"What the Pro-Palestinian Campus Protests Are Really about"

Carl R. Trueman

The recent pro-Palestinian student protests on elite university campuses across the country offer fascinating, if somewhat depressing, insights into the state of modern American culture. It is not so much that the lunatics have taken over the asylum as the kindergartners have taken over the nursery.

First, society takes the attitudes and antics of the young far too seriously. In an era when we are reliably informed that adolescence persists well into the twenties, it is strange that we deem the views of anyone under the age of thirty to have any real significance or merit. Yet it seems to be an unspoken assumption that young people, especially young, angry, and opinionated people, are to be indulged as important. World leaders were clamoring to have cringeworthy photo ops with Greta Thunberg when she first rose to prominence. Thunberg types now abound on the left and right of the political spectrum. They often combine their ill-informed opinions with a confident youthful extremism that should be summarily dismissed or mocked without mercy rather than featured on the news.

This exaltation of youth is simultaneously the exaltation of ignorance and incompetence. Early claims of Israeli occupation of Gaza and the continued sloppy use of the language of genocide, fueled by people at the U.N. who could benefit from using a dictionary, are two obvious examples of the former. As for the latter, when, for example, did adult revolutionaries hold hunger strikes lasting a whole twelve hours or seize buildings and then demand that the university authorities give them food and water? I have no affection for Che Guevara, but he did at least spend time in a Bolivian jungle while trying to foment revolution. I presume he never once considered whining to the Bolivian government about the harsh conditions of jungle life and had to find his own food and water. A cynic might say that even our revolutionaries are pathetic these days.

Now, expressing criticism of Israeli military action is of course entirely legitimate in a democracy like the United States. There is a right to dissent and a right to protest. But the nature of these particular protests reveals something very disturbing. It is clear that they are not motivated by legitimate concern for Arab and Muslim lives, whatever the rhetoric. If they were, then Israel would hardly be the only, or even primary, target.

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