFSU. Republicans are also a target. In 2004, SFSU’s administration did absolutely nothing when Palestinian student groups violently attacked College Republicans who were distributing Bush/Cheney materials. That 2004 event educated the administration to the fact that, when verbally threatened, Palestinian groups get violent; and assured the same Palestinian groups that, when they got violent, the administration woudl leave them in peace to attack another day.

The campus College Republicans, showing exceptional bravery for a small and persecuted minority (which is what they are at SFSU), have been at it again, trying to exercise their First Amendment rights. This time, they held an anti-terrorism protest on the campus’s “Malcolm X Plaza” (clearly Martin Luther King is too tame for SFSU). Debra Saunders explains the insanity that subsequently ensued:

This story starts with an “anti-terrorism rally” held last October on campus by the College Republicans. To emphasize their point, students stomped on Hezbollah and Hamas flags. According to the college paper, the Golden Gate (X)Press, members of Students Against War and the International Socialist Organization showed up to call the Republicans “racists,” while the president of the General Union of Palestinian Students accused the Repubs of spreading false information about Muslims.

In November, the Associated Students board passed a unanimous resolution, which the (X)Press reported, denounced the California Republicans for “hateful religious intolerance” and criticized those who “pre-meditated the stomping of the flags knowing it would offend some people and possibly incite violence.”

Now you know that there are students who are opposed to desecrating flags on campus — that is, if the flags represent terrorist organizations.

But wait — there’s more. A student filed a complaint with the Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development. OSPLD Director Joey Greenwell wrote to the College Republicans informing them that his office had completed an investigation of the complaint and forwarded the report to the Student Organization Hearing Panel, which will adjudicate the charge. At issue is the charge that College Republicans had walked on “a banner with the world ‘Allah’ written in Arabic script” — it turns out Allah’s name is incorporated into Hamas and Hezbollah flags — and “allegations of attempts to incite violence and create a hostile environment,” as well as “actions of incivility.”

At an unnamed date, the student panel could decide to issue a warning to, suspend or expel the GOP club from campus.

When FIRE took up the cudgels on the Republicans’ behalf, SFSU went even further down the dhimmitude path, and into the realm of Stockholm Syndrome. As Saunders reports:

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group that stands up for free speech on campus, has taken up the College Republicans’ cause. FIRE sent a letter to SFSU President Robert Corrigan that urged him to “spare SFSU the embarrassment of fighting against the Bill of Rights.” The letter noted, “Burning an American flag as part of a political protest is expression protected by the First Amendment.” And: “Speech does not constitute incitement if a speaker’s words result in violence because people despise what the speaker said and wish to silence him or her.

“By punishing students on the basis of how harshly, violently or unreasonably others might react to their words,” the letter argued, “SFSU would create an incentive for those who disagree to react violently, conferring a ‘heckler’s veto’ on speech to the least tolerant members of the community.”

The university’s response? Spokesperson Ellen Griffin told me, “The university stands behind this process.”

And: “I don’t believe the complaint is about the desecration of the flag. I believe that the complaint is the desecration of Allah.”

To which FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley responded, “It really doesn’t make any difference whether it’s the flag or a religious figure.”

If the College Republicans had denigrated Allah, I would defend their right to do so, while noting I have no use for the gratuitous Islam-bashing endemic in certain circles.

But it is not the students’ fault that Allah is on the Hamas and Hezbollah flags — in a language they don’t read.

Besides, every freshman should know that students have a right to say what they will about any religion, while believers enjoy the right to talk back.

Charles Johnson summed it up the whole thing at Little Green Footballs when he titled his post on the subject “insulting Allah now a crime at SFSU.”

This is truly the world turned upside down. In the sane world, it’s puerile but allowable under the First Amendment to step on someone’s flag to make a statement. (Indeed, in the insane world of the Middle East, it’s de rigeur to burn the American flag on a regular basis for precisely this reason.) However, in the topsy turvey world that is radicalized SFSU, even though Hamas and Hezbollah are murderous terrorist organizations, the fact that they’ve incorporated the word Allah (in Arabic script) on their flags means that those who protest these organizations’ violent acts by using symbolic speech in turn find themselves accused of committing hate crimes and inciting violence.

