Apr. 1, 2016
Colleges Have Become Hypersensitive to Racial Prejudice. Why Not Anti-Semitism? – Lawrence H. Summers (Washington Post)
- A vast double standard regarding what constitutes prejudice exists on American college campuses. There is hypersensitivity to prejudice against most minority groups but what might be called hyper-insensitivity to anti-Semitism.
- In my view, a proper liberal education should cause moments of acute discomfort as cherished beliefs are challenged. But, if comfort is elevated to be a preeminent value, the standard should be applied universally. Unfortunately, there is a clear exception made on most university campuses for anti-Semitic speech and acts.
- The State Department has made clear that it regards demonizing Israel or “applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” as anti-Semitism.
- Instances of anti-Semitism by this standard are ubiquitous in American academic life. Nearly a dozen academic associations have enacted formal boycotts of Israeli institutions and in some cases Israeli scholars. Student governments at dozens of universities have demanded the divestiture of companies that do business in Israel or the West Bank.
- Yet, with very few exceptions, university leaders who are so quick to stand up against microaggressions against other groups remain silent in the face of anti-Semitism. Indeed, many major American universities, including Harvard, remain institutional members of associations that are engaged in boycotts of Israel.
The writer, President Emeritus at Harvard University, served as Secretary of the Treasury for President Clinton and Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama.
(Click on the article’s title for whole article…Ed.)