University Appears To Be Willing To Defend Anything

[Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

Since the October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas against Israel, America has seen a dramatic rise in antisemitism in Congress, our cities, and, especially and, most frighteningly, on our college campuses.

At Cooper Union University, for example, Jewish students were surrounded by a mob while in the library. If that wasn’t bad enough, a student leader at Harvard attacked a Jewish colleague as he walked near a pro-Palestinian “protest.” 

Joe Biden’s favorite university, the University of Pennsylvania, has found itself in hot water from donors over that school’s concession to antisemitism, particularly from several donors who have been appalled at the recent events on campus. 

What all of these universities have had in common was that they did not stifle antisemitism on campus. Now, the University of Southern California has watched what happened and said you ain’t seen nothing yet. 

USC has officially come out as a defender of Hamas, a group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States in 1997.

The Los Angeles Times writes

Until recently, USC professor John Strauss was known mostly for his research on the economics of developing countries, with decades of fieldwork in Indonesia and China.

That changed Nov. 9, when Strauss stopped before students staging a walkout and protest calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and holding a memorial to thousands of Palestinian civilians killed in the Israel-Hamas war.

The economics professor’s interactions with students that day ended with the 72-year-old Strauss, who is Jewish, declaring: “Hamas are murderers. That’s all they are. Every one should be killed, and I hope they all are killed.”

Within hours, Strauss’ comments were posted online, shared and reshared on X, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

As his remarks raced across the internet, his condemnation of Hamas was often excised, leaving only his “hope” for “all” to be killed. Captions and comments online framed his demand for “every one” to be killed in myriad, at times deceptive, ways. One Instagram post shared to millions of users claimed falsely that Strauss told the students, “[I] hope you get killed….”

Reason explained that the “University of Southern California has barred economics professor John Strauss from teaching on campus for the rest of the semester in response to anti-Hamas remarks he made to pro-Palestinian protesters last week. Strauss will finish out the semester teaching courses on Zoom.

More than a dozen students and faculty filed complaints with the university about Strauss’s comment. Some protesters said they felt threatened, while one student organizer said the comment was hate speech. He ‘threatened us as students,’ she claimed to USC Annenberg Media, ‘making us feel unsafe in our academic environment.’

Initially, the associate dean told Strauss he would only be able to teach his doctoral-level course remotely while on leave, but not his undergraduate course. By Monday, the university backtracked, allowing him to teach both courses remotely. On Tuesday, Nov. 14, the university told the student newspaper Strauss was not on administrative leave but would be teaching his courses remotely for the remainder of the semester.”

The punishment, which effectively defends a terrorist group and tramples on free speech, has been excoriated by academic groups. 

PEN America, for example, wrote, “The University of Southern California’s decision to bar Professor John Strauss from teaching on campus for the remainder of the fall 2023 semester is “a shocking overreaction.”

“’Totally barring a professor from campus because of a passing comment like this is a shocking overreaction. Regardless of Professor Strauss’s intent, he is entitled to his views and the right to share them,’” said Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education programs at PEN America. “’It is no doubt a challenging time for campuses and we recognize that words may feel especially menacing in this environment. But it is exactly because of rising tensions that universities must resist the urge to place limits on speech or dole out punishments for comments that do not rise to the level of clear threats or incitement. Censuring professors for their political views is highly inappropriate and runs the risk of chilling free expression in higher education, for all. What USC has done runs counter to the university’s obligation to foster dialogue and debate.’”

During the pandemic, under then President Trump, USC received $20 million from the federal government in COVID relief funds. 

[Read More: Elizabeth Warren Identifies America’s Greatest Threat]

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