As those who have attended schools with a liberal arts background know all too well, it can be difficult to keep one’s wits about them. The campus climate and its inhabitants are all too eager to applaud what they perceive as fact and laudable, and even more likely to denigrate and attack what does not fit the norm. Israel, both as a concept and a sort of political football, falls outside the realm of acceptability frequently. I have personally witnessed groups on my campus at Clark University utilize misinformation about Israel to achieve their own aims.
Quite often, true and effective discourse regarding the State of Israel and other important issues on campus is smothered by the desire for “political correctness,” or the sort of ideological stonewalling practiced by groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Clark University’s very own SJP branch has reiterated time and again that their time is better spent fighting “Zionist settler colonialism;” that they have “bigger and better things” to do then speak or negotiate with “the Zionist entity.” When I further pressed this particular speaker, who was a member of Clark’s SJP chapter, regarding her sentiments, I was met with a flurry of insults and calls to “shut the f*ck up” from members of the audience. To this day this particular interaction saddens me, as it reminds me of the degree to which SJP members will go in order to drown out the other side of their issue.
Are we as college students, doyens of our nation’s future, not deserving of some semblance of free speech? Eschewing of course the notion of ‘safe spaces,’ are we not worthy of the ability to contribute freely our thoughts and ideas without fear of intimidation or retaliation? Freedom of expression in all of its forms was and ought to remain a cornerstone of a university education. Will my generation be the one to tear it down? I certainly hope not.
Contributed by Clark University CAMERA Fellow, Patrick Fox.