As I noted above, what happened at SFSU goes beyond the usual dhimmitude. That is, to the extent SFSU mentioned that the flag stopping could “possibly incite violence,” it’s clear that the school, in good dhimmi fashion, learned its lesson in 2004 when the Palestinians actually engaged in violence against speech that offended them. SFSU isn’t going to get in the middle of that fight any more, that’s for sure (“that fight” being any fight in which Muslims/Palestinians are one of the combatant groups).

More significantly, though, the administration’s claim that it is acting to protect the desecration of Allah indicates that this far Left, presumably secular institution, has completely embraced the ethos of a group that is holding it psychology hostile through the ongoing threat of violence. James Lewis, writing at American Thinker, explains what he sees happening to so many institutions and governments worldwide:

Psychiatry is familiar with an odd syndrome called “identification with the aggressor.” It’s sometimes called the Stockholm Syndrome, after the behavior of air passengers taken hostage by PLO terrorists at the Stockholm Airport in 1973, who, when they were rescued, came out singing the praises of their murderous captors.

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The most infamous examples come from World War II Nazi concentration camps, where some prisoners were placed in charge of others. According to witnesses like psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, these “Kapos” would wear discarded pieces of Nazi uniforms and often abuse their fellow victims. Unconsciously they were identifying with the aggressors, to ward off the awful awareness of their own vulnerability. People do things like that in extremis.

Now look at the behavior of the Left since 9/11, both in this country, Europe, and even Israel. Rather than feel righteously angered by the terrorist mass murder of 3,000 innocent people, large parts of the Left have adopted the aggressors’ point of view. They keep telling us that the Islamic fascists were right to blow up innocent people who had done them no harm; some of them have taken on conspiracy theories, claiming that Bush or Israel really committed the atrocities. At the same time they are in deep denial about the danger of future terrorist attacks on American soil, and blindly refuse to see the rising threat of nuclear proliferation by stateless terror groups. Instead, they “displace” their fear and anger on George W. Bush. To the Left, once Bush is gone, the terror problem will simply and magically go away.

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The Left claims to value “peace” above all things; but that means that self-defense ranks nowhere. It’s not an option — at least not when Republicans are in office. If we leave out self-defense against Iranian nukes or El Qaida truck bombs, there is no option except submission. That is what “identification with the aggressor” comes down to. It is a Stockholm Syndrome for millions of people — most of the readers of the New York Times and the UK Guardian, just for starters.

To make things worse, the Left itself is ruthlessly aggressive against conservatives, democratic individuals who happen to disagree with them. There is a true persecutorial viciousness in the Left’s attacks on Republican presidents, from Herbert Hoover to Dwight D. Eisenhower and George W. Bush. Emotionally, these people want to destroy those who defy their demands. Almost all the assassins and would-be assassins of American Presidents since JFK have been Leftists, starting with Lee Harvey Oswald. So their rage is not exactly harmless.

(This is another article I urge you to read in its entirety.)

The way I see it, SFSU has gone from fearing its excitable Muslim students, to actually embracing an ideology that ought, in theory, to be completely at odds with the radical secularism that characterizes the Left. It’s reasonable to believe that this counterintuitive outcome results from the fact that the campus Left deeply fears these new radicals, people whose ideology is much more frightening than the chic Communism that Angela Davis embodied, and they have come to associate with the Islamofascist values as a way of distancing themselves from their fear.

And that’s why, while it’s fun to giggle over a titillating and sordid little sex scandal in San Francisco’s City Hall, the real stories in San Francisco, the ones with repercussions that ripple far beyond the San Francisco Bay, are the ones that took place in a downtown hotel and on a uninspiring little university campus.

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*Funnily, the website that lists famous grads doesn’t mention Michael Medved. I only know he went there because he said so on his radio show.

Wednesday round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesI’ve commented before that “sayings” from the Victorian era and before (e.g, “a stitch in time saves nine,” “idle hands are the Devil’s playground”) may have gone out of style, but their deeper truths remain constant.  Listening to Obama’s crude gloating about the alleged 7.1 million Obamacare enrollments reminded me of yet another old saying:  “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”  I confidently predict that signing people up under duress will prove to have been the easy part.

