Sunday, June 30, 2024

The Trouble with Joe Biden

The whole world has been watching. The whole world has seen Joe Biden’s deteriorating mental state. Yet, the White House has insisted that Biden has no problems, that he is just as sharp as he has always been.

When Annie Linskey et al. wrote a recent article in the Wall Street Journal revealing that Joe Biden is not really on his game, the White House attacked her reporting and denied the story.

When the world witnessed photos of a doddering old man, a man suffering from senile dementia, the White House declared that the photos had been faked.

The con was rolling along, and then it hit a massive pothole. The gaslighting was exposed, in the most cruel fashion, when Joe Biden took the stage to debate Donald Trump last Thursday. In truth, anyone who had any perspicacity would have guessed it would go badly. Why do you think that Biden had not been doing news conferences?

Now, Linskey has a new article where she explains that for those who had had direct contact with Biden, none of this is surprising. In her new piece, published yesterday in the Journal, she especially emphasizes that the European officials who had been dealing with Joe Biden had come away worried that he was losing it.

She reports:

European officials had already been expressing worries in private about Biden’s focus and stamina before Thursday’s debate, with some senior diplomats saying they had tracked a noticeable deterioration in the president’s faculties in meetings since last summer. There were real doubts about how Biden could successfully manage a second term, but one senior European diplomat said U.S. administration officials in private discussions denied there was any problem.

Naturally, the White House denied the reports:

“Foreign leaders see Joe Biden up close and personal,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson. “They know who they are dealing with, how effective he has been, and how important his leadership is on the world stage.”

Among the signs of deterioration, in the recent G7 summit:

Biden missed the summit’s dinner party in a medieval castle, an off-camera and less- scripted part of the summit in which leaders often exchange views more candidly. He was the only G-7 leader not to attend the meal; the White House told reporters in advance he wouldn’t be there because it would be a “jam-packed two days” of meetings. Biden instead held an event with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and had a news conference.

The White House denied the obvious:

Two senior European officials cited a European Union-U.S. summit in October in Washington at which Biden struggled to follow the discussions. Both said he stumbled over his talking points at several moments, requiring Secretary of State Antony Blinken to intervene and point out the lines he should use. 

Europeans have not bought the spin:

“The reading in Europe is that this has been an unmitigated disaster,” said Nathalie Tocci, director of the Institute of International Affairs in Rome and a former adviser to the EU’s foreign-affairs chiefs, referring to Biden’s attempts to reassure voters worried about his age. European officials and prominent commentators, she added, “have been talking about it. It’s something that has been known, always, that his age is his main Achilles’ heel.”

European leaders were not surprised by Biden’s debate performance:

In the hours after Thursday’s debate, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told reporters that the Democrats have a problem.

“I was afraid of this. It was to be expected that in a direct confrontation, in a debate, it would not be easy for the president,” said Tusk, who has known Biden for years. Asked what he thought of proposals to replace Biden with another candidate, he said: “They definitely have a problem. The reactions have been unambiguous.”

Remember Biden’s last forays on the world stage:

When Biden was in France to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day in June, he struggled. During a bilateral meeting in Paris with Zelensky, Biden spoke so softly that reporters brought in to document the meeting between the two men couldn’t initially hear the American president. Zelensky, a non-native English speaker, could be heard clearly.

Major contributors have been dismayed by the Biden presentation:

Contributors have for months privately raised concerns about Biden’s lack of spontaneity in settings with his biggest supporters. 

At a September 2023 fundraiser in New York, Biden retold the same anecdote twice—leaving at least one attendee shaken and worried about his age. In February, Biden used a teleprompter at a fundraiser in Los Angeles, and questions were screened in advance, according to a person familiar with the matter—frustrating some donors who had expected a more free-flowing exchange.

During a May fundraiser in Washington state, Biden appeared to lose his train of thought as he talked about Israel and at one point paused for five seconds before continuing, according to a pool report from a journalist who attended. Biden said: “The cease-fire would begin tomorrow. It all has to do…you know, we’ve not…anyway, I guess I shouldn’t get into all this about Israel but…”

As of this morning, it is not assured that Joe Biden will stay in the race. Those who think he should intone that he is fundamentally a decent human being. One would like to hear the views of Tara Reade on that score.

