Justice  /  Comment

The New Anti-Antisemitism

The response to college protests against the war on Gaza exemplifies the darkness of the Trumpocene.

WANT HISTORICAL PARALLELS? Start with one from just two months ago, when a moral witness set himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, and an officer of the law sought to subdue him with a gun rather than trying to extinguish the fire.

Yes, there was plenty of terrible state violence again Vietnam War–era campus protesters: Kent State; Jackson State; a military helicopter belching tear gas at students kettled into Sproul Plaza and a cop shooting dead a bystander during the “People’s Park” riot at the University of California, Berkeley; and many more. But escalating to a military response nearly immediately, at barely a provocation or no provocation?—in the 1960s, that would have been inconceivable.

You might have already stomached some of the videos of last week’s most harrowing abuses. At the University of Wisconsin, a balding, bespectacled professor face down, two cops pinning his left arm sharply behind his back, and a disabled professor getting her dress torn and suffering internal damage from police strangulation. The 65-year-old former head of Dartmouth’s Jewish studies program who dared scream “What are you doing?” at cops being taken down with a wrestling move that also left her with an arm wrenched behind her back. Then a second cop arriving to keep her pinned as a third looks on blithely, rifle at the ready. (She was suspended by her university for her trouble.) At Washington University in St. Louis, a 65-year-old professor, a Quaker, was told by his doctor he was “lucky to be alive” after absorbing a flying tackle from a very large officer for the sin of filming cops with his cellphone, then being dragged to a nearby patch of grass, writhing, then to a police van, where he fell limp.

If mainstream news organizations would concentrate their formidable resources at how this exact same script played out at diverse institutions large and small, as if their administrators had all attended the same continuing education seminar, instead of editors assigning “they took over Hamilton Hall then, they took over Hamilton Hall now” pieces, that, in my humble opinion, would be a most welcome development.

THE PROVOCATIONS FOR THESE ASSAULTS are so much milder now than they were in the 1960s that an administrator then who could peer 55 years into the future would probably smirk. Students peacefully chanting slogans on a single, specific issue, backed by easily realizable demands? Pshaw.