The lies of postcolonial and critical race theories responsible to a substantial degree for the prevailing ignorance about Hamas atrocities
For the past decade, universities in North America and other English-speaking countries have declared partisan and ideological positions that negate the traditional academic principle of institutional neutrality.
As a result of the unintentional death of George Floyd, almost all Canadian and American universities declared that they were aligned with Black Lives Matter despite the Marxist and antisemitic views of the BLM-sponsoring organization.
But, in response to the recent Hamas atrocities in Israel, the murder of over 1,200 unarmed civilians, the burning alive of children, the murder of infants, the raping and murder of girls and women, and the violation of elderly people, no university has managed to say Jewish Lives Matter.
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A multitude of Canadian and American university student groups declared their solidarity with the Palestinians and celebrated the Hamas “victory.” They fly Palestinian flags and display posters of the hang gliders used by Hamas. They chant “from the river to the sea,” the Palestinian slogan meaning the total destruction of Israel. The Hamas founding charter directs it to destroy Israel and commits to killing all Jews in Israel and beyond. Not all student groups make this explicit but calls to “gas the Jews” have reportedly been heard.
Official university responses to student enthusiasm for atrocities against Jews have been mild at best, expressing reservations about violence; none, to my knowledge, have condemned Hamas.
The only robust response that I know of is McGill University’s official statement about the student celebration of Hamas atrocities:
“It is particularly distressing to see recent social media posts by an association known as Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, which publicly associates itself with McGill University. The University denounces these abhorrent posts, which celebrate recent acts of terror and violence that have resulted in widespread loss of human life.”
But McGill didn’t stop with a righteous sentiment. It also disenfranchised the group in question.
In this, as in some previous cases, McGill University has maintained some degree of sanity, as most other Canadian universities have gone completely far-left extremist, coddling antisemites.
Hatred of Jews and Israel is now widespread and virulent in universities across (what was once) the Western world. Of course, vilifying Jews, discriminating against them, stealing from, exiling, and murdering Jews has been a 2,000-year-old habit in the Christian and then Muslim spheres of influence. This culminated in the Holocaust, the half-successful Nazi genocide against the Jews.
There have always been justifications, that is to say, rationalizations, for Jew hatred and abuse. But Jew hatred in our universities rests on two updated academic theories: Marxist-Leninist “postcolonial theory” and critical race theory.
Postcolonial theory rightly states that imperial conquest and colonial occupation have had a major deleterious effect on the indigenous population. But then, quite oddly, it asserts that all of the problems in the world are due to European imperialism and only European imperialism. The world’s long history of many imperial states, including current non-European ones, is ignored. No mention is made of Islamic Imperialism in which Bedouin tribes from Arabia conquered and occupied half the world, from Arabia to the Mediterranean, from India to Morocco, from the Maghreb to Sicily and Iberia. Nor do we hear of China’s current imperialism and colonialism in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia, and now reaching out into the Pacific. No, only Europeans are to blame.
Postcolonial theory is the most popular and dominant theory in anthropology; even archeologists claim adherence to the gospel. All of the other social sciences have also been contaminated. The application of this theory to Israel takes considerable contortions, given that Jews were the indigenous population when Rome invaded, that Jews in the diaspora were subjugated, and that Israel was founded by homeless refugees as part of a liberation movement of the Jewish people. Nonetheless, Israel is characterized by postcolonial theorists as a colonial settler state that oppresses the “indigenous” Palestinian population, most of whom came from Syria and Egypt in recent times.
Critical race theory, a neo-Marxist racial class theory, hits both Israel and Jews everywhere. In Israel, Jews are classified as white and Palestinians as “people of colour.” However, many Jews are of Middle Eastern origin and are physically indistinguishable from Palestinians, who have always been classified as white. This application of American racial categories is nonsense, but serves to activate BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of colour) against Israel.
Critical race theory also vilifies Jews everywhere, classing them as white, white adjacent, or hyperwhite, and therefore vicious oppressors of BIPOC. It’s odd that Jews were only recognized as white once it became a bad thing. So Jews, like white people, are deemed oppressors on campus and increasingly excluded and attacked. But Jewish supporters of Israel get both barrels as oppressors at home and abroad.
If you wonder why university students celebrate the barbaric atrocities of Hamas, the lies of postcolonial theory and critical race theory explain a good part of it. The other part is our honouring student identities, Middle Eastern identities among them, rather than Canadian and American identities. This is what comes of multiculturalism and the rejection of national identities.
Our universities today don’t reflect the American values I grew up with or the Canadian values I have come to know during my long working life. Freedom of speech and conscience, equality before the law, promotion through merit and achievement, equality of opportunity, and the search for truth have all been thrown out in favour of virtue signalling through preferential treatment of some categories of people over others.
While politicians typically avoid interfering in university affairs, the rampant corruption and flagrant violation of values, principles, and laws within universities have reached a point where legislators have a moral obligation to intervene. Modern universities no longer serve the best interests of their countries and citizens; instead, they undermine them. It is imperative to take action to rectify this situation.
Philip Carl Salzman is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at McGill University and a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
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