And yet, for what it is worth, Michelle Obama has conspicuously refused to campaign for Joe Biden. The reason, Axios tells us, is that she does not consider him a decent human being.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama privately has expressed frustration over how the Biden family largely exiled her close friend Kathleen Buhle after Buhle's messy divorce from Hunter Biden, two people familiar with the relationship told Axios.

So, Michelle Obama has chosen to make manifest her loyalty to a friend, a friend who was mistreated by the Bidens. Rarely these days do we see such shows of good character. Three cheers for Michelle Obama.

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Saturday, June 29, 2024

Saturday Miscellany

First, yesterday morning, at 6:00 a.m, CNN anchor Kasie Hunt opened her show by offering an unnamed Democrat’s reaction to the Trump-Biden debate: 

We’re fucked.

Of course, Hunt did not pronounce the word, but we are not quite as squeamish around here.

Anyway, the debate has produced an avalanche of calls from liberal Democrats, for Joe Biden to withdraw from the presidential race. New York Times columnists, from Tommy Friedman to Paul Krugman have joined the chorus.

Better yet, the editorial board of the New York Times called on Joe Biden to drop out of the race.

What took them so long?

As of now, Biden insists that he will do no such thing.

Second, for those who doubted the Wall Street Journal report that Biden was becoming less coherent and less capable, it was a wake-up call.

As I noted in these pages, it is highly unlikely that the Journal would have printed the report without serious evidence. By the evidence of your eyes and ears, the Journal story was correct.

Third, and then there is the great reckoning for those who have been assuring us that Biden is perfectly capable and coherent. Apparently, those people, from Democratic party operatives to the media intelligentsia, are about to feast on some serious humble pie.

With any luck they will be admitting to their lies. More likely, they will continue calling Donald Trump a liar.

Consider the commentary by hedge fund impresario Bill Ackman, on Twitter:

As much as last night was an indictment of the Democratic Party for misleading party members and the country about the mental acuity and health of the president, the media deserve far more derision and scorn. I and others were repeatedly criticized by the media for questioning the competency of the president. Among other false accusations, I was accused of spreading misleading videos which clearly showed Biden’s deterioration. Do you remember the heavily excerpted and edited @POTUS Biden @60Minutes interview where the interviewer covered for the president by saying he was ‘very tired?’

It is amazing to see how quickly they have changed their minds.

Fourth, the same thought, via Bari Weiss of The Free Press:

Rarely are so many lies dispelled in a single moment. Rarely are so many people exposed as liars and sycophants. Last night’s debate was a watershed on both counts.

The debate was not just a catastrophe for President Biden. And boy—oy—was it ever.

But it was more than that. It was a catastrophe for an entire class of experts, journalists, and pundits, who have, since 2020, insisted that Biden was sharp as a tack, on top of his game, basically doing handstands while peppering his staff with tough questions about care for migrant children and aid to Ukraine.

Anyone who committed the sin of using their own eyes on the 46th president were accused, variously, of being Trumpers; MAGA cult members who don’t want American democracy to survive; ageists; or just dummies easily duped by “disinformation,” “misinformation,” “fake news,” and, most recently, “cheap fakes.”

Fifth, also over at The Free Press, Nellie Bowles asks a salient question:

If this is Biden, who’s been running our country? Like, practically, who’s been doing the job job of it? Jill Biden? The White House handyman? The interns? Karl Rove? A random Houthi? I’m not mad, I just want to know. Because the people who have been pushing to keep him in office certainly know he’s this bad, and they must like it that way. Weak and confused, he can be used, kept as a pet moderate. Interns, release the old man, just tell us your demands, and we can figure something out.

Sixth, the irony of ironies was simply that media figures who had been lying about Joe Biden for years now, who had made up stories to explain away his mental defects, were reduced to calling Donald Trump a liar. One recalls that it’s a constant on the left-- remember when certain liberals kept calling George W. Bush a lying liar?

