The Disgrace and Fall of the American Elite Campus

Anti-Israel/pro-Hamas campus protests have engulfed hundreds of college campuses. But the more coastal, blue-state, and supposedly elite the campus was, the more furious the violence that sometimes followed these demonstrations.

Even rowdier and more vicious street analogs shut down key bridges, freeways, and religious services. Protestors often defaced hallowed American monuments, national cemeteries, and iconic buildings. Visa-holders were among the worst perpetrators, adding ingratitude to their criminality.

The vast majority wore masks, not to protect from infection but to hide their identities. It is received wisdom, however, that those who wear masks do so for obvious reasons: so authorities cannot identify and punish those who commit crimes (e.g. the Klan, antifa, bank robbers, criminal gangs), or so that anonymity can help incite mob furor, given that participants feel that their vehemence increases once it cannot be traced.

More mundanely, why don’t the students simply identify themselves, insist they want their “resistance” to be known, and then hope their arrests will be proof of their courage to galvanize like-minded people to join them?

Why? One, because the students are sunshine and careerist revolutionaries. They see no inconsistency between shouting “Death to Israel,” “Global Intifada,” or “River to the Sea” one day and then the next, applying for a top spot at Goldman Sachs, a tony university, or a federal bureaucracy. Jacobin professors protest like it is 1793, but when politely arrested, they collapse into fetal positions and scream hysterically that consequences cannot follow their illegality, given they are privileged, superior intellects and moralists, with titles and degrees no less.

Two, the protestors, deep down, know they are aligning with the murderers and rapists of October 7 and that their chants are Hitlerian. And so few wish for their performance-art antics to become part of their public personas.

Demonstrators claimed they were peacefully acting on behalf of Palestine rather than virulently pro-Hamas, anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel. But their own bloodthirsty words proved the contrary—to the anguish of embarrassed campus administrators. The latter finally concluded that the overt venom was a bit too much and certainly injurious to their own administrative careers, campus fund-raising, and alumni support.

Note that there was a long hiatus between the slaughter and hostage-taking of October 7 and the entry of the Israeli Defense Forces into Gaza to destroy Hamas. Nonetheless, campuses caught fire immediately after the slaughter. A professor at Cornell characterized the Hamas mass murders as “exhilarating.” Efforts immediately followed to harass and embarrass Jewish students, not to protest the IDF in Gaza.

Black Lives Matter issued a poster glorifying the hang gliders who sailed over the Gaza border to descend, shooting women and children. Many of the campus protestors, in Pavlovian fashion, were pro-death and pro-Hamas the minute they heard Jews were massacred.

At Stanford, on the first news of the mass murder, a giddy lecturer separated Jewish students in his classroom from others. Such unthinkable faculty behavior soon became commonplace nationwide. Again, existentialist chants “From the River to the Sea” and “Global Intifada” were initially not predicated on anything Israelis did except die en masse.

But why did students scream at Jews, “Go back to Poland?” Almost no students were born in Poland and most had probably never even visited there. The point was instead likely that Auschwitz was in Poland. If a Jewish student had more mildly retorted “Go Back to Gaza,” he would likely have been reprimanded, if not suspended, for “hate speech.”

Again, the news alone of the slaughter and hostage-grabbing thrilled many faculty and students with dreams of the complete destruction of the Jewish state. None of them knew or cared that it was illegal for an Israeli or Jew to reside in Gaza, while two million Arabs are content citizens of Israel.

The other slogan, “Global Intifada,” was simply a call to spread anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish violence throughout the Western World. And it soon did, reminding the West that their elite students had now out-Klanned the Klan in their Jewish hatred, with more imaginative masks and hoods, and with the fillip that the victimized crowd could pose as the self-declared oppressed even as they boasted, “October 7 is about to be every day.”

Of course, after the October 7 IDF entry into Gaza, the demonstrations became far bolder and more numerous, but not really different in their aims and rhetoric. More often, Jewish students were chased and assaulted. Few if any protestors asked whether supposedly identifiable Jewish students were pro- or anti-Israel, but simply harassed any who seemed Jewish.

Why did the patently illegal occupation of campus property spread? Why the escalation to medieval anti-Semitic threats to Jews and various takes on the “Final Solution?”

One, throngs of poorly educated American students—many of them part of the diversity/equity/identity movement—saw Gaza as fuel for their Marxist-themed binary of oppressed versus oppressors. So they eagerly plugged Israel into the tired role of a white, interloping, neo-colonialist, and “settler” state—on the correct assumption that they had grown up with the assurance that smearing whites in racist fashion was not only tolerated but encouraged as a blow against white “privilege,” “supremacy,” or “rage.”

