The Unbearable Lightness of Racism

Reading through the Columbia Spectator today, one can be struck by the unbearable lightness of the term “racism,” and how easily students can claim that they are “being silenced.” No question that they are being influenced by their professors–who use the same arguments to protect themselves from criticism–but I would hope that students at Columbia University would be more intelligent than that.
First, to the letters. Raja Harb brandishes the term “racism” as if it means nothing. He says this is a “politically-motivated racist campaign,” as if the professors were not professors but were instead people of a certain “race,” or as if we are only talking about specific persons from a specific place. We are not. This is a problem that spreads across the board. He does not address the claims made, other than saying that they are “unsubstantiated claims by a small collection of students”–no matter that they are substantiated, that we have witnesses, and that abuse is wrong no matter how many people it affects.
Second in the letters, to the idea that the David Project or us, the students, are silencing anyone or “representing the Jewish or Israeli community.” Sorry, I never said I did. And I do not see how our exercising our right to free speech, especially when we hold no positions of power, stop anyone from voicing their opinion. In fact, we encourage everyone to make their voices heard, because the problem we are tackling is the silencing of voices in the classroom.
Last, to the Swastikas found at Columbia. Where are the protests? If these were anti- anyone but Jews, wouldn’t there be letters? And to think that this isn’t part and parcel of the same attitude openly portrayed at the screening, and protected through catcalls of “racism,” is not to connect the dots.

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