The normally sane and sensible Peter Baker, from the New York Times, could not resist the defamation:

Over the course of 90 minutes, a raspy-voiced Mr. Biden struggled to deliver his lines and counter a sharp though deeply dishonest former President Donald J. Trump, raising doubts about the incumbent president’s ability to wage a vigorous and competitive campaign four months before the election.

Seventh, meanwhile in Gaza, the widely reported famine was not a famine.

Did you imagine that United Nations organizations were lying to us?

From the Free Beacon:

New evidence indicates that, contrary to claims by top U.S. officials and international media, the Gaza Strip is not on the precipice of a widespread famine that Western experts claimed would endanger millions of innocent Palestinians.

"Famine is imminent" in northern Gaza, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), a network of Western governments, the United Nations, and nonprofit groups, warned in March, prompting unfounded accusations that Israel is using starvation as a war tactic. The IPC’s report was quickly amplified by outlets like the Washington Post, which foretold "imminent famine" in Gaza. Politico, the New York Times, and CNN alleged Israel is guilty of war crimes.

But on Tuesday, the IPC revised its initial assessment, saying that the projected famine in Gaza did not come to fruition in May. "The available evidence does not indicate that Famine is currently occurring," the organization said in its latest report, which notes that Israel has significantly increased aid and that conditions as a whole in Gaza have drastically improved.

Who knew?

Eighth, it seems perfectly obvious, but more than a few people dispute it. Transmania is nothing but a belief. In the bad old days psychiatrists used to consider transsexuals to be suffering from delusional beliefs. 

For some strange reason, transmaniacs have decided that the only reason they do not feel very good in their bodies is that someone, somewhere has misgendered or dead named them. That is, that someone does not accept their belief as truth.

Prof. Gary Francione explains it on Twitter:

A male asking to be recognized as a woman is not a claim for equality; it is a belief claim. That is, the male is not asking to be treated the same as other males. He is asking others to participate in his metaphysical belief that he is a woman. 

Ninth, Inez Feltscher Stepman of the Independent Women’s Forum offers this comment about transmania on Twitter:

Unbelievably, in the age of micro-aggressions and firing over mild jokes or offhand remarks, a man waiting to watch his female colleagues shower is now actually encouraged, not prohibited by the EEOC.

Isn’t this a violation of female space?

Ninth, in the time that it is taking me to write this miscellany, the great minds of the American left seem to have discovered that Joe Biden, senile and demented as he is, will refuse to withdraw. And they have also discovered that taking his name off of certain state ballots is not an easy or self-evident proposition.

So, the screw is turning and we will be hearing more and more about the big, bad Trump.

As Glenn Greenwald explains on Twitter:

Once media starts to realize that they're not going to get Biden out of the race, they're all going to quickly retreat from the past 24 hours and get back on board. Obama is directing them to do that and giving them the script to use:

Bad debate nights happen. Trust me, I know. But this election is still a choice between someone who has fought for ordinary folks his entire life and someone who only cares about himself. Between someone who tells the truth; who knows right from wrong and will give it to the American people straight — and someone who lies through his teeth for his own benefit.

For all the calls to Biden to withdraw, the word of Obama prevails. After all, the best chance of making Kamala Harris president is for Biden to win and then to retire.

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Friday, June 28, 2024

What Is Life Coaching; Part 2

Herewith the conclusion of the case fiction I presented last Friday. You will understand that, considering the length, it was better to present it in two halves.

Much time had passed since Imogen had last given any of her clients the silent treatment. She had rejected this relic from the Freudian past because it was rude and insulting. An individual who felt disconnected and detached did not need to have a therapist who refused to look him in the eye or to converse.

So, Imogen wanted to converse and discuss. She wanted to engage in normal exchanges with her clients. Some thought it was a bizarre experience. Most got used to it.