These settler and colonialist smears were ahistorical. Jewish “settler” culture and civilization date before 1200 B.C.—some 1800 years prior to the Arab invasions that displaced Byzantine control of the Middle East. But then again, remember, we are dealing with the supposed moral and intellectual elite of America who have no idea what “Palestine” means or where it came from and certainly could not identify Gaza on a map. They often charge America with genocide, but otherwise they were not too bothered by the medieval-style beheadings, rape, and mutilations of October 7.

The students also know little of the “Final Solution” or what their prompters meant by “Go Back to Poland” (again, the ovens of Auschwitz). Instead, clueless, indulged students provide the American-citizen fodder for the protests. They know how campus unrest unfolds and the predictable Munich-like responses of campus administrators and blue-city mayors and governors.

At 11 million, Israel’s population is vastly outnumbered by some 500 million Arab and Muslim neighbors, many of whom are existentially hostile. So the idea of an imperial overdog or colonialist oppressor Israel is absurd. Most of the hatred in the Arab world and its expatriates on Western campuses toward Israel is driven by envy and frustration that Israel is a humane, free, prosperous, and lawful constitutional state in a way most Arab nations are still not. Add that the Arab world has prompted five or six serial wars against Israel, lost them all, and on spec resorted to terrorism to gain what their militaries could not—and yet Israel still prospers while its neighbors do not since that would mean to dismantle autocracy, tribalism, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, anti-Semitism, and inert socialist economies.

Two, the tip of the spear of campus unrest is from the Middle East. Such partisan foreign students and activists organize the rallies, often with planning and money provided by Palestinian front groups. They provide the keffiyeh props and the occasional Hezbollah and Hamas flags and logos.

Student guests in the U.S. are not shy about siding with the Hamas eliminationist agenda. Indeed, their protests were not just anticipated by, but integral to, Hamas’ October 7 strategies. Hamas’ murderous plan was always to retreat back to Gaza with hostages, which, along with their own Gazan civilians, would ensure the killers could murder another day. So they were to descend into a $1 billion, Morlock-like tunnel complex—using thousands of Gazan civilians above in hospitals, schools, and mosques as collateral deaths to protect the terrorists beneath. Note the sick asymmetry: the entire strategy hinges on a humane Israel seeking to avoid killing civilian shields, a fact accepted by Hamas, which tries its best to sacrifice them.

The resulting surety of collateral civilian damage could then be reduced to Israeli-induced “genocide.” From there, useful idiotic American student unrest, along with Middle Eastern voters, would pressure American institutions and politicians to limit Israel’s options and responses. And, presto, Hamas would emerge from the rubble intact and ready to plan its next murder spree.

Middle Eastern students would also airbrush the nihilist agendas of Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas as benign efforts of “resistance” and “liberation.” American students nodded, as if they could sanction baby burning, mass rape or an extinct Israel if packaged correctly as anti-Western violence. Moreover, the protests took off because American students assured Middle Eastern activists that in Joe Biden’s America, their lawbreaking would not be punished—no expulsions, no jailing, but instead likely covert support from sympatric officials. Their proof was the summer-long, violent 2020 riots, arson, violence, and assault of police.

Middle Eastern protestors, both students and not, assured that they were exempt from consequences, added contempt to their general dislike of their magnanimous American hosts. All knew that if American students in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank or Egypt, mutatis mutandis, had decided to lead pro-Israeli, anti-Arab protests on their hosts’ campuses, they would be imprisoned or, more likely, “disappeared.”

The students talked grandly of “justice” as they violently rampaged, vandalized, and exuded hate. None felt any would be deported or even suspended from university, much less jailed for criminal offenses. They proved prescient.

A final note: clueless elite universities have scant idea of the enormous damage done to their reputations by the repulsive optics on their campuses—the eliminationist chants, the overt anti-Semitism, the passive-aggressive violence, the unapologetic solidarity with a venomous Hamas, the unconcern with American hostages, the disdain shown to middle-class cops, maintenance and janitorial workers tasked with cleaning up the elite students’ often pigsty-like encampments, vandalism, graffiti, and trash, and, above all, the sheer ignorance of supposedly brilliant students who appear to know nothing of even rudimentary history, geography, or current affairs.

These infantile campuses have a rendezvous with adult accountability, both public and governmental. And they won’t like what is soon coming.


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36 thoughts on “The Disgrace and Fall of the American Elite Campus”

  1. David Sheahen

    I am not sure what confounds me the most: that these ‘protests’ are happening, or our inability to have a sincere ‘national conversation’ about it. VDH – thank you for continuing to talk about the truths of this.

