Conservative journalist and author David Horowitz spoke at UC San Diego last week.
During the Q-and-A session, student Jumanah Imad Albahri, communications director of UCSD’s Muslim Students Association, was incensed by Horowitz’s assertion that campus Muslim groups may be connected to terrorist organizations.
Horowitz responded by asking if Albahri would condemn Palestinian terror organization Hamas, "here and now." She refused.
He asked Albahri another direct question: "I am a Jew. The head of [Palestinian terror organization] Hezbollah has said that he hopes that we will gather in Israel so he doesn’t have to hunt us down globally. For or against it?
The young woman wearing a head scarf leaned in and said softly, "For it."
The exchange ended up on YouTube.
"There is a quiet terror in watching this moment," wrote Benjamin Kerstein at the New Ledger. "Perhaps it is the calm politeness, the terrible ordinariness, with which the student expresses her sentiments; as though she were voting ‘aye’ on a question of raising municipal property taxes or repealing a law requiring dog leashes."
Perhaps what’s most terrifying about this exchange is the context. Our institutions of higher education are undoubtedly fostering such sentiments, as banal as they are evil.
While college students should be encouraged to experiment, perhaps the most necessary lesson for their intellectual health should be that ideas have consequences. But in today’s campus environment, political correctness dictates the ideas, regardless of the consequences.
Had a white-supremacist student said the same thing about blacks, it likely would have led nightly newscasts. Rampant anti-Semitism, on the other hand, has become as prevalent on campuses as keg stands.
Yet, the PC police aren’t about to defend Jews’ right to exist. In fact, Horowitz was speaking at the UCSD event across campus at the same time as anti-Semitic professor Norman Finkelstein, who refers to Israelis as "Nazis with beards and black hats" and says the Holocaust is exaggerated.
Finkelstein was denied tenure at DePaul University for his views, but he doesn’t lack for invitations to speak at other colleges as a result.
Of course, it’s hard to tell which is worse — this oppressive political correctness or the moral relativism that enables it. Generations of college kids have been exposed to Michel Foucault, one of the most influential academics of the past century.
"Foucault’s 'concept of ‘truth’ is relative, that ‘madness’ is a cultural creation and that ‘history’ is mere storytelling, are now familiar fare at enlightened dinner parties," an article in the New Statesman said.
Accordingly, now there’s no shortage of academics willing to tell young Muslim students that groups like Hamas and Hezbollah aren’t terror networks, but "affinity groups" and "solidarity movements" alleviating Arab suffering at the hands of "imperialism."
So it’s not surprising at least one of Albahri’s teachers claims she’s been victimized. "I’m saddened that this speaker — her elder — manipulated the conversation in this fashion to make her look like someone she isn’t, out of an egotistical desire to prove his own point, rather than engaging in a constructive dialogue. A perfect example of why the peace process is limping forward so painfully," wrote Anita Casavantes Bradford, a UCSD grad student who has taught Albahri.
In other words, the people who don’t agree with Hitler are the ones holding up the Mideast peace process. Got it.
Today’s college students are getting the lesson loud and clear — even genocide is a post-modern construct.
Professors will no doubt continue to teach that ideas are relative. But no academic is clever enough to wish away the terrible consequences that will befall us when we’re unable to recognize pure evil when we see it.
Mark Hemingway is an editorial page staff writer for The Washington Examiner.