First, Imogen wanted to diminish Clarissa’s jealousy. To do so she adapted a cognitive technique. Since the jealousy derived from one interpretation of her husband’s behavior, Imogen tried to offer some other interpretations. She invited Clarissa to join her in imagining other scenarios that might have caused Garrett to withdraw. She suggested that these other scenarios were less dramatic and less compelling than the narrative about the mistress.

True enough, Clarissa had entertained alternatives. At one time she believed that Garrett might have made a mistake with anesthesia and perhaps lost a patient. Perhaps he is the only one who knew and felt burdened with a truth that he could not share. How could his wife respect him if she heard such news? If anyone mentioned it to the wrong person, he could be facing a major malpractice suit, or even charges of criminal negligence.

Clarissa followed the exercise and admitted that she had imagined that Garrett suspected that he was ill, but was hiding his symptoms from everyone, beginning with his wife and through his physician. As a physician’s wife, Clarissa was aware of the fact that male doctors especially refuse to admit anything that resembles illness. They often make the worst patients.

Imogen found these interpretations plausible. They did not have the sordid tone that the jealousy narrative had, but they worked to balance Clarissa’s judgment. 

Yet, Clarissa was not ready to give up. She insisted that she and her husband had always told each other everything. She could not accept that he was keeping something from her, because he did not trust her fully.

And yet, Imogen pointed out, if the problem was professional, there was nothing that Clarissa could do. If the problem involved another lover, then she could feel that she might win back his affections. 

Would you trust yourself to keep a professional secret? Would you have found it impossible to keep the secret? Would you have chosen to share it with someone very close to you, regardless of the risk? 

Such were the questions that Imogen asked Clarissa. She was slightly indignant at the assumption that she might not be completely trustworthy. She did not believe that her husband would ever make such a mistake and she knows that malpractice lawsuits are part of the business.

So she responded that she would stand with her husband, no matter what. She was confident that he understood as much. She added that if she discovered he was seriously ill, of course, she would stay with him. It is grossly insulting to imagine that she would walk out on a sick husband.

These are not the only alternatives. What if Garrett made some bad investments? What if he had a gambling problem? What if they needed to sell their apartment and move to less spacious quarters? Perhaps, Garrett had failed as a breadwinner and was incapable of admitting to it.

Clarissa had never imagined it. She counted on the stability of her home and had never doubted that the family would remain in their three bedroom co-op on East End Avenue. 

Evidently, the scenarios that Imogen was inviting Clarissa to imagine did not involve her being at fault. They did not allow her to blame herself by inventing a scenario where her husband was leaving her because she had become less interesting and even older.

Imogen had expected a bout of self-doubt. She did not want to let it go unchallenged. She began: “Of course, we do not know whether or not your husband still loves you. Besides if you fall in love with self-doubt you will make it more difficult to function within your marriage.

Imogen reasoned that however necessary it might be to allow such feelings, encouraging their full expression in treatment, counting them as legal tender, would set Clarissa on the wrong course. 

Imogen wanted to conjure alternative scenarios. So she asked Clarissa if she could recall any other thoughts about what was wrong. Clarissa admitted that a few had been so ridiculous that she had quickly banished them from her mind. In one she imagined that Garrett had fathered an illegitimate child on a ski trip to Vail some seventeen years ago. What if both mother and child had relocated to Manhattan and had contacted Garrett in order to make him a more active part of their lives. Perhaps they are requesting financial support, and threatening to sue him.

In that scenario he wanted to protect his wife and daughter, but felt some responsibility to a grown-up son who bears a strong resemblance to him. As she grew silent, Imogen remarked: “Such a secret would not signify any rejection of you. In fact, it would show the opposite, his commitment to you and Chloe. The one person Garrett cannot face is the one he feels like he betrayed.

Clarissa explained that if something similar had happened before they had met, she would more easily forgive him. If it had happened during their marriage, forgiveness would be more difficult. 

And yet, whatever the reason, Garrett had shut his wife out of his life. Clarissa  concluded that her husband must be guilty of some transgression.

Imogen wanted to show her client how to step back from her dilemma and to consider all the different possibilities.