  2. Donald Gehrig MD

    Well said, Prof Hanson!
    But accountability for the campus admin adults, who’ve tolerated these Klan like actions far too long and who will merely check their own optics, ie donor’s, does not seem likely in these ‘twilight zones’ of dis-enlightenment. Maintenance of their monied positions is their guiding mode of operation and what truly counts for them…principle-less!

  3. “The Disgrace and Fall of the American Elite Campus” by Victor Davis Hanson provides a conservative critique of the recent anti-Israel/pro-Hamas protests on American college campuses, focusing particularly on elite institutions in coastal, blue states. Here are the key points:

    1. Violence and Vandalism: Protests escalated to violent actions, including defacing American monuments and shutting down public services. Visa-holders were among the most violent, displaying ingratitude for their status.

    2. Anonymity and Hypocrisy: Protestors wore masks to avoid identification, revealing a contradiction in their purported bravery. They oscillated between radical activism and career ambitions at prestigious institutions.

    3. Anti-Semitism: The protests were marked by overt anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions, such as separating Jewish students and making Holocaust-reminiscent taunts. These actions often came immediately after violent attacks on Jews, rather than in response to Israeli military actions.

    4. Campus Response: University administrators initially tolerated or ignored the protests but eventually found them too damaging to their reputations and funding. The elite status of these institutions did not prevent them from becoming hotbeds of radical, often violent, anti-Israel sentiment.

    5. Marxist Influence: The author attributes the unrest to Marxist ideologies prevalent among poorly educated students and faculty, who see Israel as an oppressive colonial power. (Cont’d)

  4. 6. Middle Eastern Influence: The protests were heavily influenced and organized by Middle Eastern activists and funded by Palestinian front groups. These activists sought to use American unrest to further their goals.
    7. Lack of Consequences: The lack of legal repercussions for the protestors, encouraged by previous experiences like the 2020 riots, emboldened their actions. The protests were marked by a sense of impunity, both from American and Middle Eastern participants.
    8. Reputation Damage: The protests severely damaged the reputations of elite universities, highlighting their students’ ignorance and the administration’s failure to address the situation effectively. The author predicts significant public and governmental backlash.

    Hanson’s article reflects a strong conservative viewpoint, emphasizing the perceived hypocrisy, anti-Semitism, and historical ignorance of the protestors and their enablers in the academic elite.

  5. A protest song based on the article:

    Verse 1
    In the halls of the elite, where knowledge should reign,
    Masked shadows gather, shouting cries of disdain.
    They rage against a nation, with venom in their tone,
    But hide their faces, so their names remain unknown.

    Oh, the ivory towers, where hatred takes its seat,
    They scream for freedom, but only to deceit.
    From the rivers to the sea, their chants of fury flow,
    In the fall of the elite campus, their true colors show.

    Verse 2
    October brought the slaughter, a massacre so grim,
    Yet campuses ignited, their hearts aligned with sin.
    Professors praised the killers, students joined the fray,
    As they harassed their peers, drove compassion away.


    Injustice they claim, but they don’t understand,
    The history, the lives, the blood upon the land.
    They call for revolution, from their privileged place,
    But it’s ignorance and envy that they truly embrace.

    Verse 3
    They rally under banners, of Hamas and hate,
    Defacing sacred symbols, sealing their fate.
    The world watches in horror, at the lies they’re told,
    As the elite campuses crumble, and their stories unfold.



    Now the world must reckon, with the lessons learned,
    From the fall of the campuses, where the fires burned.
    It’s time to stand for truth, and justice to defend,
    In the face of ignorance, let understanding mend.

    This song reflects the themes and sentiments expressed in the article, highlighting the perceived hypocrisy,

  6. It’s a pity that today’s column doesn’t appear in, say, “The New York Times,” whose readers (and editors) could benefit from Hanson’s lucid analysis of this ongoing and pernicious madness.

  7. Edward Pulliam

    2 generations of illiberalism has now caught up with the US, and the West in general. The Left has shown that it cannot govern at the city, state and national level and so creating chaos is the only way its warped ideas gain any traction.

    Dr. Hanson continues to demonstrate the Leftist mindset as being completely out of touch with the values that have made America the best country in history. Meritocracy, personal responsibility, faith and participation in the governing process have made us a great country. The Left is doing its best to destroy all of that and more. We better wake up and stay vigilant.