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When I got my new dog, I did a Cesar Milan (“the “Dog Whisperer”) refresher course by going out and reading his book, Cesar’s Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems.  One of the main points Milan makes is that dogs are not our babies or, if they are our “babies,” that’s the last part, not the first part.  First, dogs are animals; second, they’re the genus dog; third, they’re the specific breed; and only fourth are they our little snookums. You can say the same about people:  First, people are animals….

When people are animals first, without having been trained into morality, sometimes you have to treat them non-verbally just as you would any other animal, right? Or as the friend who sent me this link asked, “Imagine how this story would have played out if the victim had successfully defended himself with the use of force? Once again, talking it out with your attacker doesn’t seem to solve the problem.”

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Not that God’s the gloating kind or anything, but I do think that God, who made circumcision the physical embodiment of His covenant with the Jewish people, might be inclined to gloat about a study saying that one of the best things we can do for a boy’s health is to circumcise him. This is a nice counter to those in Europe (and San Francisco) who seek to marginalize Jews by making circumcision illegal.  Oh, another study also said that meat eaters are healthier than vegetarians and that runners put their health at risk.  I confidently expect the study announcing that anthropogenic global warming isn’t happening.

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Palestinians are again pushing the UN to recognize them as an official nation. Rick Richman has 12 good questions that, when answered honestly, indicate that the Palestinians aren’t a state. If I were categorizing them, I’d say they’re more along the lines of a criminal organization, like the mafia, only more violent.

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David Goldman approves highly of Caroline Glick’s proposal that Israel unilaterally implement a one-state solution encompassing some of the contested territories. It’s time, Glick and Goldman say, to align reality with the fact that the Palestinian population is not growing exponentially (all propaganda lies to the contrary), and that the territories are so terribly mismanaged that they cannot possibly be partners in a two-state solution. My friend Rob Miller, however, is not convinced that Glick’s plan is workable. He proposes an alternative one-state solution: “Israel should forget about the mythical two state solution, and simply delineate the borders it needs unilaterally,” presumably leaving fractious Palestinians on the other side of the border rather than bringing them back within Israel’s borders.

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John Scalzi, a Democrat, is struggling to figure out why he should vote for Matthew Guyette, who is the Democrat running opposite John Boehner. According to Scalzi, Guyette’s internet presence says nothing about Guyette or his positions.  Instead, his entire campaign consists of insulting Boehner and Republicans. I admire Scalzi’s principled stand. I’m also a little bewildered as to why he’s asking that question at this particular junction. After all, in 2012, the greater part of Obama’s reelection campaign consisted of turning Mitt Romney, an imperfect candidate but, by all accounts, a very decent man, into a monster who strangled dogs with his bare hands, kept women captive in binders, engaged in gruesome homophobic attacks when he was a teenager in the 1960s, and left former employees to die in the streets from loathsome diseases.

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My father got his masters at San Francisco State University back in the 1970s. While it was an academically marginal institution then (as I believe it still is now), it was on the cutting age of campus antisemitism. My father, a veteran of two wars, wasn’t cowed by the violence and invective, but already then Jewish students responded to the Palestinian/Leftist aggression by falling silent. Stella Paul details how SFSU’s poisonous amalgam of PLO antisemitism and garden-variety Leftism has spread to campuses throughout America, infecting formerly genteel campuses that were once incubators for America’s society women. If you’d like to counter this dangerous trend, I recommend donating to StandWithUs.

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The Secret Service has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. It hasn’t been applauded for protecting the president and his family. Instead, it’s been highlighted for drunkenness and debauchery committed while on the job. Dan Emmett, a former Secret Service agent, says the problem isn’t that these guys are helpless alcoholics who are more to be pitied than censured. Instead, he says, the rot begins at the top with “weak leadership. There are too many incompetent managers who want the title, pay and perks of management while performing no duties of leadership. The problem is not bad Secret Service agents but bad leaders of Secret Service agents.”