Clarissa had been willing to follow Imogen’s exercises, which resembled nothing as much as policy analysis. And yet, she did need to address the possibility that Clarissa was right. And then she would need to help her client formulate a plan of action for dealing with the situation.

From her own experience with marriage and from her work with couples in crisis, Imogen had developed a deep aversion to divorce. As for cheating husbands, Imogen knew that more often than not men were creatures of routine and habit. They would go to considerable lengths to avoid the disruption of divorce. The image of a man dropping everything to ride off into the sunset with a comely young lass is a woman’s fantasy. Most men will not destroy their family for a romantic dalliance. 

To put it differently, it would be better if Clarissa thought about how to save her marriage, not how to exit it.

And then there was the other woman. Imogen raised a simple issue. However Garrett thought and felt about a current girlfriend, she might not feel the same way. It might be more casual for him than for her. He might have got himself caught in a situation he was having difficulty managing. Perhaps she was pressuring him to leave his wife. 

Now, Imogen’s strategy was to affirm the alliance between Clarissa and Garrett. She wanted Clarissa to see herself as the solution, not the problem. It would be better for her to see herself as her husband’s ally than as a rejected spouse.

Imogen wanted to help her patient recover her shattered confidence and she wanted to diminish the anxiety about a drastic change in life circumstances. Even if Garrett was having an affair with a comely nurse, Clarissa was still holding more than a few cards of her own. First she had been functioning as a wife and mother for many years. 

Considering the importance of reconfiguring Clarissa’s place in her marriage, it was a good thing that she had not confronted her husband and had not expressed her feelings fulsomely. It was also good that she did not do what many therapists would recommend, to whine and complain.

And Imogen wanted Clarissa to act like a wife and mother. She did not want her client to withdraw from those roles, the better to leave the places open for another woman. And that meant, Clarissa would need to create circumstances under which Garrett could explain what was the matter. Again, the best way to accomplish this end would be for Clarissa to act as though nothing were.

Treatment now needed to concern itself with social skills more than with psychological explorations. Surely, introspection, withdrawal from the situation, would have done very little to solve the problem.

You might guess that creating the conditions for a serious talk is more difficult than blurting out: We have to talk. As everyone knows, that unfortunate phrase puts the other person on his guard. It is almost a threat. 

So Imogen wanted Clarissa to invite Garrett out for Saturday dinner. At a time when her daughter was having a sleepover, she would make a reservation at a favorite restaurant, La Parapluie. Surely, a public venue was better than a living room. The more public, the less chance there will be anything untoward. No one wants to become a public spectacle.

Imogen explained her reasoning: “If you feel rejected and excluded,you should act in the opposite way, by affirming your connection with your husband. Your public connection, not merely your private connection.

As for raising the issue, this is tricky. In the best of circumstances, Clarissa would confess to a problem she is having, a problem that has been weighing on her. By definition, when someone opens up about a personal problem, the other one is, according to the laws of conversational reciprocity, more inclined to reciprocate. Besides, if the problem is personal, there is nothing resembling an accusation.

Imogen wanted Clarissa to be the solution, not the problem. She did not want her client to blurt out her suspicions or to attack her husband for withholding. She understood that Clarissa ought to be able to walk away from the dinner feeling pride in the way she had conducted herself.

If Clarissa wanted her husband to explain himself and to take responsibility for his bad behavior, accusations and indictments were clearly not the way to do so. They make people defensive. 

So, Imogen counseled Clarissa to consider the possibility, not only to confess to a sin or two, but to claim responsibility for the seeming breakdown of their marriage. Considering that Garrett had been a less-than-adequate husband, Clarissa could opine that she does not believe that she has been a very good wife.

Evidently, the self-deprecating approach is a ploy, a way of testing the waters. If her husband responds by going on the attack, she will know that something is seriously wrong, and that she is not responsible for it.

This communications gambit assumes that the moral duty to reciprocate is stronger than the will to destroy or to gain power over the other person. One would like Garrett to respond by taking responsibility for his own bad behavior. If he does not, the situation is worse than Clarissa thought.