  8. I’m 87. Delivered Groceries at 14. Worked summers as a locker boy at local pool. At 16 worked after school as pinsetter at bowling alley. Loved veterans , my wonderful country, grateful for parents who sent me to Catholic schools. Fathered 6 wonderful human beings and we raised them in a similar fashion. I’m not exceptional. This was normal then. When asked “what do you miss most about growing up in the forties”. I always respond, “simplicity and manners.” Today We tolerate and even reward violence and evil of all sorts. As our fearless leader says, “Don’t”

  9. Another excellent historical survey of the conflicts between Israel and the current version of what older Leftists remember as National Liberation Movements. Their memories of those halcyon days, passed on with romantic notions of “the sixties”, has likely fueled the current crop of college students’ need for something more compelling than mere Climate Change.
    May I suggest, Professor Hanson, that you explore the history of the Jewish diaspora following the destruction of the Second Temple. Arthur Koestler’s controversial book “The Thirteenth Tribe” tried to show that Ashkenazi Jews are actually descendants of the Khazars and have no claim to Israel resulting in the “go back to Poland” insult. This idea though interesting is likely false and may explain the roots of some Jews but not all Ashkenazis.
    Though I’ve enjoyed your writing for years I’m new to the BOP.

  10. “Note that there was a long hiatus between the slaughter and hostage-taking of October 7 and the entry of the Israeli Defense Forces into Gaza to destroy Hamas. ”

    For the main ground action, perhaps, but Israel was bombing the **** out of Gaza within a few hours, it was just not covered much by world MSM. BTW I do not mean that as criticism, just the opposite, that Israel was caught unaware and without any more focused or effective plan.

    “But why did students scream at Jews, “Go back to Poland?” Almost no students were born in Poland and most had probably never even visited there. The point was instead likely that Auschwitz was in Poland.”

    I’m not certain you will look for, nor find, a lot of rationality here, but it should be mentioned that this is likely related to the idea that European Jews, and thus most American Jews with European origination, are “not really Jews” at all, but of Kazak origin, as if this were true or mattered, and are not true Israelis, and thus Zionists and colonialists, etc. It’s a long and ultimately purely anti-Semitic thread, but insofar as it makes sense, that’s what it is.

  11. A superb dissertation demonstrating AI is here: Arrogance and Ignorance. And Biden will forgive their student loans in a revolution from above Marx-meets-Machiavelli.

  12. Daryl Tempesta

    Leadership, Professors, massive majority of students both recent and alumni, came together clean up with buckets, brushes, trash bags, gradating graduates, community members with high school families; all coming together with resilient resolve, and within a day, cleaned up the campus, derailed the false message. Not only distributed leadership, but in every unexpected corner. Further, it was cleaned and prepared within a day and shared the grand gesture of humanity, bringing the points of contention of the few, to a universal confrontation now AI..nascent..emerging..and bringing traditional opponents together. The actual loss is of a mess media who has lost the handle of the past stories, AI is the forever SAI – the AI – AGI -ASI and misunderstanding and missing importance that needs to be addressed. Exploitation is not the answer, and AI is the ultimate universal come-together for our human survival. Both promise, and defenses are needed. The universities are cleaned in a day – photoshoots, and graduations. The truth is AI..

  13. Victor Davis Hanson is a National Treasure. Obviously, well educated & thoughtful; his writings are clear, the descriptive adjectives are carefully chosen & his delivery is deliberate & concise. Never in a hurry, his demeanor commands that the receiver listen with intent. I look forward to
    reading whatever it is he chooses to write about.

  14. David Franklin

    Usually, I write comments that are detailed and even long-winded. But, my reaction to this column is much more simple – great commentary for its insight and truthfulness.

  15. Michelle Lewis

    Please enlighten me. How does this happen? We know better. Not one person with authority to act did anything to reign in Mr. Bidens rampant disregard for civility and the law. Now, at this point we can only hope and pray to make it to November 5 without “blowing up”. Right?

  16. Arthur Kunath

    I very much doubt that the supposed adult world will ever intrude and enforce any discipline on them especially in the USA where our leadership is so feckless and corrupt. Reality may eventually intrude but by that time these students will have brought down death and destruction on all of us.
    We have raised a generation of sociopaths for which ailment there is no cure. May God help us!