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Some time ago, I wrote about the new “racism” nonsense called “cultural appropriation.” The theory is that it’s racist for white Americans to emulate other cultures, even if they do so admiringly. I came across that story because an Asian friend of mine posted it on Facebook, along with the opinion of a prominent Asian friend of hers holding that cultural appropriation is a bad thing. She and her Asian friends were all offended. Funnily enough, though, in a new Facebook thread, this gal and all of her Asian friends have examined their navels and concluded that there was nothing offensive about Stephen Colbert stooping to use cheap Asian stereotypes to make an anti-Republican political point. Michelle Malkin is not so forgiving, since she points out that Democrats are the party of anti-Asian racial stereotypes which they routinely use, not for satirical purposes, but to score points against Asians.

Please, please tell me that the Asians will be smarter than my fellow Jews and that they will soon turn against the Democrats and embrace small government conservativism.

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Based on his guest line-up during his inaugural weeks, I assumed Jay Leno’s successor, Jimmy Fallon, was a garden-variety Democrat shill.  I may have to rethink that.

Free speech includes the right to be rude

In a victory for free speech, a United States Magistrate in the Northern District of California ruled that free speech includes the right to be rude, and squashed a California State University rule barring “incivility”:

To the relief of a campus Republican group, the 417,000 students at California State University’s 23 institutions no longer face the possibility of discipline for failing to be civil to one another.

The change was part of a settlement approved by a federal magistrate in Oakland this week in a lawsuit by the San Francisco State College Republicans, whose members were subjected to a disciplinary hearing after some of them stomped on two flags bearing the name of Allah during an anti-terrorism rally in October 2006.

The flags represented the militant organizations Hamas and Hezbollah and had “Allah” written on them in Arabic. A student later complained that the College Republicans had engaged in “actions of incivility” and had tried to incite violence and create a hostile environment.

A panel of students, faculty and staff held a hearing in March 2007 and found no violations of university policy. But the College Republicans and two of their leaders filed suit four months later, challenging the speech and conduct codes that led to the disciplinary proceedings.

One line in the policy manual that applies to all 23 campuses says students are expected to be civil to one another. University officials said the manual didn’t set disciplinary standards or authorize punishment for incivility, but U.S. Magistrate Wayne Brazil said the Republican group at San Francisco State had been investigated for precisely that reason.

“The First Amendment permits disrespectful and totally emotional discourse,” Brazil said at a hearing in November, when he announced an injunction prohibiting the university from enforcing the civility standard in any disciplinary proceeding.

This week’s settlement includes a systemwide ban on punishment for incivility, along with revisions in the standards for student conduct at San Francisco State.

You can read more here. You’ll discover the Brazil cleared away several more First Amendment problems with the State University system’s speech code.

This is a spectacularly good ruling, in that it levels the playing field for conservatives as places such as San Francisco State University, where this whole thing arose. You see, the way SF State works, as I detailed a year ago in this post, civility is demanded only of the Right. The Left, especially the antisemitic Left, has never been held to this standard. Removing the speech code doesn’t mean that the Left will be any less vile or violent at SF State, but it does mean that the Right cannot be prosecuted within the University system for speaking up against such attacks.

One other thing: did you note, as I did, that the news article begins by opining that this is a good ruling, not for freedom of speech, but for College Republicans? It’s just a little nothing, but it certainly tries to tear the Magistrate’s ruling away from its much broader Constitutional implications. As Brazil said: “The First Amendment permits disrespectful and totally emotional discourse.” He gets it. The newspaper doesn’t.

As to that last point, I was not the only one who picked up on it. In the comments to the article, someone wrote:

Man. Whoever wrote this article is one biased journalist. “To the relief of campus republican groups” students “no longer face the possibility of discipline for failing to be civil to one another”. How about giving your readers some credit and just report the facts. I’m not even a republican but I’m finding it more and more to be a big waste of time to read such blatantly biased journalism. This is very common with the Chronicle. However, I guess a 3rd rate newspaper needs to make cute little headlines and intro’s to keep its local readers nice and comfy so that they don’t venture out of their realm of preconceived beliefs.

It’s nice to see these perfect little moments when even the liberals get offended by newspaper bias.