So, Imogen was coaching Clarissa. She was preparing her to enter the fray with her husband. She was trying to help her to avoid psychodrama or grand opera. She wanted her client to help solve her problem, not to make a spectacle of herself.

So, Clarissa set off to have a Saturday dinner with her husband. 

Waiting for Clarissa’s first session after her dinner with her husband Imogen was slightly anxious. Imagine her surprise when Clarissa sat down and explained that she had discussed the situation with Garrett and that all of their hypotheticals were wrong.

In truth, Garrett knew that something was wrong, but he had no idea what it was. Somehow the joy had been drained from his life. He was too embarrassed about his depressed mood to talk about it with his wife. He had no reason to be depressed, and yet, depressed he was. So he had made an appointment next Tuesday to see a psychiatrist.

Clarissa, however, had taken charge of the conversation. She had asked Garrett: “Do you remember when it started? It must have been caused by something?”

Garrett gulped hard and went silent. Clarissa simply said: “Please.”

He replied that he thinks it began when his father’s doctor told him that his father had been diagnosed with acute leukemia. There is nothing they can do, and his father abhors radical medical interventions. 

The doctor told Garrett first, and then his mother, but had not yet told his father.  His mother thought it best that his father not find out. Garrett thought he could handle it, because he is a physician, but he began having morbid thoughts about his father dying, his mother being alone, his being responsible for her. 

His mother continued to insist that nothing could be gained by telling his father. Garrett had felt that if he told Clarissa she would not be able to hide the truth. His father would see it on her face the next time they got together.

Imogen was surprised to hear this. Its sheer implausibility made it plausible. She had in the past counseled people who did not want their loved ones to know that they were dying. And yet, she was still puzzled by the fact that Garrett had kept his wife in the dark.

Clarissa replied: “It was not very clear to me either. I felt that I had been excluded from something that we ought to be sharing as a couple. I did not want to express personal hurt, because it would have paled next to his, but I did want to understand why he had not confided in me. So I asked him point blank.”

“What did he say?” was all Imogen needed to interject.

“In part he thought he was protecting me from a bizarre aspect of his family life. He was embarrassed at how his mother was handling the situation. He had suspected that his father was gravely ill, but he did not want to alarm people. Besides, he thought that if he had started to talk about it he would have become overly emotional. He does not like me to see him weakened. He was thinking that the feelings would sort themselves out, and then he would tell me. “

Imogen interjected: “Now that he has told you, how do you feel about it?”

“I feel considerably better,” Clarissa replied. “I feel like a fool for having become so jealous, but my obsessions have vanished for now. I am glad that I kept my fantasies to myself.”

Some therapists would insist on a further analysis of the content of Clarissa’s obsessions. Imogen saw no great advantage to saddling her client with these thoughts. She felt that the best outcome of these consultations would be for Clarissa to discard her demons as so much static. Not everything that passes through your mind is relevant.

Coda-- I hope you enjoyed reading this case fiction. Next week I will offer another case with another coach.

I have several open consulting hours in my life coaching practice. If you are interested, please contact me via email, at

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Thursday, June 27, 2024

Good-bye to the Ivy League

Bret Stephens is correct to call for a reckoning with America’s elite academic institutions. Clearly, the explosion of anti-Semitism at these places has made Jewish students feel largely unwelcome. Jewish parents have taken notice. Many of them are encouraging their children to apply elsewhere.

Mostly this involves the Ivy League, but similar institutions, like Stanford, are on the list.

And yet, it is not just about Jewish students. The advent of systemic bigotry should tell all students, not to mention donors, that the value of the degrees being given out by these schools is in freefall. All parents, regardless of their ideological predilections, would do well not to feed the beast of America’s elite educational institutions.

Before examining the Stephens analysis, we should point out one aspect of the problem that he does not notice. We can ask ourselves who is financing this anti-Semitism. If it seems now to be endemic to private colleges and universities, that means it is not being funded by the public. It is being funded by Middle Eastern countries and entities, all of whom expect a return on their investment.

Remember the old saw: Follow the money. If the government of Qatar has financed a Middle East Studies Center and some Palestinian professorships, it is engaged in the production of anti-Israel propaganda.