  17. William Taylor

    Since the late sixties universities (mine UCLA 69 USC 71) have incubated anti-rational belief systems based on identity in a madrasa like environment. The emergent religion of Woke synthesized Marxist and Hegelian struggle models which have driven out mankind’s greatest intellectual achievement: that rational statement We as Individuals have Equal Rights between Each Other and Against Government. The purpose of a nation is to keep us from killing each other and protect us from those inside or outside the nation who would take life, liberty, property and freedom to act as responsible from us. The equation of individual rights is what has separated us from every power on earth that is founded on military subjugation or identity conflict. The US Constitution reflects a rational solution to warring traditional religious combatants, by specifying no religion coercion in the First Amendment and yet individuals can believe what they want. But no group has the right to coerce or persecute any member of society. Woke is no different but it.should be eradicated from government and from public society in all its forms. No public or private university receiving funds from the government should be allowed Woke into its cirriculum. Every ethnic studies, gender studies and critical race program along with the faculty and admininistrators should be exiled to Main Street for re-education

  18. GillyGirl0831

    I drove to church on Sunday, and on my way back home through beautiful Sellwood, someone painted in big red ugly letters “FREE FREE GAZA” on a storefront. As I sat at the light waiting, it saddened me that Portland has spiraled down into a radical leftist cesspool. Decades of Democrat-run government has destroyed a once beautiful city. It’s very tough being a conservative here. I’m not native, but it wasn’t like this 20 years ago. I want to move to a red state.

  19. Hezbollah killed over 200 USA marines in a suicide car bomb attack in Lebanon.
    Anyone supporting them in the US is a traitor.

  20. Please comment on your view of what is in store for these elite campuses of unruly, anti American, students and faculty alike, gone haywire.

  21. Stephen A. Hill

    These “Students” are the new “Infant Terribles” and an example of what happens when Citizens are immature and do not understand their own obligations as Citizens

  22. steven jackson

    Biden and Schumer and their ilk did this! But we chose . We must not continue to be unwise.
    Guidance inevitably comes from the top. Its effects, good or bad, soak into the common peoples psyche and either strengthen or weaken the ties that bind us. Throughout history this has determined the fates we therefore endure.
    Our children’s fates are our blessings or our curses. That is what awaits all, be thoughtful..
    Chose leaders wisely. Or we will certainly regret it! History is replete with great civilizations
    laid low when this is not done. Do we wish us to be driven before uncaring conquering enemies in lamentation? Our hopeful worlds crushed? All that we love ground into the dirt by uncaring filth? Or do you want yours and my future to be bright?
    It’s our choice which way this will go. We can’t hide no matter how fast we run. Stand tall!
    Hold the line. We must be courageous! We must fight the good fight. Our we will be undone.

  23. Perhaps we should take a page out of the Left’s playbook and change words to obtain advantage…such as using “equity” instead of “equality”. Instead of continuing to call those people who are dedicated to violence and death “terrorists” (a word now inappropriately conjoined with the word revolutionary), we should now-and-in-the-future call them what they are: cowards. The word “coward” not only applies includes those we presently call terrorists but also encompasses those pro-Hamas, anti-Semite, mask-wearing student protestors.

  24. Joel Savransky

    David well said and true! When I heard I was hoping for a jumbo jet filled with these hate filled mullahs! Take what God gives right?

  25. Craig Jenkins

    These pro-Hamas, anti-Israel protests could have been shut down in a couple days. It’s amoral, juvenile behavior, apparently funded by dark money. Yet, no one wants to offend the Middle East countries paying full freight for their students and donating money for Middle East Studies programs with partisan Muslim professors.
    Once Congress gets done with these schools in denying federal grants, taxing income, etc., the schools would have been better off financially by disciplining those involved with these assinine protests and turning down the Middle East funds. The larger issue is whether or not Islam is even compatible with western democracies.

  26. Even at the hands of the Police they are assured of minimal injury.
    They haven’t met the Varsity Team yet.

  27. Mark B. Packer

    VDH’s exposition in this article is a masterpiece of lucid analysis. That said, I can only hope that he will continue to probe into the deepest roots of this phenomenon. My view is that we are overwhelmingly the victims of our success as a nation. This never-before-attained success has resulted in the growth of a vast not-for-profit academic and non-governmental organization (NGO’s) political economy, expressly premised on its non-accountability to those great unwashed, benighted drones working for profit outside the walls of academia and foundation boards. Would that VDH would take on this task!!!
    Meanwhile, I think it necessary to point out that no one has as yet sought to calculate the percentage of these rioters compared to the total enrollment of the various colleges and universities. My guess would be that they constitute a very small percentage indeed, but of course they get all of the media attention. Such a thorough survey would be useful in putting the situation in some clearer context, especially for considering what responsive and/or remedial action actually needs to be taken to deal with the problem.

  28. They dont know what the mask is for, except that theyd hate for their mom to see them. They have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what this war is about its just on the other side of what Republican Americans are on the side of. Do these kids go to college to actually use what they learn to thrive in AMERICAN ECONOMY? Well if they do Hammis hates AMERICA and that means you too, college kid!

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