Close to eight months ago, I was studying for a test when I overheard two students conversing about conflicts that had recently occurred involving Israel’s army and Palestinian protesters. I recognized one of the students from several of my philosophy classes.
I also recognized the student as a contributor to the Wake Forest Review, the student publication that tries (and fails) to strike a balance between classic conservatism and new or ‘alt-right’ views.
To my shock, the conversation turned explicit quite quickly; the student observed, in hushed tones, that the conflicts were pointless. He then made three claims in quick succession: there is ‘no difference’ between Jews and Palestinians, the lives of Jews and Palestinians are meaningless and insignificant and, most startlingly, Jews and Palestinians deserve to be raped and murdered (to be precise, this student claimed that he would be willing to carry out such acts himself).
I was quite paralyzed upon hearing this barbarism in a department I call my own, in a room that surely has been frequented by Jews, Palestinians, and, now, by a fascist. As surreal as it felt to hear this student’s racist claims, I felt even more peculiar when this student’s conversation partner laughed upon hearing such vile remarks.
A recent conversation with a professor has me contemplating the claims that this depraved individual made, again.
The professor told me that one of the most disappointing things about teaching to college students in the 21st century is their (almost) complete lack of interest in social activism. To this I would add that our inability to sympathize with the plights and pains of others and our over-identification with easily accessible pleasures make for an uninterested, uninvolved and altogether uncaring student body.
The professor lamented the loss of the mood of the 60s and 70s and the disobedience and activism that accompanied such a mood.
The societal mood has fundamentally changed since the events of the 60s and 70s. And it is my view that this mood is not confined to Wake Forest; it seems to me that most students at most colleges are no longer learning with the aim of putting the lessons learned into direct action in the real world.
The qualifier ‘most students’ is relevant in the utmost sense; students who believe the white race is superior to other races, students that are willing to claim they would murder and rape people that don’t look like them — these types of students are becoming more socially active, likely because their disgusting views have been enabled and given symbolic public endorsements worldwide.
It seems that my conclusion is easily reached on its own, but here it is anyway: if humans that believe in the liberation of oppressed peoples, human rights, compassion and universalism do not speak out, humans that consider other humans less equal, less human, and not worthy of living in the same world will speak in our place.
My experience is that of a student. I believe, firmly, that this conclusion is applicable in all walks of life. A student who vocalizes his interest in seeing entire societies raped and murdered is not a student that deserves a place among peers of those same ethnic groups.
A person who holds such views has no place in classrooms of a university whose mission is, in part, “moral reflection and a commitment to… shaping ethically informed leaders to serve humanity.” Such a student shows zero moral reflection. And giving such a student the opportunity to express his opinions (as it seems the Wake Forest Review has done) most certainly does not contribute to our common humanity — for how could I respect anything else this person says given what I’ve heard?
‘New’ conservatism is a guise that racism, sexism and extreme capitalist exploitation hide within. Barbaric opinions on our own campus threaten the commonly agreed-upon moral fabric of global human society.