Of course, a double standard is at work. The student demonstrators are all-in for defending every imaginable victim group, except for Jews. By their calculus Jews are oppressors, not victims, even when they are victimized.

Stephens explains:

Students who police words like “blacklist” or “whitewash” and see “microaggressions” in everyday life ignore the entreaties of their Jewish peers to avoid chants like “globalize the intifada” or “from the river to the sea.” Students who claim they’re horribly pained by scenes of Palestinian suffering were largely silent on Oct. 7 — when they weren’t openly cheering the attacks. And students who team up with outside groups that are in overt sympathy with Islamist terrorists aren’t innocents. They’re collaborators.

As for the question of where the students learned to be anti-Semitic, the answer is obvious. They have been fed a radical leftist narrative, one that offers them a place within the vanguard of the coming revolution. 

We all understand that this has been tried and that it failed during the last century, but people who want to extort advantages they have not earned find it irresistible:

They got them, I suspect, from the incessant valorization of victimhood that has been a theme of their upbringing, and which many of the most privileged kids feel they lack — hence the zeal to prove themselves as allies of the perceived oppressed. They got them from the crude schematics of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training seminars, which divide the world into “white” and “of color,” powerful and “marginalized,” with no regard for real-world complexities — including the complexity of Jewish identity. They got them from professors who think academic freedom amounts to a license for political posturing, sometimes of a nakedly antisemitic sort. They got them from a cheap and easy revision of history that imagines Zionism is a form of colonialism (it’s decidedly the opposite), that colonialism is something only white people do, and that as students at American universities, they can cheaply atone for their sins as guilty beneficiaries of the settler-colonialism they claim to despise.

As for the larger context, let us not ignore the simple fact that the Biden administration has been criticizing and attacking the prime minister of Israel. It has lately been withholding munitions from the Jewish state and it has told Israel not to counterattack the Hezbollah forces attacking it from the North. 

This makes it respectable to hate Israel, to see it as a genocidal state.

And groups like the International Criminal Court, led by George Clooney’s dopey wife, have declared that the leaders of Israel and of Hamas are morally equivalent-- both worthy of indictment.

If there is a moral equivalence, you are free to choose sides.

And then there are the college administrators. Many of them, apparently not owing their jobs to their merits, have bought into the oppression narrative. 

They live with a constant threat. They are afraid that someone some day will discover that they do not deserve the jobs that they have. Their fear being called out and discovered to be frauds, so they are far more interested in attacking people, like the Israelis, who have earned and built what they have.

They also got them from university administrators whose private sympathies often lie with the demonstrators, who imagine the anti-Israel protests as the moral heirs to the anti-apartheid protests and who struggle to grasp (if they even care) why so many Jewish students feel betrayed and besieged by the campus culture.

That’s the significance of the leaked images of four Columbia University deans exchanging dismissive and sophomoric text messages during a panel discussion in May on Jewish life on campus, including the suggestion that a panelist was “taking full advantage of this moment” for the sake of the “fundraising potential.”

And then there is the problem with fashionable theories, the kinds that are propagated on campus these days:

But the real problem lies with some of the main convictions and currents of today’s academia: intersectionality, critical theory, post-colonialism, ethnic studies and other concepts that may not seem antisemitic on their face but tend to politicize classrooms and cast Jews as privileged and oppressive. If, as critical theorists argue, the world’s injustices stem from the shadowy agendas of the powerful and manipulative few against the virtuous masses, just which group is most likely to find itself villainized?

The Palestinian cause has little to do with building a functioning and even prosperous society. It is about expropriating what others have built. Losers are drawn to this cause because it gives them a reason to demean the accomplishments of others; said accomplishments make them feel ashamed. And we cannot have that. 

As for what is to be done, Stephens suggests that the rot is now endemic to the system. He believes that it will take years to clean it out.

Not even the most determined university president is going to clean out the rot — at least not without getting rid of the entrenched academic departments and tenured faculty members who support it. 

Better to look elsewhere for educational opportunity. Go South